Powell at Confirmation Hearing before the Senate
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release January 21, 2001
REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE-DESIGNATE COLIN L. POWELL AT CONFIRMATION HEARING BEFORE THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE
January 17, 2001 Washington, D.C.
SECRETARY-DESIGNATE POWELL: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Chairman Biden. It is a great pleasure for me to be here this morning. I am honored to appear before the Committee as the nominee of President-elect Bush to be the Secretary of State of the United States of America. I deeply appreciate the confidence that the President- elect has placed in me. If I receive the advice and consent and approval of the United States Senate, I promise from the bottom of my heart to do my very best to serve the President, to serve the American people. It is an honor to be asked to return to service after my seven-year sabbatical.
I want to thank Senators Warner and Allen for their very, very gracious introductory remarks. I wish Senator Allen and his colleague Senator Nelson all the best as they begin their service on this Committee. And I want to especially thank Senator Warner for all the support and friendship he has given me over a very, very long period of time -- over 20 years we have been friends -- and the support that he has provided to the young men and women in uniform of the Armed Forces of the United States; and above all, for being my friend.
I am very thankful that you have allowed me to introduce my wife to be recognized. As I said earlier, she has been a partner with me some 38 years, and she is in this for the whole ride as well.
Mr. Chairman, I do have a prepared statement. I would like to abbreviate it, however, if I may place the prepared statement in the record.
These proceedings mark the 64th renewal of a long and honored tradition that began when the 26 members of the first United States Senate met to consider the nomination that was before them then, that of Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. When Jefferson took office in 1790, a cynical and tired Europe laughed in derision at the thought that "popular government," as it was called then, might work in even one country, much less the whole world. In fact, just a few decades ago, noted experts in academic journals wrote of the weakness and possible demise of democratic institutions in the face of rising dictatorial power of the kind we saw represented by the Soviet Union on the red side of the map.
Those articles were appearing at the very moment that Jefferson's ideas of liberty and self-government were about the prove another generation of cynics absolutely dead wrong; ideas that were going to, as Jefferson prayed, flow through time and spread their happy influence over the face of the Earth, as people behind the Iron Curtain and around the world threw off the yokes of totalitarianism.
Jefferson's ideas and Jefferson's prayers were ahead of the time in which he lived, and ahead of the man himself. I have to pause in my admiration of Jefferson during this week of celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and reflect on how Dr. King helped to answer Jefferson's prayers for black Americans, whose forbearers at that time were considered to be property, slaves, even in Jefferson's own custody.
I am before you today as Jefferson's admiring successor, thankful for all the sacrifices that were made by Dr. King and so many others to make Jefferson's dream possible for people like me, a dream that I hope will continue to inspire my fellow Americans and inspire people around the world, because there is still so much that needs to be done here at home and around the world to bring that universal Jeffersonian dream to the whole world.
President-Elect George W. Bush understands that dark shadows still linger over the edges of the American Dream for so many. He intends to remove those shadows. He will be a President for all Americans, and he will be a leader who faithfully represents the ideas of freedom and justice to the entire world, and he will do it with determination, and he will do it with the humility befitting a great power.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, I am no stranger to this Committee. I remember working late nights with you in 1987 as we worked on the INF Treaty. I remember you shuttling me back and forth across the Atlantic several times, Senator, to make sure that I brought back the insurances that the Senate needed in order to ratify that Treaty that subsequently eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons.
To make sure you understand the politics in the Powell family, Mr. Chairman, I have to digress for a moment and tell a brief story. After the INF Treaty was signed and we were in the process of destroying those Soviet SS-20 missiles, and the American PERSHING-II missiles you recall, there was a ceremony at the Air and Space Museum, where me as Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman and my Soviet colleague were putting into the museum a replica, an actual SS-20 that had has its warhead taken off, and next to it was standing a PERSHING-II missile.
And there we were. We had accomplished this, and there stood the two missiles. And my wife, Alma, who pays some interest to what I do, but just so you know where her heart is, and that she is always being careful about our security, she stood before those two missiles, and she nudged me, and she said, "Colin, how come theirs was bigger?" (Laughter.) I told her, "That's why we wanted to get rid of them, Darling. That's why we wanted to get rid of them." (Laughter.)
I also remember testifying at hearings before Senator Biden, when you chaired the proceedings that we examined the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, a treaty that we were able to put in effect and bring a new status to the Iron Curtain in Europe, with both sides starting to move back. Little did we know at that time that the move back would be permanent, and that an entire empire was about to crash down on our heads. We could just begin seeing the outline of that historical happening.
