New Threats Required New Strategies, Cheney Says
Vice president addresses Los Angeles World Affairs
U.S. national security strategy shifted with the terrorist attacks
of September 11, 2001, Vice President Dick Cheney told the Los
Angeles World Affairs Council January 14.
"There are certain moments in history when the gravest threats
reveal themselves. And in those moments, the response of our government
must be swift, and it must be right," Cheney said.
Prior to the 2001 attacks, the various terrorist incidents against
the United States tended to be treated as individual criminal acts,
the vice president said. Now, he said, "we know to a certainty
that terrorists will kill as many innocent people as they possibly
can, limited only by the means at their disposal. We know ... that
they are doing everything they can to gain the ultimate weapons:
chemical, biological, radiological, and even nuclear weapons. Should
they ever acquire such weapons, they would use them without constraint
of reason or morality."
Cheney also noted that the Cold War security strategy of deterrence
and containment are no longer sufficient to meet the new threat
of terrorism. "It's hard to deter an enemy that has no territory
to defend, no standing army to counter and no real assets to destroy
in order to discourage them from attacking you," he said.
"Remembering what we saw on 9/11," Cheney said, "and knowing the
nature of these enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could
ever fall to government: We must do everything in our power to
keep terrorists from gaining weapons of mass destruction."
According to Cheney, what has come to be known as the Bush doctrine
-- any person or government that supports, protects or harbors
terrorists is complicit in the murder of the innocent, and will
be held to account -- grew from that fundamental responsibility.
The corollary is also true, according to the vice president: "Leaders
who abandon the pursuit of weapons [of mass destruction] will find
an open path to better relations with the United States of America
and other free nations."
The vice president said that the use of military force by the
United States is the last option in its defense against terrorism,
but sometimes it must be used. Being clear in intent and matching
resolutions with resolve, Cheney said, can not only remove a specific
danger but also make it more likely that other dangers can be dealt
with through diplomatic means.
Seeking enduring security, the Bush administration is committed
to "the global expansion of democracy, and the hope and progress
it brings," he said, "as the alternative to instability, hatred,
and terror." That is why, Cheney said, the United States is "pursuing
a forward strategy for freedom in the greater Middle East."
Cheney also answered questions on illegal immigration, the Kyoto
Treaty, the Middle East road map, North Korea, and the reorganization
of the U.S. military.
Following is the transcript of Cheney's remarks:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
January 14, 2004
REMARKS BY THE VICE PRESIDENT TO THE LOS ANGELES WORLD AFFAIRS
COUNCIL FOLLOWED BY BRIEF QUESTION-AND-ANSWER SESSION
The Beverly Hilton
Beverly Hills, California
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you
very much. I appreciate the warm welcome today in California and the opportunity
to be back in you great city of Los Angeles. Let me also thank Eli Broad
for his kind words, and the Los Angeles World Affairs Council for the invitation
to join all of you today.
This is a distinguished group. I see some old friends in the audience,
and I'm also pleased to spend some time with your board of directors
and your officers.
This is not my first meeting with the Los Angeles World Affairs
Council, but it has been a while. I was last here in April of 1990,
when I was Secretary of Defense, back in the days when I had a
position of real power and influence in Washington, D.C. (Laughter.)
My former job now belongs, of course, to a man some of you know
quite well, Don Rumsfeld. Don and I have a fine working relationship
these days, but things didn't start out all that smoothly. He and
I first met in the 1960s, when he was a congressman and I was a
graduate student looking for a fellowship on Capitol Hill. He agreed
to see me for an interview; 15 minutes later I found myself back
out in the hallway. Don thought I was a detached academic type,
and I thought he was a brash young politician. We were both onto
When I finished my term as secretary of defense, I had no thought
of ever becoming vice president. And even a few years ago, no one
would have bet on my joining the ticket. The odds, I suppose, were
roughly comparable to that of an action star becoming governor
of California. (Laughter.) I had a chance today to meet again with
your new governor, and my impression of him is proving correct.
