Posts Tagged ‘Asia Society’

Yesterday was like a Spring day in New York, and the Secretary of State was as pretty as an apple blossom. Had it been a typical February day, I would have had to say she was as delicate as a snowflake.  I like this jacket a lot.  The combination of a playful tweed and the georgette details is perfect.

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. Mme. Secretary was her charming, lovely, informative self today.


Remarks at the Launch of the Asia Society’s Series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
New York, NY
February 18, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Well, it is wonderful to be back here at the Asia Society, and I thank Vishakha for that introduction and for her strong leadership. I also want to thank Jack Wadsworth and all the board members and supporters who are here doing what I think is very important work: continuing to build ties between people across regions and continents and looking for opportunities to find those points of common concern and common cause.

It is always a pleasure to be back here. I tell Vishakha that it’s mostly because of the gift shop – (laughter) – that I’m always coming back. I gave my first major speech, as she said, as Secretary of State, here. And I am so pleased to be back here today to really celebrate you and all you do, to strengthen relationships and understanding.

And I also want to say a special word of greeting and acknowledge to Kati Marton, the wonderful partner in the life of Richard Holbrooke and a dear friend and colleague to so many of us who are here.

Now, if there were ever any fear that I might somehow forget about the Asia Society, that could not happen with Richard Holbrooke being sure to remind me at every single turn. He never stopped serving as a champion and promoter for this organization that he loved so much.

And in the days after we lost Richard, I heard so many stories, many of which made me smile in memory of similar experiences that I and others had had with Richard along the way. And one story in particular about the mark that he left on this organization involves his time as chairman of the Society, and he was trying to recruit Orville Schell, who is out there somewhere in the audience, to run the new, very exciting China Center – Orville, who had a really nice life in northern California. He was reluctant. Now, if any of you ever tried holding out on Richard, you know what a losing proposition that turns out to be. And Richard would have none of Orville’s reservations. And in the midst of one intense recruiting session Richard picked up the phone and ordered a private helicopter to whisk himself and Orville off to Easthampton for an impromptu meeting with a key donor. Now, Orville, you have to admit it, you were really impressed and ended up taking the job, and we were all the better for it. (Laughter.)

But that was just Richard being Richard. He had a flair for the dramatic, to be sure. But it was farmore than theatrics. He understood in every cell of his body that bold action and big ideas can and will change history. After all, he did it himself, again and again.

And that was how Richard approached his final mission in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He called it his toughest assignment. And certainly, the challenges were almost beyond description. And Richard was always the first to enumerate them. But he understood the importance of this mission to our national security and to the future of such a critical region of the world.

We’ve made progress, but the tribal areas along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan remain the epicenter of violent extremism that threatens Americans and peace-loving people everywhere.

Here in New York, Richard’s hometown, we need no reminder of the stakes. Nearly 10 years ago, al-Qaida launched a terrorist attack planned and prepared in the safe haven of Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. And it took, tragically, the lives of thousands not only of our fellow citizens, but individuals from across the world.

Since then, al-Qaida and its followers have killed innocent people and encouraged the killing, whether it was in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Madrid, London, Bali, or Istanbul. These attacks have served only to steel our resolve. As President Obama said at West Point, we did not ask for this fight, but we will surely finish it.

Since that terrible day in 2001, two successive administrations from different points on the political spectrum have made an enormous commitment of American lives and treasure to pursue the terrorists who attacked us and those who harbor them. And after all that, many Americans understandably want to know how we plan to achieve the goals we have set forth.

For their part, people in the region – not just in Kabul or Islamabad, but in Beijing and Moscow, Delhi and Tehran – wonder about America’s long-term intentions and objectives. They want to know if we will walk away again, as we did in 1989 after the Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan.

Today, I want to answer some of those questions and talk in more detail about a new phase of our diplomatic efforts on Afghanistan. I will be clear right at the start about a few key elements: our adversary, our goal, and our strategy.

First, our adversary. Despite heavy losses, the al-Qaida terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 retain dangerous capabilities. They continue to plot large-scale, catastrophic international attacks and to support and inspire regional affiliates. The United States and our allies remain their principal targets. Before 2001, al-Qaida was protected in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Al-Qaida and the Taliban, along with various associated groups, still maintain an alliance, based largely in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan. And the Taliban continue to wage a brutal insurgency against the government in Kabul in an effort to regain control of the country. The Taliban and al-Qaida are distinct groups with distinct aims, but they are both our adversaries and part of a syndicate of terror that must be broken.

After he took office, President Obama launched a thorough review of our policy and set out a clear goal: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida, and prevent it from threatening America and our allies in the future. Al-Qaida cannot be allowed to maintain its safe haven, protected by the Taliban, and to continue plotting attacks while destabilizing nations that have known far too much war. From the Tigris to the Indus, the region will never live up to its full potential until it is free of al-Qaida and its creed of violence and hatred. That is an aspiration that should unite every nation.

In pursuit of this goal, we are following a strategy with three mutually reinforcing tracks – three surges, if you will: a military offensive against al-Qaida terrorists and Taliban insurgents; a civilian campaign to bolster the governments, economies, and civil societies of Afghanistan and Pakistan to undercut the pull of the insurgency; and an intensified diplomatic push to bring the Afghan conflict to an end and chart a new and more secure future for the region.

The first two surges set the table for the success of the third, which aims to support an Afghan-led political process to split the weakened Taliban off from al-Qaida and reconcile those who will renounce violence and accept the Afghan constitution with an increasingly stable Afghan Government. That would leave al-Qaida alone and on the run.

In 2001, after 9/11, I would remind us all, the Taliban chose to defy the international community and protect al-Qaida. That was the wrong choice, and they have paid a heavy price. Today, the escalating pressure of our military campaign is sharpening a similar decision for the Taliban:

Break ties with al-Qaida, renounce violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution, and you can rejoin Afghan society; refuse and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al-Qaida as an enemy of the international community.

They cannot wait us out. They cannot defeat us. And they cannot escape this choice.

All three surges are part of the vision for transition in Afghanistan that President Obama reaffirmed in his December policy review and that NATO endorsed in Lisbon at the most recent summit. Ultimately, Afghans must take responsibility for their own future – for providing security, for strengthening governance, and for reaching a political solution to the conflict.

That transition will be formally launched next month, with troop reductions starting in July and continuing based on conditions on the ground. It will be completed by the end of 2014. As transition proceeds and Afghan leadership strengthens across the country, a process of political reconciliation will become increasingly viable.

In turn, successful reconciliation will reduce the threat to the Afghan Government, making transition more sustainable. Crucially, the enduring commitment of the United States, our allies, and our partners will continue to support the stability of the Afghan Government and the durability of a responsible political settlement. That is the vision of transition – one that is shared by the Afghan Government – that we are pursuing.

So we have a big challenge with many moving parts. Let me go through each surge – military, civilian, and diplomatic – and explain how they fit together to advance our larger goals.

