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17.10.2006 Marilyn Ware, Yhdysvaltojen suurlähettiläs: U.S. Foreign Policy and Transformational Diplomacy

Ambassador Marilyn Ware
Paasikivi Society
Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I want to thank the Paasikivi Society and Chairman Viitasalo for giving me the opportunity to address this prestigious forum, an assembly of individuals dedicated to studying and addressing the key international issues we all face today. Only through careful reflection, informed thinking, good execution and a bit of good luck too, can we hope to successfully confront these challenges.

I have traveled a long journey to get to where I am today. Forty four years ago, I wanted to enter the U.S. Foreign Service to become an Ambassador but found out that women were precluded from serving as ambassadors. I then entered the private sector, and after a long career, became the Chairman of a NYSE listed company, American Water Works. We supplied clean, dependable and fairly priced water to millions of people across 24 states and in provinces in Canada. Water is a precious global commodity around the world, more than 1.2 billion people do not have safe water to drink; 2 billion lack sanitation. If there is time later I would like to expand a bit - or call it a digression if you will, on the global importance of water supply.

After having finally achieved one of my professional goals - albeit after forty-four years - it is therefore a great honor to speak to you about a topic which is close to my heart as Ambassador of the United States of America to Finland: American Foreign Policy and Transformational Diplomacy.

Let me first talk briefly about where we have come from, then about the challenges we face today, and finally about how Transformational Diplomacy both continues long-standing aspects of American diplomacy, and also moves us ahead in addressing the new myriad challenges of a new century. I will also discuss our Finnish-American ties, and how they are linked into the much broader fabric of international relations today.

I would also like to clarify one point - this, in what I hope is the first of several opportunities I may have to meet with you, is not a traditional foreign policy speech. Rather, it is a more ‘directional' foreign policy speech predicated on the re-design we feel is necessary to meet the challenges faced by governments and non-governmental organizations tomorrow.

Our history

Over most of America's relatively short history, our foreign policy has focused on Europe, and for obvious reasons. Most Americans trace their roots to Europe - although that is changing somewhat. But we began and long remained a country of English-Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, and, yes, Finnish-Americans, including one signer of our Declaration of Independence, John Morton, a Marttinen family descendant of Rautalampi.

Our economy grew in the 19th century with much European capital investment. In the 20th Century, the relationship changed as America grew stronger and took its own place on the world stage, but the major actors on that stage remained Euro-Atlantic.

Following WWII, the United States and Western Europe mobilized their resources to sustain democratic governance through the Cold War. We prevailed winning the battle of ideas and commerce. We were privileged to see the end of Europe's division, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to recognize endless opportunities, not only in countries which emerged from this epic change, but opportunities for all of us to build a more stable, prosperous world.

What have we learned in the 1990's and in the beginning of the 21st Century? Simply put, perhaps, we have learned that peace and progress are far from inevitabilities and that democracy and freedom require constant cultivation. We watched in the early 1990's, for instance, as Rwanda descended into genocidal chaos for reasons no outsider could quite explain. We saw what the awful term "ethnic cleansing" really meant as the former Yugoslavia fell apart.

And we watched, without full understanding, little pursuit, and lack of international dialogue what appeared to be a patchwork of terrorist acts - evidenced in 1993 in Somalia and in New York City, in 1998 at the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es-Salaam, and in incidents around the Middle East to which the average European or American paid little attention. This ‘patchwork' was to become a global phenomenon, perpetuated by single rogue groups, non-nation states, sometimes loosely affiliated and sometimes aligned with the commercial and military interests of drugs and arms dealers.

The way forward

So what can we do, what must we do? I suggest that problems we discovered or rediscovered in the years after 1991 have led us, in the U.S., to take long-standing diplomatic practices and concepts in American policy and move them to a new level of clarity and emphasis. The United States has always been nation of change. We have always sought not mere stability, but human progress, economic betterment, and democratic participation. We have not always been perfect in seeking those things, to be sure. But those ideals have always been the underpinnings of our foreign policy, and Americans have never been comfortable with the idea of stability for its own sake.

Today, more than ever, we see the need for constructive change for the well-being of both the United States, and our partners and allies in Europe and elsewhere, and for those countries that still need healthier economies, better governments, and subsequently, more hopeful and peaceful lives for their citizens.

Transformational diplomacy

In his second inaugural address, President Bush said, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world."

Few would disagree with the goal of ending tyranny, though few might say they know exactly how to do it. And we do not know exactly either. We have learned that the methods will vary by place, time and culture. But we do know the challenge must be taken up. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice responds to this challenge - and opportunity - with what she calls "transformational diplomacy."

She defined it this way: "... to work, with our many partners around the world, to build and sustain democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system. Transformational diplomacy is rooted in partnership, not paternalism; in doing things with people, not for them. We seek to use America's diplomatic power to help foreign citizens better their own lives and to build their own nations and to transform their own futures."

Let me read that again, for there's a lot there. (repeat)

I want to make three points about transformational diplomacy: what it means concretely; how it is multilateral; and then identify some of the key areas where we, with our partners and allies, are already working transformatively.

When Secretary Rice first spoke of transformational diplomacy in a speech at Georgetown University last spring, many people heard something like ‘America is moving all its diplomats to China and India, and is out to change the world within this Administration.' Neither of those points is correct.

Yes, the State Department is indeed moving staff, and for good reason, but by no means are they all headed to China and India. Those two nations do merit increased attention from all of us, something I hardly have to tell Finns, with all the weekly Finnair flights to China, the new services to India, and the recent visits of the heads of both of those countries here! And, yes, we do need more people in those emerging powers that account for nearly one-half the world's population.

But we also need diplomats with many other language and cultural skills - in Arabic and Farsi especially, for work in the greater Middle East, but not only there. We are also increasing staff in key posts in Latin America, and in Africa. Americans are often accused, with some justification, of being too insular, of expecting everyone to speak English, and assuming everyone looks at the world as we do. Transformational diplomacy seeks to change that by encouraging deeper knowledge of foreign cultures by our diplomats, better language skills, stronger management capabilities, and longer involvement in specific regions.

We are not only better equipping our people, we are moving toward a more outcome oriented field operation and the Department has had great success in attracting and integrating men and women from the private sector. These people not only join the Foreign Service because they already feel a familiarity with the global floor of commerce, but because they want to make the world better and safer. I can well understand this point of view. v We will also get more people out into cities away from the capital - there are over 200 cities of one million-plus in the world where the United States has no official presence. We want to change that, so we can understand better. We will do that both by stationing individual diplomats in new cities, something we call American Presence Posts, and by using technological means to place Virtual Presence Posts. Those American Presence Posts are in some sense a return to days gone by when we had many more consulates than today. The Virtual Presence Posts, in contrast, make use of 21st century technology to connect with people in ways that were impossible only a few years ago.

So, we are working creatively, taking the best from what has been as well as what can now be to improve our understanding and our outreach. As our understanding of the challenges we face has broadened, so also are we building a broader group of diplomats, increasing our skills in program management, conflict resolution, and project implementation, all crucial to helping societies transform themselves. More than ever we want to focus not just on knowledge, but on outcomes, on making a difference in the work we do.

Now, we know transformational diplomacy will not change the world today, tomorrow, or the day after. We Americans do like to drive change, not simply wait for it. But we fully understand that "building and sustaining democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people", in Secretary Rice's words, is the work of a generation, or two, not of a year or even a decade. The Cold War lasted forty-five years; the challenges we face today will also be with us for some time to come. But we cannot allow them to become permanent problems, and we must think seriously and dedicate appropriate resources to create positive, transformational outcomes.

Transformational diplomacy and multilateralism

Now, second, how is transformational diplomacy multilateral? Some critics think it is a diplomatic weapon aimed at countries we don't like. But in fact, as Secretary Rice stated, it is a partnership, and first and foremost a partnership with our long-standing friends and allies in Europe and elsewhere, because we all understand that progress and prosperity for us and others requires transformation.

Just this past weekend we had an excellent example of multilateral transformational diplomacy in the United Nations Security Council, where extensive consultations and negotiation quickly brought to unanimous passage a resolution addressing the threat to international peace and security from North Korea. We are sending a strong and clear message to North Korea and other would be proliferators that there will be serious repercussions in continuing to pursue weapons of mass destruction.

At this same time, on a different global stage, active efforts continue among key EU countries, the U.S., and others, to address Iran's nuclear program. The community of nations agrees that a nuclear armed Iran would be tremendously destabilizing for the Middle East and the world. Diplomacy is the appropriate channel to make sure that does not happen.

Another example of the transformational work we and others are doing is in Sudan. The crisis in Darfur has continued far too long. I want to focus for a moment on the changed approach to this complex situation brought about by transformational diplomacy. President Bush has appointed as special envoy for Sudan Andrew Natsios. Mr. Natsios brings a background in development and disaster assistance, as former head of the U.S. Agency for International Development. But he also has a diplomatic mission, to the Government of Sudan, and works multilaterally with the EU, the UN and the African Union, including coordination with the military forces seeking to bring stability to this region. While success still eludes us, this multi-faceted effort offers a fine example of a refreshed and more practical diplomatic approach.

In all these examples, Europe and specifically the EU are prominent. Europe, including Finland, remains central to this transformational diplomacy, even when that diplomacy seems aimed elsewhere, because we work together on those other problems. I'm happy to note, for example, that my embassy has lost no positions to be sent elsewhere, because we have plenty of real work to do here. After eight months in Finland I am proud not only to represent the people of my country, but to be meeting and working with the people and institutions here.

US-Finnish relations

Finland is as reliable a "security provider" as many of our staunchest NATO allies. Finnish troops are serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan and Kosovo, and in other missions in Southern Lebanon, Bosnia and Aceh - contributions we recognize and value greatly. I'm pleased to see that Finland and Sweden have discussed in Brussels their desires for further close cooperation with NATO, and that Prime Minister Vanhanen and his Swedish counterpart have agreed to keep each other informed about national thinking on NATO membership.

I would also note that the United States has worked and will continue to work closely with President Ahtisaari to support his skillful efforts to resolve that remaining portion of the "Balkan puzzle," the status of Kosovo.

The Middle East

Finally, let me sketch briefly, in the interest of time, just a few areas where we see the need, and the potential, for the sort of multi-partner, multi-lateral transformational diplomacy of which I have been speaking.

First and most obvious, perhaps, is the Middle East. We could spend hours on the Iraq issue alone, but I want to suggest a broader field of vision here. The Middle East was a region of hope and potential in the "post-colonial" era of the 1950's. Something has gone wrong since then, a view which Arabs themselves have detailed in the Arab Human Development Report, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program starting in 2002.

Weak governments, rule by clan ties rather than law, capital flight - to say nothing of the more obvious problems of dictatorships and torture - have led to a region that should be successful but is not. We don't quite have nation-states there, but we do have oil, weapons, and both poverty and under-employed educated classes because of the lack of economic development. We need constructive, transformative change for the sake of international security and the well-being of the people there.

Russia

Second, Russia and the states that arose after 1991 still have much growing to do. An insecure Russia does not serve to stabilize its neighborhood. Democracies do. Many worry that Russian energy is a weapon to be wielded, rather than a tool for healthy national growth. Neither does a weak legal system permit a healthy civil society. We have been profoundly shocked and disturbed by the recent spate of killings of independent journalists in Russia and we hope these heinous murders will be solved speedily. We all want to see a confident, stable Russia participating in current commercial and security structures. We need to work together to help this happen - again, not from paternalism, but from partnership, and for everyone's mutual benefit, theirs and ours.

And third, areas such as HIV/AIDS, avian influenza, illegal migration, money laundering, and illegal drug and weapons flows, damage societies in a myriad of devastatingly subtle and obvious ways, and can only be addressed if we truly want to see change, and work together to bring it about.

Time does not permit detailed discussion of any of these more concrete issues, but I would be pleased to return if you would like to address specific policy areas. Today, I have tried to look at the broader diplomatic construct which we use to address specific challenges.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude with this: The United States will be prudent in how it exercises its influence. We cannot , however, avoid the responsibilities of global leadership or the costs associated with its exercise. We all have a vital role to play in maintaining peace and security in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. If we shirk our responsibilities, we invite challenges to our fundamental beliefs and interests. We have the ability to shape circumstances for the better. Our leadership, with our partners and allies, is crucial to meeting the challenges and threats we face today. "Transformational diplomacy" captures the spirit and energy we need.