|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Address Campaign to Preserve U.S. Global Leadership at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Washington, D.C., May 17, 2000
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Thank you.
Thank you very much, Vance, for that very kind introduction and I want to say how very glad I am to be up here with someone with whom I formerly worked and am currently working in a different capacity, Ambassador Johnstone and Presidents Joel Johnson, Peter Bell, Lonny Kaplan, Members of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and this great Campaign to Preserve U. S. Global Leadership.
The truth is that Larry Summers and Rudy de Leon and I don't appear very often together. We should, because our activities are interrelated in a way that the American public needs to understand. If we could testify together every time or appear on stages together every time, I think it would be clearer why, as you put it, Craig, you need 'national security'-- is in your title and why it's so important to say that. I think that our being here together, I hope, is a very clear message about how we work together.
I think that it is also so important that we're appearing here, because American leadership is, in many respects, an outgrowth of the respect generated by U.S. private voluntary organizations and responsible corporations and no amount of public diplomacy could win as many allies for our country as Americans working with friends overseas on behalf of development, democracy, and peace.
But our government must also do its part, which the Campaign to Preserve U.S. Global Leadership is seeking to ensure. It's an uphill fight. I can guarantee you that. For it's not easy to inspire passion on behalf of an account or to motivate our citizens to get out there and fight for good old Function 150. But this is a struggle that we have to win, for as the new century dawns, our failure to back our foreign policy with resources, I would state, presents a clear and present danger to American interests and values.
Ironically, this failure was spawned by success. During the past decade, we saw the Berlin Wall fall, the Cold War end, the nuclear threat diminish and the Warsaw Pact become democratic. And all this is cause for cheering, obviously. But it has also given rise to a new sense of provincialism -- I'm trying a new word here -- that in some quarters of our country it has become a cry and includes elements in both parties on Capitol Hill.
Provincialism feeds complacency and discourages us from thinking very hard about what happens beyond our borders. It causes us to underestimate the costs and risks of defending freedom and preserving peace and it leads us to ask why we should care about the fate of places many of us have never been to, don't intend to go and couldn't even find on a map. Such thinking is clearly seductive because it means we don't have to care. But we've been down this road before, when too many people in too many countries care too little about events in hard-to-find places, such as Ethiopia and Czechoslovakia, Auschwitz and Dachau. We must never make that mistake again.
If our nation is to be secure and successful in the new century, we have to lead. And if we are to lead, we have to have the resources. We don't have sufficient resources today. Now, many of you have now heard these facts but most Americans are astonished when I tell them that we devote a smaller percentage of our wealth to assisting overseas development than any other industrialized country. During the past decade, our rate of investment has declined by half; and since the days of Truman and Marshall, by more than 90 percent.
This year, Congress approved a budget resolution that would slash the President's request for international affairs funding by 12 percent. For months, the President has waited for emergency funds for Kosovo and Colombia and, as we speak, the Senate is considering a full appropriations bill that is $1.7 billion short of what we need. Now this simply doesn't make any sense. Our economy has never been stronger, as has just been testified to by the Secretary of the Treasury. Our budget is in better shape than it has been in decades. We are the richest country in the world. And now is the time to advance, not to retreat.
You said that I was on a first name basis with the leaders of the world. I am. They think we're crazy. (Laughter.)
Our international programs help us to advance by defending our security, prosperity and principles in an interconnected and ever changing world. They preserve peace and they prevent disasters, they shield our borders from threats posed by drugs, terror and crime. They attract the help of others to causes we support, and they strengthen forces of democracy and law upon which our own future depends.
Now just consider a few examples, beginning with the contributions our international programs make to security and peace. By the way, I have banned the word "foreign aid." These two words don't go together very well in our country. This is aid for America, and if you listen to some of these examples, I think you'll understand.
Our expanded threat reduction initiative has destroyed almost 5,000 nuclear warheads in the former Soviet Union, eliminated nuclear weapons from three former Soviet republics and engaged more than 25,000 former Soviet weapon scientists in peaceful ventures. The result is greater security for America within a safer world. But now the Senate is poised to reduce funding and add restrictions that could halt that program entirely. That's irresponsible.
The Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization, KEDO, is helping to preserve nuclear stability in a tense region where there are 37,000 US armed forces deployed. The President is requesting $55 million as our share of next year's cost. The Senate is preparing to slash that by 36 percent.
International terror has emerged as a threat to our citizens and interests. Less than two years ago, bombings at U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania claimed the lives of hundreds of innocent people. I need money for our embassies to protect our personnel. Our diplomats are the first line of defense. They need to be in protected buildings. But is doesn't do much good to have secure buildings with no programs. So I don't want be given the choice between having secure buildings and having programs. Our counter-terrorism programs improve border security and prevent terrorist acts but the Senate bill would cut funding and zero out our plan to build a new training center on US soil.
In the Balkans, we have a historic opportunity to bring a region of chronic instability into Europe's democratic mainstream. The vast majority of the costs are being borne by our allies, but the US role is pivotal and the President has asked in vain for funds to strengthen our diplomatic presence and pay our share of UN costs. Now some in Congress are threatening to force the premature withdrawal of US troops from Kosovo. This is playing with fire. In the Balkans, signs of impatience can be misinterpreted as symptoms of weakness. We cannot afford that in a region where weakness attracts vultures.
