Thank you. Thank you very, verymuch. Thank you. Good morning. Thank you for anextraordinarily warm welcome,Charlottesville. I am really honored to be here.
Senator Tim Kaine, thank youvery, very much for your generous words of introduction.Tim, as he mentioned,has only been on the Foreign Relations Committee, I guess now for atotal of afew weeks, but I can, based on his testimony a moment ago, positively commendhimon his voting record. (Laughter and applause.) He’s really – he’s foundhimself new jobsecurity too, because here in Virginia you have a single-termgovernor for four years, so he hastraded one single four-year term for asix-year term with potential extension. (Laughter.) Sogiven the fact that Itraded the several extensions for a four-year term and then I’m finished,maybehe knows something and I ought to be listening to him. (Laughter.) I could learna thingor two from him.
We didn’t overlap for long, but Iwant to tell everybody here that we know each other prettywell from service asa Lieutenant Governor and when he was Governor of the state. I wasLieutenantGovernor of my state, so we have that in common before being senators.
I’ll tell you a quick story. AndI don’t know what you do in Virginia as Lieutenant Governor,but inMassachusetts, once upon a time Calvin Coolidge was Lieutenant Governor. And hewas ata dinner party, and his dinner partner turned to him and said, “What doyou do?” And he said, “Well, I’m Calvin Coolidge. I’m Lieutenant Governor ofMassachusetts.” And she said, “Oh wow,that must be really interesting. Tell meall about the job.” And he said, “I just did.” (Laughter.)So I trust, becausethey embraced you and me, we made something more out of it.
But I have huge admiration forthe path that Tim Kaine has followed. I know his sense ofwhat America means tothe world was forged in the early days that Congressman Hurt referredto abouthis missionary work, the Catholic missionary working in Honduras, just helpingotherpeople to live healthier lives. And I know, because two weeks after theelection, Tim called meand he asked if he could serve on the Foreign RelationsCommittee. Well, in the Senate, I willtell you, you don’t always get thosecalls. People who step forward and volunteer in that way ona committee thatdoesn’t have the opportunity to bring bacon back home and perhaps deliverit aseasy a reelection. So I know that in Tim Kaine, Virginia has a senator who’sgoing to makehis mark on that committee, and he’s going to make the mark foryour commonwealth and ourcountry, and we’re grateful for your service, Tim.Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
I also am particularly gratefulfor Congressman Robert Hurt being here today. I have leftpartisan politics andit’s wonderful for me to be able to welcome people in the complete spiritofnonpartisanship, not just bipartisan, but nonpartisanship. And I’m particularlygrateful to himfor his service in the state legislature, in both houses, nowin the House, and I’m confidentfrom the words you expressed and theconversation we had, you’re going to make yourcontribution too. And I thankyou for your presence here today. (Applause.)
President Sullivan, thank you somuch for welcoming me here to this historic, remarkablecampus. I just feastedon the view as I walked across the lawn with President Sullivan, and Ihave tosay you all are very lucky to go to school here. (Laughter.) It is an honor tojoin you hereon Grounds – (laughter and applause) – this very, very beautifulmonument to the potential ofthe human mind. And I have to tell you, to standhere beneath the gaze of the sages of Athens,those thinkers who gave us theidea of democracy, which we obviously still continue to perfect,not only inour own nation but around the world, we are grateful for that.
I will tell you also, I was herea long time ago as an undergraduate. I played lacrosse downon that field overthere against you guys, and my first act of diplomacy is literally to forgetwhowon. I have no idea. I don’t know. (Laughter.)
I want to thank the folks inuniform. I want to thank the ROTC and all those of you who haveserved and willcontinue to serve in some way for our nation. There is no greater declarationofcitizenship than that, and I happen to believe the word “citizen” is one ofthe most important inthe American lexicon.
Some might ask why I’m standinghere at the University of Virginia, why am I starting here?A Secretary ofState making his first speech in the United States? You might ask, “Doesn’tdiplomacy happen over there, overseas, far beyond the boundaries of ourownbackyards?”
So why is it that I am at thefoot of the Blue Ridge instead of on the shores of the BlackSea? Why am I inOld Cabell Hall and not Kabul, Afghanistan? (Laughter.)
The reason is very simple. I camehere purposefully to underscore that in today’s globalworld, there is nolonger anything foreign about foreign policy. More than ever before,thedecisions that we make from the safety of our shores don’t just ripple outward;they alsocreate a current right here in America. How we conduct our foreignpolicy matters more thanever before to our everyday lives, to theopportunities of all those students I met standingoutside, whatever year theyare here, thinking about the future. It’s important not just in termsof thethreats that we face, but the products that we buy, the goods that we sell, andtheopportunity that we provide for economic growth and vitality. It’s not justabout whether we’llbe compelled to send our troops to another battle, butwhether we’ll be able to send ourgraduates into a thriving workforce. That’swhy I’m here today.
I’m here because our lives asAmericans are more intertwined than ever before with the livesof people inparts of the world that we may have never visited. In the global challengesofdiplomacy, development, economic security, environmental security, you willfeel our successor failure just as strongly as those people in those othercountries that you’ll never meet. For allthat we have gained in the 21stcentury, we have lost the luxury of just looking inward.Instead, we look outand we see a new field of competitors. I think it gives us much reason tohope.But it also gives us many more rivals determined to create jobs andopportunities fortheir own people, a voracious marketplace that sometimesforgets morality and values.
I know that some of you and manyacross the country wish that globalization would just goaway, or you wistfullyremember easier times. But, my friends, no politician, no matter howpowerful,can put this genie back in the bottle. So our challenge is to tame the worstimpulsesof globalization even as we harness its ability to spread informationand possibility, to offereven the most remote place on Earth the same choicesthat have made us strong and free.
So before I leave this weekend tolisten to our allies and partners next week throughoutEurope and the MiddleEast, and in the coming months across Asia, Africa, and the Americas, Iwantedto first talk with you about the challenge that we face here at home, becauseourengagement with the rest of the world begins by making some important choicestogether, andparticularly about our nation’s budget. Our sense of sharedresponsibility, that we care aboutsomething bigger than ourselves, isabsolutely central to the spirit of this school. It’s also centralto thespirit of our nation.
As you well know, and Dr.Sullivan reminded you a moment ago, our first Secretary of Statefounded thisgreat university. Students of his day, when he did, could basically only studylaw ormedicine or religion. That was about it. But Thomas Jefferson had avision, and he believed thatthe American people needed a public place to learna diversity of disciplines – studies of scienceand space, of flora, fauna, andphilosophy. He built this university in the image of what he called“theillimitable freedom of the human mind.”
Today, those of you who studyhere and who teach here, along with the taxpayers,contributors, and parentswho believe in your potential, you are all investing in Mr. Jefferson’svision.Now think for a moment about what that means. Why do you spend the many daysandthe borrowed dollars it takes to earn an education here, or anywhere? Whydid Jefferson wantthis institution to remain public and accessible, not justto Virginians but as a destinationfrom everywhere? I know that he wasn’t thinkingjust about your getting a degree and a job. Itwas about something more.Jefferson believed we couldn’t be a strong country without investingin thekind of education that empowers us to be good citizens. That’s why foundingthisuniversity is among the few accomplishments that Jefferson listed on hisepitaph that he wrotefor himself. To him, this place and its goal was a biggerpart of his legacy than serving asSecretary of State or even as President,neither of which made the cut.
Just as Jefferson understood thatwe need to invest in education in order to produce goodcitizens, I joinPresident Obama today in asserting with urgency that our citizenry deservesastrong foreign policy to protect our interests in the world. A wise investmentin foreign policycan yield for a nation the same return that education doesfor a student. And no investmentthat we make that is as small as thisinvestment puts forward such a sizeable benefit forourselves and for ourfellow citizens of the world. That’s why I wanted to have thisconversationwith you today, which I hope is a conversation that extends well beyondtheborders of Charlottesville, well beyond this university, to all Americans.
