Secretary of State Clinton Announcing Partners for A New Beginning

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–April 27, 2010.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, and it is such a pleasure for me to welcome all of you here. I think that this is one of those occasions in the diplomatic history of our country that we will look back on and say that that made a difference.

And I am grateful to all of you, and particularly to you, Madeleine. Welcome back, it’s great to see you. I’m also very pleased to have here with us Walter Isaacson, well known to all of you and someone who has just recently been confirmed to chair the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which I’m very excited about, and has been enlisted, and willingly so, to co-chair this new venture, Partners for a New Beginning. And Barclay Resler, who is representing Coca-Cola, because we’re so pleased that Coke will be a global partner with us in this venture.

Nearly one year ago at Cairo University, President Obama called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world—a new beginning based on mutual interests and mutual respect, shared values, and shared responsibility. And since then, we have worked to put that vision into practice through our policies and our partnerships—not only with governments, but with the private sector, civil society, citizens worldwide.

This is a high priority for both the President and myself. We really believe that person-to-person diplomacy in today’s world is as important as what we do in official meetings in national capitals across the globe. It can’t be achieved, though, just by our government asserting it. It can only be achieved by the kind of public-private partnerships that the United States is uniquely known for and which we are unveiling today: people and groups working across sectors, industries; working together with persistence and creativity to fulfill that promise of a new beginning and translate it into positive benefits.

So with that in mind, it is my pleasure to announce a new partnership between the State Department and the fittingly named Partners for a New Beginning, a group of eminent Americans who have answered the President’s call to join our outreach to Muslim communities around the world, by helping to engage the considerable resources, capabilities, and expertise of the U.S. private sector. This is a key element of our national strategy, and I am very grateful to the leadership of this effort and all who will participate in it.

Partners for a New Beginning will tap into the dynamism and innovation of U.S. industry in a number of ways—for example, by encouraging companies to contribute equipment or technology to the Centers of Scientific Excellence we are developing overseas, or by facilitating partnerships between universities here and those abroad to share knowledge and improve business education. They will also encourage investors and mentors in the United States to recognize the tremendous potential that resides in Muslim-majority communities, where many entrepreneurs are working against significant obstacles to turn their dreams into reality. More than 250 entrepreneurs from more than 50 countries are here in Washington for the Presidential Summit on Entrepreneurship; they represent just a tiny fraction of all those around the world who could, if given the chance, become partners for American entrepreneurs.

This group is led by an extraordinary team. Madeleine Albright will bring her considerable experience and stature, and it’s wonderful once again to be working with her. Walter Isaacson, as the president of the Aspen Institute, will serve as vice-chair—and we can’t imagine a better partner than the Aspen Institute, which will also serve as the Secretariat for Partners for a New Beginning. And Muhtar Kent, the chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Company, who couldn’t join us today, will be the other vice-chair. But we’re very grateful that Barclay is here, the vice president for government relations, and we’re especially pleased to have the commitment of this iconic American company with unparalleled global reach. I remember very well working on HIV/AIDS in Africa and having the a-ha moment when Coca-Cola said, well, we go all over Africa, so we’ll take – we can transport drugs because we have the facility to do so.

So this partnership is a high priority for us and it’s one that I will be personally committed to as I announce it later this afternoon at the Entrepreneurship Summit. We really are committed to unleashing the potential, the individual and collective potential, of people around the world and particularly in Muslim-majority countries. You can look at the statistics and you can compare countries particularly but not exclusively in the Middle East and see that they are not growing at the rate that they should, given the extraordinary talent of the people. So we want to unleash that, and that’s true in much of what we’re trying to do, but certainly in this particular project.

So now it’s my pleasure to introduce Madeleine, and then we’ll hear from Walter and Barclay. Madeleine.


SECRETARY CLINTON: And I wore a pin in your honor. (Laughter.)

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it’s great to be here. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, Hillary, and wonderful to be back at the State Department, and very honored to serve as chairman of the Partners for a New Beginning. I do think it is a remarkable – an innovative variation on the theme of public-private partnerships. And I hope that it really will make a major contribution to developing the ties between the United States and the international Muslim communities. And I congratulate the President and you, Madam Secretary, for hosting this week’s summit. It sounds really exciting. And as we were talking about it, there already is a sense of kind of new beginnings in so many different ways, and I congratulate you. You’ve been working on it so hard.

I do think that we all followed with great interest President Obama’s speech that he made in Cairo and I think it was an incredible departure in so many ways that needed to be followed up. And I’m delighted to have the opportunity to chair this group with my very good friend, Walter Isaacson. We do many, many things together. I’m on the board of the Aspen Institute and very proud of that and the activities that the Aspen Institute already undertakes in the Middle East. Berl Bernhard is here, who is president of the Middle East Investment Initiative. There are many aspects of this and Aspen will be a wonderful way to integrate all of this. And delighted that Muhtar Kent has also agreed to be vice chair. He’s a very good friend. We have done a number of things together and continue to do, and Coca-Cola really is iconic.

