Secretary Hillary Clinton

Secretary Clinton's Internet Freedom Speech

If there is any organizing principle or central theme to my 20 years in political life, it has been promotion of the idea that the technology and media revolution taking place across the world today had the potential to dramatically improve the human condition, perhaps on a scale never seen in human history. 

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech about Internet Freedom that will be written about and discussed for years to come, and may be the most important speech I have ever personally witnessed.   I strongly encourage you to watch it and read the text which is available here. I won't try to dumb down the speech to a short post, for it needs to be read in its entirety.  It was a big speech, inspirational, smart, on target, and more than anything else began to reconnect the 21st century American center-left to the successful liberal internationalism of President Franklin Roosevelt and its mid-20th century past (If you'd like to read the original text of the Four Freedom Speech by FDR visit here). 

For those who follow NDN you will see many of the themes and ideas we've promoted in recent years in the vision and words of the speech.  Through our friends at State, and through the constant advocacy of these themes, I have no doubt that our work here helped inspire and inform the argument she made this morning.  And for that I thank all of the NDNers, here in the office, and throughout our national network who played a small role in this big speech today. 

For more on our work in this area please review this comprehensive aggregation put together by Sam Dupont earlier this week; review Sam's excellent writeup of the initial work of the transformative 21st Century Statecraft Initiative; enjoy this recent post on FDR's Four Freedoms: read this front-page Huffington Post essay I wrote in the spring, Obama: No Realist He; and check out a 2007 call from me and Alec Ross to make the promotion of internet freedom a central tenet of American foreign policy.  

I have known Secretary Clinton well for 18 years.  We first met when I was the Communications Director of the 1992 Clinton New Hampshire primary effort.  I have never been more proud of her than I am right now for delivering a courageous, vital and necessary speech updating America's foreign policy for a new and very promising century.

Excellent Rothkopf Piece on Secretary Clinton Gives Nice Shout Out to Alec Ross

In his must-read Washington Post essay reviewing the first few months of Hillary Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, David Rothkopf gives prominent mention to our good friend Alec Ross and his new and important role at State:

At the center of Clinton's brain trust is Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former dean of Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. Now head of policy planning at the State Department, Slaughter elaborated on the ideas in Clinton's speech. "We envision getting not just a new group of states around a table, but also building networks, coalitions and partnerships of states and nonstate actors to tackle specific problems," she told me.

"To do that," Slaughter continued, "our diplomats are going to need to have skills that are closer to community organizing than traditional reporting and analysis. New connecting technologies will be vital tools in this kind of diplomacy."

A new team has been brought in to make these changes real. Clinton recruited Alec Ross, one of the leaders of Obama's technology policy team, to the seventh floor of the State Department as her senior adviser for innovation. His mission is to harness new information tools to advance U.S. interests -- a task made easier as the Internet and mobile networks have played starring roles in recent incidents, from Iran to the Uighur uprising in western China to Moldova. Whether through a telecommunications program in Congo to protect women from violence or text messaging to raise money for Pakistani refugees in the Swat Valley, technology has been deployed to reach new audiences.

Alec and I co-wrote a paper together for NDN back in 2007, "A Laptop in Every Backpack," which challenged our leaders to give all of our students access to, and adequate training in, the networks and technology essential to the life success of all the world's children in the 21st century.  For more on this see my post from earlier this year.

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