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also of the men and women in uniform

and throughout our intelligence agencies

who have seen firsthand the indispens-

able role the U.S. Agency for International

Development and other development

agencies play in preventing and mitigat-

ing crisis and conflict.

What the Moment

Demands of Us

We need to guard against those illu-

sions. We shouldn’t want to find our-

selves a few years down the road with

hollow institutions. Now is not the time

to hunker down and wait for the world’s

troubles to pass. We can either try to

shape an international landscape that

addresses the ills upending societies

and regions and protects our values and

interests, or watch as it is shaped for us

by other powers and other players with

starkly different visions for the century

unfolding before us.

Now more than ever, we need Ameri-

can diplomacy to open markets, expand

exports overseas and ensure a level and

high-quality playing field for American

companies. We need to enhance—not

roll back—cooperation to combat terror-

ists, reduce nuclear weapons and prevent

their proliferation, and ease the eco-

nomic troubles and unresolved conflicts

on which violent extremists feed.

Now more than ever, we need Ameri-

can diplomacy to support the rule of law

and advance a wider agenda of better

global health, better opportunities for

women, better prospects for food and

water security, and better possibilities

for dealing effectively with climate and

energy challenges.

Now more than ever, we need

American diplomacy to tend partner-

ships, alliances and coalitions. They are

what set us apart from lonelier powers

like China and Russia. We need to help

write new rules of the road to maximize

the promise of technological innovation

while mitigating its risks. And we need to

pursue tough-minded engagement with

our adversaries—a mark of American

strength and confidence, not weakness.

Now more than ever, we need to

recruit and invest in the talent and

patriotism of young Americans eager for

the opportunity to serve their country

as diplomats and development profes-

sionals. Turning them away today will

prove to be a devastating self-inflicted

wound from which it will take decades to


And now more than ever, all of us

have a role to play in making the case for

American diplomacy—not just to admire

the problem or carp from the sidelines, or

worse yet, as I already find myself doing,

boring those still laboring in the depart-

ment with stories of how things worked

when giants walked the earth.

We need to be a source of ideas and

initiative and encouragement, and

sometimes honest concerns, as well as

active and committed advocates for the

profession and the department to which

we and our families dedicated so much

of our lives.

I am often reminded these days of

Winston Churchill’s saying that the thing

he liked best about Americans was that

they always did the right thing in the

end—they just liked to exhaust all the

alternatives first. While I worry a lot that

we will spend inordinate amounts of

time over the next few years exhausting

all the alternatives, I remain hopeful that

we can still get this right, and still ensure

the priority for American diplomacy that

our country needs, that this moment in

history requires. And I will always remain

deeply proud to have shared with all of

you the remarkable experience of being

an American diplomat.