"The advance of freedom does not come without cost or sacrifice. Last November, I was in South Korea during their debate on whether or not they should send South Korean forces to Iraq. A woman journalist came up to me and put a microphone in front of my face -- she was clearly too young to have experienced the Korean war -- and she said to me in a challenging voice: 'Why should young South Koreans go halfway around the world to Iraq to get killed or wounded?'
Now that's a fair question. And I said it was a fair question. I also told her that I had just come from the Korean War memorial in Seoul and there's a wall that has every state of the 50 states in the United States with [the names of] all the people who were killed in the Korean War. I was there to put a wreath on the memorial and before I walked down there I looked up at the wall and started studying the names and there, of course, was a very dear friend from high school who was on a football team with me, and he was killed the last day of the war -- the very last day.
And I said to this woman, you know, that would have been a fair question for an American journalist to ask 50 years ago -- why in the world should an American go halfway around the world to South Korea and get wounded or killed?
We were in a building that looked out on the city of Seoul and I said, I'll tell you why. Look out the window. And out that window you could see lights and cars and energy and a vibrant economy and a robust democracy. And of course I said to her if you look above the demilitarized zone from satellite pictures of the Korean Peninsula, above the DMZ is darkness, nothing but darkness and a little portion (Inaudible.) of light where Pyongyang is. The same people had the same population, the same resources. And look at the difference. There are concentration camps. They're starving. They've lowered the height for the people who go in the Army down to 4 feet 10 inches because people aren't tall enough. They take people in the military below a hundred pounds. They're 17, 18, 19 years old and frequently they look like they're 13, 14, and 15 years old.
Korea was won at a terrible cost of life -- thousands and thousands and thousands of people from the countries in this room. And was it worth it? You bet.
The world is a safer place today because the Coalition liberated 50 million people - 25 million in Afghanistan and 25 million in Iraq."
-- Donald Rumsfeld
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