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Thomas Pickering
Under Secretary for Political Affairs

Remarks Before the Trilateral Commission
Washington, DC, March 15, 1999

Blue Bar rule

Iraq, Kosovo, China, and Russia

Good morning. It is an honor to join you today. I am struck once again by David Rockefeller's prescience in founding the Trilateral Commission. Long before the term "globalization" was coined, he understood how very important international consultation is. My only regret is that I am here as a speaker. Judging from the distinguished membership of the Trilateral Commission and the comprehensive agenda of this weekend's conference, I would much rather benefit from your insights.

The United States faces a wide variety of problems in a complex, fast-paced and increasingly interconnected world. We have lost the luxury of dealing with problems leisurely or in isolation or being able to apply a single overall framework such as we had during the Cold War. Relations between nations may thus appear and probably are more chaotic. But there are certainties. One is that the United States must continue to play a leadership role. We know this and we are running our policy from principles and against a set of benchmarks. We do so in concert with others, but clearly based on the paramount of our own interests.

This morning, I would like to look at our policies in relation to four areas: Iraq, Kosovo, China, and Russia.

The Iraq and Kosovo issues are similar in several ways. It is not size, influence or global reach that merits U.S. attention -- as in China and Russia -- but the potential to destabilize regions of great importance to U.S. interests. The two areas are also not dissimilar in the nature of their leadership even if strategies for resolving the problems are different in each country. An irony in the otherwise welcome end of the Cold War is that people like Milosevic and Saddam Hussein feel that constraints on aggression are lower and that aggression at home and abroad can pay off. Instead of joining the ever-growing community of responsible countries, they taunt it. They break the norms of acceptable behavior, use force against their own people and others, and then challenge the rest of us to stop them. The silent fact of our unity and power has proven to be an insufficient deterrent; only the credible threat of the use of power or indeed its use has stopped them. Incredibly, Milosevic and Saddam both have lost their bets before and yet both continue to gamble.

This poses a problem for all of us because it means that in order to pursue our interests, we have had to ratchet up more quickly from traditional diplomacy to diplomacy backed by a credible threat of force or the actual use of force. For a threat of force to be effective, it must be credible. It must be clear that the U.S. and its partners are willing to use force in these kinds of specific cases to achieve key objectives should diplomacy fail.

The Iraqi regime poses one of the most complex challenges the international community faces. Saddam has repeatedly used force against his neighbors, developed weapons of mass destruction and used those weapons on Iraqi citizens and neighbors. Since Desert Storm, the regime has consistently refused to meet its commitments to disarm and to accept long term monitoring of that proven weapons capability.

Our policy, therefore, has clear and consistent objectives. We are committed to containing the threat the regime poses. Politically, we have led the international community's efforts to constrain the regime and prevent it from acquiring the financial means to rearm. At the same time, we seek to ease the burden of sanctions on the people of Iraq, by ensuring that their humanitarian needs are met. Militarily, we maintain the threat of force and we have demonstrated the willingness to use it.

After eight years of leading the international community in this effort to bring Iraq into compliance with international norms -- years in which the regime has repeatedly demonstrated its desire to circumvent the demands of the international community -- we doubt that compliance by this regime is possible.

The Iraqi people and nation deserve to resume their rightful place in the region, but that is not possible under this regime. We are therefore committed to work for change with Iraqis inside and outside Iraq who share this goal and who want to work for a better future for Iraq -- a different regime without Saddam -- an Iraq in compliance with international obligations, at peace with its neighbors, respecting the rights of its citizens and maintaining its territorial integrity.

Radio Free Iraq, an independent station, is now operational and is heard inside Iraq. In early February, the President formally designated seven opposition groups as eligible to receive assistance under the Iraq Liberation Act. We will consider how we can help them more effectively oppose Saddam's rule and help Iraqis to achieve the kind of government they deserve and desire. But let's be clear, change will have to come from working with Iraqis for however long it takes; it can neither be instant nor imposed. In the meantime continued containment must be maintained.

Last winter, after months of international diplomatic effort in which we employed the threat of force to achieve some degree of Iraqi cooperation, it became clear that Iraq was no longer prepared to work with the UNSCOM inspectors and the system of disarmament and monitoring. The U.S. and our friends and allies decided that it was necessary to move from the threat of force to the use of force.

