[The following is a reprint of a statement by Secretary Roth before the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington DC, on May 7, 1998.]
Mr. Chairman [Sen. Craig Thomas, R, WY], thank you for the invitation to speak before the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs on U.S. security policy toward East Asia and the Pacific.... I welcome the opportunity for a productive exchange of views on this important topic with the members of the subcommittee.
Peace and stability in East Asia and the Pacific is a fundamental prerequisite for U.S. security. Nearly one-half the world's people live in countries bordering the Asia Pacific region, and over half of all economic activity in the world is conducted there. Four of the world's major powers rub shoulders in northeast Asia, while some of the most strategically important waterways on the globe flow through southeast Asia. The U.S. itself is as much a Pacific nation as an Atlantic one, with the states of Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington bordering on the Pacific ocean, and Hawaii surrounded by it. American citizens in Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas live closer to Asian capitals than to our own; vast numbers of Americans work in the Asia-Pacific region; and an increasingly large number of Americans trace their ancestry back to the Pacific Rim.
For these and many other reasons, the U.S. has remained committed to the security of the Asia-Pacific region and has spent its resources and blood fulfilling that commitment. We have fought against aggression in Asia in three major wars this century. Now, in an effort to preserve stability and deter future conflicts, we maintain a sizable military presence in the region. Today, our roughly 100,000 forward-deployed forces, and our network of mutual security alliances with Australia, Japan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, and Thailand remain the bedrock of our regional security policy. We have reaffirmed and solidified all of these key security alliances in recent years, while working to foster cooperative relationships with other countries in the region.
Indeed, contact between the United States services and the armed forces of both treaty allies, and other friendly nations, is a key component of our military strategy in Asia. Military-tomilitary contacts allow us to better understand our military counterparts throughout the region, and provide a mechanism through which we can work to constructively engage new generations of military leaders. The International Military Education and Training (IMET) program is extremely important in this regard. By exposing young military leaders to American values, and working to foster respect for civilian authority and military professionalism, IMET provides a window through which we can positively influence the development of foreign military institutions. While such engagement can not be expected to guarantee a perfect human rights record on the part of any military force, it, nonetheless, represents an important opportunity to encourage adherence to the rule of law and respect for basic human rights. I firmly believe that these contacts work to advance our fundamental security goals in the region.
Mr. Chairman, the remainder of my testimony this afternoon will be divided into two parts. First, I will give an overview of our key security alliances and relationships in the region.
Second, I will address four specific chalenges confronting U.S. security policy in Asia and the Pacific.
The U.S.-Japan security treaty remains the foundation of U.S. engagement in Asia. The historic revision last year of the Cold War era Defense Guidelines, and Secretary Albright's signing last week of the amendment to the Acquisition and Cross Servicing Agreement (ACSA), mean that the alliance is stronger, deeper, and broader than at any …