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  • SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good afternoon.

  • A few weeks ago, not long after becoming Secretary  as State, I spoke directly to the American people.  

  • I said that my number one job is to ensure that  America's foreign policy delivers for them –  

  • that it makes their lives more secure, creates  opportunities for their families and communities,  

  • and addresses the global challenges that  are increasingly shaping their futures.

  • And I said that a key way we will  deliver for the American people  

  • is by reaffirming and revitalizing our  alliances and partnerships around the world.

  • That's why I've come to Brussels this week. I'm  speaking to you now from the headquarters of NATO,  

  • the treaty alliance that has defended the  security and freedom of Europe and North America  

  • for nearly 75 years.

  • Now, Americans disagree about a few things, but  the value of alliances and partnerships is not one  

  • of them. According to a recent poll by the Chicago  Council on Global Affairs, nine in ten Americans  

  • believe that maintaining our alliances is the most  effective way to achieve our foreign policy goals.  

  • Nine in ten. It's not hard to see why. They look  at the threats we facelike climate change,  

  • the COVID-19 pandemic, economic inequalityan increasingly assertive Chinaand they  

  • know that the United States is much  better off tackling them with partners,  

  • rather than trying to do it aloneAnd all our allies can say the same.

  • Now, the world looks very  different than it did decades ago,  

  • when we forged many of our alliancesor  even than it did four years ago. Threats  

  • have multiplied. Competition has stiffenedPower dynamics have shifted. Trust in our  

  • alliances has been shakentrust in each other  and trust in the strength of our commitments.  

  • Across and even within our alliances, we don't  always see eye to eye on the threats we face  

  • or how to confront them. Our shared  values of democracy and human rights  

  • are being challengednot only from  outside our countries, but from within.  

  • And new threats are outpacing our efforts to build  the capabilities we need to defend against them.

  • Yet none of this changes the fact that we need  alliancesnow as much and maybe even more  

  • than ever. The challenge we face is to adapt  and renew those alliances so that they can  

  • meet today's threats, and continue to deliver  for our people now, as they have in the past.

  • Today, I'll make the case for how to do that.

  • I'll first define the common threats we faceNext, I'll speak to what we need to do to reaffirm  

  • and revitalize our alliances so they  cannot only defend against these threats,  

  • but also protect our shared interests and  values. And finally, I'll set out what our  

  • allies can expect from the United Statesand what we in turn expect of our allies.

  • It starts by identifying the most  urgent threats we face today.

  • As I see it, there are three categories.

  • The first is military threats from other  countries. We see this in China's efforts  

  • to threaten freedom of navigationto militarize the South China Sea, to  

  • target countries throughout the Indo-Pacific with  increasingly sophisticated military capabilities.  

  • Beijing's military ambitions are growing  by the year. Coupled with the realities  

  • of modern technology, the challenges that once  seemed half a world away are no longer remote.  

  • We also see this in the new military capabilities  and strategies Russia has developed to challenge  

  • our alliances and undermine the rules-based  order that ensures our collective security.  

  • These include Moscow's aggression in  eastern Ukraine; its build-up of forces,  

  • large-scale exercises, and acts of  intimidation in the Baltic and Black Sea,  

  • the Eastern Mediterranean, the High Northits modernization of nuclear capabilities;  

  • and its use of chemical weapons  against critics on NATO soil.

  • And beyond China and Russia, regional  actors like Iran and North Korea are  

  • pursuing nuclear and missile capabilities  that threaten U.S. allies and partners.

  • The second category is non-military threats from  many of these same countriesthe technological,  

  • economic, and informational tactics that  threaten our security. These include the  

  • use of disinformation campaigns and weaponized  corruption to fuel distrust in our democracies,  

  • and cyberattacks that target our critical  infrastructure and steal intellectual property.  

  • From China's blatant economic coercion of  Australia, to Russia's use of disinformation  

  • to erode confidence in elections and in  safe, effective vaccinesthese aggressive  

  • actions threaten not only our individual  countries, but also our shared values.

