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A Leader in a New World
Prepared remarks of Secretary of Defense William J. Perry , the Euro-Atlantic Society followed by a question and answer session, Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, June 27, 1995

At the time of the American Revolution, the American patriot Thomas Paine said, "We have it in our power to begin the world again." Today, a new generation of Europeans and Americans have that same power, the power to begin the world again by creating a Europe that is integrated, democratic, secure and free.

This process of creation has already begun, and Poland has been at the forefront. You have led the way in building a new democracy, building a new free-market economy and working to modernize your military. This has not been an easy road.

But I didn't need to come to Poland to tell you that -- no one knows this better than you. I've come to Poland because America wants to reassure your nation that we continue to support your efforts. As secretary of defense of the United States, I want to outline for you my vision of European security in this new era. In particular, I want to talk about NATO's Partnership for Peace, NATO expansion, NATO's efforts to build a cooperative security relationship with Russia, the Polish-American bilateral defense relationship and how those all fit together.

One of the great lessons of the 20th century is that Europe and America's security is inextricably linked. The trans-Atlantic alliance is critical to security on both sides of the ocean. This is a fact which did not go away with the end of the Cold War. What's different is the way we maintain that link -- and how we are working to guarantee a new era of security for us both.

The Partnership for Peace is Exhibit A. By any measure, PFP has been a tremendous success so far. The partnership was launched in January 1994 -- only 17 months ago. Today, the flags of 42 countries -- NATO countries and partner countries -- fly over the Partnership Coordination Cell in Mons, Belgium. Poland's flag flies proudly among them. And Polish Col. Waldemar Czarnecki and his assistant, Maj. Andrei Jagiello, provide the crucial links between NATO's planners and the Polish authorities responsible for PFP.

These flags represent 42 countries, which together have made the commitment and started the hard work of creating a more secure Europe. We saw this commitment and hard work last year during the three military exercises -- Cooperative Bridge, Cooperative Venture and Cooperative Spirit -- organized through the PFP. These exercises focused on the security challenges that we must face together in the future, such as peacekeeping, search-and-rescue missions and humanitarian assistance. Twenty nations, including Poland, trained and worked together during these exercises. These exercises were a great success, and they established a blueprint for future military cooperation.

We are going to test that blueprint this coming year as we conduct more than 10 live partnership exercises, plus a host of other kinds of activities. In August, the United States will host one of these exercises, Cooperative Nugget. We are anticipating that at least 14 partners, including Poland and four NATO countries, will participate. We are excited about this exercise since it will be the first time that units of partner nations will conduct peacekeeping training on American soil.

America and NATO recognize that Poland has been a true leader in making PFP a success. By hosting the first NATO-PFP peacekeeping exercise in Central Europe near Poznan last September and by planning to participate in 11 PFP exercises in the coming year, Poland is setting an example for all of Europe. Your leadership in PFP is greatly appreciated by both NATO and by the United States. In addition to PFP exercises, dozens more national exercises involving NATO countries and partners are being hold in the spirit of PFP. Here, too, Poland is leading the way. In July, American troops will come to Poland for the Double Eagle exercise.

Many of these exercises, both the PFP and the bilateral exercises, are helping all our nations better meet one of the great challenges of the post-Cold War world: peacekeeping. Poland is already the most active country in Central Europe in contributing to peacekeeping operations. Polish peacekeepers are serving around the globe from Lebanon to the former Yugoslavia, where approximately 1,100 Polish observers, peacekeepers and police forces are helping ameliorate the effects of war there and working to keep it from spreading. By these actions, Poland today is already making a valuable contribution to Europe's security.

In addition to military exercises, PFP has led to more subtle breakthroughs behind the scenes -- the kind of progress one can appreciate only if you look back at the way things used to be. For example, 14 partner nations are participating in the partnership defense planning process, working together and sharing information in the same manner that NATO countries do. Some partners are now submitting their defense plans to their parliaments for approval, for the first time in their histories making possible the legislative oversight of military planning.

