Nearly 55 years ago, in his final inaugural address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt reflected on the lessons of the first half of the 20th Century. "We have learned," he said, "that we cannot live alone at peace. We have learned that our own well being is dependent on the well being of other nations far away. We have learned to be citizens of the world, members of the human community."
Those words have more resonance than ever as we enter the 21st century. America is at the height of its influence and prosperity. But, at a time of rapid globalization, when events halfway around the earth can profoundly affect our safety and prosperity, America must lead in the world to protect our people at home and our way of life. Americans benefit when nations come together to deter aggression and terrorism, to resolve conflicts, to prevent the spread of dangerous weapons, to promote democracy and human rights, to open markets and create financial stability, to raise living standards, to protect the environment to face challenges that no nation can meet alone. The United States remains the world’s most powerful force for peace, prosperity and the universal values of democracy and freedom. Our nation’s central challenge and our responsibility is to sustain that role by seizing the opportunities of this new global era for the benefit of our own people and people around the world.
To do that, we are pursuing a forward-looking national security strategy for the new century. This report, submitted in accordance with Section 603 of the Goldwater - Nichols Defense Department Reorganization Act of 1986, sets forth that strategy. Its three core objectives are:
- To enhance America’s security.
- To bolster America’s economic prosperity.
- To promote democracy and human rights abroad.
The United States must have the tools necessary to carry out this strategy. We have worked to preserve and enhance the readiness of our armed forces while pursuing long-term modernization and providing quality of life improvements for our men and women in uniform. To better meet readiness challenges, I proposed, and Congress passed, a fiscal year 2000 defense budget that increased military pay and retirement benefits, and significantly increased funding for readiness and modernization. I have also proposed a $112 billion increase across fiscal years 2000 to 2005 for readiness, modernization, and other high priority defense requirements. This is the first long-term sustained increase in defense spending in over a decade.
Over the last six months, our military leaders and I have seen encouraging signs that we have turned the corner on readiness. Although our Armed Forces still face readiness challenges, particularly in recruiting and retaining skilled individuals, Administration initiatives are helping us achieve our readiness goals. I am confident that our military is and will continue to be capable of carrying out our national strategy and meeting America's defense commitments around the world.
To be secure, we must not only have a strong military; we must also continue to lead in limiting the military threat to our country and the world. We continue to work vigilantly to curb the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and missiles to deliver them. We are continuing the START process to reduce Russian and American nuclear arsenals, while discussing modification of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to allow for development of a national missile defense against potential rogue state attacks. And we remain committed to obtaining Senate advice and consent to ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and to bringing this crucial agreement into force.
We must also sustain our commitment to America’s diplomacy. Every dollar we devote to preventing conflicts, promoting democracy, opening markets, and containing disease and hunger brings a sure return in security and long-term savings. Working with Congress, we were able to provide enhanced funding to international affairs accounts and UN arrears, but we need to sustain this commitment to foreign affairs in the years ahead.
America must be willing to act alone when our interests demand it, but we should also support the institutions and arrangements through which other countries help us bear the burdens of leadership. That's why I am pleased that we reached agreement with Congress on a plan for paying our dues and debts to the United Nations. It is why we must do our part when others take the lead in building peace: whether Europeans in the Balkans, Asians in East Timor, or Africans in Sierra Leone. Otherwise we will be left with a choice in future crises between doing everything ourselves or doing nothing at all.
America has done much over the past seven years to build a better world: aiding the remarkable transitions to free-market democracy in Eastern Europe; adapting and enlarging NATO to strengthen Europe’s security; ending ethnic war in Bosnia and Kosovo; working with Russia to deactivate thousands of nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union; ratifying START II and the Chemical Weapons Convention; negotiating the CTBT, and the Adaptation Agreement on the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty; securing a freeze in North Korean fissile material production; facilitating milestone agreements in the Middle East peace process; standing up to the threat posed by Saddam Hussein; reducing Africa’s debt through the Cologne Initiative and the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative (HIPC); helping to broker peace accords from Northern Ireland to Sierra Leone to the Peru-Ecuador border; fostering unprecedented unity, democracy and progress in the Western Hemisphere; benefiting our economy by reaching over 270 free trade agreements, including the landmark accord to bring China into the World Trade Organization; and exercising global leadership to help save Mexico from economic disaster and to reverse the Asian financial crisis.
But our work is far from done. American leadership will remain indispensable to further important national interests in the coming year: forging a lasting peace in the Middle East; securing the peace in the Balkans and Northern Ireland; helping Russia strengthen its economy and fight corruption as it heads toward its first democratic transfer of power; furthering arms control through discussions with Russia on the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and deeper reductions in strategic nuclear weapons; implementing China’s entry into the WTO and other global institutions while promoting freedom and human rights there; easing tensions between India and Pakistan; building on hopeful developments between Greece and Turkey to make progress in the Aegean, particularly on Cyprus; securing new energy routes from the Caspian Sea that will allow newly independent states in the Caucasus to prosper; supporting democratic transitions from Nigeria to Indonesia; helping Colombia defeat the drug traffickers who threaten its democracy; fighting weapons proliferation, terrorism and the nexus between them; restraining North Korea's and Iran's missile programs; maintaining vigilance against Iraq and working to bring about a change in regime; consolidating reforms to the world’s financial architecture as the basis for sustained economic growth; launching a new global trade round; enacting legislation to promote trade with Africa and the Caribbean; pressing ahead with debt relief for countries fighting poverty and embracing good government; reversing global climate change; and protecting our oceans.
At this moment in history, the United States is called upon to lead to marshal the forces of freedom and progress; to channel the energies of the global economy into lasting prosperity; to reinforce our democratic ideals and values; to enhance American security and global peace. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to meet these challenges and build a better and safer world.
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National Security Council Documents
White Paper: Reforming Multilateral Peace Operations
WhitePaper: Managing Complex Contingency Operations
White Paper: Clinton Administration's Policy; Critical Infrastructure Protection
NSC Historical List of Policy Documents
NS Strategy Report: Preface
International Crime Control Strategy
NSC Historical List of Meetings with Agenda Topics
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