"American Foreign Policy After September 11th"
By Ambassador Richard N. Haass Director, Policy Planning Staff, U.S. Department of State
Friday, November 16, 2001 World Affairs Council of Northern California San Francisco, CA
Normally, for a policymaker, long term is the next week. Since Secretary of State Powell appointed me last month U.S.
Coordinator for Afghanistan's future, I sometimes feel as if long term has been compressed to the next day -- or even
the next meeting. Events on the ground in Afghanistan are moving incredibly fast. With each new success on the military
front, the pace of events on the diplomatic front further accelerates.
Last weekend, I was in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly and a series of bilateral discussions with
representatives of Secretary General Annan and nearly every country interested in Afghanistan's future. On Monday, I led
the U.S. delegation at a very productive meeting of the political directors of the Six-Plus-Two Group, which comprises
Afghanistan's immediate neighbors as well as the United States and Russia. And just yesterday morning I was again in New
York, this time to participate in discussions of the Geneva Initiative, which is another forum for dialogue among states
concerned about Afghanistan. The situation on the ground is changing literally by the hour. We are now working hard to
help the United Nations (UN) convene a gathering of the Afghan opposition so that an interim political authority can be
established in Afghanistan.
But today I want to wear my other hat, that of Director of the Policy Planning Staff, and place the events of the past
few days within the broader context of our response to the attacks of September 11th and our ongoing campaign against
terrorism. In doing so, I also want to highlight how we are establishing a model for how to approach the broad range of
foreign policy issues.
International terrorism is our preeminent national security challenge. As the events of September 11th tragically
reminded us, international terrorism is globalization run amok. Al-Qaida and its cousin terrorist networks have twisted
the benefits and conveniences of an increasingly open, integrated, globalized world to serve their destructive agenda.
For instance, they have exploited something as innocuous as the international trade in honey to serve their purposes,
for laundering money and smuggling arms. And they have demonstrated that globalization, despite its enormous benefits,
brings new vulnerabilities to the United States. In international terrorism, we face a true transnational threat.
We should take Usama bin Laden, his minions, and their Taliban supporters at their word. They seek to drive the United
States out of the Middle East so that they can topple regimes throughout the region and destroy Israel; then they aspire
to impose their rule. They consider the United Nations a "tool of crime." They cannot abide by the personal freedoms we
take for granted -- freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the freedom of women to be educated. And they seek
weapons of mass destruction, which they would use without hesitation.
Our campaign against international terrorism does not represent some sort of "clash of civilizations." Instead, it is a
clash between civilization and those who would destroy it.
The threat posed by al-Qaida and other such terrorist networks is existential. Their goals cannot be met by traditional
foreign policy means of negotiation or compromise. They will continue their indiscriminate slaughter of innocents of all
races, creeds, and nationalities until they achieve their objectives or they are stopped.
We will stop them. As President Bush has made clear, "we will not rest until terrorist groups of global reach have been
found, have been stopped, and have been defeated." Our goal, therefore, is not only to destroy the al-Qaida network
responsible for the attacks of September 11th and eliminate the threat posed by their Taliban supporters in Afghanistan.
Our ultimate goal is to foster a world where terrorists find it hard to ply their trade and where people can lead their
lives in peace, without inordinate fear.
We understand that the campaign will be long and difficult. So be it. The American people are resolute. We will
persevere as long as it takes. To destroy terrorist networks root and branch, we will employ the full spectrum of the
tools of statecraft -- diplomatic, law enforcement, intelligence, public information, economic, and military.
We have demonstrated that we can and will act alone when necessary. Our right to self-defense is unquestioned.
But we appreciate that for all our immense power, we will not be able to achieve our objectives in the campaign against
terrorism without the help of others.
We recognize, therefore, that hardheaded multilateral cooperation offers the best hope of triumphing over the
international terrorist scourge. As President Bush stressed last week: "The defeat of terror requires an international
coalition of unprecedented scope and cooperation."
The campaign against terrorism is progressing on three major fronts. The first is the predominantly military front now
underway in Afghanistan. Then there is the front of humanitarian relief and political and economic reconstruction in
Afghanistan. Last, there is the broad front that demands the integration of all the tools of statecraft over the long
haul; this is the front where we are fighting not just al-Qaida, but all terrorist networks with global reach and those
states that sponsor them.
