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Town Hall Meeting
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Camp Doha, Kuwait City, Kuwait, Sunday, June 09, 2002

Goodness gracious!  Well, that is something, I must say.  General, thank you so much for those kind words.  You know when he started talking about the Civil War, I thought he thought that I was involved in the Civil War and I knew I have been around a few years but I was certain I wasn't around that long.

Well, thank you so much for that welcome.  I must say that it's a real privilege for me to be able to be here and to see you and say thank you personally to each of you.

I guess it's been over a decade since the Gulf War, when the United States and Coalition Forces came together, here in Kuwait to repel Iraqi aggression and defeat the forces that had done so much damage to this fine country.  Today, it's the United States that has suffered aggression, and once again a large global coalition has come together to defeat the individuals, the countries, the people, who have visited such destruction on our country.

Each of you is playing an important, an important role in that effort.

The terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11 did more than blow-up buildings, or murder thousands of innocent people.  They declared war indeed on our way of life and they attacked us because I suppose of what we are.  As Americans we are free people, free men and women, proud of our country's cause and the cause of human freedom.

In so doing, they reminded us that:

  • The world is a dangerous place,
  • It’s an untidy place,
  • It’s a difficult place and
  • It’s a changing place where determined adversaries still oppose human freedom and
  • Will stop at literally nothing to destroy it and deny it.

And so long as such enemies exist freedom everywhere will be in danger.

The global war on terrorism began in Afghanistan to be sure but it will not end there:

  • It will not end until terrorist networks had been routed out wherever they exist, and;
  • It will not end until state sponsors of terror are made to understand that abetting terrorism is unacceptable, and;
  • Will have deadly consequences for the regimes that do so.
  • It will not end until terrorist states developing weapons of mass destruction, and;
  • Some listed terrorist states indeed already have weapons of mass destruction and are developing more advanced weapons, and;
  • They do need to be stopped so that they cannot threaten or hold free people hostage, to blackmail or terror.

I think it was Lenin who wrote that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize -- that is to say that a terrorist can alter behavior without even using terrorist weapons.  You are the people who stand between freedom and fear -- between our people and a dangerous adversary that cannot be appeased and cannot be ignored and cannot be allowed to win.

Each of you, I know worked long hours, and in this case, in a climate that has high temperatures.  You are far from home, often working under difficult circumstances.  You do it because you love your country and we know that -- and your country knows that.  And we are grateful to you.

We are grateful actually, not only to you, but to your families as well.  The loved ones who worry about you, who endure long periods of separation from you, and they too sacrifice for our country.  And they know as you do that if we are to live as free people then some of us, some among our people, have to step forward to defend our freedom.  And you are the ones who have stepped forward.  You are here because you made a conscious decision, a voluntary decision.  You weren't drafted.  You weren't conscripted.  Each one of you decided that this is what you wanted to do.  And we have every confidence in your talent, your dedication, and your ability to get the job done.

The President made a promise to our countries shortly after September 11.  He said we will not waiver, we will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.  And you are the ones that are asked to make good on that promise.  And seeing you today assures me that I can report back to him that his promise is in very good hands.

Thank you.

Now, I am here and I would be delighted to respond to some questions from folks in this terrific crowd.

 

For a complete transcript, including questions and answers, please visit:

http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/2002/t06102002_t0609thm.html