Outgoing US military chief warns Iraq defeat to invite another 9/11


(Gold9472: fear... Fear... FEAR... to the last drop.)

Wednesday September 28, 2005 (0226 PST)

WASHINGTON: General Richard Myers has warned that a US defeat in Iraq would invite another September 11 attack and called for national resolve as he prepared to step down as chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff after four tumultuous years, reports said Wednesday.

At his last press conference as the top US military officer, Myers said extremists were using terrorism to try to break US will and drive American forces from Iraq.

"As a nation, our best weapons are patience and resolve or, in one word, our 'will'," he said. "We simply cannot afford to lose the will to finish the job at hand."

Myers, who steps down Friday as chairman, spoke following a weekend of anti-war protests in Washington and polls showing growing public disenchantment with a war that has claimed the lives of more than 1,900 US servicemembers.

"I think we will be victorious and we'll help with victory in Iraq, but Iraq's going to be perhaps a longer-term issue," he acknowledged.

"It's an insurgency that has to be dealt with probably over a longer period of time in which the political and economic instruments of power are going to play a major, major role," he said.

He warned against withdrawing US forces before the Iraqi government and security forces are capable of handling the insurgency.

If US forces were withdrawn prematurely and al-Qaeda dominated Iraq, he said, "then in my view we would have lost, and the next 9/11 would be right around the corner, absolutely."

A victory in Iraq "would be huge for al-Qaeda and their interests," he said. Al-Qaeda carried out the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.