September 2012

  • Remarks by the President to the UN General Assembly

    obama_unUnited Nations Headquarters New York, New York (source: The White House)

    THE PRESIDENT:  Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentleman:  I would like to begin today by telling you about an American named Chris Stevens.

    Chris was born in a town called Grass Valley, California, the son of a lawyer and a musician.  As a young man, Chris joined the Peace Corps, and taught English in Morocco.  And he came to love and respect the people of North Africa and the Middle East. He would carry that commitment throughout his life.  As a diplomat, he worked from Egypt to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Libya.  He was known for walking the streets of the cities where he worked -- tasting the local food, meeting as many people as he could, speaking Arabic, listening with a broad smile.

    Chris went to Benghazi in the early days of the Libyan revolution, arriving on a cargo ship.  As America’s representative, he helped the Libyan people as they coped with violent conflict, cared for the wounded, and crafted a vision for the future in which the rights of all Libyans would be respected. And after the revolution, he supported the birth of a new democracy, as Libyans held elections, and built new institutions, and began to move forward after decades of dictatorship.

    Chris Stevens loved his work.  He took pride in the country he served, and he saw dignity in the people that he met.  And two weeks ago, he traveled to Benghazi to review plans to establish a new cultural center and modernize a hospital.  That’s when America’s compound came under attack.  Along with three of his colleagues, Chris was killed in the city that he helped to save. He was 52 years old.

    I tell you this story because Chris Stevens embodied the best of America.  Like his fellow Foreign Service officers, he built bridges across oceans and cultures, and was deeply invested in the international cooperation that the United Nations represents.  He acted with humility, but he also stood up for a set of principles -- a belief that individuals should be free to determine their own destiny, and live with liberty, dignity, justice, and opportunity.

    The attacks on the civilians in Benghazi were attacks on America.  We are grateful for the assistance we received from the Libyan government and from the Libyan people.  There should be no doubt that we will be relentless in tracking down the killers and bringing them to justice.  And I also appreciate that in recent days, the leaders of other countries in the region -- including Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen -- have taken steps to secure our diplomatic facilities, and called for calm.  And so have religious authorities around the globe.

    But understand, the attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America.  They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded -- the notion that people can resolve their differences peacefully; that diplomacy can take the place of war; that in an interdependent world, all of us have a stake in working towards greater opportunity and security for our citizens.

    If we are serious about upholding these ideals, it will not be enough to put more guards in front of an embassy, or to put out statements of regret and wait for the outrage to pass.  If we are serious about these ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of the crisis -- because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart and the hopes that we hold in common.

    Today, we must reaffirm that our future will be determined by people like Chris Stevens -- and not by his killers.  Today, we must declare that this violence and intolerance has no place among our United Nations.

    It has been less than two years since a vendor in Tunisia set himself on fire to protest the oppressive corruption in his country, and sparked what became known as the Arab Spring.  And since then, the world has been captivated by the transformation that’s taken place, and the United States has supported the forces of change.

    We were inspired by the Tunisian protests that toppled a dictator, because we recognized our own beliefs in the aspiration of men and women who took to the streets.

    We insisted on change in Egypt, because our support for democracy ultimately put us on the side of the people.

    We supported a transition of leadership in Yemen, because the interests of the people were no longer being served by a corrupt status quo.

    We intervened in Libya alongside a broad coalition, and with the mandate of the United Nations Security Council, because we had the ability to stop the slaughter of innocents, and because we believed that the aspirations of the people were more powerful than a tyrant.

    And as we meet here, we again declare that the regime of Bashar al-Assad must come to an end so that the suffering of the Syrian people can stop and a new dawn can begin.

    We have taken these positions because we believe that freedom and self-determination are not unique to one culture.  These are not simply American values or Western values -- they are universal values.  And even as there will be huge challenges to come with a transition to democracy, I am convinced that ultimately government of the people, by the people, and for the people is more likely to bring about the stability, prosperity, and individual opportunity that serve as a basis for peace in our world.

    So let us remember that this is a season of progress.  For the first time in decades, Tunisians, Egyptians and Libyans voted for new leaders in elections that were credible, competitive, and fair.  This democratic spirit has not been restricted to the Arab world.  Over the past year, we’ve seen peaceful transitions of power in Malawi and Senegal, and a new President in Somalia.  In Burma, a President has freed political prisoners and opened a closed society, a courageous dissident has been elected to parliament, and people look forward to further reform.  Around the globe, people are making their voices heard, insisting on their innate dignity, and the right to determine their future.

    And yet the turmoil of recent weeks reminds us that the path to democracy does not end with the casting of a ballot.  Nelson Mandela once said:  "To be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."  (Applause.)

    True democracy demands that citizens cannot be thrown in jail because of what they believe, and that businesses can be opened without paying a bribe.  It depends on the freedom of citizens to speak their minds and assemble without fear, and on the rule of law and due process that guarantees the rights of all people.

