|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Nashua Chamber of Commerce
Nashua, New Hampshire, April 7, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
As Prepared for Delivery
Thank you Senator Gregg and hello Nashua!
It's a great pleasure to be here. I've been looking forward to it.
Robert Frost once wrote that "sometimes it is restful just to think about New Hampshire."
Given all that has happened this year, I agree with him.
Unlike many who travel to the Granite State from Washington D.C., my mind is not focused on you know what. In fact, when I became Secretary of State, I had all my partisan political instincts surgically removed. You are looking at a cured human being!
So when I think of New Hampshire, I don't think of that first-in-the-nation primary, I think of the city that was voted the most livable in the United States--Nashua. I think of UNH--America's college champion women's hockey team--which I think is just great since it so happens that my daughter played college hockey here in New Hampshire.
When I think of the Granite State I also think of your state motto, which I have always admired, for I believe that America has perhaps a clearer national purpose than any other country--and that purpose is freedom.
Finally, when I think of New Hampshire, I cannot help but think of Senator Judd Gregg. Since his Subcommittee controls my budget, I sometimes wish he were a little more free with your money, but I have to admit he is very fair.
And no Senator has done more to see that America's overseas missions--and those who guard them and serve in them--are protected from the forces of international terror.
Further, by helping to establish the two consular centers in Portsmouth that we visited together this morning, Senator Gregg has helped to make the former Pease Naval Air Facility a model success story for base conversion. That's good for the Pentagon and the Department of State. It's good for the federal budget. And it's good for the people of New Hampshire.
Today, I would like to discuss with you some of the same issues I have often discussed with Senator Gregg.
For the fundamental challenges in American foreign policy are both the same and far different than they have been in the past. From the time Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State, our diplomats have worked to protect the safety of America's citizens, to ensure the integrity of our borders, to advance our vital economic interests and to see that the values of liberty and tolerance that we cherish are reflected in the world at large.
Those challenges could be dealt with one way when America was a land of yeoman farmers shielded by two oceans that even the fleetest of ships would take weeks to cross.
But today, we are in the era of instant everything. Distance matters far less. What happens tomorrow morning in Baghdad or Bosnia or Beijing may have a huge impact by tomorrow afternoon here in Nashua. The implications of this are clear.
Because America may be affected by what happens almost anywhere in the world, we have to exercise leadership on a global basis. And the goal of that leadership--in a nutshell--is to keep Americans safe, prosperous and free.
Let me cite some examples.
The Cold War is long gone from the world stage, but weapons of mass destruction are not. We could settle back and wait for other countries to take the lead in controlling these weapons, but that's a gamble with our children's future we should not--and are not--prepared to take.
That's why it matters that President Clinton and Russia's President Yeltsin are committed to negotiating deep but stable reductions in our nuclear arsenals--to eighty percent below Cold War peaks.
That's why it matters that we have made the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty permanent, that North Korea's dangerous nuclear program is being dismantled, and that more than 150 nations--including the five declared nuclear powers--have agreed to a comprehensive ban on explosive nuclear tests.
And that's why it matters that, with the support of Senator Gregg and a majority of Senators from both parties, America approved an agreement to ban chemical weapons from the face of the Earth. And by so doing, encouraged others to follow in our footsteps, including Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran.
All these are gifts to the future. If implemented fully and in good faith, they will make the world a far safer place than it otherwise would be for our children--and for everyone's children.
A second major goal of our foreign policy is to spur economic growth and to see that American companies, workers and farmers have open markets to sell to and a level playing field on which to compete.
In recent years, we have had remarkable success. Since President Clinton took office, we have negotiated more than 240 agreements to increase beneficial trade--allowing exports to soar and creating some 2.2 million new jobs nationwide.
These trade deals include an International Technology Agreement that will open up new markets for our high tech firms, and a global telecommunications agreement that will dramatically increase opportunities for companies across America.
These strides toward freer and fairer trade matter a great deal in a state such as New Hampshire, where you have turned with increasing emphasis--and success--to markets abroad.
In the last couple of decades, New Hampshire has become a world leader in computers, industrial machinery and electronics. As a result, your exports have been soaring faster than all but a handful of states.
But if you are in business, you know there is nothing inevitable or automatic about these welcome trends. Competition for world markets is fierce. Often, our companies go head-to-head with foreign competitors who get direct help from their governments.
So let me assure you that, as long as I am Secretary of State, our diplomats will push for a global economic system that is increasingly fair and open. Our embassies will provide all appropriate help to American companies. Our negotiators will work for trade agreements that help create more and better American jobs.
And to see that agreements made are agreements kept, I will continue to make the point--as I do everywhere I travel--that if other countries want to do business in our backyard, they had better let America do business in theirs.
As the United States prepares for the twenty-first century, we will depend on our armed forces, strong alliances, economic leadership and vigorous diplomacy to guarantee our security and well being. But if we are truly to build the kind of future we want, we must also remain true to American values.
Some suggest it is soft-headed for our foreign policy to take morality into account.
But I believe that a foreign policy devoid of moral considerations can never fairly represent the American people. It is because we have kept faith with our principles that, in most of the world, American leadership remains not only needed, but welcomed.
That is why we should do everything we can to sustain democracy and extend the rule of law around the globe. Because nations that abide by the international rules of the road make good neighbors. Because democracy is a parent to peace. And because helping other people to live free is both the smart thing and the right thing to do for America.
That is why we must fight and win the war against international crime--and put those who profit from the illegal drugs that poison our children permanently out of business.
That is why we will continue to take a hard line against international terror, and to stand with the peacemakers against the bomb throwers in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Central Africa and other trouble spots around the globe.
That is why we are such strong backers of the International War Crimes Tribunal, because we believe that the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing should be held accountable, and that those who consider rape to be just another tactic of war must answer for their crimes.
That is why we condemn violations of human rights wherever they occur, because we believe all people should have the opportunity to speak, write, assemble and worship freely--and when dictators say it's none of our business, we say that respect for human dignity is everybody's business.
Finally, that is why I believe it is very important that the United States maintain its leadership role within the United Nations.
This is a subject I have discussed on many occasions with Senator Gregg. We agree that the United Nations is in need of reform. In fact, I have sometimes compared the UN to a business with 185 members of the board, each from a different culture, each with a different set of priorities, and each with an unemployed brother-in-law looking for a job.
But with the strong support of Senator Gregg and others in Congress, we have been pushing the UN to change. And the truth is that the UN has reformed more during the past five years than it did in the previous 45. Its budget is down, accountability is up, and its leadership has greatly improved.
Moreover, we have important business to conduct at the UN.
As we speak, UN inspectors are in Iraq, helping us to learn more about Saddam Hussein's poison gas and biological weapons programs.
And around the world, UN agencies are working to promote nuclear safeguards, punish genocide, prevent disease, protect children, provide early warning of hurricanes and preserve the rights of those who do business overseas All this for a cost to the average American that is about equal to the price of a movie ticket--the same amount you would have to pay if, for some reason, you wanted to see John Travolta again in Grease.
Unfortunately, the United States is roughly $1 billion behind in paying its UN bills. This hurts America.
Whether the issue is human rights or proliferation or trade, U.S. diplomats argue every day in meetings around the world that nations must live up to their obligations. And every day, our diplomats are asked in response: Well, if that's true, when is America going to pay its UN bills?
And by the end of this year, if we don't pay those bills, we may even lose the right to vote in the UN General Assembly.
Now, I know there are some who believe the UN is a sinister organization. They suspect that it operates a fleet of black helicopters, which may, at any moment, swoop down into our backyards and steal our lawn furniture. They say it is bent on world domination--which is absurd, and that we cannot trust it because it is full of foreigners--which frankly, we can't help.
The truth is that the UN is not an alien presence on U.S. soil. It was Made in America--invented by people with names like Truman, Acheson and Eleanor Roosevelt. Our predecessors brought it together, helped write its charter and approved its rules.
Paying our UN bills is not just a question of dollars and cents. It is in our interests and a litmus test of our willingness to practice what we preach. I appreciate Senator Gregg's support for U.N. arrears and I hope I will have your support on it as well . Congress should act now--without regard to any unrelated issue--to pay our UN bills.
That's the best way to make further progress towards UN reform; that the only way to preserve U.S. leadership; and that's the right vote for America.
Now, I know there is no certain formula for ensuring public support for American engagement overseas. And some believe that a divided government in Washington must mean that the public beyond the Beltway cannot unite behind the fundamental policies and principles for which America stands abroad.
I do not share that pessimism.
For the spirit of bipartisanship in American foreign policy was perhaps never more visible or vital than in 1948, exactly half a century ago. That was an intensely political year in which a bitter presidential campaign was closely contested.
Yet in that year, a Democratic President and a Republican Congress came together to approve the Marshall Plan; lay the groundwork for NATO; recognize the newborn state of Israel; assist Greece and Turkey in their struggle to remain on freedom's side of the Iron Curtain; and airlift supplies around the clock to a blockaded Berlin.
Secretary of State Marshall called this record a brilliant demonstration of the American people's ability to meet the great responsibilities of their new world position.
There are those who say that Americans have changed, and that now we are too complacent and inward-looking to shoulder corresponding responsibilities. Between now and the start of a new century, we have a chance to prove the cynics wrong. And I am convinced we will.
Daniel Webster once wrote that, "God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it."
With Truman's legacy to guide us and Webster's words to inspire us, let us reject the temptation of complacency, and assume not with complaint, but welcome, the leader's role established by our forebears.
Let us not be doubters, but doers--confident that the values that have sustained Americans from Valley Forge to Desert Storm are the right ones. And that by living up to the heritage of our past, we can fashion a future that finds us ever more free and respected, prosperous and at peace.
To that end, I pledge my own best efforts, and respectfully ask your help.
Thank you once again for your warm welcome to New Hampshire and for your attention here this afternoon.
[End of Document]
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