|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at the Joint Service Officers' Wives Luncheon
Washington, D.C., November 12, 1997
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Sue, for that really wonderful introduction. I have to say, I do love to hear all that.
It is a tremendous pleasure for me to be here with all of you today, and to see so many of you here and to know that you are here because you want to hear what we have to say about American foreign policy today.
Before I begin on my speech, though, I would like to offer condolences to the families of those Americans who were gunned down in Pakistan overnight; and to tell all of you and them that we are working very hard to be able to figure out what happened. We have talked to the government of Pakistan, who are also very helpful in this. And we will leave no stone unturned until we find the perpetrators of this horrible crime.
During the past few years, I had the pleasure of getting to know your speaker at last year's event, General Shalikashvili, quite well. He was a brilliant leader, remains a wonderful person and if there is one principle he stressed over and over again, it is the importance of working together as a team. And as only Shali could do, he called me last night from Seattle to, I think, remind me that I had - (laughter) - but he put it much more delicately by thanking me for honoring a request that he had made.
I think that the idea of working as a team is the same lesson that is reflected in this joint services' lunch; although I gather it wasn't General Shali, but General Art Buchwald, who deserves the credit for bringing you together.
I have been Secretary of State now for almost ten months. After the first day, I was asked what it felt like to be a woman Secretary of State. At the time, I had to divide the question. I said that I had been a woman--or a female--for almost sixty years - (laughter) -- and that it felt fine. But that I had only been Secretary of State for a few hours, and so we would just have to figure out how it all goes together.
Of course, a few weeks later, when I met with a first grade class, the kids all wanted to know how it felt to be Bill Clinton's secretary.
I have also been asked about what are the differences between a male and female Secretary of State. My quickest answer is, make up - (laughter) - because you either can have a tired old man or you can have a tired old woman, but with make-up.
I can tell you that I have been very grateful for the encouragement and support I have received from people all over the United States. And nowhere has that support been stronger or more meaningful than from the five armed services of the United States.
As I travel around the world from Korea to Saudi Arabia to the Balkans to Haiti and back to Japan, America's armed services are there -- not as occupiers, but as invited guests; not as instruments of war, but as preventers of war.
Among these overseas posts, there are vast differences of mission, risk, geography and degree of hardship. But in each there is a tremendous pride in defending our freedom and values and in being part of a tradition of honor that dates back to Valley Forge. And I know that pride is shared--as it should be--by the entire armed services community, including children and spouses.
Whenever I speak to the American people about our armed forces, I try to get across three main points. First, we have the most powerful and respected military in the world, and we have a responsibility to the future to maintain that high standard. Second, even as we deal with present emergencies, we must bear in mind future contingencies. We need to be sure that the operational tempo we establish for our military is the right one, so that readiness is maintained and capabilities are not worn down. Third, we have a solemn obligation to ensure that whenever and wherever we deploy our military, the mission is clear, important American interests are at stake, and our forces have the training, equipment and backing they need to protect themselves and get the job done.
Deciding whether or not to send American military forces overseas is the hardest decision any President can make. And it is doubly complicated in this new era. For we live in an unsettled time, beset by unresolved disputes and unsatisfied ambitions. Although we face no single galvanizing threat, still there are dangers--some as old as ethnic conflict, some as new as letter bombs, and some as deadly as weapons of mass destruction falling into the wrong hands.
That is why our armed forces must remain the best in the world. And as President Clinton has pledged, and our military leaders ensure, they will. It is also why we need first-class diplomacy. Force, and the credible possibility of its use, are essential to defend our vital interests and to keep America safe. But force alone can be a blunt instrument, and there are many problems it cannot solve.
To be effective, force and diplomacy must complement each other. There will be many occasions, in many places, where we will rely first on diplomacy to protect our interests, knowing that our diplomacy is stronger because it is backed by the muscle our armed forces provide.
Today, I would like briefly to discuss three situations around the globe where we are seeking to mix these tools of power and persuasion. But before I do, I would also like to refer to a very damaging situation that has developed on Capitol Hill.
While I sit in my office on a morning like this, trying to figure out what is going on in Saddam Hussein's mind; dealing with the problem of the shooting of our people in Pakistan; wondering about my meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chairman Arafat; getting ready to go to the Middle East, I am concerned about the fact that there is a very real possibility that Congress will adjourn this week without approving legislation we need to fund important aspects of our foreign policy -- including programs we need to re-organize the Department of State, contribute to international financial institutions and pay our arrears at the UN.
Can you imagine while we're asking the UN to be the first line in our discussions about how to make the Iraqis comply, that we are actually debating about whether we should pay back our dues at the UN?
The reason is that Congress has been unable to agree on funding for international family planning programs. Now, this is a very important issue; and I know it's an important issue to all the people in this room. While we might not agree on how we feel about pro-choice versus pro-life, we do all agree that this is an important issue, and it deserves full and fair debate. But the stalemate it has caused now threatens seriously to undermine our ability to conduct foreign policy at a very critical time. No matter how important we think that issue is, we cannot let it, at this stage, harm America.
The Administration has proposed that these issues be "de-linked", so that the family planning issue receives full and fair consideration on its own merits, with an up or down vote. Meanwhile, the rest of the legislation, which we need to support our diplomacy and American leadership abroad should be allowed to go forward.
As members of the armed services community, I hope you agree that as America strives to shape events in what remains a very dangerous world, we should have available every possible foreign policy tool. This is certainly the case, for example, with respect to Iraq, whose leader Saddam Hussein remains either unwilling or unable to learn from his past mistakes.
When the Gulf War ended six years ago, the world made clear through United Nations Security Council resolutions what Iraq had to do to return to the family of nations. Under those resolutions, Iraq was required to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction programs and to cooperate with a UN inspection and monitoring regime. And it was required to return stolen property, account for POW/MIAs, end support for terrorism and stop running roughshod over human rights.
Unfortunately for the Iraqi people, instead of meeting these requirements, for six years Saddam Hussein has lied, delayed, obstructed and tried to deceive. In recent days, tensions have increased as a result of Iraq's outrageous effort to bar US nationals from serving on UN inspection teams, and because of its threat to try to shoot down unarmed U-2 aircraft.
In addition, Iraq has reportedly tampered with UN cameras, and illegally moved equipment which could be used in the production of prohibited missiles or biological warfare agents. Finally, the UN delegation sent to Iraq this past week to insist that Baghdad end its defiance ran into a brick wall.
Without ruling any options out, we have responded by encouraging the Security Council to approve a tough new resolution, demanding compliance from Iraq and imposing new travel sanctions against senior Iraqi officials. That resolution is being debated, as we speak, in New York. If approved, the resolution will make it clear once again that the present dispute is not between Iraq and the United States, but between Iraq and the law, Iraq and the Security Council, Iraq and the world.
The United States position is clear: Iraq must meet its obligations. Our resolve on this issue is unwavering. Hundreds of thousands of American soldiers put their lives on the line in the Gulf War. We will not allow Iraq to regain by stonewalling UN inspectors what it forfeited by aggression on the battlefield.
Since the beginning of Operation Desert Storm, American policy towards Iraq has been consistent, principled and grounded in a hard-won understanding of the nature of the Iraqi regime. And that policy has achieved a great deal. Iraq's military threat to its neighbors is greatly diminished. The area in which Iraqi military forces may operate freely has shrunk. And more Iraqi weapons of mass destruction potential have been destroyed since the war than were destroyed during the war.
But despite all this, it is clear that the nature of the regime in Baghdad has not changed. It continues to disregard its obligations and remains a potential threat to the peace and stability of the region. So this is not, to borrow Margaret Thatcher's phrase, "the time to go wobbly towards Iraq."
We must--and will--continue to work closely with our allies and friends to ensure that UN inspections resume and that Iraq does not wriggle out of its obligations. We must--and will--retain in the region the military capability required to deter Iraqi aggression and to enforce the no-fly and no-drive zones. And we must--and will--maintain a firm commitment to the territorial sovereignty of Kuwait and to our other friends in the region.
To those who ask how long our determination will last; how long we will oppose Iraqi arrogance; how long we will insist that the international community's standards be met, our answer is, as long as it takes. We do not seek trouble. But we will never, never run away from it.
A second test of our military and diplomatic leadership is ongoing in the Balkans, where the worst European violence of the past half century occurred in this decade. That violence was brought to an end through a combination of vigorous diplomatic efforts led by President Clinton and decisive military action by NATO, led by the United States.
Our goal now is to ensure that the fighting does not resume, and that steady progress is made towards stability and democracy in the region. To these ends, we have reinvigorated our commitment to implementation of the Dayton accords. And although many serious obstacles remain, we have made significant progress.
Since Dayton was signed, the warring parties have been separated, arms control targets are being met and public security has improved. The recent municipal elections have given evidence that many Bosnians are unwilling to accept a future in which the consequences of ethnic cleansing are made permanent. There has also been a substantial increase in independent broadcasting, and a new leader of the Bosnian Serbs has emerged, who appears to understand that implementing Dayton is the key to a decent future for her people.
