SINGAPORE – Seeking support from Asian nations, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (search) says the war on terrorism is a battle against brewing ideological extremism that must not be appeased.
"It must be confronted on many fronts by all civil societies," he said in a speech to an Asian security conference, dubbed the Shangri-La Dialogue (search), that included defense ministers, military officers, lawmakers and private security experts from about 20 countries.
Later Saturday Rumsfeld flew to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to discuss that South Asian nation's possible interest in sending peacekeepers to Iraq after an interim government takes over June 30. Rumsfeld met with Foreign Minister M. Morshed Khan and afterward told reporters they had discussed Iraq and Afghanistan but not the specifics of peacekeeping there.
Rumsfeld was also meeting with Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and senior Bangladeshi generals.
U.S. defense secretaries rarely visit Bangladesh, but Rumsfeld wanted to draw attention to the mostly Muslim nation as a model of the moderate Islamic country that denounces terrorism.
Thousands of anti-American protesters took to the streets of Dhaka on Friday, but there was no sign of hostility Saturday when Rumsfeld's entourage drove through the capital.
In his speech to the security conference, Rumsfeld called the U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq examples of progress in the global war on terrorism. He spoke only briefly about Iraq, saying success there would be "a victory for the security of the civilized world."
The Iraq issue arose during a question-and-answer session with Rumsfeld's audience, and he asserted that there is no acceptable alternative to continuing on the current path to a democratic Iraq.
He cited five unacceptable alternatives: civil war, anarchy, ethnic cleansing, a splintering of the nation into ethnic enclaves and the rise of a "junior version" of the deposed Saddam Hussein.
"As soon as we can, we want to pass off the security responsibilities to the Iraqis," but not before they are ready, he added.
Speaking of the broader U.S.-led war against terrorism, Rumsfeld said, "Despite considerable progress, the reality is that today we remain closer to the beginning of this struggle than to its end."
He cautioned that despite some successes in capturing al-Qaida figures in Asia and foiling some plots, the terrorists will strike again.
"Let there be no doubt, there is more to come."
Rumsfeld mentioned no specifics on U.S. plans to reduce troop levels in South Korea. "Though the way we organize may evolve and change, the United States is a Pacific nation, and we will most certainly maintain our security presence with modernized deterrent capabilities here in this region," he said.
Before delivering his speech, Rumsfeld met with his Australian counterpart, Robert Hill, and told reporters afterward that Washington appreciates Australia's support in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In his remarks Friday, Rumsfeld noted that some governments, which he didn't identify, see less of a threat in terrorism than the Bush administration does, and he compared the split in views to the early days of Hitler's rule in Germany in the 1930s. That is when, he said, some European nations argued that Hitler's military threats were empty rhetoric.
"Pretty soon he's got most of Europe, and the people who thought otherwise were wrong," Rumsfeld said. "There were people who thought he could be appeased; there were people who thought they could accommodate; there were people who thought they could make a separate deal. And it turned out they couldn't."