ARLINGTON, Va.---National missile defense, relations with China and Russia and countering asymmetric challenges dominated a presentation by Condoleezza Rice, a foreign policy adviser to Texas Gov. George W. Bush.
Rice spoke here Nov. 16 at the Fletcher Conference, a gathering of current and former military and civilian defense leaders, legislators and academicians that this year is examining national security issues facing the first U.S. administration of the 21st century.
She said changes since the end of the Cold War favor the values, institutions and beliefs of the United States. "We have a chance in this period to extend peace, prosperity and democracy in ways we would never have dreamed a few years ago," she said.
During her talk, entitled "Setting Priorities for a New National Security Strategy, she said the United States is "still adjusting to our role as the world's sole superpower."
Rice said the question facing the United States is, "Are we ready and are we capable of thinking about the requirements and the challenges of having been on the right side of history?"
She said she sees two major dangers. The first is overextension "through a lack of focus in what we're trying to do." The second grows from the first and is "missed opportunities to make structural changes in international politics" to extend this period of the growth of democracy.
"Peace must be maintained through the prevention of conflict of global strategic significance," she said. "There will be no extension of prosperity, no extension of democracy, if big conflicts again dot the globe" in places like East Asia and the Persian Gulf.
Rice said the United States and its allies must make certain they have the right forces and that they have the right combinations of allies or coalitions. The United States must have the will to ensure that large-scale conflicts do not break out in places of global significance, she said.
The United States also must worry about the potential rise of "hegemonic power with interests, values and intentions that are hostile to American and allied interests," Rice said. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is the prototype of this threat, she said, and "the United States must maintain forces to contain such a threat."
Finally, she said, the United States must be certain to prevent blackmail. "Because if the United States is 'blackmailable,' it is not capable of acting with freedom of action in places like the Persian Gulf," Rice said. Part of this blackmail is new threats -- weapons of mass destruction, cyberterrorism and terrorism of all kinds.
"Any discussion of capabilities must include the ability to defend against these threats and must include ballistic missile defense," she said. "It is not that ballistic missile defense needs to be aimed at the thousands of Soviet weapons, but rather at the smaller threats."
The United States has neglected trade and economic power in influencing friends and foes, Rice said. Instead it needs to make more use of its economic power to influence matters around the world, she said.
Rice addressed peacekeeping and implied limits exist to what the U.S. military can do in such situations. She said Kosovo is one area where U.S. military involvement is appropriate. Had NATO let stand Slobodan Milosevic's expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, it would have sent a message throughout Europe that multiethnic communities could not work, she said.
Still, she added, civilian organizations would be more appropriate for nation-building activities once violence is tamped down.
The United States must look to other regional powers for help in peacekeeping activities. Rice cited Australia's intervention in East Timor and Nigeria's willingness to act in Sierra Leone as promising developments.
"These mounting missions cannot be sustained for the United States armed forces," she said. "We need to look at the match between resources we are providing and the missions we are taking on." She noted how the services are drawing increasingly on the Guard and Reserve to fill out their inadequate forces to perform all their assigned missions.
Rice said dealing with Russia and China is important because the countries are of such global significance.
"China is a rising power, and any rising power with unresolved interests will be a challenge," she said. "It would be wrong to think of China as an enemy, but it is not wrong to think of China as a challenge." She said China resents the U.S. presence in East Asia and has "unresolved interest" around Taiwan.
But China is changing, she noted, and the challenge for the United States is to deal with security developments without alienating the Chinese.
Russia is a challenge because it is the opposite, a declining power, and that colors how America must deal with it, Rice said.
U.S. officials should not get involved in Russian domestic affairs, she warned. Instead, she suggested, the United States should concentrate on restructuring its "antiquated nuclear relationship with Russia," to reduce nuclear weapons and guard against inappropriate disposal and handling of nuclear materials and weapons.
Busk Adviser Addresses National Security Priorities