Posts Tagged ‘Secretary of Defense’

Public Schedule for August 16, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
August 16, 2011

10:30 a.m.  Secretary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta participate in a conversation moderated by Frank Sesno and hosted by the National Defense University, at the NDU’s Abraham Lincoln Hall.

5:15 p.m.  Secretary Clinton meets with Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, at the Department of State.

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Remarks With Secretary of Defense Robert Gates; Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto; and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa After Their Meeting


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State

Dean Acheson Auditorium

Washington, DC

June 21, 2011

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning, everyone. It is my pleasure along with Secretary Gates to welcome the foreign minister and the defense minister to Washington for this Security Consultative Committee meeting, known as the 2+2. For more than 50 years, the alliance between Japan and the United States has been the cornerstone of security in the Asia Pacific region. Our agenda today, embodied in the documents that we have just released, reflects the breadth and depth of our alliance. We are cooperating more closely on a wider range of issues and challenges than ever before.

It has been more than three months since the tragic events of March 11th left tens of thousands of people dead or missing, and hundreds of thousands homeless. The Japanese people have shown remarkable strength in the face of this unprecedented crisis. All Americans have been proud to stand with you and support your efforts to recover. Today, we discussed our countries’ ongoing work together and reaffirmed our commitment to maintain these efforts for as long as they are needed.

We also made important progress on several initiatives that will enhance our ability to defend Japan and respond to a variety of threats to the security of the Asia Pacific region. For example, we explored ways to broaden and deepen our cooperation on defense technologies. As Secretary Gates will describe, we also took steps to reduce the impact of our defense presence on the communities in Okinawa.

We discussed a range of regional and global issues. On North Korea, we remain committed to deterring further provocative behaviors by North Korea, supporting a North-South dialogue, and promoting the complete and peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We talked about our efforts to improve regional cooperation in a variety of multilateral forums and through a trilateral dialogue with India. On global issues, we discussed our joint efforts to advance peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, ensure Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and bring security against the pirates to the waters off the Horn of Africa.

But overall, we really celebrated the mutual respect and shared values that have served us so well for the past 50 years. As the U.S.-Japan alliance enters its second half century, it remains indispensible to the peace, security, and economic dynamism of the Asia-Pacific Region, and I was very honored to have this opportunity to host our colleagues and discuss these very important issues together.

Minister Matsumoto.

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FOREIGN MINISTER MATSUMOTO: (Via interpreter) Well, let me try once again. Since the 50th anniversary of Japan-U.S. security treaty last year, we’ve continued our consultations for the purpose of deepening the Japan-U.S. alliance. And I am very happy to say that, as a result of those efforts, we’ve met today in this 2+2 setting, which takes place for the first time in four years. And during these four years, there have been change in government in both countries, but especially in Japan we had a full – what I might call full-fledge change of government. And this was 2+2 held for the first time under a DPJ administration. And for that, it is all the more significant.

Now, in the evening years, the strategic environment around Japan and in the region underwent significant change. And Japan was struck by the Great East Japan Earthquake on the 11th of March. And I’d like to take this opportunity once again to express our heartfelt gratitude for the very special cooperation extended to us by the United States in the aftermath of the earthquake. And I’d like to mention to you that under these circumstances, the awareness of the importance of Japan-U.S. alliance has only increased, not just in the two governments but amongst the peoples of our two countries.

And in the 2+2 today, in the security consultative committee meeting today, we first took up the regional situation in East Asia. And so I – that the uncertainties in the security – regional security environment has been increasing. And building on that basic understanding, we agreed on new common strategic objectives.

Next, we discussed Japan-U.S. security and defense cooperation in the future and agreed on a deepening and expanding cooperation in a broad range of areas. In addition to regularizing the extended deterrence consultations, including nuclear, in the area of so-called global commons, we also agreed to have consultations on space and cyberspace as well. We also agreed to further advance in cooperation with countries that share – countries in the region that share values with us, in such settings as in Japan-U.S.-ROK, and Japan-U.S.-Australia trilateral cooperation, et cetera.

And also, with regard to U.S. forces, a realignment, that we also reaffirmed that we shall continue the consultations, the work that has been underway. The purpose of the realignment is to maintain deterrence and reduce burdens on local entities, and the agreement this time is to achieve both.

Also agreed on – and also, we confirmed close cooperation on reducing burdens on local communities, including on issues of – on preventing incidents and accidents and reducing – and dealing with noise issues.

I also believe that the 2+2 meeting this time managed to come up with very important – extremely important results, in setting the direction for future Japan-U.S. security cooperation in a broad range of areas. And on the basis of this joint statement, we’d like to continue to do all our best to further develop Japan-U.S. security relations and deepen Japan-U.S. alliance.

I’d like to also express our heartfelt gratitude to Secretary Clinton for hosting us and hosting this 2+2 meeting, and also like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Secretary Gates for working very hard for this Japan-U.S. alliance until the very last – very end of his term. And let me also say that we can conclude this 2+2 meeting with pride for the results that we have achieved thanks to all the efforts that have been made by people concerned at the State Department, Defense Department, Ambassador Roos and all the others concerned. And I certainly would have to express — and of course to also express my gratitude to the – most of the important people that he got – people at the White House.

And with that, let me conclude my remarks. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY GATES: We had an excellent discussion today that focused on the most critical challenges facing the Asia Pacific region. Those included the denuclearization of North Korea, supporting continued progress in Afghanistan, and maritime security. We have also agreed on a framework to transfer jointly produced missile defense interceptors to third parties, to deepen our cooperation on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and to start new initiatives in space and cyber security.

The sight of U.S. and Japanese forces working side by side to bring aid to the survivors of the earthquake and tsunami in March demonstrated the high level of interoperability between U.S. and Japanese forces. It also validated years of investment by both nations in training and capabilities. It also demonstrated to a new generation in both countries the close bonds between our people and the value of this alliance.

As a Pacific power, the U.S. remains committed to maintaining a robust forward presence in East Asia. The decision announced today on the Futenma replacement facility configuration, along with other elements of the 2006 Realignment Roadmap, shows we are making steady progress toward modernizing U.S. forward presence in the region. It is critical that we move forward with the relocation of Futenma and construction of facilities in Guam for the U.S. Marines. Doing so will reduce the impact of our presence on local residents in Okinawa while allowing us to maintain capabilities critical to the alliance in Japan.

Close on a personal note: After coming to this position in late 2006, one of the most positive changes I saw from my last time in government was an extraordinary improvement in U.S.-Japanese relations. Those ties have only grown and deepened in recent years. I leave this post convinced that the future of our alliance is a bright one that will continue to be the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in the Asia Pacific.

Thank you.

DEFENSE MINISTER KITAZAWA: (Via interpreter) I assumed office as defense minister in September of 2009, and I am truly happy that I was able to attend this 2+2 meeting that was held for the first time in four years, and to engage in a very useful exchange of views, discussions with Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates.

I believe that the fact that this first 2+2 meeting since the inauguration of DPJ administration in Japan and producing important results in terms of – in the area of defense is a reflection of the maturity of Japanese democracy, and in that respect I think it’s been very significant.

Now, if I may add some commentary in my own way, in the past – the alliance in the past half a century, the Liberal Democratic Party continued to play a central role, while the opposition, not quite having majority, had voiced their opposition and criticism. Now that DPJ has come into power, we had this first 2+2 under a DPJ administration, and this means that more than 80 percent of the political forces in Japan are committed to the Japan-U.S. alliance. So I think this is very significant for the next half century of the alliance.

And let me briefly comment on the 2+2 meeting this time from my position as defense minister. We referred to the new defense program guidelines of Japan and the U.S. military transformation and agreed to strengthen the security and cooperation – security and defense cooperation in numerous areas. And I think we achieved an important result by agreeing on the criteria for agreeing to third-country transfers of SM-3 Block IIA and consultative mechanism for that purpose.

The Government of Japan is currently engaged in study for the – in order to deal with increasing sophistication of defense equipment and reducing costs involved against the backdrop of increasing trends for international code to (inaudible) and production. And on this we agreed to further promote such efforts, and the U.S. Government will encourage this – such efforts.

We also decided on the v-shape configuration for the runways in connection with the Futenma relocation issue, and I think this is very important progress towards the relocation of the facilities. We decided to remove the deadline of 2014 for its completion, but – in order to avoid the continued – forever continuing use of Futenma Air Station. We also confirmed a mutual strive for earliest possible relocation.

I also took the opportunity to express once again our heartfelt gratitude for the very generous support given by the United States in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and for the kindness extended and mentioned that the entire Japanese are grateful for the Operation Tomodachi and greatly encouraged by that.

I believe it’ll be very important for us to learn from the experience of the earthquake and adapt to changing circumstances. And I believe it’ll be very – extremely important for Japan and the United States to engage in discussions on various matters, including the idea of establishing a logistic hub for disaster relief and for the utilization of leading-edge technologies such as robots and UAVs. I explained this idea and the U.S. side concurred, which is – I’m very happy about that.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, the understanding of the significance of the stationing of U.S. forces in Japan, including the Marine Corps in Okinawa, I believe has been understood that has brought a greater sense of security to the Japanese people. And building the results of the 2+2 meeting this time, I’d like to continue to strive to further cement the ties that we have close to us, we have between our two countries, and for the deepen and advance our alliance.

Lastly, well, since Secretary Gates has said – towards his end of his remarks, he spoke on a personal note, let me also reciprocate by speaking on a personal note. Well, this will be my last meeting with Secretary Gates, but this also happened to be the seventh meeting that I’ve had with him over the years. And I would like to send a very warm applause to him as he leaves the stage, wishing that he would continue to apply his outstanding capability in the private sector, and if at all possible, I hope that he will be a regular attendant, participant at the Shangri-La Dialogue in the future as well. So let me conclude by expressing my heartfelt gratitude for the very significant contributions that he has made to date. (Applause.)

MS. NULAND: Unfortunately, given that we have consecutive translation today, we only have time for one question from the American side and one question from the Japanese side. From the American side, Jill Dougherty, CNN. Please.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, Secretary Gates says that the start of any drawdown in Afghanistan should be modest. Others, of course, think that it should be much speedier. What is your view on this, and which scenario would make it easier for the State Department personnel, USAID, other civilians in Afghanistan to carry out their mission?

And just a quick question on another subject, the Saudi women driver’s protest. We were told yesterday that you are engaged in quiet diplomacy. Some people think that it’s a little bit too quiet and they would say that perhaps the reason you’re doing that is because you do not want to offend the Saudi Government at a time when the United States really needs it, especially in the Mideast. Can you explain your views on that?

And Secretary Gates, if I could, you say that the drawdown has to be politically credible here at home. Could you explain a little bit more what you meant by that? Because of course, it could be open to interpretation that political considerations are driving this rather than the situation on the ground. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jill, let me start with respect to Afghanistan. And I think you would expect me to say that I will not have any comment before the President delivers the speech that he intends to make. The time for it has not yet been set, but we expect it will be occurring soon. In fact, Secretary Gates and I will be leaving here to go to the White House for further consultations with the President. And then I am scheduled to testify on Thursday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. And I’m sure, since the subject of the hearing is Afghanistan and Pakistan, I will have quite a bit to say and a lot of questions to answer, so at that time I will certainly respond to your concerns that you raised in the question.

With respect to Saudi Arabia and the ban on women driving, let me start by saying that this is about Saudi women themselves. They have joined together. They are acting on behalf of their own rights. This is not about the United States. It is about the women of Saudi Arabia. And what these women are doing is brave and what they are seeking is right. But the effort belongs to them. I am moved by it and I support them, but I want to underscore the fact that this is not coming from outside of their country. This is the women themselves seeking to be recognized.

And we have raised this issue at the highest level of the Saudi Government. We’ve made clear our views that women everywhere, including women in the Kingdom, have the right to make decisions about their lives and their futures. They have the right to contribute to society and to provide for their children and their families. And mobility, such as provided by the freedom to drive, provides access to economic opportunity, including jobs, which does fuel growth and stability. And it’s also important for just day-to-day life, to say nothing of the necessity from time to time to transport children for various needs and sometimes even emergencies.

Now, I know there is an active debate in Saudi Arabia on a range of social issues. For our part, we will continue in private and in public to urge all governments to address issues of discrimination and to ensure that women have the equal opportunity to fulfill their own God-given potential. But I want to, again, underscore and emphasize that this is not about the United States, it’s not about what any of us on the outside say; it is about the women themselves and their right to raise their concerns with their own government.

SECRETARY GATES: With respect to political credibility of the President’s decision, it simply was a – first of all, it was intended to be open to interpretation. And second, the President has to take into account on any national security issue sustainability here at home, both among the public and in the Congress. And it goes without saying that there are a lot of reservations in the Congress about the war in Afghanistan and our level of commitment. There are concerns among the American people, who are tired of a decade of war. So the President obviously has to take those matters into consideration as well as the conditions on the ground in Afghanistan in making his decision.

MS. NULAND: Last question, Mr. Sakaguchi, Mainichi Shimbun.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) I’d like to ask both Minister Kitazawa and Secretary Gates about a veto of Futenma relocation and U.S. forces realignment. Following the inauguration of the DPJ administration, there was some confusion regarding the U.S. forces realignment, whereas now, the situation has really returned to – with it, understanding agreement under the LDP Komeito coalition government. So what do you think of this whole process that has led to the current situation?

As for the Futenma relocation issue, there is now some voice in the U.S. Congress seeking review, revisiting the Futenma relocation agreement itself in view of fiscal pressures. Would there be a possibility for the two governments to reconsider their Futenma understanding?

DEFENSE MINISTER KITAZAWA: (Via interpreter) Well, let me start first. The suggestion, I think, was that under the DPJ administration, we simply returned to the proposal that was being worked on by the previous government. In the overall Japanese politics, this issue has been regarded, is regarded as a major issue that needs to be dealt with. And therefore, when the DPJ administration came in, we looked into this Japan-U.S. and – Government agreement established by the previous administration. We looked into it and studied it very carefully, and studied from various angles. And as a result, we have arrived at today’s agreement on the configuration at this candidate site. Now if you suggest that this has been loss of time, I would say this is a cost that entails democracy as we have a change of government under democracy.

