Thank you for your very kind comments and for the deeply appreciated honor which you and the board of FPRI have conveyed on me. In expressing my thanks, I would like to share a few words regarding my own appreciation for the mission and impact of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.
When I was in college, I set my stakes on attending medical school and becoming a surgeon. Nevertheless, I have always been glad that instead of science I choose to major in history for my college degree. From that experience, I learned several things. First of all, that we all have an obligation to learn from history the mistakes from the past and how to avoid repeating these mistakes, and also the importance of building on the successes of the past.
Second, that the experiment we embarked upon in America over 200 years ago called constitutional democracy is still a very fragile creation. And, third, that there will also be those of a different worldview or ideology who consider a democracy with genuine civil liberties as something to be despised and defeated.
In spite of a busy surgical career, I continue to follow current day events closely because I was concerned that threats to our freedoms and liberties still continue to be very real. I was delighted, therefore, when I first learned over 10 years ago about a very special organization right here in Philadelphia called the Foreign Policy Research Institute. It was clear that FPRI set very high standards in integrating top flight research with practical policy perspectives. Often FPRI recognized problems in world affairs that did not seem to be adequately addressed by our national policymakers. In recent years, under the perceptive leadership of Harvey Sicherman and the support of an excellent board, a growing body of research has brought to light serious concerns regarding challenges faced by America in relation to the world at large.
One example of these concerns arose just over three years ago when FPRI began to address problems regarding America’s responsibilities in the world. This composite of concerns was addressed in a project with the working title, America the Vulnerable. A number of studies have grown out of this project including ones dealing with ethnic conflicts, the rise of radical ideologies, and our declining security capabilities. The often touted proclamations of a “Peace Dividend” 10 years ago, ignored the growing threats of a less stable world rather than a more stable world. In the process over the past 10 years, we have let our guard down. For example, we have cut our army divisions from 18 to 10. We now have 13 fighter wings down from 24, and our navy has dropped from 546 ships to only 316 ships.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute has been one of the most effective organizations in America in addressing foreign policy concerns and the need to pursue wise and effective approaches to security and strengthening freedom.
Once again, I want to thank FPRI for this undeserved honor which you have very kindly conferred on me. But my real hope is that all of you here tonight will become members of the Foreign Policy Research Institute so that you can take advantage of the many programs and projects of FPRI.
Your membership and your participation is the lifeblood ofhelping FPRI to advance enlightened solutions to addressing genuine and sustainable security in the world as a whole. Thank you very much.