Operation "Desert Fox" accomplished its goal of degrading Saddam's capacity to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction and his ability to threaten his neighbors.

It also appears that the regime has been thrown off balance, as indicated by:

Perhaps just as important, Saddam has not achieved what he announced as his chief goal for 1998: the lifting of sanctions and restoration of his control over Iraq's billions of dollars in oil revenue. Instead, his defiance of the international community has indefinitely prolonged sanctions.

While pursing containment we are working in the UNSC to build council unity around an effort to reestablish an effective disarmament and monitoring presence. Three assessment panels are reviewing the disarmament and monitoring issues, humanitarian issues and the "Kuwait" basket of issues. In mid-April, the panels will report on the current state of affairs and present ideas about further action. But it will be up to the Security Council to decide on next steps and the Security Council is bound by the consensus formed over the past eight years and more than 40 resolutions. Reestablishing the work of UNSCOM -- an effective and necessary apparatus for disarmament and long-term monitoring -- would be an important forward step.

While insisting that sanctions remain in place, we remain mindful of the needs of the Iraqi people. We have led the international community to meet those urgent needs. Recently, we have offered proposals at the UN that would increase Iraq's oil export levels to increase the revenue controlled by the UN devoted to meeting the needs of the Iraqi people. We have also offered ideas about streamlining the process. But I must make clear that the responsibility for the humanitarian situation rests with Iraq, which has been slow to order commodities and, as noted in a recent UN publication, has often chosen to warehouse medicine and other supplies rather than distribute them to the citizens of Iraq.

At the same time, we maintain a readiness to use force if Iraq reconstitutes its WMD [weapons of mass destruction], threatens its neighbors or moves against the people of northern Iraq. And, as the President has said, we will also continue to enforce the No-Fly zones established in accordance with UNSCR to protect the civilian population of northern and southern Iraq from the worst depredations of the Baghdad regime.

Since Desert Fox, Saddam has chosen to challenge the No-Fly zones on an almost daily basis. He has announced a bounty for the capture of our pilots who face a sustained and intense threat from SAM firing, AAA and radar tracking. We have responded by striking in turn at the integrated air defense systems in the No-Fly zones. Thus, the net effect of Saddam's challenges has been to degrade his weapons capability further.

Our task is complex and will require continued focus and commitment of purpose. In the end, the results of our efforts will be enhanced security for the region, with an Iraq that can be reintegrated into the international community.

Let's turn now to Kosovo, where the conflict is now a year old. Resolving the Kosovo conflict has become a test case for the new European security architecture and its key institutions, including NATO, the OSCE, the EU and the Contact Group, but it is far more than that. We care about what happens in Kosovo because of its impact on the rest of the region and on NATO itself. The danger of spill-over is great and, even were the conflict to be contained within its borders, the flows of refugees -- and arms -- would destabilize the immediate region, and some of our Allies.

Kosovo presents knotty problems, but we have developed a road map for solution -- one that brings European and North American partners together in pursuit of a common aim: peace and stability in the Balkans and, ultimately, a Balkan area that can finally enjoy the stability, democracy and progress that has characterized most of Europe in this decade. At this very moment, Serbian and Kosovo delegations are meeting with Contact Group negotiators in Paris to consider a plan for an interim political settlement in Kosovo.

The settlement plan crafted by Ambassador Chris Hill and his colleagues from the European Union and Russia and negotiated in an earlier round of talks in Rambouillet, France, would restore the autonomy and self-government stripped from Kosovo a decade ago by Slobodan Milosevic. Kosovo would have its own executive, legislative and judicial bodies, a constitution, its own police force, control of its own education system and the right to tax its own population. A strong OSCE-led Civil Implementation Mission would help the Kosovars establish these new institutions, supervise Kosovo elections and train the new police force. The OSCE would work closely with the EU on reconstruction and development. This is a potentially important model for future OSCE missions.

The Rambouillet agreement also includes -- as an integral part of the overall settlement -- a security component that would put a strong NATO-led force on the ground in Kosovo. While Europeans would comprise the bulk of the implementation force, the United States is prepared to contribute as many as 4,000 troops to a 28,000-person mission. This NATO-led force -- which we hope would also include Russian troops -- would have primary responsibility for ensuring a positive security environment.

There has been progress on a number of difficult issues, and we hope that finally the Kosovo Albanians are now committed fully to the agreement.

