Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University

November 10, 1994

Thank you very much, Father O'Donovan, for your introduction and for our wonderful trip to the Middle East. Thank you, Dean Krogh, for your comments and for your outstanding leadership. To the Members of Congress, the Cabinet, and the administration who are here, members of the faculty, the diplomatic corps, the students, and a special word of hello and thanks to many of my former classmates who are here. It's nice for us to be here with no obligation to take notes. [Laughter]

I want to thank Robert Wagner for endowing this series of lectures, and also Ron Lignelli and the Georgetown Phantoms for keeping you all entertained. It is wonderful to be back in this magnificent hall. And I am particularly honored to be here to give this first, inaugural lecture.

In the fall of 1964, with about 200 other freshmen in the School of Foreign Service, I was enrolled in Carroll Quigley's Western civilization course. All of us—that was 30 years ago; it's kind of spooky now to think about it. [Laughter] All of us who were there then— and there were a bunch of us here who were there then—we can remember things from those lectures. At the end of the series he did a lecture on Plato, and he always had this appropriately beat-up copy of the "Republic" which he ripped into at the end of the lecture and threw across the room and said, "Plato was a fascist." [Laughter]

Even then I was a decent politician, and I remember the best grade I made on any of his tests was the question about Plato and the myth of the cave, and I only wrote one page in the little test book and three other lines. And he said, "If you can explain it in this short a duration, you obviously understand it"— [laughter]—"98." Hooray! I might add, it was the only 98 I received in the entire year. [Laughter]

Carroll Quigley's ideas were expressed well, both in the very terse prose of his book on civilizations and the high drama of his lectures. He left a lasting impression, I think, on every one of us who ever entered his class. And as you have already heard Father O'Donovan say, he drummed into us that Western civilization was the greatest of all, and America was the best expression of Western civilization because of its commitment to future preference, the belief that the future could be better than the present and that we have an obligation to make it so. It is interesting that we would come here today at a time when, frankly, a lot of our fellow Americans, in the face of ample evidence to support Carroll Quigley's dictum, are not sure they believe it anymore.

Three years ago, here in this hall as a candidate for President, I had an opportunity on three different occasions to speak about those lessons of Professor Quigley's and how I thought they applied to the present moment. And I expressed the belief then that, working together, we could shape the future and meet the challenges of a rapidly changing world at home and abroad at the end of the cold war, but that we could only do it by leaving behind the old political debates and the divisions and forging a new dynamic center of American politics, not a compromise but a move forward based on the ideas of opportunity, responsibility, and community.

I argued 3 years ago that the main job of Government is not to solve all our problems. In this day and age, it simply can't do that. But it's also not to sit on the sidelines and shout and preach at people because that's not enough. Instead, I believed then and I believe today that the primary obligation of Government is to empower citizens to make the most of their own lives and then to insist on responsible behavior in turn.

Finally, I urged that we should see ourselves not as isolated individuals but as members of interdependent communities, locally, nationally, and of course, globally, communities in which we have to work together if we're going to make the most of our opportunities and deal with our problems.

After I was elected President, I was well aware going into the office that it would be very difficult to translate these ideas into specific policies, then to get them enacted into law, and to keep the country with me during a process which would take time and patience, which would inevitably be contentious, and which would require a delicate balance between a determination to stand on principle and a willingness to have principled compromise.

Why is this? First of all, the problems we face are absolutely immense. The social problems of crime and violence, rooted in the breakdown of families and communities, have been building in this country for 30 years at least. And they plainly require for their reversal much more than specific governmental actions. Indeed, no matter what we do, millions of Americans are going to have to decide to change their ways, to put the interest of their families, their communities, and their own personal development ahead of momentary selfish impulses.

The economic problems we face—the stagnation of American incomes, the declining rate of security in jobs and health care and retirement—these things have been building for 20 years. And they, too, plainly require for their reversal more than simply specific governmental policy changes, although these are imperative.

The pressures of the global economy are relentless and dynamic. And Government can help to deal with them, but it cannot reverse them. The fact that workers must be willing to upgrade their education and their skills throughout a lifetime is absolute. Government can help to create opportunities to do that, but workers must take advantage of them and cannot deny the facts of economic life.

We also know that in this time, particularly as we are going through a period of change, people feel uncertainty because they don't have a new framework within which to view the world after the cold war that is neat and understandable and that has a definable enemy. And here at home, people feel genuine insecurities that are personal to them, an uncertainty about their personal future.

We see it all the time. Yesterday there were several stories about people saying, "Well, yeah, there has been a recovery, but I don't think it's going to last." There is this feeling that we're waiting for the other shoe to drop. A lot of people feel that even as they walk home every day. I never will forget the man in New York who told me during the campaign—he was working in a hotel—that he had come here from another country; he was proud to be an immigrant. He was doing well economically. But his son wasn't free. And I asked him what he meant, and he said, "Because my son can't walk across the street and play in the park unless I go with him. My son can't even walk two blocks to school unless I go with him." He said, "My son has read up on all the candidates. He says I should vote for you. If I do, I want you to do one simple thing: Make my son free." In this atmosphere, people are easily unsettled.

Finally, there is the immutable fact that in every age and time, real change is difficult. Most everybody is for change in general but then against it in particular. Machiavelli said over 400 years ago, "It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things." He turned out to be pretty smart. [Laughter]

In spite of all these difficulties, until Tuesday I thought we'd made a pretty good beginning. [Laughter]

The voters clearly all along had wanted smaller, more effective, less intrusive Government that reflects both our values and our interests, governmental action that brings stability into their lives and doesn't create too many problems because most folks think they've got enough problems already. But they plainly want us also to be strong and secure and to lead them into the next century in a country that is strong and secure, with the American dream alive.

The reason I thought we'd done pretty well is that in the last 22 months, we brought the deficit down more than at any time in history in a comparable period, and next year we'll have 3 years of deficit reduction in a row for the first time since Mr. Truman was President. We've reduced the Federal work force by 70,000 already and put it on a path to shrink to its smallest size since Mr. Kennedy was President. More than 5 million new jobs have come into our economy, and this year for the first time in a good, long while, a lot of them are high-wage jobs. We have more high-wage jobs coming into the American economy this year than in the last 5 years combined.

We have deregulated significant parts of our economy, and we've freed States from regulation so that they can pursue their own paths to reform welfare and health care and education.

We passed a very strong crime bill with tough penalties and funds for prison and police and with prevention programs that have enjoyed the support of members of both parties and all law enforcement agencies. We've supported working families with the family leave law, with childhood immunizations, with expanded Head Start and more affordable college loans and income tax cuts for 15 million working families with incomes of up to $27,000.

We've expanded trade dramatically in these last 2 years, opened new markets, relaxed a lot of our controls on our own products so they can be sold overseas in the aftermath of the cold war. We have kept the world's strongest, most mobile, most flexible defense. We've worked for peace and freedom from the Persian Gulf and the Middle East to Northern Ireland and southern Africa and of course in Haiti. And for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, there are no Russian missiles pointed at the people of the United States.

Most of these measures required the support of members of my party in Congress, especially in the especially polarized environment in which we have been operating. In an ordinary time, that record would have generated support for Congress men and women who made it, and a desire to have more people to have that kind of record continue. Even though some of the decisions were tough, and change is always controversial, and there is always a lag time between when change occurs and when it is felt, nonetheless, in an ordinary time, even though tough decisions were required, especially in the area of deficit reduction and crime where things had gotten so out of hand for so long, the people who made that record would have been supported.

But this is no ordinary time. And on Tuesday the voters reflected their frustration with the pace of change and the messy and often, to them, almost revolting process by which it was made; their frustration that some things were not done which ought to have been done, particularly in the area of political reform. And they clearly said that we have to do more to limit Government's reach into their lives and to make more efficient the Government they pay for.

