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Perry Pushes Preventive Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 29, 1996 – Defense Secretary William J. Perry said the United States should take advantage of this unique time in history and outlined "preventive defense" as the country's first line of defense.

Perry, speaking at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass., said preventive defense is analogous to preventive medicine.

"Preventive medicine creates the conditions which support health, making disease less likely and surgery unnecessary," Perry said. "Preventive defense creates the conditions which support peace, making war less likely and deterrence unnecessary."

Perry proposed this policy as America's first line of defense, with deterrence the second. He views military conflict as the third and final line of defense.

Perry said twice this century the United States stood in such a position. Following World War I, the United States declined to take a leadership role and 20 years later the world suffered World War II. Following that war, the United States assumed the leadership mantle.

The most dramatic moment of this assumption, Perry said, was when then-Secretary of State George C. Marshall proposed the plan that eventually bore his name.

"Marshall saw America in a world standing between two eras, a period Marshall described as between a war that is over and a peace that is not yet secure," Perry said. "And at this pivotal moment Marshall set forth a strategy of preventive defense. The soldier in Marshall wanted desperately to prevent war from recurring. The statesman in Marshall found a way."

At the core of Marshall's plan was a united, free and democratic Europe from the Urals to the Atlantic. The premises behind the Marshall Plan was that what happens in Europe affects the United States, that European economic reconstruction was crucial, and reconstruction wouldn't happen without U.S. leadership.

"Just as the Marshall Plan was based on a set of premises, so today our program of preventive defense rests on its own set of premises," Perry said.

The first is the fewer weapons of mass destruction in fewer hands makes the world safer. Second, democracy in more nations means less chance of war. Third, defense establishments have a role to play in building democracy, trust and understanding.

The United States has already had much success with counterproliferation, Perry said. By the end of 1996, there will be no nuclear weapons in Kazakstan, Ukraine and Belarus. In addition, the Russians are destroying thousands of nuclear warheads and weapons, all using American money. Further, American pressure also curtailed or eliminated nuclear weapons programs in North Korea, Iraq and South Africa.

The United States is working to keep weapons and weapon making materials away from the global marketplace. "Under Project Sapphire, for example, we bought 600 kilograms of highly enriched uranium from Kazakstan, simply to ensure it did not fall into the hands of nuclear smugglers," Perry said.

Preventing proliferation also means restricting biological and chemical weapons. It also means export controls on a range of goods and technologies that could be used for weapons of mass destruction, Perry said.

"Sometimes preventing proliferation means employing coercive diplomacy, a combination of diplomacy and defense measures," he said. Getting North Korea to agree to stop their nation's nuclear build-up is an example of this.

Engaging military and defense establishments around the world is also a big part of preventive defense. Perry sees U.S. military contacts with other nations as helping spread democracy. "Democracy is learned behavior," Perry said. "Many nations today have democracies that exist on paper, but in fact are extremely fragile." He said it is important the United States help embed the value of democracy in these nations.

The example of the U.S. military is extremely important in many of these countries, because their military establishments are often the most cohesive institutions in the countries. "In short, [these militaries] can either support democracy or subvert it," Perry said.

The United States wants the militaries of these countries to be under civilian control. If a country enters a crisis, the United States wants the military in that country to play a positive role in helping solve the crisis and not look at the emergency as an excuse for a military coup, he said.

Educating foreign officers and NCOs is one tool DoD uses to build faith in democracy. "Over 200 officers from the former Warsaw Pact countries are right now studying at U.S. military institutions, and another 60 are this very week about to complete a special course we have set up at the Marshall Center in Germany," Perry said. "These officers are the future military leaders of their countries, and they are all coming together to learn how a military functions in a democratic society."

DoD also sends teams into nations to help them build modern professional military establishments under civilian control. Working together, in exercises and on the battlefield, are other confidence-building measures that help forge understanding and cooperation. Perry cited U.S. and Russian forces working together in Bosnia, Polish, Russian and Ukrainian exercises set in June in Ukraine and many other exercises as examples of military-to-military contacts helping build trust between nations.

The Partnership for Peace program is a path for NATO membership for nations of Eastern and Central Europe. "But ultimately the Partnership for Peace is doing more than just building the basis for NATO enlargement," Perry said. "By forging networks of people and institutions working together to preserve freedom, promote democracy and build free markets, the partnership today is a catalyst for transforming Central and Eastern Europe, much as the Marshall Plan transformed Western Europe in the 1950s."

Perry said the United States is using the same tools that shape new democracies in other parts of the world to build the relationship with China. "We do this not because China is a new democracy -- it is not," Perry said. "Rather, we do it because China is a major world power with whom we share important interests and with whom we have strong disagreements.

"[China] has a powerful military that has significant influence on the policies that China follows. We do it ultimately because we believe that when it comes to strategic intentions, engagement is almost always better than ignorance."

Perry said no one should think preventive defense is a philanthropic venture on the part of the United States. "It is not," he said. "Preventive defense involves hard work and ingenuity today so that we do not have to expend blood and treasure tomorrow."

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