I think Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fine man, a very capable executive,
and he's well suited to the job that you Californians have given
It was three years ago next Tuesday that President Bush and I
took up our own responsibilities. And next Tuesday, the president
will give his annual report on the State of the Union. Much has
happened since he addressed Congress, and we begin the new year
as a stronger, more prosperous, and more secure nation. The economy
is showing continued signs of recovery, and steady growth, higher
productivity, and expanding exports. Strong growth has also begun
to bring down the unemployment rate -- and that is a critical objective,
as well, going forward.
Our administration and Congress have also addressed other urgent
needs in domestic policy -- among them, historic Medicare reform
legislation, giving seniors coverage for prescription drugs for
the first time; and tax relief for every person who pays income
taxes; further vital actions in homeland security, reforms in the
forest management to help prevent the kind of catastrophic wildfires
you have seen here in Southern California this past year.
On a whole range of issues, President Bush has worked with members
of Congress, regardless of party, to make progress for the nation.
He believes and has shown that the only way to seize new opportunities
for reform is to get beyond some of the old debates and grievances
in Washington, D.C.
As the president has said many times, he came to office to solve
problems, not simply pass them on to future generations. And in
that spirit, his speech next week will set forth our priorities
for the new year. You can expect a full domestic agenda, and a
thorough report on the progress the nation is making in the war
The year 2003 ended with two very significant victories. The first
was the capture of Saddam Hussein by our troops in Iraq, which
provides final confirmation -- (applause) -- provides final confirmation
to the people of Iraq that they will never again have to live in
fear of Saddam Hussein. Then five days later, came the announcement
by Libya's Colonel Muammar Ghadafi that his regime would voluntarily
reveal and dismantle its nuclear and chemical weapons programs,
as well as its longer -range missiles and biological weapons-related
efforts. Each of these events was dramatic in its own way. And
each came about through the clear resolve of the United States
of America and our allies.
The undoing of Saddam's regime, and the welcome commitments from
Colonel Ghadafi, will bring greater security to the American people,
and to our friends and allies. Yet especially in moments of success,
we need to remember the long-term nature of the struggle we are
in, and the serious dangers that still exist.
On September 11, 2001, our nation made a fundamental commitment
that will take many years to see through. On that morning, we saw
the grief and the destruction that 19 terrorists could inflict
with box cutters and airline tickets. And we became aware of the
far worse harm that these terrorists intend for us. Thousands received
training in the terrorists camps in the years before the attack
of 9/11. Scattered in more than 50 nations, the al-Qaeda network
and other terrorist groups constitute an enemy unlike any other
that we have ever faced. They have attacked and killed innocent
people many times since September 11th -- in Casablanca, Riyadh,
Mombasa, Istanbul, Bali, Jerusalem, Jakarta, Najaf, and Baghdad.
And as our intelligence shows, the terrorists continue plotting
to kill on an ever-larger scale, including here in the United States.
Terrorists were at war with our country long before 2001. And
for many years, they were the ones on the offensive. They grew
bolder in their belief that if they killed Americans, they could
change American policy. In Beirut in 1983, terrorists killed 241
of our service members. Thereafter, U.S. forces withdrew from Beirut.
In Mogadishu in 1993, terrorists killed 19 American soldiers. Thereafter,
U.S. forces withdrew from Somalia. The decade of the '90s saw many
more attacks: the bombing at the World Trade Center in 1993; the
murders at the Saudi Arabian National Guard Training Center in
Riyadh in 1995; the killings at the Khobar Towers in 1996; the
simultaneous bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania
in 1998; the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, which cost the lives
of some 17 American sailors.
Over time, the terrorists came to believe that they could strike
America with relative impunity. There was, among policy makers,
a tendency to treat terror attacks as individual criminal acts,
to be handled primarily through law enforcement. Consider the example
of Ramzi Yousef, who participated in and perpetuated the first
attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. The U.S. government tracked
him down, arrested him, and got a conviction. After he was sent
to serve a 240-year sentence in a federal prison, some might have
thought, case closed. But we now know that behind that one man,
Ramzi Yousef, was a growing network with operatives inside and
outside the United States, waging war against our country. That
1993 attack was probably the first al Qaeda attack on the U.S.