My last trip, I ended up in Omsk, Siberia in the fog, and there was a Coca-Cola sign and that made me feel very much at home. And Barclay, thank you very much for being here representing Muhtar.

I am very glad that the Aspen Institute is going to serve as the Secretariat, and Toni Verstandig, who many of you know, is going to be running that with Mickey, and I think that it will – it’s really an ideal way to make this work, because I do think that Walter has managed to make the institute really do what we were set out to do, which was translate words into action. And therefore, this really is an ideally positioned setup.
I will repeat what Hillary said because I think that what was said by President Obama in Cairo bears highlighting. And he said the principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings as a central to a new beginning – a central point. And I think he recognized the need for a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, and to seek common ground.

And the partnership really does build on these pillars to advance the President’s vision by focusing on these elements of economic opportunity and entrepreneurship, innovation in science and technology, education, and people-to-people exchanges. And taken together, these projects can go much further to strengthening the bonds between the United States and the citizens of Muslim-majority nations, and to do so based on a philosophy – and I think we should keep repeating these words – mutual understanding, mutual interests, and mutual respect.

Now, I did learn – it’s always terrifying to people to know that you actually learned something while you’re Secretary of State – is that the real importance about public-private partnerships and the great difference that can be made when businesses get involved with nongovernmental organizations and the government in order to really propel issues forward. And I think it’s that combination, Hillary, that I think is going to make this so important. I think that it is an effective way to move forward and I do think that these kinds of partnerships will be a way to really begin anew. So here I am with a new beginning, Madam Secretary. Thank you again for asking me to do something on behalf of the United States of America. There is no greater honor.
Walter. (Applause.)

MR. ISAACSON: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary and Madam Secretary, good to see you. As Madam Secretary Albright says, somewhere there’s a boy thinking I could grow up and be Secretary of State someday. (Laughter.) It’s her line.

This is particularly fitting that Secretary Clinton would do this. She’s somebody who fully understands the power of people-to-people diplomacy. She’s somebody who understands the partnerships you can make and how America’s strength comes not just from its military might or even from its pure diplomacy, but also from its public diplomacy and what we do together.

And there’s another reason that I know that this was a very important mission. In fact, there are two reasons that this seemed so serious and so important. The first reason was that you asked Secretary Albright to do it, and the second reason was that Secretary Albright said yes. (Laughter.) There could be no more important mission than having somebody so iconic, as iconic as a Coca-Cola red sign, as Madeleine Albright leading this mission for us and being the face – because her face has become a symbol and her heart and her mind have become really the exemplars of what American values are all about. So thank you very much, Secretary Albright, for doing this.

The Partners for a New Beginning is part of the – going to be run by Toni Verstandig and others as part of the Middle East programs of the Aspen Institute. But of course, we’re doing it under the direction of Secretary Albright, who’ll be the chair, and I hope we’ll have a great list. We already have people clamoring to be part of this partnership from industries around the United States.

Also, as part of the Middle East programs, we do have a U.S.-Palestinian partnership, which in some ways is a precursor of this. This has grown out of it. Mickey Bergman runs our U.S.-Palestinian partnerships and one of the things it incubated, among the many things that the U.S.-Palestinian partnership has done, is this Middle East Investment Initiative that Berl Bernhard now chairs. I used to sort of run it because it’s part of the Aspen Institute, but Berl’s on the executive committee of the Aspen Institute and they said don’t let Walter anywhere near this amount of money. The amount of money was, I think – I can’t remember, you have $260 million of loans out; is that right, Berl? How many loans?

MR. BERNHARD: (Off-mike.)

MR. ISAACSON: Fifty-six million investments and —

MR. BERNHARD: (Off-mike.)

MR. ISAACSON: It’s really wonderful what they’ve been doing. And Jim Pickup works with it too, somebody who’s been a great example. Sixty years ago, in these corridors, they were faced with a great new global struggle. And they were very creative; they invented things ranging from the Marshall Plan to Radio Free Europe to the Bretton Woods institutions like IMF and World Bank, to all sorts of ways that there could be public-private partnerships and America could engage in the struggle.

Now that we’re engaged in a different sort of global struggle, a mutual struggle among people around the world who want security and peace and freedom and tolerance, we need that same sort of creativity. And this type of operation is really an example of that type of creativity that they did so long ago. The wise men, as we called them back then, who did those things really thought through the problems we faced. Now, I want to pay tribute to Anne-Marie Slaughter, who is the George Kennan of her generation, but without the angst. (Laughter.) The George Kennan with a sense of humor, which is hard for him probably to imagine, but Princeton can produce people with senses of humor as well.

