Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Address to the Rosalynn Carter Distinguished Lecture Series
Atlanta, Georgia, December 3, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
[End of Document]
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very, very much for that wonderful introduction. I consider myself a very proud product of the Carter administration, and I'm very pleased to have been a part of it with you.
Thank you, Director Fivush, for your warm welcome, and thank you all for being here. Mrs. Carter, University officials, members of the faculty, students, and guests, I really am delighted to be here in Atlanta, the Olympic city, to visit your renowned university and Institute of Women's Studies, and I deeply appreciate your willingness to reschedule this event.
As you know, because of the Middle East talks at the Wye Plantation, I couldn't come in October and at the time I told myself, the bad news is I have to cancel. The good news is that no one understands better how Middle East negotiations can drag on than President and Mrs. Carter. (Laughter.) And the really good news is that we actually accomplished something. The peace process, which truly began 20 years ago at Camp David, is finally back on track.
And so I am very happy to be here now, and it's a great privilege to visit with the First Lady from Plains. Whether living in the State House, the White House, or her own house, Rosalynn Carter has forged a remarkable record of public service. She has been and remains a friend to me and a wellspring of strength to millions around the world. And I know that you here at Emory, the way we across -- all of us -- across America, are very, very proud of her. She has been and is a truly remarkable woman. It's a great honor to be with you, Rossalyn. (Applause.)
Another reason I am delighted to be here is that I love academic surroundings, and I especially appreciate the lecture format. In Washington, I'm always reminded to speak in soundbites. Unfortunately, I am a former professor, so my soundbites are usually 50 minutes long. (Laughter.)
I promise not to speak quite that long this afternoon, but I do want to explore in some depth a subject that is especially appropriate to a lecture with this name at this Institute. And that subject is America's support for fundamental human rights, which include and are inseparable from women's rights. Since I'm in my professor mode, I will begin with a little bit of history.
Fifty years ago this month, representatives from nations around the world came together under the leadership of another great American First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, to sign the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since its unveiling, that Declaration has been included or referred to in dozens of national constitutions and reaffirmed many times. It is a centerpiece of the argument that we make that respect for human rights is the obligation not just of some, but of every government. Atlantans should be proud that President Jimmy Carter did so much to ensure that the Declaration's principles would be at the core of the foreign policy of the United States.
For reasons both strategic and personal, President Carter placed far greater emphasis on human rights than did his predecessors. And by so doing, he strengthened America's claim to moral leadership, spurred growth in the global human rights movement, and, directly or indirectly, freed many political prisoners and saved many lives. President Carter's determination to advance human rights helped make this a better world.
But it remains very far from perfect. There are many today who point to the gap between the ideals set out in the Universal Declaration and the violations that persist 50 years after that document was signed. These skeptics conclude that we might as well give up, that no matter what we say or do, there will always be repression and discrimination. In this view, the violation of human rights is just another sad reflection on the limits of human nature. To that, I would reply as Katharine Hepburn did to Humphrey Bogart in the movie "African Queen": "Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we were put into this world to rise above."
The Clinton Administration believes that if we are to build the kind of future we want, we must insist that there is nothing inevitable, and certainly nothing natural, about gross violations of human rights. We must point out that, for the torturer, cruelty is a choice. For the abuser, violence is a choice. For the bigot, intolerance is a choice. And what we have the power to choose, we have the power to change.
Moreover, support for human rights is not just some kind of international social work. It is vital to our security and well-being, for governments that disregard the rights of their own citizens are not likely to respect the rights of anyone else. In this century, virtually every major act of international aggression has been perpetrated by a regime that repressed political rights. Such regimes are also more likely to spark unrest by persecuting minorities, sheltering terrorists, running drugs, or secretly building weapons of mass destruction. And they are enemies not only of political freedom, but also of social and economic development.
In any society, people who are free to express their ideas, organize their labor and invest their capital, will contribute far more than those stunted by repression. This is true of men; it is true also of women. It is obvious in our era that no country can reach its potential if it denies itself the full contributions of half its people. Unfortunately, in too many places today, women remain an undervalued resource.
This is not to say that women have trouble finding work. In many societies, in addition to bearing and nurturing the children, women do most of the non-child-related work. Yet, women are often barred from owning land and permitted little, if any, say in government, while girls are excluded from schools and provided less nourishment than boys.
