Cedar Rapids, IA | July 31, 2008
It's great to be back in Cedar Rapids, where we've made so many friends throughout this campaign.
This morning I met with some folks who've been devastated by the recent floods. Like so many people across the Midwest, they've seen their homes damaged, their lives turned upside down, and their future filled with uncertainty.
I've seen the flood damage here in Iowa and I've visited communities that have been devastated in my home state of Illinois. Now is the time for America to stand by those who have suffered so much, while helping them get back on their feet. We need to make sure that these communities have access to the disaster assistance that can help businesses reopen and people rebuild their lives. And we must make a firm commitment to rebuild stronger levees and higher floodwalls so that we prevent this kind of devastation instead of simply responding to it.
We know that Cedar Rapids needs more than immediate assistance, because the problems that you're facing in your daily lives go beyond this year's storms. I've often said that this election represents a defining moment in our history. You're working harder for less, and for too many Americans, the dream of opportunity is slipping away. That's why the decisions we make over the next few years will shape a generation, if not a century.
Given the seriousness of the issues, you'd think we could have a serious debate. But so far, even the media has pointed out that Senator McCain has fallen back on predictable political attacks and demonstrably false statements. But here's the problem. All of those negative ads that he's running won't do a thing to lower your gas prices or to lift up the debate in this country. The fact is, these Washington tactics do the American people a disservice by trying to distract us from the very real challenges that we face.
That starts with energy. For decades, Washington has failed the American people on energy, and that failure has led directly to our current crisis. George Bush's approach was to let the oil companies write his energy policy. Now, we can't afford four more years of more of the same. We can't afford to let dictators hold our national security hostage because of our energy dependence. We can't afford to endanger our planet because we can't shake an addiction to oil. And we can't afford more tax breaks for oil companies while they make record profits and you pay $4 for a gallon of gas.
Just today, we learned that Exxon Mobil made nearly $12 billion last quarter. Think about that – 12 billion dollars. No U.S. corporation has ever made that much in a quarter. But while big oil is making record profits, you are paying record prices at the pump, and our economy is leaving working people behind. For far too long, we've had an energy policy that has worked for the oil companies – I think it's time that we had an energy policy that worked for the American people, and that's a change that we can't wait any longer to make.
The choice in this campaign could not be clearer. Senator McCain's proposing a corporate tax plan that would give $4 billion each year to the oil companies, including $1.2 billion for Exxon-Mobil alone. He's proposing a gas tax holiday that will pad oil company profits and save you – at best – half a tank of gas over the course of an entire summer. So under my opponent's plan, the oil companies get billions more and we stay in the same cycle of dependence on big oil that got us into this crisis. That's a risk that we just can't afford to take. Not this time.
Instead of offering any real plan to lower gas prices, Senator McCain touts his support for George Bush's plan for offshore oil drilling. But even the Bush Administration acknowledges that offshore oil drilling will have little impact on prices. It won't lower prices today. It won't lower prices during the next Administration. In fact, we won't see a drop of oil from this drilling for almost ten years. While this won't save you at the pump, it sure has done a lot to raise campaign dollars. Last month, Senator McCain raised more than a million dollars from oil and gas company executives and employees – most of which came after he announced his drilling plan in front of a bunch of oil executives in Houston. This is not a strategy designed to end our energy crisis – it's a strategy designed to get politicians through an election, and that's exactly why Washington has failed to do anything about our energy dependence for the last thirty years.
It's time to ease the burden on working families. That's why I support energy rebates that will provide immediate relief for the American people. You won't have to trust the oil companies to pass the savings on to you – you will get these rebates directly.
We do need to bring down gas prices, and as President, I will. It's time to crack down on speculators who manipulate the market. It's time to close the loopholes that allow them to game the system. It's time to make Washington work for the American people, not the special interests. That's what we can do to bring down gas prices.
And we do need to increase domestic production, and as President, I will. Right now, oil companies have access to 68 million acres where they aren't drilling, including 40 million offshore. Instead of simply giving the oil companies more, it's time to give them a choice: use the land you have, or lose access to it. If we drill in the 68 million acres that are available, we can double our domestic oil production and increase natural gas production by 75 percent.
Now if I thought that we could solve all our problems by opening up areas for drilling outside the existing moratorium, I'd be for it. But the truth is, that kind of drilling is not the answer to this crisis. America consumes 25 percent of the world's produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3 percent of the world's proven oil reserves. Even more drilling will leave us with a permanent oil deficit, while we'd still be dangerously energy dependent. I don't want to look up in four years and see that oil companies and OPEC still have our economy in their grip. We can't have a policy that tinkers around the margins while going down an oil company's wish list – it's time to fundamentally transform our energy economy so that it works for the American people. My plan makes that change, my opponent's doesn't, and that's the clear difference in this election.
My energy plan will invest $150 billion over the next ten years to establish a new American energy sector, and Senator McCain's won't. We'll create up to five million American jobs – good jobs, jobs that can't be outsourced. And we'll help American manufacturers – particularly in the auto industry – convert to green technology, and help workers learn the skills they need to stay ahead in the global economy.
I've supported investments in alternative energy, and Senator McCain has opposed them. And as President, I'll invest in renewable energies like wind power, solar power, and the next generation of homegrown biofuels. That's how America is going to free itself from our dependence on foreign oil – not through short-term gimmicks, but through a real, long-term commitment to transform our energy sector. That's what we can choose to do in this election.
We've also got to change how we use energy. I've fought for higher fuel efficiency standards in the Senate, and when I'm President, we'll double our fuel mileage standards over the next two decades. This will save America half a trillion gallons of gas – that's the equivalent of cutting the price of a gallon of gas in half. And I'll provide tax credits and loan guarantees for our automakers to help them make this transition.
Finally, one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest ways to conserve energy and use less oil is to make America more energy efficient and more competitive with the world. That's why, when I'm President, I will call on business, government, and the American people to make America 50 percent more energy efficient by 2030.
When all is said and done, my plan will create entire new industries and thousands of new businesses, while working to strengthen our national security and save our planet. These steps are not far-off, pie-in-the-sky solutions – the American people are ready to make this change. Today, there are waiting lists for fuel-efficient cars. I've seen a steel mill in Pennsylvania that has become the home of a new wind turbine factory, a small business in Nevada powered entirely by solar power, and farmers here in Iowa who are testing the new, efficient generation of biofuels that can drive our economy. Across the planet, countries like Germany and the United Kingdom have already implemented clean energy polices. Now it's America's turn to lead.
This election – at this moment in history – is too important for half-measures. We started this campaign over eighteen months ago on the steps of the old statehouse in Springfield with a simple belief that it was time for the American people to seize control of our destiny so that we could take this country in a new direction.
After I announced my run for the presidency, our very first campaign stop was right here in Cedar Rapids. It was the dead of winter. The skeptics predicted we wouldn't get very far. The cynics dismissed us as a lot of hype and a little too much hope. And by the fall, the pundits in Washington had all but counted us out.
But the people of Iowa believed that this moment could be different. You believed that Democrats, Independents, and Republicans could come together behind a common purpose. You believed that with our nation at war and our American Dream slipping away, this time, Washington had to change. That's what it's going to take to work for a new energy future. Now is the time to rise above the old politics and a broken energy policy. Now is the time to move in a bold, new direction that lifts up our economy and secures our country.
Springfield, MO | July 30, 2008
I've often said that this election represents a defining moment in our history. On major issues like the war in Iraq or the warming of our planet, the decisions we make in November and over the next few years will shape a generation, if not a century.
That is especially true when it comes to our economy.
Most of you probably know this - not just because whenever you open the paper or turn on the TV, you see reports of more job losses, more foreclosures, and prices rising at the pump, but because you feel the effects of all this every single day. You're working harder than ever to pay bills that are bigger than ever. You're driving less and saving less. You're struggling to balance work and family. You're worried about the value of your home and whether you'll be able to afford college for your kids and still retire at a decent age.
For millions of families, these anxieties seem to be growing worse with each passing day, causing many people to lose faith in that fundamental promise of America - that no matter where you come from, or what you look like, or who your parents are, this is a country where you can make it if you try.
Now, part of the reason people are struggling is due to fundamental changes in our economy. Over the last few decades, revolutions in technology and communication have made it so that corporations can send good jobs wherever there's an internet connection. Children here in Missouri aren't just growing up competing for good jobs with children in California or Indiana, but with children in China and India as well.
But what we also have to remember is that it wasn't simply globalization or a normal part of the business cycle that got us where we are today. It was irresponsible decisions that were made on Wall Street and in Washington. In the past few years, we have relearned the essential truth that in the long run, we cannot have a thriving Wall Street and a struggling Main Street. When wages are flat, prices are rising and more and more Americans are mired in debt, the economy as a whole suffers. When a reckless few game the system, as we've seen in this housing crisis, millions suffer and we're all impacted. When special interests put their thumb too heavily on the scale, and distort the free market, those who compete by the rules come in last. And when government fails to meet its obligation - to provide sensible oversight and stand on the side of working people and invest in their future - America pays a heavy price.
