Speech by U.S. Ambassador to Germany Coats on the International
Campaign Against Global Terrorism
March 5, 2002
Minister President Teufel, I want to express my personal thanks
to you, as well as thanks on behalf of the President of the United
States and the American people, for your unqualified solidarity
and commitment to the United States. It is most appreciated, particularly
at this difficult time.
Marsha and I also would like to thank you for your generous and
most gracious welcome to Stuttgart today. We had a wonderful discussion
and we look forward to a good, strong relationship with you and
The American people have a relationship with the German people,
particularly of this state, that is a unique one. It has been
fostered over many years of association through our military presence,
through our business presence, and through the personal American
presence of people living here. Those bonds are deep and you reflected
that in your speech.
General Fulford and Mrs. Fulford, it's always a pleasure to see
you. As I indicated to you on the way in, you brought a lot of
'stars' along with you today. To the generals that are here, and
for all those from the European Command here tonight, both in
and out of uniform, I thank you for your presence and for your
service to our country.
State Secretary Böhmler, thank you for your welcome and for
your good words. Excellenzen, from all the German government offices
that are represented here, I am deeply grateful for your presence.
Dr. Bachteler, my thanks to the James Byrnes Institute for giving
me the opportunity to speak to you this evening.
Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren,
It is a great pleasure for us to be here at this particular time.
Your great civic institutions, your vibrant economy, your rich
cultural life, but more importantly, the people of this region,
are a precious resource and the backbone of the German-American
partnership that we are celebrating this evening.
Historically, culturally, politically, and economically, there
is so much that links Germans and Americans together. From America's
earliest years, some very prominent Americans have played a role
in building German-American friendship. Thomas Jefferson, the
writer of our Declaration of Independence, traveled to Germany
in 1788. Teddy Roosevelt, who became one of our presidents, lived
in Dresden as a young boy of 14.
Our humorist, that famous Missouri icon, Mark Twain, hiked this
region and wrote about his experiences in a book called A Tramp
Abroad, published in 1880. Mark Twain was convinced that the healthy
baths of Baden-Württemberg cured his rheumatism. But while
he was here in this region, he also complained about the Americans
who seemed, he said, to be everywhere. I quote from his writings:
"Lots of vociferous Americans at breakfast this morning.
Talking at everybody, while pretending to talk among themselves...showing
off. The usual signs -- airy, easy-going references to grand distances
and foreign places."
Well, here we are 120 years later, still with our German friends
in Baden-Württemberg. I hope though that our conduct as Americans,
120 years after Mark Twain wrote his comments, does not reflect
his observations of American conduct at that particular breakfast.
Although the historical roots of our friendship run very deep,
the relationship between our countries has not been without its
challenges. But even during the difficult days following World
War II, the commonality between the German and American people
has always been evident.
As the American historian Steven Ambrose noted, "the average
GI found that the people he liked best, identified most closely
with, and enjoyed being with were the Germans," who seemed
to so many American soldiers to be "just like us."
The Transatlantic Relationship
These are indeed once again uncertain, difficult times for the
world. But one thing is certain here this evening, in these uncertain
times. German-American cooperation, German-American partnership,
and German-American dialogue are alive and well. This relationship
between our two countries can be an example for the international
The most recent proof that the world can bridge its political
and cultural differences was the success of the Olympics in Salt
Lake City last month. What we saw exhibited at the Olympics, and
some of you were there -- including your Minister President, can
serve as an example for us all.
As President Bush said in Salt Lake City, "All people appreciate
the discipline that produces excellence; the courage that overcomes
difficult odds; the character that creates champions."
Those Olympic qualities -- discipline, courage, character -- are
the qualities that describe the steps we have taken together in
this campaign against terrorism.
The initial result from the shock and horror of September 11th
was that the basic foundations of our society and our relationship
remain strong. I know that here in Baden-Württemberg the
outpouring of support of all kinds was immense. We are profoundly
grateful for the many public and private gestures of support that
we received throughout Germany from the German people. A German
woman came up to me and said: "You were with us in our time
of need, and now, we are with you in your time of need."
And you were with us, and it was extraordinarily meaningful, and
we are deeply appreciative of that.
The coalition that rallied as a response to September 11 created
a series of flexible bilateral and multilateral relationships
-- some of them, previously unthinkable.