    In other words, true democracy -- real freedom -- is hard work.  Those in power have to resist the temptation to crack down on dissidents.  In hard economic times, countries must be tempted -- may be tempted to rally the people around perceived enemies, at home and abroad, rather than focusing on the painstaking work of reform.

    Moreover, there will always be those that reject human progress -- dictators who cling to power, corrupt interests that depend on the status quo, and extremists who fan the flames of hate and division.  From Northern Ireland to South Asia, from Africa to the Americas, from the Balkans to the Pacific Rim, we’ve witnessed convulsions that can accompany transitions to a new political order.

    At time, the conflicts arise along the fault lines of race or tribe.  And often they arise from the difficulties of reconciling tradition and faith with the diversity and interdependence of the modern world.  In every country, there are those who find different religious beliefs threatening; in every culture, those who love freedom for themselves must ask themselves how much they’re willing to tolerate freedom for others.

    That is what we saw play out in the last two weeks, as a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world.  Now, I have made it clear that the United States government had nothing to do with this video, and I believe its message must be rejected by all who respect our common humanity. It is an insult not only to Muslims, but to America as well -- for as the city outside these walls makes clear, we are a country that has welcomed people of every race and every faith.  We are home to Muslims who worship across our country.  We not only respect the freedom of religion, we have laws that protect individuals from being harmed because of how they look or what they believe.  We understand why people take offense to this video because millions of our citizens are among them.

    I know there are some who ask why we don’t just ban such a video.  And the answer is enshrined in our laws:  Our Constitution protects the right to practice free speech.

    Here in the United States, countless publications provoke offense.  Like me, the majority of Americans are Christian, and yet we do not ban blasphemy against our most sacred beliefs.  As President of our country and Commander-in-Chief of our military, I accept that people are going to call me awful things every day -- (laughter) -- and I will always defend their right to do so.  (Applause.)

    Americans have fought and died around the globe to protect the right of all people to express their views, even views that we profoundly disagree with.  We do not do so because we support hateful speech, but because our founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views and practice their own faith may be threatened.  We do so because in a diverse society, efforts to restrict speech can quickly become a tool to silence critics and oppress minorities.

    We do so because given the power of faith in our lives, and the passion that religious differences can inflame, the strongest weapon against hateful speech is not repression; it is more speech -- the voices of tolerance that rally against bigotry and blasphemy, and lift up the values of understanding and mutual respect.

    Now, I know that not all countries in this body share this particular understanding of the protection of free speech.  We recognize that.  But in 2012, at a time when anyone with a cell phone can spread offensive views around the world with the click of a button, the notion that we can control the flow of information is obsolete.  The question, then, is how do we respond?

    And on this we must agree:  There is no speech that justifies mindless violence.  (Applause.)  There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents.  There's no video that justifies an attack on an embassy.  There's no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan.

    In this modern world with modern technologies, for us to respond in that way to hateful speech empowers any individual who engages in such speech to create chaos around the world.  We empower the worst of us if that’s how we respond.

    More broadly, the events of the last two weeks also speak to the need for all of us to honestly address the tensions between the West and the Arab world that is moving towards democracy.

    Now, let me be clear:  Just as we cannot solve every problem in the world, the United States has not and will not seek to dictate the outcome of democratic transitions abroad.  We do not expect other nations to agree with us on every issue, nor do we assume that the violence of the past weeks or the hateful speech by some individuals represent the views of the overwhelming majority of Muslims, any more than the views of the people who produced this video represents those of Americans.  However, I do believe that it is the obligation of all leaders in all countries to speak out forcefully against violence and extremism.  (Applause.)

    It is time to marginalize those who -- even when not directly resorting to violence -- use hatred of America, or the West, or Israel, as the central organizing principle of politics. For that only gives cover, and sometimes makes an excuse, for those who do resort to violence.

    That brand of politics -- one that pits East against West, and South against North, Muslims against Christians and Hindu and Jews -- can’t deliver on the promise of freedom.  To the youth, it offers only false hope.  Burning an American flag does nothing to provide a child an education.  Smashing apart a restaurant does not fill an empty stomach.  Attacking an embassy won’t create a single job.  That brand of politics only makes it harder to achieve what we must do together:  educating our children, and creating the opportunities that they deserve; protecting human rights, and extending democracy’s promise.

    Understand America will never retreat from the world.  We will bring justice to those who harm our citizens and our friends, and we will stand with our allies.  We are willing to partner with countries around the world to deepen ties of trade and investment, and science and technology, energy and development -- all efforts that can spark economic growth for all our people and stabilize democratic change.

    But such efforts depend on a spirit of mutual interest and mutual respect.  No government or company, no school or NGO will be confident working in a country where its people are endangered.  For partnerships to be effective our citizens must be secure and our efforts must be welcomed.

