World Leaders, Policymakers,


and Experts

The Honorable R. Nicholas Burns

Professor of the Practice of Diplomacy and International Politics, Harvard Kennedy School


03.28.12

Audio

On America’s International Agenda: “I do think it is the most complex time that Americans have ever faced internationally. And...frankly, looking back on the course of my career over the last couple of decades, I don’t remember a time quite like this, when we have so many vital challenges facing us simultaneously.”

On Afghanistan: “We’ve faced some real troubles in Afghanistan, and the representatives of NATO [...] know how difficult it is. [There is no] conventional victory in sight, but we don't want the Taliban to regain any advantage, and we know we have to stay for several more years to try to stabilize that very poor and very divided country.”

On America in a Globalized World: “Now there’s a bright side of globalization [...] but there’s also a darkside. [T]hink about these problems that are going under our borders, and over our borders, and right through our borders. Eighteenth and nineteenth century Americans could choose to be engaged in the world, or not. [...] But we now live in a globalized, highly integrated world, and we can’t escape the world’s problems.”

On Climate Change: “[W]e can’t deny it, and we can’t deny the science. It’s happening, and we are laggards. We’re the largest carbon emitter in the world—and India and China are right behind us—and none of the three of us are leading, but the Europeans are. And so we have no solution available unless we find the leadership to transform our economy and make really difficult decisions about industry and environmental standards.”

On NATO’s Importance to the United States: “NATO is vital to the United States of America. And when I say vital, we can’t live without it. [...] It's the most important alliance to which we’ve ever belonged in the history of the United States. It's the most powerful alliance, in some ways, that has ever been created in human history, and it's got a great track record. [...] NATO still matters greatly.”

On the Rising Powers in Asia: “[T]he rise of China is probably the most consequential issue of our time. And there is a lot of good in the rise of China, but there’s a lot that we have to fear, perhaps, about the rise of China. And the fact that China, India, Indonesia, [and] Australia are providing most of the global growth right now—the emerging economies—the fact that the strongest militaries in the world will be in Asia in the future means that we, a Pacific nation, right now the guarantor of power in Asia, have to be smart and present, and the President was right to suggest that’s the central arena of American engagement.”

On the Importance of NATO in Protecting Europe: "[N]ow because of the rise of the European Union and the power of NATO, Europe is whole, free, and at peace. NATO’s first job is to keep things that way and to never see again the continent divided or never to see an autocratic totalitarian power try to exert its will, as the Soviet Union tried after the Second World War on the rest of Europe."

On the Need for NATO to Assist in Stabilizing the Balkans: "[W]e need Europe to stabilize the Balkans because if you look at Europe, there is this pocket of very important countries—Serbia and Kosovo and Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania and Montenegro and others who have not seen the economic growth and development and prosperity or the political stability, who are still dealing with the breakup of the Soviet Union. You see that with Kosovo, and they need NATO and the European Union to help them pull them out into prosperity and into peace. That’s a second job for NATO."

On NATO as a First Responder to Global Crises: "[W]e need NATO to be the world’s most capable first responder. NATO’s the strongest military force, the best-trained in the world. And sometimes—and hopefully very infrequently and with great reluctance and only as a last resort—we deploy into battle together. Other times we respond to natural disasters. We train together because we want to be good peacekeepers. And of course NATO is still keeping the peace in Kosovo, and Europeans are still keeping the peace in Bosnia and the two wars that we ended together in the Balkans—that President Clinton helped to end in the 1990s."

On the Need for Europeans to Commit More Resources to Defense: "[T]he major problem is declining European defense capabilities and declining European defense spending. The reality is that we’re a one-for-all, all-for-one alliance, but the reality is that the United States normally shares an undue [...] part of the burden. It’s not fair in a democratic alliance for that to be the case. Now, we’ve always been unbalanced. The United States has always had a larger, more powerful military. We’ve always spent more money on our national defense than our European allies. But I don’t think it’s much to ask, even in a time of economic crisis—or especially at a time of economic crisis—that if the United States is going to continue to spend over four percent of its GDP on its national defense, is it right that Germany, Italy, Spain spend just over one percent? Is it right that some countries believe they can make draconian cuts in their military because they know we’ll be there in the end to provide the backbone of a NATO alliance? [...] I think Secretary Gates...was right to say what he did, and one would hope that Europeans would begin to think more broadly about smart defense...and that we’d see some response from the European leadership to do more."

Europe still matters. It is a place of vital importance to the United States, and NATO remains our vital institution.”

06.07.12

US makes Asia a priority

Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe

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05.21.12

Anchoring NATO with leadership

Nicholas Burns, Chicago Tribune

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06.17.12

NATO: When I’m Sixty-Four

Nicholas Burns and David Manning, New York Times

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03.30.12

Why Europe still matters

Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe

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03.28.12

Bad to worse in Afghanistan, and more

Steve Chapman, Chicago Tribune

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03.24.12

China Scored Over Iran Sanctions

Laurence Norman, Wall Street Journal

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03.08.12

There Are Major Barriers Ahead for Greece

Interview of Nicholas Burns, Bloomberg

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03.02.12

Diplomacy returns to U.S. arsenal

Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe

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02.17.12

Dark days in Mideast test US policy

Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe

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02.03.12

India’s strategic importance to the United States

Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe

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01.20.12

What to do about Iran

Nicholas Burns, Boston Globe

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