|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Address to the Milwaukee Business Community
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 2, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
Text as Prepared for Delivery
Thank you, Mr. Durtka, for that introduction. I am delighted to be here in Milwaukee, the genuine American city. I want to thank the International Institute, the Metropolitan Association and the Greater Milwaukee Committee for hosting this event.
And I want to thank all of you for stopping by before most of you have had dinner and before the weekend begins. I've always found that a hungry audience asks the easiest questions; perhaps because it hopes for the shortest answers.
When I became Secretary of State, I said that I would do my best to discuss the who, what, how and especially the whys of American foreign policy with people across our country. It is an essential part of my job. For in our democracy, when we take action overseas, we do so in your name. Without your understanding and support, we would not be able to do very much, very well, for very long.
I begin with the fact that nations are like people in that each must choose its role: whether to be lawbreaker or lawmaker; doubter or doer; camp follower or blazer of trails.
We are privileged to live in a country that, through most of this century, has chosen to lead. So that today, we are helping to shape events in every region on every continent in every corner of the world.
We exercise this leadership not out of sentiment, but out of necessity. For we Americans want to live, and we want our children to live, in peace, prosperity and freedom. But as the new century draws near, we cannot guarantee these blessings for ourselves if others do not have them as well.
The reason is simple. More and more, we Americans lead global lives. We compete in a global workplace and do business in a global market. We travel further and more often than any prior generation.
We see advanced technology creating new wonders, but also spawning new dangers, as the threats posed by terror, crime, drugs, pollution and disease spread across national borders.
In our era, if we are to shape events rather than be shaped by them, we have to do more than sit with our feet up and hope overseas problems pass us by.
Instead, we must mobilize every foreign policy tool, from the simple art of persuasion to the blunt instrument of force, when that is required, to achieve three basic goals.
First, we must work to sustain our prosperity by creating an ever-expanding global economy in which American genius and productivity receive their due.
Second, we must strive to keep Americans safe and the world as peaceful as we can make it.
And third, we must keep our people free by promoting the principles and values upon which our democracy and identity are based.
The first of these goals is prosperity.
Now, for a few people, the way to financial security is signing a professional sports contract, becoming a Spice Girl, or hitting the jackpot at POWERBALL. But for most, there are constant worries about jobs and wages, skills and bills.
Whether you brew beer or just drink it; build Harley-Davidsons or just ride them; you will want to see a strong and growing world economy that creates good opportunities for Americans.
Under President Clinton, we are doing everything we can to see that hope fulfilled. Across the globe, we are emphasizing the value of open markets, open investment, open communications and open trade.
We have created the World Trade Organization and forged landmark agreements on telecommunications, information technology, and financial services. Since President Clinton took office, we have negotiated more than 230 agreements to increase beneficial trade.
These efforts are paying off, especially in states such as Wisconsin, which has become an export powerhouse. Since 1993, your exports have increased more than 68% to almost $10 billion annually. Today, more than one of six Wisconsin workers is employed in the export sector.
So it matters that, thanks to the completion of the Uruguay Round, Asian tariffs will be lowered on Wisconsin products such as cattle, feed corn and sweet corn.
It matters that, as a result of NAFTA, U.S. exports to Mexico have boomed, so that country is now the world's fourth largest market for Wisconsin goods.
It matters that the Administration has been working closely with Harley-Davidson to bring export barriers down, and help that company go from flat on its back to leader of the pack.
As Wisconsin farmers and businesspeople well know, competition for the world's markets is fierce. Often, our citizens go head-to-head with foreign competitors who receive direct help from their own governments.
So let me assure you that, as long as I am Secretary of State, our diplomats will provide all appropriate help to American firms. Our negotiators will push for trade agreements that help create good American jobs.
And I will personally make the point--as I do every time I travel overseas--that if other countries want to sell in our backyard, they had better allow America to do business in theirs.
But if we are to build new markets for Wisconsin goods, and new opportunities for Wisconsin's people, the United States has to remain a leader in shaping the global economy.
That is why President Clinton has placed such emphasis on fiscal discipline, worker re-training, high standards in schools and other measures that help America keep its competitive edge.
