Thank you thank you very much. Thank you I appreciate that.
Well, this is a delight! Joyce and I are so pleased to be here.
Organizations come and go they start and they end only a few last a decade and very few not only last a decade but make the kinds of contributions that this organization has and I must say that Floyd and all of those that support this organization -- congratulations to you. You’re doing a good thing and I share your enthusiasm for what they have accomplished in the past and what these folks are accomplishing today.
Ted Forstmann, thank you for that introduction. Part of it was true. The part about the laundry was not true and it’s the kind of thing that will rumble around for decade and I’ll have to live with it notwithstanding the fact that I would never do something like that.
You know when you’re working with people, you learn about people. You learn the good, the bad and the ugly and you learn particularly when things are tough. When things are tough you see some people disappear, they’re not there. Some other folks you can kind of sense calibrating things and fashioning excuses and then there are few people who when things get really tough step right into the fire, take over and deal with it in a central way that makes them very vulnerable.
When Gulfstream got in trouble Ted Forstmann did not disappear. He did not fashion excuses. He stepped in and took over the Chief Executive post and bought that fine company out of the dump and forward, so I must say it’s been a pleasure for me and a privilege to work with you and to benefit from the fine leadership you’ve provided Forstmann Little and as well as to Empower America.
Jack Kemp and Jeane Kirkpatrick and Bill Bennett and Vin Weber it is always a pleasure to be with you.
I was delighted when you folks asked me participate in the Board so many years ago. Many people here in this room were present at the creation of this organization and it was a delight for me to be a part of it, and it’s also been a delight -- Jack and Jeane and Bill and Vin -- to see the success you’ve had and the contributions you have made.
I understand, I know I saw Jennifer Dunn here I can’t see other Members of Congress -- I think that both Houses were voting -- but I had breakfast with Jennifer here and she came back from a delegation that was in Iraq. I think there were six or eight that were there and came back and had the experience that a great many people have had. They found that there was difference between what they’d been reading about and hearing about on television, and what they actually saw first hand, and gave an excellent report, and then reported it to the press what they had found and we thank you for that Jennifer and other Members of the House and Senate who may be here.
J.T. Taylor, and my friend, Joe Fogg sitting there. And Dave Hanna, Members of the Board, its good to be with all of you.
It is a tribute to the power of ideas that, after the administration of President Ronald Reagan and President Bush, that the men and women who lead this picked up the torch and provided ideas. But you did a great deal more than simply provide ideas --you knew people needed more than simply ideas. For ideas to have real power, they need plans and strategies -- you need to put them into practice, and certainly Empower America has done that.
I had an Uncle named Lou Surrette who was a Professor of Speech at Northwestern University and wrote this textbook on public speaking. Unfortunately, he passed away before I ever ran for Congress -- but he was a terrific person, and he taught a course called ‘Persuasion.’ And he use to say that persuasion is a two-edge sword -- reason and emotion. Plunge it deep. And persuasion is both of those things. Reason can be persuasive but it’s emotion that can energize people and drive them to take those ideas and those thoughts and make something important of them.
I think about the work that each of you have done. Jack has been amazing in his energy and determination traveling all across this country and the world talking about his ideas and his convictions and with determination and persuasiveness.
Bill Bennett your project “Americans for Victory Over Terrorism” is certainly helping to crystallize the issue for the American people through the power of your intellect and as does your book: “Why We Fight: Moral Clarity and the War on Terrorism.” These are important contributions and we thank you as well.
And Jeane and Vin I benefit continuously from your thoughts and your writings and your advice, both public and private, and I thank you.
All of you, each of you and the organization are making important contributions to the national dialogue on critical public issues.
And I guess it was Winston Churchill who was once asked to name the most desirable qualification for a politician. And he said: “the ability to foretell what’s going to happen tomorrow and next week and next month and next year. And then to have the ability afterward to explain why it didn’t happen.”
When President Bush asked me to become Secretary of Defense, I could never have foretold what would be coming in the following two in half plus years. But when you think about what our country has accomplished in those two years since the attacks of September 11th: 46 million people have been liberated, liberated from tyranny and dictatorships. Thousands of terrorists determined to do us harm have been captured or killed -- including two-thirds of known al Qaeda senior operatives – most of them involved well as most of the people involved in September 11th attack here in the United States and some 43 of Iraq’s 55 most wanted have been captured or killed.
I think our country has a great deal to be proud of – and certainly the men and women in uniform who have done such a superb job have a great deal to be proud of.
You know from the press in the past few months, two or three months, you’d think the situation was really terrible. Indeed, I feel a little like Tip O’Neill during the first year of the Reagan administration. You remember The Reagan tax cuts that Jack Kemp and so many others helped push through -- had just rolled through Congress like an Infantry Division marching on Baghdad.
And Tip wrote in his memoirs, that he felt “like the guy in the old joke, who gets hit by a steamroller. Somebody runs to tell his wife about the accident. She’s taking a bath and she says I’m busy I’m taking a bath, just slip him under the door.”
