Sat. Jul 13th, 2024
Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the 2024 NATO Public Forum
Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the 2024 NATO Public Forum

MS CONLEY:  Well, thank you so much, Amanda and Marie-Doha.  Warmest of welcomes to you —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.

MS CONLEY:  — Secretary Blinken, and good morning, NATO Public Forum.  You and I have an awesome responsibility here.  You and I are sort of like the pace car for this two-day race of the Public Forum.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I’m counting on you, Heather.

MS CONLEY:  Well, I’m counting on you, so I guess we have to say let’s start our NATO engines and let’s get going.  And we have a lot of news to talk about, a lot of the most pressing issues on the agenda.  But I just want to take a moment – I want to take a moment and honor this historic moment.  So I looked back at those transcripts from 1949, and I discovered what the 51st Secretary of State said at the signing, Secretary Dean Acheson.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Acheson.

MS CONLEY:  He said:  For those who participated in the drafting of this treaty – the Washington Treaty – must leave to others the judgement of the significance and the value of that act.  So I just want to ask you very personally – no talking points – from one Europeanist to another Europeanist:  What does this moment mean to you very personally?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, good morning, everyone.  It’s great to be with you today.  I don’t think we’ve seen this kind of assemblage of – we heard —

MS CONLEY:  We heard the term; use it.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  NATO nerds – (laughter) – you’re all here.

MS CONLEY:  We celebrate this.  We celebrate it.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  And I’m – I proudly count myself among you and have for more than 30 years now.

MS CONLEY:  Yes, sir.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The moment means a lot of things.  The moment means 75 years – Jens Stoltenberg said it yesterday: this is now the longest enduring alliance in history.  That in and of itself is remarkable.  But I think it’s evidence that country after country, government after government, representing now a billion people, has seen the extraordinary value of this Alliance.  And I think it really boils down to this when you think about it – because when Dean Acheson was here, when our predecessors were here, they were coming off two world wars.  And the absolute priority for them was trying to put in place the understandings, the arrangements, the structures to prevent another global conflagration, and NATO was at the heart of that.

And what is at the heart of NATO?  This extraordinary commitment – that an attack on one is an attack on all – is the strongest possible deterrent to conflict, the best possible way to avoid war, because any would-be aggressor contemplating an attack knows that if they take on one of us, they have to take on all of us.  And what we’ve seen over 75 years is a defensive Alliance that’s kept the peace for the citizens that it represents.  And that in turn enables something else, because ultimately NATO is not an end in itself.  The end in itself is to make sure that citizens of the countries that bring – that come together in NATO are able to lead their lives freely, securely, to try to make progress, to try to hand down a better life to their children than the one they had.  And it starts with the security.  If you have that, everything else becomes possible.

MS CONLEY:  Absolutely.  Thank you.  Well, one of the pressing priorities at this 75th year is, of course, Ukraine.  Last evening, we heard President Biden make some announcements about a new air defense package in Ukraine.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.

MS CONLEY:  So Mr. Secretary, I actually want to start with that news.  I hope you can help us unpack that and tell us a little bit more about the Ukraine package that we can expect at the summit.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, you heard the President yesterday talk about the work that we’ve done and other Allies have done to put together more air defense systems for Ukraine, notably Patriots but also many other systems, because we know that’s the key to so many things.  It’s the key to defending Ukraine’s infrastructure.  It’s the key to defending its people.  It’s the key to defending its forces.  It’s also key to making sure that we’re unlocking the private sector and economic investment in Ukraine that will also be essential to Ukraine’s success going forward, but people need to make investments in secure environments.

So these air defense systems, we know, have been job number one for Ukraine and, as a result, for the Alliance that’s supporting it.  But this is just part of a comprehensive package that we’re putting in place, that we’ve actually put in place since before day one, to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself when it needs it.  And I’m also pleased to announce that, as we speak, the transfer of F-16 jets is underway, coming from Denmark, coming from the Netherlands – (applause) – and those jets – those jets will be flying in the skies of Ukraine this summer to make sure that Ukraine can continue to effectively defend itself against the Russian aggression.

MS CONLEY:  So we also understand coming out of the summit, we’ll have announcements that there will be a new NATO command —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.

MS CONLEY:  — in Wiesbaden that will be very focused, building on the extraordinary work of the Ramstein Defense Contact Group to sustain capabilities for Ukraine, operations, maintenance.  We’ll have a NATO liaison officer —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.

MS CONLEY:  — in Kyiv.  I mean, this is a pretty robust package that you’re talking about.  I want to – you said something when you last were in Kyiv on, I believe, May 14th.  And you said:  Our strategy is that Ukraine must win.  Is that package – and this is robust – but are the packages that NATO is putting forward – is it enough to fulfill that vision for Ukraine to win?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yeah, I believe it is.  And let’s talk about two things.  Let’s talk about what winning means, what success is for Ukraine.  And in my estimation, at least, success is a strong, independent Ukraine, increasingly integrated with Euro-Atlantic institutions – like the European Union, like NATO – and that is able to stand on its own feet, militarily, economically, democratically.  And what we see is Ukraine on a trajectory to do just that.  Militarily we have an incredibly robust package that will be unveiled over the next couple of days at NATO that builds a very clear, strong, robust, well-lit bridge to NATO membership for Ukraine, including – as you mentioned – the first time NATO has dedicated a command to helping an aspiring country join the Alliance.  This, in and of itself, is extraordinary.

Just a few weeks ago, President Biden signed our bilateral security agreement with Ukraine.  At the last NATO summit, on its margins, President Biden brought together more than 30 countries to negotiate and now sign these bilateral security agreements.  What does that mean?  It means that for the next decade country after country has vowed to help Ukraine build its deterrent and defense capacity.  That sends the strongest possible message to Vladimir Putin that he can’t outlast Ukraine.  He can’t outlast Ukraine’s partners.  So the military trajectory is clear.

The economic trajectory is critical.  Making sure that private sector investment is being driven into Ukraine.  Our former Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, has been leading our efforts with so many other allies and partners.  We just had a very strong reconstruction conference in Germany.  But all of this is about making sure that investment is driven to Ukraine.  I’m convinced that Ukraine has tremendous capacity, first to develop a strong defense industrial base for itself and for other countries, but also because of the extraordinary innovation of Ukrainian entrepreneurs, the Ukrainian economy, to develop a strong, robust economy.  Of course, the air defenses are critical to make sure, as I said before, that investments that are being made – physical investments that are being made are protected.

And then finally, democratic deepening.  The fact that the EU opened its accession process with Ukraine, the fact that NATO also requires as Ukraine move irreversibly along the path to membership, that it continue reforms that’s the strongest guarantee that the reforms that the Ukrainian people so strongly support will continue and will deepen.  And that results in a Ukraine that is strong, that is independent, and that is the best possible rebuke to Vladimir Putin.

MS CONLEY:  Mr. Secretary, I’m so glad you talked about the well-lit bridge, because I think an enormous amount of energy is being expended upon verbal gymnastics in some ways, the irreversible path, the well-lit bridge, all of these terms.  But what you’ve been talking about, the actions, the robustness, that speaks louder than words —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s exactly right.

MS CONLEY:  — that’s the relationship with NATO.  But why are we so caught up – why can’t there be greater simplicity and clarity about this incredibly close relationship that Ukraine will join NATO?  Help me understand why we’re using all of these very creative words.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Laughter.)  Well, we have a lot of very talented people who have to spend a lot of time writing NATO declarations.  We want to make sure they’re fully employed.

MS CONLEY:  So that’s the secret.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  So as someone who’s done that myself, in the past —

MS CONLEY:  Okay.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  — in all seriousness, by the way —

MS CONLEY:  No, please.

SECRETARY BLINKLEN:  — our colleagues are doing extraordinary work because look, we have 32 Allies.  This is a democratic Alliance, an Alliance of democratic countries.  Different countries have slightly different views on some of these issues and part of our responsibility is to proceed with consensus.  The greatest strength that we have, the most valuable currency we have as an Alliance is our unity, but that unity doesn’t just happen.  It’s the product of conversation.  It’s the product of listening.  It’s the product of talking.  It’s the product of building that consensus and it gets reflected in these documents.

But you’re – Heather, you’re exactly right.  I think it’s important to look at the words, but it’s even more important to look at the actions; as I said a moment ago, the first time NATO has had a dedicated command to helping an aspiring country join the Alliance.  And that has very practical components to it that will, I think, speed Ukraine’s accession to the Alliance.  And we talk about a bridge – it’s nice to have an image, a metaphor.  As my colleague, Jim O’Brien, likes to say, it’s a bridge that’s going to be strong, well-lit; and with this command, I think it’ll be a short bridge too.