And it is why we are doing everything we can to respond to the international financial crisis. President Clinton has called this the biggest challenge to the international financial system since recovery from World War II. It also has far-reaching social and political consequences.
The President has responded by outlining a plan for restoring confidence while laying the groundwork for sustained long-term growth. We are encouraging Japan to implement reforms that would help make that country once again an engine of economic expansion. We are urging the World Bank and IMF to help those who have lost jobs.
We are prepared to support the use of IMF emergency funds to halt the financial contagion from spreading further. And we are pressing Congress hard to provide America's fair share of resources to the IMF and multilateral development banks.
Unfortunately, there are no quick or simple solutions to the problems many countries now face. Success in the global economy requires a foundation of transparent financial systems, good governance and the rule of law. It is no accident that nations with these attributes have fared best in the current crisis.
Nations with deeper problems must take the tough steps required to develop broad-based and accountable democratic institutions that will curb corruption, earn investor confidence and engender public support. It is in our interest to help nations that are prepared to undertake these reforms and we are committed to doing so.
The second major goal of American foreign policy is to help build a world in which Americans are increasingly secure.
There was a time, early in our history, when our citizens felt protected by the vast oceans to east and west. But as technology advanced and our overseas interests grew, we learned the hard way that we could not be safe if friends and allies were in danger.
Today, the idea of an ocean as protection is as obsolete as a castle moat. Nations must act together. And we must plot our defense not against a single powerful threat, as during the Cold War, but against a viper's nest of perils.
That is why we placed such emphasis on adapting NATO to include new members and take on new missions. The cause of freedom will be stronger with Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic as our allies, in fact, just as their peoples have long been in spirit.
A strong NATO alliance is vital for, although the Cold War has ended, the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have not.
As a result, we face the same challenge President Harry Truman spoke of 50 years ago this month in this city when he said that "the future of every one of us depends on whether atomic energy is used for good or evil."
We will be safer if we continue to work with Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenals, dispose of bomb-usable plutonium and prevent nuclear smuggling. We are determined that no nukes should become "loose nukes."
We will be safer if, through our diplomacy, North Korea's dangerous nuclear program is forever put to rest, and if we are able to persuade that country to end its reckless development and sale of missile technologies.
And we will be safer if the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty enters into force. The purpose of this agreement is to ban nuclear explosive tests of any size, for any purpose, in any place, for all time. There could be no greater gift to the future. Thanks in part to our urging, India and Pakistan have expressed their willingness to sign that agreement.
Now, more than ever, the United States Senate should approve that treaty for America. Because if we want others to refrain from nuclear tests, and we do; then others will want us to promise the same; and we should. On this critical issue, at this perilous time, our leadership should be unambiguous, decisive and strong.
As the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa so recently and tragically reminded us, the world must also come together in the struggle against international terror.
Well-financed terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden have vowed to kill Americans worldwide. Their goal is to cause our country to abandon its friends, allies and responsibilities. To that, I can only say, that the nation whose finest planted the flag at Iwo Jima and plunged into Hell at Omaha Beach will not be intimidated.
Our flag will continue to fly wherever we have interests to defend. We will strive to protect our people. And we will wage the struggle against terror on every front on every continent with every tool, every day.
For example, although we do not publicize it, we often use law enforcement and other assets to disrupt and prevent planned terrorist attacks.
We use the courts to bring suspected terrorists before the bar of justice, as we have moved to do in the case of Pan Am 103, and as we have done in the Nairobi bombing.
And around the world, we are pressing other nations to arrest or expel terrorists, shut down their businesses and deny them safe haven.
America has been targeted by terror because we are the world's strongest force for peace, freedom and law. But no threat, no bomb, no terrorist, can diminish America's determination to lead.
The third step we must take to ensure American security is to reduce the risk posed by regional conflicts. For we know that small wars and unresolved disputes can spread, endangering allies, creating economic havoc, and embroiling our own forces in combat.
Today, Americans may be proud that, around the world, the United States is standing with the peacemakers against the bombthrowers: supporting the Good Friday agreement in Northern Ireland; keeping the diplomatic heat on Saddam Hussein; trying to end conflicts in Africa; and working with our partners to build peace in Bosnia and to halt repression in Kosovo.
