Posts Tagged ‘Richard Holbrooke’

When President Obama first asked Hillary Clinton to be secretary of state, she not only declined, she immediately suggested that Richard Holbrooke would be a much better choice.  Like Bill Clinton, who had to propose three times before she would accept marriage, Barack Obama had to ask several times before she accepted the cabinet position.  But she had conditions.  One was that at-risk regions required special attention and needed special advisers.  Holbrooke was brought into the administration as special adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Holbrooke died during Hillary’s tenure at DOS, and his son, David, has made a documentary about his father’s remarkable life and career called The Diplomat.  It premiered tonight on HBO and is excellent.  Both Bill and Hillary Clinton were interviewed extensively along with many who worked with Holbrooke.  I give it five stars. Don’t miss it!  It is a must see!

Read more about this award-winning documentary here at the website >>>>

One of the diplomatic tragedies of Bill Clinton’s administration depicted in this documentary occurred when Holbrooke was attempting to broker peace in the in the Balkans.  A vehicle carrying three members  of our negotiation team rolled off a very dangerous road on the way to Sarajevo.  It tumbled down a mountain, hit a land mine, caught fire, and killed the occupants.

Hillary was asked a question this week in Iowa about our ordinance left over in Laos.

A candidate who knows exactly what’s going on in Laos.

At a campaign stop in Iowa, Hillary got asked an unexpected foreign policy question about unexploded bombs in Laos—leftovers from the Vietnam War.

Hillary’s answer shows exactly what it would mean to have a former secretary of state in the Oval Office.

See the video and hear her response >>>>

The documentary emphasizes Holbrooke’s belief in the lessons of history.  We should remember these going forward.  There is much unfinished business from our engagement in Southeast Asia.  We may call it the Viet Nam War, but it was larger.  Incursions into Cambodia, which Richard Nixon announced saying it was “not an invasion,”and carpet-bombing in Laos are witness to the breadth of the conflict and damage left behind.  Hillary Clinton knows and respects the lessons of Viet Nam.

Read Full Post »

The chapter title is homage to Richard Holbrooke whose book by that title recounted his negotiations to end hostilities in the Balkans, also his objective in his oversight of the Af-Pak region.  Explaining that insurgencies rarely end with the surrender of a side but rather as a result of persistent diplomacy, Hillary states that from the start she insisted that the needs and concerns of Afghan women be taken into account, an issue she raised at the March 2009 Conference on Afghanistan.

Playing Catch-up With Mme. Secretary: The Hague Afghanistan Conference


A major objective in all diplomatic dealings on Afghanistan was the goal of peeling off the less ideological among the Taliban and winning them over to the mainstream government, a controversial policy that Hillary defends staunchly in this chapter.  Referring to statements she made at the London Conference on Afghanistan in January 2010,  she cites the conditions:  abandoning violence, breaking with Al Qaeda, and supporting the constitution. The process is referred to alternately as reconciliation and reintegration.  The links below provide Hillary’s words on this issue as well as on issues concerning the welfare of women and girls in Afghanistan.

Video & Text: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks on Yemen with UK FM Miliband & Yemeni FM Al-Qirbi

Hillary Clinton at Afghanistan – The London Conference 01-28-10

Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at Afghanistan: The London Conference 01-28-10 Video & Text

Hillary Clinton, Busy in London

Reconciliation of non-ideological insurgents remained a strong item on the agenda when she and Robert Gates attended the NATO Summit in Brussels in October 2010.

Secretaries Clinton and Gates in Brussels

Richard Holbrooke reasoned that if Afghanistan and Pakistan could forge relations beneficial to both,  cooperation in battling terrorist activities could be strengthened.  Thus came about a trade agreement signed by both countries in Islamabad in July 2010 which was the inception of “The New Silk Road.”

Hillary Clinton: More Pics from Pakistan

Hillary refers to a roundtable with TV journalists during this trip wherein she explained the necessity for Afghan-Pakistani relations to be strengthened as well as the reconciliation agenda.  It was testy, yet she remained resiliently cheerful and optimistic in her signature way (another reason we love her).

Hillary Clinton’s Roundtable in Pakistan with TV Journalists

Video: Hillary Clinton With Six Pakistani Interviewers At One Time – Holds Her Own! AWESOME!

She mentions that this policy was reinforced at the Lisbon NATO Conference.  She did not speak there.  She attended with President Obama who did the speaking that time around (but there are some amusing photos in the link below).

Hillary Clinton at NATO Lisbon: Saturday Wrap and Slideshow


Early the next month, with the holiday season gearing up,  Richard Holbrooke became ill during a meeting with her at the State Department.  She recounts the painful hours from the time he went to the infirmary in the building through his death at George Washington University Hospital.  It was a devastating blow to her, to the department, to his colleagues, and to people the world over with whom Holbrooke had worked.

Update on Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

Update on Ambassador Richard Holbrooke

Ambassador Holbrooke Has Passed Away

December 13, 2010 by still4hill

The day he died, there was a holiday party at the State Department.  Holbrooke’s widow, Kati Marton, attended.  Here are Hillary’s remarks.

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at Holiday Reception for the Chiefs of Diplomatic Missions to the United States

Secretary Clinton’s Statement on the Passing of Richard Holbrooke

Although she did not, in the book,  include specific references to these next two addresses,  I am including them here as part of the record of the Afghanistan and Af-Pak policy status at that time.

Video – Secretary Clinton’s Remarks: Review of the War in Afghanistan

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Briefing on Afghanistan and Pakistan

The memorial for Richard Holbrooke was held in mid-January 2011.  At the memorial, his friends remembered his great humor and huge personality.

Slideshow: Secretary Clinton at the Holbrooke Inaugural Lecture and the Memorial Service

Video: Secretary Clinton’s Remarks at the Holbrooke Memorial

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

A negotiating office where the U.S. could talk with Taliban representatives opened and quickly closed in Yemen where the Taliban made it appear too official for Karzai’s liking. By the December 2011 conference  in Bonn,  things had turned.  Pakistan did not show up, and Karzai began to distrust U.S.-Taliban negotiations.  The Taliban, in turn,  pulled out distrusting Karzai.

Secretary Clinton’s Remarks in Bonn on Afghanistan

Her last official meeting with Karzai as secretary of state was in January 2013 shortly after she returned to D.C.  following  her illness and concussion.  (Not to be nitpicky, but she worked from home and even from the hospital while she was ill, so I did not want to say she returned “to work,”  She had been working all along.)   She hosted Karzai at a private dinner in the James Monroe Room and states that she appealed to his sense of his own legacy at this meeting.

