|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Op Ed on "We will Not be Intimidated"
For publication in Newsweek
August 24, 1998
U.S. Department of State
The bombings of American Embassies in Africa on August 7 inflicted terrible suffering on Kenya and Tanzania, while robbing us of beloved colleagues, family members and friends. The world -- and the terrorists -- are watching now to see whether America retreats or continues to lead. Let them have no illusions. We will not be intimidated. We will maintain our diplomatic presence in Africa and wherever we have interests to defend. We will meet our commitments. And we will do all we can to see that those who perpetrated these deadly acts are held responsible.
That said, we too must have no illusions. As the world’s most powerful democracy, America will continue to be targeted by those who respect neither freedom, nor law nor life. To give in to terror, or hide from it, is not an option. Terror is not a legitimate form of political expression or a manifestation of religious faith. It is murder. And those who perpetrate it, finance it or otherwise support it must be opposed.
Organized terrorist groups have become a major threat to our security. As President Clinton has said, the same forces of technology that offer new economic and social opportunities also create new dangers. Terrorists are now more mobile, their weapons more powerful, their methods more sophisticated. To counter and defeat them, we must employ every foreign-policy tool we have. Since the Beirut bombings 15 years ago, the security of U.S. diplomatic installations -- which serve America’s citizens and interests overseas -- has been a bipartisan priority. More than $1 billion has been spent on building and upgrading facilities, but it remains a work in progress. We have simply not had the time or the money to bring more than a fraction of four embassies up to optimal security standards.
But the safety of our people depends on more than security professionals and infrastructure. It also depends on the success of our efforts to promote democracy, sound economic practices and respect for the rule of law. If we make headway with these efforts, terrorists will have a narrower base of material support, fewer places to hide and more difficulty in persuading the gullible and desperate to join their cause. If our efforts stall or fail, we may face a future in which entire countries and regions become incubators of terror.
Unfortunately, whether the specific challenge is building a security fence, easing a financial crisis or preventing a regional rivalry from erupting into violence, success requires resources. And when it comes to backing our global leadership with dollars, we have been going steadily downhill. For the past decade, we have been cutting foreign-policy positions and closing overseas posts. Expenditures on international affairs now constitute only about 1 percent of what the federal government spends in total. And under the current budget agreement, we face a further reduction, in real terms, of 16 percent over five years.
I am not assigning blame. We have generally received bipartisan support from the senators and representatives responsible for our programs. But I must draw the connection between America’s ability to counter security threats and the resources we commit to that effort. When Congress returns to Washington, the administration will ask for emergency funds to build more secure facilities in Kenya, repair facilities in Tanzania and meet other priority safety needs. We will also renew our effort to gain approval of the President’s full budget request.
Last week, I had the sad honor of bringing 10 of the 12 Americans who perished in the Kenya bombing back home to U.S. soil. As I flew, I studied the pictures I had been given of our fallen colleagues. The young Marine with the steadfast soldier’s gaze; the 50 year-old administrative worker with a mother’s smile; the Army sergeant with the boyish face and the future in his eyes; the senior foreign-service officer with an expression that combined generosity and toughness.
Theirs were the faces of America. They came in harm’s way not for themselves, but in service to our interests and values. They remind us that there can be no separation between the goals of American foreign policy and the goals of the American people. By supporting one we support the other.
And by acting now to reinforce our nation’s leadership, we can ensure that the perpetrators of the bombings in Africa will be foiled in whatever purpose they may have had; reduce the likelihood such horrible outrages will happen again and see that America continues to stand tall and strong in the world.
[End of Document]
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