On January 28, 2014, President Barack Obama delivered the State of the Union -- the address presented by the President of the United States to a joint session of our Congress. Many of us here at the State Department were encouraged by the President's acknowledgement in the State of the Union that "few Americans give more to their country than our diplomats and the men and women of the United States armed forces." And we were heartened by the extended applause this statement received.
The President continued, emphasizing that in a world of complex threats, America’s security depends on all elements of our power, including a “strong, principled diplomacy.” In the State of the Union address, the President outlined a number of areas in which our diplomacy is actively tackling complex challenges. Today, American diplomacy:
- has rallied more than 50 countries to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands, and allowed us to reduce our own reliance on Cold War stockpiles.
- backed by the threat of force, is why Syria's chemical weapons are being eliminated.
- backed by pressure, has halted the progress of Iran's nuclear program -- and rolled back parts of that program -- for the very first time in a decade.
- is supporting Israelis and Palestinians as they engage in the difficult but necessary talks to end the conflict there; to achieve dignity and an independent state for Palestinians, and lasting peace and security for the state of Israel -- a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side.
But, as the President said, American leadership in the world is defined not just by our defense against threats, but "by the enormous opportunities to do good and promote understanding around the globe, to forge greater cooperation, to expand new markets, to free people from fear and want."
American diplomacy is doing just that, too. We recognize that our alliance with Europe remains the strongest the world has ever known. We are building new ties of commerce and expanding educational and cultural exchanges in the Americas, and bringing together businesses and governments to double electricity and end extreme poverty in Africa. And we are continuing to focus on the Asia-Pacific to shape a future of greater security and prosperity.
In the State of the Union, the President also said that the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on Earth. Much of that success depends on a strong and principled diplomacy that includes opening markets, promoting global health, protecting the environment, and strengthening democracy.
Every day, the men and women of the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) are working to address the complex threats facing our country and seize the opportunities to "do good and promote understanding." I am proud and honored to be a part of this institution and help communicate the work of American diplomacy.
About the Author: Doug Frantz serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs.
For more information:
- Engage on social media. Tell us what you thought of the State of the Union, and share the President’s message about diplomacy with our graphics on Facebook, Google+, and Tumblr.
- Watch a Press Briefing on U.S. Foreign Policy Priorities. Ben Rhodes, Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, spoke to foreign journalists about U.S. foreign policy priorities for 2014. You can watch his briefing here.
- Join the President’s Hangout Road Trip. Everyone is invited to tune-in for the first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip on Friday, January 31. You can watch it all live on the White House YouTube page, Google+ and on WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.