|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at the Foreign Service Institute, National Foreign Affairs Training Center
January 4, 2001, Arlington, Virginia
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
AMBASSADOR DAVIS: Madame Secretary, it really is a very special privilege to welcome you back to FSI today. Although we realize that this is probably your last visit to us as Secretary of State, we don't look upon this visit as a conclusion. To the contrary, we want you to feel the warmth of the traditional welcome from FSI today and on all the other days that you come back to visit with us in the future.
At FSI, we have not forgotten what you said about us at the very start of your tenure as Secretary of State. You said that this distinguished institution combines two of your great loves, and that is academia and foreign policy. And we hope that you will continue to feel that way and that you will come back to visit with us often in the years to come.
Madame Secretary, I see your visit here today as important in three aspects. First, it gives us the opportunity, all of us, to say a very heartfelt thank you to you for your very, very strong support. Second, it offers us the opportunity to reflect on the achievements that we have made in training during your tenure and the support that you have given to us and the support that you have given to the Department of State in managing our foreign policy. And, third, it offers us a time to reflect with you on the challenges that are before us.
Madame Secretary, I want to take this occasion to say thank you for your consistent support of our strategic goal of diplomatic readiness. FSI exists to enhance and improve the readiness by training women and men who are about to go overseas and to execute the US foreign policy. And, as you wrote on the occasion of our 50th anniversary three years ago, here at FSI, the ability to turn the raw material of information into the finished product of American foreign policy is developed. Here, the knowledge that will inform the peacemakers of tomorrow is conveyed.
I want to thank you for the crucial support that you have given to the creation of the School of Leadership and Management, whose first anniversary we recently celebrated. This school, I am convinced, will be an important part of your legacy as the Secretary of State.
And finally, Madame Secretary, thank you especially for your tireless efforts to return the Department of State to a more realistic hiring level for our junior officers and other foreign service specialists, and also our civil service employees. Thanks to that effort, FSI is training more foreign service and civil service personnel today than we ever have in our history. We could not have done that without you. We want you to know that we are very, very much aware of that and we very, very much appreciate all of your efforts.
Now, I understand -- before it was just rumor -- but as we walked over together I understand from you that you plan to write your memoirs after leaving the Department, and we at FSI hope that our achievements under your direction will claim a very special place in your memoirs. (Laughter.)
Madame Secretary, we realize that the work of diplomacy, by its very nature, must remain unfinished. This is a profession without final victories. We realize also that people have come before us and that people will come after us. But we know that there are some very special people among us who have supported us along the way and who have inspired us to higher heights than we ever thought that we would achieve and to whom we will look to for support and for encouragement in the future.
You are, Madame Secretary, chief among those people. Welcome home to FSI.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. Thank you very much. Well, I think, Ambassador Davis, you've got to travel with me wherever we go. (Laughter.) I'm going to need introductions like that. And I thank you for everything that you said, and even more for the marvelous leadership that you have provided here. And to Ruth Whiteside -- the Ruths -- and all the faculty and staff.
And let me say how truly proud you should be, as I am, of this institution. It really is the finest of its kind in the world and a great, great asset to our country. And I am very grateful for everything that all of you have done to make it so. So members of the senior seminar -- I just met with all of you, I asked to be included in that, I think that should be a privilege of former Secretaries -- and students of FSI, I'm here to say good morning and Happy New Year.
The purists who thought that we survived Y2K last year only because we had counted wrong and that the world would, in fact, end this year apparently have another millennium to wait, which is good news because it does mean we are still here, though some of us are about to undergo a major career change and a mid-career transition.
I am not counting, but if I were, I would have 385 hours and about five minutes to go -- (laughter) -- which makes this a good time to look both forward and backwards. In recent years, much has been said and written about the changing nature of American foreign policy. And advisory panels and think tanks have blessed us with some excellent reports, which are sometimes easier to write than to implement. The overall message, however, has been clear: that we cannot lead tomorrow with a foreign policy designed for yesterday's needs.
