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36th Munich Conference on Security Policy -- Remarks as Prepared
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen , Hotel Bayerischer Hof, Munich, Germany, Saturday, February 05, 2000

In the wake of NATO's extraordinary resolve and performance in Kosovo and the success of the 50th anniversary summit in Washington, a new and bold agenda has been set for genuine progress in strengthening transAtlantic security. But a tremendous amount of work remains to be accomplished in the coming months.

NATO continues to be the most successful military alliance in history. Many present here should be proud of, and deserve credit for, that success. But its greatest triumph should not be a shadow from the last century, it should be a security built for the new century. In Munich, one can see this idea illustrated in the architectural evolution of many buildings, from Classical and Baroque designs to Contemporary and Modern. New architecture--even if it is designed with a distinctive character in a new era--can enhance and inform the purpose of a structure that has stood for ages. This year will be critical to ensuring that both NATO and the EU go forward in the same direction; that each nation in the alliance and the union advances at an equal pace; and that transAtlantic security continues to gain in strength. These goals are not only desirable, but achievable.

* * *

The United States believes that a stronger Europe means a stronger partner in the pursuit of our common interests and values. The fundamental principles of this new era of cooperation in European security have been articulated with clarity and candor by Secretary-General Robertson. He cites three "I's" with respect to the ESDI: indivisibility of transAtlantic security; improvement of European capabilities; and, inclusiveness of all European allies in the process. The United States is firmly committed to cooperation with our European allies within these framework principles.

In 1910, President Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech here in Germany, and he spoke of the increasing amount of cooperation across international boundaries. He said: "Each people can do justice to itself only if it does justice to others. Each nation can do its part for the world, only if it first does its duty within its own household. Be a good citizen of your own country first, and then you will be able to be a good citizen of the world."

NATO is, and should remain, the principal foundation of transAtlantic and European security. NATO is, and should remain, whole and intact. But NATO is still a forum for individual and sovereign nations to decide and implement a common course of action. NATO is similar to the peoples of its member nations. It shares freedom, security, and prosperity not in spite of its diversity, but because of the unity of its purpose and ideals. A coherent European capacity to act in its security interests should multiply NATO's power, not divide it. We believe that every step toward an ESDI should meet that test. In short, a stronger Europe strengthens NATO. A stronger NATO will, in turn, strengthen Europe.

This means that European nations will have to improve their armed forces by investing more resources and accelerating reform. It means that the ESDI must be as firmly rooted in inclusiveness as NATO is. NATO allies who are not EU members must be able to participate in the ESDI in meaningful ways, in planning and preparation, not just as spectators. Both organizations can grow stronger, but only if they grow together, not apart.

* * *

If there is one lesson that we learned from Kosovo--and there were many to be learned--it was that principles and good intentions and plans are useless if they never reach "the tip of the spear," on the front lines of a conflict where lives are at stake. Virtually every one of the operational challenges and shortcomings that were identified after Operation Allied Force had been identified in NATO's evaluation of each nation's Force Goals several years ago. But nation after nation failed to meet those goals on issues ranging from command-and-control system to reconnaissance capability to ground support and aerial refueling. NATO cannot afford to let that happen again. As Secretary Robertson said last year, "It is political will plus the ability to act that matters first and foremost, rather than the way bureaucracies are wired together. You cannot send a wiring diagram to solve a conflict."

This is not an exercise in chest-beating or finger-pointing. Kosovo highlighted areas where U.S. forces need improvement as well. Kierkegaard once said that "Life must be lived forward, but can only be understood backwards." Kosovo dramatically improved our understanding of what America needs to do. Indeed, we are preparing to release a report that outlines in great detail the "lessons learned" in Kosovo.

On the positive side of the ledger, we learned that NATO's multinational command structure does, in fact, work; that we can maintain cohesion and political unity among the 19 member nations; and, that new technologies such as precision-guided munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles and platforms such as the C-17 cargo transport are valuable investments.

But we also learned that we need to do a much better job of maintaining secure communication links between the forces of different nations. We learned at the command level that we need to develop a system of identifying and approving target criteria and specific targets much more rapidly. We learned that we need to have significant improvements in air- and sealift capability, so we can move forces into theater more quickly. We learned that we need to improve our logistics operations, so that they are both smaller in footprint and more adept at changing from warfighting to other missions such as peacekeeping and humanitarian operations. We learned that we need lighter and more effective equipment for detection of chemical and biological agents and for protecting our forces from these types of attacks.

