War on Terror Requires Commitment and Money, Rumsfeld Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
SHANNON, Ireland, Sep. 8, 2003 At the heart of President Bush's speech to the country Sunday night is the idea that the war on terrorism is a war, and the United States must remain on the offensive, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sept. 8.
He spoke to reporters aboard his plane Monday as he returned from a trip to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
"We cannot defend every single place all the time," Rumsfeld said. "You have to try to defend, but you must reach out and go after the terrorists and ... find them where they are, and find their havens and disrupt their networks. And that takes all elements of national power."
In his Sept. 7 address, Bush requested an added $87 billion to pay for military operations and reconstruction projects in the global war on terror. Defense officials said that $75 billion is slated for Iraq and $5 billion for Afghanistan. The money is requested as a supplemental appropriation to the fiscal 2004 budget. Fiscal 2004 begins Oct. 1.
U.S. national security demands that the America make this investment, the president said. The war in Iraq is the "central front" in the global war on terrorism.
The United States cannot afford to be irresolute on this, Rumsfeld said, noting there is no doubt that terrorists studied past operations before launching attacks. Terrorists studied U.S. operations in Beirut in 1983 and in Somalia in 1993. "They studied instances when the United States was dealt a blow and packed it in," Rumsfeld said.
This history allowed terrorists to persuade themselves that the United States would not stand up to them, he said. "The United States is not going to do that," the secretary said. "President Bush is not going to do that."
The secretary said political attacks on the anti-terrorism effort could prove harmful. Attacks on these policies could give terrorists the impression that a new administration might soften anti-terrorist goals.
"They take heart in that," Rumsfeld said. These political attacks may lead to more money going to terror groups and more recruits for the groups. It also could encourage groups to hang on to life "and that makes our task more difficult."
But this does not mean there should not be a debate in America about the global war on terrorism, the secretary said. "There should be (a debate). We can live with a healthy debate as long as it is as elevated as possible, and as civil as possible."
Rumsfeld said he believes Americans are well aware of the price tag anti- terrorist operations carry, and he believes they are willing to pay it. "There are going to be losses if you do nothing -- as we saw on Sept. 11," he said. "There are going to be losses if we do something. We've got to advance our cause of people being able to live as free people rather than allowing the terrorists to advance their cause of restricting our lives and freedoms."
Operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan will take time. "Now would it be nice (if) the minute that the war ended, there was a clean, pure, democratically civilian-controlled army or border patrols, police departments or site protections teams that could have in one second taken over?" the secretary asked. "Would that have been nice? Of course. Has it ever happened in the history of mankind? Of course not."
No one can forecast what will happen in the next year, Rumsfeld said. "But the president realizes what's a stake, and he set it out for the American people," he said. "(Bush) gave an honest summary of what he believes to be the likely cost to the United States."
The secretary said he believes the American people understand the scope and peril of the terrorist threat. "One has to look at ... the cost - the cost in lives, the cost in money," he said. "But one would also have to look at the cost if one were to decide to throw in the towel.
"There is no middle ground," he continued. "There is no safe place where people can hide, and get off the world. You can't."