Milosevic, meanwhile, adamantly refuses to accept the idea of a NATO presence in Kosovo and also rejects critical political aspects of the agreement. He is increasingly out of compliance with the agreements reached last October with the OSCE and NATO and he has failed to meet his obligations to the UN Security Council.

We have seen time and again that Milosevic responds only to pressure -- not positive inducements such as sanctions relief. Our diplomacy in the Balkans, and particularly our dealings with the Milosevic government, must be backed by the credible threat of force. NATO's clearly articulated willingness to act in Kosovo to support the Rambouillet agreement and prevent a resurgent humanitarian catastrophe is an essential element of our strategy. NATO Secretary General Solana and SACEUR Clark have the authority to initiate and use air strikes against the FRY after consulting with the Allies. NATO must maintain its unity of purpose to create the necessary leverage with Belgrade.

At the same time, the Kosovo Albanians must understand that NATO will be unwilling to use force in support of the Rambouillet agreement without a signature from their side and an unambiguous willingness to implement the agreement in good faith. This does not mean that Milosevic has a free hand in Kosovo. Last October, NATO made clear that it was prepared to use force to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe. The NATO Activation Orders remain in effect and Secretary-General Solana has the key.

There are those who ask why the United States cares about Kosovo. Why we should send even a single Kansan or New Yorker or Georgian to help bring peace to a part of the world that few Americans had ever heard of. Kosovo is a European problem and the Europeans should solve it themselves.

Kosovo is a problem in Europe, and the vast majority of troops that would enforce a Kosovo settlement would be European. But if we have learned nothing else this century, we have learned that a problem in Europe often becomes also an American problem, with great costs attached to it. There is a cost to taking action. But in Kosovo, the cost of inaction is immeasurably higher.

Turning from these areas of conflict, I would like now to consider U.S. relations with China and Russia, two countries whose current actions and future direction have global effect. Our relationship with each is unique, but a consistent approach is the need for serious engagement over a long period of time. A snap shot taken at any given moment might seem to reveal something more akin to "frustrating engagement" than "constructive engagement." Yet snap shots do not adequately record a relationship over time nor do they reveal what could have gone wrong had we not been engaged. Engagement with both countries is essential to U.S. interests given the role, position and potential of these states now and into the next century.

Few relationships touch as many interests important to Americans as our relationship with China. What China's leaders do, what its people achieve, the kind of nation it becomes, will be vital to the U.S. and our friends and allies in the years ahead.

In terms of our most basic interest, security for our people, China is a prominent factor. North Korea is probably the hottest potential flash-point on my map of the world. We rely on China, through the Four-Party Talks and in more informal ways, to exert positive influence on their neighbors the North Koreans. While they don't like to take a high public profile, the fact is the Chinese have helped and are continuing to help. They can also help keep South Asia from taking further bad steps down the nuclear road after last year's dangerous tests. More broadly, over time China has itself become a much more responsible actor as regards controlling the transfer of technologies for weapons of mass destruction. It has ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention, joined the Zangger Committee that monitors nuclear-related exports, signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and begun to observe the MTCR. It has also terminated assistance to unsafe-guarded nuclear facilities, ended nuclear cooperation with Iran, stopped export of anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran, and strengthened controls over chemical weapons-related materials.

But, we are mindful of the Chinese drive to modernize its military, including its strategic nuclear forces and its ballistic missiles. Since 1989 we have maintained strict controls over U.S. military and security-related technology transfers to China. This has been the case even as commercial dealings -- including hi-tech trade in information technology and other items -- has burgeoned between the U.S. and China, to the benefit of China's general technological development and of American companies' export-driven growth. By and large our controls on sensitive dual-use technologies have been effective.

We have no illusions about and are not naïve concerning China. There clearly have been problem cases outside the export licensing system. China seeks to acquire sensitive information and technology for military uses by many means, some legal, some not. That is why we have established strong measures to protect classified information and prevent acquisition of sensitive technology. We prosecute those who violate our laws.

The Department of Justice continues its investigation into potential illegal transfer of ballistic missile technical information to China by U.S. satellite companies. The Department of Energy has tightened security measures at National Laboratories involved in nuclear weapons and other military research, following discovery of a potentially serious breach of security in the late 1980s involving a research scientist's interactions with the Chinese. These cases, however, do not mean the broader U.S. engagement strategy is not in our interest or wrong. Our policy has clearly led to general improvement in Chinese behavior on proliferation issues, and we must continue to engage to realize our outstanding non-proliferation goals, including MTCR adherence, a fissile material production moratorium, and FMCT.