And in those times we worked together in a spirit of cooperation to do the nation's will. We argued, we debated. That is the American system. That is the American democratic system. And if confirmed, I promise that I will argue with you, I will debate with you, as I did in the past, but it will always be in the best spirit of cooperation, to make sure we get the right answer for the American people and that we pursue the President's foreign policy as he has divined it from the will of the American people.
We will need to work together well because we have a great challenge before us. But it is not a challenge of survival anymore; it is a challenge of leadership. For it is not a dark and dangerous ideological foe we confront as we did for all those years, but now it is the overwhelming power of millions of people who have tasted freedom. It is our own incredible success, the success of the values that we hold dear, that has given us the challenges that we now face.
I have seen that success in many ways since I stepped down and took off my military uniform seven years ago. I have been out across the country, I have traveled around the world, I have sat on the board of some companies that are in the forefront of the transformation of our society. And what I have seen is an economy that is flourishing, people in America who are creating wealth, people who are doing so very well as they take advantage of this new economic environment that we find ourselves in. I have also seen fellow Americans who have not yet shared in that dream, and I have tried to see what I could do to help them.
I have seen more and more nations moving on to the path of democracy and the free enterprise system. The rise in democracy and the power of the information revolution combined to leverage each other. As a member of the Board of Directors of one of these transforming companies, America Online, I had a unique vantage point in which to watch the world start to transform itself. America Online and its various services have over 100 million people connected electronically. They can Instant Message; they can e-mail; they can trade photos, papers, ideas, dreams, capital, likes and dislikes, all done without customs posts, visas, passports, tariffs, guard towers or any other way for governments to interfere. With the speed of light they can communicate; with the speed of light, the concept of freedom can travel around the world.
If such ideas move around now at the speed of light, they are also like the light, darkness cannot withstand them. Eventually they will flow into every dark place and illuminate that place for the betterment of mankind. Two of the most important of these ideas are democracy and capitalism; they are like twin lasers working in tandem all across the globe to illuminate the last dark corners of totalitarianism and dictatorship.
The "ideologicalisms" which challenged us for the last 50 years have all died away -- fascism, Nazism, Communism -- leaving only the dregs of abused and misused power in their wake. Yes, dictators remain, but they are relics of the past, and the "-isms" they practice can't destroy us, can't overthrow us, can't end our way of life the way the threat of the Soviet Union was able to do so. These regimes and these dictators can be dangerous, and they require our attention, but they can't hurdle the Atlantic in 30 minutes, the way I used to worry about Soviet forces doing just a few years ago.
Democracy and free markets work, and the world knows it. And there is no finer example of this than America and her allies, who together comprise the strongest economies in the world, helping to reshape the entire world by willing to trade openly and encourage others to do likewise. And there should be no question in any world leader's mind that the first and most essential ingredient for success in this 21st century is a free people and a government that derives its right to govern from the consent of such people.
So a guiding principle of President-elect Bush's foreign policy will be that America stands ready to help any country that wishes to join the democratic world -- any country that puts the rule of law in place and begins to live by that rule, any country that seeks peace and prosperity and a place in the sun. In that light, there is no country on earth that is not touched by America, for we have become the motive force for freedom and democracy in the world.
And there is no country in the world that does not touch us. We are a country of countries with a citizen in our ranks from every land. We are attached by a thousand cords to the world at large, to its teeming cities, to its remotest regions, to its oldest civilizations, to its newest cries for freedom. This means that we have an interest in every place on this Earth, that we need to lead, to guide, to help in every country that has a desire to be free, open and prosperous.
Mr. Chairman, this is a time of great opportunity for us. We have the strength to take risks for peace. We must help the world that wants to be free. And we can take these risks because we are so strong. We are economically strong, we are politically strong, and underneath it all we have an insurance policy that allows us to take risks. And those insurance policies go first by the name of the Armed Forces of the United States, the finest, the best in the world. And they will remain the finest under President George W. Bush. They will remain the finest because they will have the best people, the best equipment, the best training, and the best funding necessary to make sure that they are always, always ready for whatever challenges come their way.