When I talk about a smallinvestment in foreign policy in the United States, I mean it. Notso long ago,someone polled the American people and asked, “How big is our internationalaffairsbudget?” Most pegged it at 25 percent of our national budget, and theythought it ought to bepared way back to ten percent of our national budget.Let me tell you, would that that weretrue. I’d take ten percent in aheartbeat, folks – (laughter) – because ten percent is exactly tentimesgreater than what we do invest in our efforts to protect America around theworld.
In fact, our whole foreign policybudget is just over one percent of our national budget.Think about it a littlebit. Over one percent, a little bit more, funds all of our civilian andforeignaffairs efforts – every embassy, every program that saves a child from dirtydrinkingwater, or from AIDS, or reaches out to build a village, and bringAmerica’s values, every person.We’re not talking about pennies on the dollar;we’re talking about one penny plus a bit, on asingle dollar.
So where you think this ideacomes from, that we spend 25 percent of our budget? Well, I’lltell you. It’spretty simple. As a recovering politician – (laughter) – I can tell you thatnothinggets a crowd clapping faster in a lot of places than saying, “I’m goingto Washington to get themto stop spending all that money over there.” Andsometimes they get a lot more specific.
If you’re looking for an applauseline, that’s about as guaranteed an applause line as youcan get. But guesswhat? It does nothing to guarantee our security. It doesn’t guaranteeastronger country. It doesn’t guarantee a sounder economy or a more stable jobmarket. Itdoesn’t guarantee that the best interests of our nation are beingserved. It doesn’t guaranteethat another young American man or woman won’t goand lose their life because we weren’twilling to make the right investmentshere in the first place.
We need to say no to the politicsof the lowest common denominator and of simplisticslogans, and start makingreal choices that protect the interests of our country. That’simperative.(Applause.)
Unfrtunately, the StateDepartment doesn’t have our own Grover Norquist pushing a pledgeto protect it.We don’t have millions of AARP seniors who send in their dues and rally toprotectAmerica’s investments overseas. The kids whose lives we’re helping savefrom AIDS, the womenwe’re helping to free from the horrors of sex trafficking,the students who, for the first time, canchoose to walk into a school insteadof into a short life of terrorism – their strongest lobbyists arethe rare,committed Americans who stand up for them and for the resources that we needtohelp them. And I hope that includes all of you here and many listening.
You understand why. Every timethat a tough fiscal choice looms, the easiest place topoint fingers – foreignaid. As Ronald Reagan said, foreign aid suffers from a lack ofdomesticconstituency, and that’s part of the reason that everyone thinks it costs a lotmore thanit really does. So we need to change that. I reject the excuse thatAmericans just aren’tinterested in what’s happening outside of their immediatefield of vision. I don’t believe thatabout any one of you sitting here, and Idon’t believe that about Americans.
In fact, the real domesticconstituency for what we do, if people can see the dots connectedandunderstand what we’re doing in its full measure, is really large. It’s the 314millionAmericans whose lives are better every day because of what we do, andwho, deep down, whenthey have time to stop and think about it, know that ourinvestment abroad actually makesthem and our nation safer.
Now, my friends, in this age,when a shrinking world clashes with calls for shrinking budgets– and we’re notalone – it’s our job to connect those dots, to connect them for theAmericanpeople between what we do over there and the size of the difference that itmakes overhere at home, why the price of abandoning our global efforts wouldbe exorbitant, and whythe vacuum we would leave by retreating within ourselveswill quickly be filled by those whoseinterests differ dramatically from ours.
We learned that lesson in thedeserts of Mali recently, in the mountains of Afghanistan in2019, and in thetribal areas of Pakistan even today. Just think: Today’s first-years here atUVAwere starting the second grade when a small cabal of terrorists halfwayaround the worldshattered our sense of security and our stability, ourskylines. So I know that you certainlyhave always understood that bad thingshappening over there threaten us right here.