So we have a choice to make in this election. We can either choose a new direction for our economy, or we can keep doing what we've been doing. My opponent believes we're on the right course. He's said our economy has made great progress these past eight years. He's embraced the Bush economic policies and promises to continue them. Our country and the working families of Missouri cannot afford that.
These policies haven't worked for the past eight years and they won't work now. We need to leave these policies in the past where they belong. It's time for something new. It's time to restore balance and fairness to our economy so it works for all Americans, recognizing that we must grow together, Wall Street and Main Street, profits and wages.
That starts with giving immediate relief to families who are one illness or foreclosure or pink slip away from disaster. To help folks who are having trouble filling up their gas tank, I'll provide an energy rebate. To help hardworking Americans meet rising costs, I'll put a $1,000 tax cut in the pockets of 95% of workers and their families, including 3 million folks here in Missouri. To help end this housing crisis, I'll provide relief to struggling homeowners. And to protect retirement security, I'll eliminate taxes for seniors making under $50,000 a year.
If Senator McCain wants a debate about taxes in this campaign, that's a debate I'm happy to have. Because while we're both proposing tax cuts, the difference is who we're cutting taxes for. Senator McCain would cut taxes for those making over $3 million. I'll cut taxes for middle class families by three times as much as my opponent. Let me be clear: if you're a family making less than $250,000, my plan will not raise your taxes - not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes. And unlike my opponent, I'll pay for my plan - by cutting wasteful spending, shutting corporate loopholes and tax havens, and rolling back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.
But in this election, we can do something more than just provide short-term relief. We can secure our long-term prosperity and strengthen America's competitiveness in the 21st century. It won't be easy. It won't happen overnight. But I refuse to accept that we cannot meet the challenges of our global economy. I'm running for President because I believe we can choose our own economic destiny.
We can choose to go another four years with the same reckless fiscal policies that have busted our budget, wreaked havoc in our economy, and mortgaged our children's future on a mountain of debt; or we can restore fiscal responsibility in Washington.
We can go another four years with a broken health care system that's leaving millions uninsured, driving millions more to financial ruin, and making it harder for manufactures to compete; or we can finally solve our health care crisis once and for all. We can guarantee health care for anyone who wants it, make it affordable for anyone who needs it, and cut costs for businesses and their workers by picking up the tab for some of the most expensive illnesses and conditions.
We can choose to do nothing about disappearing jobs and shuttered factories for another four years, or we can encourage job creation in the United States of America. We can end tax breaks for corporations that ship jobs overseas and give them to companies that create jobs here in this country. We can make sure that our trade agreements work for both Wall Street and Main Street. And we can create nearly two million jobs by investing in our crumbling infrastructure and building new schools, roads, and bridges.
And if anybody tells you we can't afford to make these investments, you just tell them that if we can spend $10 billion a month in Iraq, we can invest some of that money right here in the United States of America. That's what we can do in this election. The choice is ours.
We can go another four years without truly solving our energy crisis; we can choose my opponent's plan to give $4 billion in tax breaks to oil companies at a time when they're making record profits, or we can finally make America energy independent so that we're less vulnerable to oil price shocks and $4 a gallon gas. We can invest in renewable energies like wind power, solar power, and the next generation biofuels. And we can create up to five million new, green jobs that pay well and can't be outsourced. That's what we can choose to do in this election.
We can choose to stay mired in the same education debate that's consumed Washington for decades, or we can provide every child with a world-class education so they have the skills to compete and succeed in our global economy. We can invest in early childhood education, recruit an army of qualified teachers with better pay and more support, and finally make college affordable by offering an annual $4,000 tax credit in exchange for community or national service.
These are the choices we face in November. We can choose to remain on the path that's gotten our economy into so much trouble, or we can reclaim the idea that in this country, opportunity is open to anyone who's willing to work for it.
In the end, that's all most Americans are asking for. It's not a lot. The people I've met during this campaign in town halls and living rooms; on farms and front porches - they know that government can't solve all their problems, and they don't expect it to. They're willing to do their part - to work harder and study more and replace the remote controls and video games with books and homework. They believe in personal responsibility and self-reliance. They don't like seeing their tax dollars wasted.
But they also believe in an America where jobs are there for the willing; where hard work is rewarded with a decent living; and where you can actually build a better life for your children and grandchildren. That's the promise of this country, and I believe we can keep it if we choose a new direction for our economy, a different course for our country, and get to work in the months and years ahead. Thank you.
Berlin, Germany | July 24, 2008
Thank you to the citizens of Berlin and to the people of Germany. Let me thank Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier for welcoming me earlier today. Thank you Mayor Wowereit, the Berlin Senate, the police, and most of all thank you for this welcome.
I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for President, but as a citizen - a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world.
I know that I don't look like the Americans who've previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father - my grandfather - was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
At the height of the Cold War, my father decided, like so many others in the forgotten corners of the world, that his yearning - his dream - required the freedom and opportunity promised by the West. And so he wrote letter after letter to universities all across America until somebody, somewhere answered his prayer for a better life.
That is why I'm here. And you are here because you too know that yearning. This city, of all cities, knows the dream of freedom. And you know that the only reason we stand here tonight is because men and women from both of our nations came together to work, and struggle, and sacrifice for that better life.
Ours is a partnership that truly began sixty years ago this summer, on the day when the first American plane touched down at Templehof.
On that day, much of this continent still lay in ruin. The rubble of this city had yet to be built into a wall. The Soviet shadow had swept across Eastern Europe, while in the West, America, Britain, and France took stock of their losses, and pondered how the world might be remade.
This is where the two sides met. And on the twenty-fourth of June, 1948, the Communists chose to blockade the western part of the city. They cut off food and supplies to more than two million Germans in an effort to extinguish the last flame of freedom in Berlin.
The size of our forces was no match for the much larger Soviet Army. And yet retreat would have allowed Communism to march across Europe. Where the last war had ended, another World War could have easily begun. All that stood in the way was Berlin.
And that's when the airlift began - when the largest and most unlikely rescue in history brought food and hope to the people of this city.
The odds were stacked against success. In the winter, a heavy fog filled the sky above, and many planes were forced to turn back without dropping off the needed supplies. The streets where we stand were filled with hungry families who had no comfort from the cold.
But in the darkest hours, the people of Berlin kept the flame of hope burning. The people of Berlin refused to give up. And on one fall day, hundreds of thousands of Berliners came here, to the Tiergarten, and heard the city's mayor implore the world not to give up on freedom. "There is only one possibility," he said. "For us to stand together united until this battle is won…The people of Berlin have spoken. We have done our duty, and we will keep on doing our duty. People of the world: now do your duty…People of the world, look at Berlin!"
People of the world - look at Berlin!
Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans learned to work together and trust each other less than three years after facing each other on the field of battle.
Look at Berlin, where the determination of a people met the generosity of the Marshall Plan and created a German miracle; where a victory over tyranny gave rise to NATO, the greatest alliance ever formed to defend our common security.
Look at Berlin, where the bullet holes in the buildings and the somber stones and pillars near the Brandenburg Gate insist that we never forget our common humanity.
People of the world - look at Berlin, where a wall came down, a continent came together, and history proved that there is no challenge too great for a world that stands as one.
Sixty years after the airlift, we are called upon again. History has led us to a new crossroad, with new promise and new peril. When you, the German people, tore down that wall - a wall that divided East and West; freedom and tyranny; fear and hope - walls came tumbling down around the world. From Kiev to Cape Town, prison camps were closed, and the doors of democracy were opened. Markets opened too, and the spread of information and technology reduced barriers to opportunity and prosperity. While the 20th century taught us that we share a common destiny, the 21st has revealed a world more intertwined than at any time in human history.
The fall of the Berlin Wall brought new hope. But that very closeness has given rise to new dangers - dangers that cannot be contained within the borders of a country or by the distance of an ocean.
The terrorists of September 11th plotted in Hamburg and trained in Kandahar and Karachi before killing thousands from all over the globe on American soil.
As we speak, cars in Boston and factories in Beijing are melting the ice caps in the Arctic, shrinking coastlines in the Atlantic, and bringing drought to farms from Kansas to Kenya.
Poorly secured nuclear material in the former Soviet Union, or secrets from a scientist in Pakistan could help build a bomb that detonates in Paris. The poppies in Afghanistan become the heroin in Berlin. The poverty and violence in Somalia breeds the terror of tomorrow. The genocide in Darfur shames the conscience of us all.
In this new world, such dangerous currents have swept along faster than our efforts to contain them. That is why we cannot afford to be divided. No one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone. None of us can deny these threats, or escape responsibility in meeting them. Yet, in the absence of Soviet tanks and a terrible wall, it has become easy to forget this truth. And if we're honest with each other, we know that sometimes, on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny.
