Secretary Clinton’s Remarks With Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio de Aguiar Patriota After Their Meeting
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. It is indeed a pleasure for me to welcome back my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Brazil, and someone quite familiar to those of us in Washington. And I want to thank you for bringing with you such a stellar, high level team of representatives from across the Brazilian Government for the meetings that we have held these past two days.
And as I think both of our teams from the U.S. and the Brazilian side know, our countries have walked a long, difficult road together. We’ve worked hard to build societies that respect the rights of minorities that believe in free and fair elections, human rights, the rule of law, social inclusion; and the entire hemisphere, indeed the entire world is inspired by Brazil’s incredible rise from an illegitimate military government to a thriving, prosperous democracy. And we look to Brazil as a model for what is possible, not just throughout our hemisphere but indeed globally.
We meet as partners as the Western Hemisphere’s two largest democracies and its two largest economies, and we discussed a full range of bilateral and multilateral issues. Our Global Partnership Dialogue, which our two presidents endorsed during President Obama’s very successful visit to Brazil, provides a framework to bring together many existing dialogues and initiatives and adding new ones that are responsive to the needs and aspirations of us both. And we have seen progress already. We are addressing through our Economic Partnership Dialogue issues for collaboration like energy, food security, development assistance in third countries. Brazil is now a global donor to many of the important funds and efforts that are aimed at alleviating poverty, hunger, and suffering.
We work together on biofuels and the launch of our initiative on aviation biofuels in Brazil in March was a significant step, and we will continue to discuss how what Brazil has pioneered can make a difference to so many others. As we expand our relationships, we’re focused particularly on our people-to-people exchanges and commitments. We know that President Rousseff’s wonderful commitment to lifting up the educational attainment of the Brazilian youth is one that we’re strongly in support of, and increasing the number of students and educators who go back and forth between our two countries is one of our highest priorities.
So we are looking on every front for work that we can do, and we partner not only bilaterally but in the hemisphere and increasingly through the G-20, through the Security Council, on so many important issues. And I thank you very much, minister, for your great commitment to our cooperative relationship.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, thank you so much. A pleasure to be here with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to follow up on what I think has already been described as a very successful meeting between our two presidents. President Obama visited Brazil very early on during Dilma Rousseff’s administration; I think this sets the stage for enhanced cooperation on a number of areas, building upon the already very strong relationship that we have in trade and political dialogue and a number of areas, including social issues.
I had an opportunity to go over the bilateral relationship with my colleague, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Looking at trade, for example, there is an increasing trade deficit in our relationship which is cause for some concern in Brazil, but we spoke of ways of addressing that. Of course, there are other agencies in the U.S. side that deal with the issue as well and we will be engaging with them, including with the new Secretary of Commerce that has just been appointed by the U.S.
We would like to see enhanced investment and many of you are aware that we will be modernizing our airports, that we will welcome U.S. investment in this upgrading of our capacity in a key sector for preparations for the World Cup and the Olympic Games. I’m very pleased that Secretary Clinton mentioned education because I think it’s one of the most concrete outcomes of this meeting that we’ve had and our delegations have had – and I thank your very capable team also for their work in the many areas that have been touched – is a Joint Action Plan on Education. This is a plan that will increase and encourage educational, academic, and technical exchange programs between Brazilian and American universities and institutions, and hopefully promote a fast track for identifying clusters of universities, institutions, and colleges that are ready to receive Brazilian students in the United States. It’s part of our attempt to update the relationship. We also looked at science and technology, innovation. This allowed me to speak of Rio + 20, the conference that we will be hosting in 2012, and that will look at green economy and combating poverty and discussing new paradigms for sustainable development. We’d like to see participation from the U.S. during the preparatory process, but also at the highest political level during the conference itself.
We spoke of regional issues Secretary Clinton mentioned, but also of the developments in North Africa and the Middle East. I have been recently to Cairo. There are opportunities there for us in joining forces and transforming the movements in favor of greater freedom of expression, improved governance, opportunity for young people in the Arab world, in two projects where we will also strengthen each other’s participation or assistance to countries such as Egypt and others in the region.
Let me also say that I mentioned our candidacy to the Food and Agriculture Organization. Those from Brazil are aware of Professor Jose Graziano da Silva’s candidacy, a man who was involved from day one during President Lula’s government in the Zero Hunger Program that has been so effective, as well as in the social programs that have lifted millions out of poverty. We would very much like to look forward to a situation where a Brazilian at the FAO could work in tandem and very closely with an American at the World Food Program.
So these are some of the issues that we touched upon. The meeting will continue after our own encounter, and as of now, I am already very encouraged by the results that we’ve achieved.
MR. TONER: The first question today goes to Kirit Radia of ABC.
QUESTION: Hi, Madam Secretary and Mr. Minister. Madam Secretary, yesterday President Karzai threatened to make some additional restrictions on U.S. bombings in Afghanistan following the latest reports of civilian deaths. What can you and the United States do to reassure President Karzai and the Afghan people that the U.S. is trying to stop civilian casualties?
President Mubarak is going to be going to trial in August. How do you feel that this fits into Egypt’s path toward democracy?
And finally on Yemen, there’s been escalated violence over the past 24 hours with reports of many dead. How is that going to end?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think first with respect to Afghanistan, U.S. and international military forces have in the past and continue to place the highest priority on protecting civilian lives. And certainly, it is the goal of the military efforts to root out the insurgents who are responsible for the vast majority of civilian injuries and deaths. And we recognize that in a complex military environment, it’s just a tragic fact that some civilian casualties may be inevitable and unavoidable. But we are very concerned any time there is any civilian casualty caused by the NATO ISAF military mission, and every single one of the issues or events that is brought to the attention of the military command is investigated thoroughly.
General Petraeus has consistently emphasized that we have to do everything in our power to reduce the number of civilian casualties. And we are seeing a steady increase of Afghan lead through their army and security forces on any night raids, and procedures are being put into place in preparation for a transition to greater Afghan responsibility to ensure that such operations are properly authorized and approved by senior representatives of the Government of Afghanistan.
So we’re going to continue to do everything we can to express our deep regret when a terrible incident occurs and civilians are injured or killed. And I would only underscore that that stands in stark contrast to the indiscriminate killing, the suicide bombing, the IED – the improvised explosive devices, that are used by the insurgents without regard for any human life.
With respect to Yemen, we continue to watch the situation, and we are where we’ve been for weeks, in doing everything we can, along with the international community, to convince President Saleh to step down from power. If it wasn’t obvious before, it certainly should be now, that his presence remains a source of great conflict and, unfortunately, as we have watched over the last several days, even military action and violence. President Saleh was given a very good offer, that we strongly backed, by the Gulf countries, and we cannot expect this conflict to end unless President Saleh and his government move out of the way to permit a – the opposition and civil society to begin a transition to political and economic reform.
And finally, you asked me a question about – a third country in one question, so I –
QUESTION: Mubarak’s trial.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mubarak’s trial. That is a decision for the Egyptians to make. Obviously, we want to see the rule of law. We want to see appropriate due process and procedures followed in anyone’s trial, and particularly in such a highly charged trial as that will certainly be. And we are keeping very close watch on events in Egypt. We’re disturbed by the reports of efforts to crackdown on journalists and bloggers and judges and others, which we don’t think is in keeping with the direction that the Egyptian people were heading when they started out in Tahrir Square.
MR. TONER: Next question goes to Luis Fernandez of (inaudible).
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Ministro Patriota, the imbalance in the trade relationship between the United States and Brazil has been referred to by the minister. The question to both of you is: Do you see the United States becoming again the main trading partner of Brazil, and if so, in which basis? The main trading partner of Brazil at the moment, the relationship is based largely on the exportation of raw materials from Brazil, of commodities, and that’s not the best situation – China specifically. And in relation to the visit of the Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff to the United States, I would like to ask you what was discussed. Is the visit confirmed, and for when, specifically? Thanks.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Well, I can start on the trade relationship. Of course, this was mentioned, and as I said, we have a number of other dialogues, an economic dialogue. We have a meeting that is already scheduled between Department of Commerce and our department – our ministry for industrial development and commerce during the month of June, in addition to the USTR foreign ministry dialogue. So we will be pursuing different avenues to try to develop a trade that is mutually beneficial.
The relationship is a very robust one, and we discussed some of the opportunities for increasing exports from Brazil to the United States, as you mentioned, with other important trading partners, including our individually most important at present, China. There’s a concentration on a very few products, namely iron ore, soya, and oil, and we’re trying to diversify our exports to China. With the United States, we don’t confront the same problem. It’s a more diverse platform, and we would like to continue exporting airplanes, exporting beef, and looking at other products.
There was also a question about a potential visit by President Rousseff. Well, this is mentioned in the joint communiqué that was adopted by our two leaders when President Obama visited Brazil in March. But I think what we are concentrated on right now is to implementing the many decisions that were taken then, and I’ve invited Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to come to Brazil to continue this discussion so that we can in the future have a productive summit meeting between our two leaders at the earliest possible and at the most convenient time so that we can start reaping some of the benefits of the discussions that we are having already.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I endorse what the minister said and would only add that we are quite satisfied by the depth and breadth of our relationship. I think both of our presidents set forth a comprehensive agenda, and we continue to add to it. And in the area of trade and investment – that’s a very high priority for the Obama Administration. The minister is correct that we have a diversified economic relationship. We want it to become more so. We fully endorse President Dilma Rousseff’s commitment to innovation, science, and technology because we think that’s not only very directly in Brazil’s interest, but also in the interest of the hemisphere, including the United States, to see Brazil continue to develop and broaden its own economic foundation. And we will be working on finding a date for the president’s visit to Washington, and as the minister said, he and I will be in close consultation in preparation for such a visit because we have a very high standard to meet given the successful visit of President Obama to Brazil. Thank you.
FOREIGN MINISTER PATRIOTA: Thank you so much.
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
Palacio do Planalto
12:54 P.M. BRT
PRESIDENT ROUSSEFF: (As translated.) Your Excellency Barack Obama, President of the United States of America; ladies and gentlemen; members of the delegation of the U.S. and of Brazil; ladies and gentlemen journalists; ladies and gentlemen.
Mr. President Obama, your visit to my country makes me very happy and arouses the best feelings of our people and honors the historic relationship between Brazil and the U.S. It bears also a very strong symbolic value.
The peoples of our countries have built the largest democracies of the Americas. They also dared to take at the highest level an Afro descent and a woman, demonstrating that the basis of democracy allows to overcome the largest barriers to build societies that will be more generous and live more in harmony.
Here, Mr. President, I am the successor of a man that came from the people — my dear friend Luiz Inácio Lula de Silva, with whom I had the honor to work with. His legacy, most noble legacy, Mr. President, was to bring to the political scene and social scene millions of men and women that lived marginalized and were disenfranchised of their rights as citizens.
Of the nine heads of state of the U.S. that have visited officially Brazil, you are the one that sees our country in a most vibrant moment. The combination of a very serious economic policy with sound fundamentals and a consistent strategy of social inclusion has made our country one of the most dynamic markets of the world.
We have strengthened the renewable content of our energy matrix and we have advanced in developing the environmental policies that protect our important wind, forest reserves and also protects our very rich biodiversity. All this effort, President Obama, has created millions of new jobs and has dynamized many regions that before lived marginalized of the economic development. It has allowed Brazil to overcome with success the deepest economic crisis of recent history, keeping until the days of today record creation of new jobs.
But we still face enormous challenges. My administration at this moment is concentrating on the necessary tasks to improve our growth process and to guarantee the long period of prosperity for the Brazilian people.
My essential commitment is building a middle-class income society, assuring vocational, professional opportunities for the workers and for our immense youth population. I also want to guarantee an institutional environment that will trigger entrepreneurship and will favor productive investment.
My government will work with dedication to overcome the shortcomings in terms of infrastructure, and we will make all our efforts to consolidate our clean energy, which is an essential, key asset of Brazil. So we will take the necessary steps to reach our place amongst the nations that have full, strong development with democracy and social fairness. This is the point, President Obama, that I see the best opportunities for the advancements of the relations between our countries.
I follow very closely and I have high hopes on your efforts — your tremendous efforts to recover the vitality of the North American economy. We also have, as the rest of the world, one certainty, that the American people under your leadership will know how to find the best ways for the future of this great nation.
The kindness of your visit here in the beginning of my administration and the long track record of friendship amongst our peoples have made it possible to mention two issues that I consider central to the future partnerships that we can develop: education and innovation. Drawing closer ties and advancing in our educational experiments, enhancing our exchange programs and building progress in all fields of knowledge is a key issue for the future of our countries.
On research and innovation, the U.S. has reached the most extraordinary accomplishments in the last decades, fostering the productivity in different economic sectors.
Brazil, Mr. President Obama, has some important cutting-edge technologies in certain fields, like genetics, biotechnology, renewable sources of energy, and the exploration of oil in deep waters. To combine our most advanced capabilities in the field of research and innovation certainly will yield the best fruits for our societies.
I would like to mention as an example the pre-salt, the deep-waters oil reserve, which is the longest cutting-edge borderline that Brazil has reached in terms of its technology. We believe that the enormous challenges that we’ll face in each stage of exploration of this wealth could gather an unprecedented convergence of knowledge accumulated by the best centers of research in our countries.
But, Mr. President, if we wish to build a relationship that will be much more in depth, it’s necessary, frankly, to deal about our contradictions. I am concerned especially with the acute effects that come from the economic imbalances that were created by the recent global financial meltdown. We understand the context and the efforts that was undertaken by your government for the economic recovery of the U.S., something so important to the rest of the world. Nevertheless, everybody knows that broad-ranging measures sometimes provoke important changes in the relations of currencies around the world. This process is good economic practices and pushes countries towards protectionist measures and defensive measures of all nature.
We are a country that are making all the endeavors to come out of years of very low development rates. That’s why we seek more fairness and balanced trade relations. For us it’s fundamental that we should break away from the barriers that have arisen against our products, like ethanol, beef, cotton, orange juice, airplanes, and so on and so forth. For us it’s fundamental that we should expand the educational and technological partnerships for the future.
I am equally concerned with the slow pace of the reforms in the multilateral institutions that still reflect an old world. We work tirelessly for the reform in governance of the World Bank and of the IMF. And we did that by the U.S., together with Brazil, together with other countries — and we welcome the beginning of the changes that were undertaken in these multilateral institutions, although they’re still very limited and belated due to the economic financial crisis.
We also advocated for fundamental reform in designing the global governance, the enhancement of the U.N. Security Council. Here, Mr. President, we’re not moved by a minor interest of bureaucratic occupation of spaces of representation. What mobilizes us is the certainty that a world that is more multilateral will produce benefits for peace and harmony amongst the peoples of the world.
And even more, Mr. President, we’re also interested to learn with our own mistakes. It was necessary — a very severe economic crisis to move conservatism that blocked the reforms of the financial institutions. In the case of the U.N. reform, we now have the opportunities to act in advance.
This country, Brazil, has a commitment with peace, with democracy and with consensus building. This commitment, it is not something that is transitory, but is part of our permanent values. Tolerance, dialogue, flexibility — these are principles that are written in our constitution, in our history, and even in the nature of the Brazilian people. We’re very proud to live in peace with all of our 10 neighbors for more than one century.
One week ago, Mr. President, we were in the effect of a consultative treaty of the South American Union of Nations, which we’re reinforcing the unity of our continent. Brazil is — their wish to consolidate peace, security, democracy, cooperation and growth in this region with social fairness. And within this environment is that we should develop the relations between Brazil and the U.S.
Mr. President, I would like to say that I see with great optimism our common future. In the past, this relationship many times was overshadowed by empty rhetoric that diluted what was truly at stake between the U.S. and Brazil. An alliance between our two countries, above all, if it intends to be a strategic alliance, is something that is a construct — a construct that is common, as you said yourself in your State of the Union very recently — when you delivered your State of the Union. But it has to be a construct amongst equals.
Nevertheless, the differences these countries may have in terms of the size of their territory, the population, productive capacity or military might, we are countries of continental dimensions that follow the path of democracy. We are multi-ethnical in our territories, live different and rich cultures — each one in their own way. We have what a Brazilian poet called — we have “the feeling of the world.”
Your presence in Brazil, Mr. President, will be of great value in the construction that we want to do together.
