On the heels of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to the United States, Energy & Environment Program Associate Director Mihaela Carstei joins CTV to discuss the Keystone Pipeline project that would transport tar sands oil from Canada and the northern United States to refineries in the Gulf coast of Texas.
On September 21, Atlantic Council Chairman Senator Chuck Hagel delivered the keynote speech at the POW/MIA Recognition Day Ceremony held at the Pentagon.
Full transcript of the event can be found here. Senator Hagel's keynote is below.
FORMER SEN. CHUCK HAGEL, R-NEB.: Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
To my friend who is one of our nation's exceptional public servants, Ash Carter, thank you. Thank you for your continued service and your most generous introduction.
Admiral Winnefeld, thank you for your continued service and leadership at a vital time in our world and our nation's history.
To the active duty men and women in uniform, thank you all for what you continue to do, the sacrifices you make and the family sacrifices that are always the most difficult part of service in the military.
And especially to those we not only honor today but recognize and thank, our former POWs, their families, our MIAs and their families. We are grateful. You have continued to help shape a nation. And you have given inspiration and guidance and grace to a nation.
We live at a very complicated, combustible, uncertain and dangerous time. The military and those who serve in the military understand that as well or better than any citizen.
When we assess the world today and we see the dark clouds that hang over the world, it is easy to essentially walk away or even give up at certain times in certain places.
(PLANE FLIES OVERHEAD)
But over the history of this republic, those who have served our country in uniform is a group of people and their families who never did. Each generation is faced with sets of challenges. That is not new. The complications of those challenges and different challenges is new. But for a society, for a culture, for a country to not only be successful but have a future and take on the responsibilities of leadership, it is critically important to have institutions where you're citizens can place their trust, their confidence and their hope.
Today, the U.S. military is the one institution in this country by any metric that still enjoys overwhelming support, confidence and trust of the American people. No other institution in America can say that.
That is a result of generation after generation after generation of commitment, to what Ash Carter noted in his -- quoting my friend and former colleague John McCain said, what any POW has said, believes, lived, continues to say: If there is anything more important in a society than to anchor that society with a belief in something greater than ones self interest in the future for your children, for your family, for the world, I don't know what it is.
This institution, the military, all who sacrifice and serve daily, who have done that for years and through wars have built that institution that still anchors more than ever confidence and trust in our -- our free people, in our free society, and not only how we serve that society but how we keep that free society. Imperfect issues, problems, like all institutions, the world is imperfect. People are imperfect.
But it is the POWs and their families, MIAs, those who serve who constantly remind this country of what's good, of what's strong, what's vital, what's decent. In spite of all the problems, in spite of all the imperfections, you build relationships around the world, you build relationships with each other connecting the common interest of people.
When you really analyze civilizations and people, we're not all that different. Maybe we believe in different gods, we come from different tribes, we are forged as a result of different influences, but in the end, at least this former United States senator has never seen anywhere in the world -- and I've been to a lot of countries -- any society, any culture, individuals who don't basically believe in the same thing: family, future, your children.
And often we tend to dismiss that understanding and we allow ourselves and our countries and our policies to drift and be consumed with and dominated by and dictated by differences.
The fundamental lessons that our former POWs have always brought to our country, and I think to the world, is a reminder of a decency that is the connecting glue of a society, the decency of people, the decency to each other, the respect and dignity that each individual in the world deserves, regardless of your philosophy about governments or about religion.
That vital common denominator is -- is the very, very glue that connects a society. And when POWs and their families sustain years of separation, having nothing but belief in each other, and when the MIAs and their families have the same, and when men and women serve in the military all over the world separated from their families for so long, that is the vitality of a society. Imperfect.
And when you think about a world that now has 7 billion global citizens, those 7 billion global citizens will grow to 9 billion or 10 billion, all living in a global community, underpinned by a global economy, we are now all part of that community. We cannot separate ourselves from that community.
And when the great issues of our time are to be debated, need to be debated, and all of our citizens have an opportunity to look at our country and where we want to be, it's so vitally important that our leaders remember that whatever policies they develop, they decide, those policies must always be worthy -- must always be worthy of the sacrifices of our men and women and their families in uniform.
That -- that is the central, the core responsibility of our leaders.
Our men and women who went to war, especially the wars post-World War II -- had nothing to do with making policy. They understood up front that they would serve this country and they would carry out the policies of an elected democracy, a representative government.
That is an astounding leap of faith in your country. That's an astounding leap of faith in your leaders. And we have done that pretty well for 250 years.
We have made mistakes. Great powers make mistakes.
POWs, MIAs, their families also remind us of great power limitations, and a rather cursory study of history reminds us of that as well. And that demands wise leadership, that demands a time when we come together as a nation.
And as I have noted, when Americans look -- and I think a great deal of the world -- look at examples of that, institutions that build on that, I don't know of an institution more central to that than our armed forces.
And who are our armed forces? Our armed forces are men and women and their families. That's the blood, the fiber of who America is.
So today, thank you for this opportunity. It's an honor for me. It's a privilege for me to thank you, and note and recognize what you've done for America and the world.
God bless you all. Thank you.
On May 22, the Atlantic Council's Cyber Statecraft Initiative will hold a discussion on the history of cyber critical infrastructure protection in recognition of the 15th anniversary of Presidential Decision Directive 63 (PDD-63).
On May 30, the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center will release a new issue brief, The Kaleidoscope Turns Again in a Crisis-Challenged Iran, a discussion of Iran’s upcoming presidential elections.
From June 13-14, the 2013 Wrocław Global Forum will bring together over 350 top policy-makers and business leaders to explore the region’s impact as an actor in Europe, as well as its crucial role in the transatlantic partnership and on the global stage.