Powell's Remarks at the APEC 2002 CEO Summit
Remarks at the APEC 2002 CEO Summit
Secretary Colin L. Powell Los Cabos, Mexico October 24, 2002
Thank you very much. I apologize for being a few moments late. We've just had an important press conference at the end of the APEC Ministerial. And also please forgive me for being overdressed. I see that I should have been more casual, but now that I am in the State Department, this is my State Department uniform. I like wearing uniforms anyway so I thought I would just wear this. But the real reason I'm so dressed up is that my Russian colleague, my Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Ivanov, is a very proper diplomat and he always dresses, so I always dress to match Foreign Minister Ivanov. We're both in uniform today as senior diplomats.
Now, this is also a very comfortable chair, so if you don't mind, I'm just going to stay here and not come to the lectern. And I look at the screen and it says, "A conversation with Secretary Colin Powell," and so I think it might be much more interesting and much more useful for us just to have a conversation as opposed to me giving a prepared speech and then taking questions and answers. So what I would like to do is just speak for a few moments and then go directly to questions and answers because our time this afternoon is limited.
Thank you for inviting me and giving me this opportunity. I will begin my brief remarks by picking up where you left off. You talked about young people and you talked about education. And before I came back into government, I spent a number of years working with the young people of the United States. A country as rich as ours, a country with all the wealth that we enjoy, with all the power that we have, everybody looking at the United States, saying "You are a superpower. You are the only superpower."
Even a country such as mine, with such wealth, such power, has pockets of poverty. We have youngsters who are in need. We have young people who wonder if the information age is for them, who wonder if they can be a success in life, who wonder if anyone cares about them. And so I devoted part of my life in recent years to working with those young people of the United States who have these questions to let them know that we care about them, that those of us who have been successful in life, those of us who have generated wealth, those of us who are business people, we will not turn our eyes and our faces away from these young people who are in need.
I think that is an important part of what we do as successful people in the United States and successful people in the APEC community. Those of us who run businesses, those of us who are creating wealth, have to make sure that the creation of that wealth not only benefits our companies but has to benefit the societies in which the wealth is being created.
Because if we want to deal with all of the problems that are so topical that we speak of -- the problems of terrorism, the problems of poverty, the problems of people wondering whether or not democracy really works, wondering if free markets really are the answer, wondering if globalization works -- the only thing that will prove it to them is not what we say in a conference, but is there food on their table? Do they have a roof over their heads? Do they have healthcare? Do they have education for their children? Do they see a better life for their children?
If they see a better life for their children, if they think that they can look to a brighter future, then they are all for democracy, they are all for market economics, they are all for private enterprise, they are all for globalization. But if they don't see these things, then they are not for it. They wonder, why did we get rid of dictators? Why did we get rid of communism? Why did we get rid of all of those false ideologies if democracy turns out to be a false ideology? If free markets turn out to be a false ideology? If globalization turns out to be a false ideology which does not benefit me in my life, in my world, in my little hut with my children who don't have the next meal coming to the table.
So what we have to remember as we talk about these issues is not only what is good for our business, is not only what is good for superpower confrontation, superpower cooperation, what is good for the people of the 21 nations of APEC, the people in greatest need in those nations. And I speak also of my own nation. I'm not looking just to developing nations. All of us have an obligation to make sure that as we generate wealth we do everything we can to use this wealth to invest within those societies, not for the wealth to be exported to banks elsewhere, but to generate it within the society, churn it within the society, churn it over within the society.
When I speak to APEC leaders and other leaders from around the world who come to see me and to talk about globalization and talk about development, I make another point to them in addition to the point I've just made that your obligation as political leaders is to make sure that as you move to the democratic form of government, political governance, and as you open your economies and as you practice the right things with respect to market economics, you have to make sure all rests on the rule of law, that it all rests on a foundation of no corruption, it all rests on a judiciary that is functioning and is not corrupt, it all rests on good governance, it all rests on civil society, it all rests on a solid foundation, or it will rot, it will not work, and globalization will be a failure and democracy will be a failure because it didn't produce what people are expecting it to produce.
These are times of great challenge for us all. We see crises. I'm spending a lot of my time, especially this week, seeing if we can find a way forward with Iraq, see if we can work within the United Nations to make Iraq accountable for its past violations of United Nations Security Council resolutions, to make sure that it is disarmed so weapons of mass destruction are not produced any longer in Iraq and all the weapons that they have are destroyed. It is their obligation to satisfy the international community. And I am hopeful that in the not too distant future, in the next days or a week or two, the United Nations will act in a powerful way to let Iraq know that it must obey or suffer consequences for continued disobedience.
It takes a great deal of my time, this kind of crisis. Afghanistan, a campaign against terror, takes a lot of my time. But, you know, there are bright moments as well. We went into Afghanistan last year, this month, in order to overturn the Taliban regime and also to destroy al-Qaida in Afghanistan. We succeeded, but we have also discovered that al-Qaida -- and we said this at the time -- al-Qaida is all over the world. And we see al-Qaida continuing to work, continuing to function.
