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Remarks on the Occasion of George Kennan’s Centenary Birthday by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Remarks on the Occasion of George Kennan’s Centenary Birthday by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Remarks on the Occasion of George Kennan’s Centenary Birthday
Secretary Colin L. Powell
Princeton, New Jersey
February 20, 2004
(10:08 a.m. EST)
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Dr. Tilghman, for that very, very warm, generous and gracious introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a great pleasure to be with you here in Richardson Auditorium in the famous Alexander Hall to kick off this conference. And a special word of thanks for being here to Mrs. Kennan and the members of the Kennan family who are present.
It's so great to see so many students, all of you up in the cheap seats who got out of class. (Laughter.)
With the line-up of scholars you and your colleagues have put together, I am sure that this program will meet the very high standards that Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Studies have always insisted upon.
Speaking of high standards, before I go further, I'd like to deeply express in the most heartfelt way my thanks to the Princeton ROTC Color Guard for presenting the colors in such a splendid fashion. As I was coming in, I saw them, and I told them I would be watching -- (laughter) -- so that nobody is out of step, nobody blinks, and it's done to the highest standards. And it was done to the highest standards, and I congratulate them.
I can never fail to see an ROTC unit without remembering my own time in ROTC. It was 50 years ago this year that I joined ROTC, and for me it became my passport to life. And to each and every one of you, I thank you for your willingness to serve your nation in this way, and perhaps one day one of you will be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Applause.)
I am so honored to have been asked to share in this celebration of George Kennan’s centenary birthday. My admiration for Ambassador Kennan more than professional; it's quite personal as well.
When I began my tenure as Secretary of State a little over three years ago, I received a letter from Ambassador Kennan, a long and wonderful and loving letter, where he offered me some unexpected, unsolicited, but nevertheless excellent advice. He told me about the job I was entering. He told me about the demands of the job. He gave me some suggestions how to spend my time between traveling around the world, how to use ambassadors that we have out around the world, how to make sure I spent enough time in Washington advising the President, which is my principal responsibility, of course. But it was a wonderful letter.
And, of course, I took all the advice to heart, and I wrote Ambassador Kennan back and I thanked him. And I said, "I hope you will send me letters of advice on a regular basis." And a couple of weeks later, I got a letter back from Ambassador Kennan that said, "I’m 97 years old. I do not intend to write you letters on a regular basis." (Laughter.)
And a few months later, I got another letter from Ambassador Kennan. (Laughter.) What a remarkable man. And even in this age of astounding medical advances, it’s still really something for anyone to reach 100 years of age, which the Ambassador did just 4 days ago.
Now, as the students in this audience will certainly note, I am no kid. (Laughter.) I will hit 67 years of age in a few weeks time. I'm old enough not to be your father, but your grandfather for most of the students here. I was born so long ago that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President -- for those young people who have heard of his name. (Laughter.) But that's nothing compared to Ambassador Kennan, who was born when Theodore Roosevelt was President of the United States. (Laughter.)
That’s nearly half-an-American-history ago!
Some are tempted to ask centenarians all the time how they’ve managed the three-digit feat. What’s the secret? Is it diet? Is it exercise? Is it just being stubborn? What is it?
It’s hard to say, but in Ambassador Kennan’s case I wonder if it just has anything to do with writing letters to people. (Laughter.)
However George Kennan has made it to 100 years, we are all so glad today that he did, for he is truly an extraordinary man.
Some men achieve fame as witnesses to great events. Some men are renowned because they have participated in seminal events. And some men are venerated for their talent to interpret such events. But George Kennan has been all three: witness to history, shaper of history, and interpreter of history.
Above all, Ambassador Kennan has grasped the link between diplomacy and human nature. And that’s why his memoirs have been treasured for so many decades by generations of foreign service officers.
It’s not just because they teach diplomatic technique, or raise respect for both history and happenstance. It’s because his memoirs show us how to get under the human skin of international politics, allowing us to see deeper into its very essence.
Because George Kennan could see more deeply, he could foresee more accurately.
When the Soviet Union came to an end in 1991, it did so exactly as Ambassador Kennan predicted it would, a prediction he made some 45 years earlier.
I saw it with my own eyes as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And it was a remarkable period of time for me to watch the union come to an end, and I was always contrasting it as to the situation that existed when I first entered public service as a young second lieutenant of infantry. We didn't spend too much time -- in fact, I don't recall spending any time at CCNY -- on the works of George Kennan. I was just an infantry officer sent off to Fort Benning, taught to be a good infantry lieutenant, taught something about containment. And then they shipped me off to Germany, and in Germany they took me to my battle position, which was at the Fulda Gap along the Iron Curtain separating the East from the West. And my captain put me in the field and he said, "Between that tree and that tree is what you are supposed to do in the strategy of containment." (Laughter.)
"Well, what's my mission?"
"When the Russian army comes, stop it." (Laughter.)
Well, I can handle that. (Laughter.)
And for so much of those early years of my career as an infantry officer, whether it was at the Fulda Gap, prepared to stop the Russian army, or whether it was in Vietnam, prepared to stop Communist aggression, or whether it was at the DMZ in Korea, deterring Communist aggression, I knew what my role was. And I knew that there was a certainty in our international strategy, a certainty that was defined by George Kennan, as you describe the strategy of containment.
