2017 Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards
Frederick Kempe, President and CEO, Atlantic Council
Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Chairman, Atlantic Council
Her Royal Highness Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein (Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award)
Admiral Michelle Howard, Commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples and U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa (Distinguished Military Leadership Award)
Renée Fleming, Award Winning American Soprano (Distinguished Artistic Leadership Award)
William C. Ford, Jr., Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company (Distinguished Business Leadership Award)
His Excellency Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (Distinguished International Leadership Award)
General James L. Jones, Jr., USMC (Ret.), Chairman, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council
Duško Marković, Prime Minister, Republic of Montenegro
Madeleine K. Albright, Board Director and Middle East Strategy Task Force Co-Chair, Atlantic Council
Lieutenant General Alain Parent, Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Canadian Armed Forces
C. Boyden Gray, Vice Chair, Atlantic Council
Mike Pence, Vice President, United States of America
Ian Brzezinski, Resident Senior Fellow, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council
Kurt Newman, M.D., President and CEO, Children’s National Medical Center
Adrienne Arsht, Executive Vice Chair, Atlantic Council
Location: Washington, D.C.
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Date: Monday, June 5, 2016
Superior Transcriptions LLC
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Atlantic Council President and CEO Fred Kempe. (Applause.)
FREDERICK KEMPE: So did that get your attention? We’ve decided from the last couple of dinners that the only thing that would quiet this social of an audience was a drumroll and some strobe lights, so it worked very well.
Welcome to the 21st Annual Distinguished Leadership Awards Dinner. Please join me in welcoming to the stage General Jim Jones, former supreme allied commander Europe, Marine commandant, national security adviser to President Obama, and the chairman of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security of the Atlantic Council. (Applause.)
GENERAL JAMES L. JONES (RET.): Thank you, Fred. And good evening, ladies and gentlemen.
What a pleasure it is to be here tonight. I have the honor of being the designated sergeant-at-arms for this event, and so we will conduct the next phase of it with military precision and appropriate dignity. So, ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the presentation of the flags of the United States of America, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Montenegro – the Republic of Montenegro – the 29th and newest member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization alliance as of 12:15 today. (Cheers, applause.)
(Music plays.) (Applause.)
Thank you. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. Please be seated.
It’s now my great honor and distinct pleasure to welcome to the podium for the first time, as the newest member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the prime minister of Montenegro, His Excellency Mr. Duško Marković. Please welcome the prime minister. (Applause.)
PRIME MINISTER DUŠKO MARKOVIĆ: (Through interpreter.) Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, good evening. Some 50 years ago, an American uttered a sentence that the entire world remembers very well: “This is a small step for a man, but a giant leap for mankind.” Allow me to rephrase on this historic day for Montenegro the words of Neil Armstrong: This is a small step for the United States and its allies, but a great day for Montenegro. (Applause.)
This is a great day, and I’m very honored to be here. And this is a great occasion also to thank the Atlantic Council and all of our friends from the United States for all the support that they have given us on our part. Today our country became the 29th member state of NATO, and we will prove that we are trustworthy and capable of assuming all the obligations and commitments stemming from the membership. I would especially like to emphasize tonight that we would like to enrich our already good, our precious partnership and friendship with the United States, which will hopefully be eternal, by excellent economic cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen, Montenegro is not only a beautiful country with abundant resources. We also have a lot to offer to investors, so I’m using this opportunity to invite not only the American citizens but also the American investors to come to Montenegro to invest and thereby help us harness the potential to the fullest. Thank you. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Atlantic Council Chairman Governor Jon Huntsman. (Applause.)
JON M. HUNTSMAN, JR.: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. You know, we were just back here a second ago with the prime minister, and what a special occasion it is for all of us gathered back there to be able to commend him and congratulate him on this most momentous achievement today. It’s a huge honor to be with the country of Montenegro, now the 29th and newest member of NATO, and it’s a pleasure to be with all of you tonight, I must say.
We’re also honored tonight to have with us Nicos Anastasiades, president of Cyprus. And we’re truly delighted to invite – Vice President Mike Pence will join us shortly to offer some remarks.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, excellencies, dignitaries, friends, my two daughters who are here, I have to say, a long time ago I ran for higher office to have a podium just like this. So for me this – (laughter) – this is a really great occasion. But I want to tell you how thrilled and excited we are to have you to the 2017 Distinguished Leadership Awards. It’s going to be a very special evening tonight, and we’re delighted that you’re with us.
So along with honoring five truly exceptional individuals, tonight’s celebration marks the 70th anniversary of the creation of the Marshall Plan, one of the most visionary foreign policy initiatives in U.S. history, which helped laid the foundation for Europe’s reconstruction following World War II. Now the Marshall Plan, which Madeline Albright spoke eloquently about just today, alongside a host of institutions created by the United States and its allies, would evolve into the global rules-based system that has produced one of the greatest periods of peace, prosperity and progress in world history. Now, in a similar sense, we at the Atlantic Council have been motivated and inspired by the belief that the United States must pull together with its like-minded friends to shape the future, recognizing that if we fail, we cede the way to less benevolent actors, or chaos filling the void. Suffice it to say, today is a very important moment for the Atlantic Council. We’ve never been in a stronger position to lead out and make more of a difference. So thank you to our community of dedicated experts, and those like many of you who are here tonight who help to support them.
Tonight, we recognize the accomplishments of five outstanding individuals. We pay tribute to their leadership, their commitment and their character, and above all their ability to remain resilient – I know Adrienne Arsht loves that term, and so do I – to remain resilient during challenging times.
They are Jens Stoltenberg, the 13th secretary-general of NATO, who embodies the Atlantic Council’s mission through his unwavering commitment to advancing freedom, democracy, and international cooperation.
Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, who on behalf of the people of the UAE is recognized for her principled advocacy as the voice for vulnerable populations around the world and for her efforts to bridge cultural, religious and national divides.
My good friend William C. Ford Jr., executive chairman of Ford Motor Company, for his astute vision in helping Ford embrace the rapid pace of change within the automobile sector, including his commitment to sustainability, community engagement, and next-generation leadership.
Admiral Michelle J. Howard, commander U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa, for her military service as well as for her inspiring journey as the first African-American and first woman to be promoted to four-star admiral and to assume the position of vice chief of naval operations. As a Navy family, Mary Kaye and I are particularly pleased to have you with us here tonight, Admiral.
Renée Fleming, award-winning soprano, one of the most acclaimed singers of her time, for her moving musical talent, which continues to bring classical and opera music to new audiences, earning her the National Medal of Arts and four Grammy Awards.
Finally, as many of you know, this will be my last awards dinner as chair of this terrific institution. I am deeply honored to have held this position for the past three and a half years. I’ve been humbled by it. I’ve learned from all of you. I’ve enjoyed every minute. Following in the footsteps of some of the very special people in this audience, one of whom is with us here tonight, General Jim Jones, our former chair of the board, and I just want to thank Jim publicly once again for his leadership and ongoing commitment to this Atlantic Council. He’s a very special individual, and I just want to give him a round of applause. (Applause.)
I want to recognize my wife, Mary Kaye, and daughter Mary Anne, both of whom are here tonight, for their support of many Atlantic Council events as well.
Of course, none of this would be complete tonight without one fearless leader by the name of Fred Kempe. (Applause.) Yeah, some call Fred president and CEO. Some call him “Unkempt,” which was his name in high school. (Laughter.) I do know this. He has propelled this organization forward in ways that most would have deemed absolutely impossible a decade ago.
Fred is, without question, the best policy entrepreneur I know. Now, we come from rival public high schools in Salt Lake City. Fred went to Skyline High School. I went to Highland High School. So it’s really hard for me to compliment him at all. (Laughter.) But it’s all true. Fred operates with a level of vision, energy and focus that is absolutely extraordinary.
Fred, thank you for your leadership, for working tirelessly to advance the Council’s mission, and for convening this absolutely remarkable community here tonight, which in many ways is a tribute to you and your lifetime commitment to foreign affairs.
Ladies and gentlemen, Fred Kempe. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: Not so fast, General. General Huntsman? Good heavens. Governor Huntsman. Not so fast. Not so fast. Come on up. Come on up.
So we have a little bit of a surprise for you in this final Distinguished Leadership Awards dinner, well into the fourth year of your remarkable leadership. Your chairmanship has come at a time of significance for the world, for the transatlantic alliance, for our country, and, of course, for the Atlantic Council itself. So maybe you should look at the screens a little bit, and maybe the audience should as well.
You’ve traveled the world as our chairman, rubbing shoulders and exchanging views with some of this planet’s leading statesmen. In doing that, you have embodied the thoughtful, nonpartisan, purposeful, entrepreneurial and results-oriented ethos of the Atlantic Council.
You build partnerships among division. You remain principled and practical in seeking solutions when partisanship is often the course of least resistance. Your cool analysis and steady strategic thinking have been a north star for this organization and for me in many, many private conversations about the best way forward.
During a time when the speed and surprise of daily events is so easily distracting, what I’d like to share with this intimate gathering is another secret to your success. You deeply care about the people you work with. It was characteristic of Governor Huntsman, this swan song of his chairman, after all he’s accomplished at the Atlantic Council, that he took so much time to salute me. That’s just the way he is.
But you have been an inspiration not just for me, but for the most junior of our staff, for the interns, up to the directors and the vice presidents, taking time to support their projects, to provide advice, and offering the most valuable things of all – your time, your boundless wisdom and boundless energy. Oh, perhaps I’m wrong. Maybe that wasn’t really the most valuable thing of all. It actually could be Mary Kaye. (Laughs.)
Mary Kaye, thank you for being such an effective and delightful Atlantic Council ambassador.
And in the audience, Mary Anne and Gracie, thank you so much for all your presence and all the rest of your family’s involvement in what we do.
And speaking of ambassadors – oh, I’m sorry, I’m not supposed to talk about that here. (Laughter.) What I meant to say, Governor, is that we salute you for all you have done for your country, our country and our cause, and all you will do in the future. You personify the Atlantic Council’s ethos of principled, untiring engagement, not shying away from the very toughest of challenges.
And with that, I would like to salute you and Mary Kaye and invite all in the audience to join me in doing the same. (Applause.)
Thank you. I see it every day. I see it in the offices. I see the way that Governor Huntsman has touched so many people. So thank you for allowing us to salute him tonight. And if he thinks he’s going to get out of his obligations to the Atlantic Council, he’s got another thing coming. (Laughter.)
You’re going to hear a lot tonight about the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan and the context for our work. So I’ll keep my own comments short.
The fundamental challenge we face today is similar to the Council’s founding mission. How do we inspire and sustain U.S. leadership along partners and friends around the world to secure the future? What’s dramatically different is the context. While the post-World War II years, as we were founded nearly 60 years ago, were shaped primarily by a superpower competition, the forces at work now require the Atlantic Council to operate globally and across diverse functional areas to address a multiplicity of challenges and opportunities. And that’s what we do across our 11 programs and centers.
Against a host of headwinds, the Atlantic Council galvanizes communities, public sector, private sector and civil-society leaders to refresh the international system, bring in new rising voices, and advance stability, prosperity and freedom.
A little more than a year ago, when we last gathered for these awards, the United Kingdom had not yet voted to leave Europe. NATO was focused on its renewed momentum with troop deployments in Poland and the Baltics. Turkey had not weathered an attempted coup. France had not yet suffered its terrorist attacks in Nice and Paris, nor the U.K. in Westminster, Manchester and London. This just scratches the surface of the unanticipated disruptions of the past year.
While Secretary of State George C. Marshall’s words were spoken 70 years ago, they ring true today. And I quote. Said George Marshall, “I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by the press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation.”
I urge you all to read that speech from 1947, because it seems so timely today. In response to this global uncertainty, we do a lot. But we also launched this year our newest center, the Adrienne Arsht Center for Resilience. Acknowledging the resilience, the capacity of a system, a community and individuals to bounce back stronger after major shocks is an antidote to these turbulent times.
The Arsht Center for Resilience will strive to strengthen our ability to respond to future shocks, both natural and manmade. With the ever-capable Christine Wormuth at its helm as director, newly joining the Atlantic Council, and former undersecretary of defense, the Center will break ground on this crucially important subject through original research and innovative approaches.
Please join me in thanking Adrienne yet again for what she does for the Atlantic Council, and welcoming Christine. (Applause.)
We, the Atlantic Council, are the heirs to a commitment not only to sustain but to improve the world and to adapt and advance the international system that has produced so much good for so many over the past 70 years, arguably the most peaceful, promising and prosperous in human history.
And that brings me back to our gathering tonight and you. By being with us this evening, you’ve taken a place in our community to support the work we do and affirm the values that drive it at a historic moment. And look around you. What an amazing community this is. You are more than 700 guests from more than 55 countries, heads of state and government, former heads of state and government, members of Congress, senior officials, ambassadors, and countless business executives, media and civil-society leaders.
In particular, it’s my privilege to welcome Raimonds Bergmanis, minister of defense of Latvia; Mikheil Janelidze, minister of foreign affairs of Georgia; Srdjan Darmanović, minister of foreign affairs of Montenegro; as well as Representative Debbie Dingell of the 12th district of Michigan, also known as Bill Ford’s hometown; and Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado’s 1st district. Thank you all for joining us. (Applause.)
Finally, join me in saluting three very important groups of friends in the audience. First – and I’ll ask you to stand – if I could ask all board members of the Atlantic Council and all international board members of the Atlantic Council to rise so that we can salute you. Please stand. (Applause.) Thank you for making my job much easier and so pleasurable.
Second, if I could ask all Atlantic Council staff and program center directors and their spouses and partners to rise so that we can salute you, and through you your families. You are the best and most purposeful in the business. (Applause.)
Finally, I’m going to ask all of tonight’s co-chairs who are in the audience, and people representing those co-chairs, to rise as I read your names. And please hold your applause until I’ve listed the names. And when you hear the names of all these supporters, you’ll get a feeling of the incredible robustness of this community.
Matt Mazonkey of Airbus; Sabih Masri of Arab Bank; Bob Hastings of Bell Helicopter; Marc Allen of Boeing; Jeff Shellebarger of Chevron; Clyde Tuggle of Coca-Cola; Karl Hopkins of Dentons; Neal Blue of General Atomics; Franco Nuschese of Georgetown Entertainment Group, aka Café Milano. (Laughter.) Joia Johnson of Hanesbrands; Rafic Bizri of Hariri Interests; Adam Tan of HNA; Ahmet Oren of Ihlas Holding; General Jim Jones of Jones International Group. He actually asked me tonight to introduce him as field marshal, and I refused. (Laughter.)
