Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William J. Perry American Bar Association
Tuesday, August 6, 1996
Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked, If there is any period one
would desire to be born in, is it not the age of revolution?
When the old and the new stand side by side? When the energies
of all men are searched by fear and by hope? When the historic
glories of the old can be compensated by the rich possibilities
of the new?
Like Emerson, we too live in an age of revolution.
field -- politics, economics, technology -- we are living in an
era of rich possibilities. Our hopes are symbolized by the
emergence of democracy around the globe; by the growth of new
global trade relationships; by the expansion of global
communications; and by the explosion of information.
But along with these hopes, our energies in this
revolutionary era are searched by fear. One of our darkest
fears in this new era is the specter of terrorism.
hangs like a dark cloud over our hopes.
President Clinton has called it "the enemy of our
generation." It is the antithesis of everything America stands
It is an enemy of the fundamental principles of human
rights -- freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom
Its perpetrators reject the rule of law and basic human
They are not able to achieve their goals either through
conventional diplomatic or military means, so they seek to impose
their will on others through acts of violence, almost always
aimed at the innocent.
Domestic terrorism is a crime against the order and
tranquillity of our nation.
International terrorism is an
assault on the peace and stability of the world.
And when terrorists aim their attacks at US military forces,
something additional is at risk: It is the ability of the United
States to protect and defend our vital national interests in the
That is what was under assault when terrorists attacked
our forces in Saudi Arabia last November, and again in June.
I just returned from a trip to Saudi Arabia, where I met
with my Saudi counterpart, Prince Sultan, to develop a mutual
response to the recent bomb attacks on American military forces
To respond intelligently, we must first understand the
nature of the problem.
Why have our forces in Saudi Arabia been subject to
To answer this question you need to go back in time about
six years, to the Gulf War, which started when Iraq invaded
We fought that war because Iraq had not only taken over
Kuwait and its oil fields, but also threatened Saudi Arabia and
its oil fields.
At that time we correctly decided that this was a direct
threat to our vital national interests and to world peace -- and
we formed a military coalition which successfully ejected Iraq
Today there are still threats to the region -- threats to
the free flow of oil around the world and to the security and
stability of the region.
The threat from Iraq has been reduced,
but is still significant; the threat from Iran has increased
since 1990, and is still growing.
To counter these threats we maintain strong military forces
forward deployed in the Gulf region.
This forward presence
serves to prevent both Iraq and Iran from expanding their
territory or influence in the Gulf countries, thereby gaining
control over the flow of oil to the world.
Our military presence includes substantial airpower
operating out of Saudi and Kuwaiti airbases.
This permits us to
enforce the UN-sponsored "no-fly" zone over Iraq.
also includes naval forces operating continuously in the Arabian
Gulf, also enforcing United Nations' sanctions.
And, it includes
two brigade sets worth of pre-positioned military equipment --
one in Kuwait and one afloat offshore -- and we are adding a
third brigade set in Qatar.
This pre-positioned equipment allows us to insert a
substantial deterrent force into the region in a fraction of the
time that it took us in 1990.
We actually exercised this
potential in October of 1994, when Saddam Hussein again sent his
forces toward the Kuwaiti border.
That time, however, we were able to respond quickly enough
that we were able to deter an attack.
Our forward forces, backed by rapidly deployable U.S.-based
reinforcements, are by far the strongest military force in the
Gulf region; they cannot be successfully engaged by any of the
regional military powers.
But this very capability, which makes our military forces
such a successful deterrent force, also makes them an inviting
target for those who oppose our presence and influence in the
Our presence, of course, is opposed by Iran and Iraq, but
also by home-grown dissidents in some countries of the region.
The opposition includes extremist groups who are cold
blooded and fanatical -- but also clever.
They know that they
cannot defeat us militarily, but they may believe that they can
defeat us politically -- and they have chosen terror as the
weapon to try to achieve this.
They estimate that, if they can cause enough casualties, or
threats of casualties, to our force, they can weaken support in
the United States for our presence in the region, or weaken
support in the host nations for a continued U.S. presence.
In essence, they seek to drive a wedge between the U.S. and
our regional allies.
Terrorists made the attack on U.S. forces in Khobar Towers
in June to achieve these objectives.
They did not succeed.
But the public reaction to this bombing may wrongly
encourage them to think that such attacks can erode our resolve.
So we must be prepared for the frequency and scale of the attacks
in the Gulf to increase.
Future attacks could be with more
powerful bombs, or standoff weapons, or even chemical weapons.
So the question that confronts us is, What do we do about
the this growing threat to our forces?
One alternative, which is tempting to many, is to say that
we should pack up our forces and go home.
That would be a grave mistake.
We could withdraw our forces from the Gulf region, but we
cannot withdraw our security interests from the region.
the threat of terrorism to drive us out of the Gulf would mean
surrendering those interests, abandoning our allies, and allowing
the region to come under the control of Iraq or Iran.
It would give a small group of terrorists with truck bombs a
victory that, six years ago, Saddam Hussein could not achieve
with 40 divisions.
Withdrawal is not an acceptable alternative -
- our strategic imperative requires that we maintain our forces
in the region.
So the question on my mind when I went to Saudi Arabia last
week was not whether to leave our forces in the region, but how
to maintain them.
The answer to that question, I believe, is three-fold: we
need to strengthen our resolve that we will not let terrorists
drive us away from protecting our national interests; we need to
increase the physical security of our military personnel in the
region to reduce their vulnerability to terrorist attacks; and we
need to increase our intelligence capabilities so that we can
preempt and disrupt terrorist attacks before they occur.
My trip to Saudi Arabia was aimed at furthering these
And it was a successful trip.
As a result of our meetings in Jiddah, there is a
strengthened resolve by both the Saudi and the American
governments that we will not play into terrorist hands by
allowing these attacks to drive a wedge between us.
concrete result of my trip was agreement on a number of actions
to strengthen the physical security of our forces in Saudi Arabia
and the region.
We currently have 4,000 air crew personnel in Riyadh and
Dhahran to enforce the "no-fly" zone over Iraq.
We will redeploy
them and their aircraft to the Saudi airbase at Al Kharj, known
as the Prince Sultan Air Base.
This will take our forces out of
a high-risk urban environment and move them into a remote
location in the desert, where we can construct very effective
defenses against terrorist attack.
But some of the units we have in Saudi Arabia cannot be
relocated without undermining their effectiveness.
units, for example, must be in close proximity to their Saudi
counterparts in Riyadh.
And our Patriot missile battery crews
must be located near the urban areas and airbases that they are
While these units must remain near urban areas because of
their mission, we are taking steps to give them more protection
by consolidating them and moving them to more secure housing
facilities; by erecting more barriers, posting more guards;
putting more mylar on windows.
All of these to lessen the impact
of any future bombings.
The Saudi government is cooperating in all of these moves;
making facilities available; building required new
Force protection measures, such as moving the location of
our forces and building barriers, cannot eliminate the risk to
our forces -- but they can minimize those risks.
protection is a key part of every military mission -- it is my
top priority whenever I approve a military operation or a
That is why our forces in Bosnia are required to wear flak
jackets and Kevlar helmets when they are outside of the security
compound; it is why one out of every three of them are on guard
duty; and it is why we have a no-alcohol policy for our forces in
These are burdensome rules, but they do save lives.
To reinforce our emphasis on force protection, I have
recently directed the implementation of a stronger Force
Protection Initiative worldwide -- with specific instructions for
commanders in Southwest Asia and Southern Europe to perform force
But while we want to emphasize force
protection, we must also balance force protection with our
ability to achieve our military missions.
Our forces cannot perform their mission if they are hunkered
down in hardened bunkers 24 hours a day.
