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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > April

An Enlarged NATO: Mending Fences and Moving Forward on Iraq

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Washington, DC
April 29, 2003

(9:50 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It's a great pleasure to be here again and thank you for your opening statement. And Senator Biden, I thank you for your statement. And Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I will try to be as rigorous in my answers within the five-minute rule as you are with respect to your questions.

Let me thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Senator Biden for your favorable comments directed toward the Department and the work we have been doing. And Senator Biden, your comments directed toward me really go right through me to the wonderful men and women of the State Department who work so hard everyday to serve their nation.

There's been a lot of discussion about this in recent days, some of you may have noticed, and let me just take the privilege of being here to put some of the criticism directed toward the Department and our transforming efforts into a little bit of perspective. And I take the liberty of doing it here, now, because every time I've appeared before this committee over the last three years I've talked about my role as Foreign Policy Advisor to the President, but also my role as a leader and manager of the Department of State.

When I became Secretary of State, the President announced my nomination. I immediately assembled all of the reports that had been written about the Department of State in recent years. There were five or six such reports describing changes that the authors believed were needed and I even found one report that represented the work of a panel that I was on. So, in effect, I was now being given the opportunity to act on recommendations that I, myself, had made as part of a panel. And I'm very pleased that over the last two plus years we have worked hard to fix some of the problems that were real within the State Department or imagined about the State Department.

We have presented our case to this committee and other committees of the Congress. You have supported us in a way that the Department has not been supported in recent years. We went for years with our budget being cut, with our personnel being cut. We went for years in the 90s with the Congress that was around in those days not allowing us to hire any new people within the State Department. We went for years with a broken overseas building operation. We went for years, without getting into some of the personnel policies that we needed to take a look at.

We have not just been talking about transformation for the last couple of years or studying any longer. We have been working on all of these issues. And the instructions I gave to my staff when I took over at the Department of State is, "We're not doing any more transformation studies. We're going to start working on the studies that are before us."

I'm pleased that as the chief steward of the Department that I've reported what we have done to the members of Congress as well as to those organizations that were critical of us. And recently we have been given a report card by these organizations and it's been written up rather widely about how the State Department is transforming in a positive way. And if I may, Mr. Chairman, I would like to make this available to the members of the Committee at the appropriate moment.

CHAIRMAN LUGAR: It will be part of the record.

SECRETARY POWELL: But I mean to show the kinds of things that are happening in the Department. We've instituted leadership training at every single level, from junior officer all the way up to career officials going out to be ambassadors. We have got tens up tens of thousands of young Americans coming to become a part of the Department. We gave the Foreign Service Exam three Saturdays ago, and 20,000 young Americans took the test that day because they want to be a part of the work that we are doing.

We have fixed our information technology system so that we are working at the speed of light, now, and we are making sure that every member of the Department has access to information technology. We have a Diplomatic Readiness Initiative so we're dealing with all of the structural issues that had been problematic within our personnel system. We have lost lives along with our colleagues in uniform.

Since I've been Secretary of State, three members of our family have lost their lives to terrorist incidents: two in Pakistan and one in Jordan. And so we're out there on the front lines of offense, we're out there carrying the nation's message, we are out there taking the values of this nation to the people of the world, and we are dedicated people committed to the values, committed to the values of this President.

One can disagree about a particular policy. One can criticize about a particular policy and take issue with a particular policy. And that's well and fine and good. But one has to do it in a manner that does not undercut the people who are carrying out those policies. And there is no more loyal, faithful group of employees in this federal government than the employees who are in the Department of State working for me, but more importantly, working for the policies of the President of the United States, and above all, working for the values of the American people. And we will continue to transform the Department, not talk about, not have panel meetings on it, but get on with the work of transformation and I can assure you, Mr. Chairman, that remains my goal. And at least some people who have more than passing knowledge of the situation have given us a pretty good grade as to what we have done. And I also take as a statement of endorsement the increased funding that this Congress has provided, the increased spaces that you have given to the Department so that we can make the Foreign Service vibrant and more relevant. And I just give you my commitment to continue to move in that regard.

Mr. Chairman, I do have a prepared statement with respect to the issue at hand, the expansion of NATO, which I would like to submit for the record and then present a shorter statement.

