Muskie's parting words

I am leaving the job of secretary of state after a little more than eight months. It was not enough. I don't think you could conceive of a job more challenging, more broadening, nor more stimulating.

One quickly gets a sense of just how small the planet is. Just how interdependent are its nations. Just how intimately connected our future is with the hopes and dreams of our neighbors.

I have found that, at base, the solutions to our global problems are not so different from the solutions to our problems here at home. And not so different from the goals I have worked for as a legislator, governor, senator, and now as secretary of state.

Let me leave you with just three observations gained from my experience:

First, any government which strays too far from the aspirations of its people is doomed. What form the government takes is less important in the long run than its sensitivity to the needs of its people. Iran, Zimbabwe, Poland, for example, three remarkably different cultures on three continents. In each we see the fundamental drive for opportunity and self-determination. So far, here at home our institutions have been resilient enough to allow peaceful change. That is their genius. Your task is to make certain they continue to work, and work well.

Second, security is the proper business of government. But by security I mean not only security from external threats, but from poverty, hunger, and disease. Any government, here or abroad, which places its emphasis exclusively on responding to either threat courts human suffering and possible collapse. We must make balanced choices between defense and human needs.

And finally, we must arrive at a greater appreciation of the human and physical resources of our planet. There are 13 million people on the move right now in places like Afghanistan, Somalia, and Indo-China. Homeless, hungry, desperately searching for life. We must help them in their search. We must close the gap between the wealth which resources bring and the desperation which war and scarcity create. Doing so will require more disciplined use of resources and a better global mechan ism for sharing them.

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