Robert D. Hormats is the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs. He was formerly vice chairman of Goldman Sachs (International) and managing director of Goldman, Sachs & Co.
Hormats has also served as ambassador and deputy US Trade Representative, and senior deputy assistant secretary for Economic and Business Affairs at the US Department of State. He was a senior staff member on the National Security Council and senior economic advisor to National Security Advisors Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft, and Zbigniew Brzezinski. Hormats has received the French Legion of Honor and Arthur Fleming Award.
Mr. Hormats has been a visiting lecturer at Princeton University and is a member of the Board of Visitors of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Dean's Council of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Mr. Hormats' publications include Abraham Lincoln and the Global Economy; American Albatross: The Foreign Debt Dilemma; and Reforming the International Monetary System. Mr. Hormats earned a B.A. from Tufts University with a concentration in economics and political science; an M.A. and a Ph.D. in international economics from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
Question: What is your counsel?
Robert Hormats: Collectively we have to find a way of going to the American people and explaining to them the tough issues this country faces over the next decade or two. So you enter into a robust dialogue within our society on the kinds of issues that have to be addressed to make a better society 10 years, 15 years, 20 years down the road.
Collectively we also ought to be finding ways to support, encourage innovation; support and encourage change, while also finding ways of making sure that there are not a large number of people who feel left behind by that change; who feel threatened by that change; who feel that they can’t participate in the benefits of that change. That, to me, is important.
And the third is you need to have an integrity in the political process and integrity in the social process that enables people to see that their leaders are honest people; are people who are willing to go out of their way to be candid enough so that if they are wrong, they can change course; that they’re not so bullheaded that if they get new ideas, they are not willing to change their old ideas. They’re not so ideological that they push aside new thoughts and innovative notions and reject ideas that don’t conform to their ideology or their doctrine. I think that is an extremely important thing. If you’re _____________ or you’re ideological, you miss a whole lot of opportunity for change.
And things are moving so rapidly that if you are so wedded to one ideology or one set of doctrines that you’re not flexible enough to change when you’re confronted with new thoughts, new ideas, new ways of doing things, society becomes a very rigid society.
Recorded On: July 25, 2007