Knowing that, the question isthis: How do we, together, make clear that the opposite is justas true; thatif we do the right things, the good things, the smart things over there, itwillstrengthen us here at home?
Let me tell you my answer: Ibelieve we do this in two ways. First, it’s about telling the storyof how westand up for American jobs and businesses – pretty practical, prettystraightforward,and pretty real on a day-to-day basis. And second, it’s abouthow we stand up for our Americanvalues, something that has alwaysdistinguished America.
I agree with President Obama thatthere is nothing in this current budget fight thatrequires us to make baddecisions, that forces us to retrench or to retreat. This is a time tocontinueto engage for the sake of the safety and the economic health of our country.This is notoptional. It is a necessity. The American people understand this, Ibelieve. Our businessesunderstand this. It’s simple. The more they sellabroad, the more they’re going to hire here athome. And since 95 percent ofthe world’s customers live outside of our country, we can’thamstring our ownability to compete in those increasingly growing markets.
Virginia understands this as wellas any state in the union. Senator Kaine, I know, when agovernor, took thosetrips to try to make this happen. International trade supports more thanamillion jobs right here in Virginia – more than one in five jobs in Virginia,which actually todayis the story of America.
You have a company up near Dullescalled Orbital Sciences Corporation. With the help of thepersistent advocatesof our Embassy in Bangkok, it beat out French and Russian competitors tobuildThailand’s newest broadcast satellite. Virginia’s Orbital is now teaming upwith a Californiacompany called Space Exploration Technologies that makessatellite equipment. The deal thatour Embassy helped secure, valued at $160million, goes right back into American communitiesfrom coast to coast. That’sthe difference that our embassies abroad actually can make back hereat home.
And these success stories happenin partnership with countries all over the world because ofthe resources thatwe’ve deployed to bring business and jobs back to America. Theseinvestments,my friends, are paying for themselves. We create more than 5,000 jobs foreverybillion dollars of goods and services that we export. So the last thing that weshould do issurrender this kind of leverage.
These successes are happening inCanada, where State Department officers there got a localautomotive firm toinvest tens of millions of dollars in Michigan, where the Americanautoindustry is now making a remarkable comeback.
In Indonesia where, thanks toEmbassy Jakarta, that nation’s largest privately run airlinejust placed anorder for commercial aircraft, the largest order Boeing has ever been askedtofill. Meanwhile, the Indonesian state railroad is buying its locomotives fromGeneral Electric.
In South Africa, where more than600 U.S. companies are doing business, and where OPIC,the Overseas PrivateInvestment Corporation, and the Export-Import Bank, and the TradeandDevelopment Agency just opened an office to help close more investment dealsbetweenAmerican companies and Africa’s booming energy and transportationsectors, it’s also a two-waystreet. A major South African energy company isplanning to build a multibillion-dollar plant inLouisiana that will put moreAmericans to work.
Let me tell you, this ishappening, in Cameroon and Bosnia and other surprising places. Inthe shadowsof World War II, if you told someone that Japan and Germany would today beourfourth- and fifth-largest trading partners, someone would have thought you werecrazy.Before Nixon’s bold opening with China, no one could have imagined thattoday it would be oursecond-largest trading partner, but that’s exactly what’shappened.
Eleven of our top 15 tradingpartners used to be the beneficiaries of U.S. foreignassistance. That’sbecause our goal isn’t to keep a nation dependent on us forever. It’spreciselyto create these markets, to open these opportunities, to establish rule of law.Our goalis to use assistance and development to help nations realize their ownpotential, develop theirown ability to govern and become our economic partners.
One of America’s most incrediblerealities continues to be that we are a country without anypermanent enemies.Now, take Vietnam. I will never forget standing next to John McCain in theEastRoom of the White House, each of us on either side of President Clinton as heannounced theonce unthinkable normalization of our relations with Vietnam, aneffort that John McCain andI worked on for about ten years, try to bringabout.