The first challenge entails the destruction of the al-Qaida network in Afghanistan and the removal of the Taliban regime
that has harbored them and supported their terrorist acts. Almost six weeks ago, we began our military campaign in
Afghanistan. In the past week, the momentum has shifted decisively against the Taliban. Their grip of terror is ending.
The Taliban's retreat marks success not just for the Afghan opposition or us, but for the entire international
coalition. We could not wage this sustained campaign by ourselves. We need basing and overflight rights for our forces
operating in the region. We also need critical intelligence above and beyond satellite photos and communications
intercepts, intelligence involving human contact that only those on the ground can provide. Our allies are also
supporting the campaign by providing essential logistical support, increased security at American facilities worldwide,
and their own forces to backfill when ours have to be redeployed. With each passing day, more countries offer forces to
join our military operations against al-Qaida and the Taliban and in securing liberated areas. Coalition members and
international organizations are also offering much needed diplomatic and economic support to the frontline states in the
region to ensure their stability and security in these difficult times. We cannot yet say when we will achieve full
success along this front. But we will succeed.
The second front encompasses our commitment to the political and economic reconstruction of Afghanistan so that it will
never again be a safe haven for the likes of Usama bin Laden, a source for drugs or refugees, or a threat to its region.
On this front, too, the United States is working with others to maximize the effectiveness of our combined humanitarian,
political, and economic efforts. As the U.S. Coordinator for Afghanistan's future, I can personally attest that our
approach is multilateral to the core. Given the nature of the problem, it must be.
Before the current crisis, the United States was already the world's largest contributor of humanitarian aid to the
Afghan people, who have been starved by the Taliban -- sometimes through deliberate policies, such as harassing and
forcing out Western aid workers. Now, we have redoubled our efforts. At each stage, we have worked closely with the
countries in the region and international organizations such as the World Food Program (WFP) and the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to address the Afghans' full range of humanitarian needs.
We are also now heavily engaged with the United Nations and others to found a transitional government to replace the
Taliban, one that will represent the interests of all the people of Afghanistan and move the country toward a stable,
We appreciate that the economic reconstruction of Afghanistan must move in step with the political. Again, our approach
is fundamentally multilateral. Next Tuesday at the State Department in Washington, the United States and Japan will
co-host a meeting of senior officials from international organizations and countries that will play a significant role
in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. We hope that this gathering will be an important step toward harnessing the
international community's resources and channeling them to build the economic foundation for a more stable Afghanistan.
The third front is something much different. As President Bush has repeatedly stressed, "Our war on terror begins with
al-Qaida, but it does not end there." We began the campaign on this, the broadest front, even before our operations in
Afghanistan. We must remember that al- Qaida cells exist in over 60 countries around the world -- including our own. We
also must not become fixated on just Usama bin Laden or al- Qaida in Afghanistan; the threat is truly global.
Combating other terrorist groups with global reach -- as well as their supporters wherever and whoever they may be --
demands that we work cooperatively with our coalition partners to maximize the effectiveness of our efforts. We simply
cannot be everywhere terrorists may lurk, all the time.
The coalition's efforts have already had impact. We are working aggressively with other countries to choke off
terrorists' financial lifelines, both by fully implementing UN Security Council Resolution 1373 and by freezing the
assets of those individuals and entities listed in Executive Order 13244. Over 150 nations have joined us in these
efforts, together blocking tens of millions of dollars in potential terrorist assets. Similarly, intelligence sharing
and law enforcement cooperation has led to numerous arrests and new leads around the world. Just a few days ago, for
example, Spanish authorities arrested nine suspected terrorists with ties to al-Qaida. Success in Afghanistan is likely
to provide further impetus to these efforts.
We do not expect every country to make the same contribution to the campaign on this third front. Differences in
capabilities, location, foreign policy outlook, and domestic concerns make this impracticable. Instead, we should expect
our coalition to be dynamic and embrace the benefits of the division of labor. As Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld says, we
will have "revolving coalitions that will evolve and change over time depending on the activity and the circumstances of
This third front in the campaign against terrorism will not cease with the military operations in Afghanistan. It will
last for years, or even decades.
We must therefore work to establish the frameworks for cooperation that will make us and our partners less vulnerable to
terrorism in the future and better able to fight it when it does appear. We need to be prepared to use the full range of
tools of statecraft -- from law enforcement and diplomacy to intelligence and military operations -- now and in the
future. We must use the ad hoc arrangements and emergency procedures instituted after September 11th and transform them
into an enduring policy. We have already taken the first steps in this direction, for instance, by helping create a new
counterterrorism subgroup to the G-8. But we have only just begun.
The challenge of terrorism is not transitory. Neither can be our response.
The challenge of terrorism is thus akin to fighting a virus in that we can accomplish a great deal but not eradicate the
problem. We can take steps to prevent it, protect ourselves from it, and, when an outbreak occurs, quarantine it,
minimize the damage it inflicts, and attack it with all our power. Therefore, the ultimate goal of our campaign is
progress through the steady accumulation of individual successes. Patience and persistence will be the watchwords for
When we step back from the challenges immediately before us, we can see how the campaign against terrorism provides a
model for U.S. foreign policy in this new century.
America will continue to lead. But no matter how much we may want to solve entirely by ourselves all the problems we
face, we cannot single handedly triumph over enduring, transnational challenges like international terrorism. We will,
therefore, forge coalitions to respond to such transnational challenges. We will seek to bring new partners into our
efforts to create a better future. Countries' and organizations' willingness to work with us in the future -- not the
animosities of the past -- will guide our efforts. And just as the challenges we face will not be surmounted quickly, we
will build structures of cooperation that will last for the long haul.
Our desire to work cooperatively with others does not mean, however, a willingness to agree to unsound efforts just
because they are popular. Empty or ineffective but high-profile agreements do not make for a sound foreign policy. As we
know from our own history, majorities are not always right. We also cannot forget that the United States has unique
global responsibilities. And if we are to meet them effectively, we may not always be able to go along with measures
that many or even most others support. We are willing to listen, learn, and modify policies when we hear compelling
arguments. But we will not go along simply to get along.
By the same token, we do not take lightly the costs to ourselves and to others when we forego participation in some
multilateral initiative. In the future, we will give consultations every reasonable chance to produce an acceptable
compromise. And if we conclude that agreement is beyond reach, we will explain why and do our best to put forth
In sum, multilateralism is not an end in itself, but it is often a necessary means to our ends. A commitment to
multilateralism need not constrain our options -- done right, it expands them. This is the time- tested tradition of
The campaign against terrorism embodies these basic principles. However, we need not -- indeed we must not -- limit our
multilateralism to counterterrorism.
I have, therefore, one final thought I want to leave you with. Counterterrorism is our top priority, but it cannot be
our only priority. We simply don't have the luxury of ignoring important parts of our foreign policy agenda. So even as
we confront the challenges ahead, we cannot lose sight of the opportunities of this era, such as putting in place a
strategic framework that transcends the legacies of the Cold War, stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction, fighting infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, and promoting world trade. We also now have real prospects for
making meaningful progress in ameliorating tensions between regional rivals in South Asia and the Middle East.
You can see in just the past few days how we are moving forward on this broad agenda. President Bush and President Putin
met for the fourth time this year and announced their intention to reduce the American and Russian nuclear arsenals by
roughly two-thirds. And on Wednesday in Doha, Qatar, the world's trade ministers successfully launched a new trade
Again, though, we will only succeed in these efforts if we enlist others as partners. Global challenges require global
responses. As a result, we are working to integrate countries like Russia, China, India, and Japan, as well as the
European Union (EU), into the international campaign against terrorism. Similarly, we are seizing this opportunity to
recast our relations with Pakistan and other frontline states in this campaign. Together, these efforts are helping to
redefine key relationships in terms suited to what Secretary of State Powell correctly labels the post-post-Cold War
And by integrating new partners -- countries like Russia, China, and India -- into a shared international order, we will
expand the reach of practices and institutions that both uphold our values and interests and, at the same time, protect
against those actors and forces that threaten our peace and prosperity.
As we have seen in the aftermath of September 11th, our first steps toward this sort of integration may start by
necessity with ad hoc arrangements designed to address pressing needs. But where possible and desirable, we will build
upon these initial successes, and create more formal and enduring frameworks for cooperation.
Without direction, American power is nothing more than potential. Therefore, the real challenge for American foreign
policy is translating our strength into something lasting -- a world where our way of life is secure and our values are
embraced as standards, not exceptions. We now have the opportunity to do this. It is hard to think of a more fitting
memorial to those who gave their lives on September 11th.