April 29, 1997

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
REMARKS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
TOWN MEETING, DEAN ACHESON AUDITORIUM
WASHINGTON, D.C.

To begin I'd like to thank Secretary Albright for her openness to creative solutions in redesigning our foreign affairs agencies.

Last week's magnificent success on the Chemical Weapons Convention shows how the foreign policy structure works best -- our voice is strongest and clearest when we join together.

The thought of being ACDA's last director is painful. This is a small Agency with a large purpose and a mighty legacy. At our 35th Anniversary last year, I observed what a privilege it is to walk in the footsteps of giants -- and to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them every day.

But having spent a good deal of time on survival over the past several years, I also come here totally convinced that the President's decision will materially strengthen the arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament missions, and the entire foreign affairs structure.

That will happen in major part because Secretary Albright is deeply committed to this mission -- and has shown it tangibly, not only by making arms control and nonproliferation central to her public service and now to the State Department, but by stressing the importance of independent arms control advocacy, including from within the Department, when arms control and diplomacy may be at odds.

So the President's decision at once saves what has been most crucial to ACDA's historic value, and yet adds what has been most needed -- a spirit of teamwork, and elevation of arms control and nonproliferation within the Department.

And these missions will be strengthened because there are giants in this work in the State Department, too.

I know that personnel in PM and elsewhere in State approach the coming months with as much trepidation as many in ACDA. It's probably fair to say that we've unsettled everyone equally, with almost mathematical precision.

But this is not about displacing or downgrading people. Indeed, we have been working together for two years, under the Vice President's leadership, to address duplication -- and there is precious little of it.

Now our task is to fill in the details of the President and Vice President's decision, and still keep advancing what the President has described as "the most ambitious agenda to dismantle and fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction since the atom was split."

In other words, we're going to rebuild the airplane while we're still flying, in the middle of the race.

That will require our best talents and energies. It will require an unyielding commitment to a safer world, and to cooperation in its pursuit -- not with our elbows out but with our arms linked.

Given all we've accomplished together over the last several years, there is no doubt we will succeed.