|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Address before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and the Mid-America Committee
Chicago, IL, January 17, 2001
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very, very much Mr. Shields, and thank you for welcoming me back to Chicago. I want to express my appreciation to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations and also to Denis Healy and the Mid-America Committee for sponsoring this event, and to everybody now for coming. And it is very nice to see everyone -- (inaudible) -- coming here as a part of our -- (inaudible) -- and now -- (inaudible) -- here.
As has been said, this is my final trip as Secretary of State. It is not easy to say. And it is no accident that I didn't choose to go to the capital of a foreign country, but rather to the capital of America's heartland.
Because the job of our diplomats is to protect and advance the interests of our citizens. And today, I would like to report on that job from the perspective I have gained in these past eight years.
Chicago is the perfect place to do this, because it is a truly all-American city and a leader on trade, a center for international education, and home to citizens who trace their ethnic roots to virtually every corner of the globe. Besides, it also was one of the first places I lived after graduating from college.
This is also the perfect time to come to Chicago, now that the 20th century is clearly over and a new day -- rich with possibility -- has dawned. And this afternoon, I want to go out on a limb and predict that at least once before the Third Millennium is out, the Cubs will win the World Series. (Laughter.)
It is no secret that I love my job. And I am grateful every day to the President and to our nation for the opportunity I have had. In our democracy, we occupy only temporarily the chairs of public responsibility. Some officials hate to leave, but I am more mature than that. Besides, I still have 4,252 minutes to go. (Laughter.)
President Clinton took office at a time when history's accelerator had been floored by far-reaching political and technological change. An unprecedented opportunity had arisen to bring nations closer together around basic principles of democracy and open markets, and the rule of law and a commitment to peace.
There was an urgent need to adapt or replace Cold War institutions, and to assert American leadership in responding to new and dangerous threats.
Although we have had our share of frustrations and setbacks, I believe that the Clinton Administration has largely met these tests.
Consider, for example, that eight years ago, our nation was viewed by most as a drag on global growth, because our budget deficits were huge and our economy sluggish. Today, that deficit is a surplus; and our people are prosperous; our economy is the world's most competitive; and our international economic leadership has been fully restored.
The lion's share of the credit obviously belongs to the American people. But the Administration has helped through sound fiscal policies and by working with our business, agriculture and labor communities to make world markets more free and fair.
Over the years, we have negotiated more than 300 trade agreements that have helped to open markets to American products and services. We took the lead in supporting core worker standards and striving to outlaw commercial bribery, and ensuring the protection of intellectual property.
The new Administration will take office at a time of nervousness brought on by high energy prices and a long-anticipated cooling-off. But our overall economic position is robust. And the record of the past eight years has put us in a good position to weather future squalls.
In 1993, our most urgent security objective was to ensure the control and safe handling of weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union.
Since that time, we have done much to reduce the nuclear danger. We have gained the removal of nuclear arms from three former Soviet Republics; helped deactivate thousands of nuclear warheads; and found peaceful employment opportunities for tens of thousands of former Soviet weapons scientists.
Despite these steps, the job of safeguarding our citizens from "loose nukes" and other proliferation dangers is far from complete. Russia's record on nuclear and missile exports remains mixed, whether for lack of capability or lack of will. And that's why nonproliferation remains among our highest priorities in dealing with Russia.
In this connection, I am often asked how to characterize Vladimir Putin, the new Russian President. My answer is that he seems more pragmatic than democratic. He has taken a number of troubling actions, especially toward the press. And the fact that his government has not pursued a political solution in Chechnya is very damaging.
At the same time, President Putin seems to understand that Russia cannot prosper in isolation from the West. And he knows -- because we have told him over and over again -- that Russia will not be able to integrate itself with Western institutions if the government is running roughshod over the rights of its people.
For our part, we have to keep our Cold War glasses in their case. It is not in our interests to reinvent our enemy. The Empire struck out; it will not strike back. The new Russia will never revert to being the old Soviet Union, and power will never again be as centralized. And the Russian people know too much of freedom ever to let it go.
In 1993, skeptics were saying that the Trans-Atlantic link would surely weaken in the absence of the Soviet threat.
Instead, we have strengthened our ties with the European Union and joined with our partners in creating new roles for the OSCE.