Robert Schulz of KMW; William Lynn of Leonardo; Ahmed Charai of Maroc Télématique; Mian Mansha of MCB Bank Ltd.; Mehmet Nazif Gunal of MNG; Markus Dohle of Penguin Random House; John Harris of Raytheon; Michael Anderson of Saab North America; Thomas Eldridge of SAIC; Tewodros Ashenafi of Southwest Holdings; Alan Pellegrini of Thales USA; Kate Friedrich of Thomson Reuters; and, of course, Adrienne Arsht of Total Bank and executive vice chair of our board; and, of course, all of our partners at Ford Motor Company.
Please join me in applauding this unique and wonderful group of people. (Applause.) With such a community, such an assembly of accomplishment and wisdom, it is now obvious to all of you why the – why the Atlantic Council’s capabilities have never been so robust at a moment when they are most urgently required. Thank you so much for being here. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. (Cheers, applause.)
MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT: Thank you.
Excellencies, distinguished guests and fellow Atlanticists, good evening.
In the last few years, we seem to be observing the 70th anniversary of everything. (Laughter.) And over the last few days, many of us have been commemorating George Marshall, who gave his famous speech at Harvard announcing a plan to save Europe on June 5th, 1947, 70 years ago today.
The United States entered World War II because we had to, because our immediate survival was at stake. The same cannot be said about the Marshall Plan. In 1947, the American people were weary of war and wary of new commitments. They wanted nothing more than to come home, stay home and make the baby boom boom. (Laughter.) It was not self-evident that our nation would come together to support the active enlightened self-interest which was the Marshall Plan.
But we did. And we did it in a way that was uniquely inclusive in design, uniquely expansive in scope and uniquely American in spirit.
We used Marshall aid to encourage the creation of a united Europe, which was an ambitious goal just a few years after the most terrible war in European history.
We offered Marshall aid to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, though the Iron Curtain had already begun to descend.
Our vision specifically embraced our former adversaries, even though this was hard for many people to accept.
The Marshall Plan planted seeds of transatlantic partnership that would soon blossom in the form of NATO and the cooperative institutions of a new Europe.
But just as important was the expression of leadership that the Marshall Plan conveyed.
After World War I America had withdrawn from the world, shunning responsibility and avoiding risk. Others did the same. The result was the rise of great evil in the heart of Europe.
But after the devastation of World War II and the horror of the Holocaust, it was not enough to say that the enemy had been vanquished and that what we were against had failed. The generation of Marshall, Truman and Vandenberg was determined to build a lasting peace. And the message that generation conveyed form the White House, from both parties on Capitol Hill and from people across our country who donated millions in relief cash, clothing and food was that this time America would not turn inward; America would lead.
In my own life, I have seen the difference that this kind of American leadership made. And I’m speaking not as the former secretary of state but as a child of Czechoslovakia born before World War II.
In the early years of my life, America was absent when the Munich Agreement sacrificed my country’s sovereignty in the name of appeasement. America was likewise absent when the war broke out, and my family fled to England. And I can still remember sitting in the bomb shelter singing away the fear but worrying that we might be left to fight the war alone.
And then, one day, wonderful news came from across the sea: A brave military had answered the call, and it was on its way to rescue freedom. And soon enough America and its allies engineered D-Day, V-E Day and the Marshall Plan. (Applause.)
By then we had returned to Czechoslovakia, and my father was working for the democratic government as a diplomat. But his boss, Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, was told by Stalin in Moscow that his country cannot participate in the Marshall Plan, despite its national interest in doing so. Upon his return to Prague, Masaryk said it was at that moment he understood he was employed by a government no longer sovereign in its own land. It could only be a matter of months before the government was taken over by the Communists. Masaryk was killed, and my family was once again forced into exile, this time sailing across the ocean to a new and welcoming home.
I try to avoid seeing all of European history through the prism of Czechoslovakia. But it is true that after the 1948 coup, it did help hasten the passage of the Marshall Plan in Congress and led to the creation of NATO. So these institutions have always been a part of the fabric of my life.
Because of the vision of the Truman-Marshall generation, I was privileged to live my life in an era where America stood for freedom and opportunity across the world.
It may be hard for people today who have no memory of that time 70 years ago to understand the difference that American leadership made, but it is necessary for them to try to understand because today, here in America, we are facing a great danger.
And that danger is not a foreign enemy. It is the possibility that we will fail to hear the example of Marshall, that we will take for granted the institutions and principles upon which our own freedom is based and forget what the history of the past century reminds us: Problems abroad if left unattended will come home to America, and the United States is stronger when it has allies and friends that share our interests and our ideals.
For nearly 70 years one institution has stood above all others – (applause) – for nearly 70 years one institution has stood above all others in defending freedom and securing the interests of America and its closest allies. So it’s fitting that tonight the Atlantic Council should honor that institution, NATO, and its leader, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. (Applause.)
It is fitting that we do so on the day that NATO officially welcomed its 29th members, Montenegro. And Mr. Prime Minister, it’s very good to see you up front this evening, and – (laughter, cheers, applause) – and I would like to say in your native tongue: Dobro došli. (Applause.)
It is also fitting that we do so in the company of the family of Zbigniew Brzezinski, our dearly departed friend and a great advocate for this alliance.
Tonight’s honoree has served as NATO’s 13th secretary-general for nearly three years, managing the alliance in the face of a renewed Russian threat and a growing instability to the alliance’s south. He came to that position after a successful career in public service, including more than eight years as prime minister of Norway.
Secretary-General Stoltenberg was also the U.N. special envoy on climate change, a position he probably doesn’t boast about in Oval Office meetings today. (Laughter.) But he is respected by both ends of the political spectrum because he has helped to purge the alliance of any sense of complacency and prepared it to meet its full range of missions in the 21st century.
He has also made a vigorous effort to dispel myths about the alliance, including the supposed lack of European commitment to NATO. Secretary-General Stoltenberg has made clear that NATO’s European members are fully behind the alliance and that each member must meet its obligations, including to Article 5, fully and without fail. (Applause.)
And in case you have missed the significance of the pin I’m wearing tonight, it’s Article 5, which is at the heart of the alliance, and I wear it over my heart. (Laughter, cheers, applause.)
In the coming months, as NATO approaches its own 70th anniversary, the secretary-general will be grappling with many competing ideas about NATO’s purpose, direction, organization and future tasks. The stakes are high because NATO is not just the world’s most successful military and political alliance; it is also the only organization of its kind. NATO is a unique and indispensable contributor to global security, born of Truman and Marshall but defended and shaped for the better by Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Obama. Its continued effectiveness and America’s continued support for it should be a matter of urgent concern to us all and especially to those of the Atlantic Council.
I’m personally grateful, therefore, that the alliance is led by a person of long experience, inspiring vision and great energy. Please join me in welcoming my friend and the recipient of the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished International Leadership Award, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. (Applause.)
SECRETARY-GENERAL JENS STOLTENBERG: Thank you so much, Madeleine, for those nice words and for the kind introduction. You have always been a very outspoken champion of NATO, and – (laughter) – as well as a(n) inspirational colleague and friend.
I would also like to start by thanking Fred and Damon and the entire Atlantic Council team. Thank you for this honor, and thank you for your steadfast leadership and support of a strong transatlantic alliance.
Let me also congratulate the other honorees, her Royal Highness Haya Bint Al Hussein, William Ford, Jr., Renée Fleming and also Admiral Michelle Howard, with whom I recently visited allied troops in Kosovo and who is doing a superb job as head of NATO’s Joint Forces Command in Naples.
