Rumsfeld To NATO: Prepare Now For Emerging Threats
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
BRUSSELS, Belgium, Jun. 7, 2001 Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld told NATO defense ministers here June 7 that the trans-Atlantic alliance must prepare now for future threats to international peace and stability.
In his prepared remarks to members of NATO's North Atlantic Council, Rumsfeld acknowledged that Cold War threats "have receded, thanks in no small part to the work" of NATO members.
"We are leaving a world where our principal aim was to deter the Soviet Union, and we are entering a world where we will need to deter a variety of different actors, with a variety of different motivations, armed with a variety of different weapons," Rumsfeld said. "We need to take advantage of this period to ensure that NATO is prepared for the newer security challenges we will certainly face in the 21st century."
Rumsfeld counted off examples of future challenges to the trans-Atlantic alliance:
- Terrorism: Democracies' open borders and open societies make it easy and inviting for terrorist attacks.
- Cyberattack: Government and business dependence on computer-based information networks invites attack by individuals or political adversaries.
- High-tech weapons: Potential adversaries can easily acquire advanced weapons -- high-energy explosives, fast torpedoes, surface-to-air missiles, quiet diesel submarines -- and present new challenges in conventional war and force projection.
- Ballistic and cruise missiles and weapons of mass destruction: Lack of defenses against missiles invites their proliferation, which, combined with the development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, provides future adversaries the ability to terrorize populations and blackmail governments.
Rapid technological advances, along with the increasing power and reach of today's weapons, make it imperative for responsible governments to "prepare to meet these threats before they fully emerge," Rumsfeld said, calling the situation "a matter of some urgency."
Underlining his point, he noted that today, "rogue states are acquiring ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction." The availability of such destructive weapons, he added, is "putting unprecedented power in the hands of small countries and even terrorist groups, foreshadowing changes beyond any ability to forecast."
Rumsfeld arrived in Brussels June 6 to attend NATO meetings June 7 and 8. He will also attend a series of bilateral meetings June 8 with several NATO ministers of defense before flying to Finland for a Baltic region ministerial meeting. He is expected to return to Washington June 9.