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Hillary Clinton's Confirmation Hearing Statement

Speaker: Hillary Rodham Clinton
Published January 13, 2009



Hillary Clinton's Confirmation Hearing Statement

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held the confirmation hearing for Secretary of State nominee Hillary Clinton on January 13, 2009. For a transcript of the question and answer portion, click here.

"Thank you, Senator Schumer, for your generous introduction, and even
more for your support and our partnership over so many years. You are a
valued and trusted colleague, a friend, and a tribute to the people of
New York whom you have served with such distinction throughout your

Mr. Chairman, I offer my congratulations as you take on this new role.
You certainly have traveled quite a distance from that day in 1971 when
you testified here as a young Vietnam veteran. You have never faltered
in your care and concern for our nation, its foreign policy or its
future, and America is in good hands with you leading this committee.

Senator Lugar, I look forward to working with you on a wide range of
issues, especially those of greatest concern to you, including the
Nunn-Lugar initiative.

And Senator Voinovich, I want to commend you for your service to the
people of Ohio and ask for your help in the next two years on the
management issues you champion.

It is an honor and a privilege to be here this morning as
President-elect Obama's nominee for Secretary of State. I am deeply
grateful for the trust – and keenly aware of the responsibility – that
the President-elect has placed in me to serve our country and our
people at a time of such grave dangers, and great possibilities. If
confirmed, I will accept the duties of the office with gratitude,
humility, and firm determination to represent the United States as
energetically and faithfully as I can.

At the same time I must confess that sitting across the table from so
many colleagues brings me sadness too. I love the Senate. And if you
confirm me for this new role, it will be hard to say good-bye to so
many members, Republicans and Democrats, whom I have come to know,
admire, and respect deeply, and to the institution where I have been so
proud to sere on behalf of the people of New York for the past eight

But I assure you that I will be in frequent consultation and
conversation with the members of this committee, with the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, the appropriations committees, and with Congress as
a whole. And I look forward to working with my good friend, Vice
President-elect Biden, who has been a valued colleague in the Senate
and valued chairman of this committee.

For me, consultation is not a catch-word. It is a commitment. The
President-elect and I believe that we must return to the time-honored
principle of bipartisanship in our foreign policy – an approach that
past Presidents of both parties, as well as members of this committee,
subscribed to and that has served our nation well. I look forward to
working with all of you to renew America's leadership through diplomacy
that enhances our security, advances our interests, and reflects our

Today, nine years into a new century, Americans know that our nation
and our world face great perils: from ongoing wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan, to the continuing threat posed by terrorist extremists, to
the spread of weapons of mass destruction; from the dangers of climate
change to pandemic disease; from financial meltdown to worldwide

The seventy days since the presidential election offer fresh evidence
of the urgency of these challenges. New conflict in Gaza; terrorist
attacks in Mumbai; mass killings and rapes in the Congo; cholera in
Zimbabwe; reports of record high greenhouse gasses and rapidly melting
glaciers; and even an ancient form of terror – piracy – asserting
itself in modern form off
the Horn of Africa.

Always, and especially in the crucible of these global challenges, our
overriding duty is to protect and advance America's security,
interests, and values: First, we must keep our people, our nation, and
our allies secure. Second, we must promote economic growth and shared
prosperity at home and abroad. Finally, we must strengthen America's
position of global leadership – ensuring that we remain a positive
force in the world, whether in working to preserve the health of our
planet or expanding dignity and opportunity for people on the margins
whose progress and prosperity will add to our own.

Our world has undergone an extraordinary transformation in the last two
decades. In 1989, a wall fell and old barriers began to crumble after
40 years of a Cold War that had influenced every aspect of our foreign
policy. By 1999, the rise of more democratic and open societies, the
expanding reach of world markets, and the explosion of information
technology had made “globalization” the word of the day. For most
people, it had primarily an economic connotation, but in fact, we were
already living in a profoundly interdependent world in which old rules
and boundaries no longer held fast—one in which both the promise and
the peril of the 21st century could not be contained by national
borders or vast distances.

Economic growth has lifted more people out of poverty faster than at
any time in history, but economic crises can sweep across the globe
even more quickly. A coalition of nations stopped ethnic cleansing in
the Balkans, but the conflict in the Middle East continues to inflame
tensions from Asia to Africa. Non-state actors fight poverty, improve
health, and expand education in the poorest parts of the world, while
other non-state actors traffic in drugs, children, and women and kill
innocent civilians across the globe.

Now, in 2009, the clear lesson of the last twenty years is that we must
both combat the threats and seize the opportunities of our
interdependence. And to be effective in doing so we must build a world
with more partners and fewer adversaries.

America cannot solve the most pressing problems on our own, and the
world cannot solve them without America. The best way to advance
America's interest in reducing global threats and seizing global
opportunities is to design and implement global solutions. This isn't a
philosophical point. This is our reality.

The President-Elect and I believe that foreign policy must be based on
a marriage of principles and pragmatism, not rigid ideology. On facts
and evidence, not emotion or prejudice. Our security, our vitality, and
our ability to lead in today's world oblige us to recognize the
overwhelming fact of our interdependence.

I believe that American leadership has been wanting, but is still
wanted. We must use what has been called “smart power,” the full range
of tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, political,
legal, and cultural -- picking the right tool, or combination of tools,
for each situation. With smart power, diplomacy will be the vanguard of
foreign policy. This is not a radical idea. The ancient Roman poet
Terence, who was born a slave and rose to become one of the great
voices of his time, declared that “in every endeavor, the seemly course
for wise men is to try persuasion first.” The same truth binds wise
women as well.

The President-Elect has made it clear that in the Obama Administration
there will be no doubt about the leading role of diplomacy. One need
only look to North Korea, Iran, the Middle East, and the Balkans to
appreciate the absolute necessity of tough-minded, intelligent
diplomacy – and the failures that result when that kind of diplomatic
effort is absent. And one need only consider the assortment of problems
we must tackle in 2009 – from fighting terrorism to climate change to
global financial crises – to understand the importance of cooperative

I assure you that, if I am confirmed, the State Department will be
firing on all cylinders to provide forward-thinking, sustained
diplomacy in every part of the world; applying pressure and exerting
leverage; cooperating with our military partners and other agencies of
government; partnering effectively with NGOs, the private sector, and
international organizations; using modern technologies for public
outreach; empowering negotiators who can protect our interests while
understanding those of our negotiating partners. There will be
thousands of separate interactions, all strategically linked and
coordinated to defend American security and prosperity. Diplomacy is
hard work; but when we work hard, diplomacy can work, and not just to
defuse tensions, but to achieve results that advance our security,
interests and values.

Secretary Gates has been particularly eloquent in articulating the
importance of diplomacy in pursuit of our national security and foreign
policy objectives. As he notes, it's not often that a Secretary of
Defense makes the case for adding resources to the State Department and
elevating the role of the diplomatic corps. Thankfully, Secretary Gates
is more concerned about having a unified, agile, and effective U.S.
strategy than in spending our precious time and energy on petty turf
wars. As he has stated, “our civilian institutions of diplomacy and
development have been chronically undermanned and underfunded for far
too long,” both relative to military spending and to “the
responsibilities and challenges our nation has around the world.” And
to that, I say, “Amen!”

President-elect Obama has emphasized that the State Department must be
fully empowered and funded to confront multi-dimensional challenges –
from working with allies to thwart terrorism, to spreading health and
prosperity in places of human suffering. I will speak in greater detail
about that in a moment.

We should also use the United Nations and other international
institutions whenever appropriate and possible. Both Democratic and
Republican presidents have understood for decades that these
institutions, when they work well, enhance our influence. And when they
don't work well – as in the cases of Darfur and the farce of Sudan's
election to the former UN Commission on Human Rights, for example – we
should work with likeminded friends to make sure that these
institutions reflect the values that motivated their creation in the
first place.

We will lead with diplomacy because it's the smart approach. But we
also know that military force will sometimes be necessary, and we will
rely on it to protect our people and our interests when and where
needed, as a last resort.

All the while, we must remember that to promote our interests around
the world, America must be an exemplar of our values. Senator Isakson
made the point to me the other day that our nation must lead by example
rather than edict. Our history has shown that we are most effective
when we see the harmony between our interests abroad and our values at
home. And I takegreat comfort in knowing that our first Secretary of
State, Thomas Jefferson, also subscribed to that view, reminding us
across the centuries: “The interests of a nation, when well understood,
will be found to coincide with their moral duties.”

So while our democracy continues to inspire people around the world, we
know that its influence is greatest when we live up to its teachings
ourselves. Senator Lugar, I'm going to borrow your words here, because
you have made this point so eloquently: You once said that “the United
States cannot feed every person, lift every person out of poverty, cure
every disease, or stop every conflict. But our power and status have
conferred upon us a tremendous responsibility to humanity.”

