to Prague Atlantic Student Summit
Prague, Czech Republic
November 20, 2002
4:40 P.M. Local Time
Thank you all very much for that warm welcome. It's an honor to be here in Prague,
home to so much of Europe's history and culture, and the scene of so much courage
in the service of freedom. After the recent floods, I know it's been tough on
the citizens of the Czech Republic to not only recover, but to host this important
gathering. So, on behalf of all the American delegation and all the Americans
who are here, I express our gratitude for the fantastic hospitality we received.
We thank the Czech people and their leadership for working hard to make sure
this summit is a successful summit, and we wish them all the very best.
I want to thank Jimmy for his kind words. Really proud of Jimmy and we're proud
to have him at West Point. He's a credit to the Academy, he's a credit to the
people of Lithuania. And we wish him all the very best.
I want to thank Alan Lee Williams, Antonio Bores Cavallo, for the tremendous
work at the Atlantic Treaty Association. I'm grateful to Christopher Makins,
who's the President of the Atlantic Council of the United States, for organizing
this event. I want to thank Tom Dine, President of Radio Free Europe and Radio
Liberty, for joining us. I want to thank all the good folks who work there for
joining us, as well. I appreciate your service.
Dwight Eisenhower said this of Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty -- "The
simplest and clearest charter in the world is what you have, which is to tell
the truth." And for more than 50 years, the charter has been faithfully
executed, and it's the truth that sets this continent free.
I'm honored to be traveling with members of my senior staff. The Secretary of
State of the United States Colin Powell, who's done such a fantastic job for
our country and for world peace. Condoleezza Rice, who's my National Security
Advisor, is here; Chief of Staff Andy Card; Ambassador Nick Burns to NATO. A
few others who I don't particularly want to recognize for fear of damaging my
reputation. (Laughter.) But all of them doing a great job. Thank you all for
I also want to recognize members of the Congress who are here. I'm thrilled
to see members of the Senate. I thought you were voting. (Laughter.) But Senators
Frist and Voinovich and their wives are with us. I see Lantos -- yes -- good
to see you from California. Who else? That's it. Two members of the House, two
members of the Senate. Thank you all for coming. I'm honored you're here.
This NATO summit that convenes tomorrow will be the first ever held at the capital
of a Warsaw Pact. The days of the Warsaw Pact seem distant -- they must seem
to you; after all, the Warsaw Pact ended a half a lifetime ago for you. It was
a dark and distant era. The years since have brought great challenge and great
hope to all of the countries on this continent. And tomorrow in Prague we will
have reached a decisive moment, and historic moment. For, tomorrow, we will
invite new members into our alliance. It's a bold decision -- to guarantee the
freedom of millions of people.
At the summit, we'll make the most significant reforms in NATO since 1949 --
reforms which will allow our Alliance to effectively confront new dangers. And
in the years to come, all of the nations of Europe will determine their place
in world events. They will take up global responsibilities, or choose to live
in isolation from the challenges of our time.
As for America, we made our choice. We are committed to work toward world peace,
and we're committed to a close and permanent partnership with the nations of
Europe. The Atlantic Alliance is America's most important global relationship.
We're tied to Europe by history; we are tied to Europe by the wars of liberty
we have fought and won together. We're joined by broad ties of trade. And America
is bound to Europe by the deepest convictions of our common culture -- our belief
in the dignity of every life, and our belief in the power of conscience to move
And this city and town squares across the Czech Republic are monuments to Jan
Hus who said this: "Stand in the truth you have learned, for it conquers
all and is mighty to eternity." That ideal has given life to the Czech
Republic, and it is shared by the republic I lead.
America believes that a strong, confident Europe is good for the world. We welcome
the economic integration of Europe. We believe that integration will extend
prosperity on both sides of the Atlantic. We welcome a democratic Russia as
part of this new Europe, because a free and peaceful Europe will add to the
security of this continent. We welcome the growing unity of Europe in commerce
and currency and military cooperation, which is closing a long history of rivalry
and violence. This continent, wounded by Nazism and communism, is becoming peaceful
and secure and democratic for the first time. And now that the countries of
Europe are united in freedom they will no longer fight each other and bring
war to the rest of the world.
Because America supports a more united Europe, we strongly support the enlargement
of NATO, now and in the future. Every European democracy that seeks NATO membership
and is ready to share in NATO's responsibilities should be welcome in our Alliance.
The enlargement of NATO is good for all who join us. The standards for membership
are high, and they encourage the hard work of political and economic and military
And nations in the family of NATO, old or new, know this: Anyone who would choose
you for an enemy also chooses us for an enemy. Never again in the face of aggression
will you stand alone.
A larger NATO is good for Russia, as well. Later this week I will visit St.
Petersburg. I will tell my friend, Vladimir Putin, and the Russian people that
they, too, will gain from the security and stability of nations to Russia's
west. Russia does not require a buffer zone of protection; it needs peaceful
and prosperous neighbors who are also friends. We need a strong and democratic
Russia as our friend and partner to face the next century's new challenges.
Through the NATO-Russia Council we must increase our cooperation with Russia
for the security of all of us. Expansion of NATO also brings many advantages
to the Alliance, itself. Every new member contributes military capabilities
that add to our common security. We see this already in Afghanistan -- for forces
from Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia and others have joined
with 16 NATO allies to help defeat global terror.