But then as I got more senior in the military and had other kinds of assignments, and suddenly in 1987 I found myself as National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan, and things were happening of a nature that we had never seen before. A new Russian President by the name of Gorbachev was saying things that were astonishing to us: openness, glasnost, perestroika, restructuring, changing the nature of the system because it wasn't working.
And in 1987 and 1988 as National Security Advisor, I spent time with my Russian colleagues. I went with President Reagan to five summit meetings. I saw all of this ferment taking place, and I fully understood what Kennan knew all those years earlier.
Some of the Russian officials who were in office at that time are here at your conference. Sasha Bessmertnykh especially, who was Deputy Foreign Minister during my time, and then subsequently became Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union in those final days.
Who could have imagined it would have happened exactly as predicted? I'll never forget the moment in the Kremlin when we were having another one of these many meetings with the Russian side, and I was with the famous Princetonian graduate George Shultz, Secretary of State. We sat across the table from President Gorbachev and Sasha Bessmertnykh and others, and we were arguing about what all this meant, where it was going.
And Gorbachev, getting a little bit frustrated trying to explain it to us, and finally he looked across the table at me, and in a way that he knew a soldier would understand, he simply said, with a smile on his face, "General, I'm very, very sorry. You will have to find a new enemy." (Laughter.)
This was very disturbing news at the time. (Laughter.)
He was absolutely right. And a few years later, when I had left the White House, gone back to the Army, become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I watched it all happen. And I was happy to see it all happen. I was happy to see the Iron Curtain fall. Happy to see Germany unified. Happy to see that a new world was appearing before us.
When that happened, people said that perhaps Ambassador Kennan was just the beneficiary of a lucky guess.
His prediction was no lucky guess, but a manifestation of genuine wisdom.
Anyone immersed in the world of international politics, as a Secretary of State is bound to be, knows that it’s a world that offers up fractured story lines and fleeting images and swirls of words.
Few people can wrestle down these story lines, images, and words into anything coherent -- except maybe, if they’re lucky, long after the fact. But George Kennan was different. George Kennan always had a remarkable gift for seeing the very weave of history as it was being made before him.
That’s what all of us are trying to do now: see the weave of history.
It’s not easy to do.
Yes, we’re well beyond the world of the Cold War; we’ve known that for more than a dozen years. When a senior official travels to Russia these days, it is as a friend and as a partner, as I did a few weeks ago -- having frank, open discussions with President Putin and with Foreign Minister Ivanov and Defense Minister Ivanov, discussions with my colleagues as a friend, so that we could talk about areas in which we have agreement and areas in which we don't have agreement, where things rub a little bit. But it's all in the spirit of moving the relationship forward.
Although the world, therefore, of the Cold War is gone, it hasn’t been easy to rename the world we are in. A competition arose to do so, to find a memorable phrase that would organize our thinking and capture the day.
Some argued for the “age of globalization”, some for a “clash of civilizations,” others for the “age of American unipolarity,” still others for the “era of democracy and free markets.” There was merit in each of these catchphrases, each and every one of these proposals.
The “globalization” label recognized important economic changes in the world, driven by new technologies and by the disappearance of those old political boundaries that kept us separated, those boundaries that were constraints to free trade, constraints to cooperation and the exchange of commerce. Now you can see a Starbucks in Beijing, the same Starbucks in Berlin, the same Starbucks in Moscow. The only thing different is the language on the menu and the currency used to buy a $4 cup of coffee. (Laughter.) Those old barriers that kept us separate are gone.
And the “clash of civilizations” theses recognized that the world isn’t culturally homogenized, and that cultural differences still matter.
The “American pre-eminence” label recognizes a basic reality of power politics: the vast economic, military and political strength of the United States of America, and especially the United States of America working in concert with our friends and allies.
And the “democracy and free markets” label recognized that, in the realm of political ideas, there’s now no organized, coherent alternative to the liberal triad of democracy, the rule of law and market economics. Not because it is our triad, but because it is a triad that works. People look at that triad and they see it works, and that's why more and more nations are moving in that direction.
But, you know, economics, culture, power politics and the realm of ideas are always part of what defines any era. So no one label could claim victory for this era.
And then, all of a sudden, 9/11 -- 9/11 -- splashing on our television screens one morning, and, in the popular imagination at least, the competition was over: We were now in an age of terrorism.
Or were we? Are we?
Terrorism is a reality. It is the pre-eminent danger of our age, and that’s why defeating terrorism is our number one priority.
Still, the changes in the global economic system are real, and they haven’t disappeared since 9/11.
Cultural differences remain, but those differences have positive as well as negative implications.
American power hasn’t withered since 9/11, and the attraction of democracy and free markets hasn’t diminished either.
If anything, that attraction is growing stronger day by day.
But the events of 9/11 superimposed a disturbing vulnerability on top of other, mostly encouraging post-Cold War trends.
9/11 has not reversed or displaced the basic direction of change that began after the end of the Cold War.
9/11 has, instead, accelerated our efforts to understand better, and manage more effectively, the many changes intertwining before our eyes.
