Remarks by Secretary Rumsfeld at the International Institute for Strategic Studies Conference, Singapore
Thank you very much, John. This conference is impressive, and it’s filling an important need. And certainly we congratulate you and thank you for your foresight and your leadership.
Ministers, distinguished officials, military and civilian.
It is certainly a pleasure for me to be back in this vibrant and historic city. I want to thank the government and the people of Singapore for their very gracious hospitality and the excellent dinner last evening. I commend Prime Minister Lee for his thoughtful remarks. Certainly they provided an excellent foundation for the discussions that we’ll be having in the days ahead.
Singapore’s emergence as a key contributor to security in the region is both significant and welcome. The Strategic Framework Agreement signed last summer between our two nations is increasing the depth and the texture of our partnership.
I want to express my deepest sympathies for the people of the United States to Minister Sudarsono and the people of Indonesia in the wake of the earthquake last week. At President Bush’s direction, the U.S. Pacific Command under Admiral Fallon is working with other nations to support the Indonesian government in its efforts to bring relief to the survivors and the injured.
Since the inaugural session in 2002, this Shangri-La conference has become the premier forum for exchanging views on security and progress in the Asia-Pacific region.
One of the reasons that the Shangri-La Dialogue has been so successful is because it strives to be inclusive. I believe John said that we have representatives here from more than 20 nations today -- including nations that over the years have at times been adversaries. These gatherings are an important reminder of just how far many nations have come, not only in economic and political development, but in achieving a good measure of reconciliation after the conflicts of the past century.
Today we face a situation in the Pacific, and indeed globally, where, paradoxically, more nations are freer then ever before, yet freedom is increasingly under assault -- by the designs of violent extremists and rogue regimes.
In the present security environment, cooperation among free nations is not simply desirable, it’s critical. It’s instructive, it seems to me, to reflect on some of the historic shifts in this area -- in America’s approach to long-standing allies, as well as new multinational partnerships -- and to consider some of the challenges that we’ll be facing in the period ahead.
First, it’s useful to note that in the past five years, in terms of defense and security cooperation, the United States has done more things, with more nations, in more constructive ways, than at any time in our history. Many of our partnerships date back to the early years of the Cold War, some as far back as World War II. These relationships have been updated and modernized in recent years, in keeping with the new circumstances of the 21st Century. And other relationships barely existed, if at all, merely a few years ago, yet are growing in importance today. Consider our ties with formerly communist Mongolia, which has deployed troops to Iraq and to Afghanistan, and is starting a regional peacekeeping center; and with
Vietnam, which I look forward to visiting after this conference, and which will see the 4th visit by a U.S. Navy ship in as many years later this summer, our first such visit since 1975. Similarly, we’re working with the Philippines -- one of our oldest allies -- in the transformation of their armed forces. We must also consider the emergence of Indonesia, one of the world’s largest and youngest democracies. In the aftermath of our close cooperation following the tragic Tsunami, we’ve normalized our defense relationship, after many years of being estranged -- a new partnership that provides potential for both of our countries. Then there’s our relationship with India, which has grown from an uneasy co-existence during the Cold War to a true partnership, based on our common values and common interests today; And with Pakistan, also represented here today at a very high level, a key ally in the war against violent extremists. Indeed, Pakistan exemplifies the importance of developing and maintaining mutually beneficial military to military relationships.
One indication of how far things have progressed with Pakistan, in a relatively short period of time, is that just over a month ago a Pakistani admiral took command of a combined naval task force that has included ships from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Spain, Canada, Italy, Turkey, and Portugal. The task force patrols the waterways of the Middle East from the Gulf of Oman to the Southern Border of Kenya in the Indian Ocean, as part of a campaign against piracy and terrorism.
This joint training and security cooperation has proven increasingly valuable and indeed necessary in recent years.
Consider that one of the reasons the United States and Thailand were able to respond so quickly, and work together so seamlessly, after the catastrophic Tsunami, was that we have had upwards of two decades of joint training and collaboration at the annual Cobra Gold exercises. These exercises have expanded to include several other Asian nations, with a new focus on peacekeeping and on humanitarian disaster response -- a focus that has been validated by more recent events in this part of the world.
The breadth and depth of these activities reflect an important and constructive trend: for much of my adult lifetime, security and stability in the Pacific was maintained essentially by a network of bilateral defense relationships between the United States and our allies and partners. This was notably unlike the situation in Europe, where we had a relatively large and more formal alliance -- the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. But now we see an expanding network of security cooperation in this region, both bilaterally between nations and multilaterally among nations -- with the United States as a partner. We see this as a welcome shift.
We see this at work in the Straits of Malacca, where Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia are coordinating patrols to combat the ancient scourge of piracy on the high seas.
This type of maritime security cooperation is critical to the success of the Proliferation Security Initiative put forward by President Bush, an initiative that now has the support of more than 70 nations in its efforts to try to stop dangerous weapons and material from being transported to or from terrorists and rogue regimes.
Inclusive, multinational institutions and activities such as this conference, as well as the ASEAN Regional Forum, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), are leading the way. Of course, these institutions are not formal military alliances, like NATO, or treaties, like the World Trade Organization, that have binding commitments. But they do provide arenas for dialogue where diverse nations, with shared interests, can engage each other in different and flexible ways and fashion constructive approaches to common problems.
The United States, for our part, has also looked to modernize our traditional alliances and relationships.
