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U.S. Department of State
93/03/22 Address on Securing US Interests While Supporting Russian 
Office of the Spokesman

Address by 
Secretary of State Warren Christopher
before the 
Chicago Council on Foreign Relations
Executives' Club of Chicago
Mid-America Committee

Chicago, Illinois
March 22, 1993

Securing US Interests While Supporting Russian Reform

It is a pleasure for me to be here today.  This might surprise you, but 
I am happy to be here on a white and snowy morning.  It reminds me of 
growing up in North Dakota--walking home from school and having my 
mother greet me with a cup of hot chocolate.  You can see I have happy 
memories of the Midwest, so I'm especially happy to be here.  

I'm particularly pleased to be speaking to this very audience.  
Secretaries of State spend probably too much of their time explaining 
American foreign policy to foreign diplomats, and they might tend to 
take for granted audiences such as this, the audiences that really 
count:  the American people.

I want to say a special welcome today to the students that are here from 
the congressional districts of Congressmen Reynolds and Rush.  You 
students have a tremendous stake in our foreign policy.  After all, you 
are the ones that will have to live with the consequences of all that we 
do.  So it's critical that your voice be heard, and I am particularly 
glad that you're here today.

My trip today is only the first of many that I hope to be making to the 
cities and towns of the United States.  My mission is quite a simple 
one:  to begin an ongoing conversation with the people here in America 
about the world we live in and our country's proper role in it.

It is fitting that I launch this process, I think, here in Chicago.  
Your city is a city that symbolizes America in so many ways--by its 
location here in the country's heartland, by its fighting spirit, by its 
broad shoulders, and most of all by its good common sense.  Yet at the 
same time, Chicago is very much at the center of the world--with its 
mighty industries exporting goods around the globe, with its commodity 
markets linking international investors near and far.

Chicagoans and all Americans have a right to a foreign policy that 
serves their interests in very concrete ways.  They want a foreign 
policy that will build a safer world, a more prosperous world, and a 
world where their values can be secure.  That is exactly the kind of 
foreign policy that Governor--that President Clinton--I still call him 
Governor Clinton sometimes--has charged me to carry out.  

At the State Department, we have a desk responsible for every foreign 
country, or virtually every foreign country--the China desk, an 
Argentine desk, a Russia desk.  As Secretary of State, I am determined 
that the State Department will also have an "American desk"--and I want 
to be sitting behind that desk.  My foremost mission is to advance the 
vital interests of the citizens of the United States.  Today, and over 
the coming weeks and months, I want to outline how the Clinton 
Administration plans to pursue that objective--pursue the objective of 
furthering the interests of the American people.

America in a New World

As you all know, our world has changed fundamentally in recent years.  
Walls have come down.  Empires have collapsed.  Most important, the Cold 
War is over, and the Soviet Union is no more.  Soviet communism is dead.  
But with it so is the reference point that guided our policies for over 
40 years.  It was easy when we could simply point to the Soviet Union 
and say that what we had to do was to contain Soviet expansion.  That 
reference point explained why our international leadership was so 
necessary, why our defense burden was so heavy, and why assistance to 
other countries was so critical.

Today, we face a vastly more complicated world.  It is a world of 
breathtaking opportunities to expand democracy and free markets.  But it 
is also a world of grave new perils.  Long-simmering ethnic conflicts 
have flared up anew in the former Yugoslavia and elsewhere.  Weapons of 
mass destruction are falling into the hands of very dangerous dictators.  
And new global challenges cry out for attention around our entire world-
-challenges like the environment, overpopulation, drug- trafficking, and 

Like the last generation's great leaders who met the challenges of the 
Cold War, we need a new strategy for protecting and promoting American 
interests in this new era.  We need a strategy that will face the 
questions that Americans are asking, and most understandably asking:  
Why, they say, with the threat of Soviet expansionism gone, do we need 
to be active on the international front?  Why must America continue to 
carry the heavy burdens of leadership?  Why, when we so urgently need 
renewal here at home, should we continue to dedicate large resources 

The Three Pillars:  Renewing America's Foreign Policy

President Clinton has responded to these challenges by laying out an 
American foreign policy based upon three pillars:  

     First, building American prosperity;  

     Second, modernizing America's armed services; and 

     Third, promoting democracy and human rights abroad.  

