Munich Security Conference: Selected Speeches, February 7/9
The 39th Munich Conference on Security Policy, Bayerischer Hotel, Munich, Germany, February 7-9.
Note: for the full text of all speeches at the Conference, and related documentation, see http://www.securityconference.de.
Over the last two days, we have heard a range of perspectives on the Iraqi crisis. As we approach the final phases of the disarmament of Iraq, it bears recalling how we have come, over a 12 year period, to the current position. We have not arrived here suddenly. We did not wake up to be confronted overnight by Saddam Hussein, his sponsorship of terrorism, and his Weapons of Mass Destruction. A central part of the ceasefire at the end of the 1991 Gulf Conflict was that Iraq should destroy its Weapons of Mass Destruction. Since then, 17 United Nations resolutions have placed Saddam under 27 separate and categorical obligations:
Saddam has consistently flouted these obligations and the will of the international community. That is why there has, for years, been a sanctions regime in place against Iraq. By the manner in which Hussein has undermined that sanctions regime, he has brought further, and wholly unnecessary suffering to the people of Iraq.
The UK has, of course, been at the forefront of efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Iraq. Since 1991 we have given over 100 million pounds sterling of aid to Iraq. I know we all agree that the international community should work together to achieve the overall objective of a stable Iraq, free from Weapons of Mass Destruction, secure within its borders and at peace with its neighbours. The UK is, without reservation, wholly committed to this.
Of course, Iraq is not the only country that is developing Weapons of Mass Destruction, there are other unstable, fiercely repressive states that are either proliferating, or trying to acquire Weapons of Mass Destruction, such as North Korea. There are also terrorist groups who are actively seeking to use chemical or biological means to cause as much death and suffering as they can. We know from the 11 September that these terrorists have no demands that could ever be negotiated upon, few constraints in terms of finance and numbers to carry out terrorist acts and no compunction in taking human life. There is no room for debate with such people.
In Iraq, we face a convergence of threats we cannot ignore:
Unless we take a firm and decisive stand now, then these threats will come together. We must make sure, beyond doubt, that Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction do not find their way into the hands of terrorists. That means continuing to pursue international terrorism across the world in all its forms. It means confronting nations who are defying the will of the international community over Weapons of Mass Destruction. It means disarming the Iraqi regime.
UNSCR 1441 now makes the situation abundantly clear. It is for Saddam to cooperate fully and disarm. If he does not, he will be in material breach and we should seek a second resolution to confirm this. The UK believes that the UN is the right way to proceed. There is an integrity to the process that Resolution 1441 sets out. We should follow it.
The United Kingdom hopes that conflict in Iraq can be avoided. We all have an interest in maintaining the pressure on Saddam to come to his senses and co-operate with the Inspectors. But UNMOVIC does not need unlimited time to make an assessment of Iraqi co-operation. In order to do their job, and do it properly, the inspectors need Truth. Full and active co-operation, it is time for the dissembling and concealment to stop. UNMOVIC is an inspections regime, not a detection regime.
The bottom line is this, if Saddam continues to fail to co-operate, if he rejects this peaceful route that is open to him, then the UK is determined that he should be disarmed, by force if necessary. Either way, Saddam will be disarmed. The UK is quite clear in its objective of a stable and peaceful Iraq. Whichever way the situation develops, we must minimise the risks to the people of Iraq. It is not the Iraqi people who pose a threat, but Saddam Hussein, his Weapons of Mass Destruction and his sponsorship of terrorism.
I take it as given that, in the course of coming months, Saddam will be disarmed. And, however it comes about, I offer two further propositions:
I think that it is axiomatic to say that the Middle East Peace Process is the key to regional stability. The essential task of disarming Saddam Hussein's regime offers the prospect of a new dynamic, and fresh impetus towards a settlement. We must capitalise upon this opportunity. Otherwise, the language and actions of extremists will continue to fill the vacuum, and as a consequence prolong the violence. ...
Only by resolving the Iraqi problem, and by achieving progress with the Middle East Peace Process, will we approach a point where all Middle Eastern States can live side by side within secure and recognised borders, at peace with, and enjoying normal relations, with their neighbours. We all agree, I hope, that the disarmament of Iraq, in accordance with UN resolutions, and a re-engagement of the Middle East Peace Process are the two vital issues we must continue to address in order to ensure long term security and stability in that region. But we cannot wait until a solution to all of this intractable situation is in reach before addressing the situation in Iraq. The threat from Saddam Hussein, his Weapons of Mass Destruction, and his links with international terrorism, exists now. It grows day by day.
Saddam has a last chance to co-operate with the international community, to disarm voluntarily. If the Iraqi regime fails to meet its obligations, if we see yet more dissembling and delay, Britain is clear - he will be disarmed by force. Not because we want to but because he has precipitated it.
We heard yesterday how we could make progress and I would single out Secretary Rumsfeld's and Senators McCain and Lieberman's contributions. And we also heard recipies for further delay.
Let me close on this. Progress cannot be made by giving Saddam Hussein more time or by pouring in more Inspectors. Progress is not a function of time or Inspectors. It can only be achieved by Saddam Hussein complying fully with UNSCR 1441. Nothing less, and not at some point in the future - now. And if we achieve that progress it will allow us to focus on the next and continuing problem of a solution to the Israeli - Palestinian question.
II. 'We Have Hopes of Greater Stability': Ephraim Halevy, Director of the Israeli National Security Council, February 9
As we meet here in Munich at the beginning of February 2003, we are all conscious of the impending strategic convulsion which awaits the Middle East in the weeks to come. It is abundantly clear to us, both to those who live in the region and to those who reside beyond, that whatever the exact chain of events which will unfold before our eyes, reality will never be the same again. ... I believe it essential that we devote some time to describing the current situation which is about to undergo fundamental change. Over the past two or three decades the region has been plagued by several most dangerous ills. Let us list them.
Firstly, a large number of states have been straining themselves to obtain and or to develop weapons of mass destruction. Iraq is the most immediate case in point but others such as Iran, Libya and Syria are paralleling the Iraqi effort. The areas in which these countries are active, all or in part are the nuclear, biological and chemical fields. All of them are pursuing programs in the missile field and all are periodically increasing the range of their delivery systems. The accumulation of such a large variety of weapons within the region has created an ever increasing threat to the very existence of independent states and nations. Moreover, as these efforts have continued, threats to countries outside the region have begun to loom on the horizon and Europe and even the American continent are in danger of falling within the scope of Middle East countries capabilities.
Secondly, the region is replete with regimes whose policies and principles are far, sometimes very far, from those of the free nations of the world. In assessing threats emanating from the Middle East today we must assume that certain leaderships might entertain the use of their WMD capacities under calculations very different from those employed by responsible leaders in the free world.
Thirdly, ever since the Iranian revolution in 1979 there has been a growing desire on the part of Muslim movements in the Middle East to export their revolutionary creeds and to do so through violent means. They have operated under their own rules, so different from those generally accepted in open societies. Thus for example, it has been considered legitimate for Iran to support and foster a para military force inside Lebanon, deployed along Israel's northern border and to supply it with sophisticated weaponry threatening Israel, an independent state and a sovereign member of the United Nations.
