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Remarks by Secretaries of State Baker, Albright, Powell, Clinton at U.S. Diplomacy Center Completion

Remarks by Secretaries of State Baker, Albright, Powell, Clinton at U.S. Diplomacy Center Completion

not able to be with us here this evening, but it’s now my honor to read a letter from
the 61st Secretary of State: “Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. I regret that I am unable to join Secretary
Kerry and my former secretary colleagues, all of whom have been crucial to the creation
of the U.S. Diplomacy Center Pavilion. The completion of the Diplomacy Center represents
a goal towards which they and so many others have worked. Since our nation was founded, America’s
diplomats have played indispensable roles in maintaining security and peace at home
and around the world. Their stories are filled with many bright
moments, from the Louisiana and Alaska purchases that helped build one nation, to the Marshall
Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II. It includes the Monroe Doctrine’s pledge
not to meddle in European affairs during the early 19th century, as well as American efforts
to spread diplomacy and democracy across Eastern Europe and the globe during the second half
of the 20th century. It is for these and so many other reasons
I am proud that this center will tell the story of U.S. diplomacy and honor its diplomats. This Diplomacy Center will provide an enduring
legacy as a gift to the American people. It will be a museum and caretaker for our
nation’s diplomatic history, a monument to the diplomats who so often work behind
the scenes promoting American interest. It will also be an educational center and
the first museum where the public may experience diplomacy as a tangible reality. I have been a passionate advocate for the
U.S. Diplomacy Center since its inception and, like many of you here tonight, feel privileged
to know that our long-shared dream is now a reality. I salute everyone who contributed time, money,
and effort to this center, and appreciate all the hard work it took to build it. Sincerely, James A. Baker, III.” (Applause.) It is now my pleasure to introduce
the Honorable Madeleine K. Albright, the 64th Secretary of State. (Applause.) SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Definitely height-challenged. Thank you very much, Pat, for the introduction,
but thank you very much for everything that you’ve done for the Department and for all
of us. Secretary Kerry, Secretary Clinton, Secretary
Powell, Ambassador Bagley, and former State Department colleagues and distinguished
guests, I am truly delighted to be here with all of you. And I am especially grateful to be able to
appear at this center in person and not as an exhibit, at least not yet. (Laughter.) Having been secretary when the idea was originally
proposed, I can say without hesitation that this day is most welcome. And while there are many people to recognize
and thank, I do want to single out the Diplomacy Center’s intrepid director, Kathy Johnson,
for her outstanding efforts. She really –
(applause). Thank you. (applause) When I spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony
for the center many years ago, I noted that our country had not accorded sufficient recognition
to the immense contributions that diplomacy makes to our security, prosperity, and freedom;
and the Center will make up for that by bringing the deeds of our diplomats to life, showing
the challenges they face and the risks they run to advance America’s interests and uphold
our values around the world. By making these stories more accessible, it
will help the American public to understand what our diplomats have been doing and, more
importantly, why they have been doing it. When I was secretary, I tried many different
ways to make foreign policy seem less foreign to the American people. I was the first secretary to have a website,
which really makes me feel as though I belong in a museum, but I found that one of the most
effective tools was one of the most unlikely ones, and that was my jewelry. I became known for using a pin or a broach
to send a message: a butterfly if I was in a good mood, a balloon to show that I had
high hopes, and a spider if I wanted my counterpart to watch out. (Laughter.) As you can imagine, by the time I left office,
I had built up a considerable collection. And a few years ago my former chief of staff,
Elaine Shocas, came to me with the idea of writing a book and doing a museum exhibit
about the pins. At that point, I asked the obvious question:
“Are you out of your mind?” Her answer was that it would be both educational
and fun, and I have to admit that she was absolutely right. The exhibit “Read My Pins” has been on
tour throughout the United States since 2009, and when it ends up in 2018 it will have been
to 22 museums, including the Smithsonian and eight of the 13 presidential libraries. I was humbled and surprised by the success
