Three years after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, top U.S. officials see progress in the war on terrorism. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the war is not only against weapons but also against radical ideologies that aim to destroy and divide.
Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States and its allies are making progress on the war against terrorist networks but more needs to be done to cut off their financial and logistical support.
"We have to find out what it is that gives them sustenance in the places that they are operating in," he said. "We learned in Afghanistan that when the world was not paying attention and doing something about it al-Qaida essentially took over a country. So what we have to do is essentially dry up these potential sources, havens for these terrorist organizations."
In a speech at Georgetown University in Washington, Mr. Powell stressed that any counter-terrorism campaign must also address radical ideologies he says are sabotaging moderate religious and cultural thinking.
"It is therefore our obligation to understand and defeat terrorism as a tactic in a newly dangerous technological environment. But that's not enough," he said. "It is also our obligation to understand and defeat the ideology of the small fringe groups of evil doers who have deeply distorted the principles of great and profound world religious traditions. Weapons of mass destruction are animated by ideas of mass destruction and we must defeat both."
In his review of the three-year war on terrorism, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld echoes Mr. Powell's guarded optimism. But he warns against falling into the complacency he says existed before the 2001 terrorist attacks.
"As long as we continue our mission, as long as we work to change the terrorists way of life before they succeed in changing our way of life, s long as we avoid to a return to the false comfort of September 10, 2001, victory will come, just as it come in conflicts of the past," he said.
In a speech to the National Press Club, Secretary Rumsfeld acknowledged the world is facing a new and dangerous reality that complicates the war on terrorism.
"There are always going to people I'm afraid who engage in various types of violence and we're going to have to live in a world like that. And we're going to have to live in a world like that at a time when the lethality of weapons is increasing and the availability of those weapons are increasing," he said.
Like Mr. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Powell says failure in the war against terrorism is not an option. "We didn't start this struggle. We didn't invite it," he said. "And we don't relish it but we have no choice but to engage and prevail in this struggle because our freedoms and our hopes for a better world depend on us meeting this challenge and defeating it."
Both men spoke a day before the third anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks that claimed more than three thousand victims in New York, Washington and the nearby state of Pennsylvania.