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17 March 2004

All Nations Affected by Terrorist Attacks, General Says

Defense Department Report, March 17: Terrorism, Iraq

By Rebecca Ford Mitchell
Washington File Staff Writer

The world is too intertwined economically for any nation to be unaffected by terrorism, says General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"We're all so connected. We can't just park in our corner of the world and hope this passes us by," he said. "To think you could sit at home and just erect defenses that are going to protect you, or that you are somehow, because of where you live in the world, immune to this. I reject that."

Myers made his remarks at a briefing at the Washington Foreign Press Center March 17 marking the one-year anniversary of the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Terrorists try to create fear to change others' behavior, the general explained, "and behavior changes that are not rational affect economies and the way we live. ... Every country has to make its own decision on how they want to support this war [on global terrorism], but my personal view is that nobody can sit it out. This isn't one where you can be neutral."

The recent attacks in Madrid, he said, show, once again, that terrorists deliberately target innocent men, women and children to reach their goals. "Terrorism is a terrible scourge for those who desire to live in peace and freedom," he said. "And the only way we are going to defeat it is to, as an international community, decide that this is intolerable and to work together."

Myers emphasized that the war on terrorism requires more than military might -- that political, economic, and diplomatic efforts must be undertaken "to set the conditions where men and women don't want to join an extremist cause."

He noted that the threat within Iraq itself has shifted to foreign jihadists targeting ordinary Iraqi citizens and those Iraqis involved with bringing about security and a new government. "Despite that," he said, "there are still Iraqi citizens who are willing to step forward and participate in the only hope this nation's had in a long time."

Myers said the United States will continue to turn over more responsibility to Iraq's security forces as the June deadline for sovereignty approaches and, after the transfer of sovereignty, will continue to patrol with them.

The United States is resolved to "allow the Iraqis to develop a constitution, to allow them to go to national elections in the most secure and stable environment that can be provided so that the political process has a chance to prosper," he said.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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