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Text: Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright Remarks to Chamber of Commerce Mobile, Alabama June 8, 1997

Thank you all very much, Mr. Chairman, for that terrific and candid introduction. Senator Sessions, President Hallett, Chairman Saunders, Jack Ravan, Reverend James, members of the Chamber, people of Mobile -- thank you very, very much for all your hospitality. I was born abroad, came of age in Denver, and work in Washington, but after today, I feel very, very much at home here in Mobile. Thank you all very much.

And thank you for sharing Sonny Callahan. He is known in Washington, as he is here, as a true and effective champion of Alabama interests and American interests. And I would say that even if he were not chairman of the subcommittee that controls half my budget. Chairman Callahan and I do not always agree, as he said, but I think it is fair to say we agree on the most important things, including the need for continued American leadership around the world.

Earlier today, I spoke at the commencement of the University of South Alabama -- USA. Almost regardless of what careers those young graduates choose, they will live global lives. They will compete in a global marketplace. Their jobs may depend on the vigor of overseas trade. And the security of their families will be influenced by whether we are able to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, whether we can stop small wars from growing into large ones, and whether we can win the fight against international terror, crime, drugs and disease.

Considering all this, it should be clear. The success or failure of American foreign policy is not only relevant to our lives; it will be a determining factor in the quality of our lives. And to protect American interests in the years ahead, we will need a full range of foreign policy tools. That is why our armed forces must remain the best-led, best-trained, best-equipped and most respected in the world. And as President Clinton has pledged, and our military leaders ensure, they will. It is also why we need first-class diplomacy. At their most effective, force and diplomacy complement each other. And there will be many occasions, in many places, where we will rely on diplomacy to protect our interests, and we will expect our diplomats to defend these interests with skill, knowledge and spine.

But we cannot do that without resources, Sonny. You didn't think you would be invited here and not hear that, did you? It costs money to inspect a nuclear facility in North Korea or Iraq; or to dismantle and dispose of nuclear materials safely from the former Soviet Union. It takes money to help our partners build peace and democracy and to defeat transnational crime. That is why I hope you will support -- and make it easy for your Congressman to support -- the President's request to fund our international affairs programs.

The amount for everything, from building democracy to fighting the war against drugs to promoting the overseas sale of Alabama poultry, equals about one percent of our total budget. But that one percent may determine 50 percent of the history that is written about our era; and it will affect the lives of 100 percent of the American people.

Today, American foreign policy is dedicated to three central goals:

First, we strive to keep our people safe by defending against threats to ourselves, our allies and friends.

Second, we work to keep our people prosperous by creating an ever-expanding global economy in which American genius and productivity receive their due.

And third, we are determined to keep our people free by promoting the principles and values upon which America's democracy and identity are based.

Today, as a result of American diplomatic and military leadership from Administrations of both parties, our citizens are safer than at any time in memory. Russian warheads no longer target our homes, and nuclear weapons have been removed from elsewhere in the former Soviet Union. North Korea's nuclear weapons program has been frozen and will be dismantled. Iraq's Saddam Hussein remains trapped in a strategic box, unable to threaten Iraq's neighbors or us. In Asia, we are building with allies and friends a community of nations based on common interests and a shared commitment to peace. And in Europe, we are making progress towards a continent that is wholly united, peaceful and free. We are working with our NATO allies to adapt our great alliance to new missions and to include new members, and we have forged an historic agreement with Russia that buries the Cold War once and for all.

A second major goal of American foreign policy is to promote prosperity. Here, the Clinton Administration has had extraordinary success. Since 1993, more than 200 trade agreements have been negotiated, causing exports to soar and creating an estimated 1.6 million new jobs nationwide. This matters to states such as Alabama where one of out five businesses is an exporter and where exports rose by more than 40% between 1993 and 1995 alone; and it makes a particular difference to port cities such as Mobile, where exports are linked directly or indirectly to more than 100,000 jobs.

As some of you may know even better than I, competition for the world's markets today is fierce. Often, our firms go head-to-head with foreign competitors who receive active help from their own governments. Our goal is to see that American companies, workers and farmers have a level playing field on which to compete. And we continue to make progress towards that objective.

