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Rumsfeld: Terrorism fight will be long haul

©Associated Press

© St. Petersburg Times,
published October 5, 2001


CAIRO -- The U.S.-led struggle to defeat terrorism is more likely to resemble the West's decades-long contest against communism -- fought on many fronts, often outside the military arena -- than a major shooting war, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Thursday.

Rumsfeld's comments offered the strongest suggestion yet by the Bush administration that, while the U.S. military will play a role in rooting out terrorists, its contribution may be smaller than commonly assumed.

U.S. military action also could come later rather than sooner. French Defense Minister Alain Richard said retaliation for the Sept. 11 terror attacks isn't likely for several weeks.

"The decisions to take action haven't been made," Richard said in Paris. "Everyone is going to prepare their own means that will be well-adapted for a joint effort. We aren't at the end of that."

Rumsfeld himself alluded to the unlikelihood of an early attack. "I haven't said we are undertaking military action," he said.

The United States has assembled more than 30,000 troops in the region around Afghanistan, including two aircraft carrier battle groups, a contingent of Marines, hundreds of land-based warplanes and preparations for Army special operations soldiers to conduct hit-and-run commando raids inside Afghanistan.

Rumsfeld indicated the first purpose of the growing force might be to apply military pressure rather than to launch a major attack, as the freezing of terrorist groups' money is applying a financial squeeze.

Today, Rumsfeld was to travel to Uzbekistan, on Afghanistan's northern border, and to Turkey to discuss the fight against terrorism. Before stopping in Cairo, Rumsfeld met with Sultan Qaboos in Oman.

Rumsfeld said the administration is satisfied with Egypt's response to Bush's antiterror campaign, although President Hosni Mubarak said Thursday that Egyptian troops will not be sent abroad for any military action.

"On the fundamental issue," Rumsfeld said, "there is no question but that President Mubarak and President Bush are of like mind: that the problem of terrorism is a very serious one and one that all know is something that is very difficult to defend against, which means that the only way to deal with it is to go at it where it is."

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