They also thought that, frankly, we sent them some mixed signals, especially in the area of the economic program, the crime bill with the very controversial assault weapons ban, and the health care program, where after over $200 million by the best estimates had been spent by people who were organized against it, a remarkable feat of reverse plastic surgery was performed.

Well, anyway, the reasons for this vote will be analyzed by experts who are more objective than I am for a long time. But you don't have to be as bright as a tree full of owls to say that it was a smashing victory for the Republicans, for their strategy, their tactics, and their message that Government is no longer the problem—that was their message in the eighties— now Government is the enemy.

Well, I think it's also clear that I bear some responsibilities for policies and political decisions that hurt our candidates. I do believe that we were moving in the right direction, and I think we have to continue to try to address the problems of this country. But I also regret particularly the loss of those who were trying to take the country in the direction that the voters said they wanted: the people who voted to reduce the deficit, to reduce Government, to deregulate large areas of our economy; people who voted to break partisan gridlock. I regret that in this swirl, this national sea change, that people who actually were building the blocks of the future that the American people in every survey say they want were lost to the Congress. And I hope they will have a chance to serve again.

Regardless, the American people have now entrusted their fate and their future to a Republican-led Congress and a Democratic President. I have heard them, and I will continue to listen closely to them. With all my strength I will work to pursue the new Democrat agenda I outlined here at Georgetown in 1991. And I hope the Republicans will move beyond the rancor of the campaign rhetoric to be new Republicans as well.

After all, the American people told us to make America work for them. They want to be the subject of this debate—not the Republicans, not the Democrats, not the President, not the Congress—they want to be the subject of this debate. They want us to rebuild the American dream, to stop playing politics now and start pulling together.

I know we can do it. There is clear evidence in what has already happened in the last couple of years. In this last Congress, there were bipartisan majorities who stood up for education reform, for the new trade agreements, for national service, for a tough crime bill, for many other efforts to move our country forward.

Now the American people want us to move ahead to help solve the problems that still block our progress as a people. I am ready to share responsibility with the Republican Party when it assumes leadership in the Congress. I ask them only to join me in the center of public debate, the place where the best ideas for the next generation must arise. I ask them to join me in moving forward to keep America strong. Already there are areas where clearly we can work together: welfare reform, congressional reform, the line-item veto, continuing efforts to reduce and reinvent Government. And I must say, their term limits proposal is looking better to me every day. [Laughter]

I hope we'll be working together on lobby reform, campaign finance reform, continued advances in education and training, and health care reform that leads us to real solutions. Above all, we must not do anything to jeopardize this country's economic recovery.

All of us who do the people's business must be ready to work, as Professor Quigley said over and over again, to make the future better than the present. That commitment is not only important at home, it is terribly important when it comes to our crucial role in the world. From the beginning of this administration, we have chosen to engage fully in this rapidly changing world, and the results are known to the people the world over, from Haiti to North Korea, from Northern Ireland to the Middle East. We have remained firm in our commitments to build greater security, to spread democracy, and to usher in a new age of prosperity and open markets all across the world.

Today I want to talk with you about the third of those goals, our strategy in the global economy, and three crucial events that are coming up in rapid succession in the next couple of weeks that will help to broaden and bolster our progress.

When I came to this hall as a candidate for President in 1991, I said something that I'm still having trouble getting everybody in the country to focus on, that we had to tear down the wall in our thinking between domestic and foreign policy and forge a new economic policy, rooted in our own security interests, that would serve ordinary Americans by launching a new era of global growth. I argued then that all our efforts to lead the world would fail if we weren't strong at home, but that if we withdrew from the emerging global economy, our workers and our families would inevitably be hurt. And from the day I took office, we have acted on those beliefs.

Our economic strategy embraces change and prosperity, growth and security. We are pursuing this strategy because it promotes peace and prosperity around the world, but also because it is clearly in the interests of our working people and their families. It's good for American families. It produces high-wage jobs. It's a strategy that enables the United States to keep leading the fight to open markets worldwide, a strategy to promote free trade and the growth that undergirds democracies and helps to assure peace, a strategy to help every American family, every American worker, every American farmer benefit from the worldwide growth and the prosperity it will yield. The center, the heart of our economic policy must be an unbreakable link between what we do to open the global marketplace and what we do to empower American workers to deal with that marketplace.

Understandably, at the end of the cold war when the nuclear threat is receding, when we have so many pressing problems here at home and when people are clearly worried about their own personal circumstances, and when the Government itself faces serious financial constraints because of years and years and years of piling up massive deficits, there are those on both the traditional left and traditional right in our country who would like us to withdraw more from the world, politically, strategically, economically, to stay more within our own borders.

We have not; and we need only look around the world, to Kuwait, to the former Soviet Union, to the Middle East, to the Korean Peninsula, to NATO and its Partnership For Peace, to Haiti to see how important it is for America to continue the role of engagement in the world.

Long before the cold war was over, a new global economy was emerging, an economy which started 20 years ago to put great pressures on the wages and benefits of our working people, to put great pressure on many of our companies to compete and win, to make internal changes in order to survive and prosper.

Now, this has helped to prompt a serious question about what our country should want and about whether Government should act or should retreat in this area of our national life. I think what we have to want is a strong America, a strong America in terms of national security and national defense, but also in terms of stronger families, better education, higher paying jobs, and safer streets. Strong at home, strong abroad; two sides of the same coin.

The United States has never been in a stronger economic position to meet both these challenges to compete and win in the world. We have the world's most productive work force, an economy that is gaining strength every day, an economy that just since I became President has created now over 5 million new jobs. And as I said, there are more high-wage jobs this year than there have been in the previous 5 years. And this gives us some hope that finally we have begun to move to counteract this 20year trend of stagnant wages, a trend which unbelievably last year—at a time when we had rapid growth, millions of new jobs, and no inflation—still led to a slight drop in the average income of American workers.

Our Government is working as a partner with the private sector on this strategy. We are reemerging as the world's largest producer of automobiles, for the first time in 15 years. We've regained our position as the globe's top seller of semiconductors. We're creating the industries of tomorrow, from biotechnology to express delivery. We've opened markets with our Japanese partners in products from cellular telephones to rice. We've sold power plants to India, fiber optic systems to Indonesia. Our businesses are proving that they can meet and beat the global competition if only given a chance to do so.

But we know that we cannot meet the challenges of competition unless we help all Americans also adjust to the changes we're all facing. For too many of our people, trade still appears to be a gale-force wind, just another threat ready to blow away the prospects of a stable job at a good wage, just another problem adding to the already unstable, uncertain condition of their lives.

I believe that if we continue to work together on this trade issue—Democrats, Republicans, and independents—as Americans, we can agree on ways to help all our people make their way in the new economy. We must help workers whose jobs are threatened by changing the workplace, by doing what we have to do to help them deal with imports or shifting winds. They'll have to retool. They'll have to reengage. But we can do that.

In the recovery which is occurring now, the economy has created more high-wage jobs. It is growing steadily. But as I said, our workers' wages, millions of them, are still caught in that period of stagnation. And last year more than a million Americans lost their health insurance. Almost all of them were in working families. This is not a problem that will go away. We are the only nation with an advanced economy, the only one, where in the last 10 years the percentage of our people with health care coverage under 65 has declined. So it is easy to understand why many Americans still aren't feeling the impact of growth. It's also easy to understand why many Americans are frustrated by what it takes to sustain that growth.

On Tuesday morning, I had an interesting conversation with a radio talk show host in Detroit who said to me, "Mr. President, I'm not one of those cynics." He said, "I see these jobs coming into our economy. The biggest problem we've got now in the auto industry is people complaining about overtime." But he said, "I want to ask you something. Is it absolutely necessary for the Fed to raise interest rates every time we announce more jobs? I don't mind helping other people to get jobs, but I don't see why my income should go down just because we're hiring new people." And he said, "If you've got a variable mortgage, or you're about to go buy a car, that's what happens. We get punished. The economy adds jobs; my income goes down. I don't get it. If there were inflation, I would understand." These are interesting questions, but this is the way the American people are thinking about this complex global society in which we live.

So our ultimate goal has to be to both spur the growth and provide the skills and create the package of high-wage jobs that will reverse the trend and increase the ability of our people to feel secure in the face of all this change, to see the changes that are going on as our friend and not our enemy. Of course, I believe very strongly that the only way we can do it is to keep breaking down barriers and keep expanding our exports. Every billion dollars in exports creates about 16,000 jobs in America, and on average, those jobs pay much better than other jobs in our work force.

Look at NAFTA, our trade agreement with Mexico and Canada that provided our greatest moment of bipartisan cooperation in the last Congress. Thanks to NAFTA, new exports to Mexico and Canada have helped our businesses create as many as 100,000 jobs. In the 6 months after the treaty's adoption, exports from the United States to Mexico increased by nearly 20 percent, about 3 times the rate of our overall export growth in this time of economic expansion. And the future looks brighter still and will be even brighter as the growth rate in Mexico picks up.

But NAFTA and the debate that led up to its passage also reminds us of the changing nature of the economy. In a time when capital and factories and entire industries are completely mobile, our competitive edge and the ultimate source of our wealth must be our own people's knowledge and skill and their ability to continue to learn throughout a lifetime. At the dawn of this century, this new century, and indeed this new millennium, the livelihoods of one-half our people will depend upon their ability to engage in what we now call lifetime learning. As never before, we are what we know; we earn based on what we learn.

Again I say, this should not be a partisan issue. We should continue our vigorous program to give our children and our workers the world's finest education and training and retraining. In less than 2 years, with bipartisan support in Congress, we've already expanded Head Start, established the first-ever national standards for our schools, put our Nation on the right road by saying, "Here are the national standards; we'll help you measure how you're doing. But you get to decide, with fewer Federal strings, not more, how to meet those standards."

We've created a national network of youth apprenticeship programs to help high school students who want to go on into the workplace, don't go to college, but do want good jobs to continue to increase their educational attainment, again with bipartisan support. We reformed the student loan program to give millions and millions of Americans lower cost and better repayment options so that no one should ever refrain from going to college because they're afraid to borrow the money because they're afraid they'll never pay it back.

Now, our next big challenge in the coming Congress is to replace the unemployment system with reemployment, helping workers who are laid off, most of whom now will never be called back to their jobs, but who do need new training to develop new skills and find new jobs. The present unemployment system is geared to yesterday's economy. It is premised on the idea that you will be called back to your old job and you will be given a living standard that is far below what you're earning in the workplace just to get you by until you're called back. Most people are not called back in America anymore, and it is time to fundamentally change that system. It would be better for workers, but it would plainly be better for employers as well because they would not be paying for an unemployment system that does not achieve the objectives that it was originally designed to achieve.

This will help our workers because, as I say, nobody, nobody can promise to remove the uncertainty from modern international economic life. They will face uncertainty whether we act or not. What we wish our people to do is to look at the future with more confidence, more optimism. And if together we help them to get the tools they need to be ready for whatever the future holds, they will be able to do that.

In the coming weeks, we have the opportunity to continue pursuing our economic strategy and to put in place three more crucial building blocks for American success in the 21st century. Next week, as part of our strategy to develop regional initiatives that put the United States at the center of emerging and dynamic regions, I'll be in Indonesia to meet with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. I'll be following that up with meeting with 33 democratically elected leaders of our hemisphere at next month's Summit of the Americas down in Miami. And in the midst of these meetings, as Congress reconvenes, we'll be engaged in an historic effort to pass GATT, the largest, most comprehensive trade agreement ever.

In this century there have been a handful of congressional votes that have demonstrated what kind of country we are and what kind of people we're going to be. The vote on the League of Nations after the First World War was one. And when the United States failed to engage, we paid a terrible price and so did the rest of the world in economic stagnation, isolation, and eventually another world war.

After the second war, Congress faced a vote on the Marshall plan. At that time, we rose to the challenge and put aside our partisan differences and helped to launch 50 years of peace and prosperity, not only with the Marshall plan but with other institutions that rebuilt our former enemies and constructed the framework of security which enabled us ultimately to prevail in the cold war.

Now once again we face such a test. The United States has been leading the world in pushing for the adoption of GATT. And now we've got to follow through and lead once again. We should not delay GATT. That will jeopardize our leadership and our prosperity. Negotiations among scores of nations have produced an agreement that will produce the biggest tax cut in history and in the long run help tie together a global economy and usher in a new era of prosperity. It is the key link to free trade, more open societies, and economic growth all around this world.

For the United States it means both free and fair trade. For 40 years our markets have been more open than those of other major economies. These rules are not right for 1994. GATT will require all nations to finally do what we have already done, cut tariffs, eliminate nontariff barriers, protect copyrights and patents. It will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs here in United States, good-paying jobs, and it will level the playing field for our companies, our workers, our farmers. It will make our exports more competitive, exactly when our ability to send more American products and services overseas is expanding.

For 8 years, Presidents of both parties, from President Reagan to President Bush to our administration, have worked hard to complete this agreement. We were able to do it. GATT has enjoyed the kind of broad bipartisan support in Congress that NAFTA did. And it's supported by a wide range of business and consumer and farm groups. I invite the leaders and the members of both parties once again to put aside our partisan differences and do what's right for all Americans. And I'm confident that Congress will ratify the GATT this month.

While we work to pass GATT, I'll also be looking ahead to continuing to cement our relations with two of the fastest growing regions in the world, Asia and Latin America. For decades, our sights have been set on traditional economic relationships, the large, mature economies of Europe and Japan. These nations will remain close allies, key competitors, and critical markets for us. But the new century demands a new strategy, and it is clear that the young, vigorous economies of Asia and the Western Hemisphere offer enormous untapped potential for our people to prosper.

Consider this: Asia's dynamic economies account now for 4 out of every 10 dollars of world trade. Almost one-third of our own exports go now to the Pacific Rim. Markets in Asia have already created more than 2 million American jobs. And over the next 6 years, the Asian members of APEC plan to invest $1.1 trillion in infrastructure, enough to rebuild 15 Santa Monica freeways every day.

Yet, despite these opportunities, the presence of stiff economic competition and the end of the cold war have left some Asians to wonder whether we're ready to withdraw from the region. Nothing could be further from the truth. That's why, after visiting six countries in 3 days in the Middle East, and coming home for 8 days of this campaign, and trying to stand here without missing a beat on my speech—[laughter]—I am going to Indonesia to say, we remain engaged.

We must say to the world, we will maintain and strengthen our bilateral security relationships with Japan, with South Korea, with Australia, with the Philippines, with Thailand and others, including that forward presence of our troops to deter conflict. We will encourage stronger regional security structures, and we will continue our active work to implement the agreement for a nonnuclear Korean Peninsula.

We are also committed to expand our economic ties across the Pacific. And as I said, in spite of all the events of the last few days and the fact that I'm a little bit jet-lagged from the first round, I think it's important for the United States to be in Jakarta. When we met in Seattle a year ago it was at my invitation, because I wanted the leaders of the 14 Asian economies to come together for the first time, to invigorate APEC, to embrace a vision of a new Asia-Pacific community with no artificial dividing line down the middle of the Pacific.

