Atlantic Council managing editor James Joyner asks in The National Interest, "Why Should Congress and the Courts Care About Snooping If Citizens Don't?"
J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, was interviewed by Brian Todd on CNN’s Situation Room in a segment on the discovery of evidence in northern Mali that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) may have acquired surface-to-air missiles.
Atlantic Council Managing Editor James Joyner published an editorial in The National Interest arguing it's better to "trust in those charged with safeguarding our nation's secrets to do so honorably than to make every disgruntled Army private or low-level contractor a de facto national classification authority."
Senior Fellow Frederic C. Hof of the Council's Hariri Middle East Center speaks with host Scott Simon of NPR Weekend Edition about the worsening crisis in Syria and the United States' limited military and political options.
Atlantic Council Awards Dinner
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Gentlemen, good evening. We want to thank you so much for being here tonight to celebrate an epic event and a great man, who along with Chancellor Kohl led America and the world through a remarkable time with unmatched grace and wisdom. Tonight we celebrate that leadership.
In this room with us we have leaders from 54 countries, including four formers heads of state and 46 current ambassadors to the United States, and two dozen chief executives of global businesses. We also have with us 14 congressmen and senators, 21 members of the Obama administration, including the secretary of defense and the national security advisor, as well as a Supreme Court justice.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Ladies and gentleman, I’m Mika Brzezinski and I work alongside this stunningly superficial former congressmen and Republican every morning whether my father likes it or not. (Laughter.) Where are you, Dad? Where are you – in the middle there – that’s good. I’m glad he’s here tonight – except for the few times when my father and Joe Scarborough are together on the air, our show does try to embody the bipartisan ethos of the Atlantic Council every morning.
We became actively involved in the council last year when we joined as members. Council president Fred Kempe has kind of a weakness for the chattering classes. Fred, as you know, was an editor and associate publisher of the Wall Street Journal Europe, a columnist and a reporter, and he was kind enough to wave the letters of nomination for us but he didn’t wav the membership fee; thanks, Fred.
We are honored to be here and to be your host tonight. You know, Fred, we still would’ve booked you, but thank you for having us. Every year this event celebrates the leadership in the Atlantic community and tonight we’re going to honor five individuals: President George H.W. Bush, Chancellor Helmut Kohl for their extraordinary international leadership in ending the Cold War and reunifying Germany; General David Petraeus for a distinguished military leadership; Sam Palmisano for a distinguished business leadership; and Thomas Hampson for artistic leadership.
Carefully chosen by the Atlantic Council board and international advisory board, they each have a track record of deep commitment to the trans-Atlantic community and demonstrated excellence and service in their field.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: You know, Mika, so many people feel at home tonight, including myself. As I look across the room, I see so many colleagues and friends from my years in Washington. Of course, as you said before, one or two make me a little nervous.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Oh no.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Like Dr. Brzezinski, but you’re father’s been a member of the Atlantic Council, right?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Yes, Dad, you’ve been a member of the Atlantic Council international advisory board. My father will be honoring Helmut Kohl later this evening.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And Mika and I consider it to be a particular privilege to be here tonight, to be part of an evening that honors one of my great heroes and I know many a hero of many people in this room tonight. I talk of course about a man who inspired me and so many others to public service, President George H.W. Bush.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: We want to thank you all for being here tonight as we celebrate the historic anniversary, 20th anniversary, of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 60th anniversary of the NATO Alliance. To me and the Brzezinski family – represented here tonight not just by myself but my brother Mark and his wife Natalia. With our Eastern European roots, the importance of these events and what they mean today cannot be underestimated.
It is my privilege to introduce to you one of the men who represents what is best about Washington, Senator Chuck Hagel. (Applause.) A two-term senator from Nebraska, he’s a man who’s always transcended party politics and has been a leader in the trans-Atlantic community. He’s been wildly successful as a businessman and is now a Georgetown professor.
Eager and committed to serving this great country and just simply doing the right thing, he’s a person who didn’t have to reach across the aisle because he rarely seemed to notice there was one there in the first place; he just wanted to get the job done.
We are proud that Senator Hagel announced on “Morning Joe,” live on the air, his election as the new Atlantic Council chairman earlier this year. And in his usual modesty and good humor, he downplayed the importance of this selection to replace General Jim Jones, who is also here tonight and has become the national security advisor.
After all, Hagel said, how could a former buck sergeant replace a general? (Laughter.) He failed to mention his two Purple Hearts. Needless to say, it’s an honor to be here tonight to present to you the Atlantic Council 2004 distinguished International Leadership Honoree and new Atlantic Council chairman, Senator Chuck Hagel.
CHUCK HAGEL: Thank you, thank you. Good evening, welcome, it’s good to see Scarborough with a tie; he doesn’t often wear ties. You probably watch the show each morning and elucidate, educate, inform yourself with the wit and commentary of Joe and Mika and we are very pleased that they have agreed to be the ring leaders –and those who keep us on time and structured tonight – so, thank you.
The Atlantic partnership has been over the last almost 65 years the one anchor of stability in the world. This special partnership that the Atlantic Council represents is as important and relevant today as it’s ever been, and maybe it will be even more important and relevant than what it has accomplished over the last 65 years. Tonight we celebrate that special partnership; we celebrate it in many ways but in one particular way. And that is to honor individuals who have strengthened the Atlantic partnership, have enriched it, have made it even more important and relevant over the years.
President Bush has been, throughout his life an important part of this relationship; Helmut Kohl, who devoted so much of his time as chancellor to West Germany to this partnership. The three others that we represent, each in their own way, have contributed to this partnership. And so for those reasons we gather tonight, and because of those reasons, you are here tonight and we thank you for that. I also want to pay particular attention to and thank personally three predecessors of mine who have led the Atlantic Council for more than a dozen years, three remarkable individuals who have each contributed at their own time, in their own way.
They are here tonight – my immediate predecessor who is busy doing other things – General Jim Jones as well as General Brent Scowcroft – (applause) – two individuals who have exceeded all expectations in every capacity that they have served in. And I don’t know of two who’ve contributed more to our country and to our world than Generals Jones and Scowcroft.
The third individual I want to recognize is Ambassador Henry Catto. Henry Catto, and you may applaud Ambassador Catto – (applause) – is also one of those unique leaders who has served his country in many capacities and we are much enriched for his service and particularly this organization. Obviously, on behalf of the Atlantic Council, I wish to thank our sponsors, in particular our diamond and principal sponsors listed in the program – and also our host sponsors, Lockheed Martin, MSNBC and SAS because they have led the corporate effort, individual effort to underwrite this evening, which we are grateful for. Of course, our honorees who you will hear from tonight, we are very proud of, and you will hear them introduced and you will hear the reasons they have been selected to be our honorees.
Now, let me introduce you to the leader, the real leader of this institution, this organization for which he and his colleagues who serve with him in the Atlantic Council who have the everyday responsibility of managing this institution and strengthening it. I want you to know that we are very fortunate to have the kind of individuals that we have at the Atlantic Council and their leader is the president and CEO of the Atlantic Council, Fred Kempe – (applause) – Fred Kempe.
FRED KEMPE: Thank you very much, Senator Hagel, you may have been a buck sergeant but, General Jones, with all apologies, he seems to have some of the tendencies of his supreme allied commander. (Laughter.)
The purpose of this evening each year is to gather the Atlantic community and its global friends together to celebrate the great values for which we stand. And the awards are given in the four areas that we’ve designated policy-maker, business leader, military commander and great artist. I’m taking a lot of heat by my friends in the 4th Estate that we aren’t giving a journalist prize yet, but, as Rupert Murdoch once told me when I went on too long with him about the virtue of the Pulitzer Prize – hi Rupert, love your newspapers – (laughter) – you give yourselves enough awards anyways. (Laughter.) And I always thought the prizes in journalism were in lieu of higher salaries. (Laughter.)
I won’t list all the Atlantic Council accomplishments this year, which were considerable: building on our mission and renewing the Atlantic community for 21st century global challenges. But I do want to list just a couple of names briefly who have been absolutely central to what has been the remarkable success of the Atlantic council in the last months.
Most importantly I’m going to give you some news on four major new initiatives, and again I’ll briefly recognize those responsible for them, having traveled from as far away as Bucharest, London and one of the private apartments in this hotel. (Laughter.)
First, however, let me know acknowledge our boards of directors and the international advisory board members that are here. You’ll see their impressive names in your program; they help in countless ways every day; they are the Atlantic Council. Eighteen members of the international advisory board are here, 65 members of the board of directors – if you could all please stand and let us applaud you briefly. (Applause.)
Thank you for making my job so easy. I also want to thank, as did Senator Hagel, the Atlantic Council leadership, the program directors and their staffs and congratulate you on a remarkable year. But here’s the real news: four initiatives that say so much about where the Atlantic Council is going with its enhanced focus on global issues, energy and economic issues to build even further on its long strength for 48 years on security.
First, it is my great honor to publicly announce, the launch of our Eurasia Energy Center and the two Dinu Patriciu fellowships that are at its center. The two fellows who have been working since early this year are center Director Boyko Nitzov and Alexandros Petersen. The Eurasia Energy Center will track the crucial energy related developments of the Black Sea-Caspian region, which are of significance far beyond the region’s borders. One of the center’s primary vehicles will be an annual Black Sea energy forum – the inaugural meeting will be in Bucharest later this year.
But I want you to give your thanks for this exciting initiative to Dinu Patriciu, an impressive and visionary business leader, thinker and Atlanticist, a member of the Atlantic Council’s international advisory board and chairman of Rompetrol Group. He has provided support to staff the new Center with its two fellows. Dinu, if you could stand so we can thank you for your service and dedication and for making the trip from Bucharest. (Applause.)
Second, and to be announced on this stage for the first time, it is my distinct honor to announce for the first time publicly the launch of the Michael Ansari Center for Atlantic-African Partnership. Nowhere in the world could more determined U.S. and European common cause make more difference. The center’s purpose will be to act as a think tank and a “do-tank” to produce cutting-edge thinking about the continent’s highest priorities and then proactively drive initiatives with measurable results about Africa’s most urgent challenges.
This initiative was a direct result of General Jones’ chairmanship of the Atlantic Council. He just kept pestering me until we got it going. As many of you know, General Jones has been a crucial voice about the strategic importance of Africa. If you could for just one second honor for us the person who is behind the center, or deepest gratitude for this initiative goes to our new board director, Michael Ansari, founder of the center. It will be named after Michael. (Applause.) If you could stand, Michael.
Michael is just the kind of board member you want, a remarkably successful, reflective in principle and thus realist founder, chairman, president and CEO of MIC Industries, and for a very good reason, he also was bestowed the rare title of Honorary Marine by the commandant of the United States Marine Corps. Michael, we thank you for your service to the Atlantic Council, and more important, to the United States. (Applause.)
Third – and I’ll be done quickly – third, it is my honor to announce our new South Asia Center, which was launched in January. As you see, there’s a lot of action going on here. Nothing is more important to the Obama administration now in foreign policy than getting Pakistan and Afghanistan right. So it’s impossible to miss the importance of that center. After working these issues in regard to Pakistan and Afghanistan, we now have inaugurated it to give it greater attention.
Our initial work has focused on Pakistan and Afghanistan, but we’re going to go much more broadly than that. India, Bangladesh and also looking at he influence of Iran, of the Gulf, of China and Central Asia. We’re delighted to acknowledge founding members of the center who are here today. I wish you to recognize here Izat Majid (ph), who flew in from London as a principal sponsor of tonight’s event, Muslam Lakani (ph), who is co-chair of tonight’s event, as well as Frank Islam. Thank you very much, gentlemen, if you could stand briefly so we could honor you. (Applause.) Thanks.
Fourth and finally, our global business and economics program. We launched this program parallel to perhaps the biggest economic and financial dislocation of our lifetimes. Its director is Alexei Monsarrat, who has come to us from the State Department, his deputy, James O’Connor. Thanks go here in particular to the support of General Scowcroft; thanks are also due to Deutsche Bank and our IAB member, Joe Ackerman, who, unlike many bankers, just had his contract extended yesterday for three years.
General Scowcroft has provided invaluable support for our strategic advisor’s group, together with Tom Enders of Airbus, the CEO of Airbus and IAB member and Ralph Crosby of EADS, a member of our board. But at this point – and this is very important, if you just could quiet for one second, because at this point, and on behalf of the Atlantic Council staff, we want to thank you, General Scowcroft – we want to thank you, General Scowcroft, in a much larger sense, for the many things you’ve done over the years for the Atlantic Council, seldom taking credit. (Applause.)
General Scowcroft is a man who doesn’t blow his own horn, much like the president you served so well, we’re honoring tonight, so the consensus is that we’re going to blow your horn for you. We owe you so much of tonight’s success, but that’s just the latest demonstration of your ongoing consistence and visionary commitment to the Atlantic Council. Please stand, General Scowcroft, so we can thank you. (Applause.)
Finally, and this is lastly, I’m going to single out one individual at the Atlantic Council who leads an absolutely remarkable team in stunningly successful fashion. In a difficult economic year, this is the most successful awards dinner in the history of the Atlantic Council, both in terms of attendees and funds raised. As such, this evening is the most visible manifestation of her and her team’s success. Anna Eliasson Schamis, vice president for development and external affairs. Anna, please join me on the stage and take some applause from this audience. (Applause.)
ANNA ELIASSON SCHAMIS: Thank you, Fred. I actually only have one purpose here, and that’s to thank all of you. Thank you most deeply from all the staff at the Atlantic Council for your supportive commitment, without which we could not do our important work or perform our mission. At this time of economic challenge, your commitment is a reminder of the friendship and trust you’ve given us, and we work hard every day to honor that. For these reasons, I want to give a strong round of applause to yourselves. Please join me. Thank you, all of you.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: You know, Mika, we had asked Senator Hagel to announce past Atlantic Council winners and honorees, but you know, the senator –
MS. BRZEZINSKI: He refused.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Well, he’s humble.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: He wouldn’t do it.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: He is a humble man. For good reason, because – let’s give a big round of applause to our past Atlantic Council honorees, and let’s begin with Senator Chuck Hagel.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: General Colin Powell, who is here tonight – in fact, they’re all here tonight.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: General Colin Powell. General Powell got one?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Yes, he did.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: They will give these to anybody.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Yes.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Also General Scowcroft.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Ah, very nice. He’s got a great book out. Steve Schwartzman.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: General Jones, past honoree also.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: And Rupert Murdoch, past honoree.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Rupert Murdoch. All right. As you know, the Atlantic Council each year gives four awards to recognize the four pillars of the transatlantic relationship, for policy, business, military and artistic leadership. Now, we’re going to start tonight with the arts. As you know, music is universal. It’s an inherently personal form of the human expression which creates nonverbal ties that can transcend social and cultural, religious and also geographical and political divides. As Victor Hugo so aptly wrote, music expressed that which not – cannot be said, on which it is impossible to be silent. Let’s introduce the man who is going to introduce the 2009 Distinguished Leadership Honoree, Thomas Hampson.
Kareem Dale will be introducing him. Kareem, once of Chicago and also founder of the Dale Law Group. He’s now in the White House as a special assistant to President Obama for the arts and culture. He also has the huge task of advising President Obama on disability policy. The position on arts policy in the White House is actually a new one, and Mika, it is so important, and I think it’s an important signal from President Obama about the importance of the arts, not only to this country, but to the world. You know, there have been staff members assigned to culture under past presidents, but they were usually in the first lady’s office. So this was a very big deal, and as it was said when Kareem was named, a big step forward in connecting culture with mainstream government policy.
Now, after Kareem introduces the winner of the council’s distinguished artist award, rather than giving a speech, he’s going to perform, and it’s his gift to all of us as one of the world’s greatest baritones, and if you’re not silent at your tables at any point in this evening, we know you will be then. (Applause.) In fact, I would sing right now to silence you, but it would have the opposite effect, I’m sure. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Kareem Dale.
KAREEM DALE: Thank you, thank you so much. Thank you for that great introduction. At the White House, as we always like to say, we love MSNBC. For far too long in this country, arts have been the program that is cut when things get difficult. For far too long in this country, arts have been an afterthought. For far too long in this country, arts have been treated as second class, and arts have not been viewed as integral to educating the youth of tomorrow. And for far too long, the arts have not been considered integral to building a prosperous and viable society.
But the change that the president and the first lady talked about so eloquently during the campaign and during the transition and now in the administration, that change extends to the arts as well. Change is here, as evidenced by the establishment of a position focused exclusively on the arts. Change is on the horizon, as demonstrated by the president’s continually and repeatedly mentioning the arts in education and healthcare speeches. Change is here, as illustrated by the awarding of the Library of Congress award to Stevie Wonder. And change is come because of the fact that is integral to educating our youth of tomorrow. And change most certainly is evident by the fact of the awarding of $50 million to the National Endowment for the Arts in the stimulus package. (Applause.)
And that part of the stimulus is beginning to create jobs around the country, which is helping revive and rebuild and reshape our economy. And today, it is fitting with these ideals in mind that the Atlantic Council is honoring Thomas Hampson, born in the heartland of America in Elkhart, Indiana, raised in Spokane, Washington, he burst onto the scene at the tender age of 19, where he first made his opera debut. In 1984, Mr. Hampson joined the Zurich Opera, where he still performs today every year. He is a strong supporter of intercultural dialogue through song and singing, and in order to facilitate a forum for that exchange, he established in 2003 the Hampson Foundation.
He has made numerous guest appearances, including New York’s Opera, the San Francisco Opera, and the Vienna State Opera, just to name a few. And for his work he has received numerous awards, including, to name a few, the Grammy Gramophone and Echo Klassik. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. So it is my pleasure, on behalf of the president and the first lady, for his many contributions to the arts, to the Atlantic community and to the world, the Atlantic Council proudly presents the Distinguished Arts Leadership Award to Mr. Thomas Hampson. Thank you.
THOMAS HAMPSON: Good evening.
MR. : Whoops, we’re supposed to give you the award.
MR. HAMPSON: I get an award.
MR. HAGEL: Well, if no one else wants to tell you what the hell’s going on, I will. (Laughter.) It’s time for the hardware, and no one likes to get an award without some crystal or something. Tom has just been awarded our first award for the evening, which is fairly obviously, and it’s a beautiful crystal globe. But we’re going to make him sing, whether you like it or not. You will like it. So Tom, thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you.
MR. HAMPSON: All I wanted to do was say good evening. I’m going to put that up here, I’ll probably forget it – no I won’t. I am the most surprised and pleased person to be not part of this community, brought into this community tonight. I’m very grateful for this recognition, I’m very grateful to be now included in the Atlantic community, part of a life that has been part of my life for the last 25, 30 years. I want to congratulate the Atlantic Council for initiating the artistic leadership award while recognizing the arts, or more specifically, the value of arts and humanities in the larger dialogue that this very renowned and very important council has protected and proselytized, if you will, over so many years.
I’ve always taken our wonderful motto, E Pluribus Unum, very, very seriously, and it seems to me very much like Mr. Dale announced and gave us recognition and importance to this process, that the arts and humanities are a kind of diary of the individual experience. And if you read in your program that wonderful correspondence between President Bush and Chancellor Kohl, most of it is about people’s reactions.
And most of those people, if you asked them today, would forget the specific details of what happened to them on that momentous occasion when the Wall fell, and everything that was around it, but not one of them, I promise you, would forget how they felt when they realized Germany was going to be unified, or any other facet of that experience. And the fantastic thing about that is it is that very stuff of what arts and humanities are about.
It’s the blueprint of individuals. You know, Ralph Waldo Emerson said that another word for creativity is courage. We’re not the high end of the industry. We are, in the arts and humanities, a lively dialogue of the understanding of why people do, e pluribus, in unum with another, and find respect for that. I’m deeply honored, and now I would like to sing a couple of songs that are about us, here. (Applause.)
The first song has 26 verses. (Laughter.) I’m serious. And Colin Powell is going to sing the other 23. He auditioned for me out in the reception, I was very grateful, wonderful voice. So I’ll start the first three, and then, General, perhaps you can go on from there. (Laughter.)
Thank you. May I introduce to you the other half of this trans-Atlantic council team of several years, now going on 15, my dear friend and musical partner for so many years – where were you were born? (In German.) He’s a professor in Berlin, and he lives with his wife, who is the concert master of the National Orchestra in Bayern and München and has toured across this great country with me, singing American songs, as I have also toured through Europe with Wolfram singing all sorts of songs in all sorts of languages. Songs are the great metaphor of the personal experience of life. This is Wolfram Rieger. (Applause.)
The first song, as you well know, was Shenandoah, one of the great tunes and songs that we have. It’s an arrangement by a man named Steve White, who’s a friend of mine who runs the Opera Library in the San Francisco Opera. So a song is alive and well when the arrangements are. We’d like to sing now “The Boatman’s Dance,” which is one of the great American folk songs of the 19th century, made very popular by one of the icons of singing in this country, Dan Emmett, and arranged by the incredibly iconic, everlasting and, thank God, American, Aaron Copeland.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Wow.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Incredible.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Ask for one more hand, one more hand.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Should we give them another round of applause? (Applause.) When Thomas was a young man, his Spokane, Washington teacher, his voice teacher, told him this: Young man, God made you a singer, and you have the responsibility to be one. When you’re ready to accept that responsibility, call me. You were wise to follow that sage advice.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Our next honoree also has a connection to music. Now, in high school, our distinguished business honoree once played – listen to this – back-up saxophone for the Temptations when they visited his hometown in Baltimore. But he chose not to pursue that musical talent. He also turned down an offer to try out and play football for the Oakland Raiders. But even though he skipped the Temptations and even though he passed on the Oakland Raiders, this Renaissance man still did very well for himself.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: To introduce Sam Palmisano, I’m honored to welcome the most gifted statesmen and foreign-policy minds of all times. Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to President Ford and, most importantly to our honoree tonight, President George H.W. Bush. General Scowcroft also, himself, played a crucial role with President Bush and Chancellor Kohl in ending the Cold War and reunifying Germany. Now, he is perhaps one of too few wise men in Washington, a trusted and influential advisor on both sides of the aisle, around the – across the Atlantic and around the world. The Atlantic Council is fortunate in having him as chairman of their international advisory board. He also has a fabulous book out.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Fabulous, fabulous.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: You might want to get it.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Yes. Didn’t he write a book with your father?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Yes.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Okay. Can I just read the part of that book that General Scowcroft wrote?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: No. What’s wrong with you?
MR. SCARBOROUGH: I’ll read the whole thing, all right. I’m just joking, I love your father. And your brother’s here, right?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: And Natalia.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Mark Brzezinski and Natalia also here. She’s very pregnant, very great. Now, when General Scowcroft received one of the first Atlantic Council leadership awards, it was said that he was modest of manner, had immense intellectual powers, with warm humanity and with a with a seemingly boundless dedication for public service. General, you’ve inspired a generation of men and women serving in the highest ranks of political life, and for your service, we thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, General Brent Scowcroft. Thank you so much, General. (Applause.)
LIEUTENANT GENERAL BRENT SCOWCROFT: Thank you very much, Joe and Mika. I’m glad Mika said most of the nice things about me; if Joe had, I’d have been worried tremendously. It’s my great privilege tonight to introduce the recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Business Leadership Award, Samuel Palmisano, chairman, president and chief executive officer of IBM, one of the world’s largest IT companies. Especially for this audience, Sam really does not need an introduction. Now, it is frequently said, and I’ve said it, those who need those introduction are frequently the ones who crave it the most. (Laughter.)
But I know Sam as a personal friend, and I suspect he’s thinking, hurry up Brent, and please be brief. I mentioned he was a personal friend, and that leads me to a story relating to the Kennebunkport golf course, where I play once in awhile and where I frequently come across golf balls located in the most impenetrable part of the rough with a little IBM logo on them. (Laughter.)
Now, Sam disclaims ownership, but since he’s a frequent golfing partner of our other – one of our other recipients tonight, President Bush, at the Kennebunkport golf course, he is deeply suspect. (Laughter.) But what really makes me wonder, though, is why IBM, whose Deep Blue wiped-out Gerry Kasparov in chess, cannot develop a golf ball for its CEO – (laughter) – that can distinguish between a green-grass fairway or a bramble bush. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
But I digress. Most people do not know that Sam Palmisano is a local boy, if we’re allowed to include Baltimore in the greater metropolitan area. He grew up in Baltimore on the same block as Johnny Unitas. As the Baltimore Colt’s Hall of Fame quarterback, Unitas knew a lot about leadership on the gridiron, but he also obviously recognized that off the field, as he entrusted Sam to baby-sit his kids. As all the parents in this room know, finding a good babysitter is no small accomplishment, and when you have a babysitter who can play the sax, you know you’ve found a goldmine.
Sam studied at one of the finest universities in the nation, Johns Hopkins University, where he majored in history when he wasn’t playing center on the Hopkins football team. Hopkins was so impressed with Sam’s athletic talents that it gave him a scholarship for both football and lacrosse. It’s probably a good thing that the Peabody Conservatory was not a part of Hopkins at the time, or he would have ended up with a third scholarship. And I must point out that no one has ever accused Sam of playing football without a helmet. (Laughter.)
Sam began his career at IBM in 1973 and rose rapidly through its ranks. He played a key role in creating and leading IBM’s global services, building the largest and most diversified IT-services organization in the industry. He also served as a senior managing director of operations for IBM Japan. Since Sam became president of IBM in 2000 and then chairman and CEO two years later, IBM has acquired more than 100 companies, experienced record earnings per share-grow, and record cash flow and has invested more than $50 billion in R&D.
Sam has pioneered values-based management, expanded IBM’s service businesses, divested several businesses, including the PC business, to Levono, which is one of the most prominent of activities, and worked to expand IBM’s technological leadership into new areas such as green computing, virtualization and open infrastructures. He’s been a strong proponent of innovation, working with governments and businesses around the world to adapt transformative agendas.
It is an extraordinarily talented businessman and a truly great American whom we honor tonight. A global business leader and innovator, an active participant in public affairs and philanthropy, a teacher and a role model, his life has been one of vision, stewardship and leadership. For his many contributions to increasing the welfare of the global community, the Atlantic Council proudly presents its 2009 Distinguished Business Award – Leadership Award to Samuel J. Palmisano.
MR. PALMISANO: Thank you, Brent. Thank you, thank you.
SAMUEL PALMISANO [PREPARED REMARKS]:
Good evening, everyone. Thank you, General Scowcroft. And thank you to Fred Kempe, Senator Hagel and the Atlantic Council for this award.
It is a pleasure and an honor to be here tonight in this distinguished assembly, and among some of the extraordinary leaders of our age. President Bush, Chancellor Kohl, General Petraeus and Thomas Hampson have dedicated their entire lives to noble causes… from the pursuit of freedom and democracy to excellence in musical expression. Congratulations to all.
I think all of us here tonight know that we have arrived at a defining moment in history. We’ve faced a series of wake-up calls in this first decade of the 21st century – 9/11, climate change, oil, global supply chains, the global movement of work, and now the global financial crisis.
Unrelated developments? I would suggest that all of these are actually about the same subject – the reality of global integration.
We now understand that simply connecting things isn’t enough. If we don’t make our economic, technological and social systems truly systems – and by that I mean they are reliable, transparent, trustworthy and secure – then they will not be sustainable. Worse, societies may react to their disruption in short-sighted, self-defeating ways. They will recede from global trade and dialogue. They will call for protectionism. They will re-erect walls.
Some of the people here tonight know about walls. President Bush and Chancellor Kohl led the world 20 years ago in bringing down the Berlin Wall, whose anniversary we celebrate tonight. Centuries from now, that bold act of leadership will be seen as having not only reunified a nation, but ushered in a new era of global progress.
Today, the need for such expansive leadership is even more acute. Fortunately, we have some promising indications of the path forward. We have the means to make our systems smarter – the infrastructure and processes that enable physical goods to be developed, manufactured, bought and sold… services to be delivered… everything from people and money to oil, water and electrons to move… and billions of people to work and live.
Why is this happening? You will forgive me if the IBMer in me shows for a moment:
- There’s no question that a lot of this is driven by the historic advances in technology. Enormous computational power can be delivered in forms so small, abundant and inexpensive that it is being put into things no one would recognize as computers: phones, cars, appliances, roadways, power lines, clothes – and even natural systems, such as livestock, rivers, even people.
- All of these digital devices – soon to number in the trillions – are being connected through the Internet.
- And all of that data – the knowledge of the world, the flow of markets, the pulse of societies – can be turned into intelligence… because we now have the computing power and advanced analytics to make sense of it all.
Today, around the world, we see the infusion of intelligence into companies and entire industries, which is why you may have been hearing about “smart power grids,” “smart healthcare,” “smart supply chains” and the like.
And soon we will all be hearing about – and, I hope, living in – “smart cities.” Because these same capabilities are being applied to change the way our cities work.
In June, in Berlin, the same city that brought down the wall and rebuilt itself into a key European hub, IBM will convene a “smart cities” summit. We’ve invited hundreds of leaders from the world’s most innovative cities to share ideas and learn how we can make our cities smarter.
Well, to state the obvious – that’s where the people are. By 2050, 70 percent of people on Earth will live in cities. Which means that cities… more than states, provinces or perhaps even nations… are increasingly the central arena for success or failure.
And a city is a system – indeed, a city is a complex system of systems. All the ways in which the world works – from transportation, to energy, to healthcare, to commerce, to education, to security, to food and water and beyond – come together in our cities.
Which makes them a unique crucible for making our planet smarter. We have the potential – both technological and political – to make our cities more productive, more efficient, safer, more vibrant and more responsive. And it isn’t theoretical. We see aspects of smarter cities all around us. Smarter traffic in Singapore, Stockholm and Brisbane… smart grids in Houston and Malta…. smart buildings in Shanghai and Boulder…. smart public safety in New York and Chicago…. a smart bay in Galway… smart healthcare in Paris… smart food tracking in Norway.
Across the globe… in city halls, agency offices, national capitals and boardrooms… leaders are working furiously to rethink our urban ecosystems. The key, as I said, is leadership. If we are really going to drive meaningful change, we need to get smarter about how we work together.
We will have to be far more collaborative. This is not just the familiar “public and private sector” formula. It’s multi-directional, multi-stakeholder, truly global. Think about it – none of the systems I’ve mentioned is the responsibility of any one entity or decision maker. They all involve business, government, communities, all of civil society.
We also need to ensure that our regulations, policies and institutions encourage greater openness and innovation, not hinder it. We mustn’t retreat into our shells, or adopt protectionist policies. That would be to race toward the past, not toward an interconnected, intelligent future.
Both of these imperatives are things the Atlantic Council has long understood, and led. And IBM is committed to doing our part… by channeling our best thinking and technological breakthroughs to make our cities – and our companies, our industries and our planet – work better.
The world now beckoning to us is one of enormous promise. And I believe it is one that we can build – if we open our minds and let ourselves think about all that a smarter planet could be.
Thank you very much.
[END PREPARED REMARKS]
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Thank you for your thoughtful words and leadership. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re going to give you a brief break to enjoy your dinner, but stay tuned for the next round of awards. Thank you.
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Is it working?
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I’ll hold that.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: How’d I do?
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Here you go.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Want to take the knife? (Chuckles.) All right. I hope you enjoyed dinner. It’s now time for the next round of awards.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: It’s our honor to invite a true American hero to introduce the award for Distinguished Military Leadership. You know, this man is a leader who understands what our soldiers and Marines are going through in Afghanistan and Iraq. The former Marine commandant and the supreme allied commander of Europe and the former chairman of the Atlantic Council, President Obama’s national security advisor, General Jim Jones.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: General Jones now has one of the most important strategic jobs on the planet and faces unprecedented challenges at a perilous time in our history. General Jones, thank you for being here.
GENERAL JAMES L. JONES: Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. Tonight I have the high honor of introducing the recipient of this year’s leadership award, and before I do that, let me thank everyone for being here. And I would like to take a moment to recognize the extraordinary energy and leadership of Fred Kempe, who – (applause) – thank you – who despite my presence as chairman and Chuck Hagel’s volunteerism, despite both of us is going to carry the Atlantic Council into the 21st century, and he’s off to just a wonderful start. Every year that he’s been at the helm has been better than the preceding one, and so Fred, thank you very much, and Pam, whatever you’re feeding him, keep it up, because we need his energy. (Laughter, applause.) Thank you.
In addition to recognizing the honorees as well, I also would like to thank General Brent Scowcroft, who has been recognized before, but I would be remiss if I didn’t publicly recognize him as well, not only for his influence in my life as a mentor and a role model but also the vision that he had to champion the resurgence of the Atlantic Council for the 21st century, so thank you, General Scowcroft. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, the honor I have this evening is absolutely, exactly that. It is an honor. And I thought I’d start out by talking about our recipient in terms of what I’m sure he would agree with, and that is to recognize that upon graduating from the United States Military Academy, the best thing Dave Petraeus did is marry his wife Holly, who has been the backbone and the energy and the support behind his astounding military career. She’s been not only a mother, but a father and a mother for five out of the last seven years, when he’s been away. This is a lady of great, great dignity and class and great courage, and I would simply like to ask her to stand and be recognized by everybody here. (Applause.)
This summer, their son will – Steve will be graduating from MIT and will be commissioned as a second lieutenant of the United States Army to follow in his father’s footsteps, and I have – I encourage that Marine Corps recruiters also pay a trip to MIT to see if we can – (laughter) – see if we can sway him in another direction. But whatever, you can be sure that this upcoming second lieutenant is going to make a great contribution, and thank – I thank both Dave and Holly for producing such a fine young man who, despite graduating from one of our leading institutions and could do a lot of things, has chosen the United States Army as his chosen field. So congratulations, Dave and Holly, and we wish Steven well.
So 35 years ago, 2nd Lieutenant Petraeus graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, and he came upon – into active duty at a time when the all-volunteer force was still being fashioned, and Goldwater-Nichols was being implemented. And he contributed immeasurably, in many, many different ways to – towards achieving the point where he is now, at the pinnacle of his career, by serving his nation in uniform for a long period of time and by doing those things that made him, today, an indispensable part of our culture and who we are as a nation.
He’s had a career that you can – as you can see in your programs, that’s spanned over three decades. He has been the embodiment of the student, where he has excelled, where he achieved a master’s degree in international relations and also a Ph.D., so he is a doctor-general as well. And he has served in every command that you could imagine in the United States Army. But I would say that the thing that separates Dave Petraeus is that Dave Petraeus is a strategic thinker. He’s not only a strategic thinker who can have a wide-ranging appreciation for the challenges before him, but he understands and thinks about the environment that he’s in before he applies the solution to solving the problems of those environments.
Nowhere was that more evident, of course, than in Iraq, where he and under his leadership and his partnership with a very able ambassador, David Crocker, were able to put together a remarkable team that were able to apply the right pressure points, if you will, at the political and military level to cause a significant shift in the course o the development of that particular engagement. And we can thank him today, and we thank Ambassador Crocker, who is his partner for this remarkable turnaround that all have witnessed and marveled at with regard to Iraq.
But a strategic thinker who can operationalize his vision is a rare person indeed, and it means that he has the ability to understand the environment that he’s in, to analyze it and think about it before applying the strategies and the tactics that will lead towards a good conclusion. This award tonight is about leadership, and as you know, the military services value leadership and recognize leadership, perhaps above all other qualities.
In my experience in the Marine Corps, I’ve come to believe, and I think it’s true of all the other services, that we get efficiency reports, or fitness reports, however you want to call them, throughout our careers. Only one of them is put down on paper, and that’s the one that is delivered by our seniors, who look down on us and judge us by the performance – judge the performance of our duties and codify it by putting it on paper.
But there are two others that may even be more important, and the second one is the judgment of the peer group. This is a group that you go through life with, you start out, in Dave’s cases, at West Point. You go through life with these comrades in arms. They know you. They know how you are, they know what your values are, they know if you’re good, they know if you’re not good, they know if you’re sincere, they know if you’re not, they know if you’re courageous, they know if you’re not.
And then there’s a third group that you can never fool, and that is the soldiers. You’ll never, ever fool the troops, and that is the ultimate report card that’s not codified, it’s not written down anywhere, but it’s there. And in order to be successful, obviously, you have to be able to have favorable report cards from all three of those groups. Dave Petraeus is one of those rare individuals that gets solid A’s from all three. His incredible career, where he’s had significant commands 11 times in his career, has prepared him for the duties which his country has put on his very capable shoulders.
First, in Iraq and now with the greater responsibility for the United States Central Command, Dave Petraeus, in my book, is not only a soldier, he’s a statesman, and he embodies those qualities that allow us to sit back and be comfortable in knowing that regardless of the degree of difficulty of the task, regardless of the challenge, that if Dave Petraeus is in charge, you can be sure that he’s going to apply the wisdom of his academic learning, the operational experience that the United States Army has given him in incredible jobs over 35 years all to the greater good of the success of the United States and our friends and allies who have relied so much on the very skill – the very developed skills of this outstanding American.
And for his many contributions to national security in his long service to this great nation, for his stellar leadership as commander of Multi-National Forces Iraq at a crucial time during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and for his current strategic leadership as commander of the United States Central Command, the Atlantic Council of the United States proudly presents its award for distinguished military leadership to General David Petraeus. (Applause.)
GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS: Well, good evening and thank you all for that very kind welcome. General Jones, thanks for the kind introduction and thanks especially for recognizing my wife, Holly. She has, indeed, been father as well as mother for five of the last seven years and done a heck of a lot more over the 35 years – 35 great years – that we’ve been married, since meeting at West Point. I do want you to know it was a blind date that caused me to meet the superintendent’s daughter. (Laughter.)
If I could in turn, General Jones, I want to thank you for the tremendous work that you have done – that you did in four decades in uniform, that you then did as the chairman of this great council and also as the special envoy for Mid-East security and that, of course, you’re now doing as the national security advisor. I think I can speak for everyone here in saying that our country is fortunate to have someone with your experience, intellect, leadership ability and judgment in the West Wing of the White House at such a critical time. Thanks for all that you have done. (Applause.)
And before going further, I also want to add my congratulations to the other honorees tonight, and especially, frankly, to President Bush and Chancellor Kohl and the very well-deserved recognition they will receive this evening. Generations of citizens around the world remain grateful to them for the critical roles they played in helping to bring the Cold War to an end, and it is great to see them being saluted this evening as we also celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 60th anniversary of NATO. (Applause.)
I know you’re out there somewhere, Mr. President, but these lights are a little bit glaring. (Chuckles.) Actually, as I do look out or try to look out at the audience tonight, I see an extraordinary number of individuals who helped provide the leadership that guided us through the decades of the Cold War – not just American leadership, either, but from both sides of the Atlantic. And seeing them, I thought it might be fun to recall a story from the good old days, from the time before the wall came down and the Warsaw Pact collapsed.
Some of you will remember the summer of 1980, in fact, when the Soviet Union proudly hosted the Moscow Olympics. The Soviet leader at the time, Leonid Brezhnev, was, despite advanced age and poor health, determined to give the speech that would welcome the world to Moscow in the 1980 summer games. As the story goes, the big moment had arrived. The stadium was full and the crowd was ready. Brezhnev was helped out of his chair and supported by an aide under either elbow as he moved to the massive podium set up at Central Lenin Stadium.
His aides placed his hands on either side of the podium, put on his reading glasses, opened his speech to the first page and stepped back. Gripping the podium hard, Brezhnev looked down, studied the page intently and proclaimed, “Ooh.” Hearing this, his aides rushed forward, fearing that he was going into cardiac arrest. Brezhnev saw them, straightened up, motioned them back, refocused, looked down intently, re-gripped the podium and again groaned, “Ooooh.” (Laughter.)
Horrified, the aides once more began to move forward. Just then, Brezhnev’s speechwriter shooed them out of the way, moved to the Soviet President and whispered in his ear, Mr. President, that’s the Olympic logo, the speech starts here. (Laughter, applause.) Those were the days, weren’t they? (Laughter.) Well, thanks for laughing. You know the deal. I’m only as good as the material they give me. (Laughter.) Needless to say, I am most grateful for the honor accorded me this evening by the Council.
I hasten to add, however, that I can only accept this award, inasmuch as I do so, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of troopers who, day after day, don Kevlar helmets and body armor, strap themselves into a cockpit or take to the sea and perform complex missions against tough enemies in challenging conditions to do what our country has asked of them. (Applause.) Thank you. Of course, behind the tremendous performance of these troopers from all the nations involved is the commitment of countries and international organizations to important missions.
And tonight, I’d like to underscore very briefly, the importance of the commitment of NATO, the alliance this council celebrates, to our vitally important mission in Afghanistan. In signing on to support operations in Afghanistan, NATO nations signaled their recognition that transnational extremism poses a threat to all of us. In so doing, NATO committed its resources, its institutions and its expertise in cooperative defense endeavors, built over 60 years of partnership, to the international effort to ensure that extremists cannot re-establish safe havens in Afghanistan like those from which they launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in 9/11.
Yet, despite many accomplishments and the alliance’s best efforts, the situation in Afghanistan has been deteriorating in some areas of the country. In the view of some commentators, this has called into question NATO’s very ability and will to address today’s complex, transnational threats and to work effectively as part of a broader coalition in an effort that requires sustained, substantial commitment. Afghanistan has thus emerged as a critical challenge for NATO, and the alliance now faces a very urgent moment.
I offer that observation while noting that, with the recent announcement of the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and with the conduct of the NATO summit earlier this month, new resources have been pledged and new resolve has been demonstrated. Indeed, the United States and other NATO nations have committed substantially more troopers and additional resources to ensure that we can achieve progress in Afghanistan. As the additional elements begin deploying, we are working hard to ensure the unity of effort that is so vital in multilateral operations.
We recently dual-hatted General McKiernan, the NATO commander, making him the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan as well as the NATO ISAF commander. And in line with guidance from the recent summit, we’re working to complement the coalition train-and-equip mission with a NATO training mission in Afghanistan, just as we did with success in Iraq during General Jones’s time as SACEUR, I might add. These and other initiatives are intended to ensure that, far from being Americanized, our campaign in Afghanistan will continue to be an alliance and coalition effort.