Of course, the situation in Iraq is not doom and gloom. And without a doubt the task in Iraq is difficult. It is dangerous there’s no question about that. And it is complicated. And there have been setbacks and there will be setbacks, like those we experienced this past three or four days. And there will be more that’s the nature of what we’re wrestling with.
But there has also been impressive progress across a range of Coalition activities over. Consider some of what has been accomplished:
· The Iraq plan called for establishment of municipal councils in all major Iraqi cities. The Coalition accomplished that 2 months. It took 8 months in Germany after World War II.
· The plan called for establishment of an Iraqi cabinet of ministers. Coalition did it in 4 months. It took 14 months in postwar Germany.
· The plan called for the establishment of an independent Iraqi Central Bank. The Coalition did it in 2 months. It took 3 years in postwar Germany.
· Our plan called for the establishment of a new Iraqi currency. The Coalition announced it in 2 months, and began circulating new Iraqi dinars in 5 months. It took 3 years in postwar Germany.
· The plan called for establishment of a new Iraqi police force. The Coalition established it in 2 months. It took 14 months in postwar Germany.
· It called for the establishment of a new Iraqi Army. The Coalition began training within 3 months, and the first battalion was ready in less than 5 months. It took 10 years in postwar Germany.
In less than 6 months, we have gone from zero Iraqis providing security for the people of Iraq to 100,000 Iraqis. In the border patrols, site protection, police, civil defense and the Iraqi Army. Indeed, progress has been so swift, that Iraq is now the second largest contributor to Coalition security forces in the country. And it will not be long before the Iraqi passes the United States and becomes the largest, and it will not longer thereafter before they pass the entire Coalition and the Iraqi forces will be the majority of all forces in that country.
These are remarkable achievements. They dwarf any historical experience that I am aware of. Yet for months the progress that I’ve report have been ignored. The American people were hearing plenty about terrorist bombings and sabotage, but little about the achievements of the brave men and women in Iraq from Coalition countries, civilian and military the successes that they’ve racked up. So we have made an effort to present a somewhat more balanced picture, by raising public awareness of these activities.
Some have suggested that this effort is to put an optimistic face on a difficult security situation. Not so. Every time we’ve discussed progress in Iraq, we have made clear that the situation in the country remains dangerous and it does, that the road ahead will be bumpy and it will, and that that there will be setbacks as long as there are terrorists there will be Coalition and Iraqi forces killed and wounded.
And to our great regret and certainly our hearts and prayers go out to those families and loved ones of those wounded and killed in Iraq and in Afghanistan.
But the difficult security situation truly makes our progress that’s being achieved even more remarkable. Think about it: not only has the Coalition managed to outpace the progress in post-war Germany, Japan, Bosnia or Kosovo – but they have done it under fire. They have done it, not in a pacified country; they have done it while fighting regime remnants, terrorists and also I should add criminals, some 110,000 who were let loose on the population of that country by Saddam Hussein who are aggressively trying to stop the progress that’s being made.
In my view it’s impressive – and it deserves recognition.
We’ve all seen in recent days, the Coalition faces terrorists. What is equally true is that the Iraqi people are taking back their country. They are assuming greater and greater responsibility for governance, for providing essential services and certainly for security.
What form of government the Iraqi people eventually choose is up to them? The only requirements are those the Coalition has outlined. It should be an Iraq that is:
· One country not broken up;
· At peace with its neighbors not invading Kuwait, not threatening other neighbors;
· With a representative government that is built on democratic institutions and is respectful of its diverse population;
· A country that’s developing an economy that contributes to regional growth; something so important to this organization.
· A country that does not weapons of mass destruction or long-range missiles;
· And a country that opposes terrorism.
Within these broad outlines, Iraqis will form a government as they see fit, they’ll be an Iraqi solution for government just as there will be an Afghan solution for Afghanistan. And it will fit future – there future as a way that they believe is appropriate and it will put the leadership of that country into the hands of the Iraqi people.
They face difficult work to be sure. The Iraqi people have suffered three decades of oppression and they must overcome the scars of having lived under a brutal dictatorship. And in that dictatorship everything that was not expressly permitted was prohibited.
Suddenly in a matter of months they’re trying to build a free society, where everything that is not expressly prohibited is permitted. That is an enormous - it’s a truly enormous difference in their lives.
Iraqis have advantages. They are an intelligent, educated people. They have resources. Everyone talks about oil, they also have water - water that’s been badly mismanaged, water that’s enormously valuable to them and to the people of that country.
And, it is about freedom – freedom and security for America, for our friends and allies, and for people who long for what we have and what we enjoy.
The men and women of the military are doing a superb job. They’re all volunteers, we should keep that in mind, these are not people that conscripted or drafted these are people that put up their hand and said send me, I want to participate in defending this country of our ours.
And freedom of course is what Empower America is about as well.
For some 10 years now, you have devoted yourselves to promoting the principles and ideas upon which our country was founded - even help to empower not only America by your work but, by America’s example, all who look to this country and to our people as a beacon of hope.
So I thank you for what you do – I wish you a happy 10th Anniversary.
Thank you very much.
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