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Rumsfeld: Iraq Not "War on Terror"
Tells Cal Thomas Radio Show "'War on Terror" Label a Mistake
12/12/2006 10:54 PM ET
Here's the key excerpt from Rumsfeld's interview Monday on the Cal Thomas radio program:

CT: With what you know now, what might you have done differently in Iraq?

DR: I don't think I would have called it the war on terror. I don't mean to be critical of those who have. Certainly, I have used the phrase frequently. Why do I say that? Because the word 'war' conjures up World War II more than it does the Cold War. It creates a level of expectation of victory and an ending within 30 or 60 minutes of a soap opera. It isn't going to happen that way. Furthermore, it is not a 'war on terror.' Terror is a weapon of choice for extremists who are trying to destabilize regimes and (through) a small group of clerics, impose their dark vision on all the people they can control. So 'war on terror' is a problem for me.

I've worked to reduce the extent to which that (label) is used and increased the extent to which we understand it more as a long war, or a struggle, or a conflict, not against terrorism, but against a relatively small number of terribly dangerous and violent extremists. I say violent extremists because an extremist who goes off in a closet is extreme, but he's not bothering people. An extremist who has those views and insists on imposing them on free people strikes at the heart of who free people are. There are people who want to be able to get up in the morning and go where they want, do what they want and that is exactly the opposite of the vision of violent extremists.


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