PROUD to be an AMERICAN – July 07, 2008
Patriotism beating strong in the hearts of every true American is the strength underlying everything that makes this country great, unique and good. Upholding that patriotism is the courage to stand for American principles, even in the face of ill-informed criticism. One example is that of former Secretary of State Colin Powell speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on January 26, 2003. The theme of that year’s forum was “Building Trust”. Several of the questions asked of Secretary Powell were loaded with insinuations, but because America is a trustworthy and good nation, Powell was armed with truth and never at a disadvantage.
(In the interest of saving space here, I will leave out much, which isn’t totally necessary to this point. You can read the entire discussion at http://www.state.gov/secretary/former/powell/remarks/2003/16869.htm. It is worth reading. It exposes the mindset of some attending the forum.)
“QUESTION: Mr. Secretary of State, I’m George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, now …retired….I’ve got two questions…(speaking of Iraq)…first, do you feel that…we are doing enough…And would you not agree, as a very significant political figure in the United States…that America, at the present time, is in danger of relyng too much upon the hard power (military) and not enough upon building the trust from which the soft values (that which binds us all – human values)…?
SECRETARY POWELL: The United States believes strongly in what you call soft power, the value of democracy, the value of the free economic system, the value of making sure that each citizen is free and free to pursue their own God-given ambitions and to use the talents that they were given by God. And that is what we say to the rest of the world. That is why we participated in establishing a community of democracy within the Western Hemisphere. It’s why we participate in all of these great international organizations.
There is nothing in American experience or in American political life or in our culture that suggests we want to use hard power. But what we have found over the decades is that unless you do have hard power – and here I think you’re referring to military power – then sometimes you are faced with situations that you can’t deal with.
I mean, it was not soft power that freed Europe. It was hard power. And what followed immediately after hard power? Did the United States ask for dominion over a single nation in Europe? No. Soft power came in the Marshall Plan. Soft power came with American GI’s who put their weapons down once the war was over and helped all those nations rebuild. We did the same thing in Japan.
So our record of living our values and letting our values be an inspiration to others I think is clear. And I don’t think I have anything to be ashamed of or apologize for with respect to what America has done for the world. (Applause.)
We have gone forth from our shores repeatedly over the last hundred years – and we’ve done this as recently as the last year in Afghanistan – and put wonderful young men and women at risk, many of whom have lost their lives, and we have asked for nothing except enough ground to bury them in, and otherwise we have returned home to seek our own, you know, to seek our own lives in peace, to live our own lives in peace. But there comes a time when soft power or talking with evil will not work where, unfortunately, hard power is the only thing that works.”
Secretary Powell went on to describe September 11, 2001 as he experienced it and the days following.
“ SECRETARY POWELL: I served for 35 years as a soldier and I���ve been in combat, I fought in Vietnam for two years and was responsible for military operations in Panama, military operations in the Gulf during the early 90s and for many years I was part of the Cold War deterrence force in Korea and in Europe, especially in Germany. So I know about war. And on that morning I was in Peru talking peace, I was talking about democratic values. I didn���t go there with hard power, I went to Peru that morning with soft power. (Applause.)
We were in Peru for a meeting of the Organization of American States and we were going to sign a charter that said if you wanted to be a member in good standing of this community of democracies you have to adhere to certain basic principles, certain basic values. That���s what I was there for. And I was with President Toledo for breakfast and we were talking about trade issues. Not building up his army or anything that we were doing with our military. We were talking about trade, we were talking about textile quotas. And a note came in that said there had been an attack of some kind. It wasn���t clear. A plane had hit the World Trade Center.
It wasn���t immediately clear until the second note saying there were two planes. It made it clear it couldn���t be an accident. And as the realization of this overwhelmed me I asked my assistant to get a plane ready to return to the United States, without knowing any more. I knew I had to go home. It suddenly dawned on me what might have happened. And then more reports came in with respect to the level of damage at the World Trade Center and then the word came in that the Pentagon had been hit, and there were other planes in the air and we didn���t know where they were going. My own department, the State Department, was at risk, the White House was at risk, all of our nation���s institutions were at risk.
Before 11:00, as a plane was being readied, I went into a meeting hall. All the foreign ministers of the Americas, the OAS, 34 of the 35, assembled and expressed their solidarity with the United States and expressed their condolences for the lives lost. And by acclamation they all stood up and adopted that charter.
It took me seven hours to fly home. And during that time the thought overwhelmed me that I was back at war again. This time it was not against the Russian army on the north German plain, it wasn���t going to be along the 38th parallel in Korea. It was going to be against an enemy that had no borders, no territory, an enemy that was going to be difficult to fight, but an enemy we had to fight, not just that day but for a long period of time until we prevailed. It was going to be an enemy that was not just threatening the United States, it was threatening every civilized nation on earth. And every civilized nation on earth was going to have to come together to fight this enemy.
So for me this was a new war. And I���d be doing it not as
a soldier but as Secretary of State. I had to help President Bush bring together a powerful coalition and not be afraid of what was ahead. To deal with individuals who are terrorists, to deal with terrorist organizations, but also–we recognized early on–to deal with those states that harbor terrorism, those states that were developing capabilities, horrible capabilities, that if they fell into the hands of terrorists, would do more damage than those planes did on 9/11.
And President Bush dedicated himself, his administration, and I think every international organization in the world came together, to dedicate themselves to the proposition that in this new century with the Cold War behind us, with fascism and communism and Hitlerism all in the dustbin of history, this new enemy was just as real and we knew it would be difficult and we knew there would be days when our anxieties would well up and our fears would well up and we would be afraid to take the next step.
But we knew we would have to take that next step. And we are probably approaching one such moment now where we will have to take that next step. And history will judge us as to whether or not we have the strength and fortitude and the willingness to take that next step. (Applause.) “
To date, America has no dominion over countries outside of our borders, except that in Afghanistan and Iraq which is shared with their own elected (by the people) government officials. We are the strongest military force in the world. If we were truly building empires, why don’t we have one now?
AMERICANS SHOULD BE AND CAN BE VERY PROUD OF THEIR COUNTRY. NONE NEED EVER BE ASHAMED OR ACCEPT THE ILL-INFORMED CRITICISM DIRECTED AT US.
There is no more time to do nothing.