    A politics based only on anger -- one based on dividing the world between "us" and "them" -- not only sets back international cooperation, it ultimately undermines those who tolerate it.  All of us have an interest in standing up to these forces.

    Let us remember that Muslims have suffered the most at the hands of extremism.  On the same day our civilians were killed in Benghazi, a Turkish police officer was murdered in Istanbul only days before his wedding; more than 10 Yemenis were killed in a car bomb in Sana’a; several Afghan children were mourned by their parents just days after they were killed by a suicide bomber in Kabul.

    The impulse towards intolerance and violence may initially be focused on the West, but over time it cannot be contained.  The same impulses toward extremism are used to justify war between Sunni and Shia, between tribes and clans.  It leads not to strength and prosperity but to chaos.  In less than two years, we have seen largely peaceful protests bring more change to Muslim-majority countries than a decade of violence.  And extremists understand this.  Because they have nothing to offer to improve the lives of people, violence is their only way to stay relevant.  They don’t build; they only destroy.

    It is time to leave the call of violence and the politics of division behind.  On so many issues, we face a choice between the promise of the future, or the prisons of the past.  And we cannot afford to get it wrong.  We must seize this moment.  And America stands ready to work with all who are willing to embrace a better future.

    The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians in Egypt -- it must be claimed by those in Tahrir Square who chanted, "Muslims, Christians, we are one."  The future must not belong to those who bully women -- it must be shaped by girls who go to school, and those who stand for a world where our daughters can live their dreams just like our sons.  (Applause.)

    The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources -- it must be won by the students and entrepreneurs, the workers and business owners who seek a broader prosperity for all people.  Those are the women and men that America stands with; theirs is the vision we will support.

    The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.  But to be credible, those who condemn that slander must also condemn the hate we see in the images of Jesus Christ that are desecrated, or churches that are destroyed, or the Holocaust that is denied.  (Applause.)

    Let us condemn incitement against Sufi Muslims and Shiite pilgrims.  It’s time to heed the words of Gandhi:  "Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit."  (Applause.)  Together, we must work towards a world where we are strengthened by our differences, and not defined by them.  That is what America embodies, that’s the vision we will support.

    Among Israelis and Palestinians, the future must not belong to those who turn their backs on a prospect of peace.  Let us leave behind those who thrive on conflict, those who reject the right of Israel to exist.  The road is hard, but the destination is clear -- a secure, Jewish state of Israel and an independent, prosperous Palestine.  (Applause.)  Understanding that such a peace must come through a just agreement between the parties, America will walk alongside all who are prepared to make that journey.

    In Syria, the future must not belong to a dictator who massacres his people.  If there is a cause that cries out for protest in the world today, peaceful protest, it is a regime that tortures children and shoots rockets at apartment buildings.  And we must remain engaged to assure that what began with citizens demanding their rights does not end in a cycle of sectarian violence.

    Together, we must stand with those Syrians who believe in a different vision -- a Syria that is united and inclusive, where children don’t need to fear their own government, and all Syrians have a say in how they are governed -- Sunnis and Alawites, Kurds and Christians.  That’s what America stands for.  That is the outcome that we will work for -- with sanctions and consequences for those who persecute, and assistance and support for those who work for this common good.  Because we believe that the Syrians who embrace this vision will have the strength and the legitimacy to lead.

    In Iran, we see where the path of a violent and unaccountable ideology leads.  The Iranian people have a remarkable and ancient history, and many Iranians wish to enjoy peace and prosperity alongside their neighbors.  But just as it restricts the rights of its own people, the Iranian government continues to prop up a dictator in Damascus and supports terrorist groups abroad.  Time and again, it has failed to take the opportunity to demonstrate that its nuclear program is peaceful, and to meet its obligations to the United Nations.

    So let me be clear.  America wants to resolve this issue through diplomacy, and we believe that there is still time and space to do so.  But that time is not unlimited.  We respect the right of nations to access peaceful nuclear power, but one of the purposes of the United Nations is to see that we harness that power for peace.  And make no mistake, a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained.  It would threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.  It risks triggering a nuclear-arms race in the region, and the unraveling of the non-proliferation treaty.  That’s why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable.  And that’s why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

    We know from painful experience that the path to security and prosperity does not lie outside the boundaries of international law and respect for human rights.  That’s why this institution was established from the rubble of conflict.  That is why liberty triumphed over tyranny in the Cold War.  And that is the lesson of the last two decades as well.

    History shows that peace and progress come to those who make the right choices.  Nations in every part of the world have traveled this difficult path.  Europe, the bloodiest battlefield of the 20th century, is united, free and at peace.  From Brazil to South Africa, from Turkey to South Korea, from India to Indonesia, people of different races, religions, and traditions have lifted millions out of poverty, while respecting the rights of their citizens and meeting their responsibilities as nations.