A couple of decades ago when American diplomats met with counterparts overseas, they talked mostly about Cold War concerns, and America's interests were measured primarily by the single yardstick of superpower rivalry. Today our agenda is obviously much broader and so are the demands we place on our diplomats. And this has, in fact, created a paradox. Our nation is the most powerful on earth and yet, when we meet with counterparts from even small countries, we often have more to ask than to give. Our interlocutors may seek a little aid or a good word with the international financial institutions, but we are likely to want help on a long list of issues, from countering terror and catching crooks to reforming economies and respecting human rights. This reflects America's leadership role and our knowledge that if problems overseas are not addressed at their source, they may soon threaten our own citizens and our shores.
The new world is changing in every aspect of State Department operations and programs, and we still spend much of our time on big-ticket security issues. But we spend some of our time on matters touching almost every sector of human activity. Diplomacy today demands expertise in everything from biotechnology and civil aviation to e-commerce and judicial reform. This is shown by the changing composition of personnel at our embassies, where more than two dozen federal agencies are now represented. That, in turn, requires that the foreign service play a strong leadership role to ensure that America's overall interests don't fall prey to parochial concerns and that our government's many components speak with a single voice.
This leads me to my central message this morning, which is that the State Department has to remain the premier platform for planning, managing and implementing US foreign policy. That, of course, is simple to say and easy to recommend, but what does it specifically require?
The first step is to recognize that the State Department isn't going to impress anyone with the tanks and cruise missiles we don't have. Our most valuable assets are our people. And our biggest challenge is to win the war for talent so that we will continue to have the skills and dedication we need to represent America effectively.
If we are to win that war, we must recognize that the needs of our people are evolving. Today's young FSOs -- and that term includes most of you -- are less willing than your predecessors simply to accept a hierarchical approach. You want and expect to have input. You have grown up with new information technologies and can't imagine a work environment without them. You ascribe a high priority to family needs and properly insist that they must be taken into account. You are excited about the prospect of a foreign service career but have other attractive options if this path doesn't sufficiently challenge you. And you are accustomed to a fast pace and don't suffer fools gladly, all of which creates the need for better management within the Department and the foreign service at every level.
Marc Grossman, who is doing, I think, a fabulous job as Director General, has told me of letters received from FSOs who want desperately to stay in the service but are leaving because they don't want to work for another inattentive boss. And we have to change that because good management is the key not only to retention, but also to productivity and success in the vital work that you all do. And that is why I am so excited by FSI's new Leadership and Management School, and I am pleased by FSI's expanded and essential crisis management training program. And I am encouraged that diversity training has increased, because FSOs should not only represent America but also be representative of it.
And I hope that we will continue to enhance training both in traditional and less traditional fields, because that is the only way that we can lead successfully in the 21st century. After all, the old image of diplomacy as a chess game with two players, one board, clear rules and decisive checkmates is now ancient history. Today's diplomacy is multi-dimensional and without clear sides, fully agreed rules, unambiguous victories or any defined end point. The players shift daily, as do relationships among them.
The State Department was created to deal with governments, but more and more of our time is spent interacting with nongovernmental organizations. And, in fact, one of the many advantages of bringing USIA and ACDA under a single foreign policy roof has been the specialized expertise those agencies possess and the close links they have with NGOs. In this connection, I congratulate Ambassador Davis and FSI for the leadership in recognizing this and for creating a new School for Information Technology and for doing a spectacular job of integrating public diplomacy training.
As State Magazine recently testified, there may be no better integration story than the merger of the training programs with the former USIA and ACDA. And this is critical because so much of the activity that affects our interests today originates outside official channels. Thousands of networks are springing up that cross national lines and that mobilize money, people, information, and sometimes misinformation, for purposes that may or may not be compatible with our own goals. And if we don't understand this, we will often be surprised -- and surprise is something we may welcome on birthdays, but not on matters affecting the very security and prosperity of our nation.
And that is why we have to continue to increase our training, adapt our institutions, reach out to others, and build on the progress we have made in modernizing our workplace and improving the quality of life for our employees. Examples include our increased effort to provide tandem assignments and language training for families, and our ongoing plan for upgrading communications, which have increased access to the Internet and the World Wide Web from 15 percent to 90 percent of our people.
