Almost one year from today, Americans will go to the polls to vote for a president. Elections in America have the power to forge a national consensus on the issues which define our nation and determine our future. The presidential election of 2004 will be the first presidential election since September 11, 2001, a day so transformational that we have yet to truly understand its significance and consequences.
The election of 2004 will be about far more than George W. Bush or his Democratic opponent. It should be an opportunity for the American people to move toward a consensus on America's role in the world. This is central to America's future. The coming election should provide a platform for a vigorous national debate about the direction of American foreign policy. America's security and prosperity are directly connected to its foreign policy. Foreign policy is the framework - the structural housing - for our future. It encompasses our security, economic, trade, and geo-political interests. Next year's election could define the context of America's international relationships and how this interconnected world influences every aspect of our lives and future.
America's responsibilities in the world and to future generations are as enormous as they are humbling. Ours is a time of dramatic and historic change. The by-products of such change are uncertainty, complications, instability, and danger. America will do more to define the direction of this change in world affairs than any other nation. But it will require inspired leadership and insightful policy. The challenges and choices before us demand leadership that reaches into the future without stumbling over today. American leadership should convey a quiet confidence and inner strength that will persuade and inspire our allies to work with us to help make a better world.
Today, the Bush Administration, Congress, and both the Democratic and Republican parties are all seeking a new coherent course for America in world affairs. Divisions and debates are healthy, and tensions help grind down flabby arguments and positions. Much of this debate has to do with adjusting to a world changed after the Cold War and September 11th. This debate is much more important than academic jousting, because it will have far-reaching consequences for America and the world. There are familiar disagreements over the utility of alliances and multi-lateral institutions, the uses of military force, our commitment to free trade, the role of foreign aid, and the priority of values in foreign policy. These are natural responses and questions at a time of great global adjustments.
Next year's presidential election will do much to shape this dialogue and frame this debate. Leadership is about preparing a nation for the future. The burdens of leadership do not afford short cuts or easy answers. America's role in this new century will include both costs and benefits, risks and opportunities.
Loyalty to a political party and president is noble, but public service reaches beyond that nobility. Elected officials owe their constituents knowledge of the issues, hard work, and good judgment. Republicans should not, in Tom Friedman's recent words, be "applauding without thinking" in response to President Bush's policies on Iraq. And Democrats must offer more than just opposition to the President's foreign policy. David Brooks, writing in The New York Times earlier this month, identified three Democratic visions of the future of Iraq, and warned that the Democratic party may be "teetering on the brink of full-bore liberal isolationism."
The commitment to leadership in foreign policy that I am talking about must cut across party loyalties. With the stakes so high, we owe the American people a debate on foreign policy that educates, elevates, and articulates a future worthy of America. My senior colleagues, Senators Dick Lugar and Joe Biden, chairman and ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, are two Senators who have displayed this type of leadership.
The terrorist attacks of September 11th were the forcing events that marked a new era in world affairs. President Bush guided America through the dark hours of 9/11 and into a new and undefined century. The world is being re-defined. No President in our nation's history has had to confront such a dramatic and unexpected set of challenges as President Bush did two years ago. He deserves great credit for being a steady leader, rallying America and the world to a new sense of confidence...as the world struggled to find its equilibrium.
Sensing the realities and subtleties of historic change are not always sudden or obvious. As former Secretary of State Dean Acheson recounted, "Only slowly did it dawn upon us that the whole world structure and order that we had inherited from the nineteenth century was gone and that the struggle to replace it would be directed from two bitterly opposed and ideologically irreconcilable power centers."
Staying a step ahead of the forces of change requires an ability to foresee and appreciate the consequences of our actions, a willingness to learn the hard lessons both from history and from our own experiences, and a relentless persistence in the face of unrelenting difficulties. Acheson and the Wise Men of his time got it right. America helped shape the direction of change after World War II through inspired leadership, strength, the judicious use of that strength, alliances and institutions, and a commitment to American values. And we helped make a better world.
