Secretary of State Clinton gave a sweeping policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations today. She outlined the administration’s goals and approaches to foreign policy, discussing some of the world’s greatest challenges, the shape of American leadership in the world, the need for global cooperation, and the benefits of diplomacy.
She emphasized that although there are unprecedented foreign policy challenges facing America today, these challenges also present opportunities:
But they are not reason to despair about the future. The same forces that compound our problems – economic interdependence, open borders, and the speedy movement of information, capital, goods, services and people – are also part of the solution. And with more states facing common challenges, we have the chance, and a profound responsibility, to exercise American leadership to solve problems in concert with others. That is the heart of America’s mission in the world today.
Now, some see the rise of other nations and our economic troubles here at home as signs that American power has waned. Others simply don’t trust us to lead; they view America as an unaccountable power, too quick to impose its will at the expense of their interests and our principles. But they are wrong.
The question is not whether our nation can or should lead, but how it will lead in the 21st century. Rigid ideologies and old formulas don’t apply. We need a new mindset about how America will use its power to safeguard our nation, expand shared prosperity, and help more people in more places live up to their God-given potential.
In facing these world challenges, she explained that there are two inescapable facts: no nation can meet these challenges alone, and most nations worry about the same global threats. It makes sense then for nations to work together on common goals, creating a "different global architecture." She explained how "smart power" can help build a foundation of global cooperation:
And to these foes and would-be foes, let me say our focus on diplomacy and development is not an alternative to our national security arsenal. Our willingness to talk is not a sign of weakness to be exploited. We will not hesitate to defend our friends, our interests, and above all, our people vigorously and when necessary with the world’s strongest military. This is not an option we seek nor is it a threat; it is a promise to all Americans.
Building the architecture of global cooperation requires us to devise the right policies and use the right tools. I speak often of smart power because it is so central to our thinking and our decision-making. It means the intelligent use of all means at our disposal, including our ability to convene and connect. It means our economic and military strength; our capacity for entrepreneurship and innovation; and the ability and credibility of our new President and his team. It also means the application of old-fashioned common sense in policymaking. It’s a blend of principle and pragmatism.
Smart power translates into specific policy approaches in five areas. First, we intend to update and create vehicles for cooperation with our partners; second, we will pursue principled engagement with those who disagree with us; third, we will elevate development as a core pillar of American power; fourth, we will integrate civilian and military action in conflict areas; and fifth, we will leverage key sources of American power, including our economic strength and the power of our example.
Secretary Clinton called for the need to cultivate partnerships to solve the world’s toughest conflicts. She cited the recent Security Council resolutions on North Korea, which were unanimously passed, as an example of successful cooperation. She then noted the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and called for action on all sides to secure peace between the two states. Progress has been made, she said, but more action is needed -- "So I say to all sides: Sending messages of peace is not enough. You must also act against the cultures of hate, intolerance and disrespect that perpetuate conflict."
The United States must lead with diplomacy, she said, and explained the administration’s approach to Iran:
With this in mind, I want to say a few words about Iran. We watched the energy of Iran’s election with great admiration, only to be appalled by the manner in which the government used violence to quell the voices of the Iranian people, and then tried to hide its actions by arresting foreign journalists and nationals, and expelling them, and cutting off access to technology. As we and our G-8 partners have made clear, these actions are deplorable and unacceptable.
We know very well what we inherited with Iran, because we deal with that inheritance every day. We know that refusing to deal with the Islamic Republic has not succeeded in altering the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon, reducing Iranian support for terror, or improving Iran’s treatment of its citizens.
Neither the President nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election. But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation.