Antony J. Blinken, Secretary of State
French Ambassador’s Residence
SECRETARY BLINKEN: (Speaks in French.)
(In English) And it’s wonderful to see so many friends here this afternoon. The rain is about to come down on us. I will do my best to be brief.
But the individual who first had the idea for the statue was actually a history professor and a jurist from the College de France, Edouard Rene Lefebvre de Laboulaye. Early in his studies, Laboulaye became enamored with the American Revolution and the country’s experiment in democracy, which he saw as a model for France.
I hope everyone else is getting protected too. (Laughter.) It’s very unfair.
But when a coup led to a return to the French monarchy, a climate of political repression and self-censorship set in, and Laboulaye stopped writing and lecturing on America.
Two events rekindled his flame.
The first was the American Civil War, which Laboulaye saw as an existential threat to the world’s greatest example of self-government.
The second was a visit in 1861 from an American diplomat and anti-slavery advocate, John Bigelow, who had been dispatched by President Lincoln to drum up support for the North, at a time when both the French Government and public largely sympathized with the South.
Bigelow wanted Laboulaye to write and speak out more for the Union cause and against slavery, and brought along resources from the State Department to sponsor the effort. Laboulaye refused the support, the resources, but he told Bigelow, and I quote, that he’d “be charmed to serve a cause which is the cause of all the friends of liberty.”
And he did serve the cause. He churned out articles, pamphlets, books on how slavery threatened the ideals at the core of America’s democracy. People crammed into his lectures, which, like his writing, was impassioned, persuasive. And not only for people in France, but for Americans too. Arguably no individual did more to win French support for the Union.
Of course, even if America was his subject, Laboulaye was never writing only about the United States.
He was also making the case implicitly for French democracy, and for what he saw as the universal aspiration of human beings to be free to chart their own course. As he wrote, and I quote, “One is never cured of a yearning for freedom.” He saw these principles as a joint heritage, French and American.
And, in a way, that’s how it’s always been for our two nations. Our revolutions were over a dozen years apart, but the trajectories of our experiments in self-government – and their shared foundation in freedom and in human rights – they’ve always been intertwined. Throughout our history, in many ways we’ve been mirrors to one another, holding up not only our greatest achievements but also our greatest flaws.
The same is true for Liberty That Lights the World. For as long as she’s stood, she’s forced us to reconcile with the gap between our ideals and our reality; between who we are and who we strive to be.
Including the struggle for equality. An editorial published in a black-owned newspaper days after the statue was unveiled captured this sentiment, and I quote:
“Shove the statue, torch and all, into the ocean until the same ‘liberty’ of this country…make it possible for an industrious and inoffensive colored man in the south to earn a respectable living, without being ku-kluxed, perhaps murdered, his daughter and wife outraged.”
Yet in a way, that’s exactly what the statue was intended to do: to project outwards and inwards our values and where we’re falling short.
That’s the journey of America, that’s the journey of France, that’s the journey of all free democracies: not the perfect embodiment of principled self-government, but the perpetual effort to fix our flaws and, as we like to say in the United States, “to form a more perfect Union.”
In this journey, the United States has no greater or more enduring ally than France. It’s impossible to imagine the success of revolutions and emergence of our democracies without the people of our nations believing – and being willing to give their lives – for similar ideals.
From the Revolutionary War to World War II; from the fight against slavery to the fight against fascism. We see it today, too, in the joint effort to tackle the climate crisis, to beat back this deadly pandemic, to remedy deep inequality. And Jean-Yves captured it so well.
It’s the reason that France and the United States are working more closely than ever to lead our allies and partners around the world to defend and strengthen our democracies, whether that’s by revitalizing or modernizing NATO; deepening our cooperation with the European Union; working together at the United Nations and other multilateral institutions to uphold the international rules-based order that’s been the basis for unprecedented security and prosperity since 1945.
It’s why we’re working together to push back against economic coercion and promote new global norms to address 21st century threats such as cyber attacks and disinformation.
And it’s why we continue to invest in efforts to advance freedom and human rights around the world, including safeguarding a free, independent press and shoring up the rule of law, because our shared experience has taught us that these institutions are some of the best guardrails of democracy, and that every nation needs help along the way.