  • And the third category are global  crises like climate change and COVID-19.  

  • These aren't threats posed by specific  governmentsthey're global. Higher temperatures,  

  • rising sea levels, and more intense storms  affect everything from military readiness  

  • to human migration patterns to food security. As  the COVID-19 pandemic has made abundantly clear,  

  • our health security is intertwinedand only as strong as our weakest link.

  • We also face global terrorism, which  often cuts across these categories.  

  • While we have significantly degraded the  threat of terrorism, it remains significant,  

  • especially when groups and individuals enjoy  support and safe harbor from governments,  

  • or find havens in ungoverned spaces.

  • Now, many of these threats weren't front  of mind when our alliances were formed.  

  • Some didn't exist at all. But that's  the great strength of our alliances:  

  • they were built to adaptto keep  evolving as new challenges emerge.

  • So here's how we can adapt them today.

  • First, we must recommit to our alliances –  and to the shared values that sustain them.

  • When America was attacked on 9/11, our NATO Allies  immediately and unanimously invoked Article 5 – an  

  • attack on one is an attack on all. This is still  the only time in history that Article 5 has been  

  • invokedand it was to protect the United StatesWe will never forget it. And our allies can expect  

  • the same from us today. As President Biden said  to the Munich Security Conference last month,  

  • you have our unshakable vow: America is  fully committed to NATO, including Article 5.

  • That's a vow I reaffirmed to  our allies at NATO this week.

  • And Secretary of Defense Austin and I expressed  that same commitment to our allies in Japan and  

  • South Korea, where we recently concluded  negotiations on burden-sharing agreements  

  • that will help maintain peace and prosperity  in a free, open Indo-Pacific for years to come.

  • Our alliances were created to defend shared  values. So renewing our commitment requires  

  • reaffirming those values and the foundation  of international relations we vow to protect:  

  • a free and open rules-based order. We've  got our work cut out for us on this front.  

  • Virtually every democracy in the  world is dealing with challenges  

  • right nowincluding the United States. We're  up against deep inequities, systemic racism,  

  • political polarization, each of which  makes our democracy less resilient.

  • It's on all of us to show what has always been  the system's greatest strengthour citizens,  

  • and the faith we put in them to  improve our societies and institutions.  

  • The biggest threat to our democracies isn't  that they are flawedthey've always been.  

  • The greatest threat is that our citizens lose  trust in democracy's ability to fix those  

  • flawsto follow through on our founding  commitment to form a more perfect union.  

  • What separates democracies from autocracies is our  ability and willingness to openly confront our own  

  • shortcomingsnot to pretend they don't existto ignore them, to sweep them under the rug.

  • We also have to hold one another to the values  at the heart of our alliancesto confront the  

  • democratic recession around the world. We all  must speak up when countries backslide from  

  • democracy and human rights. That's what  democracies do: we deal with challenges  

  • out in the open. We also must help those countries  move back in the right direction, by strengthening  

  • the guardrails of democracylike a free and  independent press; anti-corruption bodies;  

  • and institutions that protect the rule of law.

  • This, too, is what it means  to recommit to our alliances.

  • Second, we must modernize our alliances.

  • That begins with improving our  military capabilities and readiness,  

  • to ensure that we maintain a strong  and credible military deterrent.  

  • For example, we must ensure that our  strategic nuclear deterrent remains safe,  

  • secure, and effective, particularly  in light of Russia's modernization.  

  • That's critical to keeping our commitments to our  allies strong and credible, even as we take steps  

  • to reduce further the role of nuclear weapons  in our national security. We'll also work with  

  • our Indo-Pacific allies to address a wide range  of complex security challenges in the region.

  • We've got to broaden our capacity to address  threats in the economic, technological,  

  • and informational realms. And we can't just play  defensewe have to take an affirmative approach.

  • We've seen how Beijing and Moscow are  increasingly using access to critical resources,  

  • markets, and technologies to pressure  our allies and drive wedges between us.  

  • Of course, each state's decision is its ownbut we must not separate economic coercion  

  • from other forms of pressureWhen one of us is coerced,  

  • we should respond as allies and work together to  reduce our vulnerability by ensuring our economies  

  • are more integrated with each other than they are  with our principal competitors. That means teaming  

  • up to develop cutting-edge innovations; ensuring  that our sensitive supply chains are resilient;  

  • setting the norms and standards that  will govern emerging technologies;  

  • imposing costs on those who break the  rules. History tells us that, when we do,  

  • more countries will opt for the open and  secure spaces that we build together.

  • And we must expand our ability to address  transnational threatsespecially climate change  

  • and pandemics like COVID-19. These challenges are  so vastand the measures needed to address them  

  • so far-reachingthat tackling them  must be integrated into virtually  

  • everything we do and coordinated  across a wide array of partners.

  • Third, we must weave together broader  coalitions of allies and partners.

  • Too often, we put our alliances  and partnerships into siloes.  

  • We don't do enough to bring them together. But  we should. Because the more that countries with  

  • complementary strengths and capacities can  unite to achieve shared goals, the better.

  • That's the idea behind the group of countries  we callthe Quad” – Australia, India, Japan,  

  • and the United States. President Biden  recently hosted the Quad's first ever  

  • leader-level summit. We share a vision of a freeopen, inclusive, and healthy Indo-Pacific region,  

  • unconstrained by coercion, and anchored by  democratic values. We make a good team. And our  

  • cooperation will strengthen parallel efforts to  ensure security in the East and South China Seas  

  • and to expand safe, affordable, and effective  vaccine production and equitable access.

  • Deepening NATO-EU cooperation is another  example. Greater collaboration on issues  

  • like cybersecurity, energy security, health  security, and safeguarding critical infrastructure  

  • will help build our resilience and preparedness  

  • against present-day threats. It also makes  us stronger when we stand up for our values.

  • Consider the sanctions that the United States just  imposed in unity with Canada, the European Union,  

  • and the United Kingdom on individuals engaged in  the atrocities being committed against Uyghurs  

  • in Xinjiang. The retaliatory sanctions that China  then imposed on members of the European Parliament  

  • and the EU's Political and Security  Committee, academics, and think tanks  

  • make it all the more important that we stand  firm and stand together, or else risk sending  

  • the message that bullying works. This includes  sticking by our non-NATO partners in Europe,  

  • many of whom continue to stand firm  with us on the alliance's front lines.

  • And we'll look beyond national governments to the  private sector, civil society, philanthropies,  

  • cities, and universities. Diverse, broad-based  cooperation is essential to protecting the global  

  • commonsthose resources that all people  have a right to share and benefit from,  

  • and which are now being encroached  upon by our adversaries.

  • Consider 5G, where China's technology brings  serious surveillance risks. We should bring  

  • together tech companies from countries like  Sweden, Finland, South Korea, the United States,  

  • and use public and private investment to  foster a secure and trustworthy alternative.  

  • We've spent decades developing relationships  with countries that share our values  

  • in every part of the globe. This is why we  invested so much in these partnershipsso  

  • we can come together in innovative ways  to solve new challenges like these.

  • To any who doubt what we can achieve  when we work together in this way,  

  • I'd point to the unprecedented  cooperation by scientists  

  • who shared hundreds of viral genome sequences  across institutions and bordersresearch  

  • that was indispensable to the discovery of  several safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines,  

  • in record time. The very first of those vaccines  to be approved by the World Health Organization  

  • was pioneered by a doctor born in Turkey, who  grew up in Germany, and who co-founded a European  

  • pharmaceutical company that partnered with an  American counterpart to produce the vaccine.

  • Now, America's allies and partners may be  listening to my words today and saying,  

  • We need to know what we can expect  from you.” Because as I said,  

  • trust has been shaken to some  degree over the past few years.

  • So let me be clear about what the United  States can promise to our allies and partners.

  • When our allies shoulder their  fair share of the burden,  

  • they'll reasonably expect to have a fair say  in making decisions. We will honor that. That  

  • begins with consulting our friends early and  often. This is a key part of the foreign policy  

  • in the Biden-Harris administration, and it's a  change our allies already see and appreciate.

