On Tuesday, October 24, General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a press conference at the Pentagon. Fortunately, I was able to see it. If you were not, you can see it via C-SPAN here. You can read the transcript here.
We have an obligation as citizens, to make sure that we listen to our leaders and evaluate what they say, before we give our opinions or our votes to anyone.
Jim Garamone of the American Forces Press Service wrote two articles about the press conference, which are posted below.
Pace: Will of American People is Enemy's 'Center of Gravity'
The American people will make the right decisions in Iraq if they understand what’s at stake in the war on terror, the top U.S. military general said here today.
“Baghdad is the center of gravity in Iraq, and the American people are the center of gravity for our enemies,” Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a Pentagon news conference.
In military terms, an opponent's “center of gravity” is what prevents a force from accomplishing its objectives. For the United States, Baghdad is the most important city in Iraq and one that other sections in Iraq will follow. It is the center of gravity for the fight against terrorism in the country, he said.
The will of the American people to carry on the war on terror prevents the enemy from meeting its objective; it is the enemy’s center of gravity, Pace said.
He said Americans may be getting an overly pessimistic view of the war in Iraq. “If you go back to the beginning of this war, you remember we had 24-7 coverage of the war,” he said. “Any citizen who wanted to could avail themselves of as much information as they wanted to and come to their own decision about what we were doing right and what we were doing wrong.”
But as time went on, other stories crowded out this 24-7 coverage. News is a business, Pace said, and time, column inches and Internet space went to other stories. “So the time that's allocated ends up being allocated to the things that go ‘bang’ -- not the schools that are being built, not the girls that are going to go to school, not the highways that are being built, not the crops that are being grown, not the agreements that are being made politically, but the bombs that have been going off is what's being shown,” he said.
Pace said he believes that as a military leader, it is his responsibility to answer questions “so the American people can listen to my answers and answers from others and questions from others, from both sides of the problem, so they can make their own judgment.”
If leaders make that information available to the American people, they will find the right center of balance and make the right decision, he said. Pace said he has confidence that America will choose wisely.
Pace Confident Americans Will Grasp Nature of Terrorist Threat
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today expressed confidence that the American people will unite to defeat the terrorist threat once they see it for what it is.
At a Pentagon news conference, Marine Gen. Peter Pace said he is not “discouraged or disappointed” with the situation in Iraq and that the United States faces a long fight against an enemy that wants to destroy the American way of life.
The terrorist enemy has a 100-year plan, the chairman noted. “They've told us they want to go and establish a caliphate from Spain to Indonesia, and from there they want to attack the rest of the free world,” Pace said.
He said the terrorists have been at war with the United States since the late 1970s. Americans didn’t realize this until Sept. 11, 2001. “We're in this war primarily right now in Iraq and in Afghanistan, but when we are complete and successful in assisting the Iraqi government and in assisting the Afghan government, we are still … going to face decades of individuals and cells and groups that want to destroy our way of life,” he said.
The United States can handle this, the chairman said. “We as a nation have capacity to do whatever we need to do for the long haul to protect our children and our grandchildren. We've proved it against the Soviet Union,” he said.
Once Americans understood the nature of the Soviet threat, they worked together to provide the right resources and the determination to protect the country, Pace said, adding that it didn’t matter what party was in the White House.
He said the same will happen once Americans understand the nature of the enemy confronting the nation today. “I have great faith in the balance of the American people, and I take great comfort in knowing that as we are able to articulate what this threat is really about, that the American people will continue to stand side by side and behind us, and that we will be given the resources … to fight this war,” the chairman said.
“I am not looking forward to decades of having to be vigilant,” he said, “but I am looking forward to my grandkids living in the same United States that I grew up in.”