Freedom, Health, and Prosperity: America's Agenda for the 21st Century

By Dobriansky, Paula J. | DISAM Journal, Spring 2004 | Go to article overview

Freedom, Health, and Prosperity: America's Agenda for the 21st Century


Dobriansky, Paula J., DISAM Journal


[The following are excerpts of the remarks to the Helms International Diplomacy Lecture,Washington, D.C., March 15, 2004.]

While global institutions and America's foreign policy were always prominent concerns of Senator Helms, at times it may have been a struggle to persuade the American people that these institutions and our relationship with them should be a prominent concern. After September 11, 2001 Americans will never doubt that America's ability to lead and project its power at a global level and with global institutions is essential to our security at home. Today, I would like to talk about the complex area that Senator Helms helped shape over his thirty years in the United States Senate: American foreign policy especially from my vantage point as Under Secretary for Global Affairs and ways in which we engage international organizations like the United Nations in achieving our foreign policy goals. The primary objective of our foreign policy of any country s foreign policy is to promote the national interest. This means, first and foremost, defending America, our allies and our friends from foreign threats. It also means promoting conditions abroad that minimize those threats and create a climate in which Americans and all people can live in a world that is peaceful, free, and prosperous.

In the wake of September 11, 2001 no speech on American foreign policy or foreign relations can begin without discussing the implications of that tragic day. Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network did not just launch a despicable attack on the American people. At a more fundamental western countries and the Islamic world to live in peace and prosperity. As Secretary of State Colin Powell aptly stated, "This attack was not an assault on America. It was an assault on civilization; it was an assault on democracy; it was an assault on the right of innocent people to live their lives."

As we fight the War on Terror, this Administration has brought an even sharper focus to transnational issues. This Administration understands that many of these issues are central to the War on Terror and precursors to larger problems, and that an approach favoring early prevention is preferable over a later and costly one. Our approach has been one of striking the proper balance between the immediate necessities of the war and the longer-term approach of addressing global issues like narcotics trafficking, environmental issues, humanitarian assistance, and law enforcement issues, to name a few. When Congress established the position of Under Secretary for Global Affairs in the early 1990s, it acknowledged the rapid growth in the number and importance of transnational issues issues that transcend multiple borders and impact entire regions or the whole world and the effects of that growth on our foreign policy. The importance and impact of these global issues continues to increase. In fact, just before President Bush took the oath of office, the National Intelligence Council released a report titled Global Trends 2015 that predicts an even greater role for many transnational or global issues in shaping the 21st century.

The National Intelligence Council report cited population changes, the environment, science and technology, globalization, and governance, among others, as key issues that will profoundly affect the world in which we live. Many of these issues used to be looked at as individual problems that were not necessarily related to one another, much less to our foreign policy and national security. But we increasingly find that they can be critical to us and that managing them requires active engagement with other nations through a variety of means.

For example, the report projected that populations will continue to grow, mainly in rapidly expanding urban centers. Uncontrolled growth will likely lead to increased poverty and disillusionment among the young. Poverty does not make poor people into terrorists. …

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