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Posts Tagged ‘U. S. Department of Defense’

When the POTUS is scheduled to speak to the Boy Scout Jamboree during the week his own administration has designated “American Heroes Week,” you would expect an inspiring speech citing a variety of patriotic historical figures and lessons young people can draw from their examples. It did not go that way. Instead Donald Trump used raw language, talked about yacht parties, and encouraged his teenaged audience to boo Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.  Most found it unseemly. Many were shocked. That was how the week began.

Then there was shock #2.

Some way to celebrate American heroes!

The blindsided Joint Chiefs and Pentagon, not to mention the rank and file, spent Wednesday and Thursday trying to untangle what those tweets were supposed to mean. Meanwhile, a great many Americans celebrated transgendered troops on the social nets. Protests are planned this weekend.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, the Senate was preparing for a vote-a-rama intended by the Republicans to repeal the ACA (Affordable Care Act) also known as “Obamacare.” One by one the proposed Republican “bills” were defeated. The real action began late Thursday night with a defeated Democratic motion to move the bill to committee. When the last bill came up for a vote, it was after 1 a.m. EDT. This one, known as the “skinny repeal,” was simply a hollow shell.

There was high drama on the Senate floor. Pence appeared and conferred with John McCain. Observers speculated about the conversations, body language, gestures as senators milled around on the floor. Shock and awe! In the end, three courageous Republicans, one a veteran the other two women, voted against the bad bill. The Democrats voted against it in lock step.

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, closeup

So thank you, John McCain, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski!  Thank you also, all the Democrats who voted against this potentially harmful bill. You are American heroes! You saved health insurance for millions.

Let’s be clear on this too: none of this would have happened had it not been for the grassroots. Thank you, everyone who made phone calls, went to town halls, demonstrated at the Capitol and legislators’ offices, sent emails, and signed petitions. Thank you to the Resistance! American heroes!

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton congratulates President Barack Obama on the House vote to pass health care reform, prior to a meeting in the Situation Room of the White House, March 22, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

“American Heroes Week” was full of surprises, some awesome, some shocking and confusing.

We lost a four-legged war hero this week too. See the touching story of USMC Corporal Jeff De Young and his  partner, Cena – a bomb sniffing dog.

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Remarks With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan and Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Republic of Korea Kim Sung-Hwan, Minister of National Defense of the Republic of Korea Kim Kwan-Jin
Thomas Jefferson Room
Washington, DC
June 14, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me welcome all of you, particularly our Korean friends, to the Thomas Jefferson Room here in the State Department. Today, Secretary Panetta and I hosted the second session of the U.S.-Republic of Korea Foreign and Defense Ministerial Consultation, what we call our 2+2 meeting. And it is a great pleasure to welcome Foreign Minister Kim and Defense Minister Kim to Washington as we continue to find ways to strengthen the global alliance and cooperation between our countries.

Today we discussed how our partnership has advanced in the three years since our two presidents set forth their joint vision for the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States. We are combating piracy together in the Indian Ocean, investing in sustainable development in Africa, promoting democracy and the rule of law and human rights around the world. It would be difficult to list all the ways we are working together.

We touched on how we are deepening our economic cooperation. Just a few months ago, the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement officially entered into force, and it is already creating jobs and opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.

It is fitting that today is the Global Economic Statecraft Day at the State Department, because around the world in all of our embassies we are highlighting economic cooperation. And our relationship with the Republic of Korea is a textbook example of how our economic statecraft agenda can boost growth and create jobs.

As Korea has developed into an economic powerhouse, it has also steadily assumed greater responsibilities as a global leader. Today, it is an anchor of stability in the Asia Pacific and a go-to partner for the United States.

On the security side of our dialogue, we reaffirmed our commitment to the strategic alliance between our countries. Secretary Panetta will speak to our military cooperation, but I want to emphasize that the United States stands shoulder to shoulder with the Republic of Korea, and we will meet all of our security commitments. As part of this, we discussed further enhancements of our missile defense and ways to improve the interoperability of our systems.

Today we also agreed to expand our security cooperation to cover the increasing number of threats from cyberspace. I am pleased to announce that the United States and Korea will launch a bilateral dialogue on cyber issues. Working together, we can improve the security of our government, military, and commercial infrastructure, and better protect against cyber attacks.

With regard to North Korea, our message remains unchanged. North Korea must comply with its international obligations under UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874. It must abandon its nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programs, including programs for uranium enrichment. And it must finally put the welfare of its own people first and respect the rights of its own citizens. Only under these circumstances will North Korea be able to end its isolation from the international community and alleviate the suffering of its people.

So again let me thank the ministers for our excellent discussions. And let me thank the Korean people for the friendship between our countries that continues to grow.

And now let me turn it over to Foreign Minister Kim.

FOREIGN MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Let me first thank Secretary Clinton and Secretary Panetta for inviting Minister Kim and I to the ROK-U.S. 2+2 ministerial meeting. This meeting was first held for the first time in 2000 in Seoul. That was 60 years since the Korean War. And I am pleased that we held today the second 2+2 ministerial meeting this time in Washington. We took note that a number of alliance issues are proceeding as planned, and we had our agreement in that this will contribute to a greater combined defense system.

And we also agreed that should North Korea provoke again, then that we will show a very decisive response to such provocation. But we also shared our view that the road to dialogue and cooperation is open should North Korea stop its provocation and show a genuine change in its attitude by taking concrete measures.

Also, in order to enhance deterrence against North Korea’s potential provocation using nuclear and conventional forces, we decided to develop more effective and concrete (inaudible) policies. We also agreed to promote bilateral cooperation regarding North Korea, just as Secretary Clinton just mentioned, against cyber security threats, and will in this regard launch a whole-of-government consultative body.

We are concerned the human rights situation, the quality of life of the North Korean people, have reached a serious level and urge the North Korean Government to respect the human rights of its people and to improve their living condition.

The Republic of Korea welcomes the U.S. policy that places emphasis on the Asia Pacific. We agree that the increased U.S. role within the Asia Pacific region will greatly contribute to peace and stability in this region. We welcome the efforts of the Government of Myanmar to advance democracy and improve human rights and continue supporting such efforts.

Today’s meeting was very productive and meaningful in that it allowed us to review the current status of the alliance. And we also agreed to discuss a way forward for our strategic cooperation. We’ll continue to hold this 2+2 ministerial meeting in the future.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Secretary Clinton, Ministers, I was very pleased to be able to participate in this very important 2+2 meeting. I want to commend Secretary Clinton for her leadership in guiding us through this discussion, and also thank both ministers for their participation.

I’ve been very fortunate over the past year, since becoming Secretary of Defense, to have developed a very strong working relationship with my Korean counterparts. I’ve been – I made a visit to Korea last fall, and we have had a series of consultations such as this 2+2. I just returned, as many of you know, from a two-week trip to the Asia Pacific region, where I met with Minister Kim at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. And at the time, I made clear that the United States has made an enduring commitment to the security and prosperity of the Asia Pacific region, including the Korean Peninsula.

I also made clear that our military will rebalance towards the Asia Pacific region as part of our new defense strategy. As part of that strategy, even though the U.S. military will be smaller in the future, we will maintain a strong force presence in Korea which reflects the importance that we attach to that relationship and to the security mission that we are both involved with.

The United States and the Republic of Korea face many common security challenges in the Asia Pacific region and around the world, and today, we affirmed our commitment to forging a common strategic approach to addressing those challenges. I’m very pleased that we are progressing on our schedule to achieve the goals that we outlined in our Strategic Alliance 2015 base plan. We remain on track to transition operational control by December 2015 in accordance with the base plan timeline.

As the Strategic Alliance 2015 initiative proceeds, we will continue to consult closely with the Republic of Korea in order to ensure that the steps that we are taking are mutually beneficial and strengthen our alliance. During our meeting, we also discussed ways that we can further strengthen our alliance, including greater cooperation in the area of cyber security. To that end, we are making our bilateral military exercises more realistic through the introduction of cyber and network elements.

Another way to strengthen and modernize our alliance is by expanding our ongoing trilateral collaboration with Japan. On my trip to Asia, I was pleased to participate in a trilateral discussion that included the Republic of Korea and Japan, because this kind of security cooperation helps strengthen regional security and provides the additional deterrent with respect to North Korea. I’d like to thank the ministers again for their commitment to this alliance, and I look forward to hosting Minister Kim in Washington for the 44th Security Consultative Meeting in October. This alliance has stood the test of time, and today, we affirmed that it will remain an essential force for security and for prosperity in the 21st century.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Defense Minister.

DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Today’s 2+2 ministerial meeting was held at a strategically critical moment amid continuing provocation threats from North Korea and volatile security environment in North Korea, a time which calls for a proactive alliance response.

Through today’s meeting, the two countries confirmed once again that the ROK-U.S. alliance is more solid than ever, and made it very clear that the alliance will strongly and consistently respond to any North Korean provocation, in particular regarding North Korean nuclear and missile threat. The ROK and the U.S. agreed to strengthen policy coordination to reaffirm the strong U.S. commitment to provide extended deterrents and to develop extended deterrent policies in an effective and substantial way. We also agreed to strengthen alliance capability against North Korea’s increasing asymmetric threats such as cyber threats like the DDoS attack and GPS jammings.

Furthermore, the two countries confirmed that the 2015 transition of operational control and the building of a new combined defense system are progressing as planned. We also confirmed that they were – ROK military will acquire the critical – military capabilities needed to lead the combined defense, and the U.S. military will provide bridging and engineering capabilities.

The two countries also confirmed that USFK bases relocation projects such as YRP and LPP are well underway and agreed to work to ensure that these projects are completed in time. We assess that combined exercises in the West Sea and Northwest Islands deter North Korean provocation and greatly contribute to the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula. We agreed to continue these exercises under close bilateral coordination.

Next year marks the 60th anniversary of the ROK-U.S. alliance which was born in 1953 with the signing of the ROK-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty. In the past six decades, the two countries worked to ensure a perfect security of the peninsula and have developed the alliance into the most successful alliance in history. In the future, the two countries will expand and deepen the scope and level of defense cooperation from the Korean Peninsula, and to the regional and global security issues, will continue evolving the alliance into the best alliance in the world for the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula, and of the world. Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Scott starts.

QUESTION: Can we do it the reverse? I’m sorry. Scott and I always do this, get it a little confused. But in any case, thank you, Madam Secretary. I’d like to start out with Egypt, please. What is your reaction to dissolving parliament? Is this a step backwards?

And then also on Syria: For the second day in the media and the news, we’re talking about the weapons and the helicopters. By making this such a high-profile issue – and by pinning your strategy of shaming the Russians, are you running the risk of allowing Moscow to define what happens or doesn’t happen in Syria? In other words, I guess, where is the American strategy?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, with regard to Egypt, we are obviously monitoring the situation. We are engaged with Cairo about the implications of today’s court decision. So I won’t comment on the specifics until we know more.

But that said, throughout this process, the United States has stood in support of the aspirations of the Egyptian people for a peaceful, credible, and permanent democratic transition. Now ultimately, it is up to the Egyptian people to determine their own future. And we expect that this weekend’s presidential election will be held in an atmosphere that is conducive to it being peaceful, fair, and free. And in keeping with the commitments that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces made to the Egyptian people, we expect to see a full transfer of power to a democratically elected, civilian government.

There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people. The decisions on specific issues, of course, belong to the Egyptian people and their elected leaders. And they’ve made it clear that they want a president, a parliament, and a constitutional order that will reflect their will and advance their aspirations for political and economic reform. And that is exactly what they deserve to have.

Let me also note that we are concerned about recent decrees issued by the SCAF. Even if they are temporary, they appear to expand the power of the military to detain civilians and to roll back civil liberties.

Now regarding Syria, I spoke extensively about Syria yesterday. Our consultations with the United Nations, our allies and partners, and the Syrian opposition continue on the best way forward. Today, my deputy, Bill Burns, had a constructive meeting in Kabul with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. We don’t see eye to eye on all of the issues, but our discussions continue. And President Obama will see President Putin during the G-20 in Mexico.

We’re also intensifying our work with Special Envoy Kofi Annan on a viable post-Assad transition strategy. And I look forward to talking to him in the days ahead about setting parameters for the conference that he and I have discussed and that he is discussing with many international partners. Our work with the Syrian opposition also continues. Ambassador Ford is in Istanbul today for a conference with the opposition that Turkey is hosting.

So we’re working on multiple fronts. I think our strategy is very clear. We want to see an end to the violence, and we want to see the full implementation of Kofi Annan’s plans, including the political transition so that the people of Syria have the same opportunity that the people of the Republic of Korea or the United States have to choose their own leaders and to build their own future. And the work is urgent, because as you know, the Syrian Government continues to attack its own people, and the bloodshed has not ceased. And we have to do everything we can to end the violence and create a framework for a transition.

MS. NULAND: Next question: Kang Eui-Young from Yonhap News, please.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Thank you for the opportunity to give you question. I’m – name is Kang from the Yonhap News Agency. My question is for Minister – Defense Minister Kim. It is written in this statement that you have decided to develop a comprehensive alliance approach towards the missile defense. I want to know what this means. If you are referring to the missile defense, are you intending to build a Korea air missile defense or are you saying that you will be integrated into a U.S.-led missile defense? Could you elaborate on what missile defense system you are envisioning? You mention comprehensive alliance defense system. What – how does this build into the U.S.-led assistance?

DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) The position of the ROK military regarding the missile defense is this given the terrain of the Korean Peninsula. The most effective approach is a low-tier defense. And how will this be linked to the U.S. missile defense system? This is of the analysis – the studies that are being conducted right now. That’s what I mean by saying an effective combined air defense system.

QUESTION: Secretary Panetta, is the United States expanding intelligence gathering across Africa using small, unarmed, turbo-prop aircraft disguised as private planes, as reported by The Washington Post?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I’m not going to discuss classified operations in that region, other than to say that we make an effort to work with all of the nations in that region to confront common threats and common challenges. And we have closely consulted and closely worked with our partners to develop approaches that make sure that the nations of that very important region do not confront the kind of serious threats that could jeopardize their peace and prosperity.

MODERATOR: Today’s last question will be from Ju Young Jim of SBS.

QUESTION: (Via interpreter) Reporter from the SBS, Ju. This is a question for Defense Minister Kim and Secretary Panetta. Right now, the Korean media is dealing – covering very extensively about the range extension of the Korean ballistic missiles and that the ROK side is insisting on 800 kilometer whereas the U.S. is insisting on 500 kilometer, where although the countries have agreed on the payload. Senator Carl Levin said that he is positive when it comes to the range extension. Has this issue been discussed at the 2+2, and will the two countries be able to show a concrete outcome by the end of the year?

One additional question is – this one is for Secretary Clinton. Kim Jong-un, the new leader, he has taken over his father, deceased father, and is now already six month as the new leader. How do you assess his leadership so far?

DEFENSE MINISTER KIM: (Via interpreter) Let me first address this range extension issue. This is still being discussed on the working level. This issue was not dealt at today’s 2+2 ministerial meeting.

SECRETARY PANETTA: In consultation and negotiations with the Republic of Korea with regards to this area, I think we’re making good progress. And our hope is that we can arrive at an agreeable solution soon.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Regarding the new leader in North Korea, I believe leaders are judged by what they do to help their people have better lives, whether they create stability and security, prosperity, opportunity. And this new young leader has a choice to make, and we are hoping that he will make a choice that benefits all of his people.

And we also believe strongly that North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only continue to isolate the country and provide no real opportunity for engagement and work toward a better future. And so we hope that the new leadership in Pyongyang will live up to its agreements, will not engage in threats and provocations, will put the North Korean people first. Rather than spending money on implements of war, feed your people, provide education and healthcare, and lift your people out of poverty and isolation.

This young man, should he make a choice that would help bring North Korea into the 21st century, could go down in history as a transformative leader. Or he can continue the model of the past and eventually North Korea will change, because at some point people cannot live under such oppressive conditions – starving to death, being put into gulags, and having their basic human rights denied. So we’re hoping that he will chart a different course for his people.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

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Remarks With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Philippines Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, and Philippines Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin After Their Meeting

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Treaty Room
Washington, DC
April 30, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON:Good afternoon. It is such a pleasure for me to welcome our colleagues from the Philippines, Secretary del Rosario and Secretary Gazmin. And I am always happy to welcome my longtime friend and colleague, Secretary Panetta.Today we held the first ever 2+2 meeting between the United States and the Philippines, a testament to our shared commitment to write a new chapter in the partnership between our two countries. With the growing security and economic importance of the Asia Pacific, the United States is actively working to strengthen our alliances, build new partnerships, and engage more systematically in the region’s multilateral institutions.

