September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
"Remembering the Trans-Atlantic Purpose" Address to NATO Parliamentary Assembly by Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State; October 9, 2001

"Remembering the Trans-Atlantic Purpose"
Address to NATO Parliamentary Assembly
by Marc Grossman, Under Secretary of State

October 9, 2001, Ottawa, Canada

Thank you for that kind introduction. It is an honor for me to be here to talk about the future of NATO with those of you who represent the true strength of this great Alliance -- its people.

It is fitting that we speak of the people who are the heart of the Alliance here in Canada, where the outpouring both of sympathy for those killed and injured in the terrible events of September 11th and of determined support for a united response to this terror have been so determined.

Canada's support started in the first moments after the attacks began, with its willingness to accept nearly 250 diverted air flights and generously host almost 27,000 passengers, many of them Americans.

One of these passengers was a U.S. Foreign Service Officer returning home from an assignment in Africa. Passengers and crew were taken into the small town near the airport where they were fed, entertained, and provided accommodations in the church. After five days of overwhelming Canadian hospitality, they managed to get a flight home. On that flight, a passenger suggested that they express their appreciation for the town. Fifteen thousand dollars was collected for a scholarship fund for village children.

Another passenger was a retired U.S. Ambassador. She and her fellow passengers were also overwhelmed by the outpouring of hospitality and affection from their Canadian hosts. When the busses arrived to carry them back to the aircraft, there was an emotional and tearful exchange with the townsfolk. The retired Ambassador said, "This attack should never have happened, but these days in Canada were among the most astonishing, human, and uplifting days of my life."

Canada's generous and steadfast reaction has been mirrored throughout the Alliance and beyond. The United States is deeply grateful for the tremendous outpouring of sympathy and support, and also extends our sympathy to those countries that shared in our loss. Sixteen Allies and ten Partner countries lost citizens on September 11. President Bush said it best when he told the American people: "Perhaps the NATO Charter reflects best the attitude of the world: An attack on one is an attack on all."

As we begin to consider the implications for NATO of what happened on September 11, I want to reflect on NATO's purposes, its history of response to challenges, and how we can meet the many challenges of our era.

This gathering of representatives of NATO member countries and our partners could not be more timely. Your meeting reflects the enduring purpose of the transatlantic relationship so firmly embodied in NATO. NATO was created in 1949, at an earlier moment of uncertainty; NATO remains the essential link between Europe and North America -- the place for free nations to secure peace, security, and liberty in the face of ever-shifting threats and challenges to those values.

Today's long-planned meeting sends a clear message that our nations are getting back to business. The events of September 11 will not divert us from our fundamental purposes of building a more secure, prosperous and peaceful transatlantic community of nations. The attacks have sparked a renewed sense of common purpose within the Alliance, and have presented us with a real historical opportunity.

Nothing could illustrate our shared sense of purpose more than this gathering of democratically-elected representatives. All of you are members of parliaments of legitimate governments -- governments that draw their authority from the consent of the governed, not from the fear of the oppressed. This shared sense of values and purpose will be our source of strength and inspiration as we join hands in the days, months, and years ahead to meet this new and insidious challenge.

Since the end of the Cold War, we have been adjusting NATO to a new world and new threats. Our agenda has been focused on new members and new missions, to complete our mission of uniting Europe and reorienting it to the most likely threats. We had begun to recognize and prepare to meet new threats to our territory and interests, but September 11 has proven that we have to rededicate ourselves to this new purpose.

Dean Acheson captured this sense of common purpose with characteristic eloquence in a statement before the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees on February 16, 1951. He observed:

"I prefer, as do many Americans, to give great emphasis to our intangible ties with Western Europe. These include our bonds of personal kinship, our mutual intellectual heritage, and our community of social and spiritual values. They also include a common belief in the ideals of democracy and human freedom -- in the dignity of the individual and the right of the whole people to exercise control over those who govern them. Many of us believe that these ideals are, in the long run, more powerful than guns and bombs and that they will outlast all the deceptive philosophies which promise so much and give so little. We also know that no nation can be secure in its own liberty if it permits that of its neighbor to be destroyed by aggression or subversion."

Acheson's understanding of the sources of strength of the transatlantic link is as pertinent today as it was fifty years ago.

NATO's unflinching declaration of solidarity September 12 in preparing to invoke Article 5, and its subsequent invocation of the Article 5 mutual defense clause October 2 have put to rest questions of NATO's relevance in the post-Cold War era.

Some observers have been surprised by NATO's resolute and united response, but it was no surprise to me or to those of us who know how NATO works and what it stands for.

The Alliance has from its creation in 1949 adapted to meet new threats and challenges. Throughout the Cold War, it responded to dilemmas and crises from the rearmament of Germany, differences over force levels in the 1960's, and détente and Vietnam in the 1970's, to the INF debates of the 1980's and the demise of the Warsaw Pact in the 1990s.

In the early years of the Alliance, NATO struggled to develop a credible defense for Europe in the face of a potential Soviet threat. Despite uncertainties about the role of nuclear weapons in defense and shortcomings in conventional forces, NATO succeeded in deterring attacks and preventing armed conflict in Europe.

By the early 1970's, the Soviet nuclear build-up had matched and ultimately overtaken NATO forces, necessitating a revision in NATO strategy. In the context of the divisions of Vietnam, NATO faced the challenge of avoiding nuclear war without succumbing to nuclear blackmail, preventing the desire for peace from turning to appeasement, defending liberty and maintaining the peace.

At this critical moment, as well, the Alliance met the challenge. A renewed focus on strategic arms control increased stability and security, and led to a détente that, for the first time since the start of the Cold War, held out the promise of overcoming the division of Europe.

This promise temporarily evaporated in 1979 with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the crackdown in Poland -- now sitting with us as an ally -- which rekindled East-West tensions and confronted the Alliance with difficult strategic choices. The INF debates of the mid-80's once again challenged NATO's unity. But here, too, NATO came together: securing approval of deployments that restored nuclear balance and paved the way for a new round of arms control.

The end of the Warsaw Pact allowed NATO to begin to overcome the divisions that had too long marred the European landscape. No more Checkpoint Charlie's. No more Glienicke Bridge. No more Berlin Wall. The transatlantic values of democracy, individual liberty, and respect for the rule of law quickly spread throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

Even with this hard-won victory, NATO adapted. We reached out to former enemies and built new patterns of cooperation. The establishment of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council, the Partnership for Peace, and later the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council spurred new contacts and greater integration. NATO also confronted ethnic hatred and violence in the heart of Europe, undertaking its first military actions in its fifty-year history to end the spiral of violence and overcome the forces of fear.

During this period of dramatic change, NATO took steps to update its Strategic Concept to reflect the new realities. NATO's 1991 Strategic Concept, while welcoming the positive changes in Europe, also warned of new multi-faceted and multi-directional threats. Listen to this: "Alliance security interests can be affected by other risks of a wider nature, including proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, disruption of the flow of vital resources and actions of terrorism and sabotage."

At the Washington Summit in 1999, NATO leaders continued this evolution in preparing NATO to meet new strategic circumstances. Leaders recognized that the East-West conflict had been brought to a peaceful end, European integration was advancing, patterns of political and economic cooperation were firmly entrenched, and the first new members from the former Warsaw Pact had integrated effectively into NATO and quickly proved their mettle in the Kosovo campaign. But new risks to Euro-Atlantic peace and stability were becoming clearer -- oppression, ethnic conflict, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and the global spread of weapons technology and terrorism. The 1999 Strategic Concept therefore cautioned that "the security of the Alliance remains subject to a wide variety of military and non-military risks which are multi-directional and often difficult to predict. . . . including acts of terrorism, sabotage, and organized crime."

We salute the vision of Alliance leaders and parliamentary representatives who played such vital roles in identifying these challenges and preparing the Alliance to meet the new threats. I am particularly pleased to see Speaker Hastert, Congressman Bereuter and other members of our Congressional delegation, who worked so hard at that time to keep NATO focused on its new challenges and who are now in the forefront of our efforts to respond effectively to the events of September 11. Thank you.

Few would have said in 1999 that NATO would in 2001 invoke Article 5 for the first time in its history -- and would do so in defense of the United States.

As we consider both this unexpected circumstance and NATO's history of challenge and response, what is most striking is that, despite all of these changes in strategy, NATO has never deviated from its fundamental purposes as laid out in the Washington Treaty -- to live in peace with all peoples and governments, safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of our peoples, and promote the stability and well-being of the North Atlantic area.

Constancy of purpose behind noble goals is what makes NATO the greatest Alliance in history. When America and the world were attacked September 11, NATO was first in line, ready and willing to go to work to set things right again -- not with a quick and emotional reaction, but with the same determination that has marked its entire history. This is why NATO remains the bedrock of transatlantic security. So the Alliance is again confronted with the need to adapt and respond. And, we will do so successfully.

Central to our effort to defeat the purveyors of terror is our determination not to allow terror to distract us from our lasting purposes. This applies as much to NATO as to daily life within the United States, Canada, and other NATO members. While NATO's response to September 11 will demand intensive efforts, it will not diminish our determination to fulfill our common vision of a unified and democratic Europe, an enlarged Alliance able to meet the full range of new threats, expanded cooperative relationships with former adversaries, and a more peaceful and stable Southeast Europe.

Last week, leaders of the Vilnius Group met in Sofia to reaffirm their commitment to this vision for Europe and reassert their aspiration to join the Alliance. Secretary Powell once observed that "the value of NATO can be seen by the fact that ten years after the Cold War, nations are still seeking to join the Alliance, not to leave it." There could be no better testament that NATO is as relevant to the future as it was to the past.

President Bush welcomes the aspiration of the Vilnius Group countries. In a message to the Sofia Summit October 5, the President reaffirmed his commitment to "NATO membership for all of Europe's democracies that seek it and are ready to share the responsibilities that NATO brings." If we are to meet new threats to our security, we need to build the broadest and strongest coalition possible of countries that share our values.

NATO Allies affirmed at Brussels in June their intention to launch another round of enlargement at the Prague Summit next November. President Bush emphasized in Warsaw on June 15 that "All of Europe's new democracies, from the Baltic to the Black Sea and all that lie between, should have the same chance for security and freedom -- and the same chance to join the institutions of Europe -- as Europe's old democracies have."

As we move ahead in building the new Europe and making common cause against the terrorist threat, we must be open to Russia. Just as September 11 has refocused U.S.-European relations, it is possible that it could prove a turning point in our relationship with Russia. NATO's relationship with Russia has already evolved in ways many considered unimaginable a little over ten years ago. Today, NATO's intensifying cooperative efforts with Russia are helping to build confidence, overcome suspicions, and establish the genuine cooperation we have long sought. President Putin's October 3 visit to Brussels marks a new milestone on the road to a more confident and mature partnership. As we look to the future, we welcome the reinvigoration of the Permanent Joint Council. We also look forward to working with Russia to meet the new threats from terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, and missile technology, and to developing new habits of political, military, and technological cooperation.

Our vision for the new Europe must continue to embrace all of NATO's Partners. We are pleased that Ukraine has reaffirmed its European destiny, and look to build on the success of the NATO-Ukraine Commission to strengthen Kiev's links to the West and facilitate the difficult transitions on which it is embarked. Likewise, NATO's multifaceted outreach to other Partner countries through the Partnership for Peace, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, and the Mediterranean dialogue remains a driving force for stability in the broader Euro-Atlantic region. We continue to welcome the active engagement of all NATO's Partners in an act of positive construction for a future marked by understanding and mutual confidence.

While NATO extends its embrace of new members and reaches out to partners, the United States wants to move forward in ensuring that NATO will be able to meet not only today's threats, but those of tomorrow. Today we are confronted with terrorists turning instruments of commerce into weapons of war; we also face threats from weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists or rogue states. The proliferation of missile technology that can deliver these weapons to any of our countries is a challenge that must be confronted. NATO would be shirking its responsibilities to our publics if we recognized a threat within our means to address, but failed to act. In the same way NATO has responded previous new threats and achieved consensus even in the face of difference, we must forge a common response to this new threat.

Part of our response to the future involves the completion of another transatlantic debate with roots deep in NATO's past -- the relationship of NATO to European integration and the recent efforts to reflect this integration through a common foreign and security policy. The United States has consistently supported European integration. President Bush reaffirmed that support in his February 23 joint statement with Prime Minister Blair, "welcom[ing] the European Union's European Security and Defense Policy, intended to make Europe a stronger, more capable partner in deterring and managing crises affecting the security of the Transatlantic community." To achieve this, ESDP must be closely coordinated with NATO and bring about new military capabilities to add to the overall strength of NATO and the EU. Our common goal must be to strengthen our combined capacity to meet shared challenges, not to create new institutions.

We all understand what we need to do to make this possible, but we have yet to overcome the last hurdles to get there. This will require good will and flexibility on all sides, driven by the recognition of the shared values and vision of a peaceful and prosperous Europe that motivates our efforts.

Over fifty years after its creation, NATO remains the core of the United States commitment to Europe.

As we consider NATO's future in our lives, I return to the words of one of NATO's founders over a half-century ago. Speaking at a news conference in December 1950 following a NAC meeting in Brussels, Dean Acheson emphasized that:

"The attitude which we take is that we and our allies are moving ahead with courage and with determination to build our common strength. We regard dangers as common dangers and we believe that they can and must be met by common strength. We believe that they need our help in order to maintain their security and that we need their help. . . . Therefore, we are taking a policy of going forward with vigor and with determination and with courage. We are rejecting any policy of sitting quivering in a storm cellar waiting for whatever fate others may wish to prepare for us."

We are determined to meet new threats together with our Allies, Partners and friends throughout the world. By calling on the combined strength of the freedom-loving people of the world, we can preserve our freedom. Your presence today in Ottawa symbolizes the enduring commitment of the people you represent to the fundamental purposes of the NATO Alliance. These purposes, framed over a half century ago in the North Atlantic Treaty, are to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of our peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty, and the rule of law. Once again, our purpose is being tested. We welcome the determination of our Allies and Partners to join us in the long and difficult campaign ahead.

Thank you.

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