We all know, and
certainly our military personnel know, that there are inherent
risks in any military operation.
In today's environment one of
those risks is the risk of a terrorist attack.
Our job is to
continually look for ways to minimize that risk while maintaining
These force protection measures are always important, but
the real key to better, more effective force protection against
terrorism is to take active measures against the terrorists.
Which brings me to another major action we are taking in Saudi
Arabia -- improving our intelligence capabilities.
We do not want to simply sit and wait for terrorists to act.
We want to seek them out, find them, identify them, and do what
we can to disrupt or preempt any planned operation.
And the key
to this is better intelligence.
Better intelligence depends not only on being able to
collect information, but being able to use it.
We need to sort
out the real and useful intelligence from the misinformation and
disinformation that is collected everyday.
One key to improved analysis is the Counter Terrorist
Center, formed a few years ago and now receiving higher priority
in the face of a higher threat.
But even with improved analysis
in Washington, we still have to make this intelligence available
in a timely way to the forces threatened and to combine national
intelligence with the local intelligence being collected.
Among the steps we are taking to improve intelligence in the
Gulf region is to set up what we call a fusion cell. We
developed the model for intelligence fusion cells in Bosnia.
are replicating this model not only in the Gulf region, but
around the world wherever our forces are deployed.
A fusion cell combines, in real time, national strategic
intelligence, which we gather around the world, with local or
This allows us to quickly fuse together
the global picture with the regional picture to help us see
patterns; to keep information from falling through the cracks;
and to focus the United States' and our allies' intelligence
services on the same pieces of information, at the same time.
Intelligence is crucial not only for preventing and
disrupting terrorists activities, it is also a key to an
appropriate response to the terrorists and their sponsors.
As President Clinton said yesterday, "We will not rest in
our efforts to track down, prosecute, and punish terrorists, and
to keep the heat on terrorists and those who support them."
Yesterday, President Clinton signed into law the Iran-Libya
Sanction Act, which builds on sanctions already in place.
he signed this bill, he said, The United States cannot and will
not hesitate to do what we believe is right.
Our response to terrorist attacks on our troops in the Gulf
is a story that has broader implications, it is a case study that
is helpful as we think about the threat of terrorism, generally.
Just as the very success of our military presence in the Gulf
makes our troops an inviting target for terrorists in the region,
so, too, does America's success around the world make our nation
an inviting target for terrorists worldwide.
America is the world's sole remaining superpower.
Our economic and political philosophy is ascendant
Our culture is the world's most influential.
And the very openness of our society makes us a relatively easy
target for those who do not like these facts, or who disagree
with what we stand for.
When terrorists attack our military forces in Saudi Arabia
or anywhere they are needed in the world, the worst thing we
could do for our national security would be to withdraw our
forces from where they are needed.
Likewise, when terrorists attack our trade centers, Federal
buildings, or airliners, the worst thing we can do as a society
is to withdraw from our daily lives and our commerce.
Once we decide there are real reasons for doing something,
then we ought to do it.
Understanding that there may be real
risks associated with that decision.
Richard Haas, a former member of the National Security
Council in the Bush Administration, noted the other day, We
cannot and should not ground our planes, shutter our embassies,
hand in our passports, bring all our troops home, close the
government, or shut down the Olympics.
If we stop being who we
are and stop living a life worth living, we hand the terrorists
their greatest victory.
It was heartening, in this regard, to see the return of
thousands of people to Olympic Park in Atlanta as soon as it was
Those celebrants understood that staying home would
have meant giving in.
We must recognize that terrorism -- domestic,
international, or directed against our military forces -- is like
a chronic disease: You must fight it even as you have to live
The fight is not and will not be easy.
But then defending
freedom and liberty never are.
Over 200 years ago, Thomas Paine wrote, Those who expect to
reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of
In this age, we too must be prepared to undergo the fatigue
that comes with the burden of supporting freedom if we are to
reap freedom's blessings.
I thank you.