Distinguished International Leadership Award Atlantic Council

Thank you very much, Henry. That was incredibly generous. It means a great deal to me personally. Henry’s been a very good friend and a very willing counselor over the course of my tenure as Secretary of State. He’s also going to be celebrating a birthday this spring, so an early Happy Birthday. But he truly is such a remarkably astute and indefatigable presence in the world. He got up here and tried to pretend that when he goes places people talk to him about me. (Laughter) That was such an unusual statement coming from Henry, it should be recorded for posterity (Laughter), but the fact is that everywhere I go people talk to me about Henry, and I’m always pleased to hear that, because he is still out there every week, every month traveling around the world trying to work with and encourage leaders to think beyond their own narrow and oftentimes destructive self-interests. So his friendship and advice has been indispensable to me.

I want to thank Fred and the entire team here at the Atlantic Council for the work you do every day. Those of us who are being honored this evening are well aware of how significant your efforts are throughout the year that leads up to this annual dinner. And I certainly want to congratulate my fellow honorees. It has been a joy working with the Secretary General of NATO. Secretary-General Rasmussen is a true leader, and brought a sense of mission and purpose to NATO, and I am very grateful that I had the chance to be his colleague. I want to congratulate John Watson for the leadership that he brings on behalf not only of his company, but of American business and Americans’ interest in the global economy.

l also want to thank my dear friend, Tony Bennett. He is the Henry Kissinger of music, and Henry is the Tony Bennett of diplomacy. (Laughter) Each one of them can make you feel like you’re such a slacker. (Laughter) Tony’s pitch, his tone, his timing is still perfect, and that does induce a bit of an inferiority complex in us lesser souls who talk and not sing for our dinners. And I also want to say how pleased I am, but who could not be pleased to see Juanes anywhere, any time, and to congratulate him as well for his Humanitarian Leadership Award. I also want to join in thanking Adrienne Arsht for this great commitment on behalf of Latin America. Latin America deserves as much of our attention and the Atlantic Council, by moving forward on this front, is making a real difference here in Washington.

But let me just say a few words, if I could, about our Atlantic relationships. I made thirty-eight visits to Europe as Secretary. I believed then, I believe now, I think I will always believe that our security and prosperity are intimately intertwined with that of our European friends and allies. And our goals are just as important together in the 21st century as they were in the 20th century. When I became Secretary of State, I spent a lot of time thinking about my illustrious predecessors, and not primarily the ones who went on to become president, but about the extraordinary generation of those leaders who were not just present at the creation, but leading the creation of a liberal global order that provided unprecedented peace and prosperity, along with progress on behalf of the values that we held in common.

Now, George Marshall remains a particular favorite of mine. You know his story, but it still is just extraordinary and unprecedented. Not only a hero of World War II, but as Secretary of both Defense and State. And he helped Americans understand that it was in our interests and consonant with our values to reach out even to our former enemies to rebuild a shattered continent. Marshall, along with President Truman and Secretary Acheson, and others, understood that if the United States were to assume the responsibilities of global leadership in a world of increasing complexity, we needed to have a vision of what that would look like. Not the next day or the next quarter, but the next fifty years, the next century.

So Marshall called in George Kennan and asked him to start looking ahead, not into the distant future, but beyond the vision of the operating officers caught in the smoke and crises of current battle, far enough ahead to see the emerging form of things to come. Well, since then, our world has only become more complicated, more interconnected, more interdependent, and it certainly has strained the international architecture that that post-war generation helped build and defend. So in the spirit of George Marshall, I’d like to just mention three issues that are really emerging challenges, but also opportunities facing the Atlantic Alliance: Energy, trade, and readiness. First, energy. Now, for decades Europe had many nations that received much of their natural gas from a single country, Russia. It’s well known, and it became apparent that monopolies in anything, particularly energy, create risks. They make countries vulnerable to threats and coercion, and distort the balance of power. So NATO, under Secretary-General Rasmussen, has rightly identified energy as a key security issue of our time. To address that issue, I advocated for and helped create the US-EU Energy Council, which has helped to deepen our cooperation on strategic energy issues, and it was in partnership with the Department of Energy. They had the expertise and the long experience, and we had the diplomatic reach. We backed a pipeline project called the Southern Corridor, which would help bring natural gas from the Caspian Sea and Central Asia to European markets. We worked with our European partners to build a competitive gas market.

America’s expanding supplies here at home played a key role, not because we exported, but because we no longer needed to import. Gas, once destined for the United States, found its way to Europe, consumers got cheaper gas. Gazprom was forced to compete. We have to keep building on this progress, and in particular, we need to capitalize on the natural gas boom here in the United States to fuel our own economic renewal and to help build a bridge to a clean energy future, which will, by extension, further bolster Europe’s energy security.

