U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER FAREWELL ADDRESS
January 15, 1997
CHRISTOPHER: Good morning or good afternoon. Hello to all you way up there, as well as down here in front of me. It's great to be here again. I want to thank Joe Nye for that very generous introduction.
It was a real privilege for me to serve in government with such a able and distinguished scholar as Joe Nye, who left us with a legacy of very important contributions.
His contributions -- along with those of many, many other members of the Kennedy School faculty -- are really shining examples of this school's commitment to public service, and I congratulate all of you who are involved in that extremely important endeavor.
As Joe said, this is the third straight year I've had an opportunity to speak with you, and I want to thank you for welcoming me so warmly again. You know a few years ago, I promised myself I would keep coming up to Boston every January until the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl.
Well now that I've kept my promise, I'm able to go home and I'm ready to do so. But before I do that, I want to reflect on the record of these last four years and to focus on the investments we must make to sustain American leadership and American engagement in the world.
When our administration took office in 1993, we faced an array of challenges that required urgent attention. At that time, Russia's democracy was in crisis and the economy was near collapse.
The nuclear arsenal of the former Soviet Union was scattered among four new countries with very few safeguards. The war in Bosnia was at the peak of its brutality and threatening to spread.
North Korea was developing nuclear weapons. The Middle East peace process was stalemated. Negotiations were stymied. Repression in Haiti was pushing refugees to our shores. NAFTA's passage was in serious doubt threatening our relations with the entire hemisphere.
Not all at once, but step-by-step over the last four years, we've resolved these pressing questions and built an enduring basis for our engagement in a more secure and more prosperous world.
Indeed, it was in this period with our leadership that the world of the 21st century really began to take shape. It is a world where no great power views any other as an immediate military threat; a world where the institutions we built after World War II are being adapted to meet new challenges; a world where open societies and open markets have a strong competitive advantage; a world where America remains the indispensable nation.
A new and distinctive element of our strategy has been the priority we've attached to addressing emerging global issues: issues like proliferation; terrorism and international crime; drug trafficking; and damage to the environment.
These trans-national issues simply cannot be adequately addressed by traditional country-to-country diplomacy or even on a regional basis.
Global problems require global solutions. We began to address these problems in 1993 by appointing the first Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, with the charge to focus on many of these issues.
I believe that the progress we have made since in this field will be seen as one of the principle legacies of the Clinton presidency and, I hope, of my term as secretary of state.
A central part of global strategy has been to insure that weapons of mass destruction do not threaten the American people. That's why we worked so hard to extend indefinitely, the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and to secure the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
It is why we have a program in place to keep nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union from falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue states. It is why we acted to freeze and eventually eliminate the North Korean nuclear program. It is why we have been determined to shut down Iraq's biological weapons program. And it is why, over the next several months, the president and our administration will press hard for the ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
Just as important, we're confronting the new security threats that have emerged with such clarity since the end of the Cold War. We put the fight against terror, drugs and crime at the top of agenda of the G-7, as well as the United Nations. As a result, law enforcement cooperation among nations is stronger than ever before. Major terrorists have been caught, and many acts of terrorism have been prevented from occurring.
I've also made it a personal priority to integrate environmental issues into every aspect of our diplomacy. In my travels around the world that Joe Nye spoke of, I've been startled by the overcrowded, massive, bursting cities I've seen in so many parts of the world -- great cities like Sao Paulo and Mexico City and Jakarta, Manila and Cairo -- cities where overpopulation and pollution threaten the health and welfare of nations and regions.
To take another point of the importance of the environment, I've seen in the Middle East how a shortage of water is a potential source of grave conflict.
In the new independent states of the former Soviet Union, I've been struck by the ruinous impact of pollution on public health, on life expectancy and on the prospect for economic recovery.
A few years ago, these environmental issues were barely on our screen. Now they are in the mainstream of diplomacy, and, I believe, will become even more central in the next century.
Another legacy -- a lasting legacy, I believe -- of the president's first term will be the record we forged in advancing our economic interests. Thanks to the Uruguay Round and NAFTA, tariffs on U.F. exports -- U.S. exports are lower than ever before. Thanks to our over 200 new market opening agreements, we have created 1.6 million new American jobs.
Thanks to the free trade commitments we forged in our own hemisphere, as well as across the Pacific, we have an opportunity to become the hub of a dynamic open marketplace that stretches from Chile to Canada, from Australia to Korea.
We simply must not squander that marvelous chance to invigorate trade in our hemisphere and in the Pacific. In every region of the world, our leadership has been decisive in advancing our interests and ideals.
Across the Atlantic, we're on the verge of building a stable, democratic and undivided Europe. American leadership ended the war in Bosnia, and it is winning the peace.
