Security Cooperation in a Post 9-11 World

Richard L. Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State
Remarks at the Defense Security Cooperation Agency Conference
Alexandria, Virginia, October 17, 2002

Thank you very much, General Walters. Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. That was a kind introduction, I'm very much in your debt, sir. I am in your debt as well for your superb leadership at DSCA, and for the spirit of partnership that has characterized your work. It has certainly characterized your work with our Department of State and particularly our Assistant Secretary for Political Military Affairs, Linc Bloomfield.

General Walters, as you suggested in your introduction, I am no particular stranger to security cooperation. In fact, as we were discussing out in the hall, I am starting to feel my age -- I go back to the days of Howie Fish. I don t know how many of you remember General Fish. [inaudible] and Jim Ahmann, Phil Gast and Charlie Brown, [inaudible] and Glenn Rudd. People like Herb Morris [inaudible]. I must say, pulling those names out of the back my mind today is an exercise in making people guess my age.

I suspect, sir, however, that the business has changed somewhat since I served as Assistant Secretary of Defense. If nothing else, your agency has gone through several name changes. But some things don t really change. International cooperation has long been the cornerstone to our security architecture and that has rarely been more apparent than in this post 9-11 world.

The Department of State, of course, is in the business of international cooperation. That s our stock in trade. Today, we need the specialized skills and well-honed talents of our workforce not just in order to engage in statecraft, but also to play a more direct role in facing the immediate and urgent threats to our security. Because if we are to prevail in the war against terrorism and in disarming or if necessary, destroying the regime in Iraq, we will, as a nation, find it necessary to rely on collaboration with other nations. So there can be little question that the Department of State is playing a central role in safeguarding our immediate interests and there should be no question that the Department of State is up to playing such a part. That means our people must have the training and the tools they need to face these 21st century challenges, which is why Secretary Powell and I have made management reform a top priority. And that includes the area that concern all of you most directly, our administration of the defense trade.

As I suggested, we would not be gaining ground in the war against terrorism without effective multilateral collaboration. After all, this war had international implications from the outset. Consider that al-Qaida, the network of al-Qaida, had active cells hidden in the dark corners of some 60 countries and that the citizens of more than 90 nations perished on September 11th. It is fitting, then, that we swiftly saw an international agenda for countering terrorism and this agenda was unprecedented in its scope and in its scale. In the days after the attacks on 9/11, the Department of State was instrumental in coordinating this concerted response. At the highest levels of statecraft, this led to the most comprehensive anti-terrorism measure ever adopted by the United Nations, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373, as well as similar conventions and measures from a full range of regional organizations, from the OAS to ASEAN.

But we also used our diplomatic muscle to pull together an extensive coalition to implement the letter and spirit of this resolution. Indeed, most nations in the world continue to contribute something to this war consistent with their capabilities. Many nations are receiving some kind of assistance, according to their needs.

More than 180 nations are part of the coalition to fight terrorism. 25 nations are engaged in military operations and 132 have signed the International Convention To Suppress Terrorism Financing. 136 have contributed some other concrete assistance, running the gamut from humanitarian supplies to the use of airspace and base access rights.

This international cooperation has produced many victories. Some are well known, but most are more discreet and nearly daily. Of course, we also continue to face challenges, as we were reminded by the killing of a US Marine in Kuwait and the horrific bombing in Bali over the weekend, which cost so many of our Australian friends their youth. So many families were devastated by that horrible attack. I think it is obvious that this is not going to be an easy fight. It will take time and determination to prevail but we should not allow the recent violence to detract from our overall and ongoing success in this war.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, I realize it is somewhat reassuring to talk about armies clashing in decisive battles, where there are clear winners and losers, but what we are engaged in today is no less effective and far less lethal for our own forces. Beyond just routing the Taliban and al-Qaida out of Afghanistan, we are actually building the permanent capacity to counter terrorism all around the world. So this means not just freezing and seizing financial assets, but giving our partners in other nations the tools and skills to permanently destroy and disrupt the money trails that keep the terrorists in business. We have seen a string of high-profile arrests in dozens of nations. In recent weeks alone, we have seen the capture in Karachi by Pakistani officials of a key figure in the 9/11 attacks, the indictment in Germany of the guiding light of the Hamburg cell where Mohammad Atta finalized his plans, and the detention in Singapore of 21 more members of the Jemaah Islamiyah, who were planning attacks against American targets in southeast Asia. And who we suspect may have played a role in this recent attack in Bali. But we are also working with local law enforcement officials around the world to provide the training and the technical skills to make a long-term improvement in their ability to prevent such criminal activity in the first place.

