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U.S. Department of State
96/12/17 Remarks with Nick Burns on American Diplomatic History Exhibit
Office of the Spokesman
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman
For Immediate Release December 17, 1996
SECRETARY OF STATE WARREN CHRISTOPHER
SPOKESMAN NICHOLAS BURNS
AT THE OPENING
OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT EXHIBIT HALL
Tuesday, December 17, 1996
MR. BURNS: Secretary Christopher, Senator Mathias, Mr. Acheson,
Ambassador Low, Mrs. Frasure, Mrs. Kruzel, Mrs. Jefferson-Patterson and
ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Department of State and welcome to
the opening of our permanent exhibit on American diplomatic history, a
celebration of American diplomacy.
For the first time in our history here at the Department of State, we
dedicate today an exhibit that honors in word, picture and artifact the
two-century-long tradition of American diplomacy. This exhibit
showcases the triumphs and the tragedies and the drama of our nation's
diplomats - men and women - from Jefferson's visionary purchase of the
Louisiana Territory to Seward's Folly; from the brilliance of John Hay
and Theodore Roosevelt to the dedication and wisdom of Marshall and
Acheson and Kennan and Bohlen and so many others in the wake of the
second world war. It also speaks to our own modern triumphs at Camp
David and at Dayton.
Mr. Secretary, the renovation of this hall required the enthusiasm and
hard work of well over a score of your employees here at the State
Department. Together, this team spent the last few months researching,
planning and then building, even until the very last hour, what you see
here today. (Laughter) And, believe, me it was the last hour.
The result is an exhibit core of 17 diplomatic history panels,
interspersed with cases of photos and memorabilia from Thomas
Jefferson's books to William Jennings Bryan's peace medals to a signed
photograph, which is extraordinary, just over in the corner, of the nine
most recent Secretaries of State.
The pillars in the room's center portray the modern Foreign and Civil
Service and the remarkable story of the Dayton peace accords. They
recognize the extraordinary life and career of Dean Acheson, and we are
particularly grateful to David Acheson and the Acheson family for their
generosity in helping us with this effort.
The exhibit also emphasizes one of the most positive developments of the
past quarter century, and that is the Department's growing diversity
that has allowed minorities and women - people like George Moose and
people like Madeleine Albright - to rise to the very top of their
profession. Many other people deserve our thanks for the work to make
this exhibit possible. Any questions or challenges to the substance and
content of the diplomatic history that is told here should be directed
to Ambassador Stephen Low - (laughter) - and his Association for
Diplomatic Studies, whose splendid scholarship produced the history
Acting Under Secretary of State Pat Kennedy greased all the wheels here
at the Department to get the project off the ground, and he provided the
one thing that this team lacked - money. (Laughter)
Finally, as in all group efforts, there were a few people who emerged to
lead us to the finish line, and I'd like to recognize them. I'd like to
recognize Tom O'Rourke in particular; Shirley Beard of the Technical
Services staff; Richard Iselin, Bob Mack, Liz Elliott-Kimmel, Royce
Rock, Genie Norris, and a young information specialist from the Bureau
of Public Affairs, Joanna Weinz, who was given over the weekend a
battlefield promotion to Field Marshal - (laughter) - as she whipped the
project into shape to its conclusion. Thank you, Joanna. (Applause)
This exhibit, as you will see, is very much a work in progress. We plan
to update it, we plan to refine it, and we very much welcome all of your
suggestions and your artifacts, if you have them, and your continued
support. Our inspiration for this exhibit was quite simple: to
recognize the extraordinary breadth and vitality and drama, the
successes and sometimes even the failures of America's foreign policy;
to remind all of us of the pride we should have in it and the long
tradition to which we are linked; and to show to the visiting American
public a sense of what we do for them.
With the new historical photo corridor, just down the hall here - which
I encourage you all to visit before leaving today - we finally have a
way to talk about the State Department to the American people - the work
that has so long been kept confidential from them. In fact, tomorrow,
December 18, we begin the very first public tour of the State Department
with this exhibit as its centerpiece.
In a larger sense, this exhibit was inspired by Secretary Christopher's
four-year effort to make certain that among all of the regional desks in
this building the most important is the America's Desk. Following his
and Deputy Secretary Strobe Talbott's lead, we've launched a series of
new programs in the past two years to give the public and the press and
the Congress a better understanding of what we do. We took this show on
the road last year to 23 American cities where we had foreign policy
town meetings, and we'll be in 30 American cities in 1997. We have
worked hard to publicize more broadly the work of the Foreign Service
and the Civil Service, and our State Department Web Site just passed one
million hits per month.
