October 22, 2010

Diplomat speaks to hundreds at Colby

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE -- Commitment to a long-term vision, even when progress is slow, is the key to effective leadership.

click image to enlarge

MITCHELL PRESENT AT MITCHELL LECTURE: Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg delivers the 2010 Sen. George J. Mitchell Distinguished International Lecture in Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building at Colby College on Thursday. Colby College President William “Bro” Adams is seated at right in the front row, next to George Mitchell, second from right.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

That's what U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg told Colby College students to remember if they become world leaders.

Steinberg spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of hundreds in Colby's Ostrove Auditorium Thursday night for the 2010 Sen. George J. Mitchell Distinguished International Lecture.

In negotiating peace in Northern Ireland, Mitchell, who introduced the speaker, demonstrated the importance of committing to a vision, Steinberg said.

He cited the former senator, who has said the day the Good Friday Agreement was reached and signed in 1998 was preceded by 700 days of failure to negotiate peace.

"Without leadership and commitment, we never would have gotten to that one day of success," Steinberg said.

In his lecture, "American Leadership and International Cooperation: A Strategy for the 21st Century," Steinberg began by talking about how America's first presidents were reluctant to take global leadership roles or even to get involved in international affairs.

But following World War II, America not only embraced its position as a global superpower, but also realized that being an effective leader relied on investing in the welfare of other countries.

"They believed that by helping others succeed, they would foster our own interest," he said.

America's leaders today still practice that kind of leadership, as they tackle the challenges that face the nation and the world, including the threat of nuclear warfare, climate change and conflicts in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

The United States remains well-positioned to maintain its leadership role, he said, as long as it continues to cooperate with other countries.

"We've learned that leaders need followers," said Steinberg.

And gaining those followers, he said, "requires we lead by ideas and example, as well as by force."

Steinberg is the principal deputy to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. During President Bill Clinton's administration, he served as the deputy national security adviser. Between those posts, Steinberg was the dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. He was also the vice president and director of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

Leslie Bridgers -- 861-9252


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