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Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz Media Availability after IISS Speech

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
June 01, 2002 12:00 PM EDT

(Media availability in Singapore after speaking to the IISS conference.)

Wolfowitz: I guess I basically would like to keep these questions right now confined to my brilliant remarks. If they weren't completely clear or perfectly agreed with, I'm happy to take questions about them, but we'll have some other opportunities to talk about issues that weren't raised but I'd like to stay focused on that for a little while here.

Q: Why do you think it's necessary for you to repeat what the president said about doing whatever it takes to help Taiwan defend itself at this setting? Is that some kind of message to the countries in the region?

Wolfowitz: No -- I mean -- sometimes when what the Russians say that repetition is the mother of learning it's better to say the same thing over and over again than to improvise. I think I even had a lesson a few days ago. There's nothing new, there's not a particular reason to say it right now. Other than that it's our policy. And I do believe as I indicated in my remarks that as people understand more clearly what our policy is. I think a much clearer policy. We sometimes expressed before although it's basically the same that that clarity and repetition has contributed to an atmosphere in which I believe the two sides can have more confidence in dealing with one another and that's a good thing.

Q: Mr. Secretary you said in your comments that you needed a strong arm in Indonesia to deal with internal problems like in the Moluccas. Now you know of course the Indonesian military has actually been blamed for causing a lot of those problems. I wonder, how you can keep supporting re-engagement with the Indonesia military when you take into account what the former Australian prime minister said that they admit now that by training Indonesia troops in the 90's they were training people who went on to become major human rights abusers. He's admitted that they were wrong to do that then.

Wolfowitz: I think I used effective rather than strong -- and there is a difference. It's not just strength by itself -- it's an army that disciplined, an army that responds to civilian authority, and army that has good command relationships. My understanding directly from the democratically-elected vice president of Indonesia, who is now the president of the country, is that the problem in the Moluccas in considerable measure a year or two ago was that they sent army units to put down Christian Muslim violence -- sent them with about 20 percent of what they needed to support themselves. They would be adopted by a Christian village or Muslim village for the other 80 percent and surprise they became participants rather than people controlling the violence.

The American consul in Surabaya recently paid a visit to Sulawesi and reported back a very different kind of operation. For the last six months disciplined Indonesian forces under central and effective authority and control have created conditions where thousands of refugees have returned and returned precisely to those areas where the army is located. So it's not just strength, it's effective, disciplined, focused, but I can tell you from the experience I had as an election observer in Indonesia going through in 1999 the still riots scarred Chinese neighborhoods of Jakarta. They would tell you that without an effective army there's no protection for minorities.

Q: Mr. Secretary, who will Mr. Rodman meet in Beijing when he travels there later this month?

Wolfowitz: I'm really not sure so I'd better not try to answer that. But maybe we can get you an answer.

Q: Sir, more effective Indonesian military could create fear among the people of Acheh and Papua.

Wolfowitz: We're trying to focus not on counter insurgency efforts but on the kind of internal peace-keeping activity that they've demonstrated a successful ability to conduct in the coastal region of Sulawesi. And there's an important difference and I think the difference is one of the things -- I think it was Senator Reed who made the correct point that it's not a question of whether there's a kind of an agreement that we'd like to move forward but there's also frankly an agreement that it's not unconditional and one of the conditions is precisely going to relate to making sure that a useful humanitarian kind of activity and preventing communal violence in Sulawesi doesn't get translated into abusive counter-insurgency activities somewhere else.

Q: Sir, you had a long meeting with the Indian defense yesterday. Can you tell us something about the meeting and your senior colleague Mr. Colin Powell has said yesterday that infiltration? Can you just tell us something about the meeting and other issues?

Wolfowitz: I think I'd rather stay on the speech. Maybe at some point later I did address that briefly and that frankly for the reasons you heard in my answer to the question too. It's such an important issue and it's such a delicate moment that I think it's very important to let Secretary Powell and the other senior people in Washington to be the ones to elaborate the nuances. But as Senator Hagel said in quoting the president, we remain very concerned about the infiltration across the line of control. That is at the heart of the problem.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you talked in your speech about the importance as moderate Muslims take a lead role on the fight on terror. You also talked about the problems of poverty in any of these countries. How do you square these two things? On the one hand moderate Muslims step forward on the other hand perhaps seeing the popular field that maybe some of these terrorists have?

Wolfowitz: Well I think part of it is. I was sort of going through very quickly these countries that I would hope might become models of success and I think Turkey, Indonesia, Morocco, are three that I mentioned. All of them are struggling with real problems of economic stability, economic growth, economic development. At different stages Turkey is much more advanced than the other two, but I think that the kinds of initiatives that our special trade representative Mr. Bob Zoellick was in Indonesia recently, are undertaking to try to expand trade opportunities particularly for countries like that. The kinds of efforts that we've been making strenuously with the IMF and the World Bank to help Turkey make its way through the current economic crisis and to help Indonesia dig out of an even deeper one. Those I think are very important to contribute to the success of governments and societies that have made a clear commitment to moderate course and I think deserve all the help and assistance we can give them. Bearing in mind one other point which is you can only go so far in helping people because they do have to help themselves and if you create an unnatural dependence on foreign assistance, foreign aid, you actually undermine that effort but we're doing a lot and we're doing everything that we can think of to help countries like that move forward.

Thank you Mr. Secretary.

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