And every new member of our Alliance makes a contribution of character. Tomorrow,
NATO grows larger. Tomorrow, the soul of Europe grows stronger. Members recently
added to NATO and those invited to join bring greater clarity to purposes of
our Alliance, because they understand the lessons of the last century. Those
with fresh memories of tyranny know the value of freedom. Those who have lived
through a struggle of good against evil are never neutral between them. Czechs
and Slovaks learned through the harsh experience of 1938, that when great democracies
fail to confront danger, greater dangers follow. And the people of the Baltics
learned that aggression left unchecked by the great democracies can rob millions
of their liberty and their lives.
In Central and Eastern Europe the courage and moral vision of prisoners and
exiles and priests and playwrights caused tyrants to fall. The spirit now sustains
these nations through difficult reforms. And this spirit is needed in the councils
of a new Europe.
Our NATO Alliance faces dangers very different from those it was formed to confront.
Yet, never has our need for collective defense been more urgent. The Soviet
Union is gone, but freedom still has enemies. We're threatened by terrorism,
bred within failed states, it's present within our own cities. We're threatened
by the spread of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons which are produced
by outlaw regimes and could be delivered either by missile or terrorist cell.
For terrorists and terrorist states, every free nation -- every free nation
-- is a potential target, including the free nations of Europe.
We're making progress on this, the first war of the 21st century. Today more
than 90 nations are joined in a global coalition to defeat terror. We're sharing
intelligence. We're freezing the assets of terror groups. We're pursuing the
terrorists wherever they plot and train. And we're finding them and bringing
them to justice, one person at a time.
Today the world is also uniting to answer the unique and urgent threat posed
by Iraq. A dictator who has used weapons of mass destruction on his own people
must not be allowed to produce or possess those weapons. We will not permit
Saddam Hussein to blackmail and/or terrorize nations which love freedom.
Last week Saddam Hussein accepted U.N. inspectors. We've heard those pledges
before and seen them violated time and time again. We now call an end to that
game of deception and deceit and denial. Saddam Hussein has been given a very
short time to declare completely and truthfully his arsenal of terror. Should
he again deny that this arsenal exists, he will have entered his final stage
with a lie. And deception this time will not be tolerated. Delay and defiance
will invite the severest of consequences.
America's goal, the world's goal is more than the return of inspectors to Iraq.
Our goal is to secure the peace through the comprehensive and verified disarmament
of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. Voluntary, or by force, that goal will
To meet all of this century's emerging threats from terror camps in remote regions
to hidden laboratories of outlaw regimes, NATO must develop new military capabilities.
NATO forces must become better able to fight side by side. Those forces must
be more mobile and more swiftly deployed. The allies need more special operations
forces, better precision strike capabilities, and more modern command structures.
Few NATO members will have state-of-the-art capabilities in all of these areas;
I recognize that. But every nation should develop some. Ours is a military alliance,
and every member must make a military contribution to that alliance. For some
allies, this will require higher defense spending. For all of us, it will require
more effective defense spending, with each nation adding the tools and technologies
to fight and win a new kind of war.
And because many threats to the NATO members come from outside of Europe, NATO
forces must be organized to operate outside of Europe. When forces were needed
quickly in Afghanistan, NATO's options were limited. We must build new capabilities
and we must strengthen our will to use those capabilities.
The United States proposes the creation of a NATO response force that will bring
together well-equipped, highly ready air, ground and sea forces from NATO allies
-- old and new. This force will be prepared to deploy on short notice wherever
it is needed. A NATO response force will take time to create and we should begin
that effort here in Prague.
Yet, security against new threats requires more than just new capabilities.
Free nations must accept our shared obligations to keep the peace. The world
needs the nations of this continent to be active in the defense of freedom;
not inward-looking or isolated by indifference. Ignoring dangers or excusing
aggression may temporarily avert conflict, but they don't bring true peace.
International stability must be actively defended, and all nations that benefit
from that stability have a duty to help. In this noble work, America and the
strong democracies of Europe need each other, each playing our full and responsible
role. The good we can do together is far greater than the good we can do apart.
Great evil is stirring in the world. Many of the young here are coming up in
a different world, different era, a different time, a different series of threats.
We face perils we've never thought about, perils we've never seen before. But
they're dangerous. They're just as dangerous as those perils that your fathers
and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers faced.
The hopes of all mankind depend on the courage and the unity of great democracies.
In this hour of challenge, NATO will do what it has done before: We will stand
firm against the enemies of freedom, and we'll prevail.
The transatlantic ties of Europe and America have met every test of history,
and we intend to again. U-boats could not divide us. The threats and stand-offs
of the Cold War did not make us weary. The commitment of my nation to Europe
is found in the carefully tended graves of young Americans who died for this
continent's freedom. That commitment is shown by the thousands in uniforms still
serving here, from the Balkans to Bavaria, still willing to make the ultimate
sacrifice for this continent's future.
For a hundred years place names of Europe have often stood for conflict and
tragedy and loss. Single words evoke sad and bitter experience -- Verdun, Munich,
Stalingrad, Dresden, Nuremberg and Yalta. We have no power to rewrite history.
We do have the power to write a different story for our time.
When future generations look back at this moment and speak of Prague and what
we did here, that name will stand for hope. In Prague, young democracies will
gain new security; a grand Alliance will gather a strength and find new purpose.
And America and Europe will renew the historic friendship that still keeps the
peace of the world.
Thank you for your interest. May God bless you all. (Applause.)