Secretary of State Michael Pompeo’s remarks at the Virtual Launch of the Ronald Reagan Institute’s Center for Freedom and Democracy, in Washington, D.C.
We have not inherited an easy world. There are threats now to our freedom, indeed, to our very existence that other generations could never even have imagined the same time. There is a threat posed to human freedom by the enormous power of the modern state. History teaches the dangers of government that overreaches political control, taking precedence over free economic growth, seeking mindless bureaucracy or describe for individual excellence and personal freedom. We’re approaching the end of a bloody century, plagued by a terrible political invention. Totalitarian ism. Optimism comes less easily today not because democracy is less vigorous, but because democracies enemies have refined their instruments of repression. Yet optimism is in order because day by day democracy is proving itself to be a not at all fragile flower. No, democracy is not a fragile flower. Still, it needs cultivating. If the rest of this century is to witness the gradual growth of freedom and democratic ideals, we must take actions to assist the campaign for democracy. Our military strength is a prerequisite to peace, but let it be clear we maintain this strength in the hope it will never be used for the ultimate determined it in the struggle is now going on in the world will not be bombs and rockets, but a test of wills and ideas. A trial of spiritual results, the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish, the ideas to which we’re getting. While we must be cautious about forcing the pace of change, we must not hesitate to declare our ultimate objectives and to take concrete actions to move toward the way must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings here in the very center of the nation’s capital. Whether you’re here in person or online, we’re so glad you could be with us because this is the first event in our new state of the art institute, which makes this a special day. Of course, for many of us, simply wearing a suit is a special day these days. But here we’re today we’re here to launch the Ronald Reagan Institute’s Center for Freedom and Democracy, and I want to say thank you, toe all the Reagan Foundation board members whose leadership made this day possible. In particular, I want to thank Mr Ben Sudden, for whom this very auditorium is named. Ben was recently a guest on our weekly Reagan Institute podcast, and he recounted his first meeting of the Reagan board. He looked at the faces around the table and texted her friend that it was like being in a room of quote America’s All Stars. Well, then you are, without a doubt, an American all star, and we thank you for your leadership and for always pushing us forward. Our mission here at the Washington D. C. Office of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation Institute isn’t just to preserve the past. It is to keep alive the timeless values from which a democratic, free and peaceful future is born. And this facility, which you’ve made possible then, will be central to that effort. Which brings us back to the Center for Freedom and Democracy. This new center is charged with ensuring President Reagan’s vision of America as a shining city on a hill continues to inspire all those seeking freedom. Let me begin to tell you why our program today will provide a complete answer. In 1982 as we just saw in the video, President Reagan delivered an address to the British Parliament at Westminster. In his speech, President Reagan envisioned a world that few at the time could see. One where Soviet communism was left unquote, the ash heap of history and freedom. Democracy were on the march, many voices on the left on the right, in government and media criticized or even mocked that address. But history would be the ultimate judge. History was on Reagan side, and today that speech enjoys a place in the canon of visionary speeches, Reagan said. Quote. The objective, I propose is quite simple to state to foster the infrastructure of democracy, which allows the people to choose their own way to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means and that objective. That mission remains as urgent today as it was nearly 40 years ago. Around the world, authoritarian regimes are on the rise, oppressing their own people, seeking to weaken democracies, ours included, so that they could reshape the world in their image. In his time, President Reagan news similar challenges, and he believed that democracy was quote not the sole prerogative of a lucky few. But the available and universal right of all human beings. What Reagan knew was that the people, when given a choice, will choose freedom over authoritarianism. So channeling the relentless optimism our 40th president, the center will ensure this, speaking of freedom, continues shiny, bright, brightly into the future. It’s a mission we share with our speaker today. Our nation relies on him as America’s chief diplomat to give voice to our values around the world. He knows well. The power of ideas can change the world for good and for evil. He’s lived in Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mike Pompeo was a cavalry officer patrolling the Iron Curtain a few decades later. Last November, we joined the secretary in Berlin to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the fall of that wall. On the trip, the secretary delivered an address on today’s threats to freedom setting atrocities in places like Russia and China. He declared quote, we must recognize that free nations are in a competition of values with those unfree nations. Mr. Secretary, as a leader who graduated top of his class at West Point, we know you are not one to back down from a competition. Neither was President Reagan, which is why we pledge to do our part through the Center for Freedom and Democracy to ensure free nations win that competition. And it’s why we’re honored to welcome you here on this special day. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the US 70 of Secretary of State Michael, are Pompeo. Well, good morning, everyone. Thanks. Roger. Thanks to you also been, uh, on all the Reagan Foundation trustees and the institute staff for making this event possible. It’s ah, it’s really special to be here today. I’m honored that you asked me to inaugurate this center for freedom and democracy. So if I can’t solve this feedback problem myself Okay, a Z We were getting ready for my team was hoping to get ready. I was reminded of a line from Emerson. I don’t quote poetry. Often I should do soem or the President Reagan quoted during his famous speech at West Minister in 1982. He said that an institution is lengthened by the shadow of one man and there is no man who did more than Reagan to restore America’s confidence and advanced human freedom in the post World War two era. And so there is no better first event for the Sutton Family Auditorium that continuing that work by launching this new institution 40 years after America sent our 40th president to the White House. People watching online and those in this room are students of President Reagan. As a kid growing up in California, I got to see him in action as the governor. It’s a very different California than, uh, but it was Ronald Reagan as governor who believed in the promise of American of our people. He understood that no other nation under God was conceived in liberty quite like the way that we are. His deep, innate understanding of America is an exceptional place in the world. Give him the strength to face down the Soviets scourge. He was confident he was comfort, that every threat that he faced I must say I am, too. We have many threats today that remain, but I am equally confident America will overcome any challenge from communist China to the terrorist regime in Tehran, because that’s what free people dio we come together, we solve problems, we win, they lose, and we execute our foreign policy, confident that we are that shining city on a hill. That’s what I want to spend a few minutes talking about today. Look, I know you all believe in the promise of America’s freedom. President Trump believes in it. I do, too. Our nation’s story. Our nation story isn’t about dehumanizing, critical theories. It’s not about oppressors and oppressed. It’s not about materialism or or even that might makes right. It’s about the reality that all men and women are made in the image of God, with certain inherent God given rights just by virtue of our humanity. These truths in the declaration really are indeed self evident. Never before and all of recorded history was a nation founded on the premise that government’s role is to protect those very rights to secure them. And it’s what makes us so special. It’s what makes us so good, and that’s what I get to see every day as I work with my team or travel around the world. It’s what always made our life so attractive to the strivers and those who are seeking a better world, I must say, as I traveled, you don’t see individual families trying to migrate to Iran or to Russia for to Venezuela. Those countries offer abuse, not the opportunities that free nations can afford. People’s. I’ve talked about American exceptionalism. I did so in Brussels. I did in Cairo. I did in Jakarta and every opportunity that I’ve had in my public life. Sometimes it was met with a resounding thud as well. I’ve walked out of quiet warrant rooms. But President Reagan talked about America’s founding promise. He did it in the same way that every chance he got to and at West minister, he reminded the audience what kind of people they were three people worthy of freedom and determined to not only remains so, but to help others gain their freedoms as well. He President Reagan put his belief in freedom and the American promise at the very center of how he thought about foreign policy, and so is the Trump administration. It was a half dozen years after his West minister address President Reagan returned to England, and the Guildhall described how he had executed the vision he had outlined in 1982. He said his foreign policy had been one of strength and candor, and those principles have guided President Trump’s foreign policy, too take a look at the things that we have done so far in the Middle East. American strength is replaced, leading from behind. We destroyed the caliphate Isis caliphate. We killed Baghdadi and Soleimani, and we have restored substantial deterrence. The effort against the Islamic Republic of Iran to put maximum pressure is denied. Tehran. It’s terrorist proxies, tens of billions of dollars. American diplomatic straight has made our relationships with our Gulf partners the closest that they have ever been, and by just simply recognizing Jerusalem, candidly recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and