Hillary Clinton with Hamid Karzai

She ends the chapter with a quote from Holbrooke: “The only way to start ending a war is to begin talking.”



Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>





Read Full Post »

When I posted this in November 2009 at the tail end of Hillary’s busy tour of Asia that month,  everyone was surprised.  Security was so high that the visit was not announced until she was safely on the ground.

Breaking News…Hillary Wheels Down in Afghanistan

There was this 4-column spread photo on the front page of the New York Times.


In chapter 7 Hillary refers to a day at the White House that month when there were three important meetings the last of which, in the Situation Room,  yielded our military roadmap out of Afghanistan.

Sometimes during her State Department tenure, the public schedule would state that she had “No Public Appointments.”  Often I would clarify here that those words did not indicate that she was not working.  They meant that her work that day was not for publication.  She places these meetings three days before Thanksgiving, 2009. That puts it here, and we knew something big was up.

The Busy Monday Continues

We learn some of what went into her thinking as these deliberations proceeded.  Hillary is a Methodist, and very methodical, but she goes through something of a Catholic examination of conscience in this chapter seeking to discover what has worked and what lessons might be found in past miscalculations.

She revisits her past trips to Afghanistan as well as her Iraq War vote and the rationale behind that.  She flat out calls that vote a mistake.  I still think she provided very rigid parameters for the president in her remarks before casting that vote, but this is her call, not mine.  Here are those remarks,  and I believe she explained her position very clearly and did not provide the president an open playing field.

Time to Revisit Hillary Clinton’s Iraq War Vote

We also hear who the players in the Situation Room were and their positions and roles in the deliberations.  No one will be surprised that a great deal of the action centers around Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.  Once a surge had been agreed upon it was, according to her account, their calculation of the ‘Goldilocks’ number of troops necessary on which the effectiveness of the surge would rest.

As in real life, Richard Holbrooke looms large in this chapter and has enormous impact on policy in the Af-Pak region he accepted to oversee.  It is not only Hillary in Hard Choices who speaks of hostility from the White House staff toward Holbrooke.  Vali Nasr, a member of Holbrooke’s team, and now Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies recounts White House offensives against Holbrooke in his 2013 book, The Dispensable Nation.  Hillary’s account is briefer with less detail, but it does lead to attempts by his adversaries to have Holbrooke fired.  Hillary defends him, and President Obama accepts the defense.


Also looming large in this chapter, of course, is Hamid Karzai with whom Hillary met on many occasions.   One of these that she singles out as particularly productive occurred during his May 2010 visit to the U.S.

At Dumbarton Oaks: Hillary Clinton & Hamid Karzai

All of this is background to her visit to Afghanistan in November 2009 where she smashed on the tarmac, with all the style, grace, and panache of Helen Mirren smashing on a red carpet,  and attended Karzai’s inauguration.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The truth is that in the book she does not even talk about most of the following events..  She was there for the inauguration.  There simply was no way that I could look back on that visit without including these events and photos.

Photos of the Day: Secretary Clinton in Afghanistan

Secretary Clinton’s Press Conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul

Secretary Clinton’s Address to U.S. and International Troops in Afghanistan

Photo Gallery: Hillary with Our Troops in Afghanistan

This is the real Hillary!

Hillary at the Embassy and Foreign Ministry in Kabul

 The upshot of all of this was, of course, the Afghanistan surge.  She closes the chapter with a summary of Afghanistan’s progress since 2010 on crucial issues, a hat tip to much-maligned General Eric Shinseki for his (rejected) 2003 recommendations to the Bush administration, and her account of the trip from the White House to West Point where President Obama unrolled the blueprint for departure from Afghanistan before an auditorium packed with cadets who soon would inherit the fight.

Afghanistan Speech: Photos and Text

Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>




Read Full Post »

Hillary honored two men who were very special to her, Richard Holbrooke and Tom Lantos, flew to South Africa with the Obamas and Bushes to pay final respects to Nelson Mandela, and tweeted birthday wishes to John Kerry.

As the year was closing, Barbara Walters named Hillary the most fascinating person of 2013 and of the 20 years she had been doing her Most Fascinating People show.  We are all pretty confident that Hillary will continue to fascinate even though Barbara is retiring and will no longer be doing the show.

12/03/13 New York NY

Museum of Natural History

Women for Women Internationsl20TH Anniversary Gala Celebration2013 Chamption of Peace Award


New York NY

Best Buy Theater Times Square

Global Impact Award Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation


New York NY

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Inauguration of the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum


Washington DC

Lantos Foundation Human Rights Prize


Johannesburg SA

FNB Stadium

Memorial for Nelson Mandela


Archives for December 2013 may be accessed here.

Happy New Year to all.  Best wishes for health and happiness in 2014 to Hillary,  her family,  and all who visit here!

Read Full Post »

In June 2009, Hillary Clinton, rushing to a meeting at the White House with Richard Holbrooke, slipped on the wet, oily floor of the State Department garage and fractured her elbow.  Concerned, Holbrooke wanted to stay with her, but she told him to proceed to the White House meeting without her.  “That’s an order,”  she said.

She was brought to the hospital where surgery was performed.  Pins and a rod were inserted,  and she worked from home for a few days.  When she returned to the office we saw glimpses of her wearing what we called the “Sling of State.”  On June 29 she returned to the press room for the first time since the accident.

Her first official appearance and first official act upon her return was, on July 1, 2009, the swearing in of Daniel Rooney as Ambassador to Ireland.

Three-and-a-half years down the road, at the conclusion of her final trip as Secretary of State,  Hillary fell ill  – her last stops were Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Here she is with Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny who was in New York for the parade today.


Here she is  with First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Martin McGuinness.


Following  this trip, she was scheduled to visit Morocco and the Middle East, but her illness and resultant fall and concussion cancelled those plans.  She spent the rest of December 2012 recovering.   She returned to D.C. on January 7, 2013 to a huge welcome and was presented with the “Helment of State” to protect her delicate head.


Her first official public event upon her return this time was to thank retiring Ambassador to Ireland, Dan Rooney and his wife Patricia for their service.  She awarded them the flag that had flown over Embassy Dublin during his tenure and the Chief of Mission flag.  Here is  an excerpt of what she said.

So you and Patricia have done a fabulous job and I am so pleased to have this chance formally to present you two flags – the Chief of Mission flag, and the flag of the United States, as a small token of your very successful tenure in Ireland.

There you go. (Applause.) And Patricia, this one’s for you. You also served.

