BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Americas
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

President Elect George W.Bush
"He is a tower of strength and common sense"
 real 56k

Secretary of State Elect Colin Powell
"It gives me great pleasure to serve the American people"
 real 56k

The BBC's Brian Barron in Washington DC
"A soldier-statesman of immense international experience"
 real 56k

The BBC's Tom Carver in Washington DC
"The Bush family operate within a tight circle of family friends"
 real 28k

Saturday, 16 December, 2000, 20:07 GMT
Powell's speech - excerpts
Bush and Powell
An intimate moment during the appointment ceremony
Below are excerpts of Colin Powell's acceptance speech after the announcement of his appointment as the US secretary of state in the George W Bush White House.

"It's a great pleasure to be with you this afternoon, and I'm honored, honored, to be given the opportunity to return to public service as the 65th secretary of state of the United States of America.

Mr President-Elect, I thank you for the confidence that you have placed in me, and I look forward to serving you, the American people, and the cause of peace and freedom around the world.

And it is a special privilege for me to once again to serve with Vice-President-elect Dick Cheney. We have been through many adventures together and many more adventures await us in the future.

Mr. President-elect, during your administration you'll be faced with many challenges, and crises that we don't know anything about right now will come along.

'We held steadfast'

But I believe that these challenges and these crises will pale in comparison to the wonderful opportunities that await us:

Opportunities that have been brought about by the end of the Cold War; by the spread of democracy and the free enterprise system around the world; opportunities that come to us because we held steadfast in our belief in democracy; opportunities that will come to us become of the information of technology revolutions that are reshaping the world as we know it, destroying political boundaries and all kinds of other boundaries...

The new map is a mosaic, a mosaic of many different pieces

The old world map as we knew it of a red side and a blue side, that competed for something called the Third World is gone, and the new map is a mosaic, a mosaic of many different pieces and many different colors spreading around the world, a world that has seen that communism did not work, fascism did not work, Nazism did not work.

If you want to be successful in the 21st century, you must find your path to democracy, market economics, and a system which frees the talents of men and women to pursue their individual destinies.

'Inspiration' to the free world

And at the centre of this revolution, America stands, inspiration for the world that wants to be free, and we will continue to be that inspiration by uniquely American internationalism, as President-elect Bush has stated it.

Not by using our strength and our position of power to get back behind our walls, but by being engaged with the world. By first and foremost, letting our allies know that we appreciate all we have been through over the last 50 years, and our alliances are as strong now as they ever have been, and they are as needed now as they ever have been, and we'll work with our allies to expand and make those alliances the centre of our foreign policy activity.

Relations with China, Russia

We will work with those nations in the world that are transforming themselves, nations such as China and Russia. We will work with them not as potential enemies, and not as adversaries, but not yet as strategic partners, but as nations that are seeking their way.

We will have areas of agreement and areas of difference, and we will discuss them in rational ways, letting them know of our values, letting them know of the principles that we hold dear.

For those nations that are not yet on this path of democracy and freedom, for those nations who are poorly led, led by failed leaders pursing failed policies that will give them failed results, we will stand strong.

We will stand strong with our friends and allies against those nations that pursue weapons of mass destruction

We will stand strong with our friends and allies against those nations that pursue weapons of mass destruction, that practise terrorism.

We will not be afraid of them. We will not be frightened by them. We will meet them. We will match them. We will contend with them. We will defend our interests from a position of strength.

That strength comes to us from the power of our system, the democracy and free enterprise system. It comes to us from our economic power. It comes to us from our military power.

And as we go into this new century, and as we begin this new administration, we have to make sure that all of those elements of power are protected and allowed to thrive even more.

So I think these are promising times, times of great opportunity, but times, also, of challenge and danger. We are up to the task.

Working with Congress

President-elect Bush has given us the guidance we need. We are going to pull together a great team. We're going to communicate with the American people to make sure that we are crafting a foreign policy that reflects their values and their will.

We will work with Congress in a bi-partisan fashion, so that we can arrive at consensus and that the world can see us united behind our foreign policy.

I don't care what you say, those cows look dangerous.

I'm especially pleased that he [Bush] chose to hold this ceremony in a school in Crawford, Texas. I was, frankly, glad it wasn't at the ranch.

Nothing wrong with ranches, but I don't yet do ranch-wear very well.Hey, I'm from the South Bronx, and I don't care what you say, those cows look dangerous.

Finally, I would just like to note that in the newspaper stories that will be written about this occasion, they will say that Colin Powell, first African-American to ever hold the position of secretary of state.