Now it is our watch, our responsibility, and we, too, must get it right.
The world we face today is of a different character than even a decade ago. In Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and parts of Asia, many developing and fragile states are under enormous pressure from endemic poverty and disease, population increases, debt, corruption, civil unrest, and regional conflicts. The result is a climate of despair, and potential breeding grounds for radical politics and extremism. Terrorism is not always a consequence of this despair ...but terrorists prey on this hopelessness.
The term "war on terrorism" is inadequate and incomplete for the complex challenges we face. These are not just military or law enforcement challenges. They are much more complicated. The connections between our trade, economic, and energy policies cannot be disconnected from these new global threats. They must be synthesized into a new strategic vision for American foreign policy that not only meets the challenges of our time, but frames the completeness of long-term policies for strategic outcomes.
American foreign policy has always required a principled realism that is true to our values as it faced the world as it really is, in all of its complexities. American foreign policy has also dared to project a vision of a world where all things are possible. If we are to succeed, we must understand how the world sees us. This is a vital priority for a successful 21st century foreign policy. We must also avoid the traps of both ideology and insularity, and know that there is little margin for error with the stakes so high in the world today.
Allow me to present five specific priorities for an American foreign policy and strategic world vision for this period in history:
Military Strategy and Force Structure;
Public Diplomacy and Outreach Initiatives;
Trade and the Global Economy.
First, America must re-define and strengthen its global alliances. Historically, periods of dramatic change have been associated with shifts in alliances. That is where we are today. But a re-definition of alliances does not mean that they are any less necessary. They are more necessary than ever before. The great challenges facing America today - defeating terrorism, preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, resolving regional conflicts such as in the Middle East, and fighting endemic poverty and disease - are not unique to America. Our allies throughout the world share these same challenges and will be just as affected by the outcomes. They will be either our common successes or our common failures. America cannot be successful with any of these challenges, including Iraq and Afghanistan, without sustained partnerships and deep cooperation in the diplomatic, economic, intelligence, humanitarian, and law enforcement fields. We simply cannot go it alone.
The centrality of alliances and multi-lateral institutions to a successful foreign policy is fundamental. Alliances and multi-lateral institutions must be understood as expansions of our influence, not as constraints on our power.
Alliances must be built on solid foundations to handle both the routine and urgent challenges of our times. Crisis-driven "coalitions of the willing" by themselves are not the building blocks for a stable world. We need to think more broadly and more strategically. As Joseph Nye, dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, put it in a recent issue of Foreign Affairs,
"The problem for U.S. power in the twenty-first century is that more and more continues to fall outside the control of even the most powerful state."
And Nye adds,
"The paradox of American power is that world politics is changing in a way that makes it impossible for the strongest world power since Rome to achieve some of its most crucial international goals alone."
He is correct.
Developing effective and sustainable alliances and partnerships requires give and take. While Iraq may be the most important challenge we face today, Iraq alone cannot define our relationships, especially in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Other countries have their own interests, and those interests need to be acknowledged and heard. Too often American insensitivity toward other nations' interests is perceived as American arrogance.
President Fox of Mexico, an important ally, needs help regarding immigration policy. America's immigration reforms have been frozen since 9/11, creating problems both for Fox and for us. His interests are not all about Iraq and, with regard to Mexico, neither are ours. Tensions with Mexico contributed to our inability to win Mexican support for a second UN resolution before the Iraq war. Other nations' interests do affect America's interests. They connect and affect our security and priorities around the world.
America must re-define its relationships with Russia and China. This may be our most important challenge of the 21st century... and we must get it right. This challenge cannot be overstated or overvalued. America's long-term relationships with these two countries will affect our future and the course of world events. These countries must be partners, not rivals, in helping promote global stability. China has been helpful in dealing with North Korea. Russia has been helpful in dealing with Iran. Russia, China and America share common interests - economic growth, trade, stability, defeating terrorism, and preventing the spread of endemic diseases, such as AIDS and SARS. There is much we can build on together. There are also differences, and there will continue to be differences, between our nations. Our emphasis should be on our common interests, which will help move us toward resolving our differences, rather than pursuing alternative courses that seek to check each other's power.
Second, American military power and force structure cannot sustain its commitments without a shift to a more comprehensive strategic approach to the war on terrorism. Military power alone cannot win this war. Our commitments in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans have led to more and more National Guard and Reserve forces being called up for longer tours of duty. This is having a punishing effect on families and businesses at home and will have a devastating impact on the recruitment and retention of Reserves and National Guard, as well as active duty members. We run the risk of destroying the best military force structure in history. This force structure took junior Vietnam veteran officers - Powell, Schwarzkopf, Zinni, Hoar, and others - twenty-five years to build.
That is why Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) and I introduced an amendment to the $87 billion Iraqi supplemental appropriations bill that called for increasing our active duty Army personnel by 10,000.
A memo written by Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and leaked to USA Today last week gets to some of these points. Rumsfeld observed that:
"DoD has been organized, trained and equipped to fight big armies, navies and air forces. It is not possible to change DoD fast enough to successfully fight the global war on terror..."
In the same memo Rumsfeld later asks:
"Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The U.S. is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us! Our cost is billions against the terrorists' costs of millions."
The Secretary's memo reflects an unease with a purely military approach to the war on terrorism, and a wary recognition that America needs a comprehensive, long-term strategy that relies on more than just military power.
Third, the American image in the world is in need of immediate and long-term repair. The coin of the realm for American leadership has been and will continue to be trust and confidence in our intentions. Without it, we cannot succeed. Today, that confidence and trust is failing. On one level, it does not make sense, since most people around the world want more freedoms and economic opportunities. The recently released Report of the Advisory Group on Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, Changing Minds, Winning Peace, noted, "Our adversaries' success in the struggle of ideas is all the more stunning because American values are so widely shared." The report of the Advisory Group, commissioned by the House Appropriations Committee and chaired by Ambassador Edward Djerejian, brings to light one of the most important challenges we face not only in Arab and Muslim countries, but throughout the world.
The answer does not lie in a Madison Avenue-style "spin" campaign or blaming an uncooperative media. We need to get back to some basics. The perception of American power around the world must not rest solely on a military orientation or image. It has always been quiet confidence and inner strength, not just great displays of military power, that have persuaded others to join our cause. Dmitri Simes, president of the Nixon Center, got it right in the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs: "From the Roman Empire to the British Empire, civilization brought on the tips of swords or bayonets has never inspired lasting gratitude."
Unfortunately, U.S. public diplomacy and outreach initiatives at present are under-funded and lacking in strategic direction. Educational and professional exchange programs that in the past have allowed foreign students and professionals to study in the United States have been affected by the demands of our homeland security and paralyzed visa policy since 9/11. This is dangerous because those who have studied in the United States almost always become friends, supporters, and advocates of the United States. Without a dramatic fix, we could lose a large portion of the world's next generation to a strident anti-Americanism.
America's security and vitality is affected by visa and exchange policies that are based upon strength, not fear. As Secretary of State Powell said last year:
"We cannot - we will not - let the need to fight this war make us a different society. We will not put up tall fences, sprinkle broken glass on the tops, put a guard at the gate and seal ourselves off from the rest of the world. We will not become 'gated America'."
American leadership cannot rest solely on the perception of our great power. Leadership requires a deeper, sustained, and more complicated engagement with the world. Our priorities in higher education must reinforce America's commitment to world leadership. Here, too, we have much work to do. Semester-abroad programs and foreign language study, for example, are critical to our future. More American students need to study abroad and study foreign languages.
The ability to cultivate and sustain relationships between peoples and governments will determine America's future successes in the world. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, in his book Leadership, put it well:
"Much of your ability to get people to do what they have to do is going to depend on what they perceive when they look at you and listen to you. They need to see someone who is stronger than they are, but human, too."
Yes, strength is part of leadership. But it is more than that. There must be an underlying commitment to reaching out to others.
Fourth, America's economic and energy security must be incorporated into our foreign policy priorities. They are connected in ways that are often misunderstood or underestimated. Growth and stability in both the American and global economies depend upon energy security. I have chaired three hearings this year on this subject in the Senate Foreign Relations Sub-committee on International Economic Policy, Trade, and Export Promotion. There is no such thing as "energy independence," a term often used but that represents a fundamental misrepresentation of our energy security challenges. The reality is "energy interdependence," and it cannot be disconnected from our foreign policy. Energy security and energy interdependence are interconnected parts of a broad and deep foreign policy paradigm that frames the complexity of the challenges that face America in this new century.
Energy security is defined as access to energy - crude oil and natural gas - at reasonable prices. Many energy suppliers are countries and regions that are hampered by civil unrest, corruption, underdevelopment, and regional conflict. With regard to oil, the price of which is driven in large part by global market forces, we must diversify our sources of supply to prevent undue dependence on any one country or region. Instability and violence can disrupt supply and increase prices. The effects of such disruptions and increases are felt directly by American consumers and businesses through increased utility, heating, and transportation costs - direct threats to our economy, standard of living, and quality of life.
One way to avoid these disruptions is to work with suppliers in the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America to support more stable politics, including political and economic reforms and regional trade agreements, and to help resolve regional conflicts. Our engagement should be broad-based and multi-faceted, involving trade, diplomacy, good governance, and educational exchanges. Our sustained efforts in these areas now will lead to great benefits over time.
An additional challenge to American energy security is an inadequate infrastructure for receiving and processing natural gas. Unlike oil, natural gas prices are not driven by global market forces. Without adequate infrastructure, America could face serious supply disruptions, high prices, and prolonged cold winters. More attention needs to be given to developing pipelines and receiving facilities for natural gas, or our energy interests and economy will suffer, resulting in severe consequences for our nation.
Fifth, American foreign policy must reflect the realities and demands of the global economy. The global economy is a fact of life and cannot be shut out of foreign policy strategies and actions. Trade is a major catalyst for economic growth, at home and abroad. America must remain the global champion of free, fair, and open trade. We cannot allow the current round of World Trade Organization talks to break down over agricultural subsidies, as they did at Cancun. As the world's strongest, largest, and most dynamic economy, America must continue to lead world trade, as we have the last 58 years. Trade must be as high a priority as any other foreign policy priority.
There are winners and losers in trade, and politicians are often called on to protect certain industries from the effects of world trade. We must also deal with the reality of other countries not always playing by the rules. But protection of non-competitive domestic industries, or unilateral sanctions and trade barriers, will not strengthen our competitiveness in the global economy. It will only weaken our competitive position and our economy. Deferring difficult decisions on trade will result in disastrous consequences for America's future.
The risks that the world faces today are great, but so are the opportunities. America must not fear change. America must shape change, and lead with our world partners to a higher ground of peace and prosperity. Ours is a dynamic nation. Challenge and response are sources of strength. America will be the indispensable leader during this historic period of world transition, if it is wise enough to work with and through our friends and allies that have contributed to our vital interests since World War II. The courage and sacrifices of our armed forces in removing brutal regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq are testimony to both our strength and our values. Our economy remains strong. And our message of freedom and democracy has universal appeal.
America's strength also comes from a power that is not so easily quantified - a deep faith and spirituality that animates our nation. This orientation is absent in many countries and societies. The American character is much defined by how we believe in each other.
An American foreign policy for the 21st century will be worthy of America if it is wise enough to: accept that we enhance our standing in the world not just through our power, but through our purpose; understand that great power has its limits, and that we must share the heavy responsibilities of world leadership with our allies; appreciate that together we can shape the interconnected realities of the world into workable and positive policies that benefit all peoples; listen to our friends and understand their interests; and balance our policies and actions with both a present and future perspective.