In our diplomacy, we are working with others to change that because we know from experience that, when women have the power to make their own choices, societies are better able to break the chains of poverty; birth rates stabilize; the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease slows; environmental awareness increases; and socially constructive values are more likely to be passed on to the young. Accordingly, our overseas aid programs are designed to help women succeed through legal reform and access to education, credit, and health care.
And with the leadership and active participation of yet another great First Lady, Hillary Clinton, we have launched the Vital Voices Initiative. This project is bringing women together from around the world to build public-private partnerships, and to help women participate fully in the economic and political lives of our nations.
In recent years, we have made great progress, but despite that, in many countries, appalling abuses are still being committed against women. These include coerced abortions and sterilizations, children sold into prostitution, ritual mutilations, dowry murders and domestic violence. There are those who suggest that all this is cultural, and there's nothing we can do about it. I say it's criminal, and we each have a responsibility to stop it. (Applause.)
That is why the United States expressed outrage about the abuses committed against ethnic Chinese women in Indonesia during the riots last May. It's why America has been the strongest backer of the International War Crimes Tribunals for Rwanda and the Balkans. Because we are determined that the authors of ethnic cleansing should be held accountable, and those who consider rape just another tactic of war must answer for their crimes.
It is why we have undertaken a major diplomatic and law enforcement initiative to halt trafficking in women and girls. After all, we believe in zero tolerance for those who sell illegal drugs; we should feel even more strongly about finding, stopping and jailing those who buy and sell human beings.
Finally, it's why we are speaking up on behalf of the women and girls of Afghanistan, who have been victimized by all factions in their country's bitter civil war. The most powerful of those factions, the Taliban, seems determined to drag Afghan women back from the dawn of the 21st century to roughly the 13th. The only female rights they appear to recognize are the rights to remain silent and invisible, uneducated and unemployed. Afghan women and girls have asked for our help, and we are providing it. We have increased our support for education and training, and we have made it clear that if the leaders of any Afghan faction want international acceptance, they must treat women not as chattel, but as people. And they must respect human rights.
One of the most basic human rights for both women and men is spelled out in Article 18 of the Universal Declaration, which provides that everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, and religion. From the earliest days, Americans have believed in this right, and it is our conviction, and it has been our experience, that nations are stronger, and the lives of their people far richer, when citizens have the freedom to choose, proclaim, and exercise their religious identity.
Under President Clinton, we have integrated the American commitment to religious liberty into our bilateral relationships. We raise the issue directly in discussions with foreign leaders, and we shine a spotlight upon it in regional organizations and at the United Nations. We take other governments' policies towards religious freedom into account when making judgments about whether to provide aid or other benefits. And we have made a special effort to help resolve disputes in areas, such as Northern Ireland, the Middle East and the Balkans, where religious divisions have combined with other factors to engender violence or endanger peace.
We do all this because religious liberty is fundamental to our own identity, because its denial can cause fear, flight, fighting, or even all-out war; and because intolerance, when not confronted in one area, can grow and spread until it becomes a wilderness of hate.
In all that we do, we stress that our policies are directed neither for nor against any particular religious faith. Over time, in one place or another, persons of virtually every faith have been persecuted. Each time it has diminished us all. So we all have a stake in seeing the precious right of religious liberty is protected for everyone, everywhere, every day.
Another area of emphasis in our human rights policy is freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration provides that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and to impart and receive ideas through the media. The very importance of this right is what causes dictators to want to suppress it, for to a dictator the truth is often inconvenient, and sometimes a mortal threat.
And that's why leaders of nations such as North Korea, Libya, Iraq, Cuba, Burma and Serbia try to grab the truth and leash it like a dog, ration it like bread, or mold it like clay. Their goal is to create their own myths, conceal their own blunders, direct resentments elsewhere, and instill in their people a dread of change.
Atlanta, home to CNN, is the global information capital. That network's broadcasts have done much to reduce the ability of repressive governments to control what their people know and when they know it. The advance of information technology only adds to our faith here in the United States that truth will ultimately prove stronger than any dictator. But that will not happen if those who cherish their own freedoms remain silent when the freedoms of others are denied. Accordingly, we vigorously oppose efforts to suppress independent voices such as Serb President Milosevic's recent, inexcusable crackdown on journalists in his country.
We also sponsor independent broadcasting through the Voice of America and other outlets. We support regional initiatives such as the designation of a Special Rapporteur to monitor threats to reporters in this hemisphere. And around the world, we back the cause of free expression both diplomatically and through material support.
