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  • SECRETARY BLINKEN: Good morning.  

  • My fellow Americans, five weeks ago I was sworn in  as your Secretary of State. My job is to represent  

  • the United States to the world, to fight for  the interests and values of the American people.  

  • When President Biden asked me to serve, he made  sure that I understood that my job is to deliver  

  • for youto make your lives more securecreate opportunity for you and your families,  

  • and tackle the global crises that are  increasingly shaping your futures.

  • I take this responsibility very seriously. And an  

  • important part of the job is speaking  to you about what we're doing and why.

  • Later today, President Biden will share  what's called theinterim strategic guidance”  

  • on our national security and foreign policy.  

  • It gives initial direction to our national  security agencies so that they can get to  

  • work right away while we keep developing  a more in-depth national security strategy  

  • over the next several months. The interim guidance  lays out the global landscape as the Biden  

  • administration sees it, explains the priorities of  our foreign policyand specifically how we will  

  • renew America's strength to meet the challenges  and seize the opportunities of our time.

  • So for thismy first major speech as  Secretary – I'm going to walk throughwalk  

  • you through how American diplomacy will  carry out the President's strategy.  

  • If we do our jobs right, you'll be able to  check our workto see the links between  

  • what we're doing around the world and  the goals and values I'll lay out today.

  • I know that foreign policy can sometimes  feel disconnected from our daily lives.  

  • It's either all about major threatslike  pandemics, terrorismor it fades from view.

  • That's in part because it's  often about people and events  

  • on the other side of the world, and  it's about things you don't seelike  

  • crises stopped before they start, or  negotiations that happen out of sight.

  • But it's also because those of us who conduct  foreign policy haven't always done a good job  

  • connecting it to the needs and  aspirations of the American people.  

  • As a result, for some time now Americans  have been asking tough but fair questions  

  • about what we're doing, how we're leading –  indeed, whether we should be leading at all.

  • With this in mind, we've set the foreign  policy priorities for the Biden administration  

  • by asking a few simple questions:

  • What will our foreign policy mean for  American workers and their families?

  • What do we need to do around the world  to make us stronger here at home?

  • And what do we need to do at home  to make us stronger in the world?

  • The answers to these questions aren't the  same as they were in 2017 or 2009. Yes,  

  • many of us serving in the Biden administration  also proudly served President Obamaincluding  

  • President Biden. And we did a great deal of good  work to restore America's leadership in the world;  

  • to achieve hard-won diplomatic breakthroughslike the deal that stopped Iran from producing  

  • a nuclear weapon; and to bring the  world together to tackle climate change.  

  • Our foreign policy fit the momentas any good strategy should.

  • But this is a different time, so our  strategy and approach are different.  

  • We're not simply picking up where we left  off, as if the past four years didn't happen.  

  • We're looking at the world with fresh eyes.

  • Having said that, while the times have  changed, some principles are enduring.

  • One is that American leadership  and engagement matter.  

  • We're hearing this now from our  friends. They're glad we're back.  

  • Whether we like it or not, the world does not  organize itself. When the U.S. pulls back,  

  • one of two things is likely to happen: either  another country tries to take our place,  

  • but not in a way that advances our interests and  values; or, maybe just as bad, no one steps up,  

  • and then we get chaos and all the dangers it  creates. Either way, that's not good for America.

  • Another enduring principle is that  we need countries to cooperate,  

  • now more than ever. Not a single global  challenge that affects your lives can be  

  • met by any one nation acting alonenot  even one as powerful as the United States.  

  • And there is no wall high enough or strong enough  to hold back the changes transforming our world.

  • That's where the institution  I'm privileged to lead comes in.  

  • It's the role of the State Department –  and America's diplomats and development  

  • workersto engage around the  world and build that cooperation.

  • President Biden has pledged to lead with diplomacy  

  • because it's the best way to  deal with today's challenges.  

