Bush Adviser Addresses National Security Priorities
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 17, 2000 - National missile defense,
relations with China and Russia and countering asymmetric
challenges dominated a presentation by Condoleezza Rice, a
foreign policy adviser to Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Rice spoke here Nov. 16 at the Fletcher Conference, a
gathering of current and former military and civilian
defense leaders, legislators and academicians that this
year is examining national security issues facing the first
U.S. administration of the 21st century.
She said changes since the end of the Cold War favor the
values, institutions and beliefs of the United States. "We
have a chance in this period to extend peace, prosperity
and democracy in ways we would never have dreamed a few
years ago," she said.
During her talk, entitled "Setting Priorities for a New
National Security Strategy, she said the United States is
"still adjusting to our role as the world's sole
Rice said the question facing the United States is, "Are we
ready and are we capable of thinking about the requirements
and the challenges of having been on the right side of
She said she sees two major dangers. The first is
overextension "through a lack of focus in what we're trying
to do." The second grows from the first and is "missed
opportunities to make structural changes in international
politics" to extend this period of the growth of democracy.
"Peace must be maintained through the prevention of
conflict of global strategic significance," she said.
"There will be no extension of prosperity, no extension of
democracy, if big conflicts again dot the globe" in places
like East Asia and the Persian Gulf.
Rice said the United States and its allies must make
certain they have the right forces and that they have the
right combinations of allies or coalitions. The United
States must have the will to ensure that large-scale
conflicts do not break out in places of global
significance, she said.
The United States also must worry about the potential rise
of "hegemonic power with interests, values and intentions
that are hostile to American and allied interests," Rice
said. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is the prototype of this
threat, she said, and "the United States must maintain
forces to contain such a threat."
Finally, she said, the United States must be certain to
prevent blackmail. "Because if the United States is
'blackmailable,' it is not capable of acting with freedom
of action in places like the Persian Gulf," Rice said. Part
of this blackmail is new threats - weapons of mass
destruction, cyberterrorism and terrorism of all kinds.
"Any discussion of capabilities must include the ability to
defend against these threats and must include ballistic
missile defense," she said. "It is not that ballistic
missile defense needs to be aimed at the thousands of
Soviet weapons, but rather at the smaller threats."
The United States has neglected trade and economic power in
influencing friends and foes, Rice said. Instead it needs
to make more use of its economic power to influence matters
around the world, she said.
Rice addressed peacekeeping and implied limits exist to
what the U.S. military can do in such situations. She said
Kosovo is one area where U.S. military involvement is
appropriate. Had NATO let stand Slobodan Milosevic's
expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, it would have
sent a message throughout Europe that multiethnic
communities could not work, she said.
Still, she added, civilian organizations would be more
appropriate for nation-building activities once violence is
The United States must look to other regional powers for
help in peacekeeping activities. Rice cited Australia's
intervention in East Timor and Nigeria's willingness to act
in Sierra Leone as promising developments.
"These mounting missions cannot be sustained for the United
States armed forces," she said. "We need to look at the
match between resources we are providing and the missions
we are taking on." She noted how the services are drawing
increasingly on the Guard and Reserve to fill out their
inadequate forces to perform all their assigned missions.
Rice said dealing with Russia and China is important
because the countries are of such global significance.
"China is a rising power, and any rising power with
unresolved interests will be a challenge," she said. "It
would be wrong to think of China as an enemy, but it is not
wrong to think of China as a challenge." She said China
resents the U.S. presence in East Asia and has "unresolved
interest" around Taiwan.
But China is changing, she noted, and the challenge for the
United States is to deal with security developments without
alienating the Chinese.
Russia is a challenge because it is the opposite, a
declining power, and that colors how America must deal with
it, Rice said.
U.S. officials should not get involved in Russian domestic
affairs, she warned. Instead, she suggested, the United
States should concentrate on restructuring its "antiquated
nuclear relationship with Russia," to reduce nuclear
weapons and guard against inappropriate disposal and
handling of nuclear materials and weapons.