Clinton declares an 'American Moment' in foreign policy
By Glenn Kessler
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton declared Wednesday that "a new American moment" had arrived in international relations--"a moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways."
In a wide-ranging speech at the Council on Foreign Relations defending the Obama administration's foreign policy approach, Clinton said, "This is a moment that must be seized - through hard work and bold decisions - to lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come," according to remarks prepared for delivery.
Critics have said that the administration's diplomacy has yielded little on such difficult issues as Israeli-Palestinian peace and Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, but Clinton argued the opposite, saying substantial progress had been made on those fronts through patient and painstaking "shoe-leather" diplomacy. She urged patience, saying the fruits of the administration's labors will not be apparent for some time.
In many ways, the speech marks Clinton's emergence as a foreign-policy leader in the administration at a time when the president is consumed with the lagging domestic economy and the upcoming midterm elections. Next week she departs for the Middle East to foster direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, and in Wednesday's speech she spoke confidently and in broad strokes about the administration's agenda and the U.S. role in the world.
After more than 18 months on the job, Clinton appears to have gained a renewed appreciation for the role the United States plays in the world. More than a year ago, in the same venue, Clinton spoke of "tilting the balance away from a multi-polar world and toward a multi-partner world" and emphasizing the administration's willingness to engage with its adversaries. In Wednesday's speech, the tone was subtly different, focused much more on the importance of the U.S. role in managing difficult problems.
"This is no argument for America to go it alone," Clinton said. "Far from it. The world looks to us because America has the reach and resolve to mobilize the shared effort needed to solve problems on a global scale - in defense of our own interests, but also as a force for progress. In this we have no rival."
Clinton added: "For the United States, global leadership is both a responsibility and an unparalleled opportunity."
Clinton said the administration has put into practice the ideas she laid out a year ago and has begun to build what she called "a new global architecture" of alliances and interests.
Though last year she emphasized an interest in dialogue with Syria, her prepared text made no mention of the Israeli neighbor. The administration's efforts to name an ambassador to Damascus have stalled in the Senate.
The prepared text of the speech is below:
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
REMARKS AT COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS
SEPTEMBER 8, 2010
Thank you, Richard. It is wonderful to see so many old friends and colleagues. And it's a real pleasure to be back at CFR with two working arms this time.
Although many in Washington and around the country are just coming off their summer vacations, events of the past few weeks have kept us busy. We are working to support direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, and next week I will travel to Egypt and Jerusalem for the second round of negotiations. In Iraq, where our combat mission has ended, we are transitioning to a civilian-led partnership. We are stepping up international pressure on Iran to negotiate seriously on its nuclear program. We are working with Pakistan as it recovers from devastating floods and combats violent extremism. And of course the war in Afghanistan is always at the top of the agenda.
None of these challenges exist in isolation. Consider the Middle East peace talks. At one level, they are bilateral negotiations involving two peoples and a relatively small strip of land. But step back and it becomes clear how important the regional dimensions of the peace process are, what a significant role institutions like the Quartet and the Arab League are playing, and how vital American participation really is.
Solving foreign policy problems today requires us to think regionally and globally, to see the intersections and connections linking nations and regions and interests, and to bring people together as only America can.
The world is counting on us. When old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, people turn to us. When the earth shakes or rivers overflow their banks, when pandemics rage or simmering tensions burst into violence, the world looks to us. I see it on the faces of the people I meet as I travel... not just the young people who dream about America's promise of opportunity and equality, but also seasoned diplomats and political leaders. They see the principled commitment and can-do spirit that comes with American engagement. And they look to America not just to engage, but to lead.
Nothing makes me prouder than to represent this great nation in the far corners of the world. I am the daughter of a man who grew up in the Depression and trained young sailors to fight in the Pacific. I am the mother of a young woman who is part of a generation of Americans who are engaging the world in new and exciting ways. I have seen the promise and progress of America with my own eyes, and today my faith in our people has never been stronger.
I know these are difficult days for many Americans, but difficulty and adversity have never defeated or deflated our country. Throughout our history, Americans have always risen to the challenges we have faced. That's who we are. It's what we do.
