In addition to these security concerns, the third area that I will discuss is America’s interest in global prosperity.
We meet in the midst of the worst global recession in a generation. I believe that the market is the greatest force for creating and distributing wealth that the world has known. But wherever the market is allowed to run rampant –through excessive risk-taking, a lack of regulation, or corruption – then all are endangered, whether we live on the Mississippi or the Volga.
In America, we are taking unprecedented steps to jumpstart our economy and reform our system of regulation. But just as no nation can wall itself off from the consequences of a global crisis, no one nation can serve as the sole engine of global growth.
You see, during your lives, something fundamental has changed. And while this crisis has shown us the risk that comes with change, that risk is overwhelmed by opportunity. Think of what’s possible today that was unthinkable two decades ago. A young woman with an Internet connection in Bangalore, India can compete with anyone, anywhere. An entrepreneur with a start-up in Beijing can take his business global. An NES professor in Moscow can collaborate with colleagues at Harvard. That’s good for all of us – because when prosperity is created in India, that’s a new market for our goods; when new ideas take hold in China, that pushes our businesses to innovate; when new connections are forged among people, all of us are enriched.
There is extraordinary potential for increased cooperation between Americans and Russians. We can pursue trade that is free and fair and integrated with the wider world. We can boost investment that creates jobs in both our countries. We can forge partnerships on energy that tap not only traditional resources, but the new sources of energy that will drive growth and combat climate change. All of that, Americans and Russians can do together.
Government can promote this cooperation, but individuals must advance it. Because the greatest resource of any nation in the 21st century is its people, and the countries which tap that resource are the countries that will succeed. That success depends upon economies that function within the rule of law. As President Medvedev has rightly said, a mature and effective legal system is a condition for sustained economic development. People everywhere should have the right to do business or get an education without paying a bribe. That is not an American idea or a Russian idea – that’s how people and countries will succeed in the 21st century.
This brings me to the fourth issue that I will discuss – America’s interest in democratic governments that protect the rights of their people.