House Democratic Leader Dick Gephardt
"Building a New Long-Term Strategy for American Leadership and Security"
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
 and the Council on Foreign Relations
Washington, DC
June 4, 2002
Comments & Observations: In this major foreign policy speech, Gephardt called for "a policy of commitment," emphasizing three main themes: modernizing the military, building alliances through active American diplomatic engagement with the world, and involvement of ordinary American citizens.  Gephardt delivered this speech soon after President Bush's trip to Europe and Russia, May 23-28.  It received a fair degree of press coverage.  Gephardt tweaked the Administration in a few areas ("I urge this Administration to build on this tradition of engagement, not turn away from it."  "I am deeply concerned that the appropriate sense of urgency is absent from our civil defense efforts." ), while backing the war on terror, including possible military action against Iraq.  One observer charactarized the speech as too wide-ranging, saying it covered too many subjects.  For example, Gephardt offered many sound ideas on military modernization, but he might well have delivered a speech on that subject alone.  In the most effective parts of this speech, Gephardt drew on personal experiences from his visit to Morocco, part of his January trip to the Middle East.  He recalled engaging in a lengthy Q&A session with a huge roomful of students in Morocco; they asked many questions "that seemed outlandish" but were based on faulty and erroneous information provided by their local media.  Later in the speech Gephardt recalled meeting a retired businessman from Chicago who had been helping to run a micro-loan program in Morocco.  “For every American like him, we counteract a book of lies. For every business he helps succeed and every person who finds a job, we diminish the pool from which the haters recruit," Gephardt stated. -EMA

Prepared Remarks

“Today, we are gathering almost nine months after enemies of America killed more than 3,000 of our fellow citizens.

“It has been eight months since America sent troops into battle in Afghanistan and five months since dialogue in the Middle East broke down and that region sank into destructive waves of suicide bombings.

“Today, events continue to move swiftly, with momentous consequences for our nation and for the people of the world.

“I believe now is the appropriate time to reflect on how we have gotten here, but much more importantly, where we must go.

“Too often, issues of national security are considered separately -- they are seen as fragmented, distinct disputes, such as: Must we prepare for two major simultaneous wars? What should be our diplomatic approach to the Middle East? Or will Americans back peacekeeping in some foreign land?

“But it is also evident, when we take a step back, that these issues are profoundly intertwined, and that we must approach them from the single perspective of ensuring America’s security.

“The world in which we live is very different from the Cold War era, when a bipartisan group of ‘wise men’ shaped our thinking. I do not need to talk very much about the trends that have remade our times -- we live with them every day.

“Globalization has made events in faraway places more relevant to us than ever before.

“Information technology and the latest scientific revolution have changed the way we live and produced astonishing gains in productivity and knowledge.

“And, of course, the crumbling of the Soviet empire has fundamentally changed the strategic face of the globe.

“With the advent of each of these trends, the world has become closer, moved faster, and grown more interconnected.

“Great wars have been followed by uneasy peace as America has struggled to create international arrangements to preserve harmony. After each war, America has debated how engaged it should be in world affairs; and when the peace has been broken, America has chosen to engage the world ever more closely.

“I urge this Administration to build on this tradition of engagement, not turn away from it. Now is the time to take the long view of this challenge. We are often too focused on issues at the margins of the status quo. This is not going to be a short struggle or an easy one. In addition to all we are doing now, we will need to do more. We will need to make our military stronger, our homeland safer, and build alliances abroad to serve American interests.

“We are engaged in a global conflict. We face a competition between governance and terror, between the great majority who benefit from order, and the small few who thrive on chaos.

“The question today is whether a collection of nation states -- committed to human values of democracy and freedom, the rule of law and tolerance -- can succeed in a struggle against the ideology of fanaticism and extremism, an ideology that holds us to be the political, economic, and cultural enemy and states its desire to destroy America.

“While we now have terrorist organizations on the run, we must acknowledge that in some ways they are succeeding in creating division. Enemies of America still flourish, sowing seeds of hatred for this country and reaping violence. Some terrorist groups are small in number, limited in visibility and short on supplies. Others find harbor in failed states or enjoy support from sympathetic regimes, utilizing sophisticated technology to hatch their murderous plots. This is a tough, complicated foe, one that should not be oversimplified or underestimated.