of the exhibit, but I realized that since many of my predecessors had beards and none
was known to wear a skirt, my use of pins to send a diplomatic message was something
new in American history, and that did make them consequential. And it got us thinking about where they should
reside in perpetuity. The answer was obvious: here at the Diplomacy
Center. So as we mark the completion of the museum
pavilion, I am thrilled to announce that I will donate “Read My Pins” to the Diplomacy
Center – (applause) – I have to say much to the consternation of my youngest granddaughter,
who said, “Who’s getting all this stuff?” (Laughter.) I’m truly honored to be able to share my
story with the country and to know that my pins will have a wonderful home in our nation’s
preeminent museum of diplomacy. Today, we’re closer than ever to making
that museum a reality. So thank you all so much for helping this
day and to making it possible. And thank you all – all of you – for the
great work that you’ve done and to make vital the work of this Department more
understandable and more accessible to people. Thank you so very, very much. (Applause.) UNDER SECRETARY: Thank you, Madam Secretary. It is now my honor to introduce the Honorable
Colin L. Powell, the 65th Secretary of State. (Applause.) SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you very much. It’s a great pleasure to be with you this
evening and a great pleasure to be back in the Department of State, and I want to express
my thanks also to those of you who are responsible for this tremendous center – those who were
there when it was initiated, those who have worked tirelessly to bring it into existence. And I think it’ll be a remarkable addition
to our museum system here in Washington D.C., our centers where we celebrate sacrifice and
service for all Americans who have done that. Now, I have a small problem. Madeleine gave her pins away. I’m trying to think, how can I match that? (Laughter.) I have about 500 military challenge coins,
but that won’t make it. They’re all gone already. But I do have one other thing that I had already
given to the Department years ago and the Department refused to give it back to me,
so it is here somewhere in the collection. It probably will not be displayed in the catalogue
that you’re going to get later this evening or will be out shortly, but it was a treasure
that I gave to the Department. And what they did with it kind of scares me. It was a bottle of vodka. (Laughter.) It was a bottle of vodka given to me by my
dear friend, the former foreign minister of the Russian Federation, Igor Ivanov. And the Department said you’ve got to turn
it in. Said it’s a bottle of vodka –
you’ve got to turn it in. (Laughter.) So I turned it in, and the next thing I knew,
they had given it an evaluation of something like $500. And I said you can’t be serious, it’s
a bottle of vodka. What made it unique –
I understand this, but I don’t think they really had to do all of that –
the bottle is the image of an AK-47 assault rifle. (Laughter.) And in all of its glory, it is now here in
the State Department – AK-47 vodka. Now, if I’d thought a little more carefully
about it, I would’ve sent them an AK-47 bottle filled with water and taken the vodka. (Laughter.) But it’s just so symbolic of the kinds of
gifts and things that we are presented as former secretaries and secretaries by people
who want to touch us in an important way and who want to contribute to our heritage and
to our history. And that’s why this particular facility,
this center, is going to be so important for many generations to come, whether it’s pins,
vodka, or all the other wonderful things that are here to be displayed. A few months ago, I was at the National War
College, my alma mater. I graduated from there 40 years ago. And I was there because they dedicated a center
to me, a hall at the National War College building, that historic building. It’s in the old library on the ground floor,
and many of my things are being displayed there. But they said to me, “Well, would you give
us something that we can put on a block of marble and mount over the entrance to the
library, to your hall?” And I thought about it and I came up with
the following: I came here to study war. And while I learned about war, I learned even
more about the importance of finding peace. And you who are assembled here this evening
and all of the work in this building are the ones who go about finding peace. You work hard to keep us from ever getting
into a war. You work hard to find ways to solve things
peacefully and through diplomacy and politics. And if war comes, you are there with us; you
are helping us with the prosecution of that war and bring it to and end. And when the war is over, it’s the diplomats
who take center stage to make sure that what we had achieved is then embedded in the soul
of the country. You should be so proud of what each and every