China's security interests and sovereignty claims, as it defines them in the South China Sea, also impact on the peace and stability of Asia. Peaceful resolution of competing claims depends on dialogue, and in this, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) are central.

Peaceful resolution of the cross-straits issue remains a top policy priority. Only three years ago, China conducted major military exercises on the coast opposite Taiwan and launched unarmed test missiles that landed in splash zones bracketing Taiwan's two main ports. In response, the United States sent two carrier task forces to the seas near Taiwan to demonstrate our commitment to the principle of peaceful resolution of this issue. This experience made us all think hard about the kind of relationship we need with China, the kind of dialogue we would like to see across the Taiwan Strait, and the kind of security framework the Chinese will fit into in the next century. We are engaging with China with a firm goal of shaping a more secure and stable future. It is good to see representatives of the mainland and Taiwan taking and planning trips across the Strait rather than engaging in provocative military exercises.

Two Presidential Summits in two years both symbolized and advanced the cause of the U.S. and China working towards a constructive strategic partnership in the 21st century. The official visit next month of Premier Zhu Rongji will be an important step in this process. We will continue to pursue our engagement strategy. We are not blind to the ugly defects of the Chinese system and some of its government's actions. We are not deaf to critics of engagement. The Administration has its own strongly-held priorities in our dealings with China, including a belief that we can and must engage the Chinese frankly and directly on their human rights policies and practices. Secretary Albright pledged to "tell it like it is" when it comes to China's human rights record, and she and the President have done just that, often to Chinese dismay.

We believe China, in order to thrive in the next century, should adopt internationally accepted norms in its dealings with the rest of the world: in trade, through an accession on commercially-meaningful terms to the World Trade Organization; in non-proliferation, by taking the necessary steps in its export control system to gain membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime and other mechanisms; and in human rights, through ratification and implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Our engagement strategy is designed to assist China make the right choices.

As President Clinton put it in his February 26 San Francisco speech: "The question China faces is how best to assure its stability and progress. Will it choose openness and engagement? Or will it choose to limit the aspirations of its people without fully embracing the global rules of the road? In my judgment, only the first path can really answer the challenges China faces."

WTO accession talks have been the centerpiece of our efforts to open China's market. Talks continue as we speak. I assure you we won't accept a deal that doesn't meet the U.S. business community's needs. If we get such a deal, we expect strong support from business to push Congress to approve permanent Normal Trading Relations (NTR) status for China so we can reap the benefits of over 12 years of on-again, off-again tough negotiations.

More broadly, we hope groups in the U.S. who recognize the benefits of engagement with China will help bring balance back to discussions on China policy. We must continue to speak frankly about our disagreements with China, but must also continue to expand cooperation in areas where we agree. We will need to work together in order to accomplish our goals.

A few words now about Russia. The United States desires a prosperous Russia at peace with its neighbors and integrated into the world community. Russia is at the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda as it faces perhaps its most challenging period since 1991. At the same time in which it deals with the political legacy of communism, it also faces a shrinking economy and problems in controlling the flow of funds, weapons and technology across its borders. Recently, President Clinton said, "we have as much of a stake today in Russia overcoming these challenges as we did in checking its expansion during the Cold War. Now is not a time for complacency or self-fulfilling prophecies."

The U.S. wants to -- must -- engage with Russia on issues of common concern. We should not forget that Russia is freer now -- with better constitutional foundations -- than at any time in its history. Our hope is that Russia will continue to extend its freedoms and the rule of law, because this is the way to increased prosperity. When Secretary Albright visited Russia in January, she went with the message that the U.S. is committed to fostering a democratic, market-oriented Russia.

Russia will need to work hard to protect its hard-won gains and to address looming dangers -- whether nationalist extremism or anti-Semitism. Those that would encroach on Russia's freedom of the press for short-term gain threaten Russia's future. The next year and one half will be critical. One of the achievements of the last 8 years has been Russia's adherence to free elections. Russia will undertake parliamentary elections in December and then presidential elections next June. Free and fair contests in December and June will go a long way to solidifying Russia's democratic gains.