The Armed Forces are just one element of this insurance policy, just one part of our national security team. There are many others. And if you confirm me, I will become the leader of one of the most vital elements. It is the State Department and its talented and dedicated professionals who are in the forefront of our engagement in the world. While the world has been growing more demanding and more complex, while more and more nations demand and need our attention, we have cut the number of people in the State Department, we have underfunded our facilities, we have neglected our infrastructure. We need to do better.
Many of you have visited Camp Bondsteel in Kosovo where our GIs are stationed. Senator Biden was there just yesterday. And as Senator Biden and others will tell you, it is a superb, first-class facility put in almost overnight to make sure that our troops are taken care of. But if you visited some of the dilapidated embassies and other facilities in the region, you would wonder whether the same government was taking care of them. That is not right. We have exceptional people in the State Department, many of whom I have met personally and worked with personally over the years, and a number of whom I have had the occasion to meet in the first few weeks of my transition. And if we want them to do the people's work, then we must give them the resources they need to do it.
In that regard, I want to thank you for what you gave the Department this past fiscal year under the encouragement of Secretary Albright. But I want to let you know that I will be coming back to you because I know that we do not have enough to accomplish the mission; we do not have enough. And we need not just a little increase, we need a step increase. And as soon as I have put together the specific programs and the dollar details to support these programs, and once I get the approval of the President, I can promise you I will be back. Put it on your calendars. If you approve my appointment and the full Senate approves it, I will be back. And that's a promise.
Now I know you expect to hear how the Bush Administration views some of the key issues that have been raised by Members of the Committee in my individual calls, and Senator Biden has raised and you raised in your very fine AEI speech last week, Senator Helms, so I would now like to turn to that.
In what President-elect Bush has called "the distinctly American internationalism," there is no inclination whatsoever to have our nation withdraw from the world into a fortress of protectionism or an island of isolationism. As President-elect Bush has also said, America must be involved in the world. And we must be involved according to our national interest, and not in some haphazard way that seems more dictated by the crisis of the day than by serious, thoughtful foreign policy.
No ally, friend or enemy will ever be unclear about where the Bush Administration stands on a matter that touches our heart and soul and our basic interests.
For example, to begin with, we believe strongly in NATO, that great alliance across the Atlantic Ocean. It is the bedrock of our relationship with Europe. It is sacrosanct. Weaken NATO and you weaken Europe, which weakens America. The value of NATO can be seen by the fact that ten years after the Cold War, nations are still seeking to join the alliance, not to leave it. The alliance is as relevant to the future as it was to the past. It did not threaten Russia in the past, and it does not threaten Russia in the future.
And historic change is occurring in Europe. Europeans are striving in their own way, in their own time, to find their own more perfect union. We welcome a more integrated, robust and a stronger Europe, an all the more capable partner in the challenging times ahead. And our European allies as part of this change are in the midst of important efforts to improve their defense capabilities. We will support any such efforts, as long as it strengthens NATO and does not weaken NATO.
What happens within that great alliance, what happens to it must comport with its continued strength, resilience and effectiveness. To our west, across the Pacific, a similar bedrock exists. It is our strong relationships with our Asia-Pacific allies and friends, and particularly Japan. Weaken those relationships and we weaken ourselves. All else in the Pacific and East Asia flows from those strong relationships. As Senator Biden said, we are a European and a Pacific nation, and we have to represent and defend our interests in both those theatres.
With these fundamentals in mind, our obligations and our commitments to our alliances east and west, let me touch on the other countries that were mentioned by Senator Biden -- I know are very much on the minds of Members of the Committee.
First, China. China is a giant, a giant trying to find its way in the world with a Communist leadership still, yet with distinctly Chinese textures that belie any real categorization, other than capitalism, now weaves a strong strain throughout that society.
Our challenge with China is to do what we can do that is constructive, that is helpful, and that is in our interest. Japan, South Korea, Australia, and our other allies and friends in the region have a stake in this process of nurturing a constructive relationship. And we will want to work with them, not unilaterally, but work with our friends and allies in responding to a new and dynamic China.
I hope that with full membership in the World Trade Organization, with increasingly responsible behavior in the region and in the world, and most vitally, hopefully with increased freedom for the Chinese people, China may yet fulfill a promise that Sun Chung-shan laid out almost a hundred years ago.
But, in the meantime, we will treat China as she merits. A strategic partner China is not, but neither is China our inevitable and implacable foe. China is a competitor, a potential regional rival, but also a trading partner willing to cooperate in areas where our strategic interests overlap.
