September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Ambassador John D. Negroponte, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on "The UN Agenda in the Wake of September 11,"; February 27, 2002

Oscar Iden Lecture Delivered by Ambassador John D. Negroponte, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on "The UN Agenda in the Wake of September 11," at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, February 27, 2002

Thank you very much for that kind introduction. It's a pleasure and an honor to be here. Having spent virtually my entire adult life as a diplomat, I am especially gratified by Georgetown University's commitment to its Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, a great resource for the international community and a tremendous asset for the students and faculty here on campus.

I say this with some personal knowledge of Georgetown. In 1987 I taught a workshop here on "Science, Technology and Foreign Policy" - a great experience! Alas, I had to give it up when an Army general by the name of Powell asked me to help him as Deputy National Security Advisor in the Reagan White House. But it was a memorable opportunity, and I'm glad to be here with you again to describe the challenges facing our U.N. diplomacy at this relatively early stage in President Bush's administration. My brief experience at the UN already has demonstrated to me quite vividly that these are even more complex and varied than the issues we confronted in the final years of the Cold War.

As I prepared to go to New York late last summer, our priorities were much different than they are today. The United Nations had just completed a Special Session of the General Assembly designed, above all, to attack the AIDS pandemic. Secretary Powell spearheaded the US role, pledging our ongoing financial, scientific and diplomatic support to addressing the greatest public health crisis since the Black Death ravaged Europe more than 500 years ago.

In addition, the U.S. had six other important goals at the UN as we headed into the 56th General Assembly in September:

Despite the events of September 11 and some other major challenges about which I will speak in a moment, I think we have made progress in each dimension of this program. Now we are deeply involved in preparatory work for two major UN summits scheduled this year - one on financing for development and another on sustainable development - both of which can have some positive impact on virtually all our goals.

But the events of September 11 did occur, and so our overarching priority at the UN now and for the foreseeable future must be the war against global terrorism. Global terrorism cuts across too many US interests not to be the first and last subject addressed each and every day.

We must face a fact: if we don't defeat global terrorism, we cannot prevail in promoting democracy, human rights, free trade and economic growth.

And we cannot achieve the vision of peace, prosperity, and freedom for which, ultimately, the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy, Georgetown University, and the American people have long stood.

So now I'd like to speak to you in some depth about the war against global terrorism, particularly as it has affected Afghanistan, and what we are doing through the United Nations to win it. As President Bush has said, this will be a long, difficult war, something more like a vast siege than a series of decisive battles. We need to be patient, tenacious, flexible, and determined. There won't be any sudden catharsis. All of us will have to adapt to uncomfortable levels of uncertainty and stress because we cannot let up.

On September 11, the UN community in mid-town Manhattan recoiled along with all other New Yorkers in the face of horrible tragedy just a few miles away.

Twenty-four hours later the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the Secretary-General had raised their voices in condemnation of what they and the world had just seen. This was no instance where the United States had to lobby for votes. Among all the issues and problems the UN confronts, global terrorism clearly was the new priority. Humanity was appalled; solidarity was complete.

But questions presented themselves in quick, confounding order: What do we do? How do we fight back? How do we prevent what happened in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania from ever happening again?

As you know, the UN and the Security Council had been wrestling with events in Afghanistan for some time. The UN, like the United States, didn't recognize the Taliban regime nor could it accept its practices. But now an even worse reality loomed above the Taliban's repression of women, its discrimination against non-Muslims, its general violation of human rights.

The Taliban and al Qaeda had turned the phrase "state-sponsored terrorism" on its head. No longer were we dealing with state-sponsored terrorism but rather with a "terrorism-sponsored state."

That is a nightmare for an organization that comprises 189 members. Admittedly, Afghanistan was in a weakened, vulnerable condition when al Qaeda moved in. But there are scores of weak, vulnerable states in this world. How could we protect them? How could we protect ourselves?

The single most powerful response the UN could take came on September 28 when the Security Council passed Resolution 1373, instructing all member states to review their domestic laws and practices to ensure that terrorists could not finance themselves or find safe haven for their adherents or their operations. The Security Council further set up a committee to monitor compliance with Resolution 1373, ably led by the British Permanent Representative to the UN, Sir Jeremy Greenstock. Since September this committee of the whole Security Council has been -- and will remain -- fully engaged.

President Bush himself makes it crystal clear: terrorism cannot function without money. That's why the front organizations that raise this terrorist money, the financial institutions that convey it, and the entities that hide it have to be shut down - with no ifs, ands or buts.

Now, if this policy makes sense -- as I hope you will agree it does -- a related issue arises that is worth mentioning. We sometimes read that terrorism is bred in poverty, that poverty is its root cause and conveyor belt, and that the best palliative would be substantial transfers of money from the developed to the developing world. I think we should be wary of this argument.

There are many compelling reasons to work with the developing world in maximizing its economic potential based on its natural and human resources. President Bush's announced participation in next month's UN conference on Financing for Development underlines our policy on that score. But the fact is that the man who led al Qaeda was fabulously wealthy, and the global terrorist network has moved freely through the modern world's commercial pipelines -- its airlines, its hotels, its telecommunications systems -- unrestrained by expense. Terrorism as we have known it over the last forty years hasn't been a poor man's game. Time and again we have seen terror manifest itself in well-financed organizations with middle and even upper class leadership that have cleverly hijacked the impoverished, perhaps, but only to achieve self-centered and cynical ends.

People do not suddenly lose their moral compass because they are poor, and terrorism does not represent or benefit the poor. One look at what terrorism did to Afghanistan's people and economy demonstrates exactly what might be called the terrorist's ethic of social and economic justice. We are not talking about Robin Hood and his men stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Al Qaeda used its wealth to purchase protection for itself in Afghanistan, not prosperity for the Afghan people. It built training bases and safe houses, not schools and hospitals. Doctors and professors had to become day laborers to survive. Businesses went bankrupt. Economic and social opportunity vanished.

Cutting off global terrorism's money makes sense because it does have money, lots of it, and without money global terrorism possesses neither wings nor weapons. It can't fly; it's grounded, and we can move in more easily to seize it. That's the genius and importance of Security Council Resolution 1373. 1373 is designed to turn every domestic law enforcement agency, every department of the treasury, every telecommunications ministry, and every transportation authority against terrorism's money and movement anywhere and everywhere in the world. It thus attacks a worldwide scourge and makes it more difficult for those states that still see terrorism as a political instrument to use it.

The Taliban and al Qaeda wrought such destruction in Afghanistan that our coalition for freedom has had to do more than simply fight back. As Secretary Powell has said, "We have an enormous obligation - not only the United States, but the whole international community - an enormous obligation not to leave the people of Afghanistan in the lurch, to not walk away as has been done in the past." At the UN we also have focused on several critical aspects of restoring a people and a nation to self-sufficient independence.

First, Afghanistan continued to need vast quantities of humanitarian aid on an emergency basis. Taliban pilferage notwithstanding, this is something the US and UN had long provided. The US, of course, was Afghanistan's largest aid donor even before September 11. Since October alone we have increased our aid by providing $187 million for food, shelter, blankets and medical supplies.

Next, Afghanistan had to have, also on an urgent basis, a restoration of legitimate government. This was --and remains -- a complex task. We do not wish to determine who rules Afghanistan in peace -- that's for the Afghans to decide -- but working in the UN context, we have been gratified to see an interim government established under Chairman Hamid Karzai. This was accomplished as a result of effective, UN organized negotiations in Bonn, Germany, under the guidance of the Secretary-General's personal representative, former Algerian foreign minister Lakhdar Brahimi.

And, I cannot overstate the value of Mr. Brahimi's contributions to this process. He has been brilliant.

No fledgling government could possibly provide security in Afghanistan at a time like this, as recent events have confirmed. With Security Council backing, the British therefore have coordinated the creation of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in order to provide sufficient stability in Kabul for the interim government to function. The issue of long-term security for Afghanistan is a serious one. President Bush made the decision that the US would engage in training an Afghan army. We along with our allies and the Afghans themselves are pursuing a security architecture for Afghanistan that includes not only a professional army but also a viable police force.

Finally, we have just cosponsored in Tokyo a major fund-raising conference designed to provide the Afghans with the money needed to begin rebuilding their ravaged country. The US pledged $297 million for 2002, a substantial sum given the costs we have borne in conducting the military operations that freed Afghanistan of the Taliban and al Qaeda. And the total came to more than $4.5 billion. These funds exceed the World Bank's estimate of required resources for the coming year and will go a long way to putting Afghanistan on its feet under the permanent government called for by the Bonn accords.

All these efforts notwithstanding, we still are far from finishing the job. As President Bush said in the State of the Union, "So long as training camps operate, so long as nations harbor terrorists, freedom is at risk. And America and our allies must not, and will not, allow it." Global terrorism is so named because that's what it is -- terrorism that spans the globe, terrorism that has put down roots in the developed and developing world alike. Afghanistan was its headquarters, if you will, but we know that it secretly worked its way into Europe, North America, Asia and Africa.

We therefore will continue to work intensely at the UN to help raise worldwide counter terrorism standards, through implementation of Resolution 1373 and subsequent resolutions including the most recent, 1390, on Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

And we will continue to keep close watch on states that have developed the means to enhance the terrorists' destructive capabilities exponentially. Iraq is very much in the news now, and we have all read and heard a great deal about the President's characterization of the problem. Some seem to think that the President's characterization IS the problem. It is not. The problem is that Iraq is violating Security Council resolutions.

The international community has been confronted by Iraq's failure to comply for years now. Iraq's willful disregard for its obligations does not change them. There is really nothing to discuss on this score. The Baghdad regime must comply with the Council's resolutions, accepting the return of weapons inspectors, fully declaring and destroying its prohibited weapons of mass destruction and missiles, and dismantling its weapons of mass destruction programs.

The core issue is this: Iraq remains a menace to international peace and stability, to its neighbors, and to the Iraqi people (against whom it has already used weapons of mass destruction). Ten years ago the Security Council decided that Iraq should not possess weapons of mass destruction or the missiles to deliver them. Iraq accepted that requirement, which has not changed, and yet it has not complied with the resolutions intended to restore the peace in the region.

Let me emphasize that we do not pursue a policy designed to injure the Iraqi people. The opposite is the case. For years the U.S. has supported and improved the UN Oil for Food program to address the humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. It works, and would work better if Baghdad cooperated with it instead of cynically obstructing its benefits for the ordinary Iraqi.

In a major effort to free up trade in civilian goods, the Bush administration and the United Kingdom proposed almost a year ago to revamp the sanctions regime to focus more sharply on prohibited dual use and military technologies. Iraq strongly opposes this effort, preferring the existing regime. But we are now close to agreement on the new Goods Review List that will guide this approach, as the Council decided unanimously late last year. This will be of great benefit to the Iraqi people, without permitting Baghdad to import goods or technologies which have a military use or which can contribute to its weapons of mass destruction programs. The deadline for implementing this new approach is May 30.

The formula is simple: unconditional compliance with Security Council resolutions. Six words. Nothing less is acceptable if Iraq wishes to take the first steps towards rejoining the community of nations. Meanwhile, as Secretary Powell said yesterday after his meeting with Spanish Foreign Minister Pique, we will continue to pursue with the UN the sanctions policy with respect to Iraq, while keeping all of our options open as to what else might be required.

Those of you who follow the Middle East will know that the Security Council met yesterday in an Open Meeting to discuss the situation in the region. And though it is not directly linked to the issues I have spoken about thus far, the issue is very much on our minds. The Middle East is a region beset with tensions that must be resolved. Perhaps only one thing is certain: violence will not beget peace. Yet, for the past year, our newspapers and our television screens have been filled with stories about tragic deaths of Palestinians and Israelis occurring every day. This situation is dangerous and could become worse and claims that the United States has been inactive in trying to help could not be further from the truth.

Our message to Chairman Arafat remains consistent. He is the only one who can eliminate the danger Palestinian extremists pose - not only to Israelis - but to the legitimate aspirations of his own people for a safe and secure future. It is impossible to move forward without a maximum-security effort on the part of Chairman Arafat.

Israel, too, has an obligation that must be met. Chairman Arafat requires an infrastructure to implement his orders. Recent actions by Israel to debilitate that infrastructure are not conducive to a sustained, effective security performance by the Palestinian Authority.

The UN established the principles of peace that ultimately will resolve this conflict long ago in the form of Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

These resolutions, which the United States endorses, enshrine the concept of land for peace. But the parties themselves will have to define and embrace the specifics, that is to say: What land? What peace? More recent Security Council discussions have been skewed, in our view, towards endorsing Palestinian perspectives. We think attempts at the UN to isolate Israel are counterproductive and have used our veto to say so. The UN will not strengthen its ability to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Middle East by taking sides. There will be no one-sided outcome to this conflict, nor will there be an outcome to this conflict that comes from the outside. The issues that matter most - in political, economic and security terms - are embedded inside the conflict.

President Bush remains committed to the U.S. vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, which responds to the aspirations of both peoples for a safe and secure future. Compromises will be necessary to get there. Here I would note the positive contribution that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's comments make to the political horizon for the region: real peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors arising from a comprehensive peace based on UNSC resolutions 242 and 338 and the principle of land for peace. The public support of several Arab states for these ideas is also important. President Bush spoke with Crown Prince Abdullah yesterday and praised his ideas regarding full Arab-Israeli normalization once a comprehensive peace agreement can be achieved.

And for now, the Mitchell and Tenet plans could lead in that direction, ending the violence and preparing the way for real political negotiations.

On the economic front, we are extremely concerned about the Palestinians' deteriorating situation. The Administration is therefore moving ahead with a 130 million dollar emergency response program that includes financing for health and job creation projects. We also are implementing over 200 million dollars in long-term infrastructure projects to help bring clean water to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and contributed $88 million dollars for Palestinian refugees.

Although no one else can bear the real burdens of peace except the parties themselves, the benefits for Arab-Israeli relations in general and the region as a whole could be enormous. And this, in turn, could open up new opportunities for the United States, our European allies, and the UN itself to cooperate in broader programs of commercial, economic and social development.

These three issues, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iraq's rejection of UN resolutions, and the war against global terrorism, are matters that require our best ideas and strongest determination. Iraq and global terrorism are both major threats to international peace and security, but the greatest danger lies in terrorism's own determination to exploit vulnerable targets or methods of destruction that could replicate or exceed the horrors of September 11. We do not want to see global terrorism succeed in employing weapons of mass destruction anywhere in the world.

In closing, I would emphasize, however, this heartening fact: we do not stand alone in the war against terror. More than 80 different nations lost citizens on September 11. NATO, the OAS, and ANZUS quickly invoked their treaty obligations to support the United States. 76 countries granted landing rights for US military operations. 23 countries agreed to host US forces involved in offensive operations.

These major commitments and demonstrations of solidarity came about because global terrorism destroys global interests. As the President said, "The attack took place on American soil, but it was an attack on the heart and soul of the civilized world." When it is not safe to fly or do business in a trade center, the community of nations must act as one.

It's as simple, and painful, as that. Yes, there is another critical agenda at the UN, but this one comes first. Fortunately, the President's decisive stand against global terrorism makes achieving the additional goals I have discussed more feasible. US effectiveness at the UN rests on the clarity and purpose of US leadership in the world. It enables us to advance our interests in the context of tangible commitment; it persuades others that we mean to defend our values and interests with real strength.

And right now there can be no doubt where the United States has focused that strength - on making sure that history records the fact that global terrorism was disabled in the early years of this century.

That's our top priority, and I am confident that we'll get it done.

Thank you very much.

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