First the military surge, which sent thousands of additional American and allied troops to Afghanistan to deny safe haven for al-Qaida and to break the Taliban’s momentum. More and better-trained Afghan security forces are also in the field, working side-by-side with our troops. And we honor the service and sacrifice of all the women and men, from every nation, as well as their civilian colleagues, who have put their lives at risk and, all too tragically, for too many, paid with those lives. They are engaged in a very tough fight. But we are in it together. Thanks to their efforts, the rapidly deteriorating security situation the Obama Administration inherited in January 2009 has begun to stabilize. Expanded local security measures at the village level have helped protect vulnerable populations. Security has improved in Kabul and in key provinces like Helmand and Kandahar. The momentum of the Taliban insurgents has been blunted, and in some places even reversed.

Now, from the beginning, we have recognized the fundamental connection between our war effort in Afghanistan and the extremists’ safe havens and enablers in Pakistan. It is no secret that we have not always seen eye-to-eye with Pakistan on how to deal with these threats or on the future of Afghanistan. But as a result of growing cooperation between our governments, militaries, and law enforcement agencies, and determined action by the Pakistani army, we have been able to dramatically expand our counterterrorism and intelligence efforts.

Pressure is increasing on both sides of the border. As a result, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are under threat like never before. Al-Qaida’s leadership is weakened, its safe havens in the border regions are smaller and less secure, and its ability to prepare and conduct terrorist operations has been significantly degraded. But make no mistake, Al-Qaida remains a serious threat, but it is finding it tougher to raise money, train recruits and plan attacks outside the

region. Just as importantly, we have given its Taliban allies and sympathizers reason to question the wisdom of their loyalty.

Now let me turn to the second track. I know there are some on Capitol Hill and elsewhere who question whether we need anything more than guns, bombs, and troops to achieve our goals in Afghanistan. As our commanders on the ground would be the first to say, however, that is a short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating view. We will never kill enough insurgents to end this war outright. The military campaign must proceed hand-in-hand with a robust civilian effort that helps the Afghan Government build credibility with its own people, offer alternatives to the insurgency, and provide incentives for all Afghans to renounce violence and work together toward a better future. That is how insurgencies end.

And that is why we have matched our military surge with a civilian surge that tripled the number of diplomats, development experts, and other specialists on the ground. These efforts are mutually reinforcing and both support the transition process. We now have more than 1,100 civilian experts from nine federal agencies working in Afghanistan on everything from improving agriculture, to expanding infrastructure, to stemming the drug trade, and training Afghan civil servants.

We have also expanded our civilian efforts in Pakistan, including through the Kerry-Lugar-Berman assistance program, which is funding projects to address Pakistan’s urgent energy and economic needs.

After the devastating floods, we stepped up with aid and relief. And our Strategic Dialogue is building habits of cooperation between our governments at every level. Now, of course, there are still significant challenges to overcome in our relationship. Distrust lingers on both sides. And we need to work together carefully to prevent misunderstandings and disagreements from derailing the progress we have made in the past two years.

So in both nations, the decision to deploy additional civilian resources is paying dividends, even as we remain determined to work smarter and better at how we deploy these resources.

The budget that President Obama announced on Monday provides the resources our diplomats and development experts need to be effective partners to the military to get the job done. Retreating from the civilian side of the mission – as some funding proposals currently before Congress would do – would be a grave mistake.

Now, I certainly appreciate the tight budget environment we find ourselves in. But the fact is that these civilian operations are crucial to our national security.

Consider the long-term price we have paid as a result of disengaging from Afghanistan after 1989. As Secretary of Defense Bob Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee just yesterday, we cannot afford to make that mistake again. Or consider Iraq, where the transition to a civilian-led mission is helping the Pentagon save $45 billion, and the State Department and USAID require an increase of only $4 billion to make sure that we are robustly engaged with the government and people of Iraq. That is a good deal by any standard. So we are working with Congress to ensure that the civilian surge in Afghanistan and Pakistan receives the support it requires now and in years to come.

Now, I will not sugarcoat the fact that the Afghan Government has, from time to time, disagreed with our policies. And there is no denying the challenges our civilian efforts face in Afghanistan. Corruption remains a major problem. Fighting fraud and waste is one of our highest priorities. A major focus of the civilian surge has been expanding our presence in the field, getting more experts out to provide hands-on leadership of our development projects. We have partnered with the military to put in place stronger controls on contractors. And we are working with Afghan institutions that we fund directly to help them improve auditing and accountability.

So as the military surge weakens the insurgents and pressures them to consider alternatives to armed resistance, the civilian surge creates economic and social incentives for participating in a peaceful society. Together, the two efforts prepare the ground for a political process, which history and experience tell us is the most effective way to end an insurgency.

And that brings us to the third track. President Obama’s December policy review emphasized, and I quote, that “our civilian and military efforts must support a durable and favorable political resolution of the conflict. In 2011, we will intensify our regional diplomacy to enable a political process to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

As promised, we are launching a diplomatic surge to move this conflict toward a political outcome that shatters the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaida, ends the insurgency, and helps to produce not only a more stable Afghanistan but a more stable region.

Now, of course, we had always envisioned Richard Holbrooke leading this effort. He was an architect of our integrated military-civilian-diplomatic strategy, and we feel his loss so keenly.

But Richard left us a solid foundation. Over the past two years, he built an exceptional team and a strong working relationships with our allies and regional partners.

And today, I am pleased to announce that the President and I have called back to service Ambassador Marc Grossman, a veteran diplomat and one of Richard’s most esteemed colleagues, as our new Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ambassador Grossman’s first tour in the Foreign Service was in Pakistan. He knows our allies and understands how to mobilize common action to meet shared challenges. He played a crucial role in the Dayton talks, and Richard described him in a memorable book that Richard wrote as “one of the most outstanding career diplomats.” Ambassador Grossman has followed in Richard’s shoes before when he served as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs in the ‘90s, and I am absolutely confident in his ability to hit the ground running.

Now, Ambassador Grossman and the rest of his interagency team will marshal the full range of our policy resources to support responsible, Afghan-led reconciliation that brings the conflict to a peaceful conclusion, and to actively engage with states in the region and the international community to advance that process.

As I said, important groundwork has already been laid, both by Richard and his team, and by the Afghans themselves.

Many low-level fighters entered the insurgency not because of deep ideological commitment, but because they were following the promise of a paycheck. So in London last year, the international community pledged financial support for the Afghan Government’s comprehensive program to draw them off the battlefield and back into society.

As military pressure escalates, more insurgents may begin looking for alternatives to violence. And not just low-level fighters. Both we and the Afghans believe that the security and governance gains produced by the military and civilian surges have created an opportunity to get serious about a responsible reconciliation process, led by Afghans and supported by intense regional diplomacy and strong U.S.-backing.

