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Military

11 September 2002

U.S. Envoy to NATO Calls for Unity, Resolve in War on Terrorism

(Ambassador Nicholas Burns at NATO Commemoration of September 11) (1380)
Recalling the messages of solidarity and comfort from the NATO Allies
in the first hours after the September 11 attacks, U.S. Ambassador to
NATO Nicholas Burns said that "neither isolationism nor unilateralism
can ever be America's course."
"You helped us forge a mighty coalition to defend our democracies,"
Burns said during a commemoration ceremony at NATO Headquarters. "You
opened your ports and your airfields, you deployed Special Forces,
flew combat missions, sent your doctors and de-mining teams into
Afghanistan. You flew NATO AWACS missions over our cities from west to
east for many long winter months.
"In sum, every NATO Ally and 17 Partner countries participated in our
defeat of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and in the restoration of civil
order in Afghanistan. Europe was instrumental in Afghanistan and
remains truly indispensable in the global fight against terrorism."
The future must be faced the same way, he said: "united and resolved
to win the war against terrorism and weapons of mass destruction."
"In the post- September 11 world, we NATO Allies will be threatened
not so much by hostile states but by failed ones," he continued. "We
will be threatened not by huge armies here in Europe but by the toxic
mix of terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction far from
NATO's borders. The world changed on September 11. This is now the
defining threat to our civilization and way of life," the ambassador
said.
Following are his remarks:
(begin transcript)
NATO Headquarters                                  
11 Sep. 2002                  
NATO COMMEMORATION OF SEPTEMBER 11
Address by Ambassador Nicholas Burns 
Secretary General Robertson, my fellow members of the North Atlantic
Council, members of the NATO staff, and guests. Thank you all for
joining us here today. I wish to thank the Secretary General for his
words of remembrance and for his strong leadership of NATO on
September 11 and 12, 2001, and throughout his tenure.
We are here today to remember. We remember the horrific events of one
year ago in my country. We remember first and foremost the victims at
the World Trade Center in New York, at the Pentagon in Virginia, and
in a field in Pennsylvania - 3,011 men and women, young and old from
every part of America, and from 86 nations, including 15 NATO and 10
Partner countries. We remember them today.
We remember those who gave their lives to save others - the
firefighters, and police officers, and rescue personnel who raced to
the scene and threw themselves into the cauldron. The airplane
passengers who fought back against the hijackers. We remember them all
as heroes who reminded us anew that day of all that is best in
humanity - courage, dedication, selflessness.
As President Bush said in his proclamation to Americans today, "Those
whom we lost last September 11 will forever hold a cherished place in
our hearts and in the history of our nation. As we mark the first
anniversary of that tragic day, we remember their sacrifice; and we
commit ourselves to honoring their memory by pursuing peace and
justice in the world and security at home."
We remember something else from September 11, 2001: the evil that was
so evident that day - the murderous and criminal work of fanatics who
in their hatred flew commercial airliners as missiles into crowded
office buildings and who, in their intolerance and depravity, would
have killed many thousands more, had they been able to.
September 11 was an American tragedy, unique in the history of our
country, whose imprint can still be seen and felt in every town in
America. For a people who had always felt protected by two great
oceans, the attacks were a profound shock to our national
consciousness. But the strength and will and patriotism of Americans
were soon evident for all to see.
The attacks were carried out on American soil but their impact has
reverberated to the farthest corners of the earth. And those attacks
have, in important ways, changed our world forever.
We Americans understand very well that the September 11 atrocities
were aimed -- not just at us -- but at all of us all over the world
who believe in a liberal, tolerant, and democratic future. Al-Qaeda
attacked the symbols of American commercial and military power, but
their ultimate aim was to destroy what all of us as Europeans and
North Americans cherish.
After a tortured night, as the twin towers burned and the Pentagon was
still in flames, the very first good news for Americans came from this
headquarters, early in the morning of September 12, the news that the
NATO allies had invoked Article 5 of the Washington treaty for the
very first time in Alliance history. NATO's message to America was
that you were with us -- the attacks of the previous day were an
attack on all 19 of the Allies.
Do not underestimate the importance of that first, great act of
solidarity and alliance to the American people. Europeans and
Canadians shared our pain and loss. You flew your flags at half staff
across the continent; you queued in long lines to sign condolence
books in Berlin and Madrid, in Leuven and in Warsaw, and in Vancouver.
You held candlelit vigils. You filled churches, synagogues, and
mosques with mourners.
No American will ever forget the messages of solidarity and comfort
uttered by our Allies in those bleak hours following the attacks. "We
stand with you, shoulder to shoulder," said Prime Minster Tony Blair.
"We are all Americans, " said President Jacques Chirac.
As I remember September 11, I will never forget the stunned silence of
19 NATO Ambassadors around our lunch table when we heard the news. I
will never forget the heartfelt condolences offered by Lord Robertson
and every member of the NATO family. Nor will I forget our emergency
meeting late into the night of September 11 to resolve together that
we must act; and then the historic decision we took together the next
morning that gave unprecedented substance and meaning to Alliance
solidarity.
Our NATO Allies then turned to action. You helped us forge a mighty
coalition to defend our democracies. You opened your ports and your
airfields, you deployed Special Forces, flew combat missions, sent
your doctors and de-mining teams into Afghanistan. You flew NATO AWACS
missions over our cities from west to east for many long winter
months. In sum, every NATO Ally and 17 Partner countries participated
in our defeat of the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and in the restoration of
civil order in Afghanistan. Europe was instrumental in Afghanistan and
remains truly indispensable in the global fight against terrorism.
With Europe's contributions in mind, we Americans remember something
else today: that despite our awesome power, we cannot go it alone in
the world. America needs our friends and, especially, our NATO Allies.
Neither isolationism nor unilateralism can ever be America's course.
Finally, as we faced the challenge of responding to September 11
together last autumn, we must now face the future in the same way -
united and resolved to win the war against terrorism and weapons of
mass destruction. In the post- September 11 world, we NATO Allies will
be threatened not so much by hostile states but by failed ones. We
will be threatened not by huge armies here in Europe but by the toxic
mix of terrorist groups and weapons of mass destruction far from
NATO's borders. The world changed on September 11. This is now the
defining threat to our civilization and way of life.
To deal with these new threats, NATO needs modern combat capabilities
that can get to the fight and carry out their missions with efficiency
and precision. This must be a central accomplishment of our summit at
Prague.
As we move forward, we Europeans and North Americans should remember
that although we come from different parts of the world, that we have
differing histories and traditions and may not always agree on
important issues - we must remain united on one essential point: there
can be no justification for terrorism. It is, in many ways, a question
of right and wrong, good and evil. Our democracies, and our common
civilization, are worth defending. There is no other way forward for
NATO and our future.
Thank you all for being here today, and for remembering the victims of
September 11.
(end transcript)
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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