British Prime Minister Gordon Brown
I watched British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s speech on March 4 to a Joint Session of Congress and thought it was terrific. So following are a few excerpts.
I come in friendship to renew, for new times, our special relationship founded upon our shared history, our shared values and, I believe, our shared futures.
I grew up in the 1960s as America, led by President Kennedy, looked to the heavens and saw not the endless void of the unknown, but a new frontier to dare to discover and explore. People said it couldn’t be done – but America did it.
And 20 years later, in the 1980s, America led by President Reagan refused to accept the fate of millions trapped behind an Iron Curtain, and insisted instead that the people of Eastern Europe be allowed to join the ranks of nations which live safe, strong and free. People said it would never happen in our lifetime but it did, and the Berlin Wall was torn down brick by brick.
So early in my life I came to understand that America is not just the indispensable nation, it is the irrepressible nation.
Throughout your history Americans have led insurrections in the human imagination, have summoned revolutionary times through your belief that there is no such thing as an impossible endeavor. It is never possible to come here without having your faith in the future renewed.
Throughout a whole century the American people stood liberty’s ground not just in one world war but in two.
And I want you to know that we will never forget the sacrifice and service of the American soldiers who gave their lives for people whose names they never knew, and whose faces they never saw, and yet people who have lived in freedom thanks to the bravery and valor of the Americans who gave the “last full measure of devotion.”
Cemetery after cemetery across Europe honors the memory of American soldiers, resting row upon row – often alongside comrades-in-arms from Britain. There is no battlefield of liberty on which there is not a piece of land that is marked out as American and there is no day of remembrance in Britain that is not also a commemoration of American courage and sacrifice far from home.
In the hardest days of the last century, faith in the future kept America alive and I tell you that America kept faith in the future alive for all the world.
Almost every family in Britain has a tie that binds them to America. So I want you to know that whenever a young American soldier or marine, sailor or airman is killed in conflict anywhere in the world, we, the people of Britain, grieve with you. Know that your loss is our loss; your families’ sorrow is our families’ sorrow and your nation’s determination is our nation’s determination that they shall not have died in vain.
And let me pay tribute to the soldiers, yours and ours, who again fight side by side in the plains of Afghanistan and the streets of Iraq, just as their forefathers fought side by side in the sands of Tunisia, on the beaches of Normandy and then on the bridges over the Rhine.
And after that terrible September morning when your homeland was attacked, the Coldstream Guards at Buckingham Palace played the Star Spangled Banner. Our own British tribute as we wept for our friends in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
[On the global economic crisis]
For the lesson of this crisis is that we cannot just wait for tomorrow today. We cannot just think of tomorrow today. We cannot merely plan for tomorrow today. Our task must be to build tomorrow today.
And America knows from its history that its reach goes far beyond its geography. For a century you have carried upon your shoulders the greatest of responsibilities: to work with and for the rest of the world. And let me tell you that now more than ever the rest of the world wants to work with you.
And if these times have shown us anything it is that the major challenges we all face are global. No matter where it starts, an economic crisis does not stop at the water’s edge. It ripples across the world. Climate change does not honor passport control. Terrorism has no respect for borders. And modern communications instantly span every continent. The new frontier is that there is no frontier, the new shared truth is that global problems need global solutions.
And let me say that you now have the most pro-American European leadership in living memory. A leadership that wants to cooperate more closely together, in order to cooperate more closely with you. There is no old Europe, no new Europe, there is only your friend Europe.
So once again I say we should seize the moment – because never before have I seen a world so willing to come together. Never before has that been more needed. And never before have the benefits of cooperation been so far-reaching….
No one should forget that it was American visionaries who over half a century ago, coming out of the deepest of depressions and the worst of wars, produced the boldest of plans for global economic cooperation because they recognized prosperity was indivisible and concluded that to be sustained it had to be shared.
And I believe that ours too is a time for renewal, for a plan for tackling recession and building for the future. Every continent playing their part in a global new deal, a plan for prosperity that can benefit us all.
First, so that the whole of the worldwide banking system serves our prosperity rather than risks it, let us agree rules and standards for accountability, transparency, and reward that will mean an end to the excesses and will apply to every bank, everywhere, and all the time.
Second, America and a few countries cannot be expected to bear the burden of the fiscal and interest rate stimulus alone. We must share it globally. So let us work together for the worldwide reduction of interest rates and a scale of stimulus round the world equal to the depth of the recession and the dimensions of the recovery we must make.
Third, let us together renew our international economic cooperation, helping the emerging markets rebuild their banks….
And let us not forget the poorest. As we strive to spread the values of peace, political liberty, and the hope for better lives across the world, perhaps the greatest gift our generation could give to the future, the gift of America and Britain to the world could be, for every child in every country of the world, the chance millions do not have today; the chance to go to school.
For let us remember there is a common bond that unites us as human beings across different beliefs, cultures and nationalities. It is at the core of my convictions, the essence of America’s spirit and the heart of all faiths.
And it must be at the center of our response to the crisis of today. At their best, our values tell us that we cannot be wholly content while others go without, cannot be fully comfortable while millions go without comfort, cannot be truly happy while others grieve alone….
So we do not value the wealthy less when we say that our first duty is to help the not so wealthy. We do not value the powerful less when we say that our first responsibility is to help the powerless. And we do not value those who are secure less when we say that our first priority must be to help the insecure.
These recent events have forced us to think anew. And while I have learnt many things, I keep returning to something I first learned in my father’s church as a child. In this most modern of crises I am drawn to the most ancient of truths; wherever there is hardship, wherever there is suffering, we cannot, we will not, pass by on the other side.
But working together there is no challenge to which we are not equal, no obstacle that we cannot overcome, no aspiration so high that it cannot be achieved.
In the depths of the Depression, when Franklin Roosevelt did battle with fear itself, it was not simply by the power of his words, his personality and his example that he triumphed.
Yes, all these things mattered. But what mattered more was this enduring truth: that you, the American people, at your core, were, as you remain, every bit as optimistic as your Roosevelts, your Reagans and your Obamas.
This is the faith in the future that has always been the story and promise of America. So at this defining moment in history let us renew our special relationship for our generation and our times. Let us restore prosperity and protect this planet and, with faith in the future, let us together build tomorrow today.
Hot Spots returns next week.