Once again, President Obama, welcome to Brazil. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you, Madam President, for your very kind words, and thanks to you and the people of Brazil for the very warm welcome — that legendary Brazilian hospitality that you’ve shown me, Michelle and our daughters. Multo obrigado.
Now, in our meeting today I mentioned that this is my first visit to South America and Brazil is my first stop. This is no coincidence. The friendship between the people of the United States and Brazil spans nearly two centuries. Our entrepreneurs and businesses innovate together. Our scientists and researchers are pioneering new vaccines. Our students and teachers explore new horizons. And every day, we’re working to make our societies more inclusive and more just.
Brazil’s extraordinary rise, Madam President, has captured the attention of the world. Because of the sacrifices of people like President Rousseff, Brazil moved from dictatorship to democracy. As one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Brazil has lifted tens of millions from poverty into a growing middle class.
Today, the United States and Brazil are the hemisphere’s two largest democracies and the two largest economies. Brazil is a regional leader promoting greater cooperation across the Americas and, increasingly, Brazil is a global leader, a world leader, going from a recipient of foreign aid to a donor nation, pointing the way to a world without nuclear weapons and being in the forefront of global efforts to confront climate change.
As President, I’ve pursued engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. And a key part of this engagement is forging deeper cooperation with 21st century centers of influence, including Brazil. Put simply, the United States doesn’t simply recognize Brazil’s rise we support it enthusiastically.
And that’s why we’ve made the G20 the world’s premier forum of global economic cooperation, to make sure that nations like Brazil have a greater voice. That’s why we’ve worked to increase Brazil’s vote and role at international financial institutions, and it is why I’ve come to Brazil today.
President Rousseff and I both believe that this visit is a historic opportunity to put the United States and Brazil on a path towards even greater cooperation for decades to come. And today, we’re starting to seize that opportunity.
Madam President, I want to thank you for your strong personal commitment to strengthening the ties between our two nations. We’re expanding trade and investment that create jobs in both our countries. Brazil is one of our largest trading partners, but there’s still so much more that we can do.
Later today the President and I will be meeting with business leaders from our two countries to listen and find very concrete steps that we can take to expand our relationship economically. We’ll be announcing a series of new agreements, including a new economic and financial dialogue to promote trade, streamline regulations and expand collaborations in science and technology.
And as Brazil prepares to host the World Cup and the Summer Olympics — which still hurts for me to say — (laughter) — we’re ensuring that American companies can play a role in the many infrastructure projects needed for these games.
We’re creating a new strategic energy dialogue to make sure that the highest levels of our governments are working together to seize new opportunities. In particular, with the new oil finds off Brazil, President Rousseff has said that Brazil wants to be a major supplier of new stable sources of energy, and I’ve told her that the United States wants to be a major customer, which would be a win-win for both our countries.
At the same time, we’re expanding our clean energy partnership that’s vital to our long-term energy security. As a leader in renewable energy, such as biofuels, and as part of the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas that I proposed, Brazil is sharing its expertise around the region and around the world. And the new green economy dialogue that we’re creating today will deepen our cooperation even further, in green buildings and sustainable development.
On the security front, our militaries are working more closely to respond to humanitarian crises, as we did together in Haiti. Our law enforcement communities are partnering against the narco-traffickers who threaten all of us. Brazil is joining the international effort to prevent nuclear smuggling through ports.
I thanked President Rousseff for Brazil’s leadership towards establishing a new regional center to promote excellence in nuclear security. And as a member of the Human Rights Council, Brazil joined with us in condemning human rights abuses by Libya.
I want to briefly mention the situation in Libya, because this is something that I’ve discussed with the President. Yesterday, the international community demanded an immediate cease-fire in Libya, including an end to all attacks against civilians. Today Secretary Clinton joined an international coalition of our European and Arab partners in Paris to discuss how we will enforce U.S. Security Council Resolution 1973.
Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear: The people of Libya must be protected. And in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act, and act with urgency. And I am briefing President Rousseff on the steps that we are taking.
Finally, I’m especially pleased that the United States and Brazil are joining together to advance development and democratic governance beyond our hemisphere. Brazil is helping lead the global initiative I announced at the United Nations last year to promote open government and new technologies that empower citizens around the world. Today we’re launching new efforts to help other countries combat corruption and prevent child labor, and we’re expanding our efforts to promote food security and agricultural development in Africa.
I believe this is just the beginning of what our two countries can do together in the world. That’s why the United States will continue our efforts to make sure that the new realities of the 21st century are reflected in international institutions, as Madam President mentioned, including the United Nations, where Brazil aspires to a seat on the Security Council.
As I told President Rousseff, the United States is going to keep working with Brazil and other nations on reforms that make the Security Council more effective, more efficient, more representative, and advance our shared vision of a more secure and peaceful world.
So, again, with today’s progress, I believe we’ve laid the foundation for greater cooperation between the United States and Brazil for decades to come. I want to thank President Rousseff for her leadership, for making this progress possible. I had not known Madam President long, but I can tell in speaking to her, the extraordinary passion she has for providing opportunity for all the people of Brazil, lifting everyone up. And that’s a passion I share with respect to my citizens in the United States — my fellow citizens in the United States of America.
So I am confident that given this shared spirit, this camaraderie that exists not only at our levels but among our peoples, that we are going to continue to make progress for a long time to come.
I’m very much looking forward to visiting Rio tomorrow and the opportunity to speak directly to the Brazilian people about what our countries can do together as global partners in the 21st century.
Thank you so much. (Applause.)
1:15 P.M. BRT
Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Luis CdeBaca announced today that the Department of State will partner with the International Business Leaders Forum (IBLF) on an initiative to provide job and life-skills training to trafficking survivors in at least 13 hotel sites in Brazil, Vietnam, and Mexico. The initiative will integrate human trafficking survivors into the Youth Career Initiative (YCI), a six-month educational program encompassing participating hotels that include Marriott, Sheraton, and the InterContinental.
The goal of the initiative is to ensure that trafficking survivors have the skills and confidence to enter the formal job market, as well as provide one-to-one mentoring support throughout the training and for up to 6 months after graduation from the program to assist in their securing employment. Thanks to a unique partnership model with the international hotel industry, students gain relevant work skills in at least 15 hospitality specialties that span operational and administrative departments. The innovative program will not only empower trafficking survivors by providing the necessary support to rebuild their lives, but also has the potential to serve as a catalyst for other public-private partnerships to protect and serve victims of trafficking.
Ambassador CdeBaca was appointed by President Obama to direct the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons at the Department of State, where he serves as a Senior Advisor to Secretary Clinton and leads the United States’ global fight against contemporary forms of slavery. The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) develops and implements the State Department’s policy for the protection of trafficking victims, prosecution of traffickers, and prevention of trafficking.
For more information, please contact:
Alberto Canovas, Programme Manager, Youth Career Initiative at email@example.com or +44 207 467 3643.
Shivvy Jervis, Press Liaison, International Business Leaders Forum at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 207 467 3650.
G/TIP Programs Jane Sigmon at SigmonJN@state.gov or (202) 312-9887.
Thank you for that kind introduction. It’s an honor to be back at Oxford, an institution for which I have enormous respect. It is a particular pleasure to speak to you on Thanksgiving, the most distinctly American of the holidays that we celebrate across the Atlantic.
I remember my first Thanksgiving away from home, as a struggling and uncertain post-graduate student at St. John’s College, Oxford, in the autumn of 1978, gathered not around a table with roast turkey and my family, but around more pints than I can recall and new-found friends at the Lamb and Flag. I can dimly recollect giving enthusiastic thanks for everything from the rise of Jimmy Carter and Margaret Thatcher, to John Travolta’s fashion sense in Saturday Night Fever.
Thirty-one years later, I stand before you still lacking John Travolta’s fashion sense, still lacking in certainty about many things, but deeply thankful for the honor to give this year’s Cyril Foster lecture. The list of previous speakers – from great statesmen like Kofi Annan to great historians like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. – is a humbling one for an everyday diplomat. Standards are obviously slipping. But I will do my best, drawing on nearly three decades in the U.S. Foreign Service, to offer a few modest insights about this critical moment for my country and for the world.
You’ve already heard Cyril Foster’s extraordinary story. Foster’s only condition was that the lecture named after him feature “a prominent and sincere speaker” who would address “the elimination of war and the better understanding of the nations of the world.” I can’t make any claim to prominence, but I’ll do my best to be sincere.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that Cyril Foster’s personal cause – peace and understanding – has also been a central goal of American foreign policy during my career in the diplomatic service, spanning five Presidents and eight Secretaries of State. We have made more than our share of mistakes along the way, offering frequent validation of Winston Churchill’s famous observation that “the thing that I like most about Americans is they generally choose the right course in the end … it’s just that they like to exhaust all the alternatives first.”
When I reflect on the experiences I’ve had over the past three decades, something striking occurs to me: from a diplomat’s perspective, what it takes to promote peace has changed. Now more than ever, no country can solve any major problem alone. So today, success depends more than ever before on our ability to build partnerships – and not just partnerships between governments, but between societies and peoples as well. This partnership imperative is what I want to focus on this evening — giving you not just a sense of why it is so necessary, but of how, from my perspective as a diplomat, we are pursuing it.
The Partnership Imperative
I joined the American diplomatic service in 1982. We didn’t know then that the Cold War was entering its final phase. If anything, East-West tensions seemed to be flaring as dangerously as ever. We were consumed with debates over Euromissiles and Star Wars, Central American revolutions and the Soviet war in Afghanistan. Yet there was a basic logic governing what we did. Soviet-American rivalry gave order to the international landscape, and Containment provided a framework for our foreign policy. We thought of countries like China – where Deng’s reforms were just starting – or India – which was still mired in what used to be called “the Hindu rate of growth” – largely in terms of this bipolar order. Amid all the danger, there was still a kind of clarity.
There is much about today’s world that we can celebrate. Astounding economic growth in much of Asia has raised hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. The number of children dying from preventable illness is at an historic low. And the number of people who die in war every year has been declining drastically, thanks to the prolonged absence of great-power conflict.
Now, I don’t mean to offer some Panglossian reading of the international situation. For along with these changes has come a growing sense of confusion and insecurity. And for those of us trying to interpret and navigate this new world, a growing sense of humility.
The best attempts to define this new era have focused less on what it is than on what it is not – the “post-Cold War.” Richard Haass talks about “the age of nonpolarity”: we’ve left behind the bipolar world of the Cold War, we’ve passed the supposed “unipolar moment” of the 1990′s, and yet the notion of a multi-polar world, with various power centers balancing and competing with one another, doesn’t quite capture it either. Fareed Zakaria has written about “the post-American world” – one in which American dominance is fading, or at least rising powers are catching up, but where the order that will replace it is not yet clear.