At the heart of this strategy is our effort to deepen and broaden our alliance with our friend and treaty ally, the Philippines. This alliance is rooted not just in a deep history of shared democratic values but in a wide range of mutual concerns. And today we had a chance to cover a number of them.

First we discussed our bilateral military cooperation. Our alliance has helped keep both of our countries secure for more than 60 years, and it has been a bulwark of peace and stability in Asia. Today the United States reaffirms our commitment and obligations under the mutual defense treaty.

We also discussed steps we are taking to ensure that our countries are fully capable of addressing both the challenges and the opportunities posed in the region in the 21st century. We need to continue working together to counter violent extremism, to work on addressing natural disasters, maritime security, and transnational crime.

We also discussed the evolving regional security situation. We both share deep concerns about the developments on the Korean Peninsula and events in the South China Sea, including recent tensions surrounding the Scarborough Shoal. In this context, the United States has been clear and consistent. While we do not take sides on the competing sovereignty claims to land features in the South China Sea, as a Pacific power we have a national interest in freedom of navigation, the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, and the unimpeded, lawful commerce across our sea lanes. The United States supports a collaborative diplomatic process by all those involved for resolving the various disputes that they encounter. We oppose the threat or use of force by any party to advance its claims. And we will remain in close contact with our ally, the Philippines. I look forward to continuing to work closely with the foreign secretary as we approach the ASEAN Regional Forum in July.

Finally, we discussed the maturing economic relationship between our countries as well as our shared commitment to enhanced development, trade, and investment. We would like to see the Philippines join the Trans Pacific Partnership trade community. The foreign secretary raised the Philippines’ interest in seeking passage of the Save our Industries Act, and we have conveyed that message to the United States Congress. And of course, I complimented the Philippines and the Aquino government on the progress with our Partnership for Growth and the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact.

So once again, colleagues and friends, we appreciate your participating in this first ever 2+2, and we look forward to our future cooperation.

Secretary del Rosario.

SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Thank you very much, Madam Secretary. I am honored to be here. Today marks a milestone in the alliance and strategic partnership of the Philippines and the United States. For the first time, we held our 2+2 consultations at the ministerial level. Our consultations were timely. Discussions on key issues of common interest to us were conducted within the context of our respective domestic concerns as well as the challenges and opportunities which coexist in the Asia Pacific region. The 2+2 consultations paved the way for us to revisit the bilateral engagement between the Philippines and the United States. It opened an avenue for us to consider ways of fine-tuning our relations as we adapt to changing circumstances both in our region and the world at large. Thus, the focal points of our consultations were how best to keep our alliance relevant and responsive to each other’s needs.

We reaffirmed our shared obligations under our mutual defense treaty and underscored the necessity of ensuring that our alliance remains robust, agile, and responsive. We committed to jointly explore modalities by which the President could build a minimum credible defense posture and agreed to prioritize high-value and high-impact joint military exercises and training to meet our common objectives, including maritime security.

Moreover, we reaffirmed our common interest in maintaining freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce and transit of peoples, as well as a rules-based multilateral, peaceful approach in resolving competing claims in maritime areas within the framework of international law, including UNCLOS.

In the field of economic and development cooperation, we agreed to accelerate the implementation of the Partnership for Growth, which aims to establish an inclusive growth path for the Philippines as well as the Millennium Challenge Compact to reduce poverty in our country.

The Philippines and the United States shall endeavor to increase bilateral trade and investment as well as tourism exchanges. We agreed to continue discussions on Philippine interest to eventually join the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. In the area of good governance, we shall promote the establishment of a national justice information system for the Philippines. We will also work to sustain our partnership in combating human trafficking.

In the multilateral arena, we both expressed support for efforts to increase cooperation in the ASEAN, in APEC, and in the East Asia Summit. Beyond doubt, the combined action of the Philippines and the U.S. in promoting converting interests and shared objectives would propel our alliance and strategic partnership towards a higher trajectory at a faster velocity.

Our just-concluded 2+2 consultations is the latest impetus in sustaining this positive momentum. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Secretary Panetta.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Good afternoon. I’d like to join Secretary Clinton in saying what a great pleasure it was to host Secretary del Rosario and Secretary Gazmin for one of the first 2 by 2 meetings here in Washington with the Philippines. I look forward to hosting Secretary Gazmin for dinner at the Pentagon this evening.

We had a very successful meeting today with our Filipino counterparts, and we discussed a number of ways our governments can work more closely together to strengthen the importance alliance that we have to deepen our engagements and to find shared solutions to the joint security goals that we share.
Our two nations have forged deep and abiding ties through shared sacrifice and common purpose. Seventy years ago this month, American and Filipino soldiers fought and bled together shoulder to shoulder during the opening battles of World War II at Corregidor and Bataan. Through dark days, and many of those dark days fought together, our forces joined again in 1944 to begin the hard-fought battle to liberate the Philippines. We honor that legacy with our renewed commitment to this U.S.-Philippine alliance.

Ours is an alliance and a friendship built on historic ties, common democratic values, and a shared desire to provide our two peoples a prosperous and more secure future. I want to emphasize how deeply the U.S. values this great partnership and the importance of the Mutual Defense Treaty that remains the cornerstone of our security relationship. Working together, our forces successfully are countering terrorist groups in the southern Philippines. We are improving the Philippines maritime presence and capabilities with the transfer of a second high-endurance cutter this year. We are working to expand and improve joint ISR programs and our ability to counter cyber attacks. And I’m pleased to see the close cooperation being built between our forces through training and exercises such as the recently completed exercise Balikatan in 2012.

The new U.S. defense strategy that we rolled out earlier this year recognized that one of the important regions of the world that we must focus on and that America’s future security depends on is the Asia Pacific region. As a resident Pacific power, the United States is committed to a rule-based regional order that promotes viable and vibrant trade and the freedom of navigation. We are enhancing our defense cooperation and expanding security partnerships throughout the region in order to sustain peace and stability, and we are committed to continuing our robust, stabilizing presence in that region.

I look forward to sitting down later today with Secretary Gazmin to discuss, among other things, how we can deepen our engagement in ways that enhance this very important alliance and that promote our common vision of regional security in a very important Asia Pacific region. Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Secretary Gazmin.

SECRETARY GAZMIN: Good afternoon. Today’s meeting was a manifestation of the mutual desire of the Philippines and the U.S. to further deepen our strategic partnership. After watching our alliance endure through the years, we deem it crucial to prepare for the security challenges of today and tomorrow.
This is why we decided to hold the first 2+2 meeting, to be able to exchange views on how to formulate adoptive and responsive strategic policies. We have reached a critical juncture in our alliance, where our concerns in both traditional and nontraditional aspects of our security have become much more intertwined. While we are sustaining the gains for successful efforts in various areas of cooperation, we need to intensify our mutual trust to uphold maritime security and the freedom of navigation and thereby contribute to the peace and stability of the region.
Meanwhile, the effects of natural disasters have become too disastrous and thus necessitate greater cooperation for expedient and effective response. We look forward to working together and consult one another on how to improve the capability to uphold maritime security and institutionalize efficient humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

Keeping these two objectives in mind, we look forward in working as reliable allies that contribute to the peace and stability in the region. We are also mindful that our efforts to further our alliance need to be in full consideration of our respective national laws and political context.

Thank you and good afternoon.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: We’ll take two from each side today. We’ll start with NBC, Andrea Mitchell.

QUESTION: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, thank you. I know you can’t get into the specifics of the Chen Guangcheng case, but the whole world is watching. And already Mitt Romney has said that any serious U.S. policy towards China has to confront the facts of the lack of political freedoms and other human rights abuses. So can we be sure that your interests, America’s interests in these talks in strategic issues such as Iran and Syria and North Korea and trade will not take precedence over human rights? And what are your concerns about all the activists who have now gone missing and the fate of Mr. Chen’s family?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andrea, I look forward to traveling to China this evening. We will be going to Beijing for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. We have a full range of issues that covers all of the political and economic matters that are of concern to our nations and our people. I’m not going to address the specific case at this time, but I just want to put it in a broader context.

The U.S.-China relationship is important. It’s important not only to President Obama and me, but it’s important to the people of the United States and the world, and we’ve worked hard to build an effective, constructive, comprehensive relationship that allows us to find ways to work together. Now a constructive relationship includes talking very frankly about those areas where we do not agree, including human rights. That is the spirit that is guiding me as I take off for Beijing tonight, and I can certainly guarantee that we will be discussing every matter, including human rights, that is pending between us.

