EDITOR'S NOTE: Former president Bill Clinton has
spent the past year on the speaking circuit, preaching the values of
globalization and doing a little damage control on his presidency in
the press. Rather than run his comments unedited, we have asked prominent
Republican (and Clinton-critic) Fife Symington to chime in with another
on globalization, poverty, and the American media
Speech and question-answer session at the University of California,
Berkeley, January 29, 2002
"The United States played the major role in rallying the world
after World War II. first of all, to organize ourselves for the Cold
War, and, secondly, to try to build the institutions of international
peace and prosperity for people who embraced freedom. That is, after
all, what the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World
Bank, all these other international institutions, were about.
|SYMINGTON: He should congratulate
Ronald Reagan for bankrupting the Soviet Union!
When Communism failed, the Berlin Wall fell, and the economy became
truly global, America and other wealthy nations reaped very big benefits.
But very few people had thought through the full implications of the
new world in which we found ourselves: a world characterized not just
by a global economy, but by a global information society. When I took
the oath of office as president on January the 20th, 1993, there were
only 50 sites on the World Wide Web. When I left office, there were
over 350 million and rising. Today, they're probably somewhere
around 500 million. There's never been anything like it.
For the first time in history in the 1990s, more people lived under
governments of their own choosing than not in the world. We saw an explosion
of democracy and an explosion of diversity within democracies. We all
know now that one of the cruel ironies of September the 11th is that
a few hundred Muslims were killed at the World Trade Center, people
from every continent. There were children from 80 different ethnic and
national groups. So we have become more diverse, and we have become
a more democratic world.
|America has worked hard and
sacrificed much to get where it is today - 'it' didn't just happen
by accident...should we feel guilty because we are so successful?
The poverty is a direct result of economic and political oppression,
i.e. the lack of free political institutions.
America benefited enormously from this, as did other wealthy countries.
So we find ourselves in a world where we have torn down walls, collapsed
distances, and spread information and technology more widely than ever
before. We also were given the chance to promote peace and prosperity
and our ideals around the world. But it wasn't the whole story,
because half the world was left out of the economic expansion. About
half the people on earth live on less than two dollars a day. A billion
people live on less than one dollar a day. A billion people go to bed
hungry every night, and a billion-and-a-half people never get a clean
glass of water. So not surprisingly, they don't think as much of
this new world as many of us do because they're not really a part
There are 100 million young people in the world of primary school age
that never go to school at all - half the kids in Sub-Saharan Africa,
a quarter of the kids in East Asia, a quarter of kids in South Asia.
Indeed, one of the most gripping stories that has come out of the post-September
the 11th obsession with that part of the world, of Afghanistan and Pakistan
and the breeding of terrorists, have been all the stories about the
Madrasas in Pakistan, the religious schools, where so many people are
indoctrinated, rather than educated.
There was a story of a young boy, who was an otherwise marvelous young
boy, who gets up every morning at 4:30 to pray. He's devoted to
his parents, can answer any question about the Koran, but doesn't
know what two times two is, and believes that America and Israel brought
dinosaurs back to earth to kill Muslims. That is a function of the poverty
that gripped Pakistan over the last 20 years, and their inability to
fund their public schools, and the fact that this boy's parents
couldn't afford the money to pay the tuition at what used to be
a free public school.
So in a profound sense, September the 11th was the dark side of this
new age of globalization and all of its benefits. We have to decide
what to do about it. Of course we should do whatever we can to destroy
the Al Qaeda network and Mr. Bin Laden. They are the most dangerous
terrorist network in the world. We should cooperate with others in the
fight against terrorism around the world, in whatever ways are appropriate
and possible. Because it's a global threat.
But a law enforcement and military strategy alone is not sufficient
to build a world that the young people in this audience will live in
and raise their children in, simply because I don't want you to
have to substitute the walls that we have torn down for barbed wire.
I don't want you to have to wonder every time you get on an airplane.
And I don't want the world we live in to change the character of
our country, by having people dominated by fear of today, fear of tomorrow
and fear of each other. And if you don't want that, then we have
to say, 'Okay, what kind of world do we want to live in? How are
we going to achieve it?' It seems to me we have to focus on the
fight against terror. We have to focus on improving our defenses.
|This will not work in oppressive
societies - the aid will be diverted. Is he advocating'enlightened'
imperialism? The'pax americana' to impose liberal democracies everywhere?
But we also need to build a world where there is more cooperation and
less terror. And in order to do that, it seems to me that three things
are required. First of all, we've got to spread the benefits and
shrink the burdens of the modern world, so there are more people included
in what we like. Secondly, we have to work on creating the conditions
in countries that breed terrorism that made progress in a different
|This is nonsense - we
know we are THE world power and we must use if for a good purpose.
We have to advance human rights and freedoms, and actual basic good
governments, things that it's so easy to overlook in the grip of
the enormous harm that our people have sustained here. And, finally,
we have to build a truly global level of consciousness about what our
relationships and responsibilities are going to be.
|We will always face anarchists/terrorists.
no matter how good we are, we will always face envy and resentment
- this should never stop us from moving forward.
The people that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon -
they saw them as symbols of corrupt American materialism and power.
They saw all the people that died on those airplanes and in those buildings
as legitimate targets because they didn't share the truth that
they think they own. But I live and work in New York, and my wife represents
New York in the Senate, and I was the Commander in Chief of many of
those people who died at the Pentagon. I know people who were on those
planes; many of you do. And I have a very different view. Those people
to me represented the world that I worked for eight years to build,
a world where there's more diversity and stronger community, where
there's more opportunity, where we keep reaching out. And these
different views are the extreme examples of a whole range of differences
that basically divide the world in ways that don't make any sense
in the Third World
And so what I would like you to think about is what you want the world
to be like in 10 years. How do you want to live? What are you prepared
to do to achieve that? What are you prepared to have your country do?
Let me say something about each of these things.
What should America do to spread the benefits and shrink the burdens
of the 21st century world? We ought to do more to create economic empowerment
and reduce poverty. And there are clearly proven affordable strategies.
I'll just give you a couple. In my last year as president, we had
a total bipartisan effort to complete an initiative I started in 1999
to give debt relief to the two dozen poorest countries in the world
if, but only if, they put all the money that they save into education,
health, or economic development. It passed, and in the year since then
we have experience some successes. Uganda doubled primary school enrollment
and reduced class sizes. Honduras, in our hemisphere, increased mandatory
schooling from six years to nine years, a 50 percent increase. This
cost the U.S. peanuts and it made all the difference in the world to
We should do more of that.
|Misses the BIG point! Free
political institutions create economic freedom and lead to prosperity.
the right to own private property is vital. Otherwise these changes/
improvements end up as cosmetic.
Second, the United States funded two million micro enterprise loans
a year in poor countries, small loans to poor village people -
a program pioneered by the great Bangladeshi economist, Mohammed Yunus
with the Grameen Bank, a man who long ago should have won the Nobel
Prize. We should fund five times that many, maybe 10 times that many.
I've been in little villages in Africa where the local village
person charged with keeping up with all the micro credit loans would
run into the thatched hut and come out and show me his accounts and
show me what everybody was doing with their money. It can make a big
Third, a great Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto basically discovered
something that was before all of our eyes, which is that poor people
actually have quite a lot of wealth in the world. The poorest people
have, according to him, $5 trillion worth of assets in their homes and
their businesses, but they're totally useless for joining the market
economy because they're not in the legal system. If they live in
Bombay, they're in a metal shack, they don't have an address,
they don't have a verifiable title, they don't have any way
to establish value, so they can't borrow any money on it. If they
live in a city and they have a small business, chances in most big cities
in poor countries are better than 50-50 the business will not be legalized
because of the bureaucratic and other hassles it takes to legalize the
business. I just saw De Soto's map on Cairo, a very important city
to the future, and about eight in 10 businesses are not legalized.
Because if you went there tomorrow and opened bakeries, it would take
us almost two years to go through all the legal hurdle to open a little
bakery where we're just trying to make and sell bread. So he's
going around the world trying to clean all this up, get all these businesses
first, and then later homes, in the legal system, so people can actually
have collateral for loans, and borrow money and join the market economy.
It has enormous potential. They did it in Peru. They had double-digit
growth three years in a row.
Free trade goes hand in hand
with wealth creation.
And America should also buy more products from poor countries. In my
last year as president, we had trade opening to Africa, to the Caribbean,
to Vietnam and to Jordan. In less than a year, our purchases from some
poor African countries had increased by a thousand percent. And it didn't
hurt the American economy. And it didn't cost a lot of people their
jobs. And we should be spending more money on job training and reap
the training anyway, in America, for people that need that, need to
be moving up in their income earning potential. This is important, and
it will create a world with more partners and fewer terrorists.
The same thing applies to education. in my last year as president,
we got $300 million to offer a good meal to children, breakfast or lunch,
if, but only if, they came to school. Three hundred million in the poorest
countries in the world will feed six million children everyday of the
school year. Six million! Needless to say, the enrollments are exploding.
It would seem that we
haven't learned much since the 'black death.'
This will only work
if countries use the aid correctly - a big problem.
The same thing applies to health care. Kofi Annan, the Secretary General
of the U.N., has asked us for $10 billion to fight AIDS, TB, malaria
and other infectious diseases. Our share of that would be somewhere
between $2.2 and $2.4 billion. The Afghan war cost about a billion dollars
a month, to give you some idea of what you're comparing -
and that's about as inexpensive as a war gets these days for a
country like ours.
So that's roughly comparable numbers. And is it worth it? Well,
Brazil proved that with medicine and prevention, they could cut the
death rate from AIDS in half in three years. Uganda proved that with
prevention alone, they could cut the death rate in half in five years.
There are now 40 million people with AIDS, and there will be 100 million
in 2005. And if you have 100 million, take it from me, some countries
are going to fail. And you'll have a lot more young people willing
to be terrorists or mercenaries in tribal wars because, what the heck,
they're going to die anyway. And we'd spend a lot more money
cleaning up those messes than we would spend if we invest in now in
this health fund.
|The Soviet Union sure didn't
bend to our wishes.
Now, the point I want to make to you is we could do america's
fair share of economic empowerment of poor people, putting all the poor
kids in the world in school, funding the Secretary General's health
efforts, and accelerating the effort to turn around climate change.
We could do all that, and pay our fair share for more or less what we
would spend in a year in Afghanistan in the conflict, and much less
than we spend on other things. And I can only tell you, it is a lot
cheaper than going to war. And it's also in real dollars terms
a lot cheaper than what we spent on the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe
after World War II. And it's the same basic idea.
Read George Marshall's speeches (somebody ought to just stand
up everyday and read George Marshall's speeches to America for
the next month or two). We were grievously wounded, and we spent this
money to help Germany after what they did. We wanted Japan to come back.
We've got to think about this in the way that we want the world
to be in 15 or 20 years.
humanity vs. religious absolutism
|He's beating around the
bush! radical Islam presents a huge challenge to the future of western
civilization. It can exert devastating power and destruction with
modern technology. This is Toynnbee's "challenge and response."
We must be unapologetic about our use of power to deal with this
The second thing I want to say is we want to spend more effort trying
to help countries solve their own problems and develop basic capacity
- freedom, openness, human rights, and actual capacity to govern.
I spend a fair amount of time on that now, and I hope I'll be able
to do more in the years ahead.
And the final thing I want to say is we have to develop a way of thinking
about the world that is more consistent with the way the world is and
the way we would like it to be. Bin Laden and this crowd that attacked
us and killed all those innocent people - they're like fanatics
throughout history. They believe they have the whole truth. And if you
share their truth, your life has value, and if you don't, you're
a legitimate target. Even if you're just a 6-year-old girl that
was going to work with her mother on the morning of September 11th.
And that's what they really believe. I mean, you've seen him
on television - that's what he believes, he's a serious
person. And their view of community is very different. Their view of
community is that you've got to think like them and act like them,
and if you break the rules there's got to be somebody to whip you
back into line, which is why everybody was so happy when Afghanistan
was liberated and women took off their burkas and men started shaving.
But that's what they believe.
But most of us believe that nobody's got the whole truth. I mean,
most people who are deeply religious feel our human limitations all
the more, and understand that nobody's got the whole truth. Therefore,
life is a journey on which we move toward the truth and we learn something
from other people, so everybody ought to be entitled to take this journey.
Therefore, most of us believe a community is not everybody who is just
alike, but everybody who accepts certain rules. Everyone counts, everyone
has a role to play, we all do better when we help each other. So, we
have radically different world views.
But I would argue to you, in a world without walls, it is the only
sustainable world view. If you take down the walls, no matter how much
barbed wire you put up in its place, no matter how many defenses you
think you can erect, if the world is dominated by people who believe
that their racial, their religious, their tribal, their ethnic differences
are the most important fact of life, a huge number of innocent people
will perish in this new century.
|For eight years we stood by
and let 'OBL' take over Afghanistan. I sense the Pres.
is feeling defensive about his legacy.
This may sound naïve to all of you, but I can tell you: I've
ordered people into battle, I've dropped bombs, I've done
all those things that you're supposed to do in the real world,
usually to good effect. I'm proud of what we did in Bosnia and
Kosovo. And I wish I had been successful in my efforts to get Mr. Bin
Laden earlier. But in the in the end, what's going to determine
the shape of the 21st century is whether we have an ethic that says,
'I think we like our differences. We like who we are. We like the
color of our skin, the way we pursue our faith. We like what's
about us that's different. We like our little boxes, we all have
to have them to navigate reality.' Bu in the end, most people figure
out that these boxes with which we navigate reality, as important as
they are, are not as important as our common humanity. And if we don't
figure it out, then a whole lot of experience is denied us, and a whole
lot of wisdom never comes into our spirits.
|He has a very utopian view
of the world. The periods of greatest peace throughout history have
occurred when one or a few powers were dominant and imposed the
And that's really what's going on here, folks. The world
has never truly had to develop an ethic of interdependence rooted in
our common humanity. And if we do it, the 21st century will be the most
interesting, exciting, peaceful era in history. If we don't we'll
spend a lot of time playing catch-up and trying to punish people, and
get them to atone for travesties like September the 11th.
So I will say again, I support the current effort against terrorism.
But if you want the world that I think you want, you have to both be
very vigilant and disciplined, and tough in people that have already
set themselves beyond the pale of the world you're trying to build.
And then you have to go about trying to build a world where you spread
the benefits and shrink the burdens, where you help people who aren't
very good at solving their own problems, yet get better at it and understand
they have to accommodate human rights and openness. And you have to
basically tell people, 'Look, we respect your differences, we'll
celebrate them, but only if you acknowledge that our common humanity
is more important.' Not very complicated, but that's what
I think will determine the whole shape of the new era. Thank you very
With Dean Orville Schell, UC-Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
DEAN SCHELL: Let's assume for a minute that globalization is the
best possible scenario for the world (in any event, it's happening).
How do we galvanize our own country to become sufficiently internationally-minded,
to really play a role we must play if it's going to succeed?
|How many billions did
we spend or loan to Argentina through the World Bank? What a failure!
Some aid will work fine but in many instances there will be huge
practical problems to surmount.
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, I think, first of all, the American public
is now seeing everything, even things they're not consciously seeing
through the prism of what we endured on September the 11th. And a lot
has been learned. For example, I'm encouraged that the administration
wants to spend some money in Afghanistan to help it succeed, because
in the early 1980s, we were only too happy to support the mujahedeen
when they were fighting the Soviet invasion on the old theory 'the
enemy of my enemy is my friend.' And then as soon as that was over,
we pulled away from them and paid the consequence. So here's a
case where an administration that criticized me for my involvement in
a lot of things around the world has now said, 'Wait a minute,
we can't just go in there and overturn the Taliban and leave the
Afghans to their fate. We have to help them build a future.' So
they were able to see this reality in a different way because of what
happened on September the 11th and what they had to do about it. And
I applaud them for that.
|But in aggregate we spend
more money than everyone else. This is a statistical game.
We have to do that in other areas as well. Our country spends a smaller
percentage of our income of foreign assistance than any other country
in the world with an advanced economy. In the Cold War, we justified
it because we spent a larger percentage of our income on defense. So
we basically said to the Europeans and the Japanese, 'Look, here's
the deal - we'll create a defense umbrella and you guys go
take care of the problems.' And then most of our foreign aid was
tied to some specific other objective we had.
Now, we know what works. We know this debt relief works, we know the
micro loans work, we know that there are proven programs which will
reverse the AIDS epidemic. It's not like we don't know what
works - we're not talking about going out there and just throwing
a bunch of your money away. And it is such a small percentage of the
overall money we're spending to build the world we want to defend
ourselves, I think if we can just get the facts out and tell people
that this will help us to avoid further insecurity from terrorism, and
it's either that or try to rebuild all the walls of the world,
which we're not going to be able to do anyway, and most of us wouldn't
want to do. I think that's where you have make the argument in
the context of what we have learned since September the 11th, and I
think you will have a listening audience.
But the American people also have to have the facts. Most Americans
are shocked to know what a tiny percentage of the federal budget foreign
assistance is, they're shocked to know that every other advanced
country in the world spends a higher percentage of their income than
we do on it. And they are shocked to know that you could do as much
good as you can do with as little money as you can. Look, this country
is around here after more than 225 years because most of the time we
do the right thing on the big decisions, if we have time to absorb the
reality and we know the facts. We normally do the right thing, that's
why we're still here. So I think what we have to do is to get the
facts out there and the arguments, and reference it to what people are
feeling and knowing since September the 11th. Then I think we'll
have good success.
SCHELL: I think the notioin of how you get these ideas deeply embedded
in the public consciousness raises the question of the media. How do
you view the media? Has it been fulfilling its role in meeting the public's
right to know?
expert on the media!
PRESIDENT CLINTON: I don't really want to go where your question
is, but I want to say two things. One is, I think the media has done
a good job, generally, of educating us since September the 11th about
who the Taliban is, that not all Muslims are terrorists, that there
is a difference in doctrine and practice, and that it is wrong for us
to discriminate against Muslims. I think one of the best things the
president did after September 11th was go to a mosque and meet with
Muslim leaders, and then break the fast of Ramadan with some Muslims
in the White House. So I think that there's been a effort to educate
us about what the nature of the terrorist threat is, what their attitudes
are. We've learned a lot that we never knew about Afghanistan and
about Pakistan and about terrorist networks, generally. We know more
than we ever did about problems in Indonesia and the Philippines and
other places. So I think, in general, they've actually done quite
a good job in bringing us as a people up to speed.
I think that for other issues it is difficult for the media to do a
fair and balanced and accurate - and sometimes even truthful job
- because of the structure of the modern media. When I was a young
man in college, there were three television networks. There was enough
competition so that they kept each other honest. And they had enough
guaranteed market share so they could hire seasoned people who know
a lot to do thoughtful pieces. And I think television, particularly,
was a much more, in that sense, balanced and constructive and sort of
stable force in our national life. Now, you have CNN plus all these
cable channels that are on all the time. By the time the evening news
comes on, most news events have been on the television at one of these
cables for hours and hours. By the time the newspapers come out the
next day, they've been washed over 50 times, and there's this
incentive to think you've got to put a little spin this way or
that way on it, just so it will be worth absorbing if you're later
in the chain.
Plus, there's so much competition to do it so fast. There's
very little time. I once had a media executive, who must remain nameless,
tell me in the middle of an argument we were having - and he was
sympathetic to me - and I said, 'You know, when I was a young
man starting out in politics, I had a lot of opposition from the conservative
press.' I said, 'Everybody I dealt with really cared that
what they said was accurate and fair, and true, and really cared. A
lot of you guys don't care anymore, do you?' And he said,
'No, we don't have time to.'
But that's the world we live in. And so I say this out of sympathy.
I have a lot of sympathy for people. How would you handle it if you
were the news director for one of the cable channels? How would you
change your news coverage if you were the news director for one of the
network nightly news shows, and half the stories you want to talk about
have been on these cable channels for six hours? How would you change
the content and the organization of your newspaper under these circumstances?
And if you had a cable channel, so you had to depend on a segmented
market, would you really want to challenge those viewer's views,
or would you just want to reinforce them because all the research shows
that to get a segmented market of 800,000 to 900,000 thousand, a million
people, which is all you need to keep one of these things going. They
want to look at somebody that agrees with them, and tells them what
they already think. ...
The media faces a lot more challenges today. It's a much more
difficult job than it used to be. And yet we need more reason, more
balance, more sustained argument, and less demonization of each other
than we have ever needed it at a time when all the commercial pressures
and all the political pressures are pushing them into reverse direction.
I think there are still some really great newspapers in America. I think
the L.A. Times is a great newspaper - I don't always agree
with them, and Lord knows, they didn't always agree with me. I
think there are lots of other good newspapers in America, but it's
hard for them, it's really hard. And you should think about, those
of you who are in the journalism school, think what you would do if
you had to start tomorrow and you were one of the cable channels, and
you didn't want to go broke.
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