Russia is experiencing particular stress as it goes through the transformation to a market economy. We support Russia in that effort and we want to see Russia succeed. In fact, Russia's success is as much a strategic goal of the U.S. as it should be for Russia. Our policy is to remain engaged and give concrete encouragement in the right direction through incentives and advice. However, in the end, the decisions are Russia's to make and we cannot be more in favor of, or energetic towards, Russia's success than Russia's leaders themselves, even though we have a huge stake in how things turn out.

The U.S. and the world community remain very concerned about the economic situation in Russia. All significant economic indicators point to the deterioration of the Russian economy since the government's decision on August 17 to devalue the ruble and default on government debt. Output has fallen. GDP was down about 5% last year, and the IMF projects a further 7% decline in 1999. Prices rose by over 11% in December, although inflation slowed to 8% in January and 4.1% in February. The ruble has dropped by about 73% since August. Imports plummeted by 40-50% from mid-August through November compared to the previous year. Exports are down slightly due to low oil prices. The banking system has fallen largely into insolvency. Russia has missed payments on domestic debt and foreign debt to the Paris and London clubs. For the average Russian, the current crisis has sharply increased the cost of living and unemployment, eroded confidence in the banks, and meant growing wage arrearages.

To the government's credit, it has so far avoided the temptation to solve its problems through inflationary monetary emissions. It has pushed important legislation on Oil Production Sharing Agreements and bankruptcy through the Duma. However, the 1999 budget passed by the Duma appears to be based on unrealistic assumptions about revenues, expenditures, inflation and exchange rates. It is clear that Russia's economic problems need economic solutions that actually work. In the short run, the most important thing we can "do" for Russia is to insist that a sustainable budget and workable program with the Fund are necessary or international support would be wasted. The IMF cannot agree to fund a program which cannot promise performance. As Secretary Albright has said, the arithmetic must add up. The fund cannot accept fixes on faith.

Certainly, foreign investment can step in to fill the gap between Russia's needs and its own resources, but that too requires Russian reform. Russia has brought in only a fraction of the investment its tremendous natural wealth and the talent of its people would suggest it is capable of attracting. Undertaking broad measures to improve the investment climate, such as tax and banking reform, securing real property titles, and development of modern commercial law and regulatory structures is critically important. Without such reform investment will remain stunted in the future. Extreme nationalism is especially misguided when it stands in the way of the people's prosperity.

In the realm of foreign policy, we have a number of high-profile and important issues on the agenda. Secretary Albright is in almost daily contact with Foreign Minister Ivanov on the Balkans, Iraq, and other issues. Vice President Gore will discuss these and many other important issues next week with Russian Prime Minister Primakov in Washington. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott was in Russia late last month discussing with Russian colleagues how to move from acknowledgement of the non-proliferation problem to significantly more effective enforcement mechanisms. He also talked with Russian colleagues about how to move our important arms control agenda forward -- how to get START II ratified by the Russian Duma which would lead to negotiations on a START III agreement. We are also discussing National Missile Defense with the Russians and assuring them that our concern is directed at the threat from rogue states, not at Russia's strategic deterrent.

On Iran and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, we have made some progress through intensive dialogue, but there is much more to be done. Despite the Russian government's nonproliferation and export control efforts, Russian entities continue to cooperate with Iran's ballistic missile program, and to engage in dangerous nuclear cooperation with Iran. During the past year, we have imposed penalties on ten Russian entities and we will continue to take such action when it is warranted. We put high priority on ending such dangerous practices in Russia.

In addition, we are continuing our longstanding, broad, and intensive efforts to impede proliferation by working with Russia to bolster its export control and enforcement capabilities. We have an almost continuous shuttle of experts working on these issues with their Russian counterparts.

We all recognize the need to continue to work to strengthen our relationship with Russia. Although we built a strong foundation over the last eight years, we cannot afford -- nor do we wish -- to slacken efforts just because the Russians may differ with us or because the problems sometimes seem too difficult.

Our intensive engagement is aimed at helping Russia's reform, working with Russia on today's foreign policy challenges where our interests are in common, and continuing to build a partnership for the future.

I have discussed four countries, four challenges, four places where our deep engagement is necessary in the present tense, to deal with today's problems, and even more important for building a future that is better for Americans, and for all who place their faith in cooperation among nations. The depth and richness of our agenda in these four areas is complemented all around the globe by other challenges which must be met with determination, vision, and persistence.

[End of Document]

Blue Bar rule

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