All of this work is focused on making sure that we have the support of
the American people in an era of declining resources and at a time when
there is a great deal of uncertainty about America's global role; to
convince the public, in short, that diplomatic readiness is at the heart
of America's national security.
In addition, I must say that our work was inspired by many people who
are seated before us today. If diplomacy can be defined as advancing
our national interests by the brilliance of strategy and tactical acumen
without shedding American blood, then many of our guests today succeeded
as no other generation has in the greatest struggle of the past half
With us today are many of the Foreign Service Officers and eminent
private American citizens who led this Department and led our Embassies
and Consulates throughout the Cold War - people such as Paul Nitze and
Max Kampelman and Tom Pickering and General Andrew Goodpastor, Sam
Lewis, Nick Veliotes, Bruce Laingen, Steve Low, Roy Atherton, Joan
Clark, Walter Cutler - many, many more -- all of these diplomats and
others here today who set an example for my generation that will be hard
to match. We owe them an enormous debt of gratitude, and this exhibit
is dedicated to them and to the legacy that you leave us.
Above all, this exhibit honors the diplomatic profession and the
sacrifice, the duty, the accomplishment that often accompany it. We
learn from this exhibit, Mr. Secretary, that one of your distinguished
predecessors, William Jennings Bryan, believed that diplomacy was the
art of keeping things cool. If that is so, then I believe that you, Mr.
Secretary, are the personification of a diplomat. (Laughter and
From your successful negotiations with Russia and Ukraine in 1993 to
reduce the nuclear threshold that offer us a generation of peace, to
your masterful endgame at Dayton in 1995 that ended the Bosnian war, to
your tireless shuttle diplomacy last April that won a cease-fire along
the Lebanon-Israel border, you have kept things cool for the United
States, and thank you very much.
In the process, you've made our country a better and safer place. I
can't think of a finer example of a diplomat or of a role model for a
younger generation of diplomats than Secretary of State Warren
Christopher. Mr. Secretary, you have also been our inspiration for this
exhibit - in many ways it honors you. And those of us in the career
Foreign and Civil Service who have had the honor and privilege of
serving you are most grateful.
Now I'm going to cede the floor, ladies and gentlemen, and it's my great
pleasure to introduce our featured speaker, Secretary of State Warren
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER: Good afternoon. I'm really honored to welcome
this distinguished group here to inaugurate this exhibit. I look out
and I see a number of faces that I've worked with over the years, and
I'm so glad that you've come here to be with us today. I see in
particular Senator Mac Mathias who, when he was in the Senate, was one
of the very best friends that diplomacy and the State Department had -
certainly somebody who's played an important role in the postwar world.
I want to thank Nick Burns not only for being an outstanding Spokesman
but for having been the inspiration that brought this exhibit along.
Nick, I'm not sure that it's going to take a lot of visitors away from
the Air and Space Museum - (laughter) - but we'll make our progress;
and, everything considered, with the Foreign Affairs business being as
rapidly moving as it is, maybe this is our most lasting contribution,
In any event, I want to say a few words about the exhibit and to tie it
in with an issue that's very much on the front of my mind these days.
As Nick has indicated, this exhibit celebrates both the practitioners
and the achievements of the diplomacy that we've had in the United
States since the founding of our republic. It reminds us of our
uniquely successful diplomatic tradition and the importance of devoting
sufficient resources to it, and that's the point that I want to come
But I would particularly like to thank those who helped create the
exhibit, especially the Association of Diplomatic Studies and Training.
I had a chance only to glance at it as I walked by, but it's clearly
something we've needed for a long, long time.
