|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Address to the International Diplomacy Council
San Francisco, California, July 24, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
AMBASSADOR ROSENTHAL: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Iím Jim Rosenthal, the President of the Board of the International Diplomacy Council. And on behalf of the Council, itís my great pleasure to welcome you to this very important meeting today. The International Diplomacy Council has been involved in citizen diplomacy for more than 45 years here in San Francisco, helping host nearly 100,000 international visitors participating in the U.S. Governmentís highly esteemed International Visitorís Program. In this way, the International Diplomacy Council has made a significant contribution to the success of American diplomacy over the years. So, it is a particularly great honor and pleasure for us to be able to welcome here today our countryís top diplomat, and our boss so to speak, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Secretary Albright will be taking questions after her remarks, so I wanted to tell you in advance that there are microphones on either side of the auditorium. Please line up behind those microphones if you wish to ask a question of the Secretary.
To those of you who are not members of IDC, but would like to participate in such citizen diplomacy, I invite you to join today. The International Diplomacy Council is a major asset to our Bay Area Community, helping international visitors know and appreciate our great region and establishing invaluable contacts for our citizens in all fields: in business, in academia, in all kinds of cultural, social and environmental fields, for example. So we are greatly honored and pleased today to have with us the distinguished leader of our San Francisco community, Mayor Willie Brown. Mayor Brown will welcome and introduce our distinguished speaker. Mr. Mayor.
MAYOR BROWN: Mr. Rosenthal, thank you very much for that kind introduction. Let me extend a San Francisco welcome to the Secretary of State. I believe that this is my first opportunity ever to introduce her. From the years of her activities with the Carter Administration, through the National Policy Center, Georgetown University, Madeleine Korbel Albright was always one of the persons whose voices was heard. I sometimes say to people, when they say "Why did you say that?": Secretary Albright would have seen it this way, she would have said it as well. Sheís always been very outspoken, very direct.
So unlike typical diplomats, but nevertheless, just as effective. As the 64th Secretary of State of these United States, the first female ever and the single highest-ranking female in our government, it is with a great degree of honor, pride and pleasure that on behalf of all the citizens of San Francisco I welcome Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much Mr. Mayor, Ambassador Rosenthal, Charlotte Shultz, members of the diplomatic community, distinguished guests and friends. I am delighted to be back here in San Francisco. And I want to thank all of you for coming, especially those who passed up the opportunity to bond in Bohemia Grove.
Mr. Mayor, I am particularly grateful for your introduction and for your attendance here this afternoon. You are the worldís hardest act to follow, but I appreciate your presence.
It reflects the fact that San Francisco is a place with global interests and global clout; and where the connections between American foreign policy and the day to day lives of our people are fully evident.
Ambassador Rosenthal, I am delighted, but not surprised, to see a career foreign service officer continuing after retirement to serve his community and country. The International Diplomacy Council is a superb example of citizen diplomacy and, in our era, people to people contacts are the ties that truly bind the international system together. I congratulate the IDC for its work and thank you very much for sponsoring this event.
As many of you know, I am en route to Asia for meetings early next week with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. I will also visit our key democratic partners, Australia and New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea, which has been devastated by a terrible and tragic act of nature.
This afternoon, I plan to focus my remarks on the U.S. approach to Asia and also on the need for adequate resources to conduct our foreign policy around the globe.
When the Cold War ended, some Asian leaders feared that America would retreat from its historic presence in their part of the world. Instead, our engagement, both governmental and non-governmental, has steadily increased. By now, there should be no doubt, America is and will remain a leader in the Asia Pacific. In the seventeen months I have served as Secretary of State, this will be my sixth trip to Asia, my third time this year.
Our role there is vital, from the stabilizing effects of our diplomatic and military presence, to the galvanizing impact of our commercial ties, to the transforming influence of our ideals. And our commitment is solid because it is solidly based on American interests.
We have a broad strategic interest in a region where we have fought three wars in the last half-century, and where almost any outbreak of international violence would threaten our well-being and that of our friends.
We have a deep security interest in a region whose cooperation we must have to respond to the global threats of proliferation, terrorism, illegal narcotics and the degradation of our environment.
We have an abiding political interest in supporting democracy and human rights in a region where the majority of the worldís population lives.
And we have a compelling economic interest in a region that is home to so many of our partners in trade.
That is especially true here in the Golden State, our nationís export leader. Half of Californiaís exports go to customers in Asia. That translates into thousands of jobs in sectors such as the aeronautics and computer industries, agriculture and financial services. And nationally, exports account for nearly one-third of the remarkable economic growth we have enjoyed these past five years.
These American interests in Asia cannot be separated into discrete boxes. They reinforce each other.
Accordingly, we are working with our allies and others in the region to build an Asia Pacific community based on a full range of interests, including economic growth, the rule of law, and a common commitment to peace.
We are proceeding bilaterally, by fortifying our core alliances and relationships, and through multilateral institutions such as the ASEAN Regional Forum and the International Monetary Fund. Let me provide some examples.
Five decades ago, our predecessors made a strategic decision to help Japan rebuild from the destruction of World War II. Today, our alliance with Japan is the irreplaceable cornerstone of Asian security and a major contributor to stability and progress around the globe.
Over the past year, we have completed and signed new defense guidelines with Tokyo to ensure more effective cooperation among our armed forces. And politically, we coordinate on issues ranging from the building of peace in Bosnia to safeguarding the environment to battling AIDS.
Today, our partnership is as deep and wide-ranging as any bilateral relationship on Earth. And we expect it will continue to flourish over the remaining months of this century and throughout the next.
I look forward to seeing Foreign Minister Obuchi, with whom I have worked closely. We will be seeing each other in Manila, and I look forward to congratulating him for being selected as his partyís choice to be Prime Minister. We are confident that on vital matters of diplomatic and security cooperation, there will be continuity in the policies of both countries.
A second key ally in East Asia is the Republic of Korea. Here, our relationship has drawn new vigor from the election as President of Kim Dae-jung, a long-time champion of democracy.
Last month, during a visit by President Kim to Washington, President Clinton reaffirmed our alliance with Seoul and our friendship with the Korean people. This relationship is a core element in our Asian security strategy, including the goal of peace on the Korean Peninsula, where 37,000 American armed forces are still deployed.
Another of our important bilateral relationships in Asia is with the Peopleís Republic of China.
We Americans want stability and peace. We want to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. We want a healthy, growing world economy with open markets and fair rules of trade. We want help in responding to global threats. And we want to increase respect for human rights and democracy.
Events in China will do much to determine whether we make progress towards these goals. Our task is to encourage China to define its own interests in ways that are compatible with ours. Our approach is to engage in a dialogue with Chinese leaders, while encouraging a broad exchange of information and ideas between our peoples. The Presidentís trip to Beijing was a dramatic step forward in that effort.
The question is whether our approach is working. The evidence suggests that it is.
For example, during the past few years, we have seen China move from being part of the nuclear proliferation problem to becoming a part of the solution. It has joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; become party to the Chemical Weapons Convention; promised not to assist any unsafeguarded nuclear facilities; cut off nuclear cooperation with Iran, as well as missile cooperation; and supported peace talks in Korea.
During the June summit, Presidents Clinton and Jiang agreed further that our nations would not target each other with nuclear missiles. The Chinese agreed to actively study membership in the Missile Technology Control Regime. And China said that in the future it would not sell missiles to Iran or Pakistan.
On human rights, China has released several prominent dissidents; ratified one international human rights convention and promised to sign another this fall; placed new emphasis on the rule of law; permitted more open public discussion of political reform; and agreed to participate in and co-sponsor an NGO forum on human rights.
China has also continued to implement economic reforms, and increased its cooperation with us on everything from maritime practices to drug law enforcement to science and technology.
Despite this, critics say that this is not good enough. They argue that China needs to do more and change more. They are right. And that is precisely the message the President brought to Beijing.
