THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Manchester, New Hampshire)
_______________For Immediate Release
January 11, 2001
As Prepared for Delivery
REMARKS BY SAMUEL R. BERGER
ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
January 11, 2001
In nine days, I will end my tenure as National Security Advisor grateful
for the opportunity President Clinton and the American people have given me
to serve at this extraordinary moment in our history; grateful for the
challenge of helping shape a new foreign policy for a new time. I
appreciate this forum tonight to look back on these past eight years and,
just as important, to look forward to the challenges ahead.
Let me begin with the year just ended. It has been an extraordinary one ?
not just because of the prominence of Chad, a country I always thought was
underestimated, but also because of the number and nature of international
events of profound significance to the United States.
In China, a communist leadership negotiated a far-reaching,
market-oriented WTO agreement with us, opening doors to economic and
potentially political change that will be hard to shut. In Russia,
citizens stood in line for hours, not for bread as they did in 1992, but to
carry out that nation?s first democratic transition in more than 1,000
years. In Mexico, an opposition party candidate was elected president for
the first time in more than 70 years, hastening a new era of multi-party
democracy and vibrant partnership just south of our border.
In Ethiopia and Eritrea, the most deadly conflict in the world since the
Iran-Iraq war ended with active American mediation. In Bosnia, five years
after the peace we negotiated at Dayton, the process of reconstructing one
nation, thought impossible by many, gained momentum -- with 63 percent more
people returning to their homes across ethnic lines than a year before.
Meanwhile, democracy captured every inch of the former Yugoslavia for the
first time as Slobodan Milosevic fell like a 50-foot statue of Stalin, a
victim of the accumulated outrage of his people and the cumulative pressure
of the West. In Vietnam, 35 years after the most divisive war of the 20th
century, crowds ten deep lined the streets to reach out to an American
President. In India, after 50 years of icy estrangement, the visit of a
President offering respectful partnership was transforming and 90 percent
of Indians now say that a new day had dawned between us. And in Dundalk,
Ireland, a border town that not long ago was a violent symbol of the
Troubles, more than 50,000 Catholics and Protestants stood together with
the President in their town square and sang ?Danny Boy? with one resolute
Of course, the year 2000 had its share of tragedies and disappointments as
well. Sitting at the Norfolk Naval Base with survivors of the senseless
attack against the USS Cole only reinforced the reality that America is in
a deadly struggle with a new breed of anti-Western terrorists. And despite
all the progress we have made in the Middle East, it will be sad indeed if
the promise of this unusual moment of history slips into the abyss of
violence. But I know this: sooner or later, hopefully before too much
more bloodshed and tears, Israelis and Palestinians will have to return to
the same questions they confront today, and, I believe, the same
inescapable choices. They can postpone the moment of truth, but they
cannot escape the reality that they must find a way to live side by side on
the same soil, in the same land.
The scope of events over this past year reflects the range of challenges
and opportunities for America that sometimes appears overwhelming. It is
tempting to step back from robust engagement, to simplify our presence in a
complex world, to limit our definition of what is important to America to
what seems most easily achievable. That would be a profound mistake. For
the threats to America?s interests only will grow more dangerous if
neglected. More important, this is a time of unprecedented opportunity for
us, as we stand at the height of our power and prosperity. Tonight I want
to talk about how we have used America?s renewed strength and the
challenges that lie ahead.
Any honest assessment must begin with an acknowledgment of what has changed
since Bill Clinton was first elected. Consider the conventional wisdom
about America in the fall of 1992: Time Magazine ? reflecting the
widespread view -- asked: ?is the U.S. in an irreversible decline as the
world?s premier power?? We had handled the Gulf War, the collapse of the
Soviet Union and the reunification of Germany skillfully, but the premise
that had defined our foreign policy for a half century ? what we opposed ?
no longer illuminated our path. We were left in the early 90?s to define
America?s role in terms of what was ending -- a ?post-Cold War? policy.
The Clinton Administration?s task was to renew America?s international
leadership in terms of what we were building ? to shape an American foreign
policy for a global age. Historians may debate the choices we made. But I
believe there is no disputing their cumulative outcome.
As President Clinton leaves office, America is by any measure the world?s
unchallenged military, economic and political power. The world counts on
us to be a catalyst of coalitions, a broker of peace, a guarantor of global
financial stability. We are widely seen as the country best placed to
benefit from globalization.
President Clinton understood before most the sweeping impact of
globalization and the fundamental challenges it posed to how we think about
the world. Let me describe just two. First, for a half century of Cold
War struggle, we viewed the world largely through a zero-sum prism. We
advance, they retreat. We retreat, they advance. But in an increasingly
interdependent world, where all lives are shaped every day by forces in
every corner of the world, zero-sum increasingly must give way to win-win.