“Over the past half-century, America’s bipartisan policy of containment served to hem in and deter a singular, comparable adversary. Today, with smaller, less discernible enemies, we need a strategy that seeks not to wall off threatening parts of the world, but to engage potentially hostile regions.

“We need to be prepared to deliver the most forceful military response to provocation, but also to expand opportunities for peace and prosperity. With deference to George Kennan, the seminal work he did at the Council on Foreign Relations, and the institute here that bears his name, I believe such a policy could be called one of commitment. With determination as our guide, we must move forward with a unified approach:

“A commitment to constantly updating the most effective military ever;

“A commitment to being engaged diplomatically all over the world;

“A commitment to making our homeland secure and involving our citizens and our leaders in the issues of the world.

“President Bush was right Saturday to say we are fighting a new war and will have to be ready to strike when necessary, not just deter. But on the home front, we are moving too slowly to develop a homeland defense plan that is tough enough for this new war.

“Let us be clear about the stakes in this struggle. As in all wars, the question is not just who shall govern, but also one of life itself. More than 3,000 people died on Sept. 11th. And American lives remain at risk so long as we are in this conflict.

Modernization of the Military

“Of course, no one makes a greater sacrifice, or a more important contribution to our security, than our nation’s military. The first challenge of a new policy is to strengthen our Armed Forces for the future.

“We know our military must go through a transformation – and we need our legislative branch to be working on this transformation along with the executive and uniformed services.

“Each of the branches is already reaching for the goal of modernization. In the future, our Army will be lighter and faster; our Navy will deploy smaller, stealthier ships; the Marines will move faster and with more firepower; and the Air Force will revolutionize its planes and weapons systems.

“The results will be positive. As Bill Owens, the former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, has suggested, electronics and computers should dramatically improve our forces without huge cost increases.

“But to set goals and achieve them are two different things. While some experts foresee transformations that could take up to 30 years, much of what we must accomplish has to happen in 15 or less. So we need to focus our energies and our resources.

“My suggestions for military reform come with two qualifiers.

“First, I am deeply committed to not politicizing our military and strategic decision-making. We achieve nothing if a good idea for our Department of Defense becomes a Republican or Democratic idea and gets bogged down in politics.

Good ideas are too crucial to our nation to let them founder on partisanship. We need to change the way we think – not just update our weapons systems -- and we need to look for good ideas everywhere.

“Second, I hope that the suggestions I make today form the basis for further discussions. A comprehensive plan will come from the contributions of many. While I have a broad view of the direction I hope we will take, the complete picture can only be sketched out here.

“I believe we can strengthen our military through bipartisan efforts in three key areas: supporting the people who make up our Armed Forces; improving our technology and weaponry; and modernizing our systems for logistics and supply.

“First, we must work together to make sure we have a sufficient number of troops, and that they receive better compensation, and get the superb training they need.

“Under President Reagan, the Armed Forces reached a peak of about 2.2 million. Much has changed since that time: we currently have 1.4 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who are severely strained as they bravely carry out a growing number of missions. General Ralston, our commander of NATO and US troops in Europe, recently told Congress that he does not have the forces to accomplish what we are asking of him.

“Rep. Ike Skelton has been a strong leader on this issue in the House Armed Services Committee, and I will work with him to add troops in 2003.

“I recently read a disturbing article in the New York Times that described the situation of a young Sergeant, Eric Vega, who is with the 459th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base. Since he was activated on Sept. 22nd, Sergeant Vega has been on leave from his job with the Virginia State Troopers.

“Because of his service this year, he has lost about $25,000 in overtime pay, is working 14 to 18 hour days, and can’t see very much of his 11 month old twins.

“I was heartened to read that he still planned to re-enlist. But it is wrong that we are putting men and women like him through that. It is enough of a sacrifice to risk your life for your country; you should not have to also sacrifice your financial future.

“Sens. McCain and Bayh, Reps. Ford and Osborne have introduced bills to let young Americans sign an ‘18-18-18 plan,’ which is one smart option for bringing more people into the service. Under this plan, which builds on work already begun in the Armed Services Committees, a person could serve 18 months in active duty, 18 months in the reserves and receive an $18,000 bonus, which can be used for educational purposes at the end of his or her service.

“We need to keep investigating more innovative ways to help people serve.

“We also need to work together to reform our training system.

“When I was in the Air National Guard, back in my younger days, I enjoyed the fierce rivalry my Air Force buddies felt towards the Army. But we had little contact with the Army. You trained and worked with those from your own branch. When a mission was called for, you were supposed to be ready. When it was an Army job, then it was their turn.

“Wars, of course, don’t work like that anymore. And in recent years, our service branches have worked well together to develop joint operational capabilities. But we can do better.

“I suggest we create and expand military academies that would train field officers from all the services in new forms of strategies and tactics. Such schools could teach joint operations more comprehensively – intermingling air, land, sea and space for the battles ahead.

“It would be a useful step in breaking down barriers between the services, and in creating integrated tactical units.

“If President Bush is interested, I think this is one area where we could easily work together and make quick progress. And I would be willing to go much further and support programs to recruit and retain even more of the best students to prepare our military for the tasks ahead.

“The second challenge in military modernization is the acquisition of smart weapons and technologies that provide better knowledge of the battlefield.

“Under the President’s current budget proposal, we will be spending $470 billion a year on defense by 2007, making it seem that we will be able to buy every weapon imaginable.

“But even at that huge amount, we need to spend wisely.

“One of the best things we can do is transform our military by linking new technologies with existing ones.

“I have been heartened, for example, to hear about the success of the GPS guidance kits that can be attached to so-called ‘dumb bombs’ dropped by pilot-less aircraft or B-52’s.

“This relatively simple innovation makes bombs more accurate and is less expensive than designing whole new weapons systems.

“And where we can design entirely new weapons that revolutionize our capabilities on the battlefield, we must move ahead at full pace. One of the great successes in Afghanistan has been our ability to integrate data, an area where we must continue to invest.

“Pilot-less surveillance aircraft, like the Air Force’s Predator, helped us get real time data on the enemy’s movements, saving pilots and allowing commanders to respond immediately.

“The acquisition of these planes may seem costly – the 2003 budget calls for $150 million dollars more -- but pilot-less planes will cost much less than an F-22. The quicker we can move to a dominating position with them worldwide, the better off we will be.

“The third area where we could obtain improved performance, and make our budgets more efficient, is logistics and procurement.

“Experts generally refer to the amount of resources devoted to support functions as opposed to war fighting capability as the ‘tail to tooth’ ratio – and while the ratio was once 50/50 it is now 70% tail and only 30% tooth. The financial planning process at the Pentagon has not been overhauled since it was implemented almost 40 years ago by Robert McNamara. And a 1997 DOD report found that of the US military’s $64 billion inventory of supplies, over $20 billion was obsolete.

“We need to update our logistics and supply systems.

“I want to thank the Business Executives for National Security – in particular the Chairman of its Executive Committee, Dr. Sidney Harman – for the insightful and non-partisan work they have done to highlight these issues. Dr. Harman and his group found that by adopting the best business practices for the military, the Pentagon could save $20-$30 billion annually without sacrificing quality.

“In 2000, it took an average of 30 days to receive a part through the defense logistics system. In contrast, the Caterpillar company can ship a part anywhere in the world within 48 hours, and usually in less than a day. We also know that the buying process takes too long. I was struck to read that development of the Crusader artillery system has already taken over ten years, while Boeing developed the 777 in just five.

“These delays cost money and result in time lost on the battlefield. Congress has been guilty of its own share of micromanaging and politics. I hope that we can work together better in this era where a weapon may be ‘smart’ for only so long, and prolonged congressional fights – and procurement delays -- may mean technology is stale by the time it is fully deployed.

“Throughout the military and Congress, there will be opportunities to work together to make sure transformation happens quickly. We have a chance in this new era to break down some old left/right obstacles and build consensus for moving forward.

“I would like to make another offer to President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld. I am ready to work with them and Speaker Hastert to appoint members to a bipartisan advisory commission to help build consensus for updating and modernizing the Armed Forces. The commission could work with experts and the Congress to make sure – just as we did during the Cold War – that we create bipartisan support for modernization and succeed at the new type of fighting already upon us.

