Clinton pushes for cooperation on confronting extremism

November 9, 2009

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton used an awards ceremony Sunday in Berlin to push European allies for greater cooperation in confronting extremism, nuclear proliferation and other challenges of the 21st century.

Her remarks came as thousands of people GERMANY/WALLcrowded into the city on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.

“We should look to the examples of the generations who brought us successfully through the 20th century and once again together chart a clear and common course to safeguard our people and our planet, defeat violent extremists and prevent nuclear proliferation,” Clinton said.

“We need to form an even stronger partnership to bring down the walls of the 21st century and to confront those who hide behind them,” Clinton said, like suicide bombers and those who attack girls for trying to go to school.

“In place of these new walls, we must renew the trans-Atlantic alliance as a cornerstone of a global architecture of cooperation,” she said.

Clinton’s remarks come as President Barack Obama is facing a difficult decision on whether to deploy additional troops to Afghanistan.

The administration has had difficulty convincing European allies to shoulder a bigger role in the conflict, and analysts said Clinton’s call for renewed commitment was not likely to change that.

“Facing difficult pressures on Afghanistan, the Obama administration marked the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall by revving up a rhetorical trope that President Bush favored –- drawing a parallel between the Cold War and the fight against radical Islamist terrorism,” said Tom Carothers, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Europeans and others never found it very convincing under Bush,” he added. “I suspect they won’t like it much better now.”

The awards ceremony, held by the Atlantic Council, honored the citizens of several countries involved in the Cold War struggle for freedom, from the United States and Germany to Poland and the former Czechoslovakia.

U.S. and European officials reminisced about the collapse of the Iron Curtain on Nov. 9, 1989. The events that led to the collapse of communism were not inevitable, they said, and did not lead to the conflict-free world that many people predicted.

“Challenges are endless,” said former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who introduced Clinton. “Every solution of one problem is an admission ticket to another problem.”

Kissinger, who served Republican President Richard Nixon, said a journalist had asked him to write a thousand-word assessment of Democrat Clinton.

“I said, ‘What do I say after the first three words?” Kissinger said.

“He said, ‘What are those three words?’”

“I said, ‘I like Hillary.'”

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Photo credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach (Clinton and Kissinger at Atlantic Council Freedom’s Challenge awards ceremony in Berlin)

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