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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.

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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

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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.”

 

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Hillary Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices’ Retrospective: Introduction

Access other chapters of this retrospective here >>>>

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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.

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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 >>>>

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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

12/03/13

New York NY

Best Buy Theater Times Square

Global Impact Award Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation

12/04/13

New York NY

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Inauguration of the Richard C. Holbrooke Forum

12/06/13

Washington DC

Lantos Foundation Human Rights Prize

12/10/13

Johannesburg SA

FNB Stadium

Memorial for Nelson Mandela

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

BY VALI NASR | MARCH/APRIL 2013

… 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.

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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

Remarks

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.)

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