George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Karen P. Hughes as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

September 09, 2005

The President. Thank you. Madame Secretary, thank you. Thank you for the fine leadership you're providing for our country. Laura and I are pleased to be back here at the State Department, and we're really pleased to be here to honor our new Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Ambassador Karen Hughes.

It's good to see many of Karen's friends here today, particularly those from Texas. Welcome. I want to say something about her family, her husband, Jerry, and Robert and Leigh and Lauren. I want to thank you very much for supporting Karen. It is a real blessing for this country that she has decided to come back and serve. And I know she would not have done that without your support, so thank you all very much.

We're in a war on terror. We are still at war. And to succeed in this war, we must effectively explain our policies and fundamental values to people around the world. This is an incredibly important mission, and so I've asked one of America's most talented communicators to take it on.

Karen Hughes has been one of my closest and most trusted advisers for more than a decade. She understands the miracle of America. She understands what we stand for. After all, she's lived it. Her grandfather was a Pennsylvania coal miner. She's a working mom who rose to serve at the highest levels of our Government. She has a compassionate heart, a brilliant mind, and a deep love for America. I can think of no one better to share the American experience with the world than Karen Hughes.

I want to thank the Cabinet Secretaries who are here. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to come and honor our friend. Don't hesitate to get back to work. We've got a lot to do. [Laughter] I appreciate General Dick Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who's with us. I want to thank John Negroponte, who is joining us as well. And thank you all.

America is a strong and resilient nation. Our people have the spirit, the resources, and the determination to overcome any challenge. And today, this Nation faces enormous challenges at home and abroad.

At this moment, our fellow citizens along the gulf coast are struggling to recover from one of the worst natural disasters in our country's history. Many thousands have lost their homes. They've lost their loved ones. They've lost all their earthly possessions. The disaster area is larger than the size of Great Britain. Towns and communities have been flattened. One of our great cities has been submerged.

In this time of struggle, the American people need to know we're not struggling alone. I want to thank the members of the diplomatic corps who are with us today. I want to thank the world community for its prayers and for the offers of assistance that have come from all around the world. The outpouring of compassion and support has been substantial.

Think of this: Afghanistan has pledged $100,000 to aid—in aid to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Ambassador, thank you. Canada has sent ships with disaster supplies. Air Canada—Air Canada's planes assisted in the evacuation. Israel sent tents and mineral water and medical supplies. Italy has sent beds and sheets and blankets and inflatable rafts to help with rescue efforts. Kuwait has pledged $400 million in oil and $100 million in humanitarian aid. Qatar and the UAE has pledged $100 million each. Sri Lanka, one of the world's most impoverished nations that is struggling to overcome the effects of the tsunami, has sent a donation of $25,000.

In all, more than a hundred countries have stepped forward with offers of assistance, and additional pledges of support are coming in every day. To every nation in every province and every local community across the globe that is standing with the American people and with those who hurt on the gulf coast, our entire Nation thanks you for your support.

Four years ago, the American people saw a similar outpouring of sympathy and support when another tragedy struck our Nation, the terrorist attacks of September the 11th, 2001. This Sunday, Americans will mark the fourth anniversary of that terrible day when nearly 3,000 innocent people were murdered. The attacks took place on American soil, yet they left grieving families on virtually every continent. Citizens from dozens of nations were killed on September the 11th, innocent men and women and children of every race and every religion.

And in the 4 years since the September the 11th attacks, the terrorists have continued to kill in Madrid and Istanbul and Jakarta and Casablanca, in Riyadh, in Bali, in Baghdad, in London, in Sharm el-Sheikh, and elsewhere.

In the war on terror, the world's civilized nations face a common enemy, an enemy that hates us because of the values we hold in common. The terrorists have a strategy. They want to force those of us who love freedom to retreat, to pull back so they can topple governments in the Middle East and turn that region into a safe haven for terrorism.

To achieve these aims, they kill the innocent, because they believe that all human life is expendable. And that stands in stark contrast to what we believe. We believe human life is a precious gift from our Creator. Every nation that shares this belief shares the belief in human rights and human dignity, shares a stake in the outcome of this struggle. Every nation that believes that human rights and human dignity applies to every man, woman, and child, shares a responsibility in ensuring our victory over the terrorists.

We're on a hunt for the terrorists. We are striking them in foreign lands before they can hurt our citizens again. Yet we know that this war will not be won by force of arms alone. We must defeat the terrorists on the battlefield, and we must also defeat them in the battle of ideas.

As Prime Minister Blair said after the London attacks, we must not fight just the terrorists' methods, but also their views; not just their barbaric acts, but also their barbaric ideas. In the long run, the only way to achieve lasting peace is to offer a hopeful alternative to the terrorist ideology of hatred and fear.

By spreading the hope of freedom across the broader Middle East, Condi and Karen—or should I say, Madam Secretary and the Ambassador—understand that spreading the message of freedom requires an aggressive effort to share and communicate America's fundamental values.

And so they have an ambitious agenda to carry out. First, I've asked them to marshal all the resources of the Federal Government to this critical mission. Public diplomacy is the job of every member of my administration. As the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Karen will direct the State Department's efforts to communicate with the world, and at the same time, she will coordinate the work of our administration in support of this vital mission, ensuring that every agency and department gives public diplomacy the same level of priority that I do.

Second, I've asked the State Department to enlist the support of the private sector in our Nation's public diplomacy efforts. The experienced diplomats in this room will be the first to tell you, the American people are some of our Nation's best ambassadors. We must find ways to utilize their talents and skills more effectively. Everyone who travels abroad or welcomes an exchange student into their home is an ambassador for America. And we need more of our citizens involved in our public diplomacy.

Third, I've asked the State Department to improve our Government's capabilities to confront terrorist propaganda quickly, before myths have time to take root in the hearts and minds of people across the world. Listen, our enemies use lies. They use lies to recruit and train and indoctrinate. So Karen and her team have a vital task. They must ensure that the terrorist lies are challenged aggressively and that our Government is prepared to respond to false accusations and propaganda immediately.

Finally, I've asked the State Department to encourage Americans to learn about the languages and cultures of the broader Middle East. In the early days of the cold war, our Government undertook an intensive effort to encourage young Americans to study Russian language and history and culture so we could better understand the aspirations of the Russian people and the psychology of those who oppressed them. I've got to tell you, it's impressive to be with Condi when you're with the Russian officials, to hear her speak the Russian language. She was a part of that initiative. Today, the struggle for freedom has shifted to a new region of the world, and we need a similar effort to educate our people about the broader Middle East.

We must encourage young scholars to study the great history and traditions of the region. We need skilled linguists who can communicate with their people so we can engage in a fruitful dialog about what it means to live in liberty.

We've living in dangerous and challenging times, yet this is also a moment of great hope and opportunity. Across the world, hearts and minds are opening to the message of human liberty as never before. In the last 2 years alone, tens of millions have voted for the first time in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, and Georgia. And as they claim their freedom, they are inspiring millions more across the broader Middle East. We must encourage their aspirations. We must nurture freedom's progress.

Karen will deliver the message of freedom with humility and compassion and determination. She knows that freedom is not America's gift to the world. She knows that freedom is the Almighty God's gift to every man, woman, and child in this world. She will help America seize this moment of opportunity by working with other nations and peoples to replace tyranny with tolerance and overcome hatred with hope. Together, we're going to help millions achieve the non-negotiable demands of human dignity, so they can build a better life for their children, and so we can lay the foundation of peace for our children and grandchildren.

Karen, good luck in your task. May God bless you.

[At this point, Under Secretary Hughes was sworn into office.]

The President. Good luck.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:17 a.m. in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the State Department. In his remarks, he referred to Afghanistan's Ambassador to the U.S. Said Tayeb Jawad; and Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom. The transcript released by the Office of the Press Secretary also included the remarks of Under Secretary Hughes and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who introduced the President.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the Swearing-In Ceremony for Karen P. Hughes as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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