Such a process would have to be accepted by all of Afghanistan’s major ethnic and political blocs. For this to work, everyone has to feel they have a stake in the outcome and a responsibility for achieving it.

President Karzai made a good start by convening a broad-based Peace Jirga in June that set out a framework for national reconciliation. He then formed a High Peace Council that includes representatives from across Afghanistan. Council leaders are holding meetings in key provinces throughout the country with tribal leaders, civil society, women, and villagers to hear their hopes and concerns for a reconciliation process. They are working to form local councils to begin engaging the insurgents and the broader community.

The United States supports this Afghan effort. Over the past two years, we have laid out our unambiguous red lines for reconciliation with the insurgents: They must renounce violence; they must abandon their alliance with al-Qaida; and they must abide by the constitution of Afghanistan. Those are necessary outcomes of any negotiation. This is the price for reaching a political resolution and bringing an end to the military actions that are targeting their leadership and decimating their ranks.

If former militants are willing to meet these red lines, they would then be able to participate in the political life of the country under their constitution.

Now, I know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the Taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable. And diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace. President Reagan understood that when he sat down with the Soviets. And Richard Holbrooke made this his life’s work. He negotiated face-to-face with Milosevic and ended a war.

It won’t be easy. Old adversaries will need to see that their own self-interest lies in setting aside their grievances. Taliban militants will have to decide that they are better off working within the Afghan political system rather than fighting a losing struggle alongside al-Qaida in bombed-out caves. The Afghan Government must be prepared to be more inclusive and more accountable. All parties will have to commit to a pluralistic political system that respects the human rights of every Afghan.

The United States is committed to helping Afghans defend those rights. We will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the social progress that has been made in the past decade.

The Afghan Government needs to safeguard the rights of all Afghans, especially women and minorities. I know firsthand from what happened in the Balkans, Northern Ireland, and other places recovering from conflict that the participation of women and civil society groups will be essential to building a just and lasting peace.

The United States supports the participation of women at all levels of the reconciliation process, because we believe the potential for sustainable peace will be subverted if women are silenced or marginalized. Afghan women made significant contributions to the Peace Jirga, they must continue to be a part of the High Peace Council, and they have an important role to play at the provincial and local levels if genuine reconciliation is going to take root.

Reconciliation – achieving it and maintaining it – will depend on the participation and support of Afghanistan’s neighbors, including and most importantly Pakistan. Let me be blunt: We all need to be on the same page for this to work. Whether we live in Kabul or Islamabad or Washington, we need to share a common vision for the future. A vision of a stable, independent Afghanistan rid of insurgency and proxy conflicts fought by neighboring states. A vision of a region free from al-Qaida.

As we have underscored from the beginning, Pakistan plays a pivotal role. It is a nuclear-armed nation of nearly 170 million people with deep ties and strong interests in Afghanistan. It was with Pakistan that the United States and other countries supported the Afghan people in their fight against the Soviet occupation in the 1980s. And Pakistan continues to host thousands of refugees from the current conflict. Unfortunately, the historic distrust between Pakistan and Afghanistan remains a major cause of regional instability and does not serve the long-term interests of the people of either country.

Pakistan has legitimate concerns that should be understood and addressed by the Afghan Government under any reconciliation process, with steps that provide transparency and reassurance. But Pakistan also has responsibilities of its own, including taking decisive steps to ensure that the Afghan Taliban cannot continue to conduct the insurgency from Pakistani territory. Pressure from the Pakistani side will help push the Taliban toward the negotiating table and away from al-Qaida.

For reconciliation to succeed, Pakistan will have to be part of the process. It will have to respect Afghan sovereignty and work with Afghanistan to improve regional stability. We know cooperation is possible. Just last month, Afghanistan and Pakistan took a huge step forward with formal ratification of a long-awaited Transit Trade Agreement, which will boost economic opportunity on both sides of the border by opening new markets and trade routes for Afghan and Pakistani goods. This was one of Richard’s proudest accomplishments, because it had been in negotiation since the early 1960s.

Expanding this cooperation to security issues, including reconciliation, is in the interests of both nations and will be a focus of our diplomatic efforts going forward.

Beyond Pakistan, all of Afghanistan’s neighbors and near-neighbors – India and Iran, Russia and China, the Central Asian states – stand to benefit from a responsible political settlement in Afghanistan and also an end to al-Qaida’s safe havens in the border areas and the exporting of extremism into their countries. That would reduce the terrorist and narcotics threat to their own citizens, create new opportunities for commerce, and ease the free flow of energy and resources throughout the region. It could also help move other regional conflicts toward peaceful resolution.

Indeed, we are encouraged by news that India and Pakistan are re-launching a dialogue aimed at building trust, and we encourage them to work in that same spirit to support a political process in Afghanistan. We look to them – and all of Afghanistan’s neighbors – to respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty, which means agreeing not to play out their rivalries within its borders, and to support reconciliation and efforts to ensure that al-Qaida and the syndicate of terrorism is denied safe haven everywhere. Afghanistan, in turn, must not allow its territory to be used against others.

The United States will intensify our efforts to build broad international support for Afghan reconciliation.

In early March, we will meet in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia with our partners in the International Contact Group, hosted by the Organization of the Islamic Conference. The Contact Group, which Richard worked so hard to build, brings together more than 40 countries and international organizations, including a growing number of Muslim-majority nations. The Afghan leaders of the High Peace Council will join us and review efforts toward reconciliation.

NATO ministers will convene in Paris a few days later to review transition planning. We are also preparing for a conference in Germany later this year for the 10th anniversary of the Bonn Conference, which we hope will be an important milestone in the political process.

As this work proceeds, the United States will relentlessly pursue al-Qaida and those Taliban who refuse to renounce violence, while working to improve security, development, and governance on the ground. Again, the Afghan Taliban have a clear choice: Be part of Afghanistan’s future or face unrelenting assault.

For reconciliation to take hold – for it to be irreversible – Afghanistan’s government will need to provide security to all its people. So the United States and our allies will continue training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces.

We are working with President Karzai to implement a responsible transition to Afghan security leadership, which will begin in the coming weeks. And in July, we will begin to reduce the number of our troops based on conditions on the ground. Transition to Afghan leadership will be complete by the end of 2014. We think this provides the Afghan Government the time and space it needs to further build up the security forces, ministries, and institutions that will make reconciliation durable and sustainable.

Just as importantly, a political process that takes insurgents off the battlefield will make it easier for our troops to hand over responsibility to Afghan security forces and for transition to proceed.

We have been clear that this transition does not mark the end of our commitment to the people of the region. NATO has pledged an enduring military and financial commitment to Afghanistan that will extend beyond the completion of transition in 2014.

And at the request of the Afghan Government, the United States will launch negotiations on a new Strategic Partnership Declaration. It will provide a long-term framework for our bilateral cooperation in the areas of security, economic and social development, and institution building.

