By KEITH JOHNSON
WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will map
out a plan Thursday for making energy a centerpiece of US
diplomacy and foreign policy, a recognition of the
profound geopolitical changes wrought by America's nascent
In a speech at Georgetown University, Mrs. Clinton will
argue that "energy diplomacy" can strengthen America's allies,
help counter potential rivals, and, by fostering economic
growth around the world, ultimately help strengthen the
"Today, energy cuts across the entirety of US foreign policy. It is a matter of national
security and global stability. It is at the heart of the global
economy. It's an issue of democracy and human rights," she is
expected to say, based on excerpts reviewed by The
Journal. "It has been a top concern of mine as Secretary.
And it is sure to be the same for the next Secretary of
The speech is part of Mrs. Clinton's efforts to secure her
legacy after nearly four years as secretary of state; she plans
to step down whether or not Barack Obama wins re-election.
However, that legacy is under pressure now because of the
ongoing furor over the deaths in Libya in September of four
Americans, including the US ambassador, in a terrorist attack
on the US consulate in Benghazi. Mrs. Clinton has said
that she bears full responsibility for any security lapses that
led to the deadly attack.
Her remarks Thursday come a year after she approved the
creation of a dedicated energy bureau inside the State
The emphasis on energy diplomacy is a recognition of the
profound change brought about by a huge increase in US oil and
natural gas production. That has reversed decades of creeping
dependence on foreign energy sources and has given the US many
more options in conducting foreign policy.
In the 1970s, energy-related traumas included the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries oil embargo,
leading to decades of constraints on US foreign policy, especially regarding the
Middle East and other big energy producers.
One key point Mrs. Clinton is expected to stress: The role
that US energy production, coupled with US diplomatic efforts,
has played in ratcheting up sanctions on Iran.
Diplomats from the State Department's energy bureau,
including the division's leader, ambassador Carlos Pascual,
have worked with their Iraqi counterparts to eliminate
obstacles to increased Iraqi oil production. A surge in Iraqi
output, alongside production increases from Saudi Arabia,
helped make possible this year's sanctions that directly
targeted Iran's ability to export oil.
Mrs. Clinton also is expected to make a reference to a flood
of domestic natural gas that has upended traditional energy
markets and given the US more leverage in dealing with rivals.
Russia in recent years has wielded its vast energy reserves
against smaller countries in Europe.
The US now is actively working to encourage other countries
in Europe and Asia to develop their own
shale gas resources.
"We have an interest in resolving disputes among nations
over energy, and ensuring that countries don't use their energy
resources, or proximity to transit routes, to force others to
bend to their will or forgive their bad behavior," she is
expected to say, based on the excerpts.
Another key thrust of Mrs. Clinton's energy diplomacy
focuses on bringing electricity to more than 1 billion people
who currently lack access to reliable power. This spring, the
State Department launched an initiative to help Latin American
countries connect their electricity systems and help bring
power to millions of isolated, rural residents.
Similar to the 1930s-era US push for rural electrification,
the idea is to jumpstart economic growth which will ultimately
rebound to the benefit of the US through greater trade and
greater export opportunities for big US firms eyeing the
multi-trillion dollar power market.
Dow Jones Newswires
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