follow the commands of
The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)
For background information
about the roots of CFR, see
The Revolutionary Roots of the UN
Thank you very much, Richard [Haass,
CFR President], and I am delighted to
be here in these new headquarters. I have been often to, I guess,
the mother ship in New York City, but it’s good to have an
outpost of the Council right here down the street from
the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so
this will mean I won’t have as far to go to be told what
we should be doing and how we should think about the
Shortly before I started at the State Department, a former Secretary
of State called me with this advice: Don’t try to do too much. And
it seemed like a wise admonition, if only it were possible. But the
international agenda today is unforgiving: two wars, conflict in the
Middle East, ongoing threats of violent extremism and nuclear
proliferation, global recession, climate change, hunger and disease,
and a widening gap between the rich and the poor. All of these
challenges affect America’s security and prosperity, and they all
threaten global stability and progress.
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....
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
President Obama has led us to think outside the usual
boundaries. He has launched a new era of engagement based on common
interests, shared values, and mutual respect. Going forward,
capitalizing on America’s unique strengths, we must advance those
interests through partnership, and promote universal values
through the power of our example and the empowerment of people. In
this way, we can forge the global consensus required to
defeat the threats, manage the dangers, and seize the opportunities
of the 21st century. America will always be a world leader as long
as we remain true to our ideals and embrace strategies that
match the times. So we will exercise American leadership to build
partnerships and solve problems that no nation can solve on its
In approaching our foreign policy priorities, we have to deal with
the urgent, the important, and the long-term all at once. ... We
want to reverse the spread of nuclear weapons, prevent their use,
and build a world free of their threat. We want to isolate and
defeat terrorists and counter violent extremists while reaching
out to Muslims around the world. We want to encourage and facilitate
the efforts of all parties to pursue and achieve a comprehensive
peace in the Middle East. We want to seek global economic recovery
... We want to combat climate change, increase energy security...
And we intend to stand up for human rights everywhere.
Liberty [for whom], democracy, justice and opportunity
underlie our priorities. Some accuse us of using these ideals to
justify actions that contradict their very meaning....
Today, we must acknowledge two inescapable facts that define our
world: First, no nation can meet the world’s challenges alone....
Second, most nations worry about the same global threats, from
non-proliferation to fighting disease to counter-terrorism.... They
face these obstacles and they stand in the way of turning
commonality of interest into common action. So these two facts
demand a different global architecture – one in which states
have clear incentives to cooperate and live up to their
So we will exercise American leadership to overcome what foreign
policy experts at places like the Council call “collective action
problems” and what I call obstacles to cooperation.... We’ll
work through existing institutions and reform them.... We’ll use our
power to convene, our ability to connect countries around the
world, and sound foreign policy strategies to create
partnerships aimed at solving problems.....In short, we will lead by
inducing greater cooperation among a greater number of actors and
reducing competition, tilting the balance away from a multi-polar
world and toward a multi-partner world....
Not everybody in the world wishes us well or shares our values and
interests. And some will actively seek to undermine our efforts.
In those cases, our partnerships can become power coalitions to
constrain or deter those negative actions.
And to these foes and would-be foes, let me say our focus on
diplomacy and development is not an alternative to our national
Building the architecture of global cooperation requires us
to devise the right policies and use the right tools.... 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.
Our first approach is to build
these stronger mechanisms of cooperation with our historic allies,
with emerging powers, and with multilateral institutions, and to
pursue that cooperation in, as I said, a pragmatic and principled
Now our global and regional institutions were built for a world
that has been transformed, so they too must be transformed
and reformed. As the President said following the recent G-8 meeting
in Italy, we are seeking institutions that “combine the efficiency
and capacity for action with inclusiveness.” From the UN to the
World Bank, from the IMF to the G-8 and the G-20, from the OAS and
the Summit of the Americas to ASEAN and APEC – all of these and
other institutions have a role to play, but their continued vitality
and relevance depend on their legitimacy and representativeness, and
the ability of their members to act swiftly and responsibly when
We also will reach out beyond governments, because we believe
partnerships with people play a critical role in our 21st century
statecraft. President Obama’s Cairo speech is a powerful example of
communicating directly with people from the bottom up. And we are
following up with a comprehensive agenda of educational exchanges,
outreach, and entrepreneurial ventures. In every country I visit, I
look for opportunities to bolster civil society and engage
I have appointed special envoys to focus on a number of specific
challenges, including the first Ambassador for Global Women’s
Issues.... And we are working at the State Department to ensure
that our government is using the most innovative technologies not
only to speak and listen across borders....
