Good afternoon. I’m delighted to welcome all of you home -- home to the State Department to which so many of you have contributed so much. It’s always an honor to be introduced by Tom Pickering, for whom my respect and admiration is enduring.
Benjamin Franklin, for whom this room is named, once observed that “well done is better than well said.” For three decades, the American Academy of Diplomacy has lived by that motto. The Academy doesn’t just talk about the value of diplomacy – it ensures that we have the resources to make diplomacy our country’s invaluable tool of first resort. So on behalf of those of us still in the arena – especially those serving our country in complicated and dangerous places around the world as we sit here this afternoon – I would like to express our deep appreciation for your continuing support for the work of this Department.
As all of you know very well, the arena of American diplomacy remains as active as ever. For all the talk of American decline, for all the occasional resentment of American power, and for all the persistent hostility to some American policies, there remains a continuing expectation and desire for American diplomatic leadership. And when we lead – whether in mobilizing international support to fight global health threats, as we did this past week, or in helping to produce an important agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue, as we did the week before, after months of careful diplomacy – we can make a real difference.
Today’s recipient of the Annenberg Award for Excellence in Diplomacy, George Shultz, knows a thing or two about diplomacy and about making a difference. Secretary Shultz is being recognized for his many diplomatic achievements – from helping end the Cold War to confronting the threat of nuclear weapons. But he is also being recognized for his profound contributions to the Department and its people. Through the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, Secretary Shultz’s legacy lives on – making a huge difference in the careers of generations of public servants. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of recognition by the Academy.
And I cannot think of a more fitting person than Chet Crocker to accept the award on his behalf. Secretary Shultz’s book about his years as Secretary of State is full of superlatives about Chet’s diplomatic skill and achievements. All of us who follow in Chet’s footsteps in the Department use him as a model of diplomatic excellence.
We also honor today Judy Woodruff and Doyle McManus -- two superb journalists who demonstrate why a vibrant and free press is so critical to our democracy, and so critical to helping people understand why diplomacy matters.
And we recognize John Taliaferro for his wonderful biography of Secretary of State John Hay – a remarkable public servant across a remarkable span in American history.
There are few hard rules about diplomacy, but one of them is never stand between an audience – especially an audience full of FSOs – and their lunch. So on behalf of Secretary Kerry, let me again extend my gratitude to the American Academy of Diplomacy and my congratulations to all our honorees. And again, welcome home!
Thank you very much.