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Updated: 10 Apr 2003
Image of Pentagon oval, linked to DoD News page United States Department of Defense
On the web: http://www.dod.gov/speeches/2003/sp20030410-depsecdef0142.html
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Prepared Statement for the Senate Armed Services Committee: The Future of NATO and Iraq

Testimony as Prepared for Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Washington, DC, Thursday, April 10, 2003.

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: America has long enjoyed the strong leadership and bipartisan support of this Committee. Your example consistently demonstrates that America’s security concerns transcend party or politics. On behalf of the men and women who serve our country so faithfully and so well, we are indeed grateful for your support. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss with you today the Defense Department’s perspective on the future of both NATO and Iraq.

During this war to defend freedom, it is fitting that we take stock of an alliance that has been integral to the preservation of peace and the promotion and protection of democracy. I would add a word here about brave Americans and their coalition partners who, this very moment, are doing their part to protect freedom; they are fighting a very fierce fight against a vicious regime to free us from an enormous threat. From Baghdad and Kabul to the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean, whether on the ground in the air or on the sea, they are performing their missions with incredible courage and skill, and we are enormously proud of them. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who are missing, have been taken prisoner or have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the freedoms that we treasure as Americans.

New Security Environment

In the summer of 1990, I was privileged to attend NATO’s first post-Cold War Summit, which was hosted by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. That was a time when many people questioned the relevance of NATO since the Berlin Wall had been torn down. In opening that historic conference in London, the British Prime Minister, in a tone suggesting she was quite conscious of the irony, began with an observation that Europe was standing at the dawn of a new era, as promising in its own way as 1919 and 1945. Clearly, Mrs. Thatcher’s reference to earlier post-war eras was intended not only to underscore the promise of the moment, but also to underscore the uncertainty of the future and the danger of believing that—simply because a particular threat that had loomed so large for so long was gone—every other conceivable threat had disappeared, too.

NATO’s doubters existed on both sides of the Atlantic. In President George H.W. Bush’s first press conference after the Wall came down, he was asked, what need was there for NATO now that the threat had disappeared? Many people at the time discounted President Bush’s answer that a threat did remain, and that threat was "uncertainty."

The intervening years have demonstrated both the promise and the dangers of the post-Cold War era and the continuing relevance of NATO to realize the one and avoid the other—as well as the wisdom of Prime Minister Thatcher’s and former-President Bush’s assessments about continuing threats to our security. Indeed, barely a month after the London NATO summit, Iraq attacked Kuwait, and we found ourselves facing the first major conflict of the new post-Cold War era. During the 1990s, NATO not only welcomed three new members, but became the instrument of ending ethnic aggression and genocide in the Balkans and leading that troubled region closer to a just and lasting peace—an important effort that has enjoyed bipartisan support here at home.

Now, at the beginning of the 21st Century, NATO continues to be the central instrument for solidifying peace in Europe and drawing nations on both sides of the Atlantic closer together. In response to the extraordinary new threat posed by international terrorism, NATO can certainly claim its own historic contributions—such as its invocation of Article V to defend the United States after September 11th, the commitment of NATO AWACS to defend America’s skies, as well as its recent support for Germany and The Netherlands in their leadership of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. In the latter case especially, we see a mission that brings NATO’s support well outside its traditional geographic domain.

Despite those initial doubts about NATO’s relevance, in fact, an impressive consensus has developed in this country about the importance of America’s commitment to Europe. Arguably there has been less disagreement about the importance of NATO during this past decade than during the entire period of the Cold War. This strong bipartisan support among Americans for an alliance that has been the foundation of stability in Europe for over half a century is testimony to the strength of what is perhaps the most successful alliance in history. That NATO has endured and grown in membership and missions is also a reflection of the ability to adapt and adjust to a new security environment in which the confluence of terrorist networks and states that sponsor terrorism with weapons of mass destruction poses today’s most lethal and urgent threat. President Bush gave voice to this fact in Berlin when he said plainly, "Those who despise human freedom will attack it on every continent." NATO recognizes this fact today. NATO has shown that an alliance based on the same core values has more staying power than any previous alliance built purely on a narrow coincidence of interests. I am confident that will be the case for the next 50 years.

