By Chris Strohm
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday predicted the United States will prevail over terrorists and said the U.S. military must be able to operate anywhere around the world without legal or political restrictions.
During a Washington speech, Rumsfeld staunchly defended U.S. policies in the war on terrorism despite the death of more than 1,100 U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last three years and a recent State Department report concluding that terrorist attacks around the global increased in 2003.
"As long as we continue our mission, as long as we work to change terrorists' way of life before they succeed in changing our way of life, as long as we avoid a return to the false comfort of Sept. 10, 2001, victory will come, just as it has in conflicts in the past," Rumsfeld said in "Three Years Later: A Progress Report on the Global War on Terror." The speech coincides with the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
Rumsfeld said he could not predict when the United States will pull out of Iraq. He also said the war on terrorism is "much more like the Cold War, in terms of the amount of time it's going to take, than it is about World War II."
The Defense secretary said the invasion and occupation of Iraq has been "worth it, and those who suggest to the contrary are not only wrong, but they will be proved wrong." He added that people should "reject" advice given by critics of the Iraqi occupation, such as the Financial Times, which publishedan editorial Friday arguing that the United States has botched the occupation and should consider withdrawing.
"As occupying power, the US bears responsibility for Iraq under international law, and is duty-bound to try to leave it in better shape than it found it. But there is no sign of that happening," the Financial Times editorial stated. "The time has therefore come to consider whether a structured withdrawal of U.S. and remaining allied troops, in tandem with a workable handover of security to Iraqi forces and a legitimate and inclusive political process, can chart a path out of the current chaos."
Rumsfeld said terrorists would not drive the United States and other countries out of Afghanistan and Iraq and re-impose dictatorial regimes.
"The terrorists and the extremists hope to intimidate and to demoralize the American people and our allies with their threats and with their attacks," he said. "They will fail; let there be no doubt."
According to Rumsfeld, the new Iraqi government and the United States are "determined" to have Iraqi elections in January, and about 145,000 Iraqi security forces will be trained and equipped by the end of the year.
He also asserted that the U.S. military should be able to operate anywhere around the world without limitations.
"Our forces must be where they're wanted, they have to be where they're needed, and they have to be where they can be deployed quickly," he said, "and they have to be deployed without burdensome restriction, legal, political or otherwise."