THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
ANTHONY LAKE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS REMARKS TO THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF DIPLOMACY GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY WASHINGTON, D.C. --AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY--
I am pleased to have the honor of delivering this year's Oscar Iden Lecture. Together, this Institute and Georgetown's School of Foreign Service have helped shape the minds of countless American policy-makers and leaders, including President Clinton. I welcome this opportunity to talk with a roomful of those who have chosen to enter the foreign policy racket. So before I begin my remarks on peace in Northern Ireland, let me offer some thoughts on the key foreign policy challenges that our nation faces. Even in the throes of a presidential election, we must remember that America's interests do not change every four years. Our responsibility is to look beyond the election cycle and focus on the challenges ahead -- no matter who is President come January. The good news is that we live at a time of great opportunity. Our nation is at peace. Our economy is strong. Our most deeply held ideals are ascendant, as more countries and peoples than ever before enjoy the benefits of open societies and open markets. These positive developments didn't happen overnight, or over one Administration. They represent the hard-won victory of decades of American leadership and engagement around the world.
Yet this new era is not without peril. We face a host of threats -- from rogue states, from terrorism and organized crime, from the spread of weapons of mass destruction -- that have grown more deadly in a world grown closer.
In this new world of possibility -- but also of risk -- the need for America's global leadership is undiminished. Indeed, if the last century -- let alone the last four years -- teaches us anything, it is that only by leading abroad can we hope to stay prosperous and secure at home. To lead, our nation must do two things at once.
First, whether an outbreak of violence in the Middle East or a global 911 such as a hurricane, earthquake or famine, we must effectively manage crises as they arise. This is fast-paced, high-profile work, its impact readily visible and frequently found in the headlines.
These challenges defy easy solutions and neat four-year cycles. Every Administration inherits its share of problems; ours was no different. Are they resolved? No, they're not. Foreign policy issues are very seldom finally resolved. Hard work remains to be done in almost every case. Some are not likely to be settled in our lifetimes, much less in the next four years. But we've made much progress. Judge for yourself -- not from argument, but from facts. Simple facts:
In 1993, in Haiti there were a repressive dictatorship and refugees coming to our shores. Now, there is democracy -- and the flow of refugees has ceased.
Then, war in Bosnia. Now, peace and peaceful elections.
Then, a dangerous nuclear program in North Korea. Now, it's frozen under international supervision. Then, Russia's missiles targeted American cities and citizens. Now, their detargetting has eliminated the risk to us of an accidental launch. Then, 3,400 nuclear warheads in Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakstan. Now, all but 20 of those warheads have been removed, and they should be out by the end of the year.
Then, Israel was in a state of war with Jordan. Now, they have signed a peace agreement and Israel is working -- with difficulty
But even as we make progress on these issues we can't let the immediate, no matter how important, dictate our agenda at the expense of the fundamental. Adrenaline can carry you only so far in foreign policy. Even as we respond to today's crises, we must work to avert tomorrow's by focusing on long-term strategic goals. That brings me to the second crucial aspect of leadership: making the investments that will pay greater benefits
I believe that we have come a long way in laying the basis for a post-Cold War world where our interests are protected and our people prosper. Over the next four years, whoever leads this country will have a chance and a responsibility to build on a number of 'construction projects' for the future. For each, over the past few years, we have already constructed the foundation and, in some cases, much of the framework. For example:
A revitalized NATO is keeping the peace in Bosnia. Now NATO is moving forward with the processes of enlargement and adaptation while forging a new relationship with Russia. We can create the free, prosperous and undivided Europe that the President has been working to build.
We have made the world safer by cutting its nuclear arsenals,
securing the indefinite extension of the Non Proliferation Treaty and winning approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Now we must bring the CTBT into force as soon as possible, win Senate ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention and work with Russia to ratify START II. We can reduce the danger of weapons of mass destruction even further.
We are taking the fight to terrorists and criminals abroad and at
home with greater international cooperation and tougher laws. Now we must secure a global commitment to zero tolerance for terrorism and lawless behavior. While we cannot end terrorism, we can defeat terrorists.
We've concluded more than 200 trade agreements from NAFTA and the
Uruguay Round of GATT to APEC and a Free Trade Area of the Americas. These efforts have opened more markets than ever before to our products... thus created more than one million new jobs in America... and made the United States the world's number one exporter again. Now, we must extend the reach of free and fair trade even further, throughout this Hemisphere and beyond. We can create the global, open trading system for the 21st Century.
We've promoted democracy from the former Soviet Union to the
Americas, where every country but Cuba is a democracy. Now, we must continue to lead the global move away from repression and toward freedom. We can further enlarge the community of democratic nations.
We have stood with those taking risks for peace, from the Middle
East to Bosnia to Northern Ireland. Now, we must stand up to those who would reverse these gains. We can -- and we must -- continue to lead the way in bringing seemingly intractable conflicts to resolution. For often, peace is a prerequisite to long-term progress.
Today, I want to talk with you about one of those areas where we are advancing our interests and ideals by helping those who want to heal themselves. Northern Ireland, especially in the wake of yesterday's despicable attack, is once again at a decisive moment.
Just outside of Belfast, on a lush 300-acre estate of green slopes and classical buildings, talks are now under way on Northern Ireland's future. There, on the grounds of Stormont Castle, representatives from nine political parties have been sitting down around a table with the British and Irish governments to work out a sustainable settlement to Europe's most enduring civil strife. The opening of the Stormont talks on June 10 was in itself a significant achievement. Now they face a tough agenda. Led by former Senator George Mitchell and his two co-chairmen from Canada and Finland, they must agree on how to end a violent conflict -- including how to handle the weapons that have helped to fuel it. And they must devise a workable government for Northern Ireland as well as develop relations both between North and South and between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
The hand of history weighs heavily on their efforts. Since the partition of Ireland in 1921, the unionist and mainly Protestant majority and the large nationalist and mainly Catholic minority have been unable to reach a political consensus on how they should be governed and by whom. From the beginning of `the Troubles' more than 25 years ago, both sides lived under the shadow of violence and terror. Only when the cease-fires were reached two years ago did the people of Northern Ireland begin to enjoy a more normal life -- one without bomb alerts, package searches, and armed patrols on their streets.
Despite a historical climate of fear and mistrust, and despite yesterday's outrageous act of terrorism, I believe that there are signs of hope and progress. Start with Stormont Castle -- the seat of Northern Ireland's government before 1972. Once the embodiment of a sadly divided society, Stormont today is becoming the symbol of a new commitment to dialogue and reconciliation. At Stormont, the British and Irish governments are working together on issues that have divided them for decades. They and the political parties made important decisions on rules and procedures during the first session of the talks, which lasted until late July. After a difficult summer, these parties have demonstrated their commitment to the talks by returning to the table on September 9.
But the greatest proof and hope that Northern Ireland's future can be different than its past comes from the people themselves. Put simply, they want peace. I had the privilege of accompanying President Clinton on his historic trip to Belfast and Londonderry almost one year ago -- the first time a sitting U.S. President has ever visited Northern Ireland. While the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children who filled the streets and squares were cheering the President of the United States, they were also cheering their dream of lasting peace. They were giving voice to their hope for a day of real reconciliation...a day when they will all live in neighborhoods without walls...a day when the two vibrant traditions of Northern Ireland will flourish together.
That hope found its fullest expression in the 17-month cease-fire that President Clinton played a key role in achieving -- the longest in the history of 'the Troubles.' Hundreds of lives were spared. We don't know who they are. They don't know who they are. We will never know their names or neighborhoods, much less their political loyalties or religious affiliations. But for all that, they are alive today. And so is the hope for a lasting peace. Even with the breach of the cease-fire by the IRA last February, and the renewed sectarian strife over the summer, there has been no return to full-scale violence in the streets of Belfast and Derry -- and there must not be.
None of this is to argue away the tremendous difficulties that lie ahead. The President and the American people remain deeply outraged by the IRA's breach of the cease-fire, its vicious bomb attacks in London and Manchester, and its continuing attempts to maim and kill innocent civilians. We were dismayed by the bitterness of this summer's marching season, by the rekindling of old hatreds and old fears on both sides. And yesterday's bombing of British Army barracks in Lisburn, claimed by a splinter republican group calling itself the Continuity Army Council, deserves the strongest possible condemnation by civilized men and women everywhere. Those responsible must be brought to justice.
But make no mistake. The vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland want peace.
Now it falls to their leaders to heed the call of their people and tip the balance between history and hope. The road to lasting peace is never short or straight. But the way ahead is clear. It leads through Stormont Castle.
All the parties who join the talks have a right to expect them to be meaningful and comprehensive. The people have a right to expect their representatives to negotiate with tenacity and good faith -- both essential to reaching an agreement as soon as possible that will benefit the whole community. And they have a right to expect that the pursuit of peace will make a concrete difference in their lives, building confidence and improving their social and economic fortunes. We will do what we can to help the talks reach that goal. That includes encouraging American businesses to pursue the opportunities that a Northern Ireland at peace has to offer -- an effort that continues today at a conference in Pittsburgh for American, British and Irish business executives.
The talks are up and running as I speak. And now they must succeed. Of course, they will succeed most fully if all the parties -- including Sinn Fein -- are sitting at the same table. That is the firm belief of the British and Irish governments. It is also the firm belief of the United States.
It can only happen after the IRA restores its cease-fire. Those who would re-impose the hard days of the past can have no legitimate role in deciding Northern Ireland's future.
We all admire the brave resolve of the loyalist leaders in maintaining the loyalist cease-fire in the face of provocations. We join all who care about Northern Ireland's future in calling on the loyalists not to be provoked into a futile and deadly spiral of violence by yesterday's attack. It is inspiring that the loyalists and their leaders, who once shunned the political process, now have proved so courageous and steady in pursuing peace. If they can uphold a cease-fire and remain open to dialogue, surely the IRA can do no less. And surely the mainstream parties can find broader inspiration in their example. The only true solution to the conflict lies in painstaking negotiation, in breaking down barriers and building up ties, and in working together to create a better life that all the citizens of Northern Ireland can share.
The British and Irish governments deserve great credit for all they have done to bring these talks about. So does Senator Mitchell for the way he has conducted them. So do the party leaders who support them, including John Hume who has fought so hard for peace over the years. We must hope and pray that the incidents last summer and -- yes -- the outrage of yesterday will provide a shock of recognition that the ways of the past provide no way forward. They must be rejected. If Stormont fails, the absence of a peace process could fundamentally alter the psychology of the moment, add weight to the dead hand of history, and give violence its victory.
President Clinton remains firmly committed to helping Northern Ireland claim its future rather than return to its past. Let me make clear that our aim is to help the people reach a just and lasting peace of their own choosing, not to impose our own solution. We are neither in favor of a united Ireland nor opposed to the idea. But we are determined to continue supporting the people of Northern Ireland and the British and Irish governments as they take risks for the peace that they themselves must build.
While the months and years ahead will be filled with tough choices and hard bargains, I believe -- we must all believe -- that the dream of peace in Northern Ireland can be made real. In Belfast, I saw that dream in the faces of the crowd gathered for the Christmas-tree lighting. I heard it in the words of the policeman who told me, in simple but moving terms, of his joy at being able to mix with his fellow citizens without fear at the end of his day's work. And I felt it in the silent longing of those gathered on the floor of Mackie's Plant, as two children of two different traditions spoke with one voice about their shared hopes.
The United States will continue to do what it can to help make that dream come true. But the weight of that responsibility rests most heavily on those men and women assembled at Stormont Castle. If guided by what President Lincoln once called `the better angels of our nature,' these leaders can meet the challenge of peace posed to them by their people. History will judge them harshly if they fail. For only by meeting that challenge of peace can they ensure that the future of Northern Ireland shines brighter than its past -- as brightly as the faces that I saw that day around the Christmas tree at Belfast.
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