person in this department does every single day and those foreign employees that we have. You can be so proud that this center now represents
all that service and sacrifice for so many, many years. You can be proud to always carry the title
of “Blessed are the Peacemakers.” Thank you very much. (Applause.) UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: It is now my pleasure
to introduce the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton,
the 67th Secretary of State. Madam Secretary. (Applause.) SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, thank you. (Cheers.) Thank you all very much. (Cheers.) Thank you, thank you. It is – it’s such a great delight to be
back here at the State Department with so many former colleagues and so many friends. And I am thrilled to be here at the new Hillary
Clinton Pavilion. I’m sure you will notice it is the most
transparent part of the entire project. (Laughter.) And to be with my colleagues Secretary Albright
and Secretary Powell and Secretary Kerry and to know that all of the former living secretaries
have really pledged their efforts to bringing about this Diplomacy Center, and Pat – Pat
Kennedy – to you and every member of the Foreign and Civil Service as well as the local
nationals who represent our interests around the world, thank you. Thank you for devoting your lives to our country. Serving alongside you was one of the great
honors of my life, and I will always be proud of the work we did together. I want to recognize Ambassador Bagley, who
was tireless in pursuit of the opportunity to tell the story of the center and bring
more attention to it, and to all the donors who worked so hard to bring this to light. I’m excited about the historic artifacts
and the cutting-edge exhibits that will be here to teach and inspire future generations
about the work of our country’s diplomats. And I am particularly pleased to see my friend
and my congresswoman, Congressman Nita Lowey, here, who has been instrumental in supporting
the work of the State Department and USAID over so many years in the Congress. Students and visitors alike will be able to
simulate high-stakes diplomatic negotiation, learn more about about resolving disputes
in our increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. I think we should look for some dispensation
when the center is finally finished and opened to the public to toast it with the vodka from
the AK-47 bottle – (laughter) –
and stand in front of Madeleine’s pins trying to decipher what they all mean. This will also help more Americans understand
the ways in which their generosity and innovation have improved lives around the world. There will be, for example, a clean cookstove
on display. That is another one of the public-private
partnerships that we launched to prevent millions of needless deaths from dirty stoves and toxic
smoke around the world. There will be so many opportunities for visitors
to get a deeper understanding of what that word “diplomacy” means, and every secretary
since Jefferson and generations of diplomats will have their work reflected in this museum. We may have belonged to different political
parties, served in different eras, faced different challenges, but we all believed deeply in
the United States of America and the mission that our country has to lead the world with
strength, smarts, and confidence in our values. Diplomacy is one of the greatest forces for
peace, prosperity, and progress the world has ever known. And today, the lessons of this museum are
more vital and urgent than ever. Democracy, freedom, and the rule of law are
under attack around the world. A rising tide of authoritarianism and illiberalism
threatens the foundations of the post-World War II global era that American diplomats
have built and defended since Marshall and Acheson. And at a time when the longstanding bipartisan
goal of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace is under enormous pressure, we would
do well to remember what it feels like to stand in the shadow of the giant segment of
the Berlin Wall that will greet visitors here at the center. It’s signed by leaders who helped end the
Cold War, unified Germany, and expand democracy. So history has a lot to teach us. It also is a reminder that we have our own
challenges and our own opportunities. We should remember that the world looks to
America as the indispensable nation not just because of the size of our military or the
strength of our economy. It looks to us because America stands for
universal values and aspirations; and if we stay true to those values, like the best of
the men and women whose leadership and service will be commemorated here, then our country
will weather every storm on the horizon. Thank you all very much. (Applause.) UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY: Thank you very much,
Madam Secretary. It’s now my pleasure to introduce the 68th
and current Secretary of State, the Honorable John F. Kerry. (Applause.) SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you all –
thank you very, very much for joining us for this wonderful occasion. And I am particularly grateful for you being
here to hold my hand on the cusp of my becoming one of the most visible unemployed people
in America. (Laughter.) I join everybody in being delighted to open
this new – or to recognize the finishing of the Diplomacy Center Pavilion, and it’s
really a pleasure – a special pleasure – to welcome Madeleine and Colin and Hillary
back here. And I know each and every one of you have
already demonstrated your affection and your gratitude for their service and for what they
have done to help make this possible. I couldn’t help but think that just a little
while ago we had a goodbye ceremony for Tony Blinken, who has been an absolutely superb
deputy and done an extraordinary job, and he graciously praised me by saying that I
never quit. And I wondered immediately whether or not
I could apply that to January 20th or not. (Laughter.) But I don’t think I would be so lucky. I also, as I listened to Colin talk about
an AK-47 filled with vodka, I said, “Man, I’m going to tell if Rex Tillerson gets
approved and that happens, I’m going to suggest that he make certain that every AK-47
in the world be filled with vodka.” That would be a better world, folks. (Laughter.) We’ve got to work on that. (Applause.) As folks have mentioned, it’s been just
two years since the former secretaries and all of us joined out in front here to break
ground on this remarkable facility, and it’s really hard to believe that so much has been
accomplished so quickly. There are a lot of people to thank for that,
and one of them has already been singled out, but I want to single her out again. Ambassador Elizabeth Bagley is indefatigable. She has excelled at the hard and thankless
task of fundraising like nobody else before. And I want to give you all
a little bit of advice – urge all of you who have been
avoiding eye contact with her – (laughter) – surrender. (Laughter.) Resistance is useless. (Laughter.) She is – she –
the force is with her, folks. And Elizabeth, we owe you just an enormous
debt of gratitude. Thank you. (Applause.) And the same goes for the generous donors
who are here with us. We are so grateful to you for stepping up
and being part of this. And I ask you just to look around you at this
magnificent building. This is going to be a winner. It’s going to be an extraordinary addition
to the mosaic of our incredible museums here in this city, the nation’s capital – visually
impressive, educational, enduring, patriotic, and long overdue. And make no mistake, we could not have gotten
anywhere, much less this far, without your willingness to take a flyer and believe in
this enterprise. So thank you, but in any marathon, the last
few miles are the most challenging, and I am duty-bound to say to you we’ve got a
couple of miles still to go. The finish line is still up ahead and I ask
everyone and anyone who has the ability to help recruit others to help us finish this
off. Let us bridge the gap between what we have
and what we need. Now, also, I really want to thank my predecessors. The idea of a facility such as this has been
around for quite a while. And under the leadership of Kathy Johnson,
the U.S. Diplomacy Center has an ongoing program of education and outreach, and it already
has gathered more than 7,000 historic artifacts. That is a number that will be augmented and
classed up by the very generous contribution of Secretary Albright’s famously expressive
pins or broaches. I might add I think, given the value of some
of them, she’s probably raised the insurance rate on the building too in doing so. (Laughter.) We have, amazingly, long lacked a appropriate
venue where we could create a visitor-friendly and interactive set of exhibits that would
bring diplomacy to life. And it was during Secretary Albright’s tenure
that the project really kicked off, and her initiative has been obviously strongly supported
by secretaries from Secretary Kissinger all the way through Secretary Clinton. I hope all of you will join me because they
are the force that really got this going. I got to come in here when the plans were
done and we were well along the way, but I think all of us should join them in saying
a special thank you for what they have created for our nation and for (inaudible). (Applause.) I want to thank Ambassador Bill Harrop and
the Diplomacy Center Foundation. They deserve enormous credit
for their leadership and for gathering support from
the founding ambassadors. Now, this all leads to a question which has
been spoken to to some degree by each of my colleagues, and that is: Why is it important
that we share the story of American diplomacy? Well, the answer, I think, begins with one
of my favorite poems, by Robert Frost, in which a tree falls across the road in the
middle of the woods and the obstacle forces a traveler to halt in his tracks and, quote,
“get down in a foot of snow debating what to do without an ax.” That strikes me as a pretty fair description
