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U.S. Security Policy: Protecting the Nation's Critical Infrastructure Statements by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice on Key Security Issues, Third of a Series

BG0106E | Date: 2001-06-22

National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice says that protecting the nation's critical infrastructure is a "critically important" national security issue. "It is a paradox of our times: the very technology that makes our economy so dynamic and our military forces so dominating -- also makes us more vulnerable," she says. Rice was sworn in January 22 as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The following are excerpts adapted from recent public statements made by Rice that reflect her perspective on key international security issues confronting the administration of President George W. Bush during his first year in office.

Critical Infrastructure Protection

Critical infrastructure protection is a critically important issue....Today, the cyber economy is the economy....virtually every vital service -- water supply, transportation, energy, banking and finance, telecommunications, public health...relies upon computers and the fiber-optic lines, switchers, and routers that connect them. Corrupt those networks, and you disrupt the nation. It is a paradox of our times: the very technology that makes our economy so dynamic and our military forces so dominating -- also makes us more vulnerable....

Protecting our critical infrastructure is a classic national security problem. We want to deter action against us through prevention. Deterrence worked during the Cold War. It may not work here.

Unlike the Soviet Union, today's adversaries may not fit the classic game theory models. They may be a small, well-organized group that attacks us through a series of hop [router] points, including neutral countries or from within the United States.

We also have to remember that the same technology that empowers us, empowers America's adversaries. And our very dominance in conventional military strength, may make those adversaries turn to unconventional battlefields such as cyberspace.

In short, it is just not clear that we can count on deterrence to work in this context. That means we have to be prepared for scenarios where we have to restore and reconstitute critical operations quickly once they've been disrupted. And...this is not something that government can tackle on its own. We need to work hand-in-hand with the private sector.

-- Remarks at the Partnership for Critical Infrastructure
Annual Meeting, March 22

Missile Defense

Missile defense is something the President is absolutely committed to. He believes that there is a growing recognition around the world that this is a real threat, and it's a threat of today's world, not a threat of the Cold War. The missile defense [system] that we're talking about is [intended to protect against threats from] states like Iran, like North Korea, where the non-proliferation regime has become quite leaky, and where you have a proliferation of missile technologies into places we're very concerned about.

We believe that when this is properly presented, when we have looked hard at our options for missile defense, and when we have put this in the context of a new strategic environment in which defenses have to play a role to deter conflict, that we will have a very good case to bring to our allies. We intend to take that case to our allies and consult with them, but we'll also have a very good case for others who might also be worried.

What I think we're hearing [from the Russians] is an admission that there is a threat that might be addressed by missile defense. I think it's a welcome recognition of the condition in which we and the rest of the responsible nations of the world find ourselves....I think we look forward at some point, at an appropriate point in time, to discussions and conversations with the Russians about how that threat can be addressed.

I will say this: it goes back to the question of Russian proliferation behavior. If, in fact, Russia is engaged in activities that are helping countries to acquire weapons of mass destruction or missile technology against which the shield is actually working, this is not going to be a very cooperative relationship.

So proliferation behavior and what we can do in a cooperative manner are very much linked here, and I think that's a point that we will want to make to the Russians. We are not, in principle, against cooperation. But we do have a problem with the proliferation behavior.

- - White House Briefing, February 22


President Bush is opposed to any kind of target date or deadline [for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Balkans]....He understands and believes strongly that we have commitments that we have to fulfill to our allies, that anything that we do in restructuring a presence in the Balkans has to be done in the context of allied consultations.

I think that the allies will find that this is going to be a very consultative administration, that they're not going to be subject to surprises...and that is true whether you are talking about troops in the Balkans or missile defense.

-- Interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN's Late Edition, February 4


U.S. policy must concentrate on the important security agenda with Russia.

First, it must recognize that American security is threatened less by Russia's strength than by its weakness and incoherence. This suggests immediate attention to the safety and security of Moscow's nuclear forces and stockpile.

Second, Washington must begin a comprehensive discussion with Moscow on the changing nuclear threat. Much has been made by Russian military officials about their increased reliance on nuclear weapons in the face of their declining conventional readiness.

The Russian deterrent is more than adequate against the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and vice versa. But that fact need no longer be enshrined in a treaty that is almost 30 years old and is a relic of a profoundly adversarial relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was intended to prevent the development of national missile defenses in the Cold War security environment. Today, the principal concerns are nuclear threats from the Iraqs and North Koreas of the world and the possibility of unauthorized releases as nuclear weapons spread.

Moscow, in fact, lives closer to those threats than Washington does. It ought to be possible to engage the Russians in a discussion of the changed threat environment, their possible responses, and the relationship of strategic offensive-force reductions to the deployment of defenses.

In addition, Moscow should understand that any possibilities for sharing technology or information in these areas would depend heavily on its record -- problematic to date -- on the proliferation of ballistic missile and other technologies related to weapons of mass destruction.

It would be foolish in the extreme to share defenses with Moscow if it either leaks or deliberately transfers weapons technologies to the very states against which America is defending.

Finally, the United States needs to recognize that Russia is a great power, and that we will always have interests that conflict as well as coincide.

As prime minister, Vladimir Putin used the Chechnya war to stir nationalism at home while fueling his own political fortunes. The Russian military has been uncharacteristically blunt and vocal in asserting its duty to defend the integrity of the Russian Federation -- an unwelcome development in civil-military relations.

The long-term effect of the war on Russia's political culture should not be underestimated. This war has affected relations between Russia and its neighbors in the Caucasus, as the Kremlin has been hurling charges of harboring and abetting Chechen terrorists against states as diverse as Saudi Arabia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan.

The war is a reminder of the vulnerability of the small, new states around Russia and of America's interest in their independence. If they can become stronger, they will be less tempting to Russia. But much depends on the ability of these states to reform their economies and political systems -- a process, to date, whose success is mixed at best.

-- Op-ed Column, Chicago Tribune, December 31

Russian Proliferation

We have been quite concerned about Russian proliferation behavior vis-a-vis, for instance, Iran....Russia is a partner and even a potential ally, [but] in the context of proliferation behavior, we have a lot of work to do together. And we would hope, as the relationship of this administration with the Russian Putin administration evolves, that we can start to get a better handle on these proliferation problems.

-- White House Briefing, February 22

European Defense Force

We have said all along that it is our goal to see a strengthening of European defense capacity, including, hopefully, a greater commitment of resources to European armed forces. We've also said [that] to have Europe do more for its own defense -- and, therefore, enhance NATO -- is a good thing.

Our goal has to be -- as longstanding NATO allies -- to make certain that this new chapter in European security and defense is, in fact, augmenting NATO, helping NATO, and not undermining it in some way. But I'm quite confident that with goodwill on all sides, and with an implementation plan that works, that we can get that done.

I think we all have a common goal here, which is to see a strong and secure Europe, to recognize that a lot has happened since the end of the Cold War -- there are new members of NATO, NATO is trying to do other things. But we obviously still believe that NATO is the primary security instrument in Europe, and so do our European allies.

-- White House Briefing, February 22


The goal now of [U.S.] policy has to be to regain the initiative where Saddam Hussein is concerned; to take a hard look at what we are doing, to make sure that he does not build weapons of mass destruction, that he does not threaten his neighbors; to make certain that he lives up to the obligations that he undertook after the end of the Gulf War. And the tactics by which we pursue those very important goals -- let me emphasize, those goals have not changed since 1991 -- and the various means by which we pursue those goals we're examining fully, with an effort to try to regain the initiative and make sure that what we're doing is working.

There is a sanctions regime in place. We believe very strongly that it's a regime that now has some problems. There is no doubt about that. But precisely how to focus and make sure that this regime is serving our purposes, that's the purpose of the review.

-- White House Briefing, February 22


What we've told the Chinese is that we have concerns about Chinese activities in Iraq. We have told them that we are concerned that there may be violations of the sanctions regime, and we've asked them to give us further information and to look into what is going on there.

We certainly hope that the Chinese can help us to clarify what is going on. I want to make clear that, at this point, we're not accusing the Chinese of anything. But we are telling them that we have tremendous concerns about what's going on, that China as a member of the Permanent 5 [the five permanent members of the UN Security Council], has in many ways special responsibilities to make certain that the sanctions regime is enforced, and that we would really appreciate an answer to the inquiries that we've made.

-- White House Briefing, February 22

North Korea

North Korea is a regime to be carefully watched....We have said that anything that we do with North Korea we will closely coordinate with our allies in the region, both South Korea and Japan.

We have said that we are very concerned about the proliferation of missile technology that is coming out of North Korea, and about the North Korean indigenous program....We are reviewing our policy toward North Korea.

-- White House Briefing, February 22