MS CONLEY:  So I’m going to sprinkle another historical quote, and this was by President Truman the year following the signing of the Washington Treaty at his inaugural address.  He said – and I thought this is a good definition, not quite that word salad that we were talking about – “the main objective of the North Atlantic Treaty is to erase any possible doubt and uncertainty that may be lurking in the minds of potential aggressors.”  Is that package enough to deter Vladimir Putin on Ukraine?  That’s the question.  Does that provide sufficient certainty?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, first, President Truman had the remarkable gift of speaking clearly, speaking directly, and we’ll try to live up to that example as best we can.  But look, the proof will be in the pudding.  I believe it should.  But at the end of the day, what is so important is delivering these practical results, showing that Ukraine has the capacity, that its partners have the capacity.  I mentioned a moment ago, the fact that the F-16s are on their way.  The transfer is happening as we speak.  They’ll be flying in the skies of Ukraine this summer.  That’s another very important proof point, because again, it concentrates Vladimir Putin’s mind on the fact that he will not outlast Ukraine, he will not outlast us; and if he persists, the damage that will continue to be done to Russia and its interests will only deepen.  The fastest way, the quickest way to get to peace is through a strong Ukraine.

MS CONLEY:  Absolutely.  To sort of twist President Truman’s words a bit, I’m wondering if the aggressor is starting to put doubts in the mind of some NATO members.  And what I’m speaking about is these brazen hybrid attacks; we’ve seen a series of them.  In fact, quite extraordinarily, U.S. bases across Europe had to go on high alert this last week.  This is starting to be of greater concern.  What does NATO have to do to try to get to that problem?  Because that is undermining NATO unity.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  It has to do, and it is doing, what it’s always done, which is to adapt.  When we came into office, one of the most important things to do from the outset – besides re-engaging the Alliance, re-energizing it, and as necessary, reimagining it – was to put forward a new Strategic Concept, the first one in a decade, to take account for the fact that we’re in a dramatically changed security environment, with not only new actors posing challenges but also new means, new methods.  That Strategic Concept reflects the fact that we have these hybrid threats.

Since we put out the Strategic Concept, we’ve been working to turn it into real plans, real programs that demonstrate that NATO is capable and effective in dealing with exactly these kind of challenges.  That’s going to be carried forward at this summit; more to be said about that in the next couple of days.  But I can tell you from the meetings that we’ve had to prepare for this summit, every Ally is acutely aware of this, every Ally is acutely focused on this, the fact that we’ve seen attacks in recent months – arson attacks, sabotage attacks, attempted assassinations, misinformation, disinformation, cyber threats.  This is not – these are not one-offs.  This is part of a deliberate strategy by Russia to try to undermine our security and undermine the cohesion of the Alliance.  It’s not going to work because we see it and we’re acting on it.

MS CONLEY:  I think we need to start acting on it.  This – it’s so concerning that these are increasing, for sure.

Let me turn a little bit to the broader elements of the summit and working with our Indo-Pacific partners.  The largest land war in Europe since the Second World War is not simply a concern to the Euro-Atlantic community.  We now this week have Chinese military exercising with the Belarusian military.  We have reports of North Korean trainers coming into Russia.  This is now a global alignment of our adversaries from Russia to China, Iran, and North Korea.  Can NATO play that bridge between the Indo-Pacific and the Euro-Atlantic?  This is the third summit where our four Indo-Pacific —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.

MS CONLEY:  — prime ministers are here.  Their commitment is getting stronger.  Can NATO play that role?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes, and we are seeing it play exactly that role.  You mentioned this is the third summit in a row that we’ve had Indo-Pacific partners here at NATO – Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Korea.  And it’s a reflection of the fact of exactly what you said, that these challenges are linked, that are our theatres of work together are linked.  And maybe this was crystallized by Ukraine, when Prime Minister Kishida of Japan said that what’s happening in Europe today could be happening in East Asia tomorrow.  When Russia committed its aggression, its renewed aggression against Ukraine, and Japan stood up, South Korea stood up, Australia, New Zealand, this was a reflection of that recognition that these challenges are linked.  And when democracies stand together, whether they’re in Europe, Asia or elsewhere, we’re going to be stronger and more effective.