We recognize that if NATO is to reap the full benefits of PFP, then we must be willing to back it up with our wallets, not just our words. Many partner countries want to participate in more PFP exercises than they have the resources to fund. The United States committed $30 million this year to help partner nations participate in exercises. And with the Warsaw Initiative launched by President Clinton here last year, we are seeking $l00 million not only to support partner participation in exercises, but also to provide the equipment necessary to take full advantage of operations with NATO forces in the field.

As you know, $25 million of this is slated to help Poland participate in PFP activities. I can assure you that the administration is fighting hard in Congress to ensure full funding of the Warsaw Initiative. Ultimately, however, the lion's share of PFP costs must be borne by the partners themselves.

As PFP draws all the countries of Europe closer together, it will prove to be a stepping stone to NATO for some countries. It will also provide a close link and concrete demonstration on NATO's commitment to nations not joining the alliance. There is no question that the alliance will expand. NATO has already decided this, and the United States strongly supports this decision.

It has also been decided that no non-NATO members has a veto on the question of expansion. But there are still many details to sort through. A NATO study on the "how and why" of NATO expansion is just about complete, and details of that study will be briefed this fall to interested countries. This study will not address the questions of "who and when" -- these are questions for the future.

But in the meantime, for countries that are interested in joining NATO, there are some basic principles that are guiding NATO's thinking about expansion. I want to emphasize that these principles should not be seen as hurdles to NATO membership. Rather, they are designed to ensure that NATO membership continues to have real meaning and that the alliance continues to be as successful in the past as it has been for over 40 years.

The first principle is that potential members must be prepared to defend the alliance and have the capable, professional military forces to do it.

The second principle guiding NATO's thinking about expansion is that an expanded NATO must continue to work by consensus. New NATO members will not have to agree on everything, but they must respect all members and hammer out differences in a spirit of cooperation.

The third principle is that the military forces of new members must be capable of operating with NATO forces. This means being open with defense budgets and plans, having commonality with NATO defense doctrine and having commonality on some equipment, especially communications equipment.

Finally, the fourth principle is that potential new members must uphold democracy and free enterprise, protect freedom and human rights inside their borders, respect sovereignty outside their borders, and their military forces must be under civilian control.

For the United States, civilian control of the military is a tradition that goes back to the earliest days of our country and it is alive and well today.

Let me give you an example. Last year when the United States made the decision to help restore democracy in Haiti, President Clinton told me to develop contingency plans for military operations there. I went to Gen. [John] Shalikashvili, the chairman of our Joint Chiefs of Staff, and defined the task and the objectives for him. Later, he came back with several options based on the military's expert, professional experience. Together, we refined these options and took them to the president, who made the final decision.

Another good example is our budget process. Every year each of the four services bring me their budget proposals. I, Gen. Shali and military and civilian leaders at the Pentagon then work to coordinate those proposals before I take them to the president. Later, when the entire budget is presented, Gen. Shali and I both testify and defend the budget in front of Congress.

The point of both these examples is that our military leaders are involved in every phase of the planning process and their advice is solicited at every key juncture. But the ultimate decisions and the ultimate authority lies with me and the president at all times.

This is as it should be in a democracy, because in the end, it is the civilian leaders and not the generals who represent the will of the people. And subordinating the power of the military to the will of the people helps ensure that military actions have public support. Ultimately, this improves the effectiveness of military actions. Moreover, we believe that civilian control of the military should be a rule that is not only observed in practice, but written into a nation's constitution.

NATO and the United States recognize that many partner countries, including Poland, are working very hard to conform with these four principles. PFP is the vehicle for doing this.

The Partnership for Peace is also a key part of a separate thrust of NATO's European security strategy: building a relationship of trust and cooperation with Russia. Russia will not have veto power on the question of NATO expansion. But we do want Russia to understand that it should not see NATO as a threat, and we want Russia to understand that PFP is not about drawing new dividing lines across Europe. Rather, it is about extending the zone of security and stability created by NATO to include all of Europe.

For Russia to see that NATO is not a threat, it must become actively involved with NATO. So we welcome Russia's formal commitment to take an active part in Partnership for Peace activities. Soon, Russia should be sending representatives to the PFP Coordination Cell and joining in and eventually even hosting PFP exercises. We also welcome Russia's commitment to pursue a separate plan of activities with NATO, outside PFP. NATO and Russia have agreed to begin dialogue and cooperation on such topics as proliferation, nuclear safety and peacekeeping. We encourage Russia to take a constructive leadership role both in PFP and in the separate NATO-Russia program.

We would like to build on these plans and move towards a formal NATO-Russia relationship, perhaps codified in a memorandum of understanding or a charter. It would be useful to establish some sort of standing consultative commission to provide a formal structure for consultations. Topics that could be included in this dialogue include questions of European security and crisis management in Bosnia-type situations. Our relationship should allow for input into each other's decision-making while still respecting each other's independence.

I believe that building up NATO-Russia relations will promote trust and cooperation throughout the region, benefiting all our countries. The efforts of Poland and other countries to expand diplomatic and economic relations with Russia are helpful in building that trust and cooperation. Poland's efforts to build closer ties to Ukraine, both bilaterally and through PFP, are also an important contribution to regional trust and stability.

Complementing Poland's participation in PFP, Poland and the United States are building our own vibrant bilateral security relationship. In addition to the military exercises coming up in July, our ties are expanding in a number of other areas. We have a U.S. military liaison team at your ministry of defense working full time on building our defense relations. We have concluded agreements which allow us to exchange classified information. This past year Poland was the recipient of the largest-ever U.S. grant of foreign military financing to a Central European country. And we have embarked on a major regional airspace management initiative which will link the Visegrad states' air traffic control systems and improve their compatibility with those of Western Europe.

We also have a substantial education and training program for Polish military and defense officials, Last year, this program trained 88 Polish officers and defense officials, One of these officers came with me on my plane today. Lt. Piotr Blazeusz has now finished his third year at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He's part of the first class at the academy that includes young Central European military officers. Lt. Blazeusz is an outstanding member of his class, and we look forward to having him back next fall to complete his studies.

These ties between our two militaries and our two security establishments are an investment by both our countries in a new European security structure. These ties complement Poland's efforts under PFP to help ensure that when NATO does expand, a democratic Poland will have placed itself among those ready and able to join. As President Clinton said last July, these ties signal that "we will not let the Iron Curtain be replaced with a veil of indifference."

Security ties between Poland and America are not new -- in fact, they go back almost 220 years. In 1776, a young Polish captain, Tadeusz Kosciuszko, volunteered his services to the fledgling American army fighting for freedom against Colonial oppression. He was joined a few months later by another Pole, Kazimierz Pulaski.

Kosciuszko helped George Washington set up the Continental Army's corps of engineers and was the foremost developer of the fortifications at West Point. Pulaski become known as one of the "fathers of American cavalry." Kosciuszko returned to Poland to fight for Polish freedom, but Pulaski died in America in the Battle of Savannah in 1779. Each made a unique contribution to the American Revolution -- a time when we sought "to begin the world again." Today, it is America that seeks to support Poland, as you seize [the] opportunity "to begin the world again."

Thank you very much.

 

Questions and answers

 

Q. What are the major threats to the Eurasian countries for the next two decades?

A. That is a very long time period to try to forecast. ... If you were to ask that question of somebody two decades ago, who would have predicted where we are going to be today? I certainly would not have been among one of them. Nevertheless, with that caveat, I will make some comments.

First of all, I believe there is the danger of what I would call nuclear terrorism -- the danger that a rogue nation or a terrorist would gain the possession of a handful of five or 10 nuclear bombs and threaten other countries with them.

We know that Iran has a nuclear weapons program in the early stages. We know that North Korea has a nuclear weapon program. We know that Iraq at one time had a nuclear weapons program. We know that Libya is trying to buy nuclear weapons. Those are examples of countries that might one way or another get their hands on some small number of nuclear weapons.

Secondly, I would mention the danger of religious extremism, particularly Islamic extremism, continuing on its ascendancy, capturing more nations than it has now captured. In particular, ... Algeria and Egypt and Pakistan are all threatened with an overthrow of their governments by extremists in their countries, and there is a further danger of that extremism spreading north into other parts of Eurasia.