One important area where we have to do more to ensure a truly effective working place is to get a truly effective partnership between our foreign service and our civil service personnel. I feel very, very strongly about this and I have made efforts to move this process forward, and I hope very much that all those efforts will continue. Because the interests of the Department and our nation demand that we make the absolute most of the talent that we have, and that requires helping all employees -- regardless of label -- pursue careers that suit their interests and skills.
Perhaps the most dramatic area of change of these past few years has been on the issue of security. I never will forget August 7th, 1998. The Embassy bombings in Africa were a terrible human tragedy that underlined the risks of diplomatic service and the dangers of this new era. As I am kind of doing my exit interviews with various media, they ask me what my lowest moment was as Secretary, and it clearly was the day of the bombings, followed only by bringing the coffins home and dealing with the families.
So I think that the issue of security is something that has to be very high on our agenda. And in response, we have accelerated dramatically the replacement and repair of higher-risk embassies and consulates, and hired more guards and strengthened computer safeguards, provided thousands of security briefings, and instituted an effective new surveillance detection program at most of our posts.
We have made a strong start toward improved security, but I can't leave office without a warning. One of the most depressing charts I have ever seen shows our foreign building appropriations from 1983 until the present. There is a spike at one end to reflect the Embassy bombings in Beirut and the Inman Panel recommendations that followed. There is a spike at the other end caused by the Africa bombings and our vigorous response to them. In between these peaks is a flat line at virtually ground level, and such a pattern can never be repeated. Our attention spans must be as long term as the terrorist threat. We must invest seriously and systematically if we are to gain the precious dividend of protection for our people.
This is not a macho issue. I think it is very important to understand that all of you operate in very, very difficult environments and have to be protected. At the same time, we have to bear in mind that the reason our personnel are overseas in the first place is to do America's work, and it makes no sense to build secure buildings if we have no money to train our personnel or to pay for programs that advance our interests.
When I have gone to testify about our budget, I have said it doesn't do me any good to have secure buildings with no one in them, or people in trailers where they are exposed to the terrorist threat. And the solution is not a compromise in which we leave our employees doing half their jobs under conditions that are half safe. The solution is to recognize that our diplomatic missions are as vital to national security as our military and to make the budget decisions accordingly.
One of my highest priorities during the past four years has been to reverse the decline in resources for international affairs. During the six years prior to my taking office, funding was slashed by more than 30 percent, and this trend was ruinous. It was damaging morale, costing us people, hurting our training, and delaying needed investments in technology and infrastructure. We are still digging our way out of that, and we are now headed in the right direction.
This past year, excluding our last-minute supplemental request for the Middle East, Congress appropriated virtually the full amount of funds proposed by President Clinton. And overall, since I last spoke here at FSI, entry level hiring in nearly ever key category has doubled and funding for international affairs in real terms has increased almost 17 percent. And this resulted from some very hard work. We have improved our budget planning, done a better job of presenting our case to Congress, and had in the President our very best friend. We have also reached out to the private sector, NGOs and others with a stake in having an effective US foreign policy.
Although I am pleased at the gains that we have made, I am convinced that a far greater commitment of resources to international affairs will be needed in the future to protect our interests and sustain our leadership. Secretary-Designate Powell and I have already discussed this and I have assured him -- and to this end others -- that he will have my full support. And let me add that I believe General Powell will be a superb Secretary of State. I think it is truly historic that the first female Secretary is followed by the first African American. This is a huge change and something that I think we should all applaud.
I also believe that General Powell will inherit a Department that is strengthened by the difficult but rewarding process of reorganization, and the recent budget surpluses have created a much more favorable environment for funding than at any time in the past two decades. It also, I suppose, will help that the Chairman and the Secretary of State will be of the same party.
I also believe that given General Powell's previous experience in the interagency process that he will be in a position to build on what is the strengthened platform. When I first took office, I was greeted in one news magazine by a story entitled, "Twilight of the Diplomats," and the subhead read, "A Question for Albright: Does the State Department still matter?"
Today, as I near the end of my term and I look around this auditorium and recall what I have witnessed around the world and see a State Department that is truly far closer to the sunshine of midday than the shadows of twilight, and, as I speak, it is so evident that we are using diplomacy to make one final push to bring peace in the Middle East.
