|Albright Calls for More Funding for U.S. Diplomacy |
Albright Calls for More Funding for U.S. Diplomacy
Addressing Women's Foreign Policy Group in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called for more funding for diplomacy and State Department operations in remarks November 20 to the Women's Foreign Policy Group in Washington, D.C. Source: Washington File, U.S. Department of State. November 21, 2000. EUR204.
"The new Secretary of State will, I am sure," said Albright, "want to seek additional funds to improve the operational readiness of the Department of State.
"Diplomacy is America's first line of defense, and like our armed forces, it should receive equipment, training, and support second to none," she said. "Frankly, we should have a national security budget that looks at all aspects of our defense and foreign policy together."
The Secretary noted that the United States "entered the 21st Century as the world's richest country," but added, "unfortunately, we are also the world's biggest debtor to international organizations, incuding the United Nations and the multilateral development banks.
"These are bodies," she said, "that Americans helped to create, and whose rules Americans helped to write. They serve our interests and promote values and everything that we cherish. Under President Clinton, we worked long and hard to persuade Congress to pay down some of our debts. And as a nation, we must finish that job."
Following is the State Department transcript, as delivered: (begin transcript)
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE, Office of the Spokesman, November 20, 2000. As Delivered
Remarks by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright at Women's Foreign Policy Group Luncheon,
Westin-Fairfax Hotel, Washington, D.C. November 20, 2000
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Thank you, Maureen, very much for that introduction. I would like to say I'm Madeleine Albright, Secretary of State of the United States of America, and please don't say anything about my makeup. (Laughter.)
I am very, very glad to be with all of you and to have this opportunity. Helen Thomas and the members and guests of the Women's Foreign Policy Group, excellencies from the diplomatic corps, very distinguished colleagues, Pat -- who really did put me on television for the first time and gave a lot of great tips that I still use -- it's really wonderful to be among so many friends.
I last had the opportunity to address this group almost exactly four years ago. And it was only a couple of weeks before President Clinton called to ask me if I would serve as Secretary of State. So you will forever be associated in my mind with really good news. (Laughter.)
Another reason that I am happy to be here is that sometimes the audience is composed of different kinds of people, but this audience is, I think, composed of what could be called an endangered species.
Each and every one of you had confessed -- in public -- to an interest in American foreign policy. (Laughter.) You understand that, more and more, events overseas will have an impact here at home, on our security, our jobs, our environment, even the safety of our streets and schools. So you are eager to learn more and to do more.
In short, you are as wonky as I am. (Laughter.) And, today, I promise that as soon as I leave the job, and become free again to make such choices, I will be proud to become the first former Secretary of State to join the Women's Foreign Policy Group. (Applause.)
I am proud, as well, to have served these past seven and little more than three-quarter years under the leadership of President Clinton and Vice-President Gore.
When they took office, the overriding foreign policy question our nation faced was whether to remain on the center stage of world affairs, or grab a chair somewhere up in the mezzanine.
You may recall the arguments put forward by some. The Cold War was over, they said, so why shouldn't we sit back and relax and disband NATO, ignore ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, close AID missions, forget Africa, and leave all the hardest problems for the UN.
To his credit and our nation's benefit, President Clinton took a different view. He firmly resisted the lure of isolation, and carefully avoided the danger of over-extension. He restored our nation's international economic primacy, and worked with allies and friends to develop a framework for leadership in the 21st Century.
Under his direction, we enlarged and strengthened NATO, reduced the nuclear danger in the former Soviet Union, stabilized and improved relations with China, enhanced stability on the Korean Peninsula, blazed a trail for democratic change in the Balkans, opened a new chapter in our relations with India, increased cooperation in our own hemisphere, helped bring peace to Northern Ireland, and worked to integrate Africa into the world economy.
This Administration has also led on emerging foreign policy issues, such as the battles against proliferation and drugs and disease. We have advocated strongly on human rights, identified exemplary corporate practices as one of America's best exports, and worked hard to create a consensus on ways to safeguard the word's environmental health.
We have also emphasized efforts to improve the lives of women and girls, and launched major initiatives to end violence against women and halt trafficking in human beings.
Along the way, the Administration set a precedent, which I hope its successors will follow. Since 1993, women have held seven of the top ten positions at the Department of State. (Applause.)
This matters, because as I look around this room, I see many who are or who could be outstanding foreign policy leaders for our country. And I wouldn't be surprised if one or more of you someday does, in fact, serve again as Secretary of State, or National Security Advisor, or -- yes, the time will soon come -- Commander in Chief of the United States. (Applause.)
Thanks in part to the Clinton-Gore record, the next President will inherit an America with more prosperity than we have ever known, in a world more free than it has ever been. He will inherit policies that are responding to new threats without reviving old ones, and are bringing nations closer together around basic principles of democracy and law.
This afternoon, I want to talk about some of the challenges the next Administration will face and about the importance of acting on a bipartisan -- as well as a bi-gender-basis -- to allocate additional resources to international operations and programs.
During the campaign, both major candidates promised to increase funding for our armed forces. Now, I fully support military readiness. But I have to ask whether it doesn't also make sense to ensure diplomatic readiness, so that opportunities for resolving crises short of violence are fully explored, and the need for our armed forces to engage in combat is minimized. The answer is clearly "yes."
Because of our growing budget surpluses, the new President will have the flexibility to increase sharply our investment in the people and programs that comprise our foreign policy. And this would be the right choice for America.
After all, force and diplomacy are not separate in the real world; they should not be treated like apples and oranges when drafting our nation's budget. They are apples and apples -- two sides of the same national security coin.
Earlier this year, Congress renamed the State Department building in honor of former President Harry Truman. This is appropriate, because after World War II, President Truman and Secretary of State Acheson helped create institutions which have ever since kept the world -- if not always at peace, at least in one piece.
The challenges we face today are different in kind but not in scope from those of Truman's generation. Yet today, we spend less than one-seventh as much of the federal budget on foreign affairs. And we rank dead last among the industrialized nations in the percentage of wealth devoted to fostering democracy and development overseas.
Every year, we struggle with Congress for each nickel and dime. I have compared this process to searching between the seat cushions for loose change. (Laughter.) It has forced us repeatedly to make no-win tradeoffs between such priorities as peace in Kosovo and curbing conflict in the Congo, improving security at our missions and enhancing the skills of our people.
And I am proud that over the past three years, we have reversed the precipitous funding decline that was endangering our leadership when I assumed office. We have started to climb back, but we have only reached the first floor.
The next Administration will have the opportunity -- I hope it will seize it -- to take the stairs two at a time.
This afternoon, I would like to cite a few examples of where higher levels of financial commitment would yield rich dividends for American interests and American values.
The first is in protecting Americans at home and abroad.
Since the Cold War ended, we have worked with officials in the New Independent States to ensure that nuclear weapons and materials are stored safely, and don't fall into the wrong hands. We have helped destroy almost 5,000 nuclear warheads, tighten export controls, and engage former Soviet weapons scientists in peaceful ventures.
These initiatives make our citizens safer, and the world more stable. They are well underway, but much work remains to be done. And the next Administration and the next Congress must provide continued support.
The recent bombing of the USS COLE reminds us of a modern plague -- the devil's marriage between technology and terror.
America is the world's strongest force for democracy. We will often be targeted by those who want us to abandon our principles and interests and friends. And this, we will never do. Instead, we must defend ourselves through counter-terrorism programs that leave terrorists less and less room to train, operate and hide.
And we must protect those who represent us overseas by investing in security-related construction, equipment and personnel. We must do this not simply when tragedies occur, but every year to the tune of about $1.4 billion; so that we don't tempt our adversaries by weakness, or lapse into complacency when vigilance is required.
A second area for increased investment is in promoting stability and peace. Here, the needs and opportunities for saving lives and safeguarding our own security will change with every spin of the globe.
Just last week, we asked Congress for $750 million to assist friends in the Middle East.
These funds are urgently needed to bolster Arab countries that have supported the peace process, and that have counseled against an extreme response to the divisive and tragic events of recent months, including today. And I would like to offer our condolences for the deaths that occurred today, and also to call for restraint by both sides. Violence can not solve the problem in the Middle East. Our requests would also help defray security costs resulting from Israel's withdrawal from Lebanon.
This is a very critical juncture in the Middle East. It is vital that the parties have confidence that the path to peace is the right path for their own security and future.
Looking ahead, we can imagine developments in hot spots across the globe, from Korea and the Caucasus, to Africa and the Aegean, where our interests in stability might justify increased expenditures.
We have also learned over the past decade that first-class international peacekeeping forces are both in great demand and in short supply.
Experience warns us that, despite our diplomacy, wars will continue to erupt periodically around the globe. The cost in lives and treasure will be high, and the risks of wider conflict often present. Americans don't want to police the world -- or live in a lawless one. International peacekeeping gives us an option when a crisis breaks out between doing everything ourselves and doing nothing at all.
For almost eight years, the Clinton Administration has worked to reform UN peace operations, improve indigenous peacekeeping capabilities in Africa, and increase the availability of civilian police to complement the military in appropriate situations. The next Administration will have a chance to build on these initiatives, and I sure hope they will.
Our security will also be enhanced as the European Union succeeds in its goal of establishing a rapid reaction force. Today's EU Capabilities Commitment Conference is an important step toward a true strategic partnership between NATO and the EU.
Containing and ending strife is essential in our security. The same is true of halting the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Vice President Gore has properly identified AIDS as a danger to world security.
Whole societies are being robbed of twenty or even thirty percent of their people -- in what should be the most productive period of their lives. Millions of women, who provide the thread that holds the social fabric together, are in pain and at risk. Untold numbers of children are losing the parents they need to have a fair start in life.
I am proud that the Clinton Administration has made the fight against AIDS one of our highest foreign policy priorities. We backed that commitment with an investment of $315 million this year, and that should only be a down payment. Our contributions must rise because, worldwide, the number of those infected continues to climb.
This tide can only the turned through a global effort, marked by gutsy local leadership; energized by caring people everywhere; and backed generously by America and other donors. Our generation faces no greater challenge, and could bestow upon the future no more precious a gift, than to transform AIDS from a menace into a memory.
A third category for increased investment is democracy. America has a huge stake in seeing that freedom's tide remains a rising tide around the world.
Over the past quarter of a century, the number of countries with elected governments has more than doubled. But many transitions have stalled due to economic crisis, ethnic divisions, rising crime, or leaders whose commitment to democracy is more rhetorical than real.
When USAID is in the lead, we have used our resources to strengthen democratic institutions, including in four priority democracies: Colombia, Indonesia, Nigeria and Ukraine.
We have also cheered and championed what amounts to a democratic revolution in the Balkans. When President Clinton took office, this region was engulfed in war, with atrocities being committed daily.
Now, to the astonishment of skeptics, the region is at peace and democratic elections have been held in every country. But the stabilization of Southeast Europe remains a work in progress.
Although Europe should and is paying the lion's share, we must do our part to ensure that democratic gains are consolidated and the sparks of conflict are forever doused.
Last summer in Warsaw, I joined representatives from more then 100 countries at the first-ever Community of Democracies Conference.
In my conversations there, I heard leaders describe over and over again the link between development and democracy. And that's why any pro-democracy strategy needs to include investments in economic reform, expanded opportunities for women, and training in 21st Century skills.
With the help from Congress, we have enacted legislation to open new trade opportunities for Africa and the Caribbean; approved debt relief for the poorest reforming countries; and restored some cuts in overseas aid.
But still, on a per capita basis, Americans contribute only about $29 per year through official channels to development and humanitarian assistance. This compares to a median of $70 in other industrialized countries.
These shocking figures reflect neither the generous spirit of the American people, nor the responsibilities and interests of our nation. We are leaders, not laggards; we can and must do more.
We can also strengthen democracy by expanding our highly successful cultural diplomacy, international visitor, and exchange programs.
These initiatives have a remarkable record of educating future world leaders about our institutions and processes. They have helped us to make lasting friends from Morocco to Mongolia, from Santiago to Seoul. They have the potential to do the same in the future in societies that have long been closed to us.
In recent decades, these programs have been slashed. In the decade to come, they should be doubled.
There are, of course, many other areas where increased investments in world affairs are warranted.
For example, international family planning contributes to economic and social progress, reduces the number of abortion and saves hundreds of thousands of women's lives. The United States used to contribute more than $540 million annually to these worthy programs.
President Clinton asked Congress to bring us back up to that level this year, and we have made some progress. The new Administration should make a similar commitment, while ensuring that such funds are not tied to unwise restrictions on free speech. (Applause.)
The United States entered the 21st Century as the world's richest country. Unfortunately, we are also the world's biggest debtor to international organizations, including the United Nations and the multilateral development banks.
These are bodies that Americans helped to create, and whose rules Americans helped to write. They serve our interests and promote values and everything that we cherish. Under President Clinton, we worked long and hard to persuade Congress to pay down some of our debts. And as a nation, we must finish that job.
I hope you agree that the time has long since passed to pay what we owe to international organizations. Because every country, everywhere, should understand that America keeps its word. (Applause.)
Finally -- and very important -- the new Secretary of State will, I am sure, want to seek additional funds to improve the operational readiness of the Department of State.
Diplomacy is America's first line of defense; and like our armed forces, it should receive equipment, training, and support second to none. Frankly, we should have a national security budget that looks at all aspects of our defense and foreign policy together.
Currently, we have a shortfall of 1,000 qualified people at the State Department. We need new incentives to recruit and retain highly-skilled personnel in what remains an extremely competitive job market. We have to improve on our diversity -- and perhaps those in this audience can help us make progress toward that goal. Those three interns -- come talk. (Laughter.)
We need to improve our communications, so that the people at our overseas posts can talk to each other and to Washington through means that are rapid, reliable and secure.
And we need to maintain our universal presence, so that America's interests are protected in every corner of every continent.
The challenge of finding dollars for diplomacy had been with us ever since the Continental Congress sent Ben Franklin to Paris. But it has reached a new stage. The current level of only about one penny per federal dollar is simply not enough.
A request of 28 or 29 billion dollars for our international affairs budget would accommodate all the increases that I have suggested this afternoon. And that's about six billion dollars more than we are likely to receive this year, and would move us toward one and a half percent of the Federal budget.
In other words, for less than half a penny more out of every federal dollar, we could make an enormous difference in building security, bolstering democracy, preventing conflict, ending poverty, combating AIDS, and ensuring a healthy environment for future generations.
Around the world, we could go from holding the line to making our nation's first line of defense -- diplomacy -- stronger, broader, and harder to breach.
Is one and a half percent too much? Obviously not. The level was far higher under every President from Truman to Bush. It should be at least that amount if the next President -- whoever that turns out to be -- is to lead America in a manner that our citizens deserve and our interests demand.
In exactly two months, I will leave the office of Secretary of State. I find it hard to express in words the honor I have felt to represent this great nation, whose power is matched only by its commitment to good; and to hold a job once performed by such statesmen as Jefferson, Marshall, Acheson, and my personal hero Ed Muskie. It has been and remains an exhilarating, but humbling, experience. You always feel that there is more to do.
One thing I have tried to do is convey to the American people how important it is that we live up to our global responsibilities, and to persuade young people -- and especially young women -- that there can be no more rewarding an experience than to serve our country by honoring its past, and by working with others to forge a world more secure, prosperous and free.
I have been conscious every day in this job of the support and prayers I have received from all Americans, particularly those -- such as you -- who are committed to a principled and successful American foreign policy.
For all you have done, I am truly grateful.
And for all that you will continue to do, I salute you.
And for your attention this afternoon, I am very grateful. And I would now be very happy to answer questions.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Thanks a lot.
So I think there are mikes or some things around, however you would like to do this. Helen?
Q: (Inaudible) -- Gore policy -- (inaudible). What do you think is the danger part of Bush's projected foreign policy that we know of so far?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first, Helen, I have for the last four years been saying that I have had all my political and partisan instincts surgically removed. (Laughter.) I occasionally have to go back and see the surgeon. (Laughter.) But I think that without getting into this specifically, what I am most concerned about I talked about in my remarks, which is that we should not be tempted to turn our back on the issues of new foreign policy, of the issues that include the new economy, nonproliferation, environmental issues, women's issues, drugs, HIV/AIDS. Those have not normally, in the past, been considered high security issues, but they are.
I think also we can't just pick and choose where we will employ our strengths. We need to work through the United Nations and try to develop ways that the peacekeeping operations can work better. But as I said, we can't leave the choice to doing everything ourselves or nothing at all. I don't think that -- clearly the United States has strategic interests, and one can name them, but it doesn't mean that we don't pay attention to humanitarian interests. I believe that violations of people's humanity and crimes against people have to be dealt with by the United States in partnership with others, because they are in our national interest. And I think what is very important is to keep remembering what is in US national interests in the 21st century: And it's not your father's foreign policy. Or your mother's Oldsmobile, or whatever. Okay.
Q: Thank you. My name is Julia Nanay. I'm with the Petroleum Finance Company, and I work with an industry that has very much watched what you have been doing in the Middle East. And it is a pleasure to hear you today, and we commend you on some of the steps you have taken, particularly in relation to relations between the US and Iran.
And what I would like to find out is how you see the outlook for these relations, and if you think there is more that the Clinton Administration could have done, or may still be willing to do. Thank you.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that one of the most interesting policies that we have been looking at is trying to figure out how in some way to change the relationship with Iran, especially when President Khatami was elected. And we have gone through -- when history records this -- a very interesting kind of pas de deux of trying to talk to each other and signal our intentions. And it all started when President Khatami gave an interview to CNN in which he talked about looking at different countries historically and understanding culture.
I then responded to that speech, in New York, at the Asia Society, in which I laid out the possibilities for a road map that might allow some movement towards more normal relations. Our problem is that, even as that was going on, the Iranians are involved in three activities that make life very difficult and that really harm US national interests: one is their desire to have weapons of mass destruction; the other is their support of terrorism; and the third is their lack of support for the Middle East peace process. Those are issues that are of great importance to the United States.
But, at the same time, we are looking still for ways to signal each other. And again at -- I gave another speech last year -- and they, having made some overtures -- where we lifted some sanctions on pistachios and rugs. And the reason that's important are the kind of people that actually work on making rugs and picking pistachios. So that it's as much -- it was focused at the kind of people who actually helped elect President Khatami.
Clearly what is going on there is they have a divided form of government. And I think that you have all been reading about how the reformers work and the conservatives try to change -- try to maintain that direction and not allow for change. But, nevertheless, the signaling goes on. And I think it's something that we notice but nobody else does. But, for instance, at the United Nations this year I changed my schedule in order to go to a meeting that President Khatami had thought up during the Millennium Summit on a cultural dialogue, and he was the speaker. And I didn't come in quietly and I didn't leave quietly so that it would be noticed that I was there, and he and I did exchange one meaningful look.
Then it was signaled to us that he was going to stay for President Clinton's General Assembly speech, and so then the President decided to stay for his -- President Khatami's -- General Assembly speech. Then we decided to have a meeting of something called "6+2", which are a group of countries that talk about Afghanistan, and Iran was there. But I had gotten the messages not to speak or touch the Iranian representative, and we were all the way across the table from each other. But interestingly enough, on Afghanistan our views were not dissimilar.
So there is this kind of back and forth that is going on, and the possibility of -- we've always said that there could be a dialogue if we could talk about all the issues that bother us. So we are going to continue in this vein and, you know, you just have to read between the lines.
Q: I'm Dr. Sue Bailey. I would like to know, in a world order where asymmetrical warfare is such a concern, how we balance our concerns for human rights with having a meaningful foreign policy.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I tell you, that is a very good question and one that I am often asked in a different way, which is to say, "Well, how come you deal with that country and you don't deal with this one?" My answer is that you can't have a cookie-cutter approach to foreign policy. You have to deal with each country as is suitable in order to move your foreign policy program forward.
And I think that we press on human rights wherever we can. I have never gone to a meeting -- I think I can say this without any doubt -- even to a country where they don't have human rights, without making it clear that human rights are necessary, such as I did just now in North Korea, or any conversation we have with the Chinese.
But I do think that you have to approach it somewhat differently everywhere, while keeping very clear what your basic principles are. And for me, it's impossible to have an American foreign policy that doesn't have human rights and democracy and freedom as a basis for it. But you deal with it differently in different places. And I guess -- you know, I've sometimes been called an idealistic pragmatist, or a pragmatic idealist, but you basically do what you can while never forgetting what your compass is.
Q: Madame Secretary, I'm Susan L. Allen, President of the Pan-Asian American Chamber of Commerce. Taiwan has had its new president for a few months; China is becoming more powerful and confident. I'm just wondering, what is our US policy, foreign policy, towards China and Taiwan?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we've just had a meeting in Brunei, and I first met with Foreign Minister Tang and then the President met with President Jiang, and then I also met with Vice Premier Chen Qian Qichen. And Taiwan came up in al those meetings.
Our policy is we have a One China policy. We have had that since 1972, and we believe in the three communiqués. And what we would like to see is a peaceful dialogue between China -- mainland China, People's Republic of China, and Taiwan. The only way to resolve this is through a peaceful dialogue, and that is what we have urged on both.
Q: Robin Kapali, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I'd like to know what you think the role of environmental policy and environmental security, given what's going on in The Hague right now, how that will focus into the national security of the United States and into State Department operations?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think that, clearly, environmental policy has played a larger part in this Administration than in any previous one. And we have been the ones that have participated in the Kyoto treaty and protocols, and have been working on it. And Under Secretary Loy is in The Hague now working on how to try to get the best position for the United States.
I think the main thing that we have done at the State Department is to strengthen the role of environment, and also I have recently added a Science Advisor. And that is part of trying to get people to understand that foreign policy is so different in these days than it was eight years ago, and that it is really necessary to try to encompass scientific evidence and answers to questions, not only environmental, but also to do with specific health issues and food issues, biotech. These are all part of our foreign policy agenda now.
I think one of the most important things that has happened -- and I think President Clinton is always the best one to give this message. He talks -- and he has just done it again when we were in Asia -- is that there are those who believe that if you carry through on environmental legislation, or carry through on trying to make sure that the global warming is dealt with, is that it does not necessarily -- or ever, frankly -- lead to a degradation in terms of your economic development. There is this theory that if you do environment, you don't do development. And what President Clinton talks about is that, in fact, the more you look at new environmentally safe developments and look at the new technology, the chances are that you can leapfrog over some of the mistakes that have been made by the developed countries. And so we think that environment and development go together, and I would hope very much that in the next Administration even further strides would be made.
The point, though, specifically in terms of what is going on in The Hague, I think one of the things you learn -- at least I have a lot in this job -- is you never get everything you want. You now negotiate with over a hundred countries, depending upon the particular negotiation, and you have to make adjustments. And it's very easy to be on the outside and say, "Why didn't you fight for the exact language that you wanted on such-and-such a treaty or protocol?" And the truth is that they usually come as a package, and you have to be very careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.
One of our best negotiators is here, Melinda Kimble, who no longer is with the government, but she really worked Kyoto harder than anybody. And I think we know how very hard it is to get everything you want, but you've got to keep trying and have it as the basis. And I can just assure you that it is very much a part of the thinking of the Clinton-Gore Administration -- or has been.
Q: Madame Secretary, Pauline Baker, from the Fund for Peace. And I want to add my welcome to you coming back and seeing us today.
As you reflect back on your long tenure, I wonder if you could share, on a more personal note, what your single proudest achievement is during your tenure. And apart from the lack of sufficient funding for international diplomacy, what would be your single greatest disappointment?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, read the book. (Laughter.)
No, let me say, it's very hard to make that -- to prioritize in that particular way. But let me -- one thing that truly does stand out is that what we wanted to do at the beginning of the Clinton Administration was to have a Europe that was undivided and free and prosperous. And there was a missing piece to that in the Balkans when we came in. And not only was this large part of Europe left out of the European story, but theoretically posed a danger to many of the things that we all were looking for in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East.
And so we undertook, in quite a systematic way, to try to do something about the former Yugoslavia. It's no secret that I was criticized a lot for that and made to feel inadequate as a civilian woman, and was accused of being emotional and that I didn't understand about what American forces were for.
And I grew up -- if you watch the whole program tonight -- believing very much in the goodness of American power; and when America applies itself properly, that we can do everything. And it was called "Madeleine's War." They made a lot of fun of me. But it turned out all right, and I am very proud of that.
What has been a big disappointment to me is that it's very hard to keep people's focus on all the different foreign policy issues that are out there, and actually to make sure -- the funding is a part of it, but it's a part of the larger story, which is that we actually do have -- all of us -- a pretty short attention span, and the problems are huge. And we are very good about dealing with natural disasters. I think Americans are the most generous people in the world. There is a hurricane somewhere or an earthquake, and we jump right to it.
The problems that we have today won't get solved overnight. I think we are seeing that everywhere. And if you -- Pauline, I know you and I have done a lot of work together over the years, but your continent of Africa we dealt with so often. I think it has been much, much harder than people thought. People forget about the successes in Africa -- Mali -- where dealing with President Konare is one of great joys -- Botswana. A number of the things that work and are focusing on Congo and Sierra Leone.
And I would hope that people would never decide that Africa wasn't important, that it didn't fit the paradigm of strategic interests. Because for me, as I have now stated, strategic interests are much larger than whether they're at a choke point on a sea lane or whether it involves our oil -- although, interestingly enough, there is more oil now that comes out of West Africa and Angola than most people realize.
But I think we're much larger in terms of our foreign policy, and we have to see it in a larger way. And when I'm out of here, I am going to spend more time still talking about the larger pictures of foreign policy. I taught a lot of courses about national interests and could draw a lot of concentric circles and do all the things that professors do, but it doesn't work. It's not a textbook kind of a thing. You have to understand what America's real interests are, who American people really are, what we truly care about, and how important it is to every one of us that the rest of the world is not sinking in mire and suffering with disease or killing each other over ethnic conflicts.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you all very, very much.