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Swearing-In Ceremony

Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State
James Glassman, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs
Washington, DC
July 17, 2008

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SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. It’s a great pleasure to be here to swear in Jim Glassman as our new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy. And I see that you’ve brought quite a few friends along, and they’re going to help us to celebrate this very special day.

One of the first questions that I was asked when I became Secretary of State was, “What are you going to do about public diplomacy?” And of course, people had all kinds of things in mind. But most importantly, there was a kernel of truth in the questions about public diplomacy and its importance. And that was an historical memory of how the Cold War was won certainly on the frontiers of NATO, on the frontiers of a strong economy that challenged the other models, but most particularly and most especially it was won because the ideas won. The idea of freedom and liberty won. And despite the fact that there were people, who lived behind the Iron Curtain and had very little access to ideas of freedom and liberty, somehow that idea did continue to burn deep in their hearts and they were not to be denied. Freedom and liberty was delayed, but it was not denied.

It was well understood that if you looked at the history, an awful lot of the reason that that idea finally triumphed was because of the assets of public diplomacy, whether it was the voice of the Voice of America deep in the night in a city in Russia, or of Radio Free Europe as people listened to the only true news about the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, or perhaps Radio Liberty ringing deep into the heart of the Soviet Union. Those voices, those voices that broke through the darkness of tyranny, were the voices that ultimately led men and women living in captivity to emerge as free men and women.

And after winning the Cold War, of course, perhaps America forgot one of those really important lessons, that the ideas, the ability to get the ideas to the people who really understood and wanted that liberty was one of our strongest assets.

And then as we began to engage new challenges in a Muslim world in which the question was very often, “Why do they hate us?,” in a Muslim world in which many of the assets of the media were given over to propaganda about the United States; terrible stories that the United States was somehow not a country in which families flourished, a country that hated Islam, a country that was hostile to religion – how could those things be said about the United States of America, one of the freest, most tolerant, and indeed, multi-religious countries in the entire world? A country where, indeed, to be American one can be Methodist or Jewish or Muslim or nothing at all and still be American. And how could it be that this propaganda was really permeating the Muslim world? And how could it be that in its most virulent form it was creating a malignancy so great that on a fine September day people decided to fly our own airplanes into our buildings, killing 3,000 innocent Americans.

And so the question, “What about our ideals and people’s understanding of them? Can we again replicate what we once did so well?,” became not just a matter of moral principle and values, but a matter of national security.

I believe that over the last several years we’ve tackled the public diplomacy challenge and we’ve begun to make progress. But it’s hard and it takes a long time. But what we do know is that even though the challenges may be different, even though these days the audiences may be more skeptical, even though they use new tools of hatred, even a tool that could be so much a tool of democracy like the internet. And even though what we do and what we try to do is often met with skepticism in so many parts of the world, the challenges are indeed different. 

But we know that a certain number of elements remain constant. It’s still about people. It’s still about bringing people to the United States to live with a family in Iowa, or to experience a college in Alabama, to know who Americans are and what we’re really like. It’s still about having men and women in our Foreign Service and in our Civil Service who know other cultures and speak other languages and like being with other people, and can therefore be ambassadors for our values and ambassadors for liberty and freedom.

And it’s still very much about using media to find a way to portray an America that is the true America, but to do so in a way that doesn't propagandize and that recognizes that we’re always better off by telling the truth, admitting when we’re wrong, saying when we’ve made mistakes, and moving on.

And so public diplomacy is, in many ways, still the task that it was at the height of the glorious days of the Cold War, but with many new challenges and many new tools. In looking for the next Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Jim Glassman’s name was immediately on everybody’s lips when Karen Hughes decided to step down. Because Jim, of course, has a wide and distinguished background in media, having been, of course, himself a journalist, writing for The Washington Post, writing for the Wall Street Journal, for the Los Angeles Times, for Forbes, indeed, writing a couple of books. Jim, I don’t know when you’ve had time. 

Jim, of course, served for several years on the Advisory Group in Public Diplomacy for the Arab and Muslim World, which was the commission that had been mandated by Congress. And he is, of course, the former president of the Atlantic Monthly Company, the publisher of The New Republic, and was executive vice president of U.S. News and World Report, and editor-in-chief of Roll Call. You couldn't ask for somebody with a better set of credentials, except it could have been better if he’d been the editor of the Stanford Daily, not the Harvard Crimson. (Laughter.)

But that little sidestep aside, Jim Glassman has proved his extraordinary commitment to the cause of public diplomacy, and in his tenure at the Broadcasting Board of Governors managed somehow to take a very complicated and difficult situation, improve it tremendously, make the Broadcasting Board of Governors more effective, and yet do it in a way that people were inspired to do what was right, not somehow bludgeoned into doing what was right.

And so I know that Jim brings all the right tools. He brings dedication and energy. He brings commitment and skill. He brings a special touch with people. He will inspire a public diplomacy cone that has been completely rebuilt here in the State Department. And I know he will continue the tradition that we have begun of insisting that public diplomacy is not the work of just public diplomacy officers; public diplomacy is the work of each and every one of us. Because you could have the finest policies in the world, but in our rapid communications world and in our world that is increasingly democratic, so that governments have to be responsive to the will of their people, if you cannot explain those policies, if you cannot make clear what you are trying to do, and if you cannot show that America wants to be a force for good, sometimes an imperfect force that nonetheless wants to be a force for good, then those policies will have no resonance.

And so Jim Glassman, with his tremendous background – and, Jim, I’m very pleased to welcome Beth and your family here to join in this moment. Jim will lead the bureau very, very well. I know that. And he will be a fine voice, too, for what America really stands for, which is, as the President put it, there should be no corner on the Earth where tyranny is tolerated, no peoples who are thought to have been given over to tyranny, and only when tyranny has ended for all time will our work be done.

Jim, now I will swear you in. (Applause.) 

(The Oath of Office was administered.)

(Applause.)

UNDER SECRETARY GLASSMAN: Thank you, Madame Secretary, for your eloquent exposition on what public diplomacy is all about. You are an inspiration. You are a great leader, and I thank you for grace, your intelligence, and your fortitude. And I’m a lucky guy to be working for the State Department at this moment in time, so thank you so much.

I also want to say that I am honored to serve my country and my President and – who honored me with his nomination, and to serve you, Madame Secretary. I want to acknowledge the members of the diplomatic corps who are here. Thank you very much for coming. And I also want to acknowledge my family, some of whom are discussing something right now – (laughter) – Tess and Violet and James, my grandchildren, and Beth, who has had a very rough 2008, five operations in ten weeks. She has been an inspiration to me, ever cheerful, ever supportive, the love of my life. Thank you, Beth.

I also want to say a special thanks to my Uncle Bobby, who accompanied me on my confirmation hearing, which was, by the way, not particularly arduous. It was the part after the confirmation hearing that was so arduous. (Laughter.) I also want to thank all the people that helped me in my confirmation, Joie Gregor and Brian Cossiboom from the White House, Tom Fitzgerald and Bruce Brown from the State Department, and also Jeff Bergner. Dr. Bergner felt that after accomplishing probably the most difficult effort of his entire legislative lobbying career that it was time for him to retire, so now he’s gone. (Laughter.) 

And also, I’m so happy to see my friends for many years from Roll Call, from the BBG, from AEI, and my new colleagues here at State, as well as colleagues from part of the interagency, from DOD and the NSC and so on. 

I started work here on June 10th, and I told the folks with whom I’m working that this was exactly the moment in history for public diplomacy. You know, five years ago, as the Secretary said, I was on the Djerejian Group, and at that time I think that it’s safe to say that enthusiasm behind public diplomacy, at least in a broad sense throughout government and probably throughout the public, was not intense. I think it is now. I absolutely do. And we owe the Secretary a great debt of thanks for that, as well as the President, as well as Karen Hughes, my predecessor. Karen did enormous work here, and I stand on her shoulders. In fact, I’m kind of a heavy guy so I’m not sure that’s what she would like. (Laughter.) But I really owe a great debt of gratitude to Karen Hughes.

Public diplomacy, which is engaging foreign publics, very simply, with the goal of achieving the national interest, tries to tell the story of a good and compassionate nation, while at the same time pushing back against the most dangerous ideology of our time. That’s what we do in public diplomacy. As I said, we now have broad support, not only from the Secretary, but – I don’t know if it’s okay for me to quote the Secretary of Defense while we’re here in the State Department – the Secretary of Defense just two nights ago in a speech said, “Over the long term, we cannot kill or capture our way to victory. Non-military efforts, these tools of persuasion and inspiration, were indispensable to the outcome of the defining ideological struggle of the 20th century,” as the Secretary of State said. They are as indispensable in the 21st century; in fact, more so.

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of addressing a group of young people from Muslim-majority countries from around the world who are part of a program we call YES. And they were here because they were graduating from the YES program. They had just spent a year, all in – with families around the United States. You know, kids, 14-year-olds from – 14-, 15-, 16-year-olds from Cairo or from Jakarta living in Chester, Vermont or Butte, Montana. And they were so full of enthusiasm and excitement. Their minds were open, their hearts were open. And as the Secretary said, there’s nothing that we can do better in public diplomacy than bring people from around the world face-to-face with Americans. It is inspiring. And it is these children, as well as my own children and my own grandchildren, Violet and Tess and James that I think we all are working for. I’m certainly working for them. And I am honored and, frankly, extremely excited to be doing this work for my country. 

Thank you all for coming. And thank you, Madame Secretary, and thank you, Beth.


Released on August 4, 2008

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