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The Mission Determines the Coalition

The Mission Determines the Coalition

Source: News from the United States Department of Defense: DoD News Briefing: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2001 - 10:55 a.m. EDT. (Media stakeout in Washington, D.C., following broadcast of Face the Nation.)

Rumsfeld: (In progress) The president's speech was very clear. It is that he intends to do everything humanly possible to see that the terrorists and terrorist networks in this world are broken up and stop trying to attack the way of life of the American people and free people across the globe. Those terrorist networks could not operate successfully without the support of countries and businesses and banks and people and non-governmental organizations that harbor and finance and facilitate and tolerate them. And the president was as clear as he could be on that subject.

Q: Mr. Secretary --

Rumsfeld: Yes.

Q: Did the U.S. lose a reconnaissance plane over Afghanistan?

Rumsfeld: The United States has in fact lost a -- lost contact, I should say -- with an unmanned aerial vehicle. That happens from time to time in terms of the controls. We have no reason to believe it was shot down as the press is reporting.

Q: BBC World Service. We have millions of listeners inside Afghanistan who can't understand why they may be targets or (inaudible). What do you have to say to that?

Rumsfeld: You know, your question points up the complexity of this problem of terrorism.

First of all, the problem is not unique to Afghanistan. It is a problem that is -- there are terrorists operating -- just one organization, al Qaeda, has activities in some sixty nations. But if you take that one subject of Afghanistan -- and I wouldn't want to focus obsessively on it -- in Afghanistan, you have a great many Afghan people who are repressed, who are starved, who are -- do not agree with what the Taliban is doing -- certainly do not agree with what the al Qaeda is doing. Many of whom are fleeing the country. And it is a terribly sad situation, and we need to find ways to make absolutely certain that people understand that there is no one that is against the Afghan people or any people.

Second, there are many people in the Taliban who don't agree with the leadership of the Taliban. And so there's that great (inaudible).

Third, there are a lot of people in the Taliban who do not support the al Qaeda organization and would dearly love to see that group expelled from that country.

So, this is not something where you're doing to see a front and a Battle of the Bulge and some trench warfare against good people and bad people.

What we're seeing here is all of the complicated gradations and dimensions of this problem and our task -- the task of people who value freedom and the ability to get up in the morning as you people did and walk out without having to wear a flack jacket or hide in your cellar or look up and down the street for fear someone's going to shoot you.

We need to get people who believe in that way of life to help us with information. If they're a government, to help us by expelling people that are engaged in terrorist networks, and it will be people all across that spectrum. And it's an important fight and I think we're going to win it.

Q: (Inaudible) -- Colin Powell is -- maintaining the coalition, building the coalition is all-important. You've said, "Well, not really" you've said that the coalition doesn't dictate policy.

Rumsfeld: Colin Powell and I are together once or twice a day. We talk on the phone probably four or five times a day. We do not have differences. We are close friends and I have a great deal of respect for him. Human beings say things in different ways.

There is no question that he and the president and I are all in agreement that coalitions are enormously valuable. Obviously, there's no way that one country could go about this task and think they could accomplish anything without the cooperation not just of other countries, but of people in countries that are like the Afghan people where we need their help in terms of providing information and intelligence. Now, what I said is correct also. What I said was that the mission determines the coalition.

And the coalition must not be permitted to determine the mission. The president has stated the mission. It is clear. We're going to have different countries and different people in different countries supporting us with respect to these activities and possibly not those. They're going to support -- other -- still a different group will support us with a totally -- different set of activities. And that's perfectly understandable. No one agrees with everybody all of the time on everything. Even my wife doesn't agree with me all of the time.

Q: (Inaudible) -- troop deployment order. Have you signed one?

Rumsfeld: I have signed a number of troop deployment orders and what was first and what was second and whether there have been only two would be misleading.

Q: Recently, have you ...

Rumsfeld: I sign deployment orders almost every day for a variety of different things. Yes?

Q: Sir, the Taliban says that bin Laden is missing. Are you confident that you can find him, that you will be able to use his firepower, and that he's not going to be able to evade you?

Rumsfeld: No, I'm not confident that we will find him and use this firepower. Let's think of it this way. First of all, the fact is that the Taliban do know where the al Qaeda organization is. And the fact that they're saying that they don't is simply not credible. Second, is it likely that an aircraft carrier or a cruise missile is going to find a person? No, it's not likely. That isn't how this is going to happen. This is going to happen over a sustained period of time because of a broadly-based effort where bank accounts are frozen, where pieces of intelligence are provided and where countries decide that they want to change their policies and no longer create a hospitable environment for people that are running around, driving airplanes into World Trade Tower and the Pentagon, and that they want to expel those kinds of people. And no-one can know when it'll happen, or how it'll happen, but I -- first of all, I've got a lot of confidence in the American people, and free people across the globe, that they value that freedom and that they're willing to sustain a long effort.

And second, I've got a lot of confidence that the kinds of information we need to get, and indeed are starting to get, about how these terrorist networks function, and how we can root them out, is going to pay dividends. In what way, at what time, in what country, in what place is yet to be seen, but we are making progress.

And, I'll give you -- we think of a victory, the Battle of Midway in World War II. We had a victory yesterday. The United Arab Emirates broke diplomatic relations with the Taliban. There is a victory. There is an instance where a country said, Well, we've reflected on this, and we do not want to be a party to that.

We do not want to be in diplomatic relations with an activity, the Taliban in Afghanistan, that clearly has been harboring the al Qaeda network. And that is a good thing and an important thing.

Q: But Mr. Secretary, there are divisions within the Taliban. Are there sections of the Taliban with which you can work?

Rumsfeld: There are undoubtedly sections of most elements that, if we can persuade people that other elements in that activity are doing something that is going to cause great damage to them, that they best not be a party to it. And as they then incrementally move away and decide that they're not going to be supportive of that faction within Taliban, the faction that is pretending they don't know where the al Qaeda organization is located, which is laughable.

Some of the Taliban say, Well, it could get uncomfortable supporting those people. So, I think I'll shift sides. And we're seeing people shift sides all across the globe.

Q: But Mr. Secretary, how would you define the ultimate victory in this war?

Rumsfeld: The ultimate victory in this war is when everyone who wants to can do what everyone of us did today, and that is get up, let your children go to school, go out of the house and not in fear, stand here on a sidewalk and not worry about a truck bomb driving into us, and be able to be free in speech and thought and activity and behavior. And that's victory.

Q: You've got this policy --

Rumsfeld: I'm going to run. I gotta go to work. It's a workday for me.

This transcript was prepared by the Federal News Service Inc., Washington D.C., (202) 347-1400.



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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).