Worldwide Threat - Converging Dangers in a Post 9/11
George J. Tenet, Director of Central Intelligence
(as prepared for delivery)
Mr. Chairman, I appear before you this year under circumstances that
are extraordinary and historic for reasons I need not recount.
Never before has the subject of this annual threat briefing had more
immediate resonance. Never before have the dangers been more clear
or more present.
September 11 brought together and brought home—literally—several
vital threats to the United States and its interests that we have long
been aware of. It is the convergence of these threats that I want
to emphasize with you today: the connection between terrorists
and other enemies of this country; the weapons of mass destruction they
seek to use against us; and the social, economic, and political tensions
across the world that they exploit in mobilizing their followers.
September 11 demonstrated the dangers that arise when these threats
converge—and it reminds us that we overlook at our own peril the
impact of crises in remote parts of the world.
This convergence of threats has created the world
I will present to you today—a world in which dangers exist not
only in those places where we have most often focused our attention,
but also in other areas that demand it:
- In places like Somalia, where the absence of a national government
has created an environment in which groups sympathetic to al-Qa’ida
have offered terrorists an operational base and potential haven.
- In places like Indonesia, where political instability, separatist
and ethnic tensions, and protracted violence are hampering economic
recovery and fueling Islamic extremism.
- In places like Colombia, where leftist insurgents who make much
of their money from drug trafficking are escalating their assault
on the government—further undermining economic prospects and
fueling a cycle of violence.
- And finally, Mr. Chairman, in places like Connecticut, where the
death of a 94-year-old woman in her own home of anthrax poisoning
can arouse our worst fears about what our enemies might try to do
These threats demand our utmost response. The United States has
clearly demonstrated since September 11 that it is up to the challenge.
But make no mistake: despite the battles we have won in Afghanistan,
we remain a nation at war.
Last year I told you that Usama Bin Ladin and the al-Qa’ida network
were the most immediate and serious threat this country faced.
This remains true today despite the progress we have made in Afghanistan
and in disrupting the network elsewhere. We assess that Al-Qa’ida
and other terrorist groups will continue to plan to attack this country
and its interests abroad. Their modus operandi
is to have multiple attack plans in the works simultaneously, and to
have al-Qa’ida cells in place to conduct them.
- We know that terrorists have considered attacks in the US against
high-profile government or private facilities, famous landmarks, and
US infrastructure nodes such as airports, bridges, harbors, and dams.
High profile events such as the Olympics or last weekend’s Super
Bowl also fit the terrorists’ interest in striking another blow
within the United States that would command worldwide media attention.
- Al-Qa’ida also has plans to strike against US and allied targets
in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia. American
diplomatic and military installations are at high risk—especially
in East Africa, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
- Operations against US targets could be launched by al-Qa’ida
cells already in place in major cities in Europe and the Middle East.
Al-Qa’ida can also exploit its presence or connections to other
groups in such countries as Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Although the September 11 attacks suggest that al-Qa’ida and
other terrorists will continue to use conventional weapons, one of our
highest concerns is their stated readiness to attempt unconventional
attacks against us. As early as 1998, Bin Ladin publicly declared
that acquiring unconventional weapons was “a religious duty.”
- Terrorist groups worldwide have ready access to information on chemical,
biological, and even nuclear weapons via the Internet, and we know
that al-Qa’ida was working to acquire some of the most dangerous
chemical agents and toxins. Documents recovered from al-Qa’ida
facilities in Afghanistan show that Bin Ladin was pursuing a sophisticated
biological weapons research program.
- We also believe that Bin Ladin was seeking to acquire or develop
a nuclear device. Al-Qa’ida may be pursuing a radioactive
dispersal device—what some call a “dirty bomb.”
- Alternatively, al-Qa’ida or other terrorist groups might also
try to launch conventional attacks against the chemical or nuclear
industrial infrastructure of the United States to cause widespread
toxic or radiological damage.
We are also alert to the possibility of cyber warfare attack by terrorists.
September 11 demonstrated our dependence on critical infrastructure
systems that rely on electronic and computer networks. Attacks
of this nature will become an increasingly viable option for terrorists
as they and other foreign adversaries become more familiar with these
targets, and the technologies required to attack them.