Finally, there is the danger that the reform efforts which are under way in Russia today might fail and that the government might be replaced with a militaristic government hostile to the West and, ... still ... in possession of 20,000 nuclear weapons, ... again a nuclear threat to the world.

I am not expecting or forecasting any of these developments; I am only citing them as possibilities. Indeed, our policies and the policies of other countries should be designed to take what actions we can to minimize the risk that these contingencies might develop.

 

Q. Your President Kennedy once said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can for your country." Here in Poland we know what NATO can do for us, but I think we all would like to know what we could do for NATO. We are convinced that we would be a valuable partner of NATO. I would like you to share your opinion with us.

A. That's an easy question to answer. The things you should do for NATO also turn out to be very good things for yourself as well. You should succeed as quickly as possible in your present programs of democratization and free market. Poland has made more progress in that direction than, I believe, ... any other ... Central and Eastern European country. So what I am recommending is doing more of the same and faster. And second, you should be a full and vigorous partner in the Partnership for Peace, which you already are, and I would only recommend more of the same. And you've already made progress in moving toward civilian control of the military. I would recommend more progress in that direction.

 

Q. There have been suggestions that NATO should be expanded excluding signers of the Washington treaty or that this partnership be modified. Some journalists and influential politicians suggest NATO should be expanded politically in the French way, that is, excluding military forces. What is your opinion?

A. Some have advocated taking in members of NATO, excluding the Article 5, which is the security guarantee, on the grounds that that would make the expansion faster and easier, which it would. I don't agree.

I think that when Poland becomes a member of NATO, it ought to be with a full Article 5 guarantee. I am not in favor of having second-class citizens in NATO. ... The participation with NATO, short of an Article 5 guarantee, can be achieved quite adequately through the Partnership for Peace. The next step beyond the Partnership for Peace is full membership, including an Article 5 security guarantee, in my opinion. I hope that all members that join NATO will join the full integrated military structure of NATO and not create separate classes in that regard. ...

 

Q. You talked about NATO cooperation with Russia. We see the Russian position is stiffening, and I think they are going to cooperate with NATO under one condition -- that expansion will be at least postponed. They want time. What is your opinion, bearing in mind the parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia?

A. NATO will be expanding. Russia will not have a veto nor [will] any other ... nonmember nation. ...

We will try very hard to persuade Russia that NATO is not a threat to them and that they can benefit from NATO's activities. I hope we are successful in persuading Russia of this, but I cannot forecast that with complete confidence. That's one of the issues I will be discussing with my colleagues in Russia when I meet with them tomorrow and on Friday.

In terms of the relation to the parliamentary and presidential elections in Russia, NATO expansion has to be approved unanimously by 16 nations. Each of these nations [has] to send this [question] to the parliament, because it is a very important security decision. ... They are agreeing to send their troops to ... [defend another] country. By its very nature this will not be a quick decision. I do not think it will be made under any conditions in the time frame of the Russian elections, having nothing to do with their elections simply having to do with the complexity of the process of approval.

 

Q. Besides Russia, we also have as neighbors Ukraine and Belarus. Once NATO expands will there be a separate program for those countries that will not be entering into the alliance -- I mean those countries excluding the Russians?

A. The United States, I would say, [is developing] vigorous bilateral relations with Ukraine, precisely because we recognize it as a country of vital strategic importance. The Ukrainian government, as far as I know, has not expressed any interest in becoming a member of NATO. They have expressed some concern about Poland becoming a member, because they are fearful that would draw a line and that they would be on the wrong aide of that line.

So I think ... that as new members are added to NATO, ... it is all the more important that we fully involve Russia and Ukraine in NATO activities, not just the Partnership for Peace, and develop special relations, 16-plus-one relations, with Russia and with Ukraine as well ... -- so that we do not put them in a position where they will believe that NATO is threatening them.

Besides the things that NATO can do, I am personally committed, and our government is committed, to developing a very strong bilateral relationship with Ukraine. I think it would be very useful for Poland to also develop very strong bilateral relationship with Ukraine, even stronger than the one you have today.

Thank you very much. ...

 

Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html