Foreign Policy Goal Is to Build Partnerships, Promote Democracy, Powell Says
By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5, 2003 The administration's national security policy is one of pre-emption and partnership, but its central goal is to promote democracy throughout the world, Secretary of State Colin Powell said here today.
"As the president says, and as anyone can understand, if you can see a clear and present threat, a danger coming at you, you do not wait for it to arrive. You deal with it, you pre-empt, you don't wait for it to strike," Powell explained in a session with George Washington University students, faculty and alumni. "It is not a new concept, but it took on new meaning in light of the changed world we faced after 9-11."
However, he added, the president's national security strategy covers far more than just pre-emption. "Above all, the president's strategy is a strategy of partnerships," he said while discussing U.S. relationships with Russia, China, North Korea, and India, as well as issues involving the Middle East and Asia and the war of terrorism.
Powell had earlier taken part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony that officially opened the university's new Elliot School for International Affairs. The secretary earned his master's degree in business administration from the school in 1971, and was given an honorary doctorate in public service by the school in 1990. A plaque will be placed at the Elliot School in the secretary's honor.
Citing relationships with NATO and the United Nations, Powell said President Bush's foreign policy "strongly affirms" the vital role that partnerships have throughout the world, but he added that the president's strategy also calls for "new partnerships -- alliances to meet new challenges," which demand a U.S. role in helping to solve regional conflicts.
"We cannot just sit back behind our oceans and not take note of problems that are out there that we can play a leadership role in solving," he said. "Not only do such conflicts cause so much suffering, they can spread; they can spread to envelop societies that are now at peace, and they can stoke the fires of terrorism as well."
Powell said that nowhere is the U.S. role in helping to resolve regional conflicts more important than in bringing Israelis and Palestinians to a stable peace settlement.
"We have a plan. It's called a road map. And we stand by that road map," he said. "That road map has been agreed to by the Israelis and the Palestinians. It has been endorsed by an organization that we created -- a new partnership that we created, called a Quartet: the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the Russian Federation. Also, Arab nations (are) joining in support of the road map."
"We need to keep the pressure on both sides to do everything they can to get to that point where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in peace -- Israelis in the state of Israel, Palestinians in a state of their own, called Palestine," he said.
"It has not been an easy journey so far, and it will not be easy as we move ahead. Many problems remain," he said. The secretary added that Palestinian chairman Yasser Arafat has not been helpful. "He has not been an interlocutor for peace over the years," he said. "His actions do not move the parties farther down the road to peace."
Powell said another goal of the administration is to wipe out terrorism, saying that the president understands "terrorism is not just America's problem, it is everyone's problem. It is a problem for the civilized world, and the civilized world had to come together, under his (the president's) leadership, to deal with it." He cited recent terrorist attacks at a resort in Bali, on a bus filled with children in Jerusalem, a Bombay marketplace, at U.N. headquarters in Baghdad, and in front of a sacred mosque in Najaf, Iraq, to show that terrorism knows no borders.
"Our grief knows no borders. Neither does our determination to put an end to such outrages against innocent people. The war on terrorism is our No. 1 priority, and will remain so for as long as is necessary," the secretary said.
But despite the recent terrorist attacks, he added, the United States is making progress toward succeeding in the global war on terrorism.
Powell also stated that political accomplishments in Afghanistan and Iraq are not without cost. "I know that the president is deeply grateful, as are we all, for the outstanding the service and the painful sacrifices that American men and women in uniform are making in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
"We are grateful, too, for the service and sacrifices being made by the soldiers of dozens of other nations who are also contributing to the effort," he said. "Every loss that we suffer becomes a stone in the citadel we are building against terrorism and against hatred. None of these lives (has) been lost in vain."
During his address, Powell provided several examples of how the United States has been working to improve relationships with other countries, such as Russia, China, North Korea and India.
"Our relationship with Russia has been dramatically transformed for the better since that November evening in 1989 (when the Berlin Wall fell). Americans and Russians no longer point growing arsenals of strategic missiles at one another."
"Indeed, thanks to President Bush and President Putin's leadership, we are now radically reducing our strategic weapons arsenals," he said.
Powell also cited new relationships between Russia and NATO, from sharing intelligence on terrorism to working together to deal with humanitarian crises and peacekeeping tasks. "The NATO-Russia Council is operational and working, something that would have been absolutely unthinkable just 15 or so short years ago," he said.
However, the secretary said, the two countries still do not agree on everything. He said that earlier this year, the United States was hopeful of Russian support on Iraq policy and that the United States wants Russia to change its attitude toward the Iranian nuclear program. "And we differ over aspects of Russian policy in Chechnya," he said. "But the relationship as a whole is no longer locked in 'knee-jerk' antagonism. That's what's important," he added. "We now have the necessary level of trust required to solve even the most difficult issues that exist between us."
With India, Powell said that recent economic reforms are setting "institutional roots" and that country is developing into a mature market economy. "We want to work with India," he noted. "We want to help India overcome its challenges, and we want to help ourselves with a closer association with one of the world's richest and most ancient cultures."
He added that the world's two largest democracies are no longer "estranged as they had been for many years."
Powell said that U.S. relations with China had improved over the years, but the United States has not ignored basic differences with China on human rights practices, proliferation activities or reluctance to match political reform to economic reform. He said the relationships have improved because the United States welcomes "the emergence of a strong, peaceful and prosperous China," and seeks a constructive relationship. "Indeed, we welcome a global role for China, so long as China assumes the responsibility commensurate with that role," he observed.
Regarding North Korea, however, the secretary said the United States still has a long way to go before achieving success in dealing with that country's nuclear weapons program. "We have no intention of invading or attacking North Korea, and we have told our partners and the North Koreans that. We have stated our intentions openly and honestly. We want peace, not war. We want security, not fear, to envelop Korea and its neighbors."
However, he added that the United States will not yield to threats and blackmail. "We will not take any options off the table," he said. "Now is the time for North Korea to alter its behavior, to end its nuclear program in a verifiable manner."
Powell concluded that relations among the major nations of the world will remain a key element that will shape the future of international security in the administration.
"We must not take the present peace among the major powers for granted. That peace will not just take care of itself as time passes. We will have to work at it, and we will remain engaged," he said.
"We want to help people raise themselves from poverty now. We want to transform the inadequate system of global public health now. We are in pursuit of these goals too now. But only if the deep peace of our era can be preserved, defended and expanded can our long-term goals be achieved," he said. "And make no mistake, these are essential goals of American foreign policy in the 21st century."