U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released online from January 1, 1997 to January 20, 2001. Please see www.state.gov for current material from the Department of State. Or visit http://2001-2009.state.gov for information from that period. Archive sites are not updated, so external links may no longer function. Contact us with any questions about finding information. NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.
U.S. Department of State

Great Seal Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Address and Question & Answer Session to
The Pacific Council on International Policy and
The Los Angeles World Affairs Council
Los Angeles, July 23, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, July 24, 1997
U.S. Department of State

Blue Bar

Address as Delivered

President Mack, President Lowenthal, guests and friends, good afternoon. Thank you, John Cooke, for that introduction. A lot of people have always asked about my pins. Today, in your honor, I have on a Dalmatian.
When I was Ambassador to the UN, I said that one of my qualifications for that job had been that when I was in the tenth grade in Colorado, I won the United Nations for the Rocky Mountain Empire because I could name all the fifty-one countries of the UN at that time in alphabetical order. I certainly could not name the 184 members that are there now and I could not even do it with all of the Consuls that are here today. It is a sign of the great growth in this country of our concern about international affairs and I welcome all the members of the consular corps here.
I would like to thank the World Affairs Council and the Pacific Council for hosting this event. As much as I love Washington, where the temperature has been averaging about 300 degrees, I am delighted to be here in Los Angeles. This is one of my favorite cities and the home of my distinguished predecessor, Warren Christopher.
I said when I was nominated by President Clinton that I only hoped my heels could fill Secretary Christopher's shoes. Now, six months into the job, I am even more respectful of the responsibilities that go with the office he filled with such dignity and success.
The truth is that I love my job. And the part I love most is working to establish a true dialogue between the people who conduct our foreign policy--that is, among others, me--and the people in whose good name that policy is conducted--that is, among others, you.
This dialogue matters because, in our democracy, we can not carry out diplomatic initiatives very well or for very long without your understanding and support. So I am pleased to be here and I encourage you to sit back, digest your lunch, and think of the easiest possible questions to ask after my speech.
This afternoon, I want to talk with you about the opportunity we now have to bring nations on every continent closer together around basic principles of democracy, open markets, law and a commitment to peace.
We have this opportunity because past generations of Americans have accepted the mantle of leadership, built alliances to defend freedom, designed institutions to foster prosperity and done honor to timeless values of democracy and human rights.
We must remain true to this tradition of leadership if we are to enter the next century strong, respected and at peace; and under the direction of President Clinton, we are.
In Europe, we are striving to realize the age-old dream of a continent united, stable and free. To deter future conflict, NATO has invited new members from among the region's emerging democracies while holding the door open to others. Historic partnerships with Russia and Ukraine have been forged. And nations from throughout the region have come together in Bosnia to implement the Dayton Accords.
We do this because it serves our interests, because it keeps faith with the commitments we have made, because it reflects the kind of people we are, and because it is right.
In the Middle East, despite setbacks, the essential logic and structure of the peace process remains. For Israel, for the Palestinians, and for the region, the path to security and prosperity is the path of reconciliation. The United States cannot impose peace, but as President Clinton has made clear, we can and will remain resolute in opposing terror and in supporting those with the courage to pursue peace.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, we are working with our democratic partners to expand commercial ties, achieve social progress, combat the scourge of drugs, and deepen political and economic reforms.
We are also working to improve the quality of life on both sides of our 2,000-mile-long border with Mexico. As the recent elections indicate, Mexican democracy is thriving, and we are working jointly with its government on issues from law enforcement to clean water to immigration to trade.
In Africa, poverty and disorder remain grave problems, but more and more leaders are adopting policies that produce growth and foster democracy. Last month, President Clinton announced a plan to stimulate commerce, reduce debt, provide technical aid and otherwise help those in Africa who are doing the most to help themselves. We are determined, as we prepare for the next century, that no continent should be left behind.
Finally, we are continuing to build a new and inclusive Pacific community based on stability, shared interests and the rule of law.