Of course, we must be realistic about achieving our goals. Even under
the best of circumstances, our nation cannot solve every problem or
meet every global need. We don't have unlimited time, treasure, or
manpower. And we certainly don't face the best of circumstances today,
with our economy faltering and our budget deficits growing.

So to fulfill our responsibility to our children, to protect and defend
our nation while honoring our values, we have to establish priorities.
Now, I'm not trying to mince words here. As my colleagues in the Senate
know, “establishing priorities” means making tough choices. Because
those choices are so important to the American people, we must be
disciplined in evaluating them -- weighing the costs and consequences
of our action or inaction; gauging the probability of success; and
insisting on measurable results.

Right after I was nominated a friend told me: “The world has so many
problems. You've got your work cut out for you.” Well, I agree that the
problems are many and they are big. But I don't get up every morning
thinking only about the threats and dangers we face. With every
challenge comes an opportunity to find promise and possibility in the
face of adversity and complexity. Today's world calls forth the
optimism and can-do spirit that has marked our progress for more than
two centuries.

Too often we see the ills that plague us more clearly than the
possibilities in front of us. We see threats that must be thwarted;
wrongs that must be righted; conflicts that must be calmed. But not the
partnerships that can be promoted; the rights that can be reinforced;
the innovations that can be fostered; the people who can be empowered.

After all, it is the real possibility of progress—of that better life,
free from fear and want and discord—that offers our most compelling
message to the rest of the world.

I've had the chance to lay out and submit my views on a broad array of
issues in written responses to questions from the committee, so in this
statement I will outline some of the major challenges we face and some
of the major opportunities we see.

First, President-Elect Obama is committed to responsibly ending the war
in Iraq and employing a broad strategy in Afghanistan that reduces
threats to our safety and enhances the prospect of stability and peace.

Right now, our men and women in uniform, our diplomats, and our aid
workers are risking their lives in those two countries. They have done
everything we have asked of them and more. But, over time we have seen
that our larger interests will be best served by safely and responsibly
withdrawing our troops from Iraq, supporting a transition to full Iraqi
responsibility for their sovereign nation, rebuilding our overtaxed
military, and reaching out to other nations to help stabilize the
region and to employ a broader arsenal of tools to fight terrorism.

Equally important will be a comprehensive plan using all elements of
our power – diplomacy, development, and defense – to work with those in
Afghanistan and Pakistan who want to root out al-Qaeda, the Taliban,
and other violent extremists who threaten them as well as us in what
President- Elect Obama has called the central front in the fight
against terrorism. We need to deepen our engagement with these and
other countries in the region and pursue policies that improve the
lives of the Afghan and Pakistani people.

As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, we must also actively
pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the
security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic
aspirations of the Palestinians; that effectively challenges Iran to
end its nuclear weapons program and sponsorship of terror, and
persuades both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behavior and
become constructive regional actors; that strengthens our relationships
with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, with Turkey, and
with our partners in the Gulf to involve them in securing a lasting
peace in the region.

As intractable as the Middle East's problems may seem – and many
Presidents, including my husband, have spent years trying to help work
out a resolution – we cannot give up on peace. The President-Elect and
I understand and are deeply sympathetic to Israel's desire to defend
itself under the current conditions, and to be free of shelling by
Hamas rockets.

However, we have also been reminded of the tragic humanitarian costs of
conflict in the Middle East, and pained by the suffering of Palestinian
and Israeli civilians. This must only increase our determination to
seek a just and lasting peace agreement that brings real security to
Israel; normal and positive relations with its neighbors; and
independence, economic progress, and security to the Palestinians in
their own state.

We will exert every effort to support the work of Israelis and
Palestinianswho seek that result. It is critical not only to the
parties involved but to our profound interests in undermining the
forces of alienation and violent extremism across our world.

