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Economic Development and Security Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

 

Economic Development and Security Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

 

Remarks of the Secretary of the Navy The Honorable Gordon R. England at the Asia Pacific Security Conference, Singapore Conference theme: Security Challenges in Asian Pacific. February 23, 2004. Source: Navy Office of Information, Washington D.C.

 

Security and Prosperity

 

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests All.

 

Mr. Desker, Thank you for that introduction … and thank you for the opportunity to be here today to participate in this important and quiet intriguing conference. I congratulate the panels on their stimulating discussions.

 

It is a distinct pleasure to be back in the Lion City … one of the world's pre-eminent cities and one of the United States' strongest allies. I was last here exactly two years ago … to the day … just six months after the defining events of 9/11. It was reassuring then … just as it is reassuring now … to have strong economic and security bonds between the United States and the Asia Pacific region. The U.S. Navy makes over 700 port calls each year to this region … almost 200 of them right here in Singapore … for logistics, repair, and support. Such access is, and will remain, a cornerstone of our naval forward presence and strategy. I thank the countries in the region for your cooperation and friendship.

 

I can assure you that the U.S. Navy values this relationship, and with your continued cooperation we will continue to strengthen our presence, security ties and commitment in the region.

 

Just a few months ago … I was in the Arabian Gulf visiting our Sailors and Marines and was pleased to see the RSS Endurance in action - one of Singapore's newest LST's. By all accounts …the reports I received were that the crew of Endurance was highly professional, well-trained, and well-equipped … everyone in Singapore should certainly be proud of the RSS Endurance and her crew.

 

I thank the crew for their service in the world fight against terror. I also thank the Singaporean government for their steadfast support and participation in the OIF coalition to reconstruct Iraq and to combat global terrorism.

 

As a "naval person", a moniker coined by the indomitable Winston Churchill, I'm forever awestruck by the importance of the sea to the prosperity of the world. Around this peninsula flows the commerce of the world and with it the future of globalization. Consider the following data, indicative of the importance and economic vitality of this region.

 

* Asia Pacific nations account for 34% of the world's GDP - adding the U.S.'s contribution makes for 55% of the world's economic power.

 

* More than half the world's commerce passes through this intersection -- the Straits of Malacca.

 

* Oil flow is 3 times greater here than through the Suez Canal … and 15 times greater than through the Panama Canal.

 

* The region accounts for 35% of U.S. trade, over $550 billion (US) … in contrast to only 19% with the European Union; 20% with Canada; and 17% with Latin America.

 

* And especially noteworthy… many economists predict that the Asia-Pacific region will be the source of the most of the world's economic growth for the foreseeable future.

 

 Just last week, The Wall Street Journal reported on Japan's recent strong GDP expansion - the best showing in 13 years - a reflection of the economic recovery and growth in the region.

 

However, while the recent economic data is positive this is not a time to be complacent. The economy of this region and the economies of the world are quite fragile in this era of global commerce … but also in this era of global terrorism….a post 9-11 world, a more dangerous world…not of our choosing. There is no going back. No way to put close Pandora's Box. Never forget that Al-Qaida has publicly stated, "We will strike at the nodes of your economy."

 

Therefore, a strong security foundation is critically essential for regions like Asia-Pacific to continue strong economic growth.

 

During an address here in Singapore two years ago, Dr. Tony Tan stated that economic development and security are two sides of the same coin….and he's right.

 

It is essential to have security for continued economic development and, in turn, economic development is necessary to ensure long-term security. But the first requirement is security and if security is lost, or perceived to be weak, the shift from economic growth to economic decline will inevitably result with all its consequences.

 

Hopefully, the aftermath of 9-11-01 is not completely forgotten. The economic loss to the world after 9-11-01 is estimated in trillions of US dollars and the world is only now fully recovering. In our highly integrated world economy, and especially in this region, no country can take a pass on the war on terrorism. Security in the Asia-Pacific region will always depend on the willingness of all nations in the region to take responsibility for their neighborhood.

 

In this endeavor, you have the friendship and cooperation of the United States. As President Bush said while in the region last October, "We will continue to work together … with our friends in Southeast Asia … to dismantle Jamaah Islamiya - the terrorist network, as well as other groups that traffic in violence and chaos. As we fight the terrorists, we're also determined to end conflicts that spread hopelessness and feed terror."

 

America's vision of the Asia-Pacific region is based upon the principles of shared strength … shared prosperity … and shared commitment to values. Of the United States' seven active defense treaties … five are here in Asia Pacific alone .… and we are committed to a wide variety of bi-lateral, multi-lateral, joint and combined exercises in the region.

 

Our mutual goal should not be just the avoidance of another 9/11 2001, but also a freedom from the fear of another 9/11 anywhere in the world.

 

In this post-September 11 world, we must conclude that we are not dealing with rational political enemies in the traditional sense but rather enemies with decidedly non-political but very malignant and violent fantasies.

 

As writer Lee Harris wrote more than a year ago in The Wall Street Journal, an article I commend to all of you, the terrorist objective seems to be a radical religious fantasy in which violent acts substitute for symbols and rituals, martyrdom equates with heroism and heaven. Suicide bombers are a perfect example of this fantasy ideology taken to its extreme end.

 

What we must accept is the terrorists cannot be reasoned with, persuaded, or appeased. Negotiating with them is not an option. Changing the way we live or what we believe is not an option; most importantly, it would not stop them from living out their fantasy. Ending their reign of terror, with military force as needed, is the only solution open to the world.

 

We are now joined in battle and together, we can prevail. We can prevail, but only with action - action geared to prevention and the disruption of terror networks.

 

As the President said recently on Meet The Press: "it is essential ….that when we see a threat, we deal with those threats before the become imminent. It's too late if they become imminent. It's too late in this new kind of war."

 

And the President understands that tracking down terrorists who operate in the shadows through transnational networks makes perfect intelligence nearly impossible.

 

Finally, … because of the importance of the region … the United States is reviewing, and will be revitalizing our presence in the Pacific region … home to our largest combatant command. Our command and control organization and presence in Asia Pacific is in need of updating…and is being updated. While this study is still in process, the likely outcome will be increased presence in the region.

 

In closing, thanks to the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies for the opportunity to express my views here today. Thanks to all of you for your commitment to security in the region and for the privilege and honor to be with you.

 

 -USN-

 

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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