Thursday, July 20, 1995 - 2:15 p.m.
[ NOTE: Participating in this briefing were Dr. Joseph Nye, ASD (International Security Affairs) and Capt. Mike Doubleday, USN, DATSD (PA) ]
Captain Doubleday: Good afternoon.
Is there anyone left at American University this afternoon? I see we have a large group with us. Welcome.
This is a special single subject briefing this afternoon. We have with us Dr. Joseph Nye who is the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs. He is here, today, to give you a little pre-brief on the subject of the Defense Ministerial of the Americas, which is going to be taking place next week in Williamsburg, Virginia.
With that, I'll turn the proceedings over to Dr. Nye.
Dr. Nye: Thank you. I'm pleased to be able to announce that Secretary Perry will host the Defense Ministerial of the Americas next week, July 24-26, in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. It will be a historic event. While it is true that the various military forces in the Americas have met over the years, this will be the first time ever that the defense leaders -- civilian defense leaders -- will be meeting.
There are 34 countries in the Western Hemisphere with elected governments, and all 34 of those countries will be represented at Williamsburg. And 32 of the 34 will be represented by Ministers of Defense or their Cabinet-level equivalents. I say Cabinet-level equivalents because there are some countries that don't have Ministers of Defense. For example, Costa Rica and some of the Caribbean countries.
But it is an unprecedented occasion when the network of defense leaders civilian defense leaders -- will meet for the first time.
The purpose of the Defense Ministerial of the Americas follows from the Summit of the Americas where the heads of government renewed their commitment to hemispheric democratic ideals and free markets in Miami last December. The Defense Ministerial complements the process of hemispheric cooperation that was begun at that Miami summit, and it offers an opportunity for discourse on defense and security issues that are common to all the democratic governments of the hemisphere.
In fact, the agenda of the Defense Ministerial will reflect the fact that the Cold War is over and it's time to think about a new post-Cold War agenda.
We began consultations with other governments about hosting this Ministerial, and setting the agenda, nearly a year ago. The agenda was developed through consultations which came out of meetings that Secretary Perry and I, and others, had with ambassadors of other hemispheric states here in Washington, and, also through trips that we took to the various countries in the hemisphere.
So what the agenda represents is something which is not imposed from the United States, but, essentially, which has bubbled up from the countries of the hemisphere.
The purpose of the Ministerial is for the countries to share and learn from each other how best to meet the challenges of the role of defense, and of militaries, in this new post-Cold War period. We have clustered the various themes -- the various subjects -- that have been suggested, by the countries we consulted, under three major themes. These themes will form the basis for the opening plenary on Tuesday morning, and also each theme will be the subject of a working group on Tuesday afternoon, and then each working group will report back to a final plenary on Wednesday morning.
The three themes are: transparency and confidence building-measures; defense cooperation after the Cold War; and armed forces in 21st Century democracies. Let me say a little bit about each one of those.
The idea behind the confidence building and cooperative security measures is to find ways to make sure that we're better able to resolve any conflicts that remain in the hemisphere. There what we've done is asked Argentina and Chile -- who have been very successful in developing measures to reduce any conflicts that they have along their borders -- to explain what they've done in their relations with each other to the other countries in the hemisphere.
Essentially, what we're looking for are ways in which we can deal with contentious issues peacefully, through discussion and negotiation. We figured the best way to do this was by sharing experiences of success stories that have already worked in the hemisphere.
In addition to the confidence-building measures coming out of that concrete experience, there are things that are related to transparency. By transparency what we mean is allowing countries to better understand each other's defense and military measures so that we can allay any suspicions that might develop and, thereby, fend off any worst-case analyses there might be to arms races or to conflicts.
There, we're going to build on a resolution that the OAS passed last summer, encouraging countries in the hemisphere to standardize reporting on defense expenditures, and report conventional arms sales and inventories to the United Nations; and, thereby back up the United Nations Registry on Conventional Weapons.
We've asked Canada, for example, to explain how it's developed its own White Paper on Defense which it publishes annually -- which explains the defense budgets and programs -- to encourage other countries to do similar reporting as a way to increase transparency.
In terms of the other themes -- the theme relating to defense cooperation we feel that there are several important dimensions here. One is the dimension of peacekeeping, particularly United Nations peacekeeping. This hemisphere has contributed significantly to peace and stability worldwide. Twenty of the 34 participants in the Ministerial are, today, supporting 15 of the 16 UN peace operations throughout the world. There are nearly 10,000 people from Western Hemisphere countries that are involved in various UN peace operations in places such as Angola, the Sinai, Cypress, and the former Yugoslavia.
But to participate effectively in peacekeeping operations you need professionalism, you need training, you need interoperability so that you can cooperate with other countries. That is the purpose of the discussions here, to find what lessons we've learned from our participation in peacekeeping, how can we do it more effectively, what are the ways in which we can improve joint training. In a sense, we're trying to develop ways in which the countries in this hemisphere can improve upon their existing partnership in peacekeeping.
In addition to peacekeeping operations -- under the rubric of defense cooperation -- we're also going to look at other types of peacetime operations such as humanitarian and disaster relief, search and rescue missions, and also de-mining. Brazil had a very interesting experience of helping to remove mines in Angola, which we feel would be useful for them to explain to other countries in the hemisphere.
Other types of areas of defense cooperation are somewhat more controversial. One, in particular, is counter-narcotics. In the consultations we held throughout the hemisphere, there were some countries which felt that it was not a good idea to have counter-narcotics on the agenda because they felt they did not want to have the military involved in such operations; but there are other countries that said that the weaponry and the firepower controlled by narco-traffickers as often the most immediate security threat that they faced. Indeed, larger than their own militaries, in many instances. That was true, particularly, of some of the smaller Caribbean countries, but also, interestingly, true of the Andean countries as well. So, essentially, counter-narcotics will be a small part of the opening plenary, but one of the three working groups on Tuesday afternoon will devote a good deal of its time to the issue of counter-narcotics. Therefore, for countries that do not care about participating in that working group they need not, but for those who want to delve much more deeply into it, the opportunity will be there.
The third area, the roles of militaries in 21st Century democracies, will include questions of military and civil officials training to deal with a whole variety of issues, including human rights. We've asked Colombia, for example, to give the experiences that they've had of training their military in protection of human rights in their various operations.
In addition to that -- under that rubric -- there will be discussions of how force structures and recruitment might be changing in a world with fewer resources, and with a new type of mission, that comes with a post-Cold War world.
So these three themes give you some example of the way in which we will be structuring our conversations -- our dialogues. I should point out that the leadership, introducing all these themes, will come from other countries in the hemisphere. It's not a case of the Americans giving lectures. Indeed, as host, Secretary Perry wishes to encourage dialogue and conversation -- as much as listening, as speaking, on that.
As for delegations, the delegations will represent the various agencies and players that are involved in defense matters. The U.S. delegation will be headed, of course, by Secretary of Defense Perry. It will also include Thomas McLarty, Counselor to the President, representing the White House; Senator Bob Graham, of Florida, who will be representing the legislature; Assistant Secretary of State Alex Watson; and from the Defense Department, myself and my deputy, Mari-Luci Jaramillo. Then, the two commanders-in-chief of the areas that are relevant to the hemisphere -- General Jack Sheehan of Atlantic Command, which has responsibility for the Caribbean area; and General Barry McCaffrey, commander-in-chief of U.S. Southern Command, which handles Central America and South America. We also expect that many of the other delegations will be similarly mixed in terms of the wide range of officials that are involved in defense matters.
I should note, in particular, that nine of the countries are sending legislators in their delegations. Senator Graham is scheduled to have a special lunch of his own with the legislators on Tuesday at the same time that Secretary Perry will be meeting, in a private lunch, with just the heads of delegations -- the fellow Defense Ministers.
In closing, what I'd like to say is we have an historic occasion. It's the first time that the civil authorities responsible for defense have met in the Western Hemisphere, and also an occasion which, after the Cold War, represents a new agenda -- new ways to think about the roles of the military in our hemisphere, in ways in which we can learn from each other and learn how to cooperate with each other. We would welcome any of you from the press who would like to join us, in Williamsburg, where there will be a press center, and various press conferences and press opportunities, set up next week.