“In World War II, Churchill said, ‘Let us learn our lessons. Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth or easy.’ We would be foolish to forget that. If we learn our lessons together, we can make our military more effective, and make the world safer for all people.

21st Century Foreign Policy

“But meeting the terrorist threat means rethinking more than simply the way we fight wars. We also need to reexamine the way in which we conduct our foreign policy. Our enemies are no longer just hostile governments, but foreign demagogues who seek support from the most impoverished citizens of the developing world.

“On the diplomatic front, a policy of commitment helps us prevent war and promote stability. This is especially true in the area of foreign assistance.

“A central goal of our foreign aid during the Cold War was to preserve alliances and prevent Soviet influence. Whether a recipient government was authoritarian or democratic was not the primary consideration, and promoting economic development was not always a goal. On the one hand, the Marshall Plan rebuilt Western Europe and ultimately locked in democracy from Germany to Greece. On the other hand, American aid to Zaire did little to improve living standards in that country. But it did make President Mobutu one of the richest men in the world.

“Today, promoting the universal values of freedom, fairness and opportunity has never been more in America’s self-interest. We should seek to lead a community of nations that are law-abiding, prosperous, and democratic. Such a world would leave fewer places for terrorists to hide, and more places for citizens across the globe to pursue life, liberty and happiness.

“Afghanistan offers an excellent example of the strategic rationale for such a shift. America was generous to that country during much of the Cold War, and American military aid following the Soviet invasion was successful in its limited goal. In terms of a Cold War calculation, we had won and the rationale for American aid to Afghanistan disappeared.

“But into the vacuum left by the Soviet departure and the reduction in American interest, came an era of lawlessness and then the repressive theocracy of the Taliban. While some may have argued before September 11th that what happened in nations like Afghanistan didn’t matter to Americans, we now know that tragically, it does. Today, nations in trouble or chaos anywhere in the world have real consequences for the United States.

“Some people have suggested that we stop using the term ‘foreign aid.’ I agree. We should remake and rename it. Traditional foreign aid may have worked as a Cold War construct, but our goal now should be what I call American Partnerships. We should work closely with countries that want to improve bilateral relations and benefit their people, and insist that these relationships are true partnerships based on shared values.

“If we can help create a world with more economic growth, better health care, stronger education, and more human rights, particularly for women, we will be fulfilling an essential part of our foreign policy.

“Let me outline three qualities that should comprise this strategy.

“Economic development, democracy, and universal education.

“First, economic development.

“People without access to jobs and the hope for a better life face a bleak and desperate future. In the last several decades, as the rest of the world has opened up – as trade and freedom of movement have become more a fact of life for most – many parts of the Middle East and Central Asia have remained closed. Regional barriers have discouraged trade, populations have skyrocketed, and too many economies have grown dependent on a single commodity – oil.

“We know that when nations open themselves up economically, they will ultimately enjoy greater prosperity and moderation. Trade is one important part of lifting up poor nations.

“In a speech I gave in January to the Democratic Leadership Council, I said that it is time we crafted a ‘new consensus’ on trade. Everyone knows that trade should be an engine of growth for all nations, and that we can move beyond simple left vs. right debates to craft agreements that both promote trade and protect the environment and labor.

“I suggested then that the US-Jordan trade agreement was a model that serves American economic interests. Today, I also want to point out that it profoundly serves our national security and strategic interests as well.

“There are promising signs that we can build on this new consensus. We are currently negotiating trade agreements with Chile and Singapore, two nations that are ready to use Jordan as a model.

“If we are to open the Middle East and other regions to the hope of peace and prosperity, we will need more agreements like the one we reached with Jordan that meet these goals.

“But trade alone for many countries will not be enough. We need a generation of development partnerships that promote free markets and democratic governments and are leveraged to spur growth.

“Luckily, we have an opportunity for progress with the Millennium Fund that the President recently proposed in Monterrey, Mexico. I support its goal of fighting poverty and hunger, encouraging universal education, enhancing women’s rights and health, reducing child mortality and promoting sustainable development. But we need to make sure this fund is not a shell game, diverting resources from other worthy development efforts, and I hope the President will work with Congress to provide increases for effective programs in the 2003 budget.

