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Thank you both for that kind introduction and for inviting me to Denver today. I've been a frequent visitor to Colorado over the years - not just for purposes of risking life and limb on the slopes of Vail, Snowmass, and Telluride, but also because for nearly 15 years the Aspen Institute provided me with an opportunity each August to spend a week in some of the loveliest country on earth thinking and talking with colleagues and mentors about the U.S. role in the world.
That is my topic this afternoon. More specifically, I would like to talk about the need for vigorous American engagement and leadership in the world. More specifically still, I'd like to talk to you about the United States in the United Nations, why we're in it, and what's in it for us. I chose this topic precisely because it is controversial; I chose it because the UN, and America's leadership of it, are under attack from a number of quarters - and because it's important that the debate take place not just inside the Washington beltway, or on the floor of the U.S. Congress, but in the country as a whole.
Let me start with the general issue of international engagement. I know that I don't need to lecture this audience on how U.S. foreign policy can affect every community in every state of the union. Denver companies are doing record amounts of business overseas and are actively pursuing opportunities to expand further - in industries ranging from mining to telecommunications to agricultural processing to environmental technology.
Back in Washington, we were pleased to hear when the Colorado House of Representatives unanimously supported NAFTA. One of the follow-ups to NAFTA will take place here in Denver on June 30, when U.S. Trade Representative Mickey Kantor will host a hemispheric trade ministers' meeting, followed by a commercial forum co-hosted by Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.
These international ventures-the quest to create good jobs at home by developing makets abroad - are an important aspect of one of the central themes of the era and of the world in which we live: namely, global interdependence. That's a somewhat fancy, slightly suspect term because it smacks of what Clare Booth Luce dubbed, a half century ago, "globaloney." But the phenomenon is real; to a steadily increasing extent, what happens beyond our borders affects us here in the United States - sometimes for better, sometimes for worse. For instance, the lives of our children and grandchildren will be dramatically influenced by our efforts to ensure sustainable population growth, combat threats to …