As Jean-Yves mentioned, before this ceremony we had the immense honor of seeing four American veterans of World War Two receive la Legion d’honneur. One of them, William Allison, was just 17 years old when he enlisted to serve. When he and his battalion arrived in Marseille in 1944, a Frenchwoman who had come out to welcome them exclaimed, “My god, they’re children.”
But these young Americans would go on to help liberate France, fight valiantly along the Maginot Line, and clear deadly mines that allowed the French people to return to their homes. To William, the most gratifying moment of his service came when he freed a group of French prisoners from a Nazi labor camp near Munich. In other words, his greatest achievement was restoring freedom. Liberte.
Liberte and egalite – they translate very easily into English. But there’s no single word in English – brotherhood, sisterhood, solidarity, fraternity – that I think perfectly captures the essence of fraternite.
But I think it’s fair to say that fraternite is the word that best defines the relationship between our people, and our ongoing struggle to improve our democracies and advance the ideals embodied in the light that shines the world — at home and around the world.
So may she continue remind us of the principles we share and the work that remains to live up to them. And may we never be cured of yearning for freedom.
Thank you. (Applause.)
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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) is seeking applications for funding for the FY 2021 Local Jail Reporting Program Pilot Test. This pilot test will collect individual-level administrative record data from 10 large jails. The information collected will include jail admissions and releases, demographic characteristics of inmates, charges and dispositions, and sentences.
Grants.gov Application Deadline: 11:59 p.m. eastern time on June 14, 2021; JustGrants Application Deadline: 11:59 p.m. eastern time on June 28, 2021 [Read More…]
- Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Erick Erickson of The Erick Erickson Show on WSB AtlantaBy Sam NewsOctober 15, 2020
- Man Sentenced to 55 Months in Prison for Violating Sanctions Against Senior Venezuelan LeadersBy Sam NewsMarch 17, 2021More from: March 17, 2021 [Read More…]
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- Weapon System Sustainment: Aircraft Mission Capable Rates Generally Did Not Meet Goals and Cost of Sustaining Selected Weapon Systems Varied WidelyBy Sam NewsNovember 19, 2020Mission Capable Rates for Selected Department of Defense Aircraft GAO examined 46 types of aircraft and found that only three met their annual mission capable goals in a majority of the years for fiscal years 2011 through 2019 and 24 did not meet their annual mission capable goals in any fiscal year as shown below. The mission capable rate—the percentage of total time when the aircraft can fly and perform at least one mission—is used to assess the health and readiness of an aircraft fleet. Number of Times Selected Aircraft Met Their Annual Mission Capable Goal, Fiscal years 2011 through 2019 aThe military departments did not provide mission capable goals for all nine years for these aircraft. Aggregating the trends at the military service level, the average annual mission capable rate for the selected Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps aircraft decreased since fiscal year 2011, while the average annual mission capable rate for the selected Army aircraft slightly increased. While the average mission capable rate for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter showed an increase from fiscal year 2012 to 2019, it trended downward from fiscal year 2015 through fiscal year 2018 before improving slightly in fiscal year 2019. For fiscal year 2019, GAO found only three of the 46 types of aircraft examined met the service-established mission capable goal. Furthermore, for fiscal year 2019: six aircraft were 5 percentage points or fewer below the goal; 18 were from 15 to 6 percentage points below the goal; and 19 were more than 15 percentage points below the goal, including 11 that were 25 or more percentage points below the goal. Program officials provided various reasons for the overall decline in mission capable rates, including aging aircraft, maintenance challenges, and supply support issues as shown below. Sustainment Challenges Affecting Some of the Selected Department of Defense Aircraft aA service life extension refers to a modification to extend the service life of an aircraft beyond what was planned. bDiminishing manufacturing sources refers to a loss or impending loss of manufacturers or suppliers of items. cObsolescence refers to a lack of availability of a part due to its lack of usefulness or its no longer being current or available for production. Operating and Support Costs for Selected Department of Defense Aircraft Operating and support (O&S) costs, such as the costs of maintenance and supply support, totaled over $49 billion in fiscal year 2018 for the aircraft GAO reviewed and ranged from a low of $118.03 million for the KC-130T Hercules (Navy) to a high of $4.24 billion for the KC-135 