So as we’re gathering here in Washington with our Indo-Pacific partners, what this means is we are breaking down the silos between Europe, Asia, and the United States.  And this has been a very deliberate objective of President Biden from day one, not only building convergence with our allies, stronger convergence when it comes to how to approach Russia – and in a different way, how to approach China – but also breaking down the barriers, the walls between European partners and Asian partners.  And of course, what’s happened just in the last year, year and a half, has only reinforced the imperative.  Ukraine – we see, unfortunately, China not providing weapons to Russia to pursue its aggression but being the major contributor to Russia’s defense industrial base.  Seventy percent of the machine tools that Russia is importing are coming from China; 90 percent of the microelectronics that Russia is importing – coming from China.  And that’s enabled it to sustain its aggression against Ukraine.

We’ve seen a massive buildup of its weaponry over the last year and a half – tanks, missiles, munitions.  That’s the product of a defense industrial base being fueled by China.  As a result, European allies understand the challenge posed by China to Europe’s security.  And of course, China can’t have it both ways.  It can’t be all at once – or claim to be for peace and want to have better relations with Europe – while at the same time fueling what is arguably the most significant threat to European security since the end of the Cold War.  We see it in the relationship between Russia and North Korea.  That’s abundantly clear.  And in all of these areas, as well as some of the hybrid threats that you alluded to before, the connections are clearer and clearer.  The Alliance is one place – and maybe, I would argue, a central place – where we can bring everyone together so that we’re acting together.

MS CONLEY:  So Mr. Secretary, you’re talking about strengthening this global Alliance which the United States has built over the last 75 years.  You have some very vocal American national security analysts saying there’s one thing we have to focus on: China.  Everything else is a waste.  Let our Allies deal with everything else; we have to focus on China.  What is your answer to that criticism or critique of what you’re trying to build here?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, my answer is, first of all, of course, we are focusing on China, and we’re doing it in two ways.  One, we are making the investments in ourselves at home to make sure that we’re approaching China from a position of domestic strength.  When you look at everything that’s happened over the last three and a half years with the incredible investments in our own infrastructure – our roads, our bridges, our communications – through the Infrastructure Act; when you look at our commitment to make sure that we maintain our leadership, our world leadership on microelectronics, on chips through the CHIPS and Science Act; when you look at the investments that have been made in climate technology, which is going to be a critical part of the 21st century economy, that puts the United States in a position of strength.  European allies are doing exactly the same thing.

But the other aspect of this is not only, as we’ve done, re-energize our alliances and partnerships starting with Europe, but also make sure that there is greater and greater convergence in our approach to some of the challenges posed by China.  I think if you look at what NATO has said in the Strategic Concept, if you look at what key Europeans have said, what the European Union has said, it is abundantly clear that we have more convergence now when it comes to how to approach China than we’ve ever had.  And that’s a source of tremendous strength.  It means that instead of having one country having to deal with the challenges alone – the United States representing maybe 20 percent of world GDP – suddenly we’ve aligned 40, 50, and with our Asian partners, 60 percent of world GDP.  That makes a huge difference.

And so precisely because these challenges are joined, dealing with some of the problems posed by China requires this work with, alignment with, convergence with Europe as well as with Asia.

MS CONLEY:  I believe – I would say, maybe using a little bit of that Truman simplicity, the adversary has a vote and they are aligning.  We have not the luxury of focusing on what —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s correct.  And this is – I think it’s a really important point.  This is not simply a reflection of our choices.  It’s the reflection of the choices, the policies that China has chosen to pursue, and of course that Russia is pursuing in Ukraine right now.

MS CONLEY:  And I think you’re right.  It does pose, for all NATO members, a structural challenge of how do you work in those multiple theaters when you’re dealing with their alignment versus how we are organizing our alliances.

Mr. Secretary, I wanted to turn – because you raised, and I’m really glad you did, talking about Alliance unity.  We know that is the center of gravity.  We know how important that is.  And we also know that sacrifices sometimes have to be made to keep that unity.  You hear mutterings of the least common denominator.  We’re not getting exactly what we want because we have to ensure that Alliance unity.

But I think over the last week, we are crossing a threshold where accepting unity, we’re sacrificing or jeopardizing NATO security.  You had one NATO member who has now visited Moscow and Beijing, has talked about Beijing as being a strategic partner, has received by NATO and the EU an opt-out of support for Ukraine.  You had another member this week suggest that they would like to be welcomed into a security organization that is also – it participated with Russia and China.