U.S. objectives in Asia, especially in Southeast Asia, are very much on my mind. Tomorrow, I will leave for Malaysia for the annual meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, better known as ASEAN. While in Kuala Lumpur, and later in Singapore, I will discuss a full range of issues with my regional counterparts.
This trip is my third to Asia in the six months I have served as Secretary of State. This reflects the priority we have placed on improving ties throughout the Asia-Pacific. Our strategy is to work with our many friends in this region of rising powers to ensure stability, build prosperity and promote democracy.
Towards the first of these goals, we are fortifying our core alliances. We are maintaining our forward deployment of troops. And we are supporting new multilateral security dialogues such as the ASEAN Regional Forum.
The growing importance of the Forum reflects the fact that, in our era, security in the Asia-Pacific is not a zero sum game. Forum participants include not only the members of ASEAN, but also--among others--the United States, China, Russia, Japan, the European Union, India and Korea. Each has an interest in stability, in seeing disputes resolved peacefully and in avoiding misunderstandings that could lead to armed conflict.
While in Kuala Lumpur, I will urge my colleagues to join in supporting measures to reduce the threat posed by nuclear and advanced conventional arms, to cooperate in reducing tensions caused by conflicting claims in the South China Sea and to ensure freedom of navigation in South Pacific sea lanes, through which one-fourth of the world's oceangoing freight is transported.
I will also emphasize the value of ASEAN support for efforts to maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula. The Agreed Framework with North Korea, negotiated three years ago under Secretary Christopher's leadership, has frozen and will eventually dismantle North Korea's dangerous nuclear program. But we need the continued support of our Asian and other partners to finance the Framework's implementation.
This backing is especially vital now, as we prepare for potentially historic talks with Seoul, Pyongyang and Beijing for the purpose of achieving permanent peace on the Peninsula. In the meantime, we are continuing to respond positively to a United Nations appeal for food to ease hunger among the North Korean people.
The second essential contributor to a strong and vibrant Pacific community is economic growth.
Under President Clinton, we have had great success in using our diplomacy to build prosperity. More than 200 trade agreements have been negotiated, including NAFTA and the Uruguay Round. The resulting increase in exports has created an estimated 1.6 million new American jobs.
During this time, we have negotiated 23 market access agreements with Japan alone, and we are working hard to improve market access and protection of intellectual property rights in China.
These accomplishments matter especially to California, which has been America's gateway to the Pacific for more than 150 years. Today, your state accounts for almost one-sixth of U.S. exports, and nine of your top fifteen markets are in Asia.
Recent export growth has helped California replace well-paying defense jobs with equally well-paying jobs in high-tech. And it has certainly benefited Los Angeles, with its huge port facility and its status as an unofficial capital of the emerging Pacific Rim.
All of this is to the good, but if growth is to continue, America must continue to open new markets. It is to that end that President Clinton plans to ask Congress for fast-track negotiating authority this fall. The President needs fast-track to gain agreements to open up critical sectors of the global economy, such as the one we reached last year on information technology.
He will need that authority to pursue new trade agreements and to maintain momentum towards our long term goals of agreeing on a Free Trade Area for the Americas by the year 2005, and of achieving open trade and investment across the Pacific by the following decade.
Every President since President Ford has had and has used fast-track authority to the benefit of the United States. Extending it now to President Clinton is critical. At stake is the chance to expand trade further and create more American jobs.
At stake, as well, is the indispensable contribution that our economic leadership makes to U.S. influence around the globe. American prestige is not divisible. If we want our views and our interests respected, we cannot sit on the sidelines with towels over our heads while others seize the opportunities presented by the global marketplace.
That is why, from a foreign policy perspective, I consider fast-track to be among our highest legislative priorities. And it is why I will be working hard with the President and my cabinet colleagues to gain Congressional support for it this fall.
Creating the rules for a more open global economy is one challenge; ensuring that those rules are implemented is another.
