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News Transcript

Presenter: Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Saturday, February 7, 2004

Secretary Rumsfeld Remarks at the Munich Conference on Security Policy

Thank you very much and good morning Horst, Herr von Kleist, and ministers, parliamentarians. It's good to see so many old friends here.

I am delighted to be here for this important gathering, and it is an important gathering. I guess I have been coming to this conference off and on for several decades now, and I've always found the exchanges informative and interesting, sometimes amusing.

It has been interesting watching the remarkable changes that have taken place from year to year between these conferences and certainly the last year has been no exception.

Consider what has taken place in the 12 months since we met here:

In one year, NATO has undergone probably more positive change than in most ten-year periods in its history.

  • We've streamlined the NATO Command Structure;

  • We've stood up a new NATO Response Force;

  • Stood up a new Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Battalion;

  • Worked with Poland and Spain to stand up a Multinational Division in south central Iraq;

  • Stood up a transformation command that's working with Allies and indeed friends and Allies from all over the world to improve interoperability and our ability to work together;

  • Deployed NATO forces to lead the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan -- the Alliance's first mission outside of Europe and the North Atlantic area;

  • And we are preparing to welcome seven important new members to the Alliance at the Istanbul Summit later this year.

And indeed when we last met, the Iraqi people lived in fear of a cruel dictator, who was in defiance of some 17 Resolutions. The United States and the world still hoped for a peaceful solution -- and Saddam Hussein faced a choice: to show that he was meeting his international obligations to disarm, or to continue his defiance.

He chose unwisely. And today, because 35 nations -- including 17 NATO Allies and invitees - came together to enforce the will of the free world, Saddam Hussein spends his days not in his many palaces, but in jail; and the Iraqi people are in the process of moving along the tough path of building a free society.

The broad Coalition and the families and friends of those who gave their lives in the Iraqi War have been reinforced in their conviction to remove the regime of Saddam Hussein as they have found dozens of mass graves filled with tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children that were butchered by the regime and the prisons and the torture chambers that Saddam Hussein used regularly for his opponents. The 25 million Iraqi people have been liberated and need [not] fear his regime anymore

In North Africa, Libya's leader decided in December to disclose and eliminate his country's chemical, biological and nuclear weapon programs, as well as his ballistic missiles. In the weeks since, Libya has turned over equipment and documents relating to nuclear and missile programs -- including long-range ballistic missile guidance sets and centrifuge parts for uranium enrichment -- and has begun the destruction of its unfilled chemical munitions. With these important steps, Libya has acted and announced to the world that they want to disarm and to prove they are doing so.

Compare Libya's recent behavior to the behavior of the Iraqi regime. Saddam Hussein could have opened up his country to the world -- just as Kazakhstan, Ukraine, and South Africa had done -- and as Libya is doing today.

Instead, he chose the path of deception and defiance. He gave up tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues under the U.N. sanctions, when he could have had those sanctions lifted simply by demonstrating that he had disarmed. He passed up the "final opportunity" that was given to him in the UN Resolution 1441 to prove that his programs were ended and his weapons were destroyed.

Even after the statues of Saddam Hussein were falling in Baghdad, the Iraqi regime continued to hide and destroy evidence systematically going through ministries destroying what they could get their hands on.

We may never know why Saddam Hussein chose the destruction of his regime over peaceful disarmament. But we know this: it was his choice. And if he had chosen differently -- if the Iraqi regime had taken the steps Libya is now taking -- there would have been no war.

The last 12 months have proved the world's rogue regimes have provided two different models of behavior -- a path of cooperation and the path of defiance. And the lessons of those experiences should be clear: the pursuit of weapons of mass murder can carry with it costs. By contrast, leaders who abandon the pursuit of those weapons, and the means to deliver them, will find an open path to better relations with the free nations of the world.

As the recently released EU Security Strategy makes clear, the "proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is potentially the greatest threat to our security and the most frightening scenario is one in which terrorist groups acquire weapons of mass destruction." Unquote.

On September 11th, we saw the willingness of freedom's adversaries to kill on a massive scale.

In the months since, the killing has continued: in Bali, Baghdad, Jakarta, Jerusalem, Casablanca, Riyadh, Istanbul, Mombasa and this weekend, Moscow.

Unless the spread of terrorism is stopped attacks will grow bolder -- and still more deadly.

In a world where a small minority of extremists have the power to kill innocents on a massive scale, every other hope of free people is threatened.

What happens to prosperity when years of progress can be wiped out in an instant by an attack that destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs, billions in lost GDP, and untold innocent lives?

To prevent this spread of these weapons to terrorist networks, we will need to work together to accomplish important goals:

First, we need to strengthen the multi-lateral cooperation to stop the spread of those weapons.

That is why, last May, the United States and 10 like-minded countries launched the Proliferation Security Initiative that's been referred to earlier -- a new international coalition to strengthen our ability to interdict shipments of Weapons of Mass Destruction, delivery systems, and related materials at sea, in the air, and on the ground.

In the months since, more than 40 additional countries have offered support for that effort.

We have already had important successes -- including interdictions of nuclear and chemical weapons components, and we urge all governments to consider how they might contribute to this important initiative.

Second, we need to strengthen our alliances -- and the usability of alliance capabilities. The United States is in the process of transforming our Armed Forces, and our global force posture -- so we can improve our ability to work with our Allies and to meet our security commitments.

NATO is also transforming -- launching the new NATO Response Force and the new Chemical, Biological Battalion.

But if these are to become real, usable Alliance capabilities, then Allies must be willing to make the necessary reforms. The credibility and relevance of the Alliance depends on it.

Third, we need to wage war not just on terrorist networks, but also on the ideology of hatred they seek to spread. As Professor Bernard Lewis put it: "The war against terror and the quest for freedom are inextricably linked -- neither can succeed without the other."

That's why President Bush recently outlined what he calls a "forward strategy for freedom in the Middle East."

Because, as he put it, so long as freedom does not flourish, the Middle East "will remain a place of stagnation, resentment and violence ready for export."

Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are seeing the need for change.

  • Morocco now has a diverse new Parliament, and the King has called for it to extend rights to women.

  • In Bahrain, citizens recently elected their own Parliament for the first time in three decades.

  • Oman has extended the right to vote to all of its adult citizens.

  • Qatar has adopted a new constitution.

  • Kuwait has a directly-elected national assembly now.

  • Jordan has held historic elections this last summer.

We can encourage still further progress. Through Partnerships for Peace, NATO has helped build relationships and linkages with the newly independent nations that emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union.

By engaging these countries, NATO has served as a catalyst for military reform to be sure. But because ours is an alliance of democracies, the desire to be more closely associated with this alliance of free nations has made it a catalyst for political and economic reform as well. Georgia's new leaders insist the democratic progress taking place there was inspired by the Georgian people's desire to turn West and to become a member of NATO and the community of free nations. Other leaders in the Caucasus and Central Asia have expressed a similar desire to forge closer links with NATO and eventually join the Alliance.

Our challenge is to think creatively about how we can harness the power of the Alliance and to contribute to similar democratic progress across the Middle East.

For example, we can look at ways to strengthen and expand NATO's "Mediterranean Dialogue" so the Alliance can better engage nations in North Africa and the Middle East. Areas of potential cooperation certainly include:

  • Counter-terrorism;

  • Interdiction of Weapons of Mass Destruction;

  • Peacekeeping;

  • Border security;

  • Opportunities for attendance at NATO schools;

  • Participation in the Partnership for Peace exercises.

Strengthening the Mediterranean Dialogue, I believe, should be high on our agenda for the NATO Summit in Istanbul.

Let me close by reminding us that in 1941 there were only about a dozen democracies on the face of the Earth. Yet by the close of the 20th century, there were more than 120.

And now, at the start of the 21st century, two more nations -- Afghanistan and Iraq -- have thrown off the shackles of tyranny and are joining the ranks of the free.

Some have expressed doubts about the capacity for Middle Eastern people for democracy and self-government. Many said the same about Germany and Japan at the end of World War II.

But because the Allies were steadfast and were generous, freedom did eventually take root in both countries.

And today Japan has sent its Self-Defense Forces to Iraq -- for the first time Japanese forces have deployed outside of their country since World War II.

Germany has sent its forces to help bring peace and stability to Afghanistan.

Indeed it has been suggested this morning that there is a need for a common strategy among NATO nations. One would observe that there may well be one. If one thinks about it, some 24 of the 26 NATO Allies and invitees already have forces in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and 17 of them have forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

And many of the recently liberated nations of Europe have been at the forefront of the effort to help Iraq and Afghan peoples recover their freedoms and maintain those freedoms. It offers an important lesson: that the seeds of freedom when planted, can do more than simply take root where they're sown. They can indeed have the power to spread freedom across the globe.

That's why it is critical that our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan be successful. Because once the seeds of freedom are sown in the Middle Eastern soil, I believe they can spread across that region -- just as they spread across Europe during the course of the last half century.

The advance of freedom does not come without cost or sacrifice. Last November, I was in South Korea during their debate on whether or not they should send South Korean forces to Iraq. A woman journalist came up to me and put a microphone in front of my face -- she was clearly too young to have experienced the Korean war -- and she said to me in a challenging voice: "Why should young South Koreans go halfway around the world to Iraq to get killed or wounded?"

Now that's a fair question. And I said it was a fair question. I also told her that I had just come from the Korean War memorial in Seoul and there's a wall that has every state of the 50 states in the United States with [the names of] all the people who were killed in the Korean War. I was there to put a wreath on the memorial and before I walked down there I looked up at the wall and started studying the names and there, of course, was a very dear friend from high school who was on a football team with me, and he was killed the last day of the war -- the very last day.

And I said to this woman, you know, that would have been a fair question for an American journalist to ask 50 years ago -- why in the world should an American go halfway around the world to South Korea and get wounded or killed?

We were in a building that looked out on the city of Seoul and I said, I'll tell you why. Look out the window. And out that window you could see lights and cars and energy and a vibrant economy and a robust democracy. And of course I said to her if you look above the demilitarized zone from satellite pictures of the Korean Peninsula, above the DMZ is darkness, nothing but darkness and a little portion (Inaudible.) of light where Pyongyang is. The same people had the same population, the same resources. And look at the difference. There are concentration camps. They're starving. They've lowered the height for the people who go in the Army down to 4 feet 10 inches because people aren't tall enough. They take people in the military below a hundred pounds. They're 17, 18, 19 years old and frequently they look like they're 13, 14, and 15 years old.

Korea was won at a terrible cost of life -- thousands and thousands and thousands of people from the countries in this room. And was it worth it? You bet.

The world is a safer place today because the Coalition liberated 50 million people -- 25 million in Afghanistan and 25 million in Iraq.

I'll be happy to respond to questions.


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