Center for Strategic and International Studies
MARCH 27, 1997
As Prepared for Delivery
Last month, in the first State of the Union address of his second term, President Clinton issued a challenge to the American people. “Fifty years ago,” he said, “a farsighted America led in creating the institutions that secured victory in the Cold War and built a growing world economy… Now, we stand at another moment of change and choice — another time to be farsighted and to bring America another fifty years of security and prosperity.”
To meet that challenge, we must first understand the nature of the change that surrounds us. It’ s been eleven years since glasnost, eight years since the Berlin Wall fell, six since Germany’ s reunification and five years since the Soviet Union’ s dissolution. But because the Cold War ended with a crumble, not a conference to mark the moment… and because the transition to democracy among Europe’ s newly freed countries, while revolutionary in its consequences, is evolutionary in its timetable… the dialogue of foreign policy has, for too long, been frozen in the rhetoric of “the Post-Cold War Era.”
I have come here today not only to praise the “Post Cold War Era” but to bury it. That phrase describes what has ended, not what is beginning… what has been dismantled, not what we are building. Today, closer to the start of the 21st century than to the end of the Cold War, we are embarked on a period of construction, based on new realities but enduring values and interests. The blocs and barriers that divided the world for fifty years largely are gone. Now, our challenge is to build up new institutions and understandings, and adapt old ones, that strengthen our security and prosperity for the next fifty years and beyond.
For the past fifty years, with containment as the guiding principle of our foreign policy, we saw a world map with advancing and receding lines dividing red from blue… separating those living under the brutal hand of communism from those who weren’ t — the latter running the range from democracies to more or less authoritarian regimes bound together by their anti-communism.
Because we stood firm for half a century, that guiding principle is now obsolete. Instead, this new time increasingly is shaped by the forces of integration. They create unprecedented opportunities for progress. But we should have no illusions: they do not eliminate all the dangers and despots of this world. And they can help fuel new threats to the security, peace and prosperity we seek to build.
If we could look down at the earth from a distant planet, one of the most powerful phenomena we would observe are the effects of economic integration — reinforced by a communications and technological revolution that telescopes time and distance. With a tap on a computer keyboard and a $50 modem, ideas and information span the planet in a nano-second. Traders, buyers and investors move a trillion dollars around the world every hour.
I will never forget arriving late one night in my hotel room in Islamabad, half a world away, turning on CNN and seeing George Stephanopoulos and Bob Reich debating who wrote “Primary Colors.” Men and women of good faith can debate whether that’ s progress. But the fact of it is transforming the way we work, live and interact. Or consider the famous images of the ancient Li River portrayed in Chinese wall hangings. If you looked at a photograph today, you would see that the houses that line the river have satellite dishes in their backyards.
The forces of integration also spread values — and the ideas increasingly if not universally being embraced today are the central ideas that define America: democracy, liberty, free enterprise. For the first time in history, more than half the world’ s people live under governments of their own choosing. In this hemisphere, where just three decades ago almost one-third of the countries were under authoritarian rule, every country but one today is a democracy. From the Philippines to Chile, South Africa to Estonia, Korea to Guatemala, people who little more than a decade ago lived under repression are building their democracies. We can see with more clarity today than ever before that freedom is not only an American birthright or a Western ideal — but the aspiration of human beings everywhere.
These forces of integration — economic… technological… political — find practical if imperfect expression in international rules of the road that are becoming the true Berlin Wall between countries: those that opt into the community of nations — and those that remain outliers. These norms — alliances of like-minded countries… adherence to the rule of law… open and competitive trade rules… major regimes to control dangerous weapons — are important in and of themselves. But they’ re also important because, brick by brick, they form a structure for security and prosperity for all those who choose to live within them, and they define the terms of isolation of those that stay outside. As the world grows closer, the cost of exclusion from the community of nations will grow higher.
But we must also understand that the powerful movement toward integration is not without downsides and dangers. As borders become as easy to breach as lines in the sand, nations become more vulnerable to transnational tidal waves — witness the Peso crisis, which threatened not only Mexico’ s economy, but jobs in America and the stability of developing economies around the world.