NATO’s Fundamental Constants

For more than half a century, a dedication to protecting freedom and democracy, human rights and the rule of law has bound NATO together. For that reason, NATO is and will remain the anchor of the U.S. security relationship with Europe.

Indeed, as we have waged the global war against terrorism, we have been reaping the benefits of more than 50 years of joint planning, training and operations in the NATO framework. That will continue. NATO is and will remain the central framework, not only for transatlantic military cooperation, but also for the West’s mobilization of its comprehensive collective power to defend its interests.

Through NATO, the West combines the strengths of its military, intelligence, economic, political and cultural assets. And, of course, Europe remains essential to the forward presence of U.S. military forces. But beyond its purely military role, one of NATO’s most important effects – one that Americans and Europeans may sometimes take for granted – is the critical role that this Alliance has played in bringing peace to a continent that has had such a troubled past. That Europe’s future looks so peaceful and promising is due in no small part to the stability that NATO has brought to European security.

NATO Enlargement

It is with these constants in mind that President Bush has forcefully advocated a round of NATO enlargement, one that stretches from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Indeed, after the end of the Cold War, NATO has served as a beacon for democracies emerging in Central and Eastern Europe—inspiring them to move forward with confidence to build free institutions and representative self-government. Contradicting the gloomy predictions heard at the time, the last round of NATO enlargement in which Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic entered the alliance’s ranks did not dilute NATO’s effectiveness. Instead, these new members have been active force contributors to NATO Operations such as KFOR and SFOR, as well as in the war against terrorism.

In fact, in a move that took some political courage, Hungary volunteered to host a training camp for Free Iraqi Forces—who are now on the ground in Iraq. Poland has joined with the United States to form a Defense Transformation Group and is one of four coalition partners with troops on the ground in Iraq. And the Czechs have deployed a chemical/biological weapons defense unit into Kuwait. All three nations have consistently stood with the United States at the North Atlantic Council—in important issues such as Missile Defense, NATO’s role and contribution to ISAF, and, most recently, Article 4 support to Turkey.

Indeed the last round of NATO enlargement did not, as some naysayers feared, build a new wall down the middle of Europe. Instead, NATO enlargement has built bridges across the continent, providing incentives for countries to reform their political systems, strengthen their relationships with their neighbors and bring their military forces under civilian control. Ukraine, for example, has been an active participant in the Partnership for Peace, and welcomed Poland’s accession as an enhancement to its own security. Ukraine has publicly asserted its own desire to join NATO.

An historically significant political development of this past decade is the bridge that has been extended to Russia—encouraging a democratic Russia to have a closer relationship with NATO. NATO enlargement, instead of isolating Russia, has been the catalyst for the joint NATO-Russia Council, which stood up last May. Also, Russia has been a partner in the global war against terrorism. Relations between Poland and Russia have markedly improved since Poland’s entry into NATO, rolling back literally centuries of suspicion. For Russia to completely cross the bridge that NATO is building, a long journey remains. But, the journey has, nevertheless, begun.

The enlargement of NATO continues the vision of a Europe that is secure, undivided and free, and work is underway to enlarge the alliance further. My colleague at the State Department, Under Secretary Marc Grossman, noted in his testimony here a couple weeks ago that the addition of these seven countries is about the future of NATO. I couldn’t agree more. The recent signing of the accession protocols for the NATO aspirants—Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia—was another step in achieving the vision of a Europe whole and free. And these seven countries have already been de facto allies—participating in NATO’s Balkan missions, in Operation Enduring Freedom and the Kabul Peacekeeping force. Several have deployed troops to the Iraq theater.

