Clinton's acceptance speech at the
Democratic National Convention

29 August 1996

Foreign policy exerpts

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My fellow Americans, I want to build a bridge to the 21st century that makes sure we are still the nation with the world's strongest defense; that our foreign policy still advances the values of our American community in the community of nations. Our bridge to the future must include bridges to other nations.

Because we remain the world's indispensable nation, to advance prosperity, peace and freedom, and to keep our own children safe from the dangers of terror and weapons of mass destruction.

We have helped to bring democracy to Haiti and peace to Bosnia. Now the peace signed on the White House lawn between the Israelis and the Palestinians must embrace more of Israel's neighbors. The deep desire for peace that Hillary and I felt when we walked the streets of Belfast and Derry must become real for all the people of Northern Ireland. And Cuba must finally join the community of democracies.

Nothing in our lifetimes has been more heartening than when people of the former Soviet Union and Central Europe broke the grip of communism. We have aided their progress, and I am proud of it, and I will continue our strong partnership with a democratic Russia. And we will bring some of Central Europe's new democracies into NATO so that they will never question their own freedom in the future.

Our American exports are at record levels. In the next four years, we have to break down even more barriers to them, reaching out to Latin America, to Africa, to other countries in Asia, making sure that our workers and our products, the world's finest, have the benefit of free and fair trade.

In the last four years, we have frozen North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and I'm proud to say that tonight there is not a single Russian nuclear missile pointed at an American child.

Now we must enforce and ratify, without delay, measures that further reduce nuclear arsenals, banish poison gas, and ban nuclear tests once and for all.

We have made investments, new investments, in our most important defense asset -- our magnificent men and women in uniform. By the year 2000, we also will have increased funding to modernize our weapons systems by 40%. These commitments will make sure that our military remains the best-trained, best-equipped fighting force in the entire world. We are developing a sensible nation missile defense, but we must not -- not now, not by the year 2000 -- squander $60 billion on an unproved, ineffective Star Wars program that could be obsolete tomorrow.

We are fighting terrorism on all fronts with a three-prong strategy.

First, we are working to rally a world coalition with zero tolerance for terrorism. Just this month I signed a law imposing harsh sanctions on foreign companies that invest in key sectors of the Iranian and Libyan economies. As long as Iran trains, supports, and protects terrorists, as long as Libya refuses to give up the people who blew up Pan Am 103, they will pay a price from the United States.

Second, we must give law enforcement the tools they need to take the fight to terrorists.

We need new laws to crack down on money laundering and to prosecute and punish those who commit violent acts against American citizens abroad; to add chemical markers or taggants to gunpowder used in bombs so we can track the bomb-makers; to extend the same power police now have against organized crime to save lives by tapping all the phones that terrorists use. Terrorists are as big a threat to our future -- perhaps bigger -- than organized crime. Why should we have two different standards for a common threat to the safety of America and our children?

We need, in short, the laws that Congress refused to pass. And I ask them again: Please, as an American -- not a partisan -- matter, pass these laws now.

Third, we will improve airport and air travel security. I have asked the vice president to establish a commission and report back to me on ways to do this, but now we will install the most sophisticated bomb detection equipment in all our major airports, we will search every airplane flying to or from America from another nation -- every flight, every cargo hold, every cabin, every time.

My fellow Democrats and my fellow Americans, I know that in most election seasons foreign policy is not a matter of great interest in the debates in the barber shops and the cafes of America, on the floors and at the bowling alleys, but there are times when only America can make the difference between war and peace, between freedom and repression, between life death.

We cannot save all the world's children -- but we can save many of them.

We cannot become the world's policeman. But where our values and our interests are at stake and where we can make a difference, we must act and we must lead. That is our job and we are better, stronger and safer because we are doing it.

My fellow Americans, let me say one last time, we can only build our bridge to the 21st century if we build it together and if we're willing to walk arm-in-arm across that bridge together.

I have spent so much of your time that you gave me these last four years to be your president worrying about the problems of Bosnia, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Burundi. What do these places have in common? People are killing each other and butchering children because they are different from on another.

They share the same piece of land but they are different from one another. They hate their race, their tribe, their ethnic group, their religion.

We have seen the terrible, terrible price that people pay when they insist on fighting and killing their neighbors over their differences. In our own country, we have seen America pay a terrible price for any form of discrimination, and we have seen us grow stronger as we have steadily let more and more of our hatreds and our fears go. As we have given more and more of our people the chance to live their dreams.

That is why the flame of our Statue of Liberty, like the Olympic flame carried all across America by thousands of citizen heroes will always burn brighter than the flames that burn our churches, our synagogues, our mosques.

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