QUESTION: And those people who have gone missing?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have nothing to add to what I’ve said at this time. I have a full agenda of many issues of great concern to us, including human rights and the freedom and free movement of people inside China who have a right to exercise those freedoms under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

MS. NULAND: Next question, Jose (inaudible).

QUESTION: Mr. del Rosario, the standoff at the Scarborough Shoal is into its fourth week now. Did you get an unequivocal assurance from the U.S. it will come to the aid of the Philippines if shots are fired? And what was the type or form?

Also, short of shots being fired, how do you see the endgame of Scarborough being played out if China cannot be persuaded diplomatically to withdraw its vessels from the area?

SECRETARY DEL ROSARIO: Those are several questions rolled into one, my friend, but let me begin from your last question. We do have a three-track approach to endeavoring to solve the problem that we currently have with China in the Scarborough Shoal. It encompasses three tracks.

The first track is the political track. We are pursuing the ASEAN as a framework for a solution to this problem through a code of conduct that we are trying to put together and ultimately approve. Hopefully that will quiet the situation.

Secondly, we are pursuing a legal track, and the legal track involves our pursuing a dispute settlement mechanism under UNCLOS. There are five of them. We think that we can avail of one or two of those mechanisms, even without the presence of China.

Thirdly, we are pursuing a diplomatic approach, such as the one that we are undertaking, which is to have consultations with China in an attempt to defuse the situation.

In terms of U.S. commitment, I think the U.S. has been very clear that they do not get involved in territorial disputes, but that they are firm in terms of taking a position for a – towards a peaceful settlement of the disputes in the South China Sea towards a multilateral approach and towards the use of a rules-based regime in accordance with international law, specifically UNCLOS. They have expressed that they will honor their obligations under the Mutual Defense Treaty.

MS. NULAND: Next, Cami McCormick from CBS News.

QUESTION: Secretary Panetta, this is for you. White House Counterterrorism official John Brennan today spoke openly for the first time about drones. He said the – President Obama wanted more transparency on this issue and more openness. As former CIA director and now Defense Secretary, I’m wondering, is there some national security benefit to talking about this now? Why was the decision made? And what are your thoughts on it?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I’m going to let the speech speak for itself. All I’ll say is that this country has engaged in a number of operations, both covert and overt, to go after al-Qaida and our terrorist allies – or their terrorist allies. And we have been very successful at weakening al-Qaida as a result of that. This is a group that attacked this country on 9/11, and we have made clear that we are going to do everything we can to defend this country, using every means possible. And the means we use are those that we feel are most effective to go after al-Qaida.

MS. NULAND: The last question today, (inaudible) Times.

QUESTION: My question is for Secretary Gazmin. Secretary, in light of the current Chinese-Philippines standoff in Scarborough Shoal, what kind of assistance have you asked to bolster Manila’s ability to patrol its waters and to deter what you call intrusions?

SECRETARY GAZMIN: Thank you for the question. The assistance we have sought is to help us bring the case to international legal bodies, so that the approach is the legal rules-based approach in resolving the issue in the South China Sea or the West Philippine Sea.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.

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Interview With Wolf Blitzer of CNN

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
NATO Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium
April 19, 2012

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for joining us.

SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re glad to be here with you.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about Afghanistan briefly – $2 billion a week in U.S. taxpayer dollars being spent to maintain that troop level, the assistance to the Afghan people. Is this money well spent right now, $100 billion a year for another two-and-a-half years?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, Wolf, we are in a transition, and as we transition, the Afghan security forces are stepping up to protect their own people. And as we saw over the weekend with those deplorable attacks, luckily they were not successful. And that was because the Afghan security forces, which our soldiers and others of the NATO-ISAF alliance have been training and mentoring. So I think that if you look, as we do, at the progress that has been made on the security side but also in other indicators – health and education and the economy – there is definite progress. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy, but we are on the way to fulfilling the commitment that President Obama made about moving toward the 2014 deadline for the end of combat operations.

QUESTION: So this is money well spent, hundreds of billions of additional dollars? Is that what you’re saying?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think you can certainly find fault with any kind of war, and this has been a war. You can go back and look at any of the wars that the United States has fought. But if you consider why we’re there and the fact that, thank goodness, we’ve not been attacked again since 9/11, and we have dismantled al-Qaida thanks to a lot of great work when Leon was at the CIA before going to the Defense Department, I think there’s no doubt that America is more secure, Afghanistan is more secure, but we’re not resting on our laurels. We’re looking forward to what kind of relationship we all will have, NATO and the United States, after 2014 to help Afghanistan continue on this path.

QUESTION: You trust Afghan President, Mr. Secretary, Hamid Karzai?

SECRETARY PANETTA: He is the leader of Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Do you trust him?

SECRETARY PANETTA: (Inaudible.) I mean, I’ve sat down with him. I talk with him. We talk very frankly with each other. And he is the leader and he is the person we have to deal with.

QUESTION: Does that mean you trust him, though?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I mean, certainly you trust the leaders that you have to deal with, but you always kind of watch your back at the same time.

QUESTION: That doesn’t sound like a ringing endorsement of the leader of Afghanistan.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, it’s true for any leader we deal with.

QUESTION: This one has said awful things about the United States.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, I understand. And obviously, that’s been a concern. But at the same time, we have had the ability to directly relate to him when it comes to some of the major issues that we’ve had to —

QUESTION: When you served in Congress, you were on the budget committee, as I well remember. Hundred billion dollars, you know what that kind of money can spend in the United States during these tough economic times, and the American public is increasingly frustrated when they see this money is being spent in Afghanistan rather than in the United States.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I understand what you’re saying, Wolf, but you know what? The whole purpose of this is to protect the American people. That’s what this war is about.

QUESTION: But bin Ladin is dead.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I know, but the reality is that the attack on the United States on 9/11 was planned from where? It was planned from Afghanistan. And our mission there is to make sure that we have an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself and it never again can become a safe haven for terrorists who would plan attacks on our country. That’s what this war is all about.

QUESTION: But you know that U.S. intelligence officials have told Congress there are more al-Qaida operatives in Somalia right now than in Afghanistan.

SECRETARY PANETTA: The danger is this, that if we don’t succeed in Afghanistan, then there is the real probability that the Taliban will come back, establish the same kind of safe havens that they have in the past. And who will be the first people to take advantage of it? Al-Qaida. That’s what we have to protect against.

QUESTION: Are we asking too much of these American troops who spend three, four, five tours of duty? And now these reports – posing once again with dead bodies of Taliban fighters, urinating on dead bodies, burning Qu’rans. One American soldier starts killing 17 Afghan civilians, including children. Is the stress too much to bear right now on these troops?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, there’s – look, there’s no question we’ve been 10 years at war. And obviously, 10 years of war takes a toll on people and families. But the reality is that the vast majority of our men and women in uniform have performed according to the highest standards that we expect of them. And for every one incident that we sometimes read about and the kind of atrocious behavior that we all condemn, there are a hundred incidents where our people have helped Afghans or they have performed courageously in battle.

So I’ve been there a number of times, as has the Secretary. I’ve got to tell you that I am always impressed by the quality of our people that are fighting the battle on behalf of the United States.

QUESTION: Let’s talk about Iran. As you know, these talks with the Iranians are continuing. Another meeting is scheduled for May 23rd. The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, says – and I’m quoting now, when he heard about the – there’ll be another round on May 23rd, he said, “My initial impression is that Iran has been given a freebie.” A freebie.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that is not accurate because what came out of the first meeting was a commitment to a second meeting with a work plan between the two meetings. We are really getting down to testing whether or not there is a willingness on the part of the Iranians to reach some kind of negotiated resolution —

QUESTION: Are you encouraged by the first round?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe that the first round was positive because, from our assessment, after having no contact for 15 months, the Iranians came back to the table at a time when sanctions are really continuing to put a lot of pressure on the Iranian Government and are willing to talk about their nuclear program, which is an important, positive step.

Now we have a long way to go, and this has got to be very clearly laid out as to what the international community expects, what is acceptable, of course, to the United States since we are at the table with the P-5+1. But there is a chance – and I don’t want to oversell it – that between now and the second meeting, we will hammer out what the international community, represented by the so-called P-5+1, requires of Iran and what Iran is willing to do.

QUESTION: And if they do take these measures, will you encourage the alliance to slow down on these economic sanctions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t answer that because it’s so hypothetical right now. I believe in very clear action for action. We have to see what the Iranians are willing to do, then we have to make sure they do it, and then we have to reciprocate. That’s what a negotiation is all about. And right now, we are still in the testing stage.

