WASHINGTON -- The U.S. goal is to reduce the global reach of terrorism, not to eliminate it entirely, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday.
At a news conference announcing home mortgage interest rate cuts for Reservists and members of the National Guard called to active duty, Rumsfeld was asked if Bush's goal is to stamp out terrorism.
"What we need to do is deal with terrorism so that it does not threaten our way of life," he said. "Trying to stamp it out in every single locale all across the globe in perpetuity sounds like a pretty big task to me." Eliminating terrorism, he added, is "setting a threshold that is too high."
President Bush, in contrast, has repeatedly said that his intention is to "rout out and whip terrorism."
"We will rid the world of evildoers," the president has said.
Rumsfeld stressed that the administration is still considering "a whole range" of options in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He said the aim is "to create a situation where it becomes in people's interest to not support terrorists or terrorist networks and, where they exist, to attempt to make life uncomfortable for them, and expel them or turn them in."
Bush on Monday notified Congress, in line with the War Powers Resolution, that he had ordered the deployment of "various combat equipped" and combat support forces to "a number of foreign nations" in the Middle East/Southwest Asia region. He provided no details and said he could not predict the scope and duration of these deployments.
"In the future, as we act to prevent and deter terrorism, I may find it necessary to order additional forces into these and other areas of the world," he wrote, saying the fight against terrorism will be long.
As the U.S. military buildup continued, the Air Force announced that it was invoking "stop loss" authority, preventing any member from retiring or otherwise leaving the service for at least 30 days. Those who already have approval to leave or retire before Oct. 1 are exempt, as are people who must retire due to disability.
Rumsfeld did not comment on a weekend report by the Russian Interfax news agency that three U.S. Air Force transport planes had arrived in Uzbekistan carrying about 200 U.S. troops and reconnaissance equipment. Uzbekistan shares a border with northern Afghanistan.
An official in Pakistan said the United States probably will be granted access to at least four airfields in Pakistan. Three are in the southwestern part of the country and one is in the northwest.
Rumsfeld declined to say whether the administration is intent on overthrowing the Taliban religious militia that rules most of Afghan-istan.