We have also worked with our allies to adapt NATO to meet new threats, admit new members, and reach out to Europe's other democracies. The process must continue at NATO's next summit in Prague next year.
Europe must strengthen its military capabilities without dividing or duplicating the Alliance. NATO's door must remain open to those ready, willing and able to walk through it. And above all, we must reinforce the understanding on both sides of the Atlantic that the destinies of Europe and America cannot be separated.
Some suggest that we should agree to divide our responsibilities, with Europe accountable for European security and America for the rest of the world. Now that suggestion is simple, straightforward and just plain wrong. It would weaken NATO, over-extend America, and drive a stake through the heart of the Trans-Atlantic community.
History has taught us that America and Europe must remain linked in the tasks of security, the means of prosperity, and the arts of democratic life.
That is the combination that defeated Hitler, rebuilt Western Europe, faced down Communism, and forged regional and global institutions upon which the world still depends. And that is the combination that is making all the difference now in Europe's southeast corner.
When President Clinton took office, war was raging in the Balkans, a UN peace operation was failing, and atrocities were being committed every day -- (inaudible). Many argued that America should look the other way and hope the fighting would simply burn itself out.
But there is no natural firebreak to conflict in this region. So when diplomatic options were exhausted, the Administration called for NATO air strikes to help end the war in Bosnia. And when Slobodan Milosevic launched a campaign of terror in Kosovo, NATO stopped him.
By acting with unity and resolve, NATO proved its ability to respond successfully to an urgent real-world threat, thereby sending an unmistakable signal to friends and potential foes alike.
We also reinforced the principle that, in our era, massive violations of human rights cannot be ignored; they must be opposed.
Since the fighting in Kosovo ended, a million refugees have returned, a market economy has begun to function, and the process of developing autonomous self-governing institutions is underway. But the job is far from finished, and it would be folly for us to walk away too soon.
You mentioned that I had gone to the -- (inaudible) -- Park School, and one of the students there was from Bosnia. And he told me how different life was in Sarajevo, which I have visited a number of times, and how grateful he was to the United States for what we have done.
Notwithstanding American elections, history does not organize itself in four- year chunks. It is a continuum. And although more than 80 percent of the troops and assistance in Kosovo are being provided by Europe and others, America's presence remains vital.
After all, our purpose is not simply to punch a time clock and move on; it is to replace the rule of force with the rule of law. So that when we do leave, order will be self-sustaining, democracy will have taken hold, and our troops can not only come home, but stay home.
Kosovo is important, but it is only one piece of a much larger puzzle.
In recent years, Bosnia has held fair, competitive elections at every level. Croatia has made a national U-turn away from extremism and toward integration with the West. And now Yugoslavia, the final piece of the Balkans puzzle, has elected new and democratic leadership.
The extent of change was brought home to me on January 4th when I met with the Yugoslav Foreign Minister in Washington. And such a meeting would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.
The Foreign Minister thanked America for supporting democratic change, and I congratulated him on the courage his people had shown in standing up to Milosevic and ending decades of misrule.
As I stood there with him, I thought back to the chaos and bloodshed that had marked the beginning of the last decade.
And I thought of the mass rapes and bombed-out buildings, the children orphaned and the innocent people victimized by ethnic cleansing.
I thought of the countless families -- Serb, Croat and Muslim alike -- who had been uprooted from their homes.
And I thought of the many predictions that our policies would fail and that the cycles of Balkan violence would go on forever.
And then I heard the Yugoslav Foreign Minister say, "the wars in the region have finally ended." And I heard him pledge his government's commitment to democracy, accountability, and a new era of "fruitful cooperation" with the United States.
The Clinton Administration can be proud of our role in altering the whole dynamic of the Balkans -- from disintegration towards participation in a democratic and stable Europe. That's called shaping history, and that's what leadership is all about.
Eight years ago, there were grave doubts in Asia and the Pacific about America's continued willingness to play a vigorous regional role in the aftermath of the Cold War. And these doubts have been put to rest. And America's commitment is clear.
With our Asian allies and partners, we have weathered the gravest international financial crisis since the Depression, while encouraging needed reform. We upgraded and modernized our security ties with Japan and developed a robust Common Agenda for action on global issues.
We supported South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's engagement policy with North Korea, and laid the groundwork for a new and productive relationship between our country and Pyongyang.
During my recent visit to that remote capital, the North Koreans offered to limit their ballistic missile testing, production and export activities if arrangements can be made for others to launch their civilian satellites.
Provided we get the specifics right, such an agreement would defuse a serious threat to our allies and to us, including the 37,000 American troops that are now deployed in Korea. And I hope that the Bush Administration will be able to make good on this opportunity.
Eight years ago, there was no bigger question mark than China. Today, we can see that Beijing is moving resolutely toward integration into the world economy.
Congress made the right decision when it granted permanent normal trade relations to China. And it was the right vote economically because it will help American farmers and ranchers and businesspeople to gain greater access to China's market.
It was the right vote from a security perspective because it encourages China to play a constructive regional and global role. And it was the right vote for the future because it will help to open China to new influences and ideas.
As I have said throughout my time as Secretary, engagement with China does not mean endorsement of Chinese policies. Where we disagree, as on human rights, we must continue to be frank. Where we have concerns, on such matters as proliferation and Taiwan, we must continue to work to resolve them.
As President Clinton leaves office, the future direction of China remains uncertain, but a basis for stronger economic and security cooperation has been laid. And there is a much broader consensus in America about how to approach China than was the case in 1993.
There are hopeful signs elsewhere, as well. The President's historic trip to India has opened a new chapter in our relations with the world's largest democracy.
We have re-established diplomatic relations and signed a landmark trade agreement with Vietnam.
Through the Summit of the Americas process, we have spurred new levels of cooperation among our neighbors in support of democracy and trade, development and law. We are providing strong backing to Colombia in its fight against drugs and trafficking and have taken steps -- through increased people-to-people contacts -- to prepare for what will happen, a post-Castro Cuba.
We also recognized the rising importance of Africa as a partner in broadening prosperity and countering global threats. We forged strong ties with South Africa and the new Nigeria. We joined regional leaders in striving to end conflict and halt the spread of disease. We gained support from Congress for higher levels of assistance, debt relief and new trade opportunities.
I visited Africa every year as Secretary of State. Because in the 21st Century, Africa is not an elective; it is a required part of any successful U.S. foreign policy.
Finally, in the Middle East, we are seeing that -- like the last miles of a marathon -- the last steps towards peace are the most grueling. But if we think back to a decade ago, we realize how far the Israelis and Palestinians have come.
Then, they were not even talking. And until quite recently, they were avoiding the central issues. But since meeting in Camp David last July, they have been grappling directly with the emotional and complex matters they must resolve to achieve peace.
Some point to the recent violence and say the Administration has tried too hard. To use a diplomatic term, that is balderdash. (Laughter.)
President Clinton has played the role he was asked to play by both sides and by other regional leaders. And because he stayed in the kitchen and took the heat, the outline of a pact that would meet the basic aspirations and core security needs of both sides is being debated.
It is this very progress that has caused the enemies of peace to howl. And even advocates of reconciliation have a hard time dealing with the realities of what a true settlement would require. But no problem was ever solved by denial.
I have read the memoirs of previous Secretaries of State going back fifty years. They don't agree on much, but they do agree that the Middle East is the geographic equivalent of a migraine headache. (Laughter.)
Nothing is certain except for two things. The search for peace will never be smooth; and the search for peace will never be abandoned.
Ultimately, Israelis and Palestinians must find a way to live as neighbors. The Clinton Administration, Prime Minister Barak, and Chairman Arafat have developed -- but not fully agreed -- upon a design for doing that. And with all my heart, I wish the new Administration success in closing the remaining gaps, and clinching the deal.
Thus far, I have discussed my experience as Secretary of State in reference to progress -- or lack thereof -- in various regions. There are also themes or lessons that cut across geographic lines. As a former professor, I could lecture on each of those for 50 minutes or more. But someone threw an egg at me once overseas, and I have learned to be careful when there is still food on the tables. (Laughter.) So I will limit myself to four points.
First, I hope never again to hear foreign policy in this country described as a debate between Wilsonian idealists and geo-political realists. In our era, no President or Secretary of State could be taken seriously without finding a middle ground between the two.
If you look at the record of accomplishment I have just discussed, you will see an Administration determined to do the right thing in a pragmatic way. Not all of our policies have worked. We inherited some bitter pills, and will bequeath others; Saddam Hussein fits into both categories. But I am proud of what we have accomplished.
And I expect that the new Administration will not depart dramatically from the current Administration's approach on most issues. There will be much continuity, along with inevitable change, and I think that that is good for America.
Second, one of the enduring debates in U.S. foreign policy is when and how our military should be used. The issue is most sharply joined in cases where we have important interests at stake, but are not ourselves being directly threatened or attacked.
The Persian Gulf is one example where force was used successfully. In that case, our leaders were responding to blatant aggression across national borders. We had six months to gather and prepare troops. The field of battle was flat. The international community provided financing. And our aims did not conflict with those of other major powers.
The Gulf War was a brilliant military operation that achieved its primary goal. But it would be a mistake to adopt this as a general model, or suggest that America will only act if such a set of favorable circumstances is repeated.
Every situation is different, and when problems arise, Presidents need the fullest possible range of options. These include everything from rhetoric to sanctions to participation in peace operations to various gradations in the use of force.
Choices among them must be based on such factors as the gravity of U.S. interests, the risks to our personnel, the likelihood of success, the willingness of others to do their share, and the consequences of inaction.
Military force must be used carefully and selectively. But like other tools, it must be available to the President in responding to the real world problems our nation will confront.
And we can expect that situations will continue to arise where the limited use of force will be required to serve our interests and perhaps forestall the need for more extensive military action at a later time.
Third, I want to highlight the importance of obtaining adequate resources for our international operations and programs.
The new President and Secretary of State will be expected to provide strong leadership. But it takes money to forge peace, prevent proliferation, defeat drug cartels, counter terrorists, promote exports, strengthen democracy, fight pollution, combat AIDS, save lives through family planning, and otherwise defend America's interests and values.
Our nation's capacity to lead is not a partisan issue; it's a patriotic issue. And today, we only spend about one penny out of every federal dollar for our entire international affairs budget. Let me repeat that: one penny out of every federal dollar for all the foreign policy we produce. And we can and must do more.
I have talked to Secretary-designate Powell about this and pledged my support. And incidentally, I think it says something very good about America that the first female Secretary of State is about to be succeeded by our first African-American Secretary of State. And I think General Powell will be a superb Secretary, and I wish him well.
Finally, I do not believe any foreign policy can fairly represent the American people if it does not support democratic policies and practices overseas.
I know that there are still some who suggest that promoting democracy is not real foreign policy. They see little connection between fostering democratic values and the hardened pursuit of American interests. In one sense, I love to hear such talk -- because it makes me feel 40 years younger. I think I'm back in the Cold War.
Then, we had an excuse to view almost every challenge through the prism of our rivalry with the Soviet Union.
But our wisest leaders understood that American leadership must be based not on what we are against, but on what we are for. And from Central America to Central Asia, our interests dictate that we should be FOR a world in which the democratic tide continues to rise.
The globe is more free now than it has ever been. But many democratic transitions are fragile, and further progress simply can't be assumed.
It is vital that free nations help one another succeed. Last summer, we took an important step through the Community of Democracies Conference in Warsaw that brought together more than 100 nations. And I hope that the new Administration will build on that initiative.
In three days, as our own democracy requires, I will leave my wonderful job, that one that Jefferson will have held. And one of the things I will miss most is the view.
From the windows of the Secretary of State's office, I can look out over the Mall, and see the Washington Monument and the memorials to Jefferson and Lincoln. Each day, I witness a steady tide of visitors to these shrines of freedom--from all corners of our country, and all parts of the world.
When I do, I cannot help but think back to the day more than half a century ago when I first sailed with my family into New York harbor seeking -- and finding -- refuge on these shores.
I could not have conceived then of the opportunities that lay ahead. But I had already seen enough of turbulence in Europe to know that America was not just another country.
Because of the generosity of the American people, I had the chance to grow up in freedom. And because American democracy has continued to grow, I was given the chance to represent our country to the world.
In a sense, it is a remarkable story; but it is also typical. Because it has been repeated in millions of variations over two centuries not only in the lives of immigrants, but also of those overseas who have been liberated by American soldiers, empowered by American assistance, or inspired by American ideals.
For all your own efforts to support a strong and successful American foreign policy, I salute you. And for your assistance and support these past eight years, I am so grateful to you. And for your kind attention here this afternoon, I thank you very, very much.
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