Now I’m well aware that time alone does not heal all wounds;
consider the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. That’s why we wasted no
time in starting an intensive effort on day one to realize the
rights of Palestinians and Israelis to live in peace and security in
two states.... For the last few decades, American administrations
have held consistent positions on the settlement issue. And while we
expect action from Israel, we recognize that these decisions are
And we know that progress toward peace cannot be the responsibility
of the United States – or Israel – alone. Ending the conflict
requires action on all sides. The Palestinians have the
responsibility to improve and extend the positive actions already
taken on security; to act forcefully against incitement; and to
refrain from any action that would make meaningful negotiations less
likely. And Arab states have a responsibility to support the
Palestinian Authority ... to take steps to improve relations with
Israel, and to prepare their publics to embrace peace and accept
Israel’s place in the region.... 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
Our second policy approach is to
lead with diplomacy, even in the cases of adversaries or nations
with whom we disagree. ...
Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops
threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a
responsible position in the international community if it fulfills
its obligations on human rights. The choice is clear. We remain
ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The
opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.
Our third policy approach... is
to elevate and integrate development as a core pillar of American
power. We advance our security, our prosperity, and our values by improving
the material conditions of people’s lives around the world.
These efforts also lay the groundwork for greater global
cooperation, by building the capacity of new partners and tackling
shared problems from the ground up.
A central purpose of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development
Review that I announced last week is to explore how to
effectively design, fund, and implement development and foreign
assistance as part of a broader foreign policy....
Our development agenda will also focus on women as drivers of
economic growth and social stability. Women have long comprised
the majority of the world’s unhealthy, unschooled, and underfed.
They are also the bulk of the world’s poor.... Until women
around the world are accorded their rights – and afforded the
opportunities of education, health care, and gainful employment –
global progress and prosperity will have its own glass ceiling.
Our fourth approach is to ensure
that our civilian and military efforts operate in a
coordinated and complementary fashion where we are engaged in
conflict.... In Afghanistan and Pakistan, our goal is to disrupt,
dismantle, and ultimately defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies,
and to prevent their return to either country.....
As we proceed, we must not forget that success in Afghanistan also
requires close cooperation from neighboring Pakistan, which I will
visit this fall. Pakistan is itself under intense pressure from
In Iraq, we are bolstering our diplomacy and development programs
while we implement a responsible withdrawal of our troops....And we
are developing a long-term economic and political relationship with
Iraq as outlined by the US-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement. ...
Our fifth approach is to shore
up traditional sources of our influence, including economic strength
and the power of our example....
President Obama is committed to the
vision of a world without nuclear weapons and a series of concrete
steps to reduce the threat and spread of these weapons, including
working with the Senate to ratify the follow-on START agreement and
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty....
Our Administration is also committed to deep reductions in
greenhouse gas emissions, with a plan that will dramatically change
the way we produce, consume and conserve energy....
We are restoring our economy at home to enhance our strength and
And finally, I am determined to ensure that the men and women of our
Foreign and Civil Service have the resources they need to
implement our priorities effectively and safely. ...
More than 230 years ago, Thomas Paine said, “We have it within
our power to start the world over again.” Today, in a new and
very different era, we are called upon to use that power. I believe
we have the right strategy, the right priorities, the right
policies, we have the right President, and we have the American
people, diverse, committed, and open to the future.
Now all we have to do is deliver. Thank you all very much.