The terrorist threat goes well beyond al-Qa’ida. The situation
in the Middle East continues to fuel terrorism and anti-US sentiment
worldwide. Groups like the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and HAMAS
have escalated their violence against Israel, and the intifada has rejuvenated
once-dormant groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
If these groups feel that US actions are threatening their existence,
they may begin targeting Americans directly—as Hizballah’s
terrorist wing already does.
- The terrorist threat also goes beyond Islamic extremists and the
Muslim world. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC)
poses a serious threat to US interests in Latin America because it
associates us with the government it is fighting against.
- The same is true in Turkey, where the Revolutionary People’s
Liberation Party/Front has publicly criticized the United States and
our operations in Afghanistan.
- We are also watching states like Iran and Iraq
that continue to support terrorist groups.
- Iran continues to provide support—including arms transfers—to
Palestinian rejectionist groups and Hizballah. Tehran has also
failed to move decisively against al-Qa’ida members who have
relocated to Iran from Afghanistan.
- Iraq has a long history of supporting terrorists, including giving
sanctuary to Abu Nidal.
The war on terrorism has dealt severe blows to al-Qa’ida and
its leadership. The group has been denied its safehaven and strategic
command center in Afghanistan. Drawing on both our own assets
and increased cooperation from allies around the world, we are uncovering
terrorists’ plans and breaking up their cells. These efforts
have yielded the arrest of nearly 1,000 al-Qa’ida operatives in
over 60 countries, and have disrupted terrorist operations and potential
Mr. Chairman, Bin Ladin did not believe that we would invade his sanctuary.
He saw the United States as soft, impatient, unprepared, and fearful
of a long, bloody war of attrition. He did not count on the fact
that we had lined up allies that could help us overcome barriers of
terrain and culture. He did not know about the collection and
operational initiatives that would allow us to strike—with great
accuracy—at the heart of the Taliban and al-Qa’ida.
He underestimated our capabilities, our readiness, and our resolve.
That said, I must repeat that al-Qa’ida has not yet been destroyed.
It and other like-minded groups remain willing and able to strike us.
Al-Qa’ida leaders still at large are working to reconstitute the
organization and to resume its terrorist operations. We must eradicate
these organizations by denying them their sources of financing and eliminating
their ability to hijack charitable organizations for their terrorist
purposes. We must be prepared for a long war, and we must not
Mr. Chairman, we must also look beyond the immediate danger of terrorist
attacks to the conditions that allow terrorism to take root around the
world. These conditions are no less threatening to US national
security than terrorism itself. The problems that terrorists exploit—poverty,
alienation, and ethnic tensions—will grow more acute over the
next decade. This will especially be the case in those parts of
the world that have served as the most fertile recruiting grounds for
Islamic extremist groups.
- We have already seen—in Afghanistan and
elsewhere—that domestic unrest and conflict in weak states is
one of the factors that create an environment conducive to terrorism.
- More importantly, demographic trends tell us that the world’s
poorest and most politically unstable regions—which include
parts of the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa—will have the
largest youth populations in the world over the next two decades and
beyond. Most of these countries will lack the economic institutions
or resources to effectively integrate these youth into society.
THE MUSLIM WORLD
All of these challenges come together in parts of the Muslim world,
and let me give you just one example. One of the places where
they converge that has the greatest long-term impact on any society
is its educational system. Primary and secondary education in
parts of the Muslim world is often dominated by an interpretation of
Islam that teaches intolerance and hatred. The graduates of these
schools—“madrasas”—provide the foot soldiers
for many of the Islamic militant groups that operate throughout the
Let me underscore what the President has affirmed: Islam itself
is neither an enemy nor a threat to the United States. But the
increasing anger toward the West—and toward governments friendly
to us—among Islamic extremists and their sympathizers clearly
is a threat to us. We have seen—and continue to see—these
dynamics play out across the Muslim world. Let me briefly address
their manifestation in several key countries.
Our campaign in Afghanistan has made great progress, but
the road ahead is fraught with challenges. The Afghan people,
with international assistance, are working to overcome a traditionally
weak central government, a devastated infrastructure, a grave humanitarian
crisis, and ethnic divisions that deepened over the last 20 years of
conflict. The next few months will be an especially fragile period.
- Interim authority chief Hamid Karzai will have to play a delicate
balancing game domestically. Remaining al Qai’da fighters
in the eastern provinces, and ongoing power struggles among Pashtun
leaders there underscore the volatility of tribal and personal relations
that Karzai must navigate.
- Taliban elements still at large and remaining pockets of Arab fighters
could also threaten the security of those involved in reconstruction
and humanitarian operations. Some leaders in the new political
order may allow the continuation of opium cultivation to secure advantages
against their rivals for power.
Let me move next to Pakistan. September 11 and
the US response to it were the most profound external events for Pakistan
since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, and the US response
to that. The Musharraf government’s alignment with the US—and
its abandonment of nearly a decade of support for the Taliban—represent
a fundamental political shift with inherent political risks because
of the militant Islamic and anti-American sentiments that exist within
President Musharraf’s intention to establish a moderate, tolerant
Islamic state—as outlined in his 12 January speech—is being
welcomed by most Pakistanis, but he will still have to confront major
vested interests. The speech is energizing debate across the Muslim
world about which vision of Islam is the right one for the future of
the Islamic community.
- Musharaff established a clear and forceful distinction between a
narrow, intolerant, and conflict-ridden vision of the past and an
inclusive, tolerant, and peace-oriented vision of the future.
- The speech also addressed the jihad issue by citing the distinction
the Prophet Muhammad made between the “smaller jihad”
involving violence and the “greater jihad” that focuses
on eliminating poverty and helping the needy.
Although September 11 highlighted the challenges that India-Pakistan
relations pose for US policy, the attack on the Indian parliament on
December 13 was even more destabilizing—resulting as it did in
new calls for military action against Pakistan, and subsequent mobilization
on both sides. The chance of war between these two nuclear-armed
states is higher than at any point since 1971. If India were to
conduct large scale offensive operations into Pakistani Kashmir, Pakistan
might retaliate with strikes of its own in the belief that its nuclear
deterrent would limit the scope of an Indian counterattack.
- Both India and Pakistan are publicly downplaying
the risks of nuclear conflict in the current crisis. We are deeply
concerned, however, that a conventional war—once begun—could
escalate into a nuclear confrontation.
Let me turn now to Iraq. Saddam has responded to our progress
in Afghanistan with a political and diplomatic charm offensive to make
it appear that Baghdad is becoming more flexible on UN sanctions and
inspections issues. Last month he sent Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz
to Moscow and Beijing to profess Iraq’s new openness to meet its
UN obligations and to seek their support.
Baghdad’s international isolation is also decreasing as support
for the sanctions regime erodes among other states in the region.
Saddam has carefully cultivated neighboring states, drawing them into
economically dependent relationships in hopes of further undermining
their support for the sanctions. The profits he gains from these
relationships provide him the means to reward key supporters and, more
importantly, to fund his pursuit of WMD. His calculus is never
about bettering or helping the Iraqi people.
Let me be clear: Saddam remains a threat. He is determined
to thwart UN sanctions, press ahead with weapons of mass destruction,
and resurrect the military force he had before the Gulf war. Today,
he maintains his vise grip on the levers of power through a pervasive
intelligence and security apparatus, and even his reduced military force—which
is less than half its pre-war size—remains capable of defeating
more poorly armed internal opposition groups and threatening Iraq’s
As I said earlier, we continue to watch Iraq’s involvement in
terrorist activities. Baghdad has a long history of supporting
terrorism, altering its targets to reflect changing priorities and goals.
It has also had contacts with al-Qa’ida. Their ties may
be limited by divergent ideologies, but the two sides’ mutual
antipathy toward the United States and the Saudi royal family suggests
that tactical cooperation between them is possible—even though
Saddam is well aware that such activity would carry serious consequences.
In Iran, we are concerned that the reform movement may be losing
its momentum. For almost five years, President Khatami and his
reformist supporters have been stymied by Supreme Leader Khamenei and
- The hardliners have systematically used the unelected institutions
they control—the security forces, the judiciary, and the Guardian’s
Council—to block reforms that challenge their entrenched interests.