We have led the reinvigoration and transformation of NATO. All of Europe's new democracies have joined the Partnership for Peace. And this year, NATO will invite several to begin negotiations -- historic negotiations -- to join NATO, the world's greatest military alliance in history.
At critical moments, we've stood by democracy in Russia, and we've opened the door for its integration, including the door to negotiating a new charter with NATO.
Asia, too, is entering the next century prosperous, at peace and with new structures of cooperation designed to keep it that way. Again, our leadership has been indispensable.
We have provided stability by maintaining our military presence in the Pacific, strengthening our cornerstone alliance with Japan and standing with South Korea against the provocations from the north.
We have provided vision by leading APEC to embrace open trade. We've worked with China to advance the vital interests we share, even as we address our very serious differences with China over issues like human rights.
In the Middle East, we're closer to realizing our goal of a comprehensive peace. Our diplomacy was vital in helping Israel reach the agreements with the Palestinians in 1993 and 1994 and 1995, as well as the peace treaty with Jordan.
We helped open a new dimension of the peace process by galvanizing the economic summits at Casablanca, Amman and Cairo, and encouraging important steps toward more normalized relations between Israel and its neighbors in the Arab world.
While peace has faced many severe tests in recent months, the achievements in that region are enduring and we are determined to move forward. The agreement on Hebron and other issues reached last night is really an extraordinary achievement. It demonstrates that there is a powerful logic to peace: an imperative powerful enough to overcome the setbacks and hesitations of recent months.
The protocol on Hebron and the U.S.-drafted for the record are a clear road map for the future of the peace negotiations. They set forth commitments and a timeframe for both Israel and the Palestinians. A commitment and timeframe to implement the agreements that they've already reached and need to carry forward now.
The note for the record also fixes a time for the commencement of the vital negotiations on the final status issues. Now that the parties have taken this difficult step for peace, they must not relax or step back in fatigue. They must use this new momentum to move ahead to build the peace that is in the common interests of the Israelis and the Palestinians alike. And we must remember that we were able to help the parties reach their agreement because of our leadership and engagement and because we have had the resources to support the nations that took risks for peace.
In our own hemisphere, we've seen a dramatic movement toward open societies and open markets in a region that is the fastest growing market for U.S. exports. When the hemisphere's democratic trend was threatened by the dictatorship of thugs in Haiti, it was America's decisive action that restored legitimate government.
When free markets were threatened by the financial crisis in Mexico, it took our leadership, American leadership, to restore confidence.
In Africa, we've been engaged on a continent that has now reached a crossroads: a point at which sound policies and steady international engagement can make the difference between poverty and growth, between war and peace. That is why we've made a vigorous effort to encourage democracy in that continent, to resolve conflicts, promote trade and investment. It is why we are working to create an African crisis response force that would enable the countries in the region to respond to emergencies with their own troops, but with financial and logistical support from the United States and our allies.
In all of these areas, the record we have forged is the best argument for a principled and robust policy of American engagement. Because of our military might, because of our economic might, because we are trusted to uphold universal values, there are times when only the United States can lead.
We must exercise this leadership: not because leadership is an end in itself, but because it is necessary to advance the interest and ideals of the nation.
As I went through the accomplishments of the last four years with you today, I did so deliberately -- the delay of basis for the need for American leadership and the need for resources to back that American leadership, because that is a central lesson of our era. Because the United States led a century that was never safe for democracy, it is now ending with peace and freedom ascendant.
The end of the Cold War has only strengthened the imperative of American leadership. As President Clinton said recently, this is the greatest age of human possibility in history. And that gives us special opportunities, but it also imposes special responsibilities.
You know, the need for American leadership is rarely questioned in our country. Yet today our ability to lead is open to question. And let me explain why.
No one in public life will stand up and say we can afford to retreat. No one will say we can ignore our commitments or build a wall around America. Members of Congress don't call me up to say close some embassies, lower the flag and bring our diplomats home by Christmas.
On the contrary, Congress calls to protest whenever we reluctantly decide that we must close a mission, because Congress has cut back our funding. What is more, while cutting our budget, Congress regularly calls on us to increase our global engagement by, for example, enlarging NATO, supporting the independence of Russia's neighbors, promoting investment in Africa or protecting workers rights in Asia -- to mention just a few of the things that we're regularly called on by the Congress to do.
Of course, Congress is absolutely right that we ought to do those things. They're right to do them. But our foreign policy will not be sustained by rhetoric or good intentions.