Fourth...is exporting revolutions more than one, from within Islam to the world beyond. It has become legitimate to launch indiscriminate terror attacks on civilians not engaged in combat, and to attempt to terrorize states and nations and to try and bomb them into submission. Suicide bombing has become not only acceptable but also an elevated form of combat. A martyr's death has changed from being an extreme and hopefully rare necessity to an increasingly widespread and sought after destiny. Bin laden has extolled the martyrs who crashed into the symbols of American military and commercial power in New-York and in Washington and Yassir Arafat has constantly called on a million martyrs to march on Jerusalem. Nasrallah of the Hizballah movement has sung the praises of his martyrs on every possible occasion.
Fifthly, the world has been confronted by heads of states and national movements who have been exposed as compulsive liars and devious manipulators. All the accepted norms of conduct concerning affairs of state have been swept aside in pursuit of causes which threaten the very basis and structure of modern day society.
And last but not least, the Middle East has been stricken by deadly combinations of all five of the ills I have listed. We appear to be confronted by non- state or semi- state movements, practicing terror, attempting to obtain WMD, exporting their own revolutionary brands, all at the very same time. I hazard a guess that had the threats I mentioned been contained within the geographical confines of the Middle East, the leaders of the free world, led by President George W. Bush might not have embarked on their mission to neutralize the axis of evil. But, since the Middle East adversaries have chosen to treat the entire globe as their arena of action, those so brutally attacked and threatened have no choice but to roll back the carpet and to pull the entire world back from the brink of wide devastation. ...
Let us now turn ladies and gentlemen, to our hopes for the future on "the morning after" as we now term the post Sadaam period. There is reason to hope that each of the ills I have listed would suffer not only severe remissions but possibly terminal setbacks. The democratic and peace- striving forces in the Middle East are hoping that a successful outcome to the Iraqi crisis will signal a clear resolve to free the world from the dangers of WMD placed in the hands of irresponsible regimes or terrorist groups. It could well be that moderate and reformist forces within these regimes would sum up courage and strength and effect regime changes of their own. The shock waves emerging from post-Saddam Baghdad could have wide ranging effects in Tehran, Damascus and in Ramallah. ...
Iraq in the post war period will have a golden opportunity to rejoin the family of nations and to function as a progressive and prosperous state. It is not beyond hope that post-Saddam Damasus will no longer be the victim of its decades long rivalry with Baghdad and consequently could free itself from the bond of its alliance with Tehran. This in turn could lead to a weakening of the Iranian hold on South Lebanon. Indeed Syria could feel comfortable in allowing Lebanon true freedom, withdrawing the thirty-thousand odd Syrian soldiers from Lebanese territory and opening an embassy in Beirut for the very first time since Lebanon's independence. The departure of Syrian and Iranian foreign forces from Lebanese soil accompanied by the disarmament of Hizballah could enable Lebanon to make peace with Israel. Needless to say Syria itself could emerge from its backward state and open up to modern economics and society, and relinquish its support for terrorist organizations. The moderate regimes of Jordan and Egypt might obtain relief from incitement and threatening violent street demonstrations. ...
We have hopes of greater stability, greater enhanced confidence from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic shores of Morroco. I have described to you in brush strokes what could be the best scenario outcome; some of these hopes might not materialize but I believe that even a more modest outcome would be beneficial. First and foremost, the precedent of the relief of the world from a bloodthirsty dictator who has threatened to blackmail the region will in itself be a major contribution to stability in the region. The tendency of the majority to "side with the winner" can have a snowballing effect and would be a source of immense encouragement to all the moderate regimes and forces in the entire region. We could witness outbreaks of protest and even limited violence in sensitive areas but the impact of an outright victory would balance such demonstrations. I believe that the ultimate struggle against Islamic terrorist fundamentalism must be fought within Islam, and I therefore hope that a victory against Sadaam could be a vital step in strengthening moderation and weakening extremism. The signal that a Sadaam defeat will send to the Arab world to the Arabian peninsula, to the Persian Gulf states will be one of hope and revitalization. It might be a clarion call to the silent moderate and sane majority.
All those along the axis of evil or those allied with those states would have to reassess their options in view of the decisiveness shown by the action led by President George.W.Bush. My view is that they might well be much sobered by the experience of Baghdad. ... And, if as I do hope, the new forces in the Palestinian camp would gain momentum and a meaningful serious negotiation could be launched between a responsible leadership opposed to terror and the newly re-elected leader of Israel, then the Iraqi denouement will have had a most positive effect on the Palestinian conflict. It would be almost a last chance for the elements of moderation in the Palestinian authority to seize the moment after the demise of Sadaam Hussein. A new Palestinian leadership will certainly be met by a forthcoming response on the part of Israel, or what is generally defined as the Israeli "contribution" to peace.
I recognize that events may not proceed along perfect lines of advance and success. There could be setbacks, there could be mishaps, there could be intense friction resulting at least in delay. Such, as we all know, are the unknown fortunes of war. But, as I have tried to tell you here today, the initiatives launched by President George W. Bush carry within them immense promise for a far more better world, especially in the Middle East. There are serious prospects for a brighter future and not only for additional deteriorations. In conclusion I would like to say that we, in Israel, are conscious of being positioned very close to the front line. We are not part of the operational design but we could become a victim of a violent reaction. We recognize our vulnerability and are taking the necessary precautions. We are hoping that an Iraqi miscalculation will not result in action against Israel, necessitating suitable reaction. In the spirit of my presentation, we hold out true hopes for the best but we are also preparing for the worst.
We come together in trying times with an urgent responsibility: to fortify our transatlantic alliance, which has vanquished many foes, spawned many democracies, and promoted many freedoms - but is now struggling to find a common voice in the face of many dangers. The growing reach of NATO and its principles belies a disheartening truth. In a world facing new and evolving threats - terrorists, rogue regimes, and Weapons of Mass Destruction - NATO is split, and risks not only becoming the shell some predicted it would be after the fall of the Berlin Wall but a dangerous stumbling block to a safer world. The big question before us today is not who will join NATO or whether NATO will field a rapid response force, but instead, can our alliance survive a world in which our enemies are less defined, the dangers are more dispersed, and the road to victory is much less clear?
We who are privileged to be leaders of NATO countries must make sure that the answer to that question is yes. The world of the 21st Century and each of our nations will be much safer if our alliance becomes not just larger but stronger, united around shared principles and the need for a common defense to the uncommon new threats that now face us all. This process might best begin with some family therapy, since we have been acting too often in recent years like a dysfunctional family.