This award means a great deal for me because I am truly Atlanticist of every sense of the word because for Norwegians, our identity, our history is about the Atlantic Ocean. Norway is, as you know, a very narrow strip of land with a very long coast, many fjords, a lot of mountains and some reindeer. (Laughter.)
And as Vikings, we used to sail the Atlantic. We were the first Europeans to discover America. (Laughter, applause.) The only problem was that we left very soon – (laughter) – and forgot to tell anyone about our discovery. (Laughter, applause.)
To this day Norway remains a maritime nation, so I have never quite understood the expression “oceans apart.” To me, oceans bring people together. And I know this from my own experience. In fact, transatlantic means something very personal for me and my family.
My father was born in Norway, but my mother was born on this side of the Atlantic in Paterson, New Jersey. (Laughter.) So, in a very real sense, I am the product of a transatlantic alliance. (Applause.) And I spent the first two years of my life in San Francisco. I can’t remember so much, but it was nice. (Laughter.)
Then growing up in Norway during the Cold War, we slept soundly at night knowing that NATO, the good guys, were there to protect us. As a young conscript in the Norwegian army, I was trained to hold out until our Atlantic allies would come to our aid. We knew we were not alone. That is what NATO is all about, our Article 5 commitment, one for all and all for one.
And one more nation has just made that commitment. Earlier today, I was pleased to welcome Montenegro as the 29th member of our transatlantic family. (Applause.)
And I use the word “family” on purpose because, like in any other family, we have our differences. But for nearly 70 years, our NATO family has risen above those differences. We have worked together for a common purpose, the peace, security and prosperity of our people on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a unique bond that has kept our nations safe for almost seven decades.
Today, our commitment to the alliance is as strong as ever, not only in words, but also in deeds. The U.S. is increasing its military presence in Europe and Europe and Canada are investing more in defense. We may be oceans apart, but we are also the closest of allies. This is a precious thing for all of us, but we cannot take it for granted. The attacks in London on Saturday are a tragic reminder of the challenges we all face of the important work we have to do to overcome them and of the values of our open and free societies, so I count on you all to help keep our alliance strong.
And I thank you once again for this special recognition. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
(Music: “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Canadian Armed Forces Lieutenant General Alain Parent. (Applause.)
LIEUTENANT GENERAL ALAIN PARENT: Thank you. Good evening, excellencies, members of the Atlantic Council, mesdames et messieurs. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Admiral Michelle Howard as the recipient of the Atlantic Council Distinguished Military Leadership Award.
There is no doubt a number of you are wondering, how is it that a French Canadian is up here introducing an American four-star admiral for the award of distinguished military leadership? (Laughter.) Well, I’ve had the honor to serve as Admiral Howard’s deputy commander of NATO’s Joint Force Command Naples over the past year before taking up my new post, which allows me to authoritatively say that I can think of no better recipient for this distinguished award. (Applause.)
However, the fact that I’m up here as Canada’s vice chief of defence staff is also indicative of the strong and important relationship that our nations have as well as the value in broader shared interests and objectives that define the wider NATO alliance.
It’s perhaps in this context that Admiral Howard distinguishes herself as a truly great military leader. Most, if not all of you know, of course, that there are an extraordinary number of firsts she has achieved in her military career and that she has thankfully broken through as well as arguably broken down a number of barriers. To do this in and of itself is laudable, but her true mark has been to lead others on this journey.
Achieving the rank of four-star in the U.S. Navy and commanding U.S. Naval Forces Europe, U.S. Naval Forces Africa and NATO’s Joint Forces Command Naples concurrently is illustrative that she can command, lead and navigate through the labyrinth of complexity that defines our contemporary military environment, on top of breaking down barriers. (Applause.) Thank you.
If one asks how she has been so successful in commanding concurrently both nationally, multinationally, as well as being a trailbreaker, I would say there are three defining aspects: First, her determination to drive her commands forward and her ability to drive through ceilings. Secondly, her vision to see what is possible, even when many of us see what’s in front of us as being insurmountable. And lastly, her recognition and advocacy of collective efforts where the sums are greater than the parts. Certainly, this underpins NATO.
Again, it’s my pleasure and utmost honor to introduce Admiral Michelle Howard as the recipient of this year’s Atlantic Council Distinguished Military Leadership Award. (Applause.)
ADMIRAL MICHELLE HOWARD: Well, first of all, I need to thank the Atlantic Council for this recognition. I appreciate the work you do to promote education and engagement on the complex security challenges the transatlantic community faces. The platform that you provide allows for a free flow of ideas. And I am truly honored to receive your military leadership award.
And I would also like to congratulate the other awardees.
I have to especially congratulate Secretary-General Stoltenberg because, quite simply, he is my boss. (Laughter.) (Applause.)
So I want to thank you, Alain, Lieutenant General Parent, for the kind introduction. I know you are very busy with your new position in Ottawa as Canada’s vice chief of defence staff, and I appreciate you making the effort to be with me this evening. It means a lot to me. The enduring relationship that we have forged over the years is indicative of the cooperation between the United States and Canada that we share as neighbors, but also as members of the NATO alliance.
And it’s very fitting to be here with this distinguished group of individuals tonight, hosted by the Atlantic Council. On this very night 73 years ago, it was the armed forces of Canada and America along with those of nine European countries and Australia who prepared to assault the beaches of Normandy. June 6th, 1944 would be the beginning of the end of World War II. The terrible destruction of that war led political leaders to search for ways to ensure peace and security and to prevent future conflict. And seeking to formalize the alliances that had endured during the war, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was born. And the United States along with 11 other nations signed the Washington Treaty to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilization of their peoples.
So Articles 4 and 5 have been considered the bedrock of the alliance and they provide for the common defense of the members, and the territorial integrity and security of alliance members has been maintained since the signing in 1949. And in the 68-year history of the alliance, Article 5 has only been invoked once. The allies decided to invoke it for the first time in NATO’s history the day after the attacks in this country on September 11th, and the allies responded resoundingly to that call.
NATO formally took over operations in 2003 in Afghanistan and continues to train and advice Afghan security forces with Operation Resolute Support today. So the attacks of September 11th have brought to the fore the new security challenges that confront NATO and the rest of the world. And nearly seven decades after its inception, the cohesion of a 29-member alliance has been maintained. And the security challenges since 1949 have evolved, but the alliance’s willingness to confront these challenges has been steadfast.
And yet, those challenges still do evolve. And during the Warsaw summit, NATO leaders realized that many of the challenges in the alliance are emanating from the Mediterranean. Violent extremists, failed governments, mass migration, all of these have the potential to destabilize the transatlantic community. But the treaty founders had the wisdom to understand that the world would change and the alliance had to be able to change with it.
The response for the current challenges from the South may not require an Article 4 or an Article 5, but they may be better suited to Article 2, which requires the parties to contribute toward the further development of peaceful international relations by promoting conditions of stability and well-being.
NATO many years ago recognized that partnership activity was important to the transatlantic community. And in recognizing partners in the Middle East and North Africa, who have to play a critical role, the alliance’s Mediterranean dialogue was created to provide a venue for NATO to work with partners in Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. But partnership itself may not provide enough insight into what’s happening in the South. Fragile governments coupled with the actions of illicit actors are allowing these challenges to grow in scope. And the alliance is working to provide credible answers to these current security questions, but we need to understand the environment.
At my command, Joint Force Command Naples, we’ve been tasked to get an understanding of the political, economic, social and military challenges in this flank to the South. We are standing up a hub, a center at my headquarters that will focus on gathering and sharing information across a broad spectrum of partners to include private organizations, national institutions and nongovernmental organizations. The more data we collect, collate and analyze, that means we can start the journey to predict and prepare, rather than react and rebuild. So the hub will be an important step to increase our knowledge in Middle East and North Africa. And when it stands up in September, our goal will be to add value to the work already being done by NATO and our partners, such as the European Union and the African Union, and ideally partners in law enforcement and other agencies will also feed into the hub and benefit from the analysis of information.
So thank you again to the Atlantic Council for your role in informing the public of the challenges that face our transatlantic community, and thank you for your support to the alliance and your dedication, and thank you for your global leadership. And I also appreciate once again this award, which I accept on behalf of the men and women who serve under me and my United States command, but for tonight for the men and women who serve under me in NATO. Thank you. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage Vice Chair of the Atlantic Council C. Boyden Gray. (Applause.)
C. BOYDEN GRAY: I want to emphasize with as much clarity as I can that this is not for me. (Laughter.) It is a great honor for me to be able to introduce Vice President Pence. This is a first for the Atlantic Council, the first sitting vice president to appear. So it’s a real excitement and honor for all of us.
You might wonder how did it all start. Well, I’m a lawyer, so naturally I think it’s fine that he started out as a lawyer, for all of you generals and admirals and diplomats in the audience. He then went to the House of Representatives, rocked to the leadership of the House in about five terms, became governor of Indiana, where he managed major tax cuts, launched major infrastructure reform, a lot of education reform, job-training reform, all within a balanced budget. Then he became vice president. And so you might say, well, what has he done of note? And again, perhaps because he’s a lawyer, he was deeply involved in the confirmation of our new justice on the Supreme Court. Whatever you might think of the views and the philosophy of that justice, I think you all have to admit that it was one of the most dignified, if not the most dignified confirmation process certainly in recent memory. But you’d be relieved to know he didn’t come here to talk about the law. I think he has a different message.
So I’d like to introduce and welcome the vice president of the United States. (Applause.)
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Thank you all. Thank you, Ambassador Gray, for that kind introduction.
It truly is an honor to be with you tonight as the Atlantic Council celebrates so many distinguished leaders from North America and Europe and from across the wider world. The Atlantic Council Distinguished Leadership Awards 2017: thank you all for making this possible and for your warm welcome. (Applause.)
And I bring greetings tonight from the 45th president of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. (Applause.)
But before I get started, let me first and foremost, on the president’s behalf, speak a word from the heart. Let me express the sorrow of our administration and all the American people for the horrific terrorist attack just two days ago against our cherished friend and beloved ally the United Kingdom. Our hearts break for the families of the victims and the injured in London, and they are just the latest innocents to suffer at the hands of terrorists, joining those who died in Manchester, in Paris, in Istanbul, in Brussels, Berlin, San Bernardino and too many other places – victims of barbaric acts of terrorism. They have our prayers, but more than that, our unwavering resolve.
Speaking just last night, President Trump said this bloodshed must end, and this bloodshed will end. (Applause.) And I want to speak not only to all the Americans gathered here but all of our friends from around the world: President Donald Trump will not relent until we protect the American people and our allies from the scourge of global terrorism.
But as you all well know, this is a threat we must face together. Now is the time for NATO and this transatlantic alliance to stand united and stand strong in the face of global terrorism. Our enemies seek to divide us so that they might defeat us, but our alliances faced far greater threats and emerged stronger and more secure. And united as allies, I say with confidence and with faith we will drive the cancer of terrorism from the face of the Earth, and we will do so together. (Applause.)
So let me thank all of you in the Atlantic Council for hosting this important gathering, to President Fred Kempe, Chairman Jon Huntsman, all the Council’s leadership. Thank you for your important work. For 56 years, the Atlantic Council has drawn our continents closer together, and our president and the American people are grateful for more than half a century of work.
Let me also recognize the members of the Brzezinski family who are here with us tonight. Our thoughts and our prayers are with you. Mr. Brzezinski was a great man, and more important, he was a good man, and America will bear the imprint of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s leadership for generations to come. (Applause.)
And let me join in the chorus of congratulations to all the recipients of this year’s award, many who I’ve had the privilege to know before and greatly admire, like Admiral Michelle Howard, Her Royal Highness Haya Bint Al Hussein, Bill Ford Jr., Renée Fleming, and especially let me express my appreciation and congratulations to the winner of the Distinguished International Leadership Award, who in the time that I met him in Brussels and the time he’s spent with the president at the White House and just recently overseas has demonstrated his role and his commitment to be an unfailing advocate for a stronger and more secure transatlantic alliance, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. You have our congratulations and our thanks. (Applause.)
It is an honor also to be joined – to be joined here this evening by the leader of the newest member of our Atlantic Alliance, Prime Minister Marković of Montenegro. Congratulations to you and to the people of Montenegro on your accession to NATO. (Applause.)
I had the privilege of welcoming the prime minister to the White House today. We had a wonderful discussion. I was very humbled to be able to share a few moments with him on the very day that Montenegro became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. So to Mr. Secretary-General, Mr. Prime Minister, let me just – let me just say to each of those leaders that were represented in Brussels recently, President Trump so appreciated, as I do, the opportunity to meet with all of you and with NATO leaders in Brussels just a few weeks ago and over the last several months. It truly has marked this administration’s beginning of a relationship that I know will only strengthen the alliance across the Atlantic in the months and years ahead. (Applause.)
Now the world saw firsthand just a few weeks ago President Trump embracing his role and America’s role as leader of the free world. I know that under the president’s leadership, the United States’ leadership that I know our alliance will grow stronger, our people will be safer, and freedom will march onward.
You know, it’s fitting that I’m here on June the 5th. This is actually a seminal day in the history of our transatlantic relationship. Seventy years ago today, it’s amazing to think that George Marshall outlined his groundbreaking plan for the United States of America to partner with Europe to rebuild its economies after the ravages of World War II and to keep lit the flame of freedom on the continent where freedom was first kindled. The Marshall Plan established a foundation of security and prosperity that reigns in Europe to this very day. Two years later, it was on that foundation that we created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to provide for the collective defense and to protect all that we’ve built together. And today under President Donald Trump, let me assure you the United States will continue to build, to reach new heights of prosperity and security, and we will continue to strengthen the bonds between our nation and the nations of Europe for the benefit of our people for generations to come. (Applause.)
As the world looked on in his meeting with Secretary-General Stoltenberg in April, President Trump reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the NATO alliance and to the enduring values that we proudly share. And make no mistake. Our commitment is unwavering. We will meet our obligations to our people to provide for the collective defense of all of our allies. The United States is resolved, as we were at NATO’s founding, and in every hour since, to live by that principle that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. (Applause.)
Our unbreakable unity for freedom is our greatest strength, and a strong NATO is vitally important, especially in these trying times. Only a few days ago, speaking at the unveiling of NATO’s beautiful Article 5 Memorial, President Trump evoked, in his words, the courage of our people, the strength of our resolve and the commitments that bind us together as one. And this president called on us to rise together to confront, in his words, the grave security concerns that face our historic alliance. From Russia’s efforts to redraw international borders by force, to Iran’s attempts to destabilize the Middle East, to the global menace of terrorism that can strike anywhere at any time, it seems that the world is more dangerous today than at any point since the fall of communism a quarter century ago. With the rise of adversaries new and old, our alliance must continue to evolve to confront the threats of today and tomorrow, especially with where I began tonight: confronting the threat and the menace of terrorism. To be clear, it should be cause for alarm to us all that we need to deploy our military to protect our citizens going to a concert, watching a marathon, or simply taking a stroll on a Saturday night, because that is not the way a free people should ever be forced to live. (Applause.)
Already our alliance is taking vital steps to protect our citizens and hunt down the terrorists on our terms, on their soil. NATO continues to play a leading role in equipping the government and the people of Afghanistan to confront the threat of terror. Last week’s horrible mass murder attack in Kabul only underscores the importance of our mission. And in light of the president’s statement in Brussels, that the quote “NATO of the future must include a great focus on terrorism,” I know it’s heartening to the president and to our administration to see that NATO will become a full member of the global campaign to counter ISIS and play a greater role in our shared fight against terrorism. But to most effectively confront the terrorist threat and any other challenge known or unknown that faces our alliance, we must all be prepared to do our part without exception.
It’s encouraging that our NATO allies committed in Brussels to develop national plans to fulfill their Wales commitment, to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense. We’re grateful to those nations that have already taken concrete steps to increase their commitment to our common security. But we have a long way to go. And as the president said in Brussels, 2 percent should be considered the bare minimum in this time of widening challenges and unknowable threats.
But be confident of this: President Donald Trump will continue to work with Secretary-General Stoltenberg and all our NATO allies to ensure that our alliance has the resources and the capabilities it needs to accomplish its noble mission well into the 21st century. (Applause.)
And as we look toward the future, we cannot only look inward. NATO’s open door must always remain so. For those nations, like our newest ally, Montenegro, that share our values, wish to contribute to the most successful in alliance in history and seek a brighter future of security and prosperity for our nations and the world, the door must remain open.
The truth is that NATO is as important today as it was at its founding nearly 70 years ago. We are bound together by the same timeless ideals: freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law. We share a past of shared sacrifice and shared commitment. And after all we’ve been through, I know we share a future, too.
Today, tomorrow and every day hence, be confident that the United States is now and will always be Europe’s greatest ally. Our devotion to this historic alliance is unwavering and eternal. And together, we will go forth to meet that glorious future that awaits freedom-loving people.
One of my favorite quotes of Winston Churchill is actually carved into the wall of the narthex of the National Cathedral. It simply reads as follows. It is words that he spoke before the Congress in a time of great challenge in the life of this nation. Prime Minister Churchill said, and I quote, “He must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants.”
To all of us in this historic transatlantic alliance, to all the freedom-loving nations represented here, let us have that same faith. Let us be the faithful servants of freedom and let us rededicate ourselves to the preservation of this alliance and all it stands for.
Thank you for the honor of being with you tonight. Thank you for the work of the Atlantic Council.
God bless NATO, all of our allies, and God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
(Music: “Mustang Sally.”)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back to the stage Atlantic Council chairman, Governor Jon Huntsman. (Applause.)
MR. HUNTSMAN: All right, “Mustang Sally.” It was almost as if we all stood up and broke out in song together. It almost happened, we were right on the cusp of it, but unfortunately it didn’t.
But I have to tell you I’m deeply honored to introduce our next awardee. As a fellow Ford board member and as the person who inspired me to buy a 662 horsepower, 5.8 liter V8 engine Shelby Mustang with an EcoBoost environmentally friendly engine, it’s an understatement to say that Bill Ford is a special friend. He is one of those rare individuals who embodies a unique synthesis of visionary leadership and creative thinking while maintaining a steadfast commitment to progress and innovation. We refer to it as the future.
As executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson to Henry Ford, Bill bridges generations of leadership. He personifies the company’s founding values and mission, to improve lives through mobility and connectivity. And he does it with high ethics and with courage.
Over a hundred years ago, Henry Ford revolutionized transportation when he developed the Model T, transforming lives of millions of Americans and reshaping the landscape of American business. Henry Ford’s Model T and the groundbreaking assembly line process by which it was manufactured opened new opportunities and consumer choice to the mass public. As Henry Ford often would say, anyone could buy a Model T in whatever color they wanted as long as it was black.
Now, fast forward to 2017. Bill has not only expanded Ford’s color options, he has transformed Henry Ford’s vision of putting the world on wheels into his own legacy and ensuring sustainable and smart mobility in an ever-competitive world.
Bill often says his life is guided by four great passions: family, he has four terrific kids, hockey, he’s a professional hockey player, automobiles and the environment. One might say, now, it’s virtually impossible for the head of one of the largest global automakers to keep at least two of those passions in perfect harmony, autos and the environment. Bill, however, is the exception.
In 2011, Bill gave a landmark TED Talk that overturned a century of conventional wisdom in the auto sector, that adding more cars to meet the needs of a growing population would lead to global gridlock. We needed better interconnected solutions, he argued. Bill’s call for action to solve this notion of global gridlock is reflected across Ford’s unique business model, which has been adapted to create environmentally sustainable transportation innovations that can keep up with the growing demands of population growth and urbanization.
In short, Bill and his great team are preserving what we’ve really come to take for granted in this country and, indeed, around the world, which is the freedom to move effortlessly around the world, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all.
Bill, it is such an honor to have you here with us this evening. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this terrific award.
Ladies and gentlemen, please give a hand for Bill Ford, executive chairman of the Ford Motor Company. (Applause.)
WILLIAM C. FORD, JR.: Well, thank you, Jon.
And thank you, ladies and gentlemen.
You know, when Jon Huntsman got proposed to be on the Ford board a few years ago, I knew his resume was incredibly impressive and I knew his reputation was impeccable. Well, what I didn’t know, and what I found later, is that he’s an even better person. And it’s very rare in business to find somebody like Jon Huntsman and be able to call him a really good friend. And I’m fortunate to be able to do that.
So, Jon, thank you for all you’ve done for our company and for the world. (Applause.)
My great-grandfather started the company in 1903 and he did it with a vision to make people’s lives better. And that’s something I’ve always tried to carry with me throughout my career. I joined Ford in 1979 as an environmentalist and I quickly found out that wasn’t a popular thing in the auto industry and particularly back then. In fact, I was told I should stop associating with any known or suspected environmentalists when I joined the board of Ford Motor Company. (Laughter.) But that made no sense to me. I felt somebody had to build bridges between the communities and not just, you know, fire salvos. It was kind of a lonely trek through many of those early years, but it was well worth it.
One of the things I’m most proud of is that this past year Ford was named by Ethisphere Institute as one of the world’s most ethical companies for the eighth year in a row. And we’re the only company like ours to have done that. (Applause.) Thank you. Because to me, there’s nothing more important than our culture and our reputation and our employees. The men and women of Ford inspire me every day.
So you just know that’s not a hollow phrase, when we went through the worst times that I hope I’ll ever see in ’08/’09 when we were staring at the abyss and our two major domestic competitors went bankrupt, I started getting flooded with letters and emails from our employees at all levels, from the plant floor, from our new employees, saying, hey, Bill, don’t give up, we can do this. And what really struck me is those are normally top-down messages, but they were all coming up to me. And I thought, my goodness, we can’t let these people down. And they pulled us through. It was amazing.
To the day I’m no longer here, I’ll always remember what our employees did for our company. And that’s something that I think is also worth saying, that, you know, companies aren’t factories, they’re not even the products they make. It’s the people and their ideas and their hopes and their dreams. And I’m so proud to represent those people.
We’re on an interesting journey now. Ambassador Huntsman said that, you know, I gave a TED Talk in 2011 about the changing world. And boy, is it changing fast. Artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, 3D printing, they’re all here, they’re all coming and they’re all going to be really, really breathtaking. But technology for its own sake doesn’t make any sense, you always have to put people at the center of all those conversations and say, how is this technology actually going to make people’s lives better? Because if it isn’t, there’s no point in doing it. And even if it’s great technology, if you don’t introduce it thoughtfully in a way that actually enhances people’s lives, then you really haven’t accomplished anything.
And when I hear the conversations about all of these technologies, it’s breathtaking, but often it’s about the technology themselves and not how it’s going to be applied to help make this world a better place and help make people’s lives easier and give them back their most precious commodity, which is time.
So I’m really excited about the future and I’m very grateful to this conference for this award. And I’m very humbled to be in the company that I’m in tonight with the fellow recipients. So thank you all very much for this and good luck to each and every one of you. Thank you. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please enjoy your dinner. The second half of the program will begin shortly.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, pray, silence for a special tribute to Zbigniew Brzezinski.
MR. KEMPE: On May 26th – on May 26th, Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the great strategists and statesmen of our age passed away. He was my professor, my mentor, my inspiration. Few voices in the world, if any, have been as consistently wise, principled and visionary, even when he – what he had to say was not popular. He dedicated his life to serve and defend those transatlantic values we’ve celebrated tonight.
We at the Atlantic Council were fortunate to have him as a counselor and International Advisory Board member. As his son Ian, who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, recalled, his father’s was advice that everyone should have that they – everyone needs a cause that is greater than oneself.
Ian in a moment will provide a tribute to his father. We’re delighted he’s here, and our hearts go out to him and his family. But for the moment, please turn to the slideshow that captures the prolific writer, statesman, teacher and adviser to countless presidents and, above all, family man, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski.
(A slideshow featuring Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski is shown.)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ian Brzezinski. (Applause.)
IAN BRZEZINSKI: Thank you.
On behalf of my brother, Mark, my sister, Mika, and my mother, Mushka, thank you, Fred, thank you all for this wonderful tribute. Let me thank also the vice president for his kind words about my father.
I very much appreciate the wonderful montage of photographs that you show. They really capture the essence of my dad. I particularly like the one of my family on my father’s favorite place in Maine, his summer home, Tranquility Base, the picture of my father and the three little children. I value it because it’s proof that actually, I had hair at one point. (Laughter, applause.)
What I’d like to do is share with you a little bit about how I will remember my father.
I’ve always been struck by the duality of his love for Poland and the United States. Family lore has it than when the ship that brought him as a child to North America reached its destination, everyone aboard crowded to the shore side of the deck, straining to see their new home, except one. My father remained on the sea side, facing the Atlantic, looking out toward Poland.
The unfair realities of the post-World War II order led him to choose the United States as his new home. He was impressed by our nation’s vibrancy, optimism and values and the opportunities and responsibility it has to promote and protect freedom around the world.
He was loyal and committed to his adopted home until the very end. But he never lost his love for his native country. That only grew and grew.
He was an enthusiastic, a truly enthusiastic father who injected into his family an exuberance, a love for the outdoors, yes, and a heavy dose of geopolitics. (Laughter.)
He orchestrated two or three times a week structured family discussions that challenged his children, my brother and sister and I, to think critically on subjects ranging from U.S.-Soviet competition to the role of the Catholic Church to the latest teenage rage that was sweeping across the nation.
His mandated family walks, and these were every weekend, along the Potomac and the shores of Maine fostered strong, enduring family bonds. And that really showed in these last weeks as our family came together.
I could go on for hours recounting the near-death experiences on his small 19-foot family boat, crammed with dogs, kids and parents, challenged in the deepest fog and the worst seas to reach a favorite isolated picnic spot so he could be alone with us. That was my dad.
He was always full of sound advice regarding school, careers and his children’s families.
Fred mentioned one core bit of advice. That advice was a regular refrain: Everyone should have a cause that is greater than oneself.
His life was defined by it. As a scholar, he studied authoritarian and hegemonic regimes to identify their structural weaknesses. In government, he swung that intellectual sword in the fight to free the captive nations of Europe.
My father believed that having a cause higher than oneself provides a powerful source of personal motivation, satisfaction and fulfillment.
We’re all saddened to have lost him. Yet we should celebrate his boundless energy, his enthusiasm and sharp wit and always be inspired by the legacy, lessons and causes that he left.
Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: Two very brief notes before we enter the final portion of this evening. First of all, I want to extend a special thanks to Lockheed-Martin, the most consistent – in fact, the only principal sponsor for the last decade of this dinner. And I want to thank particularly Marilyn Hewson, our international advisory board member, Robert Rangel and Dan Fata, who is here. So thank you so much for your consistent support over a decade. We really appreciate it. (Applause.)
Finally, we are running a little later than we usually do. It’s just the time when people get started in Spain, but it’s a little bit late here. I hope you agree that the awardees and the – and the purpose of this evening is worthwhile. The final two awardees tonight, Princess Haya and Renée Fleming, are certainly worth the entire evening. So thank you very much. Please turn to the screens.
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the president and CEO of the Children’s National Medical Center, Dr. Kurt Newman. (Applause.)
KURT NEWMAN, M.D.: Thank you and good evening.
It is an absolute honor and privilege to introduce tonight’s next awardee, her royal highness, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein.
When I first met Princess Haya in Dubai, we spoke at length not only about Al Jalila Children’s Specialty Hospital, which is the hospital that carries the name of Princess Haya’s daughter, but also about our shared interest in helping the world’s youth grow up healthy and strong.
Since that time I’ve come to personally admire Princess Haya for her rare and special combination of strong leadership and compassionate spirit.
With these qualities, she has become a leading international advocate for children’s needs and for humanitarian progress around the globe.
She has worked tirelessly to provide food aid, health services and social services to the poor and to communities in crisis in Jordan, Haiti, Cambodia, Ethiopia and many other nations.
In times of crisis, the princess can often be found at the center of relief efforts, working on the ground to find new innovative ways of helping those in need.
To each venture, her royal highness brings warmth, kindness and determination to uplift and empower those who are disadvantaged.
In March of 2007 Princess Haya was appointed the chairperson of International Humanitarian City, IHC. Based in Dubai, this is one of the largest supply depots for aid in the world.
In September of the same year, Princess Haya was selected by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as messenger of peace. This is the highest honor bestowed by the United Nations on a global citizen. And it is a fitting role for a leader who has devoted herself to aiding the most vulnerable among us.
Tonight I’m extremely proud to help the Atlantic Council recognize Princess Haya’s contributions to the global community by bestowing a Distinguished Leadership Award.
Now please join me in welcoming her royal highness to the stage. (Applause.)
PRINCESS HAYA BINT AL HUSSEIN: Mr. Kempe, Governor Huntsman, Admiral Michelle Howard, Your Excellency Jens Stoltenberg, Renée Fleming and Mr. William Ford, Jr., your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to start by thanking Mr. Newman for that generous introduction. I’m privileged to be introduced by a man who’s been instrumental in cementing such a solid bridge between the United Arab Emirates and the United States and by working tirelessly to do so through a partnership that saves children’s lives through the very best pediatric medical care possible. And in all honesty, I don’t know of any calling better than that that cherishes innocent lives of children and gives them a start to life. (Applause.)
It’s really difficult to describe how truly overwhelmed and humbled I feel to be here tonight. I want to express my heartfelt thanks to the Atlantic Council for selecting me to accept this award and for the incredible humanitarian efforts made by the people of the UAE and our leaders.
I grew up in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. But 14 years ago I began to call the UAE my home, seven federally unified emirates, states that had all survived a harsh desert climate, enduring hunger, poverty, high infant mortality and disease.
Of course, the discovery of oil had enabled the UAE’s founding fathers to improve living standards in ways never dreamed of before. But if you look beyond the glittering skyline, it’s the spirit of the UAE, its people and its leadership, that captured my heart. And I found there are people in the leadership that never forgot the hard times they lived through and whose humanitarian values and foreign policy were both built on that memory and that resilience.
It’s no accident that the OECD records the UAE as the world’s most generous humanitarian donor as a percentage of its GDP. With a population of only 9 million, in 2015 the UAE government gave $5 billion to aid projects. And when you add private donations, the UAE aid tops $8 billion a year. And everything, absolutely everything that I’m able to do is completely thanks to that generosity of spirit.
The ways in which – in many ways the UAE that I fell in love with is a place much like this great country when it started: a land of dreams, a land of tolerance and diversity, inclusivity.
Today the UAE has the highest percentage of women in higher education of any country in the world. We have an incredibly diverse population from 200 countries with every religious faith. And we even have the world’s first minister of tolerance.
When friends ask me what the UAE has done in the fight against Daesh, I love to point out that during the first coalition airstrike, the lead plane was from the UAE, and it was flown by a woman. (Applause.)
But as we meet here tonight in comfort and in great company, it’s around 4:30 in the morning in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. It will be a couple of hours before the first glimmer of light appears on the northeast African horizon.
Far too many in South Sudan are welcoming this day as another day of hunger. There is no comfort in the darkness that enshrouds the world’s starving. Their nights are punctuated by hunger, thirst, disease in the camps, and the air is thick with despair.
I’m often reminded of the proverb that the darkest hour is just before dawn. But I also wonder just how dark the South Sudanese night has to become before we can welcome a dawn of hope.
Early this year the United Nations declared a state of famine in South Sudan. The U.N. doesn’t use this term lightly. It’s the first time in six years that any country had met the grim criteria for this label.
The famine designation only applies to a small part of South Sudan. But 20 million other people there, in Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria are also on the brink of famine. That’s more than the combined population of this entire region: Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, Delaware and Rhode Island.
And this is not just a problem for South Sudan. It’s a problem for all of us. Famine and war have already created 1.8 million refugees in that region. And hunger, dislocation and despair are incubators for intolerance and terrorism. Have no doubt, they are the weapons of war that terrorist groups and corrupt politicians use. And it’s up to us to take those weapons away.
Today there are more than 65 million refugees and displaced people worldwide – higher, even, than after World War II. In my native Jordan, Lebanon, southern Turkey, they’ve all hosted roughly 4 million Syrian refugees. Millions more have fled to Europe, North America and the Gulf.
When I speak to those victims in those humanitarian crises, they tell me that they all just want to live in peace, to love their families and to feed and care for their children. They wonder why they must pay for the failure of their politicians and others. They ask if they’ve been forgotten. And this is where the anger of forgotten is born, places where people have absolutely nothing to lose.
The Atlantic Council of America has a great history. And as an organization, it can and it does help to make a difference in this world. And all of the other award winners tonight have shown through their dedication and everything they’ve done what’s possible. For me, it’s a great honor to be among them.
But it’s also a great honor to be among people of influence, people like you. I wanted to say that you’re not alone in shouldering the burdens that you face. The UAE and many other countries you will always find willing and credible partners who are committed to humanitarian diplomacy, as you are.
Today, as in the days when the Atlantic Council was founded, the world looks to the United States for leadership. American involvement is crucial to ending the kinds of conflicts that have created the threat of mass starvation in East Africa and Yemen and so many other places of worry in the world. Together, we can create a different future for our children.
But I start tonight by thank you for this award. Thank you. (Applause.)
ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage the executive vice chair of the Atlantic Council, Adrienne Arsht. (Applause.)
ADRIENNE ARSHT: That’s the closest I will come to a voice like that. (Laughter.) It does take your breath away. We all know Renée Fleming for her singing, for her musical accomplishments, so I’m not going to review that. You can do that either in your program or on Wikipedia. But I do want to tell you a few things about her global or international accomplishments.
For example, she sings in English, German, French, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin – Governor Huntsman, I imagine you could sing with her – Japanese and Elvish, which is from “The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.” (Laughter.)
For many years, she’s traveled the globe. She has met with many, many heads of state, from President Obama. She performed before Queen Elizabeth. She was in Japan and performed before the empress of Japan with Placido Domingo. She sang at the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. She has sung at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony and the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s Velvet Revolution.
Additionally, she serves on the board of the Asia Society, and she works with the Polyphony Foundation, which is an organization that seeks to foster friendship and understanding between Jewish and Israelis – Jewish and Arab Israelis through the practice and performance of classical music by young people of all backgrounds.
She is truly a dynamo on and off the stage. Her arts advocacy is well known. And she currently serves as the artistic adviser at the Kennedy Center.
And so, without further ado, I would like to present the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Artistic Leadership Award to Renée Fleming. (Applause.)
RENÉE FLEMING: Thank you so much, excellencies, Atlantic Council leadership and fellow honorees and esteemed guests. It’s truly an honor to be in your presence this evening and to receive this distinguished leadership award.
You know, I was thinking about what it takes to get on stage. It’s mastering a very unruly instrument made up entirely of involuntary muscles, and we have to work hard to achieve a virtuosity that is typically unamplified – the voice. And with this mastery, singers tour the world. We are first in concert halls and opera houses, major capitals, and then to farther shores.
At a key point in my education, I received inspiration from my Fulbright Scholarship to Germany. Yes, please continue to support the Fulbright Scholarship. (Applause.) It’s so important. And being steeped in the language and culture of Goethe enabled me to begin to think about cultural history as a part of us that is noble – our higher selves. And because, as classical musicians, we represent the history of music, we’re invited, as Adrienne just said, to the tables of some of the most illustrious leaders of our time.
It became clear to me some years ago that artists practice a powerful form of soft diplomacy in these moments. And I’m gratified that the Atlantic Council recognizes the role that music and the arts can play in fostering international cooperation. And today, with the overwhelming amount of information we receive on a daily basis, messaging of important initiatives and ideas face an uphill battle.
The broad spotlight of celebrity, the power of actors and musicians to reach the public about climate change, poverty and health on an international basis, is compelling. For example, two days ago Dr. Francis Collins and the National Institutes of Health joined me at the Kennedy Center for an exploration of neuroscience in music. And as a result, the NIH is adding music to their brain initiative, citing research showing that it probably predated speech in the evolution of human beings.
And further during this convening, our former surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, noted that feelings of isolation and loneliness in society are reaching epidemic proportions. It’s little wonder that we describe so many perpetrators of violence as lone wolves.
What science has discovered is that music triggers a chemical response in the brain that actually reduces feelings of isolation and increases a sense of social connection and trust. If political alliances promote human relationships on a larger scale, please remember that the arts can strengthen those relationships. We can join you not just as entertainment, sorbet and a meal of substantive conversation, but as partners in your work to promote peace and harmony. (Applause.) Yes. Thank you. Thank you.
And we love to share our art. I’m happy to introduce to you a remarkable new talent, a soprano from the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artists Program at the Washington National Opera. Ladies and gentlemen, Raquel González. Thank you so much. (Applause.)
(Singing: Raquel González.)
MR. KEMPE: Ladies and gentlemen – ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our awards dinner. Thank you so much for coming. We’ll see you next year. (Applause.)