|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks and Q&A Before the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations
Chicago, Illinois, November 10, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, November 12, 1999
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. Thank you so much. It is so nice to be, as I say, in one of my home towns.
Chairman Burnham, thank you very much for that wonderful introduction and, John Rielly, a good old friend that I have known a very long time, members of the diplomatic corps, officers and members of the Council, guests and good friends.
I am very glad to be here and I am very glad to be accompanied by Ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun, who has just been confirmed. (Applause). I am very glad she is now part of my team and going to be in a great place, New Zealand. So, Carol, terrific. (Applause).
I am delighted to be here in Chicago, a city that Richard Wright once called the pivot of the Eastern, Western, Northern and Southern Poles of our nation, but which now increasingly serves that purpose for our globe.
Chicago is the capital of America's heartland, but also a dynamo of international travel and trade, blessed by the busiest airport, largest mercantile exchange, most dramatic skyline and best rightfielder in the world. (Applause.)
It has also been blessed for more than three-quarters of a century by this very venerable institution-the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations. In 1922, the year -
SHOUTED QUESTION: (Inaudible) killing the children of Iraq (inaudible).
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would be happy to answer some questions on Iraq if you will give me a chance to deliver my remarks. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: I would ask that anyone who has anything to say, there will be ample time at the end of the Ambassador's remarks for questions. If you would save those, we will have time to write cards and I am sure the Ambassador, I am sure, will address any of the questions or issues that you may have. If you would please save that and please show respect, not only to the Ambassador but to the Government of the United States and to this body, the rest of the people who are with us tonight.
Please restrain yourselves. (Applause.) Thank you very much.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: In 1922, the year the Council was founded, our country was walking away from the League of Nations, our cities were coping with Prohibition, and our Secretary of State had a beard.
Much has changed since then, but this Council has remained one of our nation's most influential platforms for discussing America's rightful place in the world. The Council has also been a leader in assessing American attitudes towards international relations.
SHOUTED QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I was heartened that your latest survey -- I really don't think this is appropriate. I said that I would answer questions. So, please, the other people have come to hear about our foreign policy priorities. (Applause.)
I was heartened that your latest survey shows strong, albeit guarded, support for an active U.S. role. I was delighted to see that most Americans agree with me that President Clinton deserves high marks for his foreign policy leadership. (Applause.)
Your survey also reveals that a majority of our citizens are afraid, as the new century--
SHOUTED QUESTION: (Inaudible).
MODERATOR: I would ask again. It seems to me that if you have a cause that you wish to speak to, if you would wait until the appropriate time in these proceedings to ask questions, it is not fair to anyone in this room and it is a sign of tremendous disrespect that we will not tolerate. Would you please contain yourselves and restrain yourselves? (Applause.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: But your survey also reveals that a majority of our citizens are afraid, as the new century is about to dawn, that the next hundred years will prove even bloodier than the last. And, given our experience of Holocaust and global war, that is a daunting prospect. And we have no higher responsibility than to do all we can to prevent that prospect from becoming a reality.
This evening, I would like to discuss with you a major part of that responsibility. Because even though the Cold War has ended, the dangers posed to us by nuclear weapons have not. We must carry out a comprehensive strategy to limit those dangers both by keeping such weapons out of the wrong hands and by deterring and defending against their possible use.
These goals received a setback last month when the U.S. Senate voted not to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT.
America's allies and friends responded to this vote with universal shock and disappointment. I have personally been besieged by calls from my counterparts around the globe. All express concern. Some even fear that America is on the verge of deciding simply to go it alone; to abandon efforts at nuclear nonproliferation; and to rely solely on military might in what could become a new, wider and even more dangerous nuclear arms race.
My reply to those who harbor such fears is not to over-react. The United States has not gone crazy.
SHOUTED QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me answer a question on Iraq and then maybe we can go on.
If you remember 1991, Saddam Hussein invaded another country. He pillaged it, he set fire and he decided that he could control the region. Before that, he had gassed his own people. He had been acquiring weapons of mass destruction.
We carried out, with the help of an alliance, a war in which we put Saddam Hussein back in his box. The United Nations voted a set of resolutions which demanded that Saddam Hussein live up to his obligations and get rid of the weapons of mass destruction. And the United Nations Security Council imposed a set of sanctions on Saddam Hussein until he did that. It also established an organization --
SHOUTED QUESTION: (Inaudible).
