7 June 2001
remarks by U.S. Secretary of Defense
Donald H. Rumsfeld
the NATO North Atlantic Council (NAC-D)
- Secretary General Robertson, fellow ministers of defense.
- It is certainly a surprise to me to be returning to this distinguished
Council after a briefabsence of a quarter of a century.
- My last time at a North Atlantic Council meeting as Secretary of
Defense was Decembers, 1976.
- Back then, we were 15 nations, and a topic of discussion was the
admission of Spain into to the Alliance. Today, we are 19.
- Then, the principal challenge NATO faced was the military threat
posed by the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact.
- Since then the Alliance succeeded in its mission of preserving
peace and freedom during the Cold War, has welcomed three former members
of the Warsaw Pact into the Alliance, and has extended a hand of friendship
to 27 other nations through the Partnership for Peace (PFP).
- These are important accomplishments of which we all can be proud
- and on which we must build.
- But, as we gather here for this first meeting of NATO defense ministers
in the 21st Century, we must be careful not to rest on the accomplishments
of the 20th Century.
- We must prepare together for the new and quite different challenges
we will face in the new century.
- This is a matter of some urgency.
- The Cold War threats have receded, thanks in no small part to the
work of this Alliance.
- The new and different threats of the 21st Century have not yet
fully emerged, but they are there.
- We need to take advantage of this period to ensure that NATO is prepared
for the newer security challenges we will certainly face in the 21st
- What might those new challenges be?
- We know this much for certain: It is unlikely that any of us here
even knows what is likely.
- One statesman summed up the prevailing mood at the turn of the last
- "War," he wrote, "is too foolish, too fantastic,
to be thought of in the 20th century. Civilization has climbed above
such perils. The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic,
the sense of law, the Hague convention, liberal principles... high
finance... common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible."
- Then he asked: "Are you quite sure? It would be a pity to
be wrong." They were wrong ~ and it was more than a pity.
- How often have we been wrong about the threats and challenges to
our peace and freedom? Consider the track record during my lifetime:
- I was born in 1932, the Great Depression was underway, and the
defense planning assumption was "No war for ten years."
- By 1939, World War II had begun, and in 1941 the fleet we constructed
to deter war became the first target of a naval war of aggression
in the Pacific. Airplanes did not even exist at the start of the century;
by World War II, bombers, fighters, transports had all became common
military instruments that critically affected the outcome of the war.
- By the 1950's our World War II ally, the Soviet Union, had become
our Cold War adversary, the Atomic Age had shocked the world, and,
with little warning, the so-called "police action" was underway
- In the early 1960s few had focused on Vietnam. By the end of the
decade the U.S. was embroiled in war there.
- In the mid-1970s the Shah of Iran was an ally and the regional
bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism; a few years later, Iran was
in the throes of anti-Western revolution and the champion of Islamic
fundamentalism in the region.
- In March of 1989 Vice President Cheney appeared before the U.S.
Senate for his confirmation hearings as Secretary of Defense - not
one person uttered the word "Iraq." Within a year, he was
preparing for war in the Persian Gulf.
- " Today, Warsaw, Prague and Budapest are all NATO capitals,
proliferation is pervasive, rogue states are acquiring ballistic missiles
and weapons of mass destruction, asymmetric threats transcend geography,
and the parallel revolutions of miniaturization, information, biotechnology,
robotics, nanotechnology, and high-density energy sources are putting
unprecedented power in the hands of small countries and even terrorist
groups, foreshadowing changes beyond any ability to forecast.
- That recent history should make us humble. It certainly humbles
me. It tells me that the world of 2015 will almost certainly be little
like today and, without doubt, notably different from what today's
experts are confidently forecasting.
- The point is: None of us here has a crystal ball through which
we can clearly see the future.
- While it is difficult to know precisely who will threaten us or
where or when in the coming decades, it is less difficult to anticipate
how we will be threatened.
- Terrorism: We know, for example, that as an Alliance
of democracies, our open borders and open societies make it easy
and inviting for terrorists to strike at our people where they
live, work and play.
- Cyber-attack: Our dependence on computer-based information
networks make those networks attractive targets for new forms
- High-tech Weapons: The ease with which potential adversaries
can acquire advanced conventional weapons (high-energy explosives,
very fast torpedoes, surface-to-air missiles, sea mines, quiet
diesel subs) will present us with new challenges in conventional
war and force projection.
- Ballistic and Cruise Missiles and WMD: Our lack of defenses
against ballistic missiles creates incentives for missile proliferation
which, combined with the development of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons of mass destruction, give future adversaries
the ability to hold our populations hostage to terror and blackmail.
