The people of Russia have experienced the extremes to which terrorists are prepared to go to achieve their ends. Terrorists killed more than three-hundred people, mostly children, at a school they seized in Beslan.
Three years ago, on September 11th, 2001, al-Qaida terrorists attacked the U.S., destroying the World Trade Center in New York City and damaging the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C. U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says extremists seek to terrorize men, women, and children whoever they are and wherever they may live:
“There are no free passes for countries. There are really no free passes for individuals. And for that reason, the civilized world has to stay on the offensive, and that’s exactly what the coalition is doing.”
Going on the offensive requires sacrifice. More than one-thousand Americans have died in Iraq since the war began. But “when combined with U.S. losses in other theaters in the global war on terror,” says Mr. Rumsfeld, “we have lost well more than a thousand already”:
“We remember the three-thousand citizens of dozens of countries who were killed on September 11th in 2001. And September 11th, 2001, was not the beginning of terrorism, and the war in Iraq has not created terrorism. International terrorists declared war on the civilized nations of the world some time back, and over the decades they have killed many thousands of Americans and citizens of other countries as well.”
Progress has been made. Three years ago, the Taleban regime in Afghanistan gave sanctuary to al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. Now the Taleban regime is gone and bin Laden is on the run. Next month, Afghans will hold a democratic election for president.
Three years ago, the regime of Saddam Hussein was oppressing Iraqis and making a mockery of United Nations resolutions. Now, Saddam Hussein is in jail and the people of Iraq are forming a representative government.
The progress in Iraq and Afghanistan has prompted a backlash from the Islamic extremists who want to impose a totalitarian ideology that denies both personal and political freedom. But these “enemies have underestimated our country [and] our coalition,” says Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.