A stronger Europe does not necessarily mean a weaker U.S. Indeed, a
stronger Russia and a stronger China ? if they develop in the right way ?
could be a lesser threat than if they unravel from internal strains.
Second, while globalization is an inexorable fact, it is not an elixir for
all the world?s problems. It is not inherently good or bad. But what is
important is that we can harness the desire of most nations to benefit
from globalization in a way that advances our objectives of democracy,
shared prosperity and peace.
Some of the most hopeful recent developments in the world have come about
because of how we sought to do that, not because globalization preordained
them. For example, if China has begun to dismantle its command and control
economy despite the huge risk, is it simply meeting the demands of global
markets? In part, yes. But it also has decided to fulfill the terms we
negotiated for its entry into the WTO. If people from Croatia to Macedonia
are rejecting hard line nationalists and embracing democracy, is it because
they?ve reached the end of history? No ? but they have concluded that this
is the best way to join NATO and the EU ? an opportunity made possible by
our expansion of NATO and more attractive by NATO?s victory in Kosovo.
If the dividing line of the Cold War was the Berlin Wall, the dividing line
of the global age is between those who seek to live within the
international community of nations ? respecting its rules and norms ? and
those who live outside of it, either by choice or circumstance. We must
ensure those international systems, be they on non-proliferation or trade
or human rights, are open to all who adhere to accepted standards. We must
defend those standards when they are threatened. And we must isolate those
who choose to live outside the system and disrupt it.
These are the foundations of a foreign policy for the global age. They are
reflected in the principles that have guided us these last eight years and
which hopefully will serve as a touchstone as our next president takes
The first principle is that our alliances with Europe and Asia are still
the cornerstone of our national security, but they must be constantly
adapted to meet emerging challenges. Eight years ago in Asia, it was far
from certain that we would maintain our military presence at the end of the
Cold War, or that allies there would continue to see its legitimacy. In
Europe, NATO?s continued relevance was seriously questioned, ironically at
the very same time that the security and the values it defends were
threatened by an out-of-control war in Bosnia.
When we took office, we had no more urgent task than to adapt our alliances
to a new era. So in Asia, we formally updated our strategic alliance with
Japan. We stood with South Korea to meet nuclear and missile threats while
we moved together to test new opportunities with North Korea. We
dispatched naval forces to ease tensions in the Taiwan Straits, and helped
our allies deploy an unprecedented coalition to East Timor.
In Europe, we revitalized NATO with new partners, new members and new
missions. After agonizing differences with our allies over Bosnia, we came
together to use force and diplomacy to end a ghastly war and later acted
decisively to end the carnage in Kosovo. Today, we are closer than ever to
building a Europe that is peaceful, democratic, and undivided for the first
time in history.
So where do we go from here in Europe? Let me start with the unfinished
business in the Balkans. Southeast Europe, which has been a flashpoint for
European conflict throughout the 20th Century, now has the potential to
become a full partner in a peaceful Europe -- if we don?t snatch defeat
from the jaws of victory. Our European allies already are carrying the
overwhelming share of this burden, 85 percent of the peacekeeping troops
and 80 percent of the funds. But we can?t cut and run, or we will forfeit
our leadership of NATO.
NATO's future, and that of Europe's new democracies, also depends on the
answer to another question: will more of Europe?s new democracies be
invited to walk through NATO?s open door at its next summit in 2002? To
stop at Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic would defeat the very
purpose of NATO enlargement ? which is to erase arbitrary dividing lines in
Europe and to use the magnet of NATO membership to strengthen the forces of
democracy in Europe.
Then there is the question of how we keep our partnership with traditional
European allies strong through changing times. We should support Europe's
efforts to assume greater security responsibilities -- so long as our
European friends move forward in cooperation, not competition, with NATO.
And, we must devise new mechanisms to deal with significant trade disputes
like GMOs and FSC and subsidies in ways that do not jeopardize a $1.4
trillion per year economic relationship. A strong America and a stronger
Europe is good for us and the world.
A second principle that guides our foreign policy in a global age is that
peace and security for America depends on building principled, constructive
relations with our former great power adversaries, Russia and China.
With Russia, it is tempting to focus on what this troubled country has
failed to do in the last decade. It has not developed a full feathered
democracy, or demonstrated consistent respect for the rule of law. It has
not rooted out corruption, or learned that brute force cannot hold an
ethnically diverse country together. But we should not forget what it has
done. Defying the predictions of many, the Russian people have rejected a
return to communism or a turn toward fascism; in five straight elections
they have voted for a democratic society with a market economy that is part
of the life of the modern world. And it is in large part for that reason
that we have been able to work with Russia to reduce and safeguard its
nuclear arsenal, to secure the exit of its troops from the Baltic States,
and to cooperate in the Balkans.
What now? I believe that President Putin wants to build a modern Russia
plugged into the global economy and that he realizes the only outlet lies
to the West. What we don?t know yet is whether he will do that while
tolerating opposition, respecting the independence of his neighbors and
conducting a foreign policy that does not revert to the Soviet era
What can we do? If Russia seeks to exert coercive pressure against
neighboring states like Georgia or Ukraine, we must do all we can to
strengthen their independence. If it continues to provide military
technology to nations like Iran, we must use our leverage to change its
behavior. But at the same time, when Russia seeks partnership with the
international community and membership in international institutions, from
the G-8 to the WTO, we should welcome it, insisting that Russia accept the
rules as well as the benefits that go with integration. And when the
Russian people work at home to build a free media, to start their own
businesses, to protect their environment, we must continue to support that,
not cut back programs to assist those efforts as the Congress has done in
recent years. For little else will be possible in our relationship with
Russia unless it builds a pluralistic, prosperous society inexorably linked
to the West.
With China, our challenge has been to steer between the extremes of
uncritical engagement and untenable confrontation. That balance has helped
maintain peace in the Taiwan Straits, secured China?s help in maintaining
stability on the Korean Peninsula, and allowed us to negotiate an historic
agreement to bring it into the World Trade Organization.
That deal and passage of PNTR represents the most constructive breakthrough
in U.S.-China relations since normalization in 1979. For China, it is a
declaration of interdependence, and a commitment to start dismantling the
command and control economy through which the communist party exercises
much of its power. It also means that China now faces imposing challenges.
Already, roughly 100 million Chinese are out of work. As it opens its
markets to competition, there inevitably will be more dislocation and
urbanization, and greater pressures on the government to give people a say
in decisions that affect their lives.
Can China manage this economic transition at a time of uncertain political
transition? For a country seized by a history of intermittent
disintegration, will China seek stability in greater control over its
people, or in giving its people greater control? Only China can decide.
But we can help it make the right choice -- by holding it to the
commitments it made to join the WTO, and continuing to make clear that we
believe China is more likely to succeed in this information age by
unleashing the creative potential of its 1.2 billion people than by trying
to suppress it.
A third principle that must guide American foreign policy is that local
conflicts can have global consequences. I don't believe any previous
President has devoted more of his presidency to peacemaking -- whether in
the Middle East, the Balkans or Northern Ireland, between Turkey and
Greece, Peru and Ecuador, India and Pakistan, or Ethiopia and Eritrea. We
have never pretended we can solve every problem. But we have rejected the
simplistic idea that because we can?t do everything, we must, for the sake
of consistency, do nothing.
Looking ahead, I believe it is more important than ever that America remain
an energetic peacemaker -- not a meddler, but a force for reconciliation
even, at times, where our interests are not directly involved.
Why? Because the challenge of foreign policy in any age is to defuse
conflicts before, not after, they escalate and harm our vital interests.
And this is even more true in this global age. Today, as we witness
distant atrocities, we can choose not to act, but we can no longer choose
not to know. And while we should never send troops into conflict where our
national interests are not at stake, when our interests and values are
challenged, the American people increasingly expect their government to do
what we reasonably can. Those who ignore America?s idealism are lacking in
What?s more, the disproportionate power America enjoys today is more likely
to be accepted by other nations if we use it for something more than
self-protection. When our president goes the extra mile for peace ? as he
has been doing in the Middle East, as he did in Belfast last month, or in
Africa last August when he joined a fractious conference seeking peace in
Burundi ? it defies preconceptions that an all-powerful America is a
self-absorbed America. It earns us influence that raw power alone cannot
purchase. It is profoundly in our interest.
A fourth principle is that, while old threats have not all disappeared, new
dangers, accentuated by technological advances and the permeability of
borders, require expanded national security priorities. Indeed, I believe
one of the biggest changes we have brought about in the way America relates
to the world has been to expand what we consider important.
We intensified the battle against proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. Information about North Korea's nuclear weapons program, for
example, had been available since the late 80's. But it was not until 1994
that we negotiated the Agreed Framework, which has frozen the production of
plutonium for nuclear weapons in North Korea. America took little notice
of Iraq's development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons until
after the Gulf War. Now we are diverting billions of dollars in Iraqi oil
revenues from the purchase of weaponry to the provision of food and
Our work with Russia and its neighbors led to the complete denuclearization
of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan; the elimination of hundreds of tons of
nuclear materials; and tighter controls to prevent smuggling. We persuaded
the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. I genuinely hope
President Bush will work with the Senate to address the concerns many had
with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, as former Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff General Shalikashvili has suggested.
Going forward, one of the most important decisions America must make is how
to meet the future ballistic missile threat from hostile nations. That
future threat is real and we must take it seriously. But National Missile
Defense is an intensely complicated issue ? technically, internationally
and strategically. I hope the new Administration will not be driven by
artificial deadlines as it considers the best course. And it is
inconceivable to me that we will not fully explore the initiative with
North Korea and the potential of curbing the missile program that is at the
leading edge of the threat driving the NMD timetable today.
A fifth principle that should continue to drive our foreign policy is that
economic integration advances both our interests and our values, but also
increases the need to alleviate economic disparity. During the last eight
years, America has led the greatest expansion in world trade in history,
with the completion of the Uruguay Round, the creation of the WTO, and the
approval of NAFTA and Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. Our
conscious decision to keep our markets open during the Asian financial
crisis, despite inevitably increasing trade deficits as a result, in no
small measure is responsible for the recovery of the Asian economy, which
again is fueling global growth.
In the last two decades, more people have been lifted from poverty around
the world than at any time in history. And yet, three billion people
around the world still struggle to survive on less than $2 a day. Open
markets alone will not close this gap when half the children in the poorest
countries still are not in school. Investment flows alone will not reduce
it when infectious diseases still cause one in every four deaths in the
world. The Internet will not narrow it when half the world?s people have
yet to make a telephone call. The passage of time alone can only widen it,
with the world?s population expected to rise by 50 percent to 9 billion by
Globalization did not create the gap between the rich and poor nations.
But there is a gap in globalization. And to dismiss global poverty and
disease as ?soft? issues is to ignore hard realities. Few nations can
survive the onslaught of AIDS that already has hit southern Africa, where
half of all 15 year olds are expected to die of the disease. And this
epidemic has no natural boundaries -- its fastest rate of growth is now in
Working to bridge the global divide is not merely a matter of national
empathy; it is a matter of national interest. The global system that
creates prosperity for Americans is not sustainable in the long term if
billions of people decide they have absolutely no stake in it. That is why
we have lowered barriers to African and Caribbean imports, tripled funding
for global AIDS prevention and care, and launched international initiatives
to stimulate vaccine research and get children into school. That is why we
have led the global effort to relieve the debts of poor countries that
invest the savings in their people. But this is just a foundation to build
Keeping these issues at the top of the global agenda will require
Presidential leadership ? to close the gap between what the world spends
and what the world needs to fight infectious diseases like AIDS; to
mobilize global funding toward the ultimate goal of universal education; to
help more countries qualify for debt relief. The alternative is a world
that will be bitterly and violently divided a generation from now.
These are basic principles that I believe must define the contours of
America?s role in a global age. The overriding reality is that American
leadership, in cooperation with our friends and allies is essential to a
more secure, peaceful, and prosperous world.
Our extraordinary strength is a blessing. But it comes with a
responsibility to carry our weight, instead of merely throwing it around.
That means meeting our responsibilities to alliances like NATO and
institutions like the UN. It means shaping treaties from the inside, as
President Clinton recently did with the International Criminal Court,
instead of packing up our marbles and going home, as the Senate did with
the CTBT. Otherwise, we will find the world resisting our power instead of
respecting it. When our friends call us a "hyperpower" we should not
apologize. But to remain strong, we must be a hyperpower they can depend
We must remember that there is a difference between power and authority.
Power is the ability to compel by force and sanctions, and there are times
we must use it, for there will always be interests and values worth
fighting for. Authority is the ability to lead, and we depend on it for
almost everything we try to achieve. Our authority is built on qualities
very different from our power: on the attractiveness of our values, on the
force of our example, on the credibility of our commitments, and on our
willingness to listen to and stand by others.
In the last eight years, I believe President Clinton?s most fundamental
achievement is that he steered America into a new era of globalization in a
way that enhanced not only our power but our authority in the world. I
have been proud to be part of this journey. Now, a new Administration
takes the reins. It begins with great challenges, but also with the great
advantage of a country at the zenith of its power, with the wind at its
back, and clear objectives to steer toward. I can promise you this: as
the new Administration seizes this opportunity, nobody will work harder
than its predecessors to turn common goals to reality.
# # #