We are working with our allies and partners on astonishing democratic gains in the Balkans.
We are striving to prevent the spread of advanced weapons so that this century doesn't end up even bloodier than the last one.
We are continuing a process aimed at creating stability in the Korean Peninsula and reducing the threat of ballistic missiles that is posed to America and to our allies.
We are cooperating with our neighbors in our own hemisphere to promote economic growth, foster free institutions, and win the war against drugs and crime.
We are helping leaders in Africa consolidate the recent peace signed between Ethiopia and Eritrea and find a lasting solution to the horrible conflict in Sierra Leone and halt the spread of HIV-AIDS.
We have launched a major international initiative to end the trafficking in human beings, and we are working with democratic friends on every continent to ensure that the democratic tide continues to rise around the equator and from pole to pole.
And our embassies overseas are serving our citizens every day through the dangers they help contain, the crimes they help prevent, the deals they help to close, the rights they help to ensure, and the travelers that they just plain help. And I was very interested in your passport display. And as I have gone around I have seen the effectiveness of all the new technology. I have even created a passport for somebody. (Laughter.)
On the surface, these efforts may seem disparate and unconnected, but we have learned that democracy and prosperity and security are intimately related, and our overriding strategy is to encourage nations everywhere to come together around basic principles of political freedom, open markets and the rule of law. In this process, as Ambassador Davis said, there are no final victories, but our interests are served with every successful democratic transition and every conflict resolved without violence and every breakthrough toward free and fair trade and every increase in respect for basic human rights.
None of these goals can be achieved without effective diplomacy or without diplomatic missions that serve as America's eyes and ears and voice around the world. George Kennan for whom this hall is named, once described his farm in Pennsylvania as follows: "On every one of the acres things are constantly happening. Weeds are growing, gullies are forming, fences are falling down, paint is fading, wood is rotting, insects are burrowing. Nothing seems to be standing still. Everything needs attention in different degrees at different times."
As Kennan implied, managing change is a constant challenge for farmers and diplomats. To succeed, we must continually reassess our methods, our assumptions and our strategies. We must adapt to new technologies, learn new skills, forge new partnerships and combat new threats without allowing old ones to reemerge. We must develop a culture that is fast-paced and flexible as the times in which we live, and we must operate as a team. And we must always look to the future without ever losing sight of the unchanging principles for which our nation stands.
I have said this to others, but I have to say I am truly envious of all of you who don't have to leave with the change of administrations because, for me, foreign policy has been my love and I wish I could do it every day. And it is very hard to express to all of you the honor that I have felt in representing the United States.
As all of you know from those books out there, most of which are wrong -- (laughter) -- I wasn't born in this country. And to come here and not only be able to be raised as a free American, but ultimately end up in Jefferson's job, is stunning to me. And to have had the opportunity to travel around the world proudly wearing an American flag and making clear that the goodness of American power and the need to always remember that it is a false choice to think that we can't back up our principles in a way that is realistic.
I am going to write about that. I think it is a false choice, the difference between so-called Wilsonianism and so-called neo-realism. This country's best foreign policy is one that is based on our principles, and I am very, very proud for the time that I have had to represent and work with all of you and represent the United States of America. And I am very pleased to be here today and I am looking forward to answering your questions.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you describe very much a fluctuating diplomacy as much as we have a fluctuating economy. If you could profile your foreign service diplomat of the future, what qualities would you be looking for?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: That is a very good question. Let me just say that I think that obviously the first thing that one would look for is dedication and the desire to work hard in peculiar conditions. (Laughter.) But what I also would be looking for are people that are not set in their ways, people who are thrilled with the challenge of learning new issues.
I have to tell you that I knew zero about biotech four years ago. Did I ever think I was going to be discussing corn and beef hormones and bananas? (Laughter.) No. Did I know much about climate change beyond being hot? (Laughter.)
But I think these are all issues that I have been pleased to learn about, and I think that is why this is such a fabulous place, because you have the opportunity to retool your skills and to use it to learn a new form of diplomacy.