Building peace in Bosnia is a multinational, multifaceted enterprise--with military and numerous civilian elements. All are contributing. But much of the recent progress is attributable to the robust support provided by SFOR, the NATO-led peace implementation force, and to its close cooperation with civilian leaders.
Now there are those who say that Bosnia is Europe's problem and that America has no stake. But history teaches us that there is no natural political or geographic endpoint to violence in the Balkans. World War I began in Sarajevo, and the region was a major battleground throughout the Second World War. The ethnic rivalries that are at the heart of the conflict there need not produce violence; but when they do, they light a fuse of potential conflict throughout Southern Europe.
America neither can, nor should, bear the burden of building peace in Bosnia alone; nor are we. We have more than two dozen partners. But as NATO's leader, we cannot walk away from a challenge NATO has accepted. We have made a commitment, which we should keep, to assist and persist in the healing process.
One way our SFOR troops have done that is by providing a secure environment so that victims of ethnic cleansing can return home in safety, as they have done recently in and around the strategic city of Brcko. The New York Times quoted one of our officers as saying that "I didn't want to come to Bosnia in the first place, but this is fantastic. You can't feel bad about helping people move back into their homes."
A third part of the world where our civilian and military leaders are working together to preserve peace and build stability is the Korean Peninsula.
It is alleged by some that America has a short attention span. Well, let them come to Korea. Here, for more than four decades, American armed forces have maintained their vigilance, prevented renewed war and kept open the door to reconciliation.
Earlier in this decade, the Clinton Administration negotiated an agreed framework to halt and roll back North Korea's dangerous production of nuclear materials and to bring that country into compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. More recently, President Clinton and President Kim of the Republic of Korea proposed talks involving the two Koreas, China and the United States. Although these talks have been slow to get off the ground, a series of preliminary meetings have set the stage for plenary discussions which we hope will begin next month.
These so-called four party talks are important, not because we expect dramatic early results, but because the dangers of miscalculation in that part of the world are extremely serious.
Last February, I visited US troops in the DMZ -- the only place in the world where Americans still patrol against a potentially hostile Communist Army. The men and women on duty there are all the proof anyone could ask that America keeps its commitments. But as I talked with these young people and thanked them, I also felt again how important it is that America succeed in its key foreign policy objectives--not only because of what that success means to us, but because of what it means to the people of decency and good will in every corner of the globe.
For almost as many years as I have been alive, the United States has played the leading role within the international system -- not as sole arbiter of right and wrong, for that is a responsibility widely shared, but as pathfinder--as the nation able to show the way when others cannot.
Now, we have reached a point in history when no nation need be left out of the global system, and every nation that seeks to participate and is willing to do all it can to aid itself will have America's help in finding the right path.
I learned the importance of American leadership early in my own life. As most of you probably know, I was not born in this country. In fact, yesterday was the 49th anniversary of my arrival. More than half a century ago, when Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia and World War II began, my family sought and found refuge in England. The whole world, as I knew it, depended on the outcome of that war. So when my family was not in a bomb shelter, we were glued to the radio.
Through the darkness, we were sustained by the inspiring words of Roosevelt and Eisenhower, and by the courage of Allied soldiers. I was just a little girl, but in my heart, even then, I developed an abiding respect for those willing to fight for freedom, and I fell in love with Americans in uniform - something I think I share with all of you.
Now, thanks to President Clinton, I have an opportunity I never believed possible -- to serve as Secretary of State. And I am determined to do everything I can to pay back this country for its generosity and for all it has done for the millions throughout this century who have been saved by American soldiers, empowered by American assistance or inspired by American ideals.
I am a woman, sixty years old. A few months ago, another sixty year-old woman was interviewed by the newspapers. Her name is Ferida Osmic. She is Bosnian, and she is among those able to live now in their own homes because of the climate of security our troops have helped to create in her country. She said simply, the Americans -- God bless them and may He give them and their children everything they wish for.
Let us never forget that we are the beneficiaries of a world made free by those who paid the ultimate price for us. We are the inheritors of a country made strong by those who did not back down in the face of the most deadly evil ever to trample this Earth. We are the successors of a tradition of human freedom based on principle and law that remains, after more than two hundred years, the most powerful force for human progress in the world. We must do, in our time, what our predecessors did in theirs -- defend freedom; uphold law; protect our citizens; be vigilant in pursuing our rights and tireless in fulfilling our responsibilities.
Towards these ends, I pledge my own best efforts and express my gratitude to you, and to the entire armed services community of the United States.
Thank you very much.
[End of Document]
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