U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Other State Department Archive SitesU.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
U.S. Department of State
Home Issues & Press Travel & Business Countries Youth & Education Careers About State Video
 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2004 > March

Annual B.C. Lee Luncheon Lecture to the Heritage Foundation

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center
Washington, DC
March 2, 2004

[DSL/cabledialup; audio]

(12:50 p.m. EST)

Well, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you, Elaine, for that kind and generous introduction, and tell the President I said hello. (Laughter.) I just left him a few minutes ago coming over here. He is really running the rounds today, and we had a meeting with the new Korean Foreign Minister, which was a very warm and cordial meeting -- the first time the President had a chance to meet with the new Minister.

I want to thank Mr. Lee for his kind remarks. And, Ed, I want to thank you for inviting me here today. I am deeply honored to address the Heritage Foundation, and this gathering, and grateful for the generosity of the Samsung Group and the Lee family in making this important and distinguished lecture series possible.

B.C. Lee, as we all know, was a very successful businessman, but his concerns and his interests transcended business.

His public spiritedness remains with us in many ways; his having endowed this lecture, which is now continued by his son, is just one of his many contributions, and we are all his beneficiaries.

Partnership at work in Asia is the title of my lecture today, and the subject of that lecture is Asian democracy and American foreign policy. That may not sound particularly exciting to the younger members of this audience. But those closer to my age will know that it is exciting.

That’s because they realize that such a title would have sounded odd just 3 or 4 decades ago, for the simple reason that there wasn’t much Asian democracy back then to speak of.

Now there is. So my subject is not only [not] odd, it’s obvious – or it should be. Democratic political development in Asia provides a new and very positive context for U.S. foreign policy, a more hopeful context than ever before. This is an exciting development.

The link between U.S. foreign policy and the success of democracy abroad was also the theme of a speech I gave about two weeks ago at Princeton University. On that occasion, I was celebrating the 100th birthday of the grand old man of American foreign policy, George Kennan, the author of the containment strategy. As you might expect on such an occasion, I spoke mainly about the many positive changes that took place in Europe during the second half of the 20th century -- especially in that century’s final decade, with the end of the Cold War and everything that Kennan had spoken about coming to pass.

I stressed that victory in the Cold War was not just a victory of American and Western power against an enemy, the Soviet Union.

It was a victory of ideas and ideals, a victory for liberty and for freedom – ideals that are not just American or even just Western, but ideals that are universal, ideals, as Elaine said, we strongly believe, the President strongly believes, are given to us by a universal God.

It’s clear to me that not only did the bloody 20th century end well in Europe, it ended just as well in Asia – and for much the same reasons.

While most of us had our eyes and our attention focused on the high politics and strategic rivalries of the Cold War, very significant developments were taking place down in the sinews of Asia’s body politics.

A yearning for political liberty, for intellectual, religious and economic freedom was growing in Asia. That yearning has broken forth in new realities. In the past 18 years – in just one short generation – seven new Asian democracies have emerged.

Now that’s impressive, and, to some at least, profoundly surprising. There was a time not so long ago when it was commonly believed, and often said, that democracy wouldn’t work in Asia the way it worked in other places. Why would such a view prevail, or even be around? Where would it come from?

Well, as I’ve already suggested, there seemed to be evidence for such views. Just 40 years ago there was only one genuine democracy in East Asia – Japan – one compromised democracy, in the Philippines, and one young and incomplete democracy, in Malaysia.

Most observers saw Japan as a special case, for we’d defeated it, occupied it, and helped rebuild its political life.

The Philippines was also seen as a special, unique case, as a land the United States had ruled, and had brought to independence and then to democracy.

Nowhere else, in any East Asian country, was there a wholly indigenous democratic tradition.

Same for the rest of Asia, except for a democratic India.

Against that kind of canvas, many people concluded that left to their own devices, Asian societies had no interest in democratic government, no capacity for it, or both. Such was the common knowledge, and even many Asians embraced it. Some Asians insisted on an Asian way to prosperity, an Asian way to power based on what were called "Asian values," not on freedom and democracy as we in the West understood those concepts.

And indeed, some Asian states, including many of the so-called Asian tigers, showed that they could achieve increased prosperity and power without democracy, and even without a genuinely free market economy.

These achievements puzzled Westerners, especially Americans. Some began to wonder whether we’d been wrong all along to think that our principles, born of the enlightenment, were really universal as we claimed – as advertised in the Declaration of Independence and the other texts of our founding fathers.