This new partnership will complement our ongoing Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan. The development of these relationships, along with our deepening engagement with key neighbors, is crucial to providing stability and confidence in the region.

The United States will always maintain the capability to protect our people and our interests. But in no way should our enduring commitment be misunderstood as a desire by America or our allies to occupy Afghanistan against the will of its people. We respect Afghans’ proud history of resistance to foreign occupation, and we do not seek any permanent American military bases in their country or a presence that would be a threat to any of Afghanistan’s neighbors.

The United States is not walking away from the region. We will not repeat the mistakes of the past. Our commitment is real and it is enduring.

But for all that America is ready to do, and for all the work of the international community, the people and leaders of the region are ultimately responsible for their own futures.

Pakistanis are tired of terror and turmoil. Afghans have suffered through three decades of war. But the leaders of both nations, in and out of government, have not done enough to chart a different course.

Despite steps by the government over the past two years, Pakistan’s public finances remain in disarray. Energy shortages are hampering economic growth, and causing political and social instability.

Routine suicide bombings – including last week’s tragic murders of 31 innocents by a so-called “school boy” suicide bomber – underscore the continued threat of violent extremism. And shocking, unjustified anti-Americanism will not resolve these problems.

America stands ready to assist Pakistan’s leaders in addressing these challenges. They have already enacted some reforms aimed at stabilizing the economy. The test will be in how they are implemented, supported and expanded. Pakistan’s leaders still have a lot to do to reduce corruption, to rebuild from last summer’s floods, and to keep making progress in eliminating extremists and their sanctuaries.

The Afghan people also expect their government to present a positive vision for the future. President Karzai’s stated commitment to enhance transparency, improve basic services, and reduce corruption is a start. But his people will look for deeds to match the words. They will look for strong and independent democratic institutions, like the courts and electoral bodies, to ensure their rights. And most of all, they will look for results that make a difference in their lives.

Leaders in both nations will have to decide what kind of future they want for their children and grandchildren to inherit.

What that future looks like will depend, to no small degree, on the success of the political and diplomatic process I have described today. So long as leaders in Kabul and Islamabad eye each other with distrust, so long as the Taliban have safe havens from which to wage war, so long as al-Qaida operates anywhere in the region, the prospects for progress are slim.

Last month in Doha – actually, now two months ago, in December – just before the protests began in Tunisia and Egypt, I warned that the region’s foundations were sinking into the sand. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, conflict is blasting the foundations apart, brick by brick. Reconciliation and reform offer another way.

South Asia is home to nearly 1.5 billion people. They are talented and hard-working, rich in culture, and blessed with entrepreneurial spirit. If the countries of the region can move beyond their historic conflicts and cooperate to seize the opportunities of the 21st century, there are no limits as to what they can achieve.

Our friend Richard Holbrooke believed a better future is possible for Afghanistan, for Pakistan, and the wider region. He once observed, and I quote, “In every war of this sort, there is always a window for people who want to come in from the cold… If they are willing to accept the red lines and come in… there has to be a place for them.”

Those were his words. And that is the policy of the United States. It may not produce peace tomorrow or the next day, but it does offer our best chance. And it offers especially the best chance for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan, who so richly deserve a different future. The United States will be there as a partner to help them achieve that, if that is the path they choose.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

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Public Schedule for February 18, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
February 18, 2011


1:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers remarks on Afghanistan and Pakistan to launch the Asia Society’s Series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses, at the Asia Society in New York City.
Watch live on www.state.gov. Click here for more information.

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This is my second update to this post. Mme. Secretary’s week is shaping up well in advance.


Secretary Clinton to Deliver Major Remarks on Internet Freedom on February 15 at GWU

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 11, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver a speech on “Internet Rights And Wrongs: Choices & Challenges In A Networked World,” at George Washington University on February 15 at approximately 12:30 p.m.

George Washington University
The Media and Public Affairs Building



Secretary Clinton Celebrates 50 Years of Citizen Diplomacy at Reception Honoring the National Council of International Visitors

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 11, 2011

On February 17

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will join members of the National Council of International Visitors (NCIV) on February 17 at their annual meeting to celebrate their 50-year partnership with the U.S. Department of State. Watch the live webcast of the Secretary’s remarks at 7:00 p.m. from the Department of State here

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock will kick-off NCIV’s conference earlier in the day at the opening plenary session. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Judith A. McHale will then deliver remarks at 12:45 p.m. at a special luncheon for the diplomatic corps. Access the live webcast of Assistant Secretary Stock and Under Secretary McHale’s remarks here.

Three press opportunities:
8:30 a.m. Assistant Secretary Stock will deliver remarks at the opening plenary of the National Council of International Visitors at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington DC. 

12:45 p.m. Under Secretary McHale will address the NCIV annual meeting at a luncheon for the diplomatic corps at the J.W. Marriott Hotel, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington DC.
7:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton will deliver remarks celebrating the NCIV’s 50th Anniversary in the Benjamin Franklin Room at the Department of State.

Watch live at www.state.gov.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) is the Department of State’s premier professional exchange program. The IVLP annually brings approximately 5,000 emerging leaders from around the world to the United States to participate in professional projects with U.S. peers and to gain firsthand experience of American society and culture. 

The IVLP partners with the NCIV network, which consists of nearly 80,000 American “citizen diplomats” who host international visitors in communities across the United States. As part of its 50th anniversary celebration, the NCIV and Department of State have launched the “Gold Stars” tour, which honors 18 returning international visitors, who were selected based on the significant achievements they made in their countries or local communities. The “Gold Stars” delegation will return to their original host communities around the U.S. and showcase how their participation in the international exchange program helped shape their work in their home country. For more information on the program, click here.

Secretary Clinton to Deliver Remarks on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the Asia Society in NYC on February 18

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
February 11, 2011

Speech will Launch the Asia Society’s Series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks on U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, at the Asia Society in New York on February 18 at approximately 1:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton will take questions from the audience following her remarks.

Secretary Clinton will launch the Asia Society’s series of Richard C. Holbrooke Memorial Addresses. Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, who served most recently as Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, served previously as Chairman of the Asia Society.

The event will be webcast live on www.state.gov.

