Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to a sold-out house last night of more than 1,000 development community leaders, business executives, faith-based organizers and foreign policymakers.  The event underscored the depth of commitment to U.S. global engagement emanating from a wide range of supporters as the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) came together to honor Secretary Clinton for her extraordinary leadership throughout a distinguished career.

Secretary Clinton delivered an eloquent speech on the value of a balanced, smart power approach to foreign policy, based on strengthened development and diplomacy tools, saying “we are following, in effect, the USGLC model by trying to leverage our civilian power.”  She said it “has been my goal since becoming the 67th Secretary of State to do all that I could to make sure that diplomacy and development were elevated alongside a strong defense.”

Secretary Clinton reiterated the need to apply a smart power approach with increased civilian resources to go along with the increased military presence in Afghanistan.  As she and Secretary Gates testified before Congress and conducted interviews over the past week, she commented that while the military component there will at some point come to an end, the civilian-led development and diplomatic efforts are there for the long haul.  In an effort to fulfill that commitment, the Secretary described their efforts to triple the number of civilians on the ground in Afghanistan and lengthen their tours from six months to a year.

Secretary Clinton also praised the USGLC for its efforts advocating for a more robust International Affairs Budget and in educating Americans about the importance of development and diplomacy.  The Secretary’s appearance came ten years after her first address to the USGLC as our nation’s First Lady, when she spoke about the importance of the International Affairs Budget and why it was “essential if we are to maintain America’s international leadership — and protect our security here at home.”

Following dinner, Representative Aaron Schock (R-IL)—the youngest Member of the House of Representatives—addressed the audience to talk about a bipartisan letter signed by 247 Members of Congress encouraging the President to make a robust FY 2011 International Affairs Budget Request.  Schock said, “This is about investing in the lives of people around the world not only for the life that we effect in a positive way through the services that you all support and the good work of our State Department, but ultimately, the long-term view that they have of our country and the benefits for generations to come that we will all see as a result.”  Schock and fellow freshman Representative Gerry Connolly (D-VA), another sponsor of the letter, authored an opinion editorial in Roll Call Monday about the letter as well.

James Bell of Boeing and Richard Stearns of World Vision, the co-chairs of the event, praised Secretary Clinton for her lifetime commitment to public service and her dedication to elevating the smart power tools of development and diplomacy and strengthening our investment in the U.S. International Affairs Budget.  Leading up to the Dinner, Bell and Stearns published an opinion editorial in the Huffington Post about why Boeing and World Vision are so supportive of the USGLC and a smart power approach to foreign policy.

Check out the video and photos from the event.

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