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17 September 1998
Jump to comments on terrorism, privacy and encryption.
See prepared text and list of participants: http://jya.com/dod091498.htm
From: "O'Brien, Florence, CIV, OASD/PA" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "'CFR'" <email@example.com>, "'Young,John'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: SecDef's Remarks at the Council on Foreign Relations, 14 Sep
Date: Thu, 17 Sep 1998 13:25:04 -0400
Remarks at Council on Foreign Relations
Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen
New York, New York
Monday, September 14, 1998
Secretary Cohen: Thank you very much. Hank Greenberg and George Soros and Ted [Sorenson] and David Rockefeller, who has been a long-term supporter of mine, going back to 1972, when I first started out, by walking all the way from New Hampshire to Canada. David Rockefeller was one of my big supporters then, and he has been through the years.
So I thank you all for being here. It's quite an honor for me to have Henry Kissinger start off jokes at breakfast and the President give me an opening act. [Laughter.] We were by talking about some serious matters here earlier today.
We just left the President and the First Lady, and I'm looking for Congressman Bill Young to walk through the door at any moment. We were here to present Zach Fischer with the Medal of Freedom this afternoon. Over the years he has made so many contributions to the men and women in uniform that he surely was entitled to this award, and it's long overdue.
We did get here a bit early and had a chance to drive down to Wall Street. They're building an arc. [Laughter.] Wall Street is now referred to as the Wailing Wall. [Laughter.] But I must say that there is still some optimism that I've detected in the City of New York. I went into one CEO's office, and on the wall was one of those magnificent Dali-esque paintings, and it had a watch melting in the desert heat and the bones of the cattle bleaching out. And, over the top of that portrait, it said, "And Merrill Lynch is still bullish in America." [Laughter.] So there's still a note of optimism.
I would like to begin this evening with just a couple of my favorite quotes: "Our Earth is degenerate in these latter days. Bribery and corruption are common. Children no longer obey their parents. Every man wants to write a book. And the end of the world is evidently approaching." That has something of a contemporary ring about it. It was, in fact, written on an Assyrian tablet some 4,700 years ago.
There is another one: "It is a gloomy moment in the history of our country. Not in the lifetime of most men has there been so much grave and deep apprehension. Never has the future seemed to uncertain as it does at this time. The domestic situation is in chaos. Our dollar is weak throughout the world. Prices are so high as to be utterly impossible. The political cauldron seethes and bubbles with uncertainty. Russia hangs, as usual, like a cloud, dark and solid and silent upon the horizon. It's a solemn moment of our troubles. No man can see the end."
With the exception of the dollar being weak, it could almost be an editorial in the Wall Street Journal. In fact, it was in Harper's Weekly Magazine back in 1897. I recite these words only to try to put some perspective on the current difficulties that we seem to be confronting, either domestically or abroad.
Every day that I walk down the corridors to the National Command Center, I look at all the quotes on the wall. One of my favorites is by Robert E. Lee. He said, "I was too weak to defend, and so I attacked." I think Joshua Chamberlain probably had exactly that in mind at Little Round Top at Gettysburg. He was running out of ammunition. In fact, he was totally out of ammunition with his 20th Maine, so he did the only thing he could. He said, "Fix bayonets," and they attacked. And, of course you know, the rest is history.
There's another quote that you're all familiar with, in Proverbs: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." And so I would like to begin with that this evening, to talk about my vision of the need for a strong, flexible national defense in a grave new world that is full of complex threats.
Just for this evening, I will try to simplify it and narrow it down to three categories of threats: We have trans-national terrorism, which we have been hearing a lot about lately; the spread of weapons of mass destruction, principally biological and chemical, but not to overlook nuclear, as well; and the third would be ethnic, religious, economic strains that undermine the security and stability of the world. Those are the three categories of threats that we are facing today.
The Soviet Union, of course, is no longer there. If it will ever be reconstituted is doubtful. But nonetheless, we no longer face a balance of terror, but we do face terrorism, and we do face terrorists who can strike at any time, abroad or here at home.
So I think that our national security policy basically has to rest upon four essential pillars: bipartisan support for security policy; budgets that are adequate to support our objectives; international cooperation; and interagency cooperation. Those are the four basic pillars that we have to have, if we are going to sustain a national security policy.
When you have bipartisanship -- and I must say that I give President Clinton great credit for reaching across the aisle to invite me to join his Administration. There are any number of highly qualified Democrats that he could have selected to serve in this capacity. The fact that he was willing to ask a Republican to serve in his Administration, I think he deserves great credit for.
