Note: Remarks as prepared for delivery
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Henry, thank you very, very much for that introduction. I have to admit that as I got known to this new post—on which I’m very elevated—(laughter)—I had to call my predecessor, because I thought it was really important to touch base.
Henry, I hate to tell you—it’s not a fraternity any more. (Laughter and applause).
But I felt it was very important to have a chance to talk to my predecessors. And when I got to Henry, we had a great conversation. He said, “You know, Madeleine, you have now eradicated my uniqueness to have been a foreign-born Secretary of State.” And then he thought for a minute and he said, “No, I still have an accent.” (Laughter).
Let me say that I do cherish my conversations with all my predecessors. But Henry and I have a very special relationship, and we talk very often. He is very generous with his time, and uncharacteristically, very generous with his views. We have great conversations, and I am very pleased to be able to sit in his chair and be in his office and carry on the tradition.
Whether as a public speaker or as America’s chief diplomat, you are an incredibly difficult act to follow. In the spirit of the evening, however, I will forgive you and thank you for your decades of service to the Council and to this country.
President Gelb, Chairman Peterson, Mr. Rockefeller, Editor Jim Hoge, Managing Editor Fareed Zakaria, and to all of you, let me say that it is wonderful to be here in such distinguished company and with so many friends to celebrate the 75th birthday of everyone’s favorite magazine.
In 1922, when Foreign Affairs first left the printers, George Kennan was a Princeton sophomore, the State Department’s annual budget was $2 million, the Secretary of State had a beard, and hopes were high that in the aftermath of the Great War, future conflicts could be made unthinkable by rendering them illegal.
As one contemporary enthusiast said, “Humanity is not helpless. This is God’s world. We can outlaw the war system, just as we outlawed the saloon.”
But as striking as the differences are between that time and ours, so are the similarities. For then, too, the world had witnessed the end of one historical era and begun shaping the next.
Then, too, a revolution in Russia had sent ripples of change circling the globe. The violence in the Balkans and Caucasus had taken an immense human toll.
Then, too, American leaders were challenged to create a framework for international engagement at a time there appeared no clear and present danger to the American people. And then, too, the United States had the Council on Foreign Relations reminding us of our responsibilities.
Those early issues of Foreign Affairs included such compelling essays as “Political Rights in the Arctic”. “Stabilizing the Lira”, and “Fertilizers: the World’s Supply”. (Laughter).
But in the years following, Council members were eloquent in condemning isolationist trends, warning of the dangers of Versailles’ punitive peace, opposing protectionist economic policies and urging preparedness in response to fascism’s rise.
These arguments were right; their warnings on target; the analysis sound; but the Council’s prescriptions went unheeded. And like too many other nations, America turned inward. The result was global depression; the flower of a generation sacrificed in a second devastating war; and the soul-deadening horror of the Holocaust.
In their wake, it was not enough to say the enemy had been vanquished—that what we had fought against had failed. Strong American leaders such as Truman, Marshall, Acheson and Vandenberg were determined to build a lasting peace. And the message their generation conveyed from the White House and from both parties on Capitol Hill, was that this time America would not turn inward; this time America would lead.
The courage of that generation did much to shape our world. Five decades later, because of the institutions they built, the alliances they forged, and the principles they upheld, we are prosperous; our armed forces are the best; the Iron Curtain has ascended; and democracy has made gains from Manila to Moscow and from Cape Horn to the Cape of Good Hope.
Alongside the march of history these past 75 years has been the march of technology and that, too, has shaped our world.
As President Clinton has said, the global economy could open up the greatest age of possibility our people have ever known. Instant communications, technology that increases productivity and the widespread availability of knowledge are pushing back the limits of what can be imagined and achieved.
But adapting to change is never easy. Today, both within and among nations, those skilled in the new technologies are doing well, while others are falling behind.
Globalization is also contributing to the fact that internationally, as well as nationally, the era of big government is over.
More and more, as knowledge spreads, the future is being shaped from many directions, by many actors. Trade and investment, not aid, drive development. The market is the only viable engine of growth. Dictators can no longer control the flow of information to their citizens—prompting what one columnist has called, revolution not from above or below, but from beyond.
As we prepare for the new century, the dangers we face, many of which emanate from globalization’s dark side, are as mobile as a renegade virus and as unpredictable as a terrorist’s bomb. These are dangers no nation can defeat alone. So the old debate about unilateralism versus multilateralism has lost much of its relevance; for it is clear that we must be both—and bilateralists, even trilateralists, too.
Since the days of Thomas Jefferson, the challenge of American foreign policy has been to protect our citizens, our territory and our vital economic interests. That required one approach when ours was predominately a nation of yeoman farmers.
But today, our citizens travel all over the world, our borders are porous, and we have significant interests on every continent. When important events occur, wherever they occur, we will always be interested, although not always directly involved. Our obligation remains to our citizens, but that obligation comes with the understanding that, more and more, what happens anywhere will matter everywhere.
Accordingly, it is in our interest to build a global environment in which our values are widely shared, economies are open, military clashes are constrained and those who run roughshod over the rights of others are brought to heel.
And today, it is our strategic objective to seize the opportunity that history and technology have presented to bring the world closer together around basic principles of democracy, free markets, respect for the law and a commitment to peace.
Obviously, this is not a game one plays with a scoreboard and clock, for it has no endpoint. But every time a conflict is settled or a nuclear weapon dismantled and accounted for; every time a country begins to observe global rules of commerce and trade; every time a drug kingpin is arrested or a war crime prosecuted, the process of constructive integration moves ahead and the ties that bind the international system are strengthened.
America’s place is at the center of this system. And our primary interest is to see that the connections in and around the center—the alliances and relationships between regions and among the most prominent nations—are strong and dynamic, flexible and sure.
This evening, I would like to cite three timely examples of our effort to maintain anchors of stability in this era of change.
First, in Europe the challenge with which we and our allies have been wrestling is how to design a security structure, taking advantage of the disappearance of old divisions without creating new ones.
One option would have been to disband NATO and start from scratch. But NATO is a proven protector of freedom and a deterrent against new threats that is far too valuable to discard.
We could have flung NATO’s doors wide open, but NATO is an alliance based on mutual interests and responsibilities whose standards must be upheld.
We could have continued with business as usual, while padlocking NATO’s front gate, but that would have made immortal the line drawn in Europe by Stalin’s boot; and begged the question to which no one has offered a satisfactory answer—why would we choose to be allied with Europe’s old democracies forever, but its new democracies never?
Instead, the alliance has chosen to adapt to new missions and to invite as new members three central European democracies that have met NATO standards, and to leave the door ajar for others who may meet those standards.
The Senate hearings on NATO enlargement begin next week. I will be making the case, backed by President Clinton and the Joint Chiefs, by every living Secretary of State, and by my own firm conviction, that we are making the right choice for Europe’s future and the right choice for America.
NATO guarantees make the threat of force more credible and therefore the use of force less likely. It is no accident that our armed forces have never had to fire a shot to defend a NATO ally. Enlarging NATO will extend its stabilizing presence.
Moreover, the possibility of joining NATO has motivated nations in the region to settle old disputes, recognize minority rights and strengthen democratic reforms. This, too, bodes well for Europe’s future and our own.
Critics of NATO enlargement fear that expanding the alliance will open a dangerous new divide. Thus far, the opposite is true. Nations not included in the first round, but who still aspire to join, are working even harder to strengthen their democracies.
Nor is a second fear, that expanding the alliance will poison ties with Russia, being borne out. Our relations with Moscow are healthy, not because we see eye to eye on NATO enlargement; we don't. But because, at President Clinton’s direction, we have developed a broad-based and pragmatic relationship that encourages Russia’s modern aspirations, rather than accommodate its outdated fears.
Both our governments know that Russia can only prosper, and that we can only achieve our goal of an integrated and democratic Europe if Russia is a partner in that Europe. And despite severe problems, Russia is moving in the right direction.
Since late last year, a re-elected and reinvigorated President Yeltsin has initiated a new round of reforms at home, ended the war in Chechnya, signed a landmark agreement with Ukraine, taken his seat at the Summit of the Eight, joined in an historic Founding Act creating a partnership between the new Russia and the new NATO.
This past week, here in New York, I was pleased to attend the first meeting of that partnership, and delighted to join in the signing of agreements that updated the ABM Treaty and a Start II Protocol that should pave the way for that treaty’s ratification by the Russian Duma.
These pacts show we can make progress on vital issues despite differences on NATO enlargement. And they provide grounds for hope that START III cuts in nuclear arsenals to a level eighty percent below Cold War peaks may be within our reach.
If we are to build the kind of international system we want, Russia must be part of it. And the relationship we have forged with Russia will do much to ensure that participation—not because of the personalities involved now, but because of the mutual interests that will be at stake for many years to come.
In Asia, the work we are putting into our key relationships is also evident. Last Tuesday, Defense Secretary Cohen and I joined our Japanese counterparts in signing new defense cooperation guidelines. Those guidelines illustrate the strength of US-Japan ties and the reality that those ties remain vital to stability and a boon to the security of all nations in the region.
I also met last week with Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen, to prepare for the upcoming summit in Washington.
Any discussion of integration and the future must include China; for China will do much to shape the 21st century. Some see this as very bad news. They point to China’s rising military budget, its trade and arms export policies and its poor record on human rights, and argue that we should oppose China and seek single-handedly to isolate it from the world community. They suggest that confrontation is our only principled option.
The Clinton Administration does not agree. Effective diplomacy results not from the recitation of principle alone, but from backing principle with realistic policies; from seeing that what is worth achieving is achieved. And with respect to China and the United States, there is much that is worth achieving, and preventing.
Accordingly, we are engaged with China in a strategic dialogue that has preceded and will continue long after the summit. Our purpose is to achieve practical outcomes such as continued cooperation on Korea and nuclear nonproliferation, avoiding miscalculation over Taiwan, encouraging China’s entry into the World Trade Organization on commercially viable terms, and improving the prospect that China will respond positively to our concerns about internationally recognized human rights.
Engagement is not the same as endorsement. Our approach includes frank talk about differences. When warranted, it includes targeted sanctions or other appropriate measures to make tangible our disapproval. But it also includes an active search for areas where we can work with China for our own benefit and that of the region and the world.
We do not base our China policy on any sweeping assumption—pessimistic or optimistic—about the future. But we will not make an undesirable outcome more likely by treating it as inevitable. Nor are we disregarding the powerful currents of change that are working to keep China on a cooperative rather than a confrontational track.
Regardless of the choices we make, China will continue to be a rising force. The history of this century teaches us the wisdom of inviting such a power into the mainstream as a responsible participant in the international system, rather than consigning it prematurely to a divergent path.
America’s relations with Europe and Asia are two important contributors to the strength of the international system; our economic leadership is another.
Since President Clinton took office, we have negotiated more than 200 trade agreements, including the NAFTA and the Uruguay Round. For America, these agreements have opened new markets and created good new jobs. They have helped to sustain a remarkable period of economic growth at home while contributing to an expanding global market in which more and more countries have a stake.
We want to continue down the road of opening markets, expanding investment and trade, and ensuring a level playing field for our farmers, factory workers and business people. We want to open whole new sectors of the global economy in areas where our nation is highly competitive.
We want to pursue free trade with Chile, a Free Trade Area for the Americas and new market access agreements in the Asia-Pacific. These agreements would work to our advantage, not only because they would make the international system more cohesive, but also because our tariffs are currently lower than those of other countries.
But if we are to take these steps, Congress must say yes to renewing traditional fast track negotiating authority for the President.
There are many opposed to this step. They argue that free trade creates a bidding war in which foreign countries compete by lowering labor and environmental standards, thereby luring US factories and jobs offshore.
One problem with that analysis is that it views movement towards a more integrated global economy as a choice or an option, rather than a fact of life. The truth is that integration is driven less by trade than by technology; and technology is fueled by knowledge, which has no reverse gear.
The best course for our nation is not to curse globalization, but to shape it. And the truth is that we are better positioned than any other nation, for we have the world’s most competitive economy and its most productive workforce.
Fast Track is an essential and proven tool of diplomatic leadership. Until it lapsed three years ago, it was an instrument every President for the past two decades has had and has used to our economic benefit. But Fast Track is about more than dollars and cents; it is a foreign policy imperative. It is indispensable to US economic leadership, and that leadership is indispensable to US influence around the globe.
There are some who believe that the fight over Fast Track is already won; that our interests are so clear and the alternative so barren that Congress will inevitably come around. I am not so optimistic. I see a determined opposition inspired by high-minded goals, going all out to make their case.
Those of us who believe that fast track is needed to create better jobs, open new markets, grow our economy and preserve American leadership must realize that we are in for a fight; and we must respond seriously to the serious concerns of our critics; and we, too, must go all out to win.
This evening, I have cited three examples of Administration efforts to shape an international system that breathes in the exhilarating oxygen of globalization and breathes out the enduring verities of freedom, growth, stability and law.
We are, of course, active in many other arenas, on every continent:
- striving to heal the crisis of confidence that has arisen in the Middle East peace process;
- preventing a new war in Bosnia;
- offering our help in mending long-standing disputes in the Caucasus, the Aegean and South Asia;
- preparing with our partners for the second Summit of the Americas;
- recognizing and supporting the new promise of Africa;
- and combating the horror of terror, the plague of illegal drugs, the peril of international crime and the national security threat posed by environmental degradation, including global climate change.
Our purpose is to see that, in the hurly-burly of globalization, the forces of integration prevail over those of disintegration; that we move from the bipolar world of the Cold War to a world with many different centers of wealth, culture and power, but where the inevitable tensions among them do not lead to destructive conflict.
We proceed from the view that in an increasingly integrated world, diplomacy is no longer a zero sum game. Whether the issue is stopping the spread of nuclear arms or nurturing the seeds of economic growth, our message to others is that common interests, leading to joint efforts based on mutual responsibilities, will yield shared benefits.
You may say that many of these efforts are not dramatic; the payoffs are cumulative; this is not earth-shattering stuff. In reply, I would ask, isn’t that the whole point of foreign policy—not to shatter the Earth?
Some decades ago, in the depth of Cold War, during the tensions, Walter Lippman wrote about the realities of his time in words that may serve as a warning to ours.
“With all the danger and worry it causes”, wrote Lippman, “the Soviet challenge may yet prove a blessing. For if our influence were undisputed, we would, I feel sure, slowly deteriorate. Having lost our great energies because we did not exercise them, having lost our daring because everything was so comfortable, we would enter into the decline which has marked so many societies when they have come to think there is no great work to be done, and that the purpose of life is to hold on and stay put. For then the night has come and they doze off and they begin to die”.
Although Mr. Lippman was often right during his career, I am convinced that on this point he was wrong.
For almost as many years as I have been alive, the United States has played the leading role within the international system, not as sole arbiter of right and wrong, for that is a responsibility widely shared, but as pathfinder—as the nation able to show the way when others cannot.
Today, we have reached a point in history when no nation need be left out of the global system, and every nation that seeks to participate and is willing to do all it can to help itself will have our help in finding the right path.
The era of covered wagons and the blazing of trails through the wilderness is long past. The Cold War has ended. We face no Hitlers, no Stalins, and Saddam Hussein remains in a strategic box. But it is as great a gift to the future to create, if we can, the conditions in which great evil does not again threaten us, than it will be to oppose that evil if and when it does.
For America, there are no final frontiers. We cannot be defined by what or who we are against. America can only be defined by what we are for. And after more than 200 years, no new technology, invention or idea has supplanted human liberty as the world’s most powerful force for progress and change.
That force has made all the difference in my life and in the lives of millions who have been liberated or sheltered by American soldiers, empowered by American assistance or inspired by American ideals.
Although tempted at times to rest, we cannot stand still. We are doers. Like the great explorers of half a millennium ago, we must raise our sails high and catch the propelling winds of change at their fullest. And with freedom as the North Star by which we navigate, we must chart a course to the far horizon so that we may disembark in the new century free and respected, prosperous and at peace.
Thank you Members of the Council on Foreign Relations.
And happy birthday Foreign Affairs!
MR. KISSINGER: Now we will have some questions. Alternative statements of foreign policy have to be submitted—
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, can you comment on the UN, especially confrontations about the effect of the proposed new assessments on the other members of UN organization?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Yes, I’d be happy to. Let me say that the UN is alive and well, and we are very much a part of it. I have been very excited by this session of the General Assembly.
When I became Ambassador to the United Nations five years ago, the word “reform” did not seem to be in anybody’s vocabulary in any language. This year, last week, the new Secretary General Kofi Annan declared this a reform assembly. He has put forward a set of proposals—one set of which makes it possible for there to be reforms within the administrative structure of the UN, and also then makes suggestions for reforms that the governments have to undertake in order to make a UN that is more suitable for the 21st Century.
We, the United States, are in a rather peculiar position at the United Nations. As the parents of the organization and there at the founding, we are now a debtor at the UN. I don’t envy Bill Richardson, now in the role that I had for four years, of going from meeting to meeting and being told that we owe a large proportion of money.
We have however, Bill and I, with the President’s help, worked very hard with Congress to come up with a bargain that would, in fact, have us pay the bulk of what we owe, and at the same time help propel the UN further in terms of its reform agenda.
One of the problems that exists now is that the United States pays 25 percent of the UN budget, and we believe that that is too large a proportion and that the UN should not be that dependent on a single country for its revenue. Therefore, we are suggesting that our assessment go down first to 22 percent and then 20 percent.
There are very few things that really are zero sum games, but this is one of them; and therefore, what we do not pay, somebody else has to pick up. So we are now involved in trying to have some negotiations about lowering the assessment rate.
One of our prime targets, frankly, is China, because as a member of the Permanent Five, it pays less than one percent of the UN budget. We believe that it should pay more—it pays about the amount of Mali—and that their economy is now in a position to pay more. We actually are suggesting that perhaps there be a floor for payment of permanent members to the UN at three to four percent, not exactly exorbitant.
But let me say that there is a sense of hope about the role of the UN and the US role within it, and we hope to get through this tough patch, because I think we have a great new Secretary General. There is support in Congress for the United Nations. Just the way the word “reform” didn’t exist in their vocabulary, the words “UN” didn’t exactly exist in some of the congressional vocabulary, and I think we’ve turned that around also.
Thank you, Arthur, for asking a UN question.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, concerning the American presence in Bosnia, would we concede the Pentagon’s policy, if I understand it correctly, of not trying to catch war criminals makes sense because of the high risk that it may entail American casualties, which in turn will support those people who want us to withdraw?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that as far as Bosnia is concerned, I do believe that the Dayton agreements are key to having gotten that country out of years of slaughter and violence. And it is thanks to the United States and the role of Ambassador Holbrooke that we are able to make that comment.
I think that we should all feel very proud of the way that the US has played in that. And fulfillment of the Dayton Accords is something that we are dedicated to and we work on on a daily basis.
Part of the Dayton Accords is the necessity of dealing with the issue of war criminals. It is part of the whole agreement that war criminals should be turned over to The Hague, the International War Crimes Tribunal that has been created for that purpose is working. It is the responsibility of countries to turn those war criminals over.
Our military has the authority but not the obligation to capture the war criminals, and I think that it is important for us to understand the difference of those two. I think that the American position is that it is essential for the war criminals to be turned over to The Hague. And the point that I would make is that there is no statute of limitations on war crimes, and Karadzic and his friends’ day will come.
Let me just make the following point. I have the greatest respect for the US military. I think they are magnificent. Today we had an incredible example of it at the retirement ceremony for General Shalikashvili, who I think you all would agree is the preeminent example of what happens to an immigrant—even you and I—in America who has made his life dedication to this country. Shali is an example of that.
So we all value the lives of our military. But I would just ask you to think about this, that no American civilians have died in Bosnia, but only military. And I think that America is dedicated to the fulfillment of the Dayton Accords.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, it is perhaps even more difficult today, in foreign policy terms, to deal with rogue states such as Iran. You have a situation where Russia, for example, was transferring nuclear and maybe missile technologies; where France is doing very large energy transactions. How do we, as the leader, in a sense, in the world today try and cope with rogue states such as Iran, particularly when we don’t get the cooperation of key allies?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I hope you all heard that. I think that there is no question that dealing with the rogue states is one of the great challenges of our time, because as I have often described the international system, they are there with the sole purpose of destroying the system.
When I got to the UN, I kind of saw that there were four groups of states. There were those, the largest number, who had a dedication to the rules of the international system and benefited from them. The largest group of them—we might not agree with the form of government within each of those countries—but on the whole there was understanding of the system.
Secondly, there are the transitional countries who are trying to become a part of the international system. And then there are third states who, in one form or another, have eaten their seed grain, and the international community is trying to assist them.
But obviously, the worst problem are the rogue states, who not only do not have a desire to support the system, but try to destroy it. Iran is a prime example. Iran is a supporter of terrorism. Iran tries to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and in some form or another, on a very frequent basis, undermines the Middle East peace process. So it is of great concern.
It is also of great concern to us that our friends and allies don’t get it; that they seem to think that there is some way that we can deal with them without in some way supporting those three actions that they take that are contradictory to the international system. So, on the Russian issue, we have spent a great deal of time with the Russians—I did with Prime Minister Primakov, and Vice President Gore did with Chernomyrdin, and President Clinton does with President Yeltsin.
We have established a channel whereby former Ambassador Frank Wisner is now working with a Russian counterpart to try to deal with the discrepancies of our information about what they are doing, in terms of what they say they are doing. So we have a system.
I am very concerned, however, that in Congress there seems to be a thought that we ought to cut off assistance to Russia to punish them for what is potentially this transfer of technology. And I would hope that that would not happen, because we would be cutting off our nose to spite our face, because that is needed in order to help the reformers.
As far as the French are concerned, I must say it passes my understanding why there is not a realization that pumping money into the system of Iran is not helpful to the rest of us. We are very concerned about it. We are talking to them about it. There has been a concern among the allies, generally, in terms of support in some form or another, for our policy on Iran, in terms of understanding that ambassadors perhaps should not go back there after the incident that Germany suffered.
But it’s tough, and they don’t get it. And we are going to keep working on it, because while the election of Khatami is intriguing, we have not seen any change in action on those three key points.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I wondered if you could talk about the progress you’ve made in the Middle East peace talks—in your trip there and this week in the announcement you made about the talks getting back on track. I wondered if you’re satisfied with the progress you’ve made with Arafat and with the Israeli Government, and what your strategy is and where you see the talks going.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say—Henry and I actually talked before I went to the Middle East, and I was able to say that Secretaries of State go to the Middle East for two reasons—one, either because things are good and it is possible for the Secretary of State to push them over the edge with some brilliant diplomacy; or because things are bad, and it is important for the American Secretary of State to show up and see what can be done to get the process back on track.
I had hoped that, as Secretary of State, my first trip to the region would be for the first reason, and it ended up being for the second reason.
There is and has been a crisis of confidence in the Middle East, as the parties are not fulfilling various parts of the Oslo Accords that were designed to take interim steps so that bonds and trusts would be created, and the leaders would then be able to use the basis of that trust and their imagination to deal with the very difficult permanent status issues.
So I went to try to rebuild the bonds of confidence. As I have made very clear, I don’t think I accomplished that much in my trip. I felt that I had to lay out an analysis of what I thought was going on. I had started that in my speech to the National Press Club in August.
I stated there that it was absolutely essential for there to be mutual—there had to be mutual responsibility; there had to be a fulfillment of mutual obligations; and that the whole business of Oslo was the recognition of each other, these parties, and that there had to be mutual respect, and therefore, unilateral acts by either side which undermined that process and made it more complicated to develop the bonds of confidence, were not wise.
I made that statement in Israel. I thought it was important to tell it like it is there. We managed while I was there to try to get agreement that there would be representatives sent, first to Washington, by the Israelis and the Palestinians, and then to New York this last week, in order to see whether we could move the process forward. And we have.
As I said yesterday, I think we have arrested the downward spiral, and I think we have taken a small step forward. What we have agreed to is that, during the week of October 6, they will send people—Dennis will go, Dennis Ross will go to the region—in order to get the interim committees reactivated, the most important ones of which have to do with opening the seaport and the airport and safe passage. There are others, and they will also be started up again.
Then the week of October 13, that we begin talks that will deal with the following new concept that we had—and that is to try to marry the interim agreement with final status talks. As you know, suggestions have been made to accelerate the final status talks, because it was important to have the people get some benefit out of the years of peace. But at the same time we felt it was important for both parties to live up to the interim accord responsibilities.
So we are trying to marry those two concepts, and we are going to be dealing with four issues when those talks’ status continue—dealing with security, dealing with further redeployments, defining the concept of time-out, and beginning to think about the final status issues.
So we are back on a track. But I have decided, the best thing I can do for this process is to be honest and say when we’ve made progress and when we haven’t. We have made some minimal progress, and we’re going to be watching it and going to be deeply involved in it, whether I am in the region or here. But it is up to the leaders to make the hard decisions.
I said in my remarks at that the US is the pathfinder. That is what we are everywhere, and we are in the Middle East also. But we cannot make the decisions for the leaders. The leaders have to make the hard decisions themselves. I am convinced that the people of Israel and the Palestinian people want peace, and that is why we need to help them find the path.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, can you say a word about our policy toward North Korea?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, North Korea is a dinosaur in the international system. The people are suffering there because of a government that is completely out of step with what is happening in the world. Clearly, the people there, large portions of them, are starving while, in fact, there continues to be support for their military.
It has been our desire to try to do what we can to get reconciliation on the Peninsula and to move towards peace and a normal relationship with North Korea. There have been four-party talks in the works. As you know, last week the final preparatory talks that we were involved in did not succeed, mainly because the North Koreans are involved in trying to leverage food assistance from all of us in order to go on with the four-party talks.
The United States is the largest contributor to alleviating their food problem, but we do it as a result of a response to a humanitarian appeal through the World Food Program, and not as a way to bargain into these talks. So we want these talks to go forward. We are waiting for Pyongyang to figure out that basically it is to their advantage to get back with the talks.
Our policy is to try to get reconciliation as we can through the four-party talks on the Korean Peninsula.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, I think that two people here represent a fantastic and fascinating development in foreign policy. You talked a lot about human rights. When Secretary Kissinger was Secretary, he dismissed the US State Department promoting human rights as missionaries. What has change in that period. Why do you think that it is in American interest to promote human rights around world?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we can answer this together.
Let me say this, that I actually think we probably are not that far apart. I think that we believe—I believe that it is, first of all, right for the United States to support human rights policies, but also pragmatic. We know that the kinds of countries that we are most comfortable with are those where the people are able to exercise their political and human rights across the board, and that the United States generally is more comfortable in the company of democracies and free market systems.
I also believe that we are the pathfinder and the beacon nation in this regard. But let me make this point clear—it is that I think there is a false dichotomy made, especially with relation to China, which is always where this is held at. It’s always human rights versus trade. And that is not the issue. The issue is that there are areas in which we have to make progress across the board, and we have to engage with China, because China is going to be the largest powerful country for us to engage as we move into the 21st Century.
I have said that we have to have a multifaceted relationship with China where we are able to pursue our human rights agenda; make sure that China can be a part of the world trading organization on the appropriate terms; that we have a strategic dialogue with China; and that we make sure that China is part of the system. Therefore, I think that, while I fully believe and always will pursue a human rights policy, that it is not mutually exclusive or that there is a trade-off between one and the other. And it behooves us, as practitioners as well as writers about American foreign policy, not to make that false dichotomy.
Mr. Secretary. Don’t be so shy.
MR. KISSINGER: May I quote you?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: He’ll never make a columnist.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Do you have your copy of the—(inaudible)?
QUESTION: Always. (Inaudible).
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: There it is.
I think that the Law of Sea was one of the outstanding treaties that the US signed. I think, when I was over to pen that and give the pen to you, I thought that was a very proud moment. And we are trying to pursue it in terms of the various aspects that need to be carried out with the authority and various parts of it.
But yes, indeed, it is part of our policy.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, when President Clinton made a decision a year after he was in office that he would de-link human rights, the issue of human rights, with the other issues of trade, he said—and his representatives throughout the government said—that this policy would lead to persuade the Chinese to alleviate the human rights—the plight of their victims in China and in Tibet.
None of this has happened. This is not my—this is your word for it; that is, the State Department has said itself that political persecution has increased to the point where the dissident movement is more wiped out; that religious persecution has increased in China; and that the record some brave person wrote—human rights reports—that the record the past view years, meaning since the turn-around of American policy, has shown clearly that there will be—there is no—to paraphrase—there is no progress in human rights, whatever conditions are offered, until the country itself wants to follow what’s called—(inaudible—principles.
We have now, as we all know, excuse me, but we all know that the human rights situation in China has not changed, except for the worst, since the Clinton Administration reversed itself on policy. Don’t you think it’s about time—or do you think it’s about time you acknowledged that instead of pretending that the policy of engagement, however useful in other fields, has done anything but worsen human rights situation in the field of human rights?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I would not agree with the way that you frame that. I think that there is no question that China needs to make advances on human rights. There is no question about that at all.
And in my many meetings with Vice Premier Qian Qichen, I raise that subject, and so does everybody else in their meetings. It is very much a part of what we are looking for as far as the summit is concerned.
But let me just make this point again—that while pursuing an active human rights policy, I believe it is a mistake for the United States to isolate itself from China. We cannot have a one-track policy, even if it is human rights—a subject in which I deeply believe, as I have said—because it would be bad for the United States and our national interests to isolate ourselves from China, as I’ve said, the major power.
I think it is short-sighted, and I think it does not help us in the long-run to even do something about human rights. And I think we’ve got to wait and see, as we lead the process forward. We were not getting anywhere by making it, and the only thing that was happening was that we were isolating ourselves from this great power and losing whatever influence we possibly could have.
I can just assure you that it is very much a part of every discussion we have, and it will continue to be. But I do not think it is wise for us to have a one-subject foreign policy with China.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, following up to Mort’s question a little bit, and just in a larger context, I’m not sure and I’m confused when you said they don’t seem to get it. I wonder, what does it say about the perception of America, in terms of some of these questions on our strength—(inaudible)—a feeling that we can’t do it in—(inaudible). But just as a perception that it says to you sometimes when you’re really thinking these things through—about how countries are—(inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say, they are grumbling, here, that I didn’t answer your question.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Would I admit that we have not achieved that much? Yes. And let me make the following point—is the jury’s still out.
We are engaged in much more active relationships with China. We’re getting ready for a summit. We talk to them much more frequently. Give us a little bit of chance to try.
But on the question that you asked, I do think there is no question about the ultimate military power of the United States. We are the strongest country in the world, and the one to which nations turn to when they need help.
I do feel frustrated, however, in our ability to persuade other countries of our view about the rogue states; I will admit that. Because there are other interests in other countries that seem to prevail over what we believe is an important interest, which is trying to make sure that Iran or other rogue states do not acquire weapons of mass destruction that are destabilizing. We work very hard in the Security Council to maintain the sanctions on Iraq, and we are able to do that.
We will continue to do that. But we have to keep making that case Iran, there is no question, until there is a change in the actions of Iran. But I think that my brother here would admit that there is a limit to American power to persuade—even in his day—because of our ability to have leverage.
This is not the case with France, but with other countries, we do not have, we are not provided with assistance money or with programs that allow us to have flexibility and the leverage to persuade other countries to change their foreign policies.
It is indeed frustrating. But that is the role in which we operate.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, there’s a big gap between the grandeur of our global objectives and the amount of money you’re willing to spend on foreign policy establishment to implement them. You’ve brought American foreign policy back into center stage. And the question I have is what are your plans to translate that into real support from foreign policy infrastructure? And how can you help those of us who are on the other side?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that we are on the verge of—and there’s probably a State Department authorization conference going on as we speak. We will be able to, for the first time in many years, get full funding for State Department operations.
We are still in trouble, trying to get our money for the assistance programs. I think it is, frankly, embarrassing at how little the United States has—how little money we have to do foreign policy.
I think that the most important thing we all can do together is to make foreign policy less foreign to the American people, and to make clear that—and I chose my examples very carefully today. Economics is foreign policy; jobs is foreign policy; the ability of people to breathe is foreign policy; being free of drugs is foreign policy; being free of diseases is foreign policy.
And I think that it can’t be a priesthood, sorority or fraternity; and the average American person has to understand that foreign policy is central, and it affects him or her. That is why I’m out there, talking about it and trying to make it seem less complicated.
I do think that what is absolutely essential is, again, that members of Congress also understand the fact that they are the representatives of the American people in trying to give us what we need for foreign policy.
Thank you for asking that question.
Let me thank you all very, very much.