This came out of the policy planning ideas of Anne-Marie Slaughter, somebody I’ve respected. Professor Slaughter has written and thought, and now turned thought into action. And if there’s a Chip Bohlen here – some of you don’t know Chip Bohlen, but Chip Bohlen was a guy who actually really made things work because he was so cool and diplomatic – it’s Greg Behrman, my friend, who works for Anne-Marie Slaughter.

And Greg Behrman is somebody who was able to keep pushing this rock because he really believed it. He wrote a great book on the Marshall Plan, and I hope that book inspired you, because in some ways this is your way of doing a version of the Marshall Plan, working with Anne-Marie and others.

And also, I saw Rob Lalka back there. Rob worked with Ambassador Bagley’s office, Elizabeth Bagley as part of this, but Rob – I just want to give him one quick shout-out because he’s done something like this before after Hurricane Katrina. He had never been to New Orleans, I don’t think. He moved to New Orleans. So by doing this and working for Habitat down there and doing some of the rebuilding there, but now doing this, it shows a true spirit. And I want to thank you, Rob, and give you a bit of a shout-out.

Ben Franklin – and by the way, if you go outside, you see the two greatest portraits of him, the Siffred Duplessis portrait right by the elevators that’s on the $100 bill, but also the David Martin portrait in the Franklin Room, which was his own favorite with Newton looking down on him. He was the one who first did all this. He knew that small businesses and voluntary associations would be the backbone of what made this country strong but also gave it a link around the world.

And not only did he start all sorts of associations and public-private partnerships, he launched the first public-private partnership in America, which was a hospital in Philadelphia, in which half the money was to come from subscriptions and lottery and the other half was to come from the Pennsylvania Assembly, which it did. And still inscribed on the door is his motto for it, which is, “To pour forth benefits for the common good is divine.”

During his lifetime, he donated to the building fund of each and every church built in Philadelphia, and at one point, they were building a new hall for visiting preachers, and he wrote the fundraising document that said even if the Mufti of Constantinople were to send somebody here to teach us Islam and preach about Mohammed, we should offer them a pulpit and listen, for we might learn. And then on his deathbed, he was the largest individual contributor to the Mikveh Israel Synagogue, the first synagogue built in Philadelphia. So when he died, instead of his minister accompanying him to the grave, all 35 ministers, priests, and preachers along linked on to the rabbi of the Jews and marched with him to the grave.

That’s what we’re fighting for in this world today. That’s what you represent, Secretary Clinton, and that’s what we hope – to be foot soldiers in your crusade. Thank you so very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Walter. (Applause.)

MR. RESLER: Hard to follow that. (Laughter.) Thank you, Walter. On behalf of Muhtar Kent, our chairman and chief executive officer who could not be here with us today, he would like me to offer this statement on his behalf.

On behalf of the Coca-Cola Company and more than 700,000 Coca-Cola associates in our system around the world, I’d like to thank The Honorable Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the opportunity to be a part of this important initiative. We look forward to working closely with former Secretary of State Albright, our great friend, as the chair of the Partners for a New Beginning, and Vice Chair Walter Isaacson, again, chairman of the Aspen Institute.

The Coca-Cola Company and its bottling partners do business in 200 countries around the world, depending on the day. (Laughter.) We’re a local business everywhere we operate and in each of those countries, we follow local customs and traditions. We generate economic value that stays in the local community we serve and our approach is always inclusive. This year, we announced significant addition – investments in countries like Malaysia and Pakistan, where we have been present since 1936 and 1953 respectively. Across the Arab world alone, our bottling partners operate 58 plants, employ 40,000 people, providing livelihoods for 500,000 families, and have invested more than a billion dollars in the last few years.

We’re the third largest employer, the fifth largest investor in the Palestine Authority area, employing 350 Palestinians and providing livelihoods for 5,000 families. Over the next 10 years, job creation and the growth of a middle class will be among the most powerful and defining global developments. Women in particular will be a driving force of the economic empowerment in the developing world. Global corporations have an important role to play in small business development and in helping to create sustainable communities where they operate.

For example, our micro distribution centers in the Middle – in East Africa, Indonesia, the Philippines, and parts of the Middle East are an inclusive business model that creates entrepreneurial jobs for small independent distributors. John D. Rockefeller said that – and I quote – “A friendship founded on business is a good deal better than a business founded on friendship,” end quote. (Laughter.) To do business successfully in a multicultural environment, you need to demonstrate respect, flexibility, sensitivity, open-mindedness, and a genuine interest in understanding the differences between people.

That is why we are honored to stand here today and lend our support to this important initiative. We look forward to playing our part to foster further private sector engagement between the United States, Muslim communities, and citizens in an inclusive and constructive way. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. Well, we’re excited and I also wanted to recognize Farah Pandith, who is my Special Representative to Muslim Communities globally. When you have an event where you quote Muhtar Kent and Benjamin Franklin, that’s a successful event. (Laughter.) So thank you all for coming and especially thanks to those of you who will be actually participating and becoming partners in this new beginning. Thank you all. (Applause.)