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Rumsfeld Urges Americans Not to Forget Tragedy of Sept. 11

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2003 – It is important that the people of the world not forget about the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said at the National Press Club here today on the eve of the second anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States.

Rumsfeld, who has just returned from a visit to Iraq and Afghanistan, told reporters that "with coalition forces risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan and many other spots on this globe, it is important to pause and remember. The war that began two years ago tomorrow, the global war on terror, is well begun, but it is only just begun."

Protesters at one point interrupted the secretary. One yelled, "Mr. Rumsfeld. You're fired."

Rumsfeld watched as the protesters were escorted from the Press Club. "There are now more than 100 newspapers in the free press in a free Iraq, where people are debating, people are discussing," he said. "(That is) something they had not done for decades."

The secretary said that just four and a half months ago, the Iraqi people were still under the iron control of Saddam Hussein. "That regime was still in place, it was still creating mass graves and filling them with bodies of innocent men, women and children," he said. "It still had prisons where they were executing people. It was still repressing thought and speech in that country, and that has ended. Those people are liberated."

Rumsfeld said the global war on terrorism is not the type of war where there will be a peace treaty and all the troops go home. Terrorism is not going to go away easily, and it is going to take all the nations working together to defeat it. "We have to deal with these new threats in different ways," he said.

More than 90 nations are working together in the war on terrorism, and Rumsfeld said this may be the largest coalition the world has seen.

"But we have, in fact, entered a new security environment in this 21st century," he said. "We're living in an age when new threats can emerge suddenly, with little or no warning. We face adversaries who have shown that they are willing to use the various capabilities at their disposal."

The secretary said the old idea of deterrence, which the United States used so successfully against the Soviet Union, will work. "And that's why our coalition has to take the battle to the terrorists and the regime remnants in Iraq," he said. "We're doing so alongside military forces from 29 countries. It is a very broad coalition. And we're continuing to work to expand the number of countries involved in both security and reconstruction.

"As we do so," he continued, "our coalition is encouraging the Iraqis to take charge of their own lives politically, economically, and from a security standpoint."

It is important, the secretary said, that the Iraqi people take control of their own country and destiny. Rumsfeld said the coalition is in the country to give the Iraqis the chance to build their own country in such a way that the wealth of the country is shared by all.

"It's impressive, I think, that in just four and a half months, we have gone from zero Iraqis involved in their own security to 55,000 who are currently engaged in border patrols, site protection units, local police, civil defense and the beginnings of a new Iraqi army unlike the old one," he said.

Those calling for more U.S. troops in Iraq are getting the crux of the situation in the country, he said, but they should be calling for increasing the numbers of Iraqis involved in providing for their own security.

"Ultimately, every country has to do that," he said. "And rather than flooding the zone with more Americans, which means you have to have more force protection, more support, it is, we believe, vastly better to continue to invest in encouraging the Iraqis to provide the kinds of increases and ramping up of their own security capabilities."

Rumsfeld said while coalition forces are in the security business, they spend large amounts of time helping to rebuild the country and training local police forces, site-protection specialists and border patrols. They also are helping to form city councils, the secretary said.

"City councils have sprouted up all across that country," he said.

It is not a perfect situation in Iraq, but rather is a tough one that will take time to calm down, the secretary said, and there is progress.

"So as we celebrate (the coalition's) accomplishments, we also have to recognize that those threats are not likely to end immediately," he said. "That's why, this year, (on) Sept. 11 we will stop to remind ourselves what befell us that day.

"Three thousand innocent men, women and children, of all races and religions, died. And tomorrow we'll remember them, and let those memories steel us for the difficult challenges that remain," Rumsfeld said. "Certainly it is our responsibility to try to do everything in our power to prevent another or worse Sept. 11."

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