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Indiana University-Purdue Fort Wayne
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen, Fort Wayne, Indiana, Thursday, December 09, 1999

Thank you. [Senator] Dick [Lugar]. Thank you very much. Chancellor [Michael] Wartell, and ladies and gentlemen.

As I sat here and listened to Dick's presentation to you I thought of the time when a Senator had to appear on the same stage as Mark Twain. Mark Twain got up and gave his presentation, and there was warm applause for that. The Senator frankly didn't know what to say at that point. So he got up and he said, "Mr. Twain and I had an agreement before we came here. We swapped speeches this evening. He has just given you the speech that I wrote which was so warmly accepted, and he has given me his, but unfortunately I have lost his and I can't remember a word he was going to say." [Laughter.]

I feel that way as I listened to Dick talk to you this evening, because he covered the very subjects that I wanted to talk to you about this evening. I thought perhaps I can do it. I have a brilliant speech prepared here. By the way, it's about 30 pages long; guaranteed to inflict cruel and unusual punishment to all of you in violation of the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution. So I think that perhaps I'll try and talk just a bit informally and touch on a couple of the same subjects that Dick talked about.

First, let me say a few words about him. The reason I am here is because of my high regard for him. I don't know of any member of the United States Congress, any, that has a greater reputation for honesty and integrity and intellect than Richard Lugar.

Whenever there is a subject matter dealing with foreign policy, which I know a little bit about -- Maine potatoes, we still have a few -- but any subject dealing with foreign relations or arms control, there's always one person we turn to and that's Richard Lugar. Dick has been an inspiration to so many of us. When I was in the Senate I regarded him as a truly dear friend and someone that I would always look to for leadership and information.

So that's the reason I'm here this evening, to support him in his endeavors to continue to try to draw the American people to the subject of foreign affairs.

If you read some of the polls you will see that perhaps it's not a subject that accelerates the heartbeats of too many Americans. But as Dick has pointed out, it is critically important to everything we do. It's certainly important to the farm community. But as President Eisenhower noted so many years ago, "What happens in Indonesia will have an impact on Indiana." And we all saw that in the past couple of years. We saw the economy start to fall over in Southeast Asia, and we talked about the Asian flu and how it spread to all regions of the world. The economy started to fall in South America. The economy certainly fell in Russia. China was having problems at the time. So it is global in nature because of the globalization of technology.

If you think about it, technology has miniaturized the world. It has reduced the size of the world so it's not much bigger than a ball spinning on the finger of science. If you think about what technology has done, it has reduced these vast oceans that used to separate all of us; they're mere ponds today. If you talk about distant countries, they're like counties. Everything has been compressed into a much smaller size.

Toffler used to write about this years ago, long before others were talking about it, and he called it the age of Future Shock in which we would find time speeded up by events, and that we'd find values and our customs shaken in a hurricane wind of change. All of that has come about if you look at what has taken place in the past ten years.

I think about that because just last week I was in Germany. It was less than a decade from an event which I think all of you would recognize changed the world, when great rivalries of the past were forever altered. I'll bet few in this audience would ever forget where they were on August 18, 1992, the day that Larry Bird retired. [Laughter.] And as an old Celtic fan, I can tell you that that was one of the most momentous events of the decade, secondly only certainly to the fall of the Berlin Wall.

But on a serious note, when the Berlin Wall fell, and we talked about the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were a lot of articles being written at that time. You may recall an article written by Francis Fukuyama. He talked about the End of History; that at the collapse of the Soviet Union we would have free enterprise and capitalism and democracy spread to every corner of the globe.

This produced a reaction from a South African academician by the name of Peter Vale. He said, "Rejoice, my friends, or weep with sorrow. What California is today, the world will be tomorrow." [Laughter.]

Of course right away after Fukuyama published his thesis you had someone called Samuel Huntington from Harvard say, wait a minute, you've got it all wrong. It's not going to be the end of history. We're not going to see democracy spread to every corner of the world. There's something called a clash of civilizations awaiting us where you'll have this inevitable conflict between ethnic rivalries and old hatreds and religious contests start to come together and clash, and we will see those kinds of conflicts emerge in the next century.

So that debate takes place. I spent a good deal of my time traveling to Southeast Asia when I was a Senator, working with a friend of mine who's now in jail, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Anwar [Ibrahim]. He was trying to come up with a different concept saying you don't have to have an inevitable clash of civilizations. How about having a feast or celebration of civilizations? Why can't we cooperate and pick from each other's societies those things that really are unique to us? What's universal we can all adopt, and what's unique we can retain. That's something that I think we really have to come back to.