As long as I am Secretary of State, our diplomacy will strive for a global economic system that is increasingly open and fair. Our embassies will provide all appropriate help to American firms. Our negotiators will seek trade agreements that help create new American jobs. And I will personally stress the point--as I have in visits to our principal trading partners--that if countries want to sell to us, they had better allow America to sell to them.
During the meetings this weekend, economic and trade issues will be prominent. ASEAN comprises collectively our fourth largest trading partner and possesses a half trillion dollar regional economy that is expected to double within ten years.
It is in our interest to encourage ASEAN to continue opening up markets and liberalizing trade. That is precisely what I will do in Kuala Lumpur, where I will press for better enforcement of intellectual property rights, greater transparency in government procurement and higher standards against bribery and corruption.
I will also ask ASEAN's help in reaching a worldwide agreement this year to liberalize financial services.
Throughout our diplomacy, the argument that we make, and that underlies the very concept of ASEAN, is that economic progress is contagious. As recent currency de-valuations in Southeast Asia indicate, the shape and scope of economic expansion will vary country to country and year by year. New competitors will arise and new technologies will be developed. Market shares will wax and wane. But over the long term, the road to prosperity for each is the road to prosperity for all.
Building security and maintaining momentum towards economic growth are two of the goals we will be discussing with our partners in Malaysia this weekend. A third is support for democracy and internationally-recognized human rights.
Last month, I made my first visit to Vietnam. I found a nation bursting with energy, blessed with a young and literate population, eager to become more fully integrated into multilateral economic and political institutions, and cooperating with us in our priority of accounting for Americans still missing from the war in Southeast Asia.
I also found a government torn between its desire to encourage development and its reluctance to give more than lip service to international norms of political openness and respect for human rights.
My message was clear. The United States wants full normalization of relations with Vietnam. We want to see the people of Vietnam prosper. But we also believe that economic progress will proceed far more rapidly if accompanied by a healthy dose of political reform.
Overall, I am optimistic about Vietnam. Its people face many obstacles. Its government is still hampered by habits of the past. The country still has a very long way to go. But Vietnam is a nation on the move, and it is moving in the right direction.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of its neighbor, Cambodia. There, in recent weeks, democracy has taken a giant step backwards. The coalition government installed four years ago has split. The number two Prime minister, Hun Sen, has seized full power. The number one Prime Minister is in exile. And dozens of people have reportedly been murdered.
As a result, ASEAN has suspended plans to admit Cambodia as a new member. The United States has suspended aid, condemned violations of human rights and cautioned against any effort to legitimize the political role of the notorious Khmer Rouge.
During my meetings in Kuala Lumpur, I will consult closely with ASEAN and other nations that have played a role in helping Cambodia. My purpose will be to maintain broad international pressure on Cambodian authorities to respect the 1991 Paris Peace Agreement, allow political parties to operate freely and prepare for fair elections next year.
As the past informs us, there is much at stake in Cambodia.
The humanitarian risk is embodied in our memory of the refugees who spent a decade in camps along the Thai border.
The threat to regional stability is recalled in the cross border invasions of Cambodia by Vietnam and of Vietnam by China in the late 1970's.
The persistence of evil is underlined by the survival of Pol Pot.
And the terrible costs of violence are reflected in the pyramid of skulls Cambodia maintains as a reminder of the genocide.
For all of these reasons, the international community was right to invest in peace in Cambodia, and we are right to insist now that the government in Phnom Penh live up to its obligation to respect democratic principles.
Hun Sen initially rejected ASEAN's help in negotiating a solution to the current crisis. Today, through his spokesman, he appears to have accepted ASEAN's offer of mediation. He has also promised to restore the coalition government and observe the rule of law. The United States will use its leverage and do all we can in partnership with others to see that Hun Sen's words are translated into concrete actions. This will be one of our primary goals at the meetings this weekend in Kuala Lumpur.
Another brake to the region's progress is Burma, a deeply-troubled nation that is about to become an ASEAN member.
As in Cambodia, democratic elections in Burma were forcibly overturned. Here, too, elected leaders have been arrested, persecuted and exiled. And here, too, the lack of a fully legitimate government has created a climate of lawlessness that threatens stability. It is no accident, after all, that Burma is the world's leading producer of heroin. And it is only right that Burma is subject to international sanctions and consumer boycotts.
The novelist George Orwell once wrote a book entitled "Burmese Days." Unfortunately, the Burma of today resembles more closely another Orwell novel--1984. The authorities there are among the most repressive and intrusive on earth.
To overcome the repression that is isolating and holding Burma back, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Prize-winning leader of the democratic opposition, is seeking a dialogue aimed at achieving a peaceful transition to popular rule.
Movement towards such a democratic Burma would reduce the tensions caused by refugees and armed ethnic groups. It would create respect for law. And it would lay the groundwork for a revival of Burma's economic and political institutions that would allow that proud country to become a contributor, rather than a liability, to ASEAN.
Until that happens, Burma may be inside ASEAN, but it will remain outside the Southeast Asian mainstream. By admitting Burma as a member, ASEAN assumes a greater responsibility; for Burma's problems now become ASEAN's problems. And the goal of democratic change and respect for human rights in Burma becomes not only a national, but a regional and global imperative.
The choice in Burma, Cambodia, and elsewhere is not between so-called Asian values and beliefs imposed by the West. As Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister, recently wrote, "each country must find its own path to civil society. Yet, there are core humanitarian values (by which) we are (all) bound."
In recent years, there are some--both in Asia and the United States--who have warned that the future will be one of inevitable conflict between East and West, a clash of civilizations, a showdown between different cultures and values.
Others have pointed to the phenomenon of globalization--the massive intermingling of people, ideas and products--to suggest that differences between peoples are gradually being smoothed away. Still others see globalization as a tool by which developed countries are re-colonizing the poor.
I am a diplomat, not a fortune-teller. But I am also a student of history. And my view is that generalizing about whole societies and cultures is both dangerous and unwise.
I find it neither likely, nor desirable, that distinctions of national identity and culture will melt away no matter how pervasive globalization becomes.
But I find compelling reasons, based on the best interests of societies rich, poor, east, west, north and south that we reach across the boundaries of geography and culture to build an international system that will brighten futures from Seoul to Santiago, and from Juneau to Johannesburg.
To strengthen and broaden that system, we must be forthright about the value of open markets, open politics and the rule of law. We must be willing to include within the system every nation on every continent that is willing to abide by its rules.
And we must accept our obligation, as Americans, to play a leading role. As I said this June at Harvard University, on the 50th anniversary of George Marshall's announcement of the Marshall Plan, that is the role we have played for half a century -- not as the sole arbiter of what is right and wrong, for that is a responsibility widely shared, but as a pathfinder -- the nation able to show the way when others cannot.
Every nation that seeks to participate in the international system, and that is willing to do all it can to help itself, should have America's help in finding the right path.
Today, the greatest danger to America is not some foreign enemy; it is the possibility that we will turn inward; that we will allow the momentum towards democracy to stall, take for granted the principles and institutions upon which our own freedom is based, and forget what the history of this century reminds us, that problems abroad, if left unattended, will all too often come home to America.
A decade or two from now, we will either be known as the neo-isolationists who allowed tyranny and lawlessness to rise again or as the generation that solidified the global triumph of democratic principles.
We will be known as the neo-protectionists whose lack of vision produced financial chaos or as the generation that laid the groundwork for rising prosperity around the world.
We will be known as the world-class ditherers who stood by while the seeds of renewed global conflict were sown or as the generation that took strong measures to forge alliances, deter aggression and keep the peace.
There is no certain roadmap to success, either for individuals or for generations. Ultimately, it is a matter of judgment, a question of choice.
In making that choice, let us remember that there is not a page of American history of which we are proud that was authored by a chronic complainer or prophet of despair. We are doers.