Let me begin with our side of the family. Since NATO'S inception, the strength of our alliance has always depended on American power. But America's power to lead has always depended on America's ability to listen. During the last two years, the American administration has turned a deaf ear to Europe. Some in America have sent the message that they see NATO and its member countries as a rubber stamp for the crisis that matters most to the United States at the moment, instead of a multilateral alliance of nations who listen to each other's concerns. But I assure you that most Americans understand that America is not an island; it is part of an interconnected world. No matter how mighty a country's army or how large its treasury, vigorous and resilient alliances built on mutual respect are essential to securing the peace and making the world a safer place.
At the same time, we Americans are upset that so many Europeans seem so much less anxious about the new threats of terrorism, rogue nations, and weapons of mass destruction than we are. We accept the fact that for more than 50 years, US leadership of NATO and our unique role in the world has meant that our security responsibilities have been more global than Europe's. While we worry about missiles in North Korea or conflict in the Taiwan Straits, Europe has mostly been able to focus on securing its own borders. But if September 11th has taught us anything, it's that none of us can retreat behind borders because terror recognizes no borders. In today's world, enemies of freedom anywhere are a threat to safety everywhere.
I understand why the heavy hand from Washington has lately been seen less as a source of protection and more as a cause of resentment. But I'm here today to argue for your enlightened self-interest. Robert Kagan rightly asks: why should free people - citizens of our closest European allies - seem more worried about America than about terrorism, more anxious about Bush than about bin Laden?
We must urgently and honestly confront and resolve the differences that now divide us. If we fail to, the current continental drift will become a permanent rift, and we will all risk losing much more than family harmony. We will endanger our common security and future prosperity. And the world will lose its most reliable force for freedom and stability. ...
The first wedge between us is in the way we see the world and its newest problems. Prime Minister Blair put it well when he said recently: "The problem people have with the US - not the rabid anti-Americans but the average middle ground - is not that, for example, they oppose them on WMD or international terrorism. People listen to the US on these issues and may well agree with them; but they want the US to listen back." As an American, I believe we haven't and we must and many of my fellow Americans agree.
Consider global warming. America is the single biggest global contributor to the problem. Americans know it, and in strong majorities consider global warming to be a serious problem. Yet the Bush Administration turns a deaf ear to American opinion and European pleas to do something about it. It is also clear that the Bush Administration's precipitous withdrawal from the long-term efforts to build an International Criminal Court and strengthen the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Again, in large numbers the American people support joining the court and improving the Test Ban Treaty. Even with imperfect world agreements such as these, removing our nation and our priorities from the global conversation creates an unnecessary breach with our allies.
If some in America have viewed the world with blinders on - blocking out all concerns except our own - some in Europe seem to us unable to see threats that stare you and us right in the face. For example, when we speak of the terrorists as evil and of Saddam Hussein as a dangerous tyrant and torturer who has viciously murdered his own people, we are puzzled why many Europeans recoil at those descriptions which, to us, are thoroughly justified by the facts.
Terrorism is not just America's problem. We know full well that Europe has known more than its share of terror, so we don't presume to preach. But Al Qaida and its ilk consider all of our people as their enemies and targets because all our nations represent the values and the way of life they hate. They also seek to inflict pain upon moderate Muslim regimes. The fact that citizens from more than 70 countries - including many Muslims - died in the attacks on the World Trade Center is more than a symbolic reality. If we cannot cement our alliance in our own minds, let the hatred of our terrorist foes for all of us do it for us.
Second, the differences between us have been exacerbated by the words we use to describe each other. Along the way, honest policy differences and critiques have given way to caricature and hyperbole. We in America should work for a strong and united Europe, not divide it with our words. There is no "old Europe" separate from a "new Europe." A Europe divided was the incubator for mankind's bloodiest century. A Europe united provides the best hope for a more peaceful and secure future, for you and us. And when Europeans caricature America and its leaders as naive or ignorant "cowboys," it offends Americans - even some of us who hail from a place far from cowboy country called New England. The point is: we should challenge each other's policies, not personalities, and question each other's decisions, not motives.
Europe and America have often had our differences. Just think about these news headlines about US- European disputes: "Allies Complain of Washington's Heavy Hand," "France to NATO: Non, Merci," "US Declares Economic Warfare on Allies," and "Protesters Rally Against American Arms Plan." As former President Clinton once reminded us, the first of these headlines is from the Suez crisis in 1956. The second is from 1966, when France left NATO's military command. The third is from 1981, during the Siberian Pipeline Crisis. The Fourth is from 1986 during the debate about deploying intermediate nuclear missiles in Europe.
Like any good dysfunctional family, we've hurled invectives and insults across the Atlantic intermittently for more than 50 years. But the difference is, leaders on both sides have always in the past worked to douse the rhetorical flames, not fan them. It's time we return to that shared compact. Now, more than ever, words have consequences.
The last and most serious area of contention is when, why, and how we commit our military might to protect our people and principles. We Americans must recognize that no matter how strong our military or our economy, we still need help. Defeating the dangers arrayed against us requires more than the forced compliance of our European allies; it requires a genuine partnership.
Regrettably, over the past two years, the Bush Administration has too often kept our European friends at bay. NATO's invocation of Article 5, declaring the September 11 attacks an attack on us all, was a powerful and moving act of solidarity and sacrifice. But the Bush Administration failed to grasp NATO's outstretched hand in Afghanistan, and that was a mistake. When we made the war our own, the subsequent peace became far too much our own as well.
The Administration's declaration of its policy of military preemption has also understandably and unnecessarily raised anxieties in Europe and throughout the world. It made no sense to publicly announce this doctrine without offering our friends and foes alike clarification as to how and when the policy might be exercised. The fact is, the United States, like most countries in the world, has always reserved the right to use force to prevent an attack against its people. But some policies are best left undeclared, to be announced only when it is necessary to implement them. In the case of preemptive military action, that ought to be rarely.
But it takes two hands to tear a seam. And the fact is, the hand of the Bush Administration has been assisted by the hand of many in Europe in tearing the seam that has united us for more than a half century now. Rather than coming together with one voice to enforce United Nations Resolutions all have supported to disarm Saddam Hussein, we hear many reflexive notes of discord from Europe. Rather than consent to the use of force when all other options have been exhausted, important parts of Europe have pulled back from our shared responsibility to put military muscle behind our policies to protect our security.
And the transatlantic gulf between military capabilities doesn't help us overcome this rift. We all know that Europe has grown too dependent on American strength, and that that dependency undermines our partnership. I understand that Europe is focused today on the remarkable challenges of finishing the peaceful integration of Europe, new membership in the EU, the Euro, and a constitutional convention. But as John Lennon once said, "life is what happens to us while we're making other plans." Global terrorists are not waiting for our European allies to compete their domestic work before planning their next attacks and it's not enough for Europe to rely upon the military might of America to ensure its own safety. It's tune for Europe to take more of its own responsibility. The new NATO rapid response force, authorized at last year's Prague summit, is a start in a better direction. But it is only a first step. A deeper commitment and more money must follow.