acknowledging that the Golan Heights, air part of Israel, who helped secure our ally the Jewish state as central to the region’s future. And it’s much chagrin of some here in town has delivered peace and fortune, new ties of prosperity and security through the Abraham accords. But we’re not finished those pillars of strength and candor, or also the foundation for America’s policy towards the world’s number one threat to freedom. Today, the Chinese Communist Party spoken about this a great length, and I have borrowed from President Reagan with great frequency and how we think about this challenge for for 40 years plus, we steered a course correction. We changed, been handled with kid clubs, and we ignored all the contractors to show that the regime in Beijing really is troublesome showed what it is. It is authoritarians. It is British, and it’s antithetical to human dignity and freedom. We’ve stated clearly consistently that the United States China relations will not be dictated by exceptions carved out by the party but by the simple and powerful standards expected of any nation with aspirations to play a role on the global stage. That means what we’ve told our counterparts in China. Accountability, transparency, reciprocity from Beijing. This is exactly what President Reagan demanded from Moscow, and it also it no more illegal claims in the South China Sea. No more coercion, the co optation of American businesses, no more console juices, dens of spies, no more stealing of intellectual property and no more ignoring fundamental human rights violations on the party’s atrocities in Xinjiang, Tibet and elsewhere will not be tolerated. This challenge requires not only diplomatic effort but military strength to keep the peace. So this administration has made historic investments to enhance our armed forces to focus their efforts and bolster our primacy in the region. I bet the secretary state now for coming on 30 months, travel the world talking to our friends and partners about the ccps nature and its intentions. I’ve told them that the West is winning, have reminded them that we will prevail. The good news is that the free world in sovereign nations are beginning to wake up. They’re now rallying to this cause. You know, I’ll often here we don’t wanna pick between the United States and China. Remind them that that’s not the fight. The fight is between authoritarianism, barbarism on one side and freedom on the other. So we’ve begun to strengthen the institutions that can achieve this objective. From the Quad ASEAN to NATO, we’ve woken them up to the threat posed by this Marxist Leninist monster. The new and lasting consensus on the Chinese Communist Party is a historic result of America’s strength and candor precisely the traits that President Reagan spoke of. The fact the urgency of this matter is now accepted all across the political spectrum, and it shows that the Trump administration has succeeded and making this important ship for American national security and indeed for the freedoms of all humanity. It’s an accomplishment that will steer a generation of American foreign policy makers. We should all approach this challenge and indeed every challenge, confident in our nation’s purpose, sure of our values and determined to protect our way of life because we believe so deeply in America’s promise. And just like President Reagan, we have every reason to be optimistic. American stuff is a continent wide reminder that freedom is the superior alternative to tyranny. If our policies aren’t grounded in a love of America in the knowledge that the were flawed, like every other country that were indeed an exceptional nation, our founding principles or unique and our future promises also special, then if we get that wrong, our nation will suffer. But if we get it right, our friends and allies, we’ll see America leading. We will all emerge stronger, freer and more confident, and we will face the China Challenge. President Reagan knew this appeasement and blind engagement makes us weak. Beijing, Tehran and other tyrannical regimes take advantage of weakness. We cannot afford to return to the days when America sacrifice its natural leadership to morally pliant multilateral institutions that, in fact, erode American sovereignty, his institutions to run by the same kind of little intellectual elite in a far distant capital. The Reagan warned us about in his speech that he called a time for choosing. We can’t sustain an empty dialogue with regimes that have no intention to forge peace or to respect the free and open order that we worked so diligently, so diligently to build. President Reagan’s life, and it’s consistent for clarity offer us incredibly valuable lessons. It was in 1952 near the start of the Cold War. The Ronald Reagan and actor went to Fulton, Missouri, Middle America, not far from my home in Kansas. He went to war. Churchill gave his Iron Curtain speech just a few years earlier. There, he said, Quote America is an idea that has been deep in the souls of man ever since man started his long trail from the swamps. It is nothing but the inherent love of freedom in each one of us. That idea, that idea of the inherent love of freedom led millions in Eastern Europe to tear down the Berlin Wall 31 years ago yesterday and the Iron Curtain in the months that followed fell to and we see we see in this desire for peace all across the world today we see it