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Press Release

United States Government and Policy Post September 11: Three Changes and Six Themes Remarks by AIT Director Douglas H. Paal Institute of European and American Studies, Academia Sinica December 5, 2002

For nearly three decades now the Institute has been sponsoring research on all facets of American studies: from the literary, philosophical and historical to the sociological, economic and political. From conferences on American literature and thought and gender equality in U.S. employment to conferences on Sino-American relations and important decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. It is scholarship at its best: intellectually exciting, important, and relevant. Through its programming and publications, the Institute has contributed to U.S.-Taiwan understanding and thus the U.S.-Taiwan relationship. It has provided a venue for the exchange of ideas.

The Institute has brought together an outstanding group of international scholars to discuss a very timely issue in American politics today: the impact of the events on September 11, 2001 on U.S. government policy. Thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you about the evolution of U.S. foreign policy in the past 14 months, what those changes mean for Americans, and specifically how those changes may impact our relations with East Asia. No doubt the discussions today and tomorrow will provide valuable insights into what lies ahead.

By this time it is almost a clich? to say that September 11, 2001, changed our lives forever. These changes had a dramatic effect on U.S. foreign policy. Today, I'd like to focus on changes in U.S. policy in the year since September 11, 2001, how the war on terrorism has impacted U.S. priorities, and particularly the way the United States looks at and conducts relations with East Asia.


State Department Policy Planning Staff Director Ambassador Richard N. Haass has pointed out that the events of September 11, 2001, have brought about and continue to bring about changes in the ways the United States government and the American people think about and conceptualize the issues of foreign policy. Following the demise of the Soviet Union, and leading up to September 11, the U.S. lacked a compelling, clearly articulated strategic rationale for American engagement in the world. We had difficulty reconciling the activist American world role we need to protect our interests and promote our prosperity with our apparent hesitancy to get involved outside our borders. It was this America "not isolationist so much as uninterested" that changed on the morning of September 11.

From its entry into World War II to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States had a clear set of priorities to guide its decision-making. First, it was to concentrate on winning the war; then, after the war was won, it was to preserve the armed peace of the Cold War by containing the Soviet threat. But when the Cold War ended, we lost our rationale for action.

In the post-cold war decade, American primacy was unprecedented and uncontested. Russia declined, Europe consolidated, and NATO expanded. But without a defining focus for American policy, the post-Cold War decade was a time of one step forward, one step back. We concluded WTO and NAFTA agreements, but then let fast track -- free trade negotiating authority -- expire.

Support for engagement, and its costs, flagged. We assumed that the American public would not support engagement with the outside world that might result in casualties, so we avoided any such commitments. We said there would be no support for foreign assistance, so we avoided any meaningful effort to expand foreign assistance. Before September 11 "guarded engagement" was how some would characterize public support for American engagement with the outside world.


The attack on the United States changed America. For one thing, it has made us aware that the world beyond our borders holds dangers for us and that we cannot safely ignore those dangers.

It has made us aware as well that at a time when there is no mechanism that will ensure that the actions of the nearly 200 countries and their citizens will add up to a stable international environment, only the United States can play that role. And finally it has made us realize that "grand terrorism," what President Bush has termed the marriage of radicalism and technology, has emerged as the major threat to our national security.


In accepting the reality that the terrorism perpetrated within our borders originated from beyond our borders, we have also come to realize that terrorism is not the only transnational threat confronting our society: nuclear proliferation, drug trafficking, infectious diseases, and climate change all affect the well-being of our citizens from outside our borders.

Moreover, the traditional, state-to-state international diplomatic challenges that were with us before September 11 remain: confrontation between India and Pakistan, armed stalemate on the Korean peninsula, violence in the Middle East and parts of Africa.

What all this has engendered is a new attitude, a growing consensus among Americans, occasioned by the events of September 11, that our foreign policy can no longer be "foreign." And that whether or not we choose to engage with the world, the world will still engage with us and sometimes in ways we do not like.


In addition to a growing consensus that there needs to be a community of like-minded societies committed to ending transnational threats such as terrorism, there is a growing realization and acceptance in America that it falls on the United States, by virtue of our experience, our global reach, our domestic diversity and our military and economic power, to lead the global effort to ensure the orderly functioning of the international system. It is this system which permits small states freedom to prosper economically and to avoid the expense of defending against every conceivable threat.

We understand also that we must act to seize the opportunities presented by the absence of great power conflict to work with former rivals such as Russia and China against a common threat. We are moving away from containment and confrontation to consultation and cooperation, and from a defensive balance of power to a pooling of power to meet the challenges and to seize the opportunities of a new century. In other words, we are seeking to integrate other countries, organizations, and peoples into arrangements that will sustain a world consistent with the interests and values we share with our partners and friends.


Because the challenges and opportunities before us are daunting in their complexity and global in scope, we can only succeed in meeting them if we enlist the cooperation of other, like-minded societies. We must build coalitions of the willing to solve the common problems of the 21st century.