In Europe, the view that America is part of what has gone wrong in our world, rather than a force to help make it right, has become all too common. In America, there are voices that deride and deny the importance of Europe's role in our security and our future. Both views miss the truth - that Europeans today are bearing new burdens and taking more responsibility in critical parts of the world; and that just as American bases built in the last century still help to defend the security of this continent, so does our country still sacrifice greatly for freedom around the globe.
Yes, there have been differences between America and Europe. No doubt, there will be differences in the future. But the burdens of global citizenship continue to bind us together. A change of leadership in Washington will not lift this burden. In this new century, Americans and Europeans alike will be required to do more - not less. Partnership and cooperation among nations is not a choice; it is the one way, the only way, to protect our common security and advance our common humanity.
That is why the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another.
The walls between old allies on either side of the Atlantic cannot stand. The walls between the countries with the most and those with the least cannot stand. The walls between races and tribes; natives and immigrants; Christian and Muslim and Jew cannot stand. These now are the walls we must tear down.
We know they have fallen before. After centuries of strife, the people of Europe have formed a Union of promise and prosperity. Here, at the base of a column built to mark victory in war, we meet in the center of a Europe at peace. Not only have walls come down in Berlin, but they have come down in Belfast, where Protestant and Catholic found a way to live together; in the Balkans, where our Atlantic alliance ended wars and brought savage war criminals to justice; and in South Africa, where the struggle of a courageous people defeated apartheid.
So history reminds us that walls can be torn down. But the task is never easy. True partnership and true progress requires constant work and sustained sacrifice. They require sharing the burdens of development and diplomacy; of progress and peace. They require allies who will listen to each other, learn from each other and, most of all, trust each other.
That is why America cannot turn inward. That is why Europe cannot turn inward. America has no better partner than Europe. Now is the time to build new bridges across the globe as strong as the one that bound us across the Atlantic. Now is the time to join together, through constant cooperation, strong institutions, shared sacrifice, and a global commitment to progress, to meet the challenges of the 21st century. It was this spirit that led airlift planes to appear in the sky above our heads, and people to assemble where we stand today. And this is the moment when our nations - and all nations - must summon that spirit anew.
This is the moment when we must defeat terror and dry up the well of extremism that supports it. This threat is real and we cannot shrink from our responsibility to combat it. If we could create NATO to face down the Soviet Union, we can join in a new and global partnership to dismantle the networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York. If we could win a battle of ideas against the communists, we can stand with the vast majority of Muslims who reject the extremism that leads to hate instead of hope.
This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets. No one welcomes war. I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now.
This is the moment when we must renew the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. The two superpowers that faced each other across the wall of this city came too close too often to destroying all we have built and all that we love. With that wall gone, we need not stand idly by and watch the further spread of the deadly atom. It is time to secure all loose nuclear materials; to stop the spread of nuclear weapons; and to reduce the arsenals from another era. This is the moment to begin the work of seeking the peace of a world without nuclear weapons.
This is the moment when every nation in Europe must have the chance to choose its own tomorrow free from the shadows of yesterday. In this century, we need a strong European Union that deepens the security and prosperity of this continent, while extending a hand abroad. In this century - in this city of all cities - we must reject the Cold War mind-set of the past, and resolve to work with Russia when we can, to stand up for our values when we must, and to seek a partnership that extends across this entire continent.
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably. Trade has been a cornerstone of our growth and global development. But we will not be able to sustain this growth if it favors the few, and not the many. Together, we must forge trade that truly rewards the work that creates wealth, with meaningful protections for our people and our planet. This is the moment for trade that is free and fair for all.
This is the moment we must help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East. My country must stand with yours and with Europe in sending a direct message to Iran that it must abandon its nuclear ambitions. We must support the Lebanese who have marched and bled for democracy, and the Israelis and Palestinians who seek a secure and lasting peace. And despite past differences, this is the moment when the world should support the millions of Iraqis who seek to rebuild their lives, even as we pass responsibility to the Iraqi government and finally bring this war to a close.
This is the moment when we must come together to save this planet. Let us resolve that we will not leave our children a world where the oceans rise and famine spreads and terrible storms devastate our lands. Let us resolve that all nations - including my own - will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere. This is the moment to give our children back their future. This is the moment to stand as one.
And this is the moment when we must give hope to those left behind in a globalized world. We must remember that the Cold War born in this city was not a battle for land or treasure. Sixty years ago, the planes that flew over Berlin did not drop bombs; instead they delivered food, and coal, and candy to grateful children. And in that show of solidarity, those pilots won more than a military victory. They won hearts and minds; love and loyalty and trust - not just from the people in this city, but from all those who heard the story of what they did here.
Now the world will watch and remember what we do here - what we do with this moment. Will we extend our hand to the people in the forgotten corners of this world who yearn for lives marked by dignity and opportunity; by security and justice? Will we lift the child in Bangladesh from poverty, shelter the refugee in Chad, and banish the scourge of AIDS in our time?
Will we stand for the human rights of the dissident in Burma, the blogger in Iran, or the voter in Zimbabwe? Will we give meaning to the words "never again" in Darfur?
Will we acknowledge that there is no more powerful example than the one each of our nations projects to the world? Will we reject torture and stand for the rule of law? Will we welcome immigrants from different lands, and shun discrimination against those who don't look like us or worship like we do, and keep the promise of equality and opportunity for all of our people?
People of Berlin - people of the world - this is our moment. This is our time.
I know my country has not perfected itself. At times, we've struggled to keep the promise of liberty and equality for all of our people. We've made our share of mistakes, and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions.
But I also know how much I love America. I know that for more than two centuries, we have strived - at great cost and great sacrifice - to form a more perfect union; to seek, with other nations, a more hopeful world. Our allegiance has never been to any particular tribe or kingdom - indeed, every language is spoken in our country; every culture has left its imprint on ours; every point of view is expressed in our public squares. What has always united us - what has always driven our people; what drew my father to America's shores - is a set of ideals that speak to aspirations shared by all people: that we can live free from fear and free from want; that we can speak our minds and assemble with whomever we choose and worship as we please.
These are the aspirations that joined the fates of all nations in this city. These aspirations are bigger than anything that drives us apart. It is because of these aspirations that the airlift began. It is because of these aspirations that all free people - everywhere - became citizens of Berlin. It is in pursuit of these aspirations that a new generation - our generation - must make our mark on the world.
People of Berlin - and people of the world - the scale of our challenge is great. The road ahead will be long. But I come before you to say that we are heirs to a struggle for freedom. We are a people of improbable hope. With an eye toward the future, with resolve in our hearts, let us remember this history, and answer our destiny, and remake the world once again.
West Lafayette, IN | July 16, 2008
It's great to be back in Indiana with such a terrific group of experts. In a few moments, we'll open this up to a discussion, but first I'll make a few comments about some of the emerging threats that we face in the 21st century, and offer some ideas about how we can face those threats.
Throughout our history, America has confronted constantly evolving danger. From the oppression of an empire to the lawlessness of the frontier; from the bombs that fell on Pearl Harbor to the threat of nuclear annihilation - Americans have adapted to the threats posed by an ever-changing world.
For most of our history, the most significant danger to our security came from states. The physical safety of our people was protected by oceans. The national security of the United States was buttressed by our economic strength, and a powerful military that answered every call. Today, the dangers extend beyond states alone to transnational security threats that respect no borders. These are threats that can arise from any part of the globe and spread anywhere, including to our own shores - dangers like pandemic disease, nuclear weapons proliferation, environmental degradation, international criminal networks, and terrorism. Of course, we have long struggled against terrorism, and in the closing decades of the 20th century, we tragically lost American lives on our soil and abroad. But it was hard to change a mindset that saw the extremism, the resentment, the terrorist training camps, and the killers as distant threats in the dark corners of the world, far away from the American homeland.
Then, one Tuesday morning in 2001, everything changed. I remember hearing the news on my car radio in downtown in Chicago: a plane had hit the World Trade Center. By the time I got to my meeting, the second plane had hit, and we were told to evacuate. People gathered in the streets and looked up at the sky and the Sears Tower. We feared for our families and our country. We mourned the terrible loss suffered by our fellow citizens in those two office towers, at the Pentagon, and in a simple field in Pennsylvania. Back at my office, I watched the images from New York: a plane vanishing into glass and steel; men and women clinging to windowsills, then letting go; tall towers crumbling to dust. It seemed all of the misery and all of the evil in the world were in that rolling black cloud, blocking out the September sun.
What we saw that morning forced us to recognize that in a new world of threats, we are no longer protected by the size of oceans or solely by our military power. In a globalized world, the power to destroy can lie with individuals - not just states. The terrorists use a world of globalization to travel freely, to transfer money, to use telecommunications to carry out their plots. On 9/11, they used our open society to kill on a terrible scale, but even more terrifying was the thought that they could get their hands on the world's most deadly technology.
Since then, we have taken many steps to strengthen our defense. Some of the most visible address the attacks - or failed attacks - that have already taken place. So after 9/11, airline security tightened and plastic knives replaced metal ones. After the so-called shoe bomber, we started having our shoes screened. After a plot detected in London to ignite dangerous liquids, we started to check our gels and shampoos.
The danger, though, is that we are constantly fighting the last war - responding to the threats that have come to fruition, instead of staying one step ahead of the threats of the 21st century. This is what the 9/11 Commission called our “failure of imagination.” And, after 9/11, nowhere was this more apparent than in our invasion of Iraq. Instead of adjusting to the stateless threats of the 21st century, we invaded and occupied a state that had no collaborative relationship with al Qaeda. Instead of taking aggressive steps to secure the world's most dangerous technology, we have spent almost a trillion dollars to occupy a country in the heart of the Middle East that no longer had any weapons of mass destruction.
It's time to update our national security strategy to stay one step ahead of the terrorists - to see clearly the emerging threats of our young century, and to take action to make the American people more safe and secure. It's time to look ahead — at the dangers of today and tomorrow rather than those of yesterday. America cannot afford another president who doesn't understand the threats that confront us now and in the future.
Today, we will focus on nuclear, biological, and cyber threats - three 21st century threats that have been neglected for the last eight years. It's time to break out of Washington's conventional thinking that has failed to keep pace with unconventional threats. In doing so, we'll better ensure the safety of the American people, while building our capacity to deal with other challenges - from public health to privacy.
It starts with the gravest danger we face - nuclear terrorism. One of the terrible ironies of the Iraq War is that President Bush used concern over this threat to invade a country that had no nuclear weapons program. In the meantime, Pakistani scientist AQ Khan was spreading to hostile nations the technology to produce nuclear weapons and the warheads to deliver them. But the fact that the President misled us into a misguided war doesn't diminish the threat of a terrorist with a weapon of mass destruction - in fact, it has only increased it.
We used to worry about our nuclear stalemate with the Soviet Union. Now, we worry about 50 tons of highly enriched uranium - some of it poorly secured - at civilian nuclear facilities in over forty countries around the world. Now, we worry about the breakdown of a non-proliferation framework that was designed for the bipolar world of the Cold War. Now, we worry - most of all - about a rogue state or nuclear scientist transferring the world's deadliest weapons to the world's most dangerous people: terrorists who won't think twice about killing themselves and hundreds of thousands in Tel Aviv or Moscow, in London or New York. And yet, despite initiatives that cost billions of taxpayer dollars, we still don't have an adequate strategy for detecting nuclear and biological materials, a problem that's being discussed at hearings in Congress today.
We cannot wait any longer to protect the American people. I've made this a priority in the Senate, where I've worked with Indiana's own Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law accelerating our pursuit of loose nuclear materials. And I'll lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials around the world during my first term as President.
But we need to do much more. It's time to send a clear message to the world: America seeks a world with no nuclear weapons. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we'll retain a strong deterrent. But we'll make the goal of eliminating all nuclear weapons a central element in our nuclear policy. We'll negotiate with Russia to achieve deep reductions in both our nuclear arsenals and we'll work with other nuclear powers to reduce global stockpiles dramatically. We'll seek a verifiable global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons. And we'll work with the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and then seek its earliest possible entry into force.
By keeping our commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we'll be in a better position to rally international support to bring pressure to bear on nations like North Korea and Iran that violate it. Both of these nations have a history of support for terror. Both should face strong and increasing sanctions if they refuse to verifiably abandon their illicit nuclear programs. And both demand sustained, aggressive, and direct diplomatic attention from the United States, and that's what I'll provide as President.
Just as we must guard against the spread of nuclear terrorism, it's time for a comprehensive effort to tackle bio-terror. We have still failed to solve the anthrax attacks that killed Americans on our soil in 2001. We know that al Qaeda was attempting to develop biological weapons in Afghanistan. And we know that the successful deployment of a biological weapon - whether it is sprayed into our cities or spread through our food supply - could kill tens of thousands of Americans and deal a crushing blow to our economy.
As President, I will launch an effort across our government to stay ahead of this threat. To prevent bio-terrorism, we need to invest in our analysis, enhance our information-sharing, and give our intelligence agencies the capacity to identify and interdict dangerous bio-weapons around the world. To strengthen our efforts with friends and partners, I've proposed a Shared Security Partnership that invests $5 billion over 3 years to forge an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to take down terrorist networks.
Just as we step up our ability to prevent an attack, we must also bolster our capacity to protect against - and respond to - the threats that may come. When it comes to bio-terror, this can mean the difference between a contained incident and a catastrophe. That's why we need to invest in new vaccines, to reduce the risk posed by those who would use disease as a weapon. That's why we must develop the technology to detect attacks and to trace them to their origin, so that we can react in a timely fashion. And to care for our citizens who are infected, we must provide our public health system across the country with the surge capacity to confront a crisis.
Making these changes will do more than help us tackle bioterror - it will create new jobs, support a healthier population, and improve America's capability to respond to any major disaster. And just as we'll find additional benefits to our action against bio-terror, we can - and must - strengthen our cyber defenses in the 21st century.
Every American depends - directly or indirectly - on our system of information networks. They are increasingly the backbone of our economy and our infrastructure; our national security and our personal well-being. But it's no secret that terrorists could use our computer networks to deal us a crippling blow. We know that cyber-espionage and common crime is already on the rise. And yet while countries like China have been quick to recognize this change, for the last eight years we have been dragging our feet.
As President, I'll make cyber security the top priority that it should be in the 21st century. I'll declare our cyber-infrastructure a strategic asset, and appoint a National Cyber Advisor who will report directly to me. We'll coordinate efforts across the federal government, implement a truly national cyber-security policy, and tighten standards to secure information - from the networks that power the federal government, to the networks that you use in your personal lives.
To protect our national security, I'll bring together government, industry, and academia to determine the best ways to guard the infrastructure that supports our power. Fortunately, right here at Purdue we have one of the country's leading cyber programs. We need to prevent terrorists or spies from hacking into our national security networks. We need to build the capacity to identify, isolate, and respond to any cyber-attack. And we need to develop new standards for the cyber security that protects our most important infrastructure - from electrical grids to sewage systems; from air traffic control to our markets.
All of this will demand the greatest resource that America has - our people. In the Cold War, we didn't defeat the Soviets just because of the strength of our arms - we also did it because at the dawn of the atomic age and the onset of the space race, the smartest scientists and most innovative workforce was here in America. For the last few months, I've talked about how America's economic competitiveness depends on education. The same holds true for our security. If we're not investing in math and science education, our nation will fall behind. And if we're not educating the best and brightest scientists, engineers, and computer programmers here in the United States, we won't be able to keep America safe.
That is the task that lies before us. We must never let down our guard, nor suffer another failure of imagination. It's time for sustained and aggressive action - to take the offense against new dangers abroad, while shoring up our defenses at home. As President, I will call on the excellence and expertise of men and women like the people here today. And I will speak clearly and candidly with the American people about what can be done - what must be done - to protect our country and our communities. Now, I'd like to turn to an open discussion.
Washington, D.C. | July 15, 2008
Sixty-one years ago, George Marshall announced the plan that would come to bear his name. Much of Europe lay in ruins. The United States faced a powerful and ideological enemy intent on world domination. This menace was magnified by the recently discovered capability to destroy life on an unimaginable scale. The Soviet Union didn't yet have an atomic bomb, but before long it would.
The challenge facing the greatest generation of Americans - the generation that had vanquished fascism on the battlefield - was how to contain this threat while extending freedom's frontiers. Leaders like Truman and Acheson, Kennan and Marshall, knew that there was no single decisive blow that could be struck for freedom. We needed a new overarching strategy to meet the challenges of a new and dangerous world.
Such a strategy would join overwhelming military strength with sound judgment. It would shape events not just through military force, but through the force of our ideas; through economic power, intelligence and diplomacy. It would support strong allies that freely shared our ideals of liberty and democracy; open markets and the rule of law. It would foster new international institutions like the United Nations, NATO, and the World Bank, and focus on every corner of the globe. It was a strategy that saw clearly the world's dangers, while seizing its promise.
As a general, Marshall had spent years helping FDR wage war. But the Marshall Plan - which was just one part of this strategy - helped rebuild not just allies, but also the nation that Marshall had plotted to defeat. In the speech announcing his plan, he concluded not with tough talk or definitive declarations - but rather with questions and a call for perspective. "The whole world of the future," Marshall said, "hangs on a proper judgment." To make that judgment, he asked the American people to examine distant events that directly affected their security and prosperity. He closed by asking: "What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done?"
What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done?
Today's dangers are different, though no less grave. The power to destroy life on a catastrophic scale now risks falling into the hands of terrorists. The future of our security - and our planet - is held hostage to our dependence on foreign oil and gas. From the cave-spotted mountains of northwest Pakistan, to the centrifuges spinning beneath Iranian soil, we know that the American people cannot be protected by oceans or the sheer might of our military alone.
The attacks of September 11 brought this new reality into a terrible and ominous focus. On that bright and beautiful day, the world of peace and prosperity that was the legacy of our Cold War victory seemed to suddenly vanish under rubble, and twisted steel, and clouds of smoke.
But the depth of this tragedy also drew out the decency and determination of our nation. At blood banks and vigils; in schools and in the United States Congress, Americans were united - more united, even, than we were at the dawn of the Cold War. The world, too, was united against the perpetrators of this evil act, as old allies, new friends, and even long-time adversaries stood by our side. It was time - once again - for America's might and moral suasion to be harnessed; it was time to once again shape a new security strategy for an ever-changing world.
Imagine, for a moment, what we could have done in those days, and months, and years after 9/11.
We could have deployed the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan.
We could have secured loose nuclear materials around the world, and updated a 20th century non-proliferation framework to meet the challenges of the 21st.
We could have invested hundreds of billions of dollars in alternative sources of energy to grow our economy, save our planet, and end the tyranny of oil.
We could have strengthened old alliances, formed new partnerships, and renewed international institutions to advance peace and prosperity.
We could have called on a new generation to step into the strong currents of history, and to serve their country as troops and teachers, Peace Corps volunteers and police officers.
We could have secured our homeland—investing in sophisticated new protection for our ports, our trains and our power plants.
We could have rebuilt our roads and bridges, laid down new rail and broadband and electricity systems, and made college affordable for every American to strengthen our ability to compete.
We could have done that.
Instead, we have lost thousands of American lives, spent nearly a trillion dollars, alienated allies and neglected emerging threats - all in the cause of fighting a war for well over five years in a country that had absolutely nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.
Our men and women in uniform have accomplished every mission we have given them. What's missing in our debate about Iraq - what has been missing since before the war began - is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq and its dominance of our foreign policy. This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe.
I am running for President of the United States to lead this country in a new direction - to seize this moment's promise. Instead of being distracted from the most pressing threats that we face, I want to overcome them. Instead of pushing the entire burden of our foreign policy on to the brave men and women of our military, I want to use all elements of American power to keep us safe, and prosperous, and free. Instead of alienating ourselves from the world, I want America - once again - to lead.
As President, I will pursue a tough, smart and principled national security strategy - one that recognizes that we have interests not just in Baghdad, but in Kandahar and Karachi, in Tokyo and London, in Beijing and Berlin. I will focus this strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
My opponent in this campaign has served this country with honor, and we all respect his sacrifice. We both want to do what we think is best to defend the American people. But we've made different judgments, and would lead in very different directions. That starts with Iraq.
I opposed going to war in Iraq; Senator McCain was one of Washington's biggest supporters for war. I warned that the invasion of a country posing no imminent threat would fan the flames of extremism, and distract us from the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; Senator McCain claimed that we would be greeted as liberators, and that democracy would spread across the Middle East. Those were the judgments we made on the most important strategic question since the end of the Cold War.
Now, all of us recognize that we must do more than look back - we must make a judgment about how to move forward. What is needed? What can best be done? What must be done? Senator McCain wants to talk of our tactics in Iraq; I want to focus on a new strategy for Iraq and the wider world.
It has been 18 months since President Bush announced the surge. As I have said many times, our troops have performed brilliantly in lowering the level of violence. General Petraeus has used new tactics to protect the Iraqi population. We have talked directly to Sunni tribes that used to be hostile to America, and supported their fight against al Qaeda. Shiite militias have generally respected a cease-fire. Those are the facts, and all Americans welcome them.
For weeks, now, Senator McCain has argued that the gains of the surge mean that I should change my commitment to end the war. But this argument misconstrues what is necessary to succeed in Iraq, and stubbornly ignores the facts of the broader strategic picture that we face.
In the 18 months since the surge began, the strain on our military has increased, our troops and their families have borne an enormous burden, and American taxpayers have spent another $200 billion in Iraq. That's over $10 billion each month. That is a consequence of our current strategy.
In the 18 months since the surge began, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated. June was our highest casualty month of the war. The Taliban has been on the offensive, even launching a brazen attack on one of our bases. Al Qaeda has a growing sanctuary in Pakistan. That is a consequence of our current strategy.
In the 18 months since the surge began, as I warned at the outset - Iraq's leaders have not made the political progress that was the purpose of the surge. They have not invested tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues to rebuild their country. They have not resolved their differences or shaped a new political compact.
That's why I strongly stand by my plan to end this war. Now, Prime Minister Maliki's call for a timetable for the removal of U.S. forces presents a real opportunity. It comes at a time when the American general in charge of training Iraq's Security Forces has testified that Iraq's Army and Police will be ready to assume responsibility for Iraq's security in 2009. Now is the time for a responsible redeployment of our combat troops that pushes Iraq's leaders toward a political solution, rebuilds our military, and refocuses on Afghanistan and our broader security interests.
George Bush and John McCain don't have a strategy for success in Iraq - they have a strategy for staying in Iraq. They said we couldn't leave when violence was up, they say we can't leave when violence is down. They refuse to press the Iraqis to make tough choices, and they label any timetable to redeploy our troops "surrender," even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government - not to a terrorist enemy. Theirs is an endless focus on tactics inside Iraq, with no consideration of our strategy to face threats beyond Iraq's borders.
At some point, a judgment must be made. Iraq is not going to be a perfect place, and we don't have unlimited resources to try to make it one. We are not going to kill every al Qaeda sympathizer, eliminate every trace of Iranian influence, or stand up a flawless democracy before we leave - General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker acknowledged this to me when they testified last April. That is why the accusation of surrender is false rhetoric used to justify a failed policy. In fact, true success in Iraq - victory in Iraq - will not take place in a surrender ceremony where an enemy lays down their arms. True success will take place when we leave Iraq to a government that is taking responsibility for its future - a government that prevents sectarian conflict, and ensures that the al Qaeda threat which has been beaten back by our troops does not reemerge. That is an achievable goal if we pursue a comprehensive plan to press the Iraqis stand up.
To achieve that success, I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office: ending this war. Let me be clear: we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 - one year after Iraqi Security Forces will be prepared to stand up; two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, we'll keep a residual force to perform specific missions in Iraq: targeting any remnants of al Qaeda; protecting our service members and diplomats; and training and supporting Iraq's Security Forces, so long as the Iraqis make political progress.
We will make tactical adjustments as we implement this strategy - that is what any responsible Commander-in-Chief must do. As I have consistently said, I will consult with commanders on the ground and the Iraqi government. We will redeploy from secure areas first and volatile areas later. We will commit $2 billion to a meaningful international effort to support the more than 4 million displaced Iraqis. We will forge a new coalition to support Iraq's future - one that includes all of Iraq's neighbors, and also the United Nations, the World Bank, and the European Union - because we all have a stake in stability. And we will make it clear that the United States seeks no permanent bases in Iraq.
This is the future that Iraqis want. This is the future that the American people want. And this is what our common interests demand. Both America and Iraq will be more secure when the terrorist in Anbar is taken out by the Iraqi Army, and the criminal in Baghdad fears Iraqi Police, not just coalition forces. Both America and Iraq will succeed when every Arab government has an embassy open in Baghdad, and the child in Basra benefits from services provided by Iraqi dinars, not American tax dollars.
And this is the future we need for our military. We cannot tolerate this strain on our forces to fight a war that hasn't made us safer. I will restore our strength by ending this war, completing the increase of our ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 marines, and investing in the capabilities we need to defeat conventional foes and meet the unconventional challenges of our time.
So let's be clear. Senator McCain would have our troops continue to fight tour after tour of duty, and our taxpayers keep spending $10 billion a month indefinitely; I want Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future, and to reach the political accommodation necessary for long-term stability. That's victory. That's success. That's what's best for Iraq, that's what's best for America, and that's why I will end this war as President.
In fact - as should have been apparent to President Bush and Senator McCain - the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. That's why the second goal of my new strategy will be taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It is unacceptable that almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are still at large. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahari are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror. The Taliban controls parts of Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has an expanding base in Pakistan that is probably no farther from their old Afghan sanctuary than a train ride from Washington to Philadelphia. If another attack on our homeland comes, it will likely come from the same region where 9/11 was planned. And yet today, we have five times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan.
Senator McCain said - just months ago - that "Afghanistan is not in trouble because of our diversion to Iraq." I could not disagree more. Our troops and our NATO allies are performing heroically in Afghanistan, but I have argued for years that we lack the resources to finish the job because of our commitment to Iraq. That's what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said earlier this month. And that's why, as President, I will make the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban the top priority that it should be. This is a war that we have to win.