Perhaps the most visible of our victories to date, and one of our most visible long-term investments in countering terrorism, is the redemption of Afghanistan. Don t forget that it was little more than a year ago that al-Qaida and the Taliban held such terrible sway over the lives of 23 million people, and despite ongoing unrest and ongoing challenges, that is simply no longer the case today. Today, President Karzai presides over a representative government. Roads are being built and houses reconstructed. Women are back at work and children are back in school. And in the ultimate vote of confidence, more than 2.5 million refugees have returned home from hiding places across the region, the largest refugee repatriation in modern history.

Of course, with that repatriation, it is obvious that the needs continue to be overwhelming, including for basic necessities such as food, water and shelter. And while the United States has committed significant funds, the fact is that the only hope of meeting these needs on the scale required is the collective will of the international community the international community which committed $4.5 billion to reconstruction in Afghanistan last January in Tokyo.

Such international collaboration will continue to be critical to our war against al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations, but it will also be critical to dealing with the situation in Iraq.

I don t believe I need to spend much time convincing the people in this room that Saddam Hussein and his collection of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and intentions present a clear and imminent danger, not just to the people and interests of this nation but to his neighbors and all nations. We do still have to convince our friends and allies, however, as well as a few nations that are perhaps somewhat less than friendly, and we continue these efforts daily.

Their reluctance is understandable. No one wants to go to war. But no responsible nation can afford to shrink from battles that must be fought, no matter how much we wish to avoid conflict. And this is inescapable: every day we add to the decade-long delay in disarming Iraq is one day closer to a catastrophe.

A military operation itself, going into Iraq to take out this regime, is certainly something we would be capable of handling on our own, should the President so decide. But I doubt that Saddam Hussein will go down without a fight and his sordid past suggests that he does not exactly fight fair. He has a long history of extraordinary brutality when he thinks he can get away with it. This includes the mistreatment of his own Iraqi people -- political opponents and even ordinary people have been rounded up and jailed, beaten and burnt with cigarettes or electric shocks, executed or made to disappear -- his attacks on his neighbors; and his use of chemical weapons against his enemies and on his own people. Clearly, we are going to need a coalition of like-minded nations that is today fighting together against terrorism if we are to prevent the nightmare scenarios that Iraq could visit on the world.

But consider, too, that if it does come to war, this will not be a fight that can be won solely on a battlefield. This is a fight that must also be won in the aftermath. There must be change in Iraq, but the international community needs to come together to shape and realize that change, to rebuild an Iraq with a vibrant middle class and a viable government, one that respects human dignity and the rule of law. Iraq is a nation too long in the shadow of repression and with too many fractious pieces to pull together easily or to pull together overnight. It is incumbent on us to collaborate with other nations in reaching a more stable, a more peaceful and a more prosperous Iraq. And indeed, I believe that the lines of communication and habits of collaboration we have developed in defeating al-Qaida and the Taliban, as well as in reconstructing Afghanistan, will be essential to this effort, as will the untiring work of my colleagues at the Department of State.

Now, I realize that most of you here today have extensive business with the defense and intelligence agencies, Perhaps some of you are a little less familiar with operations at the Department of State, beyond the fact that we regulate your export business. But I want to clarify that while we are very focused on building and maintaining the international effort to counter terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we are also engaged in cooling the hotspots all over the world where U.S. interests are at stake -- from Israel and Palestine to India and Pakistan, from North Korea to Colombia to Kosovo. Moreover, our routine, day-to-day business is nothing less than the construction of positive relationships with the rest of the world. As Secretary Powell puts it, our people at the Department of State are the first line of offense for our nation.

In such a world, we simply can't afford to defer basic improvements to our way of doing business. And indeed, Secretary Powell has given a great deal of attention and resources to reform. We have concentrated on adopting best business practices and improving our human capital, upgrading our facilities and our financial management, and bringing our information technologies up to 21st Century standards. We have been extraordinarily fortunate in this effort in that we have found a very willing partner in both houses of the U.S. Congress.

A key target of this agenda for modernization has been defense trade controls. I recognize that our licensing of the defense trade has attracted more than a little color commentary over the years and I suspect [inaudible]. And when he took office, Assistant Secretary Bloomfield was greeted by a tower of reports and papers recommending change. For Linc and the Secretary, that was a clear warning sign that we needed to pay some serious attention to this area.

And indeed, today, we are paying attention. The Department of State s role in defense trade controls is an important element of US foreign and security policy. At the same time, defense industrial cooperation has become increasingly complex and technologically sophisticated and it has required an increasingly skilled workforce. We have worked to improve our recruitment, our retention and our quality for life of our staff and in the process we have begun to transform the defense licensing function itself. We are making fundamental changes, and everything is on the table: our policy; our processes; our technology; and our management structure.

Many of you are aware that last week President Bush called for a comprehensive policy review of defense trade controls, and while it is premature to draw any conclusions about the result of this review, we will look at everything, and it is reasonable to expect that changes will result. I know the possibility of change pleases some people and upsets others who might prefer the status quo. But defense trade is an important element of our foreign policy and we want to be sure that our approach to defense export controls is in tune with our overall security goals. Indeed, President Bush s National Security Strategy calls on us to "transform America s national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century." That is exactly what we re going to do.

We have already been making a number of improvements in our licensing process in advance of the policy review. And I want to report to you today on some of the developments you can expect to see in the coming days and the coming months as we move forward. I also want to recognize my colleague from the Defense Department and former business partner, Assistant Secretary Linc Bloomfield's leadership, since he is the who has been charged by Secretary Powell to develop an effective defense trade licensing process, one that clearly reflects the President s foreign policy objectives.

You may be aware that Secretary Powell has made e-government a top priority. In the most general sense, this means making sure that every one of our employees has a good computer with classified and Internet access. But at a more specific level, this means that we are close to offering you fully electronic licensing for defense exports. And soon, you can expect to see the rollout of our 6-month pilot program involving industry.

While I am sure this innovation will help modernize the way we process licenses, that is not all we are doing. As most of you are doubtless well aware, on September 4th, we notified a major portion of the Joint Strike Fighter program to Congress. What some of you may not realize is that this was the first-ever use of the Global Project Authorization. While the GPA concept has been on the books since the summer of 2000, we worked very hard with our colleagues at the Department of Defense to make it a reality. What this means is that a project that would have taken 110 separate technical agreements spread out across 40 US exporters and 200 defense companies in several countries was consolidated into a single package, thanks to the spirit of cooperation exercised by so many good people at the Department of State and the Department of Defense.

We are also involved in the ongoing review of the munitions list, which is ahead-of-schedule. We've knocked out five categories already, we are about to publish two more, and we are now turning our attention to Category Eight which is aircraft and aircraft parts. While we will continue to take security and law enforcement concerns for aircraft parts exports very seriously, we plan to cut some of the red tape that is now tying up legitimate exports of aircraft parts by increasing the dollar maximum for this trade tenfold. While now any export over $500 requires a license, we are going to increase that limit to $5,000, with a limit of 12 exports per year.

All of these improvements will, of course, benefit our security cooperation with friends and with allies, but we continue to seek out other steps that will more directly benefit such collaboration, such as the possibility of bilateral ITAR exemption agreements with Australia and the United Kingdom. Both of these nations have recently made substantial progress in promoting export controls and protecting sensitive defense items and technologies and I believe our negotiations with each are close to fruition.

Finally, we are not stopping at policy and process reform. In the coming months, we also plan to update our organization and our management structure. As I noted, the defense trade has grown tremendously in recent years, both in quantity and in the level of sophistication. In turn, the Department of State has needed a growing team of well-trained people in order to meet the demand. So today, the Office of Defense Trade Controls alone has over 100 highly skilled staff, which makes it larger than some of our bureaus at the Department of State run at the Assistant Secretary level. It is fitting, therefore, that we add another high-level official to the Bureau of Political Military Affairs, after I consult with Congress. We're going to give Linc Bloomfield a total of three Deputy Assistant Secretaries in PM. This will allow Linc to put a Deputy Assistant Secretary in charge of the Office of Defense Trade Controls in the near future, raising the stature of the office so that it will be on par with its policy counterparts at DoD, the National Security Council and the Department of Commerce.

We are going to continue to pursue improvements in our process, workforce and in our management and will provide the President our best judgments on how to align defense trade controls with his foreign and defense policy. These are difficult times. We must make the most of our opportunities to improve our international cooperation.

On the 12th of September this year, President Bush presented the world with a stark choice. He said: "We must choose between a world of fear and a world of progress. We cannot stand by and do nothing while dangers gather. We must stand up for our security, and for the permanent rights and the hopes of mankind." Today, the choices are clear, if not always easy. And for the Department of State, in the end, our mission is quite simple: to continue tirelessly in our daily business of building beneficial relations with the rest of the world, of reaching together for a common vision of stability, respect for human dignity, and realized hopes for societies everywhere, and to stand up for our security wherever it is threatened in cooperation with a community of like-minded nations.

General Walters, thank you very much for your invitation to be here today. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your kindness in listening.

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