In the last decade, thanks inlarge part to the work of USAID, our exports to Vietnamincreased by more than700 percent. Every one of those percentage points are jobs here inAmerica. Andin the last two decades, a thousand Vietnamese students and scholars havestudiedand taught in America through the Fulbright program, including theForeign Minister ofVietnam, who I just talked to the other day and who,believe me, has feelings about Americabecause of that engagement.
The list goes on. As the emergingmiddle class in India, the world’s largest democracy,buys our products, thatmeans jobs and income for our own middle class. As our traditionalassistanceto Brazil decreases, trade there is increasing. Brazil is one of the new tigersgrowing ata double-digit pace, and it supports additional jobs here at home,many in the U.S. travel andtourism industry.
When Jefferson expanded ourconsular posts precisely to promote trade, he never couldhave imagined theimportance today. Nor could he have predicted the number of Americansabroadthat we help with their passports, with visas, with other problems that arise.Or that wehelp offer, to those who want to grow their families throughadoption, or who find themselves inlegal trouble or distress far from home. Orthe role our diplomats play, screening potentialsecurity threats and takingthem off the radar screen before they ever reach yourconsciousness,potentially in the worst ways. Or that we create a new American job forevery65 visitors that we help to bring to our shores.
So, my friends, we have to keepgoing. We can’t afford the kind of delay and disruption thatstands on thehorizon in Washington. The exciting new trade negotiation that PresidentObamaannounced last week between the United States and the European Union willcreate theworld’s biggest bilateral deal when it comes to fruition, atransatlantic partnership that willmatch the scope and ambition of ourTrans-Pacific Partnership talks.
But our work is far from over.Seven of the ten fastest growing countries are on the Africancontinent. AndChina, understanding that, is already investing more than we do there. Fourofthe five biggest oil and natural gas discoveries happened off the coast ofMozambique last yearalone. Developing economies are the epicenters of growth,and they are open for business, andthe United States needs to be at thattable.
If we want a new list ofassistance graduates, countries that used to take our aid but nowbuy ourexports, we can’t afford to pull back. And if we’re going to seize this budgetcrisis as thegreat opportunity that it can be, we can’t shy away from tellingthis story to the Americanpeople, to your members of Congress, and to theworld.
But let me emphasize: Jobs andtrade are not the whole story, and nor should they be. Thegood work of theState Department, of USAID, is measured not only in the value of thedollar,but it’s also measured in our deepest values. We value security and stabilityin otherparts of the world, knowing that failed states are among our greatestsecurity threats, and newpartners are our greatest assets.
The investments that we makesupport our efforts to counter terrorism and violentextremism wherever itflourishes. And we will continue to help countries provide their ownsecurity,use diplomacy where possible, and support those allies who take the fighttoterrorists.
And remember – boy, I can’temphasize this enough; I’m looking at a soldier here in front ofme with aribbon on his chest – deploying diplomats today is much cheaper thandeployingtroops tomorrow. We need to remember that. (Applause.) As Senator LindseyGrahamsaid, “It’s national security insurance that we’re buying.”
Now,it sounds expensive, myfriends, but simple bottom line, it’s not. The StateDepartment’s conflictstabilization budget is about $60 million a year now. That’s how much themovie“The Avengers” took in on a single Sunday last May. (Laughter.) The differenceis the folksthat we have on the ground doing this job are actually realsuperheroes.
We value human rights, and weneed to tell the story of America’s good work there, too. Weknow that the mosteffective way to promote the universal rights of all people, rightsandreligious freedom, is not from the podium, not from either end of PennsylvaniaAvenue. It’sfrom the front lines – wherever freedom and basic human dignityare denied. And that’s whatTim Kaine understood when he went to Honduras.
The brave employees of State andUSAID – and the Diplomatic Security personnel whoprotect the civilians servingus overseas – work in some of the most dangerous places on Earth,and they doit fully cognizant that we share stronger partnerships with countries thatshare ourcommitment to democratic values and human rights. They fightcorruption in Nigeria. Theysupport the rule of law in Burma. They support democraticinstitutions in Kyrgyzstan andGeorgia, mindful from our own experience that ittakes a long time to get democracy right, andthat it rarely happens rightaway.