Why don't I close there and open myself for your questions about the Defense Ministerial.
Q: You didn't mention the two military operations, maybe that's not the right term. You didn't mention Haiti or Cuba. Are they going to be...
A: Haiti will be present. Cuba will not.
Q: Will it be a matter of discussion?
A: It may be. Countries can bring it up. There was not much difference of opinion on this. Of the 35 countries in the hemisphere, 34 have elected governments -- Cuba does not. The theme of this Defense Ministerial is about the role of militaries in democracies, so the Cubans' participation would not have been appropriate. We did not find any countries pressing for it. But, obviously, if a country wants to bring up the question at the Ministerial, it's their right to do so. They can bring up whatever they like. Haiti will be present.
Q: Who's representing Haiti?
A: Defense Minister Lherisson, I think is his name.
Q: Did Cuba ask to send anybody?
A: No, we haven't heard from them. So, "don't ask, don't tell." [Laughter] No, that's not for...
Q: Too late. [Laughter]
Q: Are you expecting any concrete decisions? Are there any concrete decisions by the whole group, or the majority of the group, that the United States is, specifically, hoping for -- or asking for?
A: No. We're not trying to get a concrete set of decisions out of the meeting. Secretary Perry has felt there are two main things he wants from this meeting which will be a success. One is to develop the network of relations among civilian Defense Ministers in Latin America similar to the relations he has with the NATO Defense Ministers.
When problems arise with our NATO allies, the Secretary feels that he has had a chance to meet them, and he can pick up the phone and talk with them on a personal basis. We have not developed a similar network of relationships in the Western Hemisphere. So one of the things he wants to do is develop that network of relationships of civilian authorities who are responsible for defense.
The second thing we would like to get out of the Defense Ministerial is the beginning of a dialogue about what it means to have militaries in 21st Century democracies and how we can cooperate with each other more effectively in this area. That is why the agenda is structured as it is, and why it is designed to begin discussions of these topics.
Some of the topics -- for example, the role of the military in civic affairs -- are areas where there are considerable differences among countries. That's one of the topics -- sub-topics -- under the rubric of militaries in 21st Century democracies. Some countries believe that militaries should get involved in roads and schools and other such things because countries are poor. Other countries believe that if you want to have the military be professionalized, that is a mistaken approach.
We're not trying to say here's the way to do it or not do it. We're going to have different countries expose what are the pros and cons of this and try to get an ongoing dialogue. So the results we see from this are what I would draw as analogous to the Socratic form of teaching: is, if you want a socratic form of diplomacy, to get countries to draw out -- to discuss these issues. We don't have the answers. We're not going to give lectures. But we would like to get an ongoing dialogue on what we think are the critical questions for this decade and the next.
Q: You mentioned NATO and you just have published an article on Southeast Asia -- giving your views of what the approach should be. Have you or have the Defense Department developed a theory as to that would apply to Latin America?
A: There will be a regional report on Latin America which will follow the Defense Ministerial and which will represent many of the themes that are discussed in the Ministerial. As you may know, Secretary Perry asked me and the Office of International Security Affairs to do a regional strategy for each of the major regions. We have done East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. We deliberately held off our Latin American report until after the Defense Ministerial. We felt that report -- that strategy for the hemisphere -- would be better informed if it came after the Ministerial. We will be preparing that report directly after the Ministerial. But that will be an American document. We will not try to say that everybody's signed on it. It will be analogous to the reports we've done on East Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Q: You're not looking to come away with any agreements of any kind? Any joint papers?
A: No. Secretary Perry will have, as host, a Chairman's declaration at the end, of what he thinks are the major themes and what he detects as commonalities. But we're not trying to negotiate a Declaration of Williamsburg or something of that sort.
We think that would be inappropriate at this time. It's more important to get this dialogue started than it is to try to hammer out a declaration on certain decisions. If it's the first time in history, I think we need to walk before we run.
Q: It's premature to even start discussing this happening on an annual basis or...
A: We have not come into this saying this will happen on an annual basis or that the OAS will take it over or whatever. What we've said is it will depend on what the Ministers decide -- when they're there -- of how the follow-on goes. I know some countries have expressed interest in this going on annually. We feel that if it's going to succeed, the next host should be another country than the United States. Our job is to get it started; but if it's to succeed, it has to be something -- again to use this metaphor -- bubbling up, of essentially coming from other countries in the hemisphere. It would be appropriate for anther country to make the invitation if there's another conference next year.
Some countries have expressed interest in that already, but that has to be decided at Williamsburg, and not in advance.
Q: How many of these countries has the United States had military exercises with?
A: I think probably... Of the Latin American ones, I think all of them. What I don't know is the Caribbean ones. The question is whether we've had naval exercises with all the islands. I suspect the answer to that is no, because some of them don't have... [Laughter]
A: That's the problem. So I don't know how to give you the fraction of the countries. We do have, as you know, exercises with the Central American countries and South American countries, but I don't know the answer for all the Caribbean countries.
Q: Could you identify the two countries that are not being represented at the Ministerial level and why?
A: Mexico will be represented by its Ambassador, and Nicaragua will be represented by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. Every country was told that it could constitute its delegation whichever way it chose. So to answer your question, you'll have to address Mexico City and Managua.
Q: There is on the confidence building measures, from what you said... It looks to be more like you're trying to find ways of avoiding, for instance, things like such has happened between Ecuador and Peru earlier this year. But there has been an issue, or a series of issues, between Brazil and the United States on confidence building measures. Especially on nuclear proliferation that has been basically resolved. And more recently, on missile technology proliferation. There is a recent case of acquisition by Brazil of some components of missiles in Russia. It was actually reported by my paper in Brazil and by the Washington Post.
Could you characterize the level of cooperation or dialogue regarding those issues between Brazil and the United States and how you see them?
A: I don't know that those issues will come up at the conference. They're probably more likely to be discussed bilaterally. But in discussing the agenda, I think you're right. The confidence-building measures have dealt more with the territorial type of disputes, of which there are about ten in the hemisphere today. I think the feeling is that it would be useful to have discussion of the experiences that have worked there.
In discussing confidence-building, though -- when we visited the various countries -- I was interested in the number of people in Argentina who pointed out the great success of Brazil and Argentina in the nuclear area. Where ten years ago, or maybe it was 20 years ago, there was a great deal of suspicion; and where during the 1980's, Brazil and Argentina were enormously successful in developing a sense of confidence that I think might be well emulated by other countries in the hemisphere.
Q: In terms of what the United States is going to be presenting, you mentioned a lot of things that other countries have been asked to present. Is there going to be anything on the subject specifically of civilian control of the military and maintaining civilian control of the military since...
A: I should say that Vice President Gore is going to speak on Tuesday, and among his themes will be the general theme that grows out of the summit meetings of what does it mean to have militaries in 21st Century democracies. So the general type of theme will be touched in Vice President Gore's speech. And when Senator Graham participates with the other legislators, obviously the theme of the role of legislature in relation to defense matters which touches that theme will also obviously come up.
Q: Is that also on Tuesday?
A: That's on Tuesday, lunch time.
Q: I was just going to ask if going into the meeting -- for those of us who don't often follow certain military issues -- are there any trends, that the Department here is interested in, in militaries? For instance, are militaries and Central and South America expanding as a rule -- shrinking like the U.S. and Canada are?
A: There are different things happening in different countries, but I think one of the trends that is the most noteworthy and which is the basis for this is the trend toward greater democratization in our hemisphere. If you compare the countries in the hemisphere today with, let's say 20 years ago or even 15 years ago
-- I can't remember the exact date, but if you took say 1979 -- there might be fewer than a half dozen democracies. Today we have, like I said, 34 elected governments. So there is a trend in that sense.
The other is, with the end of the Cold War, there is a different focus away from subversion and communism and so forth, and the question of looking for new missions. What is the role.
Also the trend that I mentioned on United Nations peacekeeping is interesting. That 20 of the 34 countries will have been heavily engaged in one way or another in United Nations peacekeeping.
I think the combination of these things would indicate that, indeed, there are trends which suggest that things today are quite different than, let's say, 15 or 20 years ago.