  • We'll treat the efforts of our allies to develop  greater capacity as an asset, not a threat.  

  • Stronger allies make for stronger alliances.  

  • And as the U.S. develops our capacities to  address the threats I've outlined today,  

  • we'll make sure they remain compatible with  our alliancesand that they contribute to  

  • strengthening our allies' security. We'll  ask the same of our allies in return.

  • The United States won't force our  allies into a “us or themchoice  

  • with China. There's no question that Beijing's  coercive behavior threatens our collective  

  • security and prosperity, and that it is actively  working to undercut the rules of the international  

  • system and the values we and our allies share. But  that doesn't mean that countries can't work with  

  • China where possible, for example, on challenges  like climate change and health security.

  • We know that our allies have complex relationships  with China that won't always align perfectly.  

  • But we need to navigate these challenges  together. That means working with our allies  

  • to close the gaps in areas like technology and  infrastructure, where Beijing is exploiting  

  • to exert coercive pressureWe'll rely on innovation,  

  • not ultimatums. Because if  we work together to make real  

  • our positive vision for the international order  – if we stand up for the free and open system  

  • that we know provides the best conditions for  human ingenuity, dignity, and connectionwe're  

  • confident that we can outcompete China  or anyone else on any playing field.

  • We will always pull our weight, but we'll also  recognize when our allies are pulling theirs.  

  • And let me be frank: This has  often been a contentious issue,  

  • particularly in the transatlantic relationshipWe recognize the significant progress many of  

  • our NATO allies have made in improving defense  investments, including progress toward meeting  

  • the Wales commitment of spending two percent  of GDP on defense expenditures by 2024.  

  • The full implementation of these commitments is  crucial. But we also recognize the need to adopt  

  • a more holistic view of burden sharing. No single  number fully captures a country's contribution  

  • to defending our collective security and  interests, especially in a world where a  

  • growing number of threats cannot be confronted  with military force. We must acknowledge that  

  • because allies have distinct capabilities and  comparative strengths, they will shoulder their  

  • share of the burden in different ways. Nowthat doesn't mean abandoning the targets we've  

  • set for ourselves or doing less. In fact, the  common threats we face demand that we do more.

  • We need to be able to have these  tough conversationsand even to  

  • disagreewhile still treating one another  with respect. Too often in recent years,  

  • we in the United States seem to have forgotten  who our friends are. Well, that's already changed.

  • The United States will be  judicious about our use of power,  

  • particularly our military power, asmeans of addressing conflicts abroad.  

  • We will avoid imbalances between our principled  ambitions and the risks we're willing to take to  

  • achieve them, in no small part because when we're  overextended, we hamper our ability to focus on  

  • other challenges that can have the biggest  impact on the lives of the American people.

  • Finally, some of our allies are wondering  whether our commitment to their security  

  • is a lasting one. They hear us sayAmerica  is backand they askfor how long?

  • It's a fair question. So here's my answer.

  • There's a reason the vast majority of the American  peoplefrom both political partiessupport  

  • our alliances, even if they're divided along  party lines on many other issues. It's the  

  • same reason why Republicans and Democrats in  Congress have consistently reassured our allies  

  • that our commitments are resolute. It's  because we see our alliances not as burdens,  

  • but as a way to get help from others in shapingworld that reflects our interests and our values.

  • But to keep that support strong, we who have the  privilege of representing the United States on  

  • the world stage have to make sure that our  alliances deliver for the American people.  

  • We can't lose sight of this.

  • We must demonstrate not only what our alliances  defend against, but also what they stand for,  

  • like the right of all people everywhere to be  treated with dignity and have their fundamental  

  • freedoms respected. Just because we make our  foreign policy to reflect the world as it is  

  • does not mean we have to give up on shaping the  world as it might be – a world that's more secure,  

  • more peaceful, more just, more equitable,  

  • a world with greater health, stronger  democracies, and more opportunity for more people.