Remarks by Ambassador Buchan at Conference on Security, Defense, and the International Order

Joint Conference of the U.S. Embassy and the Royal Elcano Institute: “Security, Defense, and the International Order.”
February 13, 2018

President Emilio Lamo de Espinosa; Director General Fidel Sendagorta; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.  I am pleased to welcome you to the first of a series of conferences on the U.S.-Spain relationship organized by the Royal Elcano Institute and the U.S. Embassy.

The last time I was in this room was a little over a week ago.  I arrived at midnight for a viewing party of this year’s American football championship, the Super Bowl.  And there’s no doubt that a football viewing party makes for a good time.  But in its own way today’s event is just as interesting; however, the subject matter much more serious and consequential.  As you may know, the United States and Spain share many common interests and values.  But one stands out above all the others: To make the world a safer, more prosperous place.  To make the world a safer, more prosperous place.  Our two countries play crucial roles in making this happen.  Today, you will hear from a range of experts and analysts on the topics of security, defense, and the ever-evolving international order.  I hope you will find them interesting and informative.

This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Agreement on Defense Cooperation between the United States and Spain.  When our two countries signed this agreement in 1988, we were living in a very different world.  Over the last 30 years our alliance has grown and adapted to changes in the regional and global environment.  Today, over 4,000 members of U.S. armed forces are stationed at the Spanish military bases of Rota and Morón.  There, they work closely every day with our Spanish hosts and allies, to respond to twenty-first century threats.  We are grateful for the support we receive from Spain in this important endeavor.  As President Trump told President Rajoy last year at the White House, the U.S. and Spain are great allies, partners, and friends.  The security relationship between our two countries is excellent.

The brave men and women of the U.S. and Spanish armed forces deserve the accolades for this success.  It is they who put themselves in harm’s way to keep us safe.  And as U.S. Ambassador in Spain, I promise to work tirelessly to ensure that our service members have the tools and the support that they need to accomplish their shared mission: To defend our citizens and uphold our values.

Make no mistake about it: we face daunting security challenges across the globe.  Yet I’m confident we can meet them.  In my career in business, I’ve always found that the best way to address challenges is first, to gather accurate information.  Second, to remain open to new ideas and unconventional thinking.  And third, to be courageous enough to make tough decisions.  That is the process you are engaged in today.

In almost every speech, there are two words the audience looks forward to hearing more than any others:  “In conclusion….”   So, in conclusion, let me thank the entire team at the Royal Elcano Institute for organizing this event; the Instituto Internacional for hosting it; the speakers, guests, and panelists for the insights they’ll share; and all of you for your interest in this vital subject.

Thank you.