What is – NATO’s message has to be clear, does it not?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I think —

MS CONLEY:  This is getting to a point of straining unity.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  NATO’s message is very clear.  It’s very clear in what’s happening here in Washington over these couple of days.  It’s very clear in the entire trajectory of the Alliance over the last three and a half years – an Alliance that’s now 32 members strong with Finland and Sweden, of course, joining; an Alliance that is better budgeted and resourced than it’s ever been.  When we started out, nine members of the Alliance were meeting the 2 percent of GDP for defense threshold that was set at the Wales Summit; we’re now at 23 NATO Allies.  So NATO is speaking loudly and clearly with its actions.

As I mentioned before, we have a Strategic Concept agreed among all the Allies that very well reflects the challenges and threats that we face today and will be facing tomorrow.  So I see NATO speaking not only with unity, but unity that’s actually raising the floor – raising the floor on what NATO partners are contributing, raising the floor on an understanding of the threats that we face, raising the floor on our commitment to take action together to deal with those threats.

So far from a race to the bottom just for the sake of consensus or unity, what I’m seeing is a race to the top by this Alliance.  Again, it’s – let’s be very simple about it.  NATO is stronger than it’s ever been.  It’s bigger than it’s ever been.  It’s more fit for purpose than it’s ever been.

MS CONLEY:  I think, Mr. Secretary, it’s not about necessarily the 2 percent, and I think – I’m – I think we’re going to be raising that bar, don’t you think?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Yes.

MS CONLEY:  It’s going to be the new 2.5, maybe even the new 3 percent if we’re heading into this era of tremendous instability.  No, but I’m saying, even a NATO member can spend 2 percent but still be working to undermine the security of the Alliance itself.  So it’s not just 2 percent.  How do we get back to, again, that core of the Washington Treaty, the preamble – we defend democracy; we defend a certain set of values.  When Allies don’t profess necessarily to uphold those values, what’s the answer?  I mean, this is about us.  It’s not about the adversary.  It’s about who we are.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, of course Allies, as we speak, for the last two and a half years now, have been defending those values, defending our democracy that’s at stake in Ukraine.  They know that it’s not only about Ukraine, it’s not only about the Ukrainian people – it’s actually about the values that unite us and the basic principles that all of us have agreed on together with so many other countries around the world that were designed to try to keep the peace and protect against aggression.  And NATO countries are standing up day after day to defend those principles, to defend those values.

Now, look, communicating with adversaries, with enemies, that is fine.  Communications are important.  You want to make sure that at least you’re not misunderstanding each other.  But of course, what’s communicated is really important as well.  I would hope that anyone, for example, going to Moscow now makes very clear to Vladimir Putin that NATO’s not going anywhere, Ukraine’s not going anywhere, the European Union’s not going anywhere, and that – what we just saw the other day, a horrific attack on a children’s hospital, is totally, totally, totally unacceptable, and Russia will continue to be ostracized as long as it engages in those kinds of actions.

I would hope and expect that anyone going to Beijing makes clear what I said a moment ago, that continuing to fuel Russia’s defense industrial base, continuing to allow the greatest threat to European security since the end of the Cold War to go forward, is something that is unacceptable to Europe.  And that means – unacceptable is a word.  Actions follow that, including, as necessary, sanctions; including, as necessary, not allowing relations that Beijing might seek to improve to actually improve.  So what we’re focused on is what Allies and partners are doing.  And I can tell you as an Alliance, what we’re doing is evidencing greater strength and commitment to the principles, the values that are at the heart of this Alliance than I’ve seen.

MS CONLEY:  Are you confident those messages are being sent?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I have confidence those messages are being sent.

MS CONLEY:  All right.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  But, again, we come together as 32 countries.  From the perspective of the United States, it’s so important that we listen to each other, that we communicate clearly with each other, and yes, we develop consensus.  But what I’m seeing, again, is a consensus that is moving us up, not holding us back.

MS CONLEY:  So we’ve welcomed – this is Sweden’s first —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.

MS CONLEY:  — NATO summit.  Great to come in.  We’ve had this bolt of energy – I feel it – with Sweden, Finland joining.  There’s an energy in the Nordic, Baltic quadrant of NATO.  How has it been to welcome those new – they’re seeing what’s behind the curtain.  How have you introduced your two new colleagues now into NATO?  Tell us some good stories.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, of course, Sweden and Finland have been NATO partners for a long time.  They’ve contributed tremendously to the Alliance, to our common endeavors for a long time, but to have them at the table is something I think – I suspect most people in this room – three years ago I doubt anyone really would have imagined that.

