Full transcript of the 2012 Atlantic Council Awards Dinner honoring UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Prince Harry, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, the enlisted men and women of the United States Armed Forces, and violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter.
Annual Awards Dinner
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski,
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT
Date: Monday, May 7, 2012
Federal News Service
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski
JOE SCARBOROUGH: Thank you very much. Thank you so much for proving once again that Washington audiences are the most polite and respectful audiences in the world. Yeah. All right, thank you so much. Ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of the Atlantic Council, its chairman Senator Chuck Hagel, and president and CEO Fred Kempe, good evening. And welcome to the Atlantic Council’s 2012 annual awards dinner.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: This is our fourth time as emcees of this event, and we keep coming back because we so deeply believe in the organization and its mission, and also because we love Fred.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And of course you. And you’re so lovable right now. (Laughter, applause.) So lovable and so respectful.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Maybe we could – maybe we could have a prayer.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And so diplomatic. Can we pray? Let us pray.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: (Inaudible) – prayer.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: That doesn’t work here. (Laughter.) You know, that mission, of course, of the Atlantic Council is to constantly renew and refresh the Atlantic community. (Pause.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: The mission of the Atlantic Council is to constantly renew and refresh the Atlantic community and its partnerships around the world, and to take on a host of global challenges. And we got so many of them: Iranian nukes, Afghanistan, the eurozone crisis and containment –
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Of our Secret Service personnel. (Laughter.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: That’s terrible.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: That’s why we are fortunate that the Atlantic Council has never been stronger in its half-century history. And its nine programs and centers have never been more relevant. This event marks the culmination of the council’s 50th anniversary, which began last year at this time when we honored Vice President Joe Biden, Muhtar Kent, Placido Domingo and Admiral Jim Stavridis.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And yet tonight it’s more about the next 50 years than the last half-century. Our awardees this evening demonstrate the global reach of this council. And they’re carefully chosen to represent excellence and service in their field. Plus they have a deep track record of commitment to the trans-Atlantic community and of course to the world.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Tonight we will honor United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with the Distinguished International Leadership Award. Prince Henry of Wales will be honored with the Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award as well. (Applause.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: The men and women of the U.S. armed forces will also be honored for distinguished military leadership – (applause) – Paul Polman for distinguished business leadership, and Anne-Sophie Mutter for distinguished artistic leadership. (Applause.)
MS. BRZEZINSKI: And our awardees are honored by a similarly high level and global audience. We have nearly 800 guests from over 62 countries, including the former president of Poland and the former prime ministers of Pakistan and Spain, 47 ambassadors to the United States, 22 chief executives of global companies and countless members of the U.S., European and other governments. Welcome to you all.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And also your mom and dad, Mika.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: And my parents are here. Where are you? (Applause.) Please point to my parents. I’m going to find you.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: They’re out there somewhere.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: And Ian.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: It’s now my great pleasure to introduce our distinguished dinner co-chairs who are with us tonight, and we ask that you hold your applause till the end. And co-chairs, please stand so we can recognize your amazing contributions to the Atlantic Council.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Robert Abernathy, Victor L.L. Chu, Thomas M. Culligan, Thomas Enders, C. Boyden Gray, Bahaa Hariri, Frank Hahn (ph), H. Fisk Johnson, George Lund, Alexander Mirtchev, Ahmet M. Oren, Dinu Patriciu, Stephen A. Schwarzmann, S. D. Shibulal, Alan Spence, Rob Speyer, and Michael F. Walsh. (Applause.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Now to begin this evening, it’s our old friend – not old, but a good friend –
MS. BRZEZINSKI: He’s old, too.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: He’s not that old.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: He’s kind of old.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: No, he’s not.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: All right, fine.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Stop it.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: (Chuckles.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Atlantic Council chairman Senator Chuck Hagel.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: (Have some ?) fun.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: He’s one of the men who constantly remind us what’s best about Washington. (Applause.) From serving his country in Vietnam to the United States Senate, he also serves as co-chairman of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, as co-chair of the president’s China 100,000 Strong Initiative, and as member of the secretary of defense’s policy board.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Ladies and gentlemen, our friend and great leader, Senator Chuck Hagel. (Applause.)
CHUCK HAGEL: Mika, thank you. I am grateful. This is old Chuck. I’m here on behalf of the board of directors of the Atlantic Council to thank you, to acknowledge what each of you continue to do for the Atlantic Council. You make a better world for all of us. That is the essence of why we recognize those tonight that Joe and Mika have already acknowledged, because they represent what is best in mankind and they represent contributions to mankind that are made in different ways that is much of who we are after 50 years, the Atlantic Council.
Everyone in this audience knows that we are all living at a time of global course correction. It is going to require strengthening our coalitions of common interest. It is going to require developing alliances of cooperation. And it’s going to require building new platforms of partnership. These honorees tonight all recognize that and they all are building toward that.
I want to also, on behalf of the board of directors and this institution, recognize Fred Kempe and his marvelous staff and all who worked so hard on behalf of this institution and what it stands for, what it believes in and how it affects our world. To each of you, thank you. (Applause.)
Last comment, not unlike anyone or any other institution in the world, we are all playing for the future. That means our young people. That means helping shape and frame their future, their understanding. And helping them anchor that through the trans-Atlantic alliance is part of that. But that importance of the trans-Atlantic alliance at this time in the world is not at the exclusion – cannot be at the exclusion of our other partners all over the world. The trans-Atlantic alliance is special. It has a special role to play. But that, too, is in partnership with other nations and other peoples. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the evening. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. BRZEZINSKI: So I’m told that my Republican brother, Ian, is here somewhere off this way. And my parents are in the middle – at the – one of the central tables. Mom and dad, can you stand up? (Chuckles.) (Applause.) Yes.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: All right. Very good.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: There they are. Mom looks beautiful and dad was on the show this morning. And he was extremely well-behaved. You should lean in more.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: He was well-behaved. That’s not always the case. Of course the first time Dr. Brzezinski came on our show, I decided to debate him on Middle East politics and his response after a very well-thought-out, well-articulated argument was: You know, you are stunningly superficial. (Laughter.)
MS. BRZEZINSKI: I warned you not to have him on.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: And I didn’t listen.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Having said that, that was affection. Trust me.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: That was affection. No doubt.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: All right. Go on.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: So ladies and gentlemen, now it’s our pleasure to introduce to you the president and the CEO of the Atlantic Council. In the past five years, he’s presided over a period of enormous growth and accomplishment, from a successful career at the Wall Street Journal, where he was a prize-winning correspondent, columnist and editor, and now to where he’s the author of four books. In fact, Mika predicted last year that Fred’s book was going to be a best seller immediately. And as usual, Mika was right.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: As usual, I was 100 percent correct. So ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming Atlantic Council president, CEO and national best-selling author, Fred Kempe. (Applause.)
FRED KEMPE: Thanks, Mika and Joe. The check’s in the mail. This is the fourth year Joe and Mika have done this. And it’s because – it’s because you in the audience demand it. In fact, let me read an email I received from one Atlantic Council International Advisory Board member when I announced that this year that perhaps they would not be emcees, I quote, “Dear Fred, could you please cede all of your time to Mika this year? Don’t worry about Joe,” unquote. Signed Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski. (Laughter.)
Seriously, TV doesn’t offer a lot of bipartisan, smart, must-watch programs of your sort. Mika and Joe, you really are doing us a service. And it’s a great match for the bipartisan, compelling work we try to do in the national, trans-Atlantic and global interest.
We have a great lineup for you this evening, and truly global. So what do you get when you take a British royal soldier and philanthropist, a Dutch business visionary, a German violin virtuoso and a South Korean global leader? You get the Atlantic Council’s 2012 Award’s Dinner. We’re also here this evening to recognize the 1.5 million active men and women of the U.S. armed forces for their sacrifices, dedication and service. (Applause.)
