Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry - 1996 Latin American Strategy Symposium
Friday, April 26, 1996
One year ago I came to Miami to speak to this forum about our plans for afirst-ever Defense Ministerial of the Americas.
At the time, this idea was metwith a great deal of skepticism, and even antagonism.
But in the end, thenations of the Western hemisphere rallied to the idea and the Ministerialexceeded all expectations -- even my own.
The meeting was very inspirational,so inspirational, in fact, that the participants coined the phrase, "the Spiritof Williamsburg."
Now, just nine months after that historic meeting, I want to share my thoughtson our accomplishments and where I think we are headed in the future.
Let mestart with a story that I think truly captures the meaning of "the Spirit ofWilliamsburg."
Nearly every February, for most of this century, Peru and Ecuador havemarshaled soldiers to confront each other over a protracted border dispute.This February was different.
Instead of confronting each other at the border,the soldiers of Peru and Ecuador met in peace.
At Cahuide, where some of thebloodiest fighting had occurred, the troops joined in a ceremony to mark the1st anniversary of the Peru-Ecuador peace agreement.
As the ceremony ended,the two senior generals from Peru and Ecuador reached out across the border andclasped their hands in friendship.
With tears in their eyes, they embraced ina symbol of two countries finally at peace.
The picture of these two warriors embracing symbolizes the beginning of a newera of peaceful and democratic cooperation among and between all the nations ofour hemisphere.
Today, we live in a hemisphere that has undergone a sea changeof epic proportions.
The Cold War ideological battles are over.
All nations,save one, have chosen democracy.
There is peace, a decline in insurgencies,and increased bilateral and multi-lateral cooperation.
Our hemisphere is theleast militarized region in the world.
Historical rivals are now tradingpartners and all parts of the hemisphere are reaching out to one another in agrowing harmony of interests.
This presents the opportunity of the century for our hemisphere, anopportunity to secure a future of peace, stability, and security for all of ournations.
Our nations took advantage of this opportunity at the Summit of theAmericas in Miami, in December of 1994, where our leaders endorsed a plan ofaction for our economic and political future.
Then, last summer, we sought tobuild on the success of Miami by holding the Defense Ministerial of theAmericas in Williamsburg.
The purpose of this ministerial was to explore ways of addressing our mutualsecurity interests.
As I indicated, many critics were skeptical of the idea;they claimed that many nations would not be interested and the interestednations would find little in common.
The critics were wrong.
The DefenseMinisterial was an outstanding success.
Civilian and military delegations fromall 34 democratic nations in our hemisphere came to Williamsburg for thisMinisterial.
Together, we discovered many common security concerns.
Wecommitted ourselves to historic levels of security cooperation and we developeda set of principles, the Williamsburg Principles, that can help strengthen ourdemocracies and bring peace and security to our hemisphere.
I have taken a keen interest in these new security developments because theyare important in and of themselves, and because they are a key part of theUnited States' post-Cold War security strategy.
In the spirit of openness, thehallmark of what we began in Miami and Williamsburg, I want to briefly sharethe strategy with you today.
The premise of the strategy is that even though the threats of the Cold Warhave receded, they have been replaced by new dangers -- dangers that are justas real and, potentially, very deadly.
These dangers include: theproliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the difficult transition towardsdemocracy and market economies in central and eastern Europe; and thevolatility of ethnic and religious conflicts around the globe.
To guard against these dangers, the U.S. defense strategy is built aroundthree lines of defense.
The first line is to prevent those dangers frombecoming threats.
Then, if they do become threats, our second line of defenseis to deter those threats from becoming military conflicts.
Finally, our thirdline is to be prepared to defeat any adversary if military conflict does arise.So, we have three lines of defense set up to defend our security.
In other words, our defense strategy can be summed up in three words: prevent,deter, defeat.
These are not new concepts in defense, but the emphasis haschanged.
Today, there's a much greater role for preventive defense becausethere's a greater opportunity to prevent the conditions for conflict and createthe conditions for peace.
Preventive defense takes on many forms, including dismantling large portionsof the old nuclear arsenals.
It includes engaging constructively with Russiaand with China.
It means helping nations that are trying to build new andstronger democratic institutions, and it means building new securitypartnerships based on openness, trust, and cooperation.
And that is whereMiami and Williamsburg come in.
No region promises more progress in peace andsecurity than our own hemisphere.
Previous American Secretaries of Defense have looked south and seen securityproblems.
I look south and see security partners.
The foundation of these newsecurity partnerships is the set of principles we developed at Williamsburg.We agreed that democracy is the basis for our security; that the Armed Forcesplay a critical role in supporting and defending the legitimate interests ofsovereign democratic states; and that military forces should be underdemocratic, constitutional authority, and they must respect human rights.
No one can doubt that democracy is ascendant throughout our hemisphere andthat it has been the well-spring of peace and cooperation for our nations.Armed forces throughout the region are rededicating themselves to the nobletradition of professional armed forces under civilian, democratic authority.The nations are making great progress in emphasizing respect for human rightsin the education and training of our armed forces.
Nowhere was this moreevident than at Southern Command's Human Rights Conference last February.
Itwas an unprecedented gathering of senior military officers from throughout theregion and noted human rights experts from the United Nations, OAS, and otherorganizations.
Together, they helped clarify the important role of armedforces in the protection of human rights.
And they formulated strategies toeducate and train civilians and military personnel in the importance of humanrights.
We also agreed in Williamsburg on the principle of openness in defensematters.
Now openness may seem like an unusual concept when it comes todefense and security, because the art of war involves secrecy and surprise.But the art of peace involves exactly the opposite -- it involves openness,which brings trust and confidence.
In the sprit if openness, I announced atWilliamsburg that the United States will inform all countries in the region ofany major multi-lateral exercises we undertake in the region.
Earlier thisyear, both SOUTHCOM and ATLANTIC COMMAND followed up on this promise by sharinginformation on our major exercises for 1996 with all of the democratic capitalsof the region.
Another important way to build trust and confidence is to open the books onour budgets and our defense programs.
In my visits with the current and futuredefense leaders around the world, I talk about how I present the President'sdefense plans and budgets to our Congress in fully open, public hearings.
Iexplain how this budget request is developed by a cooperative effort betweenmilitary personnel and a strong cadre of civilian defense officials.
I alsotalk a lot about how Congress and the President work together to decide boththe size and the shape of our budget.
This process that I describe can be very difficult and very challenging for meand for the Department -- and I can tell you that it is very difficultand very challenging.
Nevertheless, I am proud of this process and I believeit can be a model for nations looking to further democratize their defenseministries.
Other countries have also been stepping forward in support of the principle ofopenness and confidence-building.
Chile hosted the first OAS conference onconfidence and security-building measures in our hemisphere.
And at theconference, OAS members committed to an exchange of military budgets, policies,and doctrines, and to establish procedures to cooperate in the event of naturaldisaster.
Columbia and Venezuela are working together to increase their bordersecurity by sharing defense information about cross-border guerrilla activity.And just this week, high level officials from Peru and Ecuador met to discussconfidence and security building measures to ensure that their border disputenever flares up again.
The case of Peru and Ecuador is also an important example of another principleagreed to at the Defense Ministerial: that outstanding disputes should beresolved by peaceful negotiations, not by war.
Not only have Peru and Ecuadoragreed to settle their differences peaceably, but in a truly historic move,both countries are contributing troops to the peacekeeping force that patrolstheir border.
Nowhere else in the world have two former enemies shown suchcourage and vision in their determination to find peace.
Argentina and Chilehave also shown great determination by resolving their border disputes throughnegotiations.
And negotiations have renewed hope for a peaceful resolution todecades of internal armed conflict in Guatemala.
Meetings like today's also serve to illustrate another security principle weagreed upon in Williamsburg, the principle that there is great value in defensecooperation.
Cooperation ranges from personal relationships -- which cansometimes be more valuable than any written agreement -- to joint exercises andoperations, particularly peacekeeping, humanitarian, and disaster reliefexercises.
In the last eighteen months, SOUTHERN COMMAND has put together anambitious multi-national, peacetime exercise schedule.
This proves that thenations of this region can work together to plan and execute military training.
And last month, we began the first ever multi-lateral operation known as LASERSTRIKE.
LASER STRIKE is not an exercise.
It is the real thing.
Seven nationsfrom the region are deploying on land and water in an allied effort to disruptdrug production and movement, supporting our mutual counter-drug efforts thatare led by our law enforcement agencies.
LASER STRIKE is also helping put thespirit of Williamsburg into practice in a way that not only promoteshemispheric security, but also helps save the lives of our citizens.
Joint activities among our nations provide an effective way for militaryforces to get hands-on training and experience.
They provide an opportunityfor military personnel to get to know their counterparts in other countries.And they set the stage for nations to play a role in wider efforts to promotesecurity and stability, such as international peacekeeping operations.
Today, armed forces from Latin American countries are part of peacekeepingoperations the world over -- from Bosnia to Iraq.
They are earning areputation as some of the world's best peacekeepers, and are giving otherregions a chance to experience the same peace and security that we arebeginning to enjoy to its fullest here in our hemisphere.
Well, I've talked a great deal today about the Williamsburg Principles, butthe Williamsburg process is, perhaps, just as important.
The Williamsburgprocess refers to the fact that no one country set the agenda at the firstDefense Ministerial.
Indeed, it was arrived at by consensus and each nationleft Williamsburg committed not only to the principles we agreed upon, but tofinding more ways to create dialogue and consensus building at all levels --from the defense ministers to the sergeants in the field.
This effort has ledme to places where you would not historically expect to find the U.S. Secretaryof Defense.
Places such as Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Panama, Venezuela, andMexico.
In Mexico, I was the first U.S. Secretary of Defense to ever visit that greatnation and earlier this week, Minister Cervantes from Mexico reciprocated witha very productive visit to the United States.
A message I have tried to convey in each country that I have visited is thatwhile we have clearly come a long way, we cannot rest on our laurels.
InOctober, Argentina will host a second Defense Ministerial and we already haveset our sights high.
Along with reinforcing the Williamsburg principles, Ihope we will use the next Ministerial to deepen our commitment to defensecooperation, to begin developing formal confidence-building measures, toexplore the creation of a regional center for security studies, and toinstitutionalize the Williamsburg process of dialogue among equals and strongsecurity partnerships.
Simon Bolivar once said, "Let us not be dazzled by the victories fate hasgiven us -- nothing is accomplished when there is something more to do -- andwe have much still to do." Fate, along with hard work and cooperation, hasgiven us some dazzling victories for peace and security in our hemisphere thesepast few years.
But the job is not yet fully accomplished.
We still have muchto do.
But if we continue to cooperate in the spirit of democracy and peacethat was begun in Williamsburg and Miami, we can not only accomplish the job,we can capitalize on our opportunity to build a hemisphere of peace andsecurity.
Thank you very much.