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Security and Freedom in an Insecure World

Speech by Ambassador Coats,
Berlin, Evangelische Kirche, 19. Februar 2003


As Delivered.

Dr Reimers, I would like to thank you for your friendship and for the invitation to speak this evening.

Distinguished guests. If I start to recognize everybody here this evening, I'm sure to miss some very important people. Allow me to say that it is a pleasure to be here with all of you.

When I first received the invitation to meet with this group last November, it was suggested that I speak about security and freedom. I had just spoken to the Gemeinschaft für Berlin on finding security in an uncertain world. At the request of that organization, I spoke about security from a personal standpoint. I talked about my own life journey and my faith journey and what it meant to me personally. My wife, Marsha, did the same. I thought this would be another opportunity to share that same story.

Then I learned that, no, we were going to talk about security, as it applied to foreign policy and the current situation in Iraq. This is a more complex and difficult subject but I am happy to be here this evening to discuss it with you, not to attempt to persuade, but to explain the position of the United States in terms of security, in truly insecure times.

Wilhelm von Humboldt, founder of Berlin's great university, said, "Without security, there is no freedom."

The United States is a nation founded on the ideals shaped by the European Enlightenment, a nation where freedom and democracy have flourished in a secure environment for 226 years. Throughout our history, we have enjoyed the security of two vast oceans. Our security has also been safeguarded by the defense of a capable military -- and we have extended that security to the European continent through the sharing of our military presence. In Germany alone that sharing has meant the presence of more than 13 million American soldiers and their families since 1945, working together with German troops and through NATO to ensure the freedom of German and European citizens.

Now as we begin a new century, we are confronted with two profound changes in the security environment.

First, a vast network of transnational terrorists and terrorist organizations that find sanctuary by design within the borders of hostile states, or sanctuary by default within the borders of failing states or in ungoverned areas.

Second, the access that hostile states and terrorists alike have to very sophisticated tools. This includes both information garnered through advanced communication technology and post-Cold War arms markets that offer many different types of weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, as well as the know-how to make them and to use them. This proliferation of advanced technology accentuates a trend in warfare that has a potentially profound impact on our security -- and by "our," I mean the world's collective security.

As President Bush said in his introduction to the National Security Strategy Review that was released last September, the greatest threat facing the United States, "lies at the crossroads of radicalism and technology." Weak actors can inflict unprecedented devastation on a great nation. With weapons of mass destruction, they can hold at risk large portions of our societies.

These new and profoundly challenging threats have required a reformulation of our National Security Strategy. As the President stated, "Defending our Nation against its enemies is the first and fundamental commitment of the Federal Government. Today, that task has changed dramatically. Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial capabilities to endanger America. Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring great chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank. Terrorists are organized to penetrate open societies and to turn the power of modern technologies against us."

During the Cold War, we faced the threat of nuclear conflict with a superpower, but deterrence contained that threat because we placed at risk something the adversary held very dear -- their very existence. Today, if a weak power is a terrorist network with weapons of mass destruction, deterrence simply does not apply. And when terrorists are willing to commit suicide to further their agenda, as in the case of 9/11, what do they value that we can possibly place at risk?

This dilemma reflects the unprecedented nature of today's security environment.

Effects of September 11

September 11 threw, as you know, into sharp focus the threats we face today.

The events of that day exposed the vulnerability of the United States. Suddenly, the people of the United States were faced with a direct linkage of the American homeland to national security. The result has been a national sense of uncertainty and vulnerability similar to that of the early years of the Cold War. The danger is certainly no less real than during the Cold War -- and the threat no less great.

Protected and isolated by two oceans, Americans thought that terrorism was something that happened somewhere else, that terrorism was another event in another place, with, yes, serious consequences and tragic loss of life. But it had not come to our shore, and it had not impacted us where we live and where we work.

Before September 11th, and most Americans perceived terrorism as primarily a law enforcement issue.

Today most perceive it as a national security threat with potential for mass casualties and widespread havoc and destruction.

On September 11th, America saw what terrorists could do by turning four airplanes into weapons. As a result, Americans have significantly changed how they view terrorism and how they view the gravity of the threat. We have determined that we can not and will not wait to see what terrorist states could do with chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons.

As a nation that has experienced the horrors and costs of September 11th, as a nation that has experienced a taste of what catastrophic terrorism may bring in the future, America's leaders believe that we cannot afford the luxury of relying on strategies and tactics that allow potentially catastrophic attacks to occur and, then and only then, to react to those attacks.

As our President has said, a future attack using weapons of mass destruction would result in casualties numbering not 3,000, but perhaps 30,000 or 300,000 or perhaps even 3,000,0000, and we must, he said, do everything we can to prevent such an occurrence.

New Security Strategies

In the United States, in Europe, and around the world, current debate is focused on what kind of action is warranted and justifiable against a sovereign nation if that nation is permitting the growth of terrorism, is harboring terrorists, or is developing weapons of mass destruction for offensive purposes.

In the face of these new threats, it has become clear that no nation can hope to tackle successfully the decisive challenges of this age alone. Strategies will be necessary that facilitate proactive and concerted actions against the real, deadly, and immediate threats that confront the world, and indeed, the future of humanity.