The President spent much of his time during the summit working the hard issues; urging China to strengthen its control over technology exports; pressing for the release of additional political prisoners; calling for renewed dialogue with the Dalai Lama and for respect for Tibetís unique cultural and linguistic heritage; standing up for religious freedom; pushing China to further open its markets; and stressing that improved relations between Washington and Beijing cannot come at the expense of Taiwan.
As I have said many times, engagement is not the same as endorsement. We continue to have sharp differences with China, but we also believe that the best way to narrow those differences is by raising them vigorously and discussing them honestly; as President Clinton did not only in private, but openly before the Chinese people and the world.
It would be naïve to suggest that our engagement alone will cause democracy in China to blossom. Chinaís future will be determined by the Chinese, not by an outside power. But our engagement is helping the people of that country to have more access to information, to have more exposure to democratic practices, and to face less resistance from their government to new ideas.
In contrast, cutting off U.S. engagement, as some still advocate, would do nothing to strengthen the forces of change. It would not eliminate a single danger, free a single dissident, or inform a single Chinese citizen about the ways and means of democracy. It might provide a moment of instant gratification to some, but it would not advance either our interests or our principles.
That is why I am gratified that on Wednesday the House voted, by an even larger majority than last year, to renew normal trade relations with China.
Americaís approach to Asia rests on building strong bilateral relations with Japan, Korea, China and other key countries. But it relies, as well, on the multilateral cooperation we have forged with regional leaders.
For example, this weekend in Manila, I will be meeting under the auspices of ASEAN with counterparts from throughout the Asia Pacific.
At the top of our agenda will be the regional financial crisis, which is both an urgent economic concern and a cause of widespread hardship in East Asia.
The crisis resulted from bad economic habits in the countries involved and on the part of those who did business with them. A lack of transparency and effective oversight meant that problems caused by ill-conceived investments and bad loans were not caught in time. Beginning last summer, markets responded and a crisis of confidence grew.
At the meetings in Manila, we will stress the lessons of the past year. To attract outside investment and to ignite new growth, it is vital to apply democratic principles and the rule of law to the marketplace. Competition must be encouraged. Fair conditions for direct investment must be created and maintained. Accountability must be emphasized and corruption must be stopped.
In some countries, the medicine of economic reform is bitter. It requires that the old ways of doing business must change, inefficient firms close and cozy relationships break up. The consequences for workers and families caught in the middle can be difficult and unfair.
But this does not change the fact that reform is medicine. If refused, the illness only grows worse. If taken, recovery becomes only a matter of time. Further, an economy powered by open and sound financial policies will be better able to adjust to the global market than an economy that is closed and hobbled by financial favoritism.
United States policy towards the financial crisis is clear. We strongly urge reform, but we will also do all we can to help the countries that are being hurt by the crisis and that are committed to reform.
We take this approach because Asia includes not only some of our closest allies and friends, but also some of the best customers for U.S. products and services. More than one-third of our nationís exports go there. Thousands of good jobs in San Francisco and Los Angeles, Miami and Seattle, depend on economic vigor in places such as Bangkok and Seoul.
Unfortunately, the crisis has already caused a slowdown in our exports to the region and an increase in our trade deficit. Increasingly, its effects are being seen in economies and markets worldwide. The risk of long term harm to the global economy, and to our own prosperity, cannot be ignored.
A key lesson of the past year is one Kim Dae-jung has been teaching for decades: democracies are better able to adjust to crises than regimes that are autocratic.
Accordingly, the prospects for strengthening democratic institutions will be a topic of even greater than usual interest to the United States during our meetings with the nations of ASEAN.
We will be encouraging the new leaders in Indonesia to reach beyond the traditional centers of power to devise a plan for peaceful, but profound, economic and political reform based on democratic principles.
We will be expressing concern about the ongoing threat to international stability and peace posed by the repression of political freedom and the tolerance of rampant drug trafficking in Burma. We will reiterate our support for a dialogue in that country between the authorities and the democratic opposition led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
And we will be seeking a unified international response to the unfolding developments in Cambodia.
