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American Forces Press Service

Rumsfeld Describes Changing Face of War

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

PHILADELPHIA, May 25, 2005 The global war on terror is different from any the United States has fought, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told members of the World Affairs Council here today just how different it is.

Even after three-and-a-half years since the terrorist attacks on the United States, it is still difficult to understand why the enemy murdered thousands of innocent men, women and children, Rumsfeld said.

But if Americans cannot understand the evil that led to the attacks, they can but certainly the motivations behind the plot. "Their goal, very simply, was to cripple the United States, to try to intimidate the civilized world and to try to inspire and cultivate a new wave of fanatics," the secretary said about the terrorists' Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The enemy the civilized world faces is different from any before, Rumsfeld noted. The terrorists have no nation or government. "We confront an enemy unburdened by bureaucracy, or legal or moral or structural constraints," he said.

The enemy is not nation, not a religion, "it's not even really one particular organization," Rumsfeld said. "Rather it's a shifting network of fanatical adherents to violent extremism, and a movement that uses terrorism as its primary weapon of choice. They combine medieval views with modern tools and technologies. They operate within hostile and friendly nation-states and even within our own country."

The secretary said the extremists will not surrender and will not negotiate a peace. "They are unlikely to give up and, symbolized by beheading, they seek a dark and joyless vision for the future of our world," he said.

The very imprecise nature of the enemy makes them tough to defend against, Rumsfeld said. The extremists can strike anytime, and even the large coalition arrayed against them cannot defend everyplace, all the time.

The secretary spoke a bit about what the extremists need - among them, ideological support, to recruit and indoctrinate new terrorists. The enemy also needs leadership and command structures. They need safe harbors and financial support. And they need weapons, "potentially to include weapons of mass destruction," he said.

Finally, the enemy needs communications networks and access to targets in free nations.

Despite the coalition successes, new terrorist leaders continue to step forward and new extremist networks emerge, Rumsfeld said. "Madrasses around the world continue to turn out new recruits from the ranks of the misguided and the misled," he said.

There are two truths that have grown from the war, Rumsfeld said. The first is that this conflict cannot be won by military means alone. The second is the struggle can't be won by any single country alone.

The U.S. strategy is to first find ways to reduce the ideological appeal of violent extremism. "This is the chief motivation behind President Bush's strategy of promoting political and economic freedom," Rumsfeld said. "When people - men and women alike - have more control over their lives and have civil outlets to air and remedy grievances, they are far less likely to be attracted to extremists."

Events in Afghanistan and Iraq testify to the "powerful and uniform appeal" of freedom, the secretary said.

Rumsfeld said that the new Iraqi government will be inclusive and respect the rights of minorities. "Many Sunnis now realize they made a bad mistake in not participating in the election and they are leaning very far forward," he said. "And the Shiia in Iraq could have concluded after the election that they had suffered for 30 years under the Sunnis and therefore it was their turn to impose that kind of life on the minority. They didn't. Instead they are reaching out to the Sunnis."

Rumsfeld said he is also encouraged by the growth of Iraq's security forces - now at more than 165,000. "They are developing in size and in confidence and capability and they are steadily taking over more and more responsibility from the coalition," he said.

But to attack an amorphous and hazy enemy, the U.S. government itself must change, he said. "The old rigid divisions between war and peace, diplomacy, between conflict and stability operations - those don't exist any more," he said. "And the roles of the various departments may have to be adjusted at some point."

As an example, he said the United States knows how to deal with countries in both war and peace. "But when you are fighting the global war on terror, we find there are countries that have ungoverned areas where extremists 'advantage' themselves by hiding in the seams or borders of these areas," he said. "You cannot deal with them because you are not at war with those countries.

"The restrictions and inhibitions in how to deal with the global war on terror are pretty serious and the problem of ungoverned areas of the world is very serious too," he noted.

He said the question becomes how can the United States conduct operations against extremists who are in countries "you are not at war with and don't want to go to war with?"

This is especially a problem for countries that lack the capacity to deal with the problems in their ungoverned areas. "It is a complexity that is important for the world to understand," he said.

Rumsfeld said the president needs the flexibility to choose the weapon most effective against terror. In one case the military might be the best weapon, he said. In another, intelligence sharing or law enforcement or the treasury may be the best counter. "All of these become almost equally important," the secretary said.

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