RAY SUAREZ: Three days after President Bush marked the countdown to the Iraq turnover with the first in a series of weekly speeches, John Kerry kicked off an 11-day campaign focus on national security. He laid out a policy framework in a speech today in Seattle. He began by sharply criticizing the Bush administration.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: More than a century ago, Teddy Roosevelt defined American leadership in foreign policy. He said America should walk softly and carry a big stick. Time and again, this administration has violated the fundamental tenet of Roosevelt's approach, as Roosevelt described it: "If a man continually blusters, if he lacks civility, a big stick will not save him from trouble." And that is precisely what this administration has ignored.
They looked to force before exhausting diplomacy. They bullied when they should have persuaded. They have gone it alone when they should have assembled a whole team. They have hoped for the best when they should have prepared for the worst. They've made America less safe than we should be in a dangerous world.
There is powerful yearning around the world for an America that listens and leads again; an America that is respected, not just feared and mistrusted. It's time for a new national security policy that is founded on four principal imperatives . First, we must launch and lead a new era of alliances for the post-9/11 world. America must always be the world's paramount military power. But we can magnify our power through alliances.
The threat of terrorism demands alliances on a global scale to find the extremist groups, to guard ports and stadiums, to share intelligence, and to get the terrorists before they get us. In short, we need a coalition of the able, and in truth, no force on earth is more able than the United States and its allies.
As president, on my first day in office, I will send the message to every man and woman in our armed forces: This commander-in-chief will ensure that you are the best-led, best-equipped fighting force in the world. And you will be armed with the right weapons, schooled in the right skills, and fully prepared to win on the battlefield. But you will never be sent into harm's way without enough troops for the task, or asked to fight a war... And you will never be asked to fight a war without a plan to win the peace.
As president, I will seek out, listen to and respect the views of our experienced military leaders, and never let ideology trump the truth. But not all problems should be viewed through a military lens. We should never wait to act until we have no other choice but war. That brings me to my third new imperative. In this new world, beyond military power, we must deploy all the power in America's arsenal, and we should do that before we go to war.
Finally, a new national security policy demands an end to our dependence on Mideast oil. And that is my fourth new imperative. For too long, America has lost its voice when talking about the policies and practices of some governments in the Persian Gulf. I have proposed a plan for energy independence from Mideast oil in the next ten years. It invests in new technologies and alternative fuels. It provides tax credits to help consumers buy and manufacturers build fuel efficiency cars in the United States of America, built by Americans.
In the coming weeks, President Bush will travel to Europe and meet with the members of the G-8 here in the United States. There will be speeches, handshakes, and ceremonies. But will our allies promise to send troops to Iraq? Will they dedicate substantially more funding for reconstruction there? Will they pledge a real effort to aid in the transformation of the Middle East? Will they, in fact, become part of the stakes that are at large for all of us? That is what we need. But the day is late and the situation in Iraq is grim.
Attracting international support in a situation like Iraq is a clear test of presidential leadership. It is what capable and confident presidents do. It is its own statement about this administration's failed approach that they must so constantly be urged to change the approach, and they do so only reluctantly and at the last minute. If President Bush doesn't secure new support from our allies, we will once again feel the consequences of a foreign policy that has divided the world instead of uniting it. Our troops will be in greater peril, the mission in Iraq will be harder to accomplish, if not impossible, and our country will be less secure.
RAY SUAREZ: Margaret Warner takes it from there.
MARGARET WARNER: We explore John Kerry's national security speech now with surrogates from the two campaigns. For the Kerry campaign: Former Clinton-era Secretary of Defense William Perry. He's now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution; and for the Bush campaign: Virginia Senator George Allen. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Welcome to you both.
Secretary Perry, what is the key message that voters should take away from this speech about the essential difference between John Kerry and President Bush on national security?
WILLIAM PERRY: I think the essential difference, Margaret, is one of execution. Both President Bush and Sen. Kerry recognize that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for the United States. Both of them realize that you have to have international support for doing this. President Bush has to this point failed to get that support -- partly because he does not recognize in the beginning the need for it, and partly because he is not treating his allies with the appropriate respect to get their support. Sen. Kerry has stated clearly from the beginning, necessity for international support and how he would go about getting that.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you see that as the essential difference, that what he is saying is that he would really work on America's alliances because they're essential for American security and that President Bush just has failed in that.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN: Well I...
WILLIAM PERRY: I'm recognizing the importance and working to get it.
MARGARET WARNER: Sen. Allen.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN: I think President Bush has clearly worked with our allies, he's gone before the United Nations before the military action trying to actually enforce United Nations resolutions to disarm Saddam Hussein from his weapons of mass destruction, which everyone believed that he had, particularly chemical and biological weapons. We do have 25,000 troops from over 30 countries on the ground there serving bravely. And unfortunately Sen. Kerry's supporters will call them bribed or coerced.
The other significant difference is while Sen. Kerry may have some parts of his speech in his outline, which are very much consistent with what President Bush is doing in a strategic plan of having Iraqis take over Iraq in a democracy, but then when it comes to supporting the troops, last year a vote for $87 billion to provide, for example, body armor for our troops, Sen. Kennedy, Sen. Kennedy and Kerry voted against providing those funds, which are so important for our troops. So it really becomes a question of who can you trust, which kind of leadership is going to be resolved and persevered, and I think the American people will see President Bush as a man who keeps his word, supports our troops, and has a vision of democracy and human rights for the people of Iraq.
MARGARET WARNER: Secretary Perry, do Sen. Kerry's past votes, let's say against the supplemental spending bill for Iraq and Afghanistan, or comments he's made about the foreign troops that are there, do they undercut, in your view, in any way the arguments he made today?
WILLIAM PERRY: Sen. Kerry has said from the beginning that we must have international support for the operation in Iraq. That has now become manifestly clear. The administration is now trying to get that support and particular to get NATO support would be the key.
The problem, Margaret, was best expressed by Winston Churchill, who during the Second World War said that the problem with allies is that they sometimes have ideas of their own. Our allies in Europe have had ideas of their own, and to deal with them we have to respect those ideas and we have to find a way of supporting them when possible and persuading them against them when not possible. But we must have that support. It is late in the day to try to get that support, but we should still try, and I really would hope and believe that President Bush at the NATO summit next month would make every effort, serious effort to get the NATO support now. This failure in Iraq would affect Europeans as adversely as it affects the United States.
MARGARET WARNER: Staying with you, Secretary Perry, President Bush has said in fact he plans to ask NATO members for his support, but it sounded today as if John Kerry was saying, he said this is a test of presidential leadership. Is he saying that if NATO members don't step up and agree to help in Iraq in a meaningful way, that it will be the president's fault?
WILLIAM PERRY: I think it is a test of leadership. The fundamental need for the Europeans, the fundamental need for NATO for success in Iraq as great as ours, and this is a clear example of presidential leadership should be able to bring NATO around to that understanding. I agree it is late to be asking for it, but still better late than not doing it at all.
MARGARET WARNER: Do you and does the president, Sen. Allen, accept that that test, that getting NATO cooperation next month is really a test of President Bush's leadership and his ability to manage alliances?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN: Well, I know Sen. Kerry would like to have it all dependent on whatever the views of Germany or France may be in it. The reality is, is the majority of European countries are with us. And NATO of course as a European and U.S.-Canada alliance, and if you look at all the countries that have joined NATO from Lithuania on down to Bulgaria and Romania, they are with us.
And I do think it's very important, and the president thinks it's important to have NATO involved. I think it is also important that the United Nations are involved. I'd also like to see Arab countries, Muslim countries involved. And I think you're going to see a significant change after June 30. There will be a completely different mindset, because then Iraqis will be the ministers of a variety of functions.
MARGARET WARNER: But do you feel that the president is really under pressure to produce support from the NATO, the big NATO countries, traditional allies like France and Germany at the summit as Sen. Kerry says?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN: We'd love to have France and Germany join with us. France and Germany, and the president has said this, particularly France is very helpful in the counter-terrorism. Yeah, there's a difference, definitely, as far as the military action in Iraq -- that theater of the war on terrorism. We would like them to join in, we want other countries to join in as well. Ultimately, though, we want Iraqis in control of their own destiny, rather than have to have people from outside their country try to mediate squabbles and fights, and hopefully they'll get a constitution that respects individual rights.
MARGARET WARNER: Secretary Perry, Sen. Kerry said today that essentially the Bush administration had made America less safe than we should be in a dangerous world. In what way is America less safe?
WILLIAM PERRY: If we fail in Iraq, it will become a breeding ground for chaos and terrorism. That will undoubtedly make us less safe than we are today. That is why he has said and I say again, we must not fail in Iraq, we must have necessary steps to keep from failing. But in order to not fail in Iraq, we must get the security right. And security right may take more troops than we have now, and those troops should be coming from other nations. In Bosnia, for example, which is a NATO operation, the United States applies about a third of the troops. In Iraq we're supplying about 80 percent. That is the wrong ratio.
MARGARET WARNER: Sen. Allen, another major point that Kerry was aiming at today had to do with Mideast oil, and he said that U.S. National security is constrained by dependence on Mideast oil. And he called this a weakness that the administration had failed to address and it had national security implications. What do you say to that?
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN: First, let me say to Secretary Perry's point, the United States and Iraq in and the world are safer with Saddam Hussein out of power.
Now, in so far as energy security, because of the views of people like Sen. Kerry, we are over dependent on foreign sources of oil and natural gas. Seven times he voted against allowing us to explore and get oil off the north slope of Alaska. He voted, he was missing from the vote most recently back in November, when we were trying to get cloture to actually go to the energy bill.
President Bush has put forward and the Republicans and some Democrats a very comprehensive plan so that we are less dependent on foreign source of oil, so we're not having to beg the Saudis or Venezuela or some other country to increase production. We need to be much more self-reliant for jobs and for our security in this country, and unfortunately Sen. Kerry's approach is one that only puts us over the barrel of the Saudis and others rather than having the United States controlling our own destiny.
MARGARET WARNER: Secretary Perry, on that point?
WILLIAM PERRY: Margaret, I drive a car today that gets 45 miles to the gallon, which is about two to three times what a typical American car gets. Unfortunately, this car is a Japanese car because there have been no strong incentives on American car makers to produce hybrid fuel vehicles. A key importance here, I believe, is having the U.S. government provide the incentives to the U.S. automakers to provide fuel efficient automobiles. We could make a dramatic difference in our consumption of oil and that is one very important and direct way of dealing with this problem.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN: Secretary Perry, I'm in agreement with you and our energy bill actually does include incentives for hybrid vehicles, fuel cell vehicles and solar power and so forth, and that's part of the comprehensive energy plan. I hope you would get some of the folks on your side to let us pass that, because it also includes clean coal technology as opposed to mandates and dictates.
MARGARET WARNER: Secretary Perry.
WILLIAM PERRY: I agree that alternative fuel as well as conservation are all important elements of this program.
MARGARET WARNER: Finally, Secretary Perry, and I guess just very, very briefly, one of the criticisms from the Republicans today was that a lot of what Sen. Kerry was advocating really wasn't that new and that different from the Bush policy, say on modernizing the military. Is it?
WILLIAM PERRY: Well, arguing that we need allies to deal with important problems of the world, there's nothing new about it. What is important here, though, is executing that plan. The idea that we should have the U. N. taking responsibility for the political reconstruction in Iraq is not new, it was proposed by Sen. Kerry more than a year ago. It's now being picked up by the Bush administration, but a year late.
Now, on the -- what should be done with the military modernization referred to in this talk, there are a host of changes that could be made to recognize the nature of the threats we are facing today. One of those, for example, is a greater emphasis on land robotic vehicles to perform the land mine detection surveillance, which is so typical of the kind of operations we're facing in Iraq. Another is a greater use of unmanned aerial vehicles both for surveillance and for the use of precision guided missiles; another is the greater emphasis on the air lift, the new, many more C17's are needed, I think. There are a whole host of things that can be done here. One thing which I wanted to mention which is not directly concerning the Iraq war is giving a much greater emphasis to national guard and reserves to homeland defense.
MARGARET WARNER: All right, Secretary Perry, thank so you much. I'm afraid we have to leave it there. But thank you, Secretary Perry -
WILLIAM PERRY: Thank you.
MARGARET WARNER: Senator.
SEN. GEORGE ALLEN: Thank you.