in the people of Hong Kong waving American flags. We see it in the people of Venezuela, tired of Nicolas Maduro’s destructive regime. We see it in Nicaragua. We see Iranians, Belarusians, all longing for this very human condition. It’s within each of us. You know, America had debates about how to confront the Soviet threat, and we’ve debated and will continue to debate how to approach the China challenge. I think that’s good. I think that’s healthy in a democracy. But our true north, on which we must always return, are true North, a more perfect union and greater human freedom in the world must remain this place, the special place. The Reagan Institute will play a key part in that today you are reaffirming America’s belief in the great things at the heart of a amazing nation, and I’m glad to that. You’re focusing your work on that Westminster address, where President Reagan spoke about fostering the infrastructure of democracy and leaving Soviet communism on the ash heap of history. Those remarks they were early on, in his presidency. It was bold, and what he says is true. It was ground in America’s first principles, but it was forward looking and optimistic because Reagan knew those principles were right. The center will continue to march on. It will continue that march of freedom and democracy for the next generation. And you’ll keep lengthening the shadow of a man who reminded Americans that we are, in fact good that we are, in fact special and that the world needs us to live up to our nation’s providential promise. There’s an amazing honor to be here If you’re getting started in this new place, I look forward to following your work and taking some questions today. May God bless the United States of America. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Mr Secretary was about to tell you how to put the mic on, but you clearly are capable at handling that. So, um, we’re gonna take I’m just gonna have ah, we have time. Just for a few questions will do from the stage. And, um, for those in the room and online, uh, e think you agree with me, that was just remarkable set of remarks and inspiring, actually, the way you integrated President Reagan’s legacy with the work you’ve done as secretary of state and the Trump administration, Um, let’s start with China, the Chinese Communist Party. Uh, that was a big piece of of of your speech and you reference, um, President Reagan speech in Fulton, Missouri, and many people look at Churchill’s speech, uh, unfolding as kind of the Iron Curtain speech is the beginning of the Cold War. Um, your administration, present administration, your time in this administration Did you witness a moment where you kind of have that Iron Curtain moment where you recognize that this regime, the Chinese Communist Party, presented a challenge that the only frame of reference was really going back to the Cold War? So you know the president if you go back and look at the president’s remarks from his campaign. And even before that, um, he had identified a number of the challenge is connected to the Chinese Communist Party and its behavior on then, early on to the administration’s we developed our national security strategy. You can see it begin Thio become fleshed out. You can see the bones being put underneath it on. Then as CIA director, I got see firsthand every morning what these characters were up to. And when I When I say that, uh, you got a chance that you get the chance to have the glimpse inside of the apparatus and its intent, which is critical. So we we’ve lived with communist regimes in the world and, uh, they’ll they’ll choose their own governments model. But they don’t impact the world in the way that she Xinping intends to impact the world. So this combination of capacity and intent on behalf of the current leadership in the Chinese Communist Party it became very clear that this was the central challenge that this administration would face. And we believe the central challenge America will face in the years ahead. So we put together all the apparatus, all the institutions, that State Department we have fundamentally re shifted. How we think about the world that my ambassadors, no matter where they are in the world, have China at the top of their list. So if you’re an ambassador in, uh, Democratic Republic of Congo or, uh, in South Korea or in Oman, you know that the Chinese Communist Party is intent on impacting that country. And we are determined to make sure that we use our capacity to push back against that challenge. Articulated, perhaps more clearly in the supermarket. I gave it the Nixon Library. Where did that? Where we Yeah, where we where we for the first time, uh, took took a complete lay down of the scope of the challenge presented and how the Trump administration has laid out its response. Both American response and then the response that we are working on the world so that the world could see this and do this collectively because Justus Reagan needed other partners in the fight against the authoritarian regime in the Soviet Union. Uh, this will take a global response as well. So I want to talk about allies in just a minute. But just to drill down a little bit Mawr on China, you know, we famous image of President Reagan in front of the Berlin Wall tear down this wall. Iconic now obviously quite controversial agency which you leave, perhaps didn’t want him to use those words. They got that wrong. Um, but we think