My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen.
I am honored to be here tonight. However, I was a little wary of
being in England on Thanksgiving day. I was afraid that I might be
the turkey at this dinner.
It can be difficult for an American to be overseas on this holiday.
Thanksgiving is about family, friends, too much good food, and
falling asleep while watching football on television. I feel more at
home, though, thanks to this wonderful dinner. But the football
games on BBC are not the same. And I usually do not wear a white tie
to eat turkey.
I understand there are people in England besides you who celebrate
Thanksgiving. They do it in their own way, and a little
earlier—September 6th, the day the Pilgrims finally left England.
The Pilgrims and England were not on the best of terms when the
Mayflower set sail. Fortunately, our nations moved past that point
and today we are strong partners, allies, and friends. President
Bush has said many times that the United States has no better friend
than Great Britain. Our relationship proves an old axiom—children
cannot really appreciate their parents until they move out of the
house. Great Britain’s extraordinary response to the September 11
terrorist attacks confirms our abiding friendship. We are deeply
grateful to Her Majesty the Queen, the Royal Family, Prime Minister
Blair, other political leaders, and the British people.
What makes our bond so strong? True, we are cut from the same cloth.
But people like you and groups like the Pilgrims Society link our
countries at a tangible level. Over the past 100 years, you have
deepened and strengthened our relationship at its core—among our
Our relationship is also strong because our nations developed and
remain today bound together by certain principles. In a farewell
letter to the Pilgrims, their pastor John Robinson alluded to some
of these principles. He talked about the Pilgrims becoming a “body
politic” with a civil government, choosing their governors
themselves. The Pilgrim’s voyage was about breaking the shackles of
intolerance. It was about cleaving to the ideals held in self
governance and the rule of law. Simply put, the Pilgrims’ voyage was
about freedom. And freedom is the foremost principle that binds
together America and Great Britain. Freedom makes us strong.
I declare myself an unabashed simplistic American. I believe in
freedom as a right, a responsibility, a destiny, a force that cannot
be vanquished. And, in my line of work, it is more than a
faith—freedom is a foreign policy. It is just that simple.
In the National Security Strategy of the United States President
“America must stand firm for the nonnegotiable demands of human
dignity: the rule of law; limits on the absolute power of the state;
free speech; freedom of worship; equal justice; respect for women;
religious and ethnic tolerance; and respect for private property.”
We stand for something—that is our strength. We stand for the rights
of individuals to decide how they live. We stand for economic
opportunities without discrimination. We stand for protecting those
who voice their grievances. We stand for societies free from the
grip of disease, corruption, and crime. Again simply put, we stand
for freedom, and more freedom is better.
President Kennedy said it well in his inaugural address:
nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any
price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend,
oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
Forty years later, his immediate cause, our cause, has been won with
the end of Soviet communism. And yet, our task, our purpose, and our
policy remain the same.
Today the light of democracy shines brighter than we ever dared to
hope. The curtain that divided ideologies in Europe has rusted out
and crumbled. Gone is the force that stymied the potential of
generations. Now fledgling democracies are seeking paths to security
and prosperity. They are reforming, adapting, and retooling. They
are becoming trustworthy partners and friends. As proof, seven new
democracies were invited into NATO last week. And the European Union
The people in these new democracies are building civil society. They
are demanding rule of law and respect for human rights. They are
participating in the global economy. They are insisting on good
governance from their leaders. This is not a fluke, nor is it easy.
It is proof that freedom works, and political and economic freedom
Even people not living in democracies are still subject to the same
truths. They are touched through the media, travel, and the
Internet. Democracy’s promise burns inside them and they seek new
opportunities. I have seen again and again in my time overseas, that
once people begin choosing between brands of shampoo, they
eventually realize they deserve to choose their leaders. I agree. No
censor can squelch every radio broadcast or shut down every printing
press. No regime can prevent its citizens from thinking about things
they hear and see in a different land. No Internet filter can block
every byte of information. This is the power of democracy. This is
the reality of freedom.
The United States of America is united with others who understand
Together we will assist countries that want to be free, open, and
prosperous. As Secretary of State Powell said during his
“...this is a time of great opportunity for
us. We have the strength to take risks for peace. We must help a
world that wants to be free.”
Each region, each country has its own challenges to success. But
together we can reverse years of oppression, rebuild from war,
escape the clutches of disease, or whatever it might take to bring
change. And change in the right direction is the key to stability,
prosperity, and safety for our world, and that of our children’s
Tearing down trade barriers is change in the right direction. Open
markets are inherent aspects of free societies, because freedom
comes in both political and economic flavors. The ancient Silk Road
opened routes not only for goods and services, but also for ideas.
America does not intend to supplant other countries’ cultures with
its own. What a boring, drab world that would be. Rather, we hope
that closer trade ties will give people in other countries a taste
of freedom. And freedom in no way is an American creation—it is a
America is willing to put our money where our mouth is to help bring
change. With a war on terrorism, the challenge of Iraq, and
everything else going on, perhaps it is not surprising that the new
push for freer global trade proceeds relatively unnoticed. The Doha
Development round is built on a simple premise - more open markets
bring benefits to both developed and developing countries.
Implementing trade commitments could add hundreds of billions of
dollars to annual Gross Domestic Product in developing countries
Trade is a key driver for economic development, but countries still
need official development assistance. President Bush wants to ensure
that America’s assistance is invested in countries that are
committed to helping their own people. He unveiled the Millennium
Challenge Account, which, within three years, will total $5 billion
per year. But we will not let this assistance be devoured by
corruption or greed. The Account will specifically support countries
that govern justly, invest in the health and education of their
people, and promote enterprise and entrepreneurship. Countries
choosing these paths are making changes in the right direction.
These kinds of changes help freedom and democracy take root. But
freedom has its enemies—those who lead by fear, oppression, and
America stands ready to defend freedom in every corner of the world.
We are prepared to use military force, but it certainly is not the
only tool nor the first choice. Democracy is the best defense of
freedom, and we hope the best antidote to extremism.
Just two weeks ago, the United Nations Security Council challenged
Iraq to disarm, to let its people and its neighbors live free from
the fear of further attack.. We now have a strong, principled
resolution that makes clear what the Iraqi regime needs to do. The
goal is simple—to fully and finally end Iraq’s illegal programs to
develop weapons of mass destruction. The onus is on Iraq to disclose
its programs fully by December 8 and then to destroy them completely
under the watchful scrutiny of the inspectors.
In this matter, the international community is speaking with one
voice. We will not be blackmailed or terrorized by a murderous
tyrant armed with the world’s most dangerous weapons.
As Prime Minister Blair said,
“Saddam must now make his choice. My
message to him is this: disarm or you face force. There must be no
more games, no more deceit, no more prevarication, obstruction or
defiance Defy the United Nations’ will and we will disarm you by
force. Be under no doubt whatever of that.”
The Iraqi people deserve to live in hope, not in fear. They deserve
to spend their money on development, on their children, on their
future, not on weapons or palaces. Standing together, we will remove
this common threat to peace and end the theft of opportunity imposed
on the people of Iraq.
We defended freedom with your country and others to liberate
Afghanistan from the brutal control of the Taliban. We remain in
Afghanistan working with a new government to rebuild the dreams and
unleash the potential of the Afghan people.
Tremendous potential resides in the women and girls of Afghanistan.
Today, five thousand Afghan girls attend a brightly-painted high
school in Mazar e-Sharif that only months ago was a bombed out
shell. Afghan women are learning new skills and finding new jobs.
Medical care is improving. And more and more women are traveling,
even sometimes without wearing a burqa. We want to improve the
rights of women in Afghanistan. We want to increase their
participation in Afghanistan’s society. We want women in Afghanistan
to be able to live fulfilling, happy lives. This is a small part of
a massive agenda that requires massive resources. But every penny is
money well spent because it means more freedom for more people.
Coalition partners are defending freedom in the fight against
terrorism. We have made significant progress. Nations across the
globe have strengthened law enforcement and intelligence
cooperation. They have tightened border controls to make it harder
for terrorists to move. And they have strangled the financial flows
of terrorist organizations. Even with these accomplishments, we must
not become complacent. False comfort makes a perfect target for
Terrorists are still plotting, still scraping together money, and
still finding opportunities to murder. Terrorists can use all the
tools of the Internet age and advanced technology to communicate,
plan, and carry out attacks. We must be vigilant and steadfast.
We are pressing freedom in the Middle East. The terror and violence
Palestinians and Israelis both have a right to live outside the
shadow of fear. Our goal is for Palestinians and Israelis to have
the opportunity - the freedom - to raise their children in peaceful
democratic states living side by side.
President Bush laid out his
vision in June, and said:
“It is untenable for Israeli citizens to
live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor
The situation in the Middle East must change, and
freedom for both sides will unlock the door to peace.
The United States will defend freedom relentlessly. It is in our
blood and in our souls. But fighting for freedom does not always
come in the context of war, bombs, or suffering. In this age, unlike
in President Kennedy’s, it has an enormously wonderful, enormously
positive aspect as well: expanding the community of freedom.
NATO is the strongest security alliance in history and will be even
stronger with its new members. A growing European Union expands the
community of freedom as well. As Americans, we look forward to the
Copenhagen enlargement as much as many Europeans.
We want Europe’s
new democracies to be rooted in good governance, the rule of law,
and human rights - membership in the European Union is the best way
to cement those values. We want this for their benefit, but also
ours. More countries in the folds of NATO and the European Union,
and our new relations with a new Russia reinforce peace, prosperity,
and democracy across the greatest swath of democracy the world has
ever known—from Vancouver to Vilnius and all the way around to
Vladivostok. For those of us who grew up in the Cold War, who
practiced putting our heads under our desks in case of nuclear
attack, there is nothing more wonderful in our age.
You may be tired of hearing me talk about freedom -so I’ll stop
soon. But being that unabashed simplistic American, to me that is
what it is all about—plain and simple! The United States stands for
freedom, defends freedom, advances freedom, and enlarges the
community of freedom because we think it is the right thing to do.
We are grateful to have allies and friends such as the United
Kingdom that believe the same and are willing to fight the tough
battles with us.
I cannot say what full freedom around the globe would look like. I
believe freedom is more an aspiration than a state. The preamble to
America’s Constitution begins: “We the People of the United States,
in Order to form a more perfect Union...” That statement implies an
ongoing effort, always stretching towards perfect. In a similar way,
people of nations like yours and mine are all still pilgrims
enduring the rough seas and the hard first winter in the quest for
freedom. The trials and tribulations are worth it. Why? The answer
is the one the Pilgrims sought—Freedom.
My Lords, Ladies, and Gentlemen, thank you again for the honor of
you this evening. Happy Thanksgiving, God bless America, and God