Our nation is right at this moment engaged in a great debate about our
role in the world and the scope of America's national interest. We have
a responsibility in this new era to make sure that foreign policy is
never foreign to the American people. Under Nick's leadership, our
Bureau of Public Affairs is doing now more than ever before to reach out
to our constituents through television, radio, the Internet and Town
Hall meetings in every part of the country, and I salute Nick and his
colleagues for doing some quite pathbreaking things like appearing on
talk radio all over this country - not an easy thing to do; not the kind
of thing you might want to devote your morning to, but many times we've
done that around the country so people are able to hear the viewpoint of
those who are involved in diplomacy and those who know something about
By opening this exhibit here today, we're establishing our own Town
Hall. When I saw the medals in Dean Acheson, which were generously
loaned us by the family - and I'm so pleased that David Acheson is here
with us today - I remembered the sense of responsibility that he and
President Truman instilled in a generation of Americans that were
growing up when I did. Their achievements - both President Truman and
especially Dean Acheson - have been an inspiration to me from the very
time I took my first job in Washington as law clerk to Justice Douglas
I can remember going to your father's house one day with some colleagues
from the Supreme Court. What it a thrill it was to me. It was on
Kentucky Derby Day. You probably remember, David, what was served in
your house on Kentucky Derby Day. I'll never forget. (Laughter).
The display on the Dayton Accords brought back a host of memories -
snowy days and sleepless nights at the airfield in Dayton; satisfaction
that we felt in making here in the heartland of America, peace for the
heartland of Europe. Then, I think, one of the high points of my
service here, watching the children romping around playgrounds in
Sarajevo where shooting had been going on only a year earlier. Really
quite a thrill.
I was amused, of course, as I walked by to see the colorful diplomatic
uniform that John Mason wore when he was our Minister to the Court of
Napoleon, III. I'm going to think over whether or not we ought to
reinstitute those uniforms. It would make some choices easier early in
the morning, wouldn't it.
But you can't walk around here even for a few minutes and fail to be
struck by the richness of our tradition. Many things have changed since
Thomas Jefferson became our first Secretary of State. I was reading the
other day that he came with five clerks, two messengers, and one part-
time French translator. The French had us going even then. (Laughter)
The exhibit also reveals what hasn't changed, and that is, over the last
two centuries our diplomats have forged a steady, consistent record of
global engagement. These achievements have enabled America to move from
being a middle-sized New World outpost in the 18th Century to being the
most powerful force in all of history for peace and security and
For two centuries, American diplomacy has been critical to protecting
the security of American people. Our first diplomat, Ben Franklin, who
graces our main room on the Eighth Floor, negotiated a crucial alliance
with France and eventually a peace settlement with Great Britain.
In the early 19th Century, of course, Thomas Jefferson arranged for the
purchase for the Louisiana Territory from France - in one fell swoop
doubling the size of our nation and greatly adding to our security.
In the 20th Century, of course, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt
led the United States in two World Wars. Equally significant, each
sought to build a global framework to prevent future conflict. One
didn't succeed and the other is trying to succeed, still.
For two centuries, the United States has stood up for the freedom of
trade and navigation around the world. From Thomas Paine's
revolutionary pamphlet, Common Sense, to Will Clayton's blueprint for
the Bretton Woods Agreement, Americans have believed that an open
economy, an open trading system is the best guarantee of peace and
As a great maritime nation, we have defended our access to international
waterways during peace and war alike. Thomas Jefferson confronted the
Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean Sea. James Madison, who has lent
his name to my dining room, fought the War of 1812, and Teddy Roosevelt
built the Panama Canal.
For two centuries now, American diplomacy has promoted the democratic
values we share with peoples of every culture and every faith. We were
the first nation in history to have established itself on the universal
principle of liberty. We've always believed that our nation will be
more secure and more prosperous if we are an open society and if we have
The rise of democracy in this century has been inspired by our example
and encouraged by our leadership - from the Marshall Plan to the
reconstruction of Germany -- which I celebrated in my speech at
Stuttgart 50 years after Secretary Byrnes had made his great speech
there - to the triumph of freedom in Latin America and Europe and in
many countries around the world, inAsia and Africa as well.
During the last four years, President Clinton and I have tried hard to
carry forward our diplomatic tradition. We have improved our security,
I believe, by invigorating our alliances in Asia and in Europe. We took
a long step forward last week by the decisions taken in NATO. An
important step in our four years has been ending the war in Bosnia.
We've got lots to do to ensure the peace, but the war has been ended.
We've been pushing for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East. We're
part way there. We must never overlook the substantial steps that have
been taken but also what more there is to be done.
We've begun to counter with some effectiveness the global threats from
terrorism, narcotics, crime, and damage to the environment. I predict
that those will be perhaps the key issues as we turn to a new century.
On the trade front, we've passed NAFTA, concluded the Uruguay Round,
forged commitments to open trade with our neighbors here in this
hemisphere - the so-called Miami agreements. We've done a great deal in
the Asia-Pacific area that had never been done, I think, before
adequately, and that is, to work effectively with the Asian
organizations. I think the President took a major step in turning APEC
into a leaders' organization rather than simply a Foreign Ministers'
The exhibit here today tells the story of these American achievements
and many, many that preceded them with great distinction. It also
raises a fundamental question that I worry a great deal about: A
hundred years from now, what will historians say about our diplomacy as
we turn to a new century? Will they say we honored our proud tradition
of leadership by responding to the new challenges and opportunities in
this post-Cold War period? Or will they, on the other hand, say that we
squandered it by neglecting to protect the very freedom and prosperity
which we fought so hard to achieve? Which of these paths will we take?
As I approach the end of my tenure here, I feel strongly that if we fail
to provide adequate resources for our diplomacy, we'll be turning our
back on our interests and ideals, and I firmly believe it would be great
tragedy to do so.
The figures, I hope, are familiar by now. Since 1984, our spending on
international affairs has fallen 51 percent in real terms. It now
constitutes just 1.2 percent of our total Federal budget. During the
last four years, our budget cuts have forced me to recommend to the
President a closure of 30 embassies and consulates. Unless we can
rescue our budget in this current year - and I'm working hard on that
right now - we're going to be forced to close more.
President Clinton has consistently sought more resources than Congress
has provided. I want to emphasize that this isn't just about foreign
aid or foreign assistance - although certainly we must never
underestimate the value of carefully-targeted foreign aid; it's one of
the best investments we can make. What this is really all about, this
resources argument - it's really all about diplomatic readiness. Will
we have the ability to carry out our responsibilities as America's first
line of defense?
My good colleague, Bill Perry, has frequently pointed to the fact that
diplomacy is our nation's first line of defense, the kind of work that
can keep our soldiers and other servicemen from having to go to battle.
Just as we honor and support our servicemen and women, we must honor and
support the men and women of America's Foreign and Civil Service.
During the past four years, I've been so impressed with their
performance and, indeed, their patriotism. They are truly on the front
lines of our national security. From Beirut to Sarajevo, from Dushanbe
to Kigali - all around the world - American diplomats and families are
enduring tremendous hardships, tremendous sacrifices in order to serve
You visit - particularly, the new posts that we opened in the New
Independent States - and you see what real sacrifice is in order to
serve the diplomatic corps of the United States. That's why the purpose
of this exhibit is more than to just highlight events or display
memorabilia. It's to honor the men and women who have effectively and
courageously conducted our diplomacy.
Nearly 180 American diplomats have given their lives in the line of duty
- from William Palfrey in a shipwreck while crossing the Atlantic to
become American Consul in France, to Bob Frasure and Joe Kruzel and
Nelson Drew who died bringing peace to Bosnia in 1995, and whose
families are there today. I welcome Mrs. Kruzel and Mrs. Frasure,
Sarah Frasure; we so appreciate your being with us today.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all the American diplomats,
past and present, for their invaluable contribution to the security of
The victory of the United States and our allies in the Cold War simply
could not have occurred without the efforts of our diplomats. But it
was also due to bipartisan support which gave us the necessary resources
in that period to carry out our policies. The investments that we made
in those postwar years contributed to an unprecedented era of global and
peace and security. Now the United States must seize the opportunities
that we have at this time to grasp the opportunities that have come our
victory in the Cold War. To do anything else would risk, I believe,
disavowing our proud diplomatic tradition at the moment of its greatest
Now, I want to officially open the exhibit by cutting the ribbon in
front of me. But I would like to take just a moment, if I could, to
mention a personal donation that I made to this exhibit - my briefcase.
This briefcase broke the all-time four-year mileage record for a
Secretary of State's briefcase, having traveled exactly 785,620 miles.
The diplomatic security agents who helped me are so glad that I'm going
to give up this heavy briefcase which, once in awhile, I handed off to
them in a moment of stress.
To the briefcase, I'll say, I'll miss you old friend. When I go back to
California, you'll have an opportunity to continue to serve your country
right over there. (Laughter)
I hope you'll take some time to enjoy this exhibit. I want to see more
of it myself as soon as I can. I thank you all for attending. I'm
sorry so many of you have had to keep standing through these remarks.
I'm very grateful to all of you who have been involved in launching this
exhibit; indeed, all who are here today have done so, and I thank those
for the originality and creativity to once and for all to put the State
Department on the tour guides that will be given to visitors when they
come next spring.
Thank you, Nick; thank you all.
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