Relations with the most powerful countries in the world are central to our national security strategy. Our priority is pursuing American interests within cooperative relationships, particularly with our oldest and closest friends and allies. At the same time, we must seize the opportunity – unusual in historical terms – of an absence of fundamental conflict between the great powers. Another priority, therefore, is preventing the reemergence of the great power rivalries that divided the world in previous eras. New times demand new approaches, flexible enough to permit effective action even when there are reasonable differences of opinions among friends, yet strong enough to confront the challenges the world faces.
The United States has enjoyed unprecedented levels of cooperation on many of its highest national security priorities:
At the same time, America’s relations with other nations have been strong enough to withstand differences and candid exchanges of views.
The struggle against militant Islamic radicalism is the great ideological conflict of the early years of the 21st century and finds the great powers all on the same side – opposing the terrorists. This circumstance differs profoundly from the ideological struggles of the 20th century, which saw the great powers divided by ideology as well as by national interest.
The potential for great power consensus presents the United States with an extraordinary opportunity. Yet certain challenges must be overcome. Some nations differ with us on the appropriate pace of change. Other nations provide rhetorical support for free markets and effective democracy but little action on freedom’s behalf.
Five principles undergird our strategy for relations with the main centers of global power.
These principles guide our relations within our own Hemisphere, the frontline of defense of American national security. Our goal remains a hemisphere fully democratic, bound together by good will, security cooperation, and the opportunity for all our citizens to prosper. Tyrants and those who would follow them belong to a different era and must not be allowed to reverse the progress of the last two decades. Countries in the Hemisphere must be helped to the path of sustained political and economic development. The deceptive appeal of anti-free market populism must not be allowed to erode political freedoms and trap the Hemisphere’s poorest in cycles of poverty. If America’s nearest neighbors are not secure and stable, then Americans will be less secure.
Our strategy for the Hemisphere begins with deepening key relationships with Canada and Mexico, a foundation of shared values and cooperative policies that can be extended throughout the region. We must continue to work with our neighbors in the Hemisphere to reduce illegal immigration and promote expanded economic opportunity for marginalized populations. We must also solidify strategic relationships with regional leaders in Central and South America and the Caribbean who are deepening their commitment to democratic values. And we must continue to work with regional partners to make multilateral institutions like the OAS and the Inter-American Development Bank more effective and better able to foster concerted action to address threats that may arise to the region’s stability, security, prosperity, or democratic progress. Together, these partnerships can advance our four strategic priorities for the region: bolstering security, strengthening democratic institutions, promoting prosperity, and investing in people.
Africa holds growing geo-strategic importance and is a high priority of this Administration. It is a place of promise and opportunity, linked to the United States by history, culture, commerce, and strategic significance. Our goal is an African continent that knows liberty, peace, stability, and increasing prosperity.
Africa’s potential has in the past been held hostage by the bitter legacy of colonial misrule and bad choices by some African leaders. The United States recognizes that our security depends upon partnering with Africans to strengthen fragile and failing states and bring ungoverned areas under the control of effective democracies.
Overcoming the challenges Africa faces requires partnership, not paternalism. Our strategy is to promote economic development and the expansion of effective, democratic governance so that African states can take the lead in addressing African challenges. Through improved governance, reduced corruption, and market reforms, African nations can lift themselves toward a better future. We are committed to working with African nations to strengthen their domestic capabilities and the regional capacity of the AU to support post-conflict transformations, consolidate democratic transitions, and improve peacekeeping and disaster responses.
The Broader Middle East continues to command the world’s attention. For too long, too many nations of the Middle East have suffered from a freedom deficit. Repression has fostered corruption, imbalanced or stagnant economies, political resentments, regional conflicts, and religious extremism. These maladies were all cloaked by an illusion of stability. Yet the peoples of the Middle East share the same desires as people in the rest of the world: liberty, opportunity, justice, order, and peace. These desires are now being expressed in movements for reform. The United States is committed to supporting the efforts of reformers to realize a better life for themselves and their region.