I think also I would look for a foreign service officer that is not a snob -- (laughter) -- that you understand fully that you represent the greatest country, and that it is a privilege to work on foreign policy. But it is also a question of understanding that it is not a God-given right and that there are other people who are interested in foreign policy that didn't necessarily go through the same system. And so I would like to find a way that the foreign service becomes more diversified and, as I said, has a sense of partnership with the civil service. I think that is something that I have felt that was very, very important.
I also do think that I would like to see people who I think have -- you know, I'm leaving, I can be very frank -- (laughter) -- where there is a greater sense of personal accountability. I think that one of the hard parts is that we are all part of the system and it is very easy to go like this, and I think people need to take more accountability for their actions. I have made sure that I always know who has drafted the memo. I am probably a bureaucratic disaster because I am not hierarchical.
And so I think that what has to happen is there has to be flexibility, challenge for new learning, egalitarianism and accountability.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) -- planning and the interagency process, and what changes you would propose to the process with regards to strengthening the tasking -- (inaudible) -- of the designated lead agency in that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that we are still waiting to see about the effectiveness of it. And the question is, clearly the most difficult issues that we have on a day-to-day basis is crisis management, and the question of the coordination of the various agencies.
I think that there is always a definitional problem about what is a crisis and when a crisis ends, and then how the interagency process works on that. I think we have to see how it works. It is clearly one of the newer aspects. You all are doing crisis management training here, but I think it is a little unfair at this point to really comment on something that is in the process of being made.
But there are so many issues about whether there is equipment in the right place. And in various meetings that I have been in, it has pulled together a variety of agencies that haven't worked together always in the past in the same kind of mix. And as to the lead agencies, I think again -- you know, I always think State should be in the lead of things, and so that is my prejudice, but I think we have to kind of sort out various parts of it still.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, the Defense Department has just created another Institute for Strategic Studies, in this case on the Near East and South Asia, to go along with some dozen others. Given adequate resources, do you think the State Department's ability to plan ahead to look at all of these different difficult issues that you have described would be enhanced by creation or establishment of an Institute for Strategic Studies and Analysis?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: As somebody who is about to go do institutes, yes. (Laughter.) But I think that one of the challenges, I think for every Secretary, is trying to figure out how to use policy planning better, and I think we have done a pretty good job. But I think that if there is a way of enhancing that kind of thing, it is a good idea.
I also think that one of the major issues -- and again, it is interesting to have been here. You know, I used to come and visit FSI when I was a professor at Georgetown. And as Ambassador Davis said, I came here early in my tenure, and I am exiting here. But I think that one of the major disconnects in our system is between academia and practitioners. And I have tried very hard in the course of being Secretary -- fortunately, it's interesting, this story hasn't really gotten out, but I have had -- because I miss academia in some ways -- kind of informal dinner discussions with people from a variety of think tanks, and I think that what needs to happen is that longer-term thought from somewhere needs to be injected in a realistic way into the practical effects of diplomacy.
The problem that does happen is that a lot of the academic work bears no relationship to what actually goes on on a day-to-day basis. (Laughter.) I mean, it is a complete disconnect. And I think the question is how to relate them better. And maybe if Departments create more strategic institutes that might work. But it is a huge disconnect, and for the moment I really think that our opportunity is through policy planning.
Besides, we don't have the kind of money the Defense Department has. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, in your remarks, you talked about a lot of various accomplishments, as well as your lowest point. I am interested in hearing what you think was the greatest accomplishment during your time as Secretary of State, and also what your greatest frustration has been.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I could list a lot of great moments. (Laughter.) The truth is that I think they are on different levels. I think in terms of process accomplishments, I think, as I mentioned, the integration of ACDA and USIA into the Department is a huge accomplishment. It wasn't easy, and I met with the Under Secretaries a couple of days ago and talked about the difficulties of bringing people in and people that -- there is all this discussion about culture, that there is a different culture in X agency, and how they come in, et cetera. But I think it has worked. And by bringing ACDA in, we have made very clear that issues of nonproliferation are central to American foreign policy; that it is not a priesthood that is kind of on the outside, but really does work very carefully.