China is all of these things, but China is not an enemy, and our challenge is to keep it that way by enmeshing them in the rule of law, by exposing them to the powerful forces of a free enterprise system in democracy, so they can see that this is the proper direction in which to move.
The United States has long acknowledged the view that there is only one China. In that respect, Taiwan is part of China. How the People's Republic of China and Taiwan resolve the differences and interpretation of that view is up to them, so long as military force is not one of the methods used. In the meantime, we will stand by Taiwan, and we will provide for the defense needs of Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act, subsequent communiqués. We are very mindful of what Congress has given us as guidance in the form of the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act. We understand that a strong Taiwan that is secure is a foundation, with a prosperous country to continue to prosper, and it is a foundation of stability and security in that part of the world.
Let all who doubt, from whatever perspective, be assured of one solid truth: We expect and demand a peaceful settlement, one acceptable to people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Likewise now, when we look across the Atlantic, that other theatre, we find another giant trying to find its way, and Senator Biden touched on this as well. Our challenge in this direction is to help the Russian people come to grips with their future, solidifying their democracy, restructuring their economy to support that democracy, joining the wider world in every respect, and moving positively and swiftly toward lower levels of nuclear weapons, greater stability in their periphery, and a firmer, more permanent peace for themselves and for the people of the region.
Our relations with Russia must not be dictated by any fear on our part. For example, if we believe the enlargement of NATO should continue, for example, and we do believe that, we should not fear that Russia will object. We will do it because it is in our interest and because freedom-loving people wish to be part of NATO. Instead, we should deal with Russia's objections and find a way to address them. NATO is not aimed at Russia; NATO is aimed at the peace of Europe, and Russia is European after all.
So Russia is a great country, an Atlantic and a Pacific country, a country that can gain enormous benefits from its relationship with us and with the West in general. But that relationship can only be a strong and successful one if Russia does what it needs to do.
And what it needs to do, as President-elect Bush has said, is to get on with reform, in particular by firmly establishing the rule of law, rooting out corruption, stopping the proliferation of missile technology and nuclear materials, ending the sales of destabilizing weapons to nations such as Iran, and in general, living up to the obligations it has incurred as the newest democracy with world power credentials.
One such obligation can be found in Chechnya, where they must achieve a political settlement, the only way to end this terrible conflict and to bring peace to the area. At the same time, we will hold the Russians to account for internationally recognized norms such as those of the Geneva Convention, and they must allow humanitarian assistance organizations to have access to the civilians who are suffering in the region.
In the end, the world may well see the enigma inside the riddle wrapped up in the mystery that is Russia finally deciphered, solved and unwrapped. But the magician who does that can't be us or anyone else in the world; it can only be done by the Russian people. And we will work with them and we wish them well.
Going back across the Pacific, we come to our bilateral relationship with the Republic of Korea, which was also touched on by Members, a land seeking a historic reconciliation, one that we will support as we have for the last 50 years, and we will help them facilitate this reconciliation. But as long as a dictator in the North continues to field far more conventional forces than any conceivable sense of self-defense would warrant, and develops missiles and unconventional weapons, we and our allies in the region will remain vigilant.
We believe that the reduction of tension between the North and the South is one of the keys to greater peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, and the opening North-South dialogue that we have been witnessing recently is certainly a positive step in that regard.
Secretary Albright has made me very well aware of the status of our recent discussions with the North Koreans, so we are mindful of all the work that has been done and we will use that work as we review our overall policy on the Peninsula. In the meantime, we will abide and agree to the commitments made under the Agreed Framework, provided that North Korea does the same.
And in our review of the situation on the Peninsula, the Bush Administration will also be looking at our overall defense posture. As you know, once confirmed, Secretary Rumsfeld will be conducting the comprehensive review of our military that the President-elect has called for. I know that he shares my view that our defense posture must match our East and West obligations, both across the Atlantic and across the Pacific. We must have sufficient military might -- for the Atlantic mostly in NATO, for the Pacific mostly largely in Korea and Japan -- and for our defense capabilities that will provide the deterrence and force projection that might be needed in other parts of the world.
Our troops in Korea, our troops in Europe, our strong allied forces that work with us, afford the same clear and definitive interest that it is necessary for us to show in both those regions of the world. And I know that this important bi-directional aspect will be kept very much in mind by Secretary Rumsfeld.