It was great courage on his part, because I know that there was some apprehension on the part of members of the Democratic Party, saying, "What are you doing?" There was equal apprehension of members of my party saying, "What are you doing?" But the President at that time said, "I want to send a signal, not only to the Congress but to the country, that national security policy should transcend any partisan considerations."
I think the last time we had such a situation, some of you may recall, we had a Republican in a Democratic Administration with the Kennedy Administration, with Secretary [Robert] McNamara being a Republican. He happened to have come from the executive side of things, rather than political. But nonetheless, it's rare in our history. So the President, I think, deserves a lot of credit for being willing to take a chance and send that kind of a signal.
We all know that what happens in Moscow or Baghdad or Pyongyang will have consequences for those in Minneapolis or Birmingham or Portland Portland, Maine, or the other side of the country.
When we work together, we can see what has taken place: NATO enlargement. I suspect there may be some division in this audience as to the wisdom of enlarging NATO. Nonetheless, there was a very strong consensus that was developed in the Senate that it was important for promoting stability and security to start enlarging NATO so some of the Central and Eastern European countries could continue to enjoy, or start to enjoy, the kind of stability that Western Europe has experienced since the end of World War II, rather. So that was a very positive development, from my perspective, about what bipartisanship can do.
A second example of that would be the Cooperative Threat Reduction Programs that we have, the so-called Nunn-Lugar programs. Here you had, again, bipartisanship in the United States Senate that evolved into a policy that said we need to promote programs to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons in the Soviet Union and chemical weapons, as well.
As a result of the Nunn-Lugar program and the policies we have pursued consistent with that, we have seen the elimination of nuclear weapons in Belarus, Kazakstan, and Ukraine. That's number three, four, and five in terms of the countries who held the most nuclear weapons. They no longer have nuclear weapons. That is a very positive development that came about as a result of a Democrat and Republican joining hands and saying, "We have to do something about this threat."
The second pillar I would like to talk about is budgets. Now that Larry Korb is in New York, I am hopeful that he will no longer be writing articles about me in the Washington Post. I suspect that that will not last long and I will see them in the New York Times, instead.
But nonetheless, with respect to budgets, if we look at our military today, we are much smaller than we were at the height of the Cold War. We've reduced our force structure as such by roughly 36 percent. Even though we've gotten smaller, we have actually increased our deployments around the world. We have not only increased the deployments themselves, we've increased the operational tempo, so-called OPTEMTO. That's having a consequence that I'll talk about in a moment.
It has to do with the issue of readiness. You're reading a lot about this. Are we still the ready force that we once were? Have there been some deficiencies that are now starting to manifest themselves or materialize, which in any way undermine our ability to carry out our stated objective?
Let me tell you, at the tip of the sword, as we say, those units that are out there deployed, be it in Korea Hank, you have some experience there; you know what we're talking about be it in Korea, be it in the Gulf, in Bosnia, wherever we are deployed, those forces are well-trained, they are well-led, they are well-equipped, and they are extraordinary servants of the American people.
You in this room ought to be very proud of the men and women who are serving in our military, because they are the most effective fighting force we have ever had, and there is not a military leader who will tell you anything differently.
As a matter of fact, we are the envy of the world. Wherever I go, wherever I come into contact with military leaders or, indeed, the political leadership of any other country, the first thing they want to know is, "Can we become more like you?" They want to know, "What are you doing? How do you build this NCO corps? How do you have such talented, bright people coming into your service?"
We ought to be very, very proud of the people who are wearing the uniform today. And, as Janet [Cohen] likes to say, everyone who wears the uniform is her personal hero. We have Colonel Mastin Robeson in the back. He's got his uniform on tonight, and he's one of our heroes. He's an outstanding young Marine officer.
We also know [our forces are] being stretched thin. We're starting to see some of the fabric tearing at the edges. So it's important for us to address it, before it becomes a serious tear.
Speaking of military personnel that I'm familiar with, I see an old friend at the back here, General Pete Dawkins, who is kindly taking somewhat of a leave of absence from his firm to help on an issue relating to our national security, as far as the impact of globalism and what that means for protecting our national security interests. He is someone else who has worn the uniform very proudly, and we are still very proud of him.
We are experiencing right now a revolution in military affairs. We hear that phrase used frequently. Larry can perhaps address it in some of his papers and seminars. We are taking advantage of this enormous capacity we have, and the advantage we have in technology, and we are integrating that technology to keep our forces one or two generations ahead of any other fighting force in the world.