In addition, in a matter related to the flow of information, the Clinton Administration is now conducting a review of documents that may shed light on human rights abuses during the Pinochet era in Chile. As Secretary of State, I am determined that the State Department continue declassifying and making available documents in this area. And I am determined to continue to do so as rapidly as possible under the administration's guidelines.
Another fundamental right spelled out in the Universal Declaration is the right to take part in government, either directly or through freely chosen representatives. To the United States, this right is basic, and we are encouraged that in recent decades, the right to democratic governance has won increasing acceptance worldwide as the cornerstone for protecting the full range of human rights.
Of course, we know that each country must come to democracy at its own speed and by its own path. But countries that have already established such systems can help. First, by defending their own freedom and that of the entire democratic community, so that no nation that enters the democratic ranks is forced, either by internal or external foes, to leave it. And second, by helping nations in transition to develop durable democratic institutions.
And that's why today, from Asia to Africa to the Andes, U.S. agencies and non-governmental organizations are training judges, drafting commercial codes, aiding civil society, and otherwise helping to assemble the nuts and bolts of freedom.
In the months ahead, we can expect many important tests of democracy. In Indonesia, for example, leaders must heed their people's desire for far-reaching political reform, heal ethnic divisions, deal fairly with the aspirations of those in East Timor and Iryan Java, and prevent further violations of human rights. In Cambodia, the new coalition government must put aside past habits of confrontation and corruption and find a way to work together based on democratic principles. And in our own hemisphere, Colombia's promising new president is determined to overcome threats posed by drug cartels, guerrillas, paramilitary forces, and poverty, and we are determined to help.
In Africa, there is an opportunity for historic progress in Nigeria, the continent's largest nation. During the past two decades, military governments plundered that country's natural resources, exploited ethnic divisions, and brutally abused human rights. The new interim leadership has promised a sharp break from this sad past, and local elections will be held this week and national elections next year. Independent political parties have been allowed to register, political prisoners have been released, and noted exiles, such as Emory University professor Wole Soyinka, have returned home. The United States strongly supports these developments. Nigerians deserve to live in freedom. But the road ahead will be difficult, and Nigerians have seen promises betrayed all too often.
Nigeria's course will be determined, as it must be, by its own people. But the international community must do all it can to reinforce the movement towards a political system in which all Nigerians may participate and the rights of all are protected. This is a top priority for the administration, and I know that it is for the Carter Center as well.
As we look ahead to the new century, we can expect that, perhaps, the greatest test of democracy, human rights and the rule of law will be in China, where more than one in five of the world's people live. America has a vital interest in nonproliferation, Asian security, and the regional economy that will be affected by the choices China makes. So, we are engaged in a dialogue with Chinese leaders to expand cooperation and narrow differences. Since that dialogue began, the issue of human rights has been among the most difficult. And the importance we attach to it has been reflected both in private discussions and in the very public endorsements of democratic values by President Clinton during the recent summits in Washington and Beijing.
We acknowledge that the Chinese people have far greater freedom now than their parents did to make economic choices, move around their country, and choose village committee leaders. Unfortunately, on the core issues of human rights, we still have grave concerns. We have welcomed the release of a number of prisoners of conscience in recent months, but are disturbed that others are regularly picked up for essentially the same offense. Nor is it a step forward when some avenues for debate are opened up, but individuals such as Xu Wenli and others are harassed, detained, and arrested for trying to exercise the rights of organized political expression.
Overall, the pace of progress towards full respect for human rights is disappointing. Nevertheless, China's indigenous democratic movement continues to test the limits of what is possible, and this in itself is a welcome sign. We may hope that, as time goes by and the connection between political openness and economic prosperity becomes even more apparent, the scope of allowable expression will expand further to the benefit both of China and the world.
Although the specifics of our approach to promoting democracy will vary from country to country, the fundamental goals are the same. We seek to encourage, where we can, the development of free institutions and practices. Some fault these efforts as unrealistic for presuming that democracy is possible in less developed nations. Others suggest we are being "hegemonic" by trying to impose democratic values.
In truth, we understand well that democracy must emerge from the desire of individuals to participate in the decisions that shape their lives. But we see this desire in all countries. And there is no better way for us to show respect for others than to support their right to shape their own futures and select their own leaders. Unlike dictatorship, democracy is never an imposition; it is, by definition, always a choice.
Years ago, not that far from here, a young schoolgirl first became fully aware of the outside world when her teacher told her that a war had broken out in Europe and that it was important for Americans to know about it. At the same time, on the other side of the ocean, a toddler, bundled in her parent's arms, left her home in Czechoslovakia to escape Hitler's army.
I am here today only because America understood, as that young schoolgirl, Rosalynn Smith, did in her classroom in Plains, that the freedom and security of the United States depends on the freedom and security of friends abroad.
Half a century ago, American leadership saved Europe from the greatest evil the world has known. Throughout this century, American leadership has made all the difference, not only in my life, but also in the lives of millions of others who have been protected by American soldiers, helped by American assistance, or inspired by American ideals. It is true today, as it was during the Carter Presidency, that America cannot end every conflict, right every wrong, or solve every problem. Others must do their part. Ultimately, the people of every country must determine their own destiny.
Still, the United States has the leading role to play, not because of our military power -- although that is important -- or because of our economic strength -- although that matters -- but because of what we stand for in the world. And that, at its heart, is the simple but powerful proposition that every individual counts. That is the philosophy of America at its best. That was the driving force behind the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That is the conviction that inspires this Institute to promote women's studies. That is the foundation of the Carter Center's work in support of democracy and freedom against conflict and disease. And that is why Rosalynn Carter has devoted so much of her life to helping the mentally ill, bringing comfort to refugees, and spreading the gospel of education.
It is said that all work that is worth anything is done in faith. This afternoon, let us each vow to keep that faith, that every abuse of human rights prevented; every prisoner of conscience released; every barrier to justice brought down; and every country helped to emerge from darkness into the light of freedom, will enrich our own lives, inspire others, and explode outwards the boundaries of what is achievable on this earth. To this end, I pledge my own best efforts and, respectfully, solicit both your counsel and support. And thank you very much, and we will do questions. (Applause.)
Thank you. Thank you all very much. A very attentive audience, thank you.
MODERATOR: Secretary Albright has agreed to answer your questions and so, if you have a question, if you'll raise your hand, I will call on you. And when I do, I would like for you to give me your name and the year student that you are. Thank you. Right in the back.
QUESTION: Hello, good afternoon. I'm asking you on, what is the Clinton Administration's policy towards many Muslim countries who, in their states, also believe that the state should adhere to the religion, and they should be guided by the religion in public policy, in their state, which is contrary to the UN Human Rights Declaration, which leans towards secularism, which is very prominent in the West, but not actually adhered to in non-Western countries, not believed in. Can you expand on that?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that I think that President Clinton spoke very fervently at the UN General Assembly about the whole role of Islam as, perhaps, our misunderstanding of many aspects of it because, all too often, as we look at various policy issues, there are those who -- that it has been very important to make -- that is not a basic tenet of the Muslim religion, and that that religion, along with all others, needs to be respected and that, as a faith, it is the one that has the largest number of Americans joining it and that we have a misunderstanding of it.
We are concerned, however, when, as I commented, a group such as the Taliban, in ways, denies human rights to many of its people on the basis of their interpretation of it and, therefore, we feel that it is possible to criticize policies which do, in fact, deny the ability of people to exercise their rights under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. So, I think it's very important to distinguish between our understanding of what the Islam religion is, how people practice it individually, and state policies which, in fact, specifically deny the human rights that we respect. And so we are not recognizing the Taliban, and we make very clear to other countries, where law is exercised in a way to undercut the human rights -- the Declaration of Human Rights -- that that is not our policy.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Secretary. My name is Michael Gudon, I'm a college senior, and I would like to know if there's any sentiments of resentment in the State House, towards the President because we know so much information about his personal life and his attacks on you all, and that he insisted once --
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me say that we have -- I speak for myself -- that we were disappointed in what happened, and the President has made clear that he thought that he had done the wrong thing and that he had misled us. But as Secretary of State, I have to say that I have the utmost confidence in President Clinton's judgment and ability and dedication to the national interests of the United States. He has spent an inordinate amount of time on foreign policy issues, in which he has, I think, shown tremendous dedication and wisdom.
And I think that his historical approach to our foreign policy problems and his vision for the 21st century is what I am very proud of and very glad to be a part of those who work on it. And I am very proud to have been selected by him for my position. And I have to say, just very large parentheses here, which is with the President of Mozambique, who spoke about the example that President Clinton has set by naming people to his administration who are young -- I don't fit in that category -- and who are women -- that I do fit. And that it has set an example for the rest of the world in terms of openness and willingness to give people a chance and to allow people to not only live the American dream, but provide examples of it to others. So I believe that the President has done a magnificent job in the areas that I'm involved in, and I'm very proud to serve him. (Applause.)
QUESTION: Hi, good afternoon, my name is Jim Herr. I'm a junior in the college. The United States Army's School of the Americas in Fort Benning, Georgia, has trained some of the worst violators of human rights in this hemisphere, including Manuel Noriega, the person responsible for the Zona Rosa Massacre in El Salvador of over 900 people and the assassination of Archbishop Romero who, as someone with a voice, spoke for those who didn't have freedom.
How can the United States keep this school and other institutions like it open and still claim to have a commitment to fundamental human rights, in light of the activities at this school?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I always knew that college audiences were the hardest. (Laughter.) Let me say that I think that, clearly, relationships with Latin America and, you mentioned, relationships with Latin America have gone through many changes and developments, and I think when you speak of that era, I think many of us, as we look back on it, feel that there were serious mistakes made. And when I spoke in my remarks about the fact that we are reviewing and releasing documents to do with the Pinochet era, it is part of trying to deal with some of the mistakes and problems of that time.
I have spent a lot of time, now, in developing new relations with Latin America, including what I consider one of the most important changes, which is the whole change in the role of the military within Latin America. The -- President Carter, I think -- I think I know -- was instrumental in changing our relationships with Latin America. And his determination to make clear the importance of human rights and democracy started a trend there, in Argentina, and President Alfonse, many, many times, would always thank President Carter for everything that he had done that allowed him to come to power and democracy to begin in Argentina. And then there had been a huge spread through Latin America. And part of the changes in the whole Latin American system has been that the military has now been, in all cases, subordinated to civilian control.
I believe that it is important for us to continue to have relationships with this new military, in order to instill in them -- contrary to what was done previously -- democratic principles and the ability to work within democratic governments, and to be subordinated to civilian control. And what happens in a lot of these schools now, and through our IMET programs and -- Secretary Cohen was just now in Colombia for a meeting of defense ministers discussing the role of the military in Colombia -- that we can do a lot now to help in terms of creating this new relationship between a new kind of military and a new, democratic Latin America.
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible), I'm a sophomore. I was just curious to know your feelings about the bill that Congress passed to support the Mujahedin revolutionary group that is based in southern Iraq, to throw over the Iranian government, and -- how do you feel about that and what kind of -- how that would help the Iranian government since most of the Iranians that are against the government that live in that country do not support the Mujahedin themselves.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Are you talking about Iraq or Iran?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Iraq.
QUESTION: They're stationed in Iraq but they're (inaudible) Iran.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I think that -- you're talking about the Liberation Act that they just passed. Let me talk a little bit about Iraq policy. Our Iraq policy has been to contain Saddam Hussein, and that has worked, we think, pretty well for the last seven years.
However, as you all know from the recent crisis that we had, that we are sensing more and more that Saddam Hussein only wants sanctions lifted and does not want to comply with what is absolutely essential, that is, that he not reacquire or redevelop his ability to have weapons of mass destruction, or threaten his neighbors, or threaten our forces in the region. And therefore, we have added to our policy, and are now at containment plus regime change.
And we believe that that may take a considerable amount of time, and (interruption to tape) and they are actively -- there are many of them, and they are actively opposed to Saddam Hussein, and we are going to be working with them. The act that was passed, if I've understood you properly, was basically a way to support that activity, and we are now consulting with Congress about how to make that happen.
But it is a very complex procedure and, in the meantime, we are going to work to continue to contain Saddam Hussein through this very tough sanctions regime. And at the same time, because I know many of you must be concerned about the Iraqi people, we were the main sponsors of the Oil for Food resolution in the United Nations, which allowed Saddam Hussein to sell oil, $2 to $5 billion, in order to buy food and medicine for the Iraqi people. And the Iraqi people have never -- and this is always, I think, been a misunderstanding -- have never been denied -- the embargoes do not deny food and medicine to them.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Stephanie Sheehan, and I'm a sophomore in the college and surely honored to hear you speak and to be able to ask you a question. I want to (inaudible) set a standard and criteria that the United States uses when considering whether or not to use force, whether it be in Iraq or the Balkans or North Korea? And also, could you please comment on where, in fact, there were obstacles you faced as a woman in politics?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: You know, I've been trying to figure out what I want to do when this job is over, and whether I want to go back to teaching, and having all of you ask such great questions makes me think, yes, because you all are really out there, thank you.
You've asked a very interesting question that I would be happy to actually teach a whole course about, which is, what is the appropriate use of force? How does it fit with the diplomacy?
