On October 12, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered remarks on American Global Leadership at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C. Secretary Clinton said:
"...Before I begin to address some of these trend lines that are really part of America's leadership and how we define it and how we promote it, I want to just say a few words about the conspiracy to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington that was directed by elements of the Iranian Government. This plot, very fortunately disrupted by the excellent work of our law enforcement and intelligence professionals, was a flagrant violation of international and U.S. law, and a dangerous escalation of the Iranian Government's longstanding use of political violence and sponsorship of terrorism.
"This is not just, however, about Iran and the United States or even just about Saudi Arabia. Targeting an ambassador violates the Convention on the Protection and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, which, of course, includes diplomats. Iran is a signatory to this convention. Iran is also in agreement with the Security Council resolutions to implement it. This kind of reckless act undermines international norms and the international system. Iran must be held accountable for its actions. In addition to the steps announced by the attorney general yesterday, the United States has increased our sanctions on individuals within the Iranian Government who are associated with this plot and Iran's support for terrorism. We will work closely with our international partners to increase Iran's isolation and the pressure on its government, and we call upon other nations to join us in condemning this threat to international peace and security.
"Now I want to thank you for thinking about tomorrow, and for devoting this day and many other days as well to discussing the sources of America's greatness, the power of our ideals, and the prospects for our future. At the State Department, we work in an international landscape defined by half a century of exceptional American global leadership, leadership from both parties, rooted in our most precious values, that put the common good first and rally the world around a vision of a more peaceful and prosperous future. Securing and sustaining that leadership for the next half century is the organizing principle behind everything I do. That's because our global leadership holds the key not only to our prosperity and security at home but to the kind of world that is increasingly interconnected and complex. Whether it's opening new markets for American businesses or breaking up terrorist plots or bringing the wars of the last decade to a successful close, we have to be guided by both the responsibilities of leadership and the values that undergird us.
"American leadership also continues to be a uniquely powerful force for advancing human freedom and universal rights around the world. Now, I recognize these are difficult times. And as we grapple with significant challenges at home and abroad, many Americans are understandably wondering what lies ahead for their families and for our country. But everything I know tells me that the United States has the talent and ingenuity to come through our current difficulties and to emerge stronger than ever."
Secretary Clinton continued:
"It's important to remember that there are serious international consequences to the decisions we make here in Washington. This summer when I was traveling through Europe and Asia as the debt-ceiling crisis dominated the news, some leaders I met were quite unnerved and asked me some very tough questions. Because they count on us, on the United States, for security and stability. And they understand that our leadership abroad depends on our strength at home. That is why the Administration's National Security Strategy emphasizes the link between our investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure, and our ability to project strategic and economic power abroad.
"At the same time, we have to find new ways to lead in a changing world. This begins by understanding the current international landscape and the demands it places on American leadership. Today the major powers are at peace, but new regional and global centers of influence are quickly emerging. These countries have benefited from the stability and security long provided by American leadership, and from the dynamic and open global economy that we pioneered and continue to protect. Their rise is a sign that our leadership works, not just for Americans but for people around the world in every country.
"Working with these new players in the years ahead, encouraging them to accept the responsibility that comes with influence, and integrating them more fully into the international order is a key test for American diplomacy."
Secretary Clinton concluded:
"So as we look to the future, let's invest in these new opportunities to sustain and secure our global leadership. Half of life is showing up, and that means the United States can't sit on the sidelines. This is the time to press forward, not to pull back. Leadership is in our DNA; we would do great harm to who we are as Americans if we withdraw. 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, exceptional for our creativity and openness that draws people from everywhere here to our homeland, for our unwavering commitment to securing a more just and peaceful world, and for our willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good.
"President Truman in his first speech to Congress after the death of Franklin Roosevelt said, 'Today, the entire world is looking to America for enlightened leadership to peace and progress. Such a leadership requires vision, courage, and tolerance. And it can be provided only by a united nation deeply devoted to the highest ideals.' Well, these words are just as true today, and I am confident that when it's all said and done, as I told people in Asia, it's not pretty to look at, but eventually, we'll get a debt deal. And I believe that on all these other issues, we will rise to our challenges, we will continue to lead the world, we will make the hard choices necessary to keep the promise of America alive here and across the globe. Thank you for your contributions to ensuring that we do."
You can also read the Secretary's remarks here.