QUESTION: If they don’t do what you want them to do, the Iranians, are you – and you’re the Defense Secretary – ready to use military force to destroy their nuclear capabilities?

SECRETARY PANETTA: As the President has pointed out, and as I’ve pointed out, we are prepared with all options on the table if we have to respond.

QUESTION: And is there a plan in place? Because I know the Pentagon; I used to cover the Pentagon. There are always contingency plans for everything. Do you have a specific contingency plan to do that?

SECRETARY PANETTA: One of the things I found out as Secretary of Defense is we do one hell of a lot of planning on everything.

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)

SECRETARY PANETTA: So I can assure you that there are plans to deal with –

QUESTION: And if you have to do it, will it succeed? Are you convinced it would succeed?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don’t think there’s any question that if we have to implement that plan, it will be successful.

QUESTION: On Syria, is President Bashar al-Assad, according to your opinion, Madam Secretary, a war criminal?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not going to get into the labeling, Wolf, because what I’m doing now is trying to see whether or not he is going to implement Kofi Annan’s plan. And I don’t think it’s useful to do anything other than focus on the six points of the plan. Right now, it doesn’t appear, once again, that he is going to follow through on what he has pledged to the international community he will do.

We are still working to see about getting monitors in to be able to have an independent source of information coming out to the Security Council. I will be going to Paris tomorrow afternoon to meet with like-minded nations at an ad hoc meeting to take stock of where we are. But it was significant that the Security Council endorsed Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, the Syrian Government said they would abide by it, and yet we still see shelling going on in Homs and Idlib and other places.

QUESTION: Are these crimes against humanity?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think what we want to do is begin an accountability project to gather evidence. We really don’t want to be labeling what we see, which are clearly disproportionate use of force, human rights abuses, absolutely merciless shelling with heavy weaponry into unarmed civilian areas, even shelling across borders now into Turkey and Lebanon, as happened last week. We’re interested in stopping the behavior, but at the same time we do want to see evidence collected so that there could be in the future accountability for these actions.

QUESTION: It sounds like the answer is yes. You do believe these are crimes.

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t want you to put words – don’t put words in my mouth. We’re not making those kinds of charges or claims. Our goal right now is if the Assad regime were to say okay, we agree we’re going to everything that Kofi Annan asks us to do, that would be our focus, not some future maybe unlikely outcome in terms of criminal accountability. What I’m interested in is let’s stop the violence; let’s start the political transition.

QUESTION: Senator McCain says the U.S. should take the military lead in arming the rebels, maybe even going forward with a no-fly zone. Here’s the question. We’re at NATO headquarters, Mr. Secretary. Is NATO impotent in Syria right now?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I don’t think so. I think that NATO, frankly, has shown that it can take on the challenges.

QUESTION: In Libya, it did. But in Syria, it’s not doing anything.

SECRETARY PANETTA: And it did a great job. And it shows that when the international community comes together and decides to take action, that we can take action that achieves the result —

QUESTION: The argument is that Libya –

SECRETARY PANETTA: In this situation, the international community, Wolf, has not made that decision.

QUESTION: If it does, would NATO take action?

SECRETARY PANETTA: If the international community makes the decision that we have to take further steps, we’ll be prepared to do that.

QUESTION: A no-fly zone, arming the rebels, all of that?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I mean, obviously, that’ll – that would have to be discussed as part of what our plan is required in order to achieve the mission —

QUESTION: Any chance China and Russia will go forward with what they did in Libya and allow such a resolution to go forward at the UN Security Council?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, right now that’s a longshot. There doesn’t seem to be any willingness on their part to go further than where we are right now. But this is a fast-changing situation. And countries have a lot of relationships. We know that there are relationships, certainly, with Syria. There are also relationships with Turkey, there are relationships with the Gulf, there are relationships with European countries – all of whom are very worried about what will happen if Syria either/or both descends into civil war or causes a larger regional conflict.

So I don’t think we are even – I don’t think we’re halfway through this story yet, Wolf. We’re going to see a lot happen over the next few weeks. And it truly is up to the Assad regime. They’re the ones who hold it in their power to end the violence and begin the political transition.

QUESTION: How much time do they have?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, they’re running out of time because they’ve made so many promises which they’ve never kept. So their credibility, even with those countries that support them —

QUESTION: Like Russia and China?

SECRETARY CLINTON: — like Russia and China, is beginning to fray.

QUESTION: North Korea. Mitt Romney says the Obama Administration’s, in his words, “incompetence” emboldened the North Korean regime and undermined the security of the United States and its allies. Do you want to respond to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee?

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, not necessarily. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Well, he makes a serious charge: incompetence.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, I think it’s pretty clear that this Administration took a firm stand with regards to the provocative behavior that North Korea engaged in. We made clear that they should not do it. We condemned that action. Even though it was not successful and it was a failure, the fact is it was provocative. And we have made very clear to them that they should not take any additional provocative actions. I think that was a clear, strong message that not only our country but the world said to North Korea. And that’s the way, frankly, the United States ought to (inaudible).

QUESTION: If they do an underground nuclear test, for example, what would you do?

SECRETARY PANETTA: That would be, again, another provocation —

QUESTION: And what would you do?

SECRETARY PANETTA: And it would worsen our relationship. I’m not going to get into how we would respond to that, but clearly we are prepared at the Defense Department for any contingency.

QUESTION: There’s still 30,000 U.S. troops along that demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.

SECRETARY PANETTA: That’s right.

QUESTION: A million North Korean troops, almost a million South Korean troops, nuclear arms – this is a very dangerous part of the world.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No question we’re within an inch of war almost every day in that part of the world, and we just have to be very careful about what we say and what we do.

QUESTION: Does that keep you up at night more than any other issue?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, unfortunately these days, there’s a hell of lot that keeps me awake. But that’s one of the ones at the top of the list.

QUESTION: What are the others?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, obviously Iran, Syria, the whole issue of turmoil in the Middle East, the whole issue of cyber war, the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction, rising powers – I mean, all of those things are threats that the United States faces in today’s world.

QUESTION: You’ve got a lot of issues over there. What do you think of this new young leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un? Not even 30 years old yet.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we really are waiting and watching to see whether he can be the kind of leader that the North Korean people need. I mean, if he just follows in the footsteps of his father, we don’t expect much other than the kind of provocative behavior and the deep failure of the political and economic elite to take care of their own people. But he is someone who has lived outside of North Korea, apparently, from what we know. We believe that he may have some hope that the conditions in North Korea can change.

But again, we’re going to watch and wait. He gave a speech the other day that was analyzed as being some of the old, same old stuff and some possible new approach. But it’s too early.

QUESTION: When I was in Pyongyang in December of 2010, I was amazed that I could see CNN International in my hotel. They watch CNNI very closely. If you had a chance to speak to Kim Jung-un, even a sentence or two, what would you say to him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would say that as a young man with your future ahead of you, be the kind of leader that can now move North Korea into the modern world, into the 21st century; educate your people; open up your system; allow the talents of the North Korean people to be realized; move away from a failed economic system that has kept so many of your people in starvation; be the kind of leader who will be remembered for the millennia as the person who moved North Korea on a path of reform; and you have the opportunity to do that.

QUESTION: Are you ready to meet with him?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, under circumstances that don’t exist today. The United States, as you know, was willing to try and reach out to him, which we did. We had several high-level meetings. We agreed to provide some food aid in return for their ending some of their uranium enrichment and missile development. And then they do what has been already termed by Leon and the rest of the world as a provocative action.

So it’s hard for us to tell right now. Is this the way it will be with this new leader, or does he feel like he has to earn his own credibility in order to have a new path for North Korea? Too soon to tell.

QUESTION: The story of these military personnel in Cartagena, it’s a shocking story, I know. I mean, I can only imagine when you heard about the prostitutes and Secret Service agents and U.S. military personnel, I can only imagine, Mr. Secretary, what went through your mind. But tell us what went through your mind.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I don’t usually use those words in public. It was very disturbing. And the reason it was disturbing is that whether it takes place in Colombia or any other country or in the United States, we expect that our people behave according to the highest standards of conduct. That obviously didn’t happen here, and as a result we’re investigating the matter. And as a result of that investigation, we’ll hold these people accountable.

QUESTION: Diplomatic fallout for this incident? It’s unfortunate, obviously.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I don’t think so much diplomatic fallout as the unfortunate fact that it certainly ate up a lot of the coverage of the summit, which was a meaningful get-together, only happens once every three years, an opportunity to showcase Colombia. Think about how much Colombia has changed. And the United States, with our Plan Colombia support, has really been at the forefront of helping Colombia emerge as a real dynamo in the region.