I believe that there is a need for forces to provide presence in both of these regions, and I believe we have to be able to deter and fight regional conflicts that might arise in both of those regions near simultaneously. We can't do it alone; we need friends and allies to help us as we look to the securities challenges of the new century.
In the Pacific, for example, we are very, very pleased that Australia, our firm ally, has played a keen interest in what has been happening in Indonesia. So we will coordinate our policies. But let our ally, Australia, take the lead as they have done so well in that troubled country.
Indonesia, as you well know, is a state that extends, if it was superimposed on the map of the United States, from New York to San Francisco. And this nation is undergoing enormous change. Our relations with this hugely important country need careful attention. President Wahid is attempting to undo years of neglect, while at the same time hold together a fractious population, a population much affected by the flow of ideas that I mentioned earlier.
And turning again once more to the Atlantic, President Bush has promised to look closely at an area that I know is on the mind of so many of you, the situation in the Balkans, and especially the commitment of our troops in the Balkans. I can assure you that President Bush understands the commitment and obligations that we have made to our NATO allies and to the people of the region. And as we look at the possibility of reducing our troop levels in the region, this will be done carefully; it will be done as part an overall review of all of our commitments overseas; and you can be sure it will be done in the closest consultation with our allies. And it will be part, as I mentioned, of that overall review of where our troops are around the world.
We must consider that when we deploy our troops, whether for peace operations or for potential conflict, they are increasingly vulnerable to more than just simply conventional weapons. Conventional weapons are the primary threat, but we also see weapons of mass destruction at the top end of missiles that are being developed by nations.
And we have an obligation, an obligation to our troops, an obligation to ourselves, an obligation to our allies and friends, to move forward with missile defense on two fronts; first, theatre missile defense, an important requirement to defend our forces. And as you know, President-elect Bush has made it quite clear that he is committed to deploying an effective ballistic missile defense using the best technology available at the earliest date possible. And we will be developing a plan for the way ahead including, as was noted, looking at the diplomatic ramifications of such a missile defense program.
I believe it is important, as Senator Biden noted, to look at missile defense not just standing alone. It is one part of our overall strategic defense and offensive posture. When you are talking about strategic deterrents, what you are talking about is getting into the mind of a particular opponent and making sure that opponent realizes that he will never be successful if he decides to move down into the direction of threatening us or our friends with missiles or weapons of mass destruction; and that deterrence, in his mind, comes from knowing that he would be committing suicide, that we have the offensive power to destroy him should he ever take such an action. I believe that that deterrence is enhanced if he also knows that if he was able to launch a missile at us, we have the capacity of intercepting that missile and knocking it down. When you put those two elements together, I think defense is strengthened, not weakened. And then when you add to that our command and control systems that give us assurance of what's happening, and when you add on top of that our nonproliferation activities, I believe that deterrence is ultimately strengthened and not weakened.
While we design this complete strategic framework and decide these very important issues on missile defense, there will be time to consult with our allies and our friends, to explain to them what we have in mind, why we think it is for the benefit of mankind to move in this direction, we will let the Chinese and the Russians know that it is not directed at them but at other nations that we have less confidence in in their ability to act in rational ways.
I understand that this will be a difficult discussion, but it is a discussion that we must move forward on because we are committed to missile defense. And we will be coming back to the Committee to share our thoughts with you as we get further into our analysis.
And it is in that context, then, that we believe that the ABM Treaty in its current form is probably no longer relevant to our new strategic framework, and we hope to persuade the Russians of the need to move beyond the ABM Treaty.
We also need to review our approach to curbing proliferation. As you know, we will not be asking for the Congress to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in its next session. We are mindful of the work that was done by President Clinton's Special Advisor and my colleague General Shalikashvili. We will examine that work, but we believe that there are still flaws with the Treaty as it was voted down in 1999. Nevertheless, we will continue to examine the elements of that Treaty as part of our overall strategic review.
General Shalikashvili gave us some good ideas with respect to the stockpile stewardship program, which we will be pursuing, and at the same time President-elect Bush has indicated he has no intention of resuming testing as part of our efforts. We do not see any need for such testing in the foreseeable future.
Mr. Chairman, I have concentrated really on the two major theatres to the east and to the west. As I come to the end, let me pause and spend a little time on some other areas of major concern to us. And one that is uppermost in our mind at this time is the situation in the Middle East, where we have a major challenge to the peace process. I applaud the commitment of President Clinton and our past Presidents in their tireless efforts to find a resolution to this half-century-old conflict with its roots in antiquity. And President- elect Bush shares this goal, and we will do our part to keep the peace process moving forward.
We seek a lasting peace, as have all previous administrations, based on unshakeable support for the security of Israel, the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people, our friendships in the Arab world, and a hard-headed recognition that the parties themselves must make the peace. We deplore the increased violence in the area and encourage the parties to do all possible to bring it to an end. You can't successfully pursue peace in the midst of such violence.
We also pledge to focus our efforts on the region as a whole and not just on the peace process standing alone. We are ready to work with all the parties in the region to achieve a comprehensive solution. The peace for Israel means peace with all of her neighbors, Syria included, where we need to build on the opportunity created by Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.
And when we look at that whole troubled region, Mr. Chairman, there is no more tragic case than Iraq, a failed state with a failed leader. It is sad to consider what could be, what should be, if only Iraq would use its resources and its talented people for constructive purposes.
This is the 10th year anniversary of the beginning of Desert Storm, a war we wish we didn't have to fight. We wish the Iraqi leaders and their people had come to their senses back then, and not caused this conflict to happen. But it did happen. And we went into that war with clear political objectives, and those objectives were to kick the Iraqi army out of Kuwait; and they're gone and the legitimate government has been restored. Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein is still in power, but what a mess he has made of his nation over the past ten years while the rest of the world has moved on. While we have seen our economy flourish, while we bring up a new generation of youngsters ready for the Internet Age, he sits there trapped in the past.
Instead of seeking peace and prosperity for his people, we see a weakened Iraq that utters threats and pursues horrible weapons to terrorize its neighbors. We have seen what they will do, and have done in the past in Tehran. We have seen it in Kuwait City, especially to the children of Kuwait. We must not forget how Iraq treated those innocent children, and we saw some of the effects of that treatment on our television screens.
The President-elect has made it clear that we will work with our allies to reenergize the sanctions regime. Critics will say that tightened sanctions mean more harm to the people of Iraq, especially to children. No one cares for children more than I do, and I understand that a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon of a Saddam Hussein threatens not only the children of Iraq, but the entire region -- far more than tightened sanctions whose ultimate goal is not to hurt Iraq but to prevent them from having such terrible weapons in their arsenal. We need to be vigilant, ready to respond to provocations, and utterly steadfast in our policy towards Saddam Hussein. And we need to be supportive of opposition efforts.
The burden is not on us or the United Nations; the burden has to be placed on Iraq to come into compliance with the agreement they made at the end of the Gulf War. We owe this to its neighbors and we owe this to its neighbors' children, that they are no longer threatened, that Iraq is ready to live in the world, and not apart from it. And until Iraq makes that decision and lives by it, we will remain resolute.
Mr. Chairman, as we continue to look at our various responsibilities, I would just like to touch on a region of the world that perhaps we don't spend enough time thinking about, talking about. I want to talk about Africa for just a few moments.
In March of 1999 when I was in Nigeria to help President Carter supervise the national elections, I was impressed by the newly elected president's courage and his commitment to bringing democracy to his troubled country. President Obasanjo is now confronting the pressures of massive indebtedness, ethnic division, and the twin legacies of colonialism and military misrule. We will need to help him to consolidate his gains, help that comes most vitally in the form of debt relief, investment in trade, and full support for the democracy he is trying to create.
One of the most important actions that the Congress undertook this past year was the passage of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, and I congratulate the Congress for that Act. Free trade is important the world over, but different regions require different formulas for fostering free trade. This Act is the right way to begin bringing Africa into the more prosperous world of free-flowing capital and open markets.
With powerful economies such as South Africa's, and eventually Nigeria's, and other transforming African states, we begin to change the lives of Africa's poorest people, who are so desperately in need, and we need to help them. It is our obligation. As we have obligations in other parts of the world, I believe we have an obligation to the people of Africa.
And then returning to the Western Hemisphere, there are 500 million people who live in this wonderful hemisphere of ours, people with whom we share common borders, most economic values, and with the exception of that relic in Cuba, a pervasive belief that people who are free and govern democratically are people who will keep the peace and create and sustain the prosperity that will benefit all of us.
President-elect Bush is especially alert to this region. As a governor, he dealt frequently with Mexico, a neighbor whose recent election proved once again the sweeping power of democracy. We must never neglect our own neighborhood. I am so proud of what has happened in the last 12 years. When I was National Security Advisor just 12 short years ago, we had dictatorships all over the place; we had generals running countries; we had tyrants running loose. And now 12 years later, all of those nations, in one form or another, are on a path to democracy and the free enterprise system, with difficulties -- it isn't an easy path. Only Castro's Cuba remains behind, destined to remain behind, trapped in the '50s until they see the error of their ways.
One country that will be uppermost in our mind is Colombia. Colombia is a country in difficulty. Their democracy is in difficulty. President-elect Bush has met with President Pastrana. The visit was a good one, and President-elect Bush came away with a solid impression of the dedication that President Pastrana has to the key issues: fighting the scourge of illicit drugs that are threatening Colombia's very democracy and encouraging the insurgency that attacks that democracy. The new Administration will support Plan Colombia, a plan to send in $1.3 billion of American aid, to help the Colombian people deal with this emergency.
At the same time, we have to do everything we can here at home to eliminate the cause of that emergency, and that is the American citizen using drugs. And we have to make sure that is an essential element of our strategy for Colombia as well.
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee, I know I have taken your time but I wanted to touch on some of the areas and particular relationships that I know are of greatest importance to you. I want to close by just touching on a few other areas that are cross-cutting.
First, the United Nations. I, too, want to express my thanks to you, Senator Helms, and you, Senator Biden, and your colleagues for the superb work you did in bringing a solution to this problem and getting it off the table before the Bush Administration comes in. And I especially want to congratulate my good friend, Ambassador Dick Holbrooke, and also Secretary Albright and so many others for the wonderful work they did.
I hope now to work with the Committee to make sure we remove all the remaining problems we have with our UN relationship. I have seen what the UN can do over the years. It is a great organization. It is deserving of our support. It has represented our interests and the interests of freedom-loving people around the world. I look forward to an early meeting with Secretary General Kofi Annan to let him know of our desire to work very closely with the United Nations.
I also want to comment, Mr. Chairman, on the role played by nongovernmental organizations and the wonderful job they do around the world and how they support our foreign policy. I couldn't help but note that in your remarks last week to the AEI you took note of that, to the extent of saying -- and I was very pleased to hear this, Senator Helms -- that you would be willing to increase foreign aid funding if we could find perhaps a new model in which to encourage nongovernmental organizations to receive that funding. And I want to say to you that I look forward to working with you and other Members of the Committee in finding ways to satisfy your concerns about the way we do business at AID and at the State Department so that we can get that additional funding to help spread democracy and freedom around the world.
Mr. Chairman, these are very exciting times, and the State Department will do its best to assist President-elect Bush as he leads America's foreign policy. We understand also that there are cross- cutting issues that don't simply fit in any one region, whether it is terrorism, whether it is environmental concerns, whether it is the tragedy of AIDS and tuberculosis and other similar scourges that are facing mankind. And the State Department will not only be looking regionally but I will try to do a better job of looking across those functional areas to make sure we discharge our obligations.
In my discussions with you and other Members of the Committee, I know there has been concern also about the manner in which State Department is managed. I can assure you that this will be a major priority for me. I may be the President's foreign policy advisor, but I am also the leader and manager of the Department of State; I have a responsibility to you, but more importantly I have a responsibility to the men and women of the State Department to give them the very best leadership that I can, and I will be looking to you for that support.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you for your indulgence. I think these are exciting times in which to be living, exciting times to watch the world start to respond to the power of democracy and the free enterprise system, exciting times to watch a new President take office and to bring with him a belief in those values, a new President who, when he takes this Oath of Office this Saturday, I think will make America proud as he speaks about the values which have fueled us in the days that the first Secretary of State-Designate appeared before the Senate for his confirmation. I am honored to be following in the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson and in the footsteps of George C. Marshall, two giants. I'm in their footsteps -- I can never been in their shadow -- but I will try to do my very, very best.
I am very, very honored to be the first African American Secretary of State-Designate, and Secretary of State if you so confirm my appointment; honored to be following in the footsteps of Secretary Albright, who did such a terrific job as the first woman Secretary.
I think it shows to the world what is possible in this country. It shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning, if you believe in the values that espouse, you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you to receive your approval.
When I first entered the United States Army in 1958, just a few years ago, my generation, it would have been unthinkable. But it has happened, and it is a tribute to the miracle of our nation and the miracle of Thomas Jefferson and his colleagues who gave us this wonderful place that we try every day to make a more perfect union.
Thank you very much, sir.