As I said a few moments ago, we have heard the European complaints that NATO has been ignored by the United States. But now President Bush has come to NATO and asked for the alliance to help in disarming Iraq. While we are very grateful that most member nations have responded positively, two of our closest and most important allies, France and Germany, have resisted NATO requests and taskings. That hurts. The NATO alliance itself made possible the historic reconciliation between Germany and France. I would hope the shared principles that led to that reconciliation would be remembered now.
In the interest of our security and our unity, I want to urgently appeal to all NATO nations to rise to help the UN and the US meet the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Thousands of years ago, Sophocles told the Greeks, "What you cannot enforce, do not command." The contemporary corollary of that axiom is: what the world through the United Nations commands, it must enforce - or the judgments of the UN will lose their force, and the world that we and you live in will grow much less secure.
Our friend Joe Joffe, editor of Die Zeit, has said with characteristic insight and edge: "We are now living through the most critical watershed of the postwar period, with enormous moral and strategic issues at stake, and the only answer many Europeans offer is to constrain and contain American power. So by default they end up on the side of Saddam, in an intellectually corrupt position."
I respectfully suggest that the nations of Europe define their positions on Iraq independently and affirmatively - not in reaction to America or its President. As you know, I am a Democrat. In fact, I'm a Democrat seeking to replace George Bush in the Oval Office. But he and I agree on the danger posed by Saddam and the need to do something soon to eliminate that danger to us, to you, and most immediately to his neighbors in the Arab world as do most other Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in the US. In fact, five years ago, after Saddam ejected the UN inspectors, John McCain and I gave up on containment and introduced the Iraqi Liberation Act, which, when it became law, made a change of regime in Baghdad official US policy. You might therefore say that, when it comes to Iraq, President Bush is just enforcing the McCain-Lieberman policy.
The facts here are stark and even more clear after Secretary Powell's chilling and convincing testimony at the UN on Wednesday. For twelve long years, Saddam has flaunted every attempt to get him to keep his promise to disarm and instead has continued building weapons of mass destruction. If we shrink from challenging his defiance, we will not only leave a ticking time bomb ticking, we will have undermined the remaining credibility of the United Nations, and further diminished the power of NATO to protect the peace of the world.
The battles against tyranny, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction, and for freedom, opportunity, and security, are the great causes of our time, and the greatest alliance of all time must lead the way in winning those battles. ...
"The history of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of freedom," wrote the great German philosopher Hegel, when kings ruled Europe and empire-building ordered the world. In our time, freedom's consciousness defeated fascism and destroyed a global empire of tyranny. Today, the free people of Europe and America turn our attention to lands where freedom's absence not only offends our values, but imperils our security. Freedom's defense now calls us to act against global terrorism and rogue states that build weapons of mass terror. Our response to challenges and opportunities beyond the borders of NATO will determine whether the Atlantic Alliance, the greatest political-military alliance in the history of mankind, which forged the longest era of secure peace in Europe's history and bound the world's leading powers in the active defense of freedom, will continue to do so. ...
As for NATO's near-term agenda, in addition to close cooperation in the war on terrorism and common defense of member states in the event of war with Iraq, I believe the United States should welcome the transformation of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan into a NATO operation to secure Afghanistan's democratic future. NATO could also play a central role in the security and reconstruction of a free Iraq. ...
Iraq is the test that will determine whether the United States and Europe can rely on the founding charters of NATO and the UN Security Council to protect their most fundamental security interests - or whether we have entered an age in which security is pursued by other means. Should great powers determine that multilateral institutions such as NATO and the Security Council cannot protect their interests when they are imperiled, countries will increasingly be tempted to go it alone rather than relying on international institutions that shrink from their mission of upholding international security. The United States might succeed in such an environment, though I hate to contemplate it, but many nations, including many in Europe, will not.
The NATO alliance is strong, but the world in which it operates is fundamentally dangerous, insecure, and chaotic. Existential threats of a new order create pressures on member states that test their character and their commitment to an alliance that requires much of its members. An alliance with a proud history of uniting in the common defense, and standing down the greatest threat to Western civilization in the modern era, cannot have a future worthy of its past if such threats are seen as things to be managed with an eye to process rather than confronted with a determination to meet evil at its source; and if Alliance decision-making on matters of war and peace is determined more by narrow calculations of domestic and European politics than by transcendent security interests of trans-Atlantic partners.
I do not direct this criticism only at European nations. Many Americans were deeply moved when, only hours after the September 11th attacks, NATO defined itself for the new age by invoking Article Five of its charter for the first time in its history, claiming the defense of American security, American liberty, their shared responsibility with us. In that moment, I, like many of my countrymen, felt a pride and gratitude for our alliance that felt very much like patriotism, not of blood and soil, but love for a kinship of ideals. And, I, for one, regret that the United States did not respond, as openly as we should have, to the Alliance's historic offer of support in our time of need.
But NATO's enduring success will depend on more than a reverence that becomes nostalgia for our friendship, and our past triumphs together. It will require us all to appreciate today, just as much as we did in the Cold War and in the weeks following September 11th, the nature of the threat to our shared interests and values, and how our common defense against it is the paramount obligation of our governments. And it is in keeping with that recognition, as well as my reverence for our friendship, that I speak bluntly today, and with perhaps less tact than a skilled diplomat. And if it seems I've come to pick a fight, please understand that I don't fight to alienate old friends, but to demonstrate that Americans believe in this Alliance, believe it is worth fighting for, and that our friendship can not only endure candid disagreements from time to time, but require our honesty to thrive. I hope it will be accepted in that spirit.
The French and German objection, for reasons of calculated self-interest - a very flawed calculation, I fear - to a routine American request to the North Atlantic Council to upgrade Turkey's defenses against the military threat from Iraq was a terrible injury to an Alliance that has served their broader interests well. For nearly three weeks, the United States, with fourteen of our eighteen European allies in the North Atlantic Council, has supported this necessary action, but has confronted a new unilateralism conceived in Paris and Berlin, a unilateralism that exposed the sneering in those capitals about the impulsive cowboy in the White House for the vacuous posturing and obvious misdirection it is. Whatever NATO decides, Franco-German unilateralism will have a lasting impact on trans-Atlantic security calculations. If this minority French-German obstruction is not overcome by NATO's deadline of Monday, France and Germany will have to answer to those who argue that Iraq could be to NATO what Abyssinia was to the League of Nations.
The United Nations Security Council risks that same fate should it not hold Iraq to account for its defiance. Patient American and British diplomacy at the UN delivered a unanimous vote in favor of Council Resolution 1441. France played a key role in negotiating the resolution and knew what they were voting for; Germany was fully aware1 of the debate as it prepared to assume the Council presidency in January. Americans, and many Europeans, were therefore astonished when France and Germany announced in advance of further consideration of the problem of Iraq that under no circumstances would they support enforcing the resolution's terms against Iraq.
Recent actions by Paris and Berlin in the most important international fora - the Security Council, the North Atlantic Council, and the European Union - raise serious doubts among nations on both sides of the Atlantic about their commitment to multilateral diplomacy and cause real damage to those institutions. The behavior of France and Germany has set back European unity and created a divided front that makes Iraq's peaceful disarmament less likely. Nations across Europe that have recently expressed a different view of multilateral obligations, including some of our oldest allies and our newest friends, expose the myth that France and Germany speak for Europe.