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U.S.-Asia Relations: Indispensable to Our Future


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Remarks at the Asia Society
New York, New York
February 13, 2009

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Vishakha, and thanks also to John Thornton and Jamie Metzl and the board members who are gathered here this afternoon. It is a great pleasure to be back here in this magnificent building and to have the chance to thank you for the Asia Society’s work over many decades to strengthen the relationship between America and the people and governments of Asia.
Before I begin, let me just take a moment to say that my thoughts and prayers today are with the families who lost loved ones in the tragic crash of Continental Flight 3407, with those who live in Clarence Center where this tragedy occurred, and with the entire Buffalo community. I know the strength and compassion of the people of western New York and have no doubt that they will pull together and support each other through this difficult time.
I was deeply saddened to learn that among those who were taken from us too soon was Beverly Eckert, who herself lost her husband in the attacks of September 11th. Beverly became known to me and a friend to me and to many New Yorkers for her tireless advocacy for the families of the victims of 9/11, and she was one of the principal champions of the idea of the creation of the 9/11 Commission. I will miss her, and I want to just publicly thank her for all she did in the midst of her own tragedy.
A half century ago when the Asia Society was founded, Asia was frozen in a cold war, wracked by poverty, and seemingly destined for desolation. Few in or outside of Asia’s borders foresaw anything but a future of conflict, occupation, and despair. Today, the countries I will visit are at peace. Asia is on the cutting edge of so many of the world’s innovations and trends. It is a contributor to global culture, a global economic power, and a region of vital importance to the United States today and into our future.
Over the past 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of traveling to a very different Asia. Whenever I think back on my visits, it’s as if a movie reel of images, old and new, were running through my head. I think of the elegant temples of Kyoto, or the rituals of nomadic life outside Ulaanbaatar, the intricate handwork of traditional craftspeople in Chiang Rai, the vibrant markets of Hanoi, Hong Kong, and Dhaka; the grand hotels of Singapore and Manila, the calligraphers practicing their art in Xi’an, the historic dress of Seoul and the traditional dances of Jakarta, or the strum of the sitar in New Delhi.
And I’ve seen also the skyscrapers and factories, the urban corridors and high-tech campuses, the research facilities and modern hospitals – a continent where, now, more often than not, the rule of law and free elections have become or are in the process of becoming the norm, where entrepreneurship and innovation have transformed economies into global economic powers.
Asia has influenced world civilization for millennia, as it has our own culture. Our nation is home to 13 million Asian American citizens, and our daily life is so enriched by Asian literature and art, by music and movies, by food and architecture, medicine and science, technology and values.
Today, it is tempting to focus our attention on the tensions and perils of our interdependence, but I prefer to view our connectedness as an opportunity for dynamic and productive partnerships that can address both the challenge and the promise of this new century.
And that’s what I want to talk about today, how the United States is committed to a new era of diplomacy and development in which we will use smart power to work with historic allies and emerging nations to find regional and global solutions to common global problems.
As I’ve said before, America cannot solve the problems of the world alone, and the world cannot solve them without America.
At the same time, given the realities of today’s world, we can no longer approach our foreign policy solely country by country, or simply by carving the world into separate regions. With smart power, we will seek to build partnerships that transcend geographic and political boundaries.
In the months ahead, I will press for stronger bilateral, regional, and global cooperation when I meet with leaders of Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, just as I will seek more robust engagement in my discussions with Asian leaders in Tokyo, Jakarta, Seoul, and Beijing next week.
In making my first trip as Secretary of State to Asia, I hope to signal that we need strong partners across the Pacific, just as we need strong partners across the Atlantic. We are, after all, both a transatlantic and a transpacific power.
Our relationships with each of the countries I’m visiting, and with all of our partners and allies throughout Asia and the Pacific, are indispensable to our security and prosperity. When we consider the gravest global threats confronting us – financial instability and economic dislocation, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction, food security and health emergencies, climate change and energy vulnerability, stateless criminal cartels and human exploitation – it is clear that these threats do not stop at borders or oceans. Pandemics threaten school children in Jakarta and Jacksonville. Global financial crises shrink bank accounts in Sapporo and San Francisco. The dangers posed by nuclear proliferation create worries in Guangzhou as well as Washington. And climate change affects the livelihoods of farmers in China’s Hunan province and in America’s Midwest. These dangers affect us all, and therefore we all must play a role in addressing them.
So I leave for Asia ready to deliver a message about America’s desire for more rigorous and persistent commitment and engagement, ready to work with leaders in Asia to resolve the economic crisis that threatens the Pacific as much as any other region, ready to strengthen our historic partnerships and alliances while developing deeper bonds with all nations, ready to help prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Asia, ready to expand our combined efforts on 21st century challenges like climate change and clean energy, pandemics, and income inequality.
In the Obama Administration, we are also ready to reach beyond ministerial buildings and official meeting halls, as important as those are. We’re ready to engage civil society to strengthen the foundations needed to support good governance, free elections, and a free press, wider educational opportunities, stronger healthcare systems, religious tolerance, and human rights.
And we are ready to listen. Actively listening to our partners isn’t just a way of demonstrating respect. It can also be a source of ideas to fuel our common efforts. Too often in the recent past, our government has acted reflexively before considering available facts and evidence, or hearing the perspectives of others. But President Obama and I are committed to a foreign policy that is neither impulsive nor ideological, one that values what others have to say. And when we have differences, which we will, we will discuss them frankly and specify those which limit our capacity to cooperate. As part of our dialogues, we will hold ourselves and others accountable as we work to expand human rights and create a world that respects those rights, one where Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi can live freely in her own country, where the people of North Korea can freely choose their own leaders, and where Tibetans and all Chinese people can enjoy religious freedom without fear of prosecution.
Existing problems today, we believe, are opportunities as well. Exercising smart power begins with realistic assessments of the world we inhabit. And this obliges us, no less than other nations, to acknowledge our own contributions to the global problems we face.
Let me start with the global financial crisis that hit us first and hit us deeply. Across the United States today, families are losing jobs, homes, savings, and dreams. But this is not our crisis alone. Its repercussions are also being felt in parts of Asia and elsewhere around the world. We have recently heard forecasts from South Korea’s new finance minister that their economy will shrink by 2 percent this year, with 200,000 jobs potentially lost. A Chinese Government survey of villages last week reported that 20 million of the nation’s 130 million migrant workers are unemployed. In Japan, a new analysis predicts a larger economic contraction than previously forecast. Indonesia’s exports fell by more than 20 percent in December as growth estimates have also fallen. And Taiwan’s economy reported a record 44 percent drop in exports. Throughout Asia, the demand for durable goods is way down.
The global financial crisis requires every nation to look inward for solutions, but none of us can afford to become so introspective that we overlook the critical role that international partnerships must play in stabilizing the world’s economy and putting all of us back on the path to prosperity. And we cannot respond with a race to erect trade and other barriers. We must remain committed to a system of open and fair trade.
Here at home, our government is working to address the housing crisis and restore the banking system. Congress is expected to pass a stimulus package that represents the largest government effort in a generation to create jobs and increase incomes. China, Australia, and others in Asia are responding vigorously. We need multiple engines working together to reignite global growth.
At the G-20 meeting in Washington in November, leaders pledged to take actions from adjusting fiscal policy to strengthening domestic regulation. The upcoming G-20 meeting in April in London will provide us with an opportunity to build on that pledge.
Like the financial crisis, other issues also require bilateral as well as regional and global approaches. The United States is committed to maintaining our historic security alliances in Asia and building on those relationships to counter the complex global threats we face. I’m very pleased that Japan and South Korea this week agreed to joint assistance for reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and that both countries continue to work with us on global security, especially in combating piracy off the Horn of Africa.
We will need to work together to address the most acute challenge to stability in Northeast Asia, North Korea’s nuclear program. The Obama Administration is committed to working through the Six-Party Talks, and I will discuss with South Korea, Japan, and China how best to get the negotiations back on track. We believe we have an opportunity to move these discussions forward, but it is incumbent upon North Korea to avoid any provocative action and unhelpful rhetoric toward South Korea.
The North Korean Government has committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and to return at an early date to the Treaty on Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. We continue to hold them to those commitments. If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama Administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s longstanding armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people.
On a related matter, I will assure our allies in Japan that we have not forgotten the families of Japanese citizens abducted to North Korea. And I will meet with some of those families in Tokyo next week.
Global solutions are essential to addressing climate change and the need for clean sources of energy. Now, climate change is not just an environmental nor an energy issue, it also has implications for our health and our economies and our security, all wrapped up in one.
The rapid appointment that the President and I made of a United States Special Envoy for Climate Change reflects the seriousness we feel about dealing with this urgent threat. And I will be taking Special Envoy Todd Stern with me to Asia next week to begin the discussions that we hope will create the opportunities for cooperation.
Now, our nation has been the largest historic emitter of greenhouse gases, and we acknowledge that we must lead efforts to cut harmful emissions and build a lower-carbon economy. But each of the countries that I’m visiting also have a role to play in this effort. I will press the case for clean energy in both Japan and South Korea, and look for ways to work with Indonesia as well. Orville Schell’s commentary in Time magazine this week reminds us that collaboration on clean energy and greater efficiency offers a real opportunity to deepen the overall U.S.-Chinese relationship. So we will work hard with the Chinese to create partnerships that promote cleaner energy sources, greater energy efficiency, technology transfers that can benefit both countries, and other strategies that simultaneously protect the environment and promote economic growth.
While in Beijing, I will visit a clean thermal power plant built with GE and Chinese technology. It serves as an example of the kind of job-creating, bilateral, public-private collaboration that we need so much more of.
Now, you may have heard me describe the portfolio of the State Department as including two of national security’s three Ds: defense, diplomacy, and development. Each is essential to advancing our interests and our security. Yet too often, development is regarded as peripheral to our larger foreign policy objectives. This will not be the case in the Obama Administration. We will energetically promote development around the world to expand opportunities that enable citizens, particularly on the margins, and particularly women and children, to fulfill their God-given potential, which we happen to believe will advance our shared security interests. That much of Asia enjoys peace and prosperity today is due in no small part to American efforts over the last half century to support political, economic, security, and educational alliances with Asian nations.
We are proud to have lent American assistance in response to natural disasters, including rebuilding efforts after the tsunami in Indonesia and the cyclone in Burma. And we commend the Indonesian people and government for settling longstanding civil conflict in Aceh that threatened the country’s progress, and for similar positive efforts to achieve peace and stability that are working in Timor-Leste.
Indonesia is one of Asia’s most dynamic nations, where human energy and aspiration combine to help lead the country to a free and fair system of elections, a free press, a robust civil society, and a prominent role for women in the Indonesian Government. We will support Indonesia and other countries in the region that are actively promoting shared values. And we look forward to working with our other partners and friends in the regions, allies like Thailand and the Philippines, along with Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, to ensure that ASEAN can live up to its charter, to demonstrate the region’s capacity for leadership on economic, political, human rights, and social issues.
Let me also thank Australia for its leadership and friendship over decades. While I’m not able to visit Australia on this trip, we know that Australia is one of our most trusted allies in the world. And as we have all seen in the news, wildfires have devastated the state of Victoria during the past week. President Obama and Prime Minister Rudd have discussed the situation by phone. And we have sent forest fire specialists to help the Australians out. We want our Australian friends to know that we mourn with them over the loss of innocent lives in this tragedy, and we remain grateful for our work together in the past and what we will do together in the future.
Let me now give you a brief rundown of some of the key issues that I will be addressing next week, country by country, starting with my first stop in Japan. Our security alliance with Japan, 50 years old next year, has been, and must remain, unshakable. In Tokyo, I will sign the Guam International Agreement, which will position our security alliance to meet the challenges of this time by moving 8,000 American troops from Okinawa to Guam. Japan is also to be commended for taking on a bigger leadership role in addressing the economic crisis in Pakistan and for working on collaborative efforts to explore space, cure disease, and offer relief to victims of disasters around the world. We anticipate an even stronger partnership with Japan that helps preserve the peace and stability of Asia and increasingly focuses on global challenges, from disaster relief to advancing education for girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan to alleviating poverty in Africa.
We also will focus on the very fertile ground for cooperation that we believe exists with Indonesia. I don’t need to remind you that our new President is well known and much admired there. We now have an opportunity for stronger partnerships on education, energy, and food security. The Indonesian Government has also suggested the creation of a deeper partnership with the United States. This idea represents a positive approach to areas of common concern, and we are committed to working with Indonesia to pursue such a partnership with a concrete agenda.
In South Korea, we will be visiting with one of our staunchest historic allies. And certainly, everyone who has followed the history of South Korea joins me in admiration for the transition that we have observed from static conditions of the past century to the dynamic state that South Korea finds itself in today. The United States and South Korea are both committed to expanding trade in a manner that benefits both of our countries, and we will work together to that end.
As members of the Asia Society, you know very well how important China is and how essential it is that we have a positive, cooperative relationship. It is vital to peace and prosperity, not only in the Asia-Pacific region, but worldwide. Our mutual economic engagement with China was evident during the economic growth of the past two decades. It is even clearer now in economic hard times and in the array – excuse me – in the array of global challenges we face, from nuclear security to climate change to pandemic disease and so much else.
Now, some believe that China on the rise is, by definition, an adversary. To the contrary, we believe that the United States and China can benefit from and contribute to each other’s successes. It is in our interest to work harder to build on areas of common concern and shared opportunities. China has already asserted itself in positive ways as chair of the Six-Party Talks and in its participation in international peacekeeping efforts. And our two countries, I’m happy to say, will resume mid-level military-to-military discussions later this month. And we look forward to further improved relations across the Taiwan Strait.
Even with our differences, the United States will remain committed to pursuing a positive relationship with China, one that we believe is essential to America’s future peace, progress, and prosperity.
An ancient Chinese story tells of warring feudal states, whose soldiers find themselves on a boat together crossing a wide river in a storm. Instead of fighting one another, they work together and survive. Now, from this story comes a Chinese aphorism that says, “When you are in a common boat, you need to cross the river peacefully together.” The wisdom of that aphorism must continue to guide us today.
So I will leave for Asia Sunday with a firm commitment to work very hard with our partners across the Pacific, to strengthen our engagement so that the positive transformations of the past half-century are replicated, mirrored, made stronger and more obvious in this century. We have such an opportunity that I hope we will seize, but it is not just up to our government to do so. It is also up to Americans across our country, those of you here in the Asia Society, in the private sector, in academia, in labor and the professions, in nongovernmental organizations all. Let us commit ourselves to providing the kind of outreach and responsiveness, understanding, and commitment that will lead not just to a better understanding, but positive actions to improve the lives of our own people here and those who live in Asia today.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MS. DESAI: My goodness.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. (Applause.)
MS. DESAI: Please stay seated for a little while longer. First of all, thank you so much for such an amazing, encompassing speech that I know is going to be heard around the world, as it is being heard now.
The Secretary has actually agreed to take a few questions. I want to just remind you all that we really want to focus on East Asia. So those of who say, “How come she didn’t say anything about India,” we’re not doing it now – (laughter) – just so you know. Because there’s another time. And the fact is that the Special Representative Richard Holbrooke is actually in South Asia now, and we don’t want all of our heavy power all to be in the same place at the same time. So do not ask those questions. And what I’m going to do is that we actually have questions from online audience, as well as here, and we have selected a few to see if you would give some answers.
The first one is very simple, but we would love to hear from you about what you think is the significance of having your first trip as Secretary of State to Asia and not somewhere else?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe it demonstrates clearly that our new Administration wants to focus a lot of time and energy in working with Asian partners and all the nations in the Pacific region because we know that so much of our future depends upon our relationships there. And we equally know that our capacity to solve a lot of the global challenges that we’re confronting depends upon decisions that are made there. So it was an easy choice for me to make. Obviously, we are focused on the many problems that exist today that we’re confronting.
Right off the bat, actually, the very first day I walked into the State Department and the second day of his Administration, both President Obama and Vice President Biden came to the State Department to make the announcements that I had asked them to do, naming George Mitchell as our Special Envoy to the Middle East and Richard Holbrooke as our Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. So clearly, we are focused on many parts of the world.
We are in preparation right now for the NATO Summit that will be coming up in Europe. I will be going to Cairo on March the 2nd for the Donors Conference that Egypt is hosting on humanitarian aid for the people of Gaza. I will be helping to tee up what we do with the Summit of Americas that is coming in April that will be very important for our neighbors to the south, as well as ourself. We have a lot of challenges in Africa that we are working hard to address.
So it’s a big world, and we have a lot of work to do. And I think there has been a general feeling that perhaps we didn’t pay an appropriate amount of attention to Asia over the last years, being very preoccupied with other parts of the world, so I wanted to start at the very beginning demonstrating our commitment there.
MS. DESAI: Thank you. That was from Robert Kindle of ARD German Broadcasting from Washington, D.C.
The next question is from our own Vice Chair sitting in San Francisco, Jack Wadsworth. And he’s asking, and I will paraphrase the question, that under the Paulson-Bush era, the primary focus of U.S.-China dialogue has been economic. What do you think are the risks or potential benefits of broadening this agenda?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an excellent question, and it’s a apt description. Secretary Geithner and I have already met about this because we believe that the Department of State and the Treasury Department should be playing a mutually reinforcing role with respect to the broad range of issues that the United States and China should be discussing. We think that this provides us with the opportunity to engage at all levels of government simultaneously. How we’re going to structure those dialogues is something that I will be discussing with the Chinese leadership this coming week. But it is important that we understand how broad and deep the concerns that we share truly are.
You know, I made a reference to energy and climate change. We are, as I said, the historically largest emitter, but China has just surpassed us. They are now the largest emitter. And this has such direct effects on healthcare and indices of quality of life, as well as the economy and so much else. So we want to have a very broad discussion. How we structure it is something we’re going to work out mutually with the Chinese.
MS. DESAI: Well, sometimes people have said that since Secretary Geithner would be so focused on the economic stimulus package here and what happens at home, does that mean that State will actually take more of a leadership responsibility for the organization of these under your leadership?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we know that the Secretary, along with much of the rest of our government, is focused on getting our own economy up and going. But what we can do and the sequencing of how effective our recovery will be is very intimately connected with what the Chinese are doing and the decisions they’re making. So the economic dialogue is a broad one to start with. There are aspects of it that I think, you know, very much belong within the Treasury portfolio. But there are other aspects which cut across the entire range of issues that we would like to address with the Chinese. So that’s why Secretary Geithner and I have been working out our own approach.
There have always been, alongside the strategic economic dialogue that Treasury led during the Bush Administration, senior dialogues on a range of issues, plus defense-related discussions. So there’s been a lot going on, but partly out of choices that were made in the last eight years, the economic dialogue, led by the Treasury Department, really did assume a larger role than a lot of these other concerns. And we think that it is in our mutual interest to work out a way that all of these important issues are discussed on an ongoing basis, and that’s what we intend to do.
MS. DESAI: Well, I must say from the Asia Society perspective, it’s wonderful that you and the Obama Administration generally have focused so much on climate change because of our own work under the leadership of Orville Schell. But I should also tell you that Tim Geithner happens to be a good friend of this institution because Peter, his father, who is the head of the Asia region in Ford Foundation, was also a good friend. So we’re delighted that you will be working together, and we hope he will be here as well.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will extend the invitation.
MS. DESAI: Right. Thank you. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know if they’ll let him out of Washington for anything —
MS. DESAI: Not yet. Not yet.
SECRETARY CLINTON: — anythingyet.
MS. DESAI: This is an interesting question. North Korean Philharmonic wants to hold a concert in New York, in response to when the New York Philharmonic went there. Is there any condition in changing the atmosphere before such visas could be granted?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am hopeful that we will be able to engage the North Korean Government in the kind of serious discussion that I referred to in my remarks, one that could lead with their fulfilling their commitments regarding denuclearization and nonproliferation to bilateral relations and opportunities for the kind of normalization that I think many would hope to see. So much of it depends upon the choices that they make.
But we will look at all of these individual decisions – like the Philharmonic coming here, for example – and consider whether or not that does help us to try to change the atmosphere to increase the connections between North Koreans, and certainly, Americans get it off of just the government-to-government Six-Party Talk and bilateral discussions that have been the, you know, predominant or only way of that kind of formal relationship.
So much of it depends upon the choices that the North Korean Government makes. And certainly, we are hopeful that they will not engage in provocative actions and words that could create a much more difficult path for us to walk with them.
