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No Certainty from Global War on Terrorism

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18, 2002 – People who expect certainty from the global war on terrorism are not going to get it, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here Oct. 18.

Wolfowitz emphasized the uncertainly of information about terrorist aims, targets and methods during a speech to the Defense Forum Foundation on Capitol Hill.

"One way to think about it is to go back to August of last year," Wolfowitz told the audience of congressional staffers. "If we had launched an attack against the Taliban and said, 'This is to prevent attack on the World Trade Center,' the whole world would have said, 'Where's your evidence?'

"Not only would we not have had the evidence, but we would have been way too late," he continued. "The main hijackers, the pilots who were crucial to the operation, arrived in the United States in early 2000. The rest of the team arrived in the spring of last year. By August, nothing we could have done in Afghanistan could have prevented (the attacks)."

Wolfowitz told the group that confronting Iraq is an integral part of the war of terror. He said President Bush seeks a peaceful solution to Iraq, but that the only hope for achieving a peaceful disarmament of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction is by having a credible threat of force behind our diplomacy.

"No one should be under any illusions that Saddam Hussein will give up the weapons that he is not supposed to have simply because the United Nations passes another resolution," Wolfowitz said. "He will only do so if he believes that doing so is necessary for his personal survival and for the survival of his regime."

He said the U.S. military has the strength enough to handle Iraq and other aspects of the global war on terror. "It's hard to see how we can expect to be successful in the long run if we leave Iraq as a sanctuary for terrorists and its murderous dictator in defiant safety," he said.

He said people need only look at the recent bombings in Indonesia and the Philippines, the border area of Pakistan and the problems in Yemen, where the United States sees or has evidence of people plotting attacks.

"In each one of those cases, our goal is to deny the terrorists sanctuary," he said. "But in each one of those places, the approach to the goal is different, depending on the attitude of the government, depending on the nature of the terrain, depending on other factors. But it is impossible to see how a policy of denying terrorists' sanctuaries in those countries could be assisted by a policy that leaves them a sanctuary with the most murderous dictator we know."

He told the group that the fundamental question about Iraq comes down to weighing the risks of action against the risks of inaction, and to weigh the risks of acting now against the risks of acting later. Waiting, he said, "inevitably requires making judgments about things that are fundamentally uncertain."

"The search for evidence is understandable," Wolfowitz said. "The search for facts on which to pass those judgments is absolutely necessary. But at the end of the day, we are trying to judge what will happen in the future along different courses that we might take."

The deputy secretary thanked the group for the bipartisan support Congress gave the president on Iraq.

"If we are achieving success in New York this week in our diplomacy, I am convinced that it is in some large measure due to the strong demonstration of support that we had from the Congress," he said.

He told the group that the debate in the House and Senate before passage of the use-of-force resolution was not the end of discussion about the issue. He said Americans should continue the dialogue and said it indicated the health of the U.S. political system.

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