|At The Summit (1/10)|
How quickly does the world transform itself! As U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz reminds us in this volume, the twentieth century, like the twenty-first, dawned with great optimism about economic growth, technological progress, and prospects for a sustained peace. Yet within a short time "the Great Illusion gave way to the Great War."
Similarly, the high hopes for peace and prosperity that ushered in the new millennium may seem quite distant now in the fall of 2001, as our country is engaged in the "first war of the twenty-first century."
The addresses contained herein were delivered at the Ninety-fifth Annual Meeting of the American Jewish Committee, held in May 2001 in Washington. Much has changed in the few short months since that gathering. But the insights of the world leaders who addressed the AJC on that occasion still have validity. For example, we were told by our president, George W. Bush, "No one is a better witness to the transience of tyranny than the children of Abraham." Today, we might add, "Amen, may it be so!"
The Ninety-fifth Annual Meeting was a memorable event that brought together an exceptionally luminous group of dignitaries. The program, and thus the table of contents of this volume, reads like a Who’s Who of national and international leaders: President George W. Bush; President Vicente Fox of Mexico; Joschke Fischer, the foreign minister of Germany; Shimon Peres, the foreign minister of Israel; Joseph Lieberman, the U.S. senator from Connecticut and recent vice-presidential nominee; Roy Barnes, governor of Georgia; and Paul Wolfowitz. In attendance were National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Mayor Anthony Williams of Washington; the foreign minister of Slovakia, Eduard Kukan; the foreign minister of Kazakhstan, Erlan Idrissov; some fifty members of the U.S. Congress; five Mexican cabinet ministers; and thirty-five senior officers of the German armed forces. Joining them were Jewish communal leaders from some forty-five nations around the world.
It is a tribute to the vital role of the American Jewish Committee that such a distinguished group was present, but it is even a greater testament to the seriousness of our mission that what the speakers had to say still has relevance after the cataclysmic events of September 11. We cannot rest on our past achievements. The present gives us a plethora of challenges on which to move forward. As this collection of remarks attests, the AJC plays an indispensable leadership function at this watershed time in the history of the United States and the Jewish people.
President, The American Jewish Committee