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Perry Speaks on Security Relationship With Russia

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 30, 1996 – The United States would like to continue developing the security relationship with Russia, with the "pragmatic partnership" between the countries doing much to secure peace in Europe and the world.

Defense Secretary William Perry, the first American defense secretary to speak to the military academy of the Russian general staff, brought this message during a recent visit to Moscow. He also spoke about NATO and tried to allay Russian resistance to the organization.

"Today, the two great nuclear powers, Russia and the United States, no longer stand in confrontation," Perry said. "Today, we have an opportunity to build a new relationship between our two countries."

Perry said the United States and Russia are forming a pragmatic partnership, because it is based on shared security interests.

Perry told the audience the U.S. defense policy could be summed up in three words: prevent, deter, defeat. The United States seeks to prevent threats from emerging, deter those that do and defeat those that don't heed deterrence. "These are not new concepts in defense thinking," he said. "But what's different today is the emphasis. Because today, the United States has the unique opportunity to foster peace through preventive defense."

Perry told the Russians preventive defense is much like preventive medicine. "Preventive defense creates the conditions that support peace, making war less likely and deterrence unnecessary," he said.

The United States has learned the lessons of the 20th century, Perry said. After World War I, the United States chose isolation over engagement and this led directly to World War II. After that war, the United States remained committed to world affairs and chose a preventive defense that only half of Europe bought into through participation in the U.S.sponsored Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe. The Soviet Union and the countries in Eastern Europe did not participate.

"That turndown was followed by the Cold War, where the dominant strategy was not prevention, but deterrence, which carried with it the mutual threat of nuclear holocaust," Perry said.

The United States and Russia have a new chance to learn from the lessons of the Cold War, he said. American and Russian service members have worked together on exercises. "These exercises are a chance for our soldiers to train together to promote understanding and cooperation," Perry said. "They serve to recognize the special responsibility that we have to work together as two of the world's great powers."

Perry squarely addressed NATO. "I know there are many in Russia who remember the Cold War and still fear and distrust NATO," Perry said. "But the Cold War is over. There is a new NATO."

He told of the changes to the Atlantic alliance in everything from numbers of service members to changes in strategy. In all this, Perry sought to assure Russia that NATO does not pose a threat and that NATO expansion is not a threat. Perry said the alliance is open to qualified new members and is not actively seeking new members. He said the security implications of an expanded NATO would pay off for Russia as well as Europe.

He did address Russia's concerns. "We must create a new, enhanced role for Russia within NATO, a role in which Russia should be able to participate in most of the activities of NATO," he said. "This would make the security circle in Europe even broader, and we would welcome and hope that Russia would play a major role in a superpartnership commensurate with its status as a great power."

Perry pointed to cooperation between U.S. and Russian commanders in Bosnia as a step in the right direction. One example of this historic cooperation was launching joint U.S.Russian patrols in Bosnia. Perry said many in Bosnia questioned whether the implementation force would be impartial. In the U.S. sector, specifically, many Serbs said the U.S. troops would favor the Muslims, while many Muslims said the Russians would favor the Serbs. "So the two brigade commander exercised ... judgment, skill and yes, bravery, since the whole world was wondering if the Russian and American units would work together," Perry said. "They put their heads together and said, 'tough problem, simple solution.' The simple solution was that they sent out joint patrols Americans and Russians patrolling together. ... And the question of whether IFOR was evenhanded disappeared."

The defense secretary spoke about U.S.Russian cooperation during World War II. "Fiftyone years ago, Russian and American forces reached out to each other across the Elbe [River in Germany] in a shared moment of hope and glory," he said. "Today, U.S. and Russian troops are sharing another bright moment on what they called the Little Elbe, a stream that runs through the camp they share in Bosnia."

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