On public diplomacy -- USIA -- you know, I clearly like to speak, and I also think that policy needs to be explained better. And I think by having the public diplomacy aspect within the Department has been a big deal.
We also have developed a much better relationship with AID, in terms of budget configuration. And I have tried to do something, which I think in process has been relatively successful, not necessarily in results, because it is so difficult, is to focus on countries about how to get an interagency process really working to help certain key countries so that our various policies are synchronized. And I chose four countries, all of which are incredibly difficult, but if there were a change in them would not only make a difference for the people in the countries but the regions. None of them are slam dunks, as you will see: Indonesia, Ukraine, Colombia and Nigeria. (Laughter.)
But we have managed to focus, in terms of process, on them and able to be in touch with Brady Anderson about how to coordinate. So I think in terms of process it's good, and in terms of other issues, which I think have made the Department readier for 21st century diplomacy. So I am very pleased with that.
In terms of substantive issues, I have to say -- even though this is the expected answer -- the Balkans. I think that -- and this has to do with the continuum of foreign policy. President Bush One wanted to have a Europe that was undivided, and he did -- his people did -- a great job on the reunification of Germany and talked about a Europe whole and free.
What we have managed to do is to make that story come true. And NATO expansion was a great thrill, and a personal one for me, because when -- we came to the United States because of the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia. It had taken a long time for the United States to recognize what the Soviet Union was doing with its salami tactics on the satellites, and as a result of the coups in Czechoslovakia, one of the more illustrious of my predecessors, Dean Acheson, really worked on NATO. And so that was associated in my mind with coming to the United States. And to have the opportunity to bring the country of my birth into NATO was a great thrill, and being at Independence and signing it on Harry Truman's desk was terrific.
The missing piece of a Europe whole and free was the Balkans, and it was impossible to have a Europe that could function if the Balkans were not a part of it. And Milosevic was the problem, and I sure wanted to outlive him. (Laughter.) And so I think what we did in the Balkans, I feel very good about. It's a long story, and it's one that we are passing on to the next administration. We got it from them, and we are passing it on. (Laughter.) And I feel good about it. The puzzle piece is in place; it needs to be cemented. And so I think it is very much a part of this long story.
The other parts that I feel good about -- I think the most revolutionary thing I did at the Department was to move Canada into the Western Hemisphere. (Laughter.) You all know what that means, but when I tell people outside, they look at me like a lunatic, and I say, well, it was in Europe, in case you didn't know. (Laughter.) But what it has done is enabled us to think about the solidarity of this Hemisphere, and to have another strong democracy as a helper in the democratic movement of this Hemisphere. And I think we have put a lot more stress on democracy, democratization generally.
I think the Community of Democracies Meeting was a huge success, despite the French. (Laughter.) And to have over 100 countries sign up to the Warsaw Declaration, those were great times.
I have to say my trip to North Korea was fascinating, and I think something that I am pleased that I did, because even though the President was not able to go, there is a huge opportunity there to end the last vestige of the Cold War. And it is going to be very, very difficult, because I talked about the end of the Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany, but there there had never been an American soldier that had shot a Russian or vice versa, and the Germans didn't fight each other. What you have in Korea is hundreds of thousands of dead people, North and South Koreans and Americans and Chinese. And both the Koreas dislike Japan, and so it is a huge job. But I think we took a first step, and so I am proud of that.
There are a few other things, but that's all. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I'd like to really thank you for your efforts to bring civil service, foreign service and foreign service nationals together in practical ways as a team. I think that the steps taken for leadership in management and crisis management are important, but they are actually things we -- I don't think we are really that bad at either of them. I think we need to move forward to do more preventive diplomacy, and we would get so much bang for the buck if we do the right things, and so the four countries you named early rather than late. And to do that, we need to free up our regional bureaus to actually train and think about the future.
And also, thank you for hiring more people, because that is the only way they'll come here. And can you give me a number I can call so that you can come back and speak -- (inaudible)? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Anytime, anytime. (Laughter and Applause.)
QUESTION: On December 31st, President Clinton signed the Rome Treaty, a surprise to many. He now asserts it's right for the US to be involved in making the ICC an instrument of impartial and effective justice in the years to come.
