Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks today for the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series in Little Rock, Arkansas. During her remarks, Secretary Clinton said:
"...Before I begin, I want to say a few serious words about events because we had a very significant event in Yemen earlier today, when we learned of the death of Anwar al-Awlaki, a leader and chief propagandist of al-Qaida's most active and dangerous affiliate, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula. This is the terrorist group that tried to blow up an airplane filled with innocent people on Christmas Day in 2009, that attempted to bring down U.S. cargo planes in 2010. Awlaki took a leading role in those plots and in spreading an ideology of hate and violence. But today, like Usama bin Ladin and so many other terrorist leaders who have been killed or captured in recent years, he can no longer threaten America, our allies, or peace loving people anywhere in the world.
"Today we are all safer, but we recognize that the threat remains, that al-Qaida does maintain the ability to plan and carry out attacks, and that our vigilance is required. So we will, along with our partners and allies, continue to ratchet up the pressure, continue pursuing a comprehensive strategic approach to counterterrorism, and work to deny al-Qaida and its affiliates safe haven anywhere in the world."
Secretary Clinton also spoke about how it is essential that Americans remain engaged in the world. The Secretary said, "...There are some -- and I hear their voices -- who argue that the United States can no longer afford to be a global leader, that we should pull back from the world and lower our ambitions. But I am here today to tell you that nothing could be further from the truth.
"The fact is...number one, we have no choice; the world is on our doorsteps whether we invite it or not. And number two, we cannot afford not to be engaging. Whether it's opening new markets for American businesses or breaking up terrorist plots and bringing the wars of the last decade to a successful close, our work around the world holds the key to our prosperity and security right here at home.
"Now, there are many examples of this, and some of them are controversial. But take, for example, the pending free trade agreement with South Korea. It is expected to create 70,000 American jobs if Congress approves it, including thousands right here in Arkansas because tariffs on most agricultural exports are phased out. That will make a real difference in people's lives."
The Secretary then said, "From the first days of the Obama Administration, we have worked to renew America's global leadership because we want it to deliver more for the American people. And for the last decade our foreign policy has been focused on places where we faced the greatest dangers. And responding to threats will always be central to our foreign policy; but it cannot be our foreign policy. If all we do is focus on the threats and the dangers, we will miss the opportunities. And in the decade ahead we need to focus just as intensely on the places where we have the greatest opportunities as on those places where we have faced the greatest dangers.
"Now, what that means for me every day is looking for ways to support the so-called Arab Awakening, the transitions sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa, they are some of the most consequential, historic changes of the last many decades, certainly since the fall of the Soviet Union.
"It also means renewing America's preeminent role in the Asia Pacific. That is, for our future, the most consequential region of the world. It means elevating the role of economics in foreign policy, the most vibrant source of our power and a vital part of driving our economic recovery right here at home.
"It means working to empower women and girls around the world, a piece of unfinished business of humanity. It means changing the way we do foreign policy, so we are using 21st century tools and harnessing what I call smart power to produce results.
"So we are working on all of these fronts and more. But I deeply understand why so many Americans today are worried about what lies ahead for them, for their families, and for our country. Some even wonder, looking at the landscape of problems here at home and abroad, whether America is still up to the job."
Secretary Clinton continued, "...In the last decade, we've lived through terrorist attacks, two long wars, and a global financial crisis. Through it all, America remains an exceptional country. And the sources of America's greatness are more durable than perhaps many realize. Yes, our military is by far the strongest, our economy is by far the largest in the world, but our workers are still the most productive, and our universities are the gold standard. Our core values of equality, tolerance, opportunity, are an inspiration to people everywhere. So yes, we do have real challenges, but there's no doubt we have the capacity to meet them."
Secretary Clinton concluded, "...Everything I know tells me that we have the talent and the ingenuity and the work ethic to come through these current difficulties. But nothing is preordained. No outcome is inevitable. Leading the world in the years ahead will take the same hard work, clear-eyed choices, and commitment to shared sacrifice and service that built our country's greatness in the first place.
"And ultimately, that responsibility doesn't rest on the shoulders of a president or a secretary of state or a governor or a senator or a mayor. It's really an obligation that belongs to all Americans. We have to step up. We have to improve our own efforts. We have to find both the common ground and the common good that has united us in the past.
"Now, late last year, I held a town hall meeting in Pristina, Kosovo. This is a place where America made all the difference to the future of those people who survived a brutal effort at ethnic cleansing. ...At the town hall meeting, a man stood up and thanked me for everything America had done for his country. And like in so many places in the world, he and his neighbors continued to see American leadership as a linchpin to their own future success. And he asked me, 'Will you help us so we could finally see the biggest and the brightest and the most beautiful parts of democracy and a new economy? Can the great American nation assist us in our struggle to restore our hope?' Just as in times past, that is what America still means to countless people around the world: opportunity, responsibility, community. And today, it is our chance and our great privilege to live up to that well-earned reputation of the past, to make the hard choices here at home and abroad that keep the promise of America alive and well. Yes, we have to keep putting people first and keep building those bridges, and don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Thank you all."
You can read the Secretary's full remarks here.