Six people died in the '93 attack on the World Trade Center. Eight
years later, the casualties ran into the thousands. We know to
a certainty that terrorists will kill as many innocent people as
they possibly can, limited only by the means at their disposal.
We know, as well, from the training manuals we found in Afghanistan
and from the interrogations of terrorists we have captured that
they are doing everything they can to gain the ultimate weapons:
chemical, biological, radiological, and even nuclear weapons. Should
they ever acquire such weapons, they would use them without any
constraint of reason or morality. Instead of losing thousands of
lives, we might lose tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives
as the result of a single attack, or a set coordinated of attacks.
Remembering what we saw on 9/11, and knowing the nature of these
enemies, we have as clear a responsibility as could ever fall to
government: We must do everything in our power to keep terrorists
from gaining weapons of mass destruction.
This urgent responsibility has required, above all, a shift in
America's national security strategy. There are certain moments
in history when the gravest threats reveal themselves. And in those
moments, the response of our government must be swift, and it must
September 11th has been aptly compared to December 7, 1941 --
another day in our history that brought sudden attack, national
emergency, and the beginning of a sustained conflict. Perhaps a
closer analogy can be drawn, not to the days of Franklin Roosevelt
and World War II, but to the decisions that faced Harry Truman
at the outset of the Cold War.
Within a few years, after Germany and Japan surrendered, Truman
and his advisers saw the rise of new dangers. Imperial communism
presented a challenge of global reach, demanding a comprehensive,
long-term response on many fronts. President Truman made clear
at the outset that the United States recognized the danger, and
that -- for the sake of future generations -- we would face it
squarely. In a short time, our government created the architecture
of national security we know today: the Department of Defense,
the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Council.
To defend ourselves and free Europe, the United States helped to
found NATO. To build and strengthen new democracies, our government
led in the reconstruction of Japan, and devoted the present-day
equivalent of over $100 billion to European assistance through
the Marshall Plan. And when aggression occurred on the Korean Peninsula,
it was President Truman's decision and America's sacrifice that
saved South Korea.
All those early commitments, made by one president and carried
forward by eight of his successors, helped to bring victory in
the Cold War, and unprecedented success for the cause of freedom.
In this new century, facing new dangers, the commitments we make
will also be decisive. President Bush has recognized this from
the beginning. And by the strategy he has set for our government,
we will overcome the threats of our own time, and, as the president
has said, advance the cause of freedom and the peace that freedom
To make the United States safer from terrorist attacks, we have
created the Department of Homeland Security -- the largest reorganization
of the federal government since the Truman years, bringing together
22 agencies and more than 170,000 federal employees in one department.
In a free country, especially a vast continental democracy like
ours, there is no such thing as perfect security. But this new
department allows us to track and prevent acts of terror in a systematic
way -- analyzing threats, guarding our borders and airports, protecting
critical infrastructure, and coordinating the response of the nation
in any future emergency.
To strengthen the international battle against terrorism, the
United States is working with our allies in an enlarged NATO. The
presence of new nations in NATO surely indicates the historic turn
our time has taken. President Bush has also challenged the United
Nations to live up to its promise, to become a body that not only
passes resolutions, but enforces them. We are currently working
with the U.N. Secretary General to return U.N. teams to Iraq, and
to have them play an important role there in the months ahead.
And in Afghanistan, NATO is taking a leading role in securing peace
in that war-torn country.
Our national security strategy also recognizes that the doctrines
of deterrence and containment, which served us so well during the
Cold War, are not sufficient to meet the threat of terrorism. It's
hard to deter an enemy that has no territory to defend, no standing
army to counter, and no real assets to destroy in order to discourage
them from attacking you. Containment is meaningless in the case
of terrorists. And neither containment nor deterrence offers protection
against rogue regimes that develop weapons of mass destruction
and are willing to pass along those weapons secretly to a terrorist
on a suicide mission.
Given these realities, there can be no waiting until the danger
has fully materialized. By then it would be too late. And so we
are waging this war in the only way it can be won -- by taking
the fight directly to the enemy.
In these 28 months, we -- and our friends and allies in many countries
-- have inflicted heavy losses on al-Qaeda's leadership and foot
soldiers, tracking and finding them hiding in places from Pakistan
to Indonesia. Those not yet captured or killed live in fear, and
their fears are well-founded. We are also working with governments
on every continent to take down the financial networks that support
terror -- the hidden bank accounts, front groups, and phony charities
that have helped them function. And our government is working closely
with intelligence services all over the globe, and our own officers
continue to be engaged in some of the most perilous and sensitive
intelligence work ever carried out. This work has brought many
successes -- including the discovery of terror plots that we were
able to stop in their tracks. Americans can be grateful every day
for the skillful and the daring service of our nation's intelligence
On the very night this nation was attacked, President Bush declared
that the United States would make no distinction between terrorists
and those who support them. This principle -- it's come to be known
as the Bush doctrine -- is now understood by all: any person or
government that supports, protects, or harbors terrorists is complicit
in the murder of the innocent, and will be held to account.
The first to see its application were the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan
by violence, while turning that country into a training camp for
terror. With fine allies at our side, we took down the regime and
destroyed the al-Qaeda camps. Our work there continues. We have
13,000 soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan, as part of an international
security force that now includes 38 nations and a major role for
NATO. This force is on the hunt for the remaining Taliban and al-Qaeda
members. We are helping to train a new Afghan army, and providing
security as the new government takes shape.
On the political front, the loya jirga has now approved a constitution
that reflects the values of tolerance and equal rights for women.
Under President Karzai's leadership, and with the help of our coalition,
the Afghan people are building a decent, a just, and a democratic
society -- and a nation fully joined in the war against terror.
In Iraq, the United States and our allies rid the Iraqi people
of a murderous dictator, and rid the world of a menace to our future
peace and security. Saddam Hussein had a lengthy history of reckless
and sudden aggression. His regime cultivated ties to terror, including
the al-Qaeda network, and had built, possessed, and used weapons
of mass destruction. Year after year, the U.N. Security Council
demanded that he account for those weapons and that he comply with
all the terms of the 1991 Gulf War cease-fire. Year after year,
Against that background, the Congress of the United States voted
overwhelmingly to authorize the use of force in Iraq. The U.N.
Security Council unanimously found Iraq in material breach of its
obligations, and vowed serious consequences in the event Saddam
Hussein did not comply. When Saddam Hussein continued his defiance,
our coalition acted to deliver those serious consequences.
In the liberation of Iraq, the American military acted with speed,
with precision and with skill. And to this hour they continue their
work -- striking hard against the forces of murder and chaos, conducting
raids, countering attacks, seizing weapons and capturing killers.
Members of our active duty Armed Forces, the National Guard, and
Reserves have faced tough duty, long deployments, and the loss
of comrades. We have, today, more than 125,000 Americans serving
in Iraq. They are confronting terrorists every day in that country,
so that we do not one day meet the same enemies on the streets
of our own cities. At the same time, American and coalition forces
are treating Iraqi citizens with compassion, and showing respect
for Iraq's great culture. Our servicemen and women are demonstrating
the best qualities of the United States, and we are proud of each
and every one of them. (Applause.)
The use of military force is, for the United States, always the
last option in defending ourselves and our interests. But sometimes
the last resort must be taken. And by acting in Iraq to enforce
the just demands of the U.N. Security Council, America and our
allies not only removed one danger, but made it more likely that
other dangers can be dealt with through diplomatic means. In making
our intentions clear, and in matching resolutions with actual resolve,
we have seen and sent an unmistakable message: The pursuit of weapons
of mass destruction only invites isolation and carries other costs.
By the same token, leaders who abandon the pursuit of those weapons
will find an open path to better relations with the United States
of America and other free nations.
In the case of Libya, the announcement in December by Colonel
Ghadafi is a very significant development. Already, with the cooperation
of Libya's government, American, British, and international inspectors
have examined a sizeable lethal weapons program. In the months
to come, the inspectors will complete a full inventory, and assist
Libya in dismantling its entire WMD programs and its longer-range
missiles. As Libya keeps its pledges and cooperates fully in the
international fight against terrorism, that nation will have a
chance to rejoin the community of nations. America, Britain, and
other nations stand ready to help the Libyan people build a country
that is more prosperous and more free.