The war on terrorism is a prime example of how the United States has assembled "coalitions of the willing" to deal with a common goal. The members of NATO, the Rio Pact and ANZUS invoked these treaties' mutual defense clauses for the first time; NATO members engaged in the Afghan Theater; and NATO AWACS patrolled the skies over the U.S. The UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 1373, requiring UN members to freeze terrorist financing, improve border security, clamp down on the recruitment of terrorists, share information and to deny any terrorists any support or safe sanctuary. In building and leading such coalitions, we do not expect every society to make the same commitment to every coalition. We know that different capabilities, locations, foreign policy outlooks, and domestic concerns make this impractical.

While we will be coalition builders, it does not mean we will always agree with our partners or consent to wrong-headed policies in the spirit of getting along. We do not look at such cases as wanton unilateralism. Rather, it is a case-specific approach to multilateralism. Our approach to the International Criminal Court is such an example. We chose to opt out of the ICC, not because we oppose international tribunals, but because we disagree with this specific means to accomplish the goal and will continue to seek a better way.


September 11 has compelled the U.S. government to create new structures and to reorganize in order to support a wide range of programs. Foremost among these is the creation of a Department of Homeland Security, which will be the most significant transformation of the U.S. government in over a half-century. It will reorganize the current patchwork of government activities into a single department whose primary mission is to protect our homeland. To do so, Homeland Security will oversee border and transportation security, emergency preparedness and response, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear countermeasures, and information analysis and infrastructure protection.

But the U.S. response to September 11 will also include a combination of diplomatic, economic, intelligence, financial, military and law enforcement programs that will make a significant difference in the way we do business at home and abroad.


We can say that the U.S. now has the awareness, the determination and the resources to engage. But what is the nature of the international landscape in which the U.S. will have to engage? Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman recently spoke about six themes that define the international landscape and shape U.S. foreign policy today. They are: the global war on terrorism, globalization, free markets, democracy, cultural and national identities, and American strength and influence.

The global war on terrorism, Grossman says, is a war unlike any other, because the threat comes not from a single nation, or a group of nations but from a network of terrorists operating in more than 60 countries worldwide. Al-Qaeda's goal is to disrupt and end our way of life. To fight this enemy the U.S. has forged a coalition of nations. Since September 11 more than 99 nations have arrested or detained over 2,290 terrorists and their supporters and 17 nations have contributed 6,000 troops to Operation Enduring Freedom and to the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. One-hundred sixty-seven countries have blocked terrorist assets totaling more than $113 million -- $35 million in the United States and $78 million abroad. Taiwan has certainly done its part to contribute to the global war on terrorism and the U.S. is most appreciative of and acknowledges Taiwan's unstinting support.

The second trend, Globalization, touches every person on the planet, either through electronic mail, cellular phones and satellites or the worldwide movement of goods and services 24 hours a day. Globalization has its defects and its legitimate critics: there is a risk of homogenization. But there is also a reverse reality: children everywhere can access a universe of knowledge from the Internet and aspire to achievement beyond their parents' wildest dreams. Our lives are influenced by global exchange: many jobs everywhere are connected to international trade. And, global economic integration is essential if we are to end global poverty. Thus to embrace self-sufficiency or deride growth, as some protestors do, is to glamorize poverty. No nation has ever developed over the long term without trade.

Like it or not, globalization is a reality. And the way nations choose to respond to globalization is important. In Asia, since the mid-1970's, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the PRC and their neighbors have lifted millions of people out of poverty, chiefly through trade. But the same networks that allow the free flow of commerce and communication can be used to facilitate terrorist attacks, traffic women and children, and spread HIV/AIDS. That is why the U.S. uses every chance -- bilateral, regional and global -- to address these issues.

Free markets and democracy have been longstanding American foreign policy goals, and the two go hand in hand. It was an American-led coalition of the willing that met at Bretton Woods and determined to open the avenues of international trade that fed the growth of the past half-century. Free markets harness energy, ambition, innovation, talent and industry. But to succeed, free markets require accountability, rule of law, human rights, and democracy. Political freedom and rule of law are necessary ingredients for sustainable economic progress. The United Nations says that advancing human development requires governance that is democratic in both form and substance. That means representation, fair elections, checks and balances, and freedom of expression. Yet more than a third of humankind lives under regimes that deny them basic civic and political freedom; roughly half of humankind lives on less than $2 a day. Including the world's poor in an expanding circle of freedom, development and opportunity is a top U.S. priority in international policy.

One of the unmistakable trends shaping the international landscape today is that of cultural and national identities, that is, peoples defining or redefining themselves in terms of ancestry, religion, language, history, values, customs, and institutions. Societies once separated by Cold War ideology but united by culture have come together as have the two Germanys and as may the two Koreas. Conversely, societies once united by Cold War ideology or historical circumstances, but divided by culture, have come apart, as have the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, or are subjected to strain as in Indonesia and the Sudan. The experience thus far strongly suggests that political change driven by identity values can succeed only when carried out peacefully and with the consent of all those involved.