Opinions in Okinawa are very harsh, and we confirmed in our meeting today that we and Japan will do our – make our best efforts to try and get the understanding of Governor Nakaima of Okinawa and the local people there. The purpose of U.S. realignment, as I mentioned earlier, is to maintain deterrence and to reduce local impact, the local burden. And so we’ll be working on U.S. forces – the Japan-U.S. agreement – achieve the Japan-U.S. agreement in order to achieve both objectives. And to that end, let me say that we’ll continue to make our maximum efforts.

SECRETARY GATES: Secretary Clinton and I both informed our colleagues this morning that the letter from Senators Webb and Levin about the realignment is really a manifestation of growing congressional impatience with the lack of progress. We both reaffirmed the U.S. Government’s commitment to the 2006 realignment plan, but at the same time emphasized the importance of concrete progress over the course of the next year.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

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Public Schedule for June 21, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
June 21, 2011


8:30 a.m.  Secretary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates co-host the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC) meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa, at the Department of State.

10:10 a.m.  Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, Japanese Foreign Minister Matsumoto and Japanese Defense Minister Kitazawa hold a joint press availability, in the Dean Acheson Auditorium at the Department of State.

12:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton hosts the 2011 World Food Prize Announcement Ceremony, at the Department of State.

1:00 p.m.  Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the memorial service for former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger, at the Fort Myers Chapel.

Apologies: I had the day wrong for the U.S.-Japan SCC. For some reason I thought it was to be yesterday.

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When he took over the Defense Department from Donald Rumsfeld during the G.W. Bush administration, I remember thinking what a breath of fresh air he was. What a straight-talking relief. He agreed to stay on in the post into the Obama administration, and I doubt that there was a single American who disagreed with that appointment. For two-and-a-half years, Robert Gates has maintained, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State, a singularly solid alliance between two departments more often at odds, historically, than not. It has been an awesome partnership to behold.

In January, 2009, Robert Gates said that he would remain at DOD until June. How relieved many of us were that he did not mean June 2009.   But at the end of this June, two years later than he originally planned to retire from the post, Robert Gates will step down as Secretary of Defense. I liked him all along in that role, but came to appreciate him so much more as I watched the steadfast support he provided for Secretary Clinton and her initiatives.

He provided a model for her, and she grabbed it and ran with it. As a member of the the Senate Armed Services Committee, she had become familiar with his Quadrennial Defense Review, a management model that keeps the Defense Department streamlined according to protocols he developed.  Hillary Clinton kept a relatively low profile her first five or six months at the State Department. During that period I used to claim that she was devouring all the briefs, treaties, agreements, MOUs etc. that she could get her hands on. Chewing the paper off the walls at Foggy Bottom was how I phrased it. When she surfaced in a big way not long after shattering her elbow on the job, one of her first big acts was to announce both to the State Department and the USAID personnel a QDDR: Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review that she based on Gates’s QDR model. That, among a few other major accomplishments, will be a strong part of her legacy at State.

She unveiled her concept of “smart power” in 2009 and balanced it on three pillars: Defense, Diplomacy, Development … the Three Ds.   At every budget hearing, as she begged for appropriations on Capitol Hill, Gates, at her side, defended her requests for diplomatic and developmental funding even volunteering cuts from his own defense budget. He believed in her vision, supported it, and they worked together to achieve a new image of American power.

I will be sad at the end of this month to see Secretary Gates ride on to the next chapter of his phenomenal life.  Monday, together, the Gates-Clinton Team will convene the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee Meeting. probably their last official event together.  It will be poignant.

I thought I would take the time this quiet Father’s Day Weekend to pay tribute to and thank the man who has stood at Defense through two presidents and been “Dad” to our troops out in the field to whom he bid a tearful farewell recently.  The troops will certainly miss him.  Maybe no one will miss him as much as the Secretary of State.

Job well done , sir,  well above and beyond the call of duty. Thank you for your unswerving service.  Godspeed in your future endeavors.  Hail and Farewell.  You will be missed.  Heartfelt thanks from us all.

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I have retooled this post from its previous version enough to make it an entirely new preview of Mme. Secretary’s upcoming week. This first event promises to be bittersweet since it is probably the last official event at which this amazing pair of colleagues will appear. Power and Persuasion indeed! What terrific teamwork we have seen from them!

Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates to Convene the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee Meeting on June 21

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 17, 2011


Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release                                                                                                                                               June 17, 2011



On June 21, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will host Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto and Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa for a Security Consultative Committee (SCC) meeting, at the Department of State.

As part of the SCC meeting, informally known as the 2+2 Ministerial, the ministers will release a comprehensive joint statement articulating common strategic objectives and efforts to enhance the U.S.-Japan alliance. Demonstrating the breadth and depth of the alliance, the officials will discuss a wide range of bilateral, regional, and global issues, including the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, Afghanistan, missile defense technology transfer, and realignment of our forces in Okinawa.  This is the first such meeting in four years, and builds upon the progress that the U.S.-Japan alliance has made over the past half-century.

A pooled camera spray will take place at the beginning of the meeting. Following the meeting, the four ministers will hold a joint press availability at approximately 10:00 a.m.

Secretary Clinton to Host the Annual World Food Prize Laureate Announcement on June 21

Notice to the Press

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 17, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will host the 2011 World Food Prize Laureate Announcement Ceremony on June 21 at approximately 12:00 p.m. at the Department of State. Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, the president of the World Food Prize Foundation, will announce the winner of the 2011 World Food Prize during the ceremony. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah and Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs Robert Hormats will also speak at the event.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the World Food Prize, which recognizes individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world. The World Food Prize includes a cash award of $250,000 and a sculpture by world-renowned designer Saul Bass. Each year more than 4,000 institutions and organizations are invited to nominate candidates for the prize.

The award will be formally presented in a ceremony at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines, Iowa, on October 13, 2011 in conjunction with the Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium. In honor of World Food Prize founder Dr. Norman Borlaug, this year’s October events will also include the Grand Opening of the Norman E. Borlaug Hall of Laureates, an educational center and place to honor all those who have made strides in the fight against hunger.

The World Food Prize is guided by a distinguished Council of Advisors that includes former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush. For more information on the World Food Prize, visit www.worldfoodprize.org.

Secretary of State Clinton’s Travel to Guatemala and Jamaica

Press Statement

Victoria Nuland
Department Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 16, 2011

On June 22, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will travel to Guatemala City to participate in the International Conference of Support for the Central American Security Strategy. Central American heads of state and international partners will attend the conference. The Secretary’s participation in the Conference of Support, following the President’s visit to El Salvador in March, is a clear indication of the United States’ firm commitment to partner with Central American governments and the international community to address the underlying root causes of crime and citizen insecurity and to enhance the impact and effectiveness of our collective efforts in the region.

Secretary Clinton will also visit Montego Bay, Jamaica, to meet with her Caribbean counterparts. Building on the June 2010 Caribbean Ministerial Meeting in Barbados, the Secretary will reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the region, and underscore our joint partnerships in enhancing citizen and regional security; promoting clean energy and combating climate change; promoting economic development; and strengthening democratic institutions.

Quartet Envoys’ Meeting (Taken Question)

Taken Question

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 17, 2011

Question: What is the date of the Quartet meeting at the Envoy level in Brussels?

Answer: The next Quartet Envoys meeting is currently scheduled for June 24 in Brussels.

I am not certain this last entry implies that Secretary Clinton will be attending the Quartet Meeting in Brussels.  It might.  I simply do not remember the meetings she has attended billed as “envoys meetings.”  They were billed, if I remember correctly, as “Quartet Meetings.”   If this is a meeting of people at the level of our own “Special Envoys,”  then George Mitchell’s successor, David Hale,  would be attending.  Anyway,  I added it in case it is the SOS who attends.

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A few pictures from this morning popped up, and I thought I would share them.

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The CBS videos do not always embed well on WordPress.  I am including links to the videos in case the embedded videos do not play.

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Link to video 1

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Interview With Bob Schieffer of CBS’s Face the Nation


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Washington, DC
March 27, 2011

QUESTION: Good morning again. And we are joined in the studio by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.

Madam Secretary, let me start with you. Tens of thousands of people have turned out protesting in Syria, which has been under the iron grip of the Asad for so many years now, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, I suppose. And when the demonstrators turned out, the regime opened fire and killed a number of civilians. Can we expect the United States to enter the conflict in the way we have entered the conflict in Libya?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. Each of these situations is unique, Bob. Certainly, we deplore the violence in Syria. We call, as we have on all of these governments during this period of the Arab Awakening, as some have called it, to be responding to their people’s needs, not to engage in violence, permit peaceful protests, and begin a process of economic and political reform.

The situation in Libya, which engendered so much concern from around the international community, had a leader who used military force against the protestors from one end of his country to the other, who publically said things like, “We’ll show no mercy. We’ll go house to house.” And the international community moved with great speed, in part because there’s a history here. This is someone who has behaved in a way that caused grave concern in the past 40 plus years in the Arab world, the African world, Europe, and the United States.

QUESTION: But, I mean, how can that be worse than what has happened in Syria over the years, where Bashar Asad’s father killed 25,000 people at a lick? I mean, they open fire with live ammunition on these civilians. Why is that different from Libya?


QUESTION: This is a friend of Iran, an enemy of Israel.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if there were a coalition of the international community, if there were the passage of Security Council resolution, if there were a call by the Arab League, if there was a condemnation that was universal – but that is not going to happen, because I don’t think that it’s yet clear what will occur, what will unfold.

There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities and then police actions, which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.

QUESTION: Secretary Gates, you have strongly condemned Bashar Asad and said he must learn from Egypt. I think it’s fair to say he didn’t pay much attention to you.

SECRETARY GATES: Well, that’s not a surprise. (Laughter.) No, what I —

QUESTION: Should he step down?

SECRETARY GATES: What I said in – when I was in the Middle East was that the lesson should be – that should be taken from Egypt was where a military stood aside and allowed peaceful protests and allowed political events to take their course. That’s basically the lesson that I was talking about with respect to Asad. In terms of whether he should stand down or not, these kinds of things are up to the Syrians, up to the Libyans themselves.

QUESTION: This whole region is in turmoil now, trouble in Bahrain, in Yemen, whose governments have been allies of ours in the fight against terrorism. Now there are demonstrations in Jordan, one of our closest allies in the Arab world. How do we decide which of these countries we’re going to help and which ones we’re not?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, we’re trying to help them all. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways of helping. We have certainly offered advice and counsel. I think the role that the United States played in Egypt, for example, particularly between our military, between Secretary Gates, Field Marshal Tantawi, between Admiral Mullen and his counterpart, was only possibly because of 30 years of close cooperation.

So we have to look at each situation as we find it. We don’t have that kind of relationship with a country like Syria. We just sent back an ambassador for the first time after some years. And as you recall, the Administration decided we needed to do that because we wanted somebody on the inside. The Congress was not so convinced that it would make a difference. Each of these we are looking at and analyzing carefully. But we can’t draw some general sweeping conclusions about the entire region.

QUESTION: Well, let’s talk about Libya a little then. We have – the UN resolution is in place. It’s established the no-fly zone. NATO is going to take over the operations there. But it does not call for regime change, and the President has said that Mr. Qadhafi has to go. That seems a bit contradictory.

SECRETARY GATES: I don’t think so. I think what you’re seeing is the difference between a military mission and a policy objective. The military mission is very limited and restricted to the establishment of the no-fly zone and for humanitarian purposes, to prevent Qadhafi from being able to use his armed forces to slaughter his own people. That’s it. And one of the things that I think is central is you don’t in a military campaign set as a mission or a goal something you’re not sure you can achieve. And if we’ve learned anything over the past number of years, regime change is very complicated and can be very expensive and can take a long time. And so I think the key here was establishing a military mission that was achievable. It was achievable on a limited period of time and it could be sustained.

QUESTION: There are some people in the Pentagon quoted in various newspapers as saying this no-fly zone may last for three months or so. How long do you think this is going to be in place?

SECRETARY GATES: I don’t think anybody has any idea.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But Bob, I think it’s important to take a step back and put this into context. When the Libyan people rose up, as their neighbors across the region were doing, and said look, we want to see a transition, it was after 42 years of erratic and brutal rule. Qadhafi’s response was to basically not just ignore but to threaten and then to act on those threats. Our country, along with many other countries, were watching this unfold.

The United States Senate passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone on March the 1st. As Bob reminded everybody, there’s a difference between calling for it and actually enforcing it. When the Security Council, in a really stunning vote of 10 to 5, 10-4, 5 abstentions, said look, take all necessary measures to fulfill this mission of protecting the Libyan people, it was a mission that the United States, of course, was going to be in the forefront of because of our unique capabilities. But look at the coalition of European, Canadian, Arab countries that have come together to say we’re going to make sure that we protect these civilians.

The military mission is not the only part of what we’re doing. We have very tough sanctions that are ferreting out and freezing Qadhafi and Qadhafi family assets. We have a lot of diplomats and military leaders in Libya who are flipping, changing sides, defecting because they see the handwriting on the wall. We have an ongoing political effort that is really picking up steam to see if we can’t persuade —


SECRETARY CLINTON: — others to convince Qadhafi to leave. So, we see the planes going up, but that is just a piece of an overall strategy.

QUESTION: Well, do you think it’s going well then? I mean, would you give it good marks so far?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think it’s going very well.

SECRETARY GATES: I think the military mission has gone quite well. I think we have been successful a lot. There was never any doubt in my mind that we could quickly establish the no-fly zone and suppress his air defenses. But I think what has been extraordinary is seeing a number of different countries using their combat aircraft in a way to destroy some of his ground forces. That really involves and extraordinary discrimination of targets.

And I pushed back when I was in Russia last week against the comments that both Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev had made about civilian casualties. The truth of the matter is we have trouble coming up with proof of any civilian casualties that we have been responsible for, but we do have a lot of intelligence reporting about Qadhafi taking the bodies of people he’s killed and putting them at the sites where we’ve attacked. We have been extremely careful in this military effort. And not just our pilots but the pilots of the other coalition air forces have really done and extraordinary job.