Consider that South Korea is no longer the devastated, impoverished nation it was at the end of the Korean War. It has a large, capable military. It is properly seeking greater responsibility for its own defense. So while we have upgraded our overall deterrent capabilities on the Korean Peninsula and in North Asia generally, we are able to reduce and adjust the U.S. military footprint in South Korea.
So too our relationship with Japan. A month ago, Secretary Rice and I met with our counterparts -- Minister Nukaga is here today -- to sign an historic agreement representing probably the most significant realignment of U.S. forces there in many decades.
The changes that have taken place in Japan, just within the span of my lifetime, have been truly remarkable.
At the end of World War II -- when most of Europe and much of Asia lay in ruins -- no one really could have imagined what course the world would take in the following 60 years. So, too, today, it's difficult to imagine what the world might look like in even 20 or 30 or 40 years from now, and what types of challenges we may face.
We do know that what Asia will look like 50 years from now will depend importantly on the choices that are made by the countries represented in this room. And we do have choices.
The emergence of Japan, South Korea, and Australia as important players in global, as well as regional security, has been one of the welcome international developments of recent years, and the extent of their contributions in the years to come can have a significant impact on the stability and prosperity of the Pacific in future decades.
Consider as well the growing threat of ballistic missiles in the hands of rogue regimes, by which some nations seek to intimidate neighbors. The U.S. and Japan are working closely together to field a missile defense system to ensure that this kind of blackmail will not succeed.
The way ahead for other nations will be something that our country will watch closely. Consider Russia -- a nation with vast natural resources, an educated people, and a rich heritage of scientific and cultural achievements. Like our people, they are threatened by violent extremists. They are a partner in some security issues, and, on the whole our relationship is better than it has been in decades. But in other ways Russia has been less helpful, as when they seek to constrain the independence and freedom of action of some of their neighboring countries.
And consider China, also represented here at this conference. The Chinese people are of course educated, talented, and live in a nation with great potential. China has a strong economic growth rate today and an industrious workforce. But there are aspects of China's actions that can complicate their relationships with other nations. As we discussed last year, a lack of transparency with respect to their military investments understandably causes concerns for some of their neighbors.
Consider North Korea. The future of the Pacific Rim will depend also on the path North Korea takes. Will it continue to starve and repress its people, threaten its neighbors, and pursue nuclear weapons? Or will it, at some point, do what other nations have done, such as Libya, have done and choose a path which leads back to membership in the community of nations?
With regard to violent extremists in the region, our friends and partners face a complicated set of challenges: whether to openly combat the messages of hate, intolerance, and incitement -- that can in some cases gain traction -- or to try to placate and accommodate those whose vision of the future means that it is acceptable, even desirable to kill innocent men, women, and children if they don’t agree. Only by opposing the small minority of violent extremists at every level will free people be successful.
And of course, in addition to the choices made by other countries, there are the choices to be made by the United States. From time to time, in past decades, some of the people in the United States have questioned whether America should be engaged in the world. We’ve had strains of isolationism in our country which we are all aware of.
But the United States is, and always will be, a Pacific nation. We must, and we will, lean forward and stay fully engaged in this part of the world.
When you think about it, the transformation of much of the Asia Pacific region within the span of my professional life this past half-Century -- from war to reconstruction to reconciliation, from poverty to prosperity and growth, from dictatorships to representative political systems -- it has been nothing short of remarkable.
And by continuing to work together in constructive ways, while mindful and respectful of different perspectives and the different histories and the different interests and the different circumstances of each country, we can ensure that the coming decades in this Hemisphere it will be freer, more peaceful, and more prosperous for all of our citizens, and indeed for generations to come.
I thank you very much and would be happy to respond to some questions.
Question and Answer Session
U.S. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld
Singapore, June 3, 2006
MODERATOR: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for detailing the expanding network of bilateral and multilateral ties in the Asia-Pacific. You mentioned many countries, many of whom are represented here tonight -- this morning, rather -- and the floor is open to you all. Who would like to take the floor first, ask the first question? Ralph Cossa.
COSSA: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, you expressed U.S. very strong support for multilateral organizations that the U.S. participates in, such as the ARF and APEC. There’s a lot of confusion in the region as to what the U.S. views are toward multilateral organizations that do not include the U.S., specifically ASEAN+3, the East Asia Summit, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization which apparently was issuing the U.S. an eviction notice from Central Asia last year. I wonder if you could explain a little bit what U.S. thinking is on these multi-lateral organizations that the U.S. is not a part of. Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well needless to say, individual countries or groups of countries can arrange themselves any way that they see appropriate. I think a test ought to be what’s going to be the most beneficial to the goals that most free countries have -- namely of a peaceful, stable world with prosperous and economic opportunities for their people. The kinds of problems we face today, it strikes me, are in many instances not the kinds of problems that can be successfully dealt with by one country -- any country -- or even with relatively small numbers of countries. The problems we face today are in large measure global. Certainly the problem of terrorism is a global problem; the problem of counter-proliferation is a global problem; the problem of narcotics-flow, piracy, there are any number of problems that simply do not lend themselves to single-country solutions or even small-numbers-of-countries solutions, and therefore our personal preference is for organizations that are inclusive and that thereby have a better chance of being successful in addressing some of the critical and, indeed, dangerous problems that face the world. If you think of the global war on terror, there’s something like seventy or eighty nations now involved in assisting in that and putting pressure on terrorist networks across the globe. The counter-proliferation initiative that President Bush instituted is now I believe up, as I said, to sixty nations participating. Small exclusive groups tend not to be able to effectively do the job.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Next question was from Mr. Kim Byungki. Thank you.