My statement is a little bit shorter, but I think it's important that I go through it in some detail because of the significance of the step that the Congress, the Senate will be taking tomorrow.

But I am very pleased to testify that the enlargement of NATO agreed to in Prague last November is a positive step forward and it is a significant achievement in the future of the Alliance.

I have to kind of go back to 1989 when I had just left my position as National Security Advisor to President Reagan and I'd been through a number of summit meetings with then President Gorbachev and President Reagan. And I returned to the Army, and the Army in its, either in a moment of weakness or a moment of wisdom made me a four-star General and gave me responsibility for all of the deployable forces in the United States, most of them designed to reinforce our forces in Europe in time of war against the Soviet Union.

And because I had seen so much in the two years that worked with President Reagan about the way in which the Soviet Union and Europe and the world was changing, I said to my army colleagues in one of our early commanders' conference, "Guys, a day is coming soon when the Warsaw Pact is going to go away and all of those countries are going to be asking for membership applications in NATO." And they all looked at me somewhat askance, because it meant that the world that we had known for all those years before, since the late '40s, was now about to be fundamentally changed. And we have seen that change.

We have seen that change to the point where Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I stand before you to ask that you give your advice and consent to the ratification of the Accession Protocols that will welcome into NATO seven former members of the Warsaw Pact, and now new members to be of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the most powerful Alliance in the world of its nature, an Alliance that has as its unique character, the connection between Europe and the North American continent. No other Alliance does it. That's why these nations want to be a part of NATO. It not only integrates them more fully into Europe, more importantly, it integrates them into this great transatlantic Alliance. It gives them a security relationship with Canada and the United States of America.

This enlargement is part of an ambitious agenda whose goal is to transform the Alliance.

And Mr. Chairman, before I continue, let me acknowledge your leadership and the leadership of other members of the committee in this process of enlargement. I know that you and your staff have provided invaluable guidance to the entire executive branch team. We could not have asked for better cooperation and support from you, Mr. Chairman, or from the committee and other committees of the Congress.

My friends, the West's victory in the Cold War and the defeat of Soviet communism signaled a decisive turning point in modern history -- a victory for freedom and democracy. But the troubles and tragedies of the past decade have made clear that new threats are rising. We have seen these threats take many shapes, from ethnic cleansing in the Balkans to the terrorist attacks of September 11. To deal with these new threats, the United States has continued to rely on NATO and will do so in the future.

This great Alliance, which has kept the peace for more than fifty years, is more than a treaty for collective defense. It is the central organizing force in a great web of relationships that holds North America and Europe together. It represents a community of common values and shared commitment to democracy, free enterprise and the rule of law.

And this was never more evident than on September 12, 2001.

On that day the Alliance invoked Article V of the Washington Treaty, the basic NATO Treaty, and told the world that it regarded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon as attacks on all of its members. From this historic decision we know that NATO has the will to combat terrorism and to address the new threats that face us. But the Alliance must also have the means. So it must transform, militarily and politically, to secure our collective defense on into the twenty-first century and to sustain the transatlantic link. At the historic Prague Summit last November, NATO heads of state and government made decisions that have put us solidly on the path to transformation.

Their strong and unanimous endorsement of the U.S.-crafted transformation agenda of New Capabilities, New Members and New Relationships will help ensure that NATO remains relevant in the days and years ahead.

President Bush and I were particularly pleased that Senator Voinovich, of this committee, and Senator Frist, along with other members of Congress, were able to join us in Prague. There in Prague, our leaders agreed to expand NATO membership to include all of the new democracies in Europe who are prepared to undertake the responsibilities of leadership and of membership. Such an enlargement will help to strengthen NATO's partnerships to promote democracy, the rule of law, and promote free markets and peace throughout Eurasia. Moreover, it will better equip the Alliance to respond collectively to the new dangers we face.

This enlargement will revitalize NATO by expanding its geographic reach, enhancing its military capabilities and inducting seven countries committed to a strong transatlantic link. It will serve U.S. interests by strengthening both NATO and our bilateral ties with these new allies, who have already done a great deal to support our vision for NATO and collective security.

All seven of the invitees have demonstrated that they are in a position to further the principles of the Washington Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area.

The countries invited at Prague have been working intensively in NATO's Membership Action Plan since 1999. In this process, they have focused not only on security and defense issues, but also on democratic and market reforms. During these intensive preparations, each invitee has received both support and feedback from NATO.