Stratotanker (Air Force). The trends in O&S costs varied by aircraft from fiscal year 2011 to 2018. For example, total O&S costs for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet (Navy) increased $1.13 billion due in part to extensive maintenance needs. In contrast, the F-15C/D Eagle (Air Force) costs decreased by $490 million due in part to a reduction in the size of the fleet. Maintenance-specific costs for the aircraft types we examined also varied widely. Why This Matters The Department of Defense (DOD) spends tens of billions of dollars annually to sustain its weapon systems in an effort to ensure that these systems are available to simultaneously support today's military operations and maintain the capability to meet future defense requirements. This report provides observations on mission capable rates and costs to operate and sustain 46 fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft in the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. How GAO Did This Study GAO was asked to report on the condition and costs of sustaining DOD's aircraft. GAO collected and analyzed data on mission capable rates and O&S costs from the Departments of the Army, Navy, and Air Force for fiscal years 2011 through 2019. GAO reviewed documentation and interviewed program office officials to identify reasons for the trends in mission capability rates and O&S costs as well as any challenges in sustaining the aircraft. This is a public version of a sensitive report issued in August 2020. Information on mission capable and aircraft availability rates were deemed to be sensitive and has been omitted from this report. For more information, contact Director Diana Maurer at (202) 512-9627 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- Security at the 2019 Women’s World Cup nearing the final goalBy Sam NewsSeptember 26, 2020Angela French, DSS [Read More…]
- Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Delivers Capital Conversations Speech Highlighting Department of Justice Policy AccomplishmentsBy Sam NewsOctober 30, 2020Thank you, Dean, for inviting me. I am honored to be here and to be part of the Capital Conversations series.[Read More…]
- Attorney General William P. Barr Announces Updates on Operation Legend at Press Conference in Kansas City, MissouriBy Sam NewsAugust 19, 2020At a press conference in Kansas City, Missouri, today, Attorney General William P. Barr announced updates on Operation Legend.[Read More…]
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- Justice Department Files Race Discrimination Lawsuit Against Pearl, Mississippi Property Owners and Rental AgentBy Sam NewsNovember 12, 2020The Department of Justice announced today that it has filed a lawsuit alleging that the owners, operators and rental agent of several apartment complexes in Pearl, Mississippi, violated the Fair Housing Act by discriminating against African Americans based on their race.[Read More…]
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- Justice Department Joins Computational Antitrust Project at Stanford Law SchoolBy Sam NewsJanuary 19, 2021The Department of Justice announced today that it will participate in the Computational Antitrust project, hosted by the Stanford University CodeX Center and created by Professor Thibault Schrepel. The project brings together academics from law, computer science, and economics as well as developers, policymakers, and antitrust agencies from around the world to discuss how technology and automation can improve antitrust enforcement.[Read More…]
- Owner of a Tanker Truck Repair Company Pleads Guilty to Lying to OSHA During Explosion InvestigationBy Sam NewsMay 20, 2021An Idaho man pleaded guilty today to lying to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and to making an illegal repair to a cargo tanker in violation of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act.[Read More…]
- Priority Open Recommendations: Department of EducationBy Sam NewsJuly 7, 2021What GAO Found In April 2020, GAO identified six priority recommendations for the Department of Education. Since then, Education has implemented three of those recommendations by taking action to: (1) raise awareness of the threat of lead in school drinking water and collaborate with EPA to encourage testing; (2) help borrowers in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program better understand eligibility requirements; and (3) improve its cyber risk management framework to better protect the agency's systems and data. In May 2021, GAO identified four additional priority recommendations for Education, bringing the total number to seven. These recommendations involve the following areas: protecting the investment in higher education and ensuring the well-being and education of the nation's school-age children. Education's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations. Why GAO Did This Study Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision-making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations. For more information, contact Jackie Nowicki at (617) 788-0580 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
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