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America's Weakened Pillar:
Finding the resources to do diplomacy
(Remarks by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, Department
of State, Washington, D.
C., Jan. 27, 1997)
I T H O U G H T T H I S A
F T E R N O O N that we would
talk briefly about my intentions, priorities, and ways of doing business.
From the outset, let me say, as some of you know, I don't shilly-shally
much. I don't say "one the one hand/on the other hand." I'm not that
kind of a person. I am an advocate. I believe that America is strong
because we have the world's most productive economy, the world's
most versatile and powerful military, and the world's finest diplomacy.
If we are to remain strong, we need all three.
But today the third pillar is threatened, not so much by hostility
ignorance. What we do here in this building and around the world is not
always understood. There are those who question the very relevance of
diplomacy in an era characterized by instant communication and no
single overriding threat to American interests. The result has been a sharp decline in funding, a
reduction in our overseas presence, a severe test of our morale, and a battle cry among some on
Capitol Hill that we have only begun to shrink.
To such attitudes and policies we have a compelling response, and we
must state it. For it is not too
much to say that upon successful American diplomacy depends the future of the world. And it is no
accident that the world is safer now than it was three or four or five years ago.
It is no accident that nuclear weapons no longer target our homes;
accident that the Middle East
continues to move toward peace; no accident that the carnage in Bosnia has come to an end;
no accident that North Korea's nuclear program has been frozen;
no accident that democracy, which had been stolen from the people of Haiti, has been returned;
no accident that Saddam Hussein remains in a strategic box;
no accident that agreements have been forged to ban nuclear tests and to eliminate chemical
weapons from the face of the earth.
And it is no accident that trade pacts have helped millions of Americans to find good new jobs.
None of this just happened. In each case, hard-nosed diplomatic work
was required, work conducted
not just by those whose pictures ended up in the newspapers, but by those who originated the ideas,
conducted the research, attended the meetings, drafted the talking points, planned the strategy, and
answered the summons to duty on holidays and weekends. . . .
Let me introduce myself to you with this pledge:
from this day until the
day I leave this office, I will devote the full measure of my energy and
skill to working within this Administration, with Congress, and with the
American people to obtain the resources we all need to serve our
country and to do our job. . . .
Time and again I have seen embassies, over-burdened and harassed, work
double and triple overtime
to get the job done -- in fact, I've often been responsible for embassies' working overtime -- and I am
aware of the terrific sacrifices you often must make in terms of family, comfort, and as we were so
tragically reminded in Bosnia a year and a half ago, risk of life. As Secretary, I will do all I can to see
that consistent with the work that needs to be done, your needs and those of your families are
Over the decades, you have established and maintained a standard of
excellence. During the next few
years, we must work together, not only to continue that standard, but to raise it higher still. . . .
To ensure excellence, we must also manage the resources of this Department
as efficiently as
possible. . . .
The management of this Department and our foreign policy institutions
has improved in recent years,
but must improve more. We need to work together to share ideas, rethink old habits, conduct
intelligent experiments, and remember that our goal is not to spend time serving institutions, but to
make our institutions serve the times. . . .
Source: firstname.lastname@example.org (American Foreign Service Association)
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