Rice With USAID Administrator Andrew S. Natsios
Remarks With USAID Administrator Andrew S. Natsios
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
December 2, 2005
(10:20 p.m. EST)
SECRETARY RICE: Good morning. I've just been at USAID with Andrew Natsios, where he informed the employees of USAID that he has accepted an offer to go to Georgetown as a Professor in the Practice of Diplomacy, I think it is called. This is very bittersweet for me personally and for the United States Government. We, of course, know Andrew said to his staff that he has worked on the frontlines of development and democratization for seven years, five of it for the Bush Administration. From my point of view, I wish he'd gone on for another three and a half, at least until I'm ready to go because I've rarely had a better colleague than Andrew Natsios, and the United States Government has few people who have been such leaders, leaders in reform, leaders in challenge.
I said to the people at USAID that the United States Government respects enormously the mission of AID and the way that they have discharged it. That this has been a time of challenge and change of reform of the way that we do our business, but also a time when we have really had to do things -- the United States Government -- that we had not had to do for a very, very long time, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in other places. And the best thing about working with Andrew is that I've called him many, many times on the telephone, whether it was a tsunami or Pakistan or even our contribution to Katrina, and I don't ever remember Andrew saying, "No, that can't be done." I always remember that he said, "Let me get back to you on how we're going to do it." And that's one of the reasons that I'm going to miss him, but I'm delighted that he's going to go to a university. Since I'm an academic myself, I know the desire to write and to share knowledge.
But I also believe that he will engage now a whole new generation of young people who might be inspired to public service. I'm a big believer that you don't inspire young people to public service just by talking about it, but that in fact you do it by being an example of it. And Andrew is certainly an example.
And so again, it's with real, real regret that I announce that Andrew Natsios has decided to step down effective at the beginning of next year, mid-January, but to not just wish him well but to tell him what a tremendous impact he has made on everything that we've done in this historic period.
ADMINISTRATOR NATSIOS: Thank you, Madame Secretary. I have always had a warm place in my heart for Georgetown, when I went there 35 years ago as a student, went through ROTC there, and I have been back. I've got an honorary degree and my son graduated last year, so I've been very close to the university in a personal sense. And to have an offer to come back and teach in the Walsh School of Foreign Service was too tempting for me.
I have been now, as Dr. Rice said, on the frontlines for five years. It'll be five years in March that I returned to AID, but for two years before that I was running the Big Dig in Boston and then before that I was Secretary of Administration and Finance. And of course, the Big Dig actually -- people threatened to kill me in the Big Dig if I didn't give them contracts. (Laughter.) Here in Washington, people get upset, but I actually have never been threatened quite the same way. So this is a little easier than Boston is in terms of the politics of it.
When I started, we were going to focus on internal reform, systemic reform, fragile states, business model changes, and I had outlined this in my congressional testimony. We did not know that 9/11 was going to take place; that we would be fighting a war in Afghanistan, a war in Iraq; that there would be a genocide in Darfur; that there would be a peace agreement signed between North and South Sudan, another country that I have been very attached to for the last 16 years, and AID has played a central role.
And then of course, I was suppose to go on vacation after Christmas of last year and Colin Powell called up and said, "You're not going on vacation. You've just heard the tsunami took place three hours ago." I said, "I know, I'm canceling the vacation. I will be right in." And of course that then was a historic event because of the massive nature of that tsunami. Enough material, I must say, from all these to write several books and that is one of the things in addition to teaching that I look forward to doing.
One other historic event that's going to take place by January is that we will have had our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan finish the election process, having elected in those two countries permanent democratic governments. AID has played a role under the leadership of Dr. Rice in AID's technical assistance, both in the elections, the logistics of the elections, the training of election workers, the training of political parties. There's a training course we're putting together for new parliamentarians and how the parliamentary process works and working out the rules of procedure and that sort of thing, giving them advice in local elections.
So we have huge programs in both countries, the largest AID has done since the Marshall Plan. It's the largest reconstruction program in both countries in 45, 50 years. And so that will all happen in January.
I do want to thank President Bush. I have served the Bush family now for -- going back, when I joined the President's father, when he ran for President in 1979 in Massachusetts. I was the co-chairman of his father's campaign in 1980. That was 25 years ago -- I started a couple of years before that because we wanted to win the primary and Andy Card was the chairman of the campaign in Massachusetts and I was the co-chairman with Paul Cellucci, who later became Governor. All of us are in profoundly different positions now than we were as young state legislators 25 years ago.
I have to say we do have two historic Secretaries of State in many, many ways. I've often said there are three kinds of people we choose to be Secretaries of State: Intellectuals, military officers and lawyers. And we've chosen -- President Bush has chosen very well because the ones who've become historic figures are military officers and intellectuals. And I won't go through all of them but Dr. Rice will be a historic Secretary, even though she's only been in office one year. It's very clear to me that this will be an unusual time in the State Department's long history. And so it has been a distinct honor for me to learn from my two superiors over this five-year period and I wanted to thank you, Madame Secretary, for your personal friendship and Colin Powell for his as well.
And finally, I want to salute the men and women of AID who've been on the frontlines through some very difficult times and I'm very proud of them. I'm proud of the work we have accomplished together and the profound changes we have made in our business model and our business systems. We've opened new offices up. I was supposed to be a conservative Republican and I've opened up an office on conflict mitigation and management infrastructure and engineering, another office on military affairs, creating more links with other federal agencies that we work with in the field to increase coordination and coherence in our program. So it's been an honor and privilege for me to serve and I want to thank the President, once again, for allowing me to be in his Administrations for almost five years now.
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Released on December 2, 2005