We have about four dozen enlisted men and women joining us this evening. I won’t name them all, but sitting amongst us – among the others, we have the Coast Guard’s – and if you hold your applause, but I would like them to stand – the Coast Guard’s 2010 Enlisted Person of the Year for the national capital region, Petty Officer Dean Johnston; the Air Force’s Wing Airman of the Year, Technical Sergeant Stacy Settles (ph), the Marine Corps’ 2011 Joint Staff non-commissioned officer of the year, Sergeant Jessica Devila (ph); all six members of the United States Navy Ceremonial Guard Drill Team, and five members of the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment Ceremonial Guard based at Arlington Cemetery; and the senior military fellows of the Atlantic Council. All enlisted men and women who are in the audience, please rise now and be recognized. (Applause.)
I thank Senator Hagel for saluting our brilliant, dedicated Atlantic Council program directors and staff, senior fellows and interns for a remarkable year’s performance. But I would ask them all to please stand, because you’re the ones who do the work. You’re the best team in Washington at what you do. Thank you so much for your work. (Applause.)
Last year – and this is just a year’s time – the council launched the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, which already has a leading voice on the historic upheaval sweeping the Middle East and North Africa – surely one of the greatest strategic challenges facing the trans-Atlantic community today. And I do want to salute the founder of that center, who is in our tonight, Bahaa Hariri. (Applause.) Please stand. Thank you.
Last December, the council honored our international advisory board chairman General Brent Scowcroft for his unparalleled life of leadership and achievement at a dinner to raise support for the council’s new Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security. It’s a significant enlargement in size and ambition of our existing international security program.
Our campaign is still under way, and we’re more than halfway to our 25 million (dollar) goal. We’ll officially launch the center this autumn. I would like to ask the following to stand as I name them: Scowcroft Center Designated Chair General Jim Jones and his vice chairs Ellen Tauscher and George Lund. You should be standing because these people are here to take your checks. (Applause.)
In less than two weeks’ time, the council’s Young Atlanticist Program will host a Young Leaders Summit on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Chicago and announce the launch of an emerging leadership network housed within the new Scowcroft Center. That’s one thing Brent Scowcroft is known for, is mentoring the next generation of leadership. So we’re going to do it as well. This is all part of the council’s goal of building networks among the next generation from around the world to ensure the enduring nature of the trans-Atlantic Alliance and its global friends.
And Prince Harry, you have inspired us by your Prince William and Harry Foundation, and we will also expand our work on veteran affairs as well, because that is a national security issue.
Finally, the council is looking beyond the NATO summit to this fall’s presidential elections. In your gift bag, you’ll find one of the council’s flagship reports just released, “The Task Ahead,” which features memos for the next president from some of the most illustrious names in foreign policy, many here tonight. Hats off to Project Co-chair’s Bruce Mosler, Atlantic Council Board Director – (inaudible) – Atlantic Council senior adviser. This is just a taste of the extraordinary accomplishments over the last year. And none of it would be possible without your support and the involvement of our board members, international advisory members and individual members. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Let’s turn now to the 2012 leadership awards. The first presentation this evening is for distinguished artistic leadership. And to introduce the 2012 awardee, we’d like to invite to the stage a man who has dedicated his life to artistic leadership and vision. During a career that spans six decades, Sir Andre Previn has achieved a reputation as one of the most versatile musicians in the world. Sir Previn has received many awards and honors for his lifetime of outstanding musical accomplishments as a conductor, composer and pianist.
MR. SCARBROUGH: He is the winner of four Academy Awards for his film work and 10 Grammy Awards for his recordings, including a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy. Sir Andre’s been honored with both the Austrian and German Cross of Merit and the Glenn Gould Prize. He is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Kennedy Center, but also from the London Symphony Orchestra and Gramophone Classic FM. He’s enriched the lives of thousands of listeners and fellow musicians, including the recipient of this year’s distinguished artistic leadership award.
MS. Brzezinski: Also, he was formerly married to our honoree and is here with us tonight, which gives us hope – apparently to the rest of us. Ladies and gentlemen, Sir Andre Previn. (Cheers, applause.)
ANDRE PREVIN: Thank you. It’s nice for me to be here in order to say a few words about your artistic honoree, Annie-Sophie Mutter, because in the first place, I’m wildly prejudiced, and that should be as it is. And also, I’m not alone in that. I think most musicians are wildly prejudiced in her favor, because there’s nobody like her – absolutely nobody. She’s one of the great, great musicians of our time. And you know, it’s one of the favorite pastimes of musicians to play the game amongst themselves about who’s the best pianist, who’s the best soprano, who’s the best cellist. And there’s always a pretty bitter argument about that, but it doesn’t work with violinists, because you would have to change the question. You’d have to say: Who’s the best violinist after Annie-Sophie Mutter? (Laughter.)
She is better than a virtuoso: She’s a real musician. And she has done so much for music, for young people, for contemporary composers, for all kinds of people. And I know that in the book – in the program book there are some very famous stories about her, how she went to play for Herbert von Karajan when she was, I think, 16 or something, and how he adored it and gave her a debut with the Berlin Philharmonic. But also, what you didn’t know – at least I didn’t know until about a month ago – is she played me a recording of a violin solo of the famous virtuous killer piece Segoneweizen (ph), which really is one of the most famous and daunting pieces that exist for the solo violin. And when I questioned her about who was this, she not only admitted that it was she but that she had made it when she was nine years old. (Laughter, ohs.) And the noise you hear are parents throwing themselves down the – (laughter).
But she really is – she’s quite extraordinary. She has an enormous curiosity about music. She felt that she didn’t know enough about chamber music a few years ago and went straight into it, hook, line and sinker, and is now one of the busiest chamber music players in the world. And she has played chamber music with almost all the people who further it and who love it.
Also, she’s curious about all kinds of music. I remember very well that there is a book of Bach of 360-odd chorales. They’re all very short. And he wrote them when he was an organist in a German church, and one for every Sunday. And they are of an irresistible beauty. And we used to get up on a Sunday and sight-read them, a few at a time, on violin and on piano, and it made us all feel better for the whole day. It was like – it was like a cold shower of genius. It was wonderful.
Now, as far as repertoire is concerned, I mean, she has played and recorded all of Bach, all of Mozart, all of Beethoven and a great field of other things, but what’s even more important is that she has done wonders for contemporary music. And she has – she has a foundation for young people, and she furthers their career by getting them great master teachers, by getting them good instruments, and also by seeing to it that current contemporary composers compose for them. And she has made it her life’s calling to have people such as Henri Dutilleux and Penderecki and Wolfgang Rihm and, on a lesser level, me and all that. (Chuckles.) And we all write for her and for her students, or for her disciples, really. And it’s a – it’s a marvelous thing to see in every major city in the world now these young people who all come under the aegis of Anne-Sophie Mutter, and who wouldn’t be there if it weren’t for her.
Now – oh yeah, this is something that worried me a little bit – (laughter) – because her ambition and her will are so amazing that she – when she started to record the Mozart concertos and the Bach concertos, she decided she would also conduct them. Well, that was a blow to me. (Laughter.) But it’s true, and I told her that with her ambition, another couple of years and she’d made records of the Mahler symphonies, which would really – (chuckles) – really be daunting. But she – if she wanted to, I bet she could.
Anyway, she is unique. There is nobody like her. She is a complete POEAT (ph) musician, and we’re all very lucky that she’s around playing for us. So here is your – here is your honorary – (chuckles) – artist of the year, Anne-Sophie Mutter. (Applause.)