If any if you were to go out to Fort Irwin, California, and to see the capability that we have, the so-called UAVs unmanned aerial vehicles that are looking down at the battlefield and piercing that fog of war, completely understanding where everyone is in the battlefield and sending that information down through digital technology to laptops that are bolted to the dashboards of Humvees and tanks and these young people just working their fingers madly, to see the entire battlefield all at once, in real time, that's the revolution in military affairs that's taking place.
It's not a vision for the future. It's here right now. And it doesn't come cheap. It's expensive. That's the reason why we have to see to it that we have adequate funding to continue to attract the quality of people that we need, to be able to educate them, train them, and also to equip them, and finally to retain them. This is something that we're currently facing, as far as we talk about deficiencies and shortfalls of readiness, is a question of how do we retain the kind of people that we have in the military today, because you folks [in the private sector] are making it very tough.
The fact of the matter is, we're having a tough time retaining qualified people, because you're raiding them. They look out at this economy, which has had unrestrained growth for so many years now, and they look at the opportunities outside of the military world, and they say, "That's where we would like to be. We'll be home more with our families, we'll have three or four times the income, and life will be good."
That puts us at a rather severe disadvantage, to continue to tap into the same pool of talent that we need and that you want. That's one of the reasons why we have to again look at ways in which we can find the kind of incentives that will attract the top quality people that we need.
We have to have a revolution in business affairs, as well, and some savings. In the past year-and-a-half, I've tried to introduce some measures that will achieve that. One of them happens to be involving base closures, a very unpleasant subject for most members of Congress. I know. I was on the receiving end on a number of occasions. No member of Congress wants to see his or her base shut down, for the obvious economic consequences, at least initially.
What we have tried to show is that there is life after base closures, and that the savings that we have to achieve by closing down some of the overhead that we have. This is going to be very important if we are going to have the kind of resources necessary to invest in attracting and holding on to the qualified people that we need and also to make sure that they're fully equipped with the most modern equipment.
We have been able to achieve, and will have achieved, by the year 2001, some $25 billion in savings from the base closures we have had to date. That money is already being spent. We're investing that in people and technology right now.
We need two more rounds of base closures. This will then save an additional $20 billion which we are again programming as I speak into systems that we're going to need to carry us into the next century. We need to find savings where we can, but if we don't, then we have a number of tough choices. If we can't achieve the savings, we will either have to lose some of the programs that we seek to modernize or lose people or cut our missions. That is a subject matter perhaps we can talk about during the question-and-answer period.
On the international cooperation front, we are the world's undisputed leader. We are the 911 force. Everybody calls for the United States. Nothing takes place that we can see in a positive way unless the United States is involved. That happened to be the case as far as Bosnia is concerned. We will talk, I am sure, about Kosovo in a few moments; but wherever there is trouble, people look to the United States because we have the kind of military force which is so professional and competent and capable. But we need international support. We cannot do this alone. As strong and as good as we are, we cannot control world events by ourselves; we influence them. We need to have strong partners.
This is true, for example, with Iraq. We see a situation where Saddam Hussein continues to flaunt the Security Council resolutions. This is not a contest between the United States and Iraq, it is a contest between Saddam Hussein and the United Nations. The United Nations has gone on record in passing its resolution endorsing what Kofi Annan had done in his Memorandum of Understanding to say that Saddam Hussein must make full, complete open disclosures.
I talked about something back in the spring that didn't get a lot of coverage, but something I'd like to repeat. It is really unrealistic for anyone in this room to think that we can send out 20 or 30 inspectors from UNSCOM, and go into a country that is the size, territorially, of all of New England, plus New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania and expect that group of 20 or 30 people to find evidence of chemical or biological weapons. It is almost impossible to do that. They have done an outstanding job, and they serve a vital function in keeping Saddam Hussein from being able to reconstitute his systems. But as you think of just the task -- just call it California, 20 people looking throughout the state of California for evidence of chemical or biological weapons -- it is almost impossible to do.
What is required, however, is for Saddam to come forward with affirmative action. [He has] an affirmative duty to make full disclosure because there are vast discrepancies between what he has claimed he has done in the past and the evidence to support that. That is where the burden has to lie, on his part to show that he has eliminated his chemical and biological weapons and discontinued any effort to acquire nuclear weapons. The Security Council has gone on record. They have reaffirmed this past week by voting to suspend the bi-monthly reviews of the sanctions regime, and that is very important.
