Thank you very much, John. Ministers, parliamentarians, officials, guests.
I see my predecessor Bill Cohen is here, and so many other friends.
Thank you so much to the Institute for hosting this conference. Certainly it brings a commendable focus to issues that are critical to freedom and security not just in Asia but around the world.
I certainly also want to thank the people of Singapore for their gracious hospitality. We value their friendship and appreciate their many contributions to the defense of freedom.
For more than a century, the United States has understood well its vital interests in the Asia Pacific Region. We’ve built important friendships here that have withstood tumultuous change, and which remain among America’s very highest priorities.
Today, in this new era, our close cooperation with allies and friends in Asia is more essential than ever. As the Prime Minister discussed last evening in his excellent remarks, the phenomenon of ideological extremism -- of which terrorism is the weapon of choice -- stands in the way of global political progress and economic prosperity, threatens the stability of the international order, and clouds the future of civil society.
Because it cannot be appeased, it must be confronted on many fronts by all civil societies.
So today I want to talk a bit about the way ahead in the global struggle of civilization versus extremism, and then touch on some of the longstanding issues of importance to the region.
Perhaps the best way to provide context is to look back at the world, what it looked like just some three-plus years ago.
The Cold War had ended, and many looked for an era of peace. Some believed future conflicts would be minor, and that military alliances had lessened in importance.
Others recognized that we might be facing an era of the unexpected, the unforeseen, and the unplanned.
Then, as has been suggested, on a bright September morning, those concerns proved prescient.
In an instant, the twin towers of the World Trade Center were aflame, killing men, women, and children from nations all across the globe. The Pentagon became a battle zone. Passengers sacrificed their lives on a hijacked plane that crashed into the fields of Pennsylvania.
Stunned Americans faced this new world with resolve. We turned instinctively to our longtime friends, including many here in Asia and the Pacific. They offered sympathy, support, and resolve.
I am grateful to be able to say today that our friendships here are strong -- not least our steadfast friends here in Singapore.
An 80-nation coalition against terrorism was quickly formed – probably one of the largest coalitions in the history of mankind. Their achievements in the past several years speak for themselves. Together, we’ve:
· Liberated some 50 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan;
· Captured or killed nearly two-thirds of known senior al-Qaeda operatives;
· Arrested al-Qaeda’s Southeast Asia chief, who revealed crucial information about operations in this region;
· Detained or arrested at least 200 members of the JI [Jemaah Islamiyah] terror group;
· Seized or frozen some $200 million in terrorist assets; and
· Prompted Libya to voluntarily renounce terrorism and disclose and dismantle programs related to weapons of mass destruction.
Despite the considerable progress, the reality is that we remain closer to the beginning of this struggle than to its end. Terrorists continue to inflict violence and death across the globe.
· attacked targets in Saudi Arabia just last month;
· killed innocent people on trains in Madrid;
· blown up a nightclub in Bali;
· struck a hotel in Jakarta;
· launched a series of attacks in the Philippines;
· killed innocent men and women in Istanbul;
· and murdered many other innocent citizens across the globe.
And here terrorists plotted a major attack, only to be thwarted by vigilant officials.
But let there be no doubt, more is to come.
The message is unmistakable: no area of the world is immune from extremists’ attacks. A terrorist need only be lucky once or twice; civil society needs to be prepared always. Terrorists can attack at any time, in any place, using any conceivable technique. And as the Ministers in this room know, it is impossible to defend at every moment against every conceivable technique, in every conceivable location.
So the only way – indeed the only way -- to win this global struggle -- this war -- call it what you will -- is to go on the offense and to root out terrorists at their source, and for us to collectively put steady pressure on them and all of their enablers that sustain them. As the Prime Minister said last evening, we need to do even more than simply attempt to capture, kill or thwart terrorists. We have to find ways to persuade young Muslims that the way of the future is through education and opportunity – not through suicide and terrorism.
For several years, the United States has been considering how to refocus its military posture to meet the changes of this new century. Future dangers will less likely be from battles between great powers, and more likely from enemies that work in small cells, that are fluid and strike without warning anywhere, anytime -- enemies that have access to increasingly formidable technology and weapons.
So we have developed some concepts that we think should guide America’s security presence in this new world. And we have been and will continue to seek the advice and counsel of our friends and allies over the coming months.
Let me set out some of those principles:
· First is strengthening our partnerships with existing allies and friends and working with new ones;
· Second is developing greater flexibility to deal with the unexpected;
· Another is focusing on more rapidly deployable capabilities and power, rather than simply static presence and mass;
· Another is breaking down artificial barriers between regions in our planning, since today’s dangers know no regional boundaries.