I will send at least two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, and use this commitment to seek greater contributions - with fewer restrictions - from NATO allies. I will focus on training Afghan security forces and supporting an Afghan judiciary, with more resources and incentives for American officers who perform these missions. Just as we succeeded in the Cold War by supporting allies who could sustain their own security, we must realize that the 21st century's frontlines are not only on the field of battle - they are found in the training exercise near Kabul, in the police station in Kandahar, and in the rule of law in Herat.
Moreover, lasting security will only come if we heed Marshall's lesson, and help Afghans grow their economy from the bottom up. That's why I've proposed an additional $1 billion in non-military assistance each year, with meaningful safeguards to prevent corruption and to make sure investments are made - not just in Kabul - but out in Afghanistan's provinces. As a part of this program, we'll invest in alternative livelihoods to poppy-growing for Afghan farmers, just as we crack down on heroin trafficking. We cannot lose Afghanistan to a future of narco-terrorism. The Afghan people must know that our commitment to their future is enduring, because the security of Afghanistan and the United States is shared.
The greatest threat to that security lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train and insurgents strike into Afghanistan. We cannot tolerate a terrorist sanctuary, and as President, I won't. We need a stronger and sustained partnership between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO to secure the border, to take out terrorist camps, and to crack down on cross-border insurgents. We need more troops, more helicopters, more satellites, more Predator drones in the Afghan border region. And we must make it clear that if Pakistan cannot or will not act, we will take out high-level terrorist targets like bin Laden if we have them in our sights.
Make no mistake: we can't succeed in Afghanistan or secure our homeland unless we change our Pakistan policy. We must expect more of the Pakistani government, but we must offer more than a blank check to a General who has lost the confidence of his people. It's time to strengthen stability by standing up for the aspirations of the Pakistani people. That's why I'm cosponsoring a bill with Joe Biden and Richard Lugar to triple non-military aid to the Pakistani people and to sustain it for a decade, while ensuring that the military assistance we do provide is used to take the fight to the Taliban and al Qaeda. We must move beyond a purely military alliance built on convenience, or face mounting popular opposition in a nuclear-armed nation at the nexus of terror and radical Islam.
Only a strong Pakistani democracy can help us move toward my third goal - securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states. One of the terrible ironies of the Iraq War is that President Bush used the threat of nuclear terrorism to invade a country that had no active nuclear program. But the fact that the President misled us into a misguided war doesn't diminish the threat of a terrorist with a weapon of mass destruction - in fact, it has only increased it.
In those years after World War II, we worried about the deadly atom falling into the hands of the Kremlin. Now, we worry about 50 tons of highly enriched uranium - some of it poorly secured - at civilian nuclear facilities in over forty countries. Now, we worry about the breakdown of a non-proliferation framework that was designed for the bipolar world of the Cold War. Now, we worry - most of all - about a rogue state or nuclear scientist transferring the world's deadliest weapons to the world's most dangerous people: terrorists who won't think twice about killing themselves and hundreds of thousands in Tel Aviv or Moscow, in London or New York.
We cannot wait any longer to protect the American people. I've made this a priority in the Senate, where I worked with Republican Senator Dick Lugar to pass a law accelerating our pursuit of loose nuclear materials. I'll lead a global effort to secure all loose nuclear materials around the world during my first term as President. And I'll develop new defenses to protect against the 21st century threat of biological weapons and cyber-terrorism - threats that I'll discuss in more detail tomorrow.
Beyond taking these immediate, urgent steps, it's time to send a clear message: America seeks a world with no nuclear weapons. As long as nuclear weapons exist, we must retain a strong deterrent. But instead of threatening to kick them out of the G-8, we need to work with Russia to take U.S. and Russian ballistic missiles off hair-trigger alert; to dramatically reduce the stockpiles of our nuclear weapons and material; to seek a global ban on the production of fissile material for weapons; and to expand the U.S.-Russian ban on intermediate-range missiles so that the agreement is global. By keeping our commitment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we'll be in a better position to press nations like North Korea and Iran to keep theirs. In particular, it will give us more credibility and leverage in dealing with Iran.
We cannot tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of nations that support terror. Preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons is a vital national security interest of the United States. No tool of statecraft should be taken off the table, but Senator McCain would continue a failed policy that has seen Iran strengthen its position, advance its nuclear program, and stockpile 150 kilos of low enriched uranium. I will use all elements of American power to pressure the Iranian regime, starting with aggressive, principled and direct diplomacy - diplomacy backed with strong sanctions and without preconditions.
There will be careful preparation. I commend the work of our European allies on this important matter, and we should be full partners in that effort. Ultimately the measure of any effort is whether it leads to a change in Iranian behavior. That's why we must pursue these tough negotiations in full coordination with our allies, bringing to bear our full influence - including, if it will advance our interests, my meeting with the appropriate Iranian leader at a time and place of my choosing.
We will pursue this diplomacy with no illusions about the Iranian regime. Instead, we will present a clear choice. If you abandon your nuclear program, support for terror, and threats to Israel, there will be meaningful incentives. If you refuse, then we will ratchet up the pressure, with stronger unilateral sanctions; stronger multilateral sanctions in the Security Council, and sustained action outside the UN to isolate the Iranian regime. That's the diplomacy we need. And the Iranians should negotiate now; by waiting, they will only face mounting pressure.
The surest way to increase our leverage against Iran in the long-run is to stop bankrolling its ambitions. That will depend on achieving my fourth goal: ending the tyranny of oil in our time.
One of the most dangerous weapons in the world today is the price of oil. We ship nearly $700 million a day to unstable or hostile nations for their oil. It pays for terrorist bombs going off from Baghdad to Beirut. It funds petro-diplomacy in Caracas and radical madrasas from Karachi to Khartoum. It takes leverage away from America and shifts it to dictators.
This immediate danger is eclipsed only by the long-term threat from climate change, which will lead to devastating weather patterns, terrible storms, drought, and famine. That means people competing for food and water in the next fifty years in the very places that have known horrific violence in the last fifty: Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. Most disastrously, that could mean destructive storms on our shores, and the disappearance of our coastline.
This is not just an economic issue or an environmental concern - this is a national security crisis. For the sake of our security - and for every American family that is paying the price at the pump - we must end this dependence on foreign oil. And as President, that's exactly what I'll do. Small steps and political gimmickry just won't do. I'll invest $150 billion over the next ten years to put America on the path to true energy security. This fund will fast track investments in a new green energy business sector that will end our addiction to oil and create up to 5 million jobs over the next two decades, and help secure the future of our country and our planet. We'll invest in research and development of every form of alternative energy - solar, wind, and biofuels, as well as technologies that can make coal clean and nuclear power safe. And from the moment I take office, I will let it be known that the United States of America is ready to lead again.
Never again will we sit on the sidelines, or stand in the way of global action to tackle this global challenge. I will reach out to the leaders of the biggest carbon emitting nations and ask them to join a new Global Energy Forum that will lay the foundation for the next generation of climate protocols. We will also build an alliance of oil-importing nations and work together to reduce our demand, and to break the grip of OPEC on the global economy. We'll set a goal of an 80% reduction in global emissions by 2050. And as we develop new forms of clean energy here at home, we will share our technology and our innovations with all the nations of the world.
That is the tradition of American leadership on behalf of the global good. And that will be my fifth goal - rebuilding our alliances to meet the common challenges of the 21st century.
For all of our power, America is strongest when we act alongside strong partners. We faced down fascism with the greatest war-time alliance the world has ever known. We stood shoulder to shoulder with our NATO allies against the Soviet threat, and paid a far smaller price for the first Gulf War because we acted together with a broad coalition. We helped create the United Nations - not to constrain America's influence, but to amplify it by advancing our values.
Now is the time for a new era of international cooperation. It's time for America and Europe to renew our common commitment to face down the threats of the 21st century just as we did the challenges of the 20th. It's time to strengthen our partnerships with Japan, South Korea, Australia and the world's largest democracy - India - to create a stable and prosperous Asia. It's time to engage China on common interests like climate change, even as we continue to encourage their shift to a more open and market-based society. It's time to strengthen NATO by asking more of our allies, while always approaching them with the respect owed a partner. It's time to reform the United Nations, so that this imperfect institution can become a more perfect forum to share burdens, strengthen our leverage, and promote our values. It's time to deepen our engagement to help resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict, so that we help our ally Israel achieve true and lasting security, while helping Palestinians achieve their legitimate aspirations for statehood.
And just as we renew longstanding efforts, so must we shape new ones to meet new challenges. That's why I'll create a Shared Security Partnership Program - a new alliance of nations to strengthen cooperative efforts to take down global terrorist networks, while standing up against torture and brutality. That's why we'll work with the African Union to enhance its ability to keep the peace. That's why we'll build a new partnership to roll back the trafficking of drugs, and guns, and gangs in the Americas. That's what we can do if we are ready to engage the world.
We will have to provide meaningful resources to meet critical priorities. I know development assistance is not the most popular program, but as President, I will make the case to the American people that it can be our best investment in increasing the common security of the entire world. That was true with the Marshall Plan, and that must be true today. That's why I'll double our foreign assistance to $50 billion by 2012, and use it to support a stable future in failing states, and sustainable growth in Africa; to halve global poverty and to roll back disease. To send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, "You matter to us. Your future is our future. And our moment is now."
This must be the moment when we answer the call of history. For eight years, we have paid the price for a foreign policy that lectures without listening; that divides us from one another - and from the world - instead of calling us to a common purpose; that focuses on our tactics in fighting a war without end in Iraq instead of forging a new strategy to face down the true threats that we face. We cannot afford four more years of a strategy that is out of balance and out of step with this defining moment.
None of this will be easy, but we have faced great odds before. When General Marshall first spoke about the plan that would bear his name, the rubble of Berlin had not yet been built into a wall. But Marshall knew that even the fiercest of adversaries could forge bonds of friendship founded in freedom. He had the confidence to know that the purpose and pragmatism of the American people could outlast any foe. Today, the dangers and divisions that came with the dawn of the Cold War have receded. Now, the defeat of the threats of the past has been replaced by the transnational threats of today. We know what is needed. We know what can best be done. We know what must done. Now it falls to us to act with the same sense of purpose and pragmatism as an earlier generation, to join with friends and partners to lead the world anew.
Cincinnati, OH | July 14, 2008
It is always humbling to speak before the NAACP. It is a powerful reminder of the debt we all owe to those who marched for us and fought for us and stood up on our behalf; of the sacrifices that were made for us by those we never knew; and of the giants whose shoulders I stand on here today.
They are the men and women we read about in history books and hear about in church; whose lives we honor with schools, and boulevards, and federal holidays that bear their names. But what I want to remind you tonight - on Youth Night - is that these giants, these icons of America's past, were not much older than many of you when they took up freedom's cause and made their mark on history.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was but a 26-year old pastor when he led a bus boycott in Montgomery that mobilized a movement. John Lewis was but a 25-year old activist when he faced down Billy clubs on the bridge in Selma and helped arouse the conscience of our nation. Diane Nash was even younger when she helped found SNCC and led Freedom Rides down south. And your chairman Julian Bond was but a 25-year old state legislator when he put his own shoulder to the wheel of history.
It is because of them; and all those whose names never made it into the history books - those men and women, young and old, black, brown and white, clear-eyed and straight-backed, who refused to settle for the world as it is; who had the courage to remake the world as it should be - that I stand before you tonight as the Democratic nominee for President of the United States of America.
And if I have the privilege of serving as your next President, I will stand up for you the same way that earlier generations of Americans stood up for me - by fighting to ensure that every single one of us has the chance to make it if we try. That means removing the barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding that still exist in America. It means fighting to eliminate discrimination from every corner of our country. It means changing hearts, and changing minds, and making sure that every American is treated equally under the law.
But social justice is not enough. As Dr. King once said, "the inseparable twin of racial justice is economic justice." That's why Dr. King went to Memphis in his final days to stand with striking sanitation workers. That's why the march that Roy Wilkins helped lead forty five years ago this summer wasn't just named the March on Washington, and it wasn't just named the March on Washington for Freedom; it was named the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
What Dr. King and Roy Wilkins understood is that it matters little if you have the right to sit at the front of the bus if you can't afford the bus fare; it matters little if you have the right to sit at the lunch counter if you can't afford the lunch. What they understood is that so long as Americans are denied the decent wages, and good benefits, and fair treatment they deserve, the dream for which so many gave so much will remain out of reach; that to live up to our founding promise of equality for all, we have to make sure that opportunity is open to all Americans.
That is what I've been fighting to do throughout my over 20 years in public service. That's why I've fought in the Senate to end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas and give those tax breaks to companies that create good jobs here in America. That's why I brought Democrats and Republicans together in Illinois to put $100 million in tax cuts into the pockets of hardworking families, to expand health care to 150,000 children and parents, and to end the outrage of black women making just 62 cents for every dollar that many of their male coworkers make.
And that's why I moved to Chicago after college. As some of you know, I turned down more lucrative jobs because I was inspired by the Civil Rights Movement and I wanted to do my part in the ongoing battle for opportunity in this country. So I went to work for a group of churches to help turn around neighborhoods that were devastated when the local steel plants closed. And I reached out to community leaders - black, brown, and white - and together, we gave job training to the jobless, set up afterschool programs to help keep kids off the streets, and block by block, we helped turn those neighborhoods around.
So I've been working my entire adult life to help build an America where social justice is being served and economic justice is being served; an America where we all have an equal chance to make it if we try. That's the America I believe in. That's the America you've been fighting for over the past 99 years. And that's the America we have to keep marching towards today.
Our work is not over.
When so many of our nation's schools are failing, especially those in our poorest rural and urban communities, denying millions of young Americans the chance to fulfill their potential and live out their dreams, we have more work to do.
When CEOs are making more in ten minutes than the average worker earns in a year, and millions of families lose their homes due to unscrupulous lending, checked neither by a sense of corporate ethics or a vigilant government; when the dream of entering the middle class and staying there is fading for young people in our community, we have more work to do.
When any human being is denied a life of dignity and respect, no matter whether they live in Anacostia or Appalachia or a village in Africa; when people are trapped in extreme poverty we know how to curb or suffering from diseases we know how to prevent; when they're going without the medicines that they so desperately need - we have more work to do.
That's what this election is all about. It's about the responsibilities we all share for the future we hold in common. It's about each and every one of us doing our part to build that more perfect union.
It's about the responsibilities that corporate America has - responsibilities that start with ending a culture on Wall Street that says what's good for me is good enough; that puts their bottom line ahead of what's right for America. Because what we've learned in such a dramatic way in recent months is that pain in our economy trickles up; that Wall Street can't thrive so long as Main Street is struggling; and that America is better off when the well-being of American business and the American people are aligned. Our CEOs have to recognize that they have a responsibility not just to grow their profit margins, but to be fair to their workers, and honest to their shareholders and to help strengthen our economy as a whole. That's how we'll ensure that economic justice is being served. And that's what this election is about.
It's about the responsibilities that Washington has - responsibilities that start with restoring fairness to our economy by making sure that the playing field isn't tilted to benefit the special interests at the expense of ordinary Americans; and that we're rewarding not just wealth, but the work and workers who create it. That's why I'll offer a middle class tax cut so we can lift up hardworking families, and give relief to struggling homeowners so we can end our housing crisis, and provide training to young people to work the green jobs of the future, and invest in our infrastructure so we can create millions of new jobs.
And that's why I'll end the outrage of one in five African Americans going without the health care they deserve. We'll guarantee health care for anyone who needs it, make it affordable for anyone who wants it, and ensure that the quality of your health care does not depend on the color of your skin. And we're not going to do it 20 years from now or 10 years from now, we're going to do it by the end of my first term as President of the United States of America.
And here's what else we'll do - we'll make sure that every child in this country gets a world-class education from the day they're born until the day they graduate from college. Now, I understand that Senator McCain is going to be coming here in a couple of days and talking about education, and I'm glad to hear it. But the fact is, what he's offering amounts to little more than the same tired rhetoric about vouchers. Well, I believe we need to move beyond the same debate we've been having for the past 30 years when we haven't gotten anything done. We need to fix and improve our public schools, not throw our hands up and walk away from them. We need to uphold the ideal of public education, but we also need reform.
That's why I've introduced a comprehensive strategy to recruit an army of new quality teachers to our communities - and to pay them more and give them more support. And we'll invest in early childhood education programs so that our kids don't begin the race of life behind the starting line and offer a $4,000 tax credit to make college affordable for anyone who wants to go. Because as the NAACP knows better than anyone, the fight for social justice and economic justice begins in the classroom.
But it doesn't end there. We have to fight for all those young men standing on street corners with little hope for the future besides ending up in jail. We have to break the cycle of poverty and violence that's gripping too many neighborhoods in this country.
That's why I'll expand the Earned Income Tax Credit - because it's one of the most successful anti-poverty measures we have. That's why I'll end the Bush policy of taking cops off the streets at the moment they're needed most - because we need to give local law enforcement the support they need. That's why we'll provide job training for ex-offenders - because we need to make sure they don't return to a life of crime. And that's why I'll build on the success of the Harlem Children's Zone in New York and launch an all-hands-on-deck effort to end poverty in this country - because that's how we'll put the dream that Dr. King and Roy Wilkins fought for within reach for the next generation of children.
And if people tell you that we cannot afford to invest in education or health care or fighting poverty, you just remind them that we are spending $10 billion a month in Iraq. And if we can spend that much money in Iraq, we can spend some of that money right here in Cincinnati, Ohio and in big cities and small towns in every corner of this country.
So yes, we have to demand more responsibility from Washington. And yes we have to demand more responsibility from Wall Street. But we also have to demand more from ourselves. Now, I know some say I've been too tough on folks about this responsibility stuff. But I'm not going to stop talking about it. Because I believe that in the end, it doesn't matter how much money we invest in our communities, or how many 10-point plans we propose, or how many government programs we launch - none of it will make any difference if we don't seize more responsibility in our own lives.
That's how we'll truly honor those who came before us. Because I know that Thurgood Marshall did not argue Brown versus Board of Education so that some of us could stop doing our jobs as parents. And I know that nine little children did not walk through a schoolhouse door in Little Rock so that we could stand by and let our children drop out of school and turn to gangs for the support they are not getting elsewhere. That's not the freedom they fought so hard to achieve. That's not the America they gave so much to build. That's not the dream they had for our children.
That's why if we're serious about reclaiming that dream, we have to do more in our own lives, our own families, and our own communities. That starts with providing the guidance our children need, turning off the TV, and putting away the video games; attending those parent-teacher conferences, helping our children with their homework, and setting a good example. It starts with teaching our daughters to never allow images on television to tell them what they are worth; and teaching our sons to treat women with respect, and to realize that responsibility does not end at conception; that what makes them men is not the ability to have a child but the courage to raise one. It starts by being good neighbors and good citizens who are willing to volunteer in our communities - and to help our synagogues and churches and community centers feed the hungry and care for the elderly. We all have to do our part to lift up this country.
That's where change begins. And that, after all, is the true genius of America - not that America is, but that America will be; not that we are perfect, but that we can make ourselves more perfect; that brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand, people who love this country can change it. And that's our most enduring responsibility - the responsibility to future generations. We have to change this country for them. We have to leave them a planet that's cleaner, a nation that's safer, and a world that's more equal and more just.
So I'm grateful to you for all you've done for this campaign, but we've got work to do and we cannot rest. And I know that if you put your shoulders to the wheel of history and take up the cause of perfecting our union just as earlier generations of Americans did before you; if you take up the fight for opportunity and equality and prosperity for all; if you march with me and fight with me, and get your friends registered to vote, and if you stand with me this fall - then not only will we help close the responsibility deficit in this country, and not only will we help achieve social justice and economic justice for all, but I will come back here next year on the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, and I will stand before you as the President of the United States of America. And at that moment, you and I will truly know that a new day has come in this country we love. Thank you.
Chicago, IL | July 13, 2008
Hello, everybody. I'm sorry I can't join you all in person today, but thank you for letting me say a few words. First and foremost, I am honored to have your endorsement, and I appreciate the commitment you're making to help us win in November.
I want to thank your president, Ed McElroy, your Secretary-Treasurer, Nat LaCour, and your Executive Vice President, Toni Cortese. Ed and Nat, congratulations on your retirements. We are all grateful for your steady leadership and tireless efforts to guarantee our students their fundamental right to a quality education. And I look forward to working with your new officers.
And I want to say hello to my friends from Illinois – Ed Geppert, the President of the Illinois Federation of Teachers; Marilyn Stewart, the president of the Chicago Teachers Union; and AFT Vice President Jim Dougherty, and all my allies with whom I've worked so closely.
Over the course of this campaign, I've had the opportunity to visit schools and talk to teachers and students; paraprofessionals and support staff; college faculty and employees; public employees, nurses and health care workers all across this country. But so much of what informs my visits comes from an experience I had a few years ago at Dodge Elementary School in Chicago, not far from where you're assembled today.
I asked a young teacher there what she saw as the biggest challenge facing her students. She gave me an answer I had never heard before. She talked about what she called "These Kids Syndrome" – the tendency to explain away the shortcomings and failures of our education system by saying "these kids can't learn" or "these kids don't want to learn" or "these kids are just too far behind." And after a while, "these kids" become somebody else's problem.
And she looked at me and said, "When I hear that term, it drives me crazy. They're not 'these kids.' They're our kids. All of them."
She's absolutely right. These children are our children. Their future is our future. And it's time we understood that their education is our responsibility.
I am running for President to guarantee that all of our children have the best possible chance in life. And I am tired of hearing you blamed for our problems. I want to lead a new era of mutual responsibility in education, where we all come together: parents and educators, the AFT and leaders in Washington, citizens all across America; united for the sake of our children's success.
Bringing about that future begins with fixing the broken promises of No Child Left Behind. Now, I believe that the goals of this law – educating every child with an excellent teacher, closing the achievement gap, ensuring more accountability and higher standards – were right. But promising all this while leaving the resources behind is wrong. Labeling a school and its students as failures one day and then abandoning them the next is wrong.
We must fix the failures of No Child Left Behind by providing the funding that was promised, giving states the resources they need, and finally meeting our commitment to special education. But that alone is not an education policy. It's just a starting point.
Now, John McCain is an honorable man and I respect his service to our country, but he won't even get us to that starting point. For someone who's been in Washington nearly 30 years, he's got a pretty slim record on education, and when he has taken a stand, it's been the wrong one.
He voted against increased funding for No Child Left Behind to preserve billions in tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans – tax breaks he wants to extend without saying how he'd pay for them. He voted against increasing funds for Head Start, and Pell Grants, and the hiring of 100,000 new teachers again and again and again.
In fact, his only proposal seems to be recycling tired rhetoric about vouchers and school choice. Now, I've been a proponent of public school choice throughout my career. I applaud AFT for your leadership in representing charter school teachers and support staff all across this country, and for even operating your own charters in New York. Because we know well-designed public charter schools have a lot to offer, and I've actually helped pass legislation to expand them. But what I do oppose is using public money for private school vouchers. We need to focus on fixing and improving our public schools; not throwing our hands up and walking away from them.
Real change is finally giving our kids everything they need to have a fighting chance in today's world. That begins with recognizing that the single most important factor in determining a child's achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from; it's not who their parents are or how much money they have. It's who their teacher is. It's the paraprofessionals and support staff and all of you in this room. It's those who spend their own money on books and supplies, come early and stay late comparing lesson plans, who devote their lives to our next generation and serve as role models for the children who need one most because you believe that's what makes the extra difference. And it does. After all, I have two daughters. I know what their teachers mean to them.
So it's time to start treating our teachers properly. That means residency programs that supply exceptional recruits to high-need schools. That means mentoring programs that pair experienced, successful teachers with new ones. That means service scholarships that say if you commit your life to teaching, America will commit to paying for your college education.
And when our educators succeed, I won't just talk about how great they are; I will reward them for it. Under my plan, districts will be able to give teachers who mentor, or teach in underserved areas, or take on added responsibilities, or learn new skills to serve students better, or consistently excel in the classroom, the salary increase they deserve. And whether it's the plans AFT helped create in Cincinnati or Chicago, you've shown that it is possible to find new ways to increase teacher pay that are developed with teachers, not imposed on them.
And together, we will begin changing the odds for our at-risk children by providing quality, affordable early childhood education for all our children. To address the achievement gap, we'll expand afterschool and summer learning opportunities. To address the dropout crisis that condemns so many futures, we'll intervene much earlier in a child's education – because the forces that lead a high school student to drop out start well before the ninth grade.
But there is no program and no policy that can substitute for a parent who is involved in their child's education from day one, who makes sure that child is in school on time, helps them with their homework, and attends those parent-teacher conferences; who is willing to turn off the TV once in awhile, put away the video games, and read to their child. Responsibility for our children's education starts at home. We have to set high standards for them, and spend time with them, and love them. We have to hold ourselves accountable.
This is the commitment we must make to our kids. This is the chance they must have. We all know there are too many young men and women in America right now who are slipping away from us as we speak – students who've lost all hope that they can make something of their lives. You know these kids. And I know these kids. I began my career over two decades ago in communities on Chicago's South Side. And I worked with parents and teachers and local leaders to fight for their future. We set up after school programs and protested outside government offices so that we could get those who had dropped out into alternative schools. And in time, we changed the odds for our children.
But while I know hopelessness, I also know hope. In May, I visited a high school in Colorado where just three years ago, only half of the seniors were accepted to college. But thanks to the hard work of caring parents, innovative educators, and some very committed students, all forty-four seniors of this year's class were accepted to more than seventy colleges and universities across the country. And the example they set trickles down. While there, I met an eighth grader named Theo Rodriguez, who now sets his sights a little higher – he wants to go to Oxford and study criminology.
That's what hope is. That's the promise of education in America – that no matter what we look like or where we come from or who our parents are, each of us should have the opportunity to fulfill our God-given potential. Each of us should have the chance to achieve the American Dream.
That's why I'm running for President, AFT. To make sure all our kids have that chance. But I need your help to get there. From your earliest days in Chicago, you've stood up for change – when minorities weren't allowed full union membership; when parents fought to integrate our schools; when it was time to take the march for civil rights to Washington, you stood up.
And if you stand up with me these next four months; if you march with me and knock on doors and make phone calls and register voters, and talk to your friends and co-workers and neighbors; then I promise you this: we will win this election; we will change education in this country; and we will bring about a better future for our children and for this country we love. Thank you.