So we don’t have a simple, one-word name for the world’s present political condition. We just don’t. I don’t know if it’s possible to come up with such a name, or that if we had one it would do us more good than harm.
What I do know is that we must, as George Kennan would tell us to, search for the weave of history, try to connect the dots, as best we can -- as he did so well.
When we do that, one aspect of the challenges before us keeps repeating itself, in various forms and in various places.
And that’s the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the possibility that proliferation might link up with terrorism.
We must not let that happen.
The tragedy of September 11, 2001 was terrible enough. But the war on terrorism isn’t just about al-Qaida, or just preventing another disaster on the scale of 9/11.
The war on terrorism is even more about preventing the fusion of weapons of mass destruction with terrorist groups trying to acquire them. It’s about preventing a catastrophe on a scale much larger than what happened on 9/11.
The President said it very well in a speech that he gave last week at the National Defense University. The President said:
“In the hands of terrorists, weapons of mass destruction would be a first resort – the preferred means to further their ideology of suicide and random murder. . . . Armed with a single. . . nuclear weapon,” the President reminded us, “small groups of fanatics, or failing states, could gain the power to threaten great nations, threaten the world’s peace.”
No serious person denies that we’ve got a problem of massive proportions. We would be irresponsible to think otherwise after what’s already happened to us, with just “box cutters, mace and 19 airline tickets,” as the President put it.
After 9/11, the President saw the true scope of the problem and he responded with boldness and determination.
He has led not just the United States, but the entire civilized world, to understand the dangers before us, and to act, act now, to confront those dangers.
He warned us from the outset that the war on global terrorism would be a different kind of war, one that wouldn’t be won quickly or easily, or without sacrifices and setbacks.
We haven’t won the war on terrorism yet, but we’ve made steady and considerable progress in both the military and especially in the critical, non-military aspects of the war. I see it every day as we cooperate with our friends around the world, in the sharing of intelligence about terrorist activity, in sharing of law enforcement information, in going after terrorist finances, and in slowly but surely rolling up these terrorist cells.
But there's still a lot more to do. And at the same time that we are doing that, going after terrorists, we are ratcheting up our ability to defeat proliferators, those who would put weapons of mass destruction or make it possible for terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction or put them in their hands. And last week, at his speech at the National Defense University, the President announced several new initiatives to make sure that that proliferation job gets done.
We’re working with others to tighten our grip on the nuclear fuel cycle so that fissile material can’t be diverted to military programs. But at the same time we’ll offer more reliable access to nuclear fuel for those nations who wish to take advantage of nuclear power for completely peaceful purposes.
We’re also seeking a new UN Security Council resolution to strengthen the international legal regime concerning proliferation.
We want to help the International Atomic Energy Agency do its job more effectively, especially in the area of verification, knowing what nations are doing with their nuclear programs.
We’re expanding efforts, like the very successful Nunn-Lugar program, to help countries secure and get rid of dangerous materials so they won’t be spread around the world or be a source of temptation to terrorists trying to get their hands on this kind of material.
We’re expanding the participation and scope of the Proliferation Security Initiative, which brings more than a dozen nations together to prevent the illicit transit of fissile material or other dangerous material that could be diverted and put into the hands of terrorists.
I am totally confident that, in cooperation with our many partners, these new tools, and others long put to good use, will get the job done.
One reason to expect success is that, when you look at the world, we haven’t really done that badly with respect to going after proliferators or persuading countries not to move in this direction. If you look at the record of the past 15 or 20 years, you’ll see that more nations have given up nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons programs than have broken through the proliferation threshold: South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and, most recently, and most excitingly, Libya has decided to abandon this kind of effort.
And there are good reasons for nations moving in this direction, a good reason for this record.
Building nuclear weapons is not easy, and the Non-Proliferation Treaty and other international agreements have made it harder still -- by restricting access to dangerous technologies and by stigmatizing those who would proliferate.
But most important, U.S. policies over many administrations have reassured friends and allies that they don’t need to pursue their own nuclear weapons, especially if they're in alliance with the United States and we can make sure that they will be protected against the threats that might be out there. We have been able to persuade others that the potential costs of acquiring such weapons would be outweighed by just the trouble they get themselves into. There are no benefits to these weapons compared to the cost that is paid to acquire them.
That’s why the leaderships of most countries have come to see that weapons of mass destruction won't make them safer, won't contribute to their building a vibrant economy, and won't exactly help either their international image either, or their relationship with the United States of America.
And after all, nearly every government, every nation, wants good relations with the United States. But not all. I wish it were all. But not all.
For decades, Saddam Hussein played a strange but elaborate cat-and-mouse game over his WMD programs, and he played it with the entire world. He and his gang tried to blackmail others. They lied. They kept waving the specter or nuclear, biological and chemical weapons into the face of the civilized world.
Saddam also hosted and supported several terrorist groups over many years.
And in so doing, so he created a laboratory where weapons of mass destruction and terrorism could mix.
In that sense, Iraq was an even more dangerous place than Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, and it would have been irresponsible for us not to have taken that danger seriously.
There’s much discussion lately about how dangerous Iraq really was before the war. Much of that discussion concerns the lack of evidence, so far, of large WMD stocks in Iraq.