ANNE-SOPHIE MUTTER: Ladies and gentlemen – (inaudible) – dear Andre, thank you very much for your way too kind words. What would be more wonderful for a musician than being a muse for one of the greatest composers of our time, certainly my favorite composer?
I’m honored and delighted and thrilled to be here tonight and to accept this tremendous award. When I came to the United States of America in 1980 and did my debut here in Washington, I wouldn’t have dreamt of ever being part of such an illustrious group of recipients from the past and the present.
But Washington has also played another important role in my life apart of presenting me with this most memorable evening. It is the place where I met my long-term (musical ?) collaborator Lambert Orkis some 24 years ago. And I’m very happy and grateful that he’s here tonight joining me on stage.
And I don’t want to spoil your evening any longer with a prolonged speech of mine, and I will just pass on with the words of a great German author, E.T.A. Hoffman: Music takes on where words are at the end. So let’s just move on to “Summertime,” and I wish you all a wonderful evening. (Applause.)
(Anne-Sophie Mutters performs.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH (?): Fantastic. Thank you.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: OK. Do you think he’s here?
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Who, Ian?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: (For ?) Ian.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Yeah.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Is Ian here? Ian Brzezinski? Is anyone – can anyone point out my Republican brother? (Laughter.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: (Inaudible.) That could not have been easy, Ian.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: (Chuckles.) Where is he? All right. OK. To introduce the Distinguished Business Leadership Award and the 2012 awardee, we’d like to invite a young man to the stage whose accomplishments are wide-ranging and undeniably impressive.
In his capacity as USAID administrator, as well as in previous prominent positions, Dr. Rajiv Shah has championed innovative, results-driven approaches to international aid and agricultural policy. As USAID administrator, Dr. Shah spearheaded international relief efforts to earthquake victims in Haiti and flood victims in Pakistan. He’s worked closely with Dr. Jill Biden to bring assistance to the millions of people affected by famine in the Horn of Africa.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: As undersecretary of research, education and economics at the Department of Agriculture, he led the USDA’s participation in the Obama administration’s global hunger and food security initiative. And while at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Shah developed a number of innovative programs and partnerships that address the real issues involving food and hunger.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: We’re all excited to see what the future holds for this brilliant young man. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Rajiv Shah. (Applause.)
RAJIV SHAH: Thank you and good evening. A special thank-you to Mika and Joe; and thank you, Senator Hagel, for hosting us this evening. It is really an honor for me to be with such an incredibly distinguished audience, an audience of leaders who have imagined different possibilities for our world in so many different fields, and in particular in different ways to make our country safe and secure.
It is in that setting that it’s my distinct honor to introduce a friend of mine, Paul Polman. It’s unfortunate that just this evening more than 900 million people around our planet will go to bed hungry. And it’s unfortunate that more than 500 million of them are young children. And many of them, because of their chronic hunger, will not have the strength to fight the next illness and will succumb when they should persevere. Many will not have the strength for their brains to fully develop so they can learn, grow and contribute to making their world more productive and economically rewarding for their communities.
And it’s in that world where we’re able to honor tonight a business leader, Paul Polman, who runs a massive consumer-goods company, Unilever, and has had a very impressive background at Nestle and other firms. And he brings an absolute and unique commitment to ensuring that business leaders around our world commit themselves to literally ending hunger, ending preventable child death and making sure that the reach of modern capitalism touches even those families that sometimes are forgotten.
And it’s with his perspective that corporate CEOs and corporate entities have both the responsibility and a tremendous business opportunity in addressing the needs of very poor and often unstable environments that he has created a number of efforts that are literally changing the way companies large and small see their role in addressing these global challenges.
He’s brought together other CEOs of similarly large firms to say, enough is enough, and we have to work together to prevent the next famine in the Horn of Africa, because that famine is both a deep moral blight on our conscience and also a very serious security threat to all of us.
He has brought together companies with more than $3 trillion in revenue – trillion with a T, even a big number in this town – so that they could actually think about how they can improve the products they offer and how they could partner with the United Nations and so many other agencies around the world to reach those children who otherwise simply don’t get enough calories and certainly don’t get enough quality calories to learn, grow and thrive.
And with this new effort, called New Visions for Agriculture, he’s helped to make sure that these companies work together with local leaders and local businesses and local governments to make sure that we generate the kind of hard-nosed corporate results that we all value. As a result, he’s launching a public-private partnership in Tanzania that could triple Tanzania’s agricultural output; generate, together with other efforts, more than half a million jobs; and lift 2 million people out of poverty.
Paul’s worked aggressively with the World Food Program, the front-line partner against hunger and famine, to launch an effort called Together for Child Vitality that has already helped to feed 80,000 children and encouraged them to come to school, because they get food in school, throughout Kenya, Indonesia and Colombia. The list goes on and on: deforestation, school nutrition, improved food products for families, and efforts to literally transform the final frontier in food and agriculture, sub-Saharan Africa.
There was a time a few decades ago when we celebrated the insights of a young scientist named Dr. Norman Borlaug, who had invented new wheat seed varieties, and in doing so coupled that invention with his absolute persistence to end hunger. And we awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize for that effort.
Tonight’s award is not the Nobel Peace Prize, but in many ways Paul Polman reminds me of what I’ve learned and – when I had the chance to meet Dr. Borlaug: someone who has tremendous vision and intellect; someone who is respected for his leadership in a hard-nosed, results-oriented corporate environment; and someone who miraculously gets up every day, commits his personal time and energy, and somehow manages to bring 20, 30, 40 other CEOs along with him every time he launches a new effort to make the world a better place and to imagine an environment where those kids don’t go to bed hungry every night.
And for that, I am deeply honored to be able to introduce my friend Paul Polman and to present him with the Atlantic Council’s Distinguished Business Leadership Award. Thank you, Paul. (Applause.)
PAUL POLMAN: Thanks, Raj. I think that’s more than something I deserve. But one of the things that is very clear is that Raj’s leadership of USAID and obviously a deep sense of purpose, focus and energy that he brings to a number of these global challenges is obviously admirable – and more importantly, to the benefit of us all. And I think no one better to explain that than Raj himself.
I saw some of that energy and determination when I had the privilege to work with him at the latest World Economic Forum, which I co-chaired, and we worked on the Vision for Agriculture as a partnership to indeed promote the – what we call now the southern growth corridor in Tanzania. It’s actually an immense honor obviously for me to accept this award for – in name for our company, for Unilever obviously, and do this at a time that you celebrate the 50 years of trans-Atlantic relations and to foster peace and understanding across the world.
In fact, I myself am probably in some ways a child of the Atlantic Council. I was born at about the same time that – in the Netherlands actually – that the council started. I grew up in Europe, actually studied in the United States, and actually have the privilege to lead a wonderful company that touches about 2 billion lives a day, where seven out of 10 households actually use our products around the globe.
Now, these formative years in the U.S. when I studied here taught me a few things. They taught me the value of hard work, how you appreciate the enterprise itself, the importance of strength through diversity as well as the agility and the continuous learning, and the list goes on. It also taught me that seeking to take a leading role in this volatile economic environment is never going to be easy. I know I speak for many others here in the audience when I say that – (inaudible) – of the leadership roles also comes some of the sacrifice that we need to make that comes with that.
I’m very privileged to have my wife Kim here, and I’m delighted that she’s actually with me, but I’m also sorry to say that most of the time, the only chance we have to speak with each other is on the plane when we go somewhere. (Laughter.) So I want to thank her for everything, and I couldn’t do that without her. And I also want to especially welcome my mother-in-law who is here, Daudi Strauss (ph) and Lorraine Percy, the widow of the late Senator Percy. (Applause.)