But the success of that coalition was built on the foundation
of the powerful tradition of transatlantic cooperation and the
strength of our relationship with good friends like Germany.
That relationship was formed by over 50 years of partnership,
a partnership that was born in the midst of a Germany that lay
in ruins after World War II. Some might say that the exact place
of birth of this new partnership was indeed here in Stuttgart
-- because it was here in Stuttgart that Secretary of State Byrnes
(as it was noted earlier this evening) delivered his famous "Speech
of Hope," offering Germans the prospect of eventual prosperity
and a return to the community of nations.
The reaction in Germany to his speech was extremely positive.
On September 7, 1946, the headline of the Stuttgarter Zeitung
was "A Day of Global Importance."
I'd like to share with you a little anecdote that I came across
because I think it reflects the attitude of the American military
and the American people toward Germany after that very difficult
period of time during the 1930s and 1940s.
In 1945, non-fraternization was simply the policy of the United
States military that said you can't associate with the German
people. The orders to our troops initially were for non-fraternization
but an army captain, posted in a small German town, became convinced
that the time had come to establish people-to-people relations
between Germans and Americans. In the summer of 1946, he decided
to establish a German-American friendship club, but the club was
criticized as a violation of existing military occupation policy
and he was ordered by his superiors to terminate the club and
he was relieved from his post.
But that army captain did not give up. Convinced of the validity
of his idea, he demanded a court martial. For Secretary Byrnes
had just said in Stuttgart, that the American people wanted to
help the German people win their way back to an honorable place
among the free and peace loving nations of the world.
General Clay, then the Deputy Military Commander of Germany, decided
that non-fraternization was no longer a practical policy. He then
not only cancelled the court martial request but added that army
captain to his personal staff with instructions to found German-American
societies and clubs throughout the American zone.
That was a very significant moment in the beginning of a new relationship
between the Americans and the Germans. The relationship that was
fostered through our military, people in uniform, has made our
current day relationship very, very special. A statement was made
earlier this evening -- that thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands
of soldiers had served here. I was astounded to learn that indeed
over 13 million soldiers and their dependents from the United
States have served and lived in Germany since the end of World
War II. Thirteen million Americans have come here, and learned
about German culture and German society, and associated with German
people. They have taken back with them to America fond memories
of their time in Germany.
I can't tell you how many people in the United States have came
up to me and said: "You are so fortunate, to be named the
Ambassador to Germany." Why? Because, they told me, we were
there in 1948, or '53, or '67, or whatever year, and it was the
best experience of our lives. We were young, we were new in a
foreign country, the German people opened their arms to us, and
we made life-long friendships. What an extraordinary story, unparalleled
to any other experience that Americans have had with a different
culture. Marsha and I are indeed fortunate to have that same opportunity.
The War on Terrorism
Thomas Jefferson, one of America's founding fathers, warned that
the "price of liberty is eternal vigilance." The lesson
of history is that to secure our liberty, we must be constantly
on guard, prepared to defend our nation, and our friends and allies,
against any new adversary. We now have a new adversary, one common
to both of our countries. And we have responded to that new threat
-- prudently, with careful planning, and with considerable success.
Just look at what we've accomplished since September 11.
President Bush has assembled a broad coalition against terror
that has become a model for diplomatic and military cooperation.
He has led this coalition with great steadiness, working with
old allies, seeking new ones, consulting every day with other
leaders, laying the groundwork for a sustained, unified and successful
Our intelligence services, law enforcement agencies and ministries,
despite the challenges posed by differing legal systems, have
made crucial advances in cooperation that will make it much more
difficult for terrorists to operate in the future.
U.S.-European leadership has played an important role in the global
effort to uncover and disband terrorist cells, to coordinate the
arrest or detention of hundreds of terrorists around the world,
to freeze millions of dollars in global assets linked to terrorist
cells. This kind of cooperation, mandated by a UN resolution,
was indeed, as President Bush said, "the first shot in the
war against terrorism."
Germany, as host for the Bonn UN conference, played a key role
in the creation of an interim administration for Afghanistan,
defying the odds and all the critics who said the warring factions
could never be brought together, that consensus in terms of establishing
an interim government in Afghanistan would never be reached. And
yet it was accomplished, and accomplished here in Germany, with
German military forces are an important part of Operation Enduring
Freedom and the Stability Force in Afghanistan. German troops
are in the Balkans, and are leading the effort in Macedonia, providing
stability to a troubled region and freeing U.S. troops for duties
There has been some criticism of the President's State of the
Union address, criticism about his use of the term "axis
of evil" in reference to three specific countries -- North
Korea, Iran and Iraq.
Europeans need to understand that Americans have been fundamentally
and irrevocably changed by the events of 9-11.
Our age of innocence, our age of invulnerability is over, after
the horror and shock of the attacks on New York and Washington.
We were privileged to be protected by two vast oceans. Our conflicts,
and the tensions and conflicts of the world, were always 'over
there.' Often we engaged 'over there' -- to support our allies,
and support our friends, and to try to bring peace and stability
to Europe and to different parts of the world. But now the attack
had come home to America, and Americans experienced something
that our European friends had experienced earlier -- the tragedy
of attack on innocent people, the tragedy of the events on September
11 in New York and Washington.
Our European friends need to understand that we are resolved and
determined to do everything in our capability, everything humanly
possible to prevent a future attack. President Bush has unprecedented
support from Congress and the American people. There is no division
on this issue in America, except for a very small minority of
the intellectual left and the press, but the President has said,
and he is right, that we will not, we cannot, wait for future
attacks before taking action.
Some people have said that we need to give peace a chance. But
the reason why we must take preventive action is that the terrorist
threat is real. It is global, it is extensive, and it is dangerous.
And it still exists in many forms and in many ways. As we speak
here this evening, American troops, supported by troops from other
nations, are still trying to pacify Afghanistan and to defeat
Al Qaida forces -- non-Afghani Taliban forces composed of individuals
from countries throughout the Muslim world that have gathered
in a section of Afghanistan and are fighting against our troops.
Others may be in the neighboring state of Georgia. We have found
terrorist cells in many countries around the world. We know that
their efforts are directed against innocent people and symbols
of Western values. Their efforts are not designed to retaliate
for perceived injustice or for poverty, but to collapse the world
economy, promote political instability and undermine basic values,
foster fear, and threaten our very way of life.
Despite our remarkable success in Afghanistan, we know that terrorist
groups continue to operate around the world. We've recently read
of efforts, thankfully intercepted, to bomb our Embassy in Paris,
to bomb our Embassy in Singapore, in Rome. We've read about the
shoe bomber who boarded an airplane, and had it not been for the
alertness of an airline stewardess and passengers, another plane
could have been bombed and hundreds of lives could have been lost.
We have suffered and seen terrorist attacks in Africa against
two embassies, tragic attacks that cost hundreds of lives -- lives
of both Americans and of native individuals working in those embassies.
We have seen an attack on one of our ships in Yemen. And we have
seen, and intercepted, plans to attack the American Embassy and
the German Embassy in Macedonia.
And this is just what has been disclosed to the public. All of
this still continues. And so, the terrorist threat to us is real,
and it is immediate, and it is now. And it has an extra dimension
that, if for no other reason, means we must address this question
now. That extra dimension is the presence and the troubling possibility
and reality of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Since the end of the Cold War, scientists who carry knowledge
and individuals who have sold these weapons to rogue states and
rogue groups have dispersed weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear,
chemical and biological -- in many areas of the world. We know
that some states are aggressively pursuing and providing these
capabilities to other nations and potentially to terrorist groups.
North Korea, Iran and Iraq all fall in this category.
In the hands of terrorists, unimaginable consequences could result
from the use of weapons of mass destruction in a terrorist attack.
While the image of the collapse of the World Trade Towers is still
vivid in our minds, it pales in comparison to what we would have
experienced and what we would have seen had weapons of mass destruction
been aboard those planes on September 11.
President Bush has challenged the world to respond to this threat.
Our President speaks candidly and very directly, without ambiguity,
but he speaks the truth. Faced with this threat to our very existence
and the values that we hold dear, we must respond now and not
wait for the next terrorist attack.
"Axis of evil" was not a casual, spontaneous phrase.
It was carefully designed to force the world to face the reality
of the threat and to prompt a response. Not unlike what Ronald
Reagan said when he described the former USSR as an "evil
empire." That also provoked cries of outrage -- in the press,
in diplomatic circles, from governments, even among our Allies
-- but the Russian people heard the message and it focused their
attention on the leadership of their totalitarian regime.