As Leon said, there’ll be investigations both in the military and the Secret Service. I’ve had Secret Service protection for more than 20 years, and I’ve only seen the very best, the professionalism, the dedication of the men and women who have been around me and my family.

QUESTION: When we were in Cairo a year ago, I asked you a few political questions. We’re in a political season, as you well know, in the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Are we?

QUESTION: I don’t know if you’ve heard about it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, and I don’t know about these things anymore.

QUESTION: All right. Let’s go through the questions that I’m sure you’ve been asked, but I’m going to ask them again. If the President of the United States says, “Madam Secretary, I need you on the ticket this year in order to beat Romney,” are you ready to run as his vice presidential nominee?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That is not going to happen. That’s like saying if the Olympic Committee calls you up and said are you ready to run the marathon, would you accept? Well, it’s not going to happen.

QUESTION: I disagree.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well —

QUESTION: I think it’s – it’s unlikely, I will say that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s more than unlikely.

QUESTION: But if he sees in July that he is going down, he doesn’t want to be a one-term president.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But Leon and I are in this awkward position, because we were – we’ve both been in politics and now we’re in two jobs that are out of politics for all the right reasons. So I don’t comment on politics anymore. But I’m very confident about the outcome of this election. And as I’ve said many times, I think Joe Biden, who is a dear friend of ours, has served our country and served the President very well. So I’m out of politics, but I am very supportive of the team that we have in the White House going forward.

QUESTION: But you would do whatever it takes to help the President get re-elected? You don’t want to see him be a one-term president, and you certainly don’t want to see Romney name one or two Supreme Court justices in four years.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I could just imagine your poor mother. “Why? Why, mother? Why, mother? Why, Mother?” (Laughter.) No, honestly, it is not going to happen, so I’m not going to speculate on something that I know is not going to be happening.

QUESTION: Let’s try this one. (Laugher.) I asked my Twitter followers for a question for the Secretary of State. Shelly tweeted this: “Has Hillary seen the movie The Iron Lady about Margaret Thatcher, and it is time for a female president of the United States of America?” And then she writes, “My answer is yes.” Is it time for a female – like you, for example – in 2016 to run for president of the United States? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me depersonalize it, take it away from me. Of course I believe it’s time for a woman to be president. I was just in Brazil with the extraordinary Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, at the Summit of the Americas. We had three presidents, two prime ministers of countries in our hemisphere. We just saw a woman succeed to the presidency in Malawi. It’s happening in the world, and obviously —

QUESTION: Except in the United States.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it will. I just hope I’m still around when it does. I want to mark my ballot.

QUESTION: Well, let me ask the Secretary of Defense. If she runs in 2016 —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Here it comes, here it comes. You’re out of politics, remember? (Laughter.)

QUESTION: If she runs, will you support her in 2016, if she runs? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, let’s not (inaudible). (Laughter.)

QUESTION: It’s an easy question –

SECRETARY PANETTA: Are you kidding me? (Laughter.) You want her to run in 2016. She’s a great leader. She’s been a great leader and she will be a great leader in the future.

QUESTION: They really want you, and a lot of Democrats and others, they would like you to run in 2016. I just see you smiling. So you can go ahead and announce your —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Look, I am honored. That is not in the future for me. But obviously I’m hoping that I’ll get to cast my vote for a woman running for president of our country.

QUESTION: Did you see those pictures of her drinking a little beer? Have you seen those, Mr. Secretary? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY PANETTA: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Those were great pictures.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we were having a good time celebrating the birthday of one of my colleagues. And I sometimes forget that everybody is now a potential reporter or photographer, but it was a lot of fun. We had a very good time just enjoying beautiful Cartagena.

QUESTION: I love that picture of you texting at the summit. You’ve seen that one too, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I have seen that, too. Yes, that actually was very funny, and a lot of the back and forth of the kinds of inventive dialogue was very funny. I’ve gotten a lot of comments about that.

QUESTION: Of course you have. Well, thank you so much to both of you for joining us. On behalf of all of our viewers in the United States and around the world, good luck to you, whatever you decide to do down the road. Mr. Secretary, you’ve got a lot on your agenda. Both of you have a lot on your agenda. We’re all counting on you to get the job done. Thanks very much.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Wolf. It’s great to talk to you. Appreciate it.

QUESTION: Thanks.

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NATO, posted with vodpod

Remarks With Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
NATO Headquarters
Brussels, Belgium
April 18, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon. I’m very pleased to join Secretary Panetta and our defense and foreign minister colleagues here in Brussels for this meeting, the joint ministerial of NATO, to prepare for the upcoming NATO summit in my birthplace, Chicago. The main focus of our conversations today was Afghanistan, which I will focus on tomorrow at the meeting of our ISAF partners. But let me say how grateful the United States is for the solidarity and steadfastness of our NATO allies and ISAF partners.

As difficult a week as this has been in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, the big picture is clear. The transition is on track, the Afghans are increasingly standing up for their own security and future, and NATO remains united in our support for the Lisbon timetable, and an enduring commitment to Afghanistan. The attacks in Kabul this week show us that while the threat remains real, the transition can work. The response by the Afghan National Security forces were fast and effective, and the attacks failed. Not long ago, this kind of response by Afghans themselves would not have been possible. So the Afghans are proving themselves increasingly ready to take control of their own future.

Now by their nature, transitions of any kind are challenging. There will be setbacks and hard days. But clear progress is happening, and today, NATO reaffirmed our commitment to stand with the Afghans to defend stability and security, to protect the gains of the last decade, and to prevent there ever being a return of al-Qaida or other extremists operating out of the Afghan territory.

Both Secretary Panetta and I were impressed by how united the NATO allies are in supporting the Lisbon timetable. We are on track to meet the December 2014 deadline for completing the security transition. Already 50 percent of the Afghan people are secured primarily by Afghan forces, and by this spring, it will be 75 percent. Today, we worked on the three initiatives for the Chicago summit next month.

First, we will agree on the next phase of transition to support our 2014 goals. Second, we want to be ready to define NATO’s enduring relationship with Afghanistan after 2014. And third, we are prepared to work with the Afghans to ensure that the Afghan National Security force is fully funded. NATO is united behind all these goals, so we are looking forward to a very productive summit in Chicago.

But let’s keep in mind that the transition and NATO’s mission are part of a larger enterprise, one that also has political and economic dimensions. Afghanistan’s neighbors have a central role to play in that larger enterprise along with the international community. Our common approach was sharpened when the international community met in Istanbul and Bonn last year, and will be carried forward when we meet again in Chicago, Kabul, and Tokyo this year.

So beyond NATO, many nations are invested in Afghanistan’s future and are providing support for the Afghans to attain self reliance, stability, and further their democratic future. They have to protect, however, as they go through this transition, their hard-fought political and economic and human rights progress. Incidents like the one we heard of yesterday when 150 Afghan girls became sick after the water at their school was poisoned, reminds us that there are people who would destroy Afghanistan’s long-term future in order to restrict the rights of women and girls. Human rights protections for religious and ethnic minorities are also still fragile. Universal human rights are critical to Afghanistan’s security and prosperity, and we will continue to make them a priority.

While NATO has worked very hard to assist the people of Afghanistan, NATO has also been changed by this experience. The alliance is now a leading force for security, not just in the Atlantic region, but globally. We are steadily deepening and broadening the partnerships NATO has with dozens of countries around the world, and our partners are adding valuable capability, legitimacy, and political support to NATO’s operations and missions from the Mediterranean and Libya to Kosovo and Afghanistan.

So we believe we are building a stronger, more flexible, more dynamic alliance enriched by partners from every continent and prepared to meet the security challenges of our time. With that, let me turn the floor to Secretary Panetta.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you. Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to join Secretary Clinton here in Brussels. We had a very good series of meetings today with our NATO defense and foreign minister counterparts. Much of our discussion focused on our shared effort in Afghanistan, and what came out of these meetings was a strong commitment to sticking to the plan and the strategy that has been laid out by General Allen, and finishing the job in Afghanistan. Allies and partners have a very clear vision and a very clear message. Our strategy is right, our strategy is working, and if we stick to it, we can achieve the mission of establishing an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself, and never again become a safe haven for terrorists to plan attacks on our country or any other country.

