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Perry Says U.S. Won't Give In to Terrorism

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9, 1996 – Defense Secretary William Perry recently applauded the folks in Atlanta who did not let a terrorist bomb keep them away from the Olympics. According to Perry, staying home would have meant giving in to terrorism.

"It was heartening to see the return of thousands to Olympic Park in Atlanta as soon as it was reopened," Perry told members of the American Bar Association in Orlando, Fla., Aug. 7. Terrorism, whether domestic, international or aimed at U.S. military forces -- is like a "chronic disease," he said. "You must fight it even as you have to live with it."

Perry quoted Richard Haas, a former member of the National Security Council staff, who recently said: "We cannot and should not ground our planes, shutter our embassies, hand in our passports, bring all our troops home, close the government or shut down the Olympics. If we stop being who we are and stop living a life worth living, we hand the terrorists their greatest victory."

The United States is a relatively easy target for its enemies because it is a free and open society, Perry said. "Domestic terrorism is a crime against the order and tranquillity of our nation. International terrorism is an assault on the peace and stability of the world."

Terrorists reject the rule of law and basic decency, Perry said. They are "cold-blooded and fanatical, but also clever." Unable to achieve their goals through conventional diplomatic or military means, "they seek to impose their will on others through acts of violence, almost always aimed at the innocent."

Terrorism is the opposite of everything America stands for, Perry said. It is the enemy of the basic human rights -- freedom of movement, expression and religion. America must stand firm defending its freedom and liberty, Perry said. "The fight is not and will not be easy," he said. "When terrorists attack our trade centers, federal buildings or airliners, the worst thing we can do as a society is to withdraw from our daily lives and commerce. When terrorists attack our military forces in Saudi Arabia or anywhere they are needed in the world, the worst thing we could do for our national security would be to withdraw our forces from where they are needed.

"Withdrawal is not an acceptable alternative -- our strategic imperative requires that we maintain our forces in the region," he said. Leaving the Persian Gulf, for example, would give a small group of terrorists with truck bombs a victory Saddam Hussein could not achieve with 40 divisions, he said.

The United States intends to combat threats against its forces by increasing physical security to reduce troops' vulnerability and increasing intelligence capabilities to pre-empt and disrupt terrorist attacks before they occur, Perry said. "We need to strengthen our resolve that we will not let terrorists drive us away from protecting our national interests," he said.

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