QUESTION: He is taking bodies and putting them in places —

SECRETARY GATES: We have a number of reports of that.

QUESTION: In more than one place, or —


QUESTION: How many places?

SECRETARY GATES: We just get various reports on that.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask you this. There are reports that we may arm the rebels. Is that, in fact, going to happen?

SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s been no decision about that. We are in contact with the rebels. I’ve met with one of the leaders. We have ongoing discussions with them. We’ve sent both the ambassador that was assigned to Libya plus a young diplomat to have this ongoing dialogue with the opposition. But there’s a lot of ways that we can assist them, and we’re trying to discuss that with our allies in this effort. And we will be when I go to London on Tuesday.

QUESTION: Let me just ask you this. Under this arms embargo and the resolution and so forth, could you, if you decided you needed to do that and wanted to do it, could you do it under the current —


QUESTION: — resolution?


QUESTION: You believe you could?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and the reason is because there is an arms embargo against the Qadhafi regime that was established in the first resolution, Resolution 1970, which applied to the entire country. In the follow-on resolution, 1973, there is an exception if countries or organizations were to choose to use that.

QUESTION: Let me ask you this, Mr. Secretary. We say it’s time for Qadhafi to go. You say that the military part of this, the no-fly zone, is going well. But I don’t think anybody really believes that this rag-tag group of resistance fighters, as brave as they are, could actually topple this man, who has these tanks and artillery and that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: He has a lot fewer now than he did a week ago.

QUESTION: Well, exactly. But how’s the thing going on the ground? And do you really think that these people could topple him without some kind of help from the outside?

SECRETARY GATES: Well, first of all, we prevented him from moving on toward Benghazi. Those forces were destroyed. We have evidence that he is withdrawing from Ajdabiyah and back further to the west. Because we’re not only striking his armor, we’re striking his logistics and supplies and things like that.

And just to Secretary Clinton’s point, we have things in our toolbox in addition to hammers. And so there are a lot of things that can go on here. His military can turn. We can see – we could see elements of his military turning, deciding this is a no-win proposition. The family is splitting. Any number of possibilities are out there, particularly as long as the international pressure continues and those around him see no future in staying with him.

QUESTION: Well, having said all of that, do you think that’s what is going to happen here? I mean can he – can these people really do this with just some help from up in the sky?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, I know how concerned people are. And obviously, the President will speak to the country Monday night, answer, I think, a lot of those concerns. This — the Security Council acted a week ago Thursday. The effort to enforce a Security Council resolution is barely a week old. We’ve already seen quite significant progress on the ground. And Bob just said, we believe, based on the intelligence and what our military is seeing, the Qadhafi forces are withdrawing, moving to the west.

Yes, this is not a well-organized fighting force that the opposition has. But they are getting more support from defectors, from the former Libyan Government military, and they are, as Bob said, very brave, moving forward, and beginning to regain —


SECRETARY CLINTON: — ground that they lost when Qadhafi was brutalizing them by moving toward Benghazi.

So, this is a really short period of time in any kind of military effort, but I think the results on the ground are pretty significant.

SECRETARY GATES: I would just underscore the military attacks began, essentially, a week ago, last Saturday night. And don’t underestimate the potential for elements of the regime themselves to crack.

QUESTION: All right.

SECRETARY GATES: And to turn. I mean it isn’t just the opposition in Benghazi —

QUESTION: So you think his days are limited?

SECRETARY GATES: I wouldn’t be hanging any new pictures if I were him. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: What would be an acceptable outcome? You want him out, but would you be satisfied if the country wound up partitioned or something of that nature?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s too soon to predict that. One of the reasons why we are forming a political contact group in London this coming week is because we want to get a unified political approach, just as we have forged a unified military approach.

And as both Bob and I have said, there are many ways that this could move toward the end state. If you think about what happened in the 90s, it took a while for Milosevic to leave, but you could see his days were numbered, even though he wasn’t yet out of office. And so there is a lot of ways that this could unfold.

What is clear is that Qadhafi himself is losing ground. He has already lost legitimacy. And the people around him, based on all of the intelligence and all of the outreach that we ourselves are getting from some of those very same people, demonstrate an enormous amount of anxiety. And that will play itself out over time.

SECRETARY GATES: Could I just make a broader point, Bob? We get so focused on these individual countries. I think we have lost sight of the extraordinary story that is going on in the Middle East. In the space of about two months, we’ve probably seen the most widespread dramatic change in the tectonic plates, if you will, politically, in that region since, certainly, the drive for independence in the 50s, and perhaps since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago. In virtually every country in the region there is turbulence. And we are in dark territory.

I mean, even the changes in Eastern Europe in 1989 took place from a period from February to December – to November. And so when you think back of what has happened in just two months, this is really an extraordinary challenge for the Administration and, frankly, for other governments around the world in terms of how do we react to this, how do we deal with this. And I think the key, and where the President has tried to establish the principle, is here are our principles, here’s what we believe in, but then we’ll deal with each country one at a time, because we have to deal with the specific circumstances. But we can’t lose sight of the historic and dramatic nature of what’s going on and the fact there are no predetermined outcomes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And there are no perfect options. We are choosing among competing imperfect options. I mean if we were sitting here, and Benghazi had been taken, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, and hundreds of thousands had fled, some of them over the border to Egypt, destabilizing Egypt during its particularly delicate transition, we would be sitting here, and people in the Congress and elsewhere would be saying, “Well, why didn’t we do something?”

So the problem is we are trying to, within the broader context of this extraordinary movement toward aspirations that are universal that people in the Middle East and North Africa are demanding for themselves, to support the broader goals but to be very clear about how we deal with individual countries as we stand for our values and our principles but have to take each one as it stands and where it is headed.

QUESTION: Well, I want to thank both of you for your insights.


QUESTION: We really appreciate it.


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Interview With David Gregory of NBC’s Meet the Press


Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Washington, DC
March 27, 2011

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, welcome back to Meet the Press.


QUESTION: The President said this is an operation that would take days, not weeks. We are now into the second week. Has the mission been accomplished?

SECRETARY GATES: I think that the no-fly zone aspect of the mission has been accomplished. We have not seen any of his planes fly since the mission started. We have suppressed his air defenses. I think we’ve also been successful on the humanitarian side. We have prevented his forces from going to Benghazi and we have taken out a good bit of his armor. So I think we have, to a very large extent, completed the military mission in terms of getting it set up. Now, the no-fly zone and even the humanitarian side will have to be sustained for some period of time.

QUESTION: Is Qadhafi capable of routing the rebels?

SECRETARY CLINTON: At this point, it appears that his efforts have been stopped. I think if you were to look at where we were just a couple of weeks ago, he was clearly on his way to Benghazi. He was intending, by his own words, to show no mercy, to go house to house. I think we prevented a great humanitarian disaster, which is always hard to point to something that didn’t happen, but I believe we did. And now we’re beginning to see – because of the good work of the coalition – to see his troops begin to turn back towards the west and to see the opposition begin to reclaim ground they had lost.

QUESTION: That said, Secretary Gates, would the U.S. supply arms to the rebels?