As the recent death of Pol Pot reminds us, the Cambodian people paid an enormous price for past divisions and violence. Earlier in this decade, a UN peacekeeping operation helped end that nationís civil war and permit elections in which the overwhelming majority of voters participated. However, the resulting coalition government was weak and ultimately fell apart as a result of brutal acts of violence.
This weekend, Cambodia will try again. The election campaign that will culminate on Sunday has been marred by incidents of violence, intimidation and manipulation by the government-controlled press. Hopes now for the electionís legitimacy hinge on whether the polling proceeds fairly, the rights of voters are protected and the ballots are counted accurately.
Whatever the outcome, the responsibilities of the next government will be the same: to use, not abuse power. To create a climate in which genuine political debate is possible. To replace cronyism and corruption with accountability. And to respect civil liberties, including freedom of the press.
The international community cannot impose democracy in Cambodia, but we can encourage it by making our assistance to any government conditional on respect for international norms.
We can continue to support non-governmental initiatives to strengthen civil society.
We can be consistent in dealing with Cambodian leaders in accordance not with what they promise, but in accordance with what they do.
And we can be both persistent in pushing for democratic reform and patient in understanding that the divisions within Cambodia remain deep and will take time to overcome.
Before closing, I want to raise a broader subject that is relevant not only to the Asia Pacific, but to American influence around the world. For today, on every continent, people look to America for leadership. That serves our interests, which are global. It benefits our people, who want a future that is secure, prosperous and free. And it reflects American character and ideals.
But to be effective, leadership must be backed by resources; by the people, expertise, equipment and money required to get the job done. And unfortunately, today, our foreign policy lacks disposable income.
Currently, we allocate only about one-fifteenth of the portion of our wealth that we did in the post-World War II era to support democracy and growth overseas. Among the industrialized countries, we are dead last in such contributions relative to the size of our economy. We are the number one debtor to the United Nations and the multilateral development banks.
For the past decade, we have been cutting foreign policy positions, closing diplomatic posts, and shutting AID missions. Under the current budget agreement, we face a reduction in buying power of 16% over the next five years. And Committees in the House and Senate have just voted crippling cuts in the Presidentís request to fund international programs during the coming year.
These facts have consequence. Today, there is a growing gap between what the American people want to accomplish abroad and what we are able to accomplish.
There is growing resistance to our requests that others meet their obligations when we have not met ours.
There is a growing risk that extremists will exploit openings for mischief that a more active American presence could have prevented.
There is a growing possibility that historic opportunities to ensure the future security, prosperity and freedom of our people will be lost.
For example, we face deep cuts in programs to strengthen democracyís hold in Russia and the other New Independent States.
Our request for funds to promote the rule of law in China is being denied.
We may not receive full funding to help monitor and detect possible nuclear tests abroad.
Our ability to support international peacekeeping, promote womenís rights, bolster free enterprise, encourage the use of environmentally friendly technologies and carry out other worthy initiatives is being nickeled and dimed to death.
Furthermore, Congress has not yet approved urgently needed payments to the International Monetary Fund. The IMF is neither infallible nor perfect. But it is the single most important and effective instrument we have for dousing the fires of financial crisis in Asia and elsewhere.
Because the IMF functions as a sort of international credit union, in more than fifty years, its programs have not cost our taxpayers one penny. The time has come for the House of Representatives to follow the Senateís lead; to protect American prosperity and renew American leadership by providing our share of funding to the IMF.
The same is true for the United Nations. There is no better place to speak plainly about this than here in San Francisco, where the UN was born.
It is no secret that there are some in Congress and our country who believe the UN is a sinister organization. They suspect 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 can not trust it because it is full of foreigners--which really canít be helped.
