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Colin Powell Keynote Johns Hopkins University

Keynote Address of the 60th Anniversary Dinner of the School of Advanced International Studies The Johns Hopkins University

Secretary Colin L. Powell, Recipient of The Johns Hopkins University
President's Medal
Embassy of Italy
Washington, DC
October 13, 2004

(7:00 p.m. EDT)

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you, President Brody. It's such a great pleasure for me to be here this evening. I can't tell you how honored I am to receive this prestigious award, and to be counted among many distinguished recipients who have received it in the past. I want to thank you, Dean Einhorn -- Jessica, my friend -- for asking me to be here this evening, and I would like to thank all of you for coming out to pay tribute to this remarkable institution. And, Bill, I thank you especially for taking note of the Colin Powell Center at my alma mater, City College of New York. It, too, is dedicated to public service. It, too, is dedicated to investing in the young people of America.

As you noted, my parents were immigrants, I was an immigrant kid, and it was the public school system of New York City that invested in all of these immigrant kids from kindergarten all the way through college, without us paying a cent for it, because they felt that it was the responsibility of a community, of a city, to invest in its future by educating its children. And the least I could do is to help City College create a center that will be dedicated to that proposition, to helping young immigrant kids who continue to come to this nation in such numbers to find their dreams, to realize their hopes and desires.

One of the things I did at my center, and I'm very proud of, is I got a scholarship in the name of my parents, a scholarship that rewards excellence in academics but also requires that the student be committed to community service, to giving back to others. And I think tonight is a special occasion then to me to have you make a connection between SAIS and my center in New York, and I thank you for doing that.

And it's such a pleasure to have this event in such elegant surroundings, in the beautiful Italian Embassy. Ambassador and Mrs. Vento, thank you for providing this splendid setting for those of us who are gathered here, and also for inviting in those who are not here in the room but are watching this by closed circuit television.

And, Mr. Ambassador, I would be remiss if I did not respond to your comments about the strength of the Italian-American relationship, and I take this opportunity, sir, to thank you and thank my dear friend, Prime Minister Berlusconi, and Franco Frattini, my foreign minister colleague, and the Italian people for the steadfast support you have given to America in times of peace and war, and especially in the last four years as we have fought this war against terrorism. Mr. Ambassador, thank you from the bottom of my heart. (Applause.)

I'm not a SAIS alum, but I've been a SAIS booster for a long time. I was the 1992 commencement speaker when I was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And I'm proud to have a fellowship named after me here at SAIS, thanks to the thoughtfulness of former Dean George Packard. And this year's fellow, Qahira El'Amin, is here. Qahira, where are you? Just raise your hand so you can be recognized. Somewhere. There you are. Congratulations. (Applause.) I'm also grateful that your former Dean, Paul Wolfowitz, my friend and colleague of many years, with whom I've shared many adventures, I want to thank him for his efforts between those of Dean Packard and Dean Einhorn to keep me in touch with SAIS and keep SAIS growing and thriving at the highest possible level of achievement.

Now, as Secretary of State, I've become an even bigger SAIS booster than before. That's because SAIS is a university of diplomacy, and for nearly four years now I've been immersed in the universe of diplomacy. So I've come to particularly admire an institution that brings the best of scholarship to bear on practical issues of policy. I appreciate an institution that has always been dedicated not to teaching students how to figure out what we should have done in the past, but what we need to do now, what we need to do now to get ready for the future.

SAIS's mark of diplomatic distinction was inscribed from the start by its founders, two masters of hands-on diplomacy: Christian Herter and Paul Nitze. Christian Herter, of course, was one of my predecessors as Secretary of State. Paul, who can't be with us this evening but I hope will be able to see a tape of this evening's event, was the second director of the State Department's Office of Policy Planning. He is an icon to those of us who are in the State Department. I could spend the whole evening talking about Paul and going through this resume, but it's all so well known to all of you. But I have to say that Paul Nitze was a close colleague of mine, especially getting to know him during the final two years of the Reagan Administration, when I was National Security Advisor and Paul was senior advisor to the President and the Secretary of State on arms control. It was shocking to me then, a three-star general, to sit at a head of a table with all kinds of distinguished individuals and to have Paul Nitze at the table. It was like having Moses at the table. (Laughter.) This man who had 50 years under his belt when I was just trying to figure out how to be National Security Advisor.

But as we all know, Paul is someone who mentors others, who is a friend to all. I was so proud to work with Paul during those final years of the Soviet Union, as we concluded arms control agreements. The one that I'm especially proud of was the INF Treaty of 1987 that Paul, George Shultz and so many of us worked on so very hard. The first arms control agreement that actually eliminated nuclear weapons, eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons on both sides, SS-20s and others on the Russian side and the Pershing-II and ground-launched cruise missiles on our side -- a remarkable achievement, and Paul had so much to do with it.

I'll never forget, a couple of years later, when the missiles were actually being destroyed and it was clear that the Cold War was coming to a rapid end, that we had an event over at the Smithsonian, to which I invited my Russian colleague. I was now the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Mikhail Moiseyev came to the Smithsonian as we showed to the world these two missiles, the Russian SS-20 with three warheads sitting there, and then the Pershing-II right next to it, a single-warhead missile. And my wife, Alma, who is with me this evening and was with me that evening, looked up at the two of them and she looked at me and she said, "How come theirs was bigger?" (Laughter.) The Cold War died a slow death in the Powell household. (Laughter.)

But of all the things that he accomplished, of all that Paul Nitze did in his long and distinguished career, I think he would say, if he was with us this evening, that the founding of SAIS has to be at the top of the list -- and he's right to so say. He and Christian Herter set in motion something amazing and something sublime back in 1943. And over the past 60 years the SAIS faculty has included some of the greatest teachers of diplomacy ever to grace a classroom. And of course, great faculty produces great graduates -- SAIS's pre-eminent purpose. Of those great graduates there are far too many around the world, far too many here tonight, for me to start naming anyone, but it's clear that this tradition of excellence carries unto this day and will carry into the future that tradition so befitting of Paul and Christian, here in Washington, in Bologna, and in Nanjing.

SAIS's remarkable achievements owe much to the concept of the school at its origin, and that concept bears on our own circumstances today. Christian and Paul saw a new world in the making. They saw new opportunities as well as new challenges ahead. And they knew that we had to have a fundamentally sound understanding of that new world if we hoped to deal effectively with that new world. So the focus of education should be on the long haul, and that is exactly the right focus.

We, too, in the Bush Administration see a new world taking shape before our eyes, a world also with its opportunities and dangers. And just as the founders of SAIS knew that understanding change at the most fundamental level was the key to managing that change, so do we in the Bush Administration.

In the past dozen years the world has changed so dramatically. And on September 11, 2001, that pulse of change took on a particular shape -- a shape that defines the principal security challenge of our time. Terrorism and the war on terrorism is this administration's number one priority, and will remain so for as long as necessary. We've tried our very best to understand the change, and as this change has come upon us, to understand the implications of 9/11, and we think we do.

As the President has emphasized from the very start, this unprecedented struggle against terrorism has its military as well as its non-military dimensions, and using all the tools at our disposal, it is a challenge, it is a war, it is a conflict that has to be fought to a successful and a complete conclusion. Terrorists must be attacked. They must be destroyed. They cannot just be contained. Their sanctuaries and means of support must be eliminated, not just limited.

And that's what we're doing. That's what this administration, and all the assets at our disposal and all of the allies who are working with us, are doing. Every day we are working to improve our ability to go after the enemy, to protect our country, to control our borders, to know who's coming here, to make sure that we have a sense of who's coming into our country and for what purpose.

But at the same time that I work with Tom Ridge to make sure we are protecting our borders, we have to do it in a way that keeps our borders open. We want youngsters to come here and go to SAIS. We want people to come to our great hospitals. We want people to come to our entertainment facilities. We want secure borders but we want open doors because, as was touched on by Bill earlier, we are an immigrant nation; we are a nation that is touched by every nation in the world and we, in turn, touch every nation in the world. It is our openness, it is our welcoming attitude, that makes us what we are. It's reasonable for us to protect ourselves, but at the same time important for the world to know that we are a welcoming nation, a welcoming people.