The Secretary of Defense-Designate, Don Rumsfeld, however, supports the American Service Members Protection Act, perhaps over his concerns of the prudency of international institutions over nation-states.
How do you feel about that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I have to say that I am very, very pleased that the President signed the Rome Treaty. The question of accountability internationally is something that has been very important. I do think I should have added to my list, I was very proud of the role I played as Ambassador to the United Nations in setting up the War Crimes Tribunals. And I think that in order to be able to have reconciliation in whether it's Rwanda or the various parts of former Yugoslavia, what has to happen is that individual guilt has to be identified, and collective guilt has to be expunged, because they can't operate that way.
So there was the whole question as to, if you had these tribunals, was there a way to expand the whole question of how people are accountable in one form or another. There have been a lot of questions about the ICC, and as I look at the military here, the major issue has been the protection of our military, and I have many times made very clear that we are a special country. We have more forces in different places doing more difficult things, and that it's really important for our military to be protected. I feel very strongly about that.
I have to say, you know, I think there are those who have been led to believe that I'm kind of loose with the American military; I'm not. I have the highest respect for our military, and I have gone to the service academies for graduations and tried very hard, actually, to have eye contact as I have reviewed the troops. They are trained not to do that. (Laughter.) I try because it's a way for me to make sure that I know that when I make decisions that this is not just a bunch of people; These are real people that are about the age of -- when I started -- of my kids. So I feel very strongly about that.
So we have been very conscious of how to do this, how to have an international criminal system that does not jeopardize our military. What was happening here -- and I have to say that our negotiator on this, Ambassador Scheffer, has been truly remarkable and dedicated -- is to figure out how to get the Rome Treaty to be useful for the United States so that we are -- as a non-party, what concerned me was that we had less protection for our forces than as a signatory who could still affect how the Rome Treaty works.
There are serious issues about it. The question about the crime of aggression is one that we have to deal with. But this treaty is going to come into effect, and I believe that we are better able to protect our military as being a signatory to it so that we can affect it than to be outside as a non-party. We tried very hard to figure out how to be what we call a "friend" to the treaty so that we could in some ways have influence over it.
I read a very depressing op-ed today in The Post about unsigning the treaty. I think that would be a very, very bad move.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I appreciate your mentioning in your remarks the role of nongovernmental organizations. In our training here in a number of courses, we really strive to help our folks who are going to go out to the UN and other international negotiations to understand better the role of NGOs and how to work with them more effectively. In some areas, the relationship is great; In others, it's very adversarial.
Any additional thoughts you might have, how we can better with NGOs and talk with people?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I'm really glad you asked this, because it is something that is very much on my mind. I have met with a lot of NGOs, both when I was at the UN and as Secretary, and it's a mixed blessing. I mean, what you have are some NGOs that are very dedicated and understand what they are doing and are not just out there trying to -- I mean, they have a job to really press their interests, and it's good to hear their point of view.
Then there are some that are implacable, and I think it creates a variety of problems. The bottom line, though, is that if you think about what is happening in terms of the lessening of power of the nation-state and the development of civil society, basically NGOs have a role in it, and in many ways, they are kind of the epitome of an American system that is non-rigid and allows a variety of voices to come forward.
One of the things that I am going to work on is the following. I am a trained political scientist, so I am interested in institutions and how they work, and I have been very interested generally in the development of new regional organizations and the various ways that the international system is working.
What I find the most troubling at the moment are the demonstrators, first in Seattle. I have never been demonstrated against by a banana or a butterfly, but it's very weird. (Laughter). But this was not an accidental thing that happened in Seattle. These people showed up in Davos and in Washington and in Prague, and they are growing. And they are also connected in ways -- in better ways than we are, frankly. I mean, one of the depressing parts about the lack of money in the State Department is that it has taken us a long time to be 20th century -- 21st century technology, and they all are talking to each other all the time and there is a huge network.
And some of them are really terrific, and some of them are anarchists and are really undoing -- are playing a peculiar role in the international system. And I think that one of the things that has to be looked at is how to get the good NGOs to be much more a part of the system so they are not outside of it; Otherwise, they all feed each other.
