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Stateside: Clinton’s Address Today At Berkeley

As President George W. Bush so very nearly said in his State of the Union address: drivel is real and it must be opposed.

Following is a transcript of the speech former President Bill Clinton gave at a UC Berkeley event at 3 p.m. on Tuesday 29 January, 2002. People wishing to reuse might like to check the spellings of proper names.

I would be willing to bet that was the nicest welcome ever given to a Stanford parent. I am delighted to be here. Thank you, Chancellor, for the wonderful medal and the great honour. Thank you Governor and Dean Schell. Ladies and gentlemen I am very happy to be here, and honoured by the invitation to speak. I first came to this campus as a visitor in 1971, before most of you were born. It was an interesting time to be on the Berkeley campus - a time when, as has become traditional, the students here were challenging the status quo and determined to change the future. I met on the street a man who was then a very famous author from back East, named Charles Rice, who wrote a book called 'The Greening of America', and I was about three blocks from here when Richard Nixon announced that he was imposing wage and price controls. That would make him a left-wing Republican in today's context. A lot has changed in 30 years. I admire this school very much for the remarkable contributions you have made to America, to California, and I want to especially thank my long-time friend Governor Davis for the support of these institutes of science and innovation, especially the Center for Inforamtion Technology and Research in the Interest of Society here, and the health science initiative to turn breakthroughs in biomedicine into longer lives for people. So I am very happy to be here.

Now Dean Schell told me when I came out that after I've finished speaking they're going to be taking questions from the audience and we're going to go over there and sit as if we were in our living room, in this intimate little setting and I'm gonna answer the questions so what I think I will do is to try to shorten the remarks that I was otherwise going to give so we can move more time for your questions. But I have a few points that I want to make.

Since I left office I've tried to go around America and around the world, first working on things that I cared deeply about as President - the economic empowerment of poor people - in Harlem and in lower Manhattan after September 11; in India, where we have established a foundation to try to rebuild ; on education. Senator Dole and I after September 11 launched a fund to raise enough money to guarantee a university education for spouses and children of all the people killed or disabled on September 11, and we're about 90 percent of the way home, and I feel very good about that.

Racial and religious conciliation - I've just come from the Middle East. We've just had my foundation's first event at the NYU this year on Islam in the Modern World; I went to Ireland to try to help the process along there in what was otherwise a very dreary year for peace, I think the Irish have made now an irrevocable commitment that will not be reversed and for that I am very grateful. I'm trying to expand Americorp here in America. (applause) Thank you very much. President Mandela and I have been working on a project to bring Americorps to South Africa so they will have a community service programme there for young people where people, where people will work together across racial lines for an extended period of time.

But I also - even before September 11 - was making an attempt in America and throughout the world to explain to people where I think we are at the dawn of this new century. Something that is even more important now. I recognise that I am here under the sponsorship - in part - of the school of journalism, and I have to say good citizenship and good journalism are more important than ever, and perhaps more difficult than ever to achieve. A lot of what we need to think about and talk about is hard to get through the blizzard of competing media networks, the 24-hour news cycle, shorter and shorter attention span, and a climate in Washington that my wife often refers to as an "evidence-free zone". Nonetheless, I think it's more important than ever.

So here's what I would like to say to you about that, especially to young people. The United States played the major role in rallying the world after World War Two. First of all, to organise ourselves for the Cold War, and secondley to try to build the institutions of international peace and prosperity for people who embraced freedom. That is, after all what the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, all these other international institutions were about. When Communism failed, the Berlin Wall fell, and the economy became truly global, America and other wealthy nations reaped very big benefits. But I think very few people had thought through the full implications of the new world in which we found ourselves - a world characterised not just by a global economy but by a global information society.

When I took the oath of office as President on January 20, 1993, there were only 50 sites on the World Wide Web. In '93. When I left office there were over 350 million and rising. Probably it's more than 500 million. There'd never been anything like it. At the same time we had this breathtaking scientific advance. I was honoured to be President at the time when the international consortium of scientists finished the sequencing of the human genome. Something which has already yielded two major variantials that are high predictors of breast cancer. Something that is leading us very close to the generic genetic strains that cause Parkinsons and Alzheimers. And quite soon young women will come from the hospital with their newborn babies, in countries with good health systems, with a little gene card that will say: Here are your child's strengths and weaknesses, and if you do the following 10 things your baby has a life expectancy of 93 years. This is gonna happen in the lifetimes - and in the childbearing lifetimes of those young people in this audience.