  • At the same time, we'll make sure that we continue  to have the world's most powerful armed forces.  

  • Our ability to be effective diplomats depends in  no small measure on the strength of our military.

  • And in everything we do, we'll look not only  to make progress on short-term problems,  

  • but also to address their root  causes and lay the groundwork  

  • for our long-term strength. As the President saysto not only build back, but build back better.

  • So here's our plan.

  • First, we will stop COVID-19 and  strengthen global health security.

  • The pandemic has defined livesour lives  – for more than a year. To beat it back,  

  • we need governments, scientists, businesses, and  communities around the world working together.  

  • None of us will be fully safe until the majority  of the world is immune because as long as the  

  • virus is replicating, it could mutate into new  strains that find their way back to America.  

  • So we need to work closely with partners to keep  the global vaccination effort moving forward.

  • At the same time, we need to make sure we learn  the right lessons and make the right investments  

  • in global health securityincluding tools to predict,  

  • prevent, and stop pandemics, and  a firm global commitment to share  

  • accurate and timely information, so that  a crisis like this never happens again.

  • Second, we will turn around the economic crisis  and build a more stable, inclusive global economy.

  • The pandemic has caused unemployment  to surge around the world.  

  • Nearly every country on earth is now in  a recession. The pandemic also laid bare  

  • inequalities that have defined life for millions  of Americans for a long time. So we've got a  

  • double challenge: to protect Americans fromlengthy downturn, and to make sure the global  

  • economy delivers security and opportunity for  as many Americans as possible in the long term.

  • To do that, we need to pass the right policies  at home, like the relief package the President  

  • is pushing hard for right now, while working to  manage the global economy so it truly benefits  

  • the American people. And by that, I don't just  mean a bigger GDP or a rising stock market;  

  • for many American households, those  measures don't mean much. I mean good jobs,  

  • good incomes, and lower household costs  for American workers and their families.

  • We're building on hard lessons learned. Some of  us previously argued for free trade agreements  

  • because we believed Americans would broadly  share in the economic gains that thoseand  

  • that those deals would shape the global economy  in ways that we wanted. We had good reasons  

  • to think those things. But we didn't do enough  to understand who would be negatively affected  

  • and what would be needed to adequately offset  their pain, or to enforce agreements that were  

  • already on the books and help more workers  and small businesses fully benefit from them.

  • Our approach now will be different. We will  fight for every American job and for the rights,  

  • protections, and interests of all American  workers. We will use every tool to stop  

  • countries from stealing our intellectual property  or manipulating their currencies to get an unfair  

  • advantage. We will fight corruption, which stacks  the deck against us. And our trade policies will  

  • need to answer very clearly how they will grow the  American middle class, create new and better jobs,  

  • and benefit all Americans, not only those  for whom the economy is already working.

  • Third, we will renew democracybecause it's under threat.

  • A new report from the independent watchdog group  Freedom House is sobering. Authoritarianism and  

  • nationalism are on the rise around the worldGovernments are becoming less transparent and  

  • have lost the trust of the people. Elections  are increasingly flashpoints for violence.  

  • Corruption is growing. And the pandemic  has accelerated many of these trends.

  • But the erosion of democracy is not only happening  in other places. It's also happening here in the  

  • United States. Disinformation is rampant hereStructural racism and inequality make life worse  

  • for millions. Our elected leaders were targeted in  the violent siege of the Capitol just two months  

  • ago. And more broadly, Americans are increasingly  polarizedand the institutions that exist to  

  • help us manage our differences, so our democracy  can continue to function, are under strain.

  • Shoring up our democracy is a foreign policy  imperative. Otherwise, we play right into  

  • the hands of adversaries and competitors like  Russia and China, who seize every opportunity  

  • to sow doubts about the strength of our democracyWe shouldn't be making their jobs easier.

  • I take heart from the fact that we're  dealing with our struggles out in the open.  

  • And that sets us apart from many other countriesWe don't ignore our failures and shortcomings or  

  • try sweep them under the rug and pretend  they don't exist. We confront them for  

  • the world to see. It's painful. Sometimes  it's ugly. But it's how we make progress.

  • Still, there's no question that our democracy is  fragile. People around the world have seen that.  

  • Many recognize in our challenges the challenges  that they're facing. And now they're watching us  

  • because they want to see whether  our democracy is resilient,  

  • whether we can rise to the challenge here at homeThat will be the foundation for our legitimacy  

  • in defending democracy around  the world for years to come.

  • Why does that matter? Because strong democracies  are more stable, more open, better partners to us,  

  • more committed to human rights, less prone  to conflict, and more dependable markets  

  • for our goods and services. When democracies are  weak, governments can't deliver for their people  

  • or a country becomes so polarized that it's  hard for anything to get done, they become  

  • more vulnerable to extremist movements from the  inside and to interference from the outside. And  

  • they become less reliable partners to the United  States. None of that is in our national interest.

  • The more we and other democracies can  show the world that we can deliver,  

  • not only for our people, but also for each other,  

  • the more we can refute the lie that authoritarian  countries love to tell, that theirs is the better  

  • way to meet people's fundamental needs  and hopes. It's on us to prove them wrong.

  • So the question isn't if we will support  democracy around the world, but how.

  • We will use the power of our example. We will  encourage others to make key reforms, overturn bad  

  • laws, fight corruption, and stop unjust practicesWe will incentivize democratic behavior.

  • But we will not promote democracy through costly  military interventions or by attempting to  

  • overthrow authoritarian regimes by forceWe have tried these tactics in the past.  

  • However well intentioned, they haven't  worked. They've given democracy promotion  

  • a bad name, and they've lost the confidence of the  American people. We will do things differently.

  • Fourth, we will work to create a humane  and effective immigration system.

  • Strong borders are fundamental to our national  security, and laws are the bedrock of our  

  • democracy. But we also need a diplomatic, and  just plain decent, solution to the fact that  

  • year after year, people from other countries  risk everything to try to make it here.  

  • We need to address the root  causes that drive so many people  

  • to flee their homes. And so we'll  work closely with other countries,  

  • especially our neighbors in Central Americato help them deliver better physical security  

  • and economic opportunity so people don't feel  like migrating is the only way out and up.

  • As we do this work, we will not  lose sight of our core principles.  

  • Cruelty, especially to children, is  unacceptable. And turning our backs  

  • on some of the most vulnerable people  on earth is not who we should ever be.

  • One of the most important  pieces of our national identity  

  • is that we are a country of immigrantsWe're made stronger by the fact that  

  • hardworking people come here to go to schoolstart businesses, enrich our communities. We've  

  • gotten away from that part of ourselves in the  past few years. We've got to get back to it.

  • Fifth, we will revitalize our  ties with our allies and partners.  

  • Our alliances are what the military calls force  multipliers. They're our unique asset. We get so  

  • much more done with them than we could without  them. So we're making a big push right now  

  • to reconnect with our friends and allies, and to  reinvent partnerships that were built years ago  

  • so they're suited to today's  and tomorrow's challenges.  

  • That includes countries in Europe and Asia  that have been our closest friends for decades,  

  • as well as old and new partners in Africathe Middle East, and Latin America.

  • Over the decades, these commitments have  created new markets for our products,  

  • new allies to deter aggression, and new partners  to help meet global challenges. We had a name for  

  • it: “enlightened self-interest.” We'll be clear  that real partnership means carrying burdens  

  • together, everyone doing their partnot  just us. And whenever we can, we will choose  

  • engagement. Wherever the rules for international  security and the global economy are being written,  

  • America will be there, and the interests of  the American people will be front and center.

  • We're always better off at the table,  

  • not outside the room. You should expect  nothing less from your government.