SECRETARY GATES: No decision has been made about that at this point. The Security Council resolution would permit it. The second resolution, 1973, would permit it. But no decisions have been made by our government about it.

QUESTION: But does this Administration want to see the rebels prevail and overtake Qadhafi?

SECRETARY GATES: I think the President’s policy is that it’s time for Qadhafi to go. That’s not part of our military mission, which has been very limited and very strictly defined.

QUESTION: Well, so how is that going to happen? Secretary Clinton, you said this week that you thought you were picking up signals that he wanted to get out, of his own accord.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, David, there are many different aspects to the strategy that the international community is pursuing. As Bob has said, the military mission has gone very well. It only started just, like, eight days ago, so it has been remarkably well coordinated and focused, and now NATO will take command and control over it.

At the same time, we are pursuing really strict economic sanctions on him and people close to him. We have a political effort underway. The African Union just called for a transition to democracy. The Arab League, the others of us who are supporting this endeavor are going to be meeting in London on Tuesday to begin to focus on how we’re going to help facilitate such a transition of him leaving power.

QUESTION: All right. But you said this week you thought there were indications he was looking to get out. Is that true?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, people around him. We have a lot of evidence that people around him are reaching out. Now, so far what they’ve been doing is to say you’re misunderstanding us; you don’t appreciate what we’re doing; come and talk to us. Well, the Secretary General of the United Nations has appointed a former Jordanian foreign minister as a special envoy. He will be going to both Benghazi and Tripoli in the next few days so that we will provide a very clear message to Qadhafi.

But we’re also sending a message to people around him: Do you really want to be a pariah? Do you really want to end up in the International Criminal Court? Now is your time to get out of this and to help the change the direction.

QUESTION: Bottom line: The President wants him to go, but the President will not take him out himself.

SECRETARY GATES: Certainly not militarily.

QUESTION: So it would have to be other means?



SECRETARY GATES: And as I’ve said, we have things in our toolbox in addition to hammers. Secretary Clinton’s just talked about a number of them. And don’t underestimate what Hillary just said of the people around him looking at what’s happening and the international view of this place and when’s the time to turn and go to the other side.

QUESTION: Let me —

SECRETARY GATES: And so I think one should not underestimate the possibility of the regime itself cracking.

QUESTION: I want to talk about some of the Congressional criticisms. Speaker of the House Boehner issued a letter with questions, some of which were deemed illegitimate questions by the White House. Here’s a portion of it. I’ll put it up on the screen. “Because of the conflicting messages from the Administration and our coalition partners,” he wrote, “there’s a lack of clarity over the objectives of this mission, what our national security interests are, how it fits into our overarching policy for the Middle East.”

The American people deserve answers to these questions, and all of these concerns point to a fundamental question: What is your benchmark for success in Libya?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s perfectly legitimate for members of Congress and the public to ask questions. The President is going to address the nation Monday night. A lot of these questions will be answered. But I would just make a couple of points.

First, on March 1st, the United States Senate passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone. That was a bipartisan resolution. There were a number of people in the House, including leadership in both the Republican and Democratic parties, who were demanding that action be taken. The international community came together, and in an unprecedented action, the Arab League called on the Security Council to do exactly what the Security Council ended up doing.

Now, the United States and other countries were in a position to be able to act to enforce it. If you look at the coverage on Al Jazeera, if you listen to the statements that are being put out by the opposition in Libya, there is a great deal of appreciation for what we and others have done in order to stop Qadhafi on his mission of merciless oppression.

So, this was an international effort that the United States was a part of. I certainly believe it was within the President’s constitutional authority to do so. It is going according to the plan that the President laid out. The United States will be transitioning to a NATO command and control. And then we will be joining with the rest of the international community.

And if you look at the region – can you imagine, David, if we were sitting here and Qadhafi had gotten to Benghazi, and in a city of 700,000 people, had massacred tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands had fled over the border, destabilizing Egypt? Everybody would be saying, “Why didn’t the President do something?”

QUESTION: Can I ask you about Boehner himself?

SECRETARY CLINTON: These are difficult choices.

QUESTION: Did Speaker Boehner raise any objections when he was briefed prior to the mission?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I know that there was a constant flow of information, both to members and staff. And of course, the President had a conference with some members in person, others – many others, including the Speaker, on the phone – but we have no objection to anybody asking questions. But I think it’s important to look at the context in which this is occurring, and the fact that we have moved so rapidly to have this kind of international action taken answers, in great measure, the legitimate concerns of the people of Libya.

And now, of course, we’re going to take it day by day. That’s what you do in a situation like this.

QUESTION: The military is stretched pretty thin. Look at this map to show what our commitments are around the globe. In Iraq, of course, we have 47,000 troops; in Afghanistan, a hundred thousand strong; and now this additional commitment of U.S. troops – I mean, not troops, but U.S. assets in Libya. How does the President, speaking to the nation Monday night, maintain a sense of national purpose here at a time when we’re so stretched?

SECRETARY GATES: Actually, your list was incomplete. We have a substantial military commitment in humanitarian assistance disaster relief in Japan as well, largely using naval forces. The air forces that we are using, for the most part, and the air forces in particular that we are using in Libya are forces normally stationed in Europe in any event.

The reality is, though, beginning this week or within the next week or so, we will begin to diminish the commitment of resources that we have committed to this. We knew the President’s plan at the beginning was we would go in heavy at first, because we had the capacity to do it in terms of suppressing the air defenses and so on. But then the idea was that, over time, the coalition would assume a larger and larger proportion of the burden. This was the conversation he had with foreign leaders when this whole thing was coming together. And so we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to decline.

QUESTION: Well, how long does the no-fly zone last? Weeks or longer?

SECRETARY GATES: Well, once the air – first of all, nobody knows the answer to that question. But once the air defenses have been suppressed, what it takes to sustain the no-fly zone is substantially less than what it takes to establish it.

QUESTION: Let me ask this question, though, still on the military – and then I want your comment, as well: What if things don’t go as planned? What is our contingency planning? What is the U.S. commitment if things get worse in Libya, if Qadhafi stays, if there is an entrenched civil war, if it devolves into Somalia-like chaos? What then? What’s our commitment?

SECRETARY GATES: Well, the President has made very clear there will be no American troops on the ground in Libya. He’s made that quite definite. Our air power has significantly degraded his armor capabilities, his ability to use his armor against cities like Benghazi. We see them beginning to move back to the west, retreating.

So, this eventually is going to have to be settled by the Libyans themselves. Perhaps the UN can mediate or whatever. But in terms of the military commitment, the President has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do.

QUESTION: I want to ask you, Secretary Clinton, if I can, about the rest of the region, because there’s so much else that is happening, and I want to go to the map and go through these in turn.

First, as we look at the Broader Middle East, we look at Syria – deadly protests because of a government crackdown that have been occurring over the past few days. Is it the position of the government that we would like to see the Asad regime fall?

SECRETARY CLINTON: What we have said is what we’ve said throughout this extraordinary period of transformation in North Africa and the Middle East. We want to see no violence, we want to see peaceful protest that enables people to express their universal human rights, and we want to see economic and political reform. That’s what we’ve called on in Syria, that’s what we’ve called on other governments across the region to do.

