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Seeds of Peace - Richard Armitage

Seeds of Peace

Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State Loy Henderson Auditorium, Department of State Washington, DC August 13, 2002

Thank you very much, Ms. Wallach. I had the honor of knowing your husband. He was a journalist when I met him, in the first Reagan Administration. And I d like to welcome all of you Seeds to the Department of State. I m going to tell you a little bit about this Department today, about what goes on here, and then look forward to answering some of your questions.

Before I continue, I just want to say, Janet, that we very much appreciate the fact that you are carrying on the vision that John had. And although his passing was a great loss to the world, there are few among us who leave such a rich legacy and there they are. Not just to his family, your family, but to a family of thousands of children around the world and, indeed, to future generations to come. So, indeed, welcome.

Now I am going to pay back the favor that you accorded me by singing such a wonderful song by not singing for you. You will thank me for this. I actually sang, not so long ago, at a high school graduation in June. I had to graduate 800 seniors. And I actually tried to sing a song from Nelly, if any of you are familiar with our rap music. It didn t go over very well, so I ll just withhold.

This is an impressive turnout today of members of the diplomatic community, my friend Walt Cutler, among others, Department officials, and other guests. But as I understand it, you campers have met with an even more impressive lineup than you re going to find here in the Department of State. The kind of people that I don t very often get to meet, and no, I m not talking about people in the White House like George Bush and Condoleeza Rice. I m talking about the representatives of the National Basketball Association who visited with you in Maine. Antawn Jamison and Mike Dunleavy, Brent Barry, Carlos Boozer these are names known to every young American teenager. And I envy you.

But I just met with some of your all-stars -- Aia [Hijazi] and Loizos [Kapsalis], Orren [Karniol] and Halide [Tuna]. They came to visit me for a few moments in my office. And as far as I m concerned, they re just as much all-stars, just a slightly different league. From what they told me about last 3 weeks that you ve undergone, I think there are a lot of similarities between your camp and the State Department. And I m not just talking about the bad food in the cafeteria though I can assure you that we re soon going to get veggie dogs, as well.

The fact is, both the Department and your camp have engaged in long-term struggle to build peace. We both have faith in a vision of the future and both have the fortitude to do what it takes to make that hard vision a reality. And that s the difficult, day-to-day hard work of diplomacy.

I want to tell you a little bit, as I said, about the Department of State, to give you a sense of the kind of hard work that goes on here and the scale of our undertakings in which we re engaged.

Now in some senses, the Department of State is relatively small. We ve got a workforce of a total of about 45,000 people and a budget of about $25 billion hopefully that s going to go up. But that s only a little less than 1% of the Federal budget. Now if you compared that to the revenues of America s top corporations, we d be 73rd on the list, somewhere right between Microsoft and Walt Disney.

But with those relatively small numbers, we run a pretty complicated and, indeed, a vast enterprise. Architects and engineers reside here they re the architects and engineers who design and build all of the United States relations with the rest of the world. I think you all know that this means, most directly, our diplomats in our embassies who manage relations with 180 different nations. Policymakers who reside here in Washington. But what you may not know is that the Department of State Dept is also a landlord. We manage some 13,000 properties at 300 locations around the world. We are educators. We have our own school, the Foreign Service Institute, and we fund the studies of 12,000 more students from all over the world through Fulbright and other exchange programs. We are a police force. We have a security service of 1,200 individuals who provide protection from here to Afghanistan. And we re the gateway between the United States and the rest of the world. We issued 16 million visas and passports last year, and every month, more than a million people log on to our website.

So what all these numbers add up to is our belief that the Department of State, here in Washington, and in our embassies, is the first line of our nation s defense. We are the defense against the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. We are the defense against attacks on our citizens at home and abroad. And we are the defense against the violence and the unrest around the world that undermine peace and prosperity for all nations.

I think if you wander around this Department and talk to most of our diplomats here, they would say that this is exciting work and it s challenging work, and yes, occasionally it is very dangerous work. Last week, on August 7th, we marked the fourth anniversary of bombings of our embassies in East Africa. Hundreds of Kenyans, Tanzanians and, indeed, Americans were killed. And many Foreign Service Officers and civil servants have given their lives in service to this nation over the years. Right outside, on the corner of this corridor, you will see their names inscribed on the wall as you are leaving the building.

So I am telling you this not so you will all be impressed with how hard we work, but rather that it will mean something when I tell you that I understand how hard you will have to work. Now tomorrow, you will return to your homes, and while I m sure all of you will be happy to see your family and your friends. Too many of you have little to look forward to. Some of you may even be afraid or unable to leave your homes. And most of you will be have to deal with neighborhoods sometimes defined by anger, by grief and by violence.

So I d like to ask you if you d be kind enough to take with you into what may seem a moment of despair, the memory of your time in Maine. In the short run, you learned what John Wallach intended: that the enemy has a face, a heart, a mind and dreams for a better future, just as all of you do.

In the long run, it s up to you to make that future happen. You and the campers who came before you and those who will follow form that community and continuum of hope. And I hope that you ll draw strength from that knowledge that in this grand endeavor, you are not alone.

I can assure you that we in the Department of State will, in turn, draw strength from you, just as I drew a little strength from the four all-stars who visited me a few moments ago. We will gain strength as we try to put together what war and hatred have broken in Cyprus, in Israel and in Palestine.

I m a statesman today, that s what they call me some people have their doubts but I started my career, when I was just a little older than you, as a warfighter. And I have seen enough of death and devastation to know what you all know, as well, and that is that there has to be a better way.

President Bush has said that "conflict is not inevitable. Distrust need not be permanent. Peace is possible when we break free of old patterns and habits of hatred." That s what we are trying to do here at the Department of State to prevent conflict, to break free of old patterns and habits of hatred. But we have to rely on you to be partners in the peacemaking.

Seeds of Peace has shown you how to be leaders, and I believe how to break down the walls of mistrust. Now it s up to you to go home and to throw away the old patterns and habits of hatred and build up that new community and continuum of hope.

Now I was joking with you when I said I would return the favor of a song by not singing to you. But I am going to get even. Because I m going to read you a poem. Because it s a poem that means a lot to me, and it always has. And it s one that has helped me enormously. It s by the 17th century English metaphysical poet, John Donne, and perhaps it will be familiar to some of you. He wrote:

No man is an island, Entire of itself. Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less. As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manner of thine own Or of thine friend s were. Each man s death diminishes me, For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.

The point is simple: since we re all part of mankind, any person s death diminishes us. And by implication, any person s suffering also hurts us. And further by implication, any person s triumph is a triumph for all of us.

Now you have among you the master architects who are going to chart a way to the future. And you have among you, the master craftsmen and the master builders who will actually build that road to the future. And I hope as we go forward together, you ll be able to say at some time in the future that you found in the Department of State and the United States a willing partner on that road to the future.

So I want to wish you good luck and Godspeed. Thank you all very much.


Released on September 23, 2002

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