Romney’s Foreign Policy Speech at Clinton Global Initiative – 9/25/2012 (Transcript, Video)
Posted by FactReal on September 25, 2012
|Here are the video and the full text of the speech delivered today by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York.
|ROMNEY: Thank you, Mr. President. It is an honor to be here this morning. And I appreciate your kind words. And that introduction is very touching. If there’s one thing we’ve — we’ve learned in this election season, by the way, it is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good. All I’ve got to do now is wait a couple of days to wait for that bounce to happen.
As you know, since serving as president, President Clinton has devoted himself to lifting people around the world. And one of the best things that can happen to any cause, to any people, is to have Bill Clinton as its advocate. That’s really true for a whole series of causes but particularly for the needy and neglected causes. If he gets behind them, it makes a real difference. And it’s that kind of work that brings us here together today. And I appreciate your willingness to spend time and to listen to those that are coming with their messages.
Now, there are a number of things that impress me about the Global Initiative. One is that — as I have seen it from afar, I have been impressed by the extraordinary power that you have derived by harnessing together people of different backgrounds, institutions of different backgrounds and persuasions. You have been able to fashion partnerships, if you will, across the traditional boundaries, public and private, for profit, not for profit, charitable, commercial.
On a smaller scale, by the way, I have seen the power of partnerships like this work before. In Massachusetts, Bill Clinton just spoke about City Year. I have right over here, Michael Brown, one of the founders. This was an effort where two social pioneers, Michael and his friend Alan Khazei, brought corporations and government, together with volunteers to form this entity, and it was the model as the president said for AmeriCorps. And I — I actually happened to be there at the first time he visited City Year. He was there investigating the life-changing successes which were being reported by — in the lives of these young people who’ve come together for a year of service, and as they were linked with corporate teams that worked with them.
I also saw the power of this kind of partnerships in 2002 when I was asked to be the head of the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. I saw what could happen when very disparate elements of a community were willing to join together in extraordinary unity. And we were able to overcome challenges that many thought would be impossible for an organization like ours to overcome. The Clinton Global Initiative has also demonstrated the effectiveness of entrepreneurship and social enterprise. You endeavor not only to comfort and assuage the pains of the afflicted but also to change lives — to change lives through freedom, through free enterprise, through entrepreneurship and to the incomparable dignity that’s associated with work.
Free enterprise, as we know, has done more to bless humanity than any other economic system. Not only because it’s the only system that creates a prosperous middle class but also because it’s the only system where the individual enjoys the freedom to guide and build his or her life. Free enterprise can not only make us better off financially, it can make us better people.
Ours is a very compassionate nation, as you know. You look around the world and we see withering suffering. Our hearts break. Though we make up 4.5 percent of the world’s population, we donate nearly a quarter of all global foreign aid, more than twice as much as any other nation on Earth.
And Americans give more than money. Pastors like Rick Warren lead mission trips that send thousands of Americans around the world, bringing aid and comfort to the poorest places in the planet. American troops are the first on the scene of the natural disaster. An earthquake strikes, in Haiti and care packages come from all over the world but they come first from America. And not for behind, Presidents Clinton and Bush.
But too often our passion for charity as a people is tampered by our sense that our aid is not always effective. We see stories of cases where American aid has been diverted to corrupt governments. We sometimes wonder why year after year after year of aid and relief seem to never extinguish the suffering and hardship, why it persists decade after decade. Perhaps some of the disappointments are due to our failure to recognize just how much the developing world has changed. Lot of the foreign aid efforts that we put in place years ago were designed at a time when government development assistance accounted for about 70 percent of the resources flowing to developing nations. Today, 82 percent of the resources that flow to developing nations come from the private sector. Not the governmental sector.
If somehow foreign aid can really leverage that massive investment by the private sector, it may be able to exponentially expand the ability to no only care for those that are suffering but also to change their lives in a permanent basis. Now, private enterprise is having a greater and greater impact actually on its own in the developing world. Example that John Deere Company embarked upon a pilot project in Africa where it developed a suite of farm tools that can be attached to a small tractor. Then the company worked to expand the availability of capital to the farmers there so they can maintain and develop their own businesses. The result has been a good investment for John Deere and a greater opportunity for African farmers who are now able to grow more crops and provide for more plentiful lives of their own.
For American foreign aid to become more effective, it’s got to embrace the principles that you see in these global initiatives — the power of partnerships, access to the transformative nature of free enterprise, and the leverage of the abundant resources that can come from the private sector.
Now I believe that there are three quite legitimate objects of our foreign aid in this country. First, of course, is to address humanitarian needs. Such as the case with PEPFAR, given to medical treatment to those suffering from HIV and AIDS.
Second is to foster a substantial United States strategic interest, perhaps as military or diplomatic or economic.
But third, there is another purpose. And one that I think has to receive much more attention and a much higher priority in a Romney administration. And that is aid that elevates people and brings about lasting change in communities and nations.
As an example, a lot of Americans, including myself, are developed — excuse me, are troubled by developments in the Middle East. Syria has witnessed the killing of tens of thousands of people. The president of Egypt is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Our ambassador of Libya was assassinated in a terrorist attack. Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons capability.
We somehow feel that we are at the mercy of events rather than shaping events. I’m often asked why. What can we do about it to help lead the Middle East to stability and to ease suffering and the anger and the hate there, and the violence? Obviously, religious extremism is part of the problem. But that’s not the whole story. The population of the Middle East is very young, as you know, particularly in comparison with the population of the developed nations. And typically, these young people as the president indicated a moment ago, don’t have a lot of job prospects. The levels of youth unemployment across the region are excessive and chronic.
And nations that have undergone a change in leadership recently, young people have greater access to information. In the past that was being carefully guarded by tyrants and dictators. But now it’s available. They see the good as well as the bad in surrounding society. They can now organize across vast regions, mobilizing populations, idle, humiliated by poverty, and crushed by government corruption, their frustration and their anger grows. In such a setting, for America to actually change lives, to change communities and nations in the Middle East, foreign aid must also play a role. And the shape that role should play was brought into focus by the life and death of Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia, the street vendor who self emolliated and sparked thereby the Arab Spring.
You probably know the background. But it touched me. He was just 26 years old. He provided for his family since he was a very young boy. He worked a small fruit stand selling to passers-by. The regular harassment by corrupt bureaucrats was elevated one day when they came in and took cases of his fruit and then they took away his weighing scales, his only real capital equipment, away from him. On the day of his final protest, witnesses say an officer slapped him and he cried out with these words: “Why are you doing this to me? I’m a simple person. I just want to work. I just want to work.”
Work. That has to be at the heart of our effort to help people build economies that can create jobs, young and old alike. Work builds self-esteem. It transforms minds from fantasy and fanaticism to reality and grounding.
Work does not long tolerate corruption. Nor will it quietly endure the brazen theft by government of the product of hard-working men and women.
To foster work and enterprise in the Middle East and other developing countries, I will initiate something I’ll call Prosperity Pacts. Working with the private sector, program will identify the barriers to investment and trade and entrepreneurship and entrepreneurialism in developing nations. And in exchange for removing those barriers and opening markets to U.S. investment and trade, developing nations will receive U.S. assistance packages, focused on developing the institutions of liberty, the rule of law and property rights. Focus our efforts on small and medium-sized businesses.
Microfinance has been an effective tool of promoting enterprise and prosperity but we’ve got to expand to small and medium-sized businesses as well. They are oftentimes too large for micro finance and too small for traditional banking. The aim of a much larger share of our aid must be the promotion of work and the fostering of free enterprise. Nothing we can do as a nation will change lives and nations more effectively and permanently than sharing the insight that lies at the foundation of America’s own economy. And that is that free people pursuing happiness in their own ways build a strong and prosperous nation.
When I was in business, I traveled to a number of other countries. I was often struck by the vast difference in wealth among nations that were sometimes neighbors. Some of that was, of course, due to geography, rich countries, often had natural resources like mineral deposits or access to waterways for transportation.
But in some cases, all seems to separate a rich country from a more poor one was a faint line on the map. Countries that were physically right next door to each other, in some cases economically worlds apart. You think of North Korea and South Korea. I became convinced the critical difference between these countries wasn’t geography.
I noticed that the most successful countries shared something in common. They were the freest. They protected the rights of individuals. They enforced the rule of law. They encouraged trade and enterprise. They understood that economic freedom is the only force in history that’s consistent lifted people out of poverty and kept people out of poverty.
Look, a temporary aid package can give an economy a boost. It can fund projects and can pay bills and employ some people for a time. But it can’t sustain an economy. Not for the long term. It can’t pull the whole cart, if you will, because at some point the money runs out.
But an assistance program that helps unleash free enterprise can create enduring prosperity. Free enterprise is based on mutual exchange or rather — millions of exchanges, millions of people buying, trading, selling, building and investing.
Yes. It has its ups and downs. It isn’t perfect. It is more reliable, however, and more durable. And ultimately, as history has shown, it’s more successful.
By the way, perhaps the best example of the good that free enterprise can do is by looking at the example on the developed world itself. My friend Arthur Brooks at the American Enterprise Institute, he’s pointed out that before the year 1800, living standards in the West were appalling. A person born in the 18th century lived as his great- great-great grandfather had. Life was overwhelmed with disease and danger, and early death. Starting in 1800 the west began to two centuries of free enterprise and trade. Living standards rose. Literacy spread. Health improved.
And our own country between 1820 and 1998 real per capita GDP, real per capita GDP, increased 22-fold. As the most prosperous nation in history, it’s our duty to keep the engine of prosperity running to open markets across the globe, and to spread prosperity to all the corners of the Earth. We should do it because it is the right moral course to help others of our brothers and sisters.
But it is also economically the smart thing for us to do. In our export industries, the typical job pays above what the capital workers make and other industries. And more than one-third of manufacturing jobs in this country are tied to exports. Sadly, we’ve lost over half a million manufacturing jobs over the last four years.
As president I intend to reverse that trend by ensuring we have trade that works for America. I want to negotiate new trade agreements and ask Congress to reinstate Trade Promotion Authority. I want to complete negotiations to expand the trans-Pacific, and create what I call the Reagan Economic Zone, where any nation willing to play by the rules of free and fair trade can participate in a new community committed to free and fair trade.
I laid out a new approach for new era. We’re going to couple aid with trade and private investment and partnerships to empower individuals, encourage innovators, and reward entrepreneurs.
Today, we face a world with unprecedented challenges and complexities. We should not forget and cannot forget that not far from here, a voice of unspeakable evil and hatred has spoken out, threatening Israel and the entire civilized world. That we come together knowing that the bitterness of hate is no match for the strength of love. In the weeks ahead, I will continue to speak to these challenges and the opportunities of this moment presents us, I go beyond foreign assistance and describe also what I believe America’s strategies should be to secure our interests and ideals during the uncertain time.
A year from now, I hope to return to this meeting as president, having made substantial progress towards achieving the reforms I outlined. But I also hope to remind the world of the goodness and the bigness of the American heart. I never apologized for America. I believe America has been one of the greatest forces for good the world has ever known. We can hold that knowledge in our hearts with humility and unwavering conviction.
God bless and you and this great work and God bless my country and yours. Thank you so very much. It’s honor to be with you.