OPENING STATEMENT OF
THE HONORABLE ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA
HOUSE INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EAST ASIA AND THE
JOINT HEARING ON
“U.S. SECURITY POLICY
IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC:
FROM PACIFIC COMMAND”
FEBRUARY 27, 2002
President Bush traveled to Asia to reemphasize to our allies, Japan and South
Korea, as well as to China, that the United States has major strategic interests
in the Asia-Pacific region and our Nation intends to remain firmly engaged for
In that light,
I commend you for calling this timely hearing today to examine U.S. security
policy in the Asia-Pacific region, where almost two-thirds of the world’s
population resides. With 55 percent of the gross world product coming from
the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. conducts over $550 billion in annual trade
there, along with billions more in U.S. investments.
is crucial that these interests be protected and peace and stability maintained
in this region, which, incidentally, is home to the six largest armies in the
I join you in
warmly welcoming to our committee today Admiral Dennis Blair, Commander in Chief
of the U.S. Pacific Command (CINPAC). As
the chief military commander of all U.S. forces and operations in the Pacific
and Indian Oceans, which encompasses 100 million square miles and over 300,000
military personnel, Admiral Blair is entrusted with tremendous responsibility
and reports directly to President Bush and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.
In terms of pressing security concerns, the fight against international
terrorism has now spread to the Asia-Pacific region, especially in Southeast
Asia, which raises several questions.
the first U.S. deployment outside of the Afghanistan theater, over 600 U.S.
special forces and support troops have been deployed to the Philippines to
assist Philippine President Arroyo in combating the terrorist group, Abu Sayyaf.
While I support our involvement against these terrorist thugs who hold
two Americans hostage, I question whether the six-month deadline for U.S.
military assistance to the Philippine army is realistic.
Also, if the objective of the Philippine-U.S. cooperation is to eliminate
Abu Sayyaf, shouldn’t we extend U.S. operations to Jolo Island, where Abu
Sayyaf’s strength is reportedly much greater than on Basilan Island?
I am further concerned that in pursuing Abu Sayyaf, this not escalate
into a conflict with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has
thousands more followers and supposedly aids the Abu Sayyaf, while sharing the
same areas of operation.
arrest of a significant Al Qaeda cell in Singapore has revealed the outlines of
a terrorist network, Jemaah Islamiah, which stretches through Malaysia, the
Philippines and Indonesia. The
terrorists planned to commit mass murders by bombing U.S. and Western targets in
this Al Qaeda-connected group could take root in a tightly controlled
environment like Singapore, what does this portend for the rest of the region?
Given the bombing plot, I would also be interested in finding out how the
Indonesian government is responding to calls from the U.S., Singapore and
Malaysian governments that it arrest Abu Bakar Baasyir, the head of Jemaah
Islamiah, who resides in Indonesia. In
light of Admiral Blair’s extensive contacts with the Indonesian military,
perhaps he can give us some insight as to the views of the Indonesian military
leadership regarding Abu Bakar and Laskar
Jihad, the extremist Muslim group which allegedly enjoys military support?
regards to Northeast Asia, President Bush included North Korea in the “axis of
evil” due to its role in proliferating missiles to Iran, Pakistan and other
Middle East countries. A recent CIA
report asserted that North Korea made significant exports of missiles, missile
components, and missile technology to these countries last year.
the President’s strong language against North Korea, if North Korea does not
voluntarily cease these missile exports, I would be interested to hear what
strategy the Administration intends to pursue to prevent further exports?
example, in March 1999, a study group on North Korea headed by Richard Armitage
(now Undersecretary of State) and including Paul Wolfowitz (now Deputy Secretary
of Defense) issued a report, which proposed that the United States draw “red
lines” around North Korean behavior and act against North Korea if it breached
these red lines. One of the U.S.
actions proposed was the maritime interdiction of North Korean vessels bound for
the Middle East in order to prevent North Korea from shipping weapons of mass
destruction to that region.
the Bush Administration ordered such a policy, do naval forces under CINPAC have
the capabilities to implement maritime interdiction of North Korean ships?
What cooperation would be required from Japan and South Korea in order to
carry out interdiction? I’d be
interested to hear what would be the strengths, weaknesses, and dangers of such
Chairman, thank you for the opportunity to make these brief comments and I look
forward to Admiral Blair’s testimony and responses to the matters raised.