KIM: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for your extremely eloquent depiction of the global view. Could you just kindly tell us a little about Africa and Latin America if there is any strategic value to the United States? Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, clearly, each of those continents is important. They’re important to the people that live there, but they’re also increasingly important to the rest of the world because of the nature of the global society we live in. Taking Latin America in the first instance, it is an area that we’ve seen go from dictatorships to, in some cases, democracies of various styles. And more recently, we’ve seen some countries kind of migrate back to more authoritarian systems. The trend towards freer countries, for example in Latin America, has been very encouraging. I think one of the problems has been that corruption is so corrosive of democracy that it can have the effect of dissuading people from continuing to support democratic systems. And it creates opportunities for more authoritarian leaders, which is an unfortunate thing because in the last analysis, if anyone could look down from Mars on the globe we know of certain knowledge that the countries that do well for their people are the ones that have free economic systems and free political systems. All one has to do is look at the Korean peninsula, and take a satellite picture at night. And above the de-militarized zone it’s black -- pitch black -- and below it, it’s filled with electricity and energy. The same people north and south, the same resources north and south. The only difference really is that the south has a free political system and a free economic system, and as a result it’s the twelfth largest economy on the face of the earth. And in North Korea, the people are starving and repressed. And it’s a tragedy. So to see that swing back start in Latin America is discouraging. The situation in Africa is of considerable importance to all of us in this room. From a humanitarian standpoint, the difficulties there of AIDS, the difficulties of lack of food, tribal conflicts, difficulties, and it is something that the world has to be attentive to. And certainly our European Command, General Jones and his team, spend a good deal of time in Africa assisting in various ways, just as our Southern Command from the Department of Defense does in Latin America.
MODERATOR: Mr. Tewari from India.
TEWARI: Mr. Secretary, during your very eloquent address, you referred to violent extremism a couple of times. What I wanted to ask you is does the U.S. contemplate any partnerships to combat the ideological basis of violent extremism, whether it is religious or it is ideological in terms of left-wing or it is separatist? And do you think that combating the ideological basis of violent extremism would really help in the war against terror?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: The struggle that is taking place in that religion is a struggle, in my view, between a relatively small minority of violent extremists against the overwhelming majority of the Muslim people. How is it going to end? It is going to end over a long period of time with the majority prevailing in my view, and what we need to do -- those of us in the world who believe in free systems and don’t believe that it’s desirable for people to go out and kill innocent men, women, and children as they’ve done in dozens of nations now -- we need to be supportive of those people who are in fact taking a moderate course, who are in fact providing leadership in their countries. And there are, increasingly, a number of leaders who are doing exactly that. And certainly in Pakistan, we see leadership that is opposing the violent extremists; we see that same kind of leadership in Afghanistan. I am confident the government in Iraq will be of that type, and certainly in Indonesia and other nations. I do think we have to do it. I would say this: I don’t think that the most successful people are going to be the people who are not Muslims. I think the most successful people are going to be Muslims and they’re going to be people who’re going to confront that strain -- that ideology -- directly, and prevail over time because of the opportunities that accrue to people in free systems and because of the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people do not want to be subjected to an extremist ideology by a handful of people.
MODERATOR: The next question was from Mr. Jia, please go ahead
JIA: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for your eloquent speech.
MODERATOR: If you could just remind us where you come from.
JIA: My name is Jia Qing Guo; I’m from Peking University, from China. There has been much talk in Washington, in Beijing, and in other cities about China as an important stakeholder. I noticed that the Pentagon has not used the concept often. I’m wondering: what’s your view and position on the concept? And now it is reported that Mr. Zoellick, the initiator of the concept, is going to leave office, so my question is: will the concept go with him? Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: [chuckles] The answer is no, it will not go with him. He was speaking for the Administration. You may not be aware of it, but I have -- on repeated occasions -- used that phrase, that the People’s Republic of China is an important stakeholder in the world system, and as such they have an obligation to see that that system is successful because they benefit so enormously from its success. And I did that when I was in China last year, and I have done it since, and I can assure you that that is the perspective of the United States government.
MODERATOR: Mr. Yan, yes please.
YAN: Thank you, Minister, for your excellent speech. And I just want to hear more about your opinion about military transparency. And currently military transparency becomes a kind of belief that it will help for international security. And also in your speech, you expressed concern that China’s lack of military transparency may cause others concern. But actually we find that those countries who want to have a public nuclear weapon program are not more secure or not less of a threat to the world than if they have a secret nuclear weapon program. And also at the same time, we find that the American’s military transparency is better than China’s, but Americans have been involved in more wars since the end of the Cold War than China. And so can you give us more explanation why military transparency can help for world security?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Which country are you from?