01-09-13-Z-06 01-09-13-Z-05 01-09-13-Z-04 01-09-13-Z-03 01-09-13-Z-02 01-09-13-Z-01 01-09-13-Z-07

The love affair between Bill and Hillary Clinton and Ireland did not begin with her service at the State Department and is certain not to end there.  They are both loved on the Emerald Isle.  Both of them are sure to return many times over.

We wish them and all of our readers a Happy and Blessed St. Patrick’s Day.  Our Irish eyes are smiling for all the good they have done.  We wish Ambassador and Mrs. Rooney and their considerable family the same.

Read Full Post »

With Hillary Clinton out of public office a mere month,  her absence has not silenced media voices hungry for Hillary news.  As reported here recently,  and no news to anybody  – probably including inhabitants of the space station –  2016 fever hit early and has remained a news item.

Earlier this month, the news broke that Hillary had signed on as a speaker with the Harry Walker Agency,  where she appears in all her glory beside her handsome spouse.   Reactions to her $200,000 per appearance fee fueled internet headers galore.

We knew early on,  from the time Hillary made it clear that one four-year term as SOS would be her limit, that writing was in her future, and as her term drew to a close a book was clearly in the offing.  Lightheartedly,   Washington Post held a contest inviting readers to provide Hillary with appropriate titles.   More serious speculation surrounded the amount she would be offered as an advance.

Hillary Clinton Book Deal Speculation: How Much Will the Advance Be?

Thursday, 28 Feb 2013 01:51 PM

By Dale Eisinger

When Hillary Clinton signed her second book deal in 2000 for “Living History,” she got an $8 million advance from Simon & Schuster. When she recently announced she would be writing a third memoir, speculation began flying about how large that advance will be.

At the time of “Living History,” the New York Times speculated it was the second-largest advance in history, edged out by $8.5 million to Pope John Paul II in 1994 for his memoir.

“Yes, I will write a memoir,” Clinton told her audience in an online town hall interview. “I don’t know what I’ll say in it yet.”

While her loyalists and fans hope she will top the advance offered Lena Dunham – a cool $3.5 million (despite the many times she counted to eight and multiples of eight last night, even as Judy Collins crooned “Someday Soon’),  the money is not the issue.

Hillary has worked long and hard,  and if organizations want to pay her more for one speech than she was paid per year as SOS, fine!  For as hard as she worked, she deserves it.  If a publisher wants to give her a big advance, great.  Any book by her will pull in far more.   The real question is what she will say in it, and that may well depend on a date of release.

If two articles from today are any indication, her book could be a bombshell exposing insular and naïve foreign policy processes with a decidedly political agenda.  At Foreign Policy today, Vali Nasr,  handpicked by Richard Holbrooke as an advisor to Holbrooke’s  office of Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) and plucked from a tenured position at Tufts to occupy the first floor domain Holbrooke carved out for himself at Foggy Bottom,  portrays a White House with access to the best of expertise, specialists, and resources,  stubbornly resistant to policy wisdom while habitually turning to political cronies installed in the White House who consistently worried about how actions would play out in the polls and on the evening news.  It is a good read, and in fact, worth bookmarking for future reference. Here is a snip.

The Inside Story of How the White House Let Diplomacy Fail in Afghanistan

“My time in the Obama administration turned out to be a deeply disillusioning experience.”


… Holbrooke knew that Afghanistan was not going to be easy. There were too many players and too many unknowns, and Obama had not given him enough authority (and would give him almost no support) to get the job done. After he took office, the president never met with Holbrooke outside large meetings and never gave him time and heard him out. The president’s White House advisors were dead set against Holbrooke. Some, like Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, were holdovers from George W. Bush’s administration and thought they knew Afghanistan better and did not want to relinquish control to Holbrooke. Others (those closest to the president) wanted to settle scores for Holbrooke’s tenacious campaign support of Clinton (who was herself eyed with suspicion by the Obama insiders); still others begrudged Holbrooke’s storied past and wanted to end his run of success then and there. At times it appeared the White House was more interested in bringing Holbrooke down than getting the policy right.

We can speculate that this piece is part of a larger opus that might emerge later.  Certainly a nod to a large opus foreshadowed by this in-depth interview,  is this article from a different point of view but alluding to similar White House practices in forming foreign policy.

Hillary Clinton Book Reveals The Inside Story Of How Administration Mangled Mideast Peace Initiative

By | March 04 2013 2:14 PM

Like so many of his predecessors, the new American president made a key mistake in his bid to achieve Mideast peace.

Flush with confidence from his historic election victory and eager to capitalize on his mandate, Barack Obama sought to bring Israeli and Palestinian leaders to the negotiating table as one of his first steps soon after taking office in 2009. But the new president was frustrated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline attitude — so his top aides advised him to take a tough approach, and pressure “Bibi” to freeze settlements in the West Bank in order to encourage Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to negotiate directly with the Israelis.

Then-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who had served in Israel’s armed forces, “advised Obama to be tough on Netanyahu and show him, immediately, who the superpower was …  and he actively pushed for the freeze to top the agenda,” writes BBC correspondent Kim Ghattas in her new book, “The Secretary: A Journey With Hillary Clinton From Beirut to the Heart of American Power.”

Read more  >>>>

The Ghattas book comes from the perspective of a seasoned journalist specializing in foreign policy.  Kim Ghattas was on Hillary Clinton’s Big Blue Plane from her earliest through her final stops as Secretary of State, and her story, if this short insight from Baram is an indication,  appears to parallel what Nasr relates.

Is this the story Hillary Clinton will tell?  Will she, having stepped back from the administration’s shadow tell the story of the battles within the Sit Room?  Or will she relate background to her many on-the-ground encounters with officials, civil leaders, women’s groups, students, and marketplace entrepreneurs?   Some of that depends on the release date.  If  it arrives close to or after 2016, it can tell the inside story.  If it comes earlier, it is likelier to focus on her own agendas with folks she encountered and why those agendas are important.

It is hard to imagine Hillary Clinton writing a tell-all.  It can be perceived as treacherous, and Hillary is loyal to a fault.  It is unlikely, then that we will hear from her of the struggles between her experts at DOS and the political wall at the White House, but no matter.  Apparently there are witnesses out there more than capable of writing that book.