MS. DESAI: This is about the Bretton Woods Institution. Some experts have called for a revision of the Bretton Woods Institution and the UN – especially the Security Council, as you know – so that it would account primarily also for the increasing role of Asian states in global, economic and political affairs. How, if at all, do you think these institutions might accommodate and engage a rising Asia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the discussions that have been started in the G-20 and also at the G-8 level, as well as within multilateral institutions like the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, as well as within governments, should vigorously consider and debate whether we need new institutions, whether we need to, you know, reframe some of the regulatory processes that need to be in place. This should all be on the table, and I know that certainly, the Obama Administration is going to be implementing new regulations in our own economy that we think will make the free market work better and be more effective without the kind of distortion and interference that some of the decisions that we’ve seen over the last several years have caused.
So I think that there is a great – a great receptivity, but the devil is in the details, and there hasn’t been the kind of hard work yet done to determine whether the – you know, the son of Bretton Woods is a realistic possibility or not. And I’m hoping that that will be part of the broader agenda. I know it’s on the minds of the President and the Treasury Secretary and the National Economic Council led by Larry Summers.
So from my perspective, I think it’s important for the United States to lead and rebuild confidence in our own markets to demonstrate that we’ve learned the lessons that the last months have unfortunately brought home to us, in order to both answer the legitimate criticism from others around the world and assuage their concerns about our economic position. In order to continue to be the preeminent economic power in the United States, we have to take actions here that will position us for that kind of future. And I hope that with the President’s leadership, you’ll see that happen.
MS. DESAI: As you have said numerous times, actually, that often in Asia, people have said after their last financial crisis that we gave them lots of advice on what to do. And many Asians now come back and say, “But America hasn’t followed its own advice.” And therefore, we have to reclaim that position again —
MS. DESAI: — of credibility. It’s important.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that – I mean, everyone talks about our current financial crisis as being as much one of confidence and trust as of, you know, credit. And I really believe that we’ve got to take steps here in order to demonstrate exactly what Vishakha is saying, that we’ve cleaned up our own house and we’ve done it in a smart way, where we haven’t crippled our capacity to, you know, be the global, you know, credit center, to be a market maker, to do all that is done so well historically in this city.
But you don’t have to travel very far to hear the voices of doubt and even the explicit criticism coming from the leaders of other countries. And it’s my hope that, you know, again, we’ll have a public-private partnership to address these concerns, answer them, and, you know, lead the global recovery so that we can once again, you know, be promoting and creating prosperity here at home as well as around the world.
MS. DESAI: This question is partly related, but somewhat different, and this question is from Michele Ehlers and she’s a co-founder of Global Visionary – Global Leadership Network in Fremont, California.
And her question is: How can we upgrade our American dream to a global vision that the earth can sustain and that is supportable for every human being? If we Americans wish to be known for our leadership in the world and be recognized as true partners in global development, we need to take on a new model of life that’s sustainable and possible for every human being. How can you best advocate that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question, and it was a question that maybe five years ago would have been, you know, thought of as kind of touchy-feely, to be honest about it – (laughter) – and would not have been entertained seriously in a lot of the boardrooms and the decision-makers’ meetings and halls of legislatures.
But I think it is an issue that we have to be smart about addressing. You see, the threat of global climate change, the intimidation created as we’ve seen in Europe by control over energy supplies, the fear that globalization has not spread its benefits broadly and deeply enough, those are all opportunities for Americans, primarily in the private sector and also in our government, to start kind of solving these problems, and to do so with the same level of energy and ingenuity that we have brought to problems in the past.
We have such an opportunity here, and I’m hoping that, you know, some of the provisions that made their way through the difficult negotiations over the stimulus package will have the result of helping to jumpstart and support research. We’ve got to get back to supporting basic science in America. It’s one of our greatest advantages. And we have not been keeping up with our potential for leading the way in science, technology, and research. So I would hope that the answer to the question asked doesn’t, in any Americans’ minds, sort of create the image that somehow, we would have to give up our way of life. I mean, that seems to always end up being the debate, that, you know, this will be economically ruinous for us, this will cause us to fall behind, we’ll lose out in what the American dream should be, in a material sense.
And I just don’t buy that. I don’t believe that is the way forward. Now, do we have to change some of how we live? Yes. But, you know, changing to compact fluorescent bulbs is not the kind of sacrifice that is going to undermine the quality of our life. (Laughter.) You know, it —
MS. DESAI: You know, in Australia, now they already have made that as a law.
MS. DESAI: You know, so —
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. And so I think there’s – you know, you can go from the small steps that each of us can take, which, in the aggregate, would add up to significant changes, to the kind of governmental driven decisions that you’ll see more of in the Obama Administration. Our new Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is absolutely focused on how he can make the case that changes in our uses of energy, and in how we both create it and deliver it, would go a long way toward enabling us to live a better, more sustainable life. You know, even though the legislative changes that have been made in California over the last 35 years have resulted in a lower per capita usage of electricity than in the rest of the country – and I don’t think people in California feel like they’re deprived.
So part of what we have to do is have the leadership in both the public and the private sectors look to academia – you know, ask for good ideas – and then begin implementing them, and do so with courage and a pioneering spirit. You know, we are supposed to be the problem solvers. You know, that’s who we’re supposed to be. And it’s time, when we face these global challenges, we demonstrate that that’s who we continue to be. And I’m excited by it. I think, you know, our children and our children’s children will live very well if we make the right decisions now. And if we don’t, I don’t think we can look them in the eyes and make that claim, and I don’t want to live like that as an American. I think it’s far preferable that we step up to our responsibilities, and I know that’s what the President is trying to encourage us to do.
MS. DESAI: Well, it’s sort of – you talk about smart power in international relations. This is about smart energy use —
MS. DESAI: — domestically and —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, smart grids.
MS. DESAI: Exactly.
MS. DESAI: Right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You know, I mean, it’s not going to happen overnight. But the idea that we just continue putting off the future when we’re supposed to be the country of the future is so contrary to our nature. And it is, I think, causing some puzzlement around the world. But also, people are going to say, “Well, we’ll take advantage of those opportunities.”
You know, whether or not we have a modern battery industry is up to us. Whether or not we have a smart electric grid that will save energy and be able to decentralize energy production and usage is up to us. Whether or not we sort our way through our automobile crisis and end up with cars that are energy savers as – insofar as transportation permits is up to us. And you can go down the list. These are not somebody else’s responsibility, and I think we have to have a very significant government commitment, and that’s what we’re trying to do in the Obama Administration.
It’s still difficult to make the case. I mean, a lot of what was in the stimulus originally, which would have set the path for us, you know, was not left in because it was thought to be, you know, economically challenging, should be left to – completely to the private sector. Well, we forget we electrified the country because the government stepped in. You know, we have so many examples from our past where we went as far as we could with the private sector, but frankly, it wasn’t profitable to bring electricity to the northern reaches of New York and the Adirondacks or northern Arkansas. The interstate highway system – we built highways to places that were barely populated, which are now booming. I mean, we made decisions that drove our growth and they were government and business decisions, and I think we’ve got to get back to thinking about that and feeling like we’re all on the American team for the next decade so that we can reassert our position economically here at home and around the world.
MS. DESAI: On that note, we must bring this to an end. I just want to say that with our foreign policy in your hands, our heart is at ease.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you.
MS. DESAI: Please join me in thanking Secretary Clinton. (Applause.)
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