By Jim Garamone
WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2006 – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will call upon Americans in a speech later today to "work hard to keep a 'Blame America First' mentality from undermining our efforts" in the global war on terror. Pentagon officials released excerpts of a speech the secretary will deliver to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Reno, Nev. Officials expect more than 2,300 veterans to attend the event.
Rumsfeld disputes critics who say the United States should not be in Iraq. "The extremists openly call Iraq the 'epicenter' in the war on terror," his speech asserts. "And they mean it. Yet even today, so many seem to want to argue otherwise." The remarks indicate Rumsfeld's concern about "the lack of perspective in our national dialogue today - the perspective of history, and an understanding of the new challenges and threats that free people face."
The secretary also points out that the United States is held to a near-impossible standard, while the terrorists are not. "Our forces strive to protect civilians; the enemy uses civilians as shields. As our troops strive to obey the laws of warfare, the enemy uses those laws against us. As our troops are held to a standard of near perfection, the enemy is held to no standard at all," he said. "And while some argue for tossing in the towel, the enemy is waiting and hoping for us to do just that," Rumsfeld will tell the VFW.
The speech will note that al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden believes the United States is a paper tiger--ferocious on the outside, but actually toothless. Rumsfeld will evoke past events to show the veterans the danger in giving the enemy the idea that Americans cannot stomach a tough fight. "It was after U.S. forces left Somalia in 1994 that Osama bin Laden concluded that American forces were a 'paper tiger,'" Rumsfeld will tell the VFW. "There are stories that Saddam Hussein gave copies of 'Black Hawk Down' - a film about U.S. difficulties in Somalia - to his commanders as an example of American weakness and faintheartedness."
The secretary's remarks will stress that Americans can handle the tough road and make the tough choices. "The great story of America is one of grit, of determination and victory," the secretary will tell the veterans. "And that story is still unfolding. Americans didn't cross oceans and settle a wilderness and build history's greatest democracy, only to run away from murderers and extremists who try to kill everyone they cannot convert and try to tear down what they could never build."