We thought they were there. Our intelligence community spent a great deal of time studying it over a long period of years, and we thought the stocks were there. Our predecessors in government and other governments around the world thought they were there. Dr. David Kay, who was our chief investigator in this matter, also thought they were there before he began his analytic work last year.
It was the considered judgment of the entire intelligence community, not just of the United States, but most responsible intelligence agencies around the world.
Dr. Kay now thinks there may be no significant stockpiles. We will get to the bottom of this. Mr. Duelfer now leads our group. There are many more documents to be examined, sites to be explored, individuals to be interviewed. But as we do this, as we go about answering this question once and for all, we have to keep in mind that, in the larger scheme of things, the question of stockpiles isn’t the only or even the main question that we should focus on.
Iraq and Saddam Hussein clearly had the human and technical capabilities to develop weapons of mass destruction. They had the programs in place. They never lost the intention to have such weapons.
I've been to northern Iraq. I have visited a city called Halabja. It was in 1988, on a Friday morning, that 5,000 people were murdered in their homes by a chemical weapon, by gas that was delivered by Saddam Hussein, delivered on his own people, and five thousand people died.
I've been to their memorial. I've seen their graves. At that time he had the intention, he had the programs, he had the delivery means and he had the stockpile. Intention, programs, capability, stockpile.
You can have intention, you can have programs, you can have capability to deliver. He may not have the stockpile at the moment. But there was no doubt in my mind, in the President's mind, or any of us who have thought about this and examined this, that there was no intention on his part not to have the intention for such weapons and programs.
He kept it intact. He hid it from the UN. He had 12 years to 'fess up. He had resolution after resolution to answer. And I have no doubt in my mind that if the international community had not acted at this time, if sanctions had been withdrawn, the international community went about its business and let Saddam Hussein ignore the will of the international community, it was just a matter of time before that intention, capability, delivery system, and all the other wherewithal he had, would have produced the stockpile that would have threatened his own people again, threatened the region and threatened the world.
The President understood that. Prime Minister Blair understood that. Prime Minister Aznar understood that. Prime Minister Howard understood that. Prime Minister Berlusconi understood that. President Kwasniewski of Poland understood that. So many other nations understood that.
We weighed all the consequences. The President acted. The other leaders acted, decisively and appropriately.
Whatever you heard about Dr. Kay’s work about the stockpile, this is also what Dr. Kay has said. He found in Iraq a regime that, in his words, “was in clear violation of UN Resolution 1441,” that “maintained WMD programs and activities,” and that “clearly had the intention to resume their programs.”
And Dr. Kay connected some dots out of all of this, dots he connected on his own: “we know that terrorists were passing through Iraq. And we know now that there was little control over Iraq’s weapons capabilities. I think it shows," he said, "Iraq was a dangerous place…I actually think this may be one of those cases where it was even more dangerous than we thought.”
His conclusion: “I personally believe the war was justified.”
It was justified. It was fought skillfully and effectively by American and allied forces, and we all owe those brave men and women our gratitude. They have allowed us now to move ahead, to work toward bringing stability, peace, prosperity and a new dignity to the Iraqi people, and to the people of the entire region.
And that’s what we are doing. By any measure it's going to be difficult. It's going to be complicated. Creating a democracy in a place and out of material where there's no experience with democracy won't be easy. But Ambassador Bremer, working with the Iraqi Governing Coalition, working with the United Nations and working with our coalition partners, will succeed.
Not only have coalition forces rid the world of a regime that was simultaneously building palaces for its pampered and digging mass graves for its innocents, the object lesson of the war has led to some important successes in the non-proliferation area.
So don't let anybody be confused by the debates that are going on. America did the right thing.
We now know a lot more about proliferation activity. We can see now that the Iraq war and its aftermath was a contributing factor in the decision of the Libyan leadership to forsake the path of WMD proliferation.
I can just see Colonel Qadhafi deciding what to do as he saw the war start to approach and as he considered his own situation. He had invested huge amounts of money in weapons of mass destruction. And what was it getting for his people? Were they living a better life? Was investment coming into his country? Was he trading with other countries? No.
What was he getting from this investment? And now that he saw that the world would not be scared of his weapons of mass destruction, we would deal with them if we had to, but let's not deal with them in anything but a peaceful way, and he made that choice. And now we are working in a spirit of cooperation and openness with President Colonel Qadhafi.
The Iranian Government, too, has finally admitted to some of its WMD activities. After 18 years of trying to deceive the International Atomic Energy Agency and the world, Iran is slowly -- still too slowly -- coming forward with answers needed by the IAEA and by the rest of the international community to make sure that they are not violating their obligations.
It needs to pledge an end not just to suspension, to all of its WMD programs, and it must follow those promises with action.
We hope other governments, too, like Syria, will realize that chemical weapons and other WMD programs won’t make their countries safer, their people more prosperous, or their own hold on power more secure.
To the contrary. It goes in the other direction.
India and Pakistan, for example. Eighteen months ago, one of the great concerns I had as Secretary of State was that a war might break out between these two countries, a war that could possibly go nuclear, since both have nuclear capability.
But over the last 18 months, we have seen all sides sobered by that possibility of war, and instead they are moving in the other direction.
