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Transcript: Presentation of the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Statesmanship Award

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PRESENTATION OF THE JEANE J. KIRKPATRICK STATESMANSHIP AWARD

STATESMANSHIP AWARD


Speakers:

  • Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
  • Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine

DUBOWITZ: As many of you know, Ambassador Kirkpatrick was a diplomat -- She was an intellectual -- She was a Scoop Jackson, democrat, who served in the Reagan Administration as UN Ambassador.  And she was always a forceful advocate for American values, and for American interest. 

She was really a voice of reason and conscience, speaking out against Soviet aggression and Soviet adventurism.  And I know that if Jeane were with us today, she would be just as forceful and as passionate in speaking out against Iranian aggression and adventurism.  She was a friend -- she was a mentor -- she was an inspiration to us at FDD. 

In fact, she was a founding board member of FDD.  And it was really her foresight and her prescience, to focus FDD on understanding the ideology of Islamist terrorist organizations, more than 15 years ago.  And to underscore their state sponsors -- and that really led to the creation of the organization. 

Jeane was, for all intents and purposes, she was an action intellectual.  You know, she was somebody who -- who really turned her ideas and her vision into action, and we at FDD, everyday try to emulate that approach by marrying in-depth, serious, analytical research with policy ideas and turning those into ideas -- and turning those into results. 

We honor Jeane's clear-eyed vision and her understanding of the complicated challenges that we face by recognizing another, truly wonderful Statesman.  And that is Senator Susan Collins, Republican Senator from -- from Maine.  Now, Senator Collins has served in the Senate for 20 years. 

In fact, she began her Congressional career more than 40 years ago, working for then Congressman, William Cohen.  And when he later left the Senate to serve as President Clinton's Secretary of Defense, Senator Collins ran and -- and won his seat. 

And over the next two decades, she has established a track record of not only effective leadership, but of -- of bipartisan leadership -- of working across the aisle -- of building coalitions to really get things done and protect American National Security. 

After 911, the Senate created the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, and they picked Senator Collins as their First Chairman.  And together with ranking member, then Senator Joe Lieberman, she led reforms of the US Intelligence community. 

Now, Senator Lieberman was also a friend of FDD, serves in our leadership council, in fact, with Senator Kyl, he was the first recipient of the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick award for Statesmanship. 

And when we mentioned to -- to Joe, that we were giving this award to Senator Collins, he said, and I quote, "that Susan is the most deserving recipient of this award.  Her principal, thoughtful and effective public service, mirrors Jeane Kirkpatrick. 

Except, unfortunately for the fact that, unlike Jeane, Susan hasn't spent most of her life as a democrat." 

(LAUGHTER)

Senator Lieberman goes on to say, "it was my good fortune to work closely with Susan during the years after 911 to strengthen America's Homeland Security in the age of radical Islamist terrorism. 

And none of the reforms and reorganizations that have done so much to protect American Homeland Security, would have been possible without Susan's leadership on the national interest."  And then I think he says something which, I think is so important for all of us to understand and appreciate. 

And that is, that he says, that at a time of corrosive division in American politics that Susan continues to work across partisan and ideological lines to get things done for our country and for her constituents in Maine -- and I couldn't agree more.  I really had the honor of briefing Senator Collins and working with her and her staff last summer, during the Iran deal. 

And we spent a lot of time talking about the technical details of the deal.  She came to the meetings with the JPOA, which is hundreds of pages long -- it was fully tabbed -- it was underlined.

And she made me walk her through many of the paragraphs, and we had discussions about many of the technical details on the nuclear physics side, as well as some of her concerns, with respect to sunset provisions and nuclear snap backs, and the like. 

And at the end, she looked at Iran's record of violating its international commitments -- its support for terrorism.  The concerns she had that so many of these restrictions would then disappear over time, regardless of how Iran behaved. 

And she concluded -- quote, "that the stakes are too high -- the risks are too great, to approve this deal."  And I was very impressed with the considered approach that she took to -- to assessing the deal, and a realism model of the way that lawmakers, indeed, Statesmen, need to approach these national security issues. 

So, we are greatly honored to present the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick award to Senator Collins.  I have to tell you, as all of us who've worked with Senator Collins know, she's really a diligent lawmaker.  In fact, she's never missed a vote in 20 years in office -- and that's more than 6,000 votes in a row. 

Well, it just so happens, today, that there was an important hearing and vote that was scheduled in the Senate.  So, unfortunately, Senator Collins wants to keep her track record alive and get to 6,001.  So, she won't be joining us in person, but we have a video statement from Senator Collins, which we'll play right now.  Thank you.

COLLINS:  Good morning, I'm so disappointed that an unexpected, Appropriations Committee meeting prevents me from joining you in person, as I had planned.  My gratitude for this high honor, and for your commitment to freedom, knows no bounds. 

Receiving an award, named in honor of Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, is especially meaningful.  The first woman to represent America at the United Nations, Ambassador Kirkpatrick was always a steadfast defender of American values.  The FDD has been an enormously important resource to me and to other members of Congress. 

Last summer, I spent countless days reviewing the Administration's Nuclear Agreement with Iran.  The discussions and advice from your policy experts, especially Mark Dubowitz and Juan Zarate, were particularly valuable in my decision to vote against the agreement.  Mark was prescient in those discussions. 

He said that Iran would use the threat to walk away from the agreement, to deter the Administration from enforcing sanctions against Iran's other malign activities.  These activities include its missile and weapons proliferation, its evasion of sanctions, its money laundering and most of all, its support for terrorism. 

At the end of the agreement, let us all recognize that Iran will remain a nuclear threshold country -- and that is not acceptable.  Now, Secretary Jack Lew has warned us recently, that if the United States is overly restrictive on sanctions with respect to Iran, international confidence and the dollar itself, or in the power of sanctions, could be undermined. 

But in my judgment, the far greater danger, is that if this administration were to permit dollarized transactions, sets an element of any trade with Iran, without our seeing major changes in Iran's non-nuclear, nefarious behavior. 

Doing so, would erode the corrosive power of sanctions, and undermine the rational for imposing sanctions in the first place.  The existing sanctions that block Iran from the US financial system, were put in place because of Iran's nuclear program, but also because Iran presented a threat to the integrity of the international financial system. 

Today, Iran remains just as much of a threat to the integrity of the financial system, as it did when the sanctions were first enacted.  Also consider the fact that today, Iran remains the number one state-sponsor of terrorism in the world.  Today, Iran continues to launch ballistic missiles in contravention of the UN's Security Council Resolution. 

And today, Iran remains the worst offender for money laundering.  It is one of only three countries, worldwide, on the financial action taskforce's black list.  We should prohibit any direct or indirect access to the dollar, unless Iran has ended its unacceptable behavior and compensated each of the families harmed by Iran's support of terrorism, as required by court orders. 

If unwise financial concessions are provided to Iran, I will work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reinforce the existing sanctions.  Now, I understand that Adam Szubin will also be speaking with you later today.  In my judgment, Adam has served as a dedicated public servant for more than 10 years at Treasury. 

His nomination to be the Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, is well-deserved.  This position has been vacant for far too long, considering the critical role that this individual plays in sanctions enforcement.  It is my hope that Adam's nomination will soon be brought to the Senate floor for consideration. 

Again, let me express my deep gratitude and appreciation for this prestigious award.  I am so honored by it, and I am so grateful for all the work that your organization does, to advance the understanding of the public and of policy makers of vital issues, like the ill-advised agreement with Iran.  Thank you so much for the award and for your wonderful work.

(APPLAUSE)

DUBOWITZ:  So, we'll be presenting the award to Senator Collins in person next week, in her Senate office.

END