Those who deign to speak for Europe, notwithstanding the objections of elected governments across Europe, confuse consensus with effectiveness and appear to give priority to achieving a lowest-common-denominator result that preserves the illusion of unity at the expense of action to protect our security. Many Americans who support the historic project of European integration worry that rather than enhancing Europe's power in the world, the rush to integrate, and a cynical desire to define differences with America rather than meet common challenges together, reduces Europe's influence by turning the attention of European leaders inward, away from grave challenges to European security itself, and channeling their hostility toward the United States rather than our common enemies.
Foreign Minister Fischer recently warned against "primitive anti-Americanism." I thank and commend him for his statement. But I am concerned, we should all be concerned, not only with the "primitive" anti-Americanism of the street that resents America's successes, exults in our misfortunes, and ascribes to us motives that one must be a fool or delusional to believe. We should also be concerned with the "sophisticated" anti-Americanism, or perhaps more aptly, the "cynical" anti-Americanism of political leaders who exploit for their own ends the disinformed, "primitive" hostility to America voiced in some quarters of their societies; to further their ambitions to govern or to inflate perceptions of their international influence.
Just as some Arab governments fuel anti-American sentiment among their people to divert them from problems at home, so a distinct minority of Western European leaders appears to engage in America-bashing to rally their people and other European elites to the call of European unity. Some European politicians speak of pressure from their "street" for peaceful solutions to international conflict and for resisting American power regardless of its purpose. But statements emanating from Europe that seem to endorse pacifism in the face of evil, and anti-Semitic recidivism in some quarters, provoke an equal and opposite reaction in America.
There is an American "street," too, and it strongly supports disarming Iraq, accepts the necessity of an expansive American role in the world to ensure we never wake up to another September 11th, is perplexed that nations with whom we have long enjoyed common cause do not share our urgency and sense of threat in time of war, and that considers reflexive hostility toward Israel as the root of all problems in the Middle East as irrational as it is morally offensive.
The legacy of the German election campaign last fall has complicated and harmed US-German relations. Millions of Americans have been stationed in Germany over the course of six decades, creating the kind of abiding friendship our people share with few other countries. Many of us, Americans and Germans, have trouble understanding why a German chancellor would seek re-election on a platform reduced to criticism of the United States, assailing a friendship so many Americans and Germans have sworn to protect, and from which so many Americans and Europeans have benefited. That said, we are still friends. And I am confident we can act together to build on the long history of alliance between our nations to build an even stronger friendship. I believe many Americans will put this issue behind them if Germany meets its responsibilities in NATO and the Security Council on the matter of Iraq.
History teaches that hard choices deferred - appeasing Hitler, choosing not to deter Saddam Hussein in 1990, failing to act sooner against al Qaeda - often bring about the very circumstances we wished to avoid by deferring action, requiring us to react in freedom's defense.
The government of Saddam Hussein is a clear and present danger to the civilized world and the values that unite our people. His moral code is so perverse that he has gassed his own people. He has attacked five of his neighbors. His will to power has so affected his judgment that he has started two major wars and lost them, each time imperilling his own grip on power. He is the worst kind of modern-day tyrant - a conscienceless murderer who aspires to omnipotence and who has repeatedly committed irrational acts since seizing power. Given this reality, containment and deterrence and international inspections are unlikely to work any better than did the Maginot Line 63 years ago. Containment has failed. Deterrence has failed. As long as Saddam remains in power, he will deceive, bribe, intimidate and attack his way out of any containment scheme.
The evidence of his deceit and defiance is overwhelming, as Secretary Powell, in his statement before the Security Council, a statement that exposed the folly of further accommodation, irrefutably made clear. Saddam Hussein has developed stocks of germs and toxins in sufficient quantities to kill many millions of people in the most horrible of ways, and has placed weapons laden with these poisons on alert to fire at his neighbors within minutes. He develops nuclear weapons with which he would hold his neighbors and us hostage. Failure to end the danger posed by Saddam Hussein's Iraq makes it more likely that the interaction we know to have occurred between members of al Qaeda and Saddam's regime may increasingly take the form of active cooperation to target the United States and Europe with weapons whose use threatens civilization itself.
Saddam Hussein has unrepentantly violated 17 UN Security Council resolutions, defying the will of the international community so consistently, so compulsively, so completely that no leader who professes allegiance to the values the United Nations was formed to uphold can sanction his audacity. He has had twelve years to meet his basic obligations the world, as demanded by the Security Council in April 1991, when it gave Iraq 15 days to fully declare and disarm its weapons of mass destruction.
It is Saddam Hussein who puts his own regime at risk by developing these weapons. The burden is not on the United States, or Britain, or the Security Council, to justify going to war. The burden is Saddam Hussein's, to justify why his regime should continue to exist as long as its continuing existence threatens the world. What could possibly constitute weaker statesmanship than to persist in believing that Saddam Hussein's defiance of every Security Council mandate can somehow be met with accommodation because, as the French foreign minister has said, "Nothing justifies envisaging military action." At a minimum, such a declaration represents a counterproductive signal to a regime that we are trying to compel into disarmament, reminding us all of Churchill's admonition against feeding the crocodile in the hope that it will eat you last.
Our regional allies who oppose using force against Saddam Hussein warn of uncontrollable popular hostility to an allied attack on Iraq. But what would really be the effect on Arab populations of seeing other Arabs liberated from oppression? Far from fighting to the last Iraqi, the people of that tortured society will surely dance on the regime's grave. Perhaps that is what truly concerns some of our Arab allies: that among the consequences of regime change in Iraq might be a stronger demand for self-determination from their own people.
At the end of the day, we will not wage this war alone. It is revealing that shortly after Secretary Powell finished his presentation before the Security Council, ten new allies in Central and Eastern Europe declared that Saddam Hussein's regime requires a united response from the community of democracies. Many nations are threatened by Saddam Hussein's rule; few have rejected Hans Blix's contention that Iraq has not made a strategic decision to disarm; and many nations have a stake in the new order that will be built atop the ruins of Saddam Hussein's fascist state. Together with our allies, we should help the liberated Iraqi people embrace universal political values that NATO was organized to defend, which would constitute real progress toward a new Middle East, in which Israel and a Palestinian democracy enjoy the peace of free people, and citizens across the region have a genuine voice in the way they are governed.
We should not stop there. North Korea and Iraq present different faces of the same danger. Today, North Korea poses a greater danger than Iraq, and confronting it presents a more difficult challenge. That is all the more reason to take whatever action necessary to prevent Saddam Hussein from becoming a threat of equal magnitude, and just as difficult to confront.