As our administration carries forward our commitment to overcoming
new dangers, we recognize that lasting security depends on more
than military power. As President Bush has said, America seeks
the "global expansion of democracy, and the hope and progress it
brings, as the alternative to instability, hatred, and terror."
Here, too, we find a lesson from history. Twice in the last century,
the United States sent armies to Europe in order to prevent the
destruction of liberty on that continent. Yet in the decades after
World War II, dangers in Europe fell away as the frontiers of democracy
advanced -- in Germany and Italy, and then behind the Iron Curtain.
The lesson is that the spread of democratic institutions is the
surest way to bring peace among nations.
That's why America today is pursuing a forward strategy for freedom
in the greater Middle East. Millions in that region have known
decades of dictatorship and theocratic rule -- resulting in misery,
bitterness, and ideologies of violence that directly threaten us.
And as the world has witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan, people
liberated from dictatorship welcome the arrival of freedom, welcome
the chance for a better life, welcome the responsibilities of governing
their own country.
By its very nature, freedom must be chosen. And the path to democracy
is not an easy one. It takes time and effort and patience for democracy
to take hold, and the greater Middle East has a long way to go.
But all who choose the path, by opposing terrorism and encouraging
reforms, can know this: They will have the friendship and support
of the United States of America.
In answering the great challenges that have come to us, our government
will go forward with confidence, but without illusion. Defeating
a resourceful and determined enemy, and advancing the cause of
human freedom in a vital and troubled region will place great demands
on us far into the future.
At the start of the Cold War, President Truman said: "Events have
brought our American democracy to new influence and new responsibilities.
They will test our courage, our devotion to duty, our concept of
liberty." Fifty-five years later, America and our allies look back
with pride on the perseverance and the moral clarity that saw us
through those many tests. Americans of today, and our president,
have those same qualities, as we have seen many times since the
morning of September 11, 2001. We cannot know every turn that lies
ahead. Yet we can be certain that by the strength and character
of this country, and by the rightness of our cause, we will prevail.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Mr. Vice President, many questions here on illegal immigration.
There's a major problem here in California. Why should we give
millions of people in our state a break for a prima facie breaking
of the law? Is there any other country in the world, including
Europe and Latin America, that would do so?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: You're talking about illegal immigration?
Q: Illegal immigration.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes. There's no question it's a serious problem.
The president last week announced a new initiative, a new proposal
that we would like to see considered by the Congress and, hopefully,
ultimately adopted that basically provides for a temporary worker
program, for people to be able to come into the United States,
take a job, receive approval and authorization to be here, take
jobs that -- where they, in effect, come in when they know there
is a job there, a job that an American will not fill, to regularize
The problem we have today is we have millions of illegal, undocumented
workers in our midst. We do not know when they came. We do not
know how long they stay. We do not know what they do while they're
here. We do not know when they leave. From the standpoint of homeland
security and securing the nation's borders, it is a major hole,
if you will, in terms of our overall situation.
And we think -- the president believes, as he's discussed in the
last few days, that it's very important for us to try to get a
handle on that. It's also a humane measure, as well, at the same
time. Those illegal, undocumented workers who come in and take
these jobs, in often cases, live in the shadows of our society.
They're exploited unfairly and oppressed, in many cases. And we
think it would be far better for us to take this approach of, in
effect, a temporary worker program.
We are not supporting amnesty. We do not believe in granting citizenship
to people who broke the law to get here, nor do we believe these
people should get at the head of the line when being considered
for citizenship. They need to return to their home countries and
come through normal procedures.
But we think this is the right way to go. We expect it will generate
a significant debate, as it should. These are important issues.
They're controversial. And they're never easy for us to deal with
as a government. But we think the issue needs to be addressed,
and the president has given us, I think, a good proposal.
Q: Several questions here -- (Applause.) Several questions on
global warming. Why is it that we did not confirm the Kyoto Treaty?
And what are we doing to reduce global warming after our failure
to endorse the Kyoto Treaty?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, the Kyoto Treaty -- it's important to
remember had been signed at the last minute by our predecessors.
A proposition that embodied the basic principles of the Kyoto Treaty
had been considered by the United States Senate -- before we ever
arrived -- and rejected 99-zip. There was almost no support in
the United States Congress for the exact provisions of that treaty.
We believe that it was inequitable in terms of how it applied,
and that it would not seriously address the problem that it was
intended to address. For that reason, the president basically made
the decision that he did.
That doesn't mean global warming is not a problem, but we think
it ought to be addressed through the development of hard science.
We've spent a fair amount of time on the issue since, and we'll
continue to work on it. It's an issue that does need to be addressed.
But we need to address it based upon facts and not just emotion.
And that's the process that we're involved in now.
Q: Would you comment on the Bush administration's road map in
the Middle East? When we will see -- will we see a more active
effort to bring the nations of the Middle East together for progress
in achieving peace?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I think -- the road map, of course, refers
specifically to the situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
It was put together with the United States working with the European
Union, with the United Nations, and with the Russians. It lays
out specific steps that parties on both sides of the dispute should
undertake. It's still on the table. It has not been implemented,
certainly. By the same token, right now, it's about the only plan
With respect to the president's commitment to the Israeli-Palestinian
question in terms of trying to resolve it, he is the only president
who has ever stood up and come forward and stated specifically
that he will support a Palestinian state as a part of the process
here that ultimately leads to resolution of this conflict.
He traveled to the Middle East last year, met with Middle East
leaders at Sharm el-Sheikh; later on, had sessions with the then-Palestinian
Prime Minister Abu Mazen and with Prime Minister Sharon. He's devoted
significant time and effort to the problem. The difficulty we have
-- and it is a continuing problem -- is that after years of effort,
it's become clear that as long as Yasser Arafat is the interlocutor
on behalf of the Palestinians, as long as he is in control, we
think any serious progress is virtually impossible.
I'm always struck by the memory that I'll always carry of January
20, 2001, when President Bush and I were sworn in. We went to --
as is traditional that day, you go to church service, and then
you go over to the White House and have coffee with the outgoing
administration -- in this case, President Clinton, Vice President
Gore, and their families. And you spend several hours together
by the time you go through the ceremony, the swearing in and so
forth. And Bill Clinton talked repeatedly all day long about his
disappointment in Yasser Arafat, how Arafat had, in effect, torpedoed
the peace process.
Arafat was in the White House and the West Wing more often than
any other foreign leader during the eight years of the Clinton
administration. Bill Clinton did everything he could to try to
put together a settlement and came fairly close. In the final analysis,
Arafat refused to say yes.
Subsequent to that, the president made a speech in June of 2002
that laid out our basic principles. And at the front of that was
the notion that there has to be reform of the Palestinian Authority,
that before we get an interlocutor, somebody we can trust, somebody
we can relate to, somebody that we can work with in terms of trying
to make progress. The Israelis are never going to sign up, nor
should they sign up to a peace unless, in fact, they've got confidence
that there's someone there on the Palestinian side prepared to
keep those commitments.
There has to be a way found to end terror emerging from the Palestinian
areas into the Israeli areas. We had another four deaths just within
the last 24 hours in Gaza, with a suicide bomber. And until the
Palestinians have an organization, a government in place that's
capable of dealing effectively with the structure of terror, I
don't think significant progress is likely.
In the meantime, we'll keep working it. The president is engaged.
A lot of us have spent time on the problem, but it's going to be
essential that that authority be transformed, I think, before anybody
can realistically expect a positive outcome.
Q: How do you see our relationship with the U.N.? And would we
take action in North Korea without a Security Council resolution?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Repeat the last part of your question, would
Q: Would we take action in North Korea without a Security Council
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, what we've done with respect to North
Korea is to approach it on a regional basis. It has not yet gone
to the United Nations, although, obviously that's a step that could
be taken given the fact that they've -- the North Koreans have
kicked out inspectors and appear to be in violation of the nonproliferation
treaty that they're signatory to.
The president made the decision, and I think a very sound one,
that we would work specifically with the Chinese, but also the
Japanese, the South Koreans, and the Russians to convey the message
to the North Koreans that the only choice available to them if
they want to have any kind of a relationship at all and have access
to the international community is for them to give up their aspirations
to acquire and deploy nuclear weapons.
To date, I think we feel like we've made some progress. There
have been two sessions in Beijing. First the session with the Chinese,
the Americans and the North Koreans. The second one, of course,
with all six of us. We've had extended conversations with the Chinese
and are now working on convening another session going forward.
The Chinese have been crucial in the process, and I might say they've
been very responsible in the process. And we're doing our best
to get the matter resolved by peaceful diplomatic means, and that
requires a concerted effort by all of those nations that are directly
It's not in anybody's interest to have nuclear weapons deployed
on the Korean Peninsula. It's clearly -- if that happens, it begins
to change the balance in that part of the world. And then other
nations there may find it necessary to alter their policy and their
attitude towards those same kinds of systems, and that's not in
China's interest. It's not in our interest. Clearly, we all have
a stake in trying to resolve that matter peacefully as soon as
possible. And that's what we're doing.
Q: Before Mr. Broad comes back to close the program, we're going
to have time for this last question. Let me combine the two here.
Would you please comment on Secretary Rumsfeld's plans for the
reorganization for the Defense Department in light of the changing
geopolitical conditions in the world? And concurrently with that,
does our strategic plan need to be revised? Or are we still able
to respond to two MRCs (nearly simultaneous Multiple Regional Contingencies)
at a given time?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we have revised our thinking, I think,
in many respects, and are in the process of revising our thinking
as a result of the lessons learned over the last few years. There's
nothing like the operations we went through, for example, in Afghanistan
and Iraq to lead us to study those and see if there are lessons
learned that need to be applied in terms of force structure, strategy,
doctrine and so forth. And Don is actively involved in doing that.
I think if I had to speculate that we'll see -- one of the legacies
of this administration will be some of the most sweeping changes
in our military, and our national security strategy as it relates
to the military, and force structure, and how we're based, and
how we used it in the last 50 or 60 years, probably since World
War II. I think the changes are that dramatic.
Certainly, Secretary Rumsfeld is spending a great deal of time
on it, as are our senior uniformed personnel, the chiefs and other
seniors officials of the department. The president is. The president
has spent a fair amount of time on these sessions, as well, too.
So I am quite confident that we will make significant changes
going forward. I don't want to speak for the secretary -- well,
why not? (Laughter.) No, I -- as I say, I am a great believer that
we very much need to do that. And we'll see some changes that are
We're still positioned, if you think about it -- if you look at
Europe, when I was secretary -- that was back in '89 to '93 --
we made significant changes in our posture there. We inherited
the Cold War. We had 330,000 troops in Europe. We cut that back
to about 100,000 -- but our base structure and where they were
deployed and the kinds of forces we had, basically just a scaled-down
version of the Cold War force. If you go to Asia, the same thing.
The United States needs to be forward-deployed. We don't want
to end that practice at all. It's going to be vital for us to maintain
our relationships and our alliances around the world to do that.
But what we're finding increasingly is we need forces that can
move on relatively short notice. We need warm bases, bases we can
fall in on, in a crisis and have present the capabilities we need
to operate from. But today, we've got forces deployed in places
like Uzbekistan, as a result of operations in Afghanistan over
the last couple of years.
We're much more reliant these days on Special Operations Forces,
on those kinds of units that can go in and do what we did in Afghanistan,
where we married up our Special Forces, A teams, CIA agents, some
of our Special Ops folks and were able to go in using their linkage
to our precision air capabilities now. And with a few thousand
people, in effect, wrap up that problem in Afghanistan in a matter
of weeks -- a very different scenario than was true in the past.
So I think we've only seen the very beginning of an important
debate in this area. I do expect and have a high degree of confidence
that we'll see a lot more and that Secretary Rumsfeld and his folks
at the Pentagon, following the president's wishes, are, in fact,
aggressively addressing these kinds of questions.
Thank you. (Applause.)
Created:15 Jan 2004 Updated: 15 Jan 2004