Swearing-In Ceremony for Ambassador-designate to Russia Mike McFaul
Secretary of State
Now, Ambassador Marshall listed some of the members of the McFaul clan who are here with us. It is a big group and it is one that demonstrates the strong family support that Mike has for his public service. I particularly want to thank his wife Donna and his sons Cole and Luke, who will be traveling with him to Moscow, and have the experience of representing our country there. (Applause.)
This is a good day for us all – for the United States, which is sending an absolutely top-notch emissary to Moscow, for our partners in Russia. And Ambassador, we’re delighted that you are here because we know that this appointment represents the kind of deeper cooperation and closer ties that President Obama stands for. And for Mike and his family, it will be an adventure.
This Administration has placed a particular emphasis on working together with Russia, one of the most complex and consequential relationships we have with any nation in the world. We have worked closely together on a range of critical issues, from nuclear nonproliferation to combating terrorism and drug trafficking to addressing the effects of climate change. Russia – as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a member of the G-8 and the G-20, the Quartet on Middle East peace, the P-5+1 talks on Iran, the Six-Party Talks on North Korea and so on – is intimately involved with some of our most important diplomatic challenges. And our ability to work well with our Russian partners is absolutely critical to the kind of world that we want to see for Cole and Luke and for Russian and American children alike. And that’s why having a strong ambassador in Moscow is so important.
Now Mike is no stranger to Russia. He’s been building his expertise for more than a quarter century, starting when he was a university student living in what was then known as Leningrad, later as a representative of the National Democratic Institute in Moscow. He became a well-known scholar of Russia. His course on Russian politics was voted by students as one of the 10 best classes at Stanford University.
Now when President Obama convinced Mike to temporarily leave Palo Alto to serve as senior director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council, he became one of the leading architects of what has been called the reset. Together with our Russian partners, we have worked to revamp our relationship to make it more effective and better suited for today’s world. We wanted to put to rest outdated practices and views of each other. We wanted to cooperate whenever and wherever possible to engage more rigorously and broadly, both with the Russian Government and the Russian people.
And I think it’s fair to say we have a lot to show for that effort. The New START Treaty, the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades, was ratified and entered into force. The Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement, which will transparently dispose of the equivalent of 17,000 nuclear weapons’ worth of plutonium. The 1-2-3 Agreement for Civil Nuclear Cooperation entered into force to support long-term U.S.-Russia civil nuclear cooperation. Commercial opportunities for U.S. business in Russia enhanced cooperation on important global nonproliferation goals.
Our countries became closer partners in expanding supply routes into Afghanistan. More than 1,700 flights and more than 277,000 military personnel have transited these routes, while Russia’s ground transit agreement with NATO has resulted in the shipment of more than 37,000 containers of supplies to NATO ISAF troops in Afghanistan.
The United States, with Mike’s strong leadership, supported Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization, which will deepen its investment in the success of the global economy and in the rules of free, open, transparent and fair competition that we believe will create greater wealth for everyone.
We have worked together to prevent Iran and North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and to begin a new era for the people of Libya. We signed agreements on adoptions to build trust and transparency as well as on visas to make it easier for businesspeople as well as tourists to travel between our two countries.
So we’ve made new agreements, we have forged new partnerships, we’ve hit new benchmarks, we have built new ties. And Mike has been at the heart of all that work. And whenever his team hit a roadblock, he’d say, “I love this. I may be only a simple professor, but it seems to me this is a problem we can solve.”
Now of course, as you know, Mike is not only a Russia expert; he’s also one of our nation’s leading thinkers and writers on democracy. And the coming months and years will be crucial for Russian democracy. Russians from all walks of life and every corner of this great country are making their voices heard, both face to face and in cyberspace, expressing their hopes for the future. Few Americans know Russia or know democracy better than Mike McFaul. And I can think of no better representative of our values and our interest in a strong, politically vibrant, open, democratic Russia, as well as a deepening U.S.-Russian partnership.
Now, Mike’s reputation precedes him. As you may know, typically when the United States selects an ambassador, we let the host country know through what’s called a formal diplomatic note. But in Mike’s case, it went a little differently. When President Obama saw President Medvedev at the G-8 summit in Deauville in May, he simply said, “I’m planning to nominate Mike to be the next ambassador to Russia.” And President Medvedev responded immediately with a tone full of respect, “Of course. He’s a tough negotiator.” (Laughter.) And that was that.
Now really, the only downside to this appointment is that those of us here in Washington who have had the opportunity to work with Mike will miss him. And he is, as the President calls him on a regular basis, McFaul. We look forward to hearing about McFaul’s stories of pickup basketball games at Spaso House. Donna has continued advocacy on issues close to her and my heart – families, women, and children. And I’m even told there may be a few rock and roll sessions when Mike’s band mates from The Pigs – (laughter) – visit Moscow. And it’s not an agricultural issue, Ambassador. (Laughter.) I don’t think they’ll need to be quarantined with their instruments.
But it’s been a pleasure to work with him. And now, it is my honor to swear in President Obama’s choice and, by acclamation, the choice of all of us for our next ambassador. And if you will stand here with me and raise your right hand and repeat after me.
(The oath was administered.)