President Musharraf of Pakistan has done the right thing now to get firmer control over Pakistan's technological assets. The international web of proliferation that Dr. A.Q. Khan used to traffic with Libya, with Iran, with North Korea is being shut down even as I speak.
And the Pakistani and Indian leaderships both have now decided let's talk to each other, let's move forward. We hope they have now turned the corner and are moving down a road toward lasting peace on the subcontinent.
The United States, acting in partnership with others, has played a quiet but important role in this reconciliation between India and Pakistan.
The political negotiations will begin well -- will begin soon, and we hope they go well.
Political dialogue and genuine conciliation mark the way forward in this new era.
Further weapons proliferation, recrimination and threats is the sure way to calamity.
We are trying to get this point across in the six-party talks on Korea that we have begun with Japan, Russia, China, and both North and South Korea. The next round will convene on Wednesday. In these talks we and our partners will communicate the basic truth about proliferation to the government in Pyongyang.
Nuclear weapons won’t make North Korea more secure.
Nuclear weapons won’t make North Korea more prosperous.
To the contrary.
We need to find a diplomatic solution that will result in the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantling of North Korea’s dangerous nuclear weapons programs. We’re certainly trying our best, and I hope we will succeed.
We have told the North Koreans we have no intention of attacking them. We want to work with their neighbors to demonstrate that neither the United States or their neighbors have any hostile intent. This is the time for North Korea to change its policies and strategy, and work with those interested in working with it to bring a better life to its people.
We must continue to demonstrate around the world that WMD proliferation doesn’t pay.
And to do so, we will continue to use a tough-minded diplomacy that blends power and persuasion in proper measure, tailored to the case at hand.
But our aim is the same in all cases, and we will not miss our mark.
We will not tolerate WMD proliferation.
We will not acquiesce to it.
And we certainly will not reward it.
We will not put our people at risk as a result of this kind of activity.
It is a matter of sad necessity that both proliferation and terrorism hold a share of the definition of our age. But we must not let these dangers dominate that definition, and here our best tutor, our inspiration, is, once again, George Kennan.
The young George Kennan witnessed the birth of a monster at close range, first from his posting in Riga, and then from his posting in Prague.
He saw the will to power take its 20th Ccentury form in first Communist, then Fascist, Totalitarianism.
He foresaw the great darkness totalitarian regimes would spread.
And he saw just as clearly, too, that many well-intentioned people in the West did not understand the real character of that enemy.
Having undergone such an experience, a young person could have been forgiven for entertaining a certain pessimism about the future.
But George Kennan was no pessimist.
If anyone has ever accused Ambassador Kennan of being excessively sentimental in public, it’s certainly escaped my attention.
He’s been a practical and an analytically-minded man for all his professional life.
At the same time, as a re-reading of the justly famous long telegram will show, he has never forgotten that ideas have power, nor has he ever doubted that noble ideals guide us to victory in the end.
Now, this truth isn’t something we have to shout from the rooftops at every opportunity, and George Kennan hasn’t gone in much for public shouting or fist-pounding.
But it’s a truth that must abide in our hearts.
It has abided in Ambassador Kennan’s heart.
That’s why he had confidence that the Allies would defeat Fascism in World War II.
And that’s why he could, and did, predict victory over Soviet Communism in the Cold War that followed.
Few people ever find the right balance between the need to adopt a coldly objective attitude toward the world’s danger, and the equally important need to allow oneself to embrace and to be guided by ideals.
George Kennan found that balance, and so must we.
We must acknowledge the power of ideas, and champion the nobility of democratic ideals, in our own times.
We struggle today with a different kind of adversary than those of the 20th century, but one no less contemptuous of liberty and freedom. As we triumphed before, so will we again – if our ideas are serious ones, and if we are serious about our ideals.
We’re not going to win the war on terrorism on the battlefield alone – though it’s sometimes necessary to take the field of battle.
Alliance relations, good alliance relations, trade policy, energy policy, intelligence cooperation, public diplomacy, nation-building -- all of these are part of our formula for victory.
Most important, however, as President Bush frequently points out, are ideas and ideals.
So even in a difficult time I am optimistic, as George Kennan was optimistic, because the ideals that guide our political life remain our greatest strength.
We stand for liberty and the rights of man; for intellectual, religious and economic freedom; for limited government and the rule of law; for tolerance, equality of opportunity and human rights for every man, woman and child on this earth.
These ideals aren’t ours alone. They are born of the experience of all mankind, and so they are the endowment of all mankind.
These ideals are cherished on each and every continent, and that’s why the United States of America has allies, allies of the heart, on each and every continent.
These ideals are a blueprint for the brotherhood of man, and this, ultimately, is why we will prevail against terrorism.
To prevail we must also take advantage of the many opportunities before us to build a better world.
And we have high confidence of success in that endeavor because we live in an age where all major powers are coming to understand the sense of cooperating to solve common problems, and the senselessness of the zero-sum thinking of the past.
So together we must fight disease, and we are. Not least through the President’s Emergency Plan to Defeat HIV/AIDS, which really is the greatest weapon of mass destruction currently plaguing our world.