I hope the Atlantic Council and others will support and advance this work, because in the years ahead transatlantic cooperation on energy will be an increasingly important pillar of our relationship, for managing competition in the Eastern Mediterranean, giving Israel a chance to become energy secure, to increasing the pressure on Iran, to combating climate change.

The second issue is transatlantic trade. Today, you know Europe is America’s largest trade and investment partner, but the United States remains one of only a handful of WTO members not to move beyond most favored nation status with the EU. Growth remains too slow and unemployment too high on both sides of the Atlantic, and this has obvious strategic as well as economic implications, limiting our capacity to act, and weakening our mutual influence in the world. There’s also another even bigger issue that arises from those facts. Our shared economic model, open, free, transparent, fair markets is under increasing pressure. We see new barriers to trade rising, not at borders, but behind them. Everything from forced technology transfers to preferential treatment for state-owned enterprises. So we need to redouble our efforts to stand for a level playing field, and that the rules of the road apply to everyone. That should help us as we embark on some serious discussions between the U.S. and the EU about enhancing our trade, harmonizing our regulatory schemes to spur broader based growth, and create good jobs here and there.

I think that means we should be moving forward on a comprehensive new trade agreement, as the President mentioned, and an agreement that addresses longstanding impasses on market access, and help strengthen global rules and norms on non-tariff barriers, market distortions, and other competitiveness issues would be, in my view, very good for the United States, because if we get this right, an agreement that opens markets and liberalizes trade, would create jobs, and generate hundreds of billions of dollars for our economies, but also strengthen our position in an increasingly globally competitive market.

Now, I think, third, the issue of readiness, and Secretary-General Rasmussen and I have spoken about this most recently at the Bush Library opening. The Obama Administration continues to update America’s ballistic missile defenses to protect both Europe and the United States against threats from outside the continent. Turkey is already hosting a critical radar system. Spain is welcoming Aegis Missile Defense Cruisers. And in the coming years, new interceptor systems and their American operators will be deployed in Poland and Romania. We need to be just as forward leaning when it comes to the emerging threat from cyber-attacks. As advanced economies in the digital age, both the United States and Europe are particularly vulnerable to attacks, targeting our communications systems, our financial institutions, critical infrastructure, data, trade secrets. The stakes are higher than many people realize, and this should be a priority not just for governments, but for business as well.

Now, in the last century, United States and Europe led the way in our transatlantic alliance to develop an international architecture and clear rules of the road for governing the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons. In the 21st century we need to do the same with cyber. That would be a significant contribution to our common security. In all these areas, however, the watch word for our alliance must continue to be shared responsibility. That’s how we’ve kept the peace, and extended the frontiers of freedom and opportunity. But let’s face facts, as my colleague and friend, Bob Gates, has warned, NATO is turning into a two-tiered alliance, with a shrinking percentage of members willing and able to pay the price and bear the burdens of common defense.

During the operation in Libya, which was an unprecedented historic partnership between NATO and the Arab League, with participation from Arab League members, notably the Emeritus, and Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco, we saw that fewer than a third of NATO members participated in strike missions. Others simply did not have … it wasn’t a question that they weren’t willing, they did not have the military capacity, especially the needed intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance assets. So NATO is being hamstrung, not just by budget deficits, which we all have to grapple with, but by political deficits, because even in these difficult economic times, we cannot afford to let the greatest alliance in history slide into military irrelevance. This is a responsibility we all share, and I would urge the Atlantic Council to continue to make it a priority.

Let me end by going back to Marshall. I think about this all the time. In 1947, with America victorious, but Europe and Japan in ruins, it would have been easy to pull back within our borders and focus on the home front. My late father, who served for five years in the Navy, had to give up his small business when he went into service, so after coming out at the end of the war he wanted to restart his business. He wanted to start a family. He wanted to just have a normal life. The last thing in the world my conservative Republican father wanted to hear was, you know what, you need to chip in to help rebuild our former enemies. So there are more taxes to pay, more sacrifices to make. But Marshall understood that America’s fortunes were bound up with the fate of Europe and vice-versa, that we truly were all in this together. And his vision helped convince skeptical Americans like my father that the Atlantic alliance was worth the sacrifice, and the results changed history. So as we look to the future of the transatlantic Alliance, as we peer through those crises of current battle, we should endeavor to follow the advice of General Marshall. Let’s stay focused on the emerging form of things to come, on energy, trade, readiness, and building new partnerships of purpose rooted in shared values and dedicated to our common interests. That is how we will renew the alliance for the 21st century, and ensure that it remains the solid foundation for global peace and prosperity. Thank you all very much.