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USA - Germany: The Future of Transatlantic Relations and International Security Policy since September 11
Speech by William R. Timken, Jr.
Magdeburg, September 15, 2006



Mayor Czogalla,
Dr. Kuster,
Friends and members of the Magdeburg German-American Dialog Center,

I would like to congratulate the Dialog Center on its sixth anniversary and commend all those involved for your initiative and commitment, especially in the area of youth exchanges and sister city partnerships. The Dialog Center has been one of the driving forces behind the establishment of one of our newest, most dynamic sister city relationships – Magdeburg-Nashville.

Ambassador John Kornblum is with us today. It was under his watch that the Dialog Center was established. The Center remains today one of the vibrant legacies of his service to our nation, and I thank him for joining us. Let me today, on behalf of the Embassy and the Consulate in Leipzig, reinforce our support for your activities in Magdeburg and throughout Saxony-Anhalt. We very much appreciate all that you do.

It’s a pleasure to be back in Magdeburg. For Sue and me, this is our second trip since we arrived last August. Within the past year, we have spent at least 1/3 of our time on the road. We have received invitations – and accepted many of them – to participate in conferences and events like this around the country, organized by institutions like the German-American Dialog Center, on a range of topics as broad and deep as the German-American partnership.

In Western Germany, many such organizations look back on a history dating back 60 years. Here in the East, where the Cold War interrupted the German-American dialogue, traditions have had to be re-established. Given the momentous changes that have taken place in Germany since 1989, new traditions have developed throughout the network of partnership organizations – in both East and West. Creative new forms of cooperation and exchange between U.S. and German societies are among the dramatic accomplishments of sixteen years of German unity.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the White House Soviet specialist from 1989 to 1991. Looking back on those times, Secretary Rice said recently, “It does not get any better than that.” As she recalled, events that seemed impossible one day unfolded rapidly, and several days later, they seemed inevitable. The unification of Germany, the liberation of eastern Europe, the beginnings of the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union were events that many people thought would never happen.

Those were extraordinary times. It was a time when governments were challenged to transform institutions and partnerships, to realize new purposes on the basis of enduring principles. It was comparable in many ways to the postwar years when, in the wreckage of one of the greatest disasters in human history, a new world order was created.

Today, five years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, it is clear that once again we face extraordinary times. The terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon underline the challenges of dealing with a global network of extremists who are driven by a perverted vision of Islam that rejects freedom, tolerance, and all dissent.

The question before us now is whether we will have the confidence to do in the Middle East and South Asia what our fathers and grandfathers accomplished here in Europe. During and after the Cold War, an array of domestic and international institutions as well as enduring partnerships was established.
Today we require the flexibility to adapt, create new structures, and transform old adversaries into new vital partners in the war on terror.

Since Bin Laden declared war on America – not five, but ten years ago – thousands of people of all nations, religions, races and beliefs have perished as a result of his ideology of hate and murder. Terrorism affects all of us. It has brought tragedy, destruction, and grief to Bali business owners, vacationing Australian teenagers, Spanish rail commuters, and Jordanian wedding guests. This new violent Islamic extremism, as the uncovering of terrorist plots in the UK and Germany last month again reminded us, can live very close to home.

So, for Americans, as President Bush said on Monday evening, after a day of memorial ceremonies, 9/11 was more than a tragedy. It changed the way we look at the world. As the President said, “The attacks were meant to bring us to our knees, and they did, but not in the way the terrorists intended. Americans united in prayer, came to the aid of neighbors in need, and resolved that our enemies would not have the last word.”

September 11, 2001 is seen almost universally as a major turning point in world history. Around the world, there is sincere recognition of the terrible impact of the tragedy. Although there is discussion – and sometimes disagreement – about the correct course of action to make the world a safer place, there is overwhelming agreement on the need to stay united in the war of values. Democracy, freedom of opinion, and freedom of religion, in fact human life itself, are not negotiable. We believe that the long-term solution for winning the war on terror is the advancement of freedom and human dignity through effective democracy. Effective democracies honor and uphold basic human rights, including freedom of religion, conscience, speech, assembly, association, and press. This is what America stands for. This battle of ideas is the most important single, ongoing encounter in the war on terror.

More than anything else, therefore, the fifth anniversary of 9/11 is a time to look forward. The victims of September 11th were citizens of more than 90 different countries and adherents of many faiths, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. In their memory, we seek to work in a spirit of partnership with people and nations across the world to confront an ideology of hate that would characterize the world as being in the midst of a clash of civilizations. The fact is that the international community has come together in unprecedented ways to confront common threats and ease human suffering.

Our policies have had to evolve as we have gone along.

At home, President Bush is making certain, as we go forward in the war on terror, that we have sustainable means by which to gather intelligence, means that are within our laws and treaty obligations. Supreme Court rulings challenged the Administration to go to Congress to get legislation on our military commissions.

That legislation has now been submitted, to ensure that terrorists can be prosecuted for their crimes in full and fair trials. This is a constitutional process, aimed at fulfilling a fundamental responsibility of any government – to protect its citizens. This is how democracies deal with new circumstances. That’s how democracy works in America and that’s why, last week, President Bush was very open in describing how dozens of attacks have been thwarted through intelligence, police work, international cooperation and good analysis. Together with our coalition partners, we have removed terrorist sanctuaries, disrupted their finances, captured key operatives, broken up terrorist cells in America and other nations, and stopped new attacks before they have been carried out.

We all face an enemy that wantonly kills civilians, not by accident but as the target of their attacks.

The war on terrorism is the major challenge of the transatlantic partnership. Foreign and defense policies that serve only the interest of our own regions won’t work. The United States and Europe – because of our combined economic, political, and military power – have a self-interest as well as a responsibility to be active and engaged in the world.

Chancellor Merkel is providing strong, principled leadership. The President very much appreciates her contributions towards strengthening the transatlantic alliance. Germany and the United States are working closely together on a range of issues that include Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian situation, Iraq, Afghanistan, NATO and the European Union.

The United States and Germany stand side-by-side. In Germany, the U.S. maintains troops, no longer as a protection within a divided Europe, but to cooperate with a united Europe in countering the threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

American and German troops also stand side-by-side in NATO missions in Afghanistan, the Balkans, and elsewhere to protect freedom inside and outside Europe.

We face serious challenges ahead. We must continue to strengthen and adapt our strategies as our enemy evolves and adapts its tactics. We must build on our partnership capacities. We must constantly search for and find new ways to work with and support each other. Germany did just that in the security preparations for the World Cup, which featured unprecedented U.S.-German and other international cooperation. The result was of course a huge success. It’s important also that the parameters of our partnership continue to evolve. The range of the issues that concern us as global partners almost has a ripple effect – as globalization, trade, development, energy, the environment, HIV/AIDS, trafficking, and corruption become interwoven with security interests. There will be disagreement but it’s important that the search for common solutions remain constructive.

The basis for our partnership is firmly rooted in our common values and perceptions. Last week, the German Marshall Fund released the results of its annual public opinion survey examining American and European attitudes on the transatlantic relationship. This year, there was a focus on issues connected to the 9/11 anniversary and the ability of the U.S. and Europe to cooperate on international challenges like Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon capability, Islamic fundamentalism, democracy promotion, homeland security, and the role of NATO and the United Nations. The survey shows both Americans and Europeans expressing shared concern over global threats in a way that overrides short-term, partisan political judgments. In fact, Europeans and Americans see the world in very similar ways. They believe that the United States and Europe have a common agenda and a very firm basis on which to act and work together in the world. Today’s conference provides a useful opportunity to advance that work through dialogue.

Thank you.


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  U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany /Public Affairs/ Information Resource Centers  
Updated: September 2006