Three weeks ago Congress approved $15 billion for the President's five-year plan, and after I leave you this morning I will be joining the President in the Oval Office to go over the final details of that plan, which we will be announcing publicly on Monday.
Together all nations, civilized nations working together, have to do so in order to lift millions of people out of poverty, and we are doing our share through our many aid programs, and now through a new program launched by the President, called the Millennium Challenge Account, that Congress established last month.
Once the MCA, as we call it, gets fully up and running, we’ll be devoting 5 billion new dollars every single year to help countries that are moving down the path of democracy and economic reform and respect for human rights and the rule of law. It will be the largest boost in funding for development since George Marshall announced the Marshall Plan so many years ago.
We must also work to end regional conflicts, because as long as these regional conflicts take place, it's hard to do anything about development, it's hard to fight disease.
In Africa we’ve been trying hard to bring the long and deeply destructive war in the Sudan to an end. And we're close, getting closer by the day.
We’re making progress in West Africa, as well.
Last year -- last week, rather, I co-chaired a donors conference to put Liberia back on its feet after a wrenching civil war.
Dozens of countries came to the conference in New York at the UN, co-chaired by Kofi Annan and others, and we pledged $522 million to support the Liberian people.
We realize, however, that the problems in West Africa are regional in nature, and that money alone won’t solve them.
We are therefore cooperating with our European and African allies to assure the stabilization of Sierra Leone, Cote D'Ivoire and other countries along with Liberia, working in partnership, not unilaterally, working in partnership multilaterally with other nations to achieve a common purpose.
We are crafting a partnership that’s working on an integrated regional effort.
We’ve also seen some significant improvement toward a settlement of the crisis in Cyprus that has been going on for so long. This comes about largely through the good works of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and the will of the leaders in the region to work with him and to work with us.
At the same time, we have in no way given up on the roadmap between Israel and the Palestinians, and the vision that President Bush had for these two peoples to live side by side in peace in their own state. And I'm very pleased that Prime Minister Sharon yesterday, once again, reaffirmed his support for the President's vision and the roadmap.
In the Balkans, Northern Ireland, Haiti -- very much in our minds today -- and elsewhere, too, we are sharing the labors of peace and conciliation with our allies and others.
Diplomacy is difficult work, work that cannot always or easily be forced against the grain of local realities. But we are as patient as we are determined. We never give up, never stop looking for opportunities to push forward, so that we, the free peoples of the 21st century, will define our age, not the terrorists and proliferators who assail us.
To do that we must build a better future even as we deal with the security challenges before us.
That is how we will overcome the security challenges, because it’s not enough to fight against a negative, like terrorism.
We must focus on what inspires us, on what brings the good people of the world together.
We’ve got to fight for the positive -- for liberty, for freedom, for democracy.
That’s what George Kennan has always tried to teach us, and if we learn that lesson, and learn it well, there’s no danger we can’t look squarely in the eye.
We, the free peoples of the 21st century, see the dangers before us.
We see them for what they are, plain and unvarnished.
And we don’t blink.
Instead of blinking we are seizing the definition of our era by transcending these challenges, confident in our ability to prevail in the 21st century, just as Ambassador Kennan was confident in our ability to prevail in the 20th.
We cherish the example he has given, the light he has brought. We are doing our best to carry it forward.
Let me close simply by saying: Ambassador Kennan, George, thank you for all you have taught us. Thank you for all you have done to serve the nation, to serve the cause of peace, and to serve humankind.
Mr. Ambassador, we are forever in your debt.
Happy birthday, sir. We salute you.
MODERATOR: Secretary Powell, thank you for that moving tribute to George Kennan and for giving us your compelling vision for a world that is safe for democracy, that is safe for all the citizens of the world.
I think it is fair to say that there is no public servant today who is more highly regarded by both the American people and people all over the world than you, sir. And your speech today -- (applause.)
All of us who had the privilege of hearing this speech today understand why that is the case.
Secretary Powell has agreed to answer a few questions.
QUESTION: My name is Tafiq Rahim (ph). I'm a senior in the Woodrow Wilson School.
Secretary Powell, thank you for your speech. It has been an honor for us at the University to host you today, and I have tremendous respect for you as a statesman and an individual.
That being said, there are several trends in the Bush Administration that I find truly troubling. In particular, I would like to address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
There is no question that Arab-backed terrorist groups such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad need to halt their horrendous terrorist attacks inside Israel that not only prove subversive to the peace process but are grossly immoral and despicable.
However, while the United States seeks to serve as a beacon of freedom to the world, as you said, criticizing nations such as Syria, Iran and others for the lack of rights for their people, and President Bush is highly prominent on the issue of democracy in the Middle East, is it not a severe double standard that the Palestinians have no rights as a people, remain under brutal occupation and have no control over their water, land or even homes, which can be demolished, and are, without redress?
And how can America maintain this higher moral ground and preach its vision to the world when, under its watch, it tacitly approves the building of new settlements, the maintenance of old ones in the occupied territories, and allows the erection of an illegal wall that undercuts Palestinian villages, creates even new refugees, and serves as another humiliation to the Palestinian people among the myriad of other injustices?
SECRETARY POWELL: The President has been engaged since the very first day of his Administration trying to find a way forward and to move out of this crisis situation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The President was the first President to go before the United States General Assembly two years ago and call publicly for the creation of a Palestinian state called Palestine. In his speech on the 24th of June of 2002, he once again reaffirmed his commitment to a two-state solution, two nations living side by side in peace with each other, Palestine and the Jewish state of Israel.
He did more than that, though. He then laid down a marker that said there is an obligation that each side has to contribute to this process. We have to stop settlement activity. The President has made that clear to the Israeli side. We've got to get rid of the outposts. We have to make life better for the Palestinian people. We've got to have openings that allow them to get to places of work, places of education, hospitals, and so they have a thriving economy.
But we also said to the Palestinian side it is difficult for us to achieve this goal and to put this kind of pressure on the Israeli side as long as terrorism is seen as a legitimate political act on the part of Palestinians. It is not. It can't be. Not in this post-9/11 age.
And so we pressed the Palestinian side to abandon all support of terrorist activities, and also to deal with those organizations and individuals who continue to espouse terrorism as a way of solving the problem.
Last year the President took a large political step, with political risk, when he put enough pressure on the Palestinian side for them to come forward with somebody who could be seen as a peacemaker, the new Prime Minister Abu Mazen. And we went to Aqaba. The President stood there with the new Prime Minister, King Abdullah of Jordan and with Prime Minister Sharon, and everybody committed to the roadmap and the President's vision.
Unfortunately, it didn't work because the Palestinians were unable -- and I put the blame squarely on Mr. Arafat -- Arafat was not willing to provide authority to Abu Mazen to take control of the security organizations and to go after terrorism and speak out against terrorism -- not to start a civil war of the Palestinian communities and the Palestinian Authority, but to start moving against terrorism.
And so Abu Mazen stepped down after a while, and now we have a new Prime Minister, Abu Alaa. We're working with him, we're working with the Israeli side, to get this moving again.
Three American emissaries just returned from the region: Deputy National Security Advisor Steve Hadley, Special Assistant to the President Eliot Abrams, and my Assistant Secretary for Middle East Affairs Bill Burns. And they'll be reporting to me this afternoon and to the President over the weekend on what the prospects are now.
We are anxious to see Prime Minister Sharon meet with Prime Minister Abu Alaa to get this going. And as you heard from Prime Minister Sharon yesterday, he knows we have to move forward, and the roadmap is the way to move forward, and he is starting to take some steps; for example, his proposal to take all of the settlements out of Gaza. We have to learn more about that. How does it affect the West Bank?
But the President has not lost his commitment to finding a solution, has not stepped back from his vision, and has publicly spoken about settlement activity that has to stop, a better life for the Palestinian people, and we want a state for the Palestinian people.
And it is one of the most difficult accounts, if I can call it that, that we have to work on, and I've been immersed in it since my first day as Secretary of State. But it is an area that we need to keep pressing on and keep working on in order to find a solution, because it has such a effect, not only right there but throughout the whole region, throughout the Arab world, throughout the Muslim world.
And so we will continue to work and the President will continue to work toward the goal that he put before the United Nations and the goal and the vision that he had in his 24 June speech, and that is to create a Palestinian state, a sovereign state called Palestine, living side by side in peace with the Jewish state of Israel. That is the only possible solution to this crisis, and we will continue to work for it.
QUESTION: I'm not a student. I'm old enough to be a father of some of the students here.
I'd like to congratulate for the work, the immense work that you've done as far as national security is concerned and I'm extremely excited about what you have achieved in Iraq in the last several months. I am also aware that, obviously, Usama is on the run, but at the same time his network has been dismantled or is being dismantled as we speak.
I am extremely also excited on behalf of my Indian (inaudible) that you have put India on the map of the world where we have been able to achieve a great deal of coherence with the wonderful world that we live in, that we have been able to actually cause it to become more productive and (inaudible) cohesive with our regional neighbors.
Are there any dangers I -- that I may ask you, that -- there are any way unforeseen or unseen so far that we are not aware of, besides the other two that I've already named, and they exist in the world, would you'd like to share with us?
SECRETARY POWELL: Other dangers? Is that the essence of the question?
I think terrorism, as I obviously said, lingers as number one. The interesting thing about the age we are in is that I look at it both as the chief diplomat and as a soldier. I cannot get rid of 35 years of military experience. And it's the first era I've lived in when the likelihood of major regional conflict between large countries with large industrial capability and large populations is not there.
One exception to that might have been a conflict between India and Pakistan, which I think we are now moving in the other direction. The success we've had with both countries is to let them know that we treat them as two separate countries; we don't see things solely as India-Pakistan. India, Pakistan, India-U.S., U.S.-Pakistan. We'll lend our good offices to the work you're doing.
But other than that one, which is sort of, I think, there, have been defused for the moment, you don't see a possibility of a major regional war in Europe or in Asia. In fact, quite the contrary. We are building our relations. The best relationship with China that we've had in 30 years. The relationship with Russia, solid. Our alliances are strong in Europe, even though we fuss with each other quite a bit. Quite a bit. (Laughter.)
But I say, you know, we're family. I don't know about your family, but we have some fusses in my family, and in our alliance family we'll have fusses from time to time. We get over them.
