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.