Now, after years of war and uncertainty, people are wondering what the future holds, at home and abroad.
So let me say it clearly: The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century.
Indeed, the complexities and connections of today's world have yielded a new American Moment. A moment when our global leadership is essential, even if we must often lead in new ways. A moment when those things that make us who we are as a nation - our openness and innovation, our determination, and devotion to core values - have never been needed more.
This is a moment that must be seized - through hard work and bold decisions - to lay the foundations for lasting American leadership for decades to come.
Now, this is no argument for America to go it alone. Far from it. The world looks to us because America has the reach and resolve to mobilize the shared effort needed to solve problems on a global scale - in defense of our own interests, but also as a force for progress. In this we have no rival.
For the United States, global leadership is both a responsibility and an unparalleled opportunity.
A New Global Architecture
When I came to the Council on Foreign Relations a little over a year ago to discuss the Obama Administration's vision of American leadership in a changing world, I called for a new global architecture that could help nations come together as partners to solve shared problems. Today I'd like to expand on this idea, but especially to explain how we are putting it into practice.
Architecture is the art and science of designing structures that serve our common purposes, built to last and withstand stress. That's what we seek to build - a network of alliances and partnerships, regional organizations and global institutions, that is durable and dynamic enough to help us meet today's challenges and adapt to threats that we cannot even conceive of, just as our parents never dreamt of melting glaciers or dirty bombs.
We know this can be done, because President Obama's predecessors in the White House and mine in the State Department did it before. After the Second World War, the nation that had built the transcontinental railroad, the assembly line and the skyscraper turned its attention to constructing the pillars of global cooperation. The third World War that so many feared never came. And many millions of people were lifted out of poverty and exercised their human rights for the first time. Those were the benefits of a global architecture forged over many years by American leaders from both political parties.
But this architecture served a different time and a different world. As President Obama has said, today it "is buckling under the weight of new threats." The major powers are at peace, but new actors - good and bad -- are increasingly shaping international affairs. The challenges we face are more complex than ever, and so are the responses needed to meet them.
That is why we are building a global architecture that reflects - and harnesses - the realities of the 21st century.
We know that alliances, partnerships and institutions cannot solve problems by themselves. People and nations solve problems. But an architecture can make it easier to act effectively by supporting the coalition-forging and compromise-building that is the daily fare of diplomacy. It can make it easier to identify common interests and convert them to common action. And it can help integrate emerging powers into an international community with clear obligations and expectations.
We have no illusions that our goals can be achieved overnight, or that countries will suddenly cease to have divergent interests. We know that the test of our leadership is how we manage those differences - and how we galvanize nations and peoples around their commonalities even when they have diverse histories, unequal resources, and competing world-views. And we know that our approach to solving problems must vary from issue to issue and partner to partner. American leadership must be as dynamic as the challenges we face.
But there are two constants of our leadership, which lie at the heart of the President's National Security Strategy released in May, and run through everything we do:
First, national renewal aimed at strengthening the sources of American power, especially our economic might and moral authority. This is about more than ensuring we have the resources we need to conduct foreign policy, although that is important. When I was a young girl, I was stirred by President Eisenhower's assertion that education would help us win the Cold War. That we needed to invest in our people and their talents. He was right. America's greatness has always flowed in large part from the dynamism of our economy and the creativity of our country. Today, more than ever, our ability to exercise global leadership depends on building a strong foundation at home. That's why rising debt and crumbling infrastructure pose very real long-term national security threats. President Obama understands this - you can see it in the new economic initiatives he announced this week and in his relentless focus on turning our economy around.
The second constant is international diplomacy aimed at rallying nations to solve common problems and achieve shared aspirations. As Dean Acheson put it in 1951, "the ability to evoke support from others" is "quite as important as the capacity to compel." To this end we have repaired old alliances and forged new partnerships. We have strengthened institutions that provide incentives for cooperation, disincentives for sitting on the sidelines, and defenses against those who would undermine global progress. And we have championed the values that are at the core of the American character.
Now there should be no mistake: This Administration is also committed to maintaining the greatest military in the history of the world and, if needed, to vigorously defending our friends and ourselves.
