- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - If
the United States goes to war over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq,
the American military would move to "finish it fast," Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Thursday.
- "In the event that it becomes necessary, the United
States would do it in a manner that would be respectful of human life on
all sides, but would be determined to do the job and to finish it fast,"
he said in an Infinity Radio broadcast.
- Rumsfeld noted in response to questions from listeners
that occupying Iraqi forces collapsed quickly under assault from a U.S.-led
coalition in the Kuwait desert in the 1991 Gulf War, and that hundreds
of those soldiers at one point even surrendered to an unarmed journalist.
- "The idea that it is going to be a long, long, long
battle of some kind, I think, is belied by what happened" then, he
said when asked if another war might last a long time and even spread and
become "World War Three."
- "The Gulf War lasted five days. I can't tell you
if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks,
or five months. But it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that,"
- Contrasting the difference between the Gulf War and today,
the secretary said that "the United States military is vastly more
powerful and the Iraqi army and military capability has declined substantially."
- But he stressed that the United States and any other
coalition forces would have to "be prepared for the worst" if
a war was sparked by any refusal by Baghdad to comply with a new U.N. resolution
to end programs to develop weapons of mass destruction.
- Rumsfeld skirted a question on whether the United States
might use nuclear weapons to respond to any use of chemical or biological
arms by President Saddam Hussein's forces if Iraq is attacked.
- "We are communicating with people in that regime
the truth," the secretary said.
- "And the truth is that anyone who is in any way
connected with weapons of mass destruction and their use in the event of
a conflict would be held accountable. And people who helped to avoid that
would be advantaged."
- But "in the event that force has to be used with
Iraq, it will not be World War Three," he stressed.
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