And I'm glad they will say that, and I want it repeated.

Inspiration to 'all Americans'

I want it repeated because I hope it will give inspiration to young African-Americans coming along, but beyond that, all young Americans coming all, that no matter where you began in this society, with hard work and with dedication and with the opportunities that are presented by this society, there are no limitations upon you.

And I also want to pay tribute to so many people who helped me reach this position in life: African-Americans who came before me, who never could have risen to this position because the conditions weren't there, and they had to fight to change those conditions.

For me, this isn't history. It's my lifetime. I was exposed to these things in my lifetime.

And I will work with President-elect Bush and with Vice President-elect Cheney to do everything I can do to help them, to show to America, as President-elect Bush said the other evening, that this will be an administration, he will be a president for all the people, all the time.

I know that is the deepest emotion in his heart. The American people will see that in due course. We'll get over these difficulties that we have seen in recent days, and we'll come through this a stronger, greater nation on the way to that more perfect union that we always dream about. Thank you, very much.

In response to questions:

It is absolutely a given that under a Bush administration, America will remain very much engaged in the Middle East.

I expect it to be a major priority of mine, and of the department. It will be based on the principle that we must always ensure that Israel lives in freedom, and in security and peace.

But at the same time, we have to do everything we can to deal with the aspirations of the Palestinians and the other nations in the region who have an interest in this.

And so I think America will continue to be a friend to all sides. America will continue to put forward ideas. America will remain engaged until we can find that solution to this most difficult problem.

Elusive solution in Mid-East

But at the end of the day, it's going to be the parties in the region who will have to find that solution and come into agreement.

They are going to have to live with each other, and hopefully, in the near future, we can find ways that they can accommodate their differences, and find that elusive solution.

It is elusive, but it is out there somewhere, and hopefully, if it doesn't happen in the very near future and becomes something for us to manage, you can be sure that we'll be fully engaged in trying to find a solution to that problem.

Iraq sanctions

They [the Iraqis] have not yet fulfilled those agreements [on accounting for all weapons of mass destruction] and my judgment is that sanctions in some form must be kept in place until they do so.

We're not doing this to hurt the Iraqi people

We will work with our allies to re-energise the sanctions regime.

And I will make the case in every opportunity I get that we're not doing this to hurt the Iraqi people, we're doing this to protect the peoples of the region, the children of the region, who would be the targets of these weapons of mass destruction if we didn't contain them and get rid of them.

Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years' time.

The world is going to leave him behind, and that regime behind, as the world marches to new drummers, drummers of democracy and the free enterprise system.

And I don't know what it will take to bring him to his senses, but we are in the strong position, he is in the weak position.

Balkans troops review

Our plan is to undertake a review right after the president is inaugurated, and take a look not only at our deployments in Bosnia, but in Bosnia and Kosovo and many other places around the world, and make sure those deployments are proper.

Our armed forces are stretched rather thin, and there is a limit to how many of these deployments we can sustain.

We're not cutting and running

So, we're going to take a look at that. We're going to talk to our allies. We're going to consult.

We're going to make on-the-ground assessments of what we're doing now, what's needed now, but also, what is really going to be needed in the future, and see if we can find ways that it is less of a burden on our armed forces, not as a way of running out, but as a way of substituting others, or substituting other kinds of organisations and units and perhaps police organisations to handle the remaining missions.

So, we're not cutting and running. We're going to make a careful assessment of it in consultation with our allies, and then make some judgments after that assessment is completed.

Missile defence system

I think a national missile defence is an essential part of our overall strategic force posture, which consists of offensive weapons, command and control systems, intelligence systems and a national missile defence.

And I still hearken back to the original purpose of such a defence, and that is to start diminishing the value of offensive weapons.

These will be tough negotiations [with our allies]

So, we're going to go forward. We have to spend time discussing it with our allies, discussing it with other nations in the world that possess strategic offensive weapons and don't yet understand our thinking with respect to national missile defence.

These will be tough negotiations; I don't expect them to be easy.

But they will have to come to the understanding that we feel this is in the best interests of the American people, and not only the American people, the people of the world, to finally start to move in the direction where we can take away the currency associated with strategic offensive weapons, and the blackmail that is inherent in some regime having that kind of weapon and thinking they can hold us hostage.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console


Bush presidency:


Texts and transcripts:


See also:

16 Dec 00 | Americas
Colin Powell: Bush's trump card
16 Dec 00 | Americas
In pictures: Gore parties on
16 Dec 00 | Americas
Pressure mounts for electoral reform
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Americas stories