Islamic militancy could yield
world war-US general
By Scott Malone
11/18/06 "Reuters" -- ---
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov 17 - The top
U.S. general in the Middle East said on Friday that if the
world does not find a way to stem the rise of Islamic
militancy, it will face a third world war.
Army Gen. John Abizaid compared the rise of militant
ideologies, such as the force driving al Qaeda, to the rise
of fascism in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s that set the
stage for World War Two.
"If we don't have guts enough to confront this ideology
today, we'll go through World War Three tomorrow," Abizaid
said in a speech titled "The Long War," at Harvard
University's Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge,
If not stopped, Abizaid said extremists would be allowed to
"gain an advantage, to gain a safe haven, to develop weapons
of mass destruction, to develop a national place from which
to operate. And I think that the dangers associated with
that are just too great to comprehend."
Abizaid said the world faces three major hurdles in
stabilizing the Middle East region: Easing Arab-Israeli
tensions, stemming the spread of militant extremism, and
dealing with Iran, which Washington has accused of seeking
to develop nuclear bombs.
"Where these three problems come together happens to come in
a place known as Iraq," said Abizaid, who earlier in the
week warned Congress against seeking a timeline for
withdrawing U.S. troops from the country that is wracked by
insurgent and sectarian violence.
"The sacrifice that is necessary to stabilize Iraq, in my
view, must be sustained in order for the region itself to
become more resilient," Abizaid said.
A week after President George W. Bush's Republicans took a
drubbing in congressional elections largely because of voter
anger over the Iraq war, Abizaid said the United States had
underestimated the challenge of preparing Iraq security
forces to stabilize the violent country.
"We thought we could go from U.S.-led to Iraqi-led without
having to pay the price of the transition, in terms of
manpower and resources, etc.," Abizaid said. "Now we realize
we have to invest heavily in this transition so you can
bring them up faster."
In testimony to congressional committees on Wednesday,
Abizaid rejected calls to either boost U.S. troop levels to
quell the violence or to start a phased withdrawal from
He said the level of violence there was "unacceptably high"
and said the 140,000 U.S. forces currently deployed there
should focus on training Iraqi units.
Lawmakers from both parties criticized Abizaid's comments as
showing the Pentagon had not developed a new, effective plan
for the Iraq situation.
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