*EPF503 09/07/01
Transcript: Secretary Powell at NetDiplomacy Conference September 6
(Tools that DOS has through NetDiplomacy are "remarkable") (3420)

Secretary of State Colin Powell says the tools that the State Department now has through NetDiplomacy are "just remarkable, in the sense that they can go over political boundaries, they can go over cultural walls, they can break down any barrier that is out there to communication.

"It is that ability to communicate instantaneously that we now have that we must use," Powell said in remarks made at the 2001 NetDiplomacy Conference September 6. "We must break away from old patterns and habits. Not that they were bad, but they are not as relevant as the new patterns that exist for us."

The Secretary said his simple message to the employees is "don't just see yourselves as web designers, don't just see yourselves as people who are technicians who are putting this all together; please see yourselves at the top of the organization, as people who are as important to what we are doing as any Ambassador I have out in the field, any Under Secretary, any Assistant Secretary, or me.

"Your job is not just, well, we do web design and we do Internet pages; no, let's see it in its broadest context, helping to take the message of the American people to the world," said Powell.

"What I want you to do (is) to take the message that I have about the use of the tools that 21st century technology has given us to communicate our foreign policy, but more than communicate our foreign policy, to communicate the values that underguard our foreign policy, the values of openness, the values of freedom, the values of democracy, the values of an economic system that is open and free, the values that are universal to the world we believe, and are certainly universal here in the United States, because they are enshrined in our Constitution, the rights of men and women, the role of government to secure those rights given by universality, given by a God to men and women," said Powell.

"And increasingly, in the modern world, these values are looked up to for inspiration," the Secretary said. "People around the world want to know how do we move forward into this globalized 21st century world. And we as the United States have an enormous opportunity to communicate not only these values, but how these values can shape economies, how these values can shape lives, how these values can shape political systems, give hope to a world that wants hope."

Powell said as Secretary of State he is determined that he's going "to get an Internet-accessible computer with pipes to support it at the level we need it on every desk in the State Department and every embassy around the world. We cannot fight this battle of values and information with one hand tied behind our back. And I am bringing in people who understand this," the Secretary said.

Following is the State Department transcript:

(begin transcript)

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Office of the Spokesman

September 6, 2001

REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN L. POWELL
AT NETDIPLOMACY CONFERENCE

Loy Henderson Conference Room
Department of State
September 6, 2001

SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you very much for [email protected] for that very short introduction. But Richard, you're supposed to take a little bit longer when you're introducing your boss.

It is a great pleasure to be with you. My schedule has been bouncing around, so I wasn't sure when I would be here. A lot of things are going on, and I just came back from the White House, announcing a new envoy to Sudan to see what we can do to bring some peace to that troubled part of the world.

But I didn't want to let this conference to go by without me having an opportunity to talk to you for a little bit, and give you my vision of what we are trying to do, but more importantly, what I want you to do, and what I want you to do (is) to take the message that I have about the use of the tools that 21st century technology has given us to communicate our foreign policy, but more than communicate our foreign policy, to communicate the values that underguard our foreign policy, the values of openness, the values of freedom, the values of democracy, the values of an economic system that is open and free, the values that are universal to the world we believe, and are certainly universal here in the United States, because they are enshrined in our Constitution, the rights of men and women, the role of government to secure those rights given by universality, given by a God to men and women.

And increasingly, in the modern world, these values are looked up to for inspiration. People around the world want to know how do we move forward into this globalized 21st century world. And we as the United States have an enormous opportunity to communicate not only these values, but how these values can shape economies, how these values can shape lives, how these values can shape political systems, give hope to a world that wants hope.

Your job is not just, well, we do web design and we do Internet pages; no, let's see it in its broadest context, helping to take the message of the American people to the world. Not for the purpose of lecturing or telling other people what we do, or do it our way, but just to show them what has happened here in this country of countries. People from all over the world come here.

You are helping us design the most powerful tools to do this. We do it many ways. I give speeches, the President gives speeches, people watch our television programs for better or worse coming in from all over. But the tools that we now have through NetDiplomacy are just remarkable, in the sense that they can go over political boundaries, they can go over cultural walls, they can break down any barrier that is out there to communication.

I was at a conference a couple of years ago, and people were talking about a particular country that has a regime that tries to suppress information coming into that country. And we were talking about the Internet. So that country is going to keep the Internet from coming in, it's going to control it, they're going to put barriers to access. And one of the persons in the room was a very important person in the computer Internet world, a very senior person.

And he just sat there listening to this and he said, "Is there a single telephone line going into that country?" Well, yeah. Then forget it, we can't keep it out, won't keep it out. Technology is moving too fast. What a powerful tool.

Now, I am not just an advocate of this; I am almost theologic on the subject. It comes from my experience as a board member of AOL before it became AOL-Time Warner, and it also came to me as a result of my experience in the military, where information and getting information out and communicating with large numbers of people -- what you wanted them to do and how to influence their behavior -- is also relevant to where I am now.

But it was in my retirement as I went around the world and as I participated in the private sector with AOL and other companies that I did business for, the speaking circuit, and I kept seeing these things that were happening out there. I remember going to a large retail organization's annual business meeting, and it was on a Saturday in Birmingham, and I was backstage getting ready to speak and I was sort of getting myself ready to speak, and I heard this applause out front -- huge applause.

And I said to the guy who was getting ready (inaudible) what happened, what happened? He said, well, we just announced yesterday's sale figures for the whole company, with hundreds and thousands of outlets all across the world. And I said to him, well, gee, that's pretty good. I mean, it's Saturday morning and you had the results from yesterday already? He says, "We have the results every 15 minutes. We know every 15 minutes -- and we can do it faster than that -- what is happening throughout our entire organization, because every time somebody puts a product across the scanner it registers on the cash register, but it registers at our home office. So we are in instantaneous touch with our market, with our suppliers, with the producers, with the vendors, with everybody in this organization."

Now, that's a retail organization, and now I'm Secretary of State, so it ought to be the same way. Now, relax. I'm not going to roll any of you across a scanner. But I want to make the same point to you. It is that ability to communicate instantaneously that we now have that we must use. We must break away from old patterns and habits. Not that they were bad, but they are not as relevant as the new patterns that exist for us.

I get up every morning early. The first thing I do is go down and fire up my computer. And long before anyone has given me an intelligence report or before I've read any newspaper, my server comes up. And I've coded it with certain news segments that I'm interested in, and instantly I will get online about 20 message every morning, very early in the morning -- too early in the morning. But I get about 20 messages of things going on in different parts of the world. So long before the formal system, the intelligence community and the wonderful systems that we have in the Department start to feed me, the rest of the day, I start out online instantaneously. And I have a pretty good sense of what is going on in the world even before I have my first cup of coffee. Then I go outside and get the newspapers and read them. Hopefully there is a correlation between what I got on the Net and what I read in the newspapers.

It doesn't mean newspapers aren't important. I devour them. Six every morning. But I am increasingly finding that I supplement that with what I can pull down out of the ether. In the course of the day, I will go online with one of the two computers in my office, and I dare any one of you to come up in my office, and you will discover they are not just sitting there as desk ornaments or paperweights; they are fired up all day long. And I am using one for scheduling and other purposes and writing notes to people, to their great distress -- and the other one I am essentially watching the world with all the other systems that are there so that I can know. Whether it's breaking wire stories or if I have a particular interest, I go. I always have a search engine running. I have just about gotten rid of all paper reference materials that I used to use -- no dictionaries, no encyclopedias. Everything is search engine.

As an example, the other day I was having a debate with one of my foreign minister colleagues from another country here in the Western Hemisphere, and it was over the Rio Treaty that was signed some 50-odd years ago, and we were debating who had signed it and who hadn't signed it. And he had one view and I had another view of one particular signatory, and so he was saying he was right. And I said, "Excuse me a minute, there's another call coming in. Let me put you on hold for a second."

It took me something in the neighborhood of seven seconds to use my preferred search engine -- which I will not disclose because my lawyers are giving me trouble about constantly disclosing various proprietary holdings -- it took about seven seconds for that search engine, just throwing in "Rio Treaty." Nothing else. Rio Treaty. Gimme. It took about seven seconds for it to come up with the treaty I was looking for, and it took me perhaps another second or two to start scrolling through 14,322 entries, and it was the second one that told me exactly who had signed it and when.

And while he was still going on at some length, I got off hold. I said, "Well, I happen to know that information. It's right here."

Another example. When I was in private life before coming back into government, I ran a youth organization that many of you may be familiar with -- America's Promise, the little red wagon I always wear. And one of the things we were trying to do was to connect the country together in this crusade for the little red wagon and for kids. And one of the tools we hit upon was the use of the web increasingly, and we designed Web Stations called America's Promise Stations, where we would put all the assets available within a community -- mentors, safe places, places to get an education, where to go for a particular service, how youngsters could volunteer for them to serve -- and what we did was essentially designed the best website that we could come up with. We had the best people in the country come help us with that.

And now we've gone to every community in the country and said, "Don't design yours. We're going to give you one. We're just going to export it to you, and you can use it. And we'll maintain it, we'll keep it up. You just use it and localize it for your purpose."

That's the kind of power that's out there, the kind of power that I want everybody in the State Department to get used to using and to be comfortable in using. I am determined as Secretary of State that I am going to get an Internet-accessible computer that's going at something other than 4KBS -- an Internet-accessible computer with pipes to support it at the level we need it on every desk in the State Department and every embassy around the world.

We cannot fight this battle of values and information with one hand tied behind our back. And I am bringing in people who understand this. I hope soon to have the new Under Secretary confirmed. Charlotte Beers is with us here today, and who has great experience.

Charlotte, there you are. I probably shouldn't do that. Charlotte Beers, my new Under Secretary.

Not only is she very, very fluent with this sort of thing, but she is from the advertising business. I wanted one of the world's greatest advertising experts, because what are we doing? We're selling. We're selling a product. That product we are selling is democracy. It's the free enterprise system, the American value system. It's a product very much in demand. It's a product that is very much needed.

It is our job to be salespersons, and one of the best tools we are going to have is the Internet, web design, NetDiplomacy, all of the things you're working on. It is vital that we do it well. It is vital that we do it right.

And so my simple message to you today is don't just see yourselves as web designers, don't just see yourselves as people who are technicians who are putting this all together; please see yourselves at the top of the organization, as people who are as important to what we are doing as any ambassador I have out in the field, any under secretary, any assistant secretary, or me; people who are going to empower the senior leaders of the Department to communicate with the world, to let the rest of the world have our message, let the rest of the world see facts and see truth, and to do it quickly, because in this instantaneous world we live in, this instantaneous information cycle, we see news, we see data, we see capital, we see lies, we see gossip, we see untruths -- speeding around the world in nanoseconds -- more than nanoseconds, better than nanoseconds.

And for us to compete in that environment, we have to make sure we are putting out facts, we are putting out truth, we are getting our story out. I see it every day. I see barriers breaking down to communications. I've seen countries where 10 years ago there was one television station owned by the government, and the government told the population what the government wanted to tell the population. All information came from there.

And then somebody got a dish in one of the villages in that country, and there was a little bit of liberalization within the country, and the police did not come take the dish away. And now if you go to that country, you will find dishes in every village in that country, information pouring down, television pouring down, knowledge pouring down, misinformation pouring down. We've got to deal with that.

If there was any time I came to understand this better than any other time in my life and career, it was during Desert Storm when we really were seeing this 24-7 phenomenon, at least in my judgment, for the first time. And knowing that when I, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or my boss then, my dear friend, now Vice President Dick Cheney and I, would get up to talk to the world about what was going on in Desert Shield or Desert Storm, or Norm would get up in Saudi Arabia to talk about what was going on, we understood that it wasn't like the old days where you would send out messages and please convey this to your counterpart in whatever embassy you were in, or we were using other forms of written communication, it was instantaneously.

And I used to tell all of the members of my staff, "Remember, when we are out there on television, communing instantaneously around the world, we're talking to five audiences." One, the reporters who ask the question -- important audience.

Second audience, the American people who are watching. You're not really talking to reporters. You're talking to the American people.

Three, 170 capitals, perhaps, around the world who have just heard the American Chairman or the American Secretary of Defense or the American President is about to be on television. Everything stops. Everybody watches. The third audience, 170 capitals who may have an interest in what the subject is.

Fourth, you are talking to your enemy. It was a unique situation to know that your enemy was getting the clearest indication of your intentions by watching you on television at the same time you were giving that message.

And fifth, you were talking to the troops, talking to the wonderful young men and women that we put in harm's way and who had more of an interest in what I was saying than anybody else. Their lives were on the line.

And so the point here is it's a fascinating world where you have to keep all of these messages and audiences in mind. And so as you do your work now 12 years later, 10 years later, but the principles are the same: Keep all of the audiences in mind, and make sure we're talking not only to world leaders but we're talking to the average citizen; we're talking to children, teenagers and students; we're coming up on our sites to know what America thinks, to know what America believes, to know what America stands for.

And so I charge you to go forward and to continue that great work that you are engaged in. But don't see it in the narrow sense of just website design and technical aspects; see it in the terms that this conference has used: NetDiplomacy. And your role, your job, is as important as any ambassador, any under, any assistant -- and heaven help us, even [email protected]

Thank you very much.

(end State Department transcript)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
NNNN


Return to Washington File Main Page
Return to the Washington File Log