Addressing an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) October 2, Defense Secretary Cohen said the biggest challenges facing future administrations in terms of foreign policy and defense policy will be how to deal with Russia, China, and the threat of weapons of mass destruction from two dozen countries who either have developed or are in the process of developing" such weapons.
He said the United States must deal with Russia "as a major power to contend with; not necessarily as a superpower, but as a country of great size, of great natural resources, that covers 11 time zones," and decide "how we manage that relationship with them and what we will do in terms of continuing our relationship to reduce the level of nuclear weapons."
Cohen lamented the fact that the United States seems to be the only country volunteering in the effort "to help Russia dismantle and dispose of their large stocks of nuclear weapons under the START I and
START II treaties."
On the issue of China and Taiwan, Cohen said he "saw a change in both the tonality and also what was said during my visit to China. A year ago or less, China was talking about the possibility of their resorting to warfare" but in July "they said that they did not give up the right to use force, but they had no intent to use force."
He said there is a way to breach their differences "if people of good will and creativity take advantage of the opportunity to find ways of bridging that peacefully."
With regard to weapons of mass destruction, Cohen stressed the importance of gaining control over their proliferation. "If you recall the words of the poet Auden, he talked about a 'man clutching a little case who walks out briskly to infect a city whose terrible future may have just arrived.'"
Click here to read full transcript of speech on Pentagon web-site