As for expenses, Latin America and the hemisphere generally is not the most heavily militarized areas of the world. In fact, it's one of the least militarized in that sense. If you compare expenditures in Europe, Asia, or the Middle East, they're heavier. So it's not so much the resource level that is a concern, it's the question of how does one define a mission in this current day when the Cold War is over, and how should we understand in our discussions with each other how each of us defines these missions in ways in which we can cooperate with each other. That's the kind of trend we're looking at. It's not measured by, "Do we want defense budgets to be X percent higher or lower?".
Q: You said before that you are not going to lecture on some of these themes, for instance human rights. Taking into account your influence in the hemisphere, do you think the United States is going to try to push for the respect for the human rights and link that respect for military cooperation?
A: The American position on human rights is well known. We're not going to hide it. Indeed, when Americans speak, they will talk about how important they regard human rights in all dimensions of society, including the military. In fact, General McCaffrey who is the commander-in-chief of SOUTHCOM, has human rights officers on his staff who are responsible for that. His soldiers are trained in terms of human rights.
But the United States is not unique in this. Many countries in the hemisphere now have realized the importance of human rights, and many of the militaries in the hemisphere actually have quite impressive programs. I mentioned that Colombia will be explaining its program. Salvador also will be describing what it's done in the area of human rights in the military in the last few years. Ecuador also. So it won't be just the United States that will be speaking about human rights. I expect there will be a number of countries that will. But the American position on human rights is pretty well known.
Q: You can do that. You can pressure on these military... You ask for more respect in human rights and linking that respect to future military cooperation?
A: No, we're not trying to make that kind of linkage at the conference.
Q: Will the United States be offering any kind of assistance, either technical or material, in order to bring about making some of these changes vis-a-vis the way the military acts now in human rights situations in certain countries and the way it ought to act as defined or seen by...
A: Not at the Ministerial. We're not going to be getting into, "If you'll do this we'll do that," at the Ministerial. We're trying to have the Ministerial be less something that's focused on the United States. We have our bilateral relations with each country. What we're trying to do at the Ministerial is get countries to talk to each other as well as talk to us.
One of the things you'll notice is how few speaking roles there are for Americans on the agenda. Most of the leadership in terms of presenting subjects is from other countries. That's on purpose. This is not something for the Americans to lecture. The Americans are the conveners, the Americans are the hosts, the Americans want to get a dialogue going, but this is not the right venue for the Americans to say if you do this we'll give you that. That's not the purpose of the Ministerial.
Q: I'd like to know if, during the consultations -- the preparatory phase of this -- there was any concern about particularly the proliferation of conventional weapons, especially those more sophisticated assault weapons, etc. It is becoming increasingly a subject of concern in Latin America in general, connected with drug trafficking sometimes. Is this the appropriate...
A: In the agenda item which refers to the conventional weapons registry
-- the UN Registry of Conventional Weapons -- that would be an appropriate place to bring this up. There's not a topic line on the agenda that says it the way you say it, but it could easily be brought up in one of these other settings. For example, it could be brought up either under confidence-building measures when you're talking about territorial disputes of what are the dangers of arms races and increasing weaponry. It could also be brought up under the transparency questions in the UN Registry on Conventional Weaponry, which is on the agenda of what's happening. But there isn't a line item that says conventional weapons proliferation.
Q: My concern is that it has been established in Brazil and in other places that some of those weapons, they are not legally bought. They are smuggled in in large quantities, and some of them are being traced back to the United States in smuggling operations. So my concern is, is this a proper subject for the defense area, or is this more law enforcement things...
A: Some of it is obviously law enforcement. Smuggling and contraband and illegal cargoes and so forth is more of a law enforcement. But, as some of the smaller countries have pointed out to us, when narco-traffickers get hold of weaponry of this type, they become like an army, and they become a problem that goes beyond the police. And that gets into this question of well, in situations like that, even though the first line of defense are the civil police, sometimes the civil police need the backing or support of the militaries because the narco-traffickers are so heavily armed.
Q: Is there any discussion on foreign military sales?
A: Not scheduled. Again, anybody can bring up anything they want, but it's not an agenda item.
Press: Thank you.