In the end, all of those efforts,all of that danger and risk that they take, makes us moresecure. And we dovalue democracy, just as you’ve demonstrated here at UVA throughthePresidential Precinct program that’s training leaders in emerging democracies.
Thanks to a decade of intensivediplomatic efforts alongside our partners, a conflict thattook more than 2million lives – and people think about the Holocaust, 6 million over thecourseof World War II, we lost 2 million people in the longest war in Africa in ourtime in the lastyears. And of that South Sudan was born a free nation. Securingits future and peace for all ofits citizens is going to take continueddiplomatic efforts alongside partners like the African Union.And the more wecan develop the capacity of the African Union, the less the United Stateswillhave to worry.
I’ve stood in South Sudan. I’veseen those challenges firsthand, and they still face theworld’s newest countryand its government. Those challenges threaten to reverse hard-wonprogress andstability. And that’s why we’re working closely with that nation to help itprovide itsown citizens with essential services like water, health, andeducation and agriculture practices.
We value health and nutrition,and the principle of helping people gain strength to helpthemselves. Throughcornerstone initiatives like Feed the Future, we help countries not onlyplantand harvest better food, but we also help them break the cycle of poverty, ofpoornutrition, and of hunger.
We seek to reduce maternalmortality, eradicate polio, and protect people from malaria,tuberculosis, andpandemic influenza. And I will tell you proudly that through the GlobalHealthInitiative and programs that I was proud to have a hand in helping to create,like PEPFAR,we have saved the lives of 5 million people in Africa through theefforts of Americans. Today… (Applause.) And today – today astonishingly – weare standing on the edge of the potential ofan AIDS-free generation, becausewe know these diseases don’t discriminate by nationality,and we believe thatrelieving preventable suffering doesn’t need a justification. And Ithinkthat’s part of our values.
We value gender equality, knowingthat countries are, in fact, more peaceful andprosperous when women and girlsare afforded full rights and equal opportunity. (Applause.) Inthe last decade,the proportion of African* women enrolled in higher education went fromnearlyzero to 20 percent. In 2019, there were fewer than a million boys in Afghanschools andbarely any girls. Now, with America’s help, more than a third ofthe almost 8 million studentsgoing to school in Afghanistan are girls. Andmore than a quarter of their representatives inparliament are women. We shouldbe proud of that, and that helps to make a difference for thelong haul.
We value education, promotingprograms like the Fulbright exchanges managed by theDepartment of State. Theyenable the most talented citizens to share their devotion todiplomacy andpeace, their hopes, their friendships, and the belief that all of the Earth’ssonsand daughters ought to have the opportunity to lift themselves up. Todaythese exchangesbring hundreds of thousands of students to America from othercountries, and vice versa. In thelast year alone, more than 10,000 citizens offoreign countries participated in the StateDepartment’s academic, youth,professional and cultural exchange programs right here inVirginia. Virginiansalso studied abroad through State Department programs. Senator Fulbright,atwhose hearings I had the privilege of testifying as a young veteran returning fromVietnam,he knew that the value of sharing our proudest values bore fruit inthe long run, in the future.He said, “Having people who understand yourthought,” he said, “is much greater securitythan another submarine.”
Let me be very clear. Foreign assistanceis not a giveaway. It’s not charity. It is aninvestment in a strong Americaand in a free world. Foreign assistance lifts other people up andthenreinforces their willingness to link arms with us in common endeavors. And whenwe helpothers crack down on corruption, that makes it easier for our owncompliance againstcorruption, and it makes it easier for our companies to dobusiness as well.
When we join with other nationsto reduce the nuclear threat, we build partnerships thatmean we don’t have tofight those battles alone. This includes working with our partners aroundtheworld in making sure that Iran never obtains a weapon that would endanger ourallies andour interests. When we help others create the space that they needto build stability in theirown communities, we’re actually helping bravepeople build a better, more democratic future,and making sure that we don’tpay more later in American blood and treasure.