    And it is because of the progress that I’ve witnessed in my own lifetime, the progress that I’ve witnessed after nearly four years as President, that I remain ever hopeful about the world that we live in.  The war in Iraq is over.  American troops have come home.  We’ve begun a transition in Afghanistan, and America and our allies will end our war on schedule in 2014.  Al Qaeda has been weakened, and Osama bin Laden is no more.  Nations have come together to lock down nuclear materials, and America and Russia are reducing our arsenals.  We have seen hard choices made -- from Naypyidaw to Cairo to Abidjan -- to put more power in the hands of citizens.

    At a time of economic challenge, the world has come together to broaden prosperity.  Through the G20, we have partnered with emerging countries to keep the world on the path of recovery.  America has pursued a development agenda that fuels growth and breaks dependency, and worked with African leaders to help them feed their nations.  New partnerships have been forged to combat corruption and promote government that is open and transparent, and new commitments have been made through the Equal Futures Partnership to ensure that women and girls can fully participate in politics and pursue opportunity.  And later today, I will discuss our efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking.

    All these things give me hope.  But what gives me the most hope is not the actions of us, not the actions of leaders -- it is the people that I’ve seen.  The American troops who have risked their lives and sacrificed their limbs for strangers half a world away; the students in Jakarta or Seoul who are eager to use their knowledge to benefit mankind; the faces in a square in Prague or a parliament in Ghana who see democracy giving voice to their aspirations; the young people in the favelas of Rio and the schools of Mumbai whose eyes shine with promise.  These men, women, and children of every race and every faith remind me that for every angry mob that gets shown on television, there are billions around the world who share similar hopes and dreams.  They tell us that there is a common heartbeat to humanity.

    So much attention in our world turns to what divides us.  That’s what we see on the news.  That's what consumes our political debates.  But when you strip it all away, people everywhere long for the freedom to determine their destiny; the dignity that comes with work; the comfort that comes with faith; and the justice that exists when governments serve their people  -- and not the other way around.

    The United States of America will always stand up for these aspirations, for our own people and for people all across the world.  That was our founding purpose.  That is what our history shows.  That is what Chris Stevens worked for throughout his life.

    And I promise you this:  Long after the killers are brought to justice, Chris Stevens’s legacy will live on in the lives that he touched -- in the tens of thousands who marched against violence through the streets of Benghazi; in the Libyans who changed their Facebook photo to one of Chris; in the signs that read, simply, "Chris Stevens was a friend to all Libyans."

    They should give us hope.  They should remind us that so long as we work for it, justice will be done, that history is on our side, and that a rising tide of liberty will never be reversed.

    Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

    END 10:16 A.M. EDT

  • Africa Center, AFRICOM: Empowering Women to be Agents of Peace

    Hillary Clinton Meeting 2012By J.R. Warner, ACSS Staff Writer

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – A meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and 18 African military and security professionals was among the highlights of a three-day international workshop discussing the role of women in African armed forces co-hosted September 12-14, 2012, by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) and the U.S. Africa Command (U.S. AFRICOM).

    “We’re incredibly proud to be sponsoring this program … and to be working with all of you on the greater integration of women into the security forces,” Clinton said Sept. 14 while meeting workshop participants who visited her State Department offices. The workshop, titled “Leaning Forward: Gender Mainstreaming in African Armed Forces,” brought together more than two dozen experts and practitioners from 14 African countries, the AU, and Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the United States government to examine and highlight the progress made, challenges experienced, as well as the opportunities available to enhance gender mainstreaming in African security forces.

    In her nearly four years as the top U.S. diplomat, Clinton has repeatedly called attention to women’s rights and gender equality. “For years, many of us have tried to show the world that women are not just victims of war; they are agents of peace,” Clinton said in December 2011 at Georgetown University, discussing an executive order then newly signed by President Obama to implement the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security.

    The crucial role of women in ending conflict and building lasting security also has been recognized in Africa.  Over the past decade the African Union (AU), sub-regional organizations, and African governments have devoted significant attention to promoting gender equality and gender mainstreaming in the armed forces and security policy development. These efforts have yielded impressive results in several African states. Rwanda, for example, is the world leader in terms of women’s representation in parliament. Women hold 56 percent of seats in the lower house of Rwanda’s parliament and 38 percent of seats in the senate. Seychelles has emerged as a leader in promoting gender equality in the security forces. Women account for 38 percent of police in Seychelles and 20 percent of the country’s defense force. Women also comprise more than a quarter of personnel in the Namibian and South African defense forces.

    While women continue to make strides—for example, the presidents of Liberia and Malawi both are women—success stories often are the exception rather than the rule. In most African states, the process of integrating women into the armed forces and security policy decision-making has progressed slowly. Furthermore, although women are increasingly becoming integrated into security forces across the continent, they are still largely underrepresented in leadership positions.

    Representation of women in global peacekeeping and conflict resolution is case in point. In 2010, women accounted for only 2.4 percent of signatories to peace agreements. Out of almost 100,000 UN peacekeepers, women comprise only 3 percent of military personnel and only 9 percent of police. Further, according to the UN, “no woman has ever been appointed chief or lead mediator in UN-sponsored peace talks.”

    Simply tallying the proportion of women in the military, however, is not a sufficient measurement of gender equality. “It is not sufficient to determine gender equality by the number of women in an institution,” says Dr. Cheryl Hendricks, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, during a presentation at the recent Africa Center workshop. “Their positions, conditions of employment and experiences are as important.”

    “African governments, continental and regional organizations, and civil society groups have long realized that the continent could not realize its full potential without transformative and significant action to enhance gender equality and combat discrimination against women in the economic, political and social spheres,” says Dr. Monde Muyangwa, Dean of Academic Affairs at the Africa Center. “Over the years, many African countries have made progress on this front, but much more remains to be done.”

    Gender mainstreaming efforts often are met with resistance within military establishments. Entrenched perceptions that women do not have a role in military service and a general lack of adaptability of military structures are major impediments to promoting gender equality.

    To respond to this challenge, experts at the workshop stressed that African militaries must integrate gender perspectives into recruitment, training, and personnel management strategies. Specifically, African armed forces could reevaluate policies on promotions, maternity leave, marriage, pensions, sexual discrimination, and harassment.

    While some stress that advocates of women’s empowerment need to lobby senior military leaders, others stress the need for champions in the political sphere to ensure that militaries have a clear mandate and sufficient resources to conduct gender mainstreaming activities.

    “The structure of politics in African countries must also allow women to participate so that they can look at gender issues objectively,” argued General Owoye Azazi, former National Security Advisor and Chief of Defense Staff in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, during a panel that examined the tools for promoting gender mainstreaming in the security sector.

    If gender mainstreaming is to be truly effective, African leaders must be held accountable for their commitments to promote gender equality. “There is often a disconnect between lofty political commitments and the realities on the ground,” said Dr. Funmi Olonisakin, Director of the African Leadership Centre at Kings College, London.

    To bolster accountability, African governments, militaries, and regional institutions will need to enhance monitoring and evaluation capacity. This will require compiling and maintaining detailed and accurate statistics about gender representation in the security sector.

    Sustained engagement by civil society and the press will also help to ensure that governments and militaries remain actively engaged in gender mainstreaming efforts. Participants in the workshop recommended establishing a civil society organization to be designated as a watchdog on gender mainstreaming issues.

    Gender mainstreaming champions may also need to reevaluate how they discuss and define gender mainstreaming.

    “Some people think it’s just a feminist agenda,” said Heather Bush, Outreach and Gender Specialist at AFRICOM. “But when people understand that it’s about engaging over half the population to enhance human security, that’s when the light bulbs start to go on.”

    Since 2009, U.S. Africa Command has engaged in several initiatives aimed at promoting gender mainstreaming efforts, both across Africa and within its own command structure. AFRICOM established a Working Group on Women, Peace and Security, which aims to foster dialogue about the expanded engagement of women. Additionally, the command sponsors research on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in the Great Lakes region as well as research on best practices in SGBV training in the armed forces.

    Alongside ACSS, AFRICOM assisted the government of Senegal with a year-long project to assess and better integrate women in the armed forces. AFRICOM also funded construction, renovation, and repair of facilities that provide services to SGBV victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    AFRICOM’s leaders say they understand that, in order for these initiatives to be truly effective, gender mainstreaming efforts must be sustained, comprehensive, and integrated throughout its operations. “Mainstreaming should not be limited to individual activities,” Ambassador Helen La Lime, Director of Outreach (J-9) at AFRICOM, said during a presentation on the command’s role in promoting gender equality on the continent.

    Ambassador Helen La Lime

    “These concepts are most effective when woven through various activities and programs,” La Lime said. “We need to find a way to integrate these gender themes into everything that happens at AFRICOM.”

    View photos from this event.

  • Deaths of American Personnel in Benghazi, Libya

    clinton_benghaziRemarks Hillary Rodham Clinton Secretary of State
    Treaty Room
    Washington, DC
    September 12, 2012

     

    Yesterday, our U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya was attacked. Heavily armed militants assaulted the compound and set fire to our buildings. American and Libyan security personnel battled the attackers together. Four Americans were killed. They included Sean Smith, a Foreign Service information management officer, and our Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. We are still making next of kin notifications for the other two individuals.This is an attack that should shock the conscience of people of all faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence, and we send our prayers to the families, friends, and colleagues of those we’ve lost.

    All over the world, every day, America’s diplomats and development experts risk their lives in the service of our country and our values, because they believe that the United States must be a force for peace and progress in the world, that these aspirations are worth striving and sacrificing for. Alongside our men and women in uniform, they represent the best traditions of a bold and generous nation. In the lobby of this building, the State Department, the names of those who have fallen in the line of duty are inscribed in marble. Our hearts break over each one. And now, because of this tragedy, we have new heroes to honor and more friends to mourn. Chris Stevens fell in love with the Middle East as a young Peace Corps volunteer teaching English in Morocco. He joined the Foreign Service, learned languages, won friends for America in distant places, and made other people’s hopes his own. In the early days of the Libyan revolution, I asked Chris to be our envoy to the rebel opposition. He arrived on a cargo ship in the port of Benghazi and began building our relationships with Libya’s revolutionaries. He risked his life to stop a tyrant, then gave his life trying to help build a better Libya. The world needs more Chris Stevenses. I spoke with his sister, Ann, this morning, and told her that he will be remembered as a hero by many nations. Sean Smith was an Air Force veteran. He spent 10 years as an information management officer in the State Department, he was posted at The Hague, and was in Libya on a brief temporary assignment. He was a husband to his wife Heather, with whom I spoke this morning. He was a father to two young children, Samantha and Nathan. They will grow up being proud of the service their father gave to our country, service that took him from Pretoria to Baghdad, and finally to Benghazi. The mission that drew Chris and Sean and their colleagues to Libya is both noble and necessary, and we and the people of Libya honor their memory by carrying it forward. This is not easy. Today, many Americans are asking – indeed, I asked myself – how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be. But we must be clear-eyed, even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group – not the people or Government of Libya. Everywhere Chris and his team went in Libya, in a country scarred by war and tyranny, they were hailed as friends and partners. And when the attack came yesterday, Libyans stood and fought to defend our post. Some were wounded. Libyans carried Chris’ body to the hospital, and they helped rescue and lead other Americans to safety. And last night, when I spoke with the President of Libya, he strongly condemned the violence and pledged every effort to protect our people and pursue those responsible. The friendship between our countries, borne out of shared struggle, will not be another casualty of this attack. A free and stable Libya is still in America’s interest and security, and we will not turn our back on that, nor will we rest until those responsible for these attacks are found and brought to justice. We are working closely with the Libyan authorities to move swiftly and surely. We are also working with partners around the world to safeguard other American embassies, consulates, and citizens. There will be more time later to reflect, but today, we have work to do. There is no higher priority than protecting our men and women wherever they serve. We are working to determine the precise motivations and methods of those who carried out this assault. Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior, along with the protest that took place at our Embassy in Cairo yesterday, as a response to inflammatory material posted on the internet. America’s commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear – there is no justification for this, none. Violence like this is no way to honor religion or faith. And as long as there are those who would take innocent life in the name of God, the world will never know a true and lasting peace. It is especially difficult that this happened on September 11th. It’s an anniversary that means a great deal to all Americans. Every year on that day, we are reminded that our work is not yet finished, that the job of putting an end to violent extremism and building a safe and stable world continues. But September 11th means even more than that. It is a day on which we remember thousands of American heroes, the bonds that connect all Americans, wherever we are on this Earth, and the values that see us through every storm. And now it is a day on which we will remember Sean, Chris, and their colleagues. May God bless them, and may God bless the thousands of Americans working in every corner of the world who make this country the greatest force for peace, prosperity, and progress, and a force that has always stood for human dignity – the greatest force the world has ever known. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you. Source: U.S. Department of States
  • U.S. Officials Attend Intro to African Security Seminar

    IASI 09-2012The Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) is hosting 30 U.S. government officials at its “Introduction to African Security Issues” seminar in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 10-13, 2012, where they discuss political, social, military, and economic aspects of security in Africa and major U.S. policies and programs on the continent. The seminar, scheduled twice a year, is intended for U.S. government officials and employees who have been newly or recently assigned to duties related to U.S. security relationships in Africa. Seminar attendee include civilian and uniformed military officials from the Department of Defense’s Joint Staff, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (Policy), U.S. Strategic Command, U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), Department of the Army, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Defense Security Cooperation Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, U.S. Agency for International Development, and the National Guard. The seminar also includes representatives from the U.S. Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). IASI-09-2012w During the four-day seminar, participants were scheduled to discuss Africa’s history and politics, as well as the economic challenges the continent faces. In addition to Africa Center faculty and leadership, guest speakers include scholars from Georgetown University, the Center for Global Development, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and American University. Senior officials from the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Defense also were scheduled to address the audience. ACSS is the pre-eminent Department of Defense institution for strategic security studies, research, and outreach in Africa. ACSS offers a range of academic symposiums, workshops, and programs throughout Africa, the United States, and Europe. Since 1999, more than 12,000 African and international leaders and security stakeholders have participated in ACSS programs.
  • Dr. Julius Rotich's East African Community Regional Chapter Workshop Keynote Remarks

    EAC Logo 1 East African Community Regional Chapter Workshop: Countering Illicit Trafficking and Irregular Threats Dr. Julius Rotich Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community 3 September, 2012 Arusha, Tanzania Michael Garisson Ag.Director, ACSS Senior Staff ACSS ACSS Alumni Distinguished Guests Ladies and Gentlemen, May I on behalf of the Secretary General, who would have wished to be with you here today, but for the call of duty couldn’t, welcome you to Tanzania and Arusha in particular, the seat of the EAC for this important workshop. This event is of special significance to the EAC, heralding partnership and cooperation between the EAC and ACSS in the quest for global Peace and Security. The theme of this workshop addresses itself to issues of specific concerns to the EAC, particularly taking note of the stage of integration we are in, which provides for implementation of measures that would encourage free movement of persons, capital and other factors of production. The question of illicit trafficking and threats from irregular networks is thus pertinent and hence the timing for this workshop would not have been better. Besides issues around the workshop, I am most thankful to ACSS for seizing the initiative to bring together the East African Alumni, a gathering that gives us an opportunity to share with you the EAC Security vision and also explore means with which this distinguished gathering, with deep understanding and appreciation of security dynamics regionally and globally, can be of relevance and use to shaping the regional security agenda. Distinguished Delegates, While the EAC Peace and Security Agenda is nascent, having been shaped by the conclusion of the Regional Strategy for Peace and Security, and the establishment of a unit to coordinate the sector in 2006, the integration process as it shapes up today requires us to be ahead, in particular targeting threats that may derail  or undermine our integration gains. Whereas movement of persons is positive in absolute terms, we must be alive to the windows it opens for illicit networks to thrive. Intergration thus also facilitate networking by criminal groupings! The last ten years have witnessed rapid growth in integration related initiatives within the community. As the community expands, so are the threats to it. The region we are located in has a history of instability, with war economy fed by regional and global illicit networks taking root. Traffickers in persons, mineral resources, narcotics and SALW have all found enabling conditions to operate in the region. The recent tragic events in Tanzania where over 60 persons were found dead in transit containers is a pointer to challenges we must live to. Of serious concern is the exploitation of the hub status of the region by international cartels not just for transiting but also establishment of a growing domestic market for hard drugs, which threaten the gains the region has made over time.  The perception that the region plays an important role in laundering of illicit proceeds from Piracy and other criminal acts does not augur well for our integration. Today, more than at any other time before, the region is faced with the challenge of home grown terrorism, with extensive recruitment and radicalization networks developed by terror groupings operating in the region. This situation is compounded by structural issues that provide a fertile ground for these activities to thrive. The events in Kampala in 2010 and the recent events in Kenya are a constant reminder to the region on the need for vigilance and engagement of Communities in security. It is only through collective efforts that we as a region can confront terror. The list is long and will continue expanding as globalization takes root and we continue being exposed to threats that have not been known to the region before.Cybercrime, counterfeiting, and environmental crimes are just some of those security threats that are gaining ground in the region. Ladies and Gentlemen, The EAC is seized of all these issues and is addressing them in a number of ways, some of which we will share in the course of our deliberations within the next four and a half days. We welcome ideas and support from well meaning partners, and you as the owners of the region have   homegrown proposals you can share with the community in overcoming these challenges. In so doing, we must also take note of the density of organizations with Peace and Security mandate operating within the region and interrogate how complementarity can be inculcated and comparative advantage along with technical competence can be harnessed to support collective gains. Our partnership with ACSS is at a very nascent stage, but it has come at no better time. We at the EAC are looking forward to building on this initial activity through a structured process that will provide for long term engagement for the collective benefit of the region. I believe that as we walk along, with the help of this distinguished audience, we shall be able to develop strategies and action plans that will guide the EAC response to the threats. Once again may I thank to you all for setting aside time from your schedules to come and share perspectives on regional concerns and look forward to insightful deliberations. View Photos of this Event
  • Amb. Bellamy: It has been one of the highlights of my career

    Mark BellamyAmbassador (Retired) William M. Bellamy stepped down as the director of the Africa Center for Strategic Studies effective September 1, 2012, to accept an academic leadership position in Boston. Bellamy led the Africa Center for the previous four years. In this interview with ACSS communications specialist Serge Yondou shortly before his departure, Bellamy recalled some of the key accomplishments of his tenure at the helm of the Africa Center.

    Q: After four years of travelling and meeting African leaders of the security sector, what would you say has been the most exciting part of the job?

    A: It is hard to say what has been the most exciting part of my job, because so much of the job has been exciting and rewarding. I suppose that the most gratifying part of the job was the connections that we -- at the Africa Center -- were able to make with our African participants. What is most rewarding, I think, is when we can take our academic programs and generate some real enthusiasm in the course of those programs and then carry those over to longer term relationships with our alumni -- as we call them, our community members. Being able to build those longer term relationships with our alumni, and go back to them, revisit them, is probably the most rewarding part of this job.

    Q: Is there anything specific that you are proud of?

    A: From the stand point of being director of the Africa Center, what I will look back on with maybe most satisfaction is some of the changes we have made here; the initiatives we took, the reforms we have implemented. I am very happy with the work that was done on the website. It was done really in house, at the initiative of some of our younger staffers. It is a very creative, a very successful product, including our daily media review, which is one the best products of its kind anywhere. I am also very happy with the take off of our small Research unit, and the really excellent quality of work we have been able to produce with a small staff and a very small budget. We have also streamlined and updated our academic programs; we have enlarged the number of our community chapters across Africa, increasing our outreach. I think we have become a little bit more creative in the way we use these chapters and engage with our alumni. Those are all legacies you can look back on with a sense of satisfaction. We have done all of this in an increasingly tight budgetary environment. Maybe one of the things I am most pleased with is the fact that we have been able to realize some fairly serious economies in the way we operate to accommodate budget restrictions. But we have done so without sacrificing our core mission, without compromising the important work we are doing.

    Q: A word about the team you have come to lead since 2008?

    A: One of the great pleasures of being here at the Africa Center is this remarkable group of people. A remarkable group that I discovered and met when I first arrived and which has evolved over time. We are first of all a very diverse group. We have a lot of cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity in our organization, and I think that is really one of our strengths. It is one of the things that has given us an ability to work effectively in Africa. We have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm in this center, people who are passionate about their work and passionate about Africa and the challenges that we are working on with our African partners. Nowhere is that more obvious, more evident than when we stage one of our programs here in Washington, D.C. or in Africa. Our people put in long hours. They work under tight datelines. Often time they work under trying circumstances-sometimes without electricity or running water, sometimes it is the airlines schedules that fail us. But they do so with such good humor and such enthusiasm that it has really been one of the highlights of my career, working with my colleagues here at the Africa Center.

    Q: What is your next step? What is next for you?

    A: I had determined some time ago that I wasn’t going to stay forever at the Africa Center. I thought four year would be the right tenure for me in the director’s position. I have also -- for some time -- been interested in spending time in academia, so I can do some research, teach, work with and learn from students all at the same time, and stay involved in the policy issues, primarily the African issues that have been a big part of my career until now. An opportunity arose at Simmons College, a liberal arts College in Boston, Massachusetts, and I am very happy to accept it. I will be going there this fall as the Warburg Professor of International Relations. I won’t be that far away. In fact I intend to be in Washington D.C. a fair amount of time, and I look forward to staying in touch with my friends and colleagues at the Africa Center.

  • EAC Security-Sector Leaders Convene Workshop on Regional Threats

    Dr. Julius RotichARUSHA, Tanzania -- Over 50 senior-level security sector leaders from East Africa, the East African Community (EAC) and the United States opened a week-long workshop September 3, 2012, in Arusha, designed to increase understanding of the African security landscape and to solicit input on how the United States can best support capacity building  in counter trafficking and counter terrorism on the continent.   The workshop, titled “East African Community Regional Chapter Workshop: Countering Illicit Trafficking and Irregular Threats,” is sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the United State Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA).  It is being organized in conjunction with the EAC and Africa Center for Strategic Studies (ACSS) alumni chapters in Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. “Today, Eastern Africa in general, and the East African Community specifically, face significant challenges in illicit trafficking of goods, drugs, weapons, and people; and in irregular threats, such as militias, insurgent groups, and international terrorists,” said Michael Garrison, ACSS Acting Director, at the workshop’s opening ceremony. “Our intent is simple: bring together uniformed and civilian security practitioners at this workshop to explore and discuss ways to better posture yourselves to have a safer and more prosperous region,” Garrison said. The week-long workshop is focusing on efforts to improve coordination and regional cooperation between African law enforcement, civilian intelligence, and border security agencies on the one hand, and lawmakers and legal practitioners on the other.  Participants will share information, identify best practices and develop recommendations for the way forward, including proposals for projects that Africa Center alumni chapters in EAC member countries can undertake following the workshop. “The theme of this workshop addresses itself to issues of specific concerns to the East African Community,” said Dr. Julius Rotich, Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community, in his keynote address. “The theme of illicit threats is pertinent and thus the timing for this workshop could not have been better than what it is now.” Michael Garrison's Opening Ceremony Remarks The Africa Center for Strategic Studies is a U.S. Department of Defense institution for security studies, research and outreach in Africa. Africa Center programs and symposiums gather perspectives and recommendations from a cross-section of international security-sector officials, public servants, and civil-society representatives. Thousands of security, government, and civil-society professionals from across Africa have attended African Center programs since the Center’s founding in 1999.