QUESTION: What about Saudi Arabia? We go back to the map, as Secretary Gates – the King is quite upset with the President. The relationship has ruptured to the point that he has sent troops into Bahrain, he would not see both of you when you were in the region. What are we doing to fix a ruptured relationship with perhaps our most important partner in the region when it comes to oil as well as other matters?

SECRETARY GATES: Well, first of all, I don’t believe the relationship is ruptured. We have a very strong relationship with Saudi Arabia. I think that the Saudis see all of this turbulence in the region with some disquiet. They’re very concerned about Iran. They believe that Iran will be able to take advantage of the situation in various of these countries, and those are their concerns, and we share some of those concerns.

But I think it’s a great exaggeration to say this relationship’s ruptured. I intend to visit the region in the near term and hope and intend to see the King. So I think we have a very strong relationship, we have a very strong military-to-military relationship. As you know, the Saudis just made one of the largest purchases of American weapons in their history, so I think it’s overdrawn. Do we have some differences of view? Absolutely. But that’s – friends happen – that happens between friends all the time.

QUESTION: Back to the map. In addition to Yemen, I want to actually focus on Egypt, still the strategic cornerstone. Yemen, of course important, but it is in Egypt that is a strategic cornerstone of this region. What are we doing, Secretary Clinton, at this point, to try to assist the young secular movement that wants to find a way toward leadership that may be outmanned now by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak’s own party?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, David, first, we have historically done quite a bit in reaching out to the very young people you’re referring to. When I was just in Egypt, I met with a number of those who had been leaders of the activities in Tahrir Square and that were helping to translate that protest into political action. A lot of them had been in American Government-sponsored programs, they had been on visitation programs to the United States. And we are continuing to reach out and work with them and to try to provide support to them. It is hard moving from being in the forefront of a movement to being part of a political process. It’s hard in any country. But we’re going to stand with them and make sure that at least insofar as we’re able to, they get the support they need.

At the same time, though, we’re also working with the interim government in Egypt. Both Bob and I, when we were recently in Egypt, met with government officials and met with the military officials who are, for the time being, running the government. We want to assist them on the economic reform efforts that they’re undertaking. Now ultimately, this is up to the Egyptians. They’re going to have to make these decisions. But we’ve offered our advice and we’re offering aid where appropriate.

QUESTION: Secretary Gates, is Libya in our vital interest as a country?

SECRETARY GATES: No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of the region which is a vital interest for the United States.

QUESTION: I think a lot of people would hear that and say, “Well, that’s quite striking, not in our vital interests, and yet we’re committing military resources to it.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but then it wouldn’t be fair as to what Bob just said. I mean, did Libya attack us? No, they did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries? You just mentioned one, Egypt, the other Tunisia, that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders. Yes. Do they have a major influence on what goes on in Europe because of everything from oil to immigration?

And David, that raises a very important point because you showed on the map just a minute ago Afghanistan. We asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked; the attack came on us as we all tragically remember. They stuck with us. When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interests. The UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, “We have to act, because otherwise we’re seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.”

So let’s be fair here. They didn’t attack us, but what they were doing and Qadhafi’s history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob said, and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests.

QUESTION: Before you go, Secretary Clinton, I want to change the topic. A dear friend and supporter of yours, Geraldine Ferraro, has passed away unfortunately. And she was on this program back in 1984 when she was named onto the ticket to the presidency with Walter Mondale, and – the first woman, of course. And she was asked a question by Marvin Kalb at the time, and I want to show you that exchange and get you to react to it.

MR. KALB: Ms. Ferraro, could you push the nuclear button?

MS. FERRARO: I can do whatever is necessary in order to protect the security of this country.

MR. KALB: Including that?

MS. FERRARO: Yeah, even if it’s politically improper.

MR. KALB: And if you weren’t a woman, do you think you’d have been selected?

MS. FERRARO: That’s a double-edged sword so that – I don’t know. I don’t know, if I were not a woman, if I would be judged in the same way on my candidacy, whether or not I would be asked questions like, “Are you strong enough to push the button,” or that type —

QUESTION: How times have changed. She changed them and you, of course, changed them too for women in politics. What’s your reaction to seeing that and your reaction to her death?

SECRETARY CLINTON: It just makes me smile because she was an extraordinary pioneer, she was a path-breaker, she was everything that – now the commentators will say an icon, a legend. But she was down to earth, she was just as personal a friend as you could have, she was one of my fiercest defenders and most staunch supporters, she had a great family that she cherished and stood up for in every way.

And she went before many women to a political height that is very, very difficult still, and she navigated it with great grace and grit, and I think we owe her a lot. And I’ll certainly think about her every day, and thanks for asking me to reflect on it briefly, because she was a wonderful person.

QUESTION: Thank you both very much.



QUESTION: Appreciate it.


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Interview With Jake Tapper of ABC’s This Week

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Washington, DC
March 27, 2011

QUESTION: And joining me now in their first interview since the attacks on Libya began, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Madam and Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.

I’ll start with you, Secretary Gates. The mission is a no-fly zone and civilian protection, but does not include removing Qadhafi from power, even though regime change is stated U.S. policy. So why not have, as part of the mission, regime change, removing Qadhafi from power?

SECRETARY GATES: Well, first of all, I think you don’t want ever to set a set of goals or a mission – military mission where you can’t be confident of accomplishing your objectives. And as we have seen in the past, regime change is a very complicated business. It sometimes takes a long time. Sometimes it can happen very fast, but it was never part of the military mission.

QUESTION: NATO has assumed command and control for the no-fly zone, or is this weekend, but not yet for the civilian protection. When do we anticipate that happening?

SECRETARY GATES: I think Hillary’s been more engaged with that diplomacy than I have.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we hope, Jake, that NATO, which is making the military planning for the civilian protection mission, will meet in the next few days, make a decision, which we expect to be positive, to include that mission, and then just as the arms embargo and the no-fly zone has been transitioned to NATO command and control, the civilian protection mission will as well.

QUESTION: What do you say to the people in Ivory Coast or Syria who say, “Where’s our no-fly zone? We’re being killed by our government too.”

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s not an aircraft – there’s not an air force being used. There is not the same level of force. The situation is significantly different enough that the world has not come together. However, in Ivory Coast, we have a UN peacekeeping force which we are supporting. We’re beginning to see the world coalesce around the very obvious fact that Mr. Gbagbo no longer is president. Mr. Ouattara is the president.

So each of these situations is different, but in Libya, when a leader says spare nothing, show no mercy and calls out air force attacks on his own people, that crosses a line that people in the world had decided they could not tolerate.

QUESTION: When do we know that the mission is done? The no-fly zone has succeeded, civilian protection has stopped. When do you – when —

SECRETARY GATES: I would say, for all practical purposes, the implementation of the no-fly zone is complete. Now it will need to be sustained, but it can be sustained with a lot less effort than what it took to set it up. As I indicated in my testimony on the Hill, you don’t establish a no-fly zone by just declaring it. You go in and suppress the air defenses, and that mission is largely complete.

