For example, you cannot understand what happens in Gaza without tracking the path of the rockets from Iran, or how the upheaval in Syria and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt have affected Hamas, how the treaty between Egypt and Israel remains the bedrock for peace in the region, despite all the change going on around it, and how Israel's concerns over Iran's nuclear program shape its overall security posture. Then there are the economics of border-crossings and fishing rights, and concerns about smuggling and arms proliferation, and the list goes on.
So the United States really does need to bring an unprecedented level of strategic sophistication to these problems, rather than just chasing after the crisis of the moment. American policymakers need to play chess, not checkers. And although some would have us wall off certain challenges, that is just not realistic in today's world.
And that leads to the fifth area, a set of cross-cutting and interconnected global challenges that defy both national borders and easy solutions: climate change, poverty, hunger, disease, nuclear proliferation, human trafficking, women's rights, international terrorism, and more. No one nation can solve any of these problems alone. Each one calls for a global network of partners - governments, businesses, international and regional organizations, academic institutions, civil society groups, even individuals, all working in concert. Building those coalitions is one of the great tests of American leadership.
We rightly call America the indispensible nation because only the United States has the reach and resolve to rally disparate nations and peoples together to solve problems on a global scale, certainly in defense of our own interests but also as a force for shared progress. Our ability to convene and connect is unparalleled. And that, in the end, in the 21st century, is what leadership is about.
Diplomacy and development are not always glamorous. It's like what Max Weber said about politics; it's the long, slow drilling of hard boards. But it is the only way we're going to be able to bring together the disparate, often conflicting interests in order to move together in this interconnected world.
Here's one moment that captures this for me. In December 2009, the international community gathered in Copenhagen to try to negotiate a way forward on climate change. Interests collided, talks stalled, tempers frayed. And I remember well late one night being in a very small room in the convention center with a large number of leaders. We emerged after 2 a.m. following a particularly frustrating session. Everyone rushed to the doors. The cars were trying to get to everyone waiting to take all of us to our hotels. We were standing there when Nicolas Sarkozy looked up into the cold Danish sky with exasperation and declared, "After this, I want to die." (Laughter.) I think that's how we all felt, to some extent.
But we kept at it. And thanks in large measure to the fun that President Obama and I had in intervening in a meeting to which we were not invited, we hammered out a deal that, while far from perfect, set the stage for future progress on this critical issue, because starting in Copenhagen and continuing in Cancun, Durban, and this week in Doha, we have pushed for a global agreement that would apply to all significant emitters, developed and developing alike, because there is no way to get ahead of this crisis unless we do that.
Over the past four years, the Obama Administration has also struck a deal with car companies to nearly double fuel efficiency by 2025. We've doubled production of clean energy, made historic investments in breakthrough technologies, launched new international partnerships like the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to take aim at pollutants like black carbon and methane that account for more than 30 percent of current global warming. That's grown from just six countries to more than two dozen today.
And we are committed to continue this hard, slow, boring of hard boards in order to take the practical, effective steps necessary to tackle climate change. Our focus is on results - not on today's headline, but on the trend line. And we're after what works. We will continue to chase down every opportunity to move forward bit by bit, if that's what it takes. That is a model for how change happens today, from advancing peace in the Middle East to securing the rights of women to stopping the spread of nuclear weapons step by step, day by day. And there's no substitute for that hard work, no replacement for diplomacy, and no alternative to American leadership.
So certainly, there is a lot to do in the years ahead to tackle this agenda, and we'll need to use all the tools in our arsenal. That means institutionalizing smart power, continuing to tap 21st century technologies from social networking to clean cookstoves, building a network of partnerships with other governments to fight terrorism and AIDS, with the private sector to advance food security and financial literacy, and so on. It also means doubling down on good, old-fashioned, shoe-leather diplomacy.