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Powell Address To Bretton Woods Committee Jun. 12

Address to Annual Meeting of The Bretton Woods Committee

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Loy Henderson Conference Room
Washington, DC
June 12, 2003
(9:20 a.m. EDT)

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Well, thank you very much, and welcome to the State Department. It's always a great pleasure for us to host the committee every year. And I remember very vividly when I did it for the first time in 2001, and I'm pleased to be here again for a repeat in 2003.

I noted in 2001 that, as a result of my coming back in the government, my government stripped me of every one of my memberships in any charitable or other organization imaginable. But I did save $250 a year, every year thereafter, as a result of no longer being a member of the Bretton Woods Committee.

But, nevertheless, I do have a fondness of the organization, and I do appreciate the work that you do. I always have to now introduce myself as the good Powell. I said that to somebody last night. I said, "Which is the good Powell, which is the bad Powell, me or my son, Mike, the chairman of the FCC?"

And the very delicate answer was, "Well, you're both good Powells," which I thought was a perfectly diplomatic answer.

But it is, nevertheless, very nice to be here and see you all again, and, especially, see so many old friends in the room, a number of individuals who had something to do with my life and times and career over the years, and I am very pleased to have you all here. I don't think the work of the Bretton Woods Committee is any less important than it's been throughout its long and distinguished history, and, if anything, it's more important.

I have now been Secretary of State for a little over two years -- two years and four months, and we have been through, during that time, a number of crises. We are working our way through the post-Iraq conflict period, a difficult period where we are trying to stabilize a country -- try to give the people of that country, try to replace an infrastructure that was destroyed, not by the war but by the 30 years of dictatorship, that went before that war.

We are working in a country that has no history of democracy, no history of market economics, no history of commercial activity of the kind that we would understand, and all of that was taken out a few months ago or during the course of the war, when we brought down the Baath Party, which, essentially, was the political structure, but it was also the basis of the administrative structure and the economic structure.

And we have an opportunity to put in place now something that will be much better -- and I am confident will be much better -- and may well turn out to be one of the most powerful examples to other nations in the world, especially other nations in that region, as to what is achievable. So many members of our willing coalition are coming back together to help us with this -- not only those who fought the war, but more friends of America and friends of democracy, are joining the effort to stabilize the country and to send in experts to help with the reconstruction.

The United Nations now has a representative on the ground, Sergio De Mello, who is working closely with Ambassador Bremer and other coalition political leaders, to help in this process. And the groups that are represented here, especially the IMF, and the World Bank, and other IFIs will certainly be involved in this reconstruction project. So this is a crisis that was thrust upon us, frankly, and we dealt with it.

And now, I think, we have removed the dictator, and the results of his dictatorship for the past 30 years are now open for all to see, especially mass graves, and the people who were liberated. They are anxious about their future. But, nevertheless, they will have a choice in that future, as opposed to the way they had been governed for the previous 30 years. There are other crises that we have to deal with. But, you know, there are always crises of one kind or another facing the world.

The Middle East is much on my mind this morning, and I'm sure in your mind. I have been on the phone most of the morning talking to the leaders in the region to encourage them to come down hard on Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and these other terrorist organizations that are determined to deny us this latest opportunity for peace.

Who are determined to deny the Palestinian people the opportunity to have their own homeland. Who are determined to use terror to destroy the promise that was put before the world last week in Aqaba. We are just as determined to not let that happen, and we are encouraging the Palestinian leadership. We are encouraging the Israeli leadership to act with determination to punch through this wave of violence, to make sure that it does not stop us, so that we can continue moving forward on the roadmap.

There are other challenges we worry about. North Korea is another that comes to mind. I still remain confident that a diplomatic solution is possible. We are working with our friends in the region, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, Australia, others to make sure the North Koreans realize that the challenge they are presenting is not just a challenge to the United States, but a challenge to their neighbors, who are most directly threatened by the possibility of North Korea being a nuclear weapons holding state. And I am confident that with increasing pressure and with a clear way for the North Koreans to get out of the box that I believe they are in, a solution can be found.