Every day as we go about this conflict, as we go about resolving this conflict, we work to strengthen our international partnerships, our partnerships in law enforcement and intelligence sharing. Every day we get closer to staunching the proliferation and transfer of weapons of mass destruction, working through the President's Proliferation Security Initiative, and through the application of skilled diplomacy. We are going after the proliferators. We are dealing with the cases of weapons of mass destruction wherever they might be found -- in Iraq, or more successfully, through skilled diplomacy in Libya, and we've put Libya onto a new path to a better future for the Libyan people and removed the cause of concern.

And every day we work with friends and allies, in the Middle East and beyond. We work to advance reforms that will eliminate the frustration, the injustice, the poverty, the despair that gives rise to ideas of mass destruction. Last month, just as a small example, we launched something called the Forum for the Future at the United Nations in New York, 28 foreign ministers came together, 28 ministers from the G-8 and from the broader Middle East and North Africa, to create a partnership, to move forward with respect to reform and modernization in the broader Middle East and North Africa, not reform imposed by the United States, not telling people how to do it, but letting the people of the broader Middle East and North Africa know that in America you have a partner that wants to work with you on your reform program. What is it you think you think you need to be doing, and how can we help you? And we stand ready to help, to help promote market reforms, to help promote free trade, to help promote democracy.

By employing all of these means and working with partners on every continent, terrorists now have fewer opportunities to launch major deadly strikes. Every day terrorists have fewer places to run, fewer places in which to hide; and every day terrorists have fewer silent helpers, and more outspoken adversaries, more brave nations and individuals willing to stand up to them, willing to confront the savagery and the hatred and the nihilism that define terrorism.

Every day, we make progress in the main theaters where our military, in coalition with other nations, have been and remains engaged -- in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Just four days ago a free and fair Presidential election took place in Afghanistan, the first ever in that nation's history. The election wasn't perfect. I don't know of a county in the United States that has every had a completely open, perfect election -- (laughter) -- but the government and the opposition, with the help of the United Nations and American diplomats, will get through these little problems that emerged in the course of their election. The important thing is that they had an election. That's a sign of democracy growing. All last week and the weeks before, I heard all of these comments about, "It won't happen," "They can't have such an election," "This is something that is foreign to Afghanistan," "They have no tradition," "They don't know how to do it, it won't work, they won't get the ballots out," "You couldn't have registered 10 million people in the time that was available," "The Taliban and al-Qaida will do everything they can to make sure this does not happen," "This is a Muslim country, it won't work, it isn't applicable to their culture and to their history, it's wrong, you're going in the wrong direction, it won't work."

Yet we all woke up Sunday morning and saw pictures in our newspapers, we saw pictures on television, of Afghans lined up around and around the blocks of the polling stations. I heard stories all Sunday morning long, after speaking to Ambassador Zal Khalilzad, who did a great job over there and talking to other members of my staff about people who started queuing up at 3 o'clock in the morning. They told me the story about a bridge that had been blown in one of the outlying provinces across the river so that people couldn't get to the polling station. And the people came to the destroyed bridge and then they walked along the bank until they could find a ford, and then they crossed the icy water to get to a polling station.

They tell me stories of polling stations that it was time to close and it was time to end it all, and the people were still lined up around the block. They did not want to close. They wanted to vote. Thousands of people wanted to vote. Hundreds of thousands of people wanted to vote. Millions of people wanted to vote.

Three million people have come back into Afghanistan since we got rid of the Taliban three years ago -- almost four years ago, I guess, now. Three million people have come back to rebuild that country. Thousands, hundreds of thousands more, still outside of the country voted absentee in Pakistan to make sure that their voices were heard. People wanted to vote.

Why? Because they wanted to decide who their leaders would be. They wanted to decide who was going to be in charge of their future. They knew that the tyranny of the Taliban was over and the promise of the ballot box had arrived in Afghanistan, all of this in just a few years. We and our coalition partners in the International Security Assistance Force have helped them, and we should be proud. President Karzai, the Interim President of Afghanistan, and his leaders should be proud. Our young men and women who fought and the families of those who lost their lives in Afghanistan should be proud. Our coalition partners who have stood strongly with us should be proud of this remarkable achievement, an achievement that I am confident will be repeated next spring when they elect a new parliament. Afghanistan is a better place for what we have done and for what the people have done for themselves.

There is no reason that we cannot do the same thing in Iraq. We are facing a difficult time in Iraq. There's no point in saying it is not the case. We are fighting an insurgency. That insurgency is led by people who want to go back to the past, who want to go back to extermination pits, they want to go back to gassing their friends and neighbors, they want to go back to tyranny. The people of Iraq don't want that any more than the people of Afghanistan wanted it. Terrorists are coming to make trouble. They will be dealt with. Our coalition partners and an increasingly effective Iraq security force under the leadership of Prime Minister Allawi and the other brave Iraqi leaders who every day get up and face death at the hands of these individuals, but they get up and they go out and do the job because they know the Iraqi people deserve a better life, they deserve the same hope and future that we are giving to the people of Afghanistan.

Things are changing. Najaf and Samara are back in the hands of the Interim Iraqi Government. Muqtada al-Sadr, who made such difficulties for all of us a few weeks ago, is now talking of reconciliation. Weapons are being turned in in Sadr City. The Iraqi Interim Government and the coalition are working to recapture the other towns in the Sunni Triangle that are not fully under government control. Coherence of the insurgency in Fallujah is weakening. You've read about it in today's papers. Soon this and other parts of Iraq that suffer the intimidation of political criminals and foreign fighters will once again be in the hands of the government.

It's going to be tough. It's going to be difficult. There will be dark days ahead and brighter days will be coming. We have to stand -- we will stand -- with the courageous and dedicated Iraqi leaders, with the people of Iraq who want a better future. We will stand with our NATO colleagues who are there with us and others who are coming. Earlier today, NATO announced that they have put together this team that will be going in to help train Iraqi officers, to make them more competent, so the alliance is coming together. The UN is working to put in place more election officials so that we can have an election by the end of January 2005. The international financial institutions are coming together to help relieve the Iraqi people of the debt burden they have left over from Saddam Hussein.

So we're going to press ahead to national elections in January of 2005, just like we did in Afghanistan this past weekend. We do this for their sake, we do it for our own, because if we make this work -- and we will make it work -- we will have an entirely new image in that part of the world: democracy, freedom, people selecting their own leaders, the world coming together to help this nation back up on its own feet. We will never have another debate about weapons of mass destruction. We will not have to talk about terrorism any longer. And if there was any question about the nature of this regime, we saw the pictures on television today and you'll see more of them tomorrow of one of the mass graves uncovered up in the northern part of the country: women, pregnant women, murdered; children murdered. Who can still doubt the nature of the regime that is no longer in power and has been brought to justice? Monsters ruled and ravaged Iraq. They rule and ravage it no more.

And after the January elections, I believe it will be clearer than ever to all people that we've done the right thing. We're confident in our course because we have worked hard to understand the world that is taking shape before us. And with this administration, with President Bush, there's no mystery about what we think. Like the President himself, we in this administration say what we mean and mean what we say -- clearly and consistently.

But it is more than just about Iraq and Afghanistan. In The National Security Strategy that the President published a couple of years ago, President Bush said: "Enemies in the past needed great armies and great industrial strength to endanger America. Now, shadowy networks of individuals can bring chaos and suffering to our shores for less than it costs to purchase a single tank." We used to worry almost exclusively about the power of states. Today we also have to worry about the weakness of states -- states that allow or can't prevent terrorists from plotting mass murder on their soil, and states that provide the breeding ground for terrorist recruits.

This must mean that we have to do more than just fight them when they come after us. We have to do more. We have to engage with these nations to remove the causes of terrorism, to remove the hopelessness and the poverty and the despair in the lives of these individuals who might be inclined, without hope, without promise, to move in this direction.

And that's what we are doing. We are spending a great deal of our time and our energy not just in prosecuting war and reconstructing in Afghanistan and Iraq, we are doing so many other things that are often called "soft power" points and aspects of foreign policy.

We understand the policy logic of encouraging good governance, of poverty alleviation, of fighting disease -- so that societies won't stagnate or implode, so states won't fail. We understand that this is an age where what used to be considered "soft" policy has become "hard" policy in terms of putting our full resources to these issues so that we can make a difference throughout the world.

So when we work to spread liberty and democracy, we don't see it only in terms of idealism. We see that work also in terms of our own enlightened self-interest. As the President said, this strategy "reflects the union of our values as well as our national interests."

We will go after poverty where we find it. The President has doubled over the past four years the amount of money available to USAID for development assistance around the world. And on top of that, we have created one of the most innovative programs for development and poverty alleviation since the Marshall Plan. It's called the Millennium Challenge Account. It's a program the President announced in his State of the Union speech in January of 2003 and some 14 months later it was a program that was up and running with a freestanding corporation that has been given a billion dollars to get started from the Congress, identified 16 countries to use the billion dollars with, asked them for 2.5 more in this fiscal year and then $5 billion a year more beginning in 2006.

Which countries will get this money? Those developing countries that have made a commitment to democracy, the rule of law, the end of corruption, the dignity of the individual, human rights. Those countries that have selected the right path into the future will find America standing there to help them with education, to help them with infrastructure development, to help them develop the means of attracting trade and not just standing by to receive aid.

These are parts of our policies that aren't spoken about enough. The President recognized that HIV/AIDS is truly the greatest weapon of mass destruction on the face of the earth, and he acted by helping Kofi Annan set up the Global Health Fund, and then going beyond that and putting together a program of $15 billion in order to go after HIV/AIDS throughout the world.

We have concluded 12 free trade agreements with nations around the world. Ten more are on the way and we are working on regional free trade agreements and working within the WTO to liberalize trade. Why? Because trade brings wealth to nations in need of development so that we can encourage the free flow of trade to benefit nations throughout the world.

All of these elements come together -- fighting poverty, fighting disease, encouraging trade, dealing with enemies as we find them -- all of these things come together to create a national security policy that I think is relevant to the world in which we are living.

There are many challenges that we still face. Proliferation is a problem. Iran and North Korea are problems. We are using diplomatic means and political means to try to resolve these problems. Foreign policy in the 21st century means using all of the tools at your disposal. The President's first choice is diplomacy, political action. He also knows that in order for diplomacy and politics to work, it must be backed up with strength -- our political strength, our economic strength, the strength of our military -- and we must not be afraid to act when it is necessary to do so to protect our friends and our allies, and he will not fail to act when it is so necessary.

So we are working hard around the world to solve regional crises in Africa, places such as Sudan, complete the work we started with our African partners in Liberia last year, complete the work in Haiti, which is one of the more challenging areas in which we have to work, do everything we can to get the roadmap underway so that we can finally make progress toward peace in the Middle East. There is so much to be done. There are so many challenges there. But what I see every day when I get to the office is not just challenges, but opportunities, opportunities to help this 21st century be a century of peace, a century of hope, a century where people such as the Afghans last week can decide how they will be governed, and for people such as Afghans and Iraqis and Haitians and Liberians and Sudanese and the disadvantaged and the poor throughout the world, for them to know that the United States stands ready as a partner to assist, just as we assisted the broken nations that we found on our doorstep after World War II.

It is America's destiny, it is the fate that has been given to us, to be that nation that people look to to solve the problems and challenges of the world. We like to do it with partners. The President believes in partners. We are members of strong alliances. We treasure those alliances. We do everything we can to enhance those alliances. But even in a multilateral approach, you often have to have a leader in order to make sure that the multilateral team will work, and the United States has often been that leader, and President Bush will continue to show that kind of leadership to the world.

For this kind of leadership to work, we not only need partnerships with nations around the world, we need partnerships with international institutions, and above all, we need partnerships with great institutions such as SAIS. SAIS is a farm club for the State Department. SAIS has done so much to provide the human intellectual infrastructure of national global security in the 21st century. We rely on America's prowess in higher education to provide us with men and women deeply knowledgeable about the world, capable of mature judgment, dedicated to truth and dedicated to service, service to the nation, service to humankind.

SAIS has helped provide this human infrastructure for six decades, and so I would like to close by thanking you for this award, but more importantly, thanking you and congratulating SAIS on reaching your 60th year of outstanding achievements, outstanding service to the world. And you need to keep doing it, for six decades more, and six decades more beyond that. We need you, the nation needs you. We need you, and above all, the world needs you.

Thank you for all you do for the world, for the nation. Thank you, and God bless you.

(Applause.) 2004/1106

[End]

Released on October 14, 2004


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