Terrorism remains a serious threat and we must have a comprehensive
strategy, leveraging intelligence, diplomacy, and military assets to
defeat al- Qaeda and like-minded terrorists by rooting out their
networks and drying up support for their violent and nihilistic
extremism. The gravest threat that America faces is the danger that
weapons of mass destruction will fall into the hands of terrorists. To
ensure our future security, we must curb the biological, chemical, or
cyber – while we take the lead in working with others to reduce current
nuclear stockpiles and prevent the development and use of dangerous new

Therefore, while defending against the threat of terrorism, we will
also seize the parallel opportunity to get America back in the business
of engaging other nations to reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons. We
will work with Russia to secure their agreement to extend essential
monitoring and verification provisions of the START Treaty before it
expires in December 2009, and we will work toward agreements for
further reductions in nuclear weapons. We will also work with Russia to
take U.S. and Russian missiles off hair-trigger alert, act with urgency
to prevent proliferation in North Korea and Iran, secure loose nuclear
weapons and materials, and shut down the market for selling them – as
Senator Lugar has done for so many years. The Non Proliferation Treaty
is the cornerstone of the nonproliferation regime, and the United
States must exercise the leadership needed to shore up the regime. So,
we will work with this committee and the Senate toward ratification of
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and reviving negotiations on a
verifiable Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty.

Today's security threats cannot be addressed in isolation. Smart power
requires reaching out to both friends and adversaries, to bolster old
alliances and to forge new ones.

That means strengthening the alliances that have stood the test of
time— especially with our NATO partners and our allies in Asia. Our
alliance with Japan is a cornerstone of American policy in Asia,
essential to maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific
region, and based on shared values and mutual interests. We also have
crucial economic and security partnerships with South Korea, Australia,
and other friends in ASEAN. We will build on our economic and political
partnership with India, the world's most populous democracy and a
nation with growing influence in the world.

Our traditional relationships of confidence and trust with Europe will
be deepened. Disagreements are inevitable, even among the closest
friends, but on most global issues we have no more trusted allies. The
new administration will have a chance to reach out across the Atlantic
to leaders in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and others across
the continent, including the new democracies. When America and Europe
work together, global objectives are well within our means.

President-Elect Obama and I seek a future of cooperative engagement
with the Russian government on matters of strategic importance, while
standing up strongly for American values and international norms. China
is a critically important actor in a changing global landscape. We want
a positive and cooperative relationship with China, one where we deepen
and strengthen our ties on a number of issues, and candidly address
differences where they persist.

But this a not one-way effort – much of what we will do depends on the
choices China makes about its future at home and abroad. With both
Russia and China, we should work together on vital security and
economic issues like terrorism, proliferation, climate change, and
reforming financial markets.

The world is now in the cross currents of the most severe global
economic contraction since the Great Depression. The history of that
crisis teaches us the consequences of diplomatic failures and
uncoordinated reactions. Yet history alone is an insufficient guide;
the world has changed too much. We have already seen that this crisis
extends beyond the housing and banking sectors, and our solutions will
have to be as wide in scope as the causes themselves, taking into
account the complexities of the global economy, the geopolitics
involved, and the likelihood of continued political and economic
repercussions from the damage already done.

But here again, as we work to repair the damage, we can find new ways
of working together. For too long, we have merely talked about the need
to engage emerging powers in global economic governance; the time to
take action is upon us. The recent G-20 meeting was a first step, but
developing patterns of sustained engagement will take hard work and
careful negotiation. We know that emerging markets like China, India,
Brazil, South Africa, and Indonesia are feeling the effects of the
current crisis. We all stand to benefit in both the short and long term
if they are part of the solution, and become partners in maintaining
global economic stability.

In our efforts to return to economic growth here in the United States,
we have an especially critical need to work more closely with Canada,
our largest trading partner, and Mexico, our third largest. Canada and
Mexico are also our biggest suppliers of imported energy. More broadly,
we must build a deeper partnership with Mexico to address the shared
danger arising from drug-trafficking and the challenges of our border,
an effort begun this week with a meeting between President-elect Obama
and President Calderon.

Throughout our hemisphere we have opportunities to enhance cooperation
to meet common economic, security and environmental objectives that
affect us all. We will return to a policy of vigorous engagement
throughout Latin America, seeking deeper understanding and broader
engagement with nations from the Caribbean to Central to South America.
Not only do we share common political, economic and strategic interests
with our friends to the south, our relationship is also enhanced by
many shared ancestral and cultural legacies. We are looking forward to
working on many issues during the Summit of the Americas in April and
taking up the President-Elect's call for a new energy partnership of
the Americas built around shared technology and new investments in
renewable energy.

In Africa, the foreign policy objectives of the Obama administration
are rooted in security, political, economic, and humanitarian
interests, including: combating al Qaeda's efforts to seek safe havens
in failed states in the Horn of Africa; helping African nations to
conserve their natural resources and reap fair benefits from them;
stopping war in Congo; ending autocracy in Zimbabwe and human
devastation in Darfur; supporting African democracies like South Africa
and Ghana--which just had its second change of power in democratic
elections; and working aggressively to reach the Millennium Development
Goals in health, education, and economic opportunity.

Many significant problems we face challenge not just the United States,
but all nations and peoples. You, Mr. Chairman, were among the first,
in a growing chorus from both parties, to recognize that climate change
is an unambiguous security threat. At the extreme it threatens our very
existence, but well before that point, it could very well incite new
wars of an old kind—over basic resources like food, water, and arable
land. The world is in need of an urgent, coordinated response to
climate change and, as President- Elect Obama has said, America must be
a leader in developing and implementing it. We can lead abroad through
participation in international efforts like the upcoming UN Copenhagen
Climate Conference and a Global Energy Forum. We can lead at home by
pursuing an energy policy that reduces our carbon emissions while
reducing our dependence on foreign oil and gas—which will benefit the
fight against climate change and enhance our economy and security.

The great statesman and general George Marshall noted that our gravest
enemies are often not nations or doctrines, but “hunger, poverty,
desperation, and chaos.” To create more friends and fewer enemies, we
can't just win wars. We must find common ground and common purpose with
other peoples and nations so that together we can overcome hatred,
violence, lawlessness, and despair.

The Obama administration recognizes that, even when we cannot fully
agree with some governments, we share a bond of humanity with their
people. By investing in that common humanity we advance our common
security because we pave the way for a more peaceful, prosperous world.

Mr. Chairman, you were one of the first to underscore the importance of
our involvement in the global AIDS fight. And you have worked very hard
on this issue for many years. Now, thanks to a variety of
efforts—including President Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief as
well as the work of NGOs and foundations—the United States enjoys
widespread support in public opinion polls in many African countries.
This is true even among Muslim populations in Tanzania and Kenya, where
America is seen as a leader in the fight against AIDS, malaria, and TB.

We have an opportunity to build on this success by partnering with NGOs
to help expand the infrastructure of health clinics in Africa so that
more people can have access to life-saving drugs, fewer mothers
transmit HIV to their children, and fewer lives are lost.

And we can generate even more goodwill through other kinds of social
investment, by working effectively with international organizations and
NGO partners to build schools and train teachers, and by ensuring that
children are free from hunger and exploitation so that they can attend
those schools and pursue their dreams for the future. This is why the
President- Elect supports a Global Education Fund to bolster secular
education around the world.

I want to take a moment to emphasize the importance of a “bottom-up”
approach to ensuring that America remains a positive force in the
world. The President-elect and I believe in this strongly. Investing in
our common humanity through social development is not marginal to our
foreign policy but integral to accomplishing our goals.

Today more than two billion people worldwide live on less than $2 a
day. They are facing rising food prices and widespread hunger. Calls
for expanding civil and political rights in countries plagued by mass
hunger and disease will fall on deaf ears unless democracy actually
delivers material benefits that improve people's lives while weeding
out the corruption that too often stands in the way of progress.

Our foreign policy must reflect our deep commitment to the cause of
making human rights a reality for millions of oppressed people around
the world. Of particular concern to me is the plight of women and
girls, who comprise the majority of the world's unhealthy, unschooled,
unfed, and unpaid. If half of the world's population remains vulnerable
to economic, political, legal, and social marginalization, our hope of
advancing democracy and prosperity will remain in serious jeopardy. We
still have a long way to go and the United States must remain an
unambiguous and unequivocal voice in support of women's rights in every
country, every region, on every continent.

As a personal aside, I want to mention that President-elect Obama's
mother, Ann Dunham, was a pioneer in microfinance in Indonesia. In my
own work on microfinance around the world – from Bangladesh to Chile to
Vietnam to South Africa and many other countries -- I've seen firsthand
how small loans given to poor women to start small businesses can raise
standards of living and transform local economies. President-elect
Obama's mother had planned to attend a microfinance forum at the
Beijing women's conference in 1995 that I participated in.
Unfortunately, she was very ill and couldn't travel and sadly passed
away a few months later. But I think it's fair to say that her work in
international development, the care and concern she showed for women
and for poor people around the world, mattered greatly to her son, and
certainly has informed his views and his vision. We will be honored to
carry on Ann Dunham's work in the months and years ahead.

I've discussed a few of our top priorities and I know we'll address
many more in the question-and-answer session. But I suspect that even
this brief overview offers a glimpse of the daunting, and crucial,
challenges we face, as well as the opportunities before us.
President-elect Obama and I pledge to work closely with this Committee
and the Congress to forge a bipartisan,
integrated, results-oriented sustainable foreign policy that will
restore American leadership to confront these challenges, serve our
interests, and advance our values.