I think we have made a lot of progress on the humanitarian side and his ability to move armor, to move toward a Benghazi or a place like that has pretty well been eliminated. Now we’ll have to keep our eye on it because he still has ground forces at his beck and call. But the reality is they’re under a lot of pressure. Their logistics – there are some signs that they’re moving back to the west away from Ajdabiyah and other places.

So I think that we have prevented the large-scale slaughter that was beginning to take place, has taken place in some places. And so I think that we are at a point where the establishment of the no-fly zone and the protection of cities from the kind of wholesale military assault that we have seen, certainly in the east, has been accomplished and now we can move to sustainment.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Jake, I would just add two points to what Secretary Gates said. The United States Senate called for a no-fly zone in a resolution that it passed, I think, on March the 1st, and that mission is on the brink of having been accomplished. And there was a lot of congressional support to do something.

There is no perfect option when one is looking at a situation like this. I think that the President ordered the best available option. The United States worked with the international community to make sure that there was authorization to do what we have helped to accomplish.

But what is quite remarkable here is that NATO assuming the responsibility for the entire mission means that the United States will move to a supporting role. Just as our allies are helping us in Afghanistan where we bear the disproportionate amount of the sacrifice and the cost, we are supporting a mission through NATO that was very much initiated by European requests joined by Arab requests.

I think this is a watershed moment in international decision making. We learned a lot in the 1990s. We saw what happened in Rwanda. It took a long time in the Balkans, in Kosovo to deal with a tyrant. But I think – and what has happened since March 1st – and we’re not even done with the month – demonstrates really remarkable leadership.

SECRETARY GATES: I would just add one other thing, in sort of a concrete manifestation where we are in this, and that is we and the Department of Defense are already beginning to do our planning in terms of beginning to draw down resources, first from support of the no-fly zone and then from the humanitarian mission. Now that may not start in the next day or two, but I certainly expect it to in the very near future.

QUESTION: Well, and I wanted to follow on that. How long are we going to be there in that support role?

SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think the – as I say, we will begin diminishing the level of our engagement, the level of resources we have involved in this, but as long as there is a no-fly zone and we have some unique capabilities to bring to bear – for example, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, some tanking ability – we will continue to have a presence. But a lot of these – a lot of the forces that we will have available other than the ISR – are forces that are already assigned to Europe or have been assigned to Italy or are at sea in the Mediterranean.

QUESTION: I’ve heard NATO say that this – that they anticipate – that some NATO officials say this could be three months, but people in the Pentagon think it could be far longer than that. Do you think we’ll be gone by the end of the year? Will the mission be over by the end of the year?

SECRETARY GATES: I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that.

QUESTION: Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?

SECRETARY GATES: No, no. It was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about – the engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake. There was another piece of this, though, that certainly was a consideration. You’ve had revolutions on both the east and the west of Libya. They’re fragile.

QUESTION: Egypt and Tunisia.

SECRETARY GATES: Egypt and Tunisia. So you had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk, potentially, the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt. And that was another consideration I think we took into account.


QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, how does –

SECRETARY CLINTON: Jake, I just want to add too, because I know that there’s been a lot of questions, and those questions deserve to be asked and answered. The President is going to address the nation on Monday night.

Imagine we were sitting here and Benghazi had been overrun, a city of 700,000 people, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, hundreds of thousands had fled and, as Bob said, either with nowhere to go or overwhelming Egypt while it’s in its own difficult transition, and we were sitting here. The cries would be, “Why did the United States not do anything? Why – how could you stand by when France and the United Kingdom and other Europeans and the Arab League and your Arab partners were saying you’ve got to do something?” So every decision that we make is going to have plusses and minuses.

QUESTION: You heard the Secretary of Defense say that Libya did not pose an actual or imminent threat to the nation, and bearing in mind what you just said, I’m still wondering how the Administration reconciles the attack without congressional approval with then-candidate Obama saying in 2007 the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation and, as a senator, you yourself in 2007 said this about President Bush.

SENATOR CLINTON: If the administration believes that any – any use of force against Iran is necessary, the president must come to Congress to seek that authority.

QUESTION: Why not go to Congress?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we would welcome congressional support, but I don’t think that this kind of internationally authorized intervention where we are one of a number of countries participating to enforce a humanitarian mission is the kind of unilateral action that either I or President Obama were speaking of several years ago. I think that this had a limited timeframe, a very clearly defined mission, which we are in the process of fulfilling.

QUESTION: I want to get to a couple other topics before you guys go, and one of them is in Yemen. President Saleh, a crucial ally in counterterrorism, seems quite on his way out. Secretary Gates, you said this week we have not done any post-Saleh planning. How dangerous is a post-Saleh world, a post-Saleh Yemen, to the United States?

SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think it is a real concern, because the most active and, at this point, perhaps the most aggressive branch of al-Qaida – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula – operates out of Yemen. And we have had a lot of counterterrorism cooperation from President Saleh and Yemeni security services. So if that government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we’ll face some additional challenges out of Yemen. There’s no question about it. It’s a real problem.

QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, on Pakistan, Pakistan has been trying to block U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the FATA region, it continues to work with terrorists to attack India, it held a U.S. diplomat in its prisons for several weeks, as I don’t need to tell you. Has this relationship gotten worse in the last six months, U.S.-Pakistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jake, it’s a very challenging relationship because there have been some problems. We were very appreciative of getting our diplomat out of Pakistan, and that took cooperation by the Government of Pakistan. We have cooperated very closely together in going after terrorists who pose a threat to both us and to the Pakistanis themselves. But it’s a very difficult relationship because Pakistan is in a hard position trying to figure out how it’s going to contend with its own internal extremist threat. But I think on the other hand, we’ve also developed good lines of communication, good opportunities for cooperation, but it’s something we have to work on every day.

QUESTION: And finally, we’ve talked a bit about the end of this operation, how it ends. I’m wondering if you can envision the United States supporting a plan where Qadhafi is exiled. Would the U.S. be willing to support safe haven, immunity from prosecution, and access to funds as a way to end this conflict?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jake, we are nowhere near that kind of negotiation. I’ll be going to London on Tuesday for a conference that the British Government is hosting. There will be a number of countries, not only those participating in the enforcement of the resolution, but also those who are pursuing political and other interventions. And the United Nations has a special envoy who will also be actively working with Qadhafi and those around him.

We have sent a clear message that it is time for him to transition out of power. The African Union has now called for a democratic transition. We think that there will be developments along that line in the weeks and months ahead, but I can’t, sitting here today, predict to you exactly how it’s going to play out. But we believe that Libya will have a better shot in the future if he departs and leaves power.

QUESTION: All right. Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, thank you so much for joining us.


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The experienced members of the Obama cabinet will appear on Face the Nation and Meet the Press Sunday morning. This comes in the run up to Hillary Clinton’s participation on Tuesday in a meeting about Libya called by the UK and to be held in London. It precedes President Obama’s address to the nation about the situation in Libya scheduled for Monday.   Wednesday, HRC, Gates, and Admiral Mike Mullen, head of the Joint Chiefs, will testify before the House Committee  on Foreign Affairs.

I am a little confused about how this administration works. The secretaries explain, then the president proclaims. Odd. It is usually the reverse, is it not?  Never do today what you can put off to Monday!  Hey! It’s all cool!  (Isn’t it?)

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