But I think you agree with me that the personal sacrifice that we make as leaders in business is nothing compared to the price willingly paid, actually, by those who risk their lives in the cause of peace and stability. So I feel especially humbled tonight to be receiving this reward on an evening when you actually recognize the men and women of the armed forces.
I’m accepting this award at a critical time for business. Capitalism as we know it is being questioned – at a time, actually, when trust in corporations and governments is at a low. Yet a need for responsible business has probably never been greater.
The world faces many challenges that Raj eloquently summarized, food security being one of them, poverty reduction, sustainability of resources, yes, climate change and social and economic development for all. The scarcity of food, water and energy alone represents what many experts are calling a perfect storm. And another 2 billion people will be entering this world in the coming 30 years, and these challenges will only multiply.
It is clear that we do have to act before it is too late, and yet we face a dilemma. In fact, if – forgive me, as a businessperson, I put it in terms of supply and demand. In fact, the demand for change from citizens is growing. In fact, they’re screaming out for it. And social media is increasingly giving them a voice, actually, in these demands. And at the same time, the ability of governments and others to supply – to supply the changes that are needed is increasingly limited.
Now, I believe that business has an opportunity and a responsibility to step up and give the lead. I always like to quote Viktor Frankl, who said in his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning,” that when they built the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast of the United States, they forgot the build the Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. (Laughter.) And I think that is true for all of us. (Applause.)
Now we have an historic opportunity to strengthen the confidence of all the citizens and to – (inaudible) – actually, this mistrust that increasingly exists, that mistrust towards business, to show that capitalism isn’t that, and that it is just in need of a fresh expression.
At Unilever, we’ve tried to give a lead in this respect. We’ve put sustainable and equitable growth at the heart of our business. In fact, that is our business model. And we’ve set our ambitions high. We want to double the size of our business, but at the same time, half our environmental footprint of total decoupling. We want to, in effect, to decouple this growth from the negative impacts on this environment.
No company our size or complexity has set such audacious goals, yet this new model of sustainable and equitable long-term growth is absolutely needed, and we call it the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan. We have 60 time-bound targets covering the entire value chain, and that will reduce, hopefully, the impact that we have and at the same time improve the lives of millions of people around the world, especially the many that go to bed hungry, as Raj said, or the many people that are what we would call small-hold farmers and many more.
We want to save lives. It simply – it simply cannot be right that even in today’s world, millions of children die every year of preventable diseases like diarrhea when the answer just lies in simple hand washing. It simply cannot be right that one child dies still every six seconds in this world, and it simply cannot be right that a billion people go to bed hungry every night. Therefore, I’m very pleased that the secretary-general is here as well and would certainly call for endorsing very strongly his initiatives of Every Woman Ever Child or Energy for All and Scaling Up Nutrition. Some of these things are absolutely needed.
Our sustainable living plan is a 10-year plan, but one year on, we’re already starting to see real progress, not least because others are also rallying to the cause. We simply cannot do it alone. We’ve always said that power comes from collective action. So when, for example, the world’s major retailers and food manufacturers under the global Consumer Goods Forum commit to help put an end to deforestation, we actually begin to move the needle.
I know there is a growing appetite for the agenda here as well. We need to bring the U.S. obviously in the foreground on this leadership. The ingenuity and the innovations for which you are known for are needed more than ever. And particularly, we hope that the U.S. government can set the right tone and ambitions for the upcoming Rio+20 conference.
And we also need the Europeans to join the U.S., because together, you compromise (sic) the largest markets in the world for a long time to come, and you can set the example once more of what sustainable development is and to step up the leadership, the leadership that we need to work in partnership with business, multilateral institutions and civil societies to solve some of these biggest challenges.
The secretary-general, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, and Raj Shah understand this very well, and I know they’re doing everything they can to break down these institutional barriers we have and kept closer cooperation amongst the many stakeholders, particularly in one of the biggest challenges that we have, which is food security.
It certainly is a privilege to leave the private sector group on these issues ahead of the upcoming G-20. If we’re serious, if we’re serious about lifting people out of poverty, stimulating economic development, ensuring that we can feed the world when they have 9 billion people, and if we’re serious about destabilizing effects that come from food shortages, than we simply have to act now. On food security and other pressing global issues, business simply has to take the lead.
But it requires a new way of thinking; it requires a new business model. We used to talk about business getting a license to operate – I don’t think any longer. Today the challenge for business is to earn a permission to lead. The world needs it. The consumers demand it. We cannot leave these challenges to governments alone. Business simply has to step up, and time is running out.
As one of the greatest countries here on earth that you are, most influential as well, one of your founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, once famously observed that “you may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.”
At Unilever, we’re trying to earn a permission to lead. It is a journey in which the 171,000 men and women who work for our wonderful institution are committed. On their behalf and mine, I certainly thank you for acknowledging that this evening and for giving us this presentation this evening as well. I’m deeply honored, and certainly thank you for your time. Thank you. (Applause.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: All right. And now we turn to the Distinguished Humanitarian Award, which is very exciting because – actually, did you know, Mika, this is the first time that Prince Harry has been in Washington, D.C.?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: That’s right. I think that’s news making.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: That is news making.
MS. BRZEZINSKI: I think we need someone really big to introduce him.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Who could it be? Who could it be? Who could it be?
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Someone – I don’t know. Like, a true American hero.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: A true American hero like General Colin Powell.
Now, of course, recalling here the breadth of General Powell’s career could take up a great part of this evening, so I’ll simply say: As a soldier and as a strategist, as a diplomat and a statesman, and as a civic leader and a role model, he has, by the range of his achievements and by the dedication of his service, provided an inspiration around the world. And he is a man – and I’m editorializing here – that my Republican Party could sure use instructing it on foreign policy decisions. (Laughter, applause.)
MS. BRZEZINSKI: Maybe just a little, you might be right about that.
The Atlantic Council 2005 recipient of the International Distinguished Leadership Award, former secretary of state, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, honorary director of the Atlantic Council and one of the most celebrated men in this country and around the world.
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm Atlantic Council greeting to General Colin Powell. (Applause.)
COLIN POWELL: Thank you very much. Thank you very much, Joe and Mika, for your kind introduction. It’s a great pleasure to be back at the Atlantic Council, and especially on this occasion when the Atlantic Council has the privilege of presenting its Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award to His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales, though all of you know him better as Prince Harry. And I prefer to know him even better as Captain Harry Wales. (Laughter.) Don’t you forget it, Captain. (Applause.)
Apart from recognizing his contributions to humanitarian projects, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that his presence has altered the normal demographic makeup of our audience. (Laughter.) We have a record number of young, single women attending this year – (cheers, laughter) – Prince Harry, and you saw them outside. And I also have to say that the average age for an Atlantic Council dinner – (laughter) – has dropped 25 years as a result of your presence. And for that we really, really thank you. (Laughter, applause.)
Prince Harry is a young man who has grown up not just with good looks and also royal privileges. It would have been easy for him to choose a life of ease and leisure. Instead he chose a more difficult path. And by so doing, he has become an example to millions of others. It is a path that fully embraces the noblest traditions of service to his country and to his fellow human beings.
On the one hand, Prince Harry has bravely followed the tradition of generations of British royals before him by serving his country in the military. He has been an army officer in the British army since 2006 and deployed with the Household Cavalry Regiment battle group to Helmand Province in 2008. During his time there he served on the front lines, directing British and American aircraft onto enemy targets. He has shown that he knows what it means to lead by example, even when it means possibly paying the ultimate price.
Almost three years ago he applied for pilot training with the Army Air Corps. His aptitude and skills were ideally suited to this role, and he earned a place in the Apache attack helicopter course as a result of that. At the end of his training – his training this year, he was awarded the prize for best co-pilot gunner, one of two awards that mark the best students in the course. And he is now serving as an Apache pilot with 3 Regiment, Air Corps.