We have a responsibility in our time, as others have had in theirs, not to be prisoners of history, but to shape history; a responsibility to play the role of pathfinder, to join in constructing a global network of purpose and law that will protect our citizens, defend our interests and preserve our values for the remaining years of this century and through the next.
Thank you very much.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, following the procedure outlined by Curtis Mack, we have been collecting questions. I have been listening carefully to what you have said and at the same time looking at these questions. On my end of the table, we have received over fifty questions. They deal with such issues as Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Iran, Kashmir, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Cuba, human rights, intellectual property, drugs, the clash of cultures, nuclear proliferation, the appointment of ambassadors -- specifically, the appointment of the ambassador to Mexico -- NATO enlargement, the future of the film and music business, the Middle East and so on.
With that laundry list, I tried to select those that seem to be repeated by several different people, that indicated a general interest. I would have to say the first of those has to do with NATO enlargement. There were, I think, four that asked about that. One of them put it this way: The original rational for NATO was to defend western European nations against the Warsaw Pact alliance. Now that the Soviet Union is gone, along with the Warsaw Pact threat, why don't we disband NATO, rather than expand it?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am very glad, actually, that there was a compilation of questions to do with that, because it is clearly one of the major issues of our time -- how to take what is clearly one of the world's greatest military alliances and make it relevant for the end of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century.
First of all, President Clinton wanted very much, and has said so many times, to have at the end of the century what has not been possible throughout the century, which is an undivided and free Europe. That has been a dream of many Europeans and also of Americans. Not just because it sounds good, but because it is a way to overcome the instability which has plagued Europe and which is exactly the kind of point that I made in my speech -- problems that are not dealt with early enough often come home to America. In fact, Americans have gone to Europe twice in "hot" wars and once in a Cold War to make sure instability in central and eastern Europe does not spread and create problems for the United States.
The issue here was how to do for central and eastern Europe what the Marshall Plan and NATO did for western Europe. The idea is to expand NATO to those countries that are capable and willing to take on the responsibilities of NATO, because being a member of NATO is a privilege and not a gift. So two weeks ago in Madrid we were among those NATO countries that issued an invitation to the first three new entrants -- that is Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary. They will be coming in. Their letters of invitation have been issued. The accession formula programs will be taking place in the balance of this year. Our debate in Congress and in all of the parliaments of the NATO members will begin next year.
The reason that we did it -- to repeat -- is in order to deal with what we now see as the major threat in central and eastern Europe, and that is instability. And already, as a promise by these new countries that have come in to NATO, they have already dealt with some of their very serious border disputes because they wanted to get into NATO. So the Czechs and Germans have dealt with a border problem and also with some problems that remained after the Second World War. Romania and Hungary have made agreements. There has been a whole set of issues that has come up that has strengthened the idea that countries in central and eastern Europe ought to work together.
NATO is being revitalized and made more relevant to the end of the twentieth century and twenty-first century and we believe that this is exactly the kind of approach that one needs to take to make sure that small problems do not come home to America so that we have to deal with them in "hot" wars.
MODERATOR: We have a number of questions from just about every particular point of view you can imagine asking you to comment on the things happening in the Middle East -- the peace policy. And also a very personal question for you as to how the recent revelations in your life might affect your interest in resolving the Middle East problem.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: The Middle East issues are obviously ones that are on President Clinton's and my mind constantly. We have been meeting and dealing with those issues for some time -- in the first Clinton Administration and now in the second Clinton Administration.
We are very concerned about the deteriorating situation in the Middle East. We have been considering various ways to ensure that the parties themselves take some of the hard decisions. The issue for us is that the United States clearly has played a key role in terms of always being there as the honest broker, of being a catalyst sometimes to get the parties together. We are now dealing with the problem that the Palestinians must understand the importance of security to the Israelis. The Israelis need to understand the importance of not taking unilateral moves on the permanent status issues. The two parties themselves must be the ones to make the hard decisions. We cannot do that for them. We will be there as they take the decisions and we will play the central role that the United States has always played.