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I am answering your question.
SHOUTED QUESTION: (Inaudible.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Are you interested in hearing an answer?
So there was an organization that is set up to monitor whether Saddam Hussein had gotten rid of his weapons of mass destruction. And that organization, UNSCOM, has made clear it has not. The United States, in the person of me, in fact authored a resolution because I was concerned about the children of Iraq, to make sure that Saddam Hussein would be able to sell his oil for food and medicine.
There has never been an embargo against food and medicine. It is just that Saddam Hussein has not chosen to spend his money on that. Instead, he has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies.
We have established a regime -- (applause) -- in fact, I think he has built 54 palaces at more than $2 billion since the war ended.
We have established a regime which would make sure that the food and medicine is distributed to the children of Iraq and where the UN is active in northern Iraq, the child mortality has gone down. It is Saddam Hussein who is keeping his people in bondage. It is Saddam Hussein who gassed his own people. It is not the United States or the United Nations.
Okay. My reply to those who harbor the fear that we might over-react and pull out of the world is that the United States has not gone crazy. A clear majority in the Senate wanted to delay voting to allow more time to deliberate on the treaty. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have reaffirmed America's commitment to nonproliferation. And, as Winston Churchill once reportedly declared, "Americans can always be counted upon to do the right thing in the end, after all the other possibilities have been exhausted."
That said, the Senate debate was a highly sobering experience. Never before have the clearly expressed views of our closest allies been so lightly dismissed. Never before has the Senate rejected so abruptly a treaty of this importance. And never before has the tradition of a bipartisan foreign policy, once championed by such giants of this state as Everett Dirksen and Paul Douglas, seemed so distant.
Much has been said about how the Administration and Senate leadership handled this issue. It is fair to assign blame to both sides: to the Senate for giving the Treaty short shrift; to the Administration for not doing enough to lay the groundwork for a successful debate.
But our focus now must be not on where we have been, but on where we are headed. And that is why I have chosen to address this subject here, tonight. Those of us in public life have a duty-when circumstances warrant-to raise a flag of warning. And I do so now. Because I believe it is dangerous when the world's leading nation is as sharply divided as we appear to be on how to confront the world's greatest threat.
Our challenge is to overcome the scars left by past arguments, put aside partisan distractions, and come together around concrete measures that will keep Americans secure.
To succeed, we must go beyond slogans to the reality of a world in which U.S. actions and attitudes have real consequence.
Because if we do not accept the rules we insist that others follow, others will not accept them either. The result will be a steady weakening of nuclear controls. And if efforts at control fail, within a couple of decades or less, a host of nations from the Middle East through South Asia to the Korean Peninsula could possess nuclear weapons and the ability to deliver them at long range.
One can imagine then a world imperiled by bitter regional rivalries in which governments are able to threaten and destroy each other without ever having to mass troops at a border, send an aircraft aloft, or launch a ship of war.
This is where the issues of nuclear testing and missile defense are linked. For those of us concerned about defending against missiles armed with weapons of mass destruction should be the first to value halting nuclear tests as an initial line of defense.
More than four decades ago, President Eisenhower warned that the knowledge of how to build nuclear weapons would spread, and that not even a massive arsenal would be enough to keep America safe. He strived, therefore, to achieve agreements, including a comprehensive test ban, that would reduce the risk of war.
His successor, President John Kennedy, took up that same banner. In 1963, he said that "the conclusion of a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests...would check the nuclear arms race in one of its most dangerous areas...Surely, this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding to the temptation neither to give up the effort, nor...our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards."
These, then, are the core principles that guided America in years past and should guide us still. First, America must lead in the effort to assure stability and peace in a nuclear world. Second, we should strive for sound agreements to reduce the dangers posed by nuclear weapons. Third, we should view such agreements not as ends, but as means; they must contribute to our overall security.
Obviously, agreements do not erase the need for a powerful nuclear and conventional military deterrent. But they establish rules that increase the chance that our deterrent will succeed in preventing war. They complicate efforts by potential adversaries to develop and build nuclear weapons. And they make it more likely that others will join us in a common response against those who break the rules.
By outlawing nuclear tests, the CTBT will impede the development of more advanced weapons by nuclear weapons states, and constrain the nuclear capabilities of countries that do not now have such weapons.
For example, in Asia, the CTBT would make it harder for North Korea to advance its nuclear weapons program; or for China to develop the technology required to place multiple warheads atop a single small missile.
In the Persian Gulf, the Treaty would create another important yardstick to measure the intentions of Iran, where an historic debate between the forces of openness and isolation is underway.
In South Asia, the Treaty would be a valuable tool for constraining a potentially catastrophic arms race along a disputed border.
In Russia, there is support among some for building a new generation of tactical nuclear arms, because Russia's conventional military capabilities have degraded and money is lacking to rebuild them. The CTBT would reinforce momentum towards nuclear restraint around the world.
Despite these benefits, critics say the Treaty is too risky because some countries might cheat.
But improvements in our own national means of verification, together with the International Monitoring System established by the Treaty, would enhance our ability to detect nuclear explosions.
Also, the Treaty's provisions for on-site inspections should help deter violations and assist in finding the smoking gun should a violation occur.
Moreover, the military value of very low-yield tests is limited. They are of little use in developing more advanced strategic weapons.
The bottom line is that, under the CTBT, it is less likely that nations will test because the risks of detection will be higher. But if they do test in ways that might threaten our security, they will be detected. And if that were to happen, the world, not just the United States, would object with the full force of international law on its side.
Of course, some among you may ask, so what? Aren't international law and world opinion merely abstractions? Won't governments, and especially those we worry about most, pursue their own interests regardless of treaty obligations?
There is a good deal of merit in these questions. But there is no merit to the conclusion that some draw-which is that if we cannot assure 100% compliance with the rules we establish, we are better off not establishing any rules at all. Consider the facts.
During the first 25 years of the nuclear age, five countries tested nuclear weapons. In the 29 years since, two, India and Pakistan, have joined the list. During this period, knowledge about how to build nuclear arms has spread, but far fewer nations than we once predicted are acting on that knowledge.
The question is "Why?" The answer, I think, is that global standards matter. Over the years, more and more nations have embraced the view that it is unnecessary and dangerous to develop and test nuclear weapons.
This view has given birth to an extensive, although not yet complete, framework of legally binding agreements. These include nearly universal participation in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT.
Of course, neither law nor opinion will prevent nations from acting in their own best interests. But most countries are influenced in how they define their interests by what the law is; and most find it in their interests to operate within the law, or at least be perceived as doing so.
Why else, for example, did South Africa, Brazil and Argentina abandon their nuclear weapons programs?
Why else did China agree to halt its own nuclear tests and sign the CTBT?
Why else have India and Pakistan agreed, in principle, to do the same?
And why else have the nations that contribute to the proliferation problem made such vigorous efforts at concealment?
Some Treaty opponents have pointed out, accurately, that North Korea joined the NPT and then evaded its obligations under it. But why did North Korea take on these obligations in the first place? And why should we conclude that because that pact was violated, we would have been safer without it? After all, North Korea's secret activities first came to light as a result of inspections under that agreement.
Further, we can only imagine what kind of world we would have today if the NPT had not entered into force three decades ago. Or what kind of world we will have three decades from now if we decide that the job of stopping proliferation is either not worth doing or already done.
To me, it is an open and shut case that outlawing nuclear tests by others will result in a more favorable security climate for America than would otherwise exist. But the second question we must consider is whether accepting a legal ban on our own tests will undermine our nuclear deterrent.
That deterrent includes our ability to put a nuclear weapon on a bomber or missile and deliver that weapon with a high degree of accuracy. The knowledge that we can do this will stop any rational government from attacking us, and the CTBT would not affect that. Because the Treaty does not cover delivery systems, we can continue to test and modernize them.
There can be no doubt that our deterrent is effective. After all, we have already conducted more than 1,000 tests-hundreds more than anyone else. Our knowledge base and technology are superb.
However, many Senators opposed the CTBT because of their concern that, without testing, weapons in our arsenal might become either unsafe or unreliable.
Obviously, this is a very serious concern, which we have taken seriously. Our nation's most experienced nuclear weapons scientists have examined very carefully the possibility that our weapons will degrade without testing. They have recommended steps that will enable us to retain confidence in the safety and reliability of our arsenal under CTBT, including a robust program of Stockpile Stewardship. These steps were incorporated in a package of understandings that accompanied the Treaty when it was submitted to the Senate.
We simply do not need to test nuclear weapons to protect our security. On the other hand, would-be proliferators and modernizers must test if they are to develop the kind of advanced nuclear designs that are most threatening. Thus, the CTBT would go far to lock in a technological status quo that is highly favorable to us.
There is, moreover, even another layer of protection for American security. If the day should come when our experts are not able to certify the safety or reliability of our nuclear arsenal-or if the Treaty is not working, and new threats are arising that require us to resume nuclear tests-we will have the right to withdraw from the Treaty.
The case for ratifying the CTBT is strong. It asks nothing of us that we cannot safely do; it requires of others a standard we very much want the world to meet. Those tempted to cheat will face a higher risk of being caught, and will pay a higher price when they are. And if the worst case unfolds, and we must withdraw, we can and will.
The burden on Treaty supporters is to persuade skeptics that ratifying the CTBT will reduce the dangers posed to our security by nuclear weapons, without endangering our security by preventing us from taking steps necessary to national defense.
But there is also a burden on Treaty opponents. For it is not sufficient simply to say the Treaty is imperfect. Opponents must offer an alternative that is better.
And they must explain why America will be safer in a world where nuclear tests are not outlawed and may again become commonplace; where there is no guarantee of an international monitoring system to detect such tests; where we have no right to request on-site inspections; and where America is held responsible by allies and friends everywhere for the absence of these protections.
To those Senators who want the Administration to bury the CTBT, we say, "No, our national interests will not allow us to do that." (Applause.) But to those who are willing to take a further look at the Treaty, we say, "How can we help?" For despite the Senate vote, the Treaty lives.
It is essential that the dialogue on CTBT continue and bear fruit. After all, the Administration and Congress have worked together on difficult national security issues before. A number of leading Senators from both parties have expressed interest in a bipartisan effort to move forward on CTBT now.
In that spirit, I am announcing today that we will establish a high-level Administration task force to work closely with the Senate on addressing the issues raised during the test ban debate.
As we did with NATO enlargement, this team will also carry the dialogue to Americans from all walks of life to explain and analyze the Treaty.
In our discussions with the Senate, we will be open to a variety of possible approaches for bridging differences, including at an appropriate point the potential need for additional conditions and understandings, as was the case with the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Meanwhile, President Clinton has made clear that the United States will continue to observe a moratorium on nuclear explosive tests and has urged all others to do the same. And we will continue to work with Congress to provide our share of support for preparatory work, including construction of the International Monitoring System.
Finding the way forward on CTBT is necessary, but not sufficient, to crafting a bipartisan strategy for reducing the nuclear danger. It is equally important that we establish common ground on the question of national missile defense and the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.
Here, agreement must be found between the extremes. On one side, there are those demanding that we scrap the ABM Treaty, despite objections from Russia, China and our closest allies. On the other are people who oppose any adjustments to the Treaty, and are against developing even a limited system of national missile defense.
The Administration believes that both extreme views are dangerous. The first risks reviving old threats to our security; the second fails to respond to new ones.
For more than a quarter century, the ABM Treaty has contributed to strategic nuclear stability. It is based on the understanding that an all-out competition in ABM systems would create destabilizing uncertainties about intentions, and destroy our ability to reduce strategic offensive arms. Preserving this understanding is vital to us. It is also essential to Russia.
If we were simply to abandon the ABM Treaty, we would generate fears in Moscow that we are also abandoning the goal of stability. We would squander an historic opportunity for negotiating further mutual reductions in our nuclear arsenals. And we would run the unnecessary risk of transforming Russia into once again our most powerfully armed adversary.
On the other hand, our partners must recognize that the strategic environment has changed greatly in the 27 years since the ABM Treaty was signed. The Gulf War showed what a real threat theater-range missiles in hostile hands can be. And tests of longer-range missiles by Iran and North Korea raise concerns about vulnerability that must be addressed.
Our military serves as an effective deterrent to any rational adversary. The problem is how to deal with threats from sources that are neither rational nor interested in complying with global norms.
It is against this danger that the Administration is developing and testing a limited National Missile Defense System, with a decision on deployment possible as early as next summer.
For deployment to occur, certain changes to the ABM Treaty would be necessary, and we have begun discussing these with Congress, our allies and Moscow.
To date, Russian leaders have expressed strong opposition to any Treaty modifications, and accused us of undermining the entire system of international arms control simply by raising the subject.
A Russian defense official recently proclaimed that his nation has the ability to overwhelm the missile defense system we are planning. That is true-and part of our point. The system we are planning is not designed to defend against Russia and could not do so. And that will remain true even if we are able to negotiate further deep reductions in our arsenals.
The changes we are contemplating in the ABM Treaty are limited. They would not permit us to undermine Russia's deterrent. And because Russia and we are vulnerable to the same threats, we are prepared to cooperate with Moscow on missile defense.
In response, Russia must do more than just say "Nyet." It is in our mutual interest to develop an arrangement that preserves the essential aims of the ABM Treaty, while responding to the new dangers we both face.
Domestically, the Administration recognizes that if we are to have support for any agreement we might reach with Russia, we must consult closely with the Legislative Branch.
The Administration and Congress have the same boss-and that is you, the American people. We have an obligation to work shoulder to shoulder in support of policies that will keep our citizens secure.
In defending against nuclear dangers, we rely on a combination of force and diplomacy. That is why our military must remain second to none, but also why we need resources to back our international diplomatic leadership. Earlier this year, Congress voted to cut the President's request for international programs by more than $2 billion. By standing firm in our negotiations, we won much of that back.
Now we are engaged in a final effort to persuade Congress to pay what we owe to the United Nations. (Applause.) This is not just a matter of honoring our word, although that in itself should be enough.
The UN serves important American interests. These include peacekeeping, safeguarding nuclear materials, prosecuting war criminals, enforcing sanctions against rogue states, protecting intellectual property rights, fighting disease, and saving children's lives. (Applause.)
Half a century ago, our predecessors created the United Nations. Thirty-eight years ago, our nation was proudly represented there by Illinois' favorite son-Adlai Stevenson. (Applause.) Today, we are the organization's number one debtor. We are even in danger of losing our vote in the UN General Assembly. America can do better than that. I hope you agree. Congress should vote this year-at long last-to pay our UN bills. (Applause.)
The issues I have discussed today of nuclear risks and national defense, of resources and American interests affect us all. And I hope the dialogue concerning them will broaden far beyond the narrow corridors of Washington D.C.
These are matters that warrant the attention of our universities and scientists, our professionals and our vast network of nongovernmental organizations. We need a truly national debate.
For we Americans are the inheritors of a tradition of leadership that has brought our country to the threshold of the new century strong and respected, prosperous and at peace. The question our children will ask is whether we were good stewards of that inheritance.
Because a decade or two from now, we will be known as the bitter partisans who allowed their differences to immobilize America, or as the generation that marked the path to a safer world.
We will be known as the unthinking unilateralists who allowed America's international standing to erode, or as the generation that renewed our nation's capacity to lead.
There is no certain roadmap to success, either for individuals or for nations. 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 peddler of complacency or a prophet of despair. We are a nation of doers. (Applause.)
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 act-with others when we can, alone when we must-to protect our citizens, defend our interests, preserve our values and bequeath to future generations a legacy as proud as the one we received from those who came before.
To that mission, this evening, I pledge my own best efforts and summon both your support and the wise counsel of this esteemed Council. Thank you very much for your attention.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much for your comments.
As you know, it is the custom at the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations at lectures such as this to allow for questions prepared on the cards that you have all received. The attendants will be moving through the audience. If you would hand them the cards, we will try and answer as many as we can.
For the first question, John Rielly, President of the Chicago Council, will present that.
MR. RIELLY: Madame Secretary, related to your discussion of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, I'm sure you noted that last week in Paris, following the Senate's decision to defeat the Treaty and also the continued US delinquency in paying its United Nations dues, French President Jacques Chirac criticized the United States for pursuing an increasingly unilateral foreign policy. He particularly criticized most sharply the intrusive role of the American Congress in restricting the Administration in the field of foreign policy.
Given the current composition and given the current diffuse leadership structure of the Congress, can any American administration, not only the Clinton Administration, can any American administration today successfully implement a coherent multilateral foreign policy?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: It is clearly the challenge that we have ahead of us. And the reason that I welcome so much the opportunity to speak to this huge audience in America's heartland, is that I think we need to take our subjects more to the public. After all, the people in the Senate are elected by you.
And I think that what needs to happen is that we have not really had a national debate about what the role of the United States is, how the Executive and Legislative Branch work together in fashioning our foreign policy and I believe we need to have one. Your surveys, for instance, I think show that the American public wishes to remain engaged.
The subjects are very different. I think for 50 years -- I have seen some people in the audience who are about my age, most of you are younger -- but for 50 years, we had it pretty easy. It was dangerous, but it was easy. There were the Communists and there were us. And it was very simple; we were the good guys, they were the bad guys and our foreign assistance programs were basically designed to try to attract people to our side.
We now have a host of dangers -- I just spoke about one of them today -- which are the kind that require cooperation with other countries. Drugs, global warming, disease and, obviously, these problems of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. And I think it is important for our members of Congress to understand that, as strong as we are, we can't go it alone. And I guess the only time I feel protective of the US Congress is when it is attacked by President Chirac. (Laughter and applause.)
MODERATOR: I'll take the next question. Madame Secretary, you commented on why the US does not pay its debt to the United Nations. There has been an outpouring of support in this audience. How should we go about helping you to achieve that end?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I was very heartened by the applause and I have been very heartened by the fact that I believe the American people basically support the United Nations and that there are only a very few who may be over-represented who believe that the UN actually will swoop down and steal the lawn furniture. (Laughter.)
I think that we get our money's worth out of the UN in terms of all the myriad activities that it does. And we have, as of tonight, gotten pretty close in moving the United Nations dues issue.
The problem that we have is, while we have a piece of legislation that would provide the money that we need, there is a small minority in Congress who believes that a nongermane issue, the issue of family planning, needs to be attached to the United Nations legislation. Now, this is a very complicated question and I know that there are people in this audience who are on both sides of the issue. I happen to have one view but I know that others have others.
It is an emotional issue for many Americans and it should be debated and it should be voted on. But it should not be attached to our money to the United Nations. That is a national security issue. (Applause.)
And I think that the more people will speak out to try to get that separated, then that will help a great deal.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, continuing on the subject of your address, we find that today not only adversaries but close allies as well are intensifying their criticism of the proposed American plan to build and deploy an anti-ballistic missile defense system. Now, you recall when this was proposed in the 1980s, there was widespread skepticism both about the technical feasibility and reliability of such a system as well as opposition, both in the American Congress and abroad.
What has changed that would justify the deployment of an American system, particularly with the risk of antagonizing both allies as well as adversaries abroad?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think it is important to understand that this is not the same system that was discussed in 1980. It is one that is much more limited and technologically probably more feasible. Though, as I mentioned, the only decision that has been made now is to think about the development of it and not the deployment of it because it is, in fact, as yet unclear whether it is feasible and will work technologically.
The thing that has changed is that, as a result of the spread of weapons of mass destruction to countries that have a missile capability, we do believe that there is some threat to the United States from these rogue states that are pursuing their own activities in terms of trying to acquire the weapons. We know that we have been criticized by our allies and by others and what we need to do is to make sure that they do not help provide that kind of technology to countries such as Iran or North Korea that might in fact then provide a greater danger for us.
So at this stage, all we are doing is studying the issue. As I said in my remarks, working with the Russians because it is not against them and they are also threatened by these kinds of missiles and potential warheads. And we think that it is worth studying in order to try to deal with the threat.
QUESTION: I have a question that, in recent years, many states and local jurisdictions are seemingly entering into the realm of foreign policy making. If you are clearly aware of a recent trip to Cuba dubbed a humanitarian mission by the governor of our state, George Ryan.
What are your thoughts on the efforts of cities and states and other parts of our country trying to create their own foreign policy agenda and could you comment specifically on our governor's recent visit to Cuba.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I had heard something about this.
Let me first comment on the issue of kind of subcontracting out foreign policy. (Laughter.) I think we are in kind of a paradoxical situation because, as I -- especially I and other members of the State Department work very hard to get American people to have a stake in our foreign policy and explain over and over again how much you get out of it in terms of the fact that we open up markets, which creates jobs, or are able to license various exports or are able to provide you with passports or any number of things that we do to try to entice you to be interested in foreign policy, because it is your foreign policy.
Which means, basically, that we are popularizing foreign policy because, as you mentioned, I was a professor. But I try to not sound overly academic. But we are trying to get people interested in it so that automatically means that more people will get interested in it.
We do, however, have to abide by the laws of the United States and we have an embargo on Cuba called the Helms-Burton Act. We have tried very hard to operate within the bounds of that because I happen to believe that it is very important to create some space for the people of Cuba because the embargo is not so much ours against Castro but Castro's against his own people. So we have been pushing for people-to-people programs, we have been in favor of increased humanitarian contacts and we have encouraged humanitarian missions. In fact, we have made it possible for more than just Cuban-Americans to send remittances back to Cuba and we have said that there could be more air travel than just between Miami and Havana.
So we have encouraged that and I think that the Governor had an interesting trip. And we were very much a part of helping him have an interesting trip. And all we have wanted is that when people meet with Fidel Castro, that they tell him the truth, that they have no human rights in Cuba and that the people are being suppressed there. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: We have time for one more question.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, you have been very diplomatic about commenting on Illinois' foreign policy. You would be happy, I think, to know that someone said recently the best thing about the governor of Illinois' foreign policy is it is better than the governor of Minnesota's. (Laughter.)
But to conclude our discussion, as you know, for almost four-and-a-half centuries, Europe dominated the known world and yet for the last half century, Europe has relied almost wholly for its security on the United States. In the aftermath of the Kosovo war, which confirmed once again European impotence and American massive military superiority, Europeans are voicing once again a fierce determination to develop a stronger and more independent military capability.
Many European leaders are skeptical about the response of the American Government so far, regarding it as ambivalent at best and downright negative at worst. The question is, do we want a truly independent European security capability?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, whoever wrote that question has been eavesdropping on my conversations all week with the Europeans. Let me make the following point.
We have been linked to Europe through the NATO alliance for the last 50 years, the most amazing alliance in the history of the world and one that we were very proud in creating and now very proud in enlarging with three new members and in making it very relevant to the threats that now exist and its record, I think, in Kosovo was brilliant. (Applause.)
I think that we have, however, also ourselves believed that it is important for the Europeans to do their share and there has been a lot of discussion about burden sharing and making sure that we are not out there by ourselves. And while the United States flew the majority of sorties in Kosovo, we were accompanied by the allies and other NATO countries are now on the ground in Kosovo and are in Bosnia and members of something called the Partnership for Peace, which is an organization of non-NATO countries that want to work with us on peacekeeping operations, are also a part of that.
So we want them to share the burden and we have, in fact, thought it was important for the Europeans to have what is called a defense identity. But our differences at the moment are over the following issues. We believe that this European defense identity should be within NATO and it should not duplicate NATO activities. It should not discriminate against those countries that are not a part of NATO or the EU and it should not, in fact, in any way diminish or de-link the United States from Europe.
So we are into a very nuanced discussion as to how the Europeans describe their defense identity and as to whether it is separate on the outside of NATO or is connected to it. But we do believe that Europe needs to carry its share of the burden and we agree with that. We just don't want it to be duplicative or discriminatory or de-linking. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madame Secretary, I want to particularly thank you tonight for three things. First, it is a particular pleasure for all of us in this room and particularly me personally that you were willing to come to Chicago and share with us all of your thoughts on the foreign policy that is going on in the United States today. (Applause.)
Second, I would like to personally thank you on behalf of all of us for your willingness to serve because it is not everyone who is willing to step up and serve in the roles that you have been willing to take on for all of us and for the government of the United States. (Applause.)
And, thirdly, I would like to thank you on behalf of certainly myself and everyone here for the exceptional way that you have carried out those responsibilities on our behalf. It is my pleasure again to thank you for being here. (Applause.)
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very, very much. Thank you. Thank you.
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