A special highlight of my time as Ambassador has been getting to know and working with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. A tenacious advocate of innovation and inclusion, she has remolded the Department and refocused American policy in powerful ways that harrumphing old-boy insiders in smoke-filled clubrooms may never fully appreciate.
I have been particularly impressed with — and grateful for — her tireless efforts to advance the cause of equality for women and minorities around the world, what she refers to as the “unfinished business of the 21st century.” In her powerful last public speech as Secretary of State, delivered to a distinguished audience at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, she forcefully restated that point:
“The jury is in. The evidence is absolutely indisputable: If women and girls everywhere were treated as equal to men in rights, dignity, and opportunity, we would see political and economic progress everywhere. So this is not only a moral issue. Which of course it is. It’s an economic issue and a security issue … It therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy.”
She also forcefully and candidly emphasized the importance of maintaining a muscular foreign policy in a “dangerous and complicated world,” of being strategic about all levers of global power, and of embracing creative diplomacy and smart power. The speech was a tour de force review of her four years in Foggy Bottom and her vision for America’s diplomatic future. You can watch for yourself below, or read the full transcript here.
Tomorrow will be the Secretary’s last day on the job. At 2:30 p.m. Friday (8:30 a.m. Saturday, New Zealand time), she will take the elevator down from the 7th Floor, address State Department officers and employees in the C Street Lobby, and then leave the building for a final time. Her goodbye remarks will be live streamed on the State Department’s YouTube Channel.
It has been a great privilege to work with Secretary Clinton and to host her landmark visits to New Zealand and the Cook Islands. I have been a more positively impactful Ambassador because of the vision she articulated, the new tools she deployed, the tangible commitment she demonstrated to our Pacific region, and the experiments that she encouraged.
On a personal note, I am deeply grateful for the warm, natural, and inclusive way in which she embraced my spouse and the same-gender spouses of thousands of other LGBT colleagues in the Department. At a time when overt, state-sanctioned discrimination at home and abroad still inflicts very real damage on same-gender couples trying to serve their country, she offered tangible as well as moral support and a refreshing, encouraging glimpse of a better future.
Secretary Clinton, thank you for your service to the United States and the world. Bon voyage.