They have closed newspapers, forced members of Khatami’s cabinet
from office, and arrested those who have dared to speak out against
- Discontent with the current domestic situation is widespread and
cuts across the social spectrum. Complaints focus on the lack of pluralism
and government accountability, social restrictions, and poor economic
performance. Frustrations are growing as the populace sees elected
institutions such as the Majles and the Presidency unable to break
the hardliners’ hold on power.
The hardline regime appears secure for now because security forces
have easily contained dissenters and arrested potential opposition leaders.
No one has emerged to rally reformers into a forceful movement for change,
and the Iranian public appears to prefer gradual reform to another revolution.
But the equilibrium is fragile and could be upset by a miscalculation
by either the reformers or the hardline clerics.
For all of this, reform is not dead. We must remember that the
people of Iran have demonstrated in four national elections since 1997
that they want change and have grown disillusioned with the promises
of the revolution. Social, intellectual, and political developments
are proceeding, civil institutions are growing, and new newspapers open
as others are closed.
The initial signs of Tehran's cooperation and common cause with us
in Afghanistan are being eclipsed by Iranian efforts to undermine US
influence there. While Iran's officials express a shared interest
in a stable government in Afghanistan, its security forces appear bent
on countering the US presence. This seeming contradiction in behavior
reflects deep-seated suspicions among Tehran's clerics that the United
States is committed to encircling and overthrowing them—a fear
that could quickly erupt in attacks against our interests.
- We have seen little sign of a reduction in Iran’s support
for terrorism in the past year. Its participation in the attempt
to transfer arms to the Palestinian Authority via the Karine-A probably
was intended to escalate the violence of the intifada and strengthen
the position of Palestinian elements that prefer armed conflict with
The current conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has
been raging for almost a year and a half, and it continues to deteriorate.
The violence has hardened the public’s positions on both sides
and increased the longstanding animosity between Israeli Prime Minister
Sharon and Palestinian leader Arafat. Although many Israelis and
Palestinians say they believe that ultimately the conflict can only
be resolved through negotiations, the absence of any meaningful security
cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority—and the
escalating and uncontrolled activities of the Palestine Islamic Jihad
and HAMAS—make any progress extremely difficult.
- We are concerned that this environment creates opportunities for
any number of players—most notably Iran—to take steps
that will result in further escalation of violence by radical Palestinian
- At the same time, the continued violence threatens to weaken the
political center in the Arab world, and increases the challenge for
our Arab allies to balance their support for us against the demands
of their publics.
I turn now to the subject of proliferation. I would like
to start by drawing your attention to several disturbing trends in this
important area. WMD programs are becoming more advanced and effective
as they mature, and as countries of concern become more aggressive in
pursuing them. This is exacerbated by the diffusion of technology
over time—which enables proliferators to draw on the experience
of others and to develop more advanced weapons more quickly than they
could otherwise. Proliferators are also becoming more self-sufficient.
And they are taking advantage of the dual-use nature of WMD- and missile-related
technologies to establish advanced production capabilities and to conduct
WMD- and missile-related research under the guise of legitimate commercial
or scientific activity.
Let me address in turn the primary categories of WMD proliferation,
starting with chemical and biological weapons. The CBW
threat continues to grow for a variety of reasons, and to present us
with monitoring challenges. The dual-use nature of many CW and
BW agents complicates our assessment of offensive programs. Many
CW and BW production capabilities are hidden in plants that are virtually
indistinguishable from genuine commercial facilities. And the
technology behind CW and BW agents is spreading. We assess there
is a significant risk within the next few years that we could confront
an adversary—either terrorists or a rogue state—who possesses
On the nuclear side, we are concerned about the possibility
of significant nuclear technology transfers going undetected.
This reinforces our need to more closely examine emerging nuclear programs
for sudden leaps in capability. Factors working against us include
the difficulty of monitoring and controlling technology transfers, the
emergence of new suppliers to covert nuclear weapons programs, and the
possibility of illicitly acquiring fissile material. All of these
can shorten timelines and increase the chances of proliferation surprise.
On the missile side, the proliferation of ICBM and cruise missile
designs and technology has raised the threat to the US from WMD delivery
systems to a critical threshold. As outlined in our recent National
Intelligence Estimate on the subject, most Intelligence Community agencies
project that by 2015 the US most likely will face ICBM threats from
North Korea and Iran, and possibly from Iraq. This is in addition
to the longstanding missile forces of Russia and China. Short-
and medium-range ballistic missiles pose a significant threat now.
