Dr. Teltschik, thank you so much for your kind words. It is a pleasure to be here on my first trip abroad, during my second tour of duty. [NATO Secretary-General] Lord Robertson, [European Union] Secretary General Solana, [German Foreign] Minister Fischer, distinguished members of the United States Congress, and the co-chairmen, Senator Joe Lieberman and Senator John McCain, members of Parliament, fellow ministers of defense. We just had a very nice lunch. I look forward to working with you. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. And I also want to say greetings to my predecessor, Bill Cohen. He is a friend and it is good to see him. And I thank you Bill, for your fine service to our country and to the Alliance. And my friend Henry Kissinger is here, and it is good to be with you, sir. We have covered a lot of years together.
This is a well-known forum to me, and I see a number of the faces here that are very familiar. It is both a pleasure and an honor to be with you again.
I’m pleased to be here on what I guess is my 13th or 14th day in office. I’m still the only official in the Department of Defense that has been appointed by the new Administration. So you can appreciate that I’m a bit busy trying to find people and get briefed up on the many things that I am not current on. But I felt it was important to take time to be here during these hectic first days in office because this conference is important and the distinguished participants are important. They are important to the security of the United States, to the security of Europe, and indeed, to the security of the world.
On the flight over last evening, I read a number of news articles—I must have seen six or eight—which helpfully reminded me that Europe today is different from the Europe that I lived in as Ambassador to NATO some 25 plus years ago. One article was a bit painful. It pointed out that while I was then the youngest Secretary of Defense, they say now I am the oldest. My wife, Joyce, has read so many of these articles in recent days that when I wake up in the morning now, she rolls over, looks at me, and says, "Well, ‘old timer,’ do you think you’re going to be able to make it out of bed?" [Laughter.]
On the other hand, as I look around this room, and see some old faces, I see I am not the only old timer here. There are a few others. The suggestion is, of course, as though I am a Rip van Winkle, who just woke up and discovered the new world—or more properly the old world.
Well, the truth is I do have a lot to learn. There is no question. And that is why, still in my first days I’m here, I’m here to listen and to learn. However, I have been in Europe—I checked just for the fun of it—I’ve been in Europe some 50 times in the last ten years, so I hope that everything that I learn will not be a complete surprise.
Twenty-five years ago during my first tour as Secretary of Defense, when Henry Kissinger was Secretary of State, this Alliance made some hard choices together about the future of Europe. We shared the risks and we bore the responsibility together. As a result, we meet here twenty-five years later with our collective security enhanced and expanded beyond our wildest dreams.
Our consultations and cooperation are at the center of this new world. They are the foundation from which we will respond to the challenges we face today and will face in the future. I am pleased to see also that we have participants here from Japan, Singapore, from India and China, to mention but a few of the many non-NATO attendees. They provide a useful reminder that security cannot be achieved by isolating one part of the world from another, by separating Europe from Asia.
The landscape changes, yet the mandate remains the same: it is to preserve peace and security and to promote freedom and democratic ideals. Today we again have some choices before us. And our task is to make the choices together, to share the risks and the responsibilities and to benefit in common. As I see it, ensuring our security in the future comes down to four familiar concepts—but cast in a somewhat new light in this new century: deterrence, defense, diplomacy, and intelligence.
We must maintain deterrence across a range of potential threats far broader than those we faced in the Cold War. This posture needs to be backed by a defense capability that makes that deterrence credible. Our deterrence and defense efforts are the underpinning of our diplomatic efforts. And finally, we must have the intelligence assets needed to allow policymakers, diplomats and our leadership a shared situation awareness so that they can do their jobs working off the same set of facts.
Today I want to share a few brief words about four issues in particular:
- Missile defense
- The Balkans
- The issue of Europe’s defense identity, and
- The prospects of NATO enlargement
Today we are safer from the threat of massive nuclear war than at any point since the dawn of the atomic age--but we are more vulnerable now to the suitcase bomb, the cyber-terrorist, the raw and random violence of an outlaw regime or a rogue nation armed with missiles and weapons of mass destruction. This so-called post-Cold War world is a more integrated world and, as a result, weapons and technologies once available only to a few nations are proliferating and becoming pervasive. And not just to nations but to non-state entities.
This brings me to the first issue, missile defense. I believe we need to recognize that the deterrence of the Cold War—mutual assured destruction and the concept of massive retaliation—worked reasonably well during the Cold War. But as Senator McCain said this morning in answer to a question, the problems today are different. The demands are different. And we have an obligation to plan for these changing circumstances to make sure that we are arranged—first and foremost—to dissuade rash and reckless aggressors from taking action or threatening action. Terror weapons don’t need to be fired. They just need to be in the hands of people who would threaten their use. And it alters behavior. We know that. And we know from history that weakness is provocative. That it entices people into adventures they would otherwise avoid.
No U.S. President can responsibly say that his defense policy is calculated and designed to leave the American people undefended against threats that are known to exist. And they are there, the threats. Let there be no doubt: a system of defense need not be perfect; but the American people must not be left completely defenseless. It is not so much a technical question as a matter of the President’s constitutional responsibility. Indeed, it is, in many respects, as Dr. Kissinger has said, a moral issue. Therefore, the United States intends to develop and deploy a missile defense designed to defend our people and forces against a limited ballistic missile attack, and is prepared to assist friends and allies threatened by missile attack to deploy such defenses. These systems will be a threat to no one. These systems will be a threat to no one. That is a fact. They should be of concern to no one, save those who would threaten others.
And let me be clear to our friends here in Europe: we will consult with you. The United States has no interest in deploying defenses that would separate us from our friends and allies. Indeed, we share similar threats. The U.S. has every interest in seeing that our friends and allies, as well as deployed forces, are defended from attack and are not vulnerable to threat or blackmail. Far from being a divisive issue, we see this as a new opportunity for a collective approach to enhancing security for us all.
Another area in which we must apply new thinking lies in our Alliance’s ability to address regional conflicts. We have seen the challenge in the Balkans. The Balkans showed that the Alliance needs to upgrade and transform its capabilities. And for that, we need more resources. Second, it showed that we are most successful when we act together.
I’m sure that everyone has heard that President Bush plans to review our involvement in the Balkans, with the hope of maintaining the most appropriate type and scale of involvement. And as we have said, we will not act unilaterally, or fail to consult our allies. Of that you can be certain.
I’d point out that when we started in Bosnia, we deployed tens of thousands of heavily armed forces. Today, we still have capable force there, but the mission has changed and the force is appropriately smaller and lighter. We have made these incremental changes as a result of the Alliance’s orderly process, that first began, I believe, in 1996, and continued through routine reviews, conducted some every six or eight months, as I recall. We believe this process of consultation, of assessment, and change should continue.
Again, it is the willingness of nations to act in concert that helps sustain security and strengthen the peace. And here—as the third issue I want to treat today—is the initiative being undertaken by some of our Alliance partners to evolve a European defense capability.
As a former Ambassador to NATO, I have enormous respect for the value of the Alliance. It has been the key instrument in keeping the peace in Europe for over fifty years. I think it is fair to say very simply that it is the most successful military alliance in history. And NATO has developed, establishing the Partnership for Peace, which has led all of Europe to participate in developing security together, as demonstrated by the Partner forces in Bosnia and Kosovo today.
The European Security and Defense Identity is another development. I’m not yet as knowledgeable enough to discuss it in great detail. Indeed, I am here to listen and learn and to understand it better. But I do have a few impressions I’d like to share.
Our European allies and partners know that NATO is at the heart of Europe’s defenses. Therefore, to sustain our past success into the future we must first and foremost maintain NATO as the core of Europe’s security structures for Europe.
I favor efforts that strengthen NATO. What happens within our Alliance and what happens to it must comport with its continued strength, resilience, and effectiveness. Actions that could reduce NATO’s effectiveness by confusing duplication or by perturbing the transatlantic link would not be positive. Indeed they run the risk of injecting instability into an enormously important Alliance. And if I may add one more point: whatever shape the effort may finally take, I personally believe it should be inclusive—open to all NATO members who wish to take part.
The issue of European inclusion leads to the opportunity of NATO’s enlargement. Here, too, we see opportunities presented by the new world that people in this room have helped to fashion. We have made good progress toward fulfilling the vision of Europe whole and free.
To be sure, as NATO membership is enlarged, it must at least preserve—and, eventually, enhance—our capacity for effective action. New members should share the values of allied nations and be prepared to shoulder the burden—to make the necessary security investments to participate fully in the pursuit of our aims.
The Alliance has said it will address enlargement at the next summit in 2002—an opportunity for states to make their case for membership. Membership in NATO, in my view, is more than just a step in the evolution of European democracies. Member nations assume a commitment to the common defense, and they must be capable of acting on that commitment.
I’ve focused on four issues—indicators, if you will, of our ability to take a forward-looking view of the freedom that we all seek to defend. These issues, for all their surface differences, are, on a deeper level, a part of the same fabric – part of the foundation of freedom and security of this alliance that we mean to strengthen and sustain.
Weaken NATO and we weaken Europe, which weakens all of us. We and the other nations of the alliance are bound together in pursuit and preservation of something great and good, indeed, something without parallel in history. Our greatest asset still lies in our values – freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law. And in the face of shared risks, we still must share the responsibility. As we embrace these challenges, I am confident that we will strengthen our great partnership, and that we will not fail. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
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