The strangest thing that happened to me is I've gotten used to being demonstrated against at universities for being a war criminal and various other things, but I found it very strange when I had a meeting in our auditorium at State, and I had just been kind of introduced by somebody as Mother Theresa and "A Great Champion of Women" and all kinds of things, and I'm giving my speech. And basically, Diplomatic Security knows exactly what to do when I'm outside the building. But all of a sudden, somebody in -- it's like having somebody in your living room get up, and people started screaming at -- please don't do this -- screaming at me about being a war criminal in my own Department.
So we were trying to figure what had happened. And what had happened was the invitation had gone out to NGOs for this meeting. And a bunch of people, just by the fact that they knew through the computer network that this was going on, got into as part of this speech. And it made me realize that we need to do more about trying to integrate NGOs into our lives in a way.
A lot of them see themselves as bearing witness. I found that a very interesting statement when I was doing some work on China trade relations. And some of them are very important and need to be a part of it. And I think we have to work with them, but it's not an easy issue, and I'm going to be looking at it. But you've got to do it. They are a part of civil society, and that is what we are promoting throughout the world.
Okay. One more? Yes. Please don't let it be on Cuba. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I have always been an admirer of yours for your ability to go into hostile situations and negotiate resolutions. My question is: Who, what or where has been your most tedious and stressful place to have a situation to go into, to have to try to resolve something?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, clearly the Middle East. I think that the President and I have spent more time on the Middle East than any other issue. And I have gone back and I have read books by my predecessors, and I just was re-reading Dean Acheson, who has a paragraph in there about saying that he was going to stay out of the Middle East issues because they were hopeless. (Laughter.) Jim Baker has a sentence like that. And every Secretary and President has been a part of it.
We have come so close, and we have, I think, done more in terms of trying to fully understand the legitimate needs of both parties and of Syria. And yet, it has been -- I mean, I can't tell you how many hours. Everybody -- we were all at Camp David this summer, and it clearly is a place that everybody would like to go to, and you know, you think, gee, I'm at Camp David. Well, 14 days at Camp David in the rain with parties that knew that they were dealing with existential issues to themselves, and hard to move, and it doesn't do you any good to decide that one party is right and one party is wrong. Your job is to be the negotiator. And I think that that's the hardest, because we are so close.
And the issues that we raised at Camp David -- which have to do with territory and international frontiers for a new State of Palestine that would theoretically emerge from a comprehensive agreement, and refugees and Jerusalem -- those were issues that nobody had ever talked about before. And we began to talk about them, and they are dealing with them.
And we all know that the ultimate solution to the Middle East will be based on the things that we have done. There is no other way to solve it than to deal with those issues. And to be this close to it, and to have gone through kind of what we did in the last couple of days of reviewing everything again and knowing that we have 16 days left, and that President Clinton truly is unique in his ability to deal with this issue, and that we may not be able to solve it, I think is the most difficult of all because it's there; it's so close.
There have been a lot of other difficult negotiations and a lot of dangerous things that I have been involved in and a lot of incredible tragedies that I have seen, of going to Rwanda or going to look at mass graves in Bosnia. But I think -- I wish -- people ask me what I'm really disappointed in. The Middle East is one. The other is that I didn't see a change in Cuba.
Thank you very much.
AMBASSADOR DAVIS: (Inaudible) -- fill most of your space, but because we love you, as you can see from that applause, and because we want to always have a very special place in your heart, and in your home, we would like to present to you this plaque, and we hope you'll find perhaps a little space over your favorite desk. (Laughter.)
And it says, "The Foreign Service Institute of the US Department of State presents this to the Secretary of State, Madeleine K. Albright, in appreciation for your support of training and development for the foreign affairs community, 1997-2001."
Thank you so very much.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me truly tell you how much I appreciate this -- it will find a home in my home -- and to say once more to all of you that there has been no greater privilege in my life than to be Secretary of State and to work with what is truly a dedicated and amazing team of Americans who have done so much for your country, and who will do even more.
And I thank you very much -- and I'll be around, so don't forget me.
(Laughter and Applause.)
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