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I appreciate this opportunity to share with you some thoughts about the character of the remarkable times we are now living in--the end of the Cold War era--and our vision of the new world order that is slowly taking shape.
I can't think of more dramatic examples of our times than the recent images of Mr. Gorbachev going to London bearing a program for market-oriented reform and democracy in the Soviet Union and then concluding a major arms reduction accord with President Bush in Moscow. History will no doubt record the recent G-7 and US-Soviet summits are major decision points in the quest for a post-war order.
As the process of the Soviet Union's reconciliation with the West advances, we in the United States are also preparing to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Pacific war--where Americans and New Zealanders fought so valiantly together. Now, half a century later, we find ourselves at last beginning to close the books on the era of ideological competition and superpower military confrontation that emerged from that devastating global conflict.
Indeed, the London and Moscow summits are but the latest events in a stunning cascade of developments that since 1989 have begun to transform our world: the evaporation of Soviet domination in Eastern Europe, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, the reunification of Germany, and changes in the character of the Soviet Union that are enabling us to redefine US-Soviet relations and to move from confrontation to new forms of cooperation.
These heartening developments reflect trends of global scope: the bankruptcy of communism as a political and economic system; worldwide economic integration sparked by spectacular technological change; and an equally widespread movement toward market-oriented, economics, political pluralism, and concern with human rights.
The impact of these trends now places us in one of those rare and probably brief periods of history where we--the United States and its allies and friends--have an opportunity to redefine institutions and realign patterns of cooperation. Together, we can build the foundations of an international system able to ensure that the new millennium we are about to enter will be a time of enhanced security, positive social change, ande sustained economic development.
At the same time, the recent war in the Persian Gulf has given us our first glimpse of the dark side of this new era. Whether in the Middle East, Yugoslavia, or the Soviet Union, we see dangerous counter-trends: a renascent ethno-nationalism and the re-emergence of regional antagonisms and rivalries long frozen over by the Cold War confrontation. Today, ambitious tyrants in various regions of the world have all-too-ready access to nuclear, missile, and other technologies with which to craft weapons of mass destruction. And Saddam [Hussein's] use of terrorism and ecological aggression reinforced our well-established concerns about the environment and unconventional forms of warface.
Post-Cold War Opportunities
I will examine in a moment some of the implications for the future of both these key developments--the end of the Cold War and the Gulf conflict. But first let me note some of the positive opportunities before us as we seek to shape the contours of a new international order.
For the long term, the most important trend I see is the universalization of Western values. The widening acceptance of the concept of democracy, human rights, and economic liberty is evident not just in Eastern Europe and perhaps the Soviet Union but even in distant and land-locked Mongolia. The growing …