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Remarks at Texas A&M University – The Impact of Diplomacy on Daily Life

Remarks at Texas A&M University – The Impact of Diplomacy on Daily Life


(Applause.) SECRETARY POMPEO: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. (Cheers and applause.) Thank you very much. And thank you, Jerica,
for that kind introduction. Now, as the Secretary of State, we do diplomacy,
which means you have to get the protocol right. So, howdy. AUDIENCE: Howdy. (cheers) SECRETARY POMPEO: It’s great to be in Texas,
one of the greatest countries in the world. (Laughter and applause.) You know — yeah, I just came back from
South America, now Texas, and I’ll return to the United States
in the morning, yes. (Laughter.) You know — seeing you all here reminds me
of a George Patton quote. He said, “Give me an Army of West Point
graduates and I’ll win a battle. But if you give me a handful
of Texas Aggies, I’ll win a war.” (Cheers.) That’s tough to take
from a West Point graduate. (Laughter). Look, I understand that this institution has
sent more of its graduates into the military than any other university other
than our military academies. It’s because you all are tough, you’re
committed, and you want to serve. You should be proud of that,
and I love it. And it’s why I really wanted
to be here today. I want to thank, too – I want to thank the
Wiley family for making this series possible. Like Jessica [Jerica] said, everyone here –
Cadets, Bush school students, anyone looking to give back to America – should consider potentially one day working
for the United States Department of State. Now, I know, I get it, diplomacy doesn’t sound
as thrilling as firing anti-tank weapons, flying F-16s, crawling through mud. There’s no “Top Gun” version
of the State Department. Instead we get “Madame Secretary.” No offense to Tea Leoni,
those of you who are her fans. But there’s a good reason that many former
military officers end up working as diplomats serving our country. It’s because the work that we do is important
for our soldiers, the soldiers need us, and we need them. Neither diplomacy nor the military
can succeed at delivering for presidents
and for our country without the other. And I’m not the first guy
to figure this out. In 1946, President Truman was traveling. President Truman was traveling
with Winston Churchill to Missouri, where Churchill would deliver
his famous “Iron Curtain” speech. He delivered it there at Westminster
at a local college. On the train, Truman showed Churchill
a recent re-design of the presidential seal. The eagle’s head was turned to the right,
so it faced the talons holding olive branches. Now, that represented diplomacy. But rather than having the eagle turn to face
the arrows, which represented war, Churchill pondered for a moment
and he said, “I think the head should be on a swivel,
back and forth.” In other words: Diplomacy and military
strength go hand in hand. They are indeed intimately related. Each relies on the other. I saw this as a young Army captain
way back in the 1980s, when I patrolled that very Iron Curtain
that Churchill spoke about. I had the incredible privilege, along with
my fellow soldiers, we were there to deter the Soviets and indeed prepare
this country for the worst. But ultimately, it wasn’t our tanks
that delivered that victory. It was diplomacy, backed by the credible threat
of force that we had projected. Aggies have a long history in the military. But you also have a long history serving America’s
diplomatic mission at the State Department, and I’d love that to continue. If you join us, if you work, it will make
a difference in the life of every American. Now, I’m going to speak just
for a couple more minutes because I want plenty of time
to take your questions. But before I do, I want to talk briefly
about three aspects of my life, of the State Department’s work. First, it’s an incredible element
of promoting national security. As they did during the Cold War, diplomats
build relationships to ensure that disagreements never boil over into military conflict. Take Jerica, you just heard from,
and her team. They’re talking to Mexican authorities
to alleviate migrant crisis and to secure our border. Her colleagues are confronting the opioid
crisis by encouraging partners to cut off the drug flows, that fentanyl that comes in the
United States and wreaks so much destruction. Just a few months ago, we saw the announcement
that China made that they would do their part to deny fentanyl access to our country. It was State Department’s diplomats
who sealed that deal. And farther from home, State has helped grow
the ranks of the Defeat-ISIS coalition, an enormous victory. We’ve seized back 100 percent of the caliphate,
liberating millions of Syrians. American diplomats were at the center of creating
that coalition and reducing threats to our citizens. Just this morning, I spoke with our ambassador,
who is working to bring peace in Afghanistan. There’s another graduate of this fine institution,
a young lady named Melissa. She is supporting our work there to broker peace
between the Taliban and the Afghan Government. We’re trying to end the longest war in United
States history and save the lives of Afghans and American soldiers alike. Or take a man named Steve Biegun,
a truly remarkable fellow. He’s one of my special reps. He’s working on the North Korea file. His team has gotten an international coalition
together to put the toughest sanctions in history on Chairman Kim Jong-un and his country. But Steve’s work is also important in that
we are keeping the door open, working to achieve a diplomatic outcome where North Korea will
be denuclearized in a way that brings peace to the peninsula. You know — Steve and our team have
gotten enormous results. I was privileged to be in North Korea where
Kim Dong Chul, Kim Hak Song, and Tony Kim were able to climb on an American airplane
and return home from their – to their families from being held hostage in that country,
a remarkable diplomatic achievement. Indeed, I’ll never forget the moment, the very
moment when they met their families on the tarmac. President Trump was there to greet them too, and I was thinking that morning – it was 3:00 a.m. Washington D.C. time – about the amazing work
that our team had done not just that day, but in the weeks
and months before that. Absent that great work,
absent the work of people like you who decided to join
the Department of State, they might well still be held in
the hands of the North Koreans. The second thing we do every day at the State
Department people don’t truly see directly: We make sure that our diplomacy
impacts the American people by strengthening the United States economy. The truth is we have to compete
in a global economy. The United States businesses need access
to markets all across the world. President Trump is determined to open
those markets for our products. That’s certainly true of companies
and businesses here in Texas where exports benefit your economy
to the tune of $260 billion a year. It supports more than 900,000 Texas jobs. And we help. We help by supporting these economic
opportunities through our diplomats. We work to open these markets where
there are some 1,600 economic officers stationed all across the world. We try to take down barriers. We try to make the case
for American companies and why they can deliver true value
to nations all across the world. Indeed, it’s the case that there
is seldom an engagement – I was in South America just
before coming here today. Not a single one of my conversa tions –
not in Chile, not in Peru or Paraguay or in Colombia did we miss the opportunity to make sure they understood that
America was there prepared to help create value for their countries as well. You’ve seen it in the work
we’ve done to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. But you should know it’s more
than just commerce. There’s a strategic element to this too. In Houston last month, I spoke to a group
to talk about how energy impacts each and every one of us, how there is
a national security component to America’s capacity to deliver energy
all around the world. We watch as a pipeline is being built in Europe,
which will tether Germany to Russia in a way that is not good for German security or the
security of the United States of America. The work that’s being done here in Texas
and Kansas and Oklahoma, all of the energy fields and in North Dakota – if done well,
can work with our diplomacy to deliver true security not only to America, but to Europe
as well. And you should know Aggies are also helping
State create a program to transport excess natural gas from right here in Texas to the
Dominican Republic, so it can be sold throughout the Caribbean. We want to make sure the lights are on for
your next spring break. (Laughter.) We’ve got another team, a team that’s
working to warn our friends and partners against buying Chinese 5G technology and build out
their infrastructure with Chinese equipment. These are companies like Huawei, which will
take your private information and transfer it to the Chinese Government. It makes no sense. And American diplomats are at the forefront
of sharing this information with the world. None of us want our privacy, our freedom falling
into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. The final thing before I close: The State
Department helps with our American diplomats promoting and protecting our values – indeed,
our very way of life. The U.S. is the global standard-bearer for
democracy, for freedom, for liberty, and for human rights as well. If we don’t speak up, no one else will. A few months back, the United States made
the decision to leave the United Nations Human Rights Council. We did so because it had become under the
control of authoritarians and dictators, people that didn’t really care about human rights. We made the decision to move our embassy to
Jerusalem, recognizing facts on the ground. And our diplomats are even, as we speak, all
across the world promoting American values and human rights all across the globe. We’re working on various missions, including
making sure that the nature of Chinese Orwellian systems, particularly their clampdown on people
of faith, are impacting us right here at home. I recently had the privilege to meet with
a group of Uighur Muslims that came to my office. They talked about the systemic imprisonment,
they talked about oppression, and even torture happening in parts of China today. This cannot be allowed to stand. We’re exerting maximum pressure to change
the very nature of the Islamic Republic of Iran to make sure that that regime simply
behaves like a normal country and does not spread terror throughout the world. Today as we stand here, Iran is engaged in
conducting an assassination campaign throughout Europe. Our diplomats are working to push back against
them so this will stop. And my most recent trip was part of the effort
that’s being led by the Organization of American States and the Lima Group as we work
to restore human rights and democracy in Venezuela. I know that we will ultimately be successful
and that Mr. Maduro will leave that country. Our diplomats also go on offense to promote
American values, in part simply by building and maintaining a set of relationships that
are centrally important to our country. These deep friendships matter as time moves
on. Jerica mentioned some of the work that she
does with the youth in Ciudad Juarez. That’s a long-term investment in our relationship
with our partners to the south in Mexico. We trust that the young people that she’s
working with will come to understand America, that they will come to understand how much
we care about them. And when it’s their time to lead, they will
become good partners for our great nation. We do something different on a truly national
scale as well with foreign aid. We provide assistance to countries like no
other country in the world. Our goal is often to turn struggling nations
into strong, long-term partners, democratic partners for the United States. And in times of crisis, when we’ve offered
a hand, I can tell you that people like Melissa, the former Aggie stationed there in Afghanistan
today, will benefit from the American aid which we’ve provided to that country. About four years ago Melissa was in a tour
in Nepal when a devastating earthquake hit that country, killing nearly 9,000 people. She said it was one of her proudest moments
as an American diplomat. She watched as the embassy rallied to the
people’s side, allowing those in need to come seek services at our embassy, to shower
and to seek food and shelter at the American embassy. For her next tour, she went to Kabul. And just moments after she landed, another
earthquake. Everyone in the airport thought it was an
explosion, but she knew. She’d been through this before. She next traveled to Mexico City. The year was 2017. You’ll all remember it was one of the most
devastating earthquakes to hit the Mexican – Mexico City in decades. And Melissa saw the great work that the embassy
did to make sure that the people of Mexico City got back on their feet. I made sure that Melissa did not come to visit
with us today. (Laughter.) She will tell you that as a diplomat, there
was nothing more rewarding than watching American excellence, American graciousness, American
resources in power, to meet and help people in times of adversity. This is the life of an American diplomat,
and a noble undertaking, and one of true public service. There is a story. It’s about President Reagan’s secretary
of state, Secretary George Shultz. He understood diplomacy. He would meet with our ambassadors as they
went to the field. He would ask every ambassador who came by
his office just before they went out for their first assignment – he would give them a
pop quiz. He would take them over to the side of his
room, he would point them to a globe, and he would ask them – he would say, “Now
that you’ve been confirmed by the Senate, point to the country that you now represent.” And they’d all fail, because they’d point
to the country which they were leaving. Indeed, the correct place to point for every
one of our diplomats is their service to the United States of America. Secretary of State Shultz knew that, President
Reagan knows that, President Trump and I know that too. I know that you all have a tremendous sense
of duty, a tremendous sense of service. I hope that today you can see that America’s
State Department is committed to living up to those standards. And if our mission appeals to you after your
time serving elsewhere, we would love to have you come be part of our team. Thank you all for letting me be here today. Thank you for allowing me to be with you. Good luck, God bless you, and I look forward
to taking your questions. Thank you. (Applause.)

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