And that's why we have to redouble our efforts to go after their finances, to use law enforcement efforts to locate them, to use our intelligence systems to find them and get inside of them so we can know where they're going to strike next, whether it's going to be in Bali or some other place. Nobody is immune. This is a war against all of us. Every nation represented here, every business represented here, every leader represented here, is a potential target of terrorist activity of the kind perpetrated by al-Qaida.
But in Afghanistan, the Taliban is gone, a new government has been brought in, and all of us here should feel a sense of pride that our nations were part of a great coalition that helped the Afghan people to begin a new future, a brighter future under the leadership of President Karzai.
There's still a long way to go. Afghanistan is not yet a completely secure country. It has a long way to go before it reconstructs its government and its infrastructure, before the fields of Afghanistan are flowering again with produce, before all of the people have a home and before we make sure that all of the children are being educated.
But so much has been done in less than a year. Consider this: 1.8 million -- 1.8 million -- people have left refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran and returned to their homes in Afghanistan, knowing that there's nothing waiting for them but hoping that the international community will get them started with food and some basic implements to start agriculture or to begin a business. And it's sort of a boom situation in Afghanistan as people return home, initially to Kabul and then back out to their homes in the countryside, to reattach with their villages and communities. What a powerful example. What a powerful story. And we should all be proud of what we have done.
So we can turn these things around. We can deal with a crisis like Afghanistan if we come together, if we act as an international community, and if those nations with the ability such as the United States, which has the political and economic and military ability to go to places like this, if we are willing to act in concert with others.
So this is a challenging time. The crisis that we were looking at between India and Pakistan seems to be resolving itself in a satisfactory manner for the moment. We have to keep working with our Pakistani and Indian friends to continue the de-escalation and we ultimately must have a dialogue between these two very important nations on the subject of Kashmir as well as all the other issues that exist between those two nations so that we can move forward.
There is a terrible situation in the Middle East that we have to work on, even more than we are already, and the United States, working with its partners in the European and the United Nations, with the Russian Federation and with a lot of other nations, are doing everything we can to try to move that peace process forward.
But in this period of challenge and crisis, when you think about the Iraqis and you think about the dangers in India and Pakistan, you think about terrorism, terrorism that manifests itself in a new way every day -- and we see it today in Moscow and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Moscow as we hope this situation resolves itself peacefully, although one life has already been lost.
But as we see these kinds of crises, we must also step back and see all of the opportunities that are out there, see all of the potential that exists in this 21st century world. There is no longer a huge clash of ideologies between communism and democracy or between democracy and fascism. We know who won that conflict, even though there are nations that may still claim that they are practicing a form of communism, in reality they are participating here at APEC because they know that true success, true wealth, does not come out of the barrel of a gun. It comes out of trading, it comes out of reducing trade barriers and opening up markets and sharing with each other the magnificence that each nation has with respect to its products, with respect to its brainpower. That's what works.
This is an era of great promise as well as an era of great challenge. And I make sure that before I end my day -- my days tend to be very long, but before I end my day and retire for the evening, I not only worry about what are we going to do tomorrow in the United Nations with respect to Iraq, what's going to happen in the Middle East, what more should I do with respect to India and Pakistan, what else can I do with respect to the situation that exists with North Korea -- all these problems, all these press in getting ready to retire for the evening. But I always step back and say look at all the good things that are going on, look at how we have succeeded in the last 60 years to eliminate the potential for nuclear war between the superpowers, look at all we've done in the last few years to bring the Cold War to an end, look at how we are coming together to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS, which is one of the greatest potential catastrophes on the face of the earth.
Now the international community is mobilizing. Look at what we have done in organizations such as APEC. We can bring all these leaders together, leaders that just a few years ago were staring at each other across Bamboo Curtains, Iron Curtains. All gone.
Look how we come together with the private sector and public sector to work together to create wealth. Wealth not being a dirty word, wealth a good word, wealth that can be used to benefit not only the immediate creators of wealth businesses but ultimately wealth that will give a child an education, wealth that will take the poorest child in the remotest village of any one of the APEC countries and put food on that table for that child, wealth that will allow a parent to go out and perform a day's work and be compensated for that work, to come home and provide for his or her family. And when that person comes home at night and is able to provide for that family, it is not only food, it is not only shelter, it is not only education. What comes into the home that evening is dignity, dignity, a person who now can believe in his society, a person who can believe in his government, a person who will believe in democracy and the free enterprise system because his life and her life were touched. That has to be our goal within APEC, within the entire world community.
And as you go about your businesses, as you do your work in these many countries of APEC, I hope that you will generate as much wealth as you can. But always remember the ultimate purpose of this wealth is not just to make each and every one of us in this room a little more wealthy in a personal manner, not just to make your stockholders wealthier, but it is really to improve the societies in which we are doing business. Never forget that young person waiting for your help and never forget the dignity we give to a peasant who, for the first time, can provide for his or her family.
Thank you very much.