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Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks at the American Chamber of Commerce Joint Breakfast Meeting

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
November 18, 2003
CHAIRMAN PARK YONG-SUNG (KCCI) - Welcoming Remarks (inaudible)

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Thank you very much, Chairman Park and Mr. Jones.  Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a pleasure to be with you.  I suspect that the best way to use this time would be for me to make some very brief remarks and then have a discussion or respond to questions.  I would be happy to do that. 

 

            First, let me just make a few comments.  I think I first came to Korea in 1974 with President Ford when he visited here.  I have been back over the years, from time to time, in government and in business.  I must say that this country represents an amazing success story.  It has a vibrant democracy.  It has an energetic economy.  And, all one has to do is to look out across the skyline to see the success that has been achieved these past 50 years of the U.S.-Korean security arrangement and alliance.  It is an important country.  It is a success. 

 

            I must say that the meetings I had yesterday at the so-called Standing Consultative Meeting, the SCM, were palpably more substantive, I would guess, than any previous meeting, and I suspect there have been 35 or 40 of them.  It was an excellent meeting.  We have a lot on our agenda.  I say that because of the fact that we’re in a new century.  We’re in a new century with new challenges, new things that we have to face and adjust to, and so, we had an excellent agenda and a very good meeting with the Minister of Defense, Mr. Cho. 

 

            I also met with the President and had a very good meeting with him.  He has recently commented that he thought that, over the next decade, the Republic of Korea could become more self-reliant.  I agree with that.  I think this is a country with one of the largest GDPs on the face of the earth.  It is a country with a very industrious population, and a large population, and, as time passes, it is perfectly appropriate for that to take place, all within the context of our security alliance, and also, within full recognition of the fact that no country in the world today can be completely self-reliant.  Just think about the problem of proliferation.  It’s a problem that no one country can deal with.  It requires the cooperation of countries all across the globe, if we’re going to be successful in reducing the proliferation of weapons of mass destructions, and the technologies to deliver them. 

 

            But, after five decades, this alliance is strong, it’s healthy and, certainly, the United States’ commitment to the defense of Korea remains absolute and unwavering.  When one thinks about it … I have on my desk a piece of glass and under it I have a picture of the Korean Peninsula at night from a satellite, and it shows light everywhere south of the Demilitarized Zone, and it shows blackness north of the DMZ expect for a pinprick of light in Pyongyang.  And here are two places roughly the same size and, in one case, just an enormous success story and, in the other case, a tragedy.  People who don’t have enough to eat.  People who are repressed and don’t have the opportunities for themselves or their families that occur here.  It shows how important what the Republic of Korea has, really is.  And, of course, it is not possible without peace, without stability, without the ability to deter and, if necessary, defend against aggression.  That is what makes possible the ability of people to be free and to go about their lives improving their circumstance.  It’s a dramatic photograph.  Our task, obviously, is to see that that success continues. 

 

            That means that this alliance should continue.  It should evolve as it always does in life, as circumstances change and as the world changes.  Certainly, the 21st-century threats are different threats than the threats that existed in the 20th-century.  The capabilities that exist technologically are vastly different, more than those that existed in a previous period. 

 

            We are in excellent discussions around the world to try to fulfill President Bush’s request to me, when I first came in almost three years ago, to look at how we’re arranged in the world, and the changed circumstances in the world, and come up with recommendations and concepts as to how we might be better arranged in terms of our posture and our footprint.  So, we’ve been doing that and we’ve developed a set of concepts.  We’re talking to people in Europe, as well as Asia, about ideas as to how we can work together to transform our respective militaries to fit the 21st century.  We’re making good strides in our circumstances at the Pentagon.  As a matter of fact, we just got some legislation through that will enable us to make still better strides in transforming. 

