Today, Secretary Clinton delivered a sweeping policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Today, at the Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary Clinton spoke about the Administration's approach to foreign policy priorities. Secretary Clinton said:
"The question is not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century. Rigid ideologies and old formulas don’t apply. We need a new mindset about how America will use its power to safeguard our nation, expand shared prosperity, and help more people in more places live up to their God-given potential.
President Obama has led us to think outside the usual boundaries. He has launched a new era of engagement based on common interests, shared values, and mutual respect. Going forward, capitalizing on America’s unique strengths, we must advance those interests through partnership, and promote universal values through the power of our example and the empowerment of people. In this way, we can forge the global consensus required to defeat the threats, manage the dangers, and seize the opportunities of the 21st century. America will always be a world leader as long as we remain true to our ideals and embrace strategies that match the times. So we will exercise American leadership to build partnerships and solve problems that no nation can solve on its own, and we will pursue policies to mobilize more partners and deliver results.
First, though, let me say that while the ideas that shape our foreign policy are critically important, this, for me, is not simply an intellectual exercise. For over 16 years, I’ve had the chance, the privilege, really, to represent our country overseas as First Lady, as a senator, and now as Secretary of State. I’ve seen the bellies of starving children, girls sold into human trafficking, men dying of treatable diseases, women denied the right to own property or vote, and young people without schooling or jobs gripped by a sense of futility about their futures.
I’ve also seen how hope, hard work, and ingenuity can overcome the longest of odds.... And all that I have done and seen has convinced me that our foreign policy must produce results for people – the laid-off auto worker in Detroit whose future will depend on global economic recovery; the farmer or small business owner in the developing world whose lack of opportunity can drive political instability and economic stagnation; the families whose loved ones are risking their lives for our country in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere; children in every land who deserve a brighter future. These are the people – hundreds of millions of them here in America and billions around the world – whose lives and experiences, hopes and dreams, must inform the decisions we take and the actions that follow. And these are the people who inspire me and my colleagues and the work that we try to do every day.
In approaching our foreign policy priorities, we have to deal with the urgent, the important, and the long-term all at once... We want to reverse the spread of nuclear weapons, prevent their use, and build a world free of their threat. We want to isolate and defeat terrorists and counter violent extremists while reaching out to Muslims around the world. We want to encourage and facilitate the efforts of all parties to pursue and achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We want to seek global economic recovery and growth by strengthening our own economy, advancing a robust development agenda, expanding trade that is free and fair, and boosting investment that creates decent jobs. We want to combat climate change, increase energy security, and lay the foundation for a prosperous clean-energy future. We want to support and encourage democratic governments that protect the rights and deliver results for their people. And we intend to stand up for human rights everywhere."
In facing these world challenges, she explained that there are two inescapable facts: no nation can meet these challenges alone, and most nations worry about the same global threats. The Secretary said that we’ll use our power to create partnerships aimed at solving problems. We’ll go beyond states to create opportunities for non-state actors and individuals to contribute to solutions. In short, we will lead by inducing greater cooperation among a greater number of actors, tilting the balance away from a multi-polar world and toward a multi-partner world. Secretary Clinton added:
"We will remain clear-eyed about our purpose. Not everybody in the world wishes us well or shares our values and interests. And some will actively seek to undermine our efforts. In those cases, our partnerships can become power coalitions to constrain or deter those negative actions. And to these foes and would-be foes, let me say our focus on diplomacy and development is not an alternative to our national security arsenal. Our willingness to talk is not a sign of weakness to be exploited. We will not hesitate to defend our friends, our interests, and above all, our people vigorously and when necessary with the world’s strongest military. This is not an option we seek nor is it a threat; it is a promise to all Americans.
Building the architecture of global cooperation requires us to devise the right policies and use the right tools. I speak often of smart power because it is so central to our thinking and our decision-making. It means the intelligent use of all means at our disposal, including our ability to convene and connect. It means our economic and military strength; our capacity for entrepreneurship and innovation; and the ability and credibility of our new President and his team. It also means the application of old-fashioned common sense in policymaking. It’s a blend of principle and pragmatism.
Smart power translates into specific policy approaches in five areas. First, we intend to update and create vehicles for cooperation with our partners; second, we will pursue principled engagement with those who disagree with us; third, we will elevate development as a core pillar of American power; fourth, we will integrate civilian and military action in conflict areas; and fifth, we will leverage key sources of American power, including our economic strength and the power of our example."
In her remarks, the Secretary spoke specifically about Iran.
"We watched the energy of Iran’s election with great admiration, only to be appalled by the manner in which the government used violence to quell the voices of the Iranian people, and then tried to hide its actions by arresting foreign journalists and nationals, and expelling them, and cutting off access to technology.... We know that refusing to deal with the Islamic Republic has not succeeded in altering the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon, reducing Iranian support for terror, or improving Iran’s treatment of its citizens.
Neither the President nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election. But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation.
Direct talks provide the best vehicle for presenting and explaining that choice. That is why we offered Iran’s leaders an unmistakable opportunity: Iran does not have a right to nuclear military capacity, and we’re determined to prevent that. But it does have a right to civil nuclear power if it reestablishes the confidence of the international community that it will use its programs exclusively for peaceful purposes.
Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights. The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."
Toward the conclusion of her remarks, the Secretary said:
"We are determined to channel the currents of change toward a world free of violent extremism, nuclear weapons, global warming, poverty, and abuses of human rights, and above all, a world in which more people in more places can live up to their God-given potential. The architecture of cooperation we seek to build will advance all these goals, using our power not to dominate or divide but to solve problems. It is the architecture of progress for America and all nations."