Instruments of statecraft to approach international challenges include engagement, negotiations, diplomacy, political and economic incentives -- or sanctions to discourage certain behavior. In the case of Iraq, over the past 12 years, we have attempted a number of these approaches -- negotiations, diplomatic pressure, economic sanctions, enforcement of no-fly zones, and UN-sanctioned inspection regimes. All have failed to achieve the desired result -- that result being compliance with the decision of the world community of nations that Iraq must disarm itself of all weapons of mass destruction, as expressed through 17 United Nations Security Council resolutions.

But as we have learned over these past 12 years in Iraq, instruments of statecraft, without the threat or use of force have been ineffective. Force is a tool that by definition no one wants to use unless absolutely necessary, but history is full of examples when force has been necessary. In Iraq, the truth is that the only reason UN inspectors are currently back in that country and able to operate at all is because of the threat of force that has been made.

But there is another point to consider. The experience of the Cold War taught us some basic lessons about dealing with international threats.

The main theater of the Cold War was Europe. There were others, but this is the place where it counted -- and of course no place was more focal than Berlin. In the main geographic focus of the Cold War, a crucial stability was established by U.S.-Soviet confrontation. The threat was deadly, it was ever present, but daily life could continue relatively undisturbed for years and even decades. And it did. That was the essence, for instance, of the 1971-72 Quadripartite Agreement on Berlin. That has changed forever. We no longer have a larger framework of international stability, which could allow us to live, with relative complacency, side-by-side with the threats that we now face.

A similar crucial supporting framework does not exist today. Unfortunately, we cannot assume that our tools of engagement, deterrence, and political and economic incentives are automatically the appropriate ones with which to deal with every challenge or threat that we now face. While there is still a primary role for the traditional tools of diplomacy, we have to face the present-day reality that these tools might not be either sufficient or effective by themselves. We must examine each situation carefully and construct appropriate strategies accordingly.

Never before in history has the position of the United States and our European allies been more powerful. But never before in history has the United States, our European allies, and the world been so open and so vulnerable. And never before has the need for cooperation been so acute.

As a result of this realization, President Bush's National Security Strategy underscores the necessity of cooperating with other nations, institutions, and organizations.

International cooperation is indispensable whether -- to quote the National Security Strategy -- our efforts are focused on "fighting the war against terrorism, sustaining regional stability, expanding trade and development, maintaining friendly ties to global powers, or dealing with transnational challenges such as weapons of mass destruction, infectious disease, and international crime." The United States commitment to international cooperation reflects a principle that runs through our history, and our vision of the future.

That vision is open to all. To achieve these international goals, as the Strategy suggests, the United States has pledged:
· to champion aspirations for human dignity;
· to strengthen alliances to defeat global terrorism and work to prevent attacks against us and our   friends;
· to work with others to defuse regional conflicts;
· to prevent our enemies from threatening us, our allies, and our friends, with weapons of mass   destruction;
· to ignite a new era of global economic growth through free markets and free trade;
· to expand the circle of development by opening societies and building the infrastructure of   democracy;
· to develop agendas for cooperative action with other main centers of global power; and
· to transform America's national security institutions to meet the challenges and opportunities of   the twenty-first century.

The National Security Strategy describes using all instruments of national power to accomplish the goals that I have just listed. It also describes all instruments of national power to prevent an attack. It describes how preemption must include strengthening our non-proliferation efforts, to use diplomatic and financial tools to keep weapons of mass destruction technology out of the wrong hands. And it talks about ensuring that our military forces are well equipped. All this is designed to cause any belligerent who would want to use weapons of mass destruction to pause and think again.

Preemptive action is a powerful policy tool, and one that cannot any longer be ignored as an option under certain circumstances -- those being to defend liberty and to achieve security and stability. The challenge to United States and European policymakers is to exercise all options wisely and to recognize which situations can be improved by use of preemptive action and which cannot.

Now this concept is not new. During one of his fireside chats in September of 1941, before Pearl Harbor and before the U.S. became involved in World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt talked to the American people about a Nazi sub that had attacked the destroyer USS GREER near Iceland.

Roosevelt told Americans, "Let us not say: We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in hitting home or if the crew and the passengers are drowned. The time for active defense is now."

International law has long recognized what Franklin Roosevelt described. A nation does not need to wait for attack before it acts. In Roosevelt's time, absorbing the unprovoked torpedo attack could have cost the lives of a few hundred sailors and civilians.

Today absorbing a first blow of a chemical, or a biological, or a nuclear, or a radiological attack, could cost up to tens of thousands of innocent lives. So the questions we must ask ourselves are clear. Can, or should, or is it even morally responsible to accept this risk, and respond only after the fact with force? In today's dramatically different era, must a free people wait until the threat is physically present before acting?

My country is often accused, either outright or by implication, as being reckless of the risks of war. We don't understand, we are told, what the horrors of war really are, or how much misery war can bring. Some of the people who tell us this cite their own experiences as children or young adults in the Germany of the 40's -- adding that those memories are indelible. I respect those memories, those wrenching experiences, but I reject absolutely the assertion that the current President of the United States, or any American President, or any world leader, would take lightly the idea of sending soldiers in harm's way, or that war is somehow antiseptic.

