THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
(Little Rock, Arkansas)
For Immediate Release
January 17, 2001
As Prepared for Delivery
REMARKS BY SAMUEL R. BERGER
ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
THE UNITED STATES INSTITUTE OF PEACE
JANUARY 17, 2001
?A FOREIGN POLICY FOR THE GLOBAL AGE?
In three 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. I appreciate this
forum to look back on these past eight years and, just as important, to
look forward to the challenges ahead.
Let me begin with the extraordinary year just ended. There was China?s
agreement to join the WTO, the victory of an opposition party in Mexico,
the downfall of Milosevic, the peace we helped broker between Ethiopia and
Eritrea, the President?s historic visits to India and Vietnam, our success
in funding debt relief and reforming the UN dues structure so we could
finally repair our relationship with that institution.
Of course, the year past had its share of tragedies and disappointments.
Sitting at the Norfolk Naval Base with survivors from the USS Cole only
reinforced the reality that America is in a deadly struggle with a new
breed of anti-Western jihadists. And despite all the progress we have made
in the Middle East, it will be sad if the promise of this moment in 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 return to the same questions they confront today, and,
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
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.
Any honest assessment of how we?ve used that strength 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??
Today, 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 challenges globalization 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.
Today, 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. 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 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.
The foundations of a foreign policy for the global age are reflected in the
principles that have guided us there and hopefully will serve as a
touchstone as our next president takes office.
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
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 Strait, 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 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.
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
and to use the magnet of NATO membership to strengthen the forces of
democracy in Europe.
A second principle 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. 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 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
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
But at the same time, when Russia seeks partnership with the international
community and membership in international institutions, 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 human rights and their
environment, we must continue to support that in dollars and deeds. 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 and will remain 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.
The 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.
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.
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. Because in this global age, as we
witness distant atrocities, we can choose not to act, but we can no longer
choose not to know.
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
realism. 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
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, from the complete denuclearization of Ukraine, Belarus and
Kazakhstan, to the Agreed Framework with North Korea, which has frozen the
production of plutonium for nuclear weapons there, to the effort that to
this day is diverting billions of dollars in Iraqi oil revenues from the
purchase of weaponry to the provision of food and medicine. We persuaded
the Senate to ratify the Chemical Weapons Convention. I hope President
Bush will work with the Senate to address the concerns raised in the debate
over the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, as General Shalikashvili has
One of the most important decisions America must make is how to meet the
future ballistic missile threat from hostile nations. The emerging threat
is real. But National Missile Defense is a complex issue ? technically,
internationally and strategically. I hope the new Administration will not
be driven by artificial deadlines. And it is inconceivable to me that we
would make a decision on NMD without fully exploring the initiative with
North Korea and the potential of curbing the missile program 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 PNTR with China. Our conscious decision to keep our
markets open during the Asian financial crisis in no small measure is
responsible for Asia?s recovery.
In the last two decades, more people than ever before have been lifted from
poverty around the world. And yet, three billion people still struggle to
survive on less than $2 a day. Globalization did not create the gap
between the rich and poor nations. But there is a gap in globalization.
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 Russia.
Working to bridge the global divide is not merely a matter of national
empathy; it is a matter of national interest. 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. Keeping these issues at the top of the global
agenda can only be done with Presidential leadership.
These are basic principles that I believe must define the contours of
America?s role in a global age, and some of the specific challenges we will
continue to face. Many are daunting. But the new Administration takes the
reins of a country at the zenith of its power, with the wind at its back,
and clear objectives to steer toward. And there are several steps it could
immediately take, both to seize the opportunities so plainly ahead, and to
signal the world that there will be no fundamental shift in America?s
purpose as it reviews our global role.
Let me respectfully mention just a few. You might call them ?five easy
pieces? for the next Administration: Give our European allies a clear sign
that there will be no change in our commitment to NATO, its missions, and
its next round of expansion. Make clear to our allies in Asia that we will
explore the opportunity presented by North Korea?s emergence from
isolation. Tell our partners in the Hemisphere that we want to finish
negotiations on a Free Trade Area of the Americans by 2003, so it can enter
into force by 2005. In preparing your first budget, signal the world that
our contributions to win the fight against global poverty will continue to
rise. Finally, seize the chance to work with Russia to reduce nuclear
arsenals without abandoning negotiated agreements. One good way would be
to move with the Congress to repeal legislation that prevents us from going
below the START I level of 6000 warheads while we bring
START II into force and negotiate much lower levels in START III.
The overriding reality for the new team will remain 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. Otherwise, we will find
the world resisting our power instead of respecting it.
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. I can promise you this: as
the new Administration builds on that achievement, nobody will work harder
than its predecessors to turn common goals to reality.
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