Remarks With Staff and Families of Embassy Doha

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Embassy Doha
Doha, Qatar
March 6, 2013

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you very much, everybody. I have mixed feelings about this because I’m about to get on a plane and fly back into a snowstorm. (Laughter.) And this somehow is a lot more appealing than that, obviously.

It is wonderful to be here in Qatar. Thank you all very, very much for everything that you do. The Ambassador was bragging on all of you the entire way in the car, telling me what an extraordinary group you are, and more especially, what a diverse group you are. I understand we have more folks who have been hired locally than we do have direct hires from the United States, and I think I’m looking at some. And we have a virtual United Nations here; is that correct?


SECRETARY KERRY: Well, thank you very, very much for everything that you do. It’s extraordinary what has happened in Qatar. I think in the last decade, you all have been part of the tripling of trade between the United States and Qatar, and that’s just one component of a larger set of challenges that you face.

I know we were talking at great length about the World Cup 2022. I’m an old soccer player, so I – and I’m a fanatic about the World Cup, so maybe I can get back here. I know I won’t be Secretary of State in 2022 – (laughter) – but I still would love to come. I’m trying to figure out if they’re going to air-condition all of the stadium, or I gather they’re now talking maybe about doing it at another period of time. I don’t know how it’s going to work, but anyway, it will be fun. And meanwhile, the next one obviously is in Rio, and I’m going to find a way to get down there somehow.

But thank you for what you do. This is a very complicated time. I’ve had some wonderful meetings all through Europe and into Turkey, Egypt, and down to the Gulf. And there’s really a repeated refrain from all of the leaders I’ve met with, which is their sense of the challenge of this transition to modernity as culture clashes with the future. And it’s not easy. It’s very, very complicated in a lot of places, obviously. In a world of vastly changing technology where everybody has instant communication, the barriers that used to exist between ideas and religions, philosophies, political ideology, all of those things were sort of held at bay for a lot longer. Now, it invades, whether you like it or not, and it scares some people. And so we have to learn how to manage that. I mean, that’s really the task of diplomacy today. And coupled with it comes this huge challenge of young people in a lot of these countries who see the rest of the world and who are particularly adept at using the new technology. And whether they’re Facebooking each other or tweeting somebody or just surfing the net, they see a whole bunch of other aspirations being filled in other parts of the world, and they say, “Why not me? Why not us?” And they want, rightfully, their part of that.

So you’re at the center of this extraordinary transformation that is taking place. And leader after leader expressed to me their concerns of how do we come together, how do we strategize about this, how do we keep extremists from exploiting and hijacking not just a legitimate religion, but an entire country, an entire set of possibilities. And when you examine what a lot of the – I sort of call them the nihilists, I mean, these are folks who just say, “No, we’re not going to do that, and we don’t want this and we don’t want that. We want it the way it is.” But they’re not offering alternatives. They’re not offering the jobs. They’re not offering the social structure. They’re not offering the opportunity.

And particularly, this kind of a challenge is true for women in a world where more than 50 percent of the world are women, and where we know that in democracies and countries where women are participating, that you often resolve disputes more effectively and may even be less likely to go to war. These kinds of things are really fundamental to how we’re going to get along and how we’re going to work together in the world.

So why am I giving you this little sort of discourse? I guess it’s because you all are in the middle of it. You’re the people who are trying to shape it and guide it. You’re the sort of – I mean, every one of you is an ambassador. Every day, when you go out and talk to somebody on behalf of the United States of America, you are carrying our values, you’re sharing how people can connect to those hopes, how we work together with rule of law, with a set of standards by which people can actually improve everybody’s lives.

So I want to just thank you for doing that. I have a particular sense of what it’s all about. I asked the young man over there, the – Conord. Where is – what’s your first name?


SECRETARY KERRY: Andrew. Andrew Conord. Andrew Conord’s dad, along with the Hop family’s dad and the (inaudible) family are – have their dads all serving in the State Department, but in Afghanistan. And that’s part of what service is today in the State Department. It’s incredibly demanding. It’s challenging and exciting, but it’s demanding.

And a lot of families, all of you know what I’m talking about when I talk about sacrifice and giving something up. I don’t – didn’t feel particularly that I was giving something up, but I do remember being an 11-year-old kid who suddenly packed up from my school and went off to another country and plunked down in a new school, and then another new school, and then another new school. And you kind of get used to packing and moving and having a new life. And I thought, hey, that’s the way it is, until I got home and realized it wasn’t. But what a valuable, valuable experience. You learn so much more. You learn cultures, you learn language, you learn about people, you learn about the world, and you realize how connected we all are.

So this morning, I just want to come here and say, on behalf of President Obama, on behalf of everybody in our country, in the United States, I thank all of you. All of you are Foreign Service officers, civil servants, political appointees if you’re here as that, or Commerce Department, FBI – what have we got besides that? We’ve got --


SECRETARY KERRY: Defense Department, and one other, I think, don’t we? Figure about five departments here. At any rate, I want to recognize every single one of you in the cross-fertilization of our government efforts out here. We really appreciate what you are doing. You’re helping to change the world. And as time goes on, you’ll all get to tell your grandchildren some great stories.

So I’ll go back to the snow. You guys enjoy the sun and the work. And I want to have a chance just to say hello to everybody. But thank you and God bless. Your country is really grateful to you for what you’re doing. Thank you. (Applause.)

PRN: 2013/T01-33