International Institute for Strategic Studies: Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, Saturday, June 4, 2005
Thank you, John.
I hope to be here next year, and certainly I congratulate you on the progress of this conference. It's important. It's important to discuss major issues of the day.
Ministers, distinguished officials, ladies and gentleman, senior military officials. It is a pleasure to be back in this energetic and historic city.
I certainly want to express my appreciation to the people of Singapore for their gracious hospitality and for their long friendship with the American people.
I must say the dinner that was hosted last evening by the Singapore government was most gracious.
A central question discussed at these forums is how best to increase security and stability in the Pacific region. Today I want to talk a bit about that--and about the many areas of cooperation between the U.S. and our partners here, and about the serious challenges that remain.
Much has changed in the world since we met here last year. The past year has been a time of promise as the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, and elsewhere have demanded at ballot boxes the freedom that they deserve. Dictatorships around the world are losing sway, as more and more people recognize the greater opportunities a life of freedom affords--economic freedom and political freedom as well.
This time of opportunity for millions, regrettably, has also been a time of tragedy for others--particularly those in the path of the tsunami that killed more than 170,000 in Southeast Asia, and displaced more than a million more.
The global relief effort involved many nations that are represented here today. There are numerous, poignant examples:
* India not only met the needs of its own people; but, to its credit, it also sent troops to help to distribute aid in Sri Lanka;
* Thailand, despite its own casualties and tragedy, quickly consented to the use of its bases to serve as the combined support facilities for the relief efforts;
* Malaysia made its airfields available, facilitating logistical support; and
* Singapore was first on the scene with life saving aid, offering the use of its airfields and port facilities.
Years of bilateral and multilateral meetings and cooperative operations made possible this swift, team response--as America's military joined quickly with Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, and many others to provide assistance.
From time to time, some question the priority America places on its Pacific partnerships. Yet the atmosphere in the tsunami's aftermath--as well as the recent earthquake in Nias--demonstrated again that whenever friends and allies in this region confront threats or hardship--whether caused by man or by nature--we stand at their side.
These long relationships among nations--the nations of the Pacific--led many in this hemisphere to pledge support to the American people after the attacks of 9/11. And we are deeply grateful. I am confident that our long friendships will continue to unite us against the common threats ahead.
Consider a few of the important activities in which the U.S. and our Pacific partners are currently engaged:
* The Proliferation Security Initiative--with some 60 nations now working together to try to keep the world's most dangerous weapons from the enemies of civil societies;
* The Maritime Security Initiative, combating piracy, drug smuggling, and human trafficking;
* An unprecedented amount of trade;
* Working together to combat the Avian Flu;
* Military-to-military partnerships on a bilateral basis;
* A repositioning of U.S. forces worldwide that will significantly increase our capabilities in support of our friends and allies in this region;
* Missile defense capabilities, spearheaded through partnerships with allies like Japan and Australia, and which are now capable of limited defensive operations against a ballistic missile threat; and
* The transformation of our respective militaries to confront the distinct threats of a new and dangerous era. …