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Secretary Clinton: November 2011 » Keynote Address at the National Democratic Institute’s 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner

Keynote Address at the National Democratic Institute’s 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium
Washington, DC
November 7, 2011


Thank you. Well, it’s a great pleasure for me to be here this evening. And I thank my friend and my predecessor, Madeleine Albright, for not only that kind introduction, but for her extraordinary leadership, and in particular of NDI. Thanks also to Shari Bryan and Ken Wollack for inviting me here today. And I want to begin by wishing an Eid Mubarak to Muslims here tonight and around the world.

I think it’s important to recognize that back when the streets of Arab cities were quiet, the National Democratic Institute was already on the ground, building relationships, supporting the voices that would turn a long Arab winter into a new Arab Spring. Now, we may not know where and when brave people will claim their rights next, but it’s a safe bet that NDI is there now, because freedom knows no better champion. More than a quarter-century old, NDI and its siblings in the National Endowment for Democracy family have become vital elements of America’s engagement with the world.

And tonight I want particularly to congratulate the winners of NDI’s 2011 Madeleine Albright Award, the women of Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development. Women risked everything to demand their rights for the Egyptian people, and they deserve those rights extended to them. And so we’re grateful for their work, and we hope to see the rights that they’ve fought for and advocated for enshrined in Egypt’s new constitution, and we’re proud to support efforts like these through our Middle East Partnership Initiative. (Applause.)

Now, tonight it’s also a singular, special honor for me to join with you in remembering three friends of NDI, three people I was lucky enough to call my friends as well: Geraldine Ferraro, a trailblazing pioneer, who lived to the fullest her conviction that women belong at the heart of democracy; Chuck Manatt, a passionate chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who understood that some things are too important to belong to any one party, and with his counterpart at the RNC, Frank Fahrenkopf, put together a bipartisan coalition to found the National Endowment for Democracy; and of course the indomitable, unforgettable Richard Holbrooke. Now, Richard has many reasons why those of us here tonight applaud and remember him. He died just four days before the desperate act of a Tunisian fruit vendor set the Arab uprisings in motion. And I often wonder what Richard would have made of all that has happened since. I’m sure he would have had a lot to say and even more that he wanted to do to promote the principles that we all cherish. And so these three individuals are very worthy of the awards that you have granted them this evening.

And what a year 2011 has been for freedom in the Middle East and North Africa. We have seen what may well have been the first Arab revolution for democracy, then the second, then the third. And in Yemen, people are demanding a transition to democracy that they deserve to see delivered. And Syrians are refusing to relent until they, too, can decide their own future.

Throughout the Arab world this year, people have given each other courage. Old fears have melted away and men and women have begun making their demands in broad daylight. They have given many of our diplomats courage, too, and I want to single out someone who is here with us tonight. When our Ambassador to Syria was mobbed, assaulted, and threatened, just for meeting with peaceful protestors, he put his personal safety on the line to let the Syrian people know that America stands with them. And he said he was inspired by their bravery. And as he drove into Hama, a city under assault by Asad’s regime, the people of that city covered his car with flowers. Please join me in giving our own warm welcome to Ambassador Robert Ford and his wife and fellow Foreign Service Officer, Alison Barkley. (Applause.) Thanks to you, Robert, and to you, Alison, for your dedicated service to our country.

Now, in Tunis, Cairo, and a newly free Tripoli, I have met people lifted by a sense that their futures actually do belong to them. In my travels across the region, I have heard joy, purpose, and newfound pride.

But I’ve also heard questions. I’ve heard skepticism about American motives and commitments, people wondering if, after decades of working with the governments of the region, America doesn’t—in our heart of hearts—actually long for the old days. I’ve heard from activists who think we aren’t pushing hard enough for democratic change, and I’ve heard from government officials who think we’re pushing too hard. I’ve heard from people asking why our policies vary from country to country, and what would happen if elections bring to power parties we don’t agree with or people who just don’t like us very much. I’ve heard people asking America to solve all their problems and others wondering whether we have any role to play at all. And beneath our excitement for the millions who are claiming the rights and freedoms we cherish, many Americans are asking the same questions.

Tonight, I want to ask and answer a few of these tough questions. It’s a fitting tribute to people like Gerry Ferraro and Richard Holbrooke and Chuck Manatt. They liked to pose difficult questions and then push us to answer them. And in Richard’s case, that meant even following me into a ladies’ room in Pakistan one time. (Laughter.) As we live this history day by day, we approach these questions with a large dose of humility, because many of the choices ahead are, honestly, not ours to make. Still, it’s worth stepping back and doing our best to speak directly to what is on people’s minds.

So let me start with one question I hear often: Do we really believe that democratic change in the Middle East and North Africa is in America’s interest? That is a totally fair question. After all, transitions are filled with uncertainty. They can be chaotic, unstable, even violent. And, even if they succeed, they are rarely linear, quick, or easy.

As we saw in the Balkans and again in Iraq, rivalries between members of different religions, sects, and tribes can resurface and explode. Toppling tyrants does not guarantee that democracy will follow, or that it will last. Just ask the Iranians who overthrew a dictator 32 years ago only to have their revolution hijacked by the extremists who have oppressed them ever since. And even where democracy does takes hold, it is a safe bet that some of those elected will not embrace us or agree with our policies.

And yet, as President Obama said at the State Department in May, “It will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region and to support transitions to democracy.” We believe that real democratic change in the Middle East and North Africa is in the national interest of the United States. And here’s why.

We begin by rejecting the false choice between progress and stability. For years, dictators told their people they had to accept the autocrats they knew to avoid the extremists they feared. And too often, we accepted that narrative ourselves. Now, America did push for reform, but often not hard enough or publicly enough. And today, we recognize that the real choice is between reform and unrest.

Last January, I told Arab leaders that the region’s foundations were sinking into the sand. Even if we didn’t know exactly how or when the breaking point would come, it was clear that the status quo was unsustainable because of changes in demography and technology, high unemployment, endemic corruption and a lack of human rights and fundamental freedoms. After a year of revolutions broadcast on Al Jazeera into homes from Rabat to Riyadh, going back to the way things were in December 2010 isn’t just undesirable. It’s impossible.

The truth is that the greatest single source of instability in today’s Middle East is not the demand for change. It is the refusal to change. That is certainly true in Syria, where a crackdown on small, peaceful protests drove thousands into the streets and thousands more over the borders. It is true in Yemen, where President Saleh has reneged repeatedly on his promises to transition to democracy and suppressed his people’s rights and freedoms. And it is true in Egypt. If—over time—the most powerful political force in Egypt remains a roomful of unelected officials, they will have planted the seeds for future unrest, and Egyptians will have missed a historic opportunity.

And so will we, because democracies make for stronger and stabler partners. They trade more, innovate more, and fight less. They help divided societies to air and hopefully resolve their differences. They hold inept leaders accountable at the polls. They channel people’s energies away from extremism and toward political and civic engagement. Now, democracies do not always agree with us, and in the Middle East and North Africa they may disagree strongly with some of our policies. But at the end of the day, it is no coincidence that our closest allies—from Britain to South Korea—are democracies.

Now, we do work with many different governments to pursue our interests and to keep Americans safe—and certainly not all of them are democracies. But as the fall of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt made clear, the enduring cooperation we seek will be difficult to sustain without democratic legitimacy and public consent. We cannot have one set of policies to advance security in the here-and-now and another to promote democracy in a long run that never quite arrives.

So for all these reasons, as I said back in March, opening political systems, societies, and economies is not simply a matter of idealism. It is a strategic necessity. But we are not simply acting in our self-interest. Americans believe that the desire for dignity and self-determination is universal—and we do try to act on that belief around the world. Americans have fought and died for these ideals. And when freedom gains ground anywhere, Americans are inspired.

So the risks posed by transitions will not keep us from pursuing positive change. But they do raise the stakes for getting it right. Free, fair, and meaningful elections are essential—but they are not enough if they bring new autocrats to power or disenfranchise minorities. And any democracy that does not include half its population—its women—is a contradiction in terms. Durable democracies depend on strong civil societies, respect for the rule of law, independent institutions, free expression, and a free press. Legitimate political parties cannot have a militia wing and a political wing. Parties have to accept the results of free and fair elections. And this is not just in the Middle East. In Liberia, the leading opposition party is making unsubstantiated charges of fraud and refusing to accept first round voting in which it came in second. And this is already having harmful consequences on the ground. We urge all parties in Liberia to accept the will of the people in the next round of voting tomorrow. That is what democracy anywhere requires.

And that brings me to my second question. Why does America promote democracy one way in some countries and another way in others? Well, the answer starts with a very practical point: situations vary dramatically from country to country. It would be foolish to take a one-size-fits-all approach and barrel forward regardless of circumstances on the ground. Sometimes, as in Libya, we can bring dozens of countries together to protect civilians and help people liberate their country without a single American life lost. In other cases, to achieve that same goal, we would have to act alone, at a much greater cost, with far greater risks, and perhaps even with troops on the ground.

But that’s just part of the answer. Our choices also reflect other interests in the region with a real impact on Americans’ lives—including our fight against al-Qaida, defense of our allies, and a secure supply of energy. Over time, a more democratic Middle East and North Africa can provide a more sustainable basis for addressing all three of those challenges. But there will be times when not all of our interests align. We work to align them, but that is just reality.

As a country with many complex interests, we’ll always have to walk and chew gum at the same time. That is our challenge in a country like Bahrain, which has been America’s close friend and partner for decades. And yet, President Obama and I have been frank, in public and in private, that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens and will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. Meaningful reform and equal treatment for all Bahrainis are in Bahrain’s interest, in the region’s interest, and in ours—while endless unrest benefits Iran and extremists. The government has recognized the need for dialogue, reconciliation, and concrete reforms. And they have committed to provide access to human rights groups, to allow peaceful protest, and to ensure that those who cross lines in responding to civil unrest are held accountable. King Hamad called for an independent commission of inquiry, which will issue its report soon. And we do intend to hold the Bahraini Government to these commitments and to encourage the opposition to respond constructively to secure lasting reform.

We also have candid conversations with others in the neighborhood, like Saudi Arabia—a country that is key to stability and peace – about our view that democratic advancement is not just possible but a necessary part of preparing for the future.

Fundamentally, there is a right side of history. And we want to be on it. And—without exception—we want our partners in the region to reform so that they are on it as well. Now, we don’t expect countries to do this overnight, but without reforms, we are convinced their challenges will only grow. So it is in their interest to begin now.

These questions about our interests and consistency merge in a third difficult question: How will America respond if and when democracy brings to power people and parties we disagree with?

We hear these questions most often when it comes to Islamist religious parties. Now, of course, I hasten to add that not all Islamists are alike. Turkey and Iran are both governed by parties with religious roots, but their models and behavior are radically different. There are plenty of political parties with religious affiliations—Hindu, Christian, Jewish, Muslim—that respect the rules of democratic politics. The suggestion that faithful Muslims cannot thrive in a democracy is insulting, dangerous, and wrong. They do it in this country every day.

Now, reasonable people can disagree on a lot, but there are things that all parties, religious and secular, must get right—not just for us to trust them, but most importantly for the people of the region and of the countries themselves to trust them to protect their hard-won rights.

Parties committed to democracy must reject violence; they must abide by the rule of law and respect the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and assembly; they must respect the rights of women and minorities; they must let go of power if defeated at the polls; and in a region with deep divisions within and between religions, they cannot be the spark that starts a conflagration. In other words, what parties call themselves is less important to us than what they actually do. We applaud NDI for its work to arrive at a model code of conduct for political parties across the political spectrum and around the globe. We need to reinforce these norms and to hold people accountable for following them.

In Tunisia, an Islamist party has just won a plurality of the votes in an open, competitive election. Its leaders have promised to embrace freedom of religion and full rights for women. To write a constitution and govern, they will have to persuade secular parties to work with them. And as they do, America will work with them, too, because we share the desire to see a Tunisian democracy emerge that delivers for its citizens and because America respects the right of the Tunisian people to choose their own leaders.

And so we move forward with clear convictions. Parties and candidates must respect the rules of democracy, to take part in elections, and hold elective office. And no one has the right to use the trappings of democracy to deny the rights and security of others. People throughout the region worry about this prospect, and so do we. Nobody wants another Iran. Nobody wants to see political parties with military wings and militant foreign policies gain influence. When members of any group seek to oppress their fellow citizens or undermine core democratic principles, we will stand on the side of the people who push back to defend their democracy.

And that brings me to my next question: What is America’s role in the Arab Spring? These revolutions are not ours. They are not by us, for us, or against us, but we do have a role. We have the resources, capabilities, and expertise to support those who seek peaceful, meaningful, democratic reform. And with so much that can go wrong, and so much that can go right, support for emerging Arab democracies is an investment we cannot afford not to make.

Now, of course, we have to be smart in how we go about it. For example, as tens of millions of young people enter the job market each year, we recognize that the Arab political awakening must also deliver an economic awakening. And we are working to help societies create jobs to ensure that it does. We are promoting trade, investment, regional integration, entrepreneurship, and economic reforms. We are helping societies fight corruption and replace the old politics of patronage with a new focus on economic empowerment and opportunity. And we are working with Congress on debt relief for Egypt and loan guarantees for Tunisia so that these countries can invest in their own futures.