I am hopeful that this period that has been so difficult will come to an end and that we will be able to get the peace process reinvigorated. We are working on it hourly and have in fact been meeting on it in Washington just as I left. So it is an issue of major importance to us.
I am hopeful because I think ultimately the people who live in the region are the ones who are suffering from terrorism and from the pain of not knowing how their future will be carried out. The peace process has been one of the brilliant undertakings of previous leaders and the Clinton Administration is determined to follow it out.
My personal story is my personal story. I am an American and I see the peace process from the perspective of an American citizen who cares deeply, as have all Americans, about making sure that peace does in fact come to that troubled region.
MODERATOR: With regard to China and a number of other authoritarian regimes around the world, United States policy is to encourage the gradual process of improving respect for human rights through engagement, increased commercial and cultural and quiet pressures. Why isn't that approach tried with Cuba?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Why do I always get that question? I have often said that our foreign policy cannot be a cookie-cutter policy. We need very much to take the appropriate approach for each country depending on that country's importance to us, its location, its size, its influence throughout the world and the necessity of the United States to have different relations with different countries -- different strokes for different folks.
The issue for us to understand is that the relationship with China is one of the major relationships that the United States has now and will have into the twenty-first century for reasons that I think are obvious the way the questioner worded the question itself. I am looking forward, in Kuala Lumpur, to having one of my series of discussions with my counterpart, Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, on a whole host of issues that we talk about with China. What is clearly important to us is the developing strategic relationship with China where they are working with us to lessen nuclear proliferation. They play a very important role as far as Cambodia is concerned. They play an important role in our talks with Korea. Generally, they are very much involved in the issues of the twenty-first century that we care about -- drug problems, terrorism, environmental issues. So we have a large number of issues to deal with them, not to speak of the trade issues as well as the human rights issues.
Cuba and Fidel Castro -- not the Cuban people, because I think its important to separate that -- but Fidel Castro has in fact over the years played an undermining role to many of the policies that we had wanted in Latin America. He is a dinosaur. I know that people have a romantic feeling about Fidel Castro and see him as a great revolutionary. He is not. He is someone who is repressing his people. We have had examples of that recently in terms of the dissidents that he has suppressed there. He is making Cuba the last of non-democratic regimes in the entire western hemisphere. And we believe that the best approach towards Cuba is to continue our embargo and at the same time to encourage our friends and allies throughout the world to work with us in terms of promoting democracy in Cuba so that the people of Cuba can enjoy the same rights that the rest of us have in the western hemisphere.
MODERATOR: Unfortunately, we have time for just this one last question. Yesterday, the State Department issued a report on religious persecution around the world. How are are reports like this and the State Department's Annual Human Rights Report used in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Our foreign policy is reflective of our principles and our principles make very clear that we care about democracy, human rights -- and within that, religious rights -- and non-persecution. As these reports are prepared, each country is looked at in terms of its performance. Frankly, there are those who criticize us very much for this, saying that the U.S. has no right to grade other countries as we are not perfect ourselves. We admit that we are not perfect but we are the creators of our foreign policy. We believe that it is important for us to speak out on abuses of human rights, political rights and religious freedoms. Therefore, reports such as this help to educate our approach to each country and our bilateral relations with them. We find the reports very useful. We also find that other countries find them useful because we are the beacon in this area. I think it holds up a standard of what is appropriate for free societies.
I would like to thank you all for coming out in such large numbers. As I go to Malaysia and deal with the ASEAN countries on the issues that I mentioned, it is very important to me to have had the opportunity to outline for you a little bit about what President Clinton's and my thinking is as we look at Asia -- obviously of great import to all of you.
I also welcome the questions. I guess my answers were a little long so we could not get a lot of them in, but the way that the panoply was described I can see that there is a very eager audience out here and if you will have me I will be happy to come back.
Thank you very much.


Blue Bar

Great Seal Return to the Secretary's Home Page. Return to the DOSFAN Home Page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.