As we look to the future of NATO, we might see its further enlargement in terms of two imperatives: moral and strategic. The moral imperative calls us to help new democracies, formerly subjected to the yoke of tyranny, consolidate and secure their own freedom and sovereignty. The strategic imperatives suggest that a united Europe of common values will help avoid the major wars as experienced in the 20th Century. A united Europe will be a better partner to the United States in dealing with world affairs. A united Europe will provide a context of security that will encourage reform in Ukraine and Russia. A Europe so united is revitalized by nations who’ve recently thrown off the yoke of authoritarianism by their fresh commitment to freedom and democracy through NATO’s responsibilities. And further enlargement of NATO remains based on sound reform of any aspiring nation—including military reforms of national strategy, secure communications systems, upgrading airfields and ports to NATO standards, improved training, logistical support, personnel, and military spending at a minimum level of 2% of gross domestic product.

Prague Summit’s Transformational Agenda

NATO’s future rests not only on enlargement, but also on its ability to take military action quickly and efficiently. One of NATO’s biggest challenges is to address gaps in military capabilities. During last November’s Prague summit, NATO’s leaders made important and far-reaching decisions to continue Alliance efforts to adjust to the changes in Europe’s strategic landscape and the global security environment. The Prague Summit not only extended membership to seven Central European democracies, but also featured a new focused capabilities initiative and a streamlined command structure.

NATO Response Force: Also out of the Prague Summit came a decision to establish a NATO Response Force (NRF), which promises to provide the Alliance the ability to quickly deploy a force that is capable of executing the full range of missions NATO may be called upon to carry out. If the NRF is implemented according to the standards that the U.S. has proposed, the NRF will be lethal, technically superior to any envisioned threat, and readily deployable on short notice. The goal for initial operational capability for training is October 2004, with full operational capability proposed by October 2006. The NRF, we expect, will become the focal point of NATO transformation efforts to meet new threats facing the Alliance.

Prague Capabilities Commitment: In Prague, the heads of state and government also approved the Prague Capabilities Commitment, in which the allies promised to address long-standing shortfalls in areas such as communications, strategic lift, nuclear, biological and chemical defense equipment, and precision-guided munitions. In short, the European allies agreed to pool their resources, spend smarter, and pursue specialization. Allied contributions to NRF rotations must possess the critical capabilities targeted by the Prague Capabilities Commitment if the NRF is to evolve beyond a concept.

Streamlined Command Structure: In Prague, the heads of state and government also approved the broad outline of a streamlined NATO command structure, which will reduce operational commands from 23 to 16 commands to ensure a more efficient use of financial and manpower resources. It will also provide NATO commanders with more mobile, joint and interoperable headquarters—critical to 21st Century military operations. The establishment of a new functional command, Allied Command Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia, will provide a new vehicle to drive military transformation across the Alliance.

Recent Division in NATO: France’s recent efforts to block steps to enhance Turkey’s security against attack from Iraq was regrettable and, in fact, blocked initiatives important to the greater alliance. It did raise the issue about NATO’s decision-making process and its ability to honor its obligation to member countries. I would add that the Statement of the Vilnius 10 and the letter of eight European leaders expressed support for the U.S. with regard to Iraq. Clearly, the majority of NATO’s members value the alliances and security that NATO provides. If the goal of the leadership of France—or any other member—is to weaken NATO, the rest of the alliance needs to resist attempts at hobbling or dissolving an organization that has done so much for the peace of Europe and the world.

Turkey: I would like to say a few words about Turkey, a staunch NATO ally through 40 years of Cold War, a stabilizing force in Central and Eastern Europe, and supporter of peacekeeping efforts in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Turkey is the country in the Muslim world with the longest experience of democracy. It is a model that we hope other countries can emulate, and we have a great stake in Turkey’s future.

