Former president speaks at Zellerbach
Clinton advises young to help ‘spread the benefits, shrink the burdens’ of globalization

By Diane Ainsworth, Public Affairs


After speaking in Zellerbach Hall, Bill Clinton, along with Gov. Gray Davis, stopped in to greet the crowd that had gathered in Haas Pavilion to watch a simulcast of the event.
Jeff Wason photo

31 January 2002 | Globalization has created a “world without walls,” an “explosion of democracy and diversity within democracy,” former president Bill Clinton told a campus audience on Tuesday. But a global community, he said, cannot thrive unless people believe that common humanity is more important than individual differences.

Clinton spoke to an enthusiastic crowd at Zellerbach Hall, in the first campus appearance by a current or former U.S. president since John F. Kennedy’s 1962 speech to a capacity crowd in Memorial Stadium.

“A world without walls is the only sustainable world,” Clinton told about 2,000 people at Zellerbach and an overflow audience watching a simulcast of the speech in Haas Pavilion. The event was also broadcast live over the web.

Clinton warned that even in a global world with fewer barriers, “If the world is dominated by people who believe that their races, their religions, their ethnic differences are the most important factors, then a huge number of people will perish in this century.”

Governor Gray Davis, also on hand for the afternoon speech, thanked Clinton for years of leadership and for supporting efforts to build a seismically viable replacement for the eastern span of the Bay Bridge. Davis had attended a groundbreaking for the new bridge earlier in the day.

The governor commended Berkeley’s pioneering research and its role in two of the four new UC-based centers for science and innovation — the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS), based at Berkeley, and a center for bioengineering, known as QB3.

These initiatives, he said, are emblematic of California’s continuing success at staying at the forefront of the Internet and biotechnology revolution.

Chancellor Berdahl introduced Clinton and presented him with the Berkeley Medal, the campus’s highest honor. Amid applause and a standing ovation, Clinton joked that this was “the nicest welcome ever given to a Stanford parent.”

Fresh from a trip to the Middle East, Clinton discussed globalization and a “breathtaking” explosion of information technologies and advances in science and biotechnology.

“When I took the office of president in 1993, there were only 50 sites on the World Wide Web — five zero,” Clinton said. “When I left office, there were 350 million and rising. There are probably around 500 million now.”

At the same time, he said, the world has seen major breakthroughs in diseases such as breast cancer, AIDS, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

“And quite soon,” he said, “young women who come home from the hospitals with their newborn babies…will have little gene cards that say ‘here are your child’s strengths and weaknesses…. This is going to happen in the lifetimes of young people in this audience.”

Despite such advances, Clinton noted, one half of the world’s people have been left out of globalization’s new economy, “and not surprisingly, they don’t think much of it.”

“Half the people on Earth live with less than $2 a day,” he said. “A billion people with less than $1 a day. A billion people go to bed hungry every night and a billion and a half — one quarter of the people on Earth — never get a clean glass of water.”

Rich nations must open their markets to poor countries, buy more products and create economic empowerment to reduce global poverty, and in so doing “spread the benefits and shrink the burdens” of globalization, Clinton said.

His visit was sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office and the Graduate School of Journalism, in association with Cal Performances and City Arts and Lectures. He stopped in Berkeley after a Monday night fundraiser in San Francisco for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.). Since leaving office, Clinton has spent much of his time traveling, working on his memoirs and overseeing plans for construction of a Clinton Presidential Library.


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