Today, I spoke to Senator John Kerry and congratulated him on his nomination to be the next Secretary of State. I also spoke with President Obama and told him that he has made an excellent choice. I hope Senator Kerry will be confirmed quickly.
I have been privileged to know John for many years and to call him a friend, colleague, and partner. He will bring decades of service to our country and deep experience in international affairs. The son of a career Foreign Service Officer, diplomacy is in his blood. As a decorated veteran, he knows what it takes to defend our nation and our values. As a leader in the Senate, he understands how to build coalitions and craft compromises. As a statesman respected around the world, he will be able to sustain and extend America’s global leadership.
John Kerry has been tested – in war, in government, and in diplomacy. Time and again, he has proven his mettle.
I remember watching young Lieutenant Kerry’s testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee many years ago and thinking that I had just seen a man of uncommon courage and conscience. Years later, as First Lady, I admired John’s integrity and leadership as he returned to Vietnam to uncover the truth about fellow American soldiers who never came home, and to help normalize relations. Then, as Senate colleagues, we worked together on behalf of wounded warriors, working families, and other causes close to both our hearts.
Over the past four years, now as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Kerry has been my trusted partner on major foreign policy challenges facing our nation. He helped us end the war in Iraq and advance a responsible transition in Afghanistan, co-authored key assistance legislation for Pakistan, won ratification of the New START Treaty with Russia, led the way on climate change, and helped us navigate a fast-changing Middle East.
President Obama and I have often asked Senator Kerry to undertake delicate diplomatic missions and to deliver difficult messages. He has forged strong relationships with leaders around the world. As I have learned, being able to talk candidly as someone who has won elections and also lost them is an enormous asset when engaging with emerging or fragile democracies.
Through it all, Senator Kerry has fought for our nation’s diplomats and development experts – and for investing in their mission and America’s global leadership. And now, he is working closely with me and my team to learn the lessons of the tragedy in Benghazi, further protect our people and posts, and implement every single one of the Accountability Review Board’s recommendations.
We need a leader with John Kerry’s experience and talent at the helm of the State Department and USAID in the years ahead. There is much more to do on all of these crucial challenges, from Afghanistan to nonproliferation to climate change, and many others. We also have to consolidate America’s expanded engagement in the Asia-Pacific, continue championing the rights and opportunities of women, pursue a new approach to development centered on dignity and self-sufficiency, keep putting economics at the center of our foreign policy, and practice the kind of smart power that harnesses innovation and partnerships – with governments and with people – to solve problems and seize opportunities.
The men and women of the State Department and USAID represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation. They serve and sacrifice every day, often in dangerous circumstances. It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve with such fine public servants over the past four years. I could not be prouder of all we have achieved together. They deserve the highest caliber leadership, and that is exactly what they’ll get in John Kerry.
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