There is no question that we were disappointed by the failure of the Turkish Parliament to achieve the absolute majority required to approve the transit of Turkey by American ground troops (although a majority of members voting were in favor). We believe that decision ran counter, not only to our interests, but to the interests of Turkey as well. In the wake of Secretary Powell’s recent trip to Turkey, there are indications that Turkey wants to work with us to restore and reinforce the strategic partnership. We will continue to find ways to work with Turkey during this conflict, recognizing its serious concerns about the territorial integrity of Iraq. We expect Turkey will be an important partner in the future as a majority Muslim country and the only democratic neighbor of the new democracy that we hope will emerge in Iraq.

Iraq: Post Saddam

U.S. Coalition Objectives: In a press conference earlier this week, Secretary Rumsfeld assured the Iraqi people that life without Saddam is no longer a distant dream—it will soon be their reality. And, he said, we are going to great lengths to prepare a smooth transition from Saddam’s tyranny to a new Iraqi government, a government chosen by Iraqis themselves.

Consistent with the goal to leave Iraq in the hands of Iraqis as soon as possible, we will work to achieve the following objectives:

  • The United States continues working to liberate Iraq and its people—we have no desire to occupy Iraq or control its economic resources.
  • We will help Iraqis build an Iraq that is whole, free, and at peace with itself and its neighbors.
  • We will help destroy the structures that maintained Saddam’s tyranny and eliminate the Ba’athist influence from Iraq’s government, military and security services.
  • We will help eliminate Iraq’s chemical and biological weapons and its nuclear weapons programs. This is a complex, but necessary, task, one that will require a military presence into the post-conflict period.
  • We will help Iraqis eliminate Iraq’s terrorist infrastructure—its training camps and support for terror.
  • We will help make it possible for the Iraqi people to begin to rebuild Iraq’s economic and political systems so that Iraq will become prosperous and free.

Many specific ways of achieving these goals are being worked out now. But many can only be fully developed once Saddam’s regime has been removed, and we can freely assess the state of Iraq’s natural resources and infrastructure.

We envision a free Iraq in which some 24 million Iraqis have a means of determining their own destiny in a system based on the rule of law and individual liberty. We are committed to working with Iraqis to achieve our vision of an Iraq that seeks to live peacefully with its neighbors, and no longer poses a danger to the world at large with weapons of mass destruction and through support or sympathy for terrorists. We will work with those who fought against Saddam’s tyranny from northern Iraq and abroad and those who suffered under this tyranny in Iraq. Such an Iraq would be a friend to the United States and to the international community of nations.

Responsibilities of the International Community

International support: To help Iraq take its place among peace-seeking nations, the international community has a responsibility to ensure this vision becomes reality. And the coalition is committed to working with international institutions, including the United Nations. We welcome support from U.N. specialized agencies and non-governmental organizations in providing immediate assistance to the Iraqi people. The precise role of the U.N. will be determined through coordination with the Iraqi people themselves, coalition members and U.N. officials.

Based on the lessons of previous conflicts, we have learned that post-war reconstruction requires a close coordination of military and civilian efforts. Progress toward rebuilding naturally promotes security. But, if local business people and foreign investors do not feel secure, economic reconstruction will be hindered. And a secure environment is key to enabling a democratic political process to proceed. So, establishing security through law and order is a fundamental necessity.

For the first time in decades, the wealth of Iraq will be devoted to the welfare of its people, not to palaces and armies and instruments of repression. Economic development will require the protection of Iraq’s natural resources and infrastructure. Much has been achieved already but additional efforts are underway to protect Iraq’s oil fields and preserve them as a national asset, and to restore oil production as quickly as possible to provide the Iraqi people with their primary source of revenue. While the coalition will be involved at the outset, the goal is to have production and marketing responsibility in the hands of a stable Iraqi authority as soon as possible. Iraqis themselves and Iraqi organizations will be involved from the beginning. And decisions regarding the long-term development of Iraq’s oil resources and its economy will be the responsibility of a stable Iraqi government. The United States is dedicated to ensuring that Iraq’s oil resources remain under Iraqi control. All of Iraq’s oil belongs to all of Iraq’s people.