Ensuring that our State Department is functioning at its best will be
absolutely essential to America's success. This is a top priority of
mine, of my colleagues' on the national security team, and of the
President-elect's. He believes strongly that we need to invest in our
civilian capacity to conduct vigorous American diplomacy, provide the
kind of foreign assistance I've mentioned, reach out to the world, and
operate effectively alongside our military.

I realize that the entire State Department bureaucracy in Thomas
Jefferson's day consisted of a chief clerk, three regular clerks, and a
messenger – and his entire budget was $56,000 a year. But over the past
219 years the world, and the times, have certainly changed. Now the
department consists of foreign service officers, the civil service, and
locally engaged staff working at Foggy Bottom, in offices across our
country, and at some 260 posts around the world. And today, USAID
carries out a critical development mission that is essential to
representing our values across the globe.

These public servants are too often unsung heroes. They are in the
trenches putting our policies and values to work in an increasingly
complicated and dangerous world. Many risk their lives, and some lose
their lives, in service to our nation. And they need and deserve the
resources, training, and support to succeed.

I know this committee, and I hope the American public, understand that
right now foreign service officers, civil service professionals, and
development experts are doing work essential to our nation's strength –
whether helping American businesses make inroads in new markets; being
on the other end of the phone at a United States embassy when an
American citizen needs help beyond our shores; doing the delicate work
of diplomacy and development with foreign governments that leads to
arms control and trade agreements, peace treaties and post-conflict
reconstruction, greater human rights and empowerment, broader cultural
understanding and
stronger alliances.

The State Department is a large, multi-dimensional organization. But it
is not a placid or idle bureaucracy, as some would like to paint it. It
is an outpost for American values that protects our citizens and
safeguards our democratic institutions in times both turbulent and
tame. State Department employees also offer a lifeline of hope and help
– often the only lifeline – for people in foreign lands who are
oppressed, silenced, and marginalized.

Whether they are an economic officer in a large embassy, or an aid
worker in the field, or a clerk in a distant consulate or a country
officer working late in Washington, they do their work so that we may
all live in peace and security. We must not shortchange them, or
ourselves, by denying them the resources they need.

One of my first priorities is to make sure that the State Department
and USAID have the resources they need, and I will be back to make the
case to Congress for full funding of the President's budget request. At
the same time, I will work just as hard to make sure that we manage
those resources prudently so that we fulfill our mission efficiently
and effectively.

In concluding, I hope you will indulge me one final observation. Like
most Americans, I never had the chance to travel widely outside our
country as a child or young adult. Most of my early professional career
was as a lawyer and advocate for children and who found themselves on
society's margins here at home. But during the eight years of my
husband's presidency, and then in my eight years as a Senator, I have
been privileged to travel on behalf of the United States to more than
80 countries.

I've had the opportunity to get to know many world leaders. As a member
of the Senate Armed Services Committee I've spent time with our
military commanders, as well as our brave troops serving in Iraq and
Afghanistan, and I have immersed myself in an array of military issues.
I've spent many hours with American and non-American aid workers,
businessmen and women, religious leaders, teachers, doctors, nurses,
students, volunteers and others who have made it their mission to help
people across the world. I have also learned invaluable lessons from
countless ordinary citizens in foreign capitals, small towns, and rural
villages whose lives offered a glimpse into a world far removed from
what many of us experience on a daily basis here in America.

In recent years, as other nations have risen to compete for military,
economic, and political influence, some have argued that we have
reached the end of the “American moment” in world history. I disagree.
Yes, the conventional paradigms have shifted. But America's success has
never been solely a function of our power; it has always been inspired
by our values.

With so many troubles here at home and across the world, millions of
peopleare still trying to come to our country -- legally and illegally.
Why? Because we are guided by unchanging truths: that all people are
created equal; that each person has a right to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. And in these truths we will find, as we have for
more than two centuries, the
courage, the discipline, and the creativity to meet the challenges of this everchanging world.

I am humbled to be a public servant, and honored by the responsibility
placed on me by our President-Elect, who embodies the American Dream
not only here at home but far beyond our shores.

No matter how daunting our challenges may be, I have a steadfast faith
in our country and our people, and I am proud to be an American at the
dawning of this new American moment.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for granting me
your time and attention today. I know there is a lot more territory to
cover and I'd be delighted to answer your questions."

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