Moreover, on Monday, I will travel to the Middle East to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and to prepare for additional meetings the following week with President Clinton back home. Our goal is to help the parties surmount the crisis in confidence that has prevented progress, and to reach an agreement that will take the next step towards a comprehensive peace.
There are those who wonder why we persist in this effort that has taken so long. The answer is that it is in our strategic interests to help the peoples of the Middle East find security and stability at long last; because our efforts are consistent with the promises we have made; because they reflect the kind of people we are; and because they are right.
As the United States prepares for the twenty-first century, we will rely on our armed forces, strong alliances, economic leadership and vigorous diplomacy to preserve our prosperity and ensure our security. But if we are truly to build the kind of future we want, we must also remain true to American values.
Some suggest that it is soft-headed for the United States to take the morality of things into account when defending our interests abroad.
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 welcome.
That is why we help others around the globe who believe--as we believe--that people everywhere should have the right to speak, write, assemble and worship freely.
That is why we do not hesitate to speak up for basic human rights in Burma and Baghdad, Burundi and Beijing, and wherever else they may be in jeopardy.
That is why we are working through the International Labor Organization to improve core worker standards. So we will know, when we buy a blouse or a shirt, that it was not produced by people who were under-age, under coercion, in prison or denied their basic right to organize. We Americans want a global economy where profits come from perspiration and inspiration, not exploitation.
We have also put efforts to advance the status of women where they belong, in the mainstream of our foreign policy, because no country can grow strong and free when denied the talents of half its people.
In years past, we have made enormous progress. But today, around the world, terrible abuses are still being committed against women. These include domestic violence, dowry murders, mutilation and forced prostitution. Some say all this is cultural and there's nothing we can do about it. I say it's criminal and we each have an obligation to stop it.
Finally, the United States continues to lead the world in its support for the international war crimes tribunals, because we believe that the perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing should be held accountable, and those who consider rape as just another tactic of war should answer for their crimes.
The efforts we make to advance our security, prosperity and values are both right and smart for America and for our future. But we cannot lead without tools. It costs money to detect cheating at a nuclear facility in North Korea; or to dismantle and safely dispose of nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union.
But these costs do not begin to compare to the costs we would incur if we did not act; if we allowed international criminals to run rampant, democracies to crumble and nuclear arms to spread willy-nilly around the globe.
Remember that the amount we seek for everything from aiding democrats in Central Europe to promoting Wisconsin's exports to assisting students abroad equals about one percent of our total federal budget. But that one percent may determine fifty percent of the history that is written about our era; and it will affect the lives of 100 percent of the American people.
That is why I hope you will support the President's full request to fund our international affairs programs. And why I thank Wisconsin's Congressional delegation, especially Representative Dave Obey and Senator Russell Feingold, for their tough-minded leadership on these issues.
Whether we are young or not so young, one thing is certain. We will all live the rest of our lives in a world of accelerating and astonishing change, where technological breakthroughs occur daily, and events of just a few years ago can seem like ancient history.
But some things have not changed.
The quality of Wisconsin craftsmanship.
The beauty of Wisconsin's rivers and lakes.
The integrity of Wisconsin's commitment to clean government.
The excellence of the Green Bay Packers.
And the purpose of America.
As many of you know, I was not born in this country. Because of my parents' love for democracy, we came to America after being driven twice from our home in Czechoslovakia, first by Hitler, then by Stalin. Because of this nation's kindness, we were granted political asylum and I have had the opportunity to live my life among the most generous and courageous people on earth.
The story of my family has been repeated in millions of variations over two centuries in the lives not only of immigrants, but of those overseas who have been liberated or sheltered by American soldiers, empowered by American assistance or inspired by American ideals.
Today, although we confront new dangers at a time of great turbulence and complexity, we are not weary. We are confident. We look to the future with optimism and faith.
We know that, for our country, there are no final frontiers. Americans are doers. Whatever threats the future may hold, we will meet them. With the memory alive in our hearts of past sacrifice, we will defend our freedom, fulfill our responsibilities and live up to our principles.
To that mission, this evening, I pledge to you my own best efforts, and respectfully summon both your wise counsel and support.
Thank you very much.
[End of Document]
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