All of us are committed to the goals that were set out in the Lisbon framework, including continuing the transition to full Afghan security leadership by the end of 2014. We know there will be continuing challenges, and we saw some of those challenges over this last weekend. This is a war. There will be losses, there will be casualties, there will be incidents of the kind that we have seen in the last few days. But we must not allow any of that to undermine our commitment to our strategy.

The fact is, with regards to the events that took place over the weekend, we saw Afghan security forces do what we have trained them to do. They responded quickly, professionally, and with great courage, rendering ineffective those largely symbolic attacks that we saw in and around Kabul.

General Allen said he visited an Afghan special operations commando who had been wounded in the insurgent attacks and asked him if he could do anything for him. The Afghan commando’s response was, and I quote, “I just want to get back out there with my brother soldiers,” unquote. That short phrase speaks volumes. As General Allen has made clear, history proves that insurgencies are best and ultimately defeated not by foreign troops but by indigenous security forces, forces that know the ground, that know the territory, that know the culture, that know the neighborhood. When the Afghans do their job, we are doing our job. When the Afghans win, we win.

And the Afghans are making progress. They are in the lead now in areas that encompass more than 50 percent of the population in Afghanistan. When the third tranche of areas are transferred, we will have 75 percent of the population under Afghan governance and security. They have been in the lead for counterterrorism night operations since December. And now, thanks to a memorandum of understanding that was recently signed, all of these operations will fall under the authority of Afghan law. In less than six months’ time, Afghan security forces will take full leadership of detention operations, thanks again to another agreement that was signed recognizing Afghan sovereignty.

As I’ve said, 2011 was a real turning point. It was the first time in five years that we saw a drop in the number of enemy attacks. Over the past 12 weeks, enemy attacks continue to decrease compared to the same period in 2011. Taliban has been weakened, Afghan army operations are progressing, and the reality is that the transition to Afghan security and governance is continuing and progressing.

We see other signs that we are seriously degrading the insurgency. By January 2011, 600 Taliban had integrated into the society. This month, that number topped 4,000. We intend to build on this success. We’re committed to an enduring presence in Afghanistan post-2014 and a continuing effort to train, advise, and assist the ANSF in protecting the Afghan people and denying terrorists a safe haven. We cannot and we will not abandon Afghanistan. The key to our enduring partnership is continued international support. We cannot shortchange the security that must be provided by the Afghan forces now and in the future.

Today, I will also discuss with my NATO counterparts the steps needed to ensure that the alliance has the right military capabilities for the future. Across the board, allies are making important commitments to smart defense, with opportunities for new capabilities in ISR, missile defense, and air-to-air refueling. While significant progress has been made, important work lies ahead. The NATO we build is not only the force of today; it must be the force of 2020.

I’m pleased to announce that earlier today, along with Czech Defense Minister Vondra, I signed the Reciprocal Defense Procurement Agreement with the Czech Republic. The agreement reaffirms the importance and vitality of the U.S.-Czech defense relationship and enhances our cooperative security relationship. And as you know, this is the last high-level meeting before the Chicago summit in May. I think Secretary Clinton and I will take back to President Obama the results of these discussions. And I believe we have helped lay the groundwork for a very successful summit, and most importantly, for a strong and enduring NATO alliance.

MS. NULAND: We’ll take three today. Let’s start with Reuters. Arshad Mohammed, please.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’m sure that you will have seen that the violence – the government violence continues in Syria. Homs continues to be shelled, I think almost every day since the ceasefire ostensibly took effect. And the Syrian foreign minister has pushed back against the kind of mission that Kofi Annan would like to insert, saying that it should be no more than 250 monitors, they don’t need their own helicopters and mobility, and they should be from friendly countries.

Given this, is it now time for the United States to look harder at whatever kinds of pressure can be brought to bear against the Assad government? And specifically, are you giving any more thought to rethinking your previous opposition to others arming the rebels? And are you giving any more thought to trying to get the Arabs to impose a more forceful sanctions regime on Syria?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Arshad, first of all, Syria was a subject of conversation among many of our allies today. Every country in NATO is watching the situation with concern. I don’t want to prejudge what does or does not happen with the observers. The first tranche of the UN monitors is just beginning to deploy. It is, obviously, quite concerning that while we are deploying these monitors pursuant to a Security Council resolution that confirms our commitment to Kofi Annan’s six-point plan, the guns of the Assad regime are once again firing in Homs, Idlib, and elsewhere, and Syrians continue to die. So we are certainly cognizant of the very challenging road ahead. We are all here, united in favor of Kofi Annan’s plan and his urgent call for a robust monitoring force.

But we are at a crucial turning point. Either we succeed in pushing forward with Kofi Annan’s plan in accordance with the Security Council direction, with the help of monitors steadily broadening and deepening a zone of non-conflict and peace, or we see Assad squandering his last chance before additional measures have to be considered.

Now, we will continue to increase the pressure on Assad. I spoke with several ministers about the need to tighten sanctions, tighten pressure on the regime, on those who support the regime. And we also are going to continue pressing for a political solution, which remains the goal of Kofi Annan’s plan and the understandable goal of anyone who wants to see a peaceful transition occur in Syria.

I also would add that I’ve only spoken for the United States. The United States is not providing lethal arms, but as I’ve said before, the United States is providing communications and logistics and other support for the opposition. And we will continue to do everything we can to assist the opposition to be perceived as – and in reality become – the alternative voice for the Syrian people’s future.

And make no mistake about it; this conflict is taking place right on NATO’s border. We saw, just last week, the shelling across the borders into Turkey and into Lebanon. Our NATO ally, Turkey, has already suffered the effects of not only the influx of refugees that it is very generously housing, but also having two people killed on their side of the border because of Syrian artillery.

So we will remain in very close touch as events unfold. I look forward to continuing our consultations tomorrow at the ad-hoc group meeting that will be hosted by Foreign Minister Juppe in Paris.

But as I have reiterated, we will judge the Assad regime by their actions, not their words. We have been working to try to reach consensus in the Security Council, which we did in support of Kofi Annan’s six-point plan. The burden has shifted, not only to the Assad regime, but to those who support it to be forced to explain why, after time and time again stating that they will end the violence, the violence continues. So obviously, this is going to be a very high priority for all of us going forward.

QUESTION: Is it okay for others to arm any rebels?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m not speaking for anyone but the United States of America.

MODERATOR: The next question will be from Anne Gearan of the Associated Press.

QUESTION: Yes. To both of you, please, could I ask you to comment on publication today of photos purportedly showing U.S. troops posing with the corpses of Taliban militants? What did you think when you heard about this? What did you think when you saw the photos? And doesn’t this sort of undermine all the progress that you claim and the strategy you laid out just a moment ago?

Secondly, if I could ask each of you to respond to President Karzai’s remark yesterday that he would like a firm written commitment of 2 billion a year from the United States for security forces. Should he be concerned that you’re going to renege on that promise? And why doesn’t he just take your word for it?

SECRETARY PANETTA: With regards to the photos, I strongly condemned what we see in those photos, as has General Allen. That behavior that was depicted in those photos absolutely violates both our regulations, and more importantly, our core values. This is not who we are, and it’s certainly not who we represent when it comes to the great majority of men and women in uniform who are serving there.

I expect that the matter will be fully investigated. That investigation has already begun. This is a matter that goes back, I believe, to 2010, but it needs to be fully investigated, and that investigation, as I understand, is already underway. And wherever those facts lead, we will take the appropriate action. If rules and regulations were found to have been violated, then those individuals will be held accountable.

Let me also say this: This is war. And I know that war is ugly and it’s violent. And I know that young people sometimes caught up in the moment make some very foolish decisions. I am not excusing that. That’s – I’m not excusing that behavior. But neither do I want these images to bring further injury to our people or to our relationship with the Afghan people. We had urged the L.A. Times not to run those photos, and the reason for that is those kinds of photos are used by the enemy to incite violence, and lives have been lost as a result of the publication of similar photos in the past, so we regret that they were published. But having said that, again, that behavior is unacceptable, and it will be fully investigated.

With regards to President Karzai’s comment, we – as both the Secretary of State and I know from our own experience, you have to deal with Congress when it comes to what funds are going to be provided. And we don’t, nor do – we do not have the power to lock in money for the Afghans or anybody else.