We seek a Middle East of independent states, at peace with each other, and fully participating in an open global market of goods, services, and ideas. We are seeking to build a framework that will allow Israel and the Palestinian territories to live side by side in peace and security as two democratic states. In the wider region, we will continue to support efforts for reform and freedom in traditional allies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Tyrannical regimes such as Iran and Syria that oppress at home and sponsor terrorism abroad know that we will continue to stand with their people against their misrule. And in Iraq, we will continue to support the Iraqi people and their historic march from tyranny to effective democracy. We will work with the freely elected, democratic government of Iraq – our new partner in the War on Terror – to consolidate and expand freedom, and to build security and lasting stability.
The NATO remains a vital pillar of U.S. foreign policy. The Alliance has been strengthened by expanding its membership and now acts beyond its borders as an instrument for peace and stability in many parts of the world. It has also established partnerships with other key European states, including Russia, Ukraine, and others, further extending NATO's historic transformation. The internal reform of NATO structures, capabilities, and procedures must be accelerated to ensure that NATO is able to carry out its missions effectively. The Alliance’s door will also remain open to those countries that aspire for membership and meet NATO standards. Further, NATO must deepen working relationships between and across institutions, as it is doing with the EU, and as it also could do with new institutions. Such relationships offer opportunities for enhancing the distinctive strengths and missions of each organization.
Europe is home to some of our oldest and closest allies. Our cooperative relations are built on a sure foundation of shared values and interests. This foundation is expanding and deepening with the ongoing spread of effective democracies in Europe, and must expand and deepen still further if we are to reach the goal of a Europe whole, free, and at peace. These democracies are effective partners, joining with us to promote global freedom and prosperity. Just as in the special relationship that binds us to the United Kingdom, these cooperative relationships forge deeper ties between our nations.
The United States seeks to work closely with Russia on strategic issues of common interest and to manage issues on which we have differing interests. By reason of geography and power, Russia has great influence not only in Europe and its own immediate neighborhood, but also in many other regions of vital interest to us: the broader Middle East, South and Central Asia, and East Asia. We must encourage Russia to respect the values of freedom and democracy at home and not to impede the cause of freedom and democracy in these regions. Strengthening our relationship will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic, that Russia adopts. Recent trends regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions. We will work to try to persuade the Russian Government to move forward, not backward, along freedom’s path.
Stability and prosperity in Russia’s neighborhood will help deepen our relations with Russia; but that stability will remain elusive as long as this region is not governed by effective democracies. We will seek to persuade Russia’s government that democratic progress in Russia and its region benefits the peoples who live there and improves relationships with us, with other Western governments, and among themselves. Conversely, efforts to prevent democratic development at home and abroad will hamper the development of Russia’s relations with the United States, Europe, and its neighbors.
South and Central Asia is a region of great strategic importance where American interests and values are engaged as never before. India is a great democracy, and our shared values are the foundation of our good relations. We are eager to see Pakistan move along a stable, secure, and democratic path. Our goal is for the entire region of South and Central Asia to be democratic, prosperous, and at peace.
We have made great strides in transforming America’s relationship with India, a major power that shares our commitment to freedom, democracy, and rule of law. In July 2005, we signed a bold agreement – a roadmap to realize the meaningful cooperation that had eluded our two nations for decades. India now is poised to shoulder global obligations in cooperation with the United States in a way befitting a major power.
Progress with India has been achieved even as the United States has improved its strategic relationship with Pakistan. For decades, outsiders acted as if good relations with India and Pakistan were mutually exclusive. This Administration has shown that improved relations with each are possible and can help India and Pakistan make strides toward a lasting peace between themselves. America’s relationship with Pakistan will not be a mirror image of our relationship with India. Together, our relations with the nations of South Asia can serve as a foundation for deeper engagement throughout Central Asia. Increasingly, Afghanistan will assume its historical role as a land-bridge between South and Central Asia, connecting these two vital regions.
Central Asia is an enduring priority for our foreign policy. The five countries of Central Asia are distinct from one another and our relations with each, while important, will differ. In the region as a whole, the elements of our larger strategy meet, and we must pursue those elements simultaneously: promoting effective democracies and the expansion of free-market reforms, diversifying global sources of energy, and enhancing security and winning the War on Terror.
East Asia is a region of great opportunities and lingering tensions. Over the past decade, it has been a source of extraordinary economic dynamism and also of economic turbulence. Few regional economies have more effectively harnessed the engines of future prosperity: technology and globalized trade. Yet few regions have had greater difficulty overcoming the suspicions of the past.
The United States is a Pacific nation, with extensive interests throughout East and Southeast Asia. The region’s stability and prosperity depend on our sustained engagement: maintaining robust partnerships supported by a forward defense posture supporting economic integration through expanded trade and investment and promoting democracy and human rights.
Forging new international initiatives and institutions can assist in the spread of freedom, prosperity, and regional security. Existing institutions like the APEC forum and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum, can play a vital role. New arrangements, such as the U.S.-ASEAN Enhanced Partnership, or others that are focused on problem-solving and action, like the Six-Party Talks and the PSI, can likewise bring together Asian nations to address common challenges. And Asian nations that share our values can join us in partnership to strengthen new democracies and promote democratic reforms throughout the region. This institutional framework, however, must be built upon a foundation of sound bilateral relations with key states in the region.
With Japan, the United States enjoys the closest relations in a generation. As the world’s two largest economies and aid donors, acting in concert multiplies each of our strengths and magnifies our combined contributions to global progress. Our shared commitment to democracy at home offers a sure foundation for cooperation abroad.
With Australia, our alliance is global in scope. From Iraq and Afghanistan to our historic FTA, we are working jointly to ensure security, prosperity, and expanded liberty.
With the ROK, we share a vision of a prosperous, democratic, and united Korean peninsula. We also share a commitment to democracy at home and progress abroad and are translating that common vision into joint action to sustain our alliance into the 21st century. With Southeast Asia, we celebrate the dynamism of increased economic freedom and look to further extend political freedom to all the people in the region, including those suffering under the repressive regime in Burma. In promoting greater economic and political liberty, we will work closely with our allies and key friends, including Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
China encapsulates Asia’s dramatic economic successes, but China’s transition remains incomplete. In one generation, China has gone from poverty and isolation to growing integration into the international economic system. China once opposed global institutions; today it is a permanent member of the UNSC and the WTO. As China becomes a global player, it must act as a responsible stakeholder that fulfills its obligations and works with the United States and others to advance the international system that has enabled its success: enforcing the international rules that have helped China lift itself out of a century of economic deprivation, embracing the economic and political standards that go along with that system of rules, and contributing to international stability and security by working with the United States and other major powers.
China’s leaders proclaim that they have made a decision to walk the transformative path of peaceful development. If China keeps this commitment, the United States will welcome the emergence of a China that is peaceful and prosperous and that cooperates with us to address common challenges and mutual interests. China can make an important contribution to global prosperity and ensure its own prosperity for the longer term if it will rely more on domestic demand and less on global trade imbalances to drive its economic growth. China shares our exposure to the challenges of globalization and other transnational concerns. Mutual interests can guide our cooperation on issues such as terrorism, proliferation, and energy security. We will work to increase our cooperation to combat disease pandemics and reverse environmental degradation.
The United States encourages China to continue down the road of reform and openness, because in this way China’s leaders can meet the legitimate needs and aspirations of the Chinese people for liberty, stability, and prosperity. As economic growth continues, China will face a growing demand from its own people to follow the path of East Asia’s many modern democracies, adding political freedom to economic freedom. Continuing along this path will contribute to regional and international security.
China’s leaders must realize, however, that they cannot stay on this peaceful path while holding on to old ways of thinking and acting that exacerbate concerns throughout the region and the world. These old ways include:
China and Taiwan must also resolve their differences peacefully, without coercion and without unilateral action by either China or Taiwan.
Ultimately, China’s leaders must see that they cannot let their population increasingly experience the freedoms to buy, sell, and produce, while denying them the rights to assemble, speak, and worship. Only by allowing the Chinese people to enjoy these basic freedoms and universal rights can China honor its own constitution and international commitments and reach its full potential. Our strategy seeks to encourage China to make the right strategic choices for its people, while we hedge against other possibilities.