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U.S. Global Leadership Campaign's 2008 Tribute Dinner Honoring Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Ritz-Carlton Hotel
Washington, DC
July 15, 2008

(7:00 p.m. EDT)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Cokie, for that kind introduction. And, indeed, I did have a wonderful conversation with Cokie. With her vivid use of the language, she was able to paint a picture of that wonderful trip that she took in – deep into Pakistan. And it was, indeed, for me, very revealing. So thank you for going because it’s awfully important that Americans are seen there.

I want to thank you for inviting me to join you in honoring my friend and colleague, Secretary Robert Gates. Now, Bob and I have been friends since our days serving under the Administration of President George H.W. Bush. And I’ll tell you, we have a lot of great stories, some of which we can tell and some of which we cannot. (Laughter.) But most importantly, we have a great friendship that has only grown stronger over the years, and so it’s a privilege to pay tribute to him.

I would also like to recognize the U.S. Global Leadership Campaign for its work. I’d like to recognize Nancy Lindborg, Co-President, George Ingram, Liz Schrayer, for their tireless work each and every day to keep this organization at the forefront of world issues. (Applause.)The Global Leadership Campaign is simply indispensable in helping to ensure that the United States remains prepared and capable of exercising global leadership. Indeed, I believe that the highest national security priority for the United States today is to remain confident in ourselves, confident in our capabilities and, most importantly, confident in the extraordinary power of our values.

Because of your work, we have accomplished much in these past eight years. We have strengthened and transformed our institutions of diplomacy by getting the funding necessary for new positions and new missions. Even now, we are pushing to significantly expand our diplomatic corps and USAID -- efforts that would not be possible without this organization. And I want to thank you for your support of the president’s initiative to add 1,100 new Foreign Service officers and 300 new USAID officers. (Applause.)

We have doubled foreign assistance to Latin America. We have tripled foreign assistance worldwide and we have quadrupled it for Africa. Together, we have introduced innovative new approaches to foreign assistance, like the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and dramatic new development initiatives, like the development of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the unprecedented $1.2 billion Malaria Initiative. And we’ve been able to do all of this because of the active support of people like you. Together with our Congress, the United States is building a firm foundation and a firm footing for our diplomacy and for development. And in doing so, we are making ourselves more secure. (Applause.)

Now, as you may know, there’s another person who’s been supporting an increased role for diplomacy and civilian institutions and it’s the man that we are honoring tonight. In fact, I tell people sometimes that I think this is the first time in our history that the Secretary of Defense is employed as an active lobbyist for the State Department. (Laughter.)

Over the past year and a half, I think it’s safe to say that Bob Gates has established himself as one of the true great civilian leaders of our nation’s fighting men and women, but he’s done more than that. (Applause.) He and I both believe that the challenges of the 21st century require change within individual departments of our national security apparatus, as well as better and stronger means for interagency action and coordination. In fact, I believe that the way that we’ve come to think about the world is that we no longer face neat categories of war and peace.

More often, in many troubled places, we are facing a continuum between war and peace; countries with which we are not at war, but for which the ability to provide basic levels of security to their people is critical to their success and stability, is decisively in our interest, and is therefore worthy of our support. This is why the ability of the Department of State and the Department of Defense to work together in these less than fully secure environments, or even in zones of conflict, is so increasingly crucial to our success.

Bob understands this, and he is supportive of the coordinated and collaborative efforts that we have undertaken. He has been instrumental in our efforts to build a Civilian Response Corps and to transform the way that we approach foreign reconstruction projects.

In other words, Bob’s leadership and steadfast commitment has left an indelible mark on the Defense Department, on the State Department, and indeed, on America’s global leadership. I’m honored to join you in paying a most-deserved tribute to him and to say, Bob, thank you for your service and your dedication to the United States, thank you for your dedication to our values and thank you for your friendship. Thank you very much. (Applause.)


Released on July 16, 2008

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