There are other crises in the world. But what really dominates so much of my time and attention is not just these crises that I have touched on, but the broader issues that affect the world. As I go around to different parts of the world, having just come back from Latin America two nights ago, what I find is more and more nations that have moved into the right column. They have moved into the column of democracy. They have moved into the column of the free enterprise system.

Fifteen years ago, when I was National Security Advisor, we had so many countries in our own hemisphere that were being run by Generals or dictators. Now all of them, in one way or another, have freely elected leaders, have market economic systems. They are in different stages of the development process and it is not easy for all of them.

Some are doing better than others, some are struggling, some see their democracy put at risk by bad political policies or corruption or by terrorism and narco-trafficking, but all of them are trying to move in the direction that we pointed them in so many years ago, to believe in democracy as a political system, and to believe in open economics, market economics, as a proper economic system.

I see the same thing when I travel to Europe, and when I meet with the leaders of the new nations that emerged freely, once again, after the end of the Cold War. I see it also in Africa, as nations try to take advantage of AGOA, and see how they can use that to jumpstart their development activities in their march up the economic ladder.

And what I have found, as I have gone around the world, is that so many nations that in the late '80s and early '90s came out -- so many of them that came out of totalitarianism, and the Cold War, and the past and adopted democracy have discovered that it isn't easy -- that you are held accountable now that we have an open political process.

And I have had a number of leaders sit in my office and say, "Well, you know, it was terrific. We had a great celebration. We had parades. We had elections. And I became the Prime Minister or President of my country -- and as my Foreign Minister, my Minister for Economic Affairs. But guess what? It's much harder to give the people what they want and what they expect, as a result of going into the democratic column."

It's hard for them, and slowly, slowly we have to make the case to them. And they have to understand that democracy means not just having an election, it means having a non-corrupt system. It means putting in place a rule of law. It means putting in place stability and some predictability in your economic policies. It means investing, finding ways to invest in your people, in the infrastructure of your country, so that you can participate in the global economic system that is now available to you, as a result of your commitment to democracy.

It means that those of us who are wealthy, those of us who are in the developed world stand ready to assist you and to provide aid to you, but aid only as a means of jumpstarting your system, so that you then can attract trade. Because, ultimately, there isn't enough aid in the world we can give you to help you if you don't help yourself by putting in place the right economic and political policies and infrastructure development policies that will attract trade.

All of the pieces then start coming together, as I think about these issues on my long plane rides back and forth across the world. If you don't have educated children, if you don't have children that are healthy, so that they can get an education because they're healthy enough to go to school, then what are we talking about, with respect to economic development, if you don't have young people coming up, who have the skills that are going to be needed and used in a 21st Century globalized world, and this country's role in that globalized world.

And if you are able to invest in education, if you are able to invest in the other things that children need, so that they can grow up and become contributing members of that society, then how does this play into the greatest weapons of mass destruction that is waiting out there to cut them down, HIV/AIDS?

And so, we have to go after that as well, otherwise, to raise a young generation in an undeveloped country only to see it smitten, cut down by HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. And I am not just talking about a few people going to hospitals – I am talking about a whole generation being wiped out. You see societies that have infection rates that go to 10, 20, 30 percent, and they're not all societies in sub-Saharan Africa.

It's going to happen in Russia. It's going to happen in India. It's going to happen in China. As sure as the Lord made little green apples, it's going to happen. And so, you see that kind of issue. And what we have tried to do in the administration is to see this in a holistic manner, to recognize that while we have to deal with crises with military force sometimes, because political action has not produced the desired result, diplomacy came up short and military force was necessary and we were prepared to do that -- the greater challenge that American foreign policy faces, and the greater commitment that the President has made is to the issues I have just talked about.

And that's why this President, President Bush, went before the American people in the State of the Union address and said, on top of everything else we are doing, with respect to HIV/AIDS, on top of what we have done with the Global Health Fund, on top of all of the billions of dollars that Tommy Thompson uses to try to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, and all of the money we put into the National Institutes of Health, all of the effort we are doing to reduce the costs of anti-retroviral drugs, we, the United States of America, must do more. And he said to the American people, "Let's start with $15 billion."

We now have the authorization for that program. I'm in the process of creating an office here in the Department that will administer that program. And if all goes well in the near future, I expect to see the Congress act to appropriate money for the office and for this important effort. It doesn't stand alone as a health care issue. It is a foreign policy issue. It is a basic issue of our obligation to people desperately in need.

It is a basic economic issue. Because if we don't do something about H IV/AIDS, it has a health care impact, a societal impact, an impact on the promise of democracy and an economic impact. And it must be dealt with, not only because without it you are removing HIV victims from the workforce, but you are placing an enormous economic burden on those who are able to continue to work to take care of those who are no longer able to continue to work.

The President also sees this in a holistic sense, in the manner in which he has applied the concept of the Millennium Challenge Account. As this program ramps up by the year 2006, five billion additional dollars a year will be added to our foreign affairs budget, our development programs. It will be done in a different way with an independent corporation that will provide the money to developing nations, but only if they have met some basic tests that we're going to put before them, one that will be a "needs test. "

But, too, there will be a test of intent. Is this country with its leadership committed to democracy? Is it committed to the end of corruption? Is it on a solid basis, with respect to the rule of law? Is there a transparent system? Is there an accountable government? Are they moving in the right way, with respect to market economics? In other words, are we putting good money after good policies?

We will still have our traditional aid programs. And they, of course, will also direct resources to nations that will use those resources well. But the Millennium Challenge Account will be different, in that there will be a higher standard, with respect to the expectations from those countries. And if we use this money well, we will be building that infrastructure that is needed that will help youngsters become educated, that will put in place other elements of infrastructure needed to have a functioning society, a functioning economic system in this rapidly changing globalizing world.

You take the Millennium Challenge Account, you take what we are doing with respect to HIV/AIDS, you take also the President's commitment to free trade, free trade of the kind manifested in the free trade agreement we signed with Chile last week, other free trade, bilateral free trade agreements we are working with other nations around the world -- our commitment and the President's personal commitment to the free trade area of the Americas, all for the purpose of breaking down barriers, encouraging trade, making sure that goods can move back and forth more rapidly.

But it links into making sure people are healthy, it links into making sure that people have the infrastructure, making sure that the money circulates in the economy and is not ripped off and sent off to foreign banks and personal accounts of untrustworthy political leaders. It all fits together. It's all part of our national security strategy. You play a very, very important role, the institutions and organizations represented here. Your work is vital. Your work is essential to our accomplishing our foreign policy mission.

Yes, there are wars that will come along. There are crises that have to be dealt with. Some days I come in and I look at these issues and I wonder, "How are we going to get through this?" We will get through this. I have seen crises come, I have seen crises go over the years, and you have to deal with them. But I always make sure that we end the day here at the Department touching on these crises, but really thinking about the broader issues that are facing us.

Millions of people around the world, we have said to them -- we have said to them, "Democracy is the way to go." We have said to them, "Representative government is the way to go." We have said to them, "The dignity of the individual is paramount." We have said to them that, “The market economic system is what works.”

And now, having said that to them, and having seen so many of them accept that and move in that direction, we now have an enormous obligation, moral obligation. It's also, not only the right thing to do, it makes economic and foreign policy sense to us, to help them in every way that we can with programs such as free trade agreements, moving aggressively on Doha, Millennium Challenge Account, HIV/AIDS program and encouraging other developed nations to do more than they are doing, with respect to programs such as that, and then organizations of the kind founded by Bretton Woods so many years ago that it is still providing a valuable role in providing expertise and providing funding and making sure that you're investing in those nations that are committed to the right kind of future for their people.

And so, my friends, we have much work to do together. We have collaborated so effectively over so many years. And as long as President Bush is in office, I can assure you that he and his humble Secretary of State and other members of the Cabinet will continue to do everything we can, collaborate with you closely, as we go about this common task of helping people all over the world achieve their dreams, putting hope in their heart, food on their table, and making sure that they truly believe that the system we believe in will work for them too. Thank you very much.


Released on June 12, 2003

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