Gayblack Canadian Man

Foreign Policy Analysis
Diplomatic Corps Holiday Reception

Diplomatic Corps Holiday Reception


(applause) The President:
Thank you. (applause) Well, good evening, everyone. It is wonderful
to see all of you. I want to publicly thank
Deputy Secretary Bill Burns. For those of you who don’t know,
Bill is only the second career diplomat in American history
to rise to the level of Deputy Secretary. (cheering applause) It is a tribute to Bill’s
extraordinary skills. I first met him when
I was a new senator, and I traveled to Moscow. And he was then the
ambassador in Moscow, and he immediately impressed me. One of these guys who
doesn’t speak loud, but actually has
something to say. (laughter) Which is hard to
find in Washington. (laughter) In Washington you have a lot of
folks who speak loud and have nothing to say. (laughter) And so we’re thrilled obviously
with the work that he has done, but Bill I think is
representative of our incredible Foreign Service officers. So thanks not only to Bill, but
to all the outstanding State Department personnel who
are working every day, often at great risk, to advance
our interests and our ideals around the world. Had Secretary Clinton
been able to join us, I was going to congratulate her
on her record-breaking travels, visiting 112 nations, just about
every one of the countries that are represented
here this evening — more than 400 travel days;
nearly 1 million miles. These are not
frequent flyer miles. (laughter) She does not get discounts. I suspect she’s not going to
be flying commercial that much after she leaves the
State Department. But she is tireless
and extraordinary. I spoke with her this past week. We can’t wait to have her back. And I know that all of you join
me in sending her wishes for a speedy recovery. Now, we get together like this
every year or so around the holidays — either here
or at the White House. It’s a chance for me to
express my appreciation for the cooperation and partnership
between our countries. That includes the hospitality
that you and your fellow citizens show every single
day to our diplomats and their families — Americans who
are serving far from home. But tonight, I also want to
thank you for something else. This obviously continues to
be a very difficult week here in America. We’re still grieving and reeling
from unspeakable violence that took place in Newtown. I was up there on Sunday. I told the families there
that they are not alone; that our entire nation
stands with them. But over the past few days what
we’ve also seen is that the entire world stands with them;
and so many of your countries, your citizens, your leaders
have sent messages to them. And I know they are grateful
and certainly I am grateful. At our embassies and consulates,
people are placing flowers and leaving notes. We’ve seen candlelight vigils,
and makeshift memorials — including a beach in Brazil
marked by 26 crosses and a bright American flag. Across the globe, people
are going online and posting messages and sending emails
and texts of support. I think of the woman, a
teacher in Lithuania, who said, “I send all my love and
prayers to the families. It’s all I can do
from so far away, but my heart is now in Newtown.” So this evening, I want you and
your fellow citizens back home to know how much this
has meant to all of us — to the good people
of Newtown, to me, and to the American people. You’ve stood with us, just as
we’ve stood with you in similar moments whether it’s
been a Scottish village, an Australian town, most
recently the terrible tragedy at a youth camp in Norway. Whether it’s a
tsunami that strikes, or an earthquake that
levels communities, or when a young girl is
targeted and nearly killed, just for wanting
to go to school, we’re reminded that terrible
things happen in this world, but there are more people
of goodwill than people of ill will. And that if we can just
remind ourselves of our common humanity, perhaps we
can make progress. These are moments that pierce
through all the noise of our daily lives. And they speak to a larger
truth that permeates our work together. You turn on the TV,
you open the newspaper, and every day it seems we’re
bombarded with images of tension and conflict and
division and differences. And that sometimes seems to
validate those who believe that civilizations are
destined to clash. But when you think
about the last few days, you’re reminded that there’s a
fundamental human response that transcends cultures
and transcends borders. And that’s what is
represented in this room. You look around the room and we
reflect this vast tapestry of human experience — people
from every continent and every culture; North, South, East and
West; from all the great faiths, every creed and
color; men and women. And we’re reminded that whatever
differences on the surface, deep down we’re bound
by a certain set of basic aspirations. We want our children to be
safe and free from fear. We want people to live in
dignity and prosperity, free from want. We want people to be free
to think for themselves, and speak their minds
and pray as they choose. We want them to surpass or do a
little bit better than we did. That’s what we want
for our children. That’s why we’re here — to
serve them to do everything in our power to leave our children,
and the next generation a better, safer world. And that’s why, over
the past four years, we’ve worked together,
wherever we can, with your nations in a
new era of engagement, based on mutual interest
and mutual respect. Strengthening alliances. Forging new partnerships. Confronting the spread
of nuclear weapons. Promoting open government,
global health and food security, and fighting human trafficking. Ending one war in Iraq. Winding down another
war in Afghanistan. Going after terrorist networks
that threaten all of our people. Standing up for
self-determination and freedom — from South Sudan to
the Arab Spring to Burma. (applause) At the same time, we’re mindful
that we’ve got so much more work to do together. There still are wars to end. There are still democratic
transitions to sustain. Violent extremism remains out
there and has to be confronted and deadly weapons still
have to be contained. We have to work to ease tensions
between nations and uphold human rights. There are still political
prisoners that need to be freed and children that deserve
a better education. And all of us have to be
concerned about a changing climate that could have a
profound impact on every single country here. This must be our work. And I’m here to say tonight that
this spirit of partnership with your nations that defined my
first term will remain a core principle of my second term. That’s my commitment. That is America’s commitment. And that, I think, is one of
the ways we can honor all these beautiful children and
incredible teachers who were lost this past Friday — by
building a future that is equal to their dreams, and delivers
on the dreams of children all around the world just like them. So as we gather this holiday
season and look ahead to the New Year, I’d leave you with
a simple message, a wish: In the face of violence,
let’s seek peace. In the face of injustice,
let’s strive for dignity. In the face of oppression,
let’s stand for liberty. And in the face of
suspicion and mistrust, let’s build the empathy
and understanding. Let’s understand that we
need to live together — as nations and as peoples
and as brothers and sisters, as children of a loving God. I hope all of you have a
wonderful holiday season and I look forward to seeing
you in the New Year. God bless you. God bless America. (applause)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *