The Foreign Service Journal, April 2021

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL | APRIL 2021 17 TALKING POINTS President Biden to FS: I Trust You O n Feb. 4, just two weeks after taking office, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris visited the State Department, welcomed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. In a speech broadcast to embassies and consulates around the world, Presi- dent Biden lauded Foreign Service and Civil Service employees and told them, “I’m going to have your back.” It was a significant shift in tone from the past four years, during which the Foreign Service sometimes felt under attack by the previ- ous administration. Following is an abridged version of the president’s remarks: “Thank you for welcoming the vice president and me back to the State Department. It’s true, the Secretary and I have worked together a long time. And I know that he has the background and the capacity needed to lead the State Depart- ment at a critical moment. “Those of you who work here, includ- ing the new class of diplomats that are on the screen behind me: You’re among the brightest, most involved, best educated group of people America has to offer. I come today to talk to everyone at Main State watching remotely and those who will not be able to see this but will hear about it. … “I’ve been with some of you when we’ve been shot at. I’ve been with some of you when we’ve been in places that you would have any idea you’d want to be when you were going to school of foreign policy and foreign service. They never told you that was going to happen. But you’re an incredible group of individuals. “We don’t thank your families [enough] for the sacrifices they make. Your spouses, they give up their careers to follow you. Many times, their careers are as consequential or more consequential than yours; but they do it for the country. And they’re to be thanked. “But the main message that I want to communicate to you all is that you’re vital, and the success and strength of our nation depends in no small part on you. “You are the center of all that I intend to do. You are the heart of it. We’re going to rebuild our alliances. We’re going to reengage the world and take on the enormous challenge we face dealing with a pandemic, dealing with global warm- ing, and again, standing up for democracy and human rights around the world. “You’re the face of America abroad. And in our administration, you’re going to be trusted, and you’re going to be empowered—to do your job. “But I ask each of you to abide by a few core tenets: Integrity in all you do. Transparency and accountability to rebuild trust in America and around the world. Working in the service of American people, not self-interest. And promoting diversity, equity, inclusion—accessibility across the board—because our diplomats, at all levels, should reflect the full diver- sity of this great country. “I also know that you’ve never let us down. I believe in you. We need you badly. I trust you. And I’m going to have your back—that I promise you—just like you’re going to have the backs of the American people. “When I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I’d make sure that my committee staff came to my home state and worked on constituent services, which many of them thought was sort of beneath them: ‘I’m a foreign policy specialist.’ But it’s all about who you work for—who I work for, who we work for. Foreign policy is about pro- moting the interests of the people of the United States. “Now, I’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot of catching up to do, a lot of rebuild- ing to do. And I can’t think of any group of people better capable of doing it, more ready, than all of you. “So, thank you all very much, and may God bless you, and may God keep you all safe when you’re abroad.” President Joe Biden delivers remarks to State Department employees on Feb. 4 at the Truman building in Washington, D.C. U.S.DEPARTMENTOFSTATE