Since the global war on terror began, we have witnessed the forging of new partnerships and closer cooperation with longtime friends.
· We have reinvigorated long-standing relationships with countries like India and Pakistan;
· We have forged new relationships with countries like Yemen and Uzbekistan;
· We’ve been working with the Philippines upgrading security programs;
· We’ve improved intelligence-sharing with longstanding alliesand friends in Europe, Australia, and East Asia; and we’ve developed a better relationship with China.
· NATO is now leading the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan;
· Many allies and friends have contributed forces to help reconstruct Afghanistan and Iraq – including friends from this region -- New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, Japan, Mongolia, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, and Thailand, to mention just a few, are helping with reconstruction and in other ways.
Though the way we organize may evolve and change, the United States is a Pacific nation, and we will most certainly maintain our security presence with modernized deterrent capabilities here in this region.
We are committed to the security of our allies and friends, whether against traditional challenges or new challenges.
The new challenges include not only terrorism, but the growing danger of the nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. We know that extremists are seeking still more powerful means to inflict damage on even greater numbers of innocent men, women, and children.
Recognizing this danger, the United States and a growing number of partners have pushed forward the Proliferation Security Initiative, forming a new international coalition to:
· coordinate efforts to interdict the transfer of weapons of mass destruction, delivery systems, and related materials;
· improve information-sharing about suspected proliferation activities; and to
· work with international organizations to strengthen legal authorities to accomplish these vital objectives.
More than 50 nations have already expressed support for this initiative, including many of the nations represented here today. Japan and Australia have been active, as well as other countries here.
Let me offer an example of what can be accomplished when concerned nations work closely together.
As you know, A.Q. Khan, was regarded as the architect of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. What many did not know, until recently, was that he had also constructed an elaborate international network that spanned Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and elsewhere, to proliferate nuclear technology to a number of outlaw regimes, including Iran and North Korea.
Over recent years, the United States and several other governments have worked closely to unravel the Khan network. Today, Khan has been stopped. His criminal enterprise is out of business. And at least one key supply line for civilization’s most determined enemies has been closed.
Consider how much more progress could be made if our entire 80-nation global coalition made the fight against proliferation a top priority.
North Korea poses another serious challenge to the international community’s decades-long effort to prevent nuclear weapons proliferation. A year and a half ago, it became clear that North Korea was violating its nonproliferation commitments.
Today, the United States strongly supports the multinational diplomatic effort to solve this problem. We are certainly pleased that China has agreed to play a leading role. It is important that this diplomacy succeed.
China, of course, is an emerging power. The United States seeks to cooperate with it in many fields –- diplomacy, economics, and global security. The world would welcome a China that is committed to peaceful solutions and whose talented people contribute to international peace and prosperity.
My country has demonstrated that the best foundation for that peace and prosperity is in the continuing advance of openness and democracy.
Most of the nations in the Asia-Pacific region understand that well. Their modern histories are testaments to the benefit of self-government, political freedom, and freer economic systems.
In the past three years, the world has welcomed to this family of free nations 50 million Iraqis and Afghans. Their road to liberty has not been smooth, but that road is never smooth.
Later this month, our multinational coalition will hand over power to the newly announced interim Iraqi government. The rise of a free and-governing Iraq will deny terrorists a base of operation, discredit their violent ideology, and may well provide more momentum for reformers across the region. Success in Iraq will be a victory for the security of the civilized world.
Terrorists know this, and they are seeking to derail this progress. Their fear is that one day the Middle East will shed itself of their tyranny and violence and replace the law of terror with governments of the people.
Yet even today, some ask if such a breathtaking transformation is really possible. I suggest they come to Asia.
Think of how much has changed here in Asia, in this region, just in the last few decades. A century ago, a number of the region’s great nations were not free nations, or were torn by civil strife.
Today, Asia is one of the world’s fastest-growing centers for the creation of opportunity, of prosperity, and of knowledge. Asian nations have found firm footing on the road to democracy and prosperity through freer economic systems.
None of this has been easy, but the true measure of a people is their ability to persevere, to overcome hardship and difficulty, and build a better future. In this, the people of Asia have few equals.
So in these difficult times, dangerous times, in many respects perilous times, the United States is privileged to have such close bonds with so many courageous and steadfast friends.
Thank you very much.
Now we can move on to some questions. I’ll answer those I know the answer to, and I’ll respond to those I don’t.
