Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony
Remarks at Swearing-In Ceremony
Daniel R. Russel
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Benjamin Franklin Room
August 5, 2013
ASSISTANT SECRETARY DANIEL RUSSEL: Thank you very much, Secretary Kerry. Thank you for your very generous remarks. I’m truly grateful to you and to the President for placing your trust in me. I appreciate, Mr. Secretary, your energy, your vision, your leadership, your tireless pursuit of peace, and your determination to fight for what you believe in. Thank you also for giving me the honor of swearing me in today.
This underscores the importance that you place on the Asia-Pacific region - a part of the world you know extraordinarily well and that you yourself have helped to shape through your career in the U.S. Senate. My own career began working for a giant of the Senate like you, Mr. Secretary, a chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mike Mansfield. And for the past four years I’ve worked for two other former senators, the President and the Vice President. So now it’s a special honor for me to serve under your leadership.
I have loved my four and a half years at the White House. It’s truly been an extraordinary experience and an honor for which I’ll always be grateful. At the same time, I’m happy to be home now in the State Department and part of this team. In particular, I’m proud to rejoin the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. I’ve served in the bureau, I’ve served in the region, and I know that it’s made up of really wonderful and talented men and women here and overseas and I can’t thank them and their families enough for the wonderful work that they do. That includes the thousands of foreign nationals who support us overseas.
I particularly thank all of you in the diplomatic corps for attending this swearing-in. The world sends it’s very, very best diplomats to Washington, D.C. and it’s been my privilege to get to know you in my previous job. All those times in the White House when I told you, you needed to take those problematic issues over to the State Department…well, here I am. I promise my door is wide open to all of you.
Mr. Secretary, it’s really humbling for me to be here in this room and on this side of the podium. In 1985, I stood in this historic Ben Franklin room and first took the oath as a newly commissioned junior officer in the Foreign Service. So today is a dream come true for me. And I am happy to be able to celebrate it with so many people who mean so much to me. I am really touched that so many friends and distinguished mentors are here today along with a lot of very distinguished friends and colleagues from the interagency – I’m not going to do the naming game, but you know who you are. Thank you very, very much. I just really appreciate and benefited from all of your support and all of your guidance.
I am also very grateful to Senator Cardin and to the other members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for confirming me, and of course I look forward to working closely very with both the members and staff in both the House and Senate. Strong bipartisan support, and close cooperation between the Executive and Legislative Branches, is key to the success of President Obama’s Asia Rebalancing strategy.
I particularly want to thank Amb. Capricia Marshall, who I believe is the greatest Chief of Protocol in living memory. It’s really a joy to me that she stayed long enough to swear me in, and a heartbreak that this is her last week.
Lastly, and most important to me, I’m proud to introduce my wife Keiko; my children Byron, Emily, and Kevin (who grew up in the Foreign Service), and my sister Marjorie, brother David, and my brother-in-law Peter. Thank you for your love and support. Like so many other Foreign Service families, Keiko and our three kids have built and rebuilt and then re-rebuilt their lives around my public service and I am forever grateful.
Mr. Secretary, now I’ll get to the point. The well-being and future of the United States is imminently connected to the peaceful development of the Asia-Pacific region, as you pointed out. Four and a half years ago, President Obama deliberately decided to make engagement in the region a strategic priority for the United States of America, and I’m proud to have a continuing role in developing the Asia rebalancing strategy. The strategy spans the range of diplomatic and economic, political, cultural, security, and strategic interests. It involves the sustained work we do with nations ranging from the world’s most populous countries to the small island states in the Pacific, from the world’s second and third largest economies, to those still in the earliest stages of development. And it’s founded on close cooperation with our treaty allies and our friends.
It entails transforming our relations with former adversaries and building new models of practical cooperation in our relations with emerging powers. It requires outreach through public diplomacy and that means visits, programs, social and traditional media, academic exchanges so that we’re communicating with and listening to the people, not just the governments. It builds on the work of business and the private sector in promoting balanced trade and increasing investment and fostering global economic growth. And in all cases it means upholding universal principles and rights, promoting the rule of law, and advocating for our core values.
Mr. Secretary, we have important work and an exciting agenda with Asia in the coming months and years. Now I know that beyond our borders there will always be people who wonder about America’s intentions and our staying power. They want to know if they can continue to rely on the United States to provide the security, the intellectual capital, the technology, the dynamism and the creativity that has underpinned the stability and has driven the extraordinary growth of East Asia over the past seven decades.
The answer is “yes.” And you can count on me, and you can count on your very talented team in the East Asia and Pacific bureau, to help you actively shape and strengthen our presence in Asia, to implement your vision, and to faithfully serve you, serve the President, and serve the nation to the very best of our ability. Thank you all very much.