The United States has also had its own dialogue with the seven countries about their reforms. In addition to the day-to-day work of our Embassies, we sent, as was noted, an inter-agency team headed by Ambassador Nick Burns, our very able representative in Brussels, sent this team in February and October of last year to visit each of the countries to make specific reform recommendations and to evaluate progress.

The prospect of NATO membership helped to create in each country a political atmosphere that encouraged governments to adopt needed reforms. These reforms are in each country's own best interest. In many cases, they would have been difficult to bring about without the demands of NATO candidacy.

The record of each invitee government demonstrates powerfully its commitment to NATO. Reform areas included treatment of minorities, creation of a viable political opposition, restoration of private property, willingness to confront the past, combating corruption, and support within that population for NATO membership.

For example, Estonia and Latvia have taken important steps to protect the rights of their Russian-speaking minorities. Their governments have eased requirements for citizenship and adopted other measures, which provide assurances that all of the people of those countries will be treated with dignity and respect.

The Baltic States have acknowledged dark times in their histories. When Estonian Prime Minister Siim Kallas visited Washington last September, he publicly recognized Estonians' collaboration with the Nazis and the participation of Estonians in the murder of Jews during the Holocaust. He did not hide from their history.

All seven invitees have also adopted sweeping measures to combat corruption. Parliaments in Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, tough anti-corruption legislation. These three states have also established special prosecutors to root out public corruption. The new Latvia Government under Prime Minister Repse has instituted a major anti-corruption program.

Slovenia has taken important strides in reducing the state's involvement in private enterprise. And Slovenia already has one of the highest Transparency International ratings for clean government among NATO members.

The public support for NATO membership in each of the new member states is very high. In Romania, it is above 80 percent. In Slovenia’s referendum last month, 66 percent voted for NATO membership. A clear majority in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania supports membership.

Mr. Chairman, of course, there are disappointments. For example, we remain troubled by reports of continuing gray arms sales. Bulgaria and Romania have extensive arms industries with longstanding ties to the Middle East. We have had considerable success in stopping transfers of arms to countries of concern from these countries. More important for the long term, we are working with these countries to help them improve their system of export control and to tighten oversight of defense industries.

We must not forget as well that the seven invitees also bring tangible security assets to the Alliance. Enlargement will bring more than 200,000 additional troops into the Alliance -- as many as in 1999. It will extend NATO's reach from the Baltic to the Black Sea, both politically and geographically.

And the new members will make the Alliance stronger and they will bring fresh ideas and energy to the Alliance. I am pleased to report that all seven invitees are already de facto Allies in the war on terror. All of them have contributed to stabilization efforts in Afghanistan through Operation Enduring Freedom and the International Security Assistance Force.

Romania sent its "Carpathian Hawks" battalion to Afghanistan and did so using its own airlift rather than asking the U.S. for a lift -- a feat that several current Allies could not have accomplished. That Romanian battalion is now patrolling and fighting beside U.S. soldiers in the most dangerous regions of Afghanistan.

All of the new members have expressed support for the United States' position on Iraq.
In February 2003, immediately following my presentation to the United Nations Security Council on the threat posed by Saddam's regime, they jointly called for the international community to take decisive action against Iraq's continued violation of international law and defiance of the Security Council. They also issued a joint statement at the Prague Summit in November 2002, supporting the United States' position on Iraq.

Moreover, Mr. Chairman, all of the new invitees sent military liaison officers to CENTCOM, to CENTCOM headquarters in Tampa, ahead of possible operations in Iraq. Several of the invitees have provided military support to the international coalition.

A Slovak CBRN - Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear unit -- is stationed in Kuwait, incorporated into a Czech unit. The Romanians are providing a similar unit. The Bulgarians provided us with the use of their airbase at Burgas. It is clear that the seven invitees are already demonstrating their military value to the Alliance.

This value has been particularly noticeable given current circumstances wherein some on both sides of the Atlantic are questioning the health of the Alliance and the solidity of the transatlantic relationship.

Mr. Chairman, I don't want to minimize the challenges that the relationship faces today as we attempt to shape both it and the Alliance for a world no longer fenced off by the Cold War.