Dick mentioned the fact that we're talking tonight about the Comprehensive Threat Reduction Program. There are two major challenges, at least two: how we deal with Russia and how we deal with China.

But before I talk about the Nunn-Lugar Program and what it's meant to all of us, there are voices out in the world today who looked at the United States, and somehow they've come to the conclusion that we are no longer engaged or prepared to engage in world affairs. There's a variety of reasons for that, but if you read some of the editorial comment coming out of Japan where they say we have forfeited our world leadership; if you look to Brazil where they run similar articles; if you read the Economist Magazine, back on October 23rd the front page article, cover story, [read] "America stands astride the world like a giant colossus", but then the article went on to say, "but we have an uncertain trumpet." We're not too sure about our power. Sometimes we act too timidly and other times we simply are too arrogant perhaps. So there are questions about the role of the United States in the world today, and that somehow we're sending signals of retrenchment.

Dick Lugar has dedicated his political life to saying that's just the wrong thing. We have to be fully engaged. The notion that somehow people are sending out a siren song of trying to lure the disenchanted into the world of isolationism is completely wrong. There is no way that we can retreat to a comfortable cocoon in the continental United States and watch the world unfold on CNN. Number one, it's impossible. Number two, it's not desirable. We have to be engaged in order to shape world events in ways that are favorable to our ideals and to our interests. That is the reason that we are forward deployed. I'm going to talk about the military for a moment.

We have a strategy for our military, summed up in three words. It's "shape, respond, prepare." We recite it like a mantra. We shape world events by being forward deployed. We have 100,000 of our troops throughout the Asia Pacific region and we are there shaping world opinion about us in ways that allow them to be comfortable about their own position. If you think about it, for example, if the United States did not have the forward deployed forces and we were to pull out tomorrow, who would fill the vacuum? Would it be Japan? Would it be China? Would it be India? Would it be Pakistan? Someone would fill the vacuum, and they would do it in a way that wouldn't necessarily be stabilizing.

But all of the countries throughout the region, from Japan, Southeast Asia, and indeed I would submit to you tonight, even China, recognize that we are a stabilizing force. Because we are not there to conquer territory, we are not there to dominate the region, but they see us as a stabilizing force, and when you have stability, what do you have? Investment usually follows. Business follows the flag. So when you have a stable environment, business will invest. And when you invest you have a chance of promoting prosperity. If you have prosperity that also reinforces democracy. And so all of the countries realize over there that we are a force for stability, and ultimately for promoting prosperity as well as our ideals.

The same is true in Europe. We have roughly 100,000 in Europe as well. We have maintained the peace through an institution called NATO for the past 50 years. That's in our interest to maintain stability, and we see what happens when stability isn't maintained. Bosnia, by way of example. Kosovo is another. The Balkans exploding, sending hundreds of thousands of people over borders into neighboring countries, destabilizing them and their economies. So we are a stabilizing force.

We are in the Gulf. We are still maintaining peace in the Gulf and containing Saddam Hussein so that he doesn't try to build a nuclear, chemical or biological force again. All of that allows the countries in the region to feel relatively stable and safe because of our presence. Does it cost us? The answer is yes. Do we have a better alternative? I think not. So we have to continue to be engaged.

This notion that somehow we are suffering from super power fatigue I think is unwarranted. The notion that we are prepared to yield the stage of being a global power is certainly uncalled for. No other country has more people forward deployed anywhere in the world than our country. We ought to take credit for that, and we do.

So we have to be engaged. We have to be engaged, as Senator Lugar just mentioned, with Russia. I recently came back from a visit to Moscow. I went over to talk about something called the National Missile Defense System which I will mention in a moment. But while I was there, I had an opportunity to see the product that he forged years ago. While everybody was celebrating the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was somebody in the United States Senate who was looking around the historic corner and said, wait a minute. We've got a country with tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, chemical and biological. We can't simply be indifferent or treat them with the back of our hand. We've got to forge a way in which we can help them reduce the size of those weapons, the numbers of those weapons, and that's precisely what we have done. So we have spent a small fraction of our defense dollars in reducing the threat as opposed to maintaining those high levels of nuclear weapons, thanks to Dick Lugar.

I went out to a shipyard, a long-held secret shipyard, in which they maintained their submarine force. No one could ever get in there before. Dick Lugar had been there about a week or two before I arrived. What did I see? I saw a Typhoon submarine. I don't know if you've ever seen a Typhoon submarine. I had not seen one. It is the length of two football fields. It was tied up at the dock. They were getting ready to start cutting that up into pieces as a result of the START I Treaty which Dick Lugar also played a major role in helping to get through the Senate.