of what diplomacy is all about: solving the trees in the road, the unexpected problems,
without an ax. And there’s no magic formula for success. It requires the right combination of knowledge,
leverage, advocacy, reason, and timing. And especially when differences are narrow,
it can benefit from strong personal relationships such as those forged by each of the secretaries
sitting here at the dais. And I know from my own experience that although
countries are always guided by their own interests, face-to-face discussions can still influence
how those interests are judged, how they are met, and sometimes turning a no to a perhaps
or, even better, maybe to yes. I think every secretary here has seen that
happen. As the exhibits in this pavilion will one
day show, the accomplishments of American diplomacy are inseparable from the birth,
youth, and growth of our country. And that was hinted at from the very beginning
when Mr. Benjamin Franklin, who is reputed to be our first diplomat, introduced himself
to the court of King Louis XVI. Imagine a minister who could outtalk
his counterparts, outmaneuver his rivals, out-flirt the French –
(laughter) – and outwork anyone in pursuit of freedom and
independence for our infant country. In subsequent years, American diplomats were
indispensable in ending foreign conflicts, expanding our nation’s boundaries, and laying
the foundation for international cooperation through development and through the United
Nations, the Bretton Woods institutions, NATO, the OAS, the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights. During the Cold War, our diplomacy remained
in high gear – it made all the difference – successfully containing the communist
threat and eluding the perils of an era in which countries were compelled to rely for
survival on the concept of mutually assured destruction. In more recent years, we’ve moved to enlarge
the Euro-Atlantic community, halt ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, dismantle the most dangerous
aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, forge a global coalition against Daesh terrorists,
restore relations with Cuba, and take unprecedented steps to curb the dangers posed by climate
change. Obviously, that’s just scratching the surface. George Kennan compared diplomacy to overseeing
his Pennsylvanian farm where the woods were constantly growing, and fences were falling
down, and paint peeling, and insects burrowing, and roofs leaking, and harsh weather arriving
in defiance of all predictions. The sole certainty was the need for vigilance
because nothing ever stood still – and this place will be a monument to that maxim. By keeping pace and by ensuring that American
leadership is not only still needed in the world but broadly welcomed, our diplomats
have written a truly extraordinary tale that will bear telling over and over again for
generations. And we will soon have the ideal place in which
to relate that story. So once again, I thank our donors and the
former secretaries who have contributed so much. I also congratulate Pat Kennedy and his team
on the superb job that they have done; our superb architectural firm, Beyer Blinder Belle;
and the men and the women of the Gilbane construction company which I know well from Massachusetts
and New England; and the Heery International and everyone else who has played a constructive
role in this effort. I want to emphasize that, picking up a little
bit on what Hillary said, this – this could not be happening at a better time. There are many voices in the world who have
essentially given up on diplomacy. They see, and some openly encourage, the breakdown
of cooperation, the building of economic and political walls, and the growth of mistrust
and division along racial, ethnic, national, and religious lines. The story of American diplomacy reflects a
far different and far more uplifting vision, one of optimism about the ability of people
from vastly different backgrounds to work together productively and in peace. We know that that can happen abroad. Why? Because we’ve done it here at home. And no country has melted more people of different
backgrounds and varied aspirations and hopes than we have in the United States of America. That’s the great thing that separates us
from every other country in the world. We’re not defined by ethnicity. We’re not defined by lineage. We’re not defined by names. We’re not defined by where we come from. We are defined by an idea. Unlike most other nations, the idea is that
all people are created equal and that you can pursue life, liberty, and happiness. So I welcome all of you optimists, difference-makers,
and history-lovers to this pavilion, and I thank each and every one of you for your enthusiasm
and your support, and may this new year be filled with the good fortunes
and the blessings that you and we in the United States
of America deserve. Thank you. (Applause.)

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