YAN: From China.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Oh. [Laughter] Let me say this about that. Any country clearly has the right to make decisions as to how it wants to invest its resources. That’s fair. The question of transparency is simply this: that if a country decides they do want to make various types of investments, the rest of the world has every right -- just as they have a right to make those investments -- the rest of the world has the right, indeed on occasion the need, to try to develop a good understanding of exactly why they’re doing that. For what purpose are they making those investments? And to the extent there is reasonable transparency and reasonable public dialogue and reasonable interaction and exchange with neighboring countries and countries of interest, then there is no issue of transparency. It’s when there is not a free and open dialogue or discussion, where there are not those kinds of exchanges, where there is a lack of transparency, that people then say “I wonder why there is a lack of transparency. Why is it that we have less understanding of what that country is doing, than, for example, six or eight or ten other countries that are much more open about what it is they are doing?” That’s the only issue. It isn’t that China ought not to be able to invest in whatever it wants to invest in; the only issue on transparency is China would benefit by demystifying to some extent the reasons why they are investing in what they are investing, in my view. On the other hand, they have a free choice to not do that, and of course, there is a consequence to that just as there is a consequence to almost every choice nations make.
MODERATOR: The next question is Mr. François Heisbourg.
HEISBOURG: Thank you very much. Yesterday evening, Prime Minister Lee raised the issue of Iran’s candidacy to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which amongst other things, is dedicated to the fight against terror, which is also one of the things the U.S. Department of Defense is involved in. Given Iran’s nuclear ambitions, do you believe that it would be wise for China and Russia, as permanent members of the Security Council, to go ahead and admit Iran into the SCO?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well it’s not for me to opine as to what they ought to do with respect to the SCO. They’ll do whatever it is they decide they think is in their interest. However, it strikes me as passing strange that one would want to bring into an organization that says it’s against terrorism one of the nations that’s the leading terrorist nation in the world: Iran. On the other hand, there are other organizations that do that. The United Nations has committees where we put nations in charge of committees against things even though the people that we put on there are some of the leading proponents of doing exactly the things that the U.N. committee is supposedly against. These kinds of anomalies exist in our world. But I just can’t imagine -- here you have Iran that, by everyone’s testimony, is the leading terrorist nation in the world; it’s supporting Hamas, it’s supporting Hezbollah, it has a long record of being engaged in terrorist activities. And to think that they should be brought into an organization with the hope that it would contribute to an anti-terrorist activity strikes me as unusual.
MODERATOR: Mr. Lee. Thank you very much.
LEE: My name is Chung Min Lee from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy. I moved to Singapore last year from South Korea. Mr. Secretary, never in the history of Asia, have two great powers arisen at the same time: China and Japan. How does this affect...
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Wait a minute, excuse me, never have two great powers done what?
LEE: Arisen in Asia at the same time as simultaneous great powers: China and Japan. And so as the Chinese have more robust military capabilities across the board, how does this affect U.S. strategic grand design in Asia over the long term, and have you been able to convince your allies that the Chinese should be of concern strategically in the next ten, twenty, thirty years? Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: [pause] It’s interesting that India wasn’t mentioned.
LEE: I meant Northeast Asia.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I see. [pause] You mentioned a grand design. You spoke so rapidly I may have lost some of your question but you mentioned grand design by the United States. Our grand design is transparent, to coin a phrase. It is to contribute to peace and stability and prosperity in this region. And it’s to work with all the countries of the region and to encourage them in those directions. I don’t know that I’ve found the kernel of your question to address.
LEE: Well, sir, my main point was, as you have China and Japan who are both becoming great powers, not only in economic terms but in strategic terms as well, how does that affect U.S. strategic choices, I guess, in Asia? And have you been able to convince your Asian partners of, quote unquote, the Chinese or the rise of China and what it implies for the region? Do you share, do you believe, the same threat perceptions between yourselves and your key allies in the region?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well certainly our views are very clear. There should be no ambiguity about our views. I think to some extent where you stand depends on where you sit, so it’s not surprising that some of our friends and allies that sit in different locations than we do have somewhat different perspectives about what the world looks like to them. And that’s understandable. But there should be no ambiguity at all on the part of either China or Japan what our interest in the Pacific is, as I’ve stated. You say, have we been able to convince our friends and allies. You know, you have marginal success on one thing and marginal lack of success on something else when you’re working with sovereign nations; they have their own views and you work with them over time, and no one expects that every one of your friends and allies or countries that you work closely with are necessarily going to agree with everyone else all the time. It’s something that evolves over time.
MODERATOR: David Shambaugh, from the United States.
SHAMBAUGH: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned briefly a moment ago your first visit to the People’s Republic of China last autumn as Secretary of Defense -- I know you’ve been there previously -- and subsequent to that Admiral Fallon has made a number of visits. This summer, I believe the Chief of Staff of the People’s Liberation Army is going to visit the United States. Recently at the summit meeting between President Bush and President Hu it was agreed that a nuclear dialogue would be commenced between our two establishments. Clearly, your visits catalyzed some activity in this sphere, or this component of the U.S.-China relationship. I wonder if I could ask you what your vision is for the military-to-military dimension of the U.S.-China relationship. What potential does it have? What inhibiting factors do you see? And more broadly, could you speak to your vision for the strategic cooperation between the United States and China?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, as you suggested, I’ve visited China a number of times over the years. My first was in 1974 when Henry Kissinger and I went in to China. And I’ve gone back periodically since and their progress has been impressive. Our goal from a military to military standpoint is to try to demystify what’s taking place, demystify us to them and have them demystify them to us. And we believe that port visits and military exchanges, educational exchanges, particularly at the younger levels, some possibly cooperation in humanitarian assistance so people develop some better understanding of who we are and who they are and the kinds of things we can cooperate on -- we clearly have areas of common interest and in disaster relief and the like. So my hope is that what we’ll see over the years will be a multi-faceted relationship between our two countries that will be political and economic, as well as military to military, and that it will evolve in a constructive way as China engages the world more fully as it seems to be doing every year. I’m encouraged that that’s the path we’re on, I think it’s a sensible path and a constructive path, and I think it’s a path that’s healthy for the region and the world.
MODERATOR: Now from the Brookings Institution, Phil Gordon.
GORDON: Mr. Secretary, in your prepared remarks and in response to at least one of the questions, you referred to Pakistan and its leader as a stalwart ally in the war on terror. Next door in Afghanistan, we have been increasingly hearing from senior leaders, including President Karzai himself, that Pakistan is part of the problem rather than the solution, either indifferent to the reemergence of the Taliban and violence in Afghanistan, or even complicit in it. I wonder if you can comment on how you square the view you expressed on Pakistan and the view one is hearing from Afghanistan.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I think I am right. [Laughter.] There’s a lot of history there and they live next to each other. And they are working to sort through some of the historical differences and some of the current perspectives that differ. But, President Karzai has a tough job. He’s got a poor country, he has a border where people who are against his government exist and are located, that periodically attack him and his government. And it’s not an easy task for President Karzai, and he’s doing, in my view, a darn good job. President Musharraf has a tough job. He has one of the toughest jobs in the world, in my view. He has shown terrific leadership, courageous leadership. Terrorists have tried to kill him on several occasions. He understands the dangers of terrorism. And his people have been highly successful in urban areas in rooting out extremists and addressing the problem of violent extremism. They have been less successful in the tribal areas, areas that they historically have not had control over and even access over to any great extent. And it’s in the tribal areas, along that Afghan border, where the large portion of the problem has been. He is increasing his capabilities to deal with that set of problems. They are nowhere near at the level that they are with respect to his ability to deal with a similar problem in urban areas, but they are getting better, continuously. I can certainly understand President Karzai’s concerns about the fact that terrorists come across that Pakistan-Afghan border, and engage in activities in his country which kill people. He ought to be concerned about it, and he understandably is, but I can also say what I said, that President Musharraf is a courageous man who has done an excellent job in a difficult country in a difficult environment and is clearly dedicated to defeating terrorists, in my view.
MODERATOR: The next question is from Indonesia, Dewi Fortuna Anwar.
ANWAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Secretary, you’re such an accomplished politician, sometimes we can’t pin you down. I’d like to revisit Ralph Cossa’s first question.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I’m not a politician. I haven’t been in politics since 1968, that’s the last time I ran for office.
ANWAR: Okay, but we’d like to pin you down. [Laughter.]
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I’d like to see you try. [Laughter.]
ANWAR: Alright, I’ll see if we can wriggle it out. So I’ll phrase my question in a way that you’ll have to answer. As you see the burgeoning regional community development in East Asia, will Washington remain neutral? Will it try to apply for membership, like Russia is already applying to attend, for example, the East Asia Summit? Or, will the United States think that is a non-starter anyway, so it doesn’t have to worry about it? Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I don’t know. [Laughter.] I’m the Secretary of Defense of the United States. The question you posed is a question that generally falls in the White House and the Department of State. What steps we’ll take going forward, I can’t predict because there are so many factors involved. All I do know is that the President is determined. He recognizes that the United States is a Pacific nation. He is determined to see that our country stays engaged in the Pacific region and in South Asia. He believes very strongly that by engaging important countries and the countries of this region on a continuing basis, it is constructive and he recognizes that relationships are not single-faceted, they’re multi-faceted. They’re economic and political and military. And we need to see that all three of those are linked in appropriate ways with appropriate countries in a manner that contributes to a more prosperous world. How’d I do? [Laughter.] What do you give me, a ‘B’ or an ‘A’? Give me an ‘E’ for effort, at least.
MODERATOR: The next question is from Ross Babbage. Thank you.
BABBAGE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, for your presentation. You spoke most eloquently about the broader network of security relations developing in this part of the world and the opportunities that they provide. I’d like really just to draw you out a little, if I may, on the sustainability of this and how we might be able to optimize progress in this field. Because while there are these opportunities and as we are seeing these networks of cooperation develop, at the same time the United States is of course pursuing a very strong modernization program, introducing a wide-range of very advanced technologies and new generation systems. And so, my question really comes to the point of how you perceive the challenges of effectively conducting these combined operations and these combined activities when the gulf between the technological and operational level of the United States and most members of this region is widening. And in particular, how do you think the U.S. needs to prepare its people best for this broader range of cooperative activities? Are there new initiatives that within the U.S. system and within the U.S. military may make sense to strengthen the opportunities for true cooperative partnership development in this part of the world?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Let me take the first part of that. It is true that in this 21st century, we and other countries have found it necessary to recognize that simply being capable of deterring conflict between large armies, navies, and air forces isn’t good enough, that there are asymmetric threats and irregular threats that are real and can be deadly, particularly in view of the increasing lethality of weapons that very likely -- in the coming decade -- will be increasingly available, both to nation-states, but also to non-state entities. Therefore, we have to adjust our military capabilities so that we can address and deter and dissuade not simply the conventional, but also the irregular, or the asymmetric, kinds of threats. The contention is made, as your question slightly suggested, that therefore there is a gap between the United States and other countries, or will be a gap. My view is that that’s not necessarily the case, that there is no need for every country in the world to have aircraft carriers, for example. There are so many things that need to be done, that in many instances lend themselves to being done by smaller countries. Human intelligence is an example. There are so many things that are needed -- niche capabilities -- special operations, chemical and biological warfare capabilities. There are many, many things that a nation can do without being a large nation with an enormous defense budget.
The second question had to do with new initiatives or institutions. I do worry about that. If one goes back to the Truman presidency in the United States -- I look at it from my country’s perspective -- it was a juncture between the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War. And the steps that were taken in that period of seven or eight years fit into several categories. One category was new organizations within the United States government: a National Security Council, a Department of Defense, the Central Intelligence Agency, dozens of things. Also new institutions for the world’s community: banking for example, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and multi-national organizations like the United Nations. There were a whole series of institutions that were developed during that period that have survived almost to this day and were the construct within which nations functioned. And I look at those and I say to myself, “That was impressive.” We are now at the juncture at the end of the Cold War and into the 21st Century. A quite different era with different challenges, with problems of ungoverned areas in the world, with problems of countries that are friendly, that you’re not at war with, but are -- against their own will -- housing people that you do have to be at war with. I mean, we were not at war with Afghanistan when Osama bin Laden killed 3,000 Americans, launching September 11th. But it was from Afghanistan. I submit that people like the people gathered in this room ought to be thinking about the 21st century, what adjustments might need to be made, or what new institutions might need to be formed. The Department of Defense has been going through a massive set of adjustments and transformation as to how we do things. We’ve had to. And my hope is that the brilliant people of the world who care about the success of this globe of ours, will think about what Truman did back then, and what we might be doing during this period to either initiate new institutions or fashion new institutions or make adjustments in new institutions, rather than thinking that those that existed from that long ago, fifty years ago -- fifty plus years ago -- are necessarily properly arranged for today. I don’t think they are.
Just take one example. I’ve got nothing against the World Bank or the IMF or the international organizations that assist countries with funding, but I’m enormously attracted to micro-loans for people, that bypass governments. Where governments don’t get their bureaucracies’ hands on them, and where funds go directly into the hands of people who are able to take that money, invest in whatever it is, a sewing machine or a shop or an activity of some sort, and produce for themselves. There are people doing this. Hernando de Soto has done a great deal of this. Percy Barnevik, the former head of ABB, is doing it in India right now, he’s got -- I don’t know -- something like I think 100,000 women on micro-loans and the payback, the loss rate I think is 0.5 to 1%, so the funding is all bankable. And the joy of it is the government’s not involved. There have to be things we can be doing like that that will help real people, rather than simply sustaining large bureaucracies. And I wish I were wiser, but I throw that out because I think in the security area, we need more peacekeepers in this world. We know we need more peacekeepers. We need more capability on the part of countries who would like to participate in peacekeeping, for other countries that are financially capable to help them train, and to help them equip, and to help them with lift to get in some place, and to have them ready to do it. It’s a painfully slow process when the United Nations gets involved in peacekeeping -- it takes time, they get paid six months late, for a lot of reasons, probably partly because the United States pays late. I think we can do an awful lot better job in a number of these areas than we’re doing.
MODERATOR: The next question is from Shekhar Gupta, the editor-in-chief of the Indian Express.
GUPTA: Mr. Secretary, a large number of your allies in Asia in the war against terror are democracies of one kind or another. Many of these also have large Muslim populations. How concerned are you of the growing disconnect between their government policies and their respective public opinion on U.S. policies on Iraq and Iran? While, as you say, the majority of Muslims are anti-terrorism and anti-Al Qaeda, we have to accept that today the majority of them are also not friendly toward America, particularly as more bad news comes out from Iraq. This has become to show in our domestic politics in many of our countries. In India, we’ve had protests against small India-U.S. military exercises. But it’s also showing in election results in many of these countries. So, are you now looking at fine-tuning your policies to make adjustments for this, or to improve comfort levels for your allies, or to pare down your expectations from them?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Oh, I think we always have to have realistic expectations. Democratic leaderships have to not only recognize the attitudes of their publics, but also provide leadership with respect to their publics. To the extent one simply follows their publics, it can’t be a very satisfying experience. To the extent that leaders provide leadership for their respective publics and does what they believe is right, it seems to me that the world benefits. You said, “How concerned are you?” The answer is, I’m concerned. Needless to say, every country would prefer to be loved and to be respected and to have people agree. I also look at the facts, and the facts are that the United States has been helpful to any number of Muslim countries, in Bosnia and Kosovo. And there are 25 million Afghan people who are free of the Taliban, and they’re using their soccer stadiums today for soccer instead of cutting peoples’ heads off and that’s an improvement.
In Iraq, I don’t know, some people like the good old days that never were. But Saddam Hussein was no sweetheart. He put hundreds of thousands of people into mass graves,
and into prisons, and he was giving $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers that screwed up their courage and went out and killed innocent men, women, and children. It seems to me the opportunity that the 26 million people in Iraq have is an important one. Now, do I believe that ultimately truth wins out? Yes, I do. Do I recognize that the United States is closely identified with Israel and that the bulk of that region tends to be anti-Israel and to blame the plight of the Palestinians on the Israelis and by implication on the United States? I do recognize that. And it’s a subject that comes up frequently. But it strikes me that over time, if you believe in democracy -- and I do -- we recognize that the essence of it is that the people stake everything on the theory that if the public is given sufficient information, that over time, they’ll find their way to right decisions. That’s not to say that the press can’t go out and spread misinformation. It’s not to say that the terrorists aren’t enormously successful in manipulating the free press. They have media committees. They lie. They’re perfectly willing to do it. They plan how they can attack in a way that will weaken the will of the West, that will weaken the will of people who oppose terrorism. And they’re good at it. They’re very clever in manipulating the press.
Does that mean we should toss in the towel? I think not. I think the United States clearly has to be sensitive to world opinion. We also have to clearly recognize that we had a minimum of high regard for having 3,000 people killed on September 11th in our country. And we don’t intend for it to happen again. We intend to do what we can to put pressure on the terrorists and to work with the other nations of the world to achieve that goal so that fewer innocent men, women, and children are killed. And my guess is, my hope is, my prayer is, that over time the world opinion will see that that is in fact our motive. I read every day that the reason the United States is in the Middle East is for oil. It’s not. I can say it’s not, but it is not why we’re there. We don’t intend to stay there and take the Iraqi oil, which is what the argument is. We don’t intend to occupy that country for any period of time. Our troops would like to go home. And they will go home. And they’ll go home at a pace when we’re able, along with our friends and allies in the coalition, to pass off responsibility to the Iraqi security forces so that they can pull up their socks and take responsibility for their own country, which is what they’re going to have to do. It will be the Iraqi people that will suppress that insurgency, not the coalition forces, and not foreign forces. But the short answer is yes, I am concerned. When there’s broad support, everything is easy; when there’s broad opposition, everything is hard. And simply because things are hard doesn’t mean that you need to toss in the towel, however, I would add.
MODERATOR: We’ve got a few more questions. I won’t get everybody in because I do want to end on time. But there’s been a lot of talk about the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Russia-China, so the next question comes from Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Russian Duma.
MR. MARGELOV: Thank you chair. Mr. Secretary, you were right in saying the Russian bear is too big sometimes to be gentle with all its neighbors. But Russia has managed to solve a major dispute with its biggest neighbor, with China, signing and ratifying a border agreement, so there is no basis for any territorial dispute between Russia and China anymore. The question is, how do you see the Russian-Chinese, the Chinese-Russian, relations from an American perspective, meaning what do these relations mean for the U.S.? Thanks.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: You bet. You know, to me it’s logical. They’re neighbors. They’re each a large, important country and it is a healthy thing that they do not have border disputes and that they do not live in a tense relationship. So I’m very positive about the fact that Russia and China have been working together on various aspects of their relationship and seem to have moved away from border difficulties which from time to time have flared up.
MODERATOR: Jonathan Pollack.
POLLACK: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. You’ve just alluded -- in your speech and in your comments -- to a number of very positive developments in the Asia-Pacific region, and I think we’re all heartened by it. But there is one very dissonant and worrisome development that is increasingly evident, and that is a very troubled relationship between China and Japan. We don’t have the time to go into all the reasons why, but the U.S., it seems to me, and maybe even DOD, faces a paradox that on the one hand, Japan is a very important ally with the United States, and we’re moving ahead, at the same time we’re trying to find ways, to identify ways, to move ahead with China. But we face two very powerful states in proximity that seem to have a devil of a time finding a way to get to some kind of a tolerably normal, mutually reinforcing relationship. How concerned should we be about this? By we I mean the United States. And how do, collectively, the United States, China and Japan move toward a shared, or at least a complimentary, approach to Asia-Pacific security in the longer term? I’d appreciate your comments.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: It’s a good question. Let me walk around it rather than confronting it. There’s a lot of history there. And sometimes it takes time to put pieces of history behind us. There’s obviously a lot of history between the United States and Japan. And we’ve managed to put that behind us. And it is in nobody’s interest, in my view, for those two countries to have a relationship on any basis other than a civil, constructive, mutually beneficial relationship. I think it’s probably helpful that the United States has relationships with both countries. And I think it’s helpful that many other countries in this room have relationships with both Japan and China. And I think it’s in all of our interests to try to see that over time, that the countries are able to put behind them the kinds of history that they’ve shared and move into the 21st century because there are things that we are facing as free people that are challenging and difficult and we can only benefit if we have the kind of cooperation between important states that I’ve characterized. I was criticized at one point for using a phrase -- I said the mission determines the coalition, rather than the coalition determining the mission. And if one looks at the truth of that today, it’s just so obvious that we shouldn’t expect every country in the world to agree on everything and if there are serious problems that need to be addressed, we need to fashion coalitions of countries that share that common concern or that common perspective and go at it. And there are so many things out there that Japan and China share. They’re both big stakeholders, to go back to the phrase that I use -- although apparently not loudly enough. [Laughter.] They’re both enormous stakeholders in the success of this system.
MODERATOR: Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore.
KISHORE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. In response to one of the questions, you pointed out, Mr. Secretary, how old many of the international organizations are. They were created in Truman’s time. And of course, this whole multilateral architecture was created under American leadership, under what I call rather benign American leadership that tried to create a global order that benefited everybody in the world. But the world has changed so much since then, this multilateral architecture is beginning to look a little bit like an antique. Is it conceivable that, at this point in time, the United States would provide the same kind of leadership that Truman provided in 1945 and ask the world what kind of new multilateral architecture the world needs today? And how will the United States help to fashion it?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I think it is possible, but it’s not possible for the United States to do it alone. The United States is ready and eager to be a willing and thoughtful and persistent participant in that effort. If one goes and takes a look at the remarks that President Bush made at West Point within the last week, he talks a bit about that construct. I was struck when I went to the Truman Library to give a speech some months back about the similarity of the juncture that he faced and the juncture that we face today. I would cite, for example, the work that we’re doing in NATO: the development of a NATO Response Force for the first time, the engagement of NATO outside the NATO treaty area -- in Afghanistan -- for the first time, as an example of an alliance that is adjusting to the 21st century. Clearly the Proliferation Security Initiative that President Bush put forward and has 60 nations participating in now is a potential new institutional structure, construct, that the countries in this room, if they’re not participating, I would urge them to participate because it is important that we have that capability to at least have a fighting chance at reducing the flow of these terrible weapons into the hands of non-state entities and rogue nations. The proposals to reform the United Nations are being put forward by various people. So I do think the United States is interested in this. I think it would take people leaning forward and asking those questions: What in the political, in the economic, and in the security area can we do to be better able to contribute to the kind of a world we want? And I see a number of initiatives that have started. I’ve seen some older institutions that are being adjusted and calibrated to fit the 21st century, and frankly I see some gaps that need attention, and need fresh thinking. And maybe, who knows, maybe John will decide that ought to be a subject of next year’s conference.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much for the advice. And in the interests of transparency -- a word often used this morning -- let me just say that there are two more questions, and then we’ll close. One from Mr. Kato, and the next from Barry Desker. So Mr. Kato first, from Japan, the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.
KATO: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for a very extensive presentation. I would like to ask about the recent DOD report on the military power of China. That report points out that China’s military buildup suggests a capability beyond preparation for a Taiwan Strait crisis, and the Chinese leadership has not explained the purpose yet. And my questions are, first, could you perhaps go one step beyond that report and share your views and insights into what their strategic intensions and purposes are?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Who’s they?
KATO: The Chinese.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: The PRC?
KATO: Yes. And the second question is, do you expect that China will explain their strategic interests by demanding transparency this way? Thank you sir.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Say the second question again.
KATO: Yes. Do you expect that China will explain their strategic intentions by demanding transparency this way?
MODERATIOR: In other words, if the United States demands transparency will the result be that China explains its strategic intentions?
KATO: Yes, that’s right.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well, I guess, with respect to the first question, I think we should take them at their word. The People’s Republic of China has said that they see a world where Taiwan and China are one on a peaceful basis. And I didn’t use all the little code words that people use, but that’s the essence of it. That’s their first choice. They’ve said it. They’ve said it repeatedly over many, many years. So I take them at their word, that they do not want conflict in that regard. And certainly, one would think that if one were in Taiwan they would not want conflict, either. So my guess is that over time that issue, which can be tense from time to time in varying degrees, will continue to be unresolved and of increasingly tense nature sometimes, and decreasingly less tense at other times, and that over time it will be resolved in a peaceful way. The second question was you wanted me to explain China’s strategic intentions?
KATO: No, sir, do you expect that China will eventually explain their kind of strategic intentions by demanding transparency?
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I do. Why do I say that? It’s in their interest. Over time, it will be in their interest to be reasonably transparent. Why? Because the rest of the world will be interested in their being transparent and the more they become a part of the global scene, the bigger they see themselves as a stakeholder in the global scene, the more likely the interests of the rest of the world to have their military investments demystified somewhat will have an effect on their behavior. You know, in life you can’t have it both ways. You can’t be successful economically and engage the rest of the world and have people milling around your country and selling things and buying things and engaging in exchanges and have them at the same time worried or wondering about some mystery that they see as to a behavior pattern that is unsettling. It dissuades investment, for example. To the extent that the world looks at China and sees a behavior pattern that is mysterious and potentially threatening it tends to affect the willingness to invest. Money is a coward. Money isn’t attracted to places where it looks like it’s dangerous. And so, my guess is over time they’ll get more comfortable being part of the world and they will begin to -- in one way or another -- develop a comfort level that’s different than today and the world will gain more and more knowledge about them and what they’re doing and why they’re doing what they’re doing, and that will then have an effect on what they do in fact do. Because to the extent that people do things that the rest of the world frowns on, there ends up being a penalty for that, in one way or another. And to the extent that countries do things that people nod and say, “Well, I understand that; that makes sense; that’s not threatening; that’s not going to hurt me politically, economically, or militarily,” then they seem to prefer that type of thing.
MODERATOR: And the final question from Barry Desker from the Institute for Defence and Strategic Studies here in Singapore. Barry.
DESKER: Mr. Secretary, given that China participates actively in regional security networks where it plays a leadership role, such as the Shanghai Cooperative Organization, ASEAN+3, the East Asian Summit, and since this dialogue has assumed a significance at the defense ministers’ level, how could we encourage China to participate at the same level as other countries in this dialogue? Thank you.
SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Thank you. I tried and failed. When I was in China, I visited with them at all levels. I praised this organization, and this activity, and this conference. And I suggested to them that we would all benefit if they would participate at a senior level. And I guess I’ve thus far been unsuccessful. I think that over time we’ll find that they will participate here, to their benefit and to our benefit. That alone will contribute to demystifying some of the things that take place.
MODERATOR: Mr. Secretary, thank you very much. I don’t think we could end on a more interesting and invigorating note. And on behalf of all the delegates here can I thank you please for your splendid presentation and your rich and varied response to questions. Thank you, sir.