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Public Statements

Remarks at Swearing-in Ceremony for U.S. Ambassador to Poland Steve Mull

Statement

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have put this off about as long as we could. We've dragged our feet, we did some private diplomacy with the Senate saying, "You know, you really don't want to confirm him." (Laughter.) But unfortunately, here we are. And it could not be for a more deserving professional -- someone who has in every way represented the United States so well for so many years. And I'm delighted that Steve's wife, Cheri, and his son Ryan, and his extended family can be here because we know that behind all that hard work, Steve, were a lot of people cheering you on and supporting you as you undertook your various assignments. And to Poland's new ambassador, we welcome you, and I can say I welcome you to the neighborhood. And we look forward to working with you.
I am a little concerned about one thing that has been making the rounds of the State Department. Ryan is by all accounts pretty tech-savvy -- (laughter) -- and when we saw a recently Photoshopped depiction of Steve's head on Captain America's body, we at first were hardly affected because that is how we think about Steve. The superhero Executive Secretary -- and Captain America has nothing on you, Steve.

But think about it: Forty-nine trips. One hundred and one countries. Five thousand memos and documents last year alone, which he made me read. Spur-of-the-moment missions to far-flung places around the world. And yet Steve, at least in my experience with him, never broke a sweat. Okay, we need to leave tomorrow. We have to clear the following a hundred obstacles, we have to get then to a next place that is about 20,000 miles away. No worry. No worry. It just always got done. And it was just another day's work for Captain America. (Laughter.) And I know that because Steve was running a tremendous operation, it was easier for everyone in the building to do the jobs we were expected to do.

But that was just the day-to-day. Then crises would erupt. And they have occurred, unfortunately, all too frequently. Steve was always the first to spring into action, standing up task forces, managing rapid response personnel. Whether it was after the earthquake in Haiti, the terrible natural and nuclear crisis in Japan, or, most recently, the awful assault on our post in Benghazi and other diplomatic posts that were threatened, we never doubted we'd get the best response, the most professional response because of Steve's leadership and hard work.

Now he learned that, I'm told, from his parents, who themselves have worked hard all of your lives. And no one comes here on his or her own. You are here because you were someone who wanted to make a difference in the world and instilled with values that have stayed with you to this day. And I'm sure that when you were a young Foreign Service Officer stationed in Warsaw, and you were literally carrying messages from President Reagan to Lech Walesa, you were someone who remembered where you came from and where you hoped the Polish people would be going, the opportunities that they would have, ending oppression and tyranny, and making clear the United States would be their partner and friend.

Now, full disclosure: a long time ago when Steve was much younger and I had a different hairstyle -- (laughter) -- I visited Poland as First Lady. Steve Mull was my Control Officer -- (laughter) -- showing me around the country with a deep understanding of how far things had come, but also what challenges lay ahead. And during his prior service and in the years since, he has built a deep connection with Poland and with the Polish people. He has been a champion and advocate of their freedom and the future that they are so successfully charting for themselves.

And as sorry as we are -- and you heard Cheryl really speak on behalf of all of us -- to see Steve go, we cannot think of a better person to represent the United States at this point in our relationship with Poland. We have a lot of work to do on everything from energy diversification to missile defense to democracy promotion to security in Afghanistan. So Steve was there seeing firsthand Poland emerge from Soviet domination and grow into a model of a young democracy, a vital free market economy, a leader on the global stage. And I'm thrilled that he'll be going back to continue building that essential relationship. So if you are ready, Steve, I am now ready to swear you in. (Laughter and applause.)

(Whereupon, Steve Mull was sworn in as Ambassador to Poland.)

Congratulations. (Applause.)

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