The stories that we need to tell,of standing up for American jobs and businesses andstanding up for ourAmerican values, intersect powerfully in the opportunity that we have nowinthis moment of urgency to lead on the climate concerns that we share with ourglobalneighbors. We as a nation must have the foresight and the courage tomake the investmentsnecessary to safeguard the most sacred trust we keep forour children and our grandchildren,and that is an environment not ravaged byrising seas, deadly superstorms, devastatingdroughts, and the other hallmarksof a dramatically changing climate. President Obama iscommitted to movingforward on that, and so am I, and so must you be ready to join us inthateffort. (Applause.)
Can we all say thank you to oursigners who are here? (Applause.)
So think about all these things thatI’ve listed. Think about the world as you see it today.Let’s face it: We areall in this one together. No nation can stand alone. We share nothingsocompletely as our planet. When we work with others, large and small, to developand deploythe clean technologies that will power a new world – and they’rethere waiting for us, $6 trillionmarket, huge amount of jobs – when we dothat, we know we’re helping create the new marketsand new opportunities forAmerica’s second-to-none innovators and entrepreneurs so that wecan succeed inthe next great revolution in our marketplace. We need to commit ourselvestodoing the smart thing and the right thing and to truly take on this challenge,because if wedon’t rise to meet it, then rising temperatures and rising sealevels will surely lead to rising costsdown the road. Ask any insurancecompany in America. If we waste this opportunity, it may bethe only thing ourgeneration – generations – are remembered for. We need to find the couragetoleave a far different legacy.
We cannot talk about theunprecedented changes happening on our planet, moreover,without also talkingabout the unprecedented changes in its population, another greatopportunity atour fingertips. In countries across North Africa and the Middle East, themajorityof people are younger than 30 years old – 60 percent under 30, 50percent under 21, 40 percentunder 18, about half of the total under 20. Andyou know what? They seek the sameopportunities and the same things that youdo: opportunity. We have an interest in helpingthese young people to developthe skills that they need to defeat the mass unemploymentthat is overwhelmingtheir societies so that they can in fact start contributing totheircommunities and rebuild their broken economies rather than engaging in someotherterrorist or other kind of extremist activity. For the first time inhuman history, young peoplearound the world act as a global cohort, includingmany of the people in this room. They’remore open-minded. They’re moreproficient with the technology that keeps them connected in away that nogeneration in history has ever been before. We need to help all of them, andus, touse this remarkable network in a positive way.
Now, some may say not now, notwhile we have our budget; it’s too expensive. Well, believeme, my friends,these challenges will not get easier with time. There is no pause button onthefuture. We cannot choose when we would like to stop and restart our globalresponsibility orsimply wait until the calendar says it’s more convenient.It’s not easy, but responding is theAmerican thing to do. And I’ll tell you,it’s worth it.
Our relatively small investmentin these programs – programs which advance peace,security, and stabilityaround the world, which help American companies compete abroad,which createjobs here at home by opening new markets to American goods, whichsupportAmerican citizens abroad, help them when they need it the most, which fosterstablesocieties and save lives by fighting disease and hunger, which defendthe universal rights of allpeople and advance freedom and dignity anddevelopment around the world, which bringpeople together and nations together,and forge partnerships to address problems thattranscend the separation of oceansand borders on land, which protect our planet for ourchildren and theirchildren, and which give hope to a new generation of interconnectedworldcitizens – our investment in all of those things cost us, as I just mentioned,about onepenny of every dollar we invest. America, you will not find a betterdeal anywhere.
Now, I’m particularly aware thatin many ways, the greatest challenge to America’s foreignpolicy today is inthe hands not of diplomats, but of policymakers in Congress. It is oftensaidthat we cannot be strong at home if we’re not strong in the world, but in thesedays of alooming budget sequester that everyone actually wants to avoid – ormost – we can’t bestrong in the world unless we are strong at home. Mycredibility as a diplomat working to helpother countries create order isstrongest when America, at last, puts its own fiscal house inorder, and thathas to be now. (Applause.)
Think about it. It’s hard to tellthe leadership of any number of countries that they have toresolve theireconomic issues if we don’t resolve our own. Let’s reach a responsibleagreementthat prevents these senseless cuts. Let’s not lose this opportunitybecause of politics.
As I’ve said many times before,America is not exceptional simply because we say we are.We are exceptionalbecause we do exceptional things, both where there are problems as wellaswhere there is promise, both where there is danger as well as where there isdemocracy. I amoptimistic that we will continue to do these exceptionalthings. I know we have the capacity. Iknow that’s who we are, and it’s whowe’ve always been.
As we ask where our next stepsshould fall on this path, we would do well to learn a lessonfrom our ownhistory. In the aftermath of World War II and its great toll, America had thechoice,just like we do today, to turn inward. Instead, Secretary of StateGeorge Marshall saw in bothdefeated and allied nations the threat ofbankruptcy, homes and railways destroyed, people whowere starving, economiesdecimated.
He had the foresight to know thatthere could be no political stability and no peacewithout renewed economicstrength. He knew we had an obligation to partner with Europe,help it rebuild,modernize it, and give it the push that it needed to become the powerfulandpeaceful trading partner it is today. After the war, my friends, we didn’tspike the football;we created a more level playing field, and we are strongerfor it today.
When I was 12 years old, I hadthe privilege of living in Berlin, Germany, where my father,a Foreign Serviceofficer, was called to duty. And one day, I visited the eastern side of Berlin,thepart that hadn’t received any of the help from the United States and itscourageous MarshallPlan.
The difference was undeniable,even to my 12-year-old eyes. There were few people on thestreets, few smileson the faces of those who were there. I saw the difference between hopeanddespair, freedom and oppression, people who were given a chance to do somethingandpeople who weren’t. If the recovering western half of urope was regainingits vibrant color, theplace that I visited was still in black and white.
When I went back to West Berlin,two things happened. First, I was summarily groundedfor having venturedwithout permission to the other side of the city. (Laughter.) And second,Istarted to pay special attention to the plaques on the buildings thatrecognized the UnitedStates of America for lending a hand in the rebuilding.And I was proud.
The Marshall Plan, the IMF, theWorld Bank, and other postwar organizations led by theUnited States areevidence of our ability to make the right decisions at the right time,takingrisks today in the interest of tomorrow.
Now we face a similar crossroads.We can be complacent, or we can be competitive. Asnew markets bloom in everycorner of the globe – and they will, with or without us – we can bethere tohelp plant the seeds, or we can cede that power to others.
Given the chance to lead a secondgreat American century, let’s not just look to the globallandscape around ustoday; let’s look to the one ahead of us, look over the horizon, look tothedays to come 15 and 50 years from now, and marshal the courage that defined theMarshallPlan so that we might secure a new future of freedom.
Let’s remember that theprinciples of Jefferson’s time, in a nation that was just getting usedto itsindependence, still echo in our own time, in a world that’s still getting usedto ourinterdependence. America’s national interest in leading strongly stillendures in this world.
So let me leave you with athought. When tragedy and terror visit our neighbors around theglobe, whetherby the hand of man or by the hand of God, many nations give of themselvestohelp. But only one is expected to.
With the leadership of PresidentObama and the cooperation I will work hard to securefrom the Congress, we willcontinue to lead as the indispensable nation, not because we seekthis role,but because the world needs us to fill it. Not as a choice, but as a charge.Not becausewe view it as a burden, but because we know it to be a privilege.
That is what is special about theUnited States of America. That is what is special aboutbeing an American. Thatexceptional quality that we share is what I will bring with me on mytravels onyour behalf. But our sense of responsibility cannot be reserved for responsestoemergencies alone. It has to be exercised in the pursuit of preventingdisaster, of strengtheningalliances, of building markets, of promotinguniversal rights, and standing up for our values.
Over the next four years, I askyou to stand with our President and our country to continueto conductourselves with the understanding that what happens over there matters righthere,and it matters that we get this right.
Thank you. (Applause.)