about China. You think about the great firewall right? Which reflects what China is doing in the digital age. Uh, obviously wrestling how we manage the competition with China, some would suggest that we should reinforce that wall and keep the free world outside of it and let China live within its great far wall. Uh, give me your thoughts on that. Maybe we should take down the great firewall and aspire for that in the same fashion that we wanted the Berlin Wall to come down. Yeah, In the end, the people of China will ultimately be determined, just as the people of Soviet Union will ultimately determine of of the course of history inside of that country. And so it’s our It’s our fundamental effort to work to make sure that the Chinese people have access to information, data, all the things that they will need to see so that they, too, can share in these very freedoms that we all care so much about. So yes, um, the analogy of the Cold War is in perfect, and we can talk about the places it’s different, but make no mistake about it. This innate desire for freedom for personal autonomy for human dignity is something that Justice Reagan said. I think rests on the soles of each of us and for us to have the capacity to permit them to tear down this, uh, this firewall that has been built around China would enable the people of China to make ah much different set of decisions than the one that their current leadership is taking them down the path the current leadership is taking them down. So separating the people from the party obviously a big emphasis of your remarks recently had the opportunity Thio have a conversation with Not on Sharansky. Famous dissident refuse Nick uh, the Soviet Union, which really impacted, uh, the Reagan administration in so many ways from beginning to end. Um, and he talked about almost wistfully about the concept of linkage and how President Reagan and his Secretary of State Secretary Schultz, no matter what the conversation was with the Soviet Union or other leaders around the world. Human rights, the plight of people seeking freedom always began. The conversation was always topped. The list talked me a little bit about the importance of linkage. A Z explained by President Reagan and Secretary Shultz referenced by Not on Sharansky. Do we need to do more of it on. Um, And how do we continue kind of advancing that whether you’re dealing with the Chinese Communist Party or even our friends and partners? Sure. Eso a complicated, uh, complicated topic. I’ve actually spent a lot of time. So we’ve We’ve put a course to two things in the State Department have been there. One is I put together commission. It’s called the Commission U S. Commission On on a legal rights. We wrote a report I’d urge you to read. It takes about 40 minutes to flip through, but it was an attempt to re ground American foreign policy in these fundamental understandings about human dignity. And I think the commission did a phenomenal job of going back to our declaration of independence back to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and accounting for these things. These thes, uh, right pre political rights that were provided by God, not by government on e think it refocused our efforts in the State Department. I hope that it is sit down, not policies but principles on which we ought to do and think about human rights. Second, we spent a lot of time working on religious freedom issues that central freedom capacity to exercise one’s conscience, one’s faith in the way that they want. And I put those two is a baseline to answer your conversation because it’s the case that no matter where we go, whatever country we’re dealing with, whether they’re people, we have a security relationship with or when we’re dealing with the Chinese Communist Party and the horrors that are taking place inside of China. And not just that. I talked about Xinjiang and my remarks, but Catholic churches are being decent. Sized are being synthesized. You think Christian faith stamped out in Tibet and now northern Mongolia. Every place that human freedom wants to flourish, the Chinese Communist Party is resisting. And so each time we have a conversation a to every level between the United States and China. We raised these issues, uh, in part because I think President had it right toe link them matters the second. I think we have a fundamental obligation to do this on behalf of the American people. Um, in your remarks and we only have a few more minutes was to a couple more questions. Um, you reference international organizations and how they’ve often uh uh, thought to road our sovereignty. Um, you also did that in the section your speech talking about, um, strength and candor and the and the need, uh, have a foreign policy that advances and that that speaks that way. At the same time, international organizations have been used and are and are necessary. Despite the critique in your speech and and many conservatives, you, uh, whether it be Iran and and dealing with Iran through the Security Council or even dealing with with cove it and the need Thio engage with the chaps organizations give us your take in terms of sitting atop Foggy bottom as our diplomat in chief, how you’ve come to think and appreciate or not appreciate the role of international organizations as we advance us interests. Yeah, so you’re right. Appreciate it. Not appreciate some of each to be sure we’ve come with this, this first principle, so it comes back to our central understanding. Are are No, no, no, no bs understanding. Does this thing work? He said an institution up, but 70 years on or it’s 100 years on is it’s still functional. Is it fit for purpose? This is what everybody does in their personal life is what every business does. Does the institutional structure permit us to get to the place that we were intending? Not necessarily America’s intention, but the very statement of mission that the institution has. If it is broken beyond repair, in spite of great American efforts, I’d give you the Human Rights Council of the United Nations, for example. If it’s broken beyond repair at some point, you just I don’t wanna be connected to that. I can’t fix it. Uh, I’m gonna go try and create something outside of that that will actually deliver on human rights. There’s other things you try to fix you. You hinted at the World Health Organization. We have been through three, maybe four efforts at reforming the World Health Organization. Significant efforts, riel efforts. American led efforts over decades Republican and Democrat administrations alike, epic failures. So President concluded frankly on my recommendation that we ought to go try and build an infrastructure that would actually deliver the very outcomes that the World Health Organization is designed to deliver. So it’s about purpose function. Does it fit? Does it work? I’ll give you an example where we’ve made one better. We decided we’d go fight. So there’s an organization many won’t know. It’s called the World Intellectual Property Organization. It turns out this actually matters an awful lot, uh, to America’s wealth and jobs here at home. Uh, it was run by someone controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. There was an election. We were about to allow that person to continue and State Department built out a team and went one on election. We got someone who actually cared about property rights running the World Intellectual Property Organization. Uh, stunning. I know anyone listening saying that that seems while you’re bragging about this. It turns out it turns out that it was a close call. There were. It was a hotly contested race. But what we did there is We said, this is an institution that matters. If we think we can make this institution function, let’s make sure we get the right team, the right organization, the right structure in place to do that. So we did. So we built out that counter Isis coalition of 90 countries. We have almost 50 nations that are part of what we call our clean network, who have refused to put Chinese telecom infrastructure inside the country. I remember my first trip abroad, my very first one, where I pitched Ah, country giving up on Huawei, and I remember the reporting. The next day, Pompeo throws himself against the wall and bounces right. It’s just right epic failure. But it turns out the good work. Rational thought. Kandor data have now led 50 countries, and it’s dozens and dozens of telecom companies all around the world to say, No, we’re not gonna let this happen. Eso these international infrastructure matters we should. We should use it for the good of the world. But we never should permit ourselves to continue to be in a situation. One of these organizations where the organization is no longer has any possibility of delivering a good outcome. So that framework, the infrastructure of the models, the approach you have to see if it’s working for you. We were just talking about international organizations. Let’s wrap up with this question. Um, the organizations that came out of President Reagan’s Westminster speech, the National Endowment for Democracy and all those umbrella organizations. Those air nearly 40 years old, right, uh, continue to do great work. We have people in the room here that have led, uh, some of those organizations at the same time. The world has changed dramatically since then. What you’re thinking about what we need to do as a country toe update sharpened, modernized. Pick your favorite word in terms of how we as a country, promote an advance freedom and democracy in the world. Yeah, anytime something’s 40 years old, that includes me. Uh, it needs and it often needs a makeover. Uh, and I think a lot of these institutions also need makeover. So, uh, you know, we’ve all we all know Voice of America. We all know Raider for Europe. We all know these thes institutions that delivered in powerful ways all across the world. But communications have changed. Times have changed the capacity for nations to screen information, and the way that they do it has changed. And I’m not convinced we have it right yet. I think we made a little bit of progress in our four years, but there’s an awful lot left to do. These air places, like the national level for democracy and organizations like what’s now the U. S. A. G m have an important role to play around the world and advancing democracy. And we need to make sure we empower them with right leaders and tools so that they can actually deliver on those objectives. Secretary Pompeo, I’d be remiss without commenting on how you’re the embodiment of peace through strength diplomacy with your socks, uh, being a foot soldier, which here at Reagan Institute, we certainly noticed and appreciate every please join me in thanking the Secretary of State for joining us and launching our Center for Freedom. Democracy. Thank you. Mhm.