* * *

The United States is already moving to address these needs in our forthcoming budgets, and in our planning and development. Now is the time for the Alliance to make progress as well. As Minister Scharping has said, "The problem in NATO is not too much America, but too little Europe." We simply cannot continue with a posture in which one member of NATO conducts virtually two thirds of all air support sorties and half of all air combat missions; in which only a handful of countries have precision munitions that can operate in all kinds of weather; and, in which some pilots had to communicate over open frequencies in a hostile environment.

These challenges are not simply historical anecdotes, they are enduring obstacles that we have identified collectively.

  • Less than half of the nations who have agreed to do so have made their full contributions to an asset-tracking system for better logistical support.
  • Less than half of the requested nations have contributed their full share to an advanced intelligence network.
  • Less than half of the nations asked to provide deployable command-and-control modules--which will improve interoperability--have done so.
  • Only 2 of the 7 nations now providing air-to-air refueling assets for the alliance have met their contribution targets for a Rapid Reaction Force.
  • Only 1 out of 14 nations assigned to work on a deployable headquarters that can withstand biological and chemical weapons attacks is on track to meet the goal by this year.

In light of this record, we believe that NATO should proceed cautiously as new goals for transAtlantic security are pursued. The energy and enthusiasm with which Eurocorps is assuming the headquarters command for NATO's mission in Kosovo this April is an important and welcome development, but it should not detract from Europe's responsibility to support the political and economic structures that are vital to Kosovo's long-term stability.

The innovation, initiative, and increased responsibility that the headquarters command represents are consistent with the Alliance's long-term goals and the evolution envisioned in our partnership. But our hard-won accomplishments--the stability and security of both Kosovo and Bosnia--should not suffer because of new ambitions. For example: to date there has been a clear failure by participating nations to provide the UN with sufficient numbers of police for public security duties in Kosovo, with a significant disparity in the amount of support provided by different Alliance members. Indeed, the number of police deployed is roughly half of what was planned. As a result, KFOR soldiers, who are trained to fight wars, are working as policemen, a job for which they have not been trained and should not be asked to perform indefinitely.

So while we welcome initiatives to assume more responsibility, there must be a renewal of resolve on behalf of all the participating nations to fulfill existing obligations. The stability and peaceful development of Kosovo is critical not only to the Balkans, but to the future evolution of transAtlantic security as well. We cannot accomplish a broad agenda for the future if we continue to fall short in meeting the clearly defined responsibilities in our hands today.

* * *

The United States believes that the NATO members, for continuing success, and the ESDI, as it develops, must do several things. First, security must be returned to the forefront of the political agenda in many of the NATO nations--and stay there. No one suggests that there should be a strict parity of spending or equal military capability. Every nation brings a different size, profile, and posture to this Alliance. But every nation can and should use existing resources more wisely, by aggressively pursuing reforms and technological advances. Even with such improvements, every member nation can and should devote more resources to addressing the security goals and challenges that we have agreed upon. Every member nation can and should recognize that marked disparities within the Alliance are an Achilles heel, and are therefore unacceptable. The compatibility of our equipment and communications technology, for example, should be regarded as a precondition of further progress, not an afterthought.

Progress and political cohesion is not sustainable if some nations are expected to spend more with each passing year, and others are allowed to spend less. There is a famous line in Lewis Carroll's book, Through the Looking Glass, in which Alice receives a bit of advice: "If you continue to run as fast as before, you will only stay in the same place. To get someplace, you must run faster." Likewise, we, as an Alliance, cannot return to the pace we had before Operation Allied Force.

 

Second, member nations should give special attention to the force capabilities required for the 21st Century as identified in NATO's Defense Capabilities Initiative at last April's summit:

    • Mobility
    • Sustainability
    • Better Command and Control
    • Effective engagement
    • Survivability
    • to enable our equipment, weaponry, and structure to deploy rapidly; to ensure that our forces have the logistical support that they need--the right tools at the right time--regardless of the type of environment; to ensure that both sensitive deliberations and operational communications are timely, secure, reliable, and inclusive; , which means providing the accuracy and flexibility to engage in a wide array of missions and adapt to changing situations; and, , which means protecting our forces from new threats, such as weapons of mass destruction.

To implement these capabilities, NATO must include them in its defense planning process. Then we, as allies, must direct resources to meet those Force Goals more successfully than we have done in the past.

Finally, NATO members and other participants in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy need to turn their program priorities--which, importantly, are largely identical and compatible with the DCI areas--into concrete and achievable goals. The EU's laudable "headline goal" of fielding a Rapid Reaction Force of 50,000 to 60,000 by 2003 is achievable, but only if a plan is set that ensures European nations will reach the necessary milestones in 2001 and 2002.

None of the challenges outlined here are insuperable, but the alliance's ability to sustain the momentum following of our success in Kosovo and the progress of the past year will depend on redoubling our efforts. Pascal once observed that "the strength of a man's virtue should not be measured by his special exertions, but by his habitual acts." Such is the case with nations who must make a habit of adapting to the changing realities of security. More than any single decision, the pace and arc of our efforts will decide our future.

* * *

This habit of adaptation--the constant reevaluation and reappraisal of the threats of our day and age--is the reason that the United States is moving forward in areas such as ballistic missile defense. We must recognize the iron law of modernity: as technology spreads and improves, the security threats beyond our borders--and the security expectations within our borders--both increase.

For America and Europe, the threat of missiles from rogue nations is substantial and increasing. North Korea is building--and selling--long-range missiles and has assembled an arsenal with nuclear, chemical, and biological capabilities. Iran, with foreign assistance, is buying--and developing--long-range missiles. It has chemical weapons, and is seeking nuclear and biological capabilities. Iraq had an active missile program and chemical and biological weapons, and was close to nuclear capability. Saddam has been trying since 1991 to maintain a production base for all of these and, if the world community allows him to flout with impunity its UN Security Council resolutions, he will resume his activities where he was stopped. Libya has chemical capabilities and is trying to buy long-range missiles.

 

We must be clear: these countries do not need long-range missiles to intimidate their neighbors, much as they seek to do. They want long-range missiles to coerce and threaten us--the North American and European parts of NATO. We project that in the next 5 to 10 years these rogue countries will be able to hold all of NATO at risk with their missile forces. In the United States, we have concluded that we cannot wait to begin to deal with this threat until we are in the midst of a crisis in which one of these rogue states attempts to blackmail the United States from carrying out its alliance obligations and protecting its interests.

The solution is clear: America needs both theater missile defense systems and a limited national missile defense system. Would a national missile defense system mean the United States is abandoning deterrence? Absolutely not. Missile defenses are a logical adjunct to our traditional policy. Defenses enhance deterrence by reducing the political and military value of rogue missiles. They can prevent damage if a rogue leader miscalculates. Will missile defenses protecting the United States weaken our defense commitments to allies? No, just the contrary. They will make it clear that even in the face of rogue long-range missiles, U.S. defense commitments--including those to NATO--will be upheld. Importantly, it is also becoming increasingly clear that effective limited defenses are technologically achievable.

Russia understands the value of missile defenses. The only ABM system in the world is the one around Moscow. We have made very clear to the Russian government that the limited defense contemplated for the United States is not directed at Russian forces. Indeed, it would not be capable of defeating those forces or undermining their strategic deterrent. In no way would it create any rationale for Moscow to increase its offensive forces or, indeed, to balk at additional reductions.

We have also made clear that we do not want to abandon the ABM Treaty. We are working with Russia to modify the treaty to allow us to defend ourselves against threats while preserving its basic purpose of promoting strategic stability between the United States and Europe. The threats that we will soon face were not envisioned when the Treaty was signed 28 years ago. The Treaty did envision, however, that the strategic situation might change such that the Treaty would need to change. There is no reason to force a choice between arms control and strategic stability, on the one hand, and defending our population from rogue-state missile threats, on the other.

Finally, I should note that President Clinton has made no decision to deploy a national missile defense system and will consider multiple factors before doing so: the evolving threat; the costs; the technical efficacy of such a system; and the strategic issues and considerations that involve our European allies and Russia itself.

So I hope to have a vigorous and forthright discussion here and in the coming months about how we should make these advances in missile defense fit into our larger plans for transAtlantic security, rather than debate why such a defense is becoming necessary.

 

* * *

We face a new world of threats, and we cannot meet those threats with old ideas or old strategies. Jacob Burckhardt wrote that, "Great historical transformations are always bought dearly, but often after we realize that we got them at a bargain price." Our security cannot be purchased at a bargain price. As Alistair Cooke once observed, "Freedom is the luxury of self-discipline." At its defining hour, the nations of the transAtlantic alliance proved that we had the resolve to remain unified, the courage to accept uncertain risks, and the perseverance to achieve victory. Surely an alliance of that caliber--a caliber that summons the courage necessary to win a war--can summon the self-discipline necessary to sustain its peace.