 

            I met with, I guess, all 19 NATO allies in Colorado Springs very briefly recently, the ministers of defense in those countries, and we’re connecting them to our Joint Forces Command, where transformation is taking place.  I met recently in Tokyo with the Japanese government and we have, of course, an excellent relationship with them.  And, we are going to connect them with our transformation activities.  And we are certainly going to do the same thing with the Republic of Korea so that, as we go forward over the coming decade, we are better able to work together and achieve the kind of synergy that will enable us to leverage the technologies that exist today and see that we evolve our deterrents in a way that they continue to be healthy and strong and that we have the ability to defend and deter. 

 

            I certainly thank the President and Minister for this country’s contributions to the global war on terror.  As you know, Korea has forces both in Afghanistan and Iraq.  We now have some 33 countries with forces on the ground in Iraq and I think there are 19 with forces on the ground in Afghanistan.  NATO has just taken over the responsibility for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, which is a good thing.  We have 90 nations in the coalition in the global war on terror.  Probably the largest coalition in the history of mankind.  I’m always amused when I see these mindless comments in the press where people are saying, “Why does the United States go it alone?”  Ninety (90) nations in the global war on terror coalition.  If there is ever a time when the United States is not going it alone, it’s now.  Clearly, it’s critically important that we do have that kind of cooperation because there’s no way, without sharing intelligence, without cooperating with respect to trying to shut off bank accounts, there’s no way we can be successful in the global war on terror without the cooperation of lots of countries.  I must say the cooperation’s been excellent.

 

            I would just close by saying that I was amused to read the press this morning.  I suppose you see it every day.  You have a meeting.  You have a discussion.  You walk out and the report on the meeting doesn’t sound like you were in the same meeting.  But the meetings were excellent.  We had broad agreement between our two countries.  We have a couple of issues we’re worrying through about the efforts we’re undertaking to concentrate our forces in this country in ways that would have less of an impact on the Korean population.  Trying to bring together our forces into two hubs.  It’ll probably take years to do it.  But, we’re in that process.  It’s a logical thing to do, given force protection issues, given our desire to not have an unfavorable impact on the Korean people.  Certainly, some of the real estate we currently occupy in the high-density areas has an enormous value, and is better suited to other uses than the use that we’re putting it to.  So, we’re in discussions as to how we’re going to do that, over what period of time, in what ways, and the discussions have been very constructive and cooperative, and we do not have big differences at all over this.  Any suggestion in the press to the contrary is nonsense. 

 

            So, with that, I’ll stop and simply say that I have been around a lot of years.  As a matter of fact, I participated in one of these SCM conferences back in 1976, the last time I was Secretary of Defense and, if there is a success story on the face of the earth, it is this one.  It is a wonderful success.  We’ve had 50 years of success.  We ought to have a minimum of another 50 years of success and certainly that’s what I expect and what we intend.  With that, I’ll stop and be happy to respond to questions.

 

            QUESTION:  As we were moving towards war with Iraq, many people in the United States were pointing out the inadequacies of some multilateral organizations, particularly NATO and the UN.  To some extent, they were wrong. Also, this led to, some would say, a different approach than we had before.  My question is, what’s next?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  That’s an enormously important question.  Let me take NATO first.  NATO is, of course, a success story.  The question after the Cold War was “What next?” and we began working on that.  NATO has made a practice of not doing anything outside of their NATO treaty area.  That now is history.  We now do things outside of the NATO treaty area.  NATO taking over responsibility in Afghanistan was an enormous step.  The involvement in the Balkans has been a distinctly different behavior pattern than existed previously.  I think that we proposed a year and a half ago that NATO develop a rapid response force, because today you’ve got to be able to do something in hours or days, you can’t do it in weeks or months, because it’s too late.  NATO has agreed to develop a rapid response force and, I must say, not only to do that but they are doing it, physically.  So, the institution is demonstrating that it’s able to evolve with the new times. 

 

            There is clearly a role for both peacekeeping and rapid response, a military alliance’s ability to respond, rapidly.  I’m encouraged about NATO.  That’s good progress. 

 

            The United Nations is a different thing.  For example, if you take Liberia.  There were problems, and the UN was there and it couldn’t do anything for a period of months.  So, we worked with ECOWAS, the African nations, and provided some assistance and the UN helped some, and we ended up getting an arrangement whereby the ECOWAS states put some forces in fairly rapidly, with assistance from our side.  The UN then got in the queue to take over that responsibility at some later time, which is a good thing.  Once they do move, they are able to make a contribution to a more stable circumstance in a limited number of cases.  Any organization that has that many nations in it obviously is going to be not as able to move as an organization with a fewer number of nations in it, like NATO. 

 

            Even NATO going from 19 countries to 26 countries, one of the things we worked on in Colorado Springs, is the reality that you have to be able to move more quickly.  We had an exercise that demonstrated that, unless organizations are able to respond in real time, you’re simply not going to be able to deal with problems and then they’ll be left to individual nations or small coalitions to deal with them.  I think the short answer to your question is:  they have to reform.  Those organizations cannot stay like they are and expect to have as constructive a role in the world as is needed in the world. 

 

            Take the fact that North Korea was exporting ballistic missile technologies recently, and we tracked them, we knew where they were, which ship, the ship was intercepted by the Spanish.  It was stopped and it had to be let go because there is no legal basis to intercept the transfer of those ballistic missile technologies, because the international regimes for counter-proliferation are inadequate, which is one of the reasons that President Bush has put forward a new initiative.  I, personally, we all here talk about the threat of North Korea to the Peninsula; the threat of North Korea also is to the world.  Any country that spends its time counterfeiting money, selling illegal drugs, transferring ballistic missile technologies all across the face of the globe, and threatens to transfer nuclear material, at least in their public announcements, is a proliferation threat, not just to the Peninsula, but to the world. 

 

            It is only through international organizations that that kind of proliferation threat can be dealt with, because it requires cooperation between a great many nations if you’re going to be able to interdict land, sea, or air transfer of those very dangerous technologies. 

 

            Allow me to take a short question.

 

            QUESTION:  My question is very defensive about the transformation of U.S. forces …(inaudible) and interoperation, and (inaudible)  … trying to work with the Korean government on the concept of this interoperation and getting synergies of different forces, … U.S. forces.  My question is, what is the plan of the U.S. government to work with the Korean government on the network-centric programs?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  When you say, “what is the plan?” we don’t have a specific plan in that regard.  What we do, with the government in Korea and governments all across the globe that we have close military relationships with, is to work with them to see that we are as interoperable as possible.  That we can do, much more than simply deconflict from each other.  That we can actually see where the gaps are, get the gaps filled in terms of capability, and end up with the ability to spend as little money as is necessary, and yet have as complete a capability between two or more countries as is possible.  And that is what we do with the Republic of Korea. 

 

            The thing that drives it, really, is a contingency plan, an operations plan.  We look and see what are your potential problems and how might you deal with it and how might you deal with those problems together?  What kind of capabilities, and what are the priorities?  Then, with sufficient transparency between our country and the other countries, we’re able to see how we can, by working together, create a vastly more capable deterrent and defense than otherwise would be the case.  That varies from country to country, how it happens to shake out.

 

            QUESTION:  Good morning, Mr. Secretary.  I am aware that you had a meeting with the Korean authorities, with the President and also the Minister of Defense.  You also mentioned that you had made a “broad agreement.”  Were you satisfied with the Korean proposal in terms of the troop size and (inaudible) Iraq?  You said a “broad agreement,” there is still room for (inaudible).  Second question …

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Let’s do them one at a time.  When I was referring to “broad agreement,” I was talking about our force talks.  That is something that requires us to work very closely with the Korean military and government to figure out how we can arrange our forces in a way that reflects the new technologies that exist and assure that we have as good or better capabilities when we are rearranged than we did before we started getting rearranged. We’re, as I say, in broad agreement on that with a couple of issues about what kind of a residual element might be left in the Seoul area, but it is not a major issue and it will get sorted out in the next few weeks, I suspect. 

 

            With respect to the troops in Iraq, some people hear what I say and seem not to hear it.  The truth is that every country’s got to figure out what makes sense for them.  We have a problem in the world.  We have a problem with terrorism.  We’ve just liberated 23 million people in Iraq.  We’ve got a complicated set of issues there.  On the one hand, we’re having fabulous success.  The governance process is moving forward.  They have a central bank.  The hospitals are there.  The schools are working and city councils for most of the cities are in place, and governing councils at the province level.  We’ve developed some 130,000 Iraqi security forces and they’re beginning to take over responsibility.  So, there have been an enormous number of good things that are taking place.  The oil production is up.  Electricity is being supplied.  Water is being supplied.  There is no humanitarian crisis.  There is no religious conflict and ethnic cleansing that has happened in previous circumstances.  There is no starvation.  So, there are a lot of good things that are happening. 

 

            And, there are some bad things that are happening.  It’s a dangerous place.  It’s a violent country.  People are getting killed.  An awful lot of Iraqis are still being killed by Iraqis.  The Iraqi security forces are being killed.  Some 85 or 90 of them have been killed in the last several months.  So, they are out there, doing their job as police and border patrol and security people, civil defense people, army.  Our people and coalition people are being killed.  The remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime and the Fedayeen Saddam crowd are still around.  How many we don’t know.  Some people guess that it is in the neighborhood of 5,000 out of 23 million.  Let’s say that it’s five times that.  It still is not a military threat.  It is a low-intensity conflict.  It’s a problem.  Any time people are being killed it’s a very serious problem.  It’s not an easy thing to deal with and the reason that it’s not easy is because a terrorist can attack any time, any place, using any technique and it is physically impossible (to respond) in every time, against every technique, in every single place.  You can’t do that. 

 

            That means the only choice you have is to go after terrorists, and that is what we’re doing.  Our folks, the coalition folks, are trying to find them, trying to get better intelligence, and trying to root them out.  There, and in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world.  The idea that you can just hunker down and defend yourself and hope that it goes away is nonsense.  It isn’t going to go away.  We have to do what we’re doing and we’re going to keep doing it.  The President’s determined to do it; he’s determined to succeed. 

 

            Now, what would we like?  We would like other countries to help.  So, we went out to some 90 countries.  Our State Department, I think, went out to 90 countries and said, “Here’s what we’re going to do, and we’d like some help.”  Dozens and dozens of countries have said, “We’d like to help.”  That’s a good thing.  Now, some are helping with humanitarian assistance, some are helping with military forces, some others are helping with just money, some are helping with all three.  It’s not for us, me, or anyone else in the United States to say what any country ought to do.  Any country has to decide what they want to do and each country has a different history, a different culture, a different circumstance, a different political circumstance, a different economic circumstance.  So, when I say that it’s up to each country to decide, I mean it.  And, we’re going to do fine and the more help we get, the better I’ll like it.  The more countries that make a commitment to the success of Iraq, and the success of the global war on terror, that’s a good thing.  We respect the fact that this country has stepped forward with a generous financial contribution and stepped forward with forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq.  We have no disagreement on it because it’s not for us to disagree, to agree or disagree.  We just say, “Here’s what we need,” and we thank you.

 

            QUESTION:  Question about the problem with North Korea sending illegal drugs, counterfeit U.S. dollars, and missile technology around the world as this conflicts with North Korea and South Korea developing a special economic zone in Kaesong.  Does this (development of the Kaesong economic zone) concern the U.S?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  That is not a subject that falls within the Department of Defense.  It’s an issue that is undoubtedly part of a complex of many issues.  It’s not something that I think that I’d want to extract from the totality of the relationships and then opine on.  I’ll leave it to the President and the diplomats.

 

            MODERATOR:   We have time for one more person.  Doctor Han?

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Is that all?

 

            MODERATOR:  Sir, we’re going to have a meet-and-greet right after this, and then I’m told you have a number of appointments.

 

            QUESTION:  I have one question:  There are a huge number of American businesses in Korea.  The U.S. is the number one trade relationship for Korea.  And, the U.S. is the largest investor in Korea.   And, we (inaudible) resources in the U.S. including automobiles and (inaudible).

 

            Korea has always thanked the U.S. for your support securing peace on this Peninsula.  Business can never exist without that peace.  I would like to comment on deployment of U.S. forces here.  Korea has been in a very, very bad recession.  It’s just in the beginning stage of economic recovery and the confidence of foreign investors is (inaudible).  And security is their critical issue for guaranteeing that confidence.  The redeployment of U.S. forces at this moment, frankly speaking, gives some kind of impression that there might be some weakness or not a guarantee of security on the Korean Peninsula.  I would be happy, Mr. Secretary, for you to take into consideration the factors of economic recovery before you begin your consultations in Korea on the whole picture of your (inaudible) vision that arrives with your transformation of the country, including (inaudible).  Thank you.

 

            SECRETARY RUMSFELD:  Thank you.  I was in business for many years and we had relationships here in the pharmaceutical business first and later in the electronics business.  And, I’m very sensitive to what’s going on in terms of business confidence.  What I can say is that the -- how can I put this? -- Let me give you an example.  If you have ten bombs or ten tanks or ten “somethings,” ten ships.  And, you reduce them to five but you substitute tanks or ships or bombs or whatever that are ten times more capable, you end up, not with ten of those things, but five, but a capability that’s fifty instead of ten.  And, the idea that you should ignore that in how you’re arranged would be mindless.  You can’t ignore it.  We literally were able in Iraq, if anyone watched what took place there, to use precision weapons that had the ability to do eight or ten times what non-precision or dumb weapons do.  Therefore, we were able to do it with a fraction of what it otherwise would have taken. 

 

            The 20th century concept of counting things and considering that capability is history.  The idea of overwhelming numbers prevailing is incorrect today.  Mass is not what is critical; it’s capability that’s critical.  And we are driven to make those kinds of adjustments.  We’re driven in terms of total capability, we’re driven in terms of cost, and we’re driven, simply, by rationality and responsibility.  It would be irresponsible not to do that. 

 

            I can tell you that the capability of the U.S. military and, if we’re fortunate and the Korean government takes the right kinds of steps in terms of transforming its capability, without question, we will have a more capable military capacity on this Peninsula.  A year from now, and two years from now and three years from now, when we do (inaudible).  It isn’t even a close call.  The investments we’re making – we just passed a budget, that walks up near $400 billion – and the kinds of investments that are being made in that budget that will enhance the capabilities here probably equal over $10 billion dollars. 

 

            General LaPorte’s here and if people want a little more brand-awareness on this subject, I would strongly suggest you invite him back someday to meet with this group and let him talk through the kinds of things that are being done and being proposed and that will roll-out over a period of two, three, four, five years, very likely.  And, anyone who, when that’s finished, doesn’t come away with a very confident attitude about the security environment on the Korean Peninsula and the commitment of the United States to assure that it is in our interest, as well as in the interest of the Korean people, let there be no doubt about that. 

 

            And to the extent that the United States makes adjustments, here or anywhere in the world, we are not doing it by tucking in, we are not doing it because we are weakening some kind of a commitment, what we’re doing is simply getting up in the morning and discovering the reality that is the 21st century.  And, that technologies have evolved and that we continue to have exactly the same interest in seeing that this is a stable, secure circumstance on this Peninsula.  But, to do that, we have to be realistic and see that we adjust to the changes that have taken place in the 21st century security environment. 

 

            Now, I don’t know whether I answered your question “yes” or “no,” but one of the reasons I came here today and requested this meeting was for that very reason.  Because no one in business, in making those tough decisions of where do you want to invest...I mean, money is a coward, I understand that.  Money goes where it can get a return.  And, the question becomes that no one with much sense is going to go into an environment that’s risky unless you get a very high return.  You’re looking for reassurance and looking for not certainty, but something close to it, a high degree of confidence.  And, to the extent that the U.S. security guarantee and alliance is a critical element, as I believe it to be in this part of the world, let there be no doubt about it, it was there yesterday, it’s there today, and it will be there tomorrow and the capability of the United States and the Republic of Korea to contribute to a stable environment here will be better tomorrow than it was yesterday.


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