We will not achieve our goals in Southeast Europe if our eyes are always on the clock and our focus is solely on what others do. We are more than bookkeepers and spectators; we are leaders. And our fundamental objective in Southeast Europe is not to leave, it's to win. Our job with our partners is to prevent further violence and help democratic principles take root. And if we leave now, I predict now we will have to return to the Balkans again and again. If we persist and succeed, we will take a giant step towards a Europe whole and free, where differences are settled peacefully and wars just don't happen.
Our nation wants neither to police the globe nor to allow aggressors, terrorists and criminals to run roughshod upon it. The UN is the key but sometimes neglected ally in our effort to have it both ways. In recent years, both the Administration and the Congress have been right to work with the UN in order to improve its peacekeeping capabilities. And we've been right to ask the hard questions about the mandate and the means contemplated for specific peacekeeping operations. We've been right to make clear that America will assess its interests carefully before committing our own personnel to such missions. But we are dead wrong when we fail to pay our share of the costs of operations that the Security Council has approved with our vote.
The legislators who are denying funds for UN missions in Kosovo, East Timor, the Congo and Sierra Leone are making a grave mistake. Their rationale boiled down is that operations don't come with a guarantee of success. That's true. But nothing guarantees failure.
Troublemakers in these regions cannot simply be wished away, they must be contained, captured, convicted or converted which, in every case, requires resources. For example, in Sierra Leone there are two realistic and possibly overlapping alternatives. One is to beef up the existing UN operation, which Congress isn't allowing us to fund. The other is to back a voluntary coalition of the willing. Of course, the Senate bill would cut our voluntary peacekeeping request by one third.
Despite resource constraints, the Administration is doing its best to help the UN and regional leaders restore order in Sierra Leone, secure the release of detainees and try to create the conditions of an enduring peace. And today we had some good news that Foday Sankoh has, in fact, been captured. We invite both congressional and public support for doing our job in Sierra Leone.
A second basic goal of our international programs is to promote American prosperity and we do this through efforts here and abroad to open markets, expand US exports, elevate labor standards and fight corruption. And, again, I am very grateful about what you said about our ambassadors and our embassies. They are there, in great part, to help cooperate and be partners with American business, because we do all have the same interests.
We are encouraging a more inclusive global economic system, for example, and again this has been mentioned because it is so key, by asking Congress to grant permanent normal trade relations to China. That proposal would clearly benefit our economy by reducing barriers to trade and our security by increasing incentives for cooperation and our values by further opening China to the world. This is the single most important foreign policy vote.
We also aid prosperity through our assistance to developing countries, which include many of our fastest growing markets. Unfortunately, the bill now being considered by the Senate would require deep cuts in trade promotion, the Peace Corps, environmental initiatives and our contributions to the UN development program and it would cripple the President's debt relief plan for the poorest countries. And it would slice and dice requested levels of support for fighting AIDS, helping refugees and assisting the victims of recent floods in Africa.
Now, these initiatives support American interests and I know and firmly believe that they are backed by the American people. Congress shouldn't be starving these programs; it should be helping to save them or do everything it can to enrich more lives and to earn new friends and create stronger partners for our country.
The third purpose of our international affairs budget is to ensure that the democratic tide remains a rising tide around the world and, to this end, from Asia to the Andes, US agencies are training judges, drafting commercial codes, advancing the status of women, bolstering civil society and otherwise helping countries in transition ascend the nuts and bolts of freedom.
This year, we are focusing special attention on four key countries: Indonesia, Nigeria, Ukraine and Colombia. These nations vary widely in their histories and makeup but each has an elected government and each is undergoing severe stress. And each will play a major role in determining the future of our interests in its region. Unfortunately, the Senate bill would mandate cuts in the amounts we've requested to support democracy in these countries and it would reduce significantly our proposal for emergency funds for Colombia, whose president is striving valiantly to rescue his country -- and therefore ours -- from drug criminals.
Also, because of the delay in congressional action in Colombia, we are being forced to curtail the training of helicopter pilots and reduce efforts to destroy drug crops. Eighty percent of the cocaine and much of the heroin entering the US comes from Colombia. More than 50,000 Americans die for reasons related to drug trade each year. Colombia needs our help. It is in our interest to provide it, not eventually but now.
As members of Congress debate these issues, I hope they will think seriously about the potential consequences of their decisions. The budget process is drawn out and members, including appropriators, must work within it. Our focus, therefore, is on the bottom line. If Congress fails to provide the resources needed to protect US interests, I will recommend to the President that he uses veto power until that failure is corrected. In so doing, I recognize that most of the funds now being considered by Congress will be spent next year under a new administration, so our requests have nothing to do with politics and personality, they have everything to do with America's capacity to lead.
Now, you have now heard from each of us that only one penny of every dollar from the federal budget goes for these policies. I think we repeat that all the time because if you were to ask the average American how much goes for these kinds of things, they tell you -- I've tried this -- 25 percent, 30 percent or 10 percent. And they're stunned when you say only less than one percent or one penny. So we are repeating that and also repeating that that penny can make a huge difference.
Now, under our Constitution, the protection of national security is not a responsibility that can be delegated or privatized. It is one of the federal government's core functions and it is why our union came together. It is essential to the protection of our freedoms and it embodies obligations to the future that we have to meet.
I am so grateful to all of you for being with us in this fight. It is a fight for American leadership and it is one that this country can meet and work on in the most intensive way at the dawn of the 21st century. I believe in the goodness of American power. We can make such a difference and we can't do it with our hands tied behind our back or with micromanagement or with delay. Thank you all very much.
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