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2/12/03 - RUMSFELD ON PREPARING FOR WAR - 2003-02-13

As U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said at the Munich Conference on European Security Policy, if war with Iraq becomes necessary, the United States will not wage it alone. The leaders of Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, and Spain recently issued a statement declaring that “the Iraqi regime and its weapons of mass destruction represent a clear threat to world security.” These countries pledged that they would “remain united in insisting that [the Iraqi] regime be disarmed.”

The statement of support was followed by an equally strong declaration by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia. They said that, “Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend shared values. . . . We are prepared to contribute to an international coalition to enforce [United Nations Resolution fourteen-forty-one] and the disarmament of Iraq.” As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, “Clearly the momentum is building –- momentum that sends a critically important message to the Iraqi regime about the seriousness of purpose and the world’s determination that Iraq disarm.”

War is never the first choice. But as Mr. Rumsfeld said, “the risks of war must be balanced against the risks of doing nothing while Iraq pursues the tools of mass destruction.” While conventional weapons can kill hundreds or thousands, weapons of mass destruction can kill tens of thousands. Perhaps the greatest danger is the potential for a terrorist state to transfer weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups.

The only question is: what will the international community do about it? The best chance for a peaceful solution, said Mr. Rumsfeld is to make clear that free nations are prepared to use force if necessary -- that the world is united and willing to act. If the rest of the world once again shows a lack of resolve, there is no chance that Saddam Hussein will disarm voluntarily or flee his country -- and little chance of a peaceful outcome.

As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said, “There are moments in history when the judgment and the resolve of free nations are put to the test. This is such a moment. The security environment we are entering is the most dangerous the world has seen.” Now is the time to stand united against Saddam Hussein.