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Bill earns an ovation at LSE

The 42nd President of the USA, Bill Clinton, received a standing ovation when he spoke about the problems and challenges facing the globalised world at a special lecture at the School yesterday (Thursday 13 December).

Speaking to an audience of LSE students, staff and invited guests, including his daughter Chelsea, President Clinton highlighted the need for a 'common humanity' response to globalisation.

Photograph of Bill ClintonHe also stressed his belief that 'we will win the fight against terrorism' but that the 'answers are easy to give but harder to live'.

President Clinton was welcomed by Professor Anthony Giddens, who revealed that Bill had visited LSE during his days as a student at Oxford. President Clinton replied that, on that occasion, unlike this, it had not been for an academic purpose.

Professor Giddens, LSE director, then introduced Professor Lord Meghnad Desai - 'LSE's own Don King' - in his role as director of the Centre for the study of Global Governance, the research centre hosting the evening through the global dimensions programme and Enterprise LSE. Professor Desai briefly mentioned Mr Clinton's 'two mistakes' - by opting for Oxford above LSE for himself and his daughter.

Photograph of Bill ClintonBill Clinton began by thanking Professor Giddens for his constant encouragement during their various meetings - and 'for making me and Tony Blair look good' through ideas generated from the Third Way.

Covering his experiences as president and the problems facing the world after 11 September, President Clinton focused on making 'common humanity' more important than people's differences. He outlined the need to win the fight against terrorism, to develop more world partnerships, for poor and wealthy countries to change their views and practices and for people generally to develop a high level of consciousness of each other's common bonds.

He spoke about four areas where globalisation could be perceived as a positive force: more global democracy, the tremendous growth of information technology, the great scientific advances made, and the rise of democracy. He also talked of four negatives: poverty, global warming and environmental dangers, AIDS and terrorism.

In his conclusions, he asked people to consider the cost of not acting - that proactive help to relieve poverty and reduce the negatives was a lot cheaper in the long run than going to war.

Photograph of Bill ClintonIn brief questions, Bill Clinton commented that he was in favour of Russia joining NATO, although that may raise issues as the basis of NATO was as a consensus organisation; and that he thought his wife Hillary Clinton would be an 'unbelievably good' first female president of the USA' but that he couldn't comment on whether she was likely to stand or not.

His speech was greeted with a standing ovation, captured by BBC and CNN TV cameras, and other media representatives. As well as around 400 people in the Old Theatre, almost 1,000 people in total heard his speech, via videolinks in LSE's Clement House.

President Clinton and invited guests then attended a dinner in the Senior Dining Room, hosted by Professor Giddens. He and Chelsea finally left the School at about 10.30pm, shaking hands with a crowd of more than 100 students and members of the public waiting for him in Portugal Street.

You can read the transcript of this lecture at the Global Dimensions website|.  

14 December 2001