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Remarks at the American Academy of Diplomacy Annual Awards Luncheon in Honor of Max Kampelman

R. Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary for Political Affairs
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery
Washington, DC
December 14, 2006

Dear guests,

Welcome to the Ben Franklin Room and the State Department for this great occasion. I am pleased to host all you. In particular, I would like to welcome all the members of Academy who are here today, Paul Wolfowitz, Ambassador Carla Hills, three of my predecessors as the Under Secretary for Political Affairs David Newsom; Marc Grossman (Vice Chair) and Tom Pickering (Chair). And of course Ambassador Max Kampelman.

First, let me thank the American Academy of Diplomacy. You represent finest collection of diplomatic experience in our country. You embody the essential characteristics of our Foreign Service: we are public servants; we are non-partisan; we are ready to serve.  We pulled someone from your ranks back into government service earlier this year: Amb. Frank Wisner – as Kosovo Negotiator. In many ways, we in active service are simply standing on your shoulders. You trained us; served as our mentors; you showed us the way forward.

I hope you are proud of the current generation of American Foreign Service Officers. They are the very best and brightest; and serve their country with the same fervor you exhibited.  Our officers today are serving in the most dangerous spots on earth – Baghdad, Mosul, Tikrit, and Basra; in Kabul, Kandahar, Beirut and Bogota.

They are working, as you did, to maintain America’s leadership in the world. Many work to combat the great transnational threats of our time –climate change; trafficking in persons; drugs; international crime; WMD, and terrorism. All of us try to embody – every day – as you did – the particularly American virtues – concern for preserving and promoting democracy and human rights and the rule of law. Mostly, we work to strengthen America overseas and to work for stability and peace around the world.

One person who unites those of you who served in the past and those of us on active service, is the extraordinary career, service, energy, and intellect of America’s 56th Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. We’re very proud to welcome him back to the State Department today where he served with such distinction and accomplishment thirty years ago.

Henry Kissinger embodies America’s story –

  • An immigrant from fascism
  • A soldier who served in WW II
  • A brilliant rise in academia (published his first Foreign Affairs article the year before I was born)
  • A dominant voice in the articulation of American interests as we fought and then won the great, epic struggle of the Cold War
  • A resourceful, energetic, shrewd and accomplished National Security Advisor and Secretary of State who:
    • Opened the way for our modern relationship with China;
    • worked to contain Soviet power in Europe and around the world;
    • stopped a war in the Middle East in 1973 and then laid the ground for our elusive three-decade effort since to secure and find peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

He unites all of us in this room for his historic contributions to our country; but also for his tutelage, mentoring. and leadership of the men and women of the American Academy of Diplomacy. Our youngest diplomats in training read “A World Restored” and his memoirs and his frequent articles in the national press.

Secretary Kissinger, it is a great honor to welcome you back to the State Department and to thank you for your support of the American Foreign Service.

Released on January 3, 2007

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