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Remarks As Prepared For Delivery: Senator John McCain At The Seattle World Affairs Council

Location: Arlington, VA

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery: Senator John McCain At The Seattle World Affairs Council

U.S. Senator John McCain made the following remarks at the Seattle World Affairs Council. Below are Senator McCain's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

"Some of the greatest moments of my life came many years ago, when I had the privilege to travel with that legendary Washington statesman, Senator Henry Jackson. I got to know Scoop when I was the Navy liaison to the Senate in the late '70s. Scoop believed deeply in the goodness of our country and what it stands for; he knew that, however great our past, our best days lie ahead of us, and he helped shape what historians have since termed 'the American century' - a time when U.S. leadership won the Cold War, spread increasing prosperity throughout the world, and helped bring the blessings of liberty to people previously denied them.

"Now some experts have decreed the American century a thing of the past and declared our new era something very different - the 'Asian century.' To term it such, however, is to embrace a kind of zero-sum thinking that is itself rooted in the past. U.S. and Asian ascendancy are not mutually exclusive, nor should we let them become so. If leaders on both continents grasp the opportunity inherent in this essential truth, we can usher in an unprecedented era: a 21st Century that is both American and Asian.

"The citizens of Washington have already begun to embrace this opportunity. As a gateway to the Pacific Rim, it is no surprise that the state's largest trading partners reside in Asia, and trade with Asia is growing rapidly. From 2001 to 2005, Washington's exports to Japan rose by some $3 billion, to China by $2.2 billion, and to Taiwan by $1.5 billion. South Korea, Singapore and Australia are also in Washington's top ten export markets, totaling some $4 billion in 2005 alone. Washington has the highest number of export-related manufacturing jobs of any state in America, and its embrace of the Pacific Rim's economic dynamism is evident in every aspect of the state economy.

"While the citizens of Washington have made the most of Asia's great opportunity, in the other Washington the talk turns more often these days to Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan. While events elsewhere necessarily consume the time and attention of American policymakers, we would be remiss if we do not similarly seize the opportunities facing America in the Asia-Pacific region. From business to security, human rights to democracy, events in Asia are intimately bound to U.S. interests and American values.

"As the citizens of Washington well know, Asia is the most economically dynamic region of the world today. The economies of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum, with a combined GDP of nearly $20 trillion, account for almost 50 percent of world trade. Given current and projected growth rates, Americans' prosperity will be increasingly tied to the region.

"This state of affairs presents opportunities and risks for our country, both of which are amplified by the transformation of the international economic system itself. In today's globalized landscape, new information technologies, faster and better communications, and innovative transportation approaches are changing traditional sourcing networks, enhancing competition, and revolutionizing finance and investment.

"We cannot fear this new world; on the contrary, we should embrace it as the best possible path toward greater prosperity for all. Let us reject the failed policies of economic isolationism. Open markets and free opportunity have been the hallmarks of American prosperity for over two centuries and, by embracing the opportunities present in newly dynamic Asia, they will be so in the century to come.

"As China, Japan, and the European Union pursue closer trade ties with the rest of Asia and among themselves, the United States should set the standard for trade liberalization in the region. We need to conclude the ongoing free trade negotiations with Thailand and Malaysia, and then expand these benefits to other ASEAN states, which together constitute America's fifth largest trading partner. India's economy may grow faster than China's in 2007, illustrating the importance of securing greater U.S. market access to this economy of a billion consumers. A new economic partnership initiative with Indonesia would help spur growth and strengthen market institutions in the world's largest Muslim country. And the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which is currently under negotiation, promises not only economic benefits - South Korea is our seventh largest trading partner - but political ones as well: a bilateral FTA will help give economic ballast to our strategic relationship and thereby strengthen America's security posture in Asia.

"Completing FTAs with Thailand, Malaysia, and South Korea, in concert with the agreements we have already struck with Australia and Singapore, should set the stage for an ambitious Pacific-wide effort to liberalize trade. Such efforts have very tangible impacts. As this audience knows well, wheat farmers in eastern part of this state, fruit and vegetable growers throughout Washington, manufacturing giants like Boeing and software titans like Microsoft - all of them benefit from and depend on foreign markets. By concluding bilateral and regional trade agreements, by revitalizing the Doha round of global trade talks, and by ensuring that America stands on the cutting edge of global commerce, we can ensure that the benefits of open markets reach all 50 of our states.

"And to talk about the Asian economies is to speak of China. I know some of our citizens fear the specter of Chinese economic growth, worrying that it will result in the loss of American jobs and the inability of our economy to compete. Others take the opposite view, trumpeting China's vast market potential, low labor costs, and exports, which allow American manufacturers to move up the value chain. America benefits from China's economic growth. But by the same token, its rising prosperity also raises legitimate expectations that China will behave as a responsible economic partner.

"As Chinese businesses 'go global,' we must insist that they operate in an open, fair, and transparent manner, with sound, internationally-accepted standards for corporate governance. We should push Beijing to adopt a market-determined value for its currency, ensuring that trade is conducted on a level financial playing field. We need to convey to China that its go-it-alone approach to locking up energy supplies is unlikely to be either effective or sustainable, and that its environmental stewardship cannot fall prey to its economic ambitions.

"In these cases, there is significant room for economic cooperation. The U.S. and China have a mutual interest in developing new and diverse energy supplies, improving energy efficiency, and developing environmentally sustainable energy alternatives. U.S. trade and investment in China's undeveloped rural areas can help create the broad-based growth Chinese leaders seek. China's rapidly aging society would benefit from U.S. private-sector involvement in building health care and pension systems, while Beijing's steps toward banking and financial reform will, if fully implemented, create new business opportunities for American companies. Finally, China's desire to construct a "knowledge economy" implies a mutual interest in protecting intellectual property and preventing counterfeiting.

"As important as all these steps are, the future trajectory of our economies lies not only in effective economic policymaking, new business opportunities, and the management of financial risks. Security and economic growth are intimately connected, and a threat to peace is a threat to prosperity. The overarching security challenge in Asia today is to preserve and extend American leadership, and to do so in a way that promotes the emergence of freer and increasingly open societies.

"A glance at the headlines indicates the foremost security challenge to Asia today, and that is in North Korea. Pyongyang's development of nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them, together with its obscene human rights record, presents a real challenge to the security and the consciences of America and our Asian allies.

"Last week, the Bush administration and its partners in the six party talks announced a new agreement that would supply energy to North Korea in exchange for its steps toward denuclearization. I will admit up front to some concerns about the future of this accord. I believe that, to be effective, any new agreement must avoid the flaws of the Clinton Administration's 1994 Agreed Framework, which provided North Korea with energy and economic assistance but allowed it to retain plutonium for nuclear weapons.

"In the 1990s, while the international community was attempting to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear efforts, Kim Jong Il was secretly engaged in a separate program to enrich uranium. After America confronted his regime with this fact, Pyongyang expelled international inspectors, pulled out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, reprocessed nuclear material, and tested both ballistic missiles and a nuclear weapon.

"Last week's agreement might be a first step on the path to a denuclearized Korean peninsula, but that is far from certain. It is unclear whether North Korea is now truly committed to real verification, a full accounting of all nuclear materials and facilities, both plutonium- and uranium-based, and the full denuclearization that must be the essence of any lasting agreement. As we observe in the weeks ahead whether Pyongyang is taking initial steps toward disarmament and sealing its Yongbyon reactor, let us proceed cautiously. America and our partners must ensure that Pyongyang does not merely engage in a 'temporary suspension' of nuclear activities, as its officials have already suggested, and we must insist that future talks take into account both North Korea's ballistic missile programs and the abduction issue that is so important to our Japanese ally. We also need to verify, before we remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, that Pyongyang has in fact ceased all support for terrorism.

"As we tackle this and other security challenges, we should work in ever closer cooperation with our key allies in Asia. Japan in the north and Australia in the south form two vital pillars of American strategy, and they have been close and valued partners for many years.

"Over the past decade, our alliance with Japan has become a global partnership, and Japan has made important contributions to military campaigns in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the broader war on terror. More recently, Tokyo has adopted a 'value-oriented diplomacy' that seeks to promote freedom, human rights, and the rule of law in Asia and beyond. America should support these efforts, welcome Japan's further emergence as global power, and support its bid to win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

"Australia, too, has been a stalwart ally throughout the twentieth century, showing us what it means to be a true 'mate.' The United States and Australia have fought side by side in every major war since World War I. Prime Minister Howard invoked our mutual defense treaty for the first time on September 11, 2001, and Australian forces have fought bravely in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. should strive to be Australia's best mate, enhancing our already close political, economic, and security ties. I am pleased that Australia will host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum this fall, an honor that great nation well deserves.

"America also has a compelling interest in a closer strategic partnership with India. As the world's largest democracies, with vibrant economies, the United States and India should be natural allies. We share a range of vital security interests and America should welcome the rise of a confident, prosperous India that will help manage the globe's security challenges. We have differences, to be sure, but Prime Minister Singh's declaration that the 'idea of India' is 'the idea of an inclusive and open society,' sounds to American ears like a description of our own democratic tradition. And India's own history demonstrates that liberal democracy is the firmest foundation for achieving humanity's most basic aspirations.

"Our alliance with South Korea has kept the peace on the Korean peninsula for over half a century. But today we, along with our partners in Seoul, have much work to do to make sure the alliance remains robust. We are grateful for Seoul's deployment of troops to Iraq, and admire South Korea's transformation into a prosperous democracy. We must now work together to alleviate the suffering of the North Korean people, deter aggression, and build a better, brighter future for all Korean people, North and South.

"Southeast Asia, which is today more dynamic and assertive than ever, represents fertile ground for enhanced partnership with America. The past decade in Indonesia has seen dictatorship fall and democracy emerge, and Indonesia's president has championed liberal reform and moderate Islam throughout the region. As the world's third largest democracy, the people of Indonesia demonstrate every day that there need be no conflict between Islam and democracy. The United States can help these modernizers succeed at home and partner with them abroad.

"Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, we have increased defense cooperation with countries such as the Philippines, Singapore, and Vietnam. These are valued partners in guaranteeing security throughout the region. But our relationships with these nations must be about more than military ties alone. Many of the countries of Southeast Asia are young democracies under siege; others have not yet democratized. The United States should work with the region's willing nations to promote democracy, defeat the threat posed by radical Islam, end the Burmese junta's human rights abuses, and ensure that China's influence in Southeast Asia complements our goals there.

"This last point brings us to the elephant in any Asian discussion room, and that is the rise of China. New prosperity in China has brought more people out of poverty, faster, than at any time in human history. We welcome China's rise, but its newfound power implies responsibilities, both foreign and domestic. Beijing should know that reactions to its rapid ascendancy are likely to be mixed, especially throughout East Asia. It can and should work to alleviate these concerns by actively contributing to the rules and norms of the international system.

"Chinese leaders often remark that theirs will be a 'peaceful rise,' one that presents no threats to other countries. Beijing could bolster this claim by increasing the transparency of its significant military buildup. When China builds new submarines, adds hundreds of new jet fighters, modernizes its strategic ballistic missile arsenal, and tests anti-satellite weapons, the U.S. will inevitably question such provocative acts. When China enjoys close economic and diplomatic relations with Iran, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burma - at the same time that the western democracies are seeking to isolate their leadership - it will cause predictable frictions in our relationship with Beijing. And when China proposes regional forums and economic arrangements designed to exclude American influence from Asia, the U.S. will naturally respond with its own diplomatic efforts.

"This is not to say that China and the United States are destined to be adversaries. On the contrary, we should take every step to manage our relations and look for areas of overlapping interest. Concern with Chinese foreign policy, and dismay at its domestic practices will, however, cloud the bright possibilities. New prosperity in China has not brought with it the kinds of civic and political reforms that many in the U.S. and Europe expected. Today, China remains a one-party state lacking the freedoms of religion, association, and speech. As Americans, we are obligated to speak out forcefully against repression wherever it occurs, and actively encourage China to emerge as the stable, vibrant, democratic and free nation its people deserve.

"We see such a success story in Taiwan, whose people no longer comprise a one-party state. I am pleased that the United States helped bring Taiwan into APEC and the World Trade Organization, and it is inspiring to see this vibrant democracy deal with its numerous security challenges. And while the government of Taiwan must not needlessly precipitate a crisis, we have to make clear to China's leaders that attempts to isolate Taiwan internationally or militarily coerce it are unwise. Pointing nearly 900 missiles at Taiwan, passing laws authorize force against the island, and continually practicing amphibious landings are not prudent ways to convince the world of China's peaceful rise.

"In some quarters, the terms 'freedom' and 'democracy' have almost become bad words, associated with notions of war and regime change. This is deeply unfortunate, as the liberal ideas that animated our founding fathers will forever play a fundamental role in our foreign policies. Such notions are not the province of partisans and ideologues. They are American ideas - they have inhabited the American heart from the founding and will do so throughout our history. It intrinsic to the moral character of our foreign policy that we wish others in foreign lands to enjoy the blessings that we in this great country so often take for granted.

"In this spirit, it is worth pausing to reflect on a remarkable fact: more people live under democratic rule in Asia than in any other region of the world. In the last two decades alone, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Mongolia, and Indonesia have joined the ranks of free nations. The next century will be marked not only by the rise of new economic and military powers but also the growing embrace by Asian peoples of universal values of political freedom and the rule of law. Japan's prime minister speaks today of an 'arc of freedom and prosperity' stretching across Asia, and calls for Australia, India, and America to work with his country to help create it. We should seize the opportunity.

"Across Asia, people are asserting anew that all of humanity wants the simple elements of life that we in America seek: the freedom, security, and prosperity that allow us, through our talents and industry, to make a better future for ourselves and our families. In Australia, the Prime Minster emphasizes that his country's alliance with ours is based not simply on tanks and planes, but first and foremost on shared values. In India, the Prime Minister has called liberal democracy 'the natural order of social and political organization in today's world,' and authoritarian regimes 'an aberration.' In these words we detect the stirrings of truly a new century, one that is both American and Asian, safe and secure, prosperous and free.

"The last century saw almost unbelievable change: from horses and buggies to moon landings, from vacuum tubes to camera phones, from the United States as a continental power to an America with interests and concerns across the globe. In the course of these events, every generation of Americans has lived better than the one that preceded it.

"Today's leaders are the custodians of this legacy, charged with protecting and extending its accomplishments. The past century, with its terrible wars and untold hardships, will surely be considered great among the epochs of history for the triumph of freedom over tyranny, prosperity over poverty, the rights of all over the privileges of a few. This task is not yet completed, and our work is not yet done.

"Just as has been the case in the West, prosperity and technological advancement will continue to unleash and empower individuals throughout Asia in their pursuit of better lives. Across this great sea, millions of our brethren have embraced the cause of liberty, and are dedicated to its triumph. This has been, and must continue to be, America's cause as well. And this, I think, is a notion that the former senator from Washington would have understood very, very well.

"Scoop would, I bet, encourage our pursuit of freedom and security in Asia, promote our engagement of the economies there, and demand that America remain true to its finest ideals, lest our own failures be used by others to justify oppression. We would be wise to do the same, always recalling that along with every export of wheat or software must travel the values that have always been the chief source of our greatness. With faith in our purpose and devotion to our principles, we will see a new, freer, more democratic, more prosperous century, one that is both comfortably Asian and proudly American."

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