This policy's fundamental premise is that in today's world foreign and 
domestic policy are inseparable.  If we fail to maintain our strength at 
home, we will be, certainly, unable to lead abroad.  If we retreat into 
isolationism, it will be impossible to revitalize our domestic strength.  
America cannot thrive in a world of economic recession or violent 
conflicts or a world which is riven with dictatorships.

It is no accident that President Clinton has identified promotion of 
America's economic security as the first pillar of our foreign policy.  
We've entered an era where economic competitiveness is vital to our 
ability to succeed abroad.  As an essential first step, as you know, the 
President has put forward a bold, new program to get America's own 
economic house in order.  It's a comprehensive strategy that will invest 
in the needs of our people, reduce our deficits, and lay the foundation 
for long-term economic growth.   

The single most important step that we can take to strengthen our 
foreign policy, to strengthen our position in the world, is to enact the 
President's economic program--and to do so just as soon as possible.   

But steps at home cannot ensure America's prosperity.  Today, we are 
irreversibly linked to the global economy.  Our lives are constantly 
touched by huge flows of trade and finance that cross many borders.  To 
take another example, over 7 million Americans are now employed in 
export-related jobs--many of them here, of course, right in the Chicago 

Our ability to prosper in this global economy depends upon our ability 
to compete.  That means harnessing our diplomacy to serve our economic 
goals.  We must ensure that foreign markets are open to US goods and US 
investments.  We must fight unfair competition against US business and 
labor.  And we must press the world's other financial powers to enact 
responsible policies that foster growth.

The second pillar of our foreign policy will be to modernize our armed 
forces to meet new needs around the world and to meet continuing 
threats.  The collapse of the Soviet Union enables us to significantly 
scale back our military establishment.  But, nevertheless, our power 
must always be sufficient to counter any threat to our vital interests.  
We must be able to deter and, when necessary, to defeat any potential 
foe.  That's why we are taking steps to make our military more agile, 
mobile, flexible, and smart.  Let me emphasize that President Clinton is 
determined to have the best-equipped and best fighting force in America 
to defend America.

As we talk about our armed forces, I think it's important for me to say 
that America cannot be the world's policeman.  We cannot be responsible 
for settling every dispute or answering every alarm.  We are 
indispensable, but we certainly must not be indiscriminate.  America's 
leadership will require that we wisely marshal the West's collective 

Ethnic conflicts--and the humanitarian disasters they generate--deeply  
offend our conscience.  In many cases, they also pose a serious risk to 
international peace.  And they produce thou- sands of refugees, so 
often, that strain the political and economic stability of an entire 
region.  Our imperative is to develop international means to contain 
and, more important, to prevent these conflicts before they erupt.  
Here, it is critical that we use the United Nations in the manner its 
founders intended, and there is high, new hope that this may take place.  
UN peace-keeping capabilities must be strengthened so as to allow 
prompt, preventive action.   Our other instruments of collective 
security, such as our NATO alliance, must be adapted in this new era to 
support the UN efforts.

One of the most promising areas for preventive diplomacy is in the 
Middle East.  Here, fortunately, the end of the Cold War has not 
unleashed conflict; but, rather, it has created new opportunities, new 
chances for ending conflict.  I recently returned from a 7-day trip to 
the region, where I held extensive talks with all the top leaders of the 
Arab and Israeli Governments.  I came back absolutely convinced that 
there is a historic opportunity to take new strides toward peace in this 
troubled region.  

Now it's imperative that all sides to this long-simmering conflict seize 
this opportunity to return to the negotiating table in Washington on 
April 20, as we have invited them to do.  If they return and enter 
negotiations, the United States is ready to act as a full partner in 
their efforts.  If they do not, however--if they allow this unique 
chance to slip away--another generation in the Middle East could be lost 
to an endless cycle of confrontation and, eventually, to renewed 

Let me now turn to the third pillar of this Administration's foreign 
policy:  encouraging the global revolution for democracy and human 
rights that is transforming the world.  By helping promote democracy, we 
do more than honor our deepest values.  We are also making a strategic 
investment in our nation's security.  History has shown that a world of 
more democracies is a safer world.  It is a world that will devote more 
to human development and less to human destruction.  And it is a world 
that will promote what all people have in common rather than what tears 
them apart.

The Challenge of Our Time:  Helping Russian Democracy

These three pillars of American foreign policy--building American's 
prosperity, modernizing America's armed forces, and promoting democratic 
values--form the core of the Clinton Administration's new diplomacy.  
Now I would like to tell you how these three pillars converge and form 
the basis for one of our highest foreign policy priorities--and that is 
helping the Russian people to build a free society and a market economy.  
This, in my judgment, is the greatest strategic challenge of our time.  
Bringing Russia--one of history's most powerful nations--into the family 
of peaceful nations will serve our highest security, economic, and moral 

For America and the world, the stakes are just monumental.  If we 
succeed, we will have established the foundation for our lasting 
security into the next century.  But if Russia falls into anarchy or 
lurches back to despotism, the price that we pay could be frightening.  
Nothing less is involved than the possibility of renewed nuclear threat, 
higher defense budgets, spreading instability, the loss of new markets, 
and a devastating setback for the worldwide democratic movement.  This 
circumstance deserves the attention of each and every American.

Over the days and weeks ahead, the Clinton Administration will set forth 
a comprehensive strategy to support Russia's democracy and its efforts 
to build a market economy.  My intention today is not to announce a 
detailed program of new initiatives; rather, what I would like to do is 
to try to provide a strategic context for the approach that we will 
follow.  I want to explain the tremendous interest we have in doing 
everything we can to help Russia's democracy succeed.

Let me stress here today that by focusing on Russia, I do not mean to 
neglect the other new independent states.  The well-being of Ukraine, of 
Kazakhstan, of Belarus, of Armenia, and, indeed, of each of the former 
republics, is a matter of utmost importance to America.  We are 
committed to developing strong bilateral relations with each of these 
countries.  We will support their independence and do everything we can 
to assist in their integration into the world community.  Indeed, it is 
partly out of concern for their welfare that I want to concentrate on 
Russia today.  For the fact is that the future security of each of these 
neighbors of Russia depends so heavily on Russia's own democratic 

Let me step back for just a moment and analyze with you the breathtaking 
benefits that the end of the Cold War has brought to the United States 
and the world.  To mention just a few of the results:

     --  Historic agreements have been reached to slash the nuclear 
arsenals that threatened our country with annihilation.

     --  The nations of the former Warsaw Pact are now free of Soviet 
domination and of the burden of communism.

     --  The possibility of a superpower conflict on the European 
continent has now all but vanished, allowing us to bring home thousands 
of troops and to reduce our defense budgets.

     --  Around the globe, totalitarian regimes that looked to the 
Soviet Union for help and support are now isolated and on the defensive.

     --  And from Vilnius on the Baltic to Vladivostok on the Pacific, 
vast new markets are opening--opening slowly but nonetheless opening--to 
Western business.

With a reforming Russia, all of these historic achievements were 
possible.  But without it, many will not be sustainable.

So we stand again at a historic crossroads.  It is very reminiscent of 
the crossroads that we faced in 1918 and 1945.  Then, we were summoned 
after conflicts to lead the world by building a new peace.  After World 
War I, we chose to retreat, and the consequences were disastrous.  
However, after World War II, our leaders had the wisdom to answer the 
call.  We fostered institutions that rebuilt the free world's 
prosperity.  And we helped to lead a democratic alliance that contained 
and, ultimately, drained Soviet communism.

Today, for the third time this century, we have a historic opportunity 
to build a more secure world.  We must redouble our efforts to help the 
Russian people as they struggle in an effort that has no historical 
precedent.  With great courage, they are attempting to carry out three 
simultaneous revolutions:  first, transforming a totalitarian system 
into a democracy;  second, transforming a command economy into one based 
upon free markets; and third, transforming an aggressive, expansionist 
empire into a peaceful, modern nation-state.  If they succeed in this 
tremendous experiment, we all will succeed.

Now it appears that another turning point has been reached in Russia's 
transition.  For months, a constitutional crisis between President 
Yeltsin and the parliament has paralyzed Russian politics.  That crisis 
came--as you all know--came to a head over the weekend.  President 
Yeltsin has called for a national plebiscite to resolve the 
constitutional impasse.  In doing so, he has again demonstrated his 
faith that the only force that can guarantee reform is the people--the 
Russian people.

We welcome President Yeltsin's assurance that civil liberties, including 
freedom of speech and of the press, will be respected at this difficult 
moment.  We also welcome his firm rejection of imperial and Cold War 
policies.  The most important point is that Russia must remain a 
democracy during this period, moving toward a market economy.  This is 
the basis, the only basis, for the US-Russian partnership.

The United States has strongly supported Russia's efforts to build a 
democracy.  Under President Yeltsin's leadership, historic progress has 
been made toward a free society.  We urge that this progress continue 
and that the Russian people be allowed to determine their future through 
peaceful means and with full respect for civil liberties.  On that 
basis, Russia can be assured of our full support in the days ahead.

Now, today's crisis in Russia results from one indisputable fact:  The 
pain of building a new system virtually from scratch is exacting a 
tremendous toll.  The patience of the Russian people is wearing thin, a 
fact that is reflected in Russia's current political 
stalemate.Nevertheless, we should notice that over the last year, 
President Yeltsin and Russia's other democrats have demonstrated their 
commitment to reform in many ways.  Civil liberties have been 
dramatically expanded.  The military budget has been significantly cut.  
Prices have been freed in most sectors, and the result has been [that] 
the once-long lines that formed outside Russia's stores have come to an 
end.  Tens of thousands of shops, restaurants, and other firms have been 
put into private hands, and a real start has been made on the most 
difficult process of even privatizing the large enterprises.  As a 
result of these steps, the share of the work force engaged in private 
commerce has more than doubled over the last 2 years.

I'm glad to say that over the weekend, President Yeltsin recommitted his 
government to economic reform.  He laid out in clear and strong language 
the key elements of such a program:  continued privatization of firms, 
selling land to farmers, stopping inflation, and stabilizing the ruble.  
If this program is implemented, our capacity to help will be greatly 

Russia's reformers are now looking to the West for support at this 
moment of extreme difficulty.  The United States has a deep self-
interest in responding to this historic challenge.  We should extend to 
the Russian people not a hand of pity but a hand of partnership.  We 
must lead a long-term Western strategy of engagement for democracy.

Here in America, it is very important that we not create a false choice 
between what is required to renew our economy at home and what is 
necessary to protect our interests abroad.  We can and must do both.  
During the long struggle of the Cold War, we kept the American dream 
alive for all people here at home.  At the same time, we made great 
sacrifices to protect our national security, and today we can and must 
meet the same challenge.  To succeed, we must first change our mindsets.  
We must understand that helping consolidate democracy in Russia is not a 
matter of charity but a security concern of the highest order. It is no 
less important to our well-being than the need to contain a hostile 
Soviet Union was at an earlier day.

Tomorrow and the next day, in Washington, [DC] President Clinton and I 
will meet with the Russian Foreign Minister, Andrei Kozyrev.  We will 
communicate to him our support for Russia's continued democratic 
development.  And we will reiterate that the current situation in Moscow 
must be resolved peacefully and in a way consistent with civil 
liberties.  At his meeting with President Yeltsin next month in 
Vancouver [Canada], President Clinton intends to spell out the tangible 
steps we will take to assist Russian reform.  The President is still 
considering the specific measures he will announce.  But our bottom line 
is that we will be increasing and accelerating our support for Russia's 
democracy.  We cannot do it alone, but we must be prepared to do our 
part and to do it fully.  The United States favors a meeting later in 
April where the foreign and finance ministers of the leading industrial 
democracies will coordinate their joint efforts to assist in Russia's 
historic transformation.

As I said earlier in my remarks, my task today is not to spell out 
specific initiatives.  Nevertheless, I would like to offer just a few 
thoughts on the central issue of Western aid to Russia in general terms.  
Clearly, our assistance must be better targeted and better coordinated 
than it's been in the past.  It must focus on areas and constituencies 
in Russia that have the greatest impact on their long-term reform.  It 
must not and cannot be limited solely to public funds.  Rather, it must 
catalyze our private sectors to take a leading role in Russia's 
transformation through trade, investment, and training.  And our aid 
must be felt at the grassroots, to ease the pain of the Russian 
children, workers, and senior citizens who are suffering through this 

Despite all of its current economic difficulties, it is worth 
remembering that Russia is inherently a rich country.  Its people are 
well-educated.  Its natural resource base exceeds that of any other 
country in the world.  For example, Russia's oil reserves are huge and, 
if properly exploited, could probably finance much of Russia's economic 
reform.  But today, thousands of aging oil wells and pipelines in Russia 
stand idle, decaying and desperately in need of critical spare parts.  
If Russia could find the means to repair them, perhaps with our help, 
the oil sold would be a lucrative source of foreign exchange that could 
do a great deal to stabilize their economy.  

One area of possible assistance where America's vital interests are 
directly engaged is our effort to dismantle the nuclear weapons of the 
former Soviet Union.  The $800-million program established through the 
leadership of Senators Nunn and Lugar to destroy these weapons is a 
direct investment in our own security.  Unfortunately, some bottlenecks, 
both here and in Russia, have allowed only a small fraction of the $800 
million to be spent up to this point.  Part of it has been caused by 
bureaucratic delays in Washington, and we are fully determined to remove 
these obstacles.  We want to see these weapons dismantled in the very 
shortest possible time.

Another important goal we should have is strengthening the groups in 
Russia that will form the bulwark of a thriving democracy.  There are 
public opinion polls in Russia, too, as you know, and time after time 
they show one thing:  By large margins, it's the younger generation that 
expresses the greatest sympathy for democracy.  The younger people are 
the ones who are pushing for more economic freedom and closer contacts 
with the West.  Ultimately, whatever the result of today's political 
turmoil, this is the group that will carry the day for Russia's 
successful transition to democracy.

Through exchange programs, many young Russians can be brought to the 
West and exposed to the workings of democracy and our free market.  
Russian students, public officials, scientists, and businessmen are 
hungry for such experiences.  Upon their return home, they can adapt 
their knowledge to best suit Russia's conditions.  And, perhaps most 
important of all, we can win long-term friends and partners for freedom.

The existence, to take another example, of a strong, independent media 
is also essential for a democratic society.  While Russia's free press 
has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, there is still a real 
need for professional training of reporters, editors, and news managers.  
Here, technical assistance can make a real difference.

Another area that deserves strong support is Russia's privatization 
effort, which, as I said, has made some progress.  This process has 
continued across many of Russia's regions despite the political problems 
in Moscow.  Putting private property into the hands of the Russian 
people is a critical step in building a free market economy.  It will 
create millions of property owners and private entrepreneurs--a genuine 
middle class with a powerful stake in continued reform.

Of course, at the end of the day, Russia's progress toward the market 
and democracy cannot occur without an overhaul of the general ground 
rules of the Russian economy.  It will be vital to reduce their budget 
deficit, control the money supply, stabilize the ruble, and close down 
inefficient factories.  Unfortunately, these are also steps that will 
cause the greatest pain and political risk.  Here again, Russia needs 
our help.  The West must find a way to respond, and the response can't 
be limited to big promises and little delivery.  We are now engaged in 
intensive consultations with our partners from the leading industrial 
democracies to develop a program of joint assistance to Russia in these 

Helping Russia's Democracy:  A Long-Term Commitment

Let me close by making two points.  First, we must have no illusions 
about the situation in Russia.  Even with our help, the road ahead is 
rocky.  Setbacks will be inevitable.  Russia's transformation will take 
a great deal of hard work--probably a generation to complete.  As we 
meet, a great struggle is underway, as you know, to determine the kind 
of nation that Russia will be.  However, as we focus on today's drama, 
it's important that we maintain a long-term perspective.  Just as our 
vigilance in the Cold War took more than 4 decades to pay off, our 
commitment to Russia's democracy must be for the duration.  Our 
engagement with the reformers must be for the long haul--whether they're 
"out" as well as when they're "in," whether they're "down" as well as 
when they're "up."  However difficult things may be in the short run, we 
should have faith that the strategic course we have set--supporting 
democracy's triumph--is the correct one.

Second, we should know that any realistic program to assist Russia won't 
be cheap.  But there's no question that our nation can afford its fair 
share of the international effort.  We can't afford, indeed, to do 
otherwise.  Together with President Clinton, I am determined to work 
with the Congress to find the funding.  I am confident that the 
necessary resources can be found as we restructure our defense budget.  
But it will require bipartisanship, leadership, and vision, and, 
vitally, it will take a Russian partner committed to democratic values 
and market reform.

At a time of great domestic challenge, some would say that we should 
delay bold action in the foreign realm.  But history will not wait.  As 
Abraham Lincoln advised his countrymen, "We cannot escape history.  We . 
. . will be remembered in spite of ourselves."  Today, history is 
calling again for our nation to decide whether we will lead or defer, 
whether we will shape this new era or be shaped by it.  How will history 
remember us?  I, for one, am confident that we will make the right 
choice --that we will be bold and brave in revitalizing our nation here 
at home, while continuing to promote our interests and ideals abroad.