And so my concern is these little regional crises that we have not solved that could affect a small but important group of people because they are our fellow citizens -- the Haitis of the world, the Sierra Leones of the world, the Liberias of the world, the Congos of the world, the Sudans of the world. These are the kinds of conflicts that I see. The Ethiopia and Eritreas of the world.
And these are the ones that I spend so much of my time and the time of my staff, and the President spends so much of his time, trying to see if we can get them under control and solve them.
And then we can turn our attention to the really great threats that are out there -- HIV/AIDS, poverty, starvation, improving the human condition, working on free trade, more free trade agreements with nations around the world, breaking down trade barriers. Why? Just so we can sell stuff? No, so that we can give opportunity to people in these nations to get into the economic game, get into the economic world.
My time in my office is spent on these crises and challenges, but the most exciting part of my day is when leaders come from nations that a dozen or so years ago were enemies, the former nations of the Soviet Empire, or from our own hemisphere where fifteen years ago, when I was National Security Advisor, these nations were being run by generals and coups and that kind of activity. And most of those now have shifted over.
And to sit in my office and to kid with them -- I have fun. I say, “You know, it's great to have you here. I want to talk about things with you. You know, fifteen years ago you were on my target list." (Laughter.) And they go, “Hmm.” (Laughter.)
And I said, "Now you're on my target list again -- for Millennium Challenge Account funding, for more trade, more assistance, for helping you learn why the rule of law is so important."
It is these softer things that don't make headlines. Rule of law, ending corruption, going after disease, clean water, food for people, teaching your people the skills they need in the 21st century. This is the essence of my work and my foreign policy, a commitment to the President and to the American people. This is what will make it a better world. We've got to solve these crises, hope new ones are not generated, and I think more are on their way to solution than are being generated, which is good.
But democracy and ending of a regional conflict doesn't mean anything to people if they got no more food on their table, they're still dying from disease, still don't have access to clean water, healthcare, a better life for their children. If we don't do that, then people will lose faith in all the wonderful things I talked about. Democracy, freedom -- hey, that's great. Do I have more food? Do I have a better life? If the answer is yes, give me some more democracy. If the answer is no, I'll seek an alternative.
And so when I think about it, that's my greatest enemy -- ignorance, a lack of law, poverty, disease, and a failure to believe in democracy. We can preach it. People have to believe it. They'll only believe it if they have a better life from it.
MODERATOR: All right, last question.
QUESTION: First of all, thanks for a wonderful speech.
My question concerns some of the U.S.'s actions regarding the Cold War. We did some things that we are now not necessarily so proud of, propping up and assisting regimes that weren't necessarily the kindest people.
In hindsight, would it have been -- do you consider it worth it, given that we resisted the Soviet Union and ultimately it fell apart, and can you foresee something like this possibly happening with the war on terror, where we support a regime with a dubious human rights record that aggressively pursued terrorism?
SECRETARY POWELL: That's a terrific question. There's no question that during the era of the Cold War, when we really thought our national survival was at stake, and that Communism as a political philosophy was in ascendancy in the minds of some, that we had some strange bedfellows. And I was in government during many of those years, and we worked with certain regimes that, in retrospect, I would just as soon not have had to work with.
But that was history. That was the kind of history that we were facing at that time, and we did what we thought was right.
We have never lost our commitment to human rights or to the rule of law.
I think what's different now is that the threats we face are serious, but not so serious that we have to sort of back off some of our ideals and our values.
At the same time that we are bringing democracy to Iraq, and at the same time we are running into some anti-American feelings in that part of the world, the President also goes forward and talks about the Greater Middle East Initiative that talks about democracy for other nations in that part of the world, not as an imposition by America but as, you know, you really ought to be moving in this direction.
I do not fail in any of my discussions with friends and -- old friends and new friends -- ignore or overlook human rights issues. President Putin and I, and Foreign Minister Ivanov and I, had very direct conversations three weeks ago, sitting in the Kremlin, on access to media and on how to hold elections in the correct manner and how to make sure you don't have selective prosecutions. This isn't always an easy conversation to have. But we have them. Just a day before yesterday, when we had a foreign leader in and we did not pull our punches, with respect to what would he believe that a gentleman had to do and it was a good friend of ours, the Tunisian President.
Tunisia and the United States have been friends for over 200 years. Tunisia is doing some wonderful things. Fifty percent of the students in their colleges are women. They're doing many things with respect to their education system that is terrific and we applaud that. But that did not keep us from saying to President Ben Ali, both me to him and the President to him, that we have concerns about free media, about a more open political system.
So we no longer have to pull back or shade our values in any way because we're worried about thermonuclear war between blocs. And we will not. Next week, I'll be putting out the new Annual Human Rights Report. We have been in the forefront of fighting trafficking in persons: slavery and child sex abuse and child soldiers. We have an office that does nothing but that. I have a Human Rights office, I have a Religious Freedom office, I have a Trafficking in Persons office. We spend a lot of time ensuring that the new Afghan Government and the new Iraq Government will have women in principal positions, that we're educating women.
So one of the beauties of this new era is that the United States will not be -- will not be throwing curveballs in this issue. They'll be straight across the plate, shoulder high. And we will stick up for the values that we believe in.