“Some of these new partnerships should also come in the form of micro-loans: support to individuals or small businesses who need access to capital and opportunity.

“In almost two-dozen Moroccan cities, small indigenous NGOs supported by the United States are dispensing $50 to $700 loans to individuals seeking to establish and expand businesses of their own. Such programs have generated tens of thousands of jobs around the world, and they build a foundation for future macroeconomic growth.

“Other support must help to defeat the scourge of HIV/AIDS. To achieve economic development, we must work together to improve prevention, treatment and care for people with this disease. I have been to Africa and seen the devastating pandemic on that continent, from Zimbabwe’s villages to South Africa’s maternity wards. It is a humanitarian crisis. It is a development crisis. And its ability to spread rapidly and destabilize nations in Africa and elsewhere makes it a national security crisis, too.

“Updating our foreign policy also requires renewing our commitment to democracy.

“In my career, I’ve been fortunate to spend a good deal of time abroad meeting with foreign leaders and their citizens. You can’t learn everything out of a briefing book, and I’ve learned a great deal from these travels. But nothing prepared me for the suspicions towards America I found on my recent trip to the Middle East.

“Many students I met in relatively moderate nations such as Morocco asked questions about American plots against their land that seemed outlandish. The questioners often cited regular news broadcasts – media that in too many countries are filled with calls for hatred and violence. Just weeks ago, an outrageous Saudi broadcast called for the enslavement of Israeli women.

“We know in America that the antidote to these voices is more freedom. The censorship of legitimate criticism by some governments too often leads to popular anger and a search for scapegoats. We need to help moderate voices be heard in these countries because they will offer a better way for the future.

“And we can help. Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Radio Free Asia should be marketed as models for the delivery of compelling, objective broadcasting across the globe. In a world with terrorism, our security is enhanced when accurate information about our policies can reach every household.

“We need to nurture civil society in these regions, work with governments and nascent legislatures, and encourage free expression and the broadening of rights for all people. The National Endowment for Democracy and its affiliates, NDI and IRI, deserve more support to expand the good work they’re already doing in this area.

“We also must fight corruption and take measures to advance the rule of law. Of particular importance at this moment, we must demand that the Palestinian Authority take steps to formulate a truly operational, accountable and democratic governing entity. To date, Chairman Arafat has failed in each of these areas. Real progress toward peace will only be possible when the Palestinian Authority begins to adopt the rule of law and accountability as guiding principles.

“The third value that I think is stressed too little in our current foreign policy is education.

“The Pakistani government spends 90% of its budget on debt service and the military, and practically nothing on education. Governments in other developing countries have similar difficulties in meeting the demands of a rapidly growing population. In some Middle Eastern nations, almost half the people are under the age of 15, and the total population is expected to double in the next two decades. The majority of children in the Arab and Muslim world do not have access to a public education. Worldwide, more than 130 million children are not in school and do not receive a regular meal each day.

“Beyond the intrinsic merits of education, we know that in countries where education is universal, economies expand and population growth is held in check.

“We should work with developing nations to help them create universal education systems. I am happy that the new Farm Bill includes the bipartisan George McGovern-Bob Dole initiative to provide school meals to hungry children if their parents allow them to go to school, and if the host country agrees to a program of education development.

“It is a good start and one we should expand.

“We must also encourage and help nations develop objective curricula that will advance their place in a global society. In Arab nations in particular, we must work with governments to force blatant and ugly anti-Semitic and anti-American rhetoric out of textbooks and out of the classroom. If we don’t make this a high priority, our hope of achieving a lasting peace in that region will never be realized. And our hope of building long-term partnerships will be dashed.

“I've touched on a few ways in which a refocused diplomatic agenda can promote long-term change in the Middle East. But let me be more direct. Depending on the choices we make in the weeks and months ahead, the Middle East will either continue to be a tinderbox for international instability, or a land of new alliances and hope for the future.

“Having witnessed the downward spiral of events in the region over the past year, I believe our first choice is clear – America must lead. We cannot expect that the parties to this conflict will resolve it without the active support of the United States. We must be steadfast in our support for Israel, in words and deeds. The United States must speak frankly: there is no moral equivalence between suicide bombings and defending against them.

“We need strong measures to replace violence with dialogue, and despair with hope. And we must seek a lasting peace that provides real security for Israel and opportunity for all people in the region.

“The other regional challenge that requires American leadership is Iraq. Saddam Hussein survives by repressing his people and feeding on a cult of victimization. He is clearly not a victim, and I share President Bush’s resolve to confront this menace head-on. We should use diplomatic tools where we can, but military means when we must to eliminate the threat he poses to the region and our own security. New foreign policy initiatives can help remove one of the legs of Saddam’s survival by reducing the desperation of many in the Arab world who see him as a defiant ray of hope. At the same time, we should be prepared to remove the other leg with the use of force. I stand ready to work with this Administration to build an effective policy to terminate the threat posed by this regime.

Strengthening Alliances

“As we reform our military and update our foreign policy, we must recognize that America cannot and should not do this alone. Leadership is not a synonym for unilateralism. When we lead a coalition, we advance not just universal values, but mutual security as well.

“After World War II, the United States created institutions that promoted economic growth and forged the military alliances that stood against communism. President Clinton wisely built on that tradition, creating new alliances that strengthened America’s security. I hope the Administration will consider a new generation of international partnerships, regional security alliances, more flexible financial institutions, and treaties to help manage increasing economic, political, and military complexity.

“Over the past year, despite the unifying force of the war on terrorism, an undercurrent of unilateralism has strained our relations with allies in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Instead, we need to redouble efforts to strengthen NATO and reinvigorate bilateral pacts with South Korea and Japan. In this hemisphere, we should take advantage of the recently invoked Rio Pact to harmonize security arrangements and pursue democratic and economic objectives. And we must leverage all of these ties to forge wider regional alliances.

“I commend the Bush Administration for its work to construct a stronger partnership between NATO and Russia. This new arrangement should ultimately break down lingering suspicions and allow us to maximize strengths to confront shared threats.

“At the same time, we must intensify our bilateral work with Russia on a range of issues, especially the need to destroy unneeded nuclear weapons and keep others out of the hands of terrorists and rogue nations. Former Sen. Sam Nunn has identified this threat as the new nuclear arms race, and I join him in calling for immediate steps to avert what is no longer the unthinkable -- the use of a weapon of mass destruction by an unknown enemy. Our government must allocate additional funds to secure these weapons and their components, and accept no more excuses for the proliferation of dangerous materials from Russia to Iran and elsewhere.

“The severe consequences of proliferation are on vivid display in the current tensions between India and Pakistan. We must do everything possible – on our own and with our allies – to diffuse this stand off, because the terrorists who have fueled it will be the sole beneficiaries of an all-out war. This is the new world in which we live. Disputes once considered remote can have deadly consequences if met with American apathy.

“We must also continue to encourage China's participation in bilateral and regional endeavors, provided that it agrees to the price of admission -- adherence to international standards including human rights, trade practices and nonproliferation rules. As former Defense Secretary Bill Perry proved a few years ago in helping to develop a visionary policy toward North Korea, the United States and China can make great progress if we recognize the common, long-term interests that our people share.

“We should also look to new regional structures for projecting strength and stability, especially in places where our government is not willing to commit U.S. forces. A case in point is Africa, which some have claimed is not a national security priority for the United States. I disagree, and I was disappointed when the Bush administration cut funding for the Africa Crisis Response Initiative. This program was designed to build indigenous capability within Africa that could respond when needed, and help regional leaders like Nigeria calm trouble spots so the United States would not have to.

“We must be prepared to build alliances in regions that flare up unexpectedly. Afghanistan is the best example of this today. The Administration deserves credit for the military victory there. However, it will be shortsighted if we stop now and withhold support for expanding the international security presence beyond Kabul, as Interim President Karzai has urgently requested. Instead, we must take steps to make that nation a prime example of the coalition’s unbending commitment to democracy and development.

Challenge to Americans

“The last challenge I’d like to discuss today is to instill all these initiatives with a new energy of civic involvement at home and abroad.

“In a new, more interconnected world, individuals or small groups can pose a serious threat to America’s heartland. Nineteen hijackers did what Germany and Japan failed to achieve in the entire Second World War. This is a new front involving our firefighters and police, our EMS, the INS, the Customs Agency, the Coast Guard and all other organizations responsible for protecting the United States.

“This is a completely new threat to our home front, and I am deeply concerned that the appropriate sense of urgency is absent from our civil defense efforts.

“After Pearl Harbor, we moved with speed to mobilize our nation in defense of democracy. Almost nine months after Sept. 11th, America has still not crafted a strategy to significantly strengthen our nation’s security, despite a series of recent warnings from our government.

“We need to reorganize our homeland defense agencies in order to maximize the safety of all Americans. Not only does the Homeland Security Director need to be a cabinet officer -- he needs budgetary authority. He needs operational authority. And he must provide a comprehensive plan to the Congress on our national strategy for homeland security. Such a plan should involve all Americans in our civil defense effort.

“As the Intelligence Committees begin their hearings today, we all know that our ability to coordinate information gathered at home and abroad needs to be improved. A task force led by former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft has developed proposals to better integrate the work of our intelligence agencies. Given the urgency of collecting and utilizing intelligence effectively, I hope the Administration will act upon these ideas.

“Finally, we must harness the spirit that defined people’s response to the Sept. 11th attacks. American citizens who have enjoyed the rich benefits of democracy and free markets possess a unique capacity to energize these values across the world.

“Let’s be clear: Americans face a special challenge in this conflict: to educate ourselves as never before, to participate in decisions that affect all our lives, and to make connections with people across the globe. We need to encourage citizens of all ages to get involved in the Peace Corps, the diplomatic corps, Americorps, the CIA and the FBI.

“One of the efforts I am most enthusiastic about helps experienced Americans go overseas and share their skills with people in developing countries.

“I met a retired businessman from Chicago on my most recent trip to the Middle East. He had volunteered to run a start-up micro-loan program in Morocco. With his project nearing completion, I asked him what he was planning to do next.

“‘I thought about going home to play golf,’ he said. ‘But I have decided to stay in the Middle East. I’ve seen what can be achieved here in Morocco, and I am going to another country and do it all over again.’

“For every American like him, we counteract a book of lies. For every business he helps succeed and every person who finds a job, we diminish the pool from which the haters recruit.

“At home, government, industry, and individuals must also participate in this effort to expand knowledge of other peoples, and foster interaction between nations.

“In 1994, Newt Gingrich and I sponsored a pilot exchange program devised by the San-Francisco-based Center for Citizen Initiatives. Individual families in St. Louis and Atlanta hosted a handful of Russian entrepreneurs who came here to learn skills from American business people. Today, hundreds of Russians are coming to the U.S. each year to get hands-on training and Americans in more than 40 states are participating in the program.

“The challenge for every American is to convince the world that it is better to live together than at war, looking toward the promise of the future rather than the grievances of the past.

“Updating our public diplomacy requires updating our politics. In the 1990s, with the Cold War over, it seemed like the parties could play politics with any issue. But today we need a new politics based on an open exchange of approaches. We must be free to propose ideas and work together to implement the best ones. This may well be the most important public policy question of our lifetimes. We must be doing our very best, thinking our very best, working together at our very best.

“If we do, I think there is every reason for optimism.

“Extremist leaders who advocate violence against America must constantly worry that their own rhetoric will consume themselves and their cause. To quote Churchill once more, ‘dictators ride on tigers which they dare not dismount.’ In contrast, we have the luxury of trusting in democracy and the good sense of our fellow citizens.

“Just as we battled the Soviets through 50 years of the Cold War as a united America, so will we battle terrorists and their supporters for as long as it takes. Today, we enjoy a new and productive relationship with Russia; one day, we will hopefully enjoy a new and productive relationship with those who distrust us now.

“We know that civilization requires protection, and that freedom demands commitment and sacrifice. But it also requires imagination and clear thinking.

“In 1947, in an address to a joint session of Congress, Harry Truman spoke about the communist threat in Europe, and the struggle for freedom and democracy in Greece and Turkey. He ended his speech with the reminder: ‘Great responsibilities have been placed upon us by the swift movement of events.’

“Twice in the last century, and now again, our nation is being asked to measure itself. If we fail, the consequences are severe. For ourselves, and for the world, let us succeed.”