What a difference 3 or 4 decades can make. In that time, Asians have demonstrated two important things.

The first is that non-European societies can generate systemic economic growth on modern terms -- in other words, growth that integrates material resources, human capital, and social trust in a market-based context. And certainly, the Samsung Corporation is a perfect example of that kind of activity.

That achievement has been Asian in every respect. It didn’t happen because of a slavish imitation of European models and methods, and it hasn’t required the abandonment of culture. Not at all. Asians have proven that modernization isn’t the same, needn’t be the same, as Westernization.

Japan served as the most dramatic example of this phenomenon. It has preserved its unique culture while transforming itself into a regional and global leader, a force for modernization, a thriving democracy, and a stunning economic success.

The second lesson follows from the first, and it doesn’t confirm the Asian values thesis. That lesson is that, yes indeed, democratic ideals are universal. We Americans came to such ideals through our European heritage. But Asians came to the same ideals through their own heritages, in their own ways.

No one can now claim that political liberty is beyond Asian interests, or capacities. The record speaks for itself.

After Japan’s reborn democracy flourished after World War II, and after India’s democracy did not deteriorate after independence as many predicted, voices denying the possibility of Asian democracy began to weaken.

And then Malaysia emerged as an electoral democracy after independence in 1963, and "people power" re-established Filipino democracy in 1986.

Then came democratic successes in South Korea and Thailand. Then Mongolia cleared the bar, and Indonesia joined the ranks of Asian democracies in 1999.

By the time Taiwan saw its first peaceful transfer of power from ruling to opposition party in 2000, skeptics were getting scarce. Then came a new form of people power in East Timor, and its emergence as a young democracy in 2001.

And just last year, half a million brave people marched through the streets of Hong Kong to peacefully oppose legislation that would have curbed their civil liberties.

It is important to all those who cherish democracy that Hong Kong remain open and tolerant, and that’s its political culture continue to thrive under the "basic law" with China.

The whole world now knows that Asians of different nationalities, ethnicities and religions truly share the universal aspiration for democracy and that they’re willing to fight for it, fight for it if that’s what it takes.

As Jose Ramos Horta, the Foreign Minister of East Timor, has said: "The thousands of Asians who died in the streets of Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta, Rangoon, Beijing, did not die for so-called 'Asian values' that deny the people of Asia the basic and fundamental freedoms enjoyed in Europe, Latin America and in an increasing number of countries in Africa."

Asians seek democracy today for good reason. Democracy works, and it works in several different dimensions.

As the quest for Asian democracy has grown, so has Asia’s prosperity, so has cooperation among regional states, and so has Asia’s peace.

Nowhere is this connection clearer than in Japan, again, which has married its strong democracy with a powerful economy to become a major force for stability and peace in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

But over the past four or five decades, income levels have doubled and redoubled almost everywhere in East Asia, and not just in Japan.

ASEAN and other regional organizations have advanced trade and cooperation.

And there hasn’t been, thank heavens, a significant international war in Asia since 1979 -- a quarter century ago. Indeed, today the Asia-Pacific region as a whole enjoys unprecedented peace.

That wouldn’t have been an easy prediction a few decades back. We only recently exited a century that saw some of history's fiercest wars rage in Asia.

I fought in Vietnam for two years, and I served as a battalion commander in a Korea divided even more than it is now, along a DMZ that we hope someday will be erased.

Those were dangerous times, filled with bloody nights and anxious days for me. Today the region’s major powers work with, not against each other, on a variety of shared interests. That includes peace and stability in a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula as our goal.

Despite its remaining security challenges, Asia’s security circumstances are headed in the right direction. That’s part of the reason we’re on the cusp of a still brighter democratic era in Asia.

As is the case everywhere, domestic progress toward democracy and progress in international security tend to reinforce one another.

We have much to look forward to this year on Asia’s democratic agenda. Presidential or parliamentary elections, or both, will take place in Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Mongolia, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Japan will elect its upper house in July, and Thailand’s elections will take place early in 2005.

Of course, elections are hardly the sum total of what it takes to make a liberal democracy, in Asia or anywhere else. But elections are an important index of social progress if they’re free and fair, if they reach down in society as they should. Such elections mark the consummation of processes often long in the making.

Even less-than-perfect elections in less-than-fully democratic societies can be seen as progress, if elections are an advance toward fully representative government.

Western history bears this out, too. Many of today’s European democracies had parliaments and elections before they had broadly representative government, before they had genuine democracies.

It took time to turn symbolic representations of democracy into real ones. It took time to build the attitudes and the institutions necessary to support fully democratic government in Europe, and some nations got there before others. So why should Asia be any different? Why should any region of the world be different?

While Asian democracy has been an Asian achievement, Americans and all those who champion liberty rejoice at its progress. We have something else to cheer, too. The ideas of Western origin that haven’t stuck in Asia are the ideas of the most wayward offspring of the enlightenment: communism.

There are still a few self-described communist countries in East Asia, but Asian communism is withering away.

The share of the economy owned by government is smaller today in China than it is in France, always an interesting comparison to make.

China has seen the virtues of market economics.

China’s political system hasn’t yet followed suit. But our understanding of politics and human nature suggests it eventually will. And here is where the connection between Asian democracy and American foreign policy gets so intense.

History seems to suggest that big countries have more political magnetism than small countries, that the big countries set the regional and the global trends. It would follow that, as goes China’s political development, so will much of Asia’s as the 21st century rolls forward.

But power and influence reside not only in physical scale, but also in ideas, the ideas that are held by the countries. And today the ideas of democracy, of market economics, of human freedom, of the dignity of men and women, all within the rule of law, these are very powerful beyond any physical scale. So powerful that they are setting roots in Asian countries with past political forms as diverse as South Korea’s military government and Mongolia’s communist rule.

The power of these ideas very much, at the same time, shapes our own policy thinking.

We believe that the blossoming of Asian democracy, gaining strength year-by-year, day-by-day, is establishing the basic context of the Asian future.

We believe, too, that if the democracies of Asia can be consolidated and strengthened, and if new Asian democracies join them, then when China comes inevitably to accept systematic political reform, its leaders will see democracy in the same light that they have seen market economics.

They will see that freedom embedded in the rule of law is what the future looks like and, very likely, we expect they will decide accordingly.

That’s why the quality and the character of political life in Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere are the critical factors shaping the future of Asian politics, and I would submit also of Chinese politics.

That’s why the quality and character of U.S. relations with these and other countries are the critical factors in shaping the future of Asian security as well, including security regarding China.

Now, some may see in this approach to strategy a subtle hint of Mao’s peasant revolution, or of General Giap’s military strategy -- where the periphery, the countryside, surrounds and eventually comes to control the core of the city.

Do we think that an advancing Asian periphery of democratic states will come to surround and control a Chinese core?

Not at all. Control has nothing to do with our thinking. The only things we want to surround China with are prosperity and peace, so that it may share in more of both.

As President Bush told the students at Qinghua University, today America "welcomes the rise of a strong and peaceful and prosperous China."

Now, our model for strategy isn’t Mao Tse-Tung, or General Giap -- our models are Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln. We still hold as self-evident the truth that all people want freedom and deserve dignity.

And to elevate public life we still appeal to and count on, "the better angels of human nature," as Lincoln put it in his second inaugural. We do not entrust that task to an all-powerful state.

My staff, when we were working on this said well, you know, you shouldn’t quote Lincoln and Jefferson to an audience such as this. I said, "Well, they spoke in universal terms." "Well, it might not work with this kind of an audience." But then I reminded my staff that when the [Chinese Premier, Premier Wen Jiabao], visited us a few months ago and we were having dinner in the Jefferson room at the State Department and he and I were just conversing back and forth just having met each other for the first time.

And I don’t know how it came up but we got on the subject of Lincoln. And Lincoln, of course, is a favorite of everybody in this room, and a particular favorite of mine. And I started to describe to [Premier Wen] the impact of Lincoln’s second inaugural address. And as I tried to paraphrase one of the sentences in the address, [Premier Wen] looked me right in the face just like that, quoted the whole thing verbatim. I was deeply impressed. I ran down to my office to check to see if he was accurate. (Laughter)

He was absolutely accurate. He had studied it. He knew it. And I have had leaders come from all over the world to quote back to me these documents of ours, not because they’re American documents but because they capture the human condition, they capture the human universal truth about freedom and democracy and the rights of men and women.

President Bush’s Asia strategy is a strategy of liberty and of advancing democratic government, based on the aspirations of Asians themselves. And there’s nothing subtle about our support for this. We don’t need to be subtle; we’re proud of it.

Asians are building democracy for their own reasons, with their own labors. But the United States has played a key role in nurturing the environment that has made Asian successes possible.

Our military and diplomatic presence, the participation of our business community and our foreign assistance programs have all helped to impart democratic values to an increasingly receptive audience.

And we’re not done. Promoting freedom in the Asia-Pacific region remains vital to American national interests. The economics alone are compelling. The Asia-Pacific region accounts for over 25 percent of world production, about 23 percent of world trade. Our engagement with this prosperity directly benefits American workers, American farmers, producers and consumers alike.

But beyond economics, we seek the peace of the region and the well-being of all its peoples, for in their peace and in their security our own peace and security are advanced.

We never impose. We don’t come to impose, but we do promote positive, democratic change within, within the cultural context of other societies.

And we promote overall regional security and prosperity so that democratic institutions and democratic progress can be seen and can thrive.

This may sound nice. It may sound very neat, but it’s not easy, not easy at all, to promote both internal change and external stability at the same time. Rapid social change, in particular, tends to undermine political stability.

Genuine social progress isn’t a calming experience. It never has been and probably never will be.

So, of course, we welcome democracy in Indonesia. But political freedom in a land that’s not used to it is still learning. And the land that is so ethnically diverse and religiously diverse, has contributed to a return of problems that we hoped would not return, communal violence, revolts and reprisals.

International terrorists have tried to take advantage of these problems, with security implications for the region and that go far beyond Indonesia.

This trouble will pass. But that it arose in the first place shouldn’t surprise anyone. It’ll pass faster to the extent that Indonesian democracy strengthens itself.

As Americans know, for governing a diverse nation, no system, no system is better than democracy.

Sometimes, to their credit, authoritarian leaders have tried to introduce democracy. They’ve seen the future, and they’ve wanted to take their countries there. Such efforts have often been resisted by those vested in the old status quo.

Progress to democracy in Thailand, for example, was briefly interrupted in 1991 by a military coup. Positive change stimulated instability. But that instability was overcome by the people, strongly backed by Thailand’s unique and committed monarch.

Other authoritarian rulers have tried to promote economic reform while resisting political reform. They’ve tried to change society while keeping politics frozen.

That approach can work for a while.

I mentioned the Asian tigers a moment ago, which illustrates the point. But ultimately, the steps that must be taken to gain economic success in our times undermine authoritarian rule and encourage democracy. That’s why nearly all the Asian tigers that were not democracies three decades ago are democracies now.

Again, that’s no surprise. In a competitive market system, the incentive for success drives productive assets into the hands of those who can make most efficient use of them. That’s bad for cronyism and corruption, good for raising the status of education and good for the virtue of hard work in the society.

It’s also good for ensuring the dignity and rights of the individual, whose genius and creativity above all, are what powers all successful economies.

Economic success means making commercial transactions more transparent, and that requires the sanctity of contracts amid the rule of law. That’s very bad for nepotism and kleptocracy. But it’s very good for entrepreneurship and for developing a vibrant civil society.

Economic success means creating or expanding new middle classes, and middle classes, in turn, want a say in what happens to the wealth they helped generate. That’s bad for arbitrary rule. It’s great for democracy.

We see these dynamics still playing out today in several Asian countries that feel compelled to open their economies, but still resist the political changes leading to real democracy.

We see increasingly stronger legal systems, more open financial and investment markets. We see more press freedoms, and more freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We see newly empowered, more prosperous citizens. We’re likely, eventually, to see democracy in all of these places.

And of course that’s good. Democratic life isn’t always easy.

Young democracies are especially prone to political gridlock. We’ve seen levels of political emotion rise to the point that, for weeks and months at a time, the normal business of government has been brought virtually to a halt.

This adjustment period, too, will pass. But meanwhile, many young Asian democracies remain fragile, their successes reversible and their difficulties real. So we and our partners must help, must help them if we can, when it’s appropriate for us to do so.

A freer economic life is a great thing, too, but there are pitfalls here, as well. Growth requires more openness, within society and with the world economy. participation in the world economy, however, leaves Asian countries more vulnerable to volatile global markets, as we saw in that devastating 1997-1998 period.

We’re better able now, years later, working together, to prevent economic collapse and contagion than we were back in 1997.

But change can still be wrenching for so many people. In some cases, income disparities increase sharply as those already well-placed get preferential access to capital, licenses and other advantages.

This dilemma is not unique to Asia, once again. Western economic history records similar events as economic change cast social relations into storms of uncertainty. Such difficulties too passed in time. We believe they’ll pass in Asia as well, but not if most Asian citizens come to associate democracy and open markets with want, hunger and injustice.

That’s why, as with democratic Asia’s political challenges, the United States stands ready to help with economic adjustments, too.

Our policy task is a double one:

First to advance domestic democratic and free market development when we can;

And second to calm the regional security environment so that internal progress, sustained by Asians themselves, can proceed.

Our policy means must therefore be inclusive.

The assurance that the U.S. forward military presence brings to the region is indispensable, and that presence will remain.

The political and economic tools at our disposal are no less critical. We combine all of our policy tools into an effective diplomacy that blends power and persuasion as necessary to the case at hand.

How, more specifically, are we supporting Asian democracy?

Most importantly, we let them know that we care, and that we’re rooting for them. That means a lot, and don’t just take my word for it. Listen to somebody we all know and respect, Aung San Suu Kyi.

"It is deeply encouraging," she said, "to know that there are people like you who care about our liberty and rights. We have struggled with democracy in Burma for more than a decade, and during this time we have been strengthened by the support of friends and well-wishers from across the globe."

Let me now tell all true Burmese patriots that we are with you still. Keep faith, my friends, keep faith, for Burma’s day of democracy will come.

We also encourage legislative exchanges and cultural exchanges with Asian countries, at every level and of every sort.

We encourage military-to-military contact, too, as with the very important IMET program, which builds up a tradition of professional militaries that can keep their noses out of politics.

We will help some young democracies with the Millennium Challenge Account, a new fund that has just been authorized by our Congress. Of the 63 countries that have initial eligibility for these programs, 11 of them are in Asia.

We’re helping to promote free and fair elections, primarily through NGOs, including the National Endowment for Democracy. And President Bush has just recommended a increase, significant increase in funding for the National Endowment. That effort includes sponsoring multi-party debates, the distribution of voter guides, the training of election monitors, and the broadcasting of public policy dialogues.

In some cases, as with the Philippines in Mindanao, we’re trying to help contending parties reach agreement on a peaceful shared future.

In others cases we weigh in on human rights concerns -- from Tibet to Rangoon, from Phnom Penh to Pyongyang. As we work on security, and economy and democracy, we'll always keep in the forefront of our efforts the necessity to deal with human rights in every country that we have relations with.

And we can do more. We can send more teams from our Federal Reserve Bank system, and from the Security & Exchange Commission, to help young market economies get their economic administrative systems in good order.

Private American business can help by promoting universal "best practice" accounting and auditing standards. Perhaps by teaching others, we can raise our own standards as well.

That gives you some idea of how we’re helping Asian countries to build solid representative governments. The role of the United States in regional security, which can be thought of as a shield behind which democracy can develop, is just as important. And here our task is six-fold.

First, we’re bolstering our Asian alliances and restructuring our military presence to reflect post-Cold War realities. These alliances, particularly those with Japan and Australia, not only will remain the backbone of our Asian strategy, but our Asian allies and friends help us in other common tasks.

Japan is enlarging its global and regional political role. Along with Japan, standing with us in Afghanistan and Iraq are South Korea, the Philippines, Mongolia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Thailand.

Together we are bringing peace and humanitarian assistance to the Afghan and Iraqi people. We’re grateful for these strong commitments in partnership.

Second, it is American policy to integrate China into Asian and global institutions. To do so we pursue a candid, constructive and cooperative relationship with China in all spheres.

We want a rising China to rise also to its global responsibilities, from implementing its WTO commitments to helping bring peace to regions in crisis.

At the same time, we do all we can to keep peace and ensure stability in the Taiwan Strait. President Bush has been absolutely clear on this point: We adhere, we adhere firmly, to our one-China policy, as defined by the three communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act.

We do not support Taiwan’s independence, and we oppose moves by either side to unilaterally change the status quo. In this regard, we also strongly oppose the use of force or its threat across the Taiwan Strait. China’s military build-up opposite Taiwan is destabilizing. We urge a posture more conducive to the peaceful resolution of existing disputes.

Third, we support the aspirations of the Korean people for the peaceful reunification of the peninsula. Together, with our partners, we urgently seek a de-nuclearized Korean Peninsula. We insist that North Korea dismantle its nuclear weapons programs completely, verifiably, and irreversibly.

The six-party talks that we had last week have led to unprecedented cooperation with our allies and partners in the North Pacific community of which we are a part.

North Korea can join that community, too, if it ends its nuclear program and embraces the political and economic openness that is carrying virtually all of the rest of Asia into a better future.

Assistant Secretary Kelly, who is here with me this afternoon, has just returned from those six-party talks. They showed a good deal of progress. We haven't gotten where we need to be, but what I am especially pleased about is that we have institutionalized now the process with working groups and we're already getting ready for the next meeting.

The United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia have made it clear to North Korea that a better future awaits them, that none of these nations is intent on attacking them or destroying them or exhibiting hostile intent toward them; instead, we want to help the people of North Korea who are in such difficulty now, but it must begin with North Korea's understanding that these programs must be ended in a verifiable way.

And if North Korea takes the necessary steps, as we move forward, North Korea will see that the other members of the six-party group and the rest of the world will welcome them and do everything we can to help them.

Our fourth point is that together with our Asian partners, we combat terrorism and extremism throughout Asia, particularly in Southeast Asia.

We’re focused on advancing good governance, education and economic opportunity to dispel the appeal of terrorism.

And we work bilaterally and regionally to promote better intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation to deal with terrorists that are already on the loose. And we’re making progress on both counts.

Fifth, we support sustained economic growth throughout the region by encouraging both regional and bilateral economic cooperation.

We have an understanding and unique economic partnership with Japan, which joins us in the leadership of the world economy, in the G-8, the OECD, the WTO and other fora.

We’ve reached historic free trade agreements in recent months with both Singapore and Australia, and we are entering into discussions now with Thailand, our next Asian free trade partner, our ally.

We also encourage the full integration of the Asia-Pacific region into global economic structures, not least into the World Trade Organization.

Sixth, we support an end -- excuse me. Sixth, we support an open and inclusive East Asian regional architecture that allows regional states to build partnerships with each other and partnerships with the United States.

Some of these partnerships already exist. There is APEC, and there is the ASEAN Regional Forum. As useful as these partnerships are, there’s more that they can do: in public health, for example. As HIV/AIDS, SARS and the avian flu all illustrate, we have a strong mutual interest in working together. Everybody stands to suffer if we don’t work together.

By helping to build democracies within countries, and by helping to provide them the security they want, we promote freedom in Asia – and with it we promote American interests and principles.

We’re doing so where freedom is already established, and where it is not. Where liberty and democracy exist, we work with Asian countries to help them strengthen their hard-won achievements. Where liberty and democracy are not established, we work with our Asian partners to support efforts to establish them.

We have much work to do, Asians and Americans both. I look forward to it because the spirit of freedom is rising, all around the world. And the rising of that spirit shows that those who cherish freedom have always been on the right side of history.

Like Europe, Asia is increasingly a success story, with each new chapter being written by Asians themselves.

We have every reason to applaud and to advance that story line. I believe that our policies in Asia for the three years of this Administration have been successful. We have strengthened our alliances and our partnerships. We have helped nations join the world economic community. And I can just say to you now that President Bush has a firm and full dedication to continuing this work. He has charged me and the other members of our team to ensure that these relationships become even deeper in the months and years ahead.

This is an age of massive change. This is a wonderful century to watch history being made before your eyes -- this first decade of this new century. A good part of my military career, as I've said very often to friends and members of my staff, concentrated on war, the Cold War. For 35 years, I was prepared to fight enemies of democracy in Europe, and I actually did it in Asia, where the challenge was just as great.

Now, to be Secretary of State during a period where our values system has triumphed, where increasingly, with each passing day, despite the difficulties we have to face, despite the difficulties in places like Iraq on its way to democracy, despite the difficulties of trying to find a solution for the Middle East peace process, despite the difficulties one comes across in a place like Haiti -- despite these challenges which take so much of our time, let us never lose sight of the fact that in this new century, in this first decade of the new century, we have opportunities in Europe and Asia and Africa and the Americas unlike any the world has seen in the last 100 years, that rest on a solid foundation of believing in democracy and pursuing democracy, of economic openness and freedom, and believing always, always, in the individual rights of every single man and woman on the face of this Earth to pursue their own dreams, limited only by their own ambition, and hopefully, because they are living in countries that support that God-given dream and ambition that they have.

Let that continue to be our goal. Let that continue to be our policy.

Thank you very much.


Released on March 2, 2004

  Back to top

U.S. Department of State
USA.govU.S. Department of StateUpdates  |   Frequent Questions  |   Contact Us  |   Email this Page  |   Subject Index  |   Search
The Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department. External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views or privacy policies contained therein.
About state.gov  |   Privacy Notice  |   FOIA  |   Copyright Information  |   Other U.S. Government Information

Published by the U.S. Department of State Website at http://www.state.gov maintained by the Bureau of Public Affairs.