The forces of integration also lubricate the counterforces of disintegration: terrorists, organized criminals, drug traffickers who form international networks of corruption and destruction. They too benefit from technological change and the free flow of goods and information. And they often are supported by rogue states like Iran, Iraq, Libya and Sudan which remain outside the community of nations — and seek to destabilize it.
Further, integration can exacerbate disparities among and within countries. More than half the world’ s people are two days walk from a telephone — literally disconnected from the present and the future. In many developing and developed countries, the gap between rich and poor has grown wider, even as overall wealth has increased dramatically.
In short, integration is not inherently good or inherently bad. But it is, I believe, inherently a fact of modern life. And it will take place with or without us. The fundamental question we must answer is this: will we use our unique position as not only the world’ s most powerful country, but also the world’ s most powerful idea, to continue to lead the struggle for a more peaceful, prosperous and secure future — or be left behind. As President Clinton has put it, “the enemy of our time is inaction.”
The challenge this President has undertaken is to encourage to the extent possible the positive forces of integration — while preventing the forces of disintegration from dominating the future.
His vision is driven by six key strategic objectives: working for an undivided, democratic peaceful Europe for the first time in history… forging a strong, stable Asia Pacific community… embracing our role — prudently but not fearfully — as a decisive force for peace in the world… building the bulwarks against transnational security challenges… creating jobs and growth through a more open and competitive trading system… and maintaining a strong military and fully funded diplomacy to get these jobs done. These ambitious but achievable objectives — not the lift of a driving cliché — provide America’ s road map in the world. Let me describe each briefly.
The first strategic goal is working for an undivided, peaceful, democratic Europe. Twice in this century, war in Europe has drawn Americans into deadly conflict. Now, we have an opportunity to create a durable European peace by replacing the divisions that have plagued the continent in the past with ties of partnership to shape a common future.
With our allies, we are helping Europe’ s new democracies grow strong; encouraging their integration with the West; forging a productive partnership with a democratic Russia; and, critically, adapting NATO to take on new challenges.
America has taken the lead in opening NATO’ s doors to new members — rather than either abandoning the anchor of our engagement in Europe or freezing the alliance within the amber of the Cold War. NATO can do for Europe’ s East what it did for Europe’ s West: strengthen the forces of peace and stability.
The process of NATO enlargement will take a leap forward in Madrid this July, when NATO invites the first potential members to start accession talks. There are three key challenges ahead. The first is deciding which countries to admit. Naturally, we’ ll start with those best prepared to shoulder the burdens of membership — but the door will not close behind them. So our second challenge is bolstering the security and confidence of countries not in the first wave — which we will do by expanding the role of the Partnership for Peace and giving every partner a voice in coordinating joint activities.
The third challenge is the most hotly debated: How do we heal the scars of Europe’ s past without creating new wounds? Some fear that the process of NATO enlargement will shut Russia out from a rightful place in Europe — and undercut Russia’ s nascent democracy. Others worry that Russia’ s cooperation will come at the expense of Central and Eastern Europe and the Alliance’ s ability to shape its own destiny. Navigating this Scylla and Charybdis of NATO enlargement is the most crucial test of our commitment to forge stability across the Atlantic.
Last week in Helsinki, President Clinton and President Yeltsin took an important step forward. They agreed to disagree about enlargement — Russia objects, but it will proceed. But they also agreed that the vital relationship between the United States and Russia and the benefits to all of cooperation between NATO and Russia are too important to be jeopardized.
NATO and Russia will move forward as quickly as possible to try to complete negotiations on a charter for NATO-Russia cooperation. Russia will have a voice, not a veto. At the same time, the two Presidents made important advances in arms control and economic cooperation. Helsinki was a turning point: it demonstrated that the goals we share — building a secure future for Europe, reducing even more the nuclear danger, increasing ties of trade and investment — outweigh our differences.
Our second strategic objective is building a strong, stable, integrated Asia-Pacific community. Little more than a decade ago, the conventional wisdom saw Asia, North America and Europe emerging as three rival blocs competing head-to-head. President Clinton had a different vision, based on America’ s enduring place as a Pacific power. Soon after he became President, he convened the first-ever Asia Pacific summit meeting, where leaders from China to Indonesia to Australia agreed to a common goal: to define our futures not just in Asian or American terms, but increasingly in Asian-Pacific terms.
It’ s an evolutionary process. More open trade. Continuing American security engagement in the region. An appreciation that, in an environment where regional rivalries are still dangerous, we provide a balance wheel for stability that helps all of us grow.
To succeed, we must meet three immediate challenges. First, we must deepen our partnership with Japan — the cornerstone of America’ s engagement in Asia — by strengthening even more our security alliance, enhancing our diplomatic cooperation and continuing market opening initiatives that have helped create a 41% surge in our exports since 1993.
Second, we must continue to work closely with our ally South Korea to reduce tensions on the Cold War’ s last frontier. Vigilance against the vagaries of a North Korea in distress. Pursuing a more stable peace on the Peninsula through the four-party peace talks. Ensuring the dismantlement of North Korea’ s now frozen nuclear program.
Third, we must deepen our strategic dialogue with China. A China that evolves as a power that is stable, more open politically and economically and non-aggressive militarily — in short, moving toward, not away, from a secure international order — is profoundly in our interest. Ultimately, China will define its own destiny. But one way or the other, we will help shape its choices.
Our strategy of engagement with China is not a reward for good behavior. It is a vehicle for expanding areas where we can cooperate to advance our strategic interests — such as on the comprehensive test ban and stability on the Korean Peninsula — and where we can deal directly with our fundamental differences — such as human rights, market access and some of China’ s weapons sales.
There is no guaranty that engagement will succeed in pulling China in the direction of the international community, away from a more nationalistic, self-absorbed course. But seeking to isolate China… or to isolate us from China… almost certainly will push China in the wrong direction and undercut the stability that America, China and the entire Asia Pacific region need for the future to be secure and prosperous.
Our third strategic goal is to neither shrink from — nor become enthralled by — the inescapable reality that America can often be the decisive force for peace in the world. America’ s greatness flows not only from our size and strength, but also from the wealth of our diversity and the power of our ideals. We have a unique ability to stand with others around the world who seek to bridge their divides — and build a stronger foundation for peace, security and cooperation.
When, where and how to make a stand for peace has no “one size fits all” answer, as Secretary Albright has said. While we have been freed from the compulsions of containment, we have inherited a more demanding task, particularly in a world where conflict instantly is thrust upon a global stage. We must balance interest and risk, achievability and cost, clarity of mission and support from others in what ultimately is an exercise in prudent judgment. We can’ t be everywhere and we shouldn’ t do everything. But we must be prepared to engage when important interests and values are at stake and we can make a difference.
Often, our engagement is diplomatic — remaining an unrelenting force for peace from the Middle East to Northern Ireland to Central Africa.
Sometimes, with caution and care, our diplomacy must be backed with force. In Bosnia, our use of air power through NATO, combined with determined diplomacy, stopped a war that threatened Europe’ s stability. Now, our continuing presence through SFOR is giving Bosnia’ s fragile peace a chance to take hold. In Haiti, where a brutal dictatorship forced tens of thousands to flee for our shores, we caused the dictators to step down peacefully and gave democracy a new lease of life.
There are other places where our engagement is more important than ever. Let me cite just three. South Asia remains not only a flashpoint for conflict but an enormous opportunity for cooperation. The great resource potential and strategic location of the Caucasus and Central Asia gives us a strong stake in working with others to strengthen their stability and build up our ties to the region. And it is profoundly in our interest to help Turkey, at a strategic and cultural crossroads, remain anchored in the West, committed to democracy and working to resolve its differences peacefully with our Greek ally.
Our fourth strategic goal is to deal with the new transnational security threats I mentioned earlier — terrorists, international criminals, drug traffickers — and stand against the enduring danger of rogue regimes.
There are times when we must and we will act alone. To get others to follow, sometimes we must lead by example. And there is behavior so egregious that we must act even where others won’ t. But our fight against these forces that often cut across nations compels us to seek the advantages of collective action. Whether it is the threat of terrorism or the scourge of drugs, we must intensify our efforts to achieve a broader sense of urgency about the dangers and a willingness to launch collective defense to thwart them.
That is why we are working to build international coalitions to take on these new challenges — arms control agreements that ban chemical weapons, greater international law enforcement cooperation against drug traffickers and criminal cartels, intelligence sharing to root out corruption, and a more concerted strategy against terror. Some see cooperation as at best an elusive goal, at worst a sign of weakness. Against threats that have contempt for borders, it is a source of strength.
America’ s fifth strategic goal is to build a new, open trading system for the 21st century. Our nation’ s economic well-being is tied to the rest of the world. Eleven million Americans depend on exports for their jobs. We should not fear the challenge of the global economy. Our workers and businesses can compete just fine so long as the contest is open, the field competitive and the rules fair and enforced.
Historians will look back at this period and see the most far-reaching changes in the global trading system since the days of Harry Truman. We completed the most sweeping round of the GATT; forged a comprehensive trade agreement with our two neighbors; tore down barriers in high-tech sectors where America leads the world; and launched a process for more open and competitive trade in our hemisphere and the Asia Pacific.
These efforts have paid off for our people. The global economy is not a zero sum game — we are creating good jobs at home by nurturing new markets abroad. The President is determined to pursue this course, navigating the false choice between protectionism and unbridled free trade.
Protectionism simply isn’ t an option in today’ s global economic arena. If we walk away, the process of integration won’ t stop; it simply will continue without us. Others in Europe and Asia will benefit. Turning inward would mean turning our back on 95 percent of the world’ s consumers and forfeiting our stake in the markets of the future.
But while protectionism is not an option, neither is ungoverned free trade. Competition causes dislocation — especially among those without adequate training and skills to compete in the global economy. We cannot walk away from them — we have an obligation to enforce the agreements we make and to make change work for all with education and training… so that the benefits of progress are not enjoyed by some while its burdens are carried by others.
To sustain our strong momentum, we need the authority to conclude smart, new market-opening trade agreements. In Latin America alone, our exports in 1995 were greater than our sales to Japan and Germany combined. We need to complete the job we have begun — to open markets in this hemisphere and globally, to share in that growth, not turn our backs on it.
Finally, we cannot harness the forces of integration without the strength and resources to get the job done — and without sharing the burdens with other like-minded nations.
We have the finest military in the world. It is the steel that makes American leadership credible and, if necessary, our freedom secure. This President is determined to maintain our ability to dominate any battlefield of the future. That is an indispensable investment in our peace and security.
It also means fulfilling our commitment to fully fund America’ s diplomacy. Our foreign affairs budget for the current fiscal year is 50% lower, in real terms, than it was a decade ago. This is simply foolish. We must make the investments to advance America’ s interests for the next 50 years as in the last.
President Clinton’ s budget request reverses the dangerous downward spiral in international affairs funding. Our request — about one cent out of every federal dollar — brings benefits to every taxpayer: strengthening our ability to promote peace, fight drugs, track down terrorists, combat nuclear proliferation, boost exports, and meet our obligations to the community of nations.
We must also resist the false choice between going it alone or not at all. It’ s simply common sense to spread the costs and risks of leadership by working with others, like the World Bank and the UN. Now is the time to push for progress — promoting tough reform, paying our bills, and putting the UN and the multilateral development banks back on sound financial footing
* * *Ladies and gentlemen, a child born today will grow up not just in a new century but in a new world — one in which people can be united more by their hopes than their fears. America’ s new foreign policy agenda — ambitious but within our reach — reflects the promise of this time… a sober awareness of its perils… and the conviction that America must lead if we are to shape change to our benefit. This is a pivotal moment — let us make the most of it, confident that our cause is right, our course is sound and the future is ours to seize.