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U.S. Department of State
96/07/18 Opening Remarks at Regional Media Foreign Policy Town Meeting
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
As Prepared for Delivery July 18, 1996
OPENING REMARKS BY
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
AT U.S. FOREIGN POLICY TOWN MEETING FOR REGIONAL MEDIA
Department of State
Good morning and welcome to the Department of State. We are all shocked
and deeply saddened this morning by the crash last night of the TWA jet
off Long Island. I want to send my sympathy and heartfelt condolences
to the families and friends of all of the victims of that terrible
tragedy. The appropriate investigations are underway with dispatch and
determination. I know you'll understand that I cannot comment beyond
that at this point. It would not be responsible for me to speculate
about the reasons or causes for this tragedy.
Today's meeting is part of a major public outreach program that we have
undertaken over the last three years. This year alone, we are
organizing 23 town meetings in cities from Anchorage to Boston. At each
one, a group of senior officials spend a day speaking about the critical
challenges the United States faces around the world -- all as part of
making sure American foreign policy is not foreign to the American
people. At these meetings, we've also made a special effort to reach
out to the regional media. After all, that is how the vast majority of
Americans get their news.
At each event, the response has been tremendous. It has reinforced my
view that most Americans want to engage in a serious discussion of
America's role in the world, a discussion that looks beyond superficial
soundbites. It has also confirmed what many public opinion surveys have
found: the American people have a deep commitment to purposeful and
principled American leadership. Indeed, on some issues, the public is
ahead of its leaders in Washington.
The American people measure the success of the Administration's foreign
policy in a straightforward way: Has it made our nation more secure and
more prosperous than it was three and a half years ago? Has it advanced
our values? I am convinced the answer is yes. Let me tell you what we
have achieved in four areas of central concern to the United States. In
doing so, I hope to provide a framework for some of the discussions to
First, I believe we have been effective in pursuing peace and stability
in regions of vital interest to the United States. American diplomacy
backed by the use of force stopped the killing in Bosnia, eliminating
the threat it posed to European stability, and reaffirming the strength
of NATO and our partnership with Europe. The challenges we face in
Bosnia today are the challenges of peace, not of war. The coalition we
have assembled, which includes troops from Russia and central Europe
along with NATO forces, is also helping us advance our strategy for
preventing future conflicts in a more integrated Europe.
That strategy has made tremendous progress. NATO's Partnership for
Peace is already bringing Europe together. Plans for expansion of the
Alliance have come a long way since President Clinton proposed it in
1994. The progress we have made toward an integrated Europe should give
every American confidence -- confidence that conflicts like the war in
Bosnia can be deterred, confidence that the democratic revolutions in
central and eastern Europe will endure, confidence that our troops will
never again have to fight a major war on the continent where this
century's two world wars ignited.
In the Asia-Pacific region, we are promoting peace and stability by
maintaining 100,000 troops, with the strong support of our Asian allies.
We have put our core alliance with Japan on an even stronger footing.
North Korea's nuclear program, which posed an immediate and dire threat
when we came to office, is on its way to the scrap heap. The
President's decision to dispatch a naval force to the Taiwan Strait last
March helped to reduce the dangerous tensions between Taipei and
In the Middle East, American diplomacy has helped to transform the
landscape. Palestinians in Gaza and in most of the cities of the West
Bank now govern themselves, and their elected leaders cooperate with
Israel to fight terror. Israel has made peace with Jordan and forged
diplomatic and economic contacts with many countries in the Arab world.
The agreements already reached are a strategic asset for the United
States and the countries of the region. At a time of transition and
challenge, we are determined to work with Israel and our Arab partners
to preserve what has been achieved and to build upon these gains.
In our hemisphere, too, the United States has been an effective force
for stability. In Haiti, our troops came in peace and left on time
after restoring democratic rule, stopping the exodus of refugees, and
upholding the principle that democracy cannot be overturned with
impunity. In South America, our diplomacy helped to end the conflict
between Peru and Ecuador, and to turn back threats to democracy in
Guatemala and Paraguay.
Turning to a second area of achievement, we have given high priority to
maintaining constructive relations with the world's major powers. I've
already mentioned Europe and Japan, but we have also strengthened our
cooperation with Russia and China, at a time when both countries are
undergoing vast and difficult transitions.