Whatever label you choose, today’s threats do feel more varied and less predictable; the sources of our security seem less certain and more diffuse. Our interconnectedness means that none of us can solve problems alone, while threats – from nuclear weapons proliferation to climate change, pandemics, economic crisis, and transnational crime – can spread among us more quickly than ever. New powers, from China and India to Brazil, Turkey, and Indonesia, are playing an ever-greater role, while non-state actors are claiming influence in ways both profoundly positive and deeply destructive.
Despite this, we are not doomed to insecurity or chaos. But we have to develop new tools of leadership and cooperation where the old ones are no longer doing their job. And we have to use those tools to build a new architecture of cooperation.
That is the spirit that animates American foreign policy today – the impetus behind our strategy of partnership. When President Obama spoke at the United Nations a couple of months ago, he described “a new era of engagement with the world … in word and deed.” Secretary Clinton has talked about “tilting the balance away from a multi-polar world and toward a multi-partner world.”
Now, I wish I could stop here, on a conveniently high note: our new commitment to the promise of partnership – a nice new bumper-sticker slogan for American foreign policy. But not wishing to insult Cyril Foster or his appeal for sincerity, I’ll be the first to acknowledge that partnership is an easy slogan but an exceedingly difficult task to carry out in practice.
For example, as we set out to build a multi-partner world we have to appreciate the force of history and the power of nationalism. When it comes to building partnerships, ignoring history makes it much less likely that we will manage to overcome it. For many nations, actions are guided by a sense of past slights or traumas, or a desire to revive past glory, as much as by clear interests. Only by addressing historical aspirations and resentments directly can we build partnerships on strong foundations.
This challenge of history is a potent force in any society, but particularly powerful in places like Russia, where I have been privileged to spend much of my checkered career. For Russians, perhaps in contrast to Americans, history is very much alive. People still talk about the Mongol invasion – which started in 1223. There is strong, and justified, pride in the Soviet role and massive Soviet sacrifice in World War II. There is, among many, a yearning for the influence (if not the totalitarian repressiveness) of the Soviet days, and lingering trauma over the difficulties of the 1990s. Without understanding all of this, Russia’s stance on many issues can often seem incomprehensible. But where we have started to consider and at least take into account all of Russia’s living history, we have a good chance of moving beyond it, to partnership on issues of common concern.
So keeping these difficulties in mind, how do we get beyond the bumper stickers and translate a commitment to partnership into real policy? My experience, particularly in these first 10 months of the Obama administration, has yielded a number of basic observations. Let me focus on three.
Partnership Begins At Home
The first step in a successful partnership strategy – and one to which President Obama and his Administration attach great importance – is making the United States an attractive partner for others. Partnership really does begin at home. The truth is that the power of our example matters more than the power of our preaching. We need to live our own values, demonstrating through our own behavior the ideals and standards that we seek in others – and that others expect of us. Where we have fallen short of these in recent years, we are now working hard to correct our mistakes.
But it is not just about values. It is about showing ourselves to be reliable, consistent, and tough-minded. We can’t simply jettison partnerships when they don’t serve us in some particular area. We need to meet disagreement with frank and respectful discussion. And we need to show that we are willing to take some risks to build partnerships and to make them work over the long term.
A crucial part of this is in many ways the simplest: listening, which can sometimes seem like an unnatural act for Americans. It is not always all about us. The fact is that we live in a world where other people and other societies have their own realities, not always perfectly aligned with or even hospitable to ours. We don’t have to accept their realities as our own, or agree with them, or indulge them — but understanding them is the starting point for sensible policy, and enduring partnership.
Just as important as considering the priorities of others is making our own priorities clear. During its 10 months in office, the Obama administration has made a concerted effort to explain our priorities – in many cases by speaking to the rest of the world directly. In a series of speeches from Prague to Cairo, Moscow, Accra and Tokyo, the President has outlined a set of ambitious goals: to reduce and prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and ultimately seek a nuclear weapons-free world; to secure our future by addressing climate change and producing clean energy; to isolate and defeat violent extremists; to bolster and spread global prosperity; and to enhance good governance and universal human rights. In all of our partnerships, we are working to advance these same fundamental priorities – although our approach may differ case by case.
Partnership Comes In Many Shapes And Sizes
That brings me to my second point: partnerships come in many different shapes and sizes. We should be ambitious. But we also have to be realistic about what some partnerships can achieve.
In many ways, the premier partnership for the United States remains our special relationship with the United Kingdom. This relationship is built on a bedrock of shared values and common interests, tested over a long history, through genuine triumphs and real disagreements.
But we need to be realistic in our expectations for partnership more generally. Not all of them will be like the special relationship – which is what, I suppose, makes it special – or like some of the United States’ other close friendships, such as those with our other trans-Atlantic partners, or with countries such as Canada, Japan, Israel and Australia. Nor should they be. Partnership takes many different forms, all of which bring their own benefits.
We also have to keep some perspective. As Secretary Clinton has put it, commonality of interest doesn’t automatically mean common action. No matter how overwhelming the logic of cooperation, there are still endless opportunities for mistrust and misunderstanding in partnerships new and old.
In fact, partnership can be as much about disagreement as it is about agreement. Acting on clear agreement will happen more or less easily. Yet addressing a disagreement takes work – to reach a compromise where possible, but more often than not, to make sure that disagreements don’t escalate. Even in a world defined by partnership, nations will still have interests that don’t align – having to do with trade, with borders, with resources, and on and on. If there is a genetic shortcoming common to diplomats, it is a tendency to ignore points of discord and hope that cooperation in other areas will take care of them. But as with human relationships in general, these things can get worse rather than better over time if we don’t address them, seeking out ways to compromise or, at the very least, prevent competing interests from turning into broader conflict.
A few examples from U.S. foreign policy today might be useful here, so let me say something about our work with the emerging and re-emerging Great Powers that Goldman Sachs famously referred to as the BRICs – Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These are certainly not the only, or even necessarily the most important, partnerships we are focused on, but for the sake of demonstration I’ll consider these four.
First Russia – a country that, as I’ve mentioned, has been a focus of my career. After much acrimony between the United States and Russia in recent years, the Obama administration has made a concerted effort to “reset” relations, building on potential common ground on issues from strategic arms reduction to Afghanistan and Iran.
We can’t say that this is truly a strategic partnership, in the sense of a neat coincidence of values and interests — but it certainly can be a partnership on key strategic issues. Of course we have significant differences, on questions ranging from Russia’s neighborhood to human rights. And of course our relationship is a combination of cooperation and competition. But that does not mean that we cannot work better together on some crucial fronts.
Today, the United States and Russia hold 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons. It is profoundly important that the two of us set a good example in how we manage and reduce our own nuclear arsenals. And we must work together to strengthen the global non-proliferation regime. If we can cooperate on nonproliferation and Afghanistan and global economic stability, then the strategic benefits will be great even when disagreements and tensions persist. And ultimately, trust and an established ability to work together may allow us to broaden our partnership and overcome some of these disagreements.
The dynamic with Brazil is in many ways quite different. Rather than a re-emerging power, Brazil’s rise in recent years is giving it a newfound potential to play a regional and global role, and the United States is gratified to see Brazil seizing this potential in a variety of ways – from using its own experience in agricultural development and combating hunger to help sub-Saharan African countries, to showing new leadership in the sometimes fractious politics of its own continent.
We in the United States welcome Brazil’s rise. We see a strong and globally active Brazil as a very positive force in our own hemisphere. Brazil’s commitment to democracy, market economics, regional integration, and trade, and its willingness to embrace globalization and assert a leadership role within the international system makes it an attractive and useful partner. Its successful combination of political stability, economic growth, and effective commitment to social justice makes it an example to others around the world. Yet we have our share of disagreements with Brazil. We have seen this in the WTO and other trade fora. We have no illusions that such competing interests will simply vanish. Rather, we’ll continue to address them in a spirit of mutual respect. And we also understand that our partnership must evolve as Brazil continues to grow, as its interests expand and change, and as it demonstrates the responsibility that comes along with its influence.
India is another country whose extraordinary growth is giving it a powerful, new role on the global stage. As illustrated by Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Washington earlier this week, significantly the first State visit of our new Presidency, the Obama Administration is determined to deepen the ties between the U.S. and India that have evolved over the past decade. From counterterrorism to nonproliferation, education to agriculture, science and technology to women’s empowerment, our cooperation reflects the depth and breadth of the relationship between the world’s two largest democracies. India is another hugely-significant model for other emerging democracies, and it has a central role to play on virtually all of the major challenges of this new century. As President Obama emphasized during the Prime Minister’s visit, India’s leadership and partnership will be crucial for helping to shape the rise of a stable, peaceful, and prosperous Asia.
Now, that doesn’t mean that we will always agree, because we won’t. That doesn’t mean that we can always avoid mutual suspicions or misunderstandings, because we can’t. But there is enormous and growing scope for real partnership between us. And what is especially noteworthy in this effort is that the ties between our governments are in many ways far behind the deep connections between our societies and our people.
As Secretary Clinton has put it, “we need the bilateral cooperation between our governments to catch up with our people-to-people and economic ties. We need to make sure that the partnership between Washington and New Delhi, our capitals, will be as advanced and fruitful as the linkages that already exist between Manhattan and Mumbai, or Boston and Bangalore.” In this partnership, you could say the people are leading the leaders.
And finally, there’s China. As President Obama made clear last week in Beijing, the United States welcomes China’s rise as a responsible player in world affairs, and we do not see any zero-sum game or inevitable rivalry. In fact, we’re working hard to build new mechanisms of cooperation with China, built on the recognition that virtually no major international problem can be solved without it. Take climate change: the United States and China are the two biggest emitters of greenhouse gasses, so we are working to reduce our own emissions while helping China continue its extraordinary development without doing irrevocable damage to the environment.
But of course, at times we do have real disagreements. As President Obama said at the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July and again on his recent visit to China, we will be very straightforward about these disagreements – such as over basic human rights or China’s treatment of some of its ethnic and religious minorities – and we will make clear that these issues matter to us. But at the same time, we cannot let them prevent us from cooperating on challenges like reducing global emissions or rebalancing the global economy or de-nuclearizing North Korea. Just because we don’t see eye-to-eye on every issue doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work together on issues where we do – where our common interest is so clear and so urgent that common action cannot be put off.
Let me pause here to make an obvious but important point: just as we understand that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to partnership, we also recognize clearly that strategies for partnership also require strategies for dealing firmly and creatively with adversaries. Dealing with adversaries is the subject of an entirely different lecture, but here I will simply offer the following thoughts. Direct engagement with adversaries has its own purposes. With Iran, since the beginning of the Obama Administration, we have sought to engage with the Iranian leadership, to make clear plainly and directly both our interest in a more normal relationship, based upon mutual interest and mutual respect, but also our profound concern about many of Iran’s actions, especially its nuclear program. Focus on nuclear issues does not – and must not – mean turning a blind eye to serious human rights abuses in Iran; the brutal repression of people seeking simply to express their views peacefully is appalling.
Nevertheless, our sincere hope has been — and remains — to find a way out of the mutual animus of the last three decades. We have worked intensively with Russia and the IAEA and others to offer creative confidence-building proposals to Iran, such as the use of Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium as the basis for refueling a research reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes. Sadly, we have little to show for that effort so far, and the Iranian leadership has thus far not been able to get to yes on a very significant – and fleeting – opportunity.
The wider purpose of engagement with an adversary, like Iran, is to help cement partnership with others who share our concerns. By participating actively and energetically in direct talks with Iran in the so-called “P5+1,” we strip away the argument that our unwillingness to engage is the core problem, rather than Iran’s own reluctance to make an agreement. On Iran, as on North Korea, engagement with adversaries is an investment in partnership with key international players, whose support we will need to build the leverage that is essential to successful diplomacy.
Broad Partnerships Are Enduring Partnerships
Third and finally, our multi-partnership strategy is guided by the principle that the wider the base of a partnership, the more lasting it is. Broader partnerships tend to be more enduring partnerships. That’s why we are seeking to build durable structures of partnership, both bilaterally and in multilateral institutions. And that’s why the Obama administration is working to develop ways to move beyond governments to build deeper ties between our citizens and societies.
As any diplomat would tell you, in setting out to build new partnerships or to improve difficult relationships, there is a temptation to approach things narrowly, on an issue-by-issue basis – trying to achieve cooperation on one specific thing or address one specific problem instead of laying the foundation for a broader, more comprehensive solution. But this won’t always work. The more challenging the relationship, the more important it is that we build a partnership as broad as possible, introducing new areas for cooperation, which sometimes spill over constructively on areas of difficulty.
All partnerships need some kind of structure – think about the various kinds of alliances and fora that underpin trans-Atlantic ties, like the U.S.-EU Summit held in Washington earlier this month. Structure helps improve communication between partners and ensures follow through on decisions and initiatives. And it can also help avoid surprises.
That is why the United States is setting out to build different kinds of structures to support our key bilateral partnerships, especially with rising or resurging global players.
With India, we have built a new strategic dialogue that will ensure communication on a range of issues while remaining flexible enough to change as our relations develop. In the case of Russia, where we also have many overlapping strategic interests but far from complete convergence, we have created a new bilateral Presidential commission, launched during President Obama’s visit to Moscow last July. With China, we have started the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which met in Washington in July and will convene in China next year. And with Brazil, we are actively exploring similar structures to fit that extraordinarily important partnership.
Along with creating enduring bilateral structures, we’re also committed to adapting multilateral institutions. One of the great triumphs of the twentieth-century was building a global architecture in the wake of World War II that survived through the Cold War and did much to promote collective problem-solving and avert violence. That architecture continues to serve us today, but it increasingly doesn’t fit this century’s challenges and realities.
We need to make our existing institutions better reflect the distribution of power and the kinds of problems they must solve. We also need to build new mechanisms and update existing ones, some of them formal – like the G-20, which has just replaced the G-8 as the main forum for global economic policy, or the UN Security Council – and some of them informal – like the Six-Party Talks or the P5+1. All of these are key to getting partnership right, and it is crucial that we reshape them before they’re reshaped for us by a new distribution of power or unforeseen events.
Widening the base of partnership means more than the diplo-speak of global architecture and international institutions. Partnerships need to go beyond governments – and strengthen connections with and among peoples and societies at all levels. The nature of power in the twenty-first century, in other words, demands a whole new approach; problems will not be solved by a government or governments alone; they demand action from a whole range of actors new and old.
As hard as it is for someone who has spent over a quarter-century in the diplomatic service to say, the future can’t just be left to professional diplomats. We need to build public-private partnerships, with governments working alongside civil society, NGOs, businesses, and citizens. And we also need to build connections between them – empowering networks of people who can harness new technologies and make common cause on their own to find common solutions.
Expanding scholarship programs and people-to-people exchanges is one of the smartest investments that we can make in long-term partnerships across societies and national borders. One of the best initiatives we undertook in Russia in the 1990′s was to increase exchanges. Today, there are some 70,000 alumni of those programs living and working all across Russia, each equipped with a better understanding of how Americans think and what we can accomplish together.
Secretary Clinton has focused on our broad approach to partnership again and again, and her travels have reflected her own commitment to it: everywhere she goes, she spends as much time meeting with students, civil-society activists, war widows, and regular citizens as she does meeting with government ministers. She has appointed the State Department’s first ever Special Representative for Global Partnerships to focus on building broad public-private partnerships in the United States and around the world. And she has made it a priority to use new social network technologies to engage with citizens with a regularity and depth that was impossible before.
Partnership is a neat bumper-sticker and a handy slogan, but the practice of partnership is hard. That should come as no great surprise, in this complicated new century unfolding before us. Nor should it be a source of pessimism.
That may sound strange coming from someone who has spent most of his career in Russia and the Middle East, both regions where pessimists rarely lack either company or validation. I’m reminded of one of the many, characteristically fatalistic, Russian definitions of a pessimist — someone who thinks that tomorrow will be better than the day after. I have something a little different in mind. I think that tomorrow will actually be a pretty complicated period for building partnerships in a very unsettled world. But I genuinely do believe that, with strong vision and leadership from the United States, a multi-partner world is within our reach, and well-worth our sustained effort. And I genuinely do believe that the day after tomorrow holds real and enduring promise for the kind of pragmatic partnerships that benefit us all.
Thank you very much, and Happy Thanksgiving!