Marshall Legacy Symposium

Anthony Lake
Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

Marshall Legacy Symposium

Mayflower Hotel, Washington, DC
January 8, 1996

As the general who helped lead us to victory in the most devastating conflict the world had ever known, George Catlett Marshall understood the horror of war better than anyone. And along with statesmen like President Truman, Senator Arthur Vandenberg, and Secretary of State Dean Acheson, he knew that America’s security -- and the well-being of our people -- cannot be guaranteed in isolation from the world.

Those men had seen the cost of our retreat from the world stage after World War I. They knew that if turmoil once again swept across Europe, no part of the whole world would be safe. And they recognized that to maintain peace, the United States would have to preserve, protect, and ultimately extend democracy, free markets, and security in Europe and beyond.

Together, these men faced down the isolationists in the United States who would have had America shrink from its responsibilities. They forged a bipartisan coalition to sustain America’s global leadership and to support economic recovery in Europe.

The Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, the Atlantic Alliance -- the great institutions of international cooperation - - each reflected our nation’s conviction that America’s security and prosperity were indivisible from Europe and that for America to be strong at home, it had to be strong abroad.

Times have changed, but those principles absolutely endure today.

Today, in this wonderful new age of possibility, President Clinton is working to build a safer world of open societies linked and enriched by open markets -- a world where the benefits of peace and security are shared and enjoyed by all. We are enlarging the circle of common purpose -- opening the institutions that were once called "the West" to the newly free people who will live by its values.

Our policy is grounded in the firm belief -- a belief at the heart of America’s identity itself -- that our interests and our ideals cannot be separated. Those who argue otherwise are caught up in the precepts of 19th century diplomacy -- oblivious to the reality of today’s world. In an age where information and finance can fly across borders at the touch of a computer key, what happens within nations is just as important to global stability as classic diplomatic relations among nations. It is simply common sense that in the long run, our interests and our ideals both serve to create a safer world for our people.

By supporting the tide of democracy, we help build a world where peace is more likely to be preserved and human rights are more likely to be protected. By encouraging the spread of open markets, we advance the prosperity of our people and others. By standing with those who take risks for peace -- from the Middle East to Northern Ireland and now in Bosnia -- we lessen the threat of conflicts that destroy lives and destabilize regions.

Our efforts to build a safer, more peaceful world are making a difference in people’s lives. These are not abstractions. Today, parents in New York and Moscow can put their children to bed knowing their nations’ nuclear weapons are no longer pointed at each other. Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan are giving up nuclear weapons stationed on their soils. And together with our friends in Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, we are working to keep nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.

By leading the global community in the fight against international crime, drug trafficking, and terrorism, we are making our neighborhoods safer for our families. Those forces of destruction respect no borders; we must all work together to defeat them.

Lower economic barriers and freer trade have meant millions of new jobs for Americans and for others. In your countries, growth has been the fastest where reform has moved the farthest. The costs of economic transformation are real, but so are the benefits: growing opportunity and rising standards of living for your people, and expanding trade and investment throughout your region.

In short, nowhere are America’s interests and ideals more closely linked than in Europe. With the end of the Cold War, we finally have an extraordinary chance to realize George Marshall’s vision of an undivided, democratic, prosperous Europe at peace. Just think about it. As President Clinton has remarked many times, this is the first time probably in human history that we can, in fact, create such a Europe. And the Partnership for Peace lies at the heart of that opportunity. But to succeed, we must adapt. For if Marshall’s generation was "present at the creation" of the post-war transatlantic order, our generation has been charged with its renewal and its extension.

Our strategy here must be no less ambitious than that great goal. First, we must help Europe’s newly free nations to strengthen their democracies. Second, we must continue to advance prosperity in Europe, America, and around the world. And third, we must deepen our security cooperation -- not only with our long-standing allies, but with others who share our values and our vision of peace.

That is what this symposium is all about. We come together at the second anniversary of the Partnership for Peace -- a cornerstone of this new Europe. From the Black Sea waters of Romania to the bayous of Louisiana, Partners and allies are building bridges of friendship across what once were enemy lines.

These are not abstract slogans. In Bosnia, soldiers from at least 13 new Partner states will serve side-by-side with NATO troops in the most ambitious land operation in Europe since World War II. One of those Partners, Hungary, is the major staging ground for America’s contribution to the NATO force. This was the stuff that dreams were built of only two years ago -- yet the Partnership for Peace and progress toward NATO’s enlargement make it seem natural today.

We should just pause for a moment and think of how the world has changed when these things do seem natural.

For some countries, the Partnership will be the best path to membership in NATO. For others, it will serve as the main link to the Alliance. For all, it is a powerful incentive to deepen the roots of democracy -- by consolidating democratic institutions, establishing firm civilian control over military forces, and being responsible members of the international community.

In fact, NATO has always been open to nations that shared its values and could contribute to its goals. As the democratic community grows across the former Cold War lines, NATO must grow as well. This year, the Alliance will hold intensive consultations with Partners who wish to join.

Russia has a critical contribution to make to Europe’s evolving security system, and we will continue to support its integration. All of our nations have a stake in the success of Russia’s efforts to build a confident, stable democracy. Last month’s election in Russia in fact showed democracy at work. While the vote reflected frustration with the social costs of reform, it is clear that the majority of Russians do not want to return to the past. The United States will do all we can to help keep the process there moving forward.

NATO will continue to build strong ties with Russia, including through the Partnership for Peace. Just last October, Russian and American troops took part in a joint peacekeeping exercise at Fort Riley, Kansas. Today, they are applying that experience around Tuzla to help the people of Bosnia rebuild their lives and rebuild their land. Together, two former adversaries are helping transform what was once the starkest symbol of Europe’s post-Cold War disintegration into a striking example of transatlantic cooperation.

The ties we are forging in Bosnia and Brussels rest on a grassroots foundation. As many of you know from your own experience, the National Guard State Partnerships are working every day to build security cooperation. Albania and South Carolina, Kyrgyzstan and Montana, Georgia and Georgia -- each of these partnerships between America’s citizen-soldiers and their colleagues abroad is helping improve openness and mutual understanding and supporting the process of democratic reform.

When George Marshall was Secretary of State, he was known for reminding his staff, "Don’t fight the problem. Decide it!" Those must be our marching orders today. We have been blessed by history with a great challenge and great responsibility, and we owe it to our children to rise to the occasion as we build our vision of the Europe that I described.

Over the course of the next week, you will contribute by having the chance to discuss practical ways to deepen democracy, bolster prosperity, promote security, and to strengthen our transatlantic ties. So I urge you all to make the most of your time together, to generate ideas, establish contacts, and lay the groundwork for progress back home. Each of you will play an important role in the direction your country takes in the years ahead. The United States is proud to work with you to advance the values and the interests that we share and to build a safer world for all of our peoples.

And again, I welcome you here very, very much. Thank you.

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