On the other hand, Prince Harry has wholeheartedly continued the royal tradition of advocating on behalf of society’s less fortunate members. Clearly the loving effort Princess Diana made to teach her sons the importance of serving others has touched the heart and souls of her two sons and continues her legacy.
Harry and his brother Prince William have always focused on veterans’ welfare as one of the principal causes of their charitable lives. In the launch of Help for Heroes in 2007, both princes played a leading role, using their positions to put the spotlight on this extraordinary charity. Since the creation of the Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry in 2009, both princes have moved to make their own mark in the world of philanthropy. They have acted together in support of veterans’ charities, undertaking numerous engagements and developing many different initiatives to help veterans.
For someone so young, Prince Harry’s charitable ambitions are notable. And the impact of his work is already very, very significant. Through his efforts, he restores hope and confidence to those who have been wounded in the service of their country. The most prominent example of this is the participation – his participation in the Walking with the Wounded program, which helps wounded troops demonstrate their courage and determination as they prepare for a return to civilian life.
Prince Harry has shown a remarkable ability to lead by example and demonstrated the importance of using one’s experience, talents and position to benefit one’s fellow man. The Atlantic Council recognizes the tremendous commitment Prince Harry brings to his humanitarian endeavors and honors him for the significant impact of his charitable work on behalf of soldiers and their families. In presenting him with the 2012 Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award, we know he will continue to be an inspiring example to young people around the world on the importance of service to others.
Ladies and gentlemen, I am honored to present to you the recipient of the 2012 Distinguished Humanitarian Leadership Award, His Royal Highness Prince Harry. (Applause.)
MR. : Yeah – (inaudible).
Prince Henry of Wales
PRINCE HENRY OF WALES: Well, this isn’t daunting at all. (Laughter.) General Powell, thank you very much for your incredibly kind words. For a captain in the British army to be introduced by such a world-renowned soldier and statesman is truly humbling and a little terrifying. (Laughter.)
So it is with great humility that I accept this award. Genuinely, I obviously don’t feel that I’ve done nearly enough to deserve it. But I am immensely grateful to Chairman of the Atlantic Council Senator Chuck Hagel, the president Fred Kempe and the board of the Atlantic Council for according me this great honor.
If I may, I would like to accept the award on behalf of my brother William, our foundation, all those on both sides of the Atlantic who work so tirelessly to support our wounded veterans, but particularly for the guys, because this is their award.
It would be wrong of me to speak for these heroes, but not presumptuous of me to pay tribute to them. So many of our servicemen and women have made the ultimate sacrifice. So many lives have been lost and so many changed forever by the wounds that they have suffered. They have paid the terrible price and keep us safe and free. The very least we owe them is to make sure that they and their brave families have everything they need through the darkest days and in time regain the hope and confidence to flourish again. For these selfless people, it is after the guns have fallen silent, the din of battle quietened (ph), that the real fight begins – a fight that may last for the rest of their lives.
We will all continue to support our armed forces in defense of freedom at home and abroad, but sooner or later the coverage of them in the media will diminish or cease as coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan. They will no longer be at the forefront of our minds. But the injuries left from a 7.62 bullet, an IED, watching a fellow comrade injured or killed – these are experiences that remain with you for life, both physically and mentally.
We must be there for our servicemen and women and their families, standing shoulder to shoulder with the boys. British and American forces train together, they fight together, and tragically some are wounded and some die together. It makes perfect sense to me, therefore, that we should, wherever possible and appropriate, work together by pooling our expertise and experience to heal and support the wounded veterans of both our nations, truly brothers- and sisters-in-arms.
It was a privilege really for me to fight alongside members of the United States armed forces. Their professionalism and dedication to the values that we share and hold dear are inspirational. I would personally like to congratulate Marine Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia – I hope I said that right – who is to receive an award tonight recognizing the United States armed forces’ peerless contribution to the defense of freedom.
Using our fortunate position, William and I have sought to raise awareness of the challenges confronting our wounded, to help mobilize support and resources for them. We have tried to do what we can to ensure that Servicemen and women and their families leave the military with purpose, with hope and with confidence. Whether in their working environments or in the wider community, these fine people – examples to us all – have an invaluable contribution to make.
Last year, I struggled to keep up with four British soldiers who I joined for part of their expedition to walk to the North Pole. Each of these men had recently been gravely wounded on the battlefields of Afghanistan. Theirs was the fastest team to reach the Pole that season. And at this very moment, another team of our wounded are returning from Mount Everest. Sadly, I have to be the first to say, that I understand that they have been frustrated from reaching the summit by the unusually warm weather, which brings particularly dangerous conditions. However, the mere fact that these guys are up on that fearsome peak, I find totally amazing.
Ladies and gentlemen, these people – ours and yours – are extraordinary. That is why I feel so humble in accepting this wonderful honor from you tonight. I congratulate wholeheartedly my fellow award winners, but most of all I salute our wounded veterans. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. SCARBOROUGH: Thanks so much to Prince Harry for being here tonight, but more importantly for his service, and most importantly tonight for bringing attention to the men and women who serve in this country and all across the world for our freedoms, especially those that come home injured.
Now, if you will, please enjoy your dinner.
Fred Kempe and Chuck Hagel
MR. KEMPE: I can imagine no man more appropriate to present the next award than the most senior enlisted individual at the Atlantic Council, Sergeant Chuck Hagel. Joe and Mika already listed Senator Hagel’s many credentials from his two terms in the Senate to his Georgetown distinguished professorship. Let me introduce you to another Chuck Hagel.
This is the one who served in the 9th Infantry Division with his brother Tom in 1968 during the Vietnam War. These two enlisted soldiers were literally brothers in arms, serving side-by-side. They as often as not walk point together the most dangerous spot at the head of their ambush and reconnaissance patrols in the steaming jungles of the Mekong Delta. They watched firsthand as their comrades perished around them, still managing to forge ahead in acts of bravery that resulted in five purple hearts, two for Chuck and three for Tom.
They also saved each other’s lives. Chuck Hagel pulled his unconscious brother out of a burning armored personnel carrier just before it blew up, turning his own face into bubbling blisters. He prayed as he watched blood pour out of Tom’s ears. He reflected after that, as he lay near death, severely burned in a makeshift hospital; quote, “I made a promise to myself,” he writes in his excellent book, “that if I got out of that place and was ever in a position to do something about war so horrible, so filled with suffering, I would do whatever I could to stop it. I have never forgotten that promise,” unquote.
Senator Hagel understands the commitment and sacrifices we honor this evening, because he has made them. He understands how difficult it is after war to rejoin society, because he did it. He understands the physical and psychological traumas that Prince Harry has spoken of so eloquently. His remarkable life of public service has been informed in so many ways from what he experienced as a young man.
Sergeant Hagel, Mr. Chairman, we at the Atlantic Council salute you. (Applause.)
CHUCK HAGEL: Fred, thank you. I am grateful for the opportunity to make this award presentation, not just because I was once an enlisted man in the armed forces and not because I have anything against officers – (laughter) – but the enlisted men and women, they are the ones who earn an honest living. (Laughter.)
You know, when I was in the Army, generals use to paralyze me and scare the hell out of me. That no longer is the case, but sergeant majors do. (Laughter.) That’s right, you’re a former sergeant major over there. But they are – our enlisted men and women deserve special recognition, not slighting our officers, and those who also dedicate themselves to our country to make it a better world.
But tonight we honor the enlisted men and women in our armed forces. And I might add, because represented here tonight are so many ambassadors from all over the world – and each of those ambassadors represents a nation with an armed force; and I’ve always believed – not having anything to do with me or my brother, but it is the enlisted men and women of any country’s armed force that makes up the sinew and the blood and the tissue and the muscle and fabric and the spirit of our services.
I doubt if there is an officer in this room, beginning with General Powell and General Abrial (ph) and other distinguished, great leaders in this room, who would disagree with anything I’ve just said, nor would they disagree with the fact that we are honoring our enlisted men and women tonight. But since I have the microphone – (laughter) – that’s the way we’re going to do it.
Enlisted men and women don’t have much to do with making policy, but enlisted men and women, faithfully, always carry out the policy. They don’t ask for anything special. It is the enlisted men and women and their families that are the ones who really take a tremendous amount of the brunt of active-duty work and make a tremendous amount of the sacrifices. And again, I doubt if there is a general or his or her spouse in this room that would question that. I thought Prince Harry’s comments about families was particularly important, and I want to thank Prince Harry and his brother Prince William for what they continue to do in recognizing our men and women in uniform all over the world.
Men and women who serve in the armed forces do it because they believe in something. They believe in a noble cause. They believe in their country. They believe in security for their country. But they believe in something deeper and bigger than that. They believe in a better world. They believe they can help make a better world. And after all, regardless of the service – the military service or the NGO service or what Paul Polman talked about tonight in the corporate leadership universe – it is about service, it is about making a better world, it is about leaving behind a better world. And it’s about young people. We understand that, and we know that. Every parent in this room understands it very well.
And so to recognize these quiet, unacclaimed heroes of our armed forces is the right thing to do. It – I think it balances very well the other honorees tonight. It recognizes, yes, the sacrifices and the service of these men and women and their families. But it makes a statement about who we are. Any man or a woman who has served his or her country in uniform know that those individuals are the ones who most hate and detest war. But they also understand that a strong defense, a strong security is vital to building a bridge to a better understanding. It is about that platform-building that I referred to in my remarks earlier tonight.
Now, I am going to ask a very distinguished individual, the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to come up here in a moment. But I want to tell you just a bit about him, as Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia will come up here and receive the award along with other enlisted men and women on behalf of all the enlisted men and women in our armed forces.
Marine Corps Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia is the senior enlisted adviser to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the senior noncommissioned officer in the United States armed forces. In this role, he serves as the principal military adviser to the chairman, the secretary of defense on all matters involving joint and combined total force, integration, utilization, health of the force and joint development for enlisted personnel.
He is the recipient of many, many prestigious military honors, awards and decorations, including Bronze Star with the Purple Heart, (American ?) Commendation Medal and other medals. His wife, Mrs. Battaglia, is here tonight, who also deserves recognition. The men and women in uniform that are around the room here tonight in uniform are here to represent their colleagues in the five services of our country, and we applaud them – and had an opportunity right before dinner was served to have them backstage and get photographs with rather significant military leaders like General Powell and all the honorees, which was a great treat for them. But each of those honorees said, including General Powell – it was a bigger treat for them, the honorees, to get their picture taken with these enlisted men and women.
As an old Army sergeant, I would say in bringing Sergeant Major Battaglia up here, for a Marine, he’s not done a bad job. He’s all right. (Laughter.)
Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia, please come up. (Applause.)
Sergeant Major Bryan Battaglia
SERGEANT MAJOR BRYAN BATTAGLIA: Senator Hagel, members of the Atlantic Council, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Good evening. As I stand before you, illuminated with pride, let me thank you for this prestigious honor you’ve bestowed upon the enlisted men and women, those who have served and those who are serving as members of our United States armed forces.
We are extremely grateful – (applause) – thank you. We are extremely grateful to be recognized alongside such other distinguished leaders and humanitarians here this evening. Allow me to express my profound appreciation for what you do each and every day across our globe.
As our military’s senior noncommissioned officer and a lifelong member to this profession of arms, it is indeed humbling to represent an enlisted corps of over 1 million men and women, a diverse and powerful composition reaching all walks of life, no corner of our country untouched; and an enlisted corps which has continuously evolved into our present-day inventory of dynamic leaders.
Traditionally referred to as the backbone of our military, our enlisted force brings a robust strength, a riveting skill and the grit to carry a heavy load. Across the years, we’ve witnessed a transformation of uniformed craftsmen who primarily specialized in one specific skill to a 21st-century, multidimensional, multitalented enlisted corps that comprises over 80 percent of our total force. As times have evolved, so too has our society and the way she sees the added significance and value of our enlisted military service member.
Equally important to mention that leading our enlisted corps are noncommissioned officers and petty officers, who bring an advanced portfolio of expertise and of art. We are no longer just simply a defender of society, but rather a vigorous group which helps sustain the commitment of Americans to everything we value: honor, equal opportunity, resiliency, leadership and integrity, to mention a few.
Many of you in this room, notably His Royal Highness Prince Harry, a fighter pilot in the British armed forces, candidly understands the trust, confidence, and leadership and commitment needed from his soldiers in order for the mission to get accomplished.
I share the stage with five warriors: Staff Sergeant Tanner Welch, Army – (cheers); Staff Sergeant Serena Anderson, Marines – (cheers, applause); Petty Officer 1st Class Curtis Robinson – (cheers, applause) – Navy; Technical Sergeant Lisa Tomlinson, Air Force – (applause); Petty Officer 2nd Class Lisa Anne Peake (sp), Coast Guard. (Cheers, applause.) They too stand here this evening and share the pride in representing an enlisted force both past and present – enlisted service members dating back 237 years – infant in our lineage, yet the beginning of building a world-class military that still proudly serves its nation today.
Across the decades, from the American Revolutionary War to the Barbary pirates to the freezing battles in Korea to the jungles of Vietnam to current conflict, our enlisted men and women have patriotically provided enduring freedoms within the borders of our homeland and beyond. Enlisted warriors of past, like Sergeant Alvin York, whom during World War I led an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 32 machine guns, eliminating a platoon of enemy soldiers and capturing 132 others.
Warriors of present, like our Special Forces operators, who risk much to ensure that our adversaries bring no harm. Present warriors like our National Guardsmen, who in their multitude of responsibilities, especially during times of natural disaster, can bring immediate response and relief to our communities and neighborhoods. Enlisted warriors who nobly gave their full devotion of duty and now lie in formations within the hallowed grounds of our cemeteries.
Finally, enlisted warriors like those here this evening – sons, daughters, siblings, even parents – who looked for no fanfare but rather patriotic opportunity – opportunity to make a difference, opportunity to make our country a better place. Ladies and gentlemen, it would please me to no end if all enlisted service members, past and present, in the audience tonight; please stand and allow us to recognize you. (Applause.)
Thank you. This robust and artistic group in which you recognize this evening would have never accelerated or developed over the years if it were not for the intellectual vision of our Commissioned Officer Corps. Our senior leaders captured the potential value and our – and competencies of our enlisted. And it’s those bona fides which has bridged the continued trust and confidence between our Officer and Noncommissioned Officer Corps.
General Dempsey and I are tremendously proud of our enlisted force, but we also recognize that we cannot do what we do without the unwavering support of our families. The commitment and sacrifice of our spouses, children, parents and siblings play a vital role to our past success and the sustainment of our future.
And so in closing, let me proclaim that our enlisted men and women represent an all-volunteer force who remains attached to our society – an essential part in the shaping of our country. These men and women are not just guardians of our nation, but rather the future of our democracy and the aspiration of a world’s people. Thank you again for this monumental honor, and may God continue to bless our troops and their families. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. KEMPE: Now we come to the culminating portion of the evening, when we award the 2012 Distinguished International Leadership Award. It is my privilege to invite to the stage the man who will present the award to this year’s recipient, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon: Dr. Henry Kissinger. After which – after Ban Ki-moon’s address, the great Anne-Sophie Mutter will send us all home with a musical tribute to the secretary general and to the United Nations.
Henry Kissinger is a man who needs no introduction. Let me repeat that: Henry Kissinger is a man who needs no introduction. No, no, no, wait a minute. Just a minute; I – I’m not sure I got that introduction quite right. The last time I heard Dr. Kissinger introduced that way years ago, by IBM CEO Lou Gerstner, Dr. Kissinger came to the podium and in his inimitable fashion said: Thank you, Lou, but your introduction was far too modest. (Laughter.)
So when Lou was called upon again to introduce Dr. Kissinger, he mentioned Dr. Kissinger’s comment, and then he went on at some length about his brilliance, his books, his government service, his Nobel Peace Prize and so on and so on. It went on for some time. And then he came to the podium and said to the audience: Lou, it is true that no man needs an introduction less than I do. But no man appreciates one more. (Laughter.)
As national security adviser and then secretary of state to Presidents Nixon and Ford, Dr. Kissinger was a key participant in foreign policy debates at every stage of their presidencies. During his decade of dominance in American foreign policy, he brokered historic deals and engineered profound shifts in the international relations landscape that affect us to this day. Witness today the still reverberating breakthrough with China on the 40th anniversary of the Nixon-Kissinger visit and recounted in Dr. Kissinger’s excellent book, and you’re welcome, Dr. Kissinger, for that plug of your book.
In his life and career since leaving government, Dr. Kissinger has continued to be an adviser to presidents and has exercised extraordinary influence on the decisions of statesmen around the world. Dr. Kissinger, I’m also told you’ve been something of a mentor to the secretary-general and to so many other world leaders in quite unsung fashion.
You are also the Atlantic Council’s longest-serving board member, and we have profited from your generous spirit, your towering intellect, and yes, your wicked sense of humor.
Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Henry Kissinger. (Applause.)
HENRY KISSINGER: Mr. Kempe, your Royal Highness, Mr. Secretary-General, ladies and gentlemen, on one occasion after an eloquent introduction like this, a lady came up to me at the – at a – following a reception and said, I understand you are a fascinating man, she said. (Laughter.) Fascinate me. (Laughter.) It was one of the less successful conversations – (laughter) – that I have had.
In 1951, before I was Henry Kissinger – (laughter) – I was an intern at an organization called the Operations Research Office of the Department of the Army, and they sent me to Korea to study the impact of the U.S. Army on Korean life, for which I was spectacularly ill-equipped. (Laughter.) But it gave me an opportunity to travel around the country in the middle of the Korean War. The country was devastated. The largest building in Seoul was the headquarters of the Japanese government that had still be – has since been torn down.
No one would have believed it possible that a day would come that a secretary-general of the United Nations would be a distinguished Korean leader or that Korea would look as it does today. It would have seemed totally improbable that a Korean diplomat would travel around the world acting, in some respect, as a conscience of mankind, a secretary-general of the United Nations who is active in places as far-flung as Syria, Sudan, Burma, seeking to mediate and allay suffering. That this was possible at all is a tribute to the faith and dedication of the Korean people who had a vision to overcome their suffering and their destruction and emerge as one of the leading countries of Asia and of the world.
And it is equally true, due to the qualities of the secretary-general, who has, as a diplomat and now in his current position, taken a position of wise and subtle leadership. His conduct is unassuming. His demeanor is modest. And as he has said on one occasion, modesty is an aspect of demeanor. It is not an attribute of vision and purpose. He has shown vision and purpose, and he has done it from the delicate position of having to earn the confidence of the many conflicting tendencies that exist in the world today. This is really the first period in which international affairs have become truly global in the sense that fortune – that actions in any part of the world affect every other part, and in every part of the world, (it’s countries ?) of what the other parts do.
And in his capacity as secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon has put forward a five-year action plan that deals with climate and environmental challenges, nonproliferation, counterterrorism, combating infectious disease, strengthening the international financial system, ensuring global growth and sustainable development. And so it is no accident that the first Asian leader to receive this award from the Atlantic Council should receive it not primarily for the efforts he conducted on behalf of his nation but for the efforts he has conducted on behalf of humanity, of providing a forum where disputes can be aired, a mechanism where conciliation can be attempted and a possibility in which serious efforts can be made to discuss the many technical problems in a world in which the traditional conflicts are no longer dominant, but new visions are needed for those issues that can only be dealt with on a global basis.
So I’m very grateful to the Atlantic Council for giving me this opportunity to pay tribute to a distinguished leader. And I’m obliged to point out to you that the Atlantic Council organizers, not fully confident that I would acquit myself – (laughter) – adequately of this, have asked me not only to introduce the secretary-general, but to introduce a video – (laughter) – of the secretary-general, after which I will give the award for the distinguished international leadership – (laughter) – to my admired friend, the secretary-general of the United Nations. (Applause.)
SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON: I have had during the last 10 days 192 events, including 120 bilateral meetings with the heads of state, heads of government and foreign ministers. I chaired the high-level meeting with Pakistan, high-level meeting with Sudan and Somalia.
MS. : (Inaudible) – huge amount of work gets done, but also the opportunity for everyone to have a voice, you know, talking about the issues that they care about.
SEC.-GEN. BAN: Climate change and poverty issues, global health issues. We were able to mobilize $40 billion to reduce the mortality of women and children who have been dying from preventable diseases. (Applause.)
MR. : It’s amazing to watch. One day he may gives like 10 speeches and meeting with maybe 25, 30 different leaders, all different topics, different priorities.
SEC.-GEN. BAN: I wake up at 4 a.m. That gives me the best time to prepare without any disruptions. Once I’m in the office, I do not have very much – no private time. It’s like I’m sitting on a conveyer belt, and I have very limited time with my family members, unfortunately. I’m here with my youngest granddaughter. I am immensely grateful to my wife, my children who have been very patient, understanding my situation.
MR. : He has 192 constituencies that he needs to look after, 192 nations with interests that he must fairly reflect.
SEC.-GEN. BAN: When I was a young child like you, there was no classrooms for me. I used to study outside in dark. My background as a person who was born in a very poor country, whose country has risen as one of the 10 world economic power, (then ?) I can play a bridging role between developing and developed countries.
I start every day, every morning as if this is the first day in my office as secretary-general. Each time I have met those young people who seemingly wouldn’t have any hope, but who really wanted to have hope from me, then you cannot possibly – (inaudible) – how United Nations can do more for them.
Today we are being tested. In all we do, let us send a clear message. There can be no peace without justice. (Applause.)
SEC.-GEN. BAN: Dr. Kissinger, thank you for that very kind introduction. The world has looked to your wisdom and experience for many decades now, and your contribution has been great. I thank you, Dr. Kissinger, for your very strong support for the United Nations and for myself as the secretary-general. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, and – let me join in congratulating the other honorees of this evening: Anne-Sophie Mutter, Paul Polman, enlisted men and women of the United States armed forces, and His Royal Highness Prince Harry. This is really distinguished company, indeed. (Applause.)
General Colin Powell, Dr. Rajiv Shah, Maestro André Previn, honorable members of the Congress, Excellencies, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen, thank you as well for your warm welcome.
And thank you to the board of the Atlantic Council, also your chairman, Senator Hagel, and president, Frederick Kempe, for this extraordinary honor. I take it as an eloquent symbol of our partnership, the United States and the United Nations, and on behalf of all the staff and peacekeeping operations staff. And I humbly accept this honor.
Seldom, if ever, have our principles and shared purpose been more relevant. Seldom, if ever, has this partnership been more vital than at this moment. Ladies and gentlemen, our world is rough place. When we just celebrated and commended the enlisted men and women of U.S. armed forces, as the secretary-general of the United Nations, my thoughts are with more than 120,000 U.N. peacekeeping operations staff from more than 120 countries, troop-contributing countries, who are working day and night under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. My deepest admirations to all of them and to all the people who are working tirelessly for peace and stability around the world. (Applause.)