The use of military force to defend vital national security interests must always be the option of last resort. Certainly it is in the crisis between Pyongyang and the world. The United States should lead the Security Council to sanction North Korea for its defiance, and provide another opportunity for multilateral diplomacy to address a clear breach of international peace and security by requiring North Korea to meet its commitments to the world. But if we fail to achieve the international cooperation necessary to ending this threat, particularly from Beijing, then North Korea and other countries in the region should know with certainty that while they may risk their own populations, the United States will do whatever it must to guarantee the security of the American people.
In this age, liberating oppressed peoples from the tyranny of those who would do us harm serves not only narrow national interests, but the ordered progress of freedom - the force that drives history, as Hegel said. The global success of liberty is our greatest strategic interest as well as our most compelling moral argument. All our other interests are served in that cause.
As the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, and Portugal have written, "The real bond between the United States and Europe is the values we share.... These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the United States of America. Today they are under greater threat than ever.... Today more than ever, the transatlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom." Let that continue to be our creed in the uncertain years ahead, confident that we are stronger together than apart, that our values ennoble our common defense of them, and that we can, together, make this a safer, freer, better world. It's worth fighting for.
V. 'North Korea Is Not a Regional Problem': Toshimiti Motegi, Japanese Senior Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, February 8
I am greatly honored to be the first Japanese political representative to speak at this Munich Conference on Security Policy. The time when this conference is held every year is also the time when the budget for the next fiscal year is being deliberated in Japan's Diet, therefore Japan's political leaders could not participate in the past. I hope that, following my attendance this time, Japan's participation in this conference at a political level will become active from now on. I decided to visit Europe at this important time on the Japanese political calendar because the global security order is entering a very critical phase, primarily because of the problems of Iraq and North Korea. Prior to this meeting, I held talks in Vienna with IAEA Director-General Mohamed El Baradei and UNMOVIC Executive Chairman Hans Blix and also visited France, the UK, and Germany.
The discussions centered on the Iraq problem. The Iraq problem may have started with a classic war of invasion. However, when it was linked with the "new threats" such as proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and terrorism, it came to represent the challenges facing the global security order in the post-cold-war era. The problem of North Korea, a country located next to us, has its roots in the cold-war legacy of a divided state, but it does have a similar character in posing the threat of WMDs proliferation.
I understand that this conference has engaged in extensive discussions on the evolution of the security environment in the post-cold-war era. The threats that we are facing today are diversifying and becoming increasingly global in character. The challenge for us is to develop globally comprehensive approaches against this diversifying threat. Unfortunately, the Iraq and North Korea problems will probably not be the last challenges to the international community. However, whether we are able to build an effective mechanism of international cooperation to deal with these problems will be a touchstone for the future of the global security. ...
More than a decade has passed since the Gulf War, an event that marked the changes in the security environment after the cold war. However, Iraq has continued to be a threat to the international community. The problem of Iraq's development of WMDs has been recognized once again as a serious threat to the international community, together with the recognition of the heightened risk of terrorists' acquiring WMDs.
Resolution of Iraq problem is crucially important to the peace and stability of the Gulf region and the Middle East as a whole, and Japan has a keen interest in it. I believe that the basic structure of the problem is "the international community" on one hand and "an Iraq with WMDs" on the other. Under this basic understanding, we should search for a solution through international cooperation. The root of the problem lies in Iraq's non-compliance with the UN Security Council Resolutions concerning the problem of WMDs. In this regard, Iraq's substantive cooperation with the inspections has been inadequate.
[The] Security Council's debate on the Iraq problem is reaching a critical phase. Japan appreciates the comprehensive presentation by US Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on February 5th. Japan will cooperate and act even more closely with the international community, and strongly calls upon Iraq, to proactively address the unsolved issues, and comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions.
The problem of the Korean Peninsula poses a threat to the peace and stability of the Northeast Asia, including neighboring Japan and South Korea, and in turn, of the international community as a whole. Last September Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi visited Pyongyang and held talks with Kim Jong II, the chairman of North Korea's National Defense Commission. The two leaders signed the Japan-DPRK Pyongyang Declaration, and there was some progress toward the solution of the problems between Japan and North Korea. After that, however, the problem of North Korea's nuclear development, particularly its enriched uranium program, again emerged as a serious concern. Despite unanimous calls by the international community, since December 20 North Korea has successively lifted its freeze on nuclear-related facilities which was based on the 1994 Agreed Framework. On January 10 it announced its withdrawal from the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Depending on further developments, this matter could be reported by the IAEA to the UN Security Council.
It appears that North Korea is adopting a brinkmanship, demanding negotiations with the United States and the conclusion of a non-aggression pact, in order to maintain the Kim regime. I believe, however, that the problem of North Korea is not a problem between the United States and North Korea but a problem of the international community as a whole. Therefore, the international community should make coordinated response to North Korea. Japan is intensifying its approach to North Korea, while maintaining close consultations with Republic of Korea and the United States, and in cooperation with such countries as Russia and China. We are prepared to make further efforts toward a peaceful solution by making North Korea understand the situation seriously and letting it take prompt and concrete actions to dismantle its nuclear weapons development program.
For the representatives of European countries gathered here, I would like to emphasize that the problem of North Korea is not a regional problem of Far East Asia. It is a problem of the WMDs proliferation and therefore a problem of the international community as a whole. ...
Since these unique conferences were launched in 1962, Wehrkunde has been seen as a barometer for the state of transatlantic relations. If the mood here is positive, everything is rosy on both sides of the ocean. If Europeans and Americans are squabbling here, then expect squalls, gales or hurricanes in the Atlantic.
A seductive analysis. But it is often wrong. Take last year. Following the horror of September 11, we were in the middle of a flood of speculation about NATO's future. Critics were condemning the Alliance to irrelevance or disintegration. It needed to transform to deal with radically changed 21st century security challenges. But it could not, and would not, succeed in doing so. That was the emerging new consensus.
Now fast forward through 2002. A whistle stop tour to Reykjavik, Rome, Prague, Brussels and Copenhagen. First, at Reykjavik in May, NATO's Foreign Ministers put an end to 15 years of debilitating theological disputation on whether or not NATO could act "out of area". You all know the issues. 9/11 made them irrelevant.
At Reykjavik, nations recognised that the world had changed and gave the Alliance a formal tasking to confront threats to our security from wherever they may come. Step one towards a new NATO. Step two came only days later and was far more eye-catching. Outside Rome, 19 NATO Presidents and Prime Ministers met President Putin to together inaugurate a NATO-Russia Council. This truly historic spectacle of former adversaries working to unite, not divide, a continent brought down the final curtain on the Cold War. It produced a new chemistry of equal partnership "at 20". It provided clear evidence that NATO was capable of stimulating and embracing profound change.
Next stop, Prague in November. An Enlargement Summit which became the Transformation Summit. At Prague, we launched the biggest round of enlargement in NATO's history. Another historic decision that was good for the invitees, good for NATO and good for Europe. We set NATO at the centre of collective military planning and preparations to meet future terrorist attacks. We agreed a package of military modernisation measures that will underpin NATO's credibility as a military alliance and narrow the transatlantic capabilities gap we heard so much about last year. And we radically reformed NATO's political structures. As Secretary General, I have to be an optimist and an advocate. But as a European and an Atlanticist, I was genuinely delighted by the outcome of Prague. Nineteen nations together designed a new NATO for a new post 9/11 century. A uniquely flexible vehicle for transatlantic consultation and multilateral cooperation. The world's largest permanent coalition. The world's most effective military organisation.
That was the consensus agreed at Prague. When the British Guardian newspaper, not one of the Alliance's most enthusiastic advocates, runs an article under the by-line "Peace, Love and NATO" next to a cartoon of John Lennon wearing glasses emblazoned with the NATO star, you know that some things are going well.
And 2002 got better still. In December, we started to make better use of NATO's multinational machinery by helping Germany and the Netherlands prepare to take over the next ISAF deployment in Kabul. Then in the middle of December, in parallel meetings in Brussels and Copenhagen, NATO and the EU at last broke the logjam on Berlin Plus, the mechanism for practical defence cooperation between the two organisations.
As with the NATO-Russia Council earlier in the year, this agreement transformed the chemistry in the NATO-EU strategic relationship, which can now be developed to the profound benefit of all NATO and EU members. We are already seeing this as we work together on possible EU follow-on missions in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1 and Bosnia, a joint strategy for the Balkans as a whole, and wider cooperation in other important fields.
So back at Wehrkunde, a year on, is there a new transatlantic consensus? In my view, yes there is. This consensus is based upon a common understanding of the risks and challenges now faced by Europe and North America. It reflects a common agreement on the mechanisms needed to deal with these risks and challenges, and in particular the role of NATO, its strategic partnership with the EU and its new cooperative friendship with Russia. And this consensus has forged an effective tool for cooperation and consultation in the transformed post-Prague Alliance.
Does that mean that all is sweetness and light? Of course not. First of all, NATO and its members have a difficult and demanding agenda ahead to deliver all the packages agreed at Prague. I am especially determined to keep Defence Ministers' feet to the fire on the Prague Capabilities Commitments, which are fundamental to NATO's effectiveness and credibility. In parallel, we must complete our links with the EU. NATO is responsible for ensuring stability and security in the Balkans. But in the improving climate on the ground, individual operations such as FYROM and Bosnia no longer necessarily need the full weight of the Alliance. Thirdly, the international community must confront the post-conflict challenge in Afghanistan. Our governments have yet to show convincingly that they are as committed to building a stable, peaceful and free Afghanistan as they are in Bosnia, Kosovo or the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. ... My personal view is that NATO can play a bigger part in the international effort in Afghanistan. The Balkans experience offers a number of possible models. But the bottom line is that having invested so much in NATO's multinational machinery, it must be right to use it when and where that makes political and military sense. Especially where there seems increasingly to be no credible alternative.
And so to Iraq. This year's cause celebre for the transatlantic doomsayers. Their emerging consensus for 2003 is that the transatlantic family cannot and will not agree on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein or on how to deal with it. Their conclusion is that NATO, the EU and the UN are being fundamentally damaged as a result.
I disagree. Similarly gloomy conclusions were drawn at various stages during Desert Storm, Bosnia and Kosovo. They all proved to be wrong. I am confident that the same will be true this time around.
Of course, there are strong and honourable differences of opinion within NATO, the EU and the UN. But they are essentially about means not ends, tactics not strategy. There is an extraordinary degree of international consensus about the threat posed by Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the urgent need to disarm him. This consensus is enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 1441, a remarkably tough demand by the whole international community that Saddam prove to the world his claims to have disarmed already. This same consensus underpins the NATO statement at Prague committing its members to take effective action to assist and support UN efforts to ensure full and effective Iraqi compliance with 1441.
Not a bad basis for a new transatlantic consensus. However, as in previous post-Cold War crises, we are now engaged in the necessary, but sometimes painful, process of deciding how to translate agreement on ends into agreement on how best to achieve them. This makes good political theatre but it does not amount to a fundamental transatlantic crisis, nor an Alliance breaker or a European Union breaker.
Take the disagreement in NATO about the proposal to begin formal planning for prudent deterrent and defensive measures to meet a possible threat to Turkey. We have not yet agreed this tasking. But there is complete agreement among all 19 NATO countries about their commitment to defend Turkey and on the substance of the planning measures. The point at issue is the timing of our tasking. Not whether to plan but when to plan. I am confident that we will reach agreement on that in the coming days. So NATO's solidarity with Turkey is not a question. The Washington Treaty imposes responsibilities on all NATO members. I have no doubt that these responsibilities will be met. I do not underestimate the importance of current debates and disagreements on Iraq. Especially if we cannot reach agreement among ourselves in the coming days. I do disagree, profoundly, that they undermine the new transatlantic consensus which I set out earlier.
If I thought that the transatlantic family was so fragile that it could not weather the current storms, then I would be pessimistic indeed, not only about NATO's future but about the whole multilateral framework in Europe and North America. Instead, I am even more optimistic this year than last year about NATO, ESDP and Euro-Atlantic security as a whole. In 2002, the Alliance demonstrated that it was able to transform quickly and effectively to be able to meet its members' fundamental security needs in a radically changed security environment. In so doing, it answered those critics who said that it was doomed to irrelevance. In 2003, I am equally certain that the new transatlantic consensus forged in this process of transformation will prove as robust as its predecessors in meeting the challenges of this new century.
I therefore look forward to hearing a different set of reasons to be gloomy when you meet again next year.
... It's a particular pleasure to be back in Europe! I'm told that when I used the phase "old Europe" the other day, it caused a bit of a stir. I don't quite understand what the fuss is about. As I said at the time - at my age, I consider "old" a term of endearment. Like an old friend. As a matter of fact, you mentioned, I forget quite how you said I say things, but I'm told one of the German newspapers referenced the fact that my ancestors came from northern Germany and that it is an area known for plain, straight talk. ...
When the President appointed me Ambassador to NATO in the early 1970s, it was a defining moment in my life. I worked closely with dedicated and highly skilled diplomats such as Andre de Starke, the former dean of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, my close friend Francois de Rose, then the French Ambassador to NATO, Franz Krapf from the Federal Republic of Germany, and so many other very talented diplomats. None of us could have imagined then that NATO leaders would one day meet in Prague, where they would invite Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania to become members of the Atlantic Alliance. It is remarkable how Europe has changed just over the course of my lifetime. Thanks to NATO's efforts, the center of Europe has indeed shifted eastward - and our Alliance is stronger for it.
Not only is the map of Europe being transformed, but so too is the map of the world. Out of the tragedy of September 11th came great responsibilities to be sure, but also unprecedented opportunities - to tear down calcified barriers left over from earlier eras and build new relationships with countries that would have been unimaginable just a few short years ago. And that is precisely what we have been doing in the global war on terror. Our coalition for the global war on terror today includes some 90 nations - almost half the world. It is the largest coalition in human history. We are fighting alongside old allies and new friends alike. (Whoops - there's that word "old" again.) Some are involved in the military effort in Afghanistan. Others are helping elsewhere in the world - in Asia, the Gulf, the Horn of Africa. Some are helping with stability operations; still others are providing basing, re-fueling, over-flight, and intelligence. Some are not participating in the military effort but are helping in the financial, diplomatic and law enforcement efforts. All of these are important and deeply appreciated by all nations committed to the global war on terrorism.
As to Iraq, we still hope that force may not be necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein. If it comes to that; however, we already know that the same will hold true - some countries will participate, while others may choose not to. The strength of our coalition is that we do not expect every member to be a party of every undertaking. The support that has already been pledged to disarm Iraq, here in Europe and across the world, is impressive and it's growing. A large number of nations have already said they will be with us in a coalition of the willing - and more are stepping up each day.
Last week, the leaders of Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, issued a courageous statement declaring that "the Iraqi regime and its weapons of mass destruction represent a clear threat to world security," and pledging that they would "remain united in insisting that his regime be disarmed." Their statement was followed this week by an equally bold declaration by the "Vilnius 10" - Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania, Albania, Croatia and Macedonia. They declared: "Our countries understand the dangers posed by tyranny and the special responsibility of democracies to defend shared values... We are prepared to contribute to an international coalition to enforce [UNSC resolution 1441] and the disarmament of Iraq." Clearly, momentum is building - momentum that sends a critically important message to the Iraqi regime - about the seriousness of purpose and the world's determination that Iraq disarm. Let me be clear: no one wants war. No, war is never a first or an easy choice. But the risks of war to be balanced against the risks of doing nothing while Iraq pursues the tools of mass destruction.
It may be difficult for some to fully understand just how fundamentally September 11th transformed our country. Americans saw the attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Towers as a painful and vivid foreshadowing of far more deadly attacks to come. We looked at the destruction caused by the terrorists, who took jetliners, turned them into missiles, and used them to kill 3,000 innocent men, women and children - and we considered the destruction that could be caused by an adversary armed with nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Instead of 3,000 to be killed, it could be 30,000, 300,000.
Konrad Adenauer once said that "history is the sum total of things that could have been avoided." With history, we have the advantage of hindsight. But we must use that advantage to learn. Our challenge today is even more difficult. It is to try to connect the dots before the fact - to prevent an attack before it happens - not to wait and then hope to try to pick up the pieces after it happens. To do so, we must come to terms with a fundamental truth - we have reached a point in history when the margin for error that we once enjoyed is gone. In the 20th century, we, all of us here, were dealing, for the most part, with conventional weapons that could kill hundreds or thousands of people. If we miscalculated - or underestimated or ignored a threat - it could absorb an attack, recover, take a deep breath, mobilize, and go and defeat an attacker. In the 21st century, that's not the case; the cost of underestimating the threat is unthinkable.
There is a momentous fact of life that we must come to terms with and it is the nexus between weapons of mass destruction, terrorist states and terrorist networks. On September 11th, terrorist states discovered that missiles are not the only way to strike Washington - or Paris, or Berlin or Rome or any of our capitals. There are other means of delivery - terrorist networks. To the extent a terrorist state transfers weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups, they could conceal their responsibility for an attack. To this day, we still do not know with certainty who was behind the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. We still do not know who was responsible for the anthrax attacks in the United States. The nature of terrorist attacks is that it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to identify those responsible. And a terrorist state that can conceal its responsibility for an attack certainly would not be deterred.
We are all vulnerable to these threats. As President Bush said in Berlin, "Those who despise human freedom will attack it on every continent." We need only to look at the recent terrorist bombings in Kenya or Bali, or the poison cells that have recently been uncovered and disclosed here in Europe, to see that is the case. Last week, President Bush spoke to the world about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. This week, Secretary Powell presented additional information in the Security Council:
He presented not opinions, not conjecture, but facts demonstrating:
It is difficult to believe there still could be question in the minds of reasonable people open to the facts before them. The threat is there to see. And if the worst were to happen - and if we had done nothing to stop it - not one of us here today could honestly say that it was a surprise. It will not be a surprise. We are on notice, each of our nations, each of us individually. Really the only question is: what will we do about it?We all hope for a peaceful solution. But the one chance for a peaceful solution is to make clear that free nations are prepared to use force if necessary - that the world is united and, while reluctant, is willing to act.
There are those who counsel that we should delay preparations. Ironically, that approach could well make war more likely, not less likely - because delaying preparations sends a signal of uncertainty, instead of a signal of resolve. If the international community once again shows a lack of resolve, there is no chance that Saddam Hussein will disarm voluntarily or flee his country - and thus little chance of a peaceful outcome.
There is another reason to prepare now: NATO member nations have an Article V commitment to defend Turkey, should it come under attack by Iraq. Those preventing the Alliance from taking even minimum measures to prepare to do so, risk undermining the credibility of the NATO Alliance.
The stakes are high. Iraq is now defying the 17th UN Security Council resolution. The Council voted to warn Iraq that this was its "final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations." Quote, unquote. The resolution, which passed unanimously, did not say the "next to final opportunity." It said the "final opportunity." And those who voted for it, and they voted unanimously, knew what it said. They were explicitly reminded what it said. The question is did the UN mean it? Did they mean it? We will soon know. Seventeen times the United Nations has drawn a line in the sand - and 17 times Saddam Hussein has crossed that line. As last week's statement by the eight European leaders so eloquently put it, quote: "If [those resolutions] are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result."
Let me add these sad thoughts about the state of the United Nations. An institution that, with the support and acquiescence of many of the nations represented in this room, that would permit Iraq, a terrorist state that refuses to disarm, to become soon the chair of the United Nations Commission on Disarmament [note: the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva], and which recently elected Libya - a terrorist state - to chair the United Nations Commission on Human Rights of all things, seems not to be even struggling to regain credibility. That these acts of irresponsibility could happen now, at this moment in history, is breathtaking. Those acts will be marked in the history of the UN as either the low point of that institution in retreat, or the turning point when the UN woke up, took hold of itself, and moved away from a path of ridicule to a path of responsibility.
To understand what is at stake, it is worth reminding ourselves of the history of the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations. When the League failed to act after the invasion of Abyssinia, it was discredited as an instrument of peace. It was discredited properly. The lesson of that experience was best summed up at the time by Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who declared: "Collective bluffing cannot bring about collective security." That lesson is as true today, at the start of the 21st century, as it was in the 20th century. The question before us is - have we learned it?
There are moments in history when the judgment and the resolve of free nations are put to the test. This is such a moment. The security environment we are entering is the most dangerous the world has seen. The lives of our children and grandchildren could well hang in the balance. When they look back at this period, what will they say of us? Have we properly recognized the seriousness of the threat, the nexus between weapons of mass destruction, terrorist states and terrorist networks? Will they say we stood still - paralyzed by a straightjacket of indecision and 20th century thinking - while dangers gathered? Or will they say that we recognized the coming danger, united, and took action before it was too late?
The coming days and weeks will tell.
© 2003 The Acronym Institute.