NGOs and the Future of AfghanistanMarc Grossman, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Remarks to the National Foreign Policy Conference for Leaders of Nongovernmental Organizations
October 26, 2001
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: John, thank you very much. Let me just say that John Naland as the president of AFSA has been a leader in speaking out for a new foreign policy and a new diplomacy for the 21st century. John, we salute you and we thank you very much for your efforts as well.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much. I'm never quite sure when you're the first speaker after lunch whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. But I've been asked to talk to you for a few minutes and then answer questions, obviously on subjects that will range, I guess, across the entire board about a foreign policy and a diplomacy for the 21st century.
As I say, I don't think that there can be anybody to give an introduction more useful than the president of the Foreign Service Association, because if we're going to change our diplomacy for the 21st century, if there's really going to be a diplomacy for this new environment, then we here at the State Department are going to have to change the way that we do business.
So if you would allow me, I would just like to divide my talk as informally as I possibly can into three parts. First, I'd like to talk a little bit about this question of creating a diplomacy for the 21st century and the very, very important role that you will play in that effort.
Second, I'd like to talk a minute about this new environment and focus in on Afghanistan and especially those of you NGOs who so heroically continue to work there, those NGOs who so heroically continue to be focused on questions of Afghanistan and in the region.
And then finally to talk just for a moment or two about foreign policy in this new environment generally. It's what I've been calling the "Can the United States of America walk and chew gum at the same time" issue. I think you'll find my answer to that question is yes.
As I say, I'd be delighted then to take not only questions but certainly comments. These fora, I think, are very important not just so that you can hear us but very much so that we also might be able to hear you.
Let me start for a minute then, if I could please, on this issue of creating a 21st century diplomacy. The reason I bring this topic up today is that you all in many ways embody what it is that we are going to have to accomplish if we wish to have a successful 21st century diplomacy.
Consider first of all the issues that we're dealing with. I don't know when you all started in your businesses, but I came into the State Department and joined the Foreign Service in 1976.
When I packed up my few books and my record albums, and I want to tell you, I now speak to many groups of junior officers who don't know what I'm talking about when I talk about a record album. When I packed up my few things and I went to Pakistan, which was my first post, what were we doing? We were doing the Soviet Union, the Soviet Union, and the Soviet Union, and we did a good job.
But if you look now at what it is that the State Department does and what the American people expect of us in terms of the 18 or 19 foreign policy goals of the department, what do you find?
You still find what I would consider to be the traditional goals of the department, to make sure that one power doesn't take over Europe, to end regional conflict, to provide the very best consular services and services to American citizens.
But look at the rest of that list. Promote sustainable development. Promote democracy. Stop the trafficking in women and children. Work on organized crime. Stop drugs. Stop hunger. These are problems that existed but they didn't exist as jobs for the Department of State in 1976 and 1977.
All of you who have been working in your field since then have given those jobs to us and we have taken them, I hope in a way that has been enthusiastic and has been also effective.
So we're dealing here, it seems to me anyway, with a whole new set of issues. We're also dealing with a different system than we were dealing with 20 or 25 years ago. Here are the questions of globalization. Here are the questions of information technology.
Here are the questions of the vast expansion of the ability to people to participate in what it is in most cases that their government is or is not doing. Those, it seems to me, are all issues that greatly affect the way we think about our diplomacy.
I'll tell you one other thing that's changed, and John Naland and I have worked on this a lot, which is that the people we are bringing into diplomacy today are also very different than they were 20 and 25 years ago. One of the reasons is that many of them have experience with you before they come to us. Many of them come from us and go to work at NGOs.
That's all really good. If you look at the kind of person we're bringing in today, they have so much more experience than I did 25 and 26 years ago. They've been places. They've been part of NGOs. They've had contact with NGOs. They know what the rest of the world is all about. They're much more technologically adept than I was, that's for sure.
They want to be part of a system that is changing and a system that is connected to the work that you all are doing. So what kind of diplomat is it that brings us to this 21st century? I hope that you would allow me to list them and then I think you'll see why I believe that you all are so important to the accomplishment of this change in the way we do our diplomacy.
A 21st century diplomat is not only going to be proficient at languages, but also intercultural communication. A 21st century diplomat of course is going to be a good manager, but they need to make sure that they can get the very best out of their people.
They've got to understand the very important role that public diplomacy plays in our dealings with both established countries and emerging democracies. They must understand the principles of preventive diplomacy and international peace operations. They've got to be comfortable with the very latest technologies.
The last one I always list to any group of people I talk to is this: They must learn to deal effectively with government, the media, nongovernmental organizations and all of those in the private sector.
I would say that if we can create somehow that 21st century diplomat to work on these 21st century issues and 21st century goals, we have done a lot not just for us and for our country but for all of you as well.
I was struck by what Secretary Powell said to you all this morning about the importance of NGOs in our foreign policy. I tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that is not a speech that a secretary of state could have given 15 years ago, and that's something that you all ought to be very proud of and that we are proud of as well.
What did he say? You give a voice to the voiceless. You are for us a fountain of new ideas and new ways to think about things. You are force multipliers, people who can go out and be part of not American foreign policy -- that's not your job -- but in doing right and doing the right things in this world. I think this idea, this issue of force multiplier, is an important one.
Let me talk about Afghanistan, because Afghanistan is the issue right now in this new environment. Obviously, there are probably many of you who know much, much more about Afghanistan than I do.
Certainly, I don’t need to tell this group that Afghanistan has for the past 20 or 25 years been in terrible shape as a result of drought, as a result of famine, as a result of civil war; that we now have five to seven million Afghans at risk. The reconstruction of that country is long overdue.
I don't know about any of you, but I keep down the side of my desk each day a list of those things that, although I wish September 11th never, ever, ever would have happened, but now that it did happen what kind of positives can we take out of it? What can we change? What transforming events and relationships can there be?
I think the idea that we can give Afghanistan back to Afghans, that reconstruction of Afghanistan can go forward has got to be on that list.
Life expectancy in Afghanistan is 46 years. A third of the population is literate and less than 15 percent of women know how to read and write. A majority of the population suffers from insufficient food, housing and medical care. On top of that, as you all know, Afghanistan is one of the most heavily mined countries in this world.
When the military campaign and the issues of al Qaeda and Usama bin Laden and his close associates and the terrorist camps there is settled, and I believe that it will be, this reconstruction, this rethinking of what Afghanistan is all about will need to begin.
Wells and roads and irrigation systems will need to be part of our diplomacy in the same way that working with the Afghan factions today or supporting the military campaign today is part of our diplomacy.
This is going to take an international effort. In that all of you will play a very important role as NGOs.
Just to talk for a moment about what the U.S. has been doing in this regard. We are and have been for many years the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan. In fiscal year 2001 we provided $179 million in aid, most of it in food aid.
Many of you know that a couple of weeks ago, I think on the 4th of October, President Bush said that he would put in another $320 million in food aid to try to deal with imminent starvation in Afghanistan.
The President's Afghan Children's Relief Fund, which he announced at the end of his speech to the joint session of Congress, has already received over 186,000 pieces of mail and as of today that collection is now at about $700,000.
Two days ago we also, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, delivered into Pakistan for movement on into Afghanistan about 36,000 blankets to try to help people get through this winter.
The question always comes, and I know that it is an issue among not only nongovernment organizations but an issue to us as well is what effect is this bombing campaign having on our ability to distribute food into Afghanistan? This bombing campaign, so far anyway, has not had any effect on our ability to get food to Afghanistan.
In fact, yesterday and the day before the World Food Program reported that they had their largest days ever, getting 2,000 metric tons of food into Afghanistan. Their desire is to get about 50,000 tons a month in. So if they can keep that up, they'll be doing pretty well.
Here's the problem. The problem is that we can't then get the food distributed once it's in Afghanistan to the people who need it, and that is not a question of bombing.
Let me read to you four or five sentences from a WFP report to the United Nations. "On the morning of October 7, armed Taliban entered the compound of Mine Action NGO in Kabul. Staff members were beaten and Taliban broke some of the locks on the vehicles. On October 8, armed Taliban entered the compound of an NGO in Kandahar, demanded vehicles. On October 13, 20 armed men entered the Kandahar office of the Islamic Relief Organization demanding vehicles at gunpoint. On October 15, armed men entered the compound of the International Organization for Migration, beating two guards and looting the office."
So for us anyway, it only compels us to deal quickly and swiftly with this question in Afghanistan of the Taliban.
The NGOs have been tremendous in their response in this regard. I'll give you three examples here as well. Mercy Corps International is continuing to work. CARE -- they've been working in Afghanistan since 1961 distributing food to 50,000 widows and their families.
The International Rescue Committee started working in Afghanistan in 1988, and has been providing medical and public health and self-reliance assistance ever since. And Medicine Sans Frontier, Doctors Without Borders, has also maintained operations in Afghanistan with local staff.
And so we are really here to report to you but also to thank those of you who operate in Afghanistan for your continued effort in this regard.
The final thing that I'd like to say is this question of foreign policy in a new era or, as I say perhaps the undiplomatic way, of whether the United States of America and our allies can do more than one thing at one time. I think the answer to that question is yes.
One of the things that concerns me the most about the conversation over the last few weeks in the United States and in Europe and in other places as well has been this idea that in pursuing the campaign against terrorism, which we will pursue and we will pursue successfully, that we'll just get rid of all the other things we used to believe in.
That we'll get rid of our interest in democracy and we’ll get rid of our interest in religious freedom and we'll get rid of our interest in humanitarian assistance. I can tell you all of that is not true. If it was true, we would not be the same United States of America that we were on September the 10th and we certainly were on September 11th and the 12th and the 13th and for every day afterwards.
I can tell you Secretary Powell said this morning that as we pursue this campaign we will also be pursuing the values that matter to us as a country and the values that also matter to you as members of nongovernmental organizations.
Will this always be easy? No. Does this get more complicated after September 11th? Of course it does. But the issues of values and the issues of where people stand are going to continue to be extremely important as we go forward into this future.
So we do, in my view, have a foreign policy in a new era and it isn't a new era just because the 11th of September occurred. It's a new era because our lives have changed in foreign policy. Foreign policy isn't so foreign anymore.
Foreign policy is about globalization. Foreign policy is about people. Foreign policy is about a new State Department. Foreign policy is about a new way to have creative diplomacy for the 21st century.
We can do all of these things, I believe, in a way that accurately and properly reflects the values that we've been brought up with, that we try to work with and that will make people who live in this country and who watch this country proud to do so.
So I just want to thank you all very much for your attendance here. I want to thank you very much for your attention to me, and I'd be glad to answer any questions or take any comments that you might have. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: Sure. Nick Berry, Center for Defense Information. In our attempt to overthrow the Taliban it appears that our military operations have gotten far ahead of our diplomatic operations to create a government of national unity to replace the Taliban. This is not playing well in Afghanistan. It's not playing well in the Islamic world or elsewhere.
Can you comment on the progress in creating an alternative government so that we can eventually control the cities, isolate al Qaeda, Usama bin Laden, and then pursue (inaudible)?
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Sure, I'd be glad to try to comment on that. Let me first of all say that whatever else you think about sequencing it's very important that this military campaign be successful because we were attacked on the 11th of September in a brutal way, and not just the United States. Eighty countries around the world lost people in those attacks in New York and in Pennsylvania and in Arlington at the Pentagon.
I would say two things about your question. One is that we're working quite hard on this issue. As the Secretary testified in both the Senate and the House over the past couple of days, he's appointed a special representative to work on these issues, Richard Haass, who's the director of policy planning.
Our embassy in Rome has for some weeks been in touch with the king. Our embassy in Islamabad is also in touch with Afghan factions. And so we are playing a very big role in trying to get everybody organized and get everybody connected with each other.
But I'd say one thing to you, sir, and that is that this idea that somehow we are going to create a government for them, it's not going to work. I'm no big Afghan expert, but I think that the history of Afghanistan shows that the idea that they are going to be told from some outside power how this should work and what it should look like puts us down a completely wrong path.
So we have a job to do, it seems to me, in making sure that the right parties are talking to each other, that Afghanistan has a broadly-based government, that it isn't the same kind of government that it is today but finally it also ought to be a government that Afghans can believe in and that Afghans can support.
So I want to be careful here to tell you we're working hard on this, but we're not in the business of creating something for them and handing it over and saying, "Here's what we've made for you, we hope you enjoy yourselves." That's isn't right. It's not the position we ought to be in.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) Foreign Service. I'm from a city that has a remarkable mayor. A few weeks ago this remarkable mayor made a speech in the United Nations where he sharply criticized the individuals and organizations who were asking the question what is behind this heinous act, what were the motives of the people who did this?
There are many organizations and many individuals who have taken umbrage at this statement that seems to imply that their activities are supportive of the criminals. What can the State Department do to suggest to all of us ways and means over the long run to bridge the gap between retaliation and long-term peace and reconciliation with peoples who say they hate us?
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: This question of motives is at one level quite interesting and at another level not interesting at all. The motives, I think, of the people who did this to us, who attacked us, were murder, were mass murder. I think any kind of further psychologizing or worrying whether they came from broken families is not so interesting. They're mass murderers.
I don't mean to be argumentative with you, but I think for those people who did this thing, al Qaeda and the lieutenants and the people who helped them and the people who flew those planes, they're mass murderers. I'm not interested in their motives.
The other part of the question, though, especially as Americans we want to know why do all those people hate us and what are we going to do about this. Here I think that there is a big opportunity for the United States of America and for all of you who work in the NGO sector to see if we can do everything we possibly can to avoid the Samuel Huntington view that this is some clash of civilizations.
We have to do all that we can, and we have been doing all we can in terms of our public diplomacy. Reminding people again and again and again that this is not a war against Islam.
I think one of the very first and smartest things that President Bush did was go up to the mosque here in Washington, D.C. I thought it was a terrific thing to do and the right thing to do.
Now the next thing has to be to recognize that this is not a war between civilizations and start finding what really important connections there are. We have tried to quote Muslim leaders of the United States, Muslim leaders abroad who have said categorically that what happened on the 11th of September had nothing to do with Islam; it had to do with murder.
We need to continue to press forward in that but do one other piece, I think, and that's the underlying piece of this which is "oh, if there was only a peace process in the Middle East it wouldn't have happened to us on the 11th of September." No government could be doing more than the United States at the moment to try to bring peace to the Middle East. Both the Secretary and the President.
But I think even if there had been an active peace process, or an inactive peace process, or any other kind of peace process, would not have stopped the people who did this to us on the 11th of September.
I saw a tremendous quotation the other day from Hosni Mubarak. He was asked by Lally Weymouth and it's in Newsweek. She says, "Well, what about this Usama bin Laden and the Palestinians? Don't you think this is all about the Palestinians?" And President Mubarak says, "Usama bin Laden never talked about the Palestinians before the 11th of September. He has only started to talk about Palestinians after the 11th of September and we shouldn't forget that."
So there's a big job to do here for the United States of America and for all of you, to make sure that there's no clash of civilizations. But I don't think we should get this mixed up in trying to deal with people's motives. People's motives for this murder was murder.
And we need to make sure that those who are believers in that religion, believers in all religion, don't get tainted with the same brush and that dialogue needs to go forward.
QUESTION: I'm Bob (inaudible) Center for Global Development. Thank you, Secretary Grossman, for an excellent talk. Could you give us some leads on how we can help do more than one thing at a time? Particularly I'm concerned about the financial implications for many other interests.
To give one example, Africa has had an aid level that has been declining for a decade. FDI is apt to be declining this year; trade is probably. And yet our own programs could suffer if they have to compete with new demands and arguably perfect demands for Afghanistan and surrounding areas.
So how can other parts of the developing world be aided? Will you go for a supplemental where you'll need our support? What are the vehicles that we can help you do more than one thing at a time?
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: It's an excellent question and I appreciate that. We've already, of course, gone for one supplemental of $40 billion for this year, which was quickly passed. I would say, sir, that a fair amount of that -- I don't say a majority of it, I don't say a lot of it, but a fair amount of that -- will go to some of the development assistance and help for countries: Pakistan, for example, some of the other front line states that we are trying now to help.
So I don't want you to think that we haven't been paying attention to this and that that $40 billion will all be for military efforts or security against terrorism. I think a whole lot of it ought to be. But a fair amount of this will be for development, for assistance, for new ways of doing business with some of the front line states who have put themselves out for us in a pretty substantial way.
The second point I would make, and I live in Washington, D.C. so what do I know? But it seems to me, anyway, that one of the transforming ideas of the 11th of September ought to be that Americans more and more should understand that a little bit of prevention is better than a lot of cure and that some money spent at the front end on what is horribly called foreign aid in this country is actually a really important thing.
This ought to be an opportunity to remind people that we are not alone in this world both on the good side, which is the sense of all the people who stood up for us so quickly, and on the challenging side that we've got some development issues.
The third thing I would say is that we ought to be able to figure out how to highlight the opportunities that exist at the moment, especially in the trade area.
For example, you were nice enough to mention Africa. Aid levels in Africa, I think as Secretary Powell would say, are too low. On the other hand, on Monday right here in this room the African Growth and Opportunities Act countries will get together for a summit. President Bush in the room next door will address them and so will Secretary Powell. That's a big opportunity out there for the AGOA countries.
Look at Colombia. One of the answers to narco-terrorism in Colombia is the Andean Trade Preferences Act, is support from all of you for the Andean Regional Initiative, is support from you for the Free Trade Area of the Americas.
So I think we ought to be able together to highlight for Americans this important role that the United States plays in the world and to take advantage now, especially in the trade area, of some of the opportunities that exist. Thank you.
QUESTION: Fred Nathan, World Affairs Council of San Diego. My question is a follow-up on your comments about the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian situation. There is a perception, as we all know, that the United States favors Israel as against the Palestinians.
It's especially important now because of what's going on in the world and terrorism that we persuade as many terrorists that maybe we're not really against the Muslims and the Palestinians and so on.
But my question is in terms of the present administration versus the previous administration, the previous administration saw it important enough to have a special envoy, a special emissary, Dennis Ross, that focused very carefully and spent full-time on the issue of trying to bring the two parties together. Unfortunately, he wasn't successful enough.
But with the current situation, the (inaudible) and the war on terrorism, wouldn't it make sense instead of Colin Powell trying to say something on both sides of the Israelis and the Palestinians and President Bush to have a noteworthy person, like George Mitchell or like Jimmy Carter or maybe even like Clinton, to be the special emissary that would get a lot of visibility, that would be able to deal in specifics and so on and so forth and deal with all aspects of the politics? Thank you.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Well, I appreciate your question. First, I think it is important to stop here and deal with the front end of your question. We're not in the business, either on the Israeli side or the Palestinian side, of sliding policy one way or the other to deal with this coalition.
What the Secretary is interested in is trying to see if we can't lower the level of violence, get to the Mitchell process and get some peace in the Middle East. That is an extremely difficult challenge at the moment, but that's the challenge that he has set for himself and the President has set for him and has set for us as well.
In terms of comparisons, well, there was Dennis Ross and then there wasn't Dennis Ross. All I can really say to you is we only run one administration at a time and so I can't really get into comparing how it was in the past.
I will say this, though, that the Bush administration as it arrived in Washington, as you'll remember during the transition, was totally in support of President Clinton's valiant effort at the end to try to bring some peace between Arabs and Israelis and Israelis and Palestinians.
I think that it's a shame that that didn't work out, but in the end a fair person would say that Mr. Arafat was not ready to say yes to the deal that was offered him at Camp David. So this administration took a very strong stand in support of the efforts of the previous administration.
If the Secretary were standing here what he would tell you is there may be a time for a special envoy, there may be a time to do things differently than the way we're doing it now, but he can't figure out how you can get to that time unless the level of violence goes down, unless we can somehow get to the beginnings of the Mitchell process.
From the applause and from your statement, that might not be the most popular thing here to say here from the podium today. But if he was standing here that's what he would tell you: this is not a useful proposition until the level of violence goes down. On that, both the Palestinians and the Israelis have a job to do as we've said over the past few days.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) I think (inaudible) appreciate it.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: I'd be delighted. Of course. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) from New Haven, Connecticut. I appreciate your asking us for support in a number of different areas. It strikes me that from watching C-Span and just this week, a couple of days ago, the Secretary was being questioned in different ways by the House of Representatives and committees there.
Some of the things that you're asking us to support are apparently not supported by leaders in Congress. And so you're suggesting that we as voters and constituents need to tell Congress what we're looking for, I guess, is --
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Let's stop right there. I know the law well enough to know that I am not, not, not asking you to lobby the Congress.
QUESTION: Well, then I'm sorry, and I --
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: And I hope you got that fair and square right on the camera.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: I'm not a lawyer but I know that well enough to --
QUESTION: But you do agree that --
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: I'm not asking you to lobby the Congress. What I am saying to you is we have every right and responsibility to stand up here, I think, and pitch you what it is we're trying to do. You all now have to go out and decide what you want to do about that. This gentleman, for example, is clearly not going to run up and tell anybody I've got the right policy on the Middle East, but --
QUESTION: Let me change my question then.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: But before -- no, if you think, as I tried to answer the gentleman before, that the Andean Trade Preferences Act is going to help us in Colombia, well, I hope that you would consider doing something about that.
QUESTION: Let me change my question then.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Okay.
QUESTION: Some of the other things that you were speaking about too, the position on the Israel-Palestine question.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Right.
QUESTION: Can you tell us a little bit about how Congress views these issues and their relationship with the State Department?
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Sure. Of course I can. One of the things that has struck me certainly in the position I used to have as Assistant Secretary for European Affairs and now certainly in this job is there's a whole range of opinion in the Congress.
When you testify in front of the Congress, it's a very interesting thing because you listen to one opinion and you listen to another opinion and you listen to another opinion and try to answer the questions as best you possibly can.
But I would say to you that on many issues, all the issues, perhaps, that we've dealt with today with the exception of this campaign against terrorism, we're a democracy and if you want to go to the Congress and find somebody who believes X and believes Y and believes Z, you certainly can, and that's their right. That's how this system is supposed to work.
We're all supposed to be disciplined and believe what the President and the Secretary of State tell us to believe, and that's what we do to the best of our ability. But in Congress, you elected people in Congress to say what they think and to say what you think.
So it's very hard for me to say that on issue X, issue Y or issue Z that there's some kind of unified view. I'd say that since Secretary Powell came to be the Secretary and he's been the Secretary, we've had a tremendous working relationship with the Congress.
I think, as you saw, even if people disagreed a little bit yesterday, this relationship we have with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with the House International Relations Committee, it's all really positive.
We've been up and we've talked to people, we've briefed people. I don't expect people to agree with me all the time. I just ask for a chance to give them a fair shot on what I think.
Separation of powers is separation of powers. We have a job to do. They have a job to do. Together we can get this done.
I must say that as a public servant it's an especially exciting time. Again, please, the 11th of September should never have happened. But it's a very exciting time to be in government because there's patriotism in this country, there's some unity in this country.
Work we're doing with the Congress and with our colleagues in the executive branch is all real focused on what it is we're trying to get done. This is a very good time and a very exciting time to serve the United States.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) this time and how is the State Department planning to capture the attention of the American public in terms of educating them on the very small amount of our budget, our national budget, that's devoted to foreign affairs? People in general do not understand that number.
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Right. Well, we're going to need your help, first of all, in that. We're going to have to just keep talking about it and talking about it. Perhaps, as I answered the gentleman before, people will start to realize now that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. That starts to be an extremely important pitch, it seems to me, about our foreign policy.
Again, at the end of Secretary Albright's term and certainly the beginning of Secretary Powell's term, you could see the numbers for the department going up. People realized we simply couldn't deal with these new issues and this new system in the way that we had been left. Again, John Naland has had a big and important role to play in this. But we've got to keep that momentum.
I'd say a couple of things, though. One is that we have a responsibility here that I take very seriously, which is to say I don't think we should just have money thrown at us to keep doing the same things we have been doing, and that's why I started and ended my presentation here today by saying we need to create a diplomacy for the 21st century.
We have a responsibility to change the way that we do business, to change what it is we talk about, to change the way that we deal with people, and we're trying to do all of that.
So what I am asking people for and what I ask the members of Congress for is an investment in helping us change the way that we do business.
On the other side in terms of the American public, again, you all will know this better than I, but perhaps the 11th of September gives us this opportunity. I don't think anyone is going to be calling us unilateralists again after the 11th of September. How do you hold that? How do you make that continue? That's a responsibility, I think, that you share with us.
QUESTION: Edison Dick, American Bar Association. Can you comment how you plan to work with and in conjunction with the United Nations both on the ongoing military efforts, peacekeeping, reconstruction and governance areas into the future?
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: Well, we'd like to work with the United Nations in all those areas. I'd say first that the response of the United Nations after the 11th of September has just been spectacular.
When you look at the resolution that was passed on the 12th of September about the attack on the United States and our right of self-defense and the fact that everybody should be against terrorism, that resolution passed quickly and cleanly and it's terrific.
The other thing I would say, and I hope all of you will pay attention to this as well. About eight or ten days later, maybe two weeks, the United Nations passed another resolution called Resolution 1373.
Resolution 1373 has the possibility of being a world changing event because it talks about the financing of terrorism. It calls on every single country in the United Nations to end the kind of banking practices and other shady dealings that allows terrorism to be financed. So I think 1373 and its follow-up is going to be very important.
The United Nations General Assembly, the very first resolution of the 56th session of the General Assembly on the 14th or 15th of September was in support of the United States and in support of our campaign against terrorism.
We now have new things to do with the United Nations in terms of the future of Afghanistan. I think as you'll notice yesterday and the day before as the Secretary testified he said there's going to be a big role for the United Nations in the future of Afghanistan. The President said so in a press conference a couple of weeks ago.
Ambassador Brahimi, the Secretary General's representative on Afghanistan, was here a week ago last Friday and had a chance to meet with a number of us about his plans and our plans. So we want to be in support of all these things.
Again, like I tried to answer the question before, this is a very exciting time to be in public service in the United States. It's also a time when we might be able to refocus our minds on what the United Nations is supposed to do.
I was in a debate the other day and someone said, "Well, this will be the total rehabilitation of the United Nations in the American public." Well, I doubt that, but what I said was we'd like to see more U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1373s and less meetings like the one in Durban.
And so we want to work with the U.N. We want to support them in this regard. I think what they have done since the 11th of September has been nothing short of great.
Okay, I can take one more, I think. Yes, sir.
QUESTION: I agree with Kissinger in his latest book about does America need a foreign policy, something like that, that perhaps we need for the 21st century to try to be leaders of the world rather than to build an empire.
I think he's alluding to the 20th century that it was an empire kind of driven vision and that now for the 21st century we need a new vision of leadership.
Of course, that requires to be inclusive really to the world because we are microcosm of the world, and in terms of perceptions, improving the perceptions of this country, it's important that the rest of the cultures and the religions and the civilizations of the world feel that they are included in the global framework. What do you say to that?
AMBASSADOR GROSSMAN: I'd say first that having spent the last 26 years in the Foreign Service I've never really considered myself to be an imperialist. I think the United States does a very great amount of good in this world.
I don't say that we're perfect. I don't say every single thing we've ever done has led to exactly the right result. But I think by and large the world is better off for the United States being here than not being here. So I don't consider myself to be an imperialist.
What I agree with you, though, sir, is that the 21st century and its diplomacy is going to take a different kind of leadership. And perhaps -- it's clearly too soon to tell -- but perhaps what we see in this coalition against terrorism might be the glimmerings of what this new kind of leadership and new kind of diplomacy is about.
We have hundreds and hundreds of countries around the world signed up to be in this coalition against terrorism. Ah, but this coalition doesn't meet, it doesn't go to Geneva and issue learned communiques. It doesn't give out a membership card.
It says to you here are the things that you ought to do to be against terrorism. We're not going to check up on you every day to see whether you're doing them. But if you want to be part of this deal, part of what's happening in this world, there are certain minimum standards. Ratify the 12 U.N. conventions on terrorism. Follow 1373. Share information. Share intelligence on terrorists coming and going.
There are going to be other countries, and I hope the vast majority -- actually I hope that every country can meet those at least minimal standards. Some of the divisions that have been there in the past don't need to be there anymore if countries will meet that certain standard.
Up a little will be countries that will, I think, be a more active. They'll disrupt terrorist networks, be more active against this. And then there will be countries that will enable military action and there will be some countries that will take military action.
And so this is a coalition, as Secretary Rumsfeld has said, that changes all the time. But everyone is in it and everyone has a part in it and everyone can choose, beyond a minimum, what role they play in it.
I think the President was great. The President said one night, "You know, some people do things openly. People will do some things clandestinely. Some people will want to talk about things. Others won't. Others will do financial things. Others will do military things. That's all right."
Maybe, and again, it's too soon to tell because this is the 26th of October and this event only happened on the 11th of September. But it is possible that you are seeing the beginnings of a new kind of way to lead the international community and we're very proud to be part of that.
Thank you all very much.