Ladies and gentlemen, let us test our eyes across the geopolitical landscape. In Syria the violence still continues. We are in a race against time to prevent full-scale civil war, death on a potentially massive scale. Tensions between Israel and Iran remain dangerous. The DPRK recently launched another missile and appears to be contemplating another nuclear test in defiance of the international community. We see famine coming in the Sahel, military coups in Mali and Guinea-Bissau, Sudan and South Sudan on the brink of conflict that not long ago claimed 2 million lives.
Add to this the crisis in euro area, climate change, the pressure of a growing population – 7 billion – on our increasingly fragile planet. We have planetary limitations. Almost everywhere we look, it seems we see growing insecurity, growing injustice, growing social inequality. If I were to speak like an economist, I might say we have an oversupply of problems – (laughter) – and a deficit of solutions, a deficit of leadership. That partly reflects the great changes transforming our modern world. Power is shifting. The old order is breaking down, and we do not yet know the shape of the new. Twenty years ago, at the end of the Cold War, the United States and its traditional allies could be counted on to lead the world through uncertainty and change. Today, that is much more difficult.
And yet tonight I want to say clearly, we need leadership, and your leadership. In these times of deep uncertainty, during this era of change and transformation, we need the sort of leadership that has long distinguished this venerable Atlantic Council: a leadership dedicated to the common good – a global common good, a leadership of nations acting in concert, as we have seen, in truly global stewardship. This is the leadership that created the United Nations and its founding charter. And this is the leadership that will keep its principles alive and strong.
Ladies and gentlemen, as you may know, I lived through the Korean War, as was eloquently introduced by Dr. Kissinger. The United Nations, led by the United States, helped us through that dark hour. They came to us to rescue on the brinks of collapse. Forever after, the United Nations for me has been a beacon of hope, and it still is for billions of others around the world. Whenever I see all of them who are looking to the United Nations, I am humbled, just thinking that – what kind of support I can bring to them.
Today, as then, I believe the United Nations can and must be the solution to the world’s great challenges. Engagement through the United Nations is way forward to share the costs and responsibilities of leadership, to uphold universal values and to steer the world through this great transition.
That is why, in January as I began my second term, I set out a road map for my five-year second term as the secretary-general. They are, in effect, five imperatives for collective global action, for five generational opportunities to create the future we want: how to fight climate change and chart a new path of sustainable growth and development; how to prevent conflict and better respond to natural disasters and other humanitarian emergencies – there are many man-made challenges, man-made crisis; how to create a more just, secure and equitable world grounded in universal human rights; and how to support nations in transition for democracy, where many people still in Arab and North Africa are struggling for their rights and for their legitimate aspirations, legitimate rights for human dignity; and how to give the world’s women and young people greater voice and opportunity.
I will not go into these here. But let me say a few words about the common thread that weaves through all of them. That is the importance of putting people first. This is what politicians often say, but not many politicians are putting people first. The role of justice and fundamental freedoms and essential quality of human dignity – this is what United Nations and I as the secretary general is trying to achieve: putting people first.
Ladies and gentlemen – (applause) – during the past year, our collective values were severely tested, (particularly ?) greater than we might realize. The international community responded with courage, decisiveness and unity.
When an incumbent president refused to stand down after having lost an election in Cote d’Ivoire, when he threatened his people with civil war in order to preserve his own power – illegal power – we stood firm for democracy and human rights. Today, Laurent Gbagbo is awaiting trial in the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and a legitimate president, Alassane Ouattara, is in office. When Moammar Gadhafi of Libya threatened to kill his own people, we acted. In doing so, we gave force to a fundamental new principle, that is the responsibility to protect.
And in each case, it is important to recognize that we acted collectively, under an umbrella of legitimacy provided by the United Nations and regional organizations – the African Union, league of Arab states and others. General Brent Scowcroft, who has been such a strong leader of this Atlantic Council, said himself that this is the way of future. And I could not agree more.
For events in modern memory have been more inspiring – few events in modern memory have been more inspiring or more challenging than the Arab Spring. From the outset of these transition – transformations, I called – the United Nations have called on leaders to listen to their people – hopefully, sincerely – what their challenges, what their concerns are, what their aspirations are, and to enter into an inclusive dialogue with them, to act before it was too late`.
Now we must help these nations in transition. That is one of my priorities. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere, we are working for solutions that focus on people: building democratic institutions, helping to promote human rights, creating jobs and economies – economic opportunities, especially for women and young people.
The challenge in Syria is especially difficult. The government continues to assault its people. Every day unfortunately we see the most appalling images: troops firing in city centers. Innocent civilians are dying, even children. Security forces are arresting and torturing people with great brutality. Meanwhile, attacks by the opposition and other armed groups have escalated.
As of today, United Nations has deployed 59 supervision monitoring missions. And we will expedite this number. By Thursday this week we’ll have more 130; and by 15 of this May we’ll have more than 230 people. And we are accelerating to implement – to implement Security Council resolutions to complement our 300 military supervisors and approximately 100 civilians before the end of this month.
Our most immediate goal is to save human lives, to see the end of this violence. And the presence of U.N. monitors has in some cases reduced the intensity of violence in Syria. But the situation is still very precarious and fragile. But we must also create an opening for political engagement between the government and those seeking change.
Let me say clearly, this is a difficult mission at a difficult moment. This is even very dangerous mission. We know the security risk to our brave U.N. observers. We know that Syrian citizens could face punishment for even speaking with them. And we know the nature of the regime, which could – which could well use the presence of the mission to prepare for further violence.
The efforts of our joint special envoy, Kofi Annan, embody a hard-headed strategy to deal with these challenges. Once again, I call on the Syrian government to uphold its responsibilities under the six-point plan fully and without further delay. As ever, strenuous partnership is indispensable – the United Nations and regional organizations such as the League of Arab states, the U.N. and nations represented here tonight.
We cannot predict how this will end. But we do know that there can be no compromise on fundamental principles of justice and human rights, in Syria or elsewhere. No amount of force – (applause) – no amount of force can squash people’s aspirations to live in dignity and decency.
Ten days ago, Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, was found guilty by our Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone. Today I say: No leader anywhere, anytime, should imagine that he or she enjoys impunity for crimes of atrocity. (Applause.) Those responsible for such acts in Syria or elsewhere must be held accountable by the international community.
Ladies and gentlemen, I began these remarks with a call to action, a call for global collective leadership that puts people first. We need to create a more humane world, a world of real solutions for ordinary people; a world of greater justice, with more robust and proactive protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, with greater security and equity for all. As I see it, justice and dignity are not abstractions. They are not mere aspirations. They are rights of people. They are the responsibilities of governments to deliver.
None of these ideas are alien to anyone here this evening. They are core American values. They are core trans-Atlantic values increasingly – widely shared around the world. Our challenge is to continue to spread these principles all around the world, and this universal code. And that takes leadership, your leadership.
If I could leave you with just one thought, it would be this: The Atlantic Council has always stood firm for justice and equal rights in larger freedom. Now is not the moment to lose heart or change course. And I thank you very much for this honor and thank you for your leadership and commitment. Let us work together – (applause) – to make this world better for all. Thank you very much. Thank you.
MR. KEMPE: Ladies and gentlemen, the great Anne-Sophie Mutter. (Applause.)
MR. KEMPE: Thank you, Anne-Sophie Mutter. What a brilliant performance.
This now ends the 50th anniversary celebration of the Atlantic Council. Thank you so much for attending. We’ll see you all next year. (Applause.)