Thursday, Oct. 4, 2001
(Interview with Jim Knoxfield, BBC Radio)
Knoxfield: Admiral, first of all, clearly this review was in train, or was going to happen before September 11th, but it's now going to take place in quite a different atmosphere. What are the sorts of considerations that are going to be brought to bear that might not have been though so urgent before September 11th?
Quigley: I think the effort for the Quadrennial Defense Review had been started months ago, many months ago, very shortly after this administration took office, even before that from the professional military here to set the structure in place. And you heard candidate Bush and now President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld say for all these many months that one of the areas that we would have to provide more focus and more attention to was the threat of asymmetric threats to the United States.
After the Gulf War particularly, no nation in its right mind would take on the United States and its friends and allies in a symmetrical way. In other words, army for army, navy to navy, and that sort of thing. So they'd have to find other ways to do that. Sadly, what we found on the 11th of September is that terrorists have found a way to do that.
So the Quadrennial Defense Review makes prominent mention of terrorism, homeland defense, homeland security as major issues that we'll have to turn our attention to. There were minor changes made to the Quadrennial Defense Review after the attacks on the 11th, but really pretty much the document had it about right before the attacks.
Knoxfield: The phrase "homeland security" strikes a chord with Americans because it's one that previously they tended to think they didn't have to worry about very much.
Quigley: Yes, indeed. Take a look at the structure of our defensive systems. The North American Aerospace Defense Command, for instance, formed during the Cold War in a collaborative effort between the United States and Canada to protect all of North American airspace from external threats. Now in those days that meant Soviet bombers trying to attack North America --
Knoxfield: From the north.
Quigley: -- from the north or over the Pacific or something like that, and all of the threats were external.
Since the end of the Cold War particularly it really was something of a stretch for us to think about an external threat that was actually threatening the homeland of America. Again, our thinking has now dramatically changed on that since the 11th where now we must consider an internal threat.
Knoxfield: People say who were against national missile defense that of course that shield, assuming that it worked, wouldn't have done anything to stop the World Trade Center. Do you think that's a view that will change the nature of that debate or not?
Quigley: I'd say that's correct in a narrow sense, but if you want to lock the front door of your house, don't forget to lock the back door while you're at it. There are more than one way to threaten America in an asymmetric way. Certainly terrorist attack is one of them, but so are ballistic missiles in the hands of rogue nations or accidental launches or things of that sort. It is still of the same type of threat that would face the United States and it's something that absolutely needs to be addressed.
Knoxfield: How important from the point of view of your own sources is the cooperation, particularly with the U.K., but with the rest of the coalition that's being assembled as part of this operation, this posture?
Quigley: There is no stronger friend to the United States than the United Kingdom. President Bush said that clear as a bell the night that he addressed the joint session of Congress and Prime Minister Blair was in the gallery. That has proven itself to be the case year after year, issue after issue, crisis after crisis. You see it today in the Persian Gulf and have since the Gulf War. We have stood shoulder to shoulder on any number of issues and any number of crises as far back as the eye could see. And Britain has made it very clear that she agrees that this is a global threat.
Now the attacks on the 11th happened to be leveled against America. That may not be the same case next time. Indeed, any civilized nation on earth is very much at risk of the acts of organized, systematic networks of terrorists around the world, and that is one thing that we can agree with a wide variety of nations, some of them that we have serious political differences with in other issues, but on this we can agree. Terrorism has got to be eradicated.
Knoxfield: A last one, Admiral, if I may. Everyone is talking about the uncertainty of the world after September the 11th, the problem of reacting to a little incident here, a little incident there. The sense that everything's in flux. I suppose today's events between the Ukraine and Russia and the tragedy of the plane sort of emphasized that because the whole world is looking at this and it doesn't quite know what to think, and it's all because of the background, isn't that right?
Quigley: It has to be. I think the attacks on the 11th were so dramatic, and the entire world is still struggling, I believe, to digest the full meaning and implication of such incredible acts of murder to be done in a conscious way by terrorists.
This is not going to be a short struggle. It is not a struggle that has only a military dimension to it. It's very broad based -- economic, financial, diplomatic, legal, and there's a military element to that as well. But this is something that, again, the world is still digesting and trying to comprehend the enormity of the implications of the attacks on the 11th.
Knoxfield: You say that there's a military component. It's pretty clear, isn't it, from what the president has said and Secretary Rumsfeld has said, that at some point in the near future there will be a military component, but that's not something that will be allowed to wait for too long.
Quigley: No, I don't think so. I think people are being very patient and that's very much appreciated. I think there's no enthusiasm for reflexively striking back just because it makes you feel good for a short period of time.
This is about having real impact and significant and long-term impact. So we'll take the time, we'll do the planning well, and we will apply military power where it has some real effect.
Knoxfield: Admiral Quigley, thank you very much.
Quigley: You're very welcome. Glad to help.