Two weeks ago, Russia passed a critical milestone in its development as
a stable democracy. We have long understood that Russia's road to
reform would be long and hard. But President Yeltsin's re-election
means the Russian people remain determined to move forward, despite the
hardships they have endured. The democratic process itself is
transforming Russia. With each passing day, it makes a return to the
repressive past less likely, and it has opened immense opportunities for
our two countries. We are seizing those opportunities, for example, to
reduce our nuclear arsenals, to fight nuclear proliferation and
smuggling, and to work for peace in Bosnia and the Middle East.
We have also restored positive momentum to our engagement with China,
after going through a difficult period in our relations. We have
reached practical agreements to control nuclear proliferation and to
protect American intellectual property. We will continue to encourage
this powerful nation to pursue its modernization in ways that contribute
to the overall security and prosperity of the region.
Third, in 1993, the President said that we would put economic policy at
the center of our foreign policy, and we have. The result has been a
series of landmark trade agreements and commitments that will benefit
every American company that depends on exports and the millions of
workers those companies employ. The record includes NAFTA, the GATT
Uruguay Round, the Miami commitment to achieve free and open trade in
our hemisphere by 2005, and the APEC commitment to the same in the Asia-
Pacific by 2020. It includes 21 market opening agreements with Japan.
The President's decision to help Mexico recover from its economic crisis
was a clear example of Presidential leadership against the grain, and I
think it will be seen as one of the best decisions he has made.
Just as important has been our ability to put our own economic house in
order. In my first months as Secretary, our allies were constantly
reminding us of the need to tackle our budget deficit and its adverse
effect on the world economy. We have made tremendous progress. At last
month's G-7 summit in Lyon, it was clear that our economy is now the
envy of the world, and this has strengthened our credibility to a marked
degree. That is a graphic illustration of the seamless relationship
between domestic and foreign policy.
Fourth, the President has recognized that the growing openness and
interdependence of the world system, which brings such great benefits,
is also creating a new set of dangers for our nation, dangers such as
international crime, terrorism, drug trafficking, damage to the
environment, and proliferation. President Clinton has put the fight
against these threats at the center of our foreign policy. I have
personally placed the fight against terrorism -- and against the states
that sponsor terror -- at the top of the State Department's agenda. We
have made it clear that the United States will not be intimidated by
terrorist attacks. At the President's initiative, the Lyon summit
adopted a package of 40 specific recommendations to fight international
crime and terror.
I have also made it a personal priority to integrate America's
environmental objectives into the work of the State Department and our
Under the President's leadership, we are also protecting the American
people from the threat of nuclear proliferation. The last nuclear
warheads have now left Ukraine under our Trilateral Agreement with that
nation and Russia. Those that remain in Russia are no longer targeted
at our cities and homes. Last year, the United States helped secure the
indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Since
every country in the world had a vote on the NPT, our diplomats needed
to be present in every world capital to achieve this goal -- a powerful
reminder of the need to maintain our global presence. Today, we are
working to achieve a comprehensive treaty to outlaw nuclear tests,
fulfilling a goal President Kennedy set three decades ago.
I've spoken to you about a broad array of American interests around the
world. But I also want to stress that we cannot protect these interests
without sustaining our leadership. Of course, it is easy to talk about
leadership. The real test is whether we will marshal the resources we
need to stand by our commitments. Rhetoric without resources projects
weakness, not strength.
To lead, the United States must also galvanize the support of our
allies, our friends, as well as international institutions to achieve
common objectives. Some say we can afford to weaken our half-century
commitment to international institutions like the UN and the World Bank.
But unless we wish to see America act as the world's sole policeman,
rescue service, and lending agency, we cannot walk away from the
institutions that help us share the costs of leadership. America will
act alone when it must to defend its interests. But we should not deny
ourselves the ability to share the burdens when we can.
When I travel abroad, it is eminently clear to me why America is still
the world's predominant power. The nations of the world look to us as a
source of principled and reliable leadership. They see us as an
optimistic people, motivated by a broad view of our interests and driven
by a long view of our potential. They follow us because they understand
that America's fight for peace and freedom is the world's fight. If we
wish to preserve our leadership, we must continue to act in the best
traditions of our nation and our people.
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