We also have real expertise to offer as a democracy, including the wisdom that NDI has gleaned from decades of working around the globe to support democratic transitions. Democracies, after all, aren’t born knowing how to run themselves. In a country like Libya, Qadhafi spent 42 years hollowing out every part of his government not connected to oil or to keeping him in power. Under the Libyan penal code, simply joining an NGO could be punishable by death. When I traveled last month to Libya, the students I met at Tripoli University had all sorts of practical, even technical, questions: How do you form a political party? How do you ensure women’s participation in government institutions? What recommendations do you have for citizens in a democracy?

These are questions NDI and its kindred organizations, many of whom are represented here tonight, are uniquely qualified to help new democracies answer. NDI has earned a lot of praise for this work, but also a lot of pushback that stretches far beyond the Arab world. In part, this resistance comes from misconceptions about what our support for democracy does and does not include.

The United States does not fund political candidates or political parties. We do offer training to parties and candidates committed to democracy. We do not try to shift outcomes or impose an American model. We do support election commissions, as well as nongovernmental election monitors, to ensure free and fair balloting. We help watchdog groups learn their trade. We help groups find the tools to exercise their rights to free expression and assembly, online and off. And of course we support civil society, the lifeblood of democratic politics.

But in part, the pushback comes from autocrats around the world wondering if the next Tahrir Square will be their capital square, and some are cracking down when they should be opening up. Groups like NDI are no strangers to pressure, and neither are the brave local groups you partner with. And I want you to know that as the pressure on you increases, our support will not waver.

And I want to offer a special word of thanks for NDI’s efforts to empower women across the Middle East and beyond. Just last week, the World Economic Forum released a report on the remarkable benefits countries see when they bridge the social, economic, and political gap separating women from men, and helping them get there is a priority for the State Department and for me personally. Graduates of NDI training programs designed to help women run for office now sit in local councils and parliaments from Morocco to Kuwait.

But we all know a great deal of work lies ahead to help all people, women and men, find justice and opportunity as full participants in new democratic societies. Along with our economic and technical help, America will also use our presence, influence, and global leadership to support change. And later this week, I am issuing new policy guidance to our embassies across the region to structure our efforts.

In Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, we are working to help citizens safeguard the principles of democracy. That means supporting the forces of reconciliation rather than retribution. It means defending freedom of expression when bloggers are arrested for criticizing public officials. It means standing up for tolerance when state-run television fans sectarian tensions. And it means that when unelected authorities say they want to be out of the business of governing, we will look to them to lay out a clear roadmap and urge them to abide by it.

Where countries are making gradual reforms, we have frank conversations and urge them to move faster. It’s good to hold multi-party elections and allow women to take part. It’s better when those elections are meaningful and parliaments have real powers to improve people’s lives. Change needs to be tangible and real. When autocrats tell us the transition to democracy will take time, we answer, “Well, then let’s get started.”

And those leaders trying to hold back the future at the point of a gun should know their days are numbered. As Syrians gather to celebrate a sacred holiday, their government continues to shoot people in the streets. In the week since Bashar al-Asad said he accepted the terms of an Arab League peace plan to protect Syrian civilians, he has systematically violated each of its basic requirements. He has not released all detainees. He has not allowed free and unfettered access to journalists or Arab League monitors. He has not withdrawn all armed forces from populated areas. And he has certainly not stopped all acts of violence. In fact, the regime has increased violence against civilians in places like the city of Homs. Now, Asad may be able to delay change. But he cannot deny his people’s legitimate demands indefinitely. He must step down; and until he does, America and the international community will continue to increase pressure on him and his brutal regime.

And for all of Iran’s bluster, there is no country in the Middle East where the gulf between rulers and ruled is greater. When Iran claims to support democracy abroad, then kills peaceful protestors in the streets of Tehran, its hypocrisy is breathtaking and plain to the people of the region.

And there is one last question that I’m asked, in one form or another, all the time: What about the rights and aspirations of the Palestinians? Israelis and Palestinians are not immune to the profound changes sweeping the region. And make no mistake, President Obama and I believe that the Palestinian people—just like their Arab neighbors, just like Israelis, just like us—deserve dignity, liberty, and the right to decide their own future. They deserve an independent, democratic Palestinian state of their own, alongside a secure Jewish democracy next door. And we know from decades in the diplomatic trenches that the only way to get there is through a negotiated peace—a peace we work every day to achieve, despite all the setbacks.

Of course, we understand that Israel faces risks in a changing region—just as it did before the Arab Spring began. And it will remain an American priority to ensure that all parties honor the peace treaties they have signed and commitments they have made. And we will always help Israel defend itself. We will address threats to regional peace whether they come from dictatorships or democracies. But it would be shortsighted to think either side can simply put peacemaking on hold until the current upheaval is done. The truth is, the stalemate in the Arab-Israeli conflict is one more status quo in the Middle East that cannot be sustained.

This brings me to my last and perhaps most important point of all. For all the hard questions I’ve asked and tried to answer on behalf of the United States, the most consequential questions of all are those the people and leaders of the region will have to answer for themselves. Because ultimately, it is up to them. It is up to them to resist the calls of demagogues, to build coalitions, to keep faith in the system even when they lose at the polls, and to protect the principles and institutions that ultimately will protect them. Every democracy has to guard against those who would hijack its freedoms for ignoble ends. Our founders and every generation since have fought to prevent that from happening here. The founding fathers and mothers of Arab revolutions must do the same. No one bears a greater responsibility for what happens next.

When Deputy Secretary Bill Burns addressed the National Endowment for Democracy over the summer, he recounted the story of an Egyptian teenager who told her father a few years back that she wanted to spend her life bringing democracy to Egypt. “Good,” her father said, “because then you will always have a job.” (Laughter.)

Now, we should never fall prey to the belief that human beings anywhere are not ready for freedom. In the 1970s, people said Latin America and East Asia were not ready. Well, the 1980s began proving them wrong. In the 1980s, it was African soil where democracy supposedly couldn’t grow. And the 1990s started proving them wrong. And until this year, some people said Arabs don’t really want democracy. Well, starting in 2011, that too is being proved wrong. And funnily enough, it proved that Egyptian father right, because we all still have a job to do.

So we have to keep at it. We have to keep asking the tough questions. We have to be honest with ourselves and with each other about the answers we offer. And we cannot waver in our commitment to help the people of the Middle East and North Africa realize their own God-given potentials and the dreams they risked so much to make real.