While the five trends I have just touched upon shape today's international political landscape, the dominant trend in the world today is that of U.S. power. The U.S. is on the leading edge of globalization, free markets and democratization. American strength and influence is felt in all spheres -- cultural, economic, political and strategic -- and in all corners of the world. America holds this great sway because it is one of the few examples in history of a strong nation that has tried not to abuse power to pursue a narrow agenda of self-interest at the expense of others. The U.S. has great human and material resources, but that is not why it leads today. It has great technology and entrepreneurship, but that is not why it leads today. It leads today because it is the greatest coalition building power in human history. It seeks not empire, but cooperation for higher ends.

The great strength and influence Americans enjoy today give us a special responsibility. It has been this match of principle to purpose that convinces other countries to join us and to contribute their strength to ours in common cause. Make no mistake. We will act alone if we must. But we prefer to act together with other like-minded nations, because there is nothing we can do alone that cannot be done better in concert. We can use our unique position of strength to set an example for the world -- a world defined by freedom, democracy and free markets -- and encourage others to join us.


Noting the rich and detailed papers covering specific U.S. government program and policy changes that will be delivered here today and tomorrow, let me make just a few observations as to how these changes, in the context of the trends that define the international landscape, may influence U.S. foreign policy in East Asia.

First, September 11 has provided U.S. foreign policy with a new and compelling reason to continue to engage in Northeast and Southeast Asia: both to reinforce long-standing cooperative arrangements and to deepen and institutionalize, where possible, new cooperative patterns. Thus,

-- We will keep our security commitments. Our five formal security arrangements with Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines and Thailand are critical to the peace and stability of the East-Asia Pacific region.

-- We will continue to promote, as appropriate, regional as well as bilateral economic and trade cooperation to promote sustainable economic development. Open markets and free trade are the engines of economic growth and security, job creation and innovation. But to succeed, free trade arrangements must make sense and benefit all the parties concerned and not be simply political window dressing. In this respect, the US-ASEAN Enterprise Initiative may lead to the creation of a regional engine of growth.

-- We will also continue to support economic and political reform in the region. We will continue to work with programs such as the Economic Partnership for Growth (EPG) to promote sustainable growth through structural and regulatory reform as well as new mechanisms such as the Millennium Challenge Account, announced by President Bush earlier this year, which will promote global development by tying increased developmental assistance to increased evidence of responsible government.

Secondly, the U.S. will actively seek regional collaboration to complement our multilateral efforts to combat the scourges of such non-state transnational threats as terrorism, weapons proliferation, drug trafficking, trafficking in persons, money laundering, piracy, international gun running, and smuggling. The recently launched STAR (Secure Trade in the APEC Region) initiative is an excellent example of how we can collaborate to enhance our collective security while increasing trade.

Thirdly, we will reach out to create new productive bilateral partnerships in the region and strengthen existing ones to confront issues of mutual concern. The integration of China into the new global system is one of our long-term goals. We have been encouraged both by Beijing's entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) last November and by its cooperation in the war against terrorism as we are with Taiwan. But that is just a start. Secretary Powell said in a speech at the Asia Society this year that the United States wants to encourage China to make decisions and take actions befitting a global leader, and that we ask China to collaborate with us and with our allies and friends to promote stability and well being worldwide. We are working closely with our partners in the region to address North Korea's nuclear challenge. Every society in Asia shares with us the goal of a non-nuclear, peaceful Korean Peninsula. To realize this goal, we all must emphasize to Pyongyang that threatening its neighbors, exporting missiles, and developing weapons of mass destruction will only ensure its continued isolation and economic stagnation. Through intense consultations with our friends in Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as with Russia and the PRC, we are crafting a multilateral approach that will offer Pyongyang no other option but cooperation with the world community.

The United States relationship with China is an important part of our strategy to promote a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Asia-Pacific region. We cooperate well where our interests overlap, including the current war on terrorism and promoting stability on the Korean peninsula and in Afghanistan. Similarly, America's interests and those of the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are well served by a candid, constructive and cooperative relationship between the United States and the PRC. Peaceful resolution is the fundamental U.S. interest in the Taiwan Strait. To that end, we believe that both sides of the Taiwan Strait -- indeed the region as a whole -- have much to gain from seeking common ground and much to lose from engaging in behavior that raises tensions or from unilaterally altering the status quo in ways that undermine confidence in their commitment to peace and stability. Our commitment to the self-defense of Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act reflects our conviction that a secure and self-confident Taiwan is a Taiwan more capable of engaging in political interaction and dialogue with the PRC.

To summarize and conclude: We have changed since September 11.

-- Americans are much more aware that there are dangers beyond America's borders from which oceans, armies and weapons cannot alone adequately shield us.

-- Thus there is a growing American consensus that to protect America we need to engage and to prosecute the war on terrorism and other transnational threats such as nuclear proliferation, drug trafficking, infectious diseases and climate change.

-- And there is a renewed American willingness, a determination, to build and lead the formation of coalitions of like-minded peoples, and this means consulting and cooperating with former rivals such as Russia and China, to rid the world of those transnational threats.

I know the presentations today and tomorrow will be thorough and the discussions lively and that you want to get on with them. Thank you.