And there have been many arguments in various administrations about what the appropriate criteria are, and what's very interesting, if you go back and look at the history of it, it's usually the Secretary of Defense who lays down a whole bunch of very specific criteria, and it's the Secretary of State -- in previous administrations it's always been like this -- who says, well, we can't define it specifically, we can't limit ourselves in that particular way.
And I think that the reason that the argument sets up that way is that Secretaries of State understand that there is a very close relationship between the ability to do diplomacy actively and well, if it has the threat of the use of force behind it, that sometimes it helps diplomacy. Now, the problem is that you cannot threaten to use the force without being prepared to use it. And, therefore, because we are in a democracy, and there are all of these discussions about what is the appropriate moment and when you use it, there always gets to be -- I don't know any other word to use -- an hysteria about, are we going to bomb?
And people forget that we are using force not for the sake of using force, but for the sake of accomplishing a particular end. And, let's say, for instance, in Kosovo, where we had the most recent kind of combination of force and diplomacy. People were saying, "So what are you going to bomb?" And what we were trying to do there was to get a cease-fire and to get agreements between the Kosovars and Serbia to negotiate some kind of a political solution. And we had to go very far in threatening the use of force to get what we got, and we got it. But it got us to a point where we had to activate NATO, through a very complicated procedure, and we were ready to use force, and there were a lot of people who said, "Oh, you wimped out because you didn't use force." The bottom line was, we wanted to get a cease-fire and a political solution.
So I believe that force is a last resort, but it is essential for there to be a calibration of the threat of the use of force. Now, another issue that has come up is that there are those who believe that if you use force, you can only use it in massive numbers. And I had an argument, actually -- not an easy one for a woman to have, or a civilian to have -- with General Colin Powell. And he writes about it in his book, so I think that I can talk about it freely.
I believed for a long time that it was important for us to threaten the use of force and/or use force in Bosnia. I had made that quite clear, that I thought it had gone on too long and that we needed to use force earlier. And General Powell is a believer in the massive use of force, which worked in the Persian Gulf War. And I have believed that it's very important to be able to apply the limited use of force, and that it works. And it did work in Bosnia; when we finally decided to bomb, it did work, and it happened after the disasters at Srebrenica.
So, there are lots of debates about what the Gulf War taught us, as to whether you need a massive use of force or whether you have to only use force when you can put in 500,000 troops, or whether there is a way to have a limited use of force. I believe that a limited use of force, in concert with diplomacy, is an appropriate way to decide. It's a very long answer, but it shows you why I think it would be fun to teach a course on it.
The obstacles for women, in -- you know what is interesting, I think that I, as Mrs. Carter explained, I ran a program at Georgetown called Women in Foreign Service, and it was not women in diplomacy the Foreign Service, but women in international relations jobs. And I decided that it was very important to train young women to understand, from what I had learned, is that the obstacles are our own nature to a great extent, which is that we hold back and that we wait for other people's opinions and -- and a lot of our problems are men, but a lot of them are not.
A lot of them, I think, are self-inflicted. I think that Mrs. Carter would probably agree with that, too, is that we see ourselves in a particular role. You would have died laughing in my class -- I decided that, when I had been in meetings and sat around a table in the Carter administration, and I would say, after listening to this, I would say, well, can I speak? Is that a really dumb idea? Why don't I wait? And then some guy would say what I said and everyone thought it was brilliant. And I would be so mad at myself for not having spoken.
I don't know, ladies, if you've ever had this experience, but I think there are two kinds of listening. There's passive listening, and there's active listening, and passive listening is you just kind of sit there and absorb, and active listening is when you decide you are going to talk. And so in my classes, believe it or not, I decided that nobody should ever raise their hands, and that women had to learn to interrupt. And that is my motto, is that --
-- and having learned to interrupt, I have decided it is a great advantage to be a woman Secretary of State. First of all, if I were up here as a man, you would just see a tired old man but, thanks to make-up. (Laughter.) But also, I think that I have had the ability to develop very good relationships with my fellow foreign ministers, male or female. I have to tell you I formed a very exclusive club. There are ten women foreign ministers in the world, and (applause) we have now met two years in a row, and we talk about all our issues and problems. They're very similar whether you're the foreign minister of Bulgaria or the United States or Liechtenstein. So that's our club, but the most important thing of all is that it doesn't matter what gender you are if you represent the United States of America, because that is what people look for.
MODERATOR: I think our time is up. I'm sorry we didn't get to everybody's question, but I don't think there was any way we could have done that. There were so many people who wanted questions answered.
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