Last December, we achieved an International Technology Agreement that will open up new markets for high-tech products from Alabama's aerospace industries. Just two weeks ago, we completed a package of Mutual Recognition Agreements with the European Union that will boost trade in sectors from pharmaceuticals to computers. Soon, the President will be asking Congress for fast-track negotiating authority to forge an agreement that will open markets and further expand trade in our own hemisphere.

As long as I am Secretary of State, our diplomacy will strive for a global economic system that is increasingly open and fair. Our embassies will provide all appropriate help to American firms. Our negotiators will seek trade agreements that help create new American jobs. And I will personally make the point -- as I do every time I travel overseas -- that if other countries want to sell in our backyard, they had better allow America to do business in theirs.

Strong diplomatic and economic leadership are essential to protect our interests, but to build the kind of future we want for our children, we must also remain true to American values. Some suggest that it is soft-headed for the United States to take the morality of things into account when conducting foreign policy. I believe a foreign policy devoid of moral considerations can never fairly represent the American people. It is because we have kept faith with our principles that in most parts of the world American leadership remains not only necessary, but welcome.

That is why we must fight and win the war against international crime and put those who traffic in illegal drugs permanently out of business. It is why we must stand up to the forces of international terror. It is why we should speak out against those who violate human rights, whether those violations occur in Baghdad, Burma, Burundi or Beijing. It is why we should keep our word and pay our debts to the international organizations we rely on to help fight hunger, control epidemic disease, care for refugees and ensure the survival of infants and children. And it is why we should do what we can to help those who are willing to help themselves to find the road to peace.

I know that Chairman Callahan takes very seriously his responsibility to see that your tax dollars are spent effectively and for purposes you support. And I know that last year, he went to Bosnia to see our operations there for himself. I suspect he saw some of what I saw during my own trip there last week -- refugee families braving tremendous odds to start over in burnt-out shells of houses and untended fields. Children playing in parks where less than two years ago a sniper's bullet was the only law. And the tremendous dedication with which American servicemen and women, and American diplomats and voluntary organizations, are helping the Bosnian people to turn their swords into plowshares, their minefields into farm fields and their bitter memories into future hopes.

America cannot do it all. Others must be willing to take responsibility for their own affairs. But America can help to find the right path; as in Bosnia -- the path to peace; as in developing nations -- the path to integration into the world economy; as in central Europe -- the path to stronger democratic institutions; and around the world -- the path to freedom.

A half century ago, a generation of American leaders, including Secretary of State George Marshall and Senator Arthur Vandenberg, the Republican Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, helped to forge a bipartisan consensus to defend freedom against the threats faced in their day. They did this because they understood that when Americans stand together, and act across party lines, we are more likely to succeed. They knew that, when we are together, our commitments will inspire greater trust. And those tempted to oppose us will think twice -- or today, if they see Sonny Callahan and me ganging up on them -- maybe more than twice.

Above all, our predecessors understood that the ties that bind America are far stronger than disagreements over any particular policy and far more durable and profound than any party affiliation.

I am reminded of a story in the Bible about the prophet Elijah, upset by the waywardness of his people, seeking guidance from above. As Elijah crouches in a cave, a great wind arises that splits mountains and breaks rocks. But Elijah does not find God in the wind. After the wind comes an earthquake, but God is not in the earthquake. Then comes a fire, but God is not in the fire. Finally, after the fire, there comes a still, small voice. And it is in that voice that Elijah hears God.

I believe that those searching for the secret of America's strength will not find it in our missiles, though our missiles, too, may split mountains and break rocks; they will not find it in the tall buildings on Wall Street or in the largest shopping centers or the most luxurious private homes. I think they will find it, instead, in the still, small voice that helps us not only as Americans, but as people, to separate right from wrong, to judge others as we would be judged, and to believe in our hearts in the birthright of every human being to be free. Let us all, Republican and Democrat, old and young, rich and poor, heed that voice.

Let us meet the responsibility we have in our time, as others have had in theirs, not to be prisoners of history, but to shape history; a responsibility to fill the role of pathfinder and to make the investments that will protect our citizens, secure our freedoms, preserve our values and serve our interests through the remaining years of this century and into the next.

Toward that end, I pledge my own best efforts, and I ask your support. Thank you very much.