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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Memo to Her Staff: A busy year ahead for diplomacy

January 5, 2011



Dear Friends & Colleagues,

We ended 2010 on a sad note with the passing of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. Many of us lost a dear friend, and America lost one of its most dedicated servants. But as we move into the New Year, Richard’s life serves as inspiration for what we do at the State Department and USAID. Richard knew that public service is difficult but necessary work, and he would have joined me in expressing appreciation for all you have done these past 12 months. Where we have succeeded, often against long odds, it has been because of your hard work and dedication. You are the backbone of America’s civilian power and our leadership in a rapidly changing world.

As I said at the Council on Foreign Relations in September, now is the time to make this our American Moment-when our global leadership must find resourceful and efficient ways to help solve the most complex challenges of our time.

In 2010, we faced challenges on almost every front, and our diplomacy and development efforts were put to the test. From the Middle East to the Korean peninsula and beyond, old conflicts continued to churn. Natural disasters devastated Haiti and displaced more than 20 million people in Pakistan. Around the world, millions of people-particularly women and children-suffered the ravages of war, famine, poverty and disease. As always, the year did not lack for the unexpected, from the volcanic ash that disrupted much of the world’s air travel, to the Wikileaks disclosures that threatened our efforts to safeguard America’s security and advance prosperity everywhere.

We approached these and other problems as we always do-with dedication, zeal, and commitment. I see that every day in the work that is done at home; and in 220,000 miles of travel to 55 countries during the past 12 months, I had the privilege to see, first hand, the hard work that is done overseas.

We strengthened our bilateral relationships with countries on every continent, especially our most trusted allies in Europe and the Pacific. We deepened engagement with emerging centers of influence and other key partners. For example, we began a Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan that brought together experts from across both our governments to tackle an unprecedented range of issues.

We also continued to build up our multilateral relationships. This year, for the first time ever, the United States participated in the East Asia Summit. Our strong support for NATO continued at the summit in Lisbon, where we agreed on a new Strategic Concept that will modernize the Alliance and put it in the best position to face the challenges of the 21st century. And, working with fellow members of the United Nations Security Council, including Russia and China, we put into place the strongest and most comprehensive set of sanctions ever assembled against Iran to hold it accountable for its actions.

In Haiti, we joined with more than 140 nations to mount one of the largest rescue and relief efforts in history. In Pakistan, we provided some $500 million in relief support, evacuated nearly 23,000 people, and delivered more than 16 million pounds of relief supplies. And we continued to advance global health around the world by bringing life-saving prevention, treatment, and care to more people in more places; to fight poverty, hunger, and disease; and to safeguard the rights and the roles of girls and women everywhere.

We worked with the other major economies on national commitments to curb carbon emissions and, in Cancun, joined with 190 nations to advance those core elements and drive a broader global response to climate change.

On all of these issues and more, we’ve made good progress. But every step forward opens up new opportunities and reveals fresh challenges. The advances we made in 2010 leave us with a full agenda for 2011. We will continue to strengthen our bilateral and multilateral ties, and remain focused on our many critical priorities around the world, from rebalancing the global economy, to thwarting international terrorism, to stopping the spread of catastrophic weapons, to advancing democracy and human rights.

Our diplomatic agenda extends to every continent. We will continue working with the Israelis and Palestinians towards a lasting peace with security and prosperity for everyone in the region, and maintaining pressure on the governments of Iran and North Korea to honor the obligations that they must meet as members of the international community. And on the development front, we remain committed to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals to extend hope and opportunity to millions of people in the developing world.

We will also continue to improve the way we work-with a particular focus on implementing the reforms in the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR). When I announced the QDDR in 2009, I wanted it to be a sweeping review of our work. Everywhere I went, I heard from State and USAID employees that we could improve the way we do business, finding innovative solutions and building cross-agency partnerships to achieve measurable results. I am confident that the QDDR, which we released last month, has charted a course for achieving those goals. But it is only a blueprint for change. Each of us has to help make it real.

For instance, one of the central recommendations of the QDDR is to tap the vast array of skill sets and expertise across the government and private sector. If you work in the Foreign Service, you can partner with other agencies or the private sector to advance specific goals and projects in your country or area of expertise. And if you are a Civil Servant, you can identify another agency or agencies that you need to know more about, whose expertise can help advance the work you do at State or USAID.

If you are a manager, you can find ways to reward your people for showing collaborative leadership and working together to get things done.

If you are a development professional, you can ask yourself what changes you can make personally to make AID more efficient and allow us to deliver even more powerful results for the American people and the countries we support.

If you are new to State or USAID, you can draw on your outside experience and your observations of how we could do business more efficiently and effectively.

And whether you’re at State or USAID, you can be building bridges between our two organizations so that development and diplomacy can be mutually reinforcing pillars of American foreign policy.

Imagine the impact of 271 missions around the world, development professionals in more than 100 nations, and experts from other U.S. government agencies, all working together to advance America’s core interests. I have no doubt that, if we take this path together, we will seize that American Moment and continue to lead the world toward a more peaceful and prosperous future.

Thank you again for your service to our country. I hope you and your family have a safe and happy 2011.


Hillary Rodham Clinton

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Tovah permalink
    January 5, 2011 8:43 am

    That’s great- thanks so much for posting. I hope this means that she will continue being SOS for quite a while? Please? 🙂

  2. Thain permalink
    January 5, 2011 10:05 am

    Good find!

    I think she’ll stay on at least until 2012.

    I still wish she would become Obama’s VP candidate in 2012 but that’s looking like it’s not at all likely.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      January 5, 2011 11:02 am

      I second that emotion!

  3. Seamus permalink
    January 5, 2011 10:16 am

    Really cool, thanks.

    I agree with Thain. She’ll stay on until at least 2012.

  4. January 5, 2011 4:25 pm

    Speaking of diplomacy, I find it funny that Chavez suggested Bill Clinton as Ambassador to Venezuela. That suggestion will make the neo-cons even more uptight about the SOS’s conversation with Chavez in Brazil.

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