The truth is that the UN is not an alien presence on U.S. soil. It has Made in America written all over it--invented by people with names such as Truman and Acheson and Eleanor Roosevelt. Our predecessors brought it together, helped write its charter and approved its rules. Today, it is addressing challenges from Iraqís weapons of mass destruction to the care of refugees to the prosecution of war criminals; none of which we could deal with as effectively on our own.
Last year, we developed with Congress a plan to encourage UN reform while paying the nearly $1 billion we owe. Now is the time to update that plan. Now is the time, at long last, to pay our UN bills.
In our era, foreign policy is not really foreign anymore. The funds we devote to building democracy, halting the spread of nuclear weapons, fostering economic development, fighting disease, preventing conflict and battling crime have their dividends right back here in America. We see the payoff in more and better jobs, less dangerous neighborhoods, greater hope for the global environment, and sons and daughters who do not have to go off to war.
Surveys indicate that most Americans believe that twenty percent or more of the Federal budget is devoted to overseas programs. In reality, itís roughly one percent. But that one percent may be accountable for fifty percent of the history that is written about our era, and it will affect the lives of one hundred percent of the American people.
A U.S. President from this state said once that there is no advancement for Americans at home in a retreat from the problems of the world. America has a vital national interest in world stability, and no other nation can uphold that interest for us.
I did not agree with everything Richard Nixon said, but I think we can all see eye to eye with him on that.
Whether we are contemplating the future of Asia, the coming together of Europe, the hopes of Africa, the perils of the Gulf or the fulfillment of the democratic promise here in our own hemisphere, the essential truth is the same.
We Americans have a big advantage because we know who we are and what we believe. We have a purpose. And like the farmerís faith that seeds and rain will cause crops to grow; it is our faith that if we are true to our principles, we will succeed.
Let us, then, do honor to that faith. In this new era of possibility, let us reject the temptation of complacency and assume, not with complaint, but welcome, the leaderís role established by our forebears.
And by living up to the heritage of our past, let us together fulfill the promise of our future--so that we may enter the new century free and respected, prosperous and at peace.
Thank you all very much. And now, I would be pleased to respond to your questions.
Thank you. Are you ready for questions? I think the microphones are in the center here as you pointed out Ambassador.
QUESTION: Welcome to San Francisco. My name is Yon Che (ph.). I work here at the Intercultural Institute of California. We work with many different ethnic groups and we are especially interested in the State Departmentís American policy, short-term or long-term policy toward North Korea. As you know, there are over a million Korean Americans in the States, and we are very much interested in seeing peace in the Korean peninsula. We would like to participate as actively as we can in order to bring this peace in this peninsula.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. We are also very interested in trying to do everything we can to promote peace on the Korean peninsula. As I mentioned, we have 37,000 troops in the region. I donít know how many of you have had the opportunity to visit the demilitarized zone. Being there, I think, is like being in an old movie seeing the vestiges of the Cold War very much alive there where they are not anywhere else.
We are, I think, hopeful that the Four Party talks can in fact help toward moving us in the direction of pursuing a policy that would help the peaceful resolution of the issue. There are also general staff talks taking place between North and South Korean at Panmunjon. We are doing what we can to help in the crisis as far as food is concerned in North Korea, and see that as a humanitarian gesture.
President Kim Dae-jung has wanted to take a more forward-looking approach to dealing with North Korea and we are supporting him in his approach to this issue. We understand the importance, I think, of dealing with this last vestige of the Cold War. And as I said in my remarks, South Korea is our close ally and we believe that it would be important for them as well as for the peace and stability of the region to pursue that kind of policy.
QUESTION: Good afternoon. My name is Cameron Vega (ph). Iím on the board of the International Diplomacy Council. You mentioned that in the Congress right now there is a bill to cut foreign aid budgets more drastically. As citizens of the U.S. and the Bay Area and Diplomacy Council members, what can we do to possibly write to Congress or to help them realize how important foreign aid budgets are and how important they are to organizations like the International Diplomacy Council?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much for asking that. I think that there is a tendency for people to think that there is not enough interest out there in foreign policy, that there is not a constituency for foreign policy. And I think that itís very important to let everyone know that there is, that our relationships here at home depend upon a foreign policy that is well constructed and has resources.
All my friends who know me know that no greater honor could have come to me than to be Secretary of State of the United States. I was not born in this country. And itís on a daily basis that I take great pride in being Secretary of State.
And, Iím not complaining, but it is hard to do my job without the money that we need and with my hands tied behind my back because of sanctions legislation that basically takes a swipe at practically every country in the world for one reason or another that does not allow us to really engage. I am precluded from asking you to write to Congress, but I always think that writing to each other is a very good idea.
QUESTION: My name is Richard Hege (ph) and for many years, I was with the Asia Foundation, which is doing the kinds of things youíre talking about: promoting the rule of law. Thatís not my question. My question is with the changeover in Japan, the change in Prime Ministers, thereís been a lot of pessimism in the newspapers about the prospects for the kinds of reforms that we think are necessary. What is your own assessment of the possibility of Japan working out its economic problems?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: We are all spending a great deal of time, I think, sorting out the problems of the Asia financial crisis and the key role that Japan plays, either by not doing what it needs to or by doing what it needs to . It is definitely the center of the issue. I just recently went to Japan on the way back from China. I think there are many Cabinet officials and other American government officials that have gone there to make quite clear that what is absolutely necessary is that there be a stimulus to their economy, that everything be done in order to deregulate an economy that is very tightly regulated, and also to clean up the banking system.
What is important is for the Japanese leadership to internalize that and understand that in order to retake their rightful place in the global economy, that itís essential to follow through on those issues. Still, I think Foreign Minister Obuchi, somebody that I have worked with quite closely for the last months -- if he is in fact elected Prime Minister -- has a very detailed and important job to do. We will keep working with the Japanese to try to really persuade them of the importance of undertaking at least those three suggestions that the international financial community is making.
I have been meeting with many American business leaders in order to assess what the effect of all this is. I think that we are increasingly going to be feeling it in the United States. Certainly, itís being felt very strongly in the region and we hope very much that the Japanese will undertake the responsibilities that they have in those areas that Iíve mentioned.
QUESTION: Iím Norma Walden (ph), co-chair of the Asia Pacific section at the Commonwealth Club. And Iím wondering how you assess the prospects of negotiations between India and Pakistan.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that I have to -- the issue of India and Pakistan is one that I grew up with. I have a tendency to have my life look as thought it mirrors the entire 20th century. (Laughter.) My father, in 1948, was named as the Czechoslovak representative to the Commission for India and Pakistan. He is dead, I am old and the problems still go on. (Laughter).
The problems, I think, are that these two countries from birth have had problems dealing with each other. And the root causes of them have not been eliminated, Kashmir being one of the more central ones to it. We hope very much that there can be a dialogue between the two countries to deal with that issue. The prime ministers are going to be meeting in Colombo next week and weíre hopeful that those kinds of talks will take place.
My deputy, Strobe Talbott, is on his way back from the region. He has been talking to both the Indians and the Pakistanis about how to become a part of what the majority of the world is, which is a part of the various non-proliferation regimes. I think itís very sad that both countries believed that they would increase their stature as well as the security of their people by these explosions.
In foreign policy -- I think Ambassador Rosenthal knows this -- in diplomacy, you can often walk things back. A nuclear explosion is not one of those. But what needs to happen is that we have to go forward. These are two very important countries. We need to get them to be a part of the regimes that others have chosen. And we need to get them to talk to each other. They have a great future and they need to resolve those problems.
QUESTION: Welcome to San Francisco Secretary Albright. Iím Harry Kendall (ph). Iím a member of the Foreign Service Association of northern California and a retiree from USIA. I dedicated a large part of my life to the conduct of public diplomacy overseas. I sent I donít know how many hundreds of people to San Francisco who were hosted by the International Diplomacy Council. We retirees of USIA are much concerned about the diminishing size of our former organization and the almost disappearance of USIA. We would like to see more emphasis put on public diplomacy overseas. Iím sure youíre going to do that in your travels abroad. But what is the future of that organization?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that we have for some time been working on how to reorganize the foreign policy structure or institutions of the United States in order to be able to deal with the challenges of the 21st century. I think that itís very important to rethink how we are set up in order to be able to deal with an entirely different world.