And on this journey that they have begun, the United States will be their partner. And of the many tools at our disposal – the National Endowment and NDI and all of the family of organizations that were created three decades ago to help people make this journey successfully – will be right there.

I heard Madeleine say when she introduced me that I defend NDI. Well, I do. And I also defend IRI. I defend those organizations that we have created, that the American taxpayers pay for, who try to do what needs to be done to translate the rhetoric and the calls for democracy into the reality, step by step. And we have to be reminded from time to time that it truly is – or at least can seem to be – a foreign language. Like some of you, I’ve met with the young people who started these revolutions. And they are still passionate, but perhaps not clear about what it takes to translate that passion into reality within a political system.

So there are going to be a lot of bumps along this road. But far better that we travel this path, that we do what we can to make sure that our ideals and values, our belief and experience with democracy, are shared widely and well. It’s an exciting time. It’s an uncertain time. But it’s a good time for the United States of America to be standing for freedom and democracy. And I thank you all for making that journey possible. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

Read Full Post »

Secretary Clinton To Deliver Keynote Address at the National Democratic Institute’s 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 4, 2011

On November 7, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver the keynote address at the National Democratic Institute’s (NDI’s) 2011 Democracy Awards Dinner. The event will be held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, located at 1301 Constitution Ave. Secretary Clinton will be joined by NDI Chairperson and event host former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright.

The Institute will posthumously honor Geraldine Ferraro, Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke and Charles Manatt with the W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award. NDI will also present its Madeleine K. Albright Grant to Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development (ACT), a women’s rights organization in Egypt.

Preceding the dinner, NDI will sponsor a roundtable on the Arab Spring. Panelists from Bahrain, Libya, Egypt and Syria will join former Secretary of State Albright in a discussion that will be moderated by Walter Isaacson, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute and author of Steve Jobs, a new biography. The discussion will be held from 5:00pm-6:15pm at the nearby Pavilion Room at the International Trade Center in the Ronald Reagan Building.

More information about the dinner is available at www.ndi.org.

Secretary Clinton to Deliver Remarks on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic on November 8

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 4, 2011

On November 8, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will deliver remarks on the future of the global HIV/AIDS epidemic at approximately 11:00 a.m. at the National Institutes of Health.

The Secretary will outline a vision for turning the tide on HIV/AIDS, drawing on the 30 years of U.S. leadership in the fight against HIV/AIDS and recent scientific advances.

Secretary Clinton’s remarks will streamed live on www.state.gov.

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remarks at Memorial Service for Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
American Academy
Berlin, Germany
April 15, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON:Well, I apologize for speaking out of turn, but I have one more stop to go that makes it necessary for me to do so, and I would not have missed this for the world. So I am delighted to have had the opportunity to hear everyone else, and I regret that I won’t hear the remaining speakers.

But I want to start by thanking Gary Smith for the work you’ve done to realize the vision that the Academy represents and what Richard certainly hoped for. Gahl, thank you, for the instrumental role you played. And, of course, Kati, it would not even have the meaning it does without the partnership and support that you gave Richard all those years. And I’m delighted that Sarah and three of Richard’s grandchildren, Beatrice, Kathryn, and William are here as well.

It is so fitting that we would have this, most likely, last memorial service and remembrance of Richard in a place that he loved so much, not only here at the Academy, but Berlin and Germany. It is a fitting place to tell these stories, and I only wished that we had arranged it so that it was somewhere relaxed in this beautiful building with a giant panettone – (laughter) – and lots of good Riesling and other treats to keep us going, because the stories would never have ended. That was the thing about Richard, every story that I’ve heard has prompted even more in my own mind to come to the surface.

And Richard thrived on conversation. He was an absolutely relentless conversationalist, as any of us who have engaged in conversation with him understand and remember. And Les Gelb, one of his dearest friends, said that a conversation with Richard meant listening . . .

(In progress) A conversation with Richard meant listening to a breathless monologue, which you could only engage by interrupting. And I know, the story that Gahl told about Richard following John Fuegi into the men’s room was so familiar. (Laughter.) He followed me onto a stage as I was about to give a speech, he followed me into my hotel room, and on one memorable occasion, into a ladies room in Pakistan. (Laughter.) So these are all now very fond memories.

And this American Academy meant the world to him. He talked about it, along with all of his other passions, starting with Kati, endlessly. And it was, I think, a way for him to embody his love of Germany and his belief that Germany and the United States had to be indispensably linked together, going forward into the unknown future. As John Kornblum famously said, “living humanity” is what Richard Holbrooke was all about. And the American Academy is a living example, an essence of his life’s work.

When my husband asked him to be Ambassador to Germany, I think he was a little disappointed at first. Let’s be honest. (Laughter.) And I can remember the conversation. Bill said to Richard, “You know, Richard, we don’t know what’s going to happen in Europe now.” I think the point that Ambassador Kornblum made is worth remembering – what looks now to have been inevitable was not in any way preordinated.

So watching Bill Clinton and Richard Holbrooke have a conversation was truly like watching two bull elephants circle around, trumpeting their positions – (laughter) – looking for openings, pawing the ground, and luckily, finally, coming to an understanding.

But what Richard so quickly and very importantly grasped was that, yes, the Cold War era was over and, yes, the Berlin Wall had come down, and yes, the last of the Berlin Brigade would be leaving, including 5,000 American troops. But there was nothing that made it at all sure that this relationship that had been based on the past would continue into the future.

So Richard believed we needed to create an entirely new relationship, one based not just on strategic necessity, but on friendship, shared vision and shared values. He was absolutely convinced that the United States and Germany had to form the core of a permanent transatlantic community, and that led him to the extraordinary effort about enlarging NATO, which as I was listening to John, I thought of all of the bitter arguments that were held over those years about what that would mean.

Now, there are many ways to describe Richard, and we’ve heard some wonderful descriptors. You can describe him by the many hats that he wore, not just hats, but caps and helmets. You can see him wearing a cap as a development officer or a Peace Corps director or an ambassador, a magazine editor, a presidential advisor, a peace negotiator, an AIDS activist, a banker, a diplomat, and someone who believed always in the power of ideas. He’s also been described by numerous political labels. He’s been called a liberal interventionist, a neoconservative, a multilateralist, a liberal hawk, and those are some of the nicer things that have been said about him. (Laughter.) He is certainly referred to as a thinker, an idea generator, a man of serial enthusiasms, a voracious reader, a prolific writer, a prodigious intellect, and a great friend.