That statement reflects clear understanding by all in the U.S. chain that progress in the effort in Afghanistan will require continued cooperation and collaboration by all engaged in it. Please let me be clear about my personal view on this, for having served in NATO assignments at many ranks, from lieutenant to lieutenant general, I am a huge believer in the importance of the alliance. As difficult as it may be, at times, to work with men and women who wear the uniforms of different countries who come from different cultures and who speak different languages, working together is vitally necessary, as all in this room appreciate.
Winston Churchill was right when he observed that the only thing worse than having allies is not having them. (Applause.) I thus applaud vigorously NATO’s commitment to confront the extremist threat that the global community faces. This commitment reflects a very important recognition – that a coalition of allies standing strong together and working side-by-side can overcome a challenge that is too big and too complex for any one country to handle on its own. And I applaud the tremendous work of the tens of thousands of troopers, North American and European, as well as those from other continents, whose skill, commitment and sacrifice over the course of our many collective efforts have been so awe-inspiring.
I can assure you that is has been the greatest of privileges to have soldiered alongside such troopers in missions of enormous importance to our individual countries and the world. And it is similarly a great privilege to join you tonight in honoring the great work that NATO, its member states, its people and this council continue to do. Thank you very much.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Thank you general for your extraordinary leadership and service to our country and for taking the time to be with us here tonight. It’s not time to introduce the final segment of our evening where we will recognize two men, two leaders, two friends who changed the landscape of Europe and did the Cold War and transformed our world.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: They weren’t alone, of course, in their efforts, there were many heroes during that time and we’re pleased to present to you a special video that we’ve produced especially for the council tonight and our honorees – and it’s narrated by Tom Brokaw.
(Begin video clip.)
TOM BROKAW: The erection of the Berlin Wall obviously was a great statement not just politically but physically about dividing off the East from the West. It was an ominous development for the world. We thought we would live the rest of our lives with the tensions that had set in after World War II and the enormous ambitions of the masters in the Kremlin.
We had lived with reality that there could a thermo-nuclear exchange and then suddenly it all began to change. There were enormous political pressures as well outside the gates of the Kremlin – the people in Czechoslovakia and Poland and Hungary – you can see that generation after generation as they came along – that they were not going to be tolerating the kinds of conditions that were being imposed on them.
You couldn’t have created in many ways a better working-class hero than Lech Wałęsa. They once described him as a shipyard electrician who short-circuited the Soviet system. As he built the pressure from the ground up in Poland and in Czechoslovakia Václav Havel was almost typecast for that country. He was a cultural and artistic hero, he showed enormous courage in standing up for human rights in Czechoslovakia and just at the right time they had two men who gave voice to that.
And then of course there was something else that happened; a polish cardinal became the pope. The military pressures of trying to keep up with the United States with the Strategic Defense Initiative – and Ronald Reagan coming to power as a president of the United States – determined to make not just a rhetorical stand against the idea of communism – but his entire career as a successful politician had been based in large part on: This will not stand.
RONALD REAGAN: Tear down this wall.
MR. BROKAW: And Gorbachev coming into power at that time, was not wedded to the policies of the past – so all the forces came into alignment at the right time. General Powell and Brent Scowcroft are both military men but they’re also great students of diplomatic power – and they had grand vision about how the world could be. I went to Berlin, two days before the Wall fell –
MR. : The Wall as we have known it since 1961 can no longer contain the East German people.
MR. BROKAW: And when they came through that Wall they came from the darkness into the light – they came from one solar system into another, and they were all German people.
That was a very delicate time – George Bush did not make an address to the country – he was very laid back in his observations and his reaction to it.
PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: I think a lot of Germans who have felt pent in and unable to move are going to say, look, we can move, but wouldn’t it be better to participate in the reforms that are taking place in our own country?
MR. BROKAW: And they did that deliberately because they didn’t want to make it more difficult for Gorbachev than it already was.
Even after the Wall fell in November 1989, it was by no means certain that Germany would be peacefully united a year later, a member of the European Union and NATO and then the Soviet Empire collapsed a year after that. The Cold War was over – President Bush and Chancellor Kohl led the reunification of Germany from the West. No one had a greater vision or more imagination about how Germany could be reunited again than Helmut Kohl.
President George H.W. Bush was a man who had a driving determination to see peace return. By honoring President Bush and Chancellor Kohl, the council recognizes their exceptional leadership at a dangerous and exceptional time.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: The first great leader that we’re honoring here tonight unfortunately couldn’t be with us this evening. President Bush called him “the greatest European leader of the second half of the 20th century.” In a phone call between President Bush and Chancellor Kohl in 1989 the two leaders discussed the important movements and reforms in Eastern Europe. With the friendship that had been developed between these two men was evident as well as you read those transcripts.
The called ended with greetings to their spouses and Chancellor Kohl having this insight for President Bush at this historic movement. Tell Barbara to save her money; I intend to send her sausages for Christmas.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: In that same phone call Kohl also described the Polish situation and he said this: “The reforms in Poland are moving ahead. They have a new government with fine people, they are too idealistic with too little professionalism – many of their professionals have spent the last couple of years in prison, not a place where one can learn how to govern. They are committed to democracy and market economics, we must help them. By the way you can read the texts of these phone calls in your programs afterward, they’re fascinating.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: The man here to introduce him today knows a little bit about governing and leadership and free thinking. He was for decades a strong supporter of the East German dissident movements as well as for democracy, freedom and human rights in the Eastern Bloc. He is also known –
MS. BRZEZINSKI: I wrote this part –
MR. SCARBOROUGH: – once in a while, to speak his mind with stunningly profound clarity. He was the National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter, he is a member of the Atlantic Council’s International Advisory Board. It is a great honor for me personally to introduce Mika’s father, Dr. Zbig Brzezinski, Dr. Brzezinski.
ZBIGNIEW K. BRZEZINSKI: Good evening, Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen. I am genuinely thrilled and moved to be able to present on behalf of the Atlantic Council, the leadership award to Chancellor Helmut Kohl. But in doing so, let me confess to you right off that I will be repeating something that I spontaneously said some years ago, but in very different circumstances as you will see.
I was attending an international conference on peacekeeping and security threats and I was one of the speakers and so was the, former chancellor Helmut Kohl. When it came time for me to speak, I very spontaneously and without much premeditation started off by saying that, first of all I really want to pay tribute to the most important European who in late ’80s and early ’90s together with President Bush, shaped a new Europe, ended the Cold War, did it with determination but also finesse and with a sense of historical vision.
I recalled that Kohl was unyielding and yet not antagonistic in insisting that Germany be truly reunified and enjoy genuine freedom. And once that happened he then next took a historically unprecedented step on behalf of the then reunified Germany; he recognized unconditionally the then-still-new German-Polish frontier created after the end of World War II by taking away a large slice of Germany, awarding it to Poland in compensation for territories that the Soviet Union had taken from Poland.
East Germany, under Soviet tutelage, had recognized that frontier, but West Germany had not. Kohl had the vision, the foresight, the statesmanship to realize that there could be no reconciliation between Germany and Poland unless the past was forgotten, the future was mutually assured and shared, and he reached out to the Poles. And that took enormous political courage, and it paved the way for something which is as important as what was accomplished by one of his earlier, great German predecessors, Chancellor Adenaeur, who together with de Gaulle promoted Franco-German reconciliation which ended the European civil war in Western Europe.
Kohl helped to end the civil war in Central Europe between Germans and Poles, and then he struggled mightily to make certain that the newly freed Central Europe is then included in NATO, and that he did, because he had a sense of strategic vision. When I finished saying this, I sensed all of a sudden that Kohl was terribly moved, and shortly thereafter he came up to me and said, let’s have dinner tonight. I was surprised but delighted, and that evening his car came to pick me up, and to my surprise, he was in it. And I discovered, contrary to what I had expected, that we were going to have dinner together, just the two of us.
So I asked him, where are we going? This, now let me tell you, was in Beijing. He said, we’re going to an Italian restaurant. (Laughter.) Actually, I was delighted, because I like Italian food, and as we were driving away from my hotel and passing his hotel, his cell telephone rang. It was 9:15 p.m., Beijing time. He sounded alarmed, speaking in German. When he finished, he turned to me and said New York and Washington had just been bombed. That’s something you tend to remember.
I then spent the evening with him in his suite in the hotel, watching, to some extent in life-time, what was happening here in Washington. And I was struck again by the intensity of his feeling that America was attacked, that Europe had to be with America, that this was a payback moment to Americans for what they did for the Europeans which was sincere and genuine. I was profoundly moved. I am proud to be able to repeat this tonight, and I am very honored to salute a great European who has done so much for the future of Europe. Thank you.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: If Horst Teltschik could please come to the stage, thank you. Chancellor Kohl, because of health reasons, was not able to travel. Accepting the award for Chancellor Kohl is Horst Teltschik, his national security advisor, who participated in every step, in every historic step of the way that Dr. Brzezinski outlined. Horst, it’s an honor to have you here with us, thank you for making the trip.
HORST TELTSCHIK: Mr. President, secretaries, senators, your excellences, ladies and gentlemen, I am very moved receiving the Atlantic Council’s award for my former boss, Chancellor Dr. Helmut Kohl, whom I served for 19 years as foreign policy and security advisor. Chancellor Helmut Kohl deeply regrets that he cannot be here this evening, where he could have met so many good friends over many years: first of all his great friend, George Bush, and many of his great team; above all, my good friend and counterpart Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor at that time and Bob Gates, his deputy, who was a note-taker like me during the first phone call between Chancellor Helmut Kohl and President Bush after the Wall had come down; not to forget Secretary Jim Baker, who unfortunately cannot join us this evening.
Chancellor Helmut Kohl has asked me to convey this message to you:
“Dear George, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen, caused by a very bad accident which still prevents me from traveling, I deeply regret not being able to participate in your marvelous event, missing the opportunity to meet so many old friends.
“Twenty years ago, George, when we both looked much younger, a revolution started. It was from the very beginning a peaceful one. And we should recall the results: Germany was reunited, all neighboring countries had agreed, even Margaret Thatcher.” (Laughter.) “Germany got back its full sovereignty after 45 years. The German-Polish border had finally been settled, the Warsaw Pact peacefully disbanded; 500, 000 troops left Central Europe.
“The East-West conflict had ended and with it the bipolar world. Europe was not divided anymore. The Soviet Union broke up into 15 sovereign states; the communist ideology is gone. We signed the most far-reaching arms-control and arms-reduction agreements. New democracies and market economies were developing. Ladies and gentleman, that’s all; what a miracle.
“It happened because of a unique political and personal constellation: Solidarność in Poland, our friends Németh Miklós and Horn Gyula in Hungary, the courage of our common friend Michael (ph) Gorbachev, the people in the GDR and because of the unrestricted support of our American friends – above all from you, George, and your great team. Thanks for all your trust in us. Thanks for your great friendship. The Germans and I will never forget what you have done for Germany and for Europe.
“I would like to thank the Atlantic Council for the award. It is a great honor for me. I congratulate my old friend, George, all the best to you and my warmest regards to Barbara. Congratulations to General David Petraeus and Chairman Samuel Palmisano on the award. I’m sorry to miss the artistic honoree Thomas Hampson, who took the best decision how to unite our both people having married a charming Austrian lady close to Germany. (Laughter.)
“I would like to thank all of you for joining us and wish you all a great evening – Helmut Kohl.”
Let me add just one sentence. My friend Brent Scowcroft once told me that in 1989, ’90 in the White House, they sometimes held their breath recognizing what Chancellor Kohl and his team were doing, but they didn’t interfere because of the mutual trust and ongoing mutual briefings. It was one of the best times in German-U.S. relations. Thank you all for that. God bless America.
MR. HAMPSON: Good evening, again. I guess now, the rest of my life, whenever I walk onto a stage, I’ll hear Copeland’s “Appalachian Spring”. The next two songs I would like to sing are – (applause) – wow. Okay, I’m done, thank you very much, appreciate it. (Laughter.) It’s really a privilege, because very often, you know, you sing, you’ll ask the presenters what people like to hear, and you want to – I don’t sing for birthdays very often, so it’s not very often that I get to sing actually something that means something specific to the person that I’m singing it for the recognition.
And these two extraordinarily great gentlemen that we are honoring now, Dr. Kohl and President Bush, have in fact imparted to me songs that have meant something to them at some time in their lives, for whatever personal reason, and I think it should remain their personal reasons. So I’m very, very happy and very privileged to sing for Dr. Kohl, first, the iconic folk song, set to music by Franz Schubert in his magnificent cycle “The Winter’s Journey” called “The Lindenbaum”, a highly metaphorical song of German Romantic poetry of journey, travel, reflection of the past, confusion of the present and somehow resolving what the future could be. “Lindenbaum” by Franz Schubert.
If there was ever a guy’s song written, a man’s song, a paternal song, a father’s song, a leader’s song, perhaps a general’s song, it’s “Bring Him Home,” from Les Miserables. For you, President. Thank you very much.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And Thomas didn’t say it, but President Bush specifically asked him to perform that song tonight, and it’s just absolutely wonderful. Thank you again. Thomas Hampson. (Applause.) We have something special for you now, and we’ll just call it, Mika, a greeting from 42 to 41. Democratic President Bill Clinton and, of course, Republican President George H.W. Bush have really been great examples of political leaders by making common cause together, since the worked together on tsunami relief, and they really have been a great example to leaders of both sides. They’ve been bipartisan, and they’ve been an inspiration that many leaders in Washington would do well to follow. Ladies and gentlemen, tonight President Bill Clinton has a message for President Bush.
(Begin video clip.)
BILL CLINTON: I’m delighted that the Atlantic Council has decided to bestow its highest honor on my good friend, President George Herbert Walker Bush. Although I’d like to be there in person, I’m delighted to be able to offer you my personal congratulations in this video message. What is timely and relevant is that the Atlantic Council is giving you its Distinguished International Leadership Award on anniversaries that speak so much to your truly historic role as one of our country’s great leaders.
It’s also important, Mr. President, that you’re being recognized alongside Former Chancellor Helmut Kohl, the first elected leader of the reunited Germany that you did so much to make possible and a great friend of both of ours and one of the most important Europeans of the last 70 years. When we think about our success in having ended the Cold War without firing a shot, there’s no relationship that was more key to making that happen than the wise principle, consistently collaborative leadership, of President Bush and Chancellor Kohl. You called it then a partnership in leadership, and that it certainly was.
You’re honored tonight, President Bush, for a lifetime of public service that culminated in your presidency, but history will focus especially on your remarkable actions during this important turning point. You guided our country and its allies through the potentially dangerous and ultimately fruitful period. It brought about the fall of the iron curtain and considerable progress toward your inspirational vision of a Europe whole and free.
I also want to thank the Atlantic Council tonight because you’ve done so much good in your 48-year history, and I particularly respect your current chairmen, Senator Chuck Hagel and President Fred Kempe. We’re all delighted by the Atlantic Council’s remarkable growth, dynamism and vibrancy at a time when its mission has never been more important. Thank you for recognizing President Bush and Chancellor Kohl for all they have contributed. President Bush, to the United States, Chancellor Kohl to Germany, both to the Atlantic community and to our 21st century world.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: You may have noticed a White House memorandum in tonight’s program, and it’s a discussion between Chancellor Kohl and President Bush the day after the fall of the Wall. You may also recognize another name on that transcript, that of an unassuming note-taker, Robert M. Gates, our current secretary of defense and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency under President Bush. Now, at the time, Secretary Gates was serving as the assistant to the president and the deputy national security advisor.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: One of this country’s most distinguished public servants, and having served in both Republican and Democratic administration, Secretary Gates spent 26 years in the CIA and NSC, as well as serving in the Air Force during Vietnam. But he’s here tonight perhaps more in his capacity as a close friend of President George H.W. Bush.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to the United States secretary of defense, Bob Gates.
SECRETARY ROBERT GATES: Well, it’s an honor to be here tonight. It’s been a long evening, and it reminds me of a story that Bob Strauss told me when we were having martinis in Moscow when he was the ambassador. He talked about a dinner where there had been a lot of wine and a lot of cocktails before the dinner, and they knew they were going to have a longwinded speaker.
And the speaker got up, and he was seated at one of these – he was standing at one of these table podiums, and he began droning on and the fellow next to him, who was clearly quite drunk, finally got impatient and swung an empty wine bottle at the speaker and missed. (Laughter). And hit the chairman of the event, who was sitting on the other side, who fell to the floor, bleeding profusely. And the guy who had swung the bottle got down on his hands and knees and was apologizing, and the speaker – the chairman of the event said well, just hit me again, because I can still hear the son of a bitch. (Laughter, applause.)
So I will keep my remarks appropriately brief. And in particular, because I have to appear early in the morning with Secretary Clinton before the Senate Appropriations Committee, a fate worse than death. (Laughter, applause.) And particularly given the announcement that I made a few weeks ago about where we’re headed with the defense budget. But it is certainly interesting and humbling to look around and be in front of so many of my former bosses. Zbig Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, and of course, President Bush, a reminder, if nothing else, of what it is always like to be staff. (Laughter.)
Of course, I joined the NSC in 1974, and by that time Henry Kissinger was already in heaven and unapproachable by ordinary mortals – (laughter) – but I would tell you that all that said, one of the great things of my life has been the amazing experience to work for two incredible amazing American patriots, Zbig Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft. (Applause.)
I have many stories about both of them, but I expect to be paid for them. (Laughter.) Whenever the subject of President Bush comes up, beyond his many historic accomplishments in the national-security arena, I always come back to his extraordinary decency, his integrity and his remarkable sense of humor. One of the great privileges of my life was to be at President Bush’s side as he provided inspired leadership to a world that in a span of less than 36 months experienced the liberation of Eastern Europe, the reunification of Germany into NATO, the victory of the West in the Cold War, the first Cold War, the first Gulf War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
I remember vividly being with him at the state house in Helen, Montana and a reporter asked him the question – he was doing a press conference in the state house, and reporter asked him, well, what do you think about German reunification? And he said, well, I think Germany has changed over the last 40 years, and if the Germans want to be united, I am all for it. So I called General Scowcroft, and I said, do we have a policy on German reunification? (Laughter.) And Brent said, no, we’re kind of working that through the interagency. I said, well, you got a policy now.
And I remember being the note-taker when President Bush spoke on the phone about these matters with Chancellor Kohl. It was the afternoon of November 10th, 1989, Washington time, the day after the Berlin Wall came down, and thousands of East Germans had already begun moving freely across the border. Chancellor Kohl told President Bush that it was like witnessing an enormous fair with the atmosphere of a festival. Reflecting on that period, I later wrote, the imagination reels at the thought of a less experienced and skilled president trying to exploit the liberation of Eastern Europe or dealing with the final crisis and death throes of the Russian and Soviet empire.
As the Communist Bloc was disintegrating, it was George Bush’s skilled yet quiet statecraft that made a revolutionary time seem much less dangerous than it actually was. (Applause.) As commander-in-chief, President Bush made life and death decisions about war and peace. He cared deeply about troops chartered with caring out his orders, something that I appreciate all the more in my current post. He once said that a peaceful, prosperous international order required the leadership, the power and yes, the conscience of the United States of America, and that is as true as ever.
The truth is, I love this man. I went to Texas A&M for him, I would walk through fire for him. I would even come to a Washington, D.C., dinner for him – (laughter) – because I believe he is one of the greatest American patriots of all time. For his extraordinary leadership and many contributions for the wellbeing of his country, Europe and the world, I am pleased to present the Atlantic Council’s Award for Distinguished International Leadership to President George H.W. Bush, 41st president of the United States.
PRESIDENT GEORGE H.W. BUSH: Well, thank you all very much. And, Bob, what a pleasure to be introduced by Bob Gates, who is doing such a wonderful job for our country as secretary of defense. (Applause.)
I want to thank Mika and Joe, who are now modestly off in the corner somewhere here. There they are. They’re great people on the television and great people here tonight. And Thomas Hampson, who did that wonderful rendition of “Bring Them Home,” outstanding voice. (Applause.)
I know you think now what you need is another speech. So before I get to the matter at hand, let me simply say that it is great to be here. I bring you greetings from Barbara Bush, the “silver fox.” (Applause.)
Frankly, I’m glad she’s not here. Every place we go: “How’s Barbara? Where’s Barbara?” (Laughter.) I was the president, for god’s sake. (Laughter.)
Incidentally, she’s doing very, very well. (Laughter.) I want to salute Chuck Hagel, Fred Kempe and, of course, my dear friend, Brent Scowcroft, who Colin Powell just said, this is the eighth time you’ve been announced Scowcroft; get up there! Every time they mention his name, we’re honored and you’re well-positioned to have him take an active role in this council.
Other former colleagues are here. I want to single out former – Presidente Aznar of Spain, President Kwasniewski, who is here and, you’ve got a wonderful group of people. It would be a high honor under any circumstance to receive this leadership award from this prestigious organization, but to do so in conjunction with my respected friend and former colleague and black-belt eater, Helmut Kohl – (laughter) – is an honor I will never forget.
And, given my memory these days, that’s saying something. (Laughter.) I was so pleased to see Horst Teltschik here this evening, even though his presence here is necessitated by, you might say, unfortunate circumstances, please give the chancellor our warmest regards, Hors. I was deeply touched by the letter I recently received from him. And tell him I look forward to being with him this fall in Berlin. Of all the political leaders with whom I had the privilege of serving, few match the singular leadership and political courage that I witnessed time and again in Helmut Kohl.
When he became chancellor in ’82, the Atlantic alliance faced one of its greatest challenges of the Cold War over a decision to deploy Pershing II missiles. Shortly thereafter, President Reagan asked me to go over there to Germany as vice president to help sell the program. And I witnessed first-hand the intensity of the public opinion against it. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve had your motorcade egged in Krefeld, Germany. (Laughter.) I mean, these people were coming from everywhere.
But it’s been said that hope is putting faith to work when doubting would be easier. And at that tense time in the early 1980s, it would have been easy to doubt Germany’s ability to stay with the United States and NATO. But such doubters would have been underestimating Helmut. And, as he often did during his remarkable career, he would prove those doubters wrong. And, of course, throughout 1989 and 1990, Helmut Kohl showed uncommon vision when he seized on the fall of the Berlin Wall to work for German unification.
It wasn’t as easy back then as it seems now. In fact, I asked my friend, Francois Mitterand, who I enjoyed working with – and so did Brent and others – what do you think about German unification? He said, I like Germany so much I think there should be two of them! (Laughter.) True story.
But there was a lot of doubters back then on the prospect of uniting Germany at that time. It was not what they call a “gimme” in golf. But Helmut Kohl would not be denied. Once again, he would prove the doubters and his critics wrong and, looking back now, it’s easy to understand why my respect for him knows no bounds.
Let me add a kind word here also about Mikhail Gorbachev, who also deserved great credit for his pivotal role in shaping and facilitating the events we celebrate here this evening. (Applause.) Without Gorbachev’s understanding and vision, we might not have had such a smooth transition to a unified Germany inside of NATO. If it hadn’t been for Mikhail, I’m not entirely sure the Cold War would have ended peacefully or that Germany would have been unified within NATO or that Eastern and Central Europe would have risen from the abyss to join what is today a Europe whole and free.
As for me, I would simply like to salute the capable men and women I had at my side during four years of genuine change and challenge. Together we not only upheld the public trust placed in us; we also helped to leave the world a safer and more secure place than we found it. And the gratitude in my heart for their loyalty, their selfless service and their friendship is beyond my limited gifts of expression.
So thank you for this high honor. My sincere congratulations to the other well-deserving honorees, but, most of all, my best wishes for the continued work and success of the Atlantic Council and its vital mission.
Let me add a personal note: It’s a joy to have our son, the oldest son, the former president of the United States, back in our family, back in Texas that he loves. And I am very, very proud of him. Thank you all very much.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Ladies and gentlemen, let me just make an announcement. Will all the honorees, after the event, please come up and have your photos taken? I would like to thank you for coming. You know, Bobby Kennedy had said when he went to South Africa that few men can actually bend history. We have met, Mika, tonight, seen so many men that have done it, and because of it, they’ve made our world safer and more secure.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely, and President Bush – he just asked me – I’m going to do it, he asked me to punch him. (Chuckles.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Ow. Did he really?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Yes, he did. I did it. (Chuckles.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: All right. Thank you so much.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Thank you very much for coming tonight, and thank you, Fred Kempe, for having us.
On June 19, please join the Eurasia Center for a discussion on the IMF’s recent presentation Two Decades of Transition in Caucasus and Central Asia: Taking Stock and the Road Ahead with Dr. Juha Kähkönen, deputy director of the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia department, and the Honorable William Courtney, former US ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan and former special assistant to the President and senior director of the National Security Council staff for Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia. This event will be streamed LIVE from 10:30 a.m.
On June 24, the Brent Scowcroft Center of the Atlantic Council will host a panel discussion on the most recent claims of Chinese cyber espionage and the implications of this threat for the US-China relationship and China's ties with its neighbors in Asia.
On June 27, the Atlantic Council’s Iran Task Force will launch a new issue brief by Ramin Asgard and Barbara Slavin entitled US-Iran Cultural Engagement: A Cost Effective Boon to US National Security, along with a public briefing on people-to-people exchanges with Iran.