We have proposed several parts of this reorganization; one was to bring the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency within the State Department, because we consider the non-proliferation issues not a peripheral activity for the United States Government in its pursuit of our national interests, but central to it. And we have managed, even though the legislation itself has not passed yet for a number of non-germane reasons, to have a virtual reorganization, by having made the Director of ACDA John Holum our Under Secretary to deal with non-proliferation issues. And it is working beautifully. He and his team are very much a part -- central -- to what weíre doing.
USIA, we had planned to also become integral to the activities of the Department, because I happen to believe that public diplomacy is vital in terms of carrying out foreign policy. I always did, but I think that with the increase in information technology it is even more so. And especially as we know that the world listens in many ways to what America says. So we are working on pilot projects to bring USIA people directly into close coordination with the regional bureaus in order for us to be able to do substantive policy and public diplomacy in the same place so that we are in fact on the same track. We deeply all respect the functions of USIA but do not think that ultimately having a separate organization is the only way to do things. I find that with the kind of work that USIA does, which is not only visitors programs but polling and a variety of other ways that public diplomacy is carried out, I would like to see it work in closer consultation with the main part of the State Department.
Weíre also trying to get AID to work much closer with us so that disaster relief programs, other assistance programs, programs in democratization are all brought much more centrally into the Department. So this is our attempt to keep the State Department young, active, dynamic and attuned to the times without in any way losing the very important functions that those agencies do.
QUESTION: If you could meet with an historical figure from the past, in a one-on-one conversation, and spend a few moments with that person, who would it be and what question would you like to ask him or her?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Iíve been to college. (Laughter.). Essay question. Well, I have to tell you for me at the moment, and this has a lot to do with what I do, I have brought into my office a portrait of Dean Acheson. Because in terms of the kind of work he had to do, and immodestly speaking on my own behalf what I have to do, is to recreate a system after a war. And to look at what institutions serve us best, what our national interests are, how we work together, is very important to me.
I have a lot of portraits, actually theyíre all white men. (Laughter.) And they kind of line the halls of the State Department. And I talk to them as I walk by. (Laughter.). I had George Marshall in my office for a year and a half as we celebrated the 50th anniversary of everything. He had to go to some exhibit. So I thought that Dean Acheson was somebody that I could related to at the moment in a very important way.
QUESTION: My name is Dick Holton (ph), Professor Emeritus from the University of California at Berkley. Would you comment on the economic and political outlook for Indonesia?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that we are watching the Indonesian situation very, very closely and are watching the kind of political reforms that President Habibie is considering and beginning to put into place. We believe that it is absolutely essential that there be political reforms in order to open the system up.
Economically, again also we have been in very close contact with their finance minister. Our officials have gone back and forth many, many times in order again to press them to undertake the kind of reforms that I was talking about in my remarks, which is to open up the system, to deregulate, to make sure that cronyism is replaced with accountability and openness and to have them follow through on the agreement that they signed with the IMF. The IMF, I think, is doing a remarkable job in assisting the government of Indonesia in directing the change economically.
I am an eternal optimist, so I am hopeful that the trend is going the right way. But they have a great deal to do. And we are very concerned about the potential for social unrest there as a result of discrimination against the ethnic Chinese population there as well as the difficulty of food distribution in Indonesia and are going to be doing what we can in terms of trying to get food into the system because half of their population is below poverty level. As we know, the social unrest that can create makes it then difficult, but essential, to undertake some of the economic changes and also difficult to control political chaos. We are working on all aspects of the situation.
I have been told thatís it, right? Thank you all very much. I am very grateful for your reception. I love San Francisco, Mr. Mayor.
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