  • Sixth, we will tackle the climate crisis and  drive a green energy revolution. Maybe you live in  

  • California, where wildfires get worse every yearOr the Midwest, where farmland keeps flooding.  

  • Or the Southeast, where communities have been  destroyed by stronger and more frequent storms.  

  • The climate crisis is endangering all of usand costing us more by the month. We can't fix  

  • it alone. The United States produces 15 percent  of the world's carbon pollution. That's a lot,  

  • and we badly need to get that number downBut even if we brought it down to zero,  

  • we wouldn't solve the crisis, because the rest  of the world is producing the other 85 percent.

  • This is the definition of a problem we need  to work together, as a community of nations,  

  • to solve. And we can't settle  for only doing the bare minimum.  

  • We have to challenge ourselves and each other  to do more. While we do, we must also position  

  • the United States to thrive and lead in the  growing global market for renewable energy.  

  • Wind and solar are the cheapest sources of  electricity generation in the world today.  

  • They're not the industries of the  future anymore; the future is now.  

  • And other countries are ahead of  us. We need to turn that around  

  • and create millions of good-paying  jobs for Americans in renewables.

  • Seventh, we will secure our leadership in  technology. A global technology revolution  

  • is now underway. The world's leading powers are  racing to develop and deploy new technologies  

  • like artificial intelligence and quantum  computing that could shape everything  

  • about our livesfrom where get energy, to  how we do our jobs, to how wars are fought.  

  • We want America to maintain our  scientific and technological edge,  

  • because it's critical to us thriving  in the 21st century economy.

  • But we know that new technologies aren't  automatically beneficial. And those who use  

  • them don't always have good intentions. We need  to make sure technologies protect your privacy,  

  • make the world safer and healthierand make democracies more resilient.  

  • That's where American diplomacy comes in. We're  going to bring our friends and partners together  

  • to shape behavior around emerging technologies  and establish guardrails against misuse.

  • At the same time, we must strengthen our  tech defenses and deterrents. We need  

  • only look at SolarWinds, the major hack  of U.S. Government networks last year,  

  • to see how determined our adversaries are  to use technology to undermine us. Today,  

  • safeguarding our national security means  investing in our technological capabilities  

  • and elevating this issue in our diplomacy  and our defense. We will do both.

  • And eighth, we will manage the biggest  geopolitical test of the 21st century:  

  • our relationship with China.

  • Several countries present us with serious  challenges, including Russia, Iran, North Korea.  

  • And there are serious crises we have to deal  with, including in Yemen, Ethiopia, and Burma.

  • But the challenge posed by China is different.  

  • China is the only country with the economicdiplomatic, military, and technological power  

  • to seriously challenge the stable and  open international systemall the rules,  

  • values, and relationships that make  the world work the way we want it to,  

  • because it ultimately serves the interests and  reflects the values of the American people.

  • Our relationship with China will  be competitive when it should be,  

  • collaborative when it can beand adversarial when it must be.  

  • The common denominator is the need to  engage China from a position of strength.

  • That requires working with allies  and partners, not denigrating them,  

  • because our combined weight is much harder for  China to ignore. It requires engaging in diplomacy  

  • and in international organizations, because  where we have pulled back, China has filled in.  

  • It requires standing up for our values  when human rights are abused in Xinjiang  

  • or when democracy is trampled in Hong Kongbecause if we don't, China will act with even  

  • greater impunity. And it means investing in  American workers, companies, and technologies,  

  • and insisting on a level playing fieldbecause when we do, we can out-compete anyone.

  • These are the eight top foreign policy  priorities of the Biden administration.  

  • You may notice some things about that list.

  • First, important items are not on it.  

  • That doesn't mean they don't matter to us or that  we won't work hard on them. Indeed, I look forward  

  • to setting out what we'll do on other vital pieces  of our foreign policy in the days and weeks ahead.

  • But these prioritiesthe ones I've  talked a