We are thankful to be living at a time when we have seen the collapse
of a totalitarian system that suppressed millions of lives for
so many years.
President Bush's message will be heard by the people of North
Korea, Iran and Iraq.
Think back to the "Speech of Hope" in October 1946.
Secretary Byrnes himself told a delegation of U.S. Senators in
Paris: "The nub of our program was to win the German people...
It was a battle between us and Russia over minds..." Over
the thoughts, over minds -- and that, I believe, is what President
Bush is attempting to do.
Our response does not automatically mean military action. People
have jumped to conclusions that are not warranted at this time.
After Afghanistan, we should all realize that while our President
speaks very directly, he acts with prudence and patience and careful
planning and consultation with friends and allies, including Germany.
He only acts after considering all the alternatives.
As he said on his visit to South Korea, we want a peaceful solution
regarding North Korea. We're willing to talk, but why has North
Korea not responded to our offer to sit down and talk and resolve
these issues? Our Secretary of State Colin Powell has said, "We
will meet with the North Koreans anytime, anywhere."
With regard to Iran, the President has stated that no military
action is anticipated. We are trying to reach out to moderate
factions in Iran to change their perception of the Ayatollah Khameini
and his Muslim religion funded regime, the regime of a theocratic
ruler with minority support from Iranians but total totalitarian
control of the majority in that country. The vast majority of
people in Iran understand and agree with the "non-negotiable
demands of human dignity" that the President expressed and
listed in the State of the Union address: "the rule of law,
limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property,
free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance." This
is what we seek and this is what we are fighting for.
Despite press reports to the contrary, no presidential decision
has been made about a military attack on Iraq. There has been
talk about resuming the inspections, the regime that Iraq, in
accordance with the UN resolution, agreed to after the end of
the Persian Gulf War, but then denied access to UN inspectors.
We are now asking for access again, for a verifiable, independent
inspection regime, under the auspices of the United Nations, that
calls Saddam Hussein on his bluff, basically by saying, if what
you're saying is true, then allow our people to come in and verify.
We cannot, and we will not, tolerate the current rule of terror
and the deployment and development of weapons of mass destruction
that is occurring now in Iraq. We cannot wait until Iraq commits
a new outrage.
In all of this, we need Germany's support and we need Europe's
support. I think we all agree that the threat is very real and
that the development and the pursuit of weapons of mass destruction
is a fact. European nations can address this fundamental problem
through their contacts with Iran, Iraq and North Korea. We can't
do this alone. We can't win this war on terrorism alone. We need
cooperation and intelligence - and cognition in the areas of law
enforcement, border patrol, and finance. All of these are critical
to rooting out terrorist cells in Europe, and beyond.
And to those who ask if we cannot take alternative action, short
of force (and of course, force is always our last resort, not
our first), we ask -- if everything else fails, what are we then
to do against states that harbor terrorists and that aggressively
pursue weapons of mass destruction? What is the alternative? Are
we to wait for a new attack before we take further action?
We don't have to agree on every point, every strategy, but I think
it is important to keep our disagreement within the family --
because we are a family -- rather than have it conducted via the
In conclusion, let me say that skeptics to the contrary, both
European and American governments have and can respond with unforeseen
energy and focus -- and indeed find common ground.
When our principles coincide, we can find flexible solutions to
the distinctive differences in our legal and political systems.
From diplomacy to law enforcement, these relationships, unnoticed
in normal times, are the glue that makes the transatlantic relationship
A recent editorial in the Wall Street Journal put it very well:
"Ultimately, the U.S. and Europe share a common set of political
and social values, as well as vital economic ties, built up over
3 centuries of interdependence. No in-house dispute...should ever
be allowed to change that."
President Bush, Secretary of State Powell, UN Secretary Kofi Annan
have all said repeatedly that out of this evil can come good,
that the potential for international cooperation across a broad
range of issues has never been greater.
They have talked about hope -- in a different context perhaps
than Secretary of State Byrnes 55 years ago, but just as valid.
Since the establishment of the first German-American friendship
clubs in the American Zone years ago, institutions like the Byrnes
Institute, have been places where we've been able to meet and
discuss issues of importance. I'm certainly grateful, most grateful
for the opportunity to be here with you this evening and to speak
about an issue that is of vital importance to the future of our
two countries, to the future of Europe and the future of the world.
I thank you for your patience.
Meine Freunde, vielen Dank.