We saw an explosion of democracy. For the first time in history, in the 1990s more people lived under governments of their own choosing than not in the world. And an explosion of diversity within democracies. We all know now that one of the cruel ironies of September 11 is that a few hundred Muslims were killed at the World Trade Centre. People from every continent. I visited one of the schools where the kids were basically blown out of their stools by the debris from the explosion and had to go to another school, and there were children there from 80 different ethnic and national groups. So we have become more diverse and we've become a more democratic world. America benefited enormously from this, as did other wealthy countries. So we find ourselves in a world where we have torn down walls, collapsed distances and spread information and technology more widely than ever before.

We got out of it 22 and a half million new jobs, and the highest per capita income in history, the lowest poverty rates in a generation. In the last five years I was President, the people at the bottom 20 percent's income were increasing [in prosperity] percentage-wise even more rapidly than the rest of the economy. And we also were given a chance to promote peace and prosperity and our ideals around the world. But it wasn't the whole story. Because half the world was left out of the economic expansion. About half the people on earth live on less than two dollars a day. A billion people live on less than a dollar a day. A billion people go to bed hungry every night, and a billion and a half people never get a clean glass of water. So, not surprisingly, they don't think as much of this new world as many of us do, because they're not really a part of it.

In addition to that, for all the education advances... In America, for example, one of my proudest accomplishments as President was we had the biggest increase in college aid since the [several minutes missing] .. believes that America and Israel brought dinosaurs back to earth to kill Muslims. That is, in the fact that this boy's parents couldn't afford the money to pay the tuition at what used to be a free public school. You have that problem.

We talk about all these health advances - and I didn't even mention some of them. We started spending money on nanotechnology when I was President - investing in that. The Congress went along, and we're getting close to diagnostic tools that will identify cancers when they're only a few cells in size, raising the prospect that they could all become curable. We were working on digital chips to replicate the sophisticated nerve movements of damaged spines, raising the prospect that we might be able, with chips, to give spines the capacity to work again and people long paralysed could stand up and walk. And that exists in a world where one-fourth of all the people who die this year - from terrorism, from natural disasters, from heart attacks, from strokes, from cancer - a quarter of all the people who die on earth will die of Aids, TB, malaria, and infections from diarrhea. Most of them little kids that never got a clean glass of water.

All the explosion of democracy and diversity and the triumph of freedom and the relegation of communism to history's cellar, we have also seen a dramatic rise in identity politics rooted in race, religion, tribe and ethnicity, in ways that have very negative manifestations in people who basically don't buy the idea that we can build a common future based on our common humanity. And since we have built a world without worlds, we can't claim the benefits that we have enjoyed so richly without some greater exposure and vulnerability to all those burdens. So in a profound sense, September 11 was the dark side of this new age of globalisation and all of its benefits. We have to decide what to do about it.

Of course... at least I believe the answer is, of course... we should do whatever we can to destroy the Al Q'Aida network and Mr Bin Laden. They are the most dangerous terrorist network in the world, and they've been trying to kill us for a long time. I did what I could under the circumstances that I found as President, to do that. We should cooperate with others in the fight against terrorism around the world in whatever ways are appropriate and possible. Because it's a global threat and vulnerability isn't global. But I do not believe that a law enforcement and military strategy alone is sufficient to build the world that I hope the young people in this audience will live in and raise their children in.

I don't want you to have to substitute the walls that we have torn down, for barbed wire. I don't want you to have to wonder every time you get on an airplane. I want the world we live in to change the character of our country, by having people dominated by fear of today, fear of tomorrow and fear of each other. And if you don't want that then we have to say: OK, what kind of world do we want to live in? How are we going to achieve it? It seems to me we have to focus on the fight against terror - that's important . We have to focus on improving our defences - that's important. The President's giving his State of the Union address tonight. Doubtless he will talk about that and homeland defence.

We also need to build a world where there is more cooperation and less terror. And in order to do that, it seems to me that three things are required. First of all, we've gotta spread the benefits and shrink the burdens of the modern world so there are more people included in what we like. Secondly, we have to work on creating the conditions in countries that breed terrorism that make progress and a different ethic possible. We may have to (unclear) in actual basic good governance. Things that are so easy to overlook in the grip of the enormous harm that (unclear).

Finally, we have to build a truly global level of consciousness about what our relationships and responsibilities are. The people that attacked the World Trade Centre saw them as symbols of corrupt American materialism and power. They saw all the people that died on those airplanes and in those buildings as legitimate targets because they didn't share the truth that they think they own. But I live and work in New York. My wife represents New York in the Senate. I was a Commander-in-Chief of many of those people who died at the Pentagon. I know people who were on those planes. Many of you do. I have a very different view. Those people to me represented the world that I worked for eight years to build. A world where there's more diversity AND stronger community. Where there's more opportunity. Where we keep reaching out. And these different views are the extreme examples of a whole range of differences that basically divide the world in ways that don't make any sense any more.

So what I would like you to think about is, what you want the world to be like in ten years. How do you want to live? What are you prepared to do to achieve that world? What are you prepared to have your country do? Let me just talk a little about each of these things. What should America do to spread the benefits and shrink the burdens of the 21st century world? I think you could make a lot of statements, but I'll just give you four examples. We ought to do more to create economic empowerment and reduce poverty. There are clearly proven affordable strategies. I'll just give you a couple.

In my last year as President, we had a total bipartisan effort to complete an initiative I started in 1999 to the two dozen poorest countries in the world if - but only if - they put all the money that they saved into education, health or economic development. Now, it passed, and in the year that's since... and I'll just give you two examples. Uganda doubled primary school enrolment and reduced class size. Honduras, in our hemisphere, increased mandatory schooling from six years to nine years - a 50 percent increase. This was peanuts what it cost us. It made all the difference in the world to them. We should do more of that.

Second example.The United States funded two million micro-enterprise loans a year in poor countries. Small loans to poor village people. A programme pioneered by the great Bangladeshi economist Muhammed Unis with the B Bank. The man who long ago should have won the Nobel Prize. I'll keep saying that until they finally give it to him. We should fund five times that many - maybe ten times that many. I've been in little villages in Africa where the local village person charged with keeping up with all the micro-credit loans would run into the thatched hut and come out and show me his accounts, and show me what everybody was doing with their money. It can make a big difference.

The third example. The great Peruvian economist Hernando DeSoto basically discovered something that was before all our eyes, which is that poor people actually have quite a lot of wealth in the world. That the poorest people have, according to him, five trillion dollars worth of assets in their homes and their businesses, but they're totally useless for joining the market economy because they're not in the legal system. If they live in Bombay, they're in a metal shack, they don't have an address, they don't have a verifiable title, they don't have any way to establish value, so they can't borrow any money on it. If they live in a city and they have a small business, chances - in most big cities in poor countries - are better than 50-50 that the business will not be legalised because of the bureaucratic and other hassles it takes to legalise the business.

I just saw DeSoto's map on Cairo - a very important city to the future - and about eight in ten businesses are not legalised. If you went there tomorrow, you and I, and decide to open bakeries it would take us almost two years to go through all the legal hurdles to open a little bakery, where we're just trying to make and sell bread. So he's going around the world trying to clean all this up, get all these businesses first then later homes into the legal sytem so people can actually have collateral for loans and borrow money and join the market economy. It has enormous potential. He did in Peru and they had double digit growth three years in a row. We gave him a little money when I was President. We ought to fund this and get this done everywhere so people will be in a better position to help themselves.

And America should also buy more products from poor countries. In my last year as President we had trade opening to Africa, to the Caribbean, to Vietnam, and to Jordan. In less than a year our purchases from some poor African countries had increased a thousand percent. It didn't hurt the American economy and it didn't cost a lot of people their jobs, and we should be spending more money on job training and re-training anyway in America for people that need that. Need to be moving up in their income-earning potential. This is important, and it will create a world with more partners and fewer terrorists.

The same thing applies to education. In my last year as President we got 300 million dollars to offer a good meal to children at breakfast or lunch if - and only if - they came to school. Three hundred million dollars in the poorest countries in the world will feed six million children every day of the school year. Six million. And we just got the reports - enrolments are exploding. Same thing applies to health care. Kofhi Annan the Secretary General of the UN has asked us for 10 billion dollars - the whole world - to fight Aids, TB, malaria and other infectious diseases. Our share of that would be somewhere between 2.2 and 2.4 billion dollars. The Afghan war costs about a billion dollars a month, to give you some idea of what you're comparing it with. And that's about as inexpensive as a war gets these days for a country like ours. So that's roughly comparable numbers.

Is it worth it? Brazil proved with medicine and prevention they could cut the death rate from Aids in half in three years. Uganda proved, with prevention alone, they could cut the death rate in half in five years. There are now 40 million people with AIds and there'll be 100 million in 2005, and if you have 100 million - take it from me - some countries are gonna fail, and you'll have a lot more young people willing to be terrorists or mercenaries in tribal wars because - what the heck, they're gonna die anyway. We'll spend a lot more money cleaning up those messes than we would spend if we invested now in this health fund.

You could make the same argument with the environment. You know, we've got terrible problems. The ocean's deteriorating - it generates most of our oxygen. I already said, one in four people don't have access to clean water. Climate change is real. For the next 50 years, if the earth's climate warms at the rate of the last ten, we'll lose 50 feet of Manhattan Island, we'll lose the Florida Everglades, island nations in the Pacific will be flooded. That's the most dramatic set of examples, but the most important is that agricultural production will be disrupted all over the world and millions upon millions of people will be turned into food refugees, breeding more terrorists and anger.

So this is one area where I actually think we could make money. And we could help poor people make money. I just got back from the Middle East and I told them they ought to forget about being the oil centre of the world; they ought to become the energy centre and double the capacity of solar technology and conservation technologies and put them in in every warm place in the world. Because it's important. The point I want to make to you is: listen tonight at the State of the Union address at how much money we're spending on defence, and what the proposed increase is... and I support a lot of it.

And how much money we're spending on homeland security - the proposed increase - and I've already told you we need to spend a lot on it, but I'm telling you we could do America's fair share of economic empowerment of poor people, putting all the poor kids in the world in school, funding the Secretary General's health efforts, and accelerating the effort to turn around climate change. We could do all that and pay our fair share for more or less what we would spend in a year in Afghanistan in the conflict. And much less than we spend on other things. I can only tell you it is a lot cheaper than going to war.

And it is also in real dollar terms a lot cheaper than what we spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War Two . It's the same basic idea. Go back and read George Marshall's speeches. Somebody oughta just stand up every day and read George Marshall's speeches to America for the next month or two. And you know, we were grievously wounded and we spent this money to help Germany after what they did. We wanted Japan to come back. You know, it's not... we gotta think about this in the way that we want the world to be in fifteen or twenty years.

Second thing I want to say is we need to spend more effort trying to help countries solve their own problems and develop basic capacity - freedom, openness, human rights, and actual capacity to govern. I spend a fair amount of time on that now and i hope I'll be able to do more in the years ahead. The final thing I want to say - and then we'll open the floor to questions - is we have to develop a way of thinking about the world that is more consistent with the way the world is and the way we would like it to be. Bin Laden and this crowd that attacked us and killed all those innocent people, they're like fanatics throughout history.

They believe they have the whole truth, and if you share their truth your life has value, and if you don't, you're a legitimate target even if you're just a six-year-old girl that was going to work with her mother on the morning of September 11. That is what they really believe. You've seen him on television. You know that's what he believes. He's a serious person. Their view of community is very different. Their view of community is that you've got to think like them and act like them, and if you break the rules there's gotta be somebody to whip you back into line. Which is why everybody was so happy when Afghanistan was liberated and women took off their burkhas and the men started shaving. But that's what they believe, so they have a sort of extreme, exclusive view of the world: Don't tell me about my common humanity; the only thing that matters about me is my difference; I know that Islam is the only true religion and I know what Allah meant in every word of the Koran.

And the second knowing is more trouble than the first, just like it is for those of us of other faiths. Right? Most of us have a whole different view of that. Most of us believe that nobody's got the whole truth. Especially among deeply religious people - deeply religious people. Most people who are deeply religious feel our human limitations all the more and understand that nobody's got the whole truth, therefore life is a journey on which we move toward the truth and we learn something from other people, so everybody ought to be entitled to take this journey. Therefore most of us believe a community is not everybody who is just alike, but everybody who accepts certain rules. Everyone counts, everyone has a role to play, we all do better when we help each other. It's a radically different world view.

But I would argue to you, in a world without walls it is the only sustainable world view. If you take down the walls, no matter how much barbed wire you put up in its place, no matter how many defences you think you can erect, if the world is dominated by people who believe that their racial, their religious, their tribal, their ethnic differences are the most important fact of life, a huge number of innocent people will perish in this new century.

Now, I think it is unlikely that the 21st century will be as bloody as the 20th. Let's try to put this in some context. We lost 12 million people in World War One, 20 million in World War Two, 20 million between the wars, 20 million from bad governments after the war, over a million in Korea, about a million in Vietnam, 700,000 in Rwanda in 90 days, a quarter of a million in Bosnia, at least - and most of them were innocent non-combatants. But with technology being spread wider and wider, with the weapons available to people, and the knowledge available to people and the walls down, it will be a dreary world indeed unless those of us who believe that our common humanity is more important than our interesting differences can defeat in our battle of ideas and in the facts of life those who believe that their differences define the truth and give them the right to wipe out the lives of others.

That's what this whole thing is about. You know, you look around Berkeley, it's a nice university; you look around this crowd, everybody's different. It looks a lot different than it would have 30 years ago and radically different than it would have 40 years ago when President Kennedy was here, and it's easy to give this right answer. But I promise you it's very hard to live this right answer. In my last years in college, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy were killed trying to reconcile the American people to each other.

Gandhi was killed by a Hindu - not a Muslim - because he wanted India for everybody - the Sikhs, the Jains, the Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Buddhists. In the Middle East, from where I just came and where I'd worked so hard - and ultimately unsuccessfully - to make peace, two have died since we started this peace journey over 20 yeas ago. Anwar Sadat - killed not by an Israeli commando but by an Egyptian who thought he was a bad Egyptian and a bad Muslim for making peace and wanting a secular government - and my friend Itzak Rabin whose grave I visited last week - killed by an Israeli who thought he was a bad Jew and a bad Israeli because he got tired of killing Palestinians and thought he ought to give them a homeland instead and find peace by recognising their legitimate aspirations.

So it's easy to talk about this in the comfort of an auditorium like this. But out there in the real world, where the economic problems overlap, the health problems overlap, the politics overlap, people acquire all these vested interests in keeping whatever world's turmoil is out there tearing people into knots, it's hard to live. But the fact is, that there is too many places where people my age are making decisions that inflame people your age and cause them to die. In the intafada since August of 2000, 55 percent of the Palestinians who have died have been under 18. Over 60 percent of the Israelis who've died have been under 24.

Hillary gave me a little card when I ran for President in '92 and it's something I'd just keep reading every time I'd get discouraged. It said: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. You know, this may sound naive to all of you. I can tell you, I've ordered people into battle, I've dropped bombs, I've done all those things that you're supposed to do in the real world - usually to get effect. I'm proud of what we did in Bosnia and Kosovo, and I wish I'd been successful in my efforts to get Mr Bin Laden earlier, but in the end, - in the end - what's going to determine the shape of the 21st century is whether we have an ethic that says: Hey, we like our difference; we like who we are; we like the colour of our skin, the way we pursue our faith; we like whats about us that's different - we like our little boxes.

We all have to have them to navigate reality. You laughed when I said Cal and Stanford. You gave me a good reception because I was a Stanford parent, right? It gives you a way to organise things. But the older you get - somebody's a scientist, another person's an economist. Somebody's a Democrat, somebody else is a Republican. Somebody's Asian, somebody else is something else. But in the end, most people figure out that these boxes with which we navigate reality - as important as they are - are not as important as our common humanity, and if we don't figure it out, then a whole lot of experience is denied us. And a whole lot of wisdom never comes into our spirits.

That's really what's going on here folks. The world has never truly had to develop an ethic of interdependence, rooted in our common humanity. If we do it, the 21st century will be the most interesting, exciting, peaceful era in history. If we don't, we'll spend a lot of time playing catch-up and trying to punish people and get them to atone for travesties like September 11. So I will say again: I support the current effort (unclear) No terrorist campaign in history, by the way, has ever succeeded, and this one won't either unless we let it change us.

But if you want the world that I think you want, you have to both be very vigilant and disciplined and tough in people that have already set themselves beyond the pale of the world you're trying to build. And then you have to go about trying to build where you spread the benefits and shrink the burden (unclear) better at it and understand they have to accommodate human rights. You have to basically tell people: Look, we respect your differences; we'll celebrate them; but only if you acknowledge that our common humanity is more important. (unclear) complicated, but (unclear)

END of speech

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