- Several countries of concern are also increasingly interested in
acquiring a land-attack cruise missile (LACM) capability. By
the end of the decade, LACMs could pose a serious threat to not only
our deployed forces, but possibly even the US mainland.
Russian entities continue to provide other countries
with technology and expertise applicable to CW, BW, nuclear, and ballistic
and cruise missile projects. Russia appears to be the first choice
of proliferant states seeking the most advanced technology and training.
These sales are a major source of funds for Russian commercial and defense
industries and military R&D.
- Russia continues to supply significant assistance on nearly all
aspects of Tehran’s nuclear program. It is also providing
Iran assistance on long-range ballistic missile programs.
Chinese firms remain key suppliers of missile-related technologies
to Pakistan, Iran, and several other countries. This is in spite
of Beijing’s November 2000 missile pledge not to assist in any
way countries seeking to develop nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
Most of China’s efforts involve solid-propellant ballistic missile
development for countries that are largely dependent on Chinese expertise
and materials, but it has also sold cruise missiles to countries of
concern such as Iran.
- We are closely watching Beijing’s compliance with its bilateral
commitment in 1996 not to assist unsafeguarded nuclear facilities,
and its pledge in 1997 not to provide any new nuclear cooperation
- Chinese firms have in the past supplied dual-use CW-related production
equipment and technology to Iran. We remain concerned that they
may try to circumvent the CW-related export controls that Beijing
has promulgated since acceding to the CWC and the nuclear Nonproliferation
North Korea continues to export complete ballistic missiles
and production capabilities along with related raw materials, components,
and expertise. Profits from these sales help P’yongyang
to support its missile—and probably other WMD—development
programs, and in turn generate new products to offer to its customers—primarily
Iran, Libya, Syria, and Egypt. North Korea continues to comply
with the terms of the Agreed Framework that are directly related to
the freeze on its reactor program, but P’yongyang has warned that
it is prepared to walk away from the agreement if it concluded that
the United States was not living up to its end of the deal.
Iraq continues to build and expand an infrastructure capable
of producing WMD. Baghdad is expanding its civilian chemical industry
in ways that could be diverted quickly to CW production. We believe
it also maintains an active and capable BW program; Iraq told UNSCOM
it had worked with several BW agents.
- We believe Baghdad continues to pursue ballistic missile capabilities
that exceed the restrictions imposed by UN resolutions. With
substantial foreign assistance, it could flight-test a longer-range
ballistic missile within the next five years. It may also have
retained the capability to deliver BW or CW agents using modified
aircraft or other unmanned aerial vehicles.
- We believe Saddam never abandoned his nuclear weapons program.
Iraq retains a significant number of nuclear scientists, program documentation,
and probably some dual-use manufacturing infrastructure that could
support a reinvigorated nuclear weapons program. Baghdad’s
access to foreign expertise could support a rejuvenated program, but
our major near-term concern is the possibility that Saddam might gain
access to fissile material.
Iran remains a serious concern because of its across-the-board
pursuit of WMD and missile capabilities. Tehran may be able to
indigenously produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by
late this decade. Obtaining material from outside could cut years
from this estimate. Iran may also flight-test an ICBM later this
decade, using either Russian or North Korean assistance. Having
already deployed several types of UAVs—including some in an attack
role—Iran may seek to develop or otherwise acquire more sophisticated
LACMs. It also continues to pursue dual-use equipment and expertise
that could help to expand its BW arsenal, and to maintain a large CW
Both India and Pakistan are working on the doctrine and
tactics for more advanced nuclear weapons, producing fissile material,
and increasing their nuclear stockpiles. We have continuing concerns
that both sides may not be done with nuclear testing. Nor can
we rule out the possibility that either country could deploy their most
advanced nuclear weapons without additional testing. Both countries
also continue development of long-range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles,
and plan to field cruise missiles with a land-attack capability.
As I have mentioned in years past, we face several unique challenges
in trying to detect WMD acquisition by proliferant states and non-state
actors. Their use of denial and deception tactics, and their access
to a tremendous amount of information in open sources about WMD production,
complicate our efforts. So does their exploitation of space.
The unique spaceborne advantage that the US has enjoyed over the past
few decades is eroding as more countries—including China and India—field
increasingly sophisticated reconnaissance satellites. Today there
are three commercial satellites collecting high-resolution imagery,
much of it openly marketed. Foreign military, intelligence, and
terrorist organizations are exploiting this—along with commercially
available navigation and communications services—to enhance the
planning and conduct of their operations.
Let me mention here another danger that is closely related to proliferation:
the changing character of warfare itself. As demonstrated by September
11, we increasingly are facing real or potential adversaries whose main
goal is to cause the United States pain and suffering, rather than to
achieve traditional military objectives. Their inability to match
US military power is driving some to invest in “asymmetric”
niche capabilities. We must remain alert to indications that our
adversaries are pursuing such capabilities against us.
Mr. Chairman, let me turn now to other areas of the world where the
US has key interests, beginning with Russia. The most striking
development regarding Russia over the past year has been Moscow’s
greater engagement with the United States. Even before September
11, President Putin had moved to engage the US as part of a broader
effort to integrate Russia more fully into the West, modernize its economy,
and regain international status and influence. This strategic
shift away from a zero-sum view of relations with the United States
is consistent with Putin’s stated desire to address the many socioeconomic
problems that cloud Russia’s future.
During his second year in office, Putin moved strongly to advance his
policy agenda. He pushed the Duma to pass key economic legislation
on budget reform, legitimizing urban property sales, flattening and
simplifying tax rates, and reducing red tape for small businesses.
His support for his economic team and its fiscal rigor positioned Russia
to pay back wages and pensions to state workers, amass a post-Soviet
high of almost $39 billion in reserves, and meet the major foreign debt
coming due this year (about $14 billion) and next (about $16 billion).
- He reinvigorated military reform by placing his
top lieutenant atop the Defense Ministry and increasing military spending
for the second straight year—even as he forced tough decisions
on de-emphasizing strategic forces, and pushing for a leaner, better-equipped
conventional military force.
This progress is promising, and Putin is trying to build a strong Presidency
that can ensure these reforms are implemented across Russia—while
managing a fragmented bureaucracy beset by informal networks that serve
private interests. In his quest to build a strong state, however,
he is trying to establish parameters within which political forces must
operate. This “managed democracy” is illustrated by
his continuing moves against independent national television companies.
- On the economic front, Putin will have to take on bank reform, overhaul
of Russia’s entrenched monopolies, and judicial reform to move
the country closer to a Western-style market economy and attract much-needed
Putin has made no headway in Chechnya. Despite his hint in September
of a possible dialogue with Chechen moderates, the fighting has intensified
in recent months, and thousands of Chechen guerrillas—and their
fellow Arab mujahedeen fighters—remain. Moscow seems unwilling
to consider the compromises necessary to reach a settlement, while divisions
among the Chechens make it hard to find a representative interlocutor.
The war, meanwhile, threatens to spill over into neighboring Georgia.
After September 11, Putin emphatically chose to join us in the fight
against terrorism. The Kremlin blames Islamic radicalism for the
conflict in Chechnya and believes it to be a serious threat to Russia.
Moscow sees the US-led counterterrorism effort—particularly the
demise of the Taliban regime—as an important gain in countering
the radical Islamic threat to Russia and Central Asia.
So far, Putin’s outreach to the United States has incurred little
political damage, largely because of his strong domestic standing.
Recent Russian media polls show his public approval ratings at around
80 percent. The depth of support within key elites, however, is
unclear—particularly within the military and security services.
Public comments by some senior military officers indicate that elements
of the military doubt that the international situation has changed sufficiently
to overcome deeply rooted suspicions of US intentions.
Moscow retains fundamental differences with
Washington on key issues, and suspicion about US motives persists among
Russian conservatives—especially within the military and security
services. Putin has called the intended US withdrawal from the
ABM treaty a “mistake,” but has downplayed its impact on
Russia. At the same time, Moscow is likely to
pursue a variety of countermeasures and new weapons systems to defeat
a deployed US missile defense.
I turn next to China. Last year I told you that China’s
drive to become a great power was coming more sharply into focus.
The challenge, I said, was that Beijing saw the United States as the
primary obstacle to its realization of that goal. This was in
spite of the fact that Chinese leaders at the same time judged that
they needed to maintain good ties with Washington. A lot has happened
in US-China relations over the past year, from the tenseness of the
EP-3 episode in April to the positive image of President Bush and Jiang
Zemin standing together in Shanghai last fall, highlighting our shared
fight against terrorism.
September 11 changed the context of China’s approach to us, but
it did not change the fundamentals. China is developing an increasingly
competitive economy and building a modern military force with the ultimate
objective of asserting itself as a great power in East Asia. And
although Beijing joined the coalition against terrorism, it remains
deeply skeptical of US intentions in Central and South Asia. It
fears that we are gaining regional influence at China’s expense,
and it views our encouragement of a Japanese military role in counterterrorism
as support for Japanese rearmament—something the Chinese firmly
As always, Beijing’s approach to the United States must be viewed
against the backdrop of China’s domestic politics. I told
you last year that the approach of a major leadership transition and
China’s accession to WTO would soon be coloring all of Beijing’s
actions. Both of those benchmarks are now upon us. The 16th
Communist Party Congress will be held this fall, and China is now confronting
the obligations of WTO membership.
On the leadership side, Beijing is likely to be preoccupied this year
with succession jockeying, as top leaders decide who will get what positions—and
who will retire—at the Party Congress and in the changeover in
government positions that will follow next spring. This preoccupation
is likely to translate into a cautious and defensive approach on most
policy issues. It probably also translates into a persistently
nationalist foreign policy, as each of the contenders in the succession
contest will be obliged to avoid any hint of being “soft”
on the United States.
China’s entry into the WTO underscores the trepidation the succession
contenders will have about maintaining internal stability. WTO
membership is a major challenge to Chinese stability because the economic
requirements of accession will upset already disaffected sectors of
the population and increase unemployment. If China’s leaders
stumble in WTO implementation—and even if they succeed—they
will face rising socioeconomic tensions at a time when the stakes in
the succession contest are pushing them toward a cautious response to
problems. In the case of social unrest, that response is more
likely to be harsh than accommodative toward the population at large.
The Taiwan issue remains central. Cross-strait relations remain
at a stalemate, but there are competing trend lines behind that.
Chinese leaders seemed somewhat complacent last year that the growing
economic integration across the Taiwan Strait was boosting Beijing’s
long-term leverage. The results of Taiwan’s legislative
elections in December, however, strengthened President Chen’s
hand domestically. Although Beijing’s latest policy statement—inviting
members of Chen’s party to visit the mainland—was designed
as a conciliatory gesture, Beijing might resume a more confrontational
stance if it suspects him of using his electoral mandate to move toward
Taiwan also remains the focus of China’s military modernization
programs. Over the past year, Beijing’s military training
exercises have taken on an increasingly real-world focus, emphasizing
rigorous practice in operational capabilities and improving the military’s
actual ability to use force. This is aimed not only at Taiwan
but also at increasing the risk to the United States itself in any future
Taiwan contingency. China also continues to upgrade and expand
the conventional short-range ballistic missile force it has arrayed
Beijing also continues to make progress towards fielding its first
generation of road mobile strategic missiles—the DF-31.
A longer-range version capable of reaching targets in the US will become
operational later in the decade.
Staying within East Asia for a moment, let me update you on North
Korea. The suspension last year of engagement between P’yongyang,
Seoul, and Washington reinforced the concerns I cited last year about
Kim Chong-il’s intentions toward us and our allies in Northeast
Asia. Kim’s reluctance to pursue constructive dialogue with
the South or to undertake meaningful reforms suggests that he remains
focused on maintaining internal control—at the expense of addressing
the fundamental economic failures that keep the North mired in poverty
and pose a long-term threat to the country’s stability.
North Korea’s large standing army continues to be a priority claimant
on scarce resources, and we have seen no evidence that P’yongyang
has abandoned its goal of eventual reunification of the Peninsula under
the North’s control.
The cumulative effects of prolonged economic mismanagement have left
the country increasingly susceptible to the possibility of state failure.
North Korea faces deepening economic deprivation and the return of famine
in the absence of fundamental economic reforms and the large-scale international
humanitarian assistance it receives—an annual average of 1 million
metric tons of food aid over the last five years. It has ignored
international efforts to address the systemic agricultural problems
that exacerbate the North’s chronic food shortages. Grain
production appears to have roughly stabilized, but it still falls far
short of the level required to meet minimum nutritional needs for the
population. Large numbers of North Koreans face long-term health
damage as a result of prolonged malnutrition and collapse of the public
Other important regions of the developing world are test cases for
many of the political, social, and demographic trends I identified earlier—trends
that pose latent or growing challenges to US interests, and sometimes
fuel terrorists. I have already mentioned Southeast Asia
in this respect, citing the rise of Islamic extremism in Indonesia and
terrorist links in the Philippines.
Latin America is becoming increasingly volatile as the potential
for instability there grows. The region has been whipsawed by
five economic crises in as many years, and the economic impact of September
11 worsened an already bleak outlook for regional economies as the global
slump reduces demand for exports.
In this context, I am particularly concerned about Venezuela,
our third largest supplier of petroleum. Domestic unhappiness
with President Chavez’s “Bolivarian revolution” is
growing, economic conditions have deteriorated with the fall in oil
prices, and the crisis atmosphere is likely to worsen. In
Argentina, President Duhalde is trying to maintain public order
while putting into place the groundwork for recovery from economic collapse,
but his support base is thin.
Colombia too remains highly volatile. The peace process
there faces many obstacles, and a significant increase in violence—especially
from the FARC—may be in the offing. Colombia’s tenuous
security situation is taking a toll on the economy and increasing the
dangers for US military advisers in the country. Together, the
difficult security and economic conditions have hampered Bogota’s
ability to implement Plan Colombia’s counterdrug and social programs.
Colombia remains the cornerstone of the world’s cocaine trade,
and the largest source of heroin for the US market.
The chronic problems of Sub-Saharan Africa make it, too, fertile
ground for direct and indirect threats to US interests. Governments
without accountability and natural disasters have left Africa with the
highest concentration of human misery in the world. It is the
only region where average incomes have declined since 1970, and Africans
have the world’s lowest life expectancy at birth. These
problems have been compounded by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, which will kill
more than 2 million Africans this year, making it the leading source
of mortality in the region.
Given these grim facts, the risk of state failures in Sub-Saharan Africa
will remain high. In the past decade, the collapse of governments
in Somalia, Liberia, Rwanda, Congo-Kinshasa, and elsewhere has led the
United States and other international partners to provide hundreds of
millions of dollars worth of aid, and to deploy thousands of peacekeepers.
A number of other African states—including Zimbabwe and
Liberia—are poised to follow the same downward spiral.
In Zimbabwe, President Mugabe's attempts to rig the presidential election
scheduled for next month increases the chances of a collapse in law
and order that could spill over into South Africa and other neighbors.
The UN-monitored truce between Ethiopia and Eritrea also
Finally, let me briefly mention the Balkans, the importance
of which is underlined by the continuing US military presence there.
International peacekeeping troops, with a crucial core from NATO, are
key to maintaining stability in the region.
In Macedonia, the Framework Agreement brokered by the United
States and the EU has eased tensions by increasing the ethnic Albanians’
political role, but it remains fragile and most of the agreement has
yet to be implemented. Ethnic Slavs are worried about losing their
dominance in the country. If they obstruct implementation of the
accord, many Albanians could decide that the Slav-dominated government—and
by extension the international community—cannot be trusted.
US and other international forces are most at risk in Bosnia,
where Islamic extremists from outside the region played an important
role in the ethnic conflicts of the 1990s. There is considerable
sympathy for international Islamic causes among the Muslim community
in Bosnia. Some of the mujahedin who fought in the Bosnian wars
of the early 1990s stayed there. These factors combine with others
present throughout the Balkans—weak border controls, large amounts
of weapons, and pervasive corruption and organized crime—to sustain
an ongoing threat to US forces there.
Mr. Chairman, I want to end my presentation by reaffirming what the
President has said on many occasions regarding the threats we face from
terrorists and other adversaries. We cannot—and will not—relax
our guard against these enemies. If we did so, the terrorists
would have won. And that will not happen. The terrorists,
rather, should stand warned that we will not falter in our efforts,
and in our commitment, until the threat they pose to us has been eliminated.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I welcome any questions you and your
colleagues have for me.