After more than a year and a half, we have begun to see the dividends of our strategy. We are advancing America's interests and making progress on some of our most pressing challenges. Today we can say with confidence that this model of American leadership works, and that it offers our best hope in a dangerous world.
I'd like to outline several steps we are taking to implement this strategy.
Our Closest Allies
First, we have turned to our closest allies, the nations that share our most fundamental values and interests -- and our commitment to solving common problems. From Europe and North America to East Asia and the Pacific, we are renewing and deepening the alliances that are the cornerstone of global security and prosperity.
Let me say a few words about Europe in particular. In November, I was privileged to help mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which closed the door on Europe's broken past. And this summer in Poland, we marked the 10th anniversary of the Community of Democracies, which looked ahead to a bright future. At both events, I was reminded how far we have come together. What strength we draw from the common wellspring of our values and aspirations. The bonds between Europe and America were forged through war and watchful peace, but they are rooted in our shared commitment to freedom, democracy and human dignity.
Today we are working with our allies there on nearly every global challenge. President Obama and I have reached out to strengthen both our bilateral and multilateral ties in Europe.
The post-Lisbon EU is developing an expanded global role, and our relationship is growing and changing as a result. There will be complications as we adjust to influential new players such as the EU Parliament, but these are debates among friends that will always be secondary to the fundamental interests and values we share. And there is no doubt that a stronger EU is good for America and good for the world.
NATO remains the world's most successful alliance. And together with our allies, including new NATO members in Central and Eastern Europe, we are crafting a new Strategic Concept that will help it meet not only traditional threats but also emerging challenges such as cyber security and nuclear proliferation. Just yesterday, President Obama and I discussed these issues with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen. After the United States was attacked on 9/11, our allies invoked Article V of the NATO charter for the first time. They joined us in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban. And after President Obama refocused the mission in Afghanistan, they contributed thousands of new troops and significant technical assistance. We honor the sacrifices our allies continue to make, and recognize that we are always strongest when we work together.
A core principle of all our alliances is shared responsibility - each nation stepping up to do its part. American leadership does not mean we do everything ourselves. We contribute our share, often the largest share, but we also have high expectations of the governments and peoples we work with.
Investing in Developing Partners
Helping other nations develop the capacity to solve their own problems - and participate in solving shared problems - has long been a hallmark of American leadership. Our contributions to the reconstruction of Europe, to the transformation of Japan and Germany from aggressors into allies, to the growth of South Korea into a vibrant democracy contributing to global progress, these are some of our proudest achievements.
In this interconnected age, America's security and prosperity depends more than ever on the ability of others around the world to take responsibility for defusing threats and meeting challenges within their own countries and regions.
That is why the second step in our strategy for global leadership is to help build the capacity of developing partners. To help countries obtain the tools and support they need to solve their own problems and help solve our common problems. To help people lift themselves, their families, and their societies out of poverty, away from extremism, and toward sustainable progress. The Obama Administration views development as a strategic, economic, and moral imperative - as central to advancing American interests as diplomacy and defense.
Our approach is not development for development's sake; it is an integrated strategy for solving problems. Look at the work to build institutions and spur economic development in the Palestinian territories. The United States invests hundreds of millions of dollars to build Palestinian capacity because we know that progress on the ground will improve security, help lay the foundation for a future Palestinian state, and create more favorable conditions for negotiations. Think about our efforts to empower women and girls around the world. This is the right thing to do, of course, but it is also rooted in the understanding that when women are accorded rights and afforded opportunities, they drive social and economic progress that benefits us all. Similarly, our investments in places such as Bangladesh and Ghana are bets on a future where more and more countries will be capable of contributing to solving problems in their regions and beyond.
Engaging Emerging Centers of Influence
We must also take into account those countries that are growing rapidly and already playing more influential roles in their regions and in global affairs, such as China and India, Turkey, Mexico and Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa, as well as Russia, as it redefines its own role in the world.
