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Myers: Iraq Clearly a Present Danger to America

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2003 – The specter of terrorists allied with democracy-hating regimes like Saddam Hussein's Iraq seeking weapons of mass destruction presents a danger America cannot afford to ignore, the U.S. military's top officer said Feb. 26.

"It's this combination that makes Iraq such a threat to our nation," Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a group of business people in New York City.

Today, bloodthirsty terrorists and aggressive nations hostile to the American way of life "both desire indiscriminate weapons of mass murder," Myers said, noting this makes for the most dangerous situation the United States has faced in 50 years.

Myers noted that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell laid out the facts about Iraq's arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, and described how Hussein has used them against his neighbors and Iraqis, too.

"The point is that the Iraqi regime has demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass murder against the innocent," Myers said.

Terrorists and rogue regimes like Saddam's willing to murder so many innocents make today's war on terror a much different conflict from the Cold War waged against the now- defunct Soviet Union, Myers remarked.

The Soviets, he pointed out, wanted to rule America; they didn't want to destroy its people.

Al Qaeda would like nothing more than to obtain a nuclear bomb, or containers of VX nerve agent, anthrax, or ricin and "kill thousands of innocent civilians," Myers said.

Saddam has consorted with known terrorists sworn to destroy the United States, the general pointed out. "This includes help in making explosives and poisons, such as ricin," Myers emphasized.

The United States and more than 40 other nations are ready to participate in a military operation to remove Saddam "if the president so orders," the JCS chairman noted.

U.S. and coalition military forces "achieved a tremendous victory" against terrorists in Afghanistan, Myers said, adding that 90 nations have united against terror and more than 100 key terrorist operatives have been apprehended worldwide.

Yet, he said, the war against terrorism continues, and will do so "for a long, long time."

The United States and its allies will win that war, Myers declared, noting that the struggle will take patience and persistence.

Terrorists can't be persuaded by diplomacy or contained like past foes, since they "will use these weapons of mass murder, if they can get them," the general noted.

So rather than wait till terrorists such as Iraq act, "Is it acceptable to assume such risks when the next blow could mean the deaths of thousands of men, women and children?" Myers asked.

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