Talk is cheap. Leadership certainly is not. Leadership in foreign policy does require resources: enough to keep our embassies open and our people trained; enough to maintain constructive relations with the world great powers; enough to multiply our leverage in international institutions; enough to provide targeted aid to struggling democracies that one day can emerge as allies and very strong export markets for us; enough to meet threats like terrorism and international crime.
I want to emphasize again the point I made earlier. We would not have been able to achieve the result that was achieved last night in the Hebron agreement and related agreements without constant engagement, without our leadership and without the resources to support those parties that have taken risks for peace.
There's no free lunch. You can't do it on the cheap. You have to have made the investments in order to provide the leadership.
So, I say the biggest crisis we're facing in our foreign policy today is whether we will spend what we must to have an effective American foreign policy.
Since 1985, our spending on international affairs has been slashed by 50 percent in real terms: 50 percent. Our budget for foreign affairs is now just over 1 percent of our overall federal budget.
The amazing thing is that these cuts have not accompanied by any serious congressional debate.
They've not been motivated by some reassessment of our interests in the world.
As I said before, everyone is for U.S. leadership in principle, but some people simply think that we can have it without paying the price. As a result, we are endangered by a new form of isolationism that demands American leadership, but deprives America of the capacity to lead.
One casualty of our inadequate resources, if the cuts continue, will be the principle of universality in our representation abroad. The principle that there should be a U.S. mission in virtually every country. Budget cuts have forced us to close two dozen consulates and several embassies during my tenure.
If the hemorrhaging continues, we will have no option but to close more of these important facilities.
In an unpredictable world, we need a voice in every nation in the world. In the last few years, we've seen over and over again how vital our presence can be, often in unexpected places at unexpected times.
For example, over 170 nations from Albania to Zambia had an equal say in extending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and approving the Comprehensive Test Bank Treaty. They had also -- and importantly from this point -- an equal need to be persuaded by on-the-spot American diplomacy -- and it happened over and over again.
We could not have negotiated the Dayton peace agreement if we had not had embassies at each of the former soviet -- Yugoslav republics. We needed people on the ground in every Balkan capital to gather information, to conduct negotiations, to spotlight atrocities, to prepare the way for our troops and, not the least, to symbolize our commitment to that troubled region.
Likewise, we almost certainly could not have convinced Belarus and Kazakhstan and Ukraine to give up their nuclear weapons, if we had not decided to open embassies there in each of the new independent states when the Soviet Union broke up.
And yet I fear that, if we faced the situation today like the breakup of the Soviet Union, we could not afford to open the new embassies or provide the necessary facilities.
Budget cuts have also forced the people of our country who serve abroad to work under really intolerable conditions in many, many instances. Our diplomats in Beijing work with obsolete technology in decaying buildings. At our embassy in Angola -- which is the focal point, as you know, for ending talks of that country's two decade-long civil war -- our people there work out of a makeshift trailer park.
Our embassy in Tajikistan is run out of a Soviet-era hotel. It's a hotel -- it's the kind of place where utilities can go off for days at a time and our diplomats have to carry jugs of water up the stairs for their drinking.
And yet these are the people that we call upon when Americans get in trouble, when our companies need help to crack new markets, when we need to track down terrorists and drug lords, when we need a presence for our national security. One of the principal tools of diplomacy, of course, is foreign assistance. These programs give us the leverage our diplomacy needs to be effective.
They help us prevent conflict and catastrophe around the world. As crisis after crisis is shown, the cost of prevention is never as great as the price of neglect. For example, we've already spent nearly as much in dealing with the short term crisis in Rwanda and Burundi as we were able to spend last year to promote the peace and development of all of Africa. And so the cost of prevention always is cheaper than the cost of dealing with the crisis.
Our assistance programs have declined by 37 percent in real terms in the last 10 years. Half of our bilateral aid now supports the Middle East peace process. And of course, these funds are vital, as I said, and must be fully preserved. But I have to tell you that aid to Israel, Egypt and Jordan will inevitably come under pressure -- possibly irresistible pressure if our other assistance programs continue to be decimated and this imbalance between aid to that part of the region and the whole rest of the world if that imbalance grows.
Our diplomats also help America compete in the global economy and indeed, in the last four years we've achieved, I believe, a major cultural change in our embassies. They are now aggressively supporting American companies and winning and carrying out contracts abroad.
American leaders have repeatedly told me how much they've been helped by this aspect of what I call our "America Desk Effort." But now I'm hearing another message from these business leaders. They say our ambassadors are striving mightily to be helpful, but the personnel cuts have left them stretched too thin to do what they want to do to be helpful.
Another casualty has been our support for international institutions, including the international financial institutions and United Nations. For 50 years the United States has led in the United Nations because it is a valuable tool for advancing our interests, and that's certainly no less true today than before, indeed more true with the emergence of the global issues.
Now we face stark alternatives in connection with the United Nations. We can continue to be our global challenges through the UN where we share the burden with over a 180 nations. Or we can try to meet those challenges alone, forcing our soldiers to take all the risks and our taxpayers to foot all the bills.
This is the choice we must make. In considerable part, because of U.S. arrears, the United Nations has hobbled in doing tasks of great importance to American interests in peacekeeping and refugee operations and human rights and world health, to take only a few examples.
By failing to pay our dues we are compromising our ability to shape a smaller, leaner but more effective United Nations. Nevertheless, I am glad to say that our campaign for reform at the UN has begun to make progress. As you know, the UN has a new Secretary General; a leader with the ability and conviction to make the UN an effective institution for the next century.
The United Nations must do its part, but so must the United States. It's time to pay our dues and our debts. It's time to recognize that we cannot reform and retreat at the same time. More broadly speaking, it is time to recognize that we have a vital national interest in adequately funding our international efforts. Just as we need to preserve our military readiness by maintaining forces and bases around the world, we need to preserve our diplomatic readiness by supporting the people and the programs that help to keep our soldiers out of war.
In a world of real dangers, the failure to maintain diplomatic readiness will inevitably shift the burden of leadership to our military. And the cost will be measured in terms of lost opportunities and lost lives.
Our Defense Department has wisely designed a strategy to cope with two nearly simultaneous regional conflicts at the same time. While our Defense Department has this two-crises capability, the State Department is in danger of having a no-crisis budget.
We cannot respond to a crisis in one part of the world without taking from other valuable programs in other regions. To support our deployment in Haiti, for example, we had to cut our aid to Turkey. To monitor the cease-fire in northern Iraq, we had to short-change the peace process in Guatemala.
Indeed, if a new crisis occurred today someplace in the world, we would have to make a very painful choice: Which long-term interest -- probably an already-underfunded long-term interest -- which long-term interest should we sacrifice to meet the new crisis?
I urgently and earnestly call on the Congress today to reassess the erosion that has taken place in our diplomatic readiness and to support, on a bipartisan basis, the president's international affairs budget. This is a challenge that must be met if we are to maintain our strength in the next century.
As I leave this wonderful office I've been privileged to be in for the last four years, I have many reasons to be optimistic about the future. I know that time and again, from Haiti to Bosnia to Mexico to Russia to China, President Clinton has made the tough and correct decisions that leadership requires and I know he will continue to make them.
I know that my successor, Ambassador Albright, will be an eloquent and effective advocate for America's tradition of global engagement. I know that with any reasonable support, the men and women of the foreign and civil service will keep on advancing our interests in every part of the world, despite the hardship and danger that they accept and endure.
I'm optimistic because I know the American people stand with us. I have seen it as I have travelled around our country. Americans are proud. We are the world's leading nation. And they understand, they understand better than the people in Washington, that leadership carries responsibilities.
They see the evidence that so often the isolationists miss. The evidence that security of our nation depends upon the readiness of our diplomats as our first line of defense; that the safety of our streets depends on our fight against drugs and terror abroad; that jobs at home depend upon the health of the global economy.
I'm also optimistic because my own career has been a very inspiring period of American history -- America's involvement in the world. Unless we're in for a big surprise, I'll be the last secretary of state who served in World War II.
My memories of that time and my experiences of the last 50 years teach me to have confidence in the choices that Americans will make.
After I left law school in 1949, I went to work, as Joe said, for Justice William O. Douglas. As I was ending my year with him, I asked him for some advice. He responded, "Get out into the stream of history and swim as fast as you can."
Well, I got out a bit further than I ever imagined I would certainly in 1950, but let me tell you just for a minute or two what I saw along the way.
I saw a whole generation of leaders of both parties who recognized our interest in helping Germany and Japan rebuild so they could become our strong allies and trading partners.
I saw the American people make the investments that paid off in half-a-century of peace and prosperity, and in freedom's victory in the Cold War.
Now, as secretary of state, I've seen former political prisoners like Havel and Mandela lead their country as presidents.
I've seen former adversary states on the way to becoming our allies.
I've seen once impoverished countries become our leading export markets.
All over the world, people credit the United States for helping achieve this transformation, and they look to us to continue to lead.
Today, as before, alliances mean peace. Engagement means greater security. Leadership brings friends to our side. And your generation, the generation of young people I see sitting out in front of me here, have an even greater opportunity than mine.
You have the key that unlocks the door to another American century, but you also have the responsibility to make the investments my generation made: the investments that leadership demands, the investments that -- if you make them -- will make this an even safer, freer, better, and more prosperous, more secure world.
Thank you very much.
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