MUNICH, Germany --- The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is potentially the greatest threat to world security, and the most frightening scenario is one in which terrorist groups acquire weapons of mass destruction, according to a recently released European Union security strategy report.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld discussed this conclusion and ways to combat terrorism, during a speech to world security officials and experts here Feb. 7.
“On Sept. 11, we saw the willingness of freedom’s adversaries to kill on a massive scale,” Rumsfeld said, noting there have since been attacks in Jakarta and Bali, Indonesia; Baghdad, Iraq; Jerusalem; Casablanca, Morocco; Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; Istanbul, Turkey; and Mombassa, Kenya. A Feb. 6 attack in a Moscow subway killed dozens.
Rumsfeld suggested three main areas in which countries could work together to combat terrorism.
His first suggestion was for countries to strengthen multilateral cooperation to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
He said that in May 2003 the United States “and 10 like-minded countries” launched a proliferation security initiative. He described it as “a new international coalition that strengthens our ability to interdict shipments of weapons of mass destruction-delivery systems and related materials at sea, in the air and on the ground.”
Since the initiative began, more than 40 more countries have offered support, Rumsfeld noted. He said successes have included interdicting nuclear- and chemical-weapon components.
“We urge all governments to consider how they might contribute to this important initiative,” the secretary told conference attendees.
Second, Rumsfeld said, countries need to strengthen alliances and more closely coordinate “usability of alliance capabilities.” He noted that both the United States and NATO are working to transform military forces and global force posture.
“But if these are to become real, usable alliance capabilities, then allies must be willing to make the necessary reforms,” Rumsfeld said.
A senior U.S. official said the United States would like to see European allies spend more on defense and have a greater percentage of troops available for deployment to peacekeeping and combat missions.
Currently, only three to four percent of the 2.4 million active and reserve service members in European NATO countries are deployable, the official said Feb. 6, on background.
“Most of them are not trained for these tough missions. Europeans recognize they’ve got to increase that total,” the official said.
“We’ve got to assume that … these are long-term peacekeeping missions in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he added.
Finally, Rumsfeld said, the world needs to strike not just at terrorist networks, but at the “ideology of hatred” these networks feed on.
“Governments across the Middle East and North Africa are seeing the need for change,” he said.
He noted several recent advances in human rights in Middle Eastern countries. “Morocco now has a diverse new parliament, and the king has called for it to extend rights to women,” Rumsfeld explained. “In Bahrain, citizens recently elected their own parliament for the first time in three decades. Oman has extended the right to vote to all of its adult citizens. Qatar has adopted a new constitution. Kuwait has a directly elected national assembly now. Jordan has held historic elections just last summer.”
He said NATO programs like Partnership for Peace encourage still further progress. “Because ours is an alliance of democracies, the desire to be more closely associated with this alliance of free nations has made it a catalyst for political and economic reform as well,” Rumsfeld said.
Rumsfeld, Conference Attendees Discuss Ways to Improve World Security