By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2006 – Freedom and democracy are what works in the world, and the enemies in the war on terror have hijacked the Islamic faith to promote their own violent agenda and paint a negative picture of America and other free nations, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.
“The idea that the reason there are problems in the world is the United States is baloney. We are not what’s wrong with the world,” Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon town hall meeting.
Any movement that begins with oppression and harshness is doomed to failure, and evidence of this can be seen in the conditions around the world, Rumsfeld said. He used the Korean peninsula as an example, noting that although North and South Korea share the same resources, the people in the South are flourishing with one of the world’s strongest economies, and the people in the North are starving.
“The only difference is the system,” he said. “The South has a free political system, a free economic system, and opportunity for people, and the North has a vicious dictatorship, and it has a command economy. That is the difference.”
Osama bin Laden and the other leaders in the terror movement are not poor people who have suffered through their lives, Rumsfeld said. Terror leaders are wealthy, educated people who have chosen to impose their views on everyone around them, he said, and that attitude strikes at the very heart of free people.
“That’s what we are — people who want to be able to say what we want, think what we want, go where we want, work where we want, and get up in the morning and send our kids to school and have high confidence they’ll come home,” he said.
The war on terror is unlike any conflict the U.S. has seen, because it does not involve a predictable, organized enemy, Rumsfeld said. The enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed many times in the last few years, and have influences from criminal elements and neighboring countries, he said.
The main problem in Iraq now is power struggles within different factions of the country — struggles that have historically been steeped in violence but must now be solved diplomatically, Rumsfeld said.
“The question is how do you move the debates from weapons to words? And that is what they’re going through and what they’re trying to do,” he said.
Iraqis understand the problems in their country are theirs to solve, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the town hall. People across Iraq are rejecting violence and working with the new government, and tribal leaders are banding together to stop the violence, he said.
Pace said that to bring peace to Iraq, “the Shiia and Sunni are going to have to love their children more than they hate each other.”