- Because of the speed of technological change, and with the increasing
power and reach of weapons today, we must prepare to meet these threats
before they fully emerge.
- We will face the 21st Century threats together - so we must work
to address them together.
U.S. commitment to NATO
- The United States has a vital interest, with our European and Canadian
Allies, in NATO. It will remain the anchor of America's security commitment
to its Allies. Let there be no doubt.
- Increased U.S. attention to the security situation, for example
in the Persian Gulf or Korea, in no way implies any American intention
to de-emphasize Europe.
- This is not a zero-sum game; U.S. attention to the differences
in circumstances in other regions does not mean something else must
- We value highly our bilateral and multilateral security relationships
with our NATO Allies and recognize their central importance to peace
and security; any suggestion to the contrary is flat wrong.
- If we were to look down from Mars on Earth, we would see that most
of a large number of the like-thinking nations on the face of the earth
are in Europe and America - we are inextricably linked politically,
economically, militarily, to our great benefit.
- Because of our unambiguous commitment to the Alliance, I don't envision
measurable reductions in U.S. troop strength in Europe. It is possible,
however, as a result of our defense review, we may reconfigure elements
of our deployed forces in Europe and elsewhere. We would certainly consult
closely with Allies were that to be the case.
capabilities and transatlantic defense cooperation
- To ensure transatlantic security in the future, NATO allies need
to improve defense capabilities in the fields most relevant to modern
- We are leaving a world where our principal aim was to deter the Soviet
Union and we are entering a world where we will need to deter a variety
of different actors, with a variety of different motivations, armed
with a variety of different weapons.
- We need to rearrange our capabilities and our posture to deal with
the strategic environment of the future, not the past.
- The Alliance has recognized the need for more deployable, flexible,
sustainable, interoperable, and survivable forces to engage effectively
in a range of missions.
- But we have not yet matched our rhetoric with action and resources.
- The United States is committed to working with our Allies in building
defense capabilities. I know several Allies have made clear their interest
in pending U.S. decisions on certain major existing programs - in particular,
the Joint Strike Fighter. We have not come to the point in our review
of addressing specific systems, so I have nothing to report yet.
- But there should be no question of America's commitment to improve
transatlantic defense industrial cooperation, to include meaningful
cooperation in co-development and technology sharing.
- In the face of a world of changing threats, Alliance cohesion will
be essential. Those pursuing a European Security and Defense Policy
will need to be vigilant to ensure that this project is managed and
handled in a way that adds capabilities to NATO, embeds defense planning
in NATO, and that activities are arranged so that NATO has the right
of first refusal.
- I agree with Prime Minister Blair's statement to the Canadian Parliament
in February that "NATO is our organization of choice" and
that ESDP "applies only where NATO has chosen not to act collectively."
- We look forward to working with all allies to make certain the Alliance
grows in unity in the coming decades.
- In light of this changing world, we are examining our nuclear force
requirements, following President Bush's guidance to achieve a credible
deterrent with the lowest number of nuclear weapons consistent with
our present and future national security needs and our Alliance commitments.
- Moving to lower numbers could be done in a number of ways, including
reciprocal approaches, arms control, unilateral initiatives - or some
combination. But I know President Bush's determination, and it will
- The number of U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe has been
reduced dramatically since the Cold War. However, I do not envision
any significant change to our nuclear posture in Europe. They continue
to provide a political and military link between the U.S. and European
Allies. At this point we have not considered making any reductions in
the existing numbers of these weapons.
new framework of deterrence
- Our thinking on reductions in nuclear forces is guided by a larger
vision - a realization that we need a new response to a world that is
notably different from the Cold War.
- During the Cold War, our aim was to deter one adversary from using
an arsenal of existing weapons against us. In the 21st century, our
challenge is to deter multiple potential adversaries not only from using
existing weapons, but, to the extent possible, dissuade them from developing
new capabilities in the first place.
- Just as we intend to build "layered defenses" to deal with
missile threats at different stages, we also need a strategy of "layered
deterrence" that can deal with a variety of emerging threats at
- We do not intend to abandon nuclear deterrence. Rather, we see it
as one layer of a broader deterrence strategy that includes several
mutually reinforcing layers of deterrence.
- Such a strategy would aim to:
- Dissuade countries from pursuing dangerous capabilities in the
first place, by developing and deploying capabilities that reduce
their incentives to compete.
- Discourage them from investing further in existing dangerous
capabilities that have emerged, but are not yet a significant threat;
- Deter them from using dangerous capabilities once they have emerged
to threaten us all, with the threat of devastating retaliation.
- For example, overwhelming Naval power discourages potential adversaries
from investing significant resources into a competing Navy to threaten
freedom of the seas - because, in the end, they would spend a fortune
and not accomplish their strategic objectives.
- We must develop new capabilities that, by their very existence, dissuade
and discourage potential adversaries from investing significant resources
into hostile capabilities.
- Just as we do not intend to abandon nuclear deterrence- but rather
integrate it into broader deterrence approach - the same holds true
for arms control.
- Arms control negotiations have had a role in our strategy. Arm control
agreements have been valued in our Alliance for various reasons, including
that they can help to create transparency, foster predictability, and
promote dialogue among nations.
- In devising a new framework, we would seek to achieve these desirable
functions and we think we can do so.
- We want to get the new framework right. Either way, we see a good
prospect for early reductions in nuclear forces.
- This framework does not view Russia as an enemy. We expect to deal
with Russia as we deal with other countries - not as an enemy, not as
a state with whom we are locked in a posture of Cold War balance of
terror or mutual assured destruction. The world has changed. Our thinking
about deterrence, security, arms control, nuclear forces, and missile
defense must change accordingly.
- We need to get over the Cold War, and the legacy of Cold War thinking
and approaches that still narrow and restrict our thinking.
- And, as President Bush recently declared at the National Defense
University, "Today's world requires a new policy, a broad strategy
of active non-proliferation, counter-proliferation and defenses."
- Development and deployment of ballistic missile defenses will be
an element of this new framework for deterrence.
- As a result of a first round of consultations following President
Bush's May 1 address, we have a better understanding of Allied views
- both those supportive of our position, and those with questions and
concerns. I am pleased to see that our Allies have welcomed the U.S.
commitment to conduct close and substantive consultations.
- We intend to build and deploy defenses to protect the U.S., our forward
deployed forces, and in cooperation with friends and allies.
- We expect to deploy "layered defenses" which would intercept
relatively small numbers of ballistic missiles of various ranges in
various phases of flight.
- Our development program will test a range of U.S. technologies and
- As this program progresses, we will likely deploy test assets to
provide rudimentary defenses to deal with emerging threats.
- We will likely continue to improve the effectiveness of any deployed
capabilities over time.
- We intend to deploy limited numbers of defenses consistent with technical
maturity and the threat.
- The Corona satellite program, which produced the first overhead reconnaissance
satellites, had 11 straight test failures. Where would we be today if
President Eisenhower had cancelled it? Where would we be if the Wright
brothers had quit after their first 20 test failures? Answer: without
- Testing is how we learn. Testing leads to knowledge.
- Our goal is to deploy defenses against handfuls of missiles, not
- We will not make decisions on systems architecture until our technologies
have been tested, and it is likely they will evolve over time.
- We welcome your input in this regard. We look forward to exploring
opportunities for enhanced cooperation with friends, allies and others.
- A number of Allies have, over the past several years, done impressive
work on shorter-range ballistic missile defenses. The development and
testing program we envision will offer opportunities for Allied participation.
- Deploying missile defenses capable of protecting the U.S., friends
and Allies will eventually require moving beyond the ABM Treaty.
- We understand this conclusion is not welcomed by some. It is
- The United States intends to find appropriate defenses. The ABM
Treaty's very purpose several decades ago was to prevent the U.S.
and U.S.S.R. from doing just that.
- The treaty stands in the way of a 21st Century approach to deterrence.
It prevents deployment of defenses that can deny others the power
to hold our populations hostage to nuclear blackmail.
- We will be consulting closely with you and with Russia to find
a new framework that will enable us to test and deploy defenses
against new threats. Such defenses are no threat whatsoever to anyone.
They are defenses, not offences. And by no stretch of anyone's imagination
could they even begin to deal with the thousands of weapons deployed
by Russia. And Russia knows that very well, let there be no doubt.
- Alliance solidarity on the tough issues remains, as it always has,
the true measure of our strength of purpose.
- As we work to build 21st Century Armed Forces, we must also work
together build a 21st Century Alliance.
- I assure you we will do everything possible to work with you and
that you will find the United States to be a dependable, capable, and
open partner in working to preserve and strengthen NATO, so that we
can together preserve peace and security well into the new century.
For it is on this peace and stability that our prosperity and opportunity
- We need to get it right. Because a quarter century from now we want
to look at our work today and find we served our peoples well. They
deserve our best.
- Thank you.