In February we had a bruising debate in NATO over providing assistance to Turkey. In the end, we achieved our goal by providing support for Turkey's defense. We would have preferred to make that decision at 19 nations, instead of at 18, but France would not permit it. The United States and many of its NATO partners found it regrettable that some members so readily discarded their obligations to support an ally with purely defensive assistance -- that's all we were asking for, but they did not follow through on their obligation in order to press their own agendas on Iraq.

Make no mistake, and I make no mistake about it. The disagreement was serious, and our delay in responding to Turkey's request damaged the credibility of our Alliance. Nevertheless, outside of the Alliance we have been able to come through this one side, this one side of a bruising battle, and this is the one at the UN Security Council with respect to Iraq.

The war is now all but over, although there are still dangers, and the defensive measures that were taken to help Turkey are ended. We can look back at these disagreements and debates with dispassion and against the backdrop of almost a half-century of solid cooperation.

Such cooperation is not a thing of the past. It is a thing of the future, as well. On April 16, for example, the Alliance agreed to assume the lead of ISAF IV in August. This is the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. So notwithstanding all the fights that we had in NATO, the disagreement over providing support to Turkey, once that issue was behind us, we were able to come together again. And as note was taken during my meeting in Brussels a few weeks ago with all of the Alliance members present and in another setting with all of the EU members present as well, we were able to agree in principle and then follow through with action to send the NATO Alliance out of area to Afghanistan. Something that would have been unthinkable just ten years ago is now being done. And we also got an agreement in principle that perhaps something similar might be done with respect to Iraq, although we are nowhere near as close to making a decision on that.

This action with respect to ISAF will bring added continuity to the vital mission of helping to stabilize Afghanistan, and take NATO beyond its traditional areas of responsibility. It was a unanimous decision taken by the NAC at 19 without the rancor that characterized the debates over Article IV obligations to Turkey.

One of the challenges we face is understanding the threat.

September 11th burned itself irrevocably into the mind of every American. To say international terrorism is just another threat is to defy the instinctual reality that all Americans feel in their heart of hearts. Every American who watched the World Trade Center Towers burn, crumble and disintegrate, with thousands of people inside, and who watched the Pentagon in flames, knows what terrorism can bring to our homeland. That reality leads Americans to conclude that terrorism must be eradicated -- especially the terrorism that seeks nuclear weapons, and other means of mass destruction.

Some in Europe see it differently. Some see terrorism as a regrettable but inevitable part of society and want to keep it at arm length and as low key as possible. It is our job to convince them otherwise. This is a threat we share and must combat together -- indeed, can only combat together.

And the United States must continue to lead NATO, as we have for more than 50 years, to deal with this new threat, just as we have dealt with old threats.

Of course there will be disagreements. We are democracies. None of us follows blindly. We debate. We disagree. On those occasions when we disagree, we roll up our sleeves, put our heads together, and find a way to work things out. At the end of the day, that is our great strength. And that is why the transatlantic link will not break. The glue of NATO is too strong and it holds us too fast to let it break.

When I was in Europe at the beginning of this month, I also stopped in Belgrade to deliver personally my condolences over the death of Serbia's Prime Minister Djindjic, brutally assassinated earlier this year. I was struck by the speed with which the government of President Marovic and the new Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Zivkovic is leading a renewed and vigorous political effort to rid that nation of its dangerous criminal elements, to hand over those wanted by the International Criminal Tribunal at The Hague, and to strengthen democracy in Serbia and Montenegro. I was impressed.

Later that day and the next, in Brussels, I was heartened, as you heard earlier, by the discussions I had with 21 European ministers, as well as European Union High Representative Solana and NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson. A majority of these Allies had joined the coalition to disarm Iraq. Those Allies who did not have welcomed our success, even though they were against the effort of going in. They have now welcomed our success and we are all together, as an Alliance again, exploring ways to support stabilization and reconstruction.

Those who write about the demise of NATO are going to be wrong, just like they have been wrong many times in the past. We heard this story after the collapse of the Soviet Union, at the end of the Cold War. We heard it during the troubled times in the Balkans. I give nay sayers of NATO credit for their persistence -- but they are persistently wrong. Any alliance that countries are knocking on the door to get into is anything but dead.

After the heated debate over Turkey, Secretary General Robertson said that the damage done to NATO was a hit above the waterline, not below. The same can be said about the fallout on NATO from the debate in the UN Security Council over Iraq. Nevertheless, NATO must continue to adapt to changing circumstances. It must address the central challenges of this era: rogue states, terror, weapons of mass destruction.

Increasingly, NATO members will have to be prepared to focus their energies beyond Europe -- a reality that will require that member nations possess military forces with the capability to go and fight beyond Europe. The Alliance will recover. We will persevere. And we must.

It is essential that we recover and endure because there is much work, which needs to be done, and many allies who want to do it.

In Afghanistan, we need to ensure the changeover in August goes as smoothly as possible. This operation will constitute NATO's largest step to date beyond its traditionally Europe-focused role.

In southern Europe, Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia will still demand our attention and our presence. In Macedonia right now, the European Union has made its first deployment of forces with over 300 troops. These troops and this deployment in no way contradict NATO; in fact, they reinforce the importance of the Alliance and complement its work, as the Commander of the EU force reports to NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander through NATO's Regional Command South, a blending of NATO and the European Union as anticipated in ESDP.

And as I have referred to, in Iraq we are exploring what NATO collectively can do to secure the peace. All members have said they are prepared to discuss a role in NATO. We have noted possible Alliance roles in stabilization, humanitarian assistance operations, and NATO assistance to coalition partners. These preliminary discussions, if they lead to concrete results, could be the next big step in NATO's transformation.

In line with this new orientation, Supreme Allied Commander General Jim Jones pointed out at the beginning of this month that NATO will undergo another sea-change when it stands up a highly ready Allied Response Force with global reach, as agreed to in Prague last November.

So I believe very, very much that there will be more than enough work to go around, and if NATO can play a role, it should.

We should not ask ourselves, what can NATO do to prove its relevance? We should ask, what can NATO do to advance the peace?

The essential elements of the Alliance remain firm. NATO's integrated military structure creates a reservoir of working, planning, and training together that is irreplaceable. The Alliance itself can call upon this rich reservoir or, as seems increasingly likely, coalitions of the willing can be drawn from it. For example, the EU-led operation in Macedonia that I referred to a moment ago is drawing on NATO assets and capabilities to do the job under an EU mandate.

Moreover, NATO's Council provides a valuable forum for discussing matters of war and peace. And fundamentally, NATO binds together nations who share the same beliefs and values. Nations who accept that vigorous debate is the hallmark of an alliance of democratic nations.

NATO is an Alliance within which the seven future members invited at Prague, with the advice and consent of the Senate, will be able to join their colleagues and be welcomed to stand and be heard and not be told to sit and be silent.

Mr. Chairman, I cannot outline specific roles for NATO in the future. In some instances, we will operate as an Alliance. In some, as members of a coalition of the willing. We may wage war and we will maintain the peace.

For over half a century, NATO was indispensable to security on both sides of the Atlantic. That has not changed. Today, the Alliance remains indispensable to our security, and to meeting the security challenges in a world of diverse threats, multiple challenges and unprecedented opportunities. The Alliance remains crucial to the links that bind North America to Europe and Europe to North America.

And let me also stress, Mr. Chairman, as I come to my conclusion, that the door to NATO will remain open. Prague was not the end of the enlargement process, just one step on the way. We welcome the applications of Albania, Croatia and Macedonia and other future applicants as well. We will continue to enlarge the Alliance as emerging new democracies -- and, perhaps, some established ones as well -- and pursue membership, and as they demonstrate their ability to contribute to the security of the Euro-Atlantic community, as required, under Article X of the NATO Treaty.

Today, Mr. Chairman, I ask the Senate to make its final contribution by performing its constitutional duty in helping us transform the alliance. I, again, urge the committee to act swiftly to recommend that the Senate provide its advice and consent on the NATO accession protocols that will welcome our new allies into our alliance, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

Mr. Chairman, I know this committee plans to mark up tomorrow, and that you plan to take the protocols to the floor for a vote on May 7th. If that occurs -- and I have every confidence that it will -- President Bush and I will be very grateful, but even more grateful will be these nations and the people that they represent.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for your indulgence. I will stop here and respond to questions. And I am sure all of the other issues that have been raised in opening statements will be dealt with in the course of the questions and answers.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Released on April 29, 2003

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