Rumsfeld: World Peace at Crossroads Over Decision on Iraq
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
MUNICH, Feb. 9, 2003 U.S. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told members of a multinational defense organization gathered here Feb. 8 that world leaders must not waver in coercing Saddam Hussein to jettison his weapons of mass destruction -- by peaceful, or other means.
"We all hope for a peaceful solution," a solemn-faced Rumsfeld emphasized to attendees at the Munich Conference on European Security Policy, "but the one chance for a peaceful resolution is to make clear that free nations are prepared to use force, if necessary" to disarm the Iraqi dictator.
Hussein has thumbed his nose at the United Nations for more than a decade, Rumsfeld pointed out. The Iraqi dictator, he said, has defied 17 Security Council resolutions calling for him to relinquish his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction programs and delivery systems.
He said the question now is, "Did the U.N. mean it?"
There is no question that Hussein poses a threat to world peace, the secretary declared. He noted that Secretary of State Colin Powell in his Feb. 5 U.N. address presented the unvarnished facts demonstrating:
- Iraq's ongoing pursuit of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.
- Its development of delivery systems, including missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.
- Iraq's tests of chemical weapons on human beings.
- Its ongoing efforts to deceive U.N. inspectors and to conceal its WMD programs.
- Iraq's ties to terrorist networks, including al Qaeda- affiliated cells operating in Baghdad.
The world has changed since the end of the Cold War, Rumsfeld said. Old threats such as the Soviet Union, he continued, have been replaced by the specter of terrorists armed with WMDs. Such a 21st century threat, he reminded the audience, could kill 30,000, 300,000, or more innocent people.
"The security environment we are entering is the most dangerous the world has seen," Rumsfeld pointed out. He compared today's U.N. situation with Iraq to the position of the League of Nations nearly 70 years ago when Mussolini invaded Abyssinia. The league did nothing, he explained, and so lost its credibility as an instrument of peace and security.
Rumsfeld opined that the United Nations today is at a similar crossroads with Iraq. Historians, he noted, will one day judge the outcome.
"Will they say we recognized the coming danger, united and took action before it was too late?" he asked.
"The coming days and weeks will tell," he concluded.