But instead of talking about who he was, what we’ve heard today is what he stood for and what he did. He was, of course, a man of powerful convictions, but he was a pragmatist and he never saw any contradiction between the two. He believed in doing what was right for America and right for the world, and he actually thought those two intersected more times than not. He spent his life grappling with two of the hardest questions in international relations. The first was when and how to use military force. Sometimes, of course, nations must act unilaterally to protect their security.

But there are also times, which he knew, when nations are called to join together to defend common principles, stop humanitarian crises, and act on behalf of those shared values. He believed totally in building international coalitions. When he was appointed to be the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, he was the first of a kind. By the time he finished, Vali, there were, what, 42. He reached out and included Muslim-majority nations, and his successor, someone who had worked with Richard, Ambassador Marc Grossman, went to a recent meeting of the special representatives sponsored by the Organization of the Islamic Conference held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. And as Marc told me later, it was so clearly the work of Richard.

He understood that at times, one had to use military force. But he also fought hard about how to end it and what tools were necessary to do so. He knew that you had to deal with some fairly unlikable characters from time to time. After he visited Bosnia as a private citizen, he came back totally convinced that the world – not just Europe – but the world had to act, because he watched in horror one day as Serbian soldiers rounded up Bosnian Muslims, and it was, for him, a terrible, eerie echo of what had happened 50 years before.

When Richard took on the State Department’s European Bureau in September 1994 after leaving Germany as ambassador, it was, as has been described, a time of a lot of uncertainty. And in the article that was written and published in the spring 1995 Foreign Affairs issue, he laid out so many of the concerns and suggested actions that we have been following ever since. And when he did the extraordinary work that Kati has provided an inside look to all of us for the Dayton Peace Accords, he was not only professionally engaged, but personally committed. Because the part that Kati didn’t tell you is that his three colleagues died on that road after Milosevic had refused to allow them safe passage and made them ride that road that was ringed by Serbian snipers. And yet, despite that loss, Richard was relentless in his pursuit of peace and absolutely convinced he would get Milosevic to the final line.

When he was asked by President Obama to serve in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he took on the challenge with relish. He was very clear-eyed, but he did say on more than one occasion, “I thought Dayton was pretty difficult at the time. This is a lot tougher.” He set to work the only way he knew: full-bore, with everything he had, relying on the principles that have always guided him.

He mapped out three mutually reinforcing tracks: a military offensive, which he, along with the rest of us, were working with President Obama, who inherited a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, a Taliban with an enormous sense of momentum. And waiting on the President’s desk that first day were requests for troops that had not been in any way discussed or acted on by the prior administration.

At the same time, Richard was probably the most relentless and passionate advocate for a civilian campaign. When Richard became SRAP, there were 300 American civilians, including the Embassy in Kabul, in all of Afghanistan. They were largely on six-month tours, and many of them spent a third of that time on R&R outside the country because it was really hard.

And finally a third track was an intensive diplomatic push. Now, those who found negotiations with the Taliban distasteful got a very powerful response from Richard. Diplomacy would be easy, he would say, if you only had to talk with your friends. And negotiating with your adversaries wasn’t a disservice to people who had died, if by talking you could prevent more violence.

He saw the regional implications, and as Vali Nassar said, he dove into Pakistan with all his Richard-ness. After the devastating floods that affected almost 20 million Pakistanis last year, he went to visit a dusty refugee camp not far from Karachi. As usual, he arrived in a way he hated. He hated having security, he hated the armored cars, and he if could duck his entourage, he always did, and then, of course, I would get the phone calls. (Laughter.) He slipped, alone, into a tent occupied by two refugees from the floods, a father and his young son. He just wanted to hear their story.

He also loved breaking protocol. He may have been the first person who told me the joke that –“What’s the difference between a terrorist and a protocol officer? You can negotiate with a terrorist.” (Laughter.) And so the protocol officers would say, “Do not wear the USAID hat. If you go to this region, you will be a target and you will also be considered somewhat undiplomatic.” Well, all over The New York Times were pictures of Richard in his USAID hat.

He did make a big impact in a very complex situation, and in two countries that no one should pretend to understand. But he built a foundation for us to build on. He formed friendships and alliances. He broke a lot of pottery. He brought together an exceptional team of people. Vali described them as sort of a silicon company start-up. I thought of it more as the bar scene in Star Wars – (laughter) – because Richard was intent upon doing something that all governments and every bureaucracy hates. He wanted to break down all of the barriers.

So this was going to be a whole-of-government commitment, which I certainly thought it was and what I thought we were being asked to do. He wanted people from every agency in the government. So you try calling the Department of Agriculture and saying we want some agricultural specialists to work with us in the State Department on helping improve agriculture in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. Very tough negotiations. But in the end, Richard got his way.

Now, I think that part of what we will miss about Richard is that as we have seen the actions and events of the last months, many of us have thought, “What would Richard have said?” We didn’t have Richard to advise us in Libya but we had his principles to guide us. And we did work hard to bring the international community together – and quickly.

The world did not wait for another Srebrenica in a place called Benghazi. Instead, we came together in the United Nations, a place where Richard served as our ambassador, to impose sanctions, a no-fly zone, and an arms embargo, and protecting civilians. In a single week, we prevented a potential massacre, stopped an advancing army, and expanded the coalition.

And as Colonel Qadhafi continues attacking his own people, we are gaining even more partners in our efforts.

There will always be conflicts as long as there are human beings, as long as there are power-mad egomaniacs running countries – which, of course, never happen in democracies, thank goodness. (Laughter.) And we will have to navigate them without Richard, but not without his insight.

I want to finish by reading something he wrote not long after the Dayton Accords were signed:

“There will be other Bosnia’s in our lives,” he wrote. They will “explode with little warning, and present the world with difficult choices – choices between risky involvement and potentially costly neglect.”

He concluded: “Early outside involvement will be decisive.”

That doesn’t mean we don’t need patience. It doesn’t mean that we don’t have to continue to do the hard work that tries to avoid conflicts. But we do need to remember Richard’s plea for principled interventionism. He lived those ideals, and perhaps better than any other diplomat of his generation, he made them real to so many of us.

We have a lot to learn from Richard Charles Albert Holbrooke, as advisor, counselor, teacher, but above all else, dear friend. I can see in this room on the faces of so many of you the kind of memories that we all have of this extraordinary man. And let us give thanks for him. (Applause.)

# # #

Read Full Post »

Vodpod videos no longer available.


. 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.)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: