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Winning the Peace in Iraq Vital to Winning War on Terror

By K.L. Vantran
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25, 2003 – Brave young Americans who liberated Iraq from the clutches of one of the bloodiest, most sadistic tyrants in modern history created the possibility of a major victory in the war on terrorism, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz told the House Armed Services Committee here today.

Completing this victory, he added, requires "winning the peace" as well. This is the "best way to honor the memories of the heroes who have sacrificed to bring us and the Iraqi people to this point. (We're) here today to ask Congress to give us the tools so we can finish the job."

The secretary's testimony was in support of the Bush administration's $87 billion supplemental spending request that is to pay for U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and other costs associated with the war on terrorism.

Acknowledging there is plenty of "bad news" in Iraq, Wolfowitz expressed his sorrow at the death today of Akila al-Hashimi, a member of the Iraqi Governing Council who died of gunshot wounds suffered in a Sept. 20 attack.

Wolfowitz said it was a privilege to have known her. "She expressed with enormous sincerity and conviction her belief in the future of a free and democratic Iraq," he added. "It's a cause for which she has now given her life, and it is a noble cause."

Citing an example of "good news," the secretary referred to a dispatch from Iraq reporting on the elections of a governing council in the province that includes Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit.

The process for selecting a governing council, according to the letter, "is a firm, if small step on the path to participatory government something inconceivable in Saddam's hometown just a few months ago While it remains to be seen how effective this diverse group can be in tackling the daunting challenges for the moment the predominant feeling is one of confident optimism and appreciation for what the coalition has made possible."

Wolfowitz said he believes some people just don't understand the lessons of Sept. 11, 2001. That tragic day was a wake-up call, and should have changed the whole way people look at the world, and in particular, the way they look at terrorism, he added.

The war on terror requires eliminating global terrorist networks and getting governments out of the business of sponsoring terrorism, Wolfowitz said.

"(We've) got to eradicate those international terrorist networks and end state sponsorship of terrorism," he said. "Afghanistan was a very important place to start, and Iraq is an important place to continue."

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