So we are seeing the Russians cut up a number of their strategic systems consistent with the treaties that we have negotiated to reduce the level of nuclear weapons in the world. It was a remarkable sight for me to see this. I now have a little vial on my desk in the Pentagon which is all filled with little slices of copper, with part of the wires inside those tubes in their Yankee class and their big submarine, thanks to Dick Lugar. We also are dealing with the issue of chemical and biological, and I'll come back to that in a moment.

But in dealing with the Russians we have something called Y2K. You're all familiar with it. You've been reading articles about it. We're in pretty good shape. We're in very good shape in the United States. But just to make sure that we keep the Russians engaged, because we don't know exactly what's going to happen with their systems. But we now have 15 or 20 of their top people coming over; they're now in Colorado Springs. They are going to be sitting in our missile launch detection monitoring station. They are going to sit there and they're going to watch what's taking place in the world, just to be sure in case something goes wrong.

Let's suppose their early warning systems shut down during Y2K. We have to make sure that they don't think that's a prelude to any kind of attack coming from the United States and therefore force them into a system of responding with their nuclear weapons. That's taking place today as a result of the kind of engagement that Dick's been talking about.

Next year we'll have a permanent Joint Center, an early warning center, located in Moscow. We're going to keep that relationship up because they are still a powerful country in terms of their military might as far as nuclear and chemical and biological weapons. We're going to continue to work with them in terms of shared early warning, Y2K, chemical and biological weapon reduction, as well as nuclear.

They've got a problem right now. When I was there, the fourth bomb went off; a terrorist bomb, destroying a building and collapsed an apartment building. Eighty or 90 people died. They were worried about it. You can imagine if you had four terrorist bombings take place on American soil, what would your reaction be? So I offered on Russian television, I said look, we are as concerned about the spread of international terrorism as anyone. We've always been concerned about it. We will share technology, we will share intelligence, information, cooperation. We want you to be able to defeat acts of terrorism on Russian soil. They were most appreciative of that expression of support.

But of course now they're in Chechnya. Now they're acting in a way that's inconsistent with any sense of international norms in how they're responding to that, and they are being heavily criticized for it. But I can tell you that the fear was palpable when I was there, that they didn't know how to cope with acts of terrorism on their soil.

Now I mention this as a way, perhaps, of segueing into a discussion of weapons of mass destruction in this country. Dick mentioned the Nunn-Lugar-Domenici program. Once again, when you talk about the kind of threats that we're going to have to contend with in the future, we look and we see the spread of this kind of technology into more and more countries. We see the spread of missile technology. More and more countries are acquiring the ability to launch missiles at long distances, carrying a nuclear, a chemical or biological warhead. That doesn't mean it has to come by way of missile. It can come in the form of simply being released in a subway, [like] sarin gas in Tokyo, [like] the people who tried to blow up the trade centers in New York. [The Japanese cult was] also preparing to release anthrax against American soldiers. So we have to be concerned about groups, either the state-sponsored groups, individual groups outside of state sponsorship, or simply mad men having possession of small amounts of biological agents or chemical agents that could in fact cause catastrophic damage.

So what we are doing, thanks to Dick Lugar's leadership, is we are sending teams out to help train the trainers. To help train the "first responders." What happens if you have a sarin gas attack? Or you have a release of anthrax in a public transportation system? Who's first on the scene? It's your local ambulance. Who are the medics or the paramedics? What kind of training do they have? How do they identify what's been released, if anything? How do they know it's contagious? What if they take the people to a hospital and the entire hospital gets infected?

So all of these issues are not simply science fiction and they're not things that we are trying to throw out to cause fear. We are trying to educate without alarming. That's what we're in the process of doing. We're training our major cities, saying if this happens, this is the procedure you should follow.

The Pentagon plays a role. It's a secondary or subsidiary role. The Pentagon cannot and should not get involved in being the dominant agency in any kind of a terrorist act on American soil, but we will supplement, we will help, and we are the ones who should help. We will help the local Mayor. We will help the Governor and the National Guard. We will help all the hospital personnel and the police, and we will help to at least organize responses because if you need vaccines, if you need anti-bacterial solutions and so forth, if you need beds, if you need assistance, who is better at organizing that than the military? But we will always be subordinate to civilian control.

That is the reason why we have tried to address this by setting up a Joint Task Force down at our Atlantic Command to have 10 or 15 people who will, in fact, in a time of emergency be able to be called upon, saying, we can help the logistics of how you get beds, how you get medicines, how you get various relief to a city or a town that has been hit in this fashion.

This is not a happy subject matter I know to talk about on an evening like this when for the most part we are at peace. But it's important that we always be prepared for a catastrophe. We never know when it's going to strike, and frankly, you would expect us to be properly prepared and trained.

I would simply come back to the argument that we are not engaged. The fact is that it's something of a schizophrenic criticism about the United States. They say that we're overbearing or we're overly cautious. We are preoccupied with dominance or with defeatism. Or that we are simultaneously imperialistic or indifferent.

Now I always find this criticism troubling. I was over in Europe last week, and again, I attend the NATO conferences. A couple of years ago I said I don't understand you Europeans. On the one hand you accuse us of beating our chest, we're too arrogant, we're too involved in all of European affairs. Then we say okay, you're on your own, be it Bosnia or Kosovo, and you say wait a minute. What are you doing? Why are you retrenching?

I had a wonderful response from the now Secretary General of NATO, George Robertson, now Lord Robertson. He used to be simply Minister of Defense Robertson. He said, if I can emulate his brogue. He has a very thick Scottish brogue. He said, "Bill, you don't understand. If you can't ride two horses at once, what are you doing in the circus in the first place?" [Laughter.] I said, I don't mind riding two horses at once as long as they're going in the same direction. It's when they start going this way, I've got a problem.

So we have to remain engaged. I don't want to overdo the word this evening, but it's something that I know that is important to Dick, it's important to me. It's important that we deal with the Russians. As tough as that may be, we have to deal with them. They are a country that spans 11 times zones. You cannot have a stable Europe unless you have a stable Russia.

The same is true in Asia, in dealing with China. We may not like their policies, but we have to be engaged with China. The way in which we engage with them is directly, by dealing with them directly, to certainly challenge them when they take a position or do something that we find inconsistent with our interests or our ideals, and to work with them cooperatively when we can. It's important that we do that. It's important for all of our allies.

Japan, which really is the anchor of our relationship throughout Asia; a strong relationship with Japan. And also by building relationships with all of the Southeast Asian countries. For example, Singapore. Singapore is building a pier, a giant pier at Changi Naval Base today. It will accommodate our aircraft carriers. Five years ago we would not have been welcome, perhaps. Today they're saying come as often as you can. Once this base is open, send those aircraft carriers in. We want to see you.

The same is true with the Philippines. We were asked to leave the Philippines back in the early '90s. Once again I'd turn to Dick Lugar, he's one of the people who made sure that when there were elections held that they were honest and appropriate. He was over there as one of the overseers of that. We went to the Philippines recently. The Philippines now have signed and ratified a Visiting of Forces Agreement so that when our forces go over to the Philippines, be it on a training mission or just a port visit, our soldiers will have protection under the law. This is something that is new, but they see us, again, as being important to their security.

The same is true of Thailand. The same is true for the entire region. It's important that we do this because we have a direct financial interest in this. When there is stability there, when there are free markets, we sell our goods as well. We sell our farm products and our electronics and everything else. So we are a force for stability and prosperity and everyone recognizes that, including now in South America.

I just got back from a trip a couple of weeks ago from visiting Brazil, Argentina and Chile. All of South America now, they're all democracies. There's only one country in the hemisphere that isn't. But everybody else is. And they have open markets. They are promoting free enterprise, and they are promoting democracy, and they are subordinating their militaries to civilian control.

So we're seeing a vast transformation take place throughout the globe, and we can take a large measure of credit for it even though we bear the burden of doing this. It's a burden well worth bearing.

Let me conclude here. I'm told that you would like to ask me some questions. We have plenty of time to do that. But just on a note to perhaps respond and close with a story about Winston Churchill. I'm thinking of Winston Churchill because my wife Janet, she'll be happy to have this pin of mine, because she's a Hoosier. I would like to have her have been here this evening. She couldn't make it. But she was born and bred in Indiana, and she's very proud of this state, and she christened the USS Winston Churchill last summer when it was launched up at Bath, Maine.

I think of Churchill often, because there are so many wonderful stories about him. But there's one which is captured in a book that was written by Stuart Alsop. Stuart Alsop was a great journalist and he was dying of cancer and he wrote a book called Stay of Execution recording his moods and emotions as he went through this very difficult period of time, being encouraged one day and depressed the next.

But he told a story about his meeting with Churchill. Churchill had had a nice dinner for him that evening. They had consumed, I suspect, several bottles of wine, probably a glass or two of champagne, and maybe brandy after the dinner was over. Churchill looked at Alsop and he said, "America is a great country. It's like a big strong work horse pulling the rest of the world up out of the slough of despond and despair." But then he looked almost accusingly at Alsop and he said, "But will it stay the course? Will it stay the course?"

We know that for 50 years we have stayed the course, and I am convinced when we have leaders like Dick Lugar in the United States Senate bringing the kind of intelligence and honesty and integrity to public service, that we will continue to stay the course. I thank you very much for your support of him. [Applause.]