Iran is a country in which it's a mix. On the one hand, we are very impressed with the moderation that has been shown in terms of tone and rhetoric and, perhaps, even domestic programs by [President] Khatami, but we have seen no change in the external policy. They still have not renounced the use of terrorism. They have not in any way ceased to undermine the Middle East peace process. They still continue to export certain technologies which we find not helpful to world peace. We are hoping that there will be some moderation in the Iranians' behavior; but, until they do, we can't afford any kind of a fundamental change in our policy.
We have also seen some very disturbing information this past week about North Korea seeking to allegedly acquire a satellite capability or, according to some, having a long-range missile. It really doesn't matter. It doesn't matter whether it's an attempt on their part to launch a satellite or to prepare for the launching of a medium-range ballistic missile. The fact is that they can have a long-range missile and that fact, if you look at their past behavior, puts a lot of people in jeopardy.
I met with members of Japanese Diet this morning who are concerned. They represent the concern of the Japanese people about what this means as far as Japanese security. Now, what does it mean as far as acquiring real intelligence for their own security. What should they do in response?
As you know, we have struck an arrangement with North Korea. The so-called Agreed Framework which is designed to contain North Korea's nuclear development program. The question now arises in view of what they have been doing, should we continue? I think the initial reaction is, "Why should we help them? Why should we help feed them?" We are helping to feed their people and they are building missiles. That doesn't seem to be a fair equation. That is a sentiment I think that many would share.
We also have to look beyond our initial reaction; and, that is, if it is still in our interests and that of our allies to see if we can't continue to contain their development of nuclear weapons. If they continue along the development path, that is certainly going to give an incentive to either South Korea or maybe Japan or others to do likewise. World peace is not going to be promoted under those circumstances. So we think it is in our interest to try and see if we can't get compliance, full compliance with the Agreed Framework.
Russia I leave to Henry Kissinger. [Laughter.] We are hopeful that there will be some measure of stability that can at least settle things for the immediate future and, hopefully, in the long term; but I could spend a lot of time on that and I can see you are already looking past the clock.
Let me move on to soldiers and diplomats. We have always had soldiers and diplomats serve side-by-side, but you learned this morning that economists and soldiers also share the same interests in financial stability. It has been said that business follows the flag. Hank Greenberg is not going to invest in any country, Mr. Soros is not going to invest, Mr. Rockefeller is not going to invest in any country which is unstable. So there must be stability in order to attract investment. When you have stability, you attract investment and you have the opportunity to promote prosperity. If you can promote prosperity, you have a chance, of promoting greater democratic values as well. And so now we see that we share the same interests with our soldiers and our economists as well.
[This] is one reason I went to Capitol Hill this year. I think it is the first time that a Secretary of Defense has ever testified before the House Banking Committee. I appeared with Alan Greenspan, Bob Rubin, Secretary Albright, and Larry Summers. What I tried to point out is that we have a security interest in the stability of South Korea. If you are looking at the IMF, you say this is a financial transaction. This is a question of whether we're going to have taxpayer dollars invested into a firm going into a country which we are not sure is going to remain solvent. There is a security interest involved.
We have 37,000 American troops over there and depending upon what we do in the way of sending signals, we could, in fact send the wrong signal that would tell the North Koreans that perhaps we have lost interest in the security of the South. What they would do with that remains to be seen, but is it worth taking that risk? So it is important to look at the security dimensions as well as the international financial transactions.
One area I think requires all four of the pillars of bi-partisanship, adequate funding, international cooperation and I'm just going to mention interagency cooperation as well, and that's terrorism. I see that I am really taking too long here, but let me just summarize this quickly.
Terrorism is going to demand a coordinated resolute response on the part of the United States. We have some pretty stark choices to make. We can either fight terrorism or we can fold; but those are the two choices. We cannot remain indifferent.
We cannot simply take the attitude of, "Well, we'll beef up all the security at our embassies." That's a very expensive proposition, I should add, but one that we are going to try to meet. We are going to Capitol Hill to get the appropriation necessary to try to make as many of our embassies conform to the standards that were set back in 1986. But even assuming that's done, that doesn't necessarily mean America is going to be safe, because then the terrorists will look simply for softer targets, for airports, shopping malls, wherever we might find Americans in numbers.
So we cannot hide behind concrete barriers and barbed wire. We can do some of that in terms of securing, making our embassies as secure for the people who work there and the people who come there as possible. Ultimately, we have to take a number of actions -- defensive actions, to be sure.
You have all heard of Anthrax. You may recall me holding up that bag of sugar. I wasn't sure whether I would be sued along with Oprah Winfrey when I held that bag of sugar up, but I held the sugar up to try to make a point. We kept talking about weapons of mass destruction. WMD -- it's a great little acronym in the alphabet soup that we all come up with at the Pentagon. But it meant that if you took a bag of Anthrax, that 5-pound bag properly dispersed, you would wipe out 60-70 percent of the population of a city the size of Washington.
We know of a number of countries that are, in fact, acquiring that capability. So we have to be concerned about it. It is not just abroad. We saw right here in New York City a few years ago with the attack upon the World Trade Center. They failed in trying to set off a chemical weapon attack, but that was their intent. So terrorism is part of our present and it is also likely to be a very big part of our future.
So we have to take defensive measures which we are doing with our troops. They are all being inoculated for anthrax. I have had my fourth inoculation so far to send a signal that we believe it to be a stable, safe serum and that every troop, every member should have it. Most of them are, in fact, complying with it.
But in addition to that, we are doing a couple of other things which are important to your security here at home. We have a program in which we have 120 cities where the Department of Defense is cooperating by going out and helping to train people who have some experience -- firefighters, people who deal with hazardous chemicals -- and help train people at the local level how to deal with a chemical or biological attack.
What took place in the Tokyo subway a few years ago could very well take place in New York subways here today or tomorrow. So how do we prepare people to, number one, identify what the substance is, what to do about it, how to protect the victims, how to protect themselves, how to protect those who are going to respond in the hospital from a biological agent.
We are helping to train the trainers. So far, we have, I think, about 30 cities with 10,000 people who have been properly trained. We have another 25 cities we hope to train by next year. That's part of it. The second part of it is that we are establishing what we call 10 RAID -- rapid reaction identification -- teams headed up by the National Guard and able to fully and quickly respond to a terrorist type of attack here at home.
Let me just conclude by talking about this era of transition. I'm not sure the American people are sure of what role we should play in world affairs, what the burdens of being a global power are, just how much we want to pay and bear to carry out these responsibilities.
But there is a scene that I am fond of. It's in "Three Days of the Condor." It's a scene of a young intelligence officer talking to a senior intelligence colleague who had served in the OSS. And the young man looks to the older man, and he says, "Do you miss the good, old days?" And the older man looks back and he says, "No, not really, but I do miss the clarity of it all." [Laughter.]
It seems to me it's precisely the absence of clarity. It's the persistent opaqueness of the future that makes formulating a far-reaching policy and seeing a national security policy so challenging. So in the past we've always been oscillating between being over-committed with our forces and resources, then isolationist or indifferent to events in distant countries. And I think we always have to be conscious of the need to be very selective in our use of military power for the purpose of serving the interests of our nation and that our allies.
We can't really abdicate the larger responsibility of promoting ideals and influence. T.S. Eliot said that, "Between the idea and the reality, between the motion and the act, lies the shadow." Somewhere in that shadow land between romantic globalism and narrowly defined pragmatism lies the basis for a conceptually sound and politically grounded policy that will allow our country to play a constructive and influential role in world affairs. [Applause.]
[JYA Note: Identities of questioners omitted by DoD are added here from notes; CFR stated that "presentation, discussion & question-an-answer period will be on the record."]
Q [Leslie Gelb, President, CFR]: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary. We appreciate, especially your concern for the possibility of a germ attack in the New York subway system, but we're quite confident that our germs will annihilate any germs --
Q [Gelb]: Give me a chance to correct one oversight, too. I neglected to mention our new director of communications, April Wahlestedt. April, are you here? April, please.
Q [Gelb]: April has been my special assistant for the last couple of years. And she will do a terrific job as director of communication. You will notice that because of the lights and cameras and whatever that Secretary Cohen's address was on the record. And at the request of the Defense Department, the questions and answers will be on the record, as well. For the the dinner afterwards, it will have an off the record discussion.
A: I will say the same thing here as I will after.
Q [Gelb]: We hope that will not be true.
Q [Gelb]: When you're recognized, please stand -- as is our tradition -- identify yourself, name, rank, serial number, profession. Make your comments or questions as brief as possible. There are a lot of people who want to ask our Secretary something about all the important items on the menu he produced for us. Ladies and gentlemen, questions, please. I think we have microphones coming. Over here.
Q [Unknown]: Mr. Secretary, the raids on Iran -- or Iraq and in Sudan raised a couple of questions in our mind. First, is the validity of our information about the installation in Sudan has been seriously questioned. And I think in the public's mind it's sort of uncertain as to whether we were really right.
And the second one is, the principle in general, do these raids accelerate or decelerate the kind of terrorism which we're worried about?
A: Let me give you the context in which our response took place. Shortly after the bombings of our embassies in Dar es Salaam and Kenya, we started to receive almost a flood tide of information. Our intelligence, notwithstanding the critics about how many deficiencies there are in the intelligence community, did an outstanding job. We developed and acquired more information in a shorter period of time than I can recall in 26 or 27 years.
And much of that information showed and revealed that Osama Bin Laden was planning more attacks, immediately. And so we felt it was important to disrupt his efforts, certainly in the short term, hopefully for longer term. But we felt it was imperative to act within a very short period of time. We were able to put together a military plan that had been in the process of being developed -- but this really accelerated it -- and to pick a time and place of our choosing when we believed that there would be a gathering, certainly in Afghanistan.
With respect to Sudan, there was very little doubt, if any, in our minds that the information collected by the intelligence community pointed to the fact that at that facility which Osama Bin Laden had at least an indirect interest in the substance that was discovered there and analyzed by us was the precursor to producing VX.
We also had information that Osama Bin Laden was interested in acquiring a chemical weapon capability. And we came to the conclusion that it was time for us to act and also to send a signal to all concerned that if you have an interest in working with Osama Bin Laden to produce chemicals -- or any kind of weapon that's going to be used against the American people or that of our friends, you are not beyond our reach.
So we were satisfied from the beginning that that activity was taking place. We felt it important to respond quickly. And it's not a one-shot proposition. You cannot deal with terrorists as a one-shot deal, as such. There's no silver bullet. This is a long, continuous process. It's going to be a long struggle to deal with terrorism, and we hope that we will continue to have the kind of intelligence necessary to carry out effective reactions.
Let me say one other thing about terrorism. We in this country much recognize the tension which will exist as you ask us, and we will ask all successor administrations, to protect us. And you say, how do you protect someone against terrorists? It means increased intelligence. It means increased intelligence, having greater capability on the ground or from national technical sources to find out who is planning and plotting what at what place and what time.
To do that is going to put us in somewhat of a direct conflict with rights to privacy, something that we hold very dear in this country. So the more intelligence-gathering responsibilities that any administration is going to have, there's going to come a point of tension and, indeed, friction between how much are you willing to give up in order to be secure. Those are the kind of unpleasant choices that are going to be manifesting themselves in the near future. We haven't really faced up to it yet. We're starting to see some of that conflict at least intellectually develop when you see the manufacturers of software who don't like the fact that the law enforcement, the FBI, the Justice Department wants to have some method of getting into encrypted technology.
You say, "Wait a minute, that's my right of privacy. I'm a businessman or woman. I want to be able to send information out over those -- those airwaves and have them completely protected." Our Justice Department says, "Wait a minute, you want us to protect you. But you're allowing criminal elements, terrorists and others -- organized crime, drug cartels -- to encrypt their telecommunications to the point where don't know what's going on. And then something is going to happen, and you'll say, where were you?"
So those are the kinds of tensions that are going to continue to exist. But we're going to have to have more intelligence to effectively deal with terrorism in the future.
Q [Gelb]: Would anyone like to follow up on the subject of Mr. Bin Laden and terrorism? Any further questions here? Please.
Q [Maurice Tempelsman, Leon Tempelsman & Son]: As a follow-up to your question, the tension that exists in a civilized society and the fight with terrorism, ranging all the way from applying due process and trying to capture the terrorist and then bring him to trial in our system of justice to the other side, assassinations -- preemptive assassinations -- as these pressures develop, how do you see any administration or the Department of Defense coming down in -- in the methodology that is necessary to be effective in the fight against terrorism?
A: You've just asked a very profound question, and Les leaned over and said, try to be brief in your response. So I'll try to be brief in my response to a profound question. I think we have to have a multi-disciplinary approach to it, I guess, you would say.
On the one hand, we want to apprehend those who commit these acts of atrocity. And we are in the process of doing that. We are seeking apprehension of a number of people. We have made arrests. We are having them transported to the United States for trial. But as you know by the time you go through this judicial process, it may be years before they're ever brought to justice, if then. We still have to do that consistent with our own notions of due process.
We also have to be capable of and be determined to break up those combinations of people who are planning to attack and kill hundreds, if not thousands, and tens of thousands of American people. And that's something that we have to be willing to face up to.
You saw from the last strike that we are prepared to do that, and I would hope that we would continue to be prepared to do that. Whenever we have sufficient information that alerts us to the fact that groups are plotting to strike within the immediate future and kill innocent people, we want to be in a position to take action. That presents a number of problems. But I think as long as we have our Attorney General, our Justice Department, all of the people involved in trying to balance these competing equities, we can come to a justifiable decision.
Q [Gelb]: Anything else on terrorism?
Q [Theodore Sorenson, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison]: It seems to me that the two successful strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan accomplished the kind of pinpoint destruction that in the old days would have required sending in military personnel at great risk of life. I think this raises some profound questions for the military of the future. One is, will there be a greater tendency to strike? Because there is not going to be the risk of our own personnel. And yet at the same time, there will be strikes back at diplomatic business and other American installations.
And secondly, does this mean that we are -- as I'm sure you've read some critics have said about this Pentagon -- emphasizing conventional force against terrorism which really isn't a conventional force in the sense of having installations and facilities?
A: You've raised the issue, have we basically inspired retaliation against the United States by using this technology that we have? Number one, let me say that we have remarkable technology and it can carry out the kind of operations that we did.
We also -- as a just society, and one that is concerned about the loss of innocent life -- if you look at what took place in the bombings in East Africa -- well, 263 people died, 5,000 were wounded. And if you look at what the United States tried to do in breaking up this convocation of terrorists, we were very concerned about collateral damage. We're very concerned -- we went into Sudan, how can we limit the killing of innocent people? So we have a different standard. That puts us at a great disadvantage because terrorists love to kill lots of innocent people and then hide behind the shields of women -- and as I said the other day, the laughter of children. So it puts us at a great disadvantage to begin with.
But, secondly, as far as this notion of retaliation, do not think that somehow we have generated retaliatory attitudes on the part of those who will hold us with some disregard. They are planning to kill us as we speak. This is a plan -- a long-term plan to kill as many of us as they can. And the notion somehow that because we struck they're now going to retaliate -- retaliate suggests that we're the ones who had caused this when, in fact, as you as American citizens if we did nothing and said, "Well, we can take 200 or 300 at a time. After all, life goes on." If we were to take that attitude I think you would justifiably be critical of us particularly if they used either something like anthrax or VX or another agent which would destroy tens of thousands. That's one point.
Secondly, with respect to conventional weapons. We have special forces and we will use special forces in those situations that require it. We're not simply trying to match terrorist activities. Cruise missiles cost a lot of money and it costs a lot of money to count this particular action when you can put a truck bomb together pretty cheaply. So there's no question that there's an asymmetrical cost involved in all of that.
But what we're determined to do is if we can find ways in which we can interrupt the planning and the people who are doing the planning understanding it's a long-term -- if I can quote from President Kennedy. It's a long twilight struggle with a different type of threat that we are all in for whether we like it or not.
Q [Gelb]: Last question.
Q [Gelb]: Will you wait for the microphone please?
Q [Raghida Dergham, Al-Hayat]: Thank you, sir. Thank you. On Sudan, the Sudanese had cooperated in the past in as far as deporting terrorists including Bin Laden, then after we strike them. Now how much does this help increase intelligence that you are speaking about? How is this going to help when they have been struck? What about the constituency in the Arab world that sees the rejection of the United States defend an investigation to allow an investigation as if it is somebody is guilty and then therefore, there is no support from such constituency in fighting terrorism?
A: I think most of the country, notwithstanding public statements, understand that the United States cannot afford to simply be on the receiving end of terrorist actions. As a matter of fact, you can make the argument and I'd be willing to make the argument that when you send a signal that there is no safe haven for terrorists, that there is no place that they can hide, if they're going to continue to carry out terrorist activities you also send a signal to those countries who are giving them comfort and safe harbor that they're not beyond the reach of the United States.
That also fixes their minds rather pointedly that perhaps they shouldn't continue to give Osama Bin Laden safe haven. Perhaps the Taliban shouldn't continue to say, "He can stay here as long as he likes and carry out whatever actions he might."
So I think that sometimes a show of resolve in strength can produce a reaction that will be supported, rather than generate opposition to the United States.
Q [Gelb]: Thank you. New subject please.
Q [James M. Klurfield, Newsday]: I'm still, frankly, confused about the Administration's policy towards Iraq. I thought maybe you could help us. It looked as in the past we have yet to prevent the development of weapons of mass destruction and we call the shots as to when we were going to inspect, etcetera, etcetera.
There has been a different track suggested since the policy (inaudible) there's a change that hasn't been explained and we ameliorate causes of not going in and inspecting having (inaudible)?
A: Okay. First of all, the policy has always been one of containment. We have had our policy to contain Saddam Hussein so he can't move to the north and he can't move to the south. We have contained him. By virtue of having the inspectors on ground they have been successful in keeping him off balance.
Again, I make the point that simply having inspectors being able to go around a country the size of the State of California is not necessarily going to prove successful, saying we've looked in every nook and cranny, we've looked in every possible conceivable place and we found no evidence. That's an impossible task but they have a very valuable function particularly as they gather intelligence of where they should look. So we like having them on the ground.
Now how do we keep them on the ground? You keep them on the ground if you can have solidarity of support in the United Nations through its Security Council. The Security Council has condemned Saddam Hussein. They are insisting that he allow the inspectors to carry out their work and they just simply said this past week, "No review of sanctions until such time as you come under compliance."
Now we think achieving a diplomatic solution is always preferable to using force. You use force as a last resort. But we still have the use of force on the table. We're saying to the Security Council, you passed the resolution. You negotiated the memorandum of understanding, now we expect the Security Council to insist upon the enforcement. We still have the force ready and available. I might point out even though we downsized the force we're up to about 30 -- now almost at 40,000 back at the height of our deployment there this past Spring. We've now cut that back -- it went from 37,000 down to 20,000. We have twice as many cruise missiles fully deployed at this point. We have a capability of augmenting that force within 96 hours to the full force that we had before.
So we have it on the table and what we're saying is, "We want the Security Council to measure up to its responsibilities." I take Saddam Hussein's actions as a direct assault upon the integrity of Security Council itself and any failure to measure up on their part calls into question the credibility of the Security Council Resolution. So we want them to help negotiate this with the Russians, the French and the others who are insisting -- now we want you to assist with compliance.
We are keeping our forces and we will pick and choose at a time and place of our choosing if the military should be used. So we think it's better to try to get the Security Council to put the inspectors back on the ground. Absent that, we still have the sanctions in place, and what Saddam wants most to get rid of, by the way. First the inspectors and then the sanctions. Because if he has the sanctions lifted he gets his billions of dollars of revenue to reconstitute his weapons of mass destruction and pose a greater threat to the region.
So containment is the policy. We have a somewhat different tactic as how to do it but we still have the same policy.
Q: Samara Addler from Fuji Television. Today the US concluded that the North Koreans did, indeed, launch a satellite. I wondered --
A: Attempted to launch a satellite.
Q [Addler]: Attempted to launch a satellite but it was not a missile was what the conclusion was, a ballistic missile. Will there be any adjustment in US policy towards North Korea in light of its continued threats in the region?
A: Well, I tried to point this out, we've made it clear that we think it's worth trying to insist upon full compliance with the agreed framework. The North Koreans -- if the agreement falls to the wayside then within a matter of a few weeks or certainly a few months the North Koreans could be reconstituting their existing nuclear plant and have nuclear warheads within a very short period of time.
We'd like to avoid that if at all possible. We think it's worth sitting down with their negotiators and saying, "We're insisting upon full compliance." By the way, the United States has not been in full compliance with the agreed framework since we haven't come up with the money for the oil that we owe this year.
It's not a large amount of money. It's roughly as I recall $36 million for our share of the purchase of the oil. We still have Japan and South Korea, each who have pledged a billion dollars to help build the reactors and that's something that, of course, is still a matter of some friction as far as the Japanese people are concerned right now.
The other issue is can we hold this together? Can we also insist that the North Koreans must allow inspection of their underground facility to make sure that they're not cheating? We think that that's an imperative as far as we're concerned.
But we also had the issue of humanitarian food. It has never been out policy to use food as a weapon. In this particular case the administration has decided to continue providing food to the North Korean people. But I think that it has to be made very clear to North Koreans is if there's any evidence that they're not complying with the agreed framework everything is off.
I think the Japanese people are going to take some time in evaluating whether they're going to continue to supply the funds necessary to construct reactors and we've got some tough negotiations coming up.
Q [Gelb]: Given my slavish commitment to Council tradition and our commitment to end at 7:00 I will invite you to continue talking to Secretary Cohen in the reception downstairs. We'll have a half hour reception before dinner. It's a good opportunity to pursue some of this. I think you can join me in appreciating that with tens years a Director of the Council on Foreign Relations, we appreciate Secretary Cohen's ability to handle the job.
We are all I think illuminated by his good common sense in the presentation today, and concerned only by the fact that you needed four anthrax vaccinations. Would you join me in thanking the Secretary of Defense.
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