Our third major step has been to deepen engagement with these emerging centers of influence. We and our allies - indeed people everywhere -- have a stake in their playing constructive regional and global roles. Being a 21st century power means accepting a share of the burden of solving common problems. It also means abiding by a set of rules of the road, everything from intellectual property rights to fundamental freedoms. So through expanded bilateral consultation and within the context of regional and global institutions, we look to these nations to assume greater responsibility.
The emerging powers represent a spectrum of interests and values. India, for instance, is the world's largest democracy, a country with which the United States shares fundamental values and a broad range of national interests. That convergence of values and interests has helped us to lay the foundation of an indispensable partnership. President Obama will use his visit in November to take our relationship to the next level.
With Russia, we took office amid talk of cooling relations and a return to Cold War suspicion. This invigorated spy novelists and arm chair strategists. But anyone serious about solving global problems such as nuclear proliferation knew that without Russia and the United States working together, little would be achieved. So we refocused the relationship on mutual respect, interest and responsibility. The results speak for themselves: a historic new arms reduction treaty, which the Senate must pass this fall; cooperation along with China in the UN Security Council on tough new sanctions against Iran and North Korea; a transit agreement to support our effort in Afghanistan; a new Bilateral Presidential Commission and civil society exchange that are forging closer people-to-people ties. And, as we were reminded this summer, the spy novelists still have plenty to write about.
Working with these emerging powers is not always smooth or easy. Disagreements over policies and priorities are inevitable. On certain issues, such as human rights with China or Russian occupation of Georgia, we simply do not see eye to eye - and the United States will not hesitate to speak out and stand our ground. When these nations do not accept the responsibility that accrues with their expanding influence, we will use all the tools at our disposal to encourage them to change course while we will press ahead with other partners.
But we know that it will be difficult, if not impossible, to solve many of the world's biggest problems without the cooperation of these nations. So our goal is to establish long-lasting positive and productive relationships that can survive the times when we do not agree and enable us to continue working together on shared challenges.
A central element of our approach is to engage directly with the people of these nations - and indeed with foreign publics around the world. Technology and the spread of democracy have empowered people around the world to speak up and demand a say in their own future. Public opinions and passions matter, even in authoritarian states. So in nearly every country I visit, I don't just meet with government officials. In Russia, I did an interview on one of the few independent radio stations. In Saudi Arabia, I held a town hall at a women's college. And in Pakistan, I answered questions from every journalist, student and business leader we could find.
Strengthening Regional Architecture
While we expand our relations with emerging centers of influence and developing nations, we are also working to engage them in effective regional frameworks and global institutions that encourage constructive contributions.
Few, if any, of today's challenges can be understood or solved without working through a regional context. Think about the complex regional dynamics surrounding the fight against violent extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan or the process of reintegrating Iraq into its neighborhood.
Nor can we expect regional dynamics to remain static. Countries like China and Brazil have their own notions about what regional institutions should look like, and they are busy pursuing those ideas. Our friends and allies depend on us to remain robustly engaged and to help chart the way forward.
So the fourth key step in our strategy has been to reinvigorate America's commitment to be an active transatlantic, Pacific and hemispheric leader. In a series of speeches and through ongoing consultations and discussions with partners from Europe to the Americas to the Asia-Pacific, we have laid out core principles for regional cooperation and worked to strengthen institutions that can adapt to new circumstances.
Let's examine the Asia-Pacific region. When we took office, there was a perception - fair or not - that America was absent. So the Obama Administration made it clear from the beginning that the United States was back. We reaffirmed our bonds with close allies like South Korea, Japan and Australia. We also deepened our regional engagement with China, and with India, which we see as a vital Asian democracy.
The Asia-Pacific has few robust institutions to foster effective cooperation, build trust, and reduce the friction of competition. So with our partners, we began working to build a more coherent regional architecture that will strengthen both economic and political ties.
On the economic front, we have expanded our relationship with APEC, which includes four of America's top trading partners and receives 60 percent of our exports. As President Obama has said, to realize the benefits from greater economic integration, we must implement policies that promote balanced and sustainable growth. To this end, we are working to ratify a free trade agreement with South Korea and pursuing a regional agreement with the nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, efforts that will create new opportunities for American companies and support new jobs at home.
On the political front, we are engaging with the East Asia Summit, encouraging its development into a foundational security and political institution for the region, capable of resolving disputes and preventing them before they arise. I will be representing the United States at this year's EAS in Hanoi, leading up to presidential participation in 2011.
In Southeast Asia, ASEAN is home to nearly 600 million people and more U.S. business investment than China. We have bolstered our relationship by signing the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, announcing our intention to open a mission and name an ambassador to ASEAN in Jakarta, and holding annual U.S.-ASEAN Summits.
As the Asia-Pacific region continues to grow in importance and influence, developing these regional institutions and establishing new habits of cooperation will be vital to stability and prosperity.
Global Institutions for the 21st Century
Effective institutions are just as crucial at a global level, where the challenges are even more complex and the partners even more diverse.
So our fifth step has been to reengage with global institutions and begin modernizing them to meet the evolving challenges of the 21st century. We need institutions that are flexible, inclusive, and complementary, instead of competing with one another for jurisdiction. Institutions that encourage nations to play productive roles, that marshal common efforts, and enforce the system of rights and responsibilities that binds us all.
The United Nations remains the single most important global institution and we are constantly reminded of its value: The Security Council enacting sanctions against Iran and North Korea. Peacekeepers patrolling the streets of Monrovia and Port-au-Prince. Aid workers assisting flood victims in Pakistan and displaced people in Darfur. And, most recently, the UN General Assembly establishing a new entity --UN Women--which will promote gender equality, expand opportunity for women and girls, and tackle the violence and discrimination they face.
But we are also constantly reminded of its limitations. It is difficult for the UN's 192 Member States, with their diverse perspectives and interests, to achieve consensus on institutional reform, especially reforming the Security Council itself. The United States believes that the Council must be able to react to and reflect today's world. We favor Security Council reform that enhances the UN's overall performance, effectiveness and efficiency to meet the challenges of the new century. We equally and strongly support operational reforms that enable UN field missions to deploy more rapidly, with adequate numbers of well-equipped and well-trained troops and police they often lack, and with the quality of leadership and civilian expertise they require. And we will continue to embrace and advocate management reforms that lead to efficiencies and savings and that prevent waste, fraud and abuse.
The UN was never intended to tackle every challenge, nor should it. So when appropriate, we are working with our partners to establish new venues and organizations to focus on specific problems. To respond to the global financial crisis, we elevated the G-20. We also convened the first-ever Nuclear Security Summit. New or old, the effectiveness of institutions depends on the commitment of their members. President Obama has reaffirmed our commitment and we have encouraged other nations to do the same.
Our efforts on climate change offer a good example of how we are working through multiple venues and mechanisms to advance our goals. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change process allows all of us - developed and developing, north and south, east and west - to work within a single venue to meet this shared challenge. But we also launched the Major Economies Forum to focus on the biggest emitters. And when negotiations in Copenhagen reached an impasse, President Obama led our team into a meeting of key leaders that included China, India, South Africa, and Brazil - working with them and our colleagues from Europe and elsewhere to fashion a deal that, while far from perfect, saved the summit from failure and represents progress we can build on in the future. For the first time, all major economies made national commitments to curb carbon emissions and report with transparency on their mitigation efforts.
An Architecture of Values
As we strengthen and modernize regional and global institutions, the United States is also working to cement democracy, human rights, and the rule of law into their foundations. To construct an architecture of values that spans the globe and includes every man, woman and child. An architecture that can not only counter repression and resist pressure on human rights, but also extend those fundamental freedoms to places where they have been too long denied.
This is our sixth major step. We are upholding and defending the universal values that are enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Today these principles are under threat. In too many places, new democracies are struggling to grow strong roots. Authoritarian regimes are cracking down on civil society and pluralism. Some leaders see democracy as an inconvenience that gets in the way of the efficient exercise of national power.
This world-view must be confronted and challenged. Democracy needs defending. The struggle to make human rights a human reality needs champions.
This work starts at home, where we have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals. It continues around the world, where human rights are always on our diplomatic and development agendas, even with nations on whose cooperation we depend for a wide range of issues, such as Egypt, China and Russia. We are also committed to defending these values on the digital frontiers of the 21st century. And in Krakow this summer, I announced the creation of a new fund to support civil society and embattled NGOs around the world. This will continue to be a focus of U.S. foreign policy going forward.
Iran Sanctions: Our Strategy in Action
Now, how do all of these steps - deepening relations with allies and emerging powers, strengthening institutions and shared values - how do they work together to advance our interests? One need only look at our diplomatic effort to stop Iran's provocative nuclear activities and its serial non-compliance with all of its international obligations. There is a still a lot of work to be done, but how we are approaching the Iranian challenge is an example of American leadership in action.
First, we began by making the United States a full partner and active participant in international diplomatic efforts regarding Iran. Through our continued willingness to engage Iran directly, we have re-energized the conversation with our allies and are removing easy excuses for lack of progress.
Second, we have sought to frame this issue within the global non-proliferation regime in which the rules of the road are clearly defined for all parties. To lead by example, we have renewed our own disarmament efforts. Our deepened support for global institutions such as the IAEA underscores the authority of the international system of rights and responsibilities. Iran, on the other hand, continues to single itself out through its own actions. Its intransigence represents a challenge to the rules to which all countries must adhere.
Third, we continue to strengthen relationships with those countries whose help we need if diplomacy is to be successful. Through classic shoe-leather diplomacy, we have built a broad consensus that will welcome Iran back into the community of nations if it meets its obligations and likewise will hold Iran accountable to its obligations if it continues its defiance.
This spring, the UN Security Council passed the strongest and most comprehensive set of sanctions ever on Iran. The European Union has followed up with robust implementation of that resolution. Many other nations are implementing their own additional measures, including Australia, Canada, Norway and most recently Japan. We believe Iran is only just beginning to feel the full impact of sanctions. Beyond what governments are doing, the international financial and commercial sectors are also starting to recognize the risks of doing business with Iran.
Sanctions and pressure are not ends in themselves. They are the building blocks of leverage for a negotiated solution, to which we and our partners remain committed. The choice for Iran's leaders is clear, even if they attempt to obfuscate and avoid it: Meet the responsibilities incumbent upon all nations and enjoy the benefits of integration into the international community, or continue to flout your obligations and accept increasing isolation and costs. Iran now must decide for itself.
Our task going forward is to take all that I have discussed today and make it lasting.
To help achieve this goal, America needs the tools and capacity to do the work I've described. So we are strengthening every aspect of our civilian power. Congress already has appropriated funds for more than 1,100 new Foreign and Civil service officers. USAID has begun a series of reforms that will reestablish it as the world's premier development agency. Across the board, we need to rethink, reform, and recalibrate. And in a time of tight budgets, we must ensure our resources are spent wisely. That is why I launched the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, or QDDR, a wholesale review of State and USAID to recommend how we can better equip, fund, and organize ourselves to meet the world's challenges in the years ahead. I will be talking much more about this in the coming weeks and months as this review is completed.
We recognize the scope of the efforts we have undertaken. And looking at our agenda, reasonable observers may question how we can handle so many problems at once. The first answer is that, as I've described today, we are not trying to do it alone. One of the central purposes of the strategy we're pursuing is to build relationships and institutions that encourage others to step up.
But I would also ask: Which of our great challenges today can be placed on the back burner? Are we going to tell our grandchildren that we failed to stop climate change because our plate was just too full? Or nuclear proliferation? That we gave up on democracy and human rights? That is not what Americans do.
Now, all of this requires what we call strategic patience. Long after our troops come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, our diplomatic and development assistance and support for the Afghan security forces will continue. Ridding the world of nuclear dangers, turning back climate change, ending poverty, hunger and disease - this is the work not of a year, or a presidency, or even a lifetime. This is the work of generations.
America is up to the job. We will seize this new moment of opportunity - this new American Moment. We are a nation that has always believed we have the power to shape our own destiny, to cut a new and better path. This administration will do everything we can to exercise the best traditions of American leadership at home and abroad to build a more peaceful and prosperous future for our children and children everywhere.
| September 8, 2010; 9:25 AM ET
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