The fact remains that we have a responsibility to take a strategic, global view of international challenges and threats. This is particularly true because there is now an active enemy, those who propagate relentless international terrorism, targeting us for destruction.

Our institutions, our activities, our citizens, the aspirations of innocent people to live happy and productive lives -- all are at stake.

But even if this particular enemy had not emerged in its current virulence, we know that the end of the Cold War did not make the world a safer place. And we all have to cope with that. This is a reality that we must confront.

Just War Theory

We are all concerned about the prospect of war in Iraq. Many question whether war in Iraq can be justified - according to the "just war" theories of statecraft.

The architects of just war theory held that punishing past aggression is a legitimate purpose of war, but most modern authorities rule out retributive justifications for resorting to arms. Modern tradition holds that war may be waged only for defensive purposes, and only as a last resort. Some maintain that preemptive action cannot be defensive. In the crisis we face now in Iraq, some therefore maintain that without another actual act of aggression by Saddam, just war principles limit the U.S. and the international community to diplomatic, rather than military, options.

But I believe this line of thinking is mistaken as it applies to Iraq. Few deny Saddam's intentions to enhance his chemical and biological arsenal and to acquire nuclear weapons. The Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution November 8 giving Baghdad "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations," warning Iraq that "it will face serious consequences" if it continued to violate those obligations as spelled out in the resolution.

I don't know how many of you have had the opportunity to read the Resolution. It is quite instructive. The Resolution clearly states, that, the 15 signatories recognize, and I quote, "the threat Iraq's non-compliance to Security Council resolutions and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and long range missiles pose to international peace and security."

I continue to read from Resolution 1441:

"Recalling that its resolution 678 (1990) authorized Member States to use all necessary means to uphold and implement its resolution 660 (1990) of 2 August 1990 and all relevant resolutions subsequent to Resolution 660 (1990) and to restore international peace and security in the area,

Further recalling that its resolution 687 (1991) imposed obligations on Iraq as a necessary step for achievement of its stated objective of restoring international peace and security in the area,

Deploring the fact that Iraq has not provided an accurate, full, final, and complete disclosure."

Resolution 1441 details the failure of all the UN Resolutions that have not been complied with in the last 11, almost 12 years. Resolution 1441 was carefully crafted, drafted primarily with the involvement of the French but also others. Every word was reviewed. That Resolution now leads us to make the determinations that have indeed to be made.

The United Nations Security Council last November said this is a final chance. And now the European Union has said that this is the final chance. And unless the word "final" is so flexible that it has no meaning, this is Saddam Hussein's final chance -- not as determined by the United States -- but as determined by the United Nations Security Council and the latest statement of the European Union.

Another traditional criterion of just war is that "proper authority" must wage it. Some might say that the U.S. and its allies, unless authorized by the UN, are not a legitimate authority. Yet nothing in just war theory places unique authority in the hands of the "international community."

President Bush has acted prudently in obtaining a United Nations Resolution requiring Saddam Hussein and Iraq to abandon their pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and submit to inspections. Not to find those weapons -- that is not stated in the Resolution -- but to ensure Iraqi compliance with identification of those weapons and destruction of those weapons. The President has clearly stated that should the UN decline or fail to enforce its just demands, the US and its allies have the right to take necessary steps to provide for the security of their own people.

The principles of just war guide political leaders as to when they must refrain from using military means to achieve their ends; but they also give guidance as to when they are morally obligated to resort to arms. Yes, war can be justified only as a last resort. If Saddam Hussein fully complies with the terms of UNSC Resolution 1441 and eliminates his illegal weapons and demolishes his weapons manufacturing infrastructure, then an invasion of Iraq would be unnecessary, and therefore unjustifiable.

But that is a big if -- given Saddam's record of aggression and duplicity, and as Dr. Blix has clearly stated, something Saddam Hussein has not done.

It is a tragic fact of human affairs that statesmen are sometimes unable to fulfill their duties to prevent aggression and resist tyranny relying exclusively on diplomatic or means other than the use of force. In these circumstances, the just war theory infers that a decision to fight is not merely optional but morally required.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said recently and I quote, "The founders of the United Nations were not pacifists. They knew there would be times when force must be met with force. And therefore they wrote into the Charter of the United Nations strong enforcement provisions, to enable the world community to unite against aggression and defeat it... If Iraq fails to make use of this last chance, and continues its defiance," continuing to quote Kofi Annan, "the council will have to make another grim choice. When that time comes, the council, " he said, "must face up to its responsibilities." End quote.

These are very difficult times. None of us want war. We are acutely aware that there are unintended consequences to war. Today, the opportunity for war to be avoided still exists, but it cannot be avoided by looking away, or by turning away from the challenge. It will be avoided by the full cooperation of Saddam Hussein with the unanimous agreement of the 15 nations that make up the United Nations Security Council -- and to date, he has not complied with that unanimous agreement.

There are many examples of American engagement and commitment around the world.

Most Americans believe that the United States represents a force for good in the world, that the ideas of democracy and freedom that we