Voice: Daniel Foam.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, thank you for that comprehensive [inaudible]. Let me ask a specific policy question. Given China’s dependence on imported oil, particularly from Angola, over and above Saudi Arabia, [inaudible]. What is the U.S. policy position should China professed intent to develop a blue-water navy –
Rumsfeld: To do what?
Q: To develop a blue-water navy to defend its shipping lanes, and [inaudible] China’s [inaudible]. Would it be sensible to have a modus [effendi] and which would be beneficial to both sides? And would that be discussed as between Admiral Fargo and General [inaudible]?
Rumsfeld: I guess that’s a question I’m going to respond to as opposed to answer.
Needless to say, every sovereign nation does what it will with its resources, and to the extent that the People’s Republic of China invests in a blue-water navy as they seem to be doing, that’s their choice. My personal view is that the sea lanes of the world are available to the world and they’re available for the world’s commerce in a whole host of ways and I don’t know particularly that there is any immediate need for the United States to engage in a discussion with the People’s Republic of China on that subject.
Does this respond to your question?
Q: Thank you, but China I believe would be interested to know that the United States either does not oppose the development of a blue-water navy if [inaudible], and of course for the Pacific Fleet it would be helpful I think to have some rules of engagement which would prevent miscalculation. Because the sea-lanes are very narrow, particularly in this part of the world as everybody knows.
Rumsfeld: As I say, it seems to me that each country can get up in the morning and decide what’s in its interests and make its own judgments about how it wants to invest its resources. It would not surprise me to see the People’s Republic of China continue along that path. I don’t know that we would need any particular rules of engagement as between our Navy and the People’s Republic of China’s Navy any more than we have and the way we conduct ourselves today, is that there’s freedom of the seas.
Voice: Robert O’Neill.
Q: Mr. Secretary, [inaudible] Chairman of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, and our focus very much on developments in East Asia. You touched on North Korea. The IISS recently produced an excellent report which points to the very disturbing capacity North Korea may well be developing.
Michael Richardson who addressed the question to Prime Minister Doh [ph] last night has recently produced a very powerful report on prospects for maritime terrorism. As he shows I think fairly convincingly, the North Koreans could have a disavowable way of getting a radiological bomb or perhaps even a nuclear warhead into a United States port.
How well situated is the United States to deal with a North Korea which directly or indirectly becomes involved in violence outside its borders?
Rumsfeld: Imperfectly is how I would characterize the way the United States is arranged. North Korea has, by its own statements, indicated, in its behavior, that it is engaged in a variety of things that are considered illegal and antisocial by the civilized countries in the world. They engage in counterfeiting, they engage in terrorist acts, they have been proliferating various WMD technologies and delivery mechanisms. It is a country that operates well outside the norms of normal behavior.
The announcements that they’ve made with respect to their own capabilities have been quite expansive, although they vary from time to time their public pronouncements as to what their capabilities are.
It seems to me they’ve demonstrated a willingness to export anything, and so to the extent they have the capabilities that they have indicated they have, reasonable people in the world have to assume they’d be willing to sell or use most of those capabilities.
Our country, like most of the countries in this room, is a free country. The reason we are successful is because we have a bond of trust. We don’t fear everything. Therefore we don’t guard everything. People are free to do a great many things in the United States. And of course free nations that are rooted in trust among people are not well organized to defend against terrorist attacks. That’s just a reality. We don’t get up in the morning and look around the corner to see if someone’s going to kill us. We go about our business.
So it is a risk that exists in the world not just for the United States but for every free country, that increasingly powerful weapons can in fact be moved between countries in a variety of different ways and the lethality of these capabilities grows every year. The likelihood, I would submit, the likelihood of terrorist networks or terrorist states getting their hands on these increasingly powerful weapons and using them is growing every year, which is why the proliferation, counterproliferation initiative is so important and why countries simply must cooperate together, because there is no way a single country can effectively deal with the problem of proliferation. It takes cooperation among all the civilized countries of the world.
Voice: Fred [ph] Sisowath, Co-Minister of Defense of Cambodia.
Q: Thank you very much, Secretary Rumsfeld. We are happy you are here. We have been hoping for the last two years to see you.
[Inaudible] the United States and the allied forces in the region who have [inaudible]. I also want to encourage you not to [forget] the [Abu Sayyaf] problem, [inaudible] what you are doing for Iraq.
I remember well the case in the early ‘70s [inaudible] South Vietnam at the time that you have a problem with a young lieutenant by the name of [inaudible], not [inaudible]. That also affects United States reputation [inaudible].
I am glad to [hear] yesterday at the Security Council’s meeting whereby the Iraqi Foreign Minister mentioned that he wished to see the confirmation of the U.S. and its allies remain in Iraq.
Speaking purely on the experience I have in my country, barely two years after the announcement of the halting of the bombing [inaudible] China by U.S. forces. Cambodia, South Vietnam and Laos [inaudible]. So I am against those who call for the United States to [inaudible] a timetable of U.S. forces and its allies to withdraw from Iraq. I see the Iraqi [inaudible] still very young. [Inaudible] security. Cambodia [inaudible] and civilian people to [inaudible].
So I hope this will happen to the Iraqi people because many of the Saddam [loyal] are still out there [inaudible] activity of what you are doing to help the people. It also opened an eye to tyrant [inaudible] and the need to oppress the people that they [inaudible]. What you are doing in Iraq also will open the door to democratization of the region and the [inaudible] of human rights and justice.
This is my short comment, and I think you should continue to be in Iraq until Iraq is stable. [Inaudible] Cambodia [inaudible] in Iraq, sir.
Rumsfeld: Thank you so very much for those thoughtful words and words that are rooted in history.
We are, as you suggest, engaged in a test of wills and there is no way the coalition forces can be defeated on the battlefield. They simply cannot. The only way that an outcome such as you have characterized could occur is if we failed in the test of wills. When one thinks of the alternatives, the alternatives are clear. You could have anarchy, you could have civil war, you could have ethnic cleansing, you could have the country broken up into pieces, you could have another Saddam Hussein, a junior version, arrive on the scene and take over and reimpose a vicious dictatorship and start filling up mass graves again. So there is no alternative but pursuing this effort, transferring power to the Iraqi people, being steadfast and determined. Despite the fact that it is enormously difficult in a world with 24-hour-a-day news, seven days a week, that focuses on the difficulties, the problems, the ugliness, and that’s there to be sure, and ignores the progress. The fact that the schools are open and people are going to school and they have new textbooks; the clinics are open, the hospitals are open; the dinar, the new currency, exists and it’s been steady; the economic progress being made – almost none of which gets reported on, in the emphasis being on the negative.
The Iraqi people, fortunately, in the latest data I’ve seen are something like 80 percent grateful that Saddam Hussein is gone. Notwithstanding the hardships, the unemployment, the difficulties they see. I think it’s something like 90 percent for the Kurds and 80 percent for the Shia and even the Sunnis are at around 50 percent, relieved that Saddam Hussein is gone. But that view of the world seldom gets communicated.
When I go there I feel like it’s a sanity check. The people you talk to there have confidence, they’re pleased with the progress they see on the ground, they recognize that it’s difficult and tough and they recognize there are problems and they recognize people are being killed and people are being wounded, and they recognize that mistakes get made. But overall they are optimistic and convinced that the progress that’s being made is real and measurable and appreciated.
I know the amount of effort that’s going into training the Iraqi security forces. You point out they’re not ready to take over yet. You’re quite right. We’ve gone from zero to something like 206,000 Iraqi security forces. They’re uneven in their training, they’re uneven in their equipment. They have yet to develop a chain of command that runs up through Iraqis all the way to the top. That is now being done.
On the other hand, the reports that they have run and not been willing to fight have in my view left an inaccurate impression. It is true that some police that were never intended to be front-line troops, facing people with RPGs and AK-47s and they had small arms, left their posts. Not unreasonable, I think. It’s also true that over 325 Iraqi security forces have been killed, so it’s not like they’re sitting in their barracks with their fingers in their ear not participating. They are participating. And more are getting trained every day and more are getting better equipped every day, and the interesting thing to me is notwithstanding the fact that there are targeted assassinations of police chiefs and targeted assassinations of members of the Governing Council and governors and city council members. The fact is people are standing in line to perform those responsibilities. There are people standing in line to join the Iraqi security forces today. And so that’s a good thing.
Our task is to get the governance passed to Iraqis later this month, have them take over responsibilities, recognize that they won’t be perfect, that it will be a bumpy road for them, a difficult road. Goodness, it was a difficult road for the United States going from where we began to a democratic system. It’s been tough for Japan, for Germany, for Italy. Those transitions as they navigated from where they were to where they are today were very bumpy. People were killed, mistakes were made, and people had to get picked up and put back on the right path. That’s going to be the case with Iraq.
But as soon as we can we want to pass off the security responsibility to the Iraqi security forces and we’ll do it as soon as we can, as soon as they’re ready, and put a lot of effort into getting them ready, but we won’t do it prematurely in a way that they then would fall and fail. Our goal is to have them succeed because we think it’s important for 25 million Iraqi people and we also think it’s important for the region.
And I must say, look at Afghanistan. Afghanistan without a tradition is moving – not smoothly. It’s bumpy there, too. But they’re moving along a path towards elections with a government that’s an interim arrangement, but doing a good job at it and making compromises and planning for the elections and including everyone in that society for the first time in a great many years, including women. And demonstrating a degree of respectfulness for all of the various diverse religious and minority groups that exist in that nation. And I’m hopeful there as well.
So I thank you for your thoughts and your comments.
Voice: Mr. Mi [ph], in the middle of the third row, center.
Q: I am [inaudible] of Korea National Defense University. I have two short questions.
In regarding North Korea as a [inaudible] issue, six-party talks in essence is really time-taking process. Is there any way the United States policy initiative to accelerate the resolution of [inaudible]? The first question.
Second question is the United States is taking out one brigade from Korea to send to Iraq. In regard to corresponding reduction of North Korea’s conventional threat it could give wrong signal to North Korea because it reduces deterrent power. Do you give any thought to arms control, to link reductions and the pull out of U.S. forces in Korea to corresponding measures in North Korea such as pull-back of North Korea [inaudible] area? Thank you.
Rumsfeld: First, the talks that are underway represent a diplomatic effort to deal with the issues relating to North Korea. You asked does the United States have any plans to accelerate that. Needless to say, time works to the advantage of North Korea. Assuming their behavior is to continue, their programs, the longer it takes the more dangerous their capabilities presumably would become. The answer is that the United States is working closely with the other participants in those talks – with China and Japan, the Republic of Korea and others – in an effort to move them along as fast as they can be moved along. And I don’t know that anyone has a magic wand that could be waved over that and make it go faster. The diplomatic path is always something that works at a pace that’s consistent with the participants and the interests of the participants.
So I can assure that the President and Secretary Powell will continue to be pushing forward. It will require the close coordination and cooperation of all of the nations involved. It’s sufficient persuasiveness is to be developed in a way that will cause North Korea to conduct itself in a more civil way.
With respect to the other question, it’s going to be a hard thing to do but we’re all going to have to think about the 21st Century in a way that’s different from the 20th Century. To the extent we are hung up on counting numbers of things – ships, guns, tanks, planes, people – we will find ourselves deceiving ourselves about capability.
Take a bomb. You could have ten bombs, ten dumb bombs. You can have two smart bombs. They can do twice the damage of ten dumb bombs. Now if you think to yourself you’ve suddenly gone from ten bombs to two; you’ve weakened the deterrent; and you’ve put in jeopardy stability because you’ve gone down numerically and ignore the reality that you’ve gone up in lethality and capability and accuracy and precision, then the only one that’s fooled is yourself. That is equally true of ships, it’s true of aircraft, it is true of the leverage that’s achieved by joint capabilities as opposed to simply deconflicting between services.
Mass is interesting. Speed is even more interesting. And I think that you’ll find that the North Koreans will not believe that there has been a weakening of the deterrent because when one looks at the totality of the U.S. and the Republic of Korea’s capabilities, and how they’re arranged and will be arranged, there may be some moving parts from time to time, but the deterrent will be strong, it will be healthy, and it will continue to contribute to stability in that part of the world for the foreseeable future, notwithstanding some adjustments that may get made from time to time.
Voice: Mr. Barry Dester on the right hand side, third row down, Director of the Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies here in Singapore.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, your analysis of the North Korean regime responds to [inaudible] earlier question is strikingly different from what we have heard coming from the current South Korean administration. The South Korean perspective has also been strengthened by the recent election victory of the President’s party. Doesn’t the trend towards a closer North/South Korean relationship result in a misalignment between the United States and South Korea? And does it also not undermine the rationale for the continued U.S. presence in South Korea?
Rumsfeld: I think not. I think the interests of the United States and the Republic of Korea and the nations in that part of the world is to have a peaceful Korean Peninsula. That’s a rather important beginning premise. The cooperation between our country and the Republic of Korea has gone on for decades. It’s been close. It’s been successful. They have not had a conflict on that peninsula during the period since the end of the Korean War.
There have been from time to time perspectives that are different among countries. There have also been times when perspectives have been similar but courses of action have varied. And it seems to me that that ought not to be a surprise. It also happens that countries from time to time change their direction or their perspective. But the thing that’s been consistent and is consistent today is the reality that North Korea has some military capability. It is a threat on the peninsula of some dimension – people can debate exactly what. It is also a threat as a proliferator, not just to the peninsula but to the rest of the world. We know that for a fact because we know that they have transferred ballistic missile technology to any numbers of other countries. So on that basic fact I think we agree.
Second, we agree that it’s important that they not be enticed into an adventure that could cause a conflict on that peninsula. So we’ve worked together with the Republic of Korea very successfully for many many decades to see that that didn’t happen.
Now how will the talks come out? We’re all in agreement that the talks should take place, so it seems to me there’s a great deal more where the interest is similar and the perspective is similar and the approach is similar than dissimilar, notwithstanding the way you cast your question.
Voice: The next question is on the far left side, Ralph Cossack, from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, United States.
Q: Thank you, Ralph Cossack from the Pacific Forum in Honolulu, part of CSIS.
Building on Barry Dester’s question, I wonder if you could say a few words about the strength of U.S. alliances in East Asia and the impact that coalitions of the willing may have on alliance maintenance. And more specifically, are you concerned that we may actually be creating what I would call coalitions of the reluctant where allies are participating in coalitions in the name of alliance maintenance but perhaps at the cost of public support for the alliance themselves? I wonder also if you might say a few words on the future force structure in the Asia Pacific region. Thank you.
Rumsfeld: That’s an interesting question and certainly a good one. We have a variety – many of our countries are part of a variety of international organizations and alliances, with overwhelmingly participants in the United Nations, some are participants in NATO, others have bilateral alliances and strategic alliances. And they’re important. They tended to evolve for specific reasons. The world tends to evolve and go on, and technologies change, and circumstances change, and someone could make the case, as your question suggests, that it’s critically important that everyone agree within a given alliance to a certain course of action.
The other case could be made that from time to time each country has to make up their own decision and they have different histories, different perspectives, different hopes, different fears, and it doesn’t make sense for everybody to agree all the time on everything, which is how you arrive at a coalition of the willing. And it seems to me that for example, take the proliferation security initiative. One could say well, we shouldn’t have done that because that’s a coalition of the willing. That’s something that’s separate from the UN or separate from NATO or separate from some other alliance or relationship. I would submit to the contrary that it is a very good thing to do and that one ought not to expect every country to agree with every other country on every single issue all the time. The proliferation security initiative, which is a coalition of the willing, is a good thing and to the extent it gets going and gains support, it’s now some 50 nations, it may contribute to reducing proliferation of lethal technologies in ways that will benefit countries in the coalition and also countries that aren’t in the coalition.
Now, to go to the negative part of your question about coalition of the reluctant. I hope not. I really do. I believe that countries ought to do that which is in their own interest. We do not go around putting pressure, I hope other countries don’t either, on countries to do something that is against their interest. We want countries to step up and participate in activities that they believe makes sense to them. So to the extent they want to participate, for example, in Afghanistan and assisting the Afghan people to establish a system that’s respectful of all their population, all of the women and all of the ethnic groups and help to reconstruct that country, why, good. And if for whatever reason historically or geographically they don’t want to do that, that’s fine, too. They ought not to do something that they’re reluctant to do, in my view.
I guess I’m not surprised that the world is evolving the way it’s evolving. There are a lot of hopes that the United Nations, for example, would solve the problems of the world. Let’s take a recent one that’s kind of isolated and we can look at it in a microcosm. Take Haiti. Haiti’s got lots of troubles and it was in duress and there were riots and they needed help. The United Nations wasn’t ready to help. It did not have the ability to step in fast and do something about that.
So the United States agreed to help form a coalition of the willing, to use your term – not a coalition of the reluctant – and four or five countries, God bless them, stepped up and put troops in and helped to stabilize the situation and reduce the number of deaths that might have occurred and reduce the humanitarian disaster that might have occurred, and worked with the United Nations to get the United Nations to fashion a resolution where they would then follow on and put a UN force in there to succeed that coalition of the willing. That is now happening this week. Months later, many months later. But thank goodness that the countries that agreed to go in and help out at the outset, a coalition of the willing, did it, stabilized the situation, created an environment that’s hospitable for the United Nations force to take its time, fashion a new coalition, blue hat them, I guess, send them in there as they’re just starting to go in to take over that responsibility.
So I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I don’t think any of those terms are bad, I think that we need to face the world as we find it and recognize that one size doesn’t fit all. There are going to be things we’re going to have to do one way, and there are going to be things we’re going to have to do another way, and so be it. We all have to just do the best we can, it seems to me.
Voice: Ross Babage in the middle, about the fourth row down, from Australia.
Q: Thank you, John.
Mr. Secretary, you mentioned in your presentation from the campaign against global terrorism the importance of preventing a new generation of recruits flowing to the terrorist cause. I wonder if you’re satisfied with the strategy to defeat the national terrorism, is it in fact sufficiently coherent and coordinated to win? In particular, are you satisfied that the coalition’s political warfare operations have gained sufficient traction to prevent new recruits from signing up to the terrorist cause?
Rumsfeld: I’m certain we have not been successful. As the Prime Minister, I forgot whether he mentioned it in his remarks or at the dinner table, but clearly, if the schools that are teaching young folks are teaching them terrorism and suicide bombing and hatred instead of mathematics or science or language or things that can help them become productive members of the society, we’ve got a problem. The world has a problem. And it’s quite clear to me that we do not have a coherent approach to this. I think it’s very difficult for people who are not part of that religion to provide the leadership because what you have is a civil war, a struggle in that religion where a small minority of people are trying to hijack it and to focus it in a way that is hostile to civil society. Not the majority, by any means, but we as free people have not developed the skills to counter that. We’re not focusing on it. We’re focusing on law enforcement, we’re focusing on terrorist networks, we’re focusing on trying to defend against terrorist attacks, but terrorism is simply a technique being used by extremists. It is not the problem in and of itself, it’s a weapon that’s being used.
The rest of the world has not successfully organized, trained, cooperated, in a way that we have put, for example, President Musharraf is trying to improve the school systems in Pakistan. It takes money. There’s lots of money flowing into the madrasas schools that are teaching terrorism, but it takes money into those schools to get them to teach mathematics or science or languages. And the rest of the world needs to participate in that. President Musharraf, in my view, has stepped forward. He’s opposed terrorism. He’s actively trying to be helpful in the global war on terror, and yet simultaneously in that part of the world we see more terrorists being trained.
It is something that’s going to take cooperation and I don’t frankly see a coalition that’s organized to do it – whether they’re reluctant or willing either one. I don’t see any existing international organization that’s organized to do it. I don’t even see very many countries that are focusing on it. And it’s worrisome. It worries me because if people talk about a global war on terror or a global insurgency or a struggle between people who want to destroy the state system and people who want to defend the state system, I don’t see an effort going into that.
If we can’t answer the question are you winning or losing the global war on terror, because we know only what we’re being successful at – the things I listed. The numbers of people captured, the numbers of people killed, the numbers of terrorist events stopped. We know those things. What we don’t know is what’s coming in the intake. How many more of those folks are being trained and developed and organized and deployed and sent out to work the seams and the shadows and the caves? And each year that goes by has a growing likelihood that they’re going to have their hands on increasingly lethal capabilities.
The civilized world doesn’t know the answer to that question. And so your question’s right on the mark. The answer is I’m certain we don’t have our arms around that piece of it.
Voice: -- Jonathan Pollack.
Q: Secretary Rumsfeld, you’ve mentioned Pakistan and you’ve mentioned President Musharraf in the context of the war on terrorism. I’m wondering if you might address, however, more about the question of our increasing knowledge, but imperfect knowledge to be sure, about the activities of A.Q. Khan and his network and in particular whether the United States is reasonably well satisfied that we are receiving from Pakistan the kind of information that we need, and in your judgment do you think that direct access to Dr. Khan and all of his activities, all of the information on his past activities, is appropriate or should we simply be working through the government of Pakistan in whatever form the people are prepared to cooperate, given that they are not, after all, a member of the [EPT]?
Rumsfeld: Well, you know, you never know what you don’t know. We know a lot about A.Q. Khan and what he was doing in this part of the world and in Europe and in the Middle East, and we know a lot about the countries he was assisting in a variety of ways with nuclear technologies and programs. I have confidence that President Musharraf has stopped him and that that network has been dismantled. That’s a good thing. I think that President Musharraf has handled it in a way that is successful and helps to protect the world from that rogue network that did exist and was functioning and the world’s a better place for what he and the other countries that are participating in dismantling that network have accomplished.
Voice: Adam Ward, the International Institute for Strategic Studies on the right hand side.
Q: Thanks very much.
What is your response to the recent effort by the French and German governments to lift European Union’s arms sales embargo to the People’s Republic of China?
Rumsfeld: I think I’ll leave that to the Department of State. [Laughter]
Voice: In which case Ken Lieberthal, right beside the previous questioner Jonathan Pollack, in the middle.
Q: Mr. Secretary, you’ve repeatedly come back to the issue of the proliferation of nuclear weapons or nuclear capability by North Korea, the enormous dangers that that potentially poses. This North Korean nuclear program, as you noted, continues while the six-party talks process is underway. Within North Korea’s nuclear program it seems to me it’s the plutonium program that constitutes the near-term danger of proliferation. The HEU program is dangerous farther out into the future.
Given that reality, why does the U.S. not make it a higher priority to achieve a freeze in the plutonium program for the course of the negotiations, however long they might run, with North Korea? I recognize that we do not want to reward North Korean bad behavior in the past, but given the enormous dangers that you have so articulately outlined in terms of conventional proliferation from that program, why are we unwilling to reach some sort of interim agreement with them to freeze that program while negotiations are underway?
Rumsfeld: I think the first thing that would be useful here is for me to confess that I’m not engaged in the negotiations, that they are being handled by the Department of State and they’re being coordinated with the governments of the other participating nations.
There is a priority on trying to find ways to reduce the dangers that could be posed by those capabilities. We know of certain knowledge that by their own testimony they have violated three or four of their prior agreements. The agreed framework, the other agreements that they’ve participated in.
If that’s true, and it appears to be true by their own testimony then I think it’s not unreasonable for the participants in this talk to have in mind President Ronald Reagan’s admonition – trust but verify.
That suggests to me that in these discussions they’re having, while they may have a priority, one of the priorities is that whatever it is they do with that country, they try to find a way to do it that it will stick, and that it will be in fact verifiable. And it might be easy to extract some piece and say gee, let’s put that as the top priority, rush into the negotiations, see if we can talk all the parties into emphasizing that one thing, get them to say they will agree to something, but recognize that the reality is unless you’ve got an extremely intrusive inspection regime you’re dealing with a country that has by its own words violated its prior agreements.
So I think it’s a difficult problem and I’m not going to be one to second-guess what they’re doing. I also can’t second-guess it because I’m not deeply enough involved to be knowledgeable.
Voice: The last question from Simon Chesterman, right in the center.
Q: Thank you very much.
Secretary Rumsfeld, this builds on Ralph Cossack’s question about multilateralism and your very interesting response, and I take this opportunity to congratulate and thank the United States for its work in Haiti, basically because it’s working closely with many other countries.
It’s an unstable world where the most powerful country also regards itself as the most vulnerable, and for friends of the United States it sometimes appears that the United States regards itself as the most alone.
Prior to the war in Iraq you said on a couple of occasions, I think, words to the effect that the mission will determine the coalition, rather than the coalition determining the mission. The latter sentiment you memorably identified with Old Europe.
I wonder if the past year or so in Iraq has changed your attitude to multilateralism, in particularly in the formulation of policies rather than merely its implementation?
Rumsfeld: Let’s go back to Haiti, and thank you for your comment. There the mission did determine the coalition. One would have been happy to pass it off to the UN, to pass it off to NATO, to pass it off to the OAS, to pass it off to any existing aggregation of nations. But nobody was home. No one was at the other end of the telephone. So the mission did determine the coalition.
Some people have taken that phrase, which you correctly suggest I’ve used, and tried to suggest that it was a unilateralist approach, a non-multinational approach. And I don’t consider it that, myself. I consider it just realism.
If the coalition were to determine the mission, what would have happened to Haiti? If you want to reverse it out. There wasn’t a coalition to do that.
So it seems to me that the United States, there are a lot of people running around the world saying that the United States is behaving unilaterally and I don’t see it that way. I really don’t. I’ve watched the United States go to the United Nations repeatedly over Iraq. I’ve watched the United States go to NATO repeatedly about Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve watched the United States attempt to fashion coalitions of countries for the global war on terror, for the proliferation security initiative. And I think frankly it’s a bum rap. I think it’s more a myth and a mantra that people use than reality.
People in the United States understand that no country can function in this world unilaterally. There are things that simply can’t be done by any one country or any small aggregation of countries. It requires the cooperation of like-thinking people all across the globe. That’s what the United States has tried to do.
I personally feel that the United States has had some success in that regard and that that’s a good thing. I don’t find the phrase that the mission determines the coalition a negative phrase. I don’t think it’s a phrase that’s unilateralist in its implications. Indeed, I think it can be used in a very constructive way and it has been.
I thank you all very much. It’s been good to be with you.