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FYI Number 72: June 17, 2002

Powell Highlights Role of Science in Foreign Policy

"Science and statecraft...can and must work together for a safer, healthier, better world, in many more areas than the ones I just mentioned -- missile defense, climate change, energy, you name it," declared Secretary of State Colin Powell at the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences. He urged the gathering of scientists to help the State Department to "keep...abreast of breakthroughs like genetically modified foods that can help fulfill the promise of a prosperous, healthy, stable world," and "to comprehend, to anticipate, and to guard against the dangers that can befall us should technologies fall into the hands of those who would use them to do harm."

Selected excerpts from Powell's April 30 speech follow. The "//" indicates where paragraphs have been combined in the interest of space:

"...[Y]ou don't have Secretary of State to survey the 21st-century terrain and see that science and technology must inform and support our foreign policymaking in this challenging world that we live in. Whether the mission is supporting the President's campaign against terrorism, implementing arms agreements, creating conditions for sustainable development, or stemming the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, the formulation of our foreign policy must proceed from a solid scientific foundation."

"The Academy Symposium on Countering Terrorism later today is only the latest valuable contribution you have made to the President's anti-terrorist campaign.... As focused as we all are on terrorism and other clear and present dangers, we must not let the perils of our age blind us to the great promise that exists in this 21st century. Despite worrying about the Middle East, despite all of our concerns in places like Kosovo and Bosnia, and worrying about other issues that fill our front pages, we can step back at the same time and see that there are opportunities out here to be seized. There is no major war taking place today between the great powers. Communism is dead, fascism is dead, the Cold War is over. Yes, there are tensions in the world, and we watch places like India and Pakistan, but the reality is that no great powers are in conflict today. In fact, the major powers who used to be in such tension with each other are cooperating in ways now that were unimaginable just a few years ago."

"We have moved forward aggressively, not only with Russia and China and engaging in the Middle East, but in other parts of the world too: our own hemisphere, with the Community of Democracies, with a commitment to a Free Trade Area that will extend to the Arctic Circle, down to Tierra del Fuego; and in Africa, where the challenges are so great we will be engaged; and throughout Asia.// We have seen great progress as a result of our engagement, and in all of these areas of engagement, science and technology has played an important role. Since September 11th, we have cooperated with Russia on the technical aspects of counterterrorism. We continue our swords into ploughshares programs that encourage Russian researchers to channel their know-how in a positive direction and keep that know-how out of dangerous hands.// We are reinvigorating our civil science and technology cooperation with Russia in the areas of basic research, health, environmental protection, and resource conservation. Just last week, a senior delegation led by the President's Science Advisor, John Marburger, went to China to chart a course for collaboration on global science and technology issues. Two weeks ago, my Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs, who is here this morning, Paula Dobriansky, traveled to China also to lay the foundation for a new environmental agenda."

"President Bush's meeting with Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee last November launched a new era in our bilateral relationship, and a new pillar of that partnership is a global issues forum, of which science and technology cooperation will be a major component. Nothing is of greater interest to Delhi than expanding science and technology cooperation. And in President Bush's recent meeting with President Musharraf of Pakistan, S&T figured prominently on the agenda. Earlier this month, my Science and Technology Adviser Norm Neureiter and Pakistan's Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Attaur Rehman sat together in this very building and outlined a program of cooperation on agriculture, earth sciences, education and health."

"At the United Nations Conference on Financing for Development that was held a few weeks ago in Monterrey, Mexico, President Bush and other world leaders shaped a new approach to global development, designed to unleash the entrepreneurial potential of the poor, instead of locking the poor into a cycle of dependence."

"To support the efforts of developing countries committed to the domestic reforms that are necessary for sustained growth, President Bush has announced an increase in the United States economic development assistance... // In our assistance activities, we will continue to bring computer instruction to young professionals in developing nations; we will continue to provide textbooks and training to students in Islamic and African countries, to apply the power of science and technology to increase harvests where hunger is greatest. And we plan to expand our fight against HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

"You will also see our new approach to development at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa this August and early September. At the summit, we will stress that good governance, including solid science and technology policies, are fundamental to sustainable development....// One of the public-private initiatives we plan to showcase at the world summit is the Geographic Information for Sustainable Development Project, which makes satellite imagery available to people around the world via laptops, to policy-makers, to users, to scientists so that they can get instant access to satellite photography, and these pictures will help them map watersheds, plan agricultural crop strategies, and trace urbanization trends. Linking that kind of technology to GPS technology gives us all kinds of new avenues to increase productivity and to bring the power of technology to the most distant corner of the world, the darkest corner of the world. Poor regions in Africa are the project's initial areas of study for this satellite imagery availability."

"Science and statecraft, as I have just illustrated with HIV/AIDS and infectious diseases, can and must work together for a safer, healthier, better world, in many more areas than the ones I just mentioned -- missile defense, climate change, energy, you name it. At the same time, even as science and technology help us tackle these complicated problems, developments in science and technology surely will open up new challenges and opportunities that today we can only dimly imagine.// Indeed, new avenues of scientific research may produce technologies as revolutionary in their security, economic and social implications as information technology has been since the mid-1980s. One area of research alone, nanotechnology, could have enormous implications -- some thrilling, others chilling -- on terrorism, defense, health, development and the world economy.

"As Dr. Alberts [Bruce Alberts, President of NAS] urged you with such passion yesterday, do all that you can to inspire young scientists to devote themselves to tackling the great challenges of feeding, housing, and educating, and meeting the energy, water and health needs of the 9 billion people expected to be on Earth by the year 2050.// Help us to share know-how and promote science education all around the world. I urge your members once again in particular to volunteer as mentors, set up mentoring programs with math, science and technology. Get young people turned on to the challenges and opportunities that math, science and technology provide to them. It is often said that science shapes the future, but it is the rising generation of young people who will shape the future of science.

"Last but not least, help us build scientific and technological capacity right here in the State Department and across our foreign affairs community. The National Academies 1999 study remains an excellent guide for integrating science into our foreign policy endeavors. I very much look forward to its sequel, which will broaden the scope of the 1999 study to include the Agency for International Development and other foreign affairs institutions.

"I especially want to thank you, Bruce, for the support that you have given to Norm Neureiter in his efforts to bring S&T expertise and tools into the State Department. We still have far too few officers with strong science backgrounds, but thanks to the National Academies and others in the scientific community such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Institute of Physics and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a small group of scientific fellows have joined our ranks, and their number will grow.// Scientists, volunteers have graciously put their own research on hold, stopped their own work, their own life, to perform tours of duty in many of the State Department's bureaus, and they are making a real difference. And we look forward to welcoming more scientists on to our State Department team, either as fellows or as career Foreign Service Officers or Civil Service Officers."

"Ladies and gentlemen, the American people can be proud that the United States is the world's leader in science and technology. That does not mean we have a monopoly on brains or wisdom, or that we don't have much to learn from others. Far from it. But I think that we have been enormously successful because our scientists, engineers and medical experts live and work, as Dr. Einstein hoped, within an open democratic society that values the freest possible flow of ideas, information and people.// As the American scientific community and the United States Government work in partnership to safeguard against those who would turn tools of science into instruments of terror, to guard us against those, we in government also want to work with you to preserve the freedoms that make America and American science so great."

The full text of Powell's speech, which runs about seven pages, can be read online at For information on the American Institute of Physics' State Department Science Fellowship program, which Powell acknowledges in the second to last paragraph above, please see our web site at Complete details on applying for the program are available on the web site; application materials for the 2003-2004 Fellowship term must be postmarked by November 1, 2002.

Audrey T. Leath
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
(301) 209-3094

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