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Clinton Stresses Global Engagement at West Point

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 3, 1997 – "We are living in a world in which increasingly our future is interdependent with other nations, and we must work with them all across the globe," President Clinton recently told U.S. Military Academy graduates.

The United States must work with other nations in facing threats of terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and environmental degradation, Clinton said at the West Point commencement May 31. These threats, "amplified by modern technology, communication and travel," cross national boundaries, he said.

Fostering global alliances is the first step toward accomplishing the goals of his recently released national security strategy for a new century, Clinton said.

The strategy, released in May, features three overall objectives: enhance security with effective diplomacy and military forces ready to fight and win; bolster America's economic prosperity; and promote democracy abroad.

"We must not fail history's challenge at this moment to build a Europe peaceful, democratic and undivided, allied with us to face the new security threats of the new century," Clinton told the West Point audience.

"Enlarging NATO, along with its Partnership for Peace with many other nations and its special agreement with Russia and its soon-to-be-signed partnership with Ukraine, will erase the artificial line in Europe that Stalin drew and bring Europe together in security, not keep it apart in stability."

Ensuring stability in the Asia-Pacific region is another step toward protecting vital American interests, Clinton said. "We must build a community of Asia-Pacific nations bound by a common commitment to stability and prosperity. ... Asia's stability affects our peace, and Asia's explosive growth affects our prosperity. That's why we've strengthened our security ties to Japan and Korea, why we now meet every year with the Asia-Pacific leaders, why we must work with and not isolates ourselves from China."

The United States is also building coalitions around the world to deal with new security threats, Clinton pointed out, citing the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Nonproliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The next task, he said, is to make the same kind of arrangements to fight terrorism, drug trafficking and environmental degradation.

Overall, the United States must embrace its role as "the decisive force for peace," Clinton said.

"When our values and interests are at stake, our mission is crystal clear and achievable -- America should stand with our allies around the world who seek to bring peace and prevent slaughter. From the Middle East to Bosnia, from Haiti to Northern Ireland, we have worked to contain conflict, to support peace, to give children a brighter future, and it has enhanced our security."

Ensuring the nation has the most powerful and best-trained military is critical to providing national security, Clinton told the graduating officers.

"The long-term defense plan we have just completed [Quadrennial Defense Review] will increase your readiness, capabilities and technological edge. In a world of persistent dangers you must, and you will, be able to dominate the conflicts of the future as you did the battlefields of the past."

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