Next week we'll move from a common vision to a common direction. We'll work to set concrete goals to open the way for doing business in Asia, taking down tariff walls, eliminating nontariff barriers, simplifying procedures and standards to smooth the flow of goods. I hope and I expect we'll set a target date for achieving free and open trade among all the Asia-Pacific economies.

APEC is fundamentally an economic institution, so our meetings will focus on those questions. But there will be private meetings, and during them, I will also raise some other questions. I'll raise our concerns about many other issues, including the progress of human rights and democracy in the region.

These things require patience and persistence, but we must not give up on our commitment to the values in which we believe, even as we pursue our own economic interests. Over the long run, we have learned in America that justice and progress go hand-in-hand, and it will also be true for our interests in the world.

Even though there may be no sudden breakthroughs, we must continue to be persistent. As in the past, I will be doing everything I can to be frank in terms of our differences as well as our potential partnerships with the Chinese, with the Indonesians, and with others.

I don't think we have to choose between increasing trade and fostering human rights and open societies. Experience shows us over and over again that commerce can promote cooperation, that more prosperity helps to open societies to the world, and that the more societies are open the more they understand that maximizing freedom and prosperity can go hand-in-hand. The rule of law, accountable government, the free flow of ideas, all these things encourage economic development and political maturity and freedom.

The advance of human rights and democratic values also requires strong government-to-government contacts. So I'll continue to promote without apology those rights and values in Asia and around the world. We have a long history of friendly relations with Indonesia, with other countries, but we are engaged in a range of bilateral and global issues with the Indonesians, with the Chinese, and with others. We recognize and we respect the differences among cultures. Like all Americans, I struggle with our own society's ongoing tensions and inequities and very difficult social problems. But I don't believe the search for human dignity is peculiar to the American culture. Everywhere people aspire to be treated with dignity, to give voice to their opinions, to have a say in choosing their leaders. At a time when we are strong enough to inspire people around the world, we have to keep pressing on for freedom.

In Asia and elsewhere, we have good reason for hope, we have good reason for progress because free markets and democracy are on the move. The new global community is taking place all around the world, enshrouding the values of tolerance and liberty and civil society. I guess I really do believe that history is on our side and we have to keep trying to push it along.

If we're looking for further confirmation of these trends, of course, we can find them in abundance in our own hemisphere. One month from now, leaders from South and Central America, the Caribbean, and North America will be in Miami at our invitation to discuss the future of our hemisphere and to celebrate the spread of freedom and democracy. Think of it: 33 leaders, including President Aristide of Haiti, will attend the Summit of the Americas, the first such hemispheric gathering in almost three decades; all democratically elected leaders.

There, we'll be able to work to strengthen the roots of those democracies through sustainable development; we'll be able to take crucial steps to increase trade, to maintain growth in the region, to lay concrete plans to open markets, to expand trade. We'll have a partnership for prosperity that stretches from Canada to the tip of South America. It means more jobs and higher income. It also means more peace, more freedom, and more security.

As with GATT and APEC, the Summit of the Americas will move us toward a future of greater prosperity. It will tie us to new partners. And if we follow through, historians will look back at these events and see that our generation reached across the oceans and the borders to cement relationships with nations that will rank among the economic and political powers of the 21st century. We will have demonstrated that the American people have learned the lessons of the past, have learned the lessons of the present, and are ready for all the challenges that lie ahead.

Thirty years ago in this hall, Carroll Quigley told the class of freshmen that I was a part of that our greatness rested on the extraordinarily American belief that we could make the future better than the past. Many Americans today don't believe it, but the evidence is there; the future is there. We have to have the courage to act on that belief, to seize that future, and to keep our people optimistic, outward-looking, and strong. If we are strong in our convictions, the reality is that our future will be strong as well.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 11:36 a.m. in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University. In his remarks, he referred to Rev. Leo J. O'Donovan, S.P.J., president, Georgetown University; Peter F. Krogh, dean, School of Foreign Service; and alumnus Robert Wagner.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives