October 30, 2001
GHENT, Belgium –– Global trade can help win the war against terrorism if the West spreads the wealth it generates more equitably, former President Clinton told a conference of globalization critics Tuesday.
"Not everyone who's angry is angry at the civilized world and wants to destroy it," Clinton said. "A lot are angry because they can't be a part of it."
Arguing for more globalization, not a retrenchment in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, Clinton said bringing terror suspect Osama bin Laden to justice is not enough.
"We need to reduce the pool of potential terrorists by increasing the number of potential partners in the 21st century world," he said.
He called on Western nations to foot the bill to raise living standards and improve education in the developing world to promote equal opportunity.
"Global trade is not bad, but there's not enough," Clinton said. "We need to spread the benefits and reduce the burdens quickly to all the people."
Clinton was invited to the University of Ghent by the current president of the European Union, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, who has sought to organize a debate on "ethical globalization" ever since anti-globalization radicals rioted outside an EU summit in June.
Rather than the attacks overshadowing the discussion, speakers agreed that solving problems like the growing gap between rich and poor – what Clinton called "the dark side" of globalization – has become even more urgent.
"In a way, the Western world saw the price of poverty flashed up on its TV screens on Sept. 11," Verhofstadt said.
"Poor unstable countries and regions that fall prey to gangs of criminals" like bin Laden's al-Qaida network are part of the price, he said.
Some speakers expressed fears that the U.S.-led military response to the attacks would divert resources and attention from anti-poverty programs.
"It's a no-win situation for us," said Dr. Owens Wiwa, a Nigerian activist who expects a tougher time raising money for Africa's AIDS crisis.
Naomi Klein, a best-selling Canadian author and anti-corporate activist, said she was afraid the war atmosphere would make it harder to be publicly critical of globalization.
"People are afraid that being critical of the market is seen as being anti-American, even treasonous," she said.
But she said she felt that the needs of the poor and excluded would have to be addressed.
"It's become a security issue," she said.
January 23, 2001
A selection of quotes by Bill Clinton
After eight years, Bill Clinton has left the Oval Office. Throughout his tenure, he focused closely on the fate of the U.S. economy. But during his last year in office, he increasingly broadened his scope. This Read My Lips feature presents his thoughts on the challenges for the global economy.
What is the biggest problem with globalization?
"The expansion of trade hasn't fully closed the gap between those of us who live on the cutting edge of the global economy — and the billions around the world who live on the knife's edge of survival." (January 2001)
"Global poverty is a powder keg that could be ignited by our indifference." (January 2001)
How can we do better?
"We have to put a human face on the global economy." (January 1999)
Is globalization generally a positive development?
"The global economy is giving more of our own people — and billions around the world — the chance to work and live and raise their families with dignity." (January 2001)
Where does America stand in the global economy?
"The American people have made our passage into the global information age an era of great American renewal." (January 2001)
What were the guiding values behind your decisions on America and the global economy?
"Opportunity for all, responsibility from all, a community of all Americans." (January 2001)
Is Asia benefiting from globalization?
"In no part of the world had globalization been put to the test as much as in Asia. We have felt both its great benefits — and its temporary, but brutal sting." (November 2000)
What is the challenge for U.S. relations with China?
"One of the biggest question marks of the 21st century is the path China will take. Will China emerge as a partner — or an adversary?" (May 2000)
How do you view the Internet as a political factor?
"When over 100 million people in China can get on the Net, it will be impossible to maintain a closed political and economic society." (On permanent trade relations with China, in May 2000)
How do you view the European Union?
"There is no contradiction between a strong Europe — and a strong transatlantic partnership." (June 2000)
And what about Russia?
"A country that rebuffed Napoleon and Hitler can surely adjust to the realities of the global marketplace." (In September 1998)
"We must do everything we can to encourage a Russia that is fully democratic and united in its diversity. That means no doors can be sealed shut to Russia — not NATO's, not the EU's." (On accepting the Charlemagne prize, in June 2000)
How do outsiders view the United States?
"There is a perception in Europe that America's power — military, economic, cultural — is at times overbearing." (June 2000)