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Associate Director of the Office of Science;
Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy

Over the next two days we will consider ways to use the tools of science and technology to build stability abroad and prosperity at home.

We have organized our program into three broad categories: (1) Sustainable Development and Economic Integration, (2) Defense and Arms Control, and (3) Economic Security.

Sustainable Development

We will begin our day with two panels on sustainable development. Speakers will explore the role of Science and Technology cooperation in overcoming the problems that condemn whole nations to poverty, disease, hunger. We will ask the question of whether social science can show us a clear correlation between the outbreak of civil conflict on the one hand and the inability of governments to meet the food, health, and safety needs of their citizens on the other.

Economic Integration

We will then discuss the promise of technology not only in meeting development needs but also in helping to integrate previously isolated nations into the larger economic order.

Conversely we will ask the question of whether these same technologies can drive an ever greater wedge between the technology haves and have-nots.

Corresponding white papers have been drafted that will point to the Administration's strategies for sustainable development and to its vigorous advocacy for American corporate investment in the telecommunications, energy, and transportation infrastructure of Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central Europe, and the Newly Independent States.

In breakout sessions we will take up the case study of the bilateral relationship between the United States and China in which science and technology cooperation and investment play a pivotal role and we will give special attention to telecommunications technologies.

Defense and Arms Control

Tomorrow we will turn to the category of defense and arms control. In the morning, we will reflect on ways of reducing the risk that nuclear, chemical and biological weapons will transform local conflict into global war.

Our emphasis will be on policies of prevention: The Nunn-Lugar program in which American scientists and engineers are helping to downsize former Soviet arsenals and weapons industries, and current United States government efforts to ensure the safe storage of nuclear weapons materials in Russia and the United States.

We at OSTP and on the NSC have viewed fissile materials control and accounting as among our highest priorities. Given the importance of the problem, we have asked an independent panel of scientists to conduct a study of the problem and how best to manage it. They will complete their classified report this week and make their recommendations to the President.

The threat posed by "loose nukes" is among the greatest dangers of the post-Soviet world and this issue will be the subject of a breakout session tomorrow.

Economic and National Security

The final session will focus on ways to exploit path-breaking technologies to meet new defense needs. We will discuss the importance of information technologies to training and equipping our forces, ensuring battlefield communications, and to designing the most modern weapons in a cost-effective manner.

We will focus on programs to capture commercially developed technologies that have military applications. Finally, we will explore the value of investments in our national technology base.

As you see in your notebooks, white papers have been drafted to correspond with plenary sessions. Over this two-day period, drafting groups will meet to revise these white papers to reflect comments made during plenary and breakout sessions.

Drafters will be asked to supplement the papers with their responses to three cross-cutting questions: First, "To what degree do we rely on cooperation and to what degree do we rely on technological advantage to achieve our policy aim?" Second, "What is the role of federal agencies, labs, industry, universities, and NGOs in meeting the policy objective?" Third, "What are the obstacles to success be they political, budgetary, bureaucratic, or diplomatic?"

The white papers thus revised and supplemented will then comprise the chapters of the Forum report which will serve as the basis of a new National Security Science and Technology Strategy. That document will be submitted to the President and the Vice President. Once approved by them, it will be sent to you.

Policy Context

The point of departure for our work together is the President's National Security Strategy. I would like to make a few key points about the Administration's objectives, its methods, its assumptions in pursuing this strategy.

  • Our objective is first and foremost to prevent conflict. To stand ready to respond decisively should conflict nonetheless occur. Prevention and response twin objectives.
  • Our method is to shift from a strategy of containment to one of engagement. That is, rather than isolate a state as we did the Soviet Union, we now seek to integrate states like Russia, China, and others into a larger political and economic order creating a web of relationships, including scientific and commercial relationships, that give us more in common than in conflict.
  • Finally, our assumptions I will note five:

First, we believe that our nation's security derives as much from economic strength as it does from military might. Military readiness is a top priority. So too is economic revitalization and the expansion of markets. In this conception, science and technology have a central role to play.

Second, we believe that the costs of responding to conflict outweigh the costs of preventing conflict from occurring in the first place. Problems like endemic poverty, environmental degradation, food scarcity demand the sustained engagement of many nations, rather than the occasional interventions of one.

Third, having said that, we see little evidence of a domestic political consensus on this point. The politics of national security support dramatic interventions in times of crisis. The hard work of preventing that crisis has no constituency. As we speak, budgetary decisions are being made on Capital Hill that may deny us the tools of preventive diplomacy.

Fourth, it is our view that the problems we are trying to address cannot be overcome without expanding economies and broadening participation in those economies. Hence our emphasis on sustainable development and a growing role of science and technology cooperation, technology transfer, and the advancement of knowledge.

Fifth, and finally, we recognize that the federal government is but one player on the policy scene. As we consider the importance of science and technology to policy goals, I hope that we will gain appreciation for the significance of non-state actors. One need only look at the role played by Western scientists and scholars who, throughout the Cold War, interacted with their Soviet counterparts. [Their motivations may have been professional, self-interest, or humanitarian. Their effect was geopolitical. And,] by sustaining these professional ties in the post-Soviet era, they serve to strengthen the Russian scientific community that is a force for political reform and whose participation in the Russian economy is essential to economic reform.

Corporate America has long engaged in commerce in China, where it is taping into a growing, and often Western educated, entrepreneurial class that is very much a part of China's future.

It is because of this involvement and because your knowledge, your experience and your judgment that we so value your participation in this exercise.

As scientists, engineers, and scholars, you all know the importance of sound scientific advice to the formulation of security policy. In the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson years, [throughout the post-war era] scientists made prevention a central tenet of military planning then it was the prevention of nuclear war. They played a decisive role in integrating arms control into the security agenda. The role for scientists to help shape our nation's response to new challenges is as important in the post-Cold War era.

You can help provide the Science and Technology underpinnings to a strategy of prevention. In this case, the threat is more diffuse, but prevention is still the best cure. You can help us identify it, address it, plan around it.

Specifically, you can:

  • Advise us on the origins of conflict its causes and its cures. You can tell us if there are clear patterns that give us predictive capacity and preventive opportunity;
  • You can help devise policies to ensure that conflict is not fueled by weapons of mass destruction; and you can
  • Identify ways that Science and Technology cooperation can help build viable economies and governable societies that can contribute to international community and commerce.

Because of the importance of the topics and of your contributions, both the President and Vice President have chosen to join us. The Vice President will be closing the conference at 4:30 tomorrow. Because the President is in Atlanta en route to Haiti, he has taken advantage of technology to allow him to open the forum today. So, before we roll up our sleeves and begin our work together, I introduce a videotape of the President of the United States, who will now give the Forum its charge.

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