MS CONLEY:  If you would have read a lot of think tank reports 15 years ago, you would have known this would have been the case, but that’s okay.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Laughter.)  I might have written —

MS CONLEY:  I’ll let it slip.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  I might have written one or two of those reports back in the day, so —

MS CONLEY:  Good.  See?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  But in all seriousness, you’re right.  I think it has added a jolt of energy.  They’re both remarkable partners.  They bring so much to the Alliance.  They change the strategic equation in a very powerful way.  But it’s also a reflection of new realities that the entire Alliance is facing: new aggression, new forms of aggression, a new determination to stand up together to combat it.  But look, we have – a little kept secret for the Alliance is there’s a pretty strong Nordic and Scandinavian component to this Alliance as evidenced by Jens Stoltenberg.  President Biden gave him the —

MS CONLEY:  It was amazing.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  — Medal of Freedom last night.  And that was a very powerful reflection of the extraordinary leadership that he’s demonstrated over a decade – a decade of incredible change for NATO, but a decade that he’s managed with brilliance.

MS CONLEY:  Well, he’s really had a unique talent of communicating with some of those Allies that don’t see eye to eye always with the consensus; was incredibly important in resolving some of the difficulties —

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.  That’s right.

MS CONLEY:  — in the run-up to welcoming Sweden and Finland.  Any advice for his successor about how to manage the diplomacy of maintaining Alliance unity?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Well, I know Mark Rutte.  I think many in this room do as well.  I have tremendous confidence in his abilities to take the torch from Jens and to do what Jens did so brilliantly, which was actually to listen to all of our partners, to build that consensus, to demonstrate through our actions that unity really is our most valuable currency, and to build it every single day.  But it – again, it doesn’t just happen.  It’s the product of being engaged every single day, not pulling back, not isolating ourselves, actually leaning in, leaning forward.  I know Mark is going to do that brilliantly, and I think the trajectory we’re on with all of our member-states is to continue to do exactly that.

MS CONLEY:  So Mr. Secretary, I’m going to end.  My last question is going to be a historical question but moving forward.  So as Dean Acheson asked – it is for others to judge, and the 71st Secretary of State just rendered judgment on the 51st Secretary of State’s judgment.  So let’s look forward when NATO celebrates its 150th anniversary, next 75 years.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  (Laughter.)  Look forward to seeing you all there, by the way.

MS CONLEY:  Yes, exactly.  (Laughter.)  We’ll be in our wheelchairs.  Exactly.  What judgment would you like your successor to render about what you have done here on the 75th anniversary to keep a billion people safe?  Will they know that we’ve done enough to advance the cause of freedom?

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  The proof will be in the tests that are in front of us and how we meet them.  But I hope that when we look back on this period of time, one of the conclusions that people will reach is that the United States was leaning in.  We re-engaged our Alliance.  We helped to re-energize our Alliance.  We helped to re-imagine our Alliance so that even as we celebrate 75 years of the most successful defensive alliance in history, we were resolutely focused on the future and doing everything that we could in our time to make sure that that success for 75 years would continue and that the Alliance would be adapted, focused, fit for purpose for our time and for the years ahead.

Because, again, I come back to what I started with, Heather:  This Alliance is a reflection of a commitment that leaders in all of our countries make to the people we represent, a commitment we do – that we do everything possible to keep them secure, to prevent wars, to deter conflict so that they can move on with their lives in freedom, in security.  And so if we manage as the result of the actions that we’ve taken over these last years and in this period to do that in the years ahead, we will have succeeded.

MS CONLEY:  We will know we will do enough if Ukraine wins.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  That’s right.

MS CONLEY:  Thank you, Mr. Secretary.  This has been a great kickoff.  I hope we’ve started things off – we’ve revved up our engines.  I know you’ve provided a lot of food for thought.  Thank you so much.  I know you have to get back to start your summit, but first will everyone please join me in warm applause for the Secretary of State.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.  Thank you.

MS CONLEY:  Thank you.

SECRETARY BLINKEN:  Thank you.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/secretary-antony-j-blinken-at-the-2024-nato-public-forum/

originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS