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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz with the German Foreign Minister

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz
September 20, 2001

Wednesday, September 19, 2001

(Joint media availability at the Pentagon with Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer of Germany.)

Wolfowitz: Good afternoon. I'm Paul Wolfowitz. I'm the deputy secretary of Defense. We just had a very excellent meeting with German Foreign Minister Fischer. I represented Secretary Rumsfeld, who's been engaged in a number of other high priority activities. Let me just say that it was very gratifying to hear from the foreign minister his personal expression and the expression of the German government and the German people of their shock at what took place here last week and up in New York and the deep sense of identification with Americans as under attack. I imagine, Mr. Minister, there were quite a few Germans who died in New York that day as well.

I will turn the microphone over to the Foreign Minister of German, Joschka Fischer.

Fischer: Thank you very much.

I think first of all I have to explain how deeply we were shocked when we saw these terrible suicide attacks on innocent people here on the Pentagon and in New York City. It was an attack on the American people, on the American government. And this shock was everywhere, in Europe and in the German people. It's a very emotional reaction because this is also a criminal and mass murderous attack on the open society, on the way we live. And I think we should now stay together in full solidarity and fight against this murderous terrorism. We had today very good talks about what has to be done for the future. We have a lot of common understandings and analyses. But first of all, once again, let me tell you, Mr. Secretary, and to the American people that we are in full solidarity. We share the pain, and we also share the burden now in fighting against this terrible danger.

Thank you.

Q: Mr. Minister, has Germany agreed to take active military participation in any U.S. military response to the people who did this?

Fischer: Well, we had today a decision of our parliament, and we do not rule out any option. It's not the time now for more specific details. But once again as the chancellor said, we are in unlimited solidarity with the American people and the United States of America, and we do not rule out any option.

Q: Do you consider this an attack on Germany and other free countries, as well as the United States?

Fischer: Well, that time it was the United States, but, for example, we arrested some months ago the finance minister of the bin Laden group in Germany. And I think it also cannot be ruled out the similar danger for other Western countries, including my own country. I think this was a direct attack on the people, on the government, of the United States, with terrible losses. But we fear that also hundreds of our citizens have lost their life in New York City. I think more than 60 nations -- citizens of more than 60 nations has lost their lives in these murderous attack in New York City last Tuesday, and this makes quite clear that this is not only attack on the United States but also an attack to all of us.

I think we should be -- look very carefully on the intentions of these criminals. They want to inflame a war of the cultures, and we should avoid that. Our enemy is terrorism, not Islam. And we appreciated very much what President Bush announced in the recent days about that fact.

Q: Mr. Wolfowitz, so much of the public discussion has been about Afghanistan's support for the Taliban. Do you feel there's an Iraqi connection to these attacks, and if so, how is that affecting our policy toward Iraq?

Wolfowitz: I think the president made it very clear today that this is about more than just one organization, it's about more than just one event, as horrible as that event was. We are engaged in a war against terrorism, against the terrorist networks, against state support for terrorism. And I think everyone has got to look at this problem with completely new eyes in a completely new light after what happened last Tuesday.

But if you go back to what the president said just earlier today, when he was greeting President Megawati of Indonesia, he made it very clear that this is about more than just one country or just one individual or just one organization. [ Transcript ]

Q: Mr. Secretary, can people expect to see military action soon?

Wolfowitz: You know that I don't answer questions like that.

Q: Mr. Secretary, can you talk --

Q: Let me ask it this way. Are we in more of a law enforcement phase now than a military phase, or might the two blend in the future?

Wolfowitz: First of all, we're going into a campaign, a sustained campaign, which means it's going to be a long series of actions before we achieve success. And I think it's a mistake to isolate one form of action like law enforcement, from another like military, and another like diplomatic. In fact, the record demonstrates over and over again that you're more successful when you combine your resources; that diplomacy backed up by meaningful threats of force is much more effective than diplomacy without it; that a political strategy that brings in those hundreds of millions of moderate Muslims who have to be -- the hundreds of millions of moderate Muslims that have to be shocked by this barbaric act that claims to be done somehow in the name of their religion.

The financial resources of the world, and running down the financial networks of these organizations. It needs to be an integrated strategy. And if we do act militarily, we will act militarily as part of that strategy and to support those goals, not simply for the sake of satisfying what is understandably an enormous urge by the American people -- and I suppose by all the 60 nations that lost people on Tuesday -- that tremendous urge for revenge. We're after something more than revenge. We're after dealing with and eliminating this threat to civilization.

Q: Mr. Secretary, I understand the secretary of Defense signed the first deployment order today. Can you give us any indication of what that entails, what troops may be moving? Is this a precursor to anything that we should expect?

Wolfowitz: There are movements, and you will see more movements, and I hope everyone understands -- I'm sure the American people understand why we do not want to reveal the details of those movements to people who may be trying to figure out what we're about to do next. So I appreciate the forbearance on that.

Q: Mr. Secretary, do you see an end to this? Is there going to be an actual end, or will this just be continuing on forever, basically?

Wolfowitz: I think we're going into a campaign, and with the enormous will and resources of the American people behind it, we will win.

If you -- it's worth going back and reading Churchill's memoirs.

The day after Pearl Harbor, he recalls people who underestimated the United States and who believed that we were soft and we couldn't take things. And he comments on the enormous power this country can generate, of all kinds. And we're generating it now, and we're generating it this time in cooperation with the most advanced, most powerful countries in the world, for which the minister is one of the leading representatives. And we will win.

Thank you.

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