Building an Iraqi Government

One of the greatest responsibilities of the coalition will be to help Iraqis create a new government, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, of the Iraqi people, by the Iraqi people and for the Iraqi people. The coalition countries and the international community as a whole will have a role to play, but that role is to enable the Iraqi people to take control of their own destiny as soon as possible. Establishing a permanent government for Iraq would basically involve three phases, the first two of which will very likely overlap.

Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance: In the first phase, as coalition forces gain control over Iraq, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance will oversee the delivery of humanitarian assistance and the initial efforts to resume the provision of services to the Iraqi people. It will be key, for example, to meeting basic needs like medical care, water, electrical services, and making sure Iraqi civil servants who administer those programs get paid. The ORHA is not a provisional government for Iraq. The ORHA is a multi-national, coalition effort, including representatives from a range of U.S. government agencies, including the Defense Department, the State Department, the Justice Department, USAID and advisors outside the government. Jay Garner, who will head the ORHA, will report to Centcom Commander, General Tommy Franks; he will receive his instructions from the President through the Secretary of Defense and General Franks. As soon as basic services are running once again, their administration would be turned over as soon as feasible to the Iraqi Interim Authority. Over time, ORHA will fulfill more of an advisory role. Among Jay Garner’s many remarkable qualifications for this task is the leading role he played in 1991 in assisting the people of northern Iraq to establish a governing authority in the territory under their control. That process enabled the complete withdrawal of coalition forces just six months after Operation Provide Comfort created a sanctuary in Northern Iraq free of Saddam Hussein’s control.

Iraqi Interim Authority: The second element of a post-Saddam Iraq will be an Iraqi Interim Authority, which will assume increasingly greater responsibility for the administration of Iraq. The Iraqi Interim Authority will draw from all of Iraq’s religious and ethnic groups—to include Iraqis currently inside and outside Iraq—and will provide a way for Iraqis to begin immediately to direct the economic and political reconstruction of their country. The Authority would include not only the members of the Free Iraqi groups that have fought Saddam’s tyranny and the independents among the expatriate community, but will also draw from local leaders who have already begun to participate with the coalition in the liberation of Iraq. As people throughout the country become free to express their views, more and more people will emerge from within Iraq who can be a part of this leadership.

Over time, the IIA would take control of an increasing number of administrative functions. But the Interim Authority’s most important responsibility will be to set in motion the process leading to the creation of a new Iraqi government, for example, by setting up local elections and drafting a new constitution. This is a process that foreigners cannot direct; it must be a process owned by Iraqis. Our task is to create the conditions, including the security conditions, in which they can formulate a process and then pick their leaders freely. An Interim Authority would be a bridge from the initial administration of basic services to an eventual government that represents the Iraqi people.

Iraqi government: In the final phase, an Iraqi government would assume sovereignty on the basis of elections in accordance with a new constitution. Our intention is to leave Iraq in the hands of Iraqis themselves as soon as we can. As President Bush has said, the United States intends to stay in Iraq as long as necessary, but not a day more.

That the people of Iraq want a voice in their own government, let there be no doubt. The Ayatollah Ali Sistani, under house arrest since 1988, and now freed from Saddam’s tyranny, recently issued what may be history’s first pro-U.S. fatwa. He advised believers "not to hinder the forces of liberation, and help bring this war against the tyrant to a successful end for the Iraqi people." Sistani, referring to recent events, was reported to have quoted the prophet Muhammed, saying: "There is good in what happens," adding further: "Our people need freedom more than air [to breathe]. Iraq has suffered, and it deserves better government."

This Administration is committed to helping Iraqis achieve that better government, a government that represents all ethnic and religious groups. To achieve this, the U.S. looks forward to working with the Iraqis themselves and international community.

Whether we’re talking about the future of NATO or the future of Iraq, it is clear that the security of the United States and free peoples around the globe rests on collective cooperation. We look forward to doing our part to work with the members of Congress to meet the challenges that face the trans-Atlantic community and the people of Iraq. Thank you.