QUESTION: Did you apologize on behalf of the United States for those photos or the actions depicted in them in your meetings today?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I was not asked about it, but obviously, my apology is on behalf of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Government.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MODERATOR: And the final question will come from Petro Dekurning of NRC Handelsblad, a Dutch newspaper.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, the secretary general told us that some allies already came up with contributions for the Afghan army after 2014. Are you satisfied with this? And while this was not a pledging conference, what do you expect? What amounts do you expect from the allies to come up with? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we were very encouraged by the commitment from the NATO allies to the funding of the Afghan National Security Forces. We believe that we are on the path to ensuring that these security forces, which, as Leon has just said, made such progress because of our training and mentoring over the last few years, will have the resources necessary to protect the Afghan state and the Afghan people. So I’m going to let individual countries make their own announcements.

But as we move forward toward the NATO summit, one of the goals is to ensure that NATO has an enduring relationship with Afghanistan, and in many ways, not just in terms of financial commitments, but in other ways as well. A lot of the member countries are stepping up and talking about what they intend to do. And similarly, tomorrow, we expect to hear from a number of our ISAF partners about their continuing commitment as well. So I think both Leon and I were encouraged and believe we’re making progress.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

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Remarks at Euro-Atlantic Security Community Initiative and Keynote Session Q&A

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Bayerischer Hof
Munich, Germany
February 4, 2012

SECRETARY CLINTON: (Applause.) Thank you very much. This is a first, with both Secretary Panetta and I here together. But I think that it speaks volumes about the importance that we place on this conference, Wolfgang, and on the significance of the alliance that has grown so strong over the last 50 years. It is also a great personal pleasure for me to be back in Munich with so many colleagues and friends. I wish to thank one of them, my friend, the Foreign Minister, Westerwelle, for his important comments. And I also wish to thank the presentation by Sam Nunn and Igor Ivanov on the Euro-Atlantic Security Initiative that I think holds great promise for us all if we heed the words that it contains.

This gathering, as Leon just said, founded at the height of the Cold War, has become an important symbol of our commitment to stand together as a transatlantic community. And we come to Munich each year, not only to advance our shared values, our shared security, and our shared prosperity, but to take stock of where we stand in the efforts to forge that union between us, and also to lift up our heads and look around the world at the global security situation. That calling is no less powerful today than it was 50 years ago.

Now, I have heard all the talk about where Europe fits in to America’s global outlook. And I have heard some of the doubts expressed. But the reality couldn’t be clearer. Europe is and remains America’s partner of first resort. I have now traveled to Europe 27 times as Secretary of State. President Obama has visited 10 times. And wherever America is working to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to fight disease, to help nations on the difficult journey from dictatorship to democracy, we are side by side with our friends in Europe.

In fact, I would argue the transatlantic community has never been more closely aligned in confronting the challenges of a complex, dangerous, and fast-changing world. The breadth and depth of our cooperation is remarkable. You know the litany. In Libya, NATO allies came together with Arab and other partners to prevent a catastrophe and to support the Libyan people. In Afghanistan, with nearly 40,000 European troops on the ground alongside our own, we have built and sustained NATO’s largest-ever overseas deployment. And we will continue to support the Afghans as they assume full responsibility for their own security by the end of 2014.

As Iran continues to defy its obligations, America, Europe, and other partners have put in place the toughest sanctions yet. And we are also pursuing diplomacy through the E3+3 track, because Europe is vital to both halves of that dual-track strategy. And as a tyrant in Damascus brutalizes his own people, America and Europe stand shoulder to shoulder. We are united, alongside the Arab League, in demanding an end to the bloodshed and a democratic future for Syria. And we are hopeful that at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Standard Time in New York, the Security Council will express the will of the international community. (Applause.)

As Secretary Panetta just made clear, our commitment to European defense is just as deep and durable as our diplomacy. At this year’s NATO summit in Chicago, we will update our alliance to keep it strong for the 21st century. So when President Obama says that “Europe remains the cornerstone of our engagement with the world,” those aren’t just reassuring words. That is the reality.

Today’s transatlantic community is not just a defining achievement of the century behind us. It is indispensable to the world we hope to build together in the century ahead. Here in Munich, it is not enough to reaffirm old commitments. The world around us is fast transforming, and America and Europe need a forward-leaning agenda to deal with the challenges we face. Let me just briefly discuss five areas in particular that will require a greater collective effort.

First, we have to finish the business our predecessors started, and build a Europe that is secure, united, and democratic. And we heard the ICI Report that sets forward some very specific steps we could take together. From day one of this Administration, we have worked closely together to transform strategic relations with Russia, while standing firmly behind both our principles and our friends. This approach has yielded results, but we need work to sustain it. And this is not the only place in our community where we need to overcome mistrust. As long as important conflicts remain unresolved in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Mediterranean, Europe remains incomplete and insecure. Even as we grapple with a wider global agenda, we cannot lose sight of the challenges closer to home.

And let me underscore the word “trust”. We heard it from Igor Ivanov, we heard it from Guido Westerwelle, and I think it deserves repeating. We have to do more together to build a sense of trust and to overcome mistrust among us. That will have to be one of our strategic imperatives, if we expect to address successfully the issues ahead.

Second, because the strength of our alliance depends on the health of our economies, security and prosperity are ultimately inseparable. That means we need a common agenda for economic recovery and growth that is every bit as compelling as our global security cooperation. We recognize that Europe’s most urgent economic priority is the ongoing financial crisis. As you probably know, we have been dealing with one of our own. And although we get good news from time to time, as we did yesterday with jobs figures and drops in unemployment, we know we have a ways to go, as well. We remain confident that Europe has the will and the means not only to cut your debt and build the necessary firewalls, but also to create growth, to restore liquidity and market confidence.

As Europe emerges from economic crisis, we have to work harder to reinforce each other’s recoveries. As deep as our economic relationship is, it has not yet lived up to its potential. I speak often about economic statecraft, because I think we cannot talk about what must be done in the 21st century without recognizing that our economic strength lies at the core of everything we are able to do to advance our values, to protect our interest, to create the security architecture that will sustain stability, going forward. The new U.S.-EU High-Level Working Group on Jobs and Growth created by President Obama and his European counterparts should be at the forefront of our efforts to put our people back to work.

And also, America and Europe can and should be trading more with each other and with the rest of the world. That means we also need to be focused on promoting our economic values. Too often, American and European companies face unfair practices that tilt the playing field against us: favoritism for state-owned enterprises, barriers to trade emerging behind borders, restrictions on investment, rampant theft of intellectual property. Together, America and Europe need to instill that all nations must respect the rules of the road that guarantee fair competition and market access. And above all, we need to remember that our investment in global leadership is not the cause of our fiscal problems. And pulling back from the world will not be the solution.

Third, in a time of tight budgets we need to ensure that our security alliance is agile and efficient, as well as strong. That is what Secretary General Rasmussen calls “smart defense”: Joint deployment of missile defenses, the commonly-funded Alliance Ground Surveillance program, Baltic air policing, and a reinvigorated NATO response force. These are practical ways to provide security while minimizing cost to any one nation.

We also need to build our capacity to work with partners such as Sweden, Japan, Australia, members of the Arab League, and many others. And this will be a focus of our efforts in Chicago to ensure that NATO remains the hub of a global security network with a group of willing and able nations working side-by-side with us.

Fourth, our shared values are the bedrock of our community. We need to vigorously promote these together around the world, especially in this time of transformational political change. In the Middle East we have a profound shared stake in promoting successful transitions to stable democracies. We are making the Deauville Partnership a priority during America’s G8 presidency this year. And to make good on its promise, we will be putting forward an ambitious agenda to promote political and economic reform, trade, investment, regional integration, and entrepreneurship to help people realize the better future they have risked so much to have.

Just as the impetus behind the Arab Spring has extended beyond the Middle East, so much our work. We have to help consolidate democratic gains in places like Cote d’Ivoire and Kyrgyzstan, and support democratic openings in Burma, and wherever people lack their rights and freedom. At the OSCE, the Community of Democracies, and elsewhere, we need to align all of the tools we have to further our values and goals.

America and Europe have more sophisticated tools than ever to support and reward those who take reforms, and to pressure those who do not. And wherever tyrants deny the legitimate demands of their own people, we need to work together to send a clear message: You cannot hold back the future at the point of a gun.

Of course, it is not credible to preach democracy elsewhere unless we protect and promote it ourselves within our community. The trappings of democracy are not enough. We need a vibrant free press, clean and transparent elections, an independent judiciary, a healthy political opposition, and protection for women, religious, and ethnic minorities. We must protect democratic rights and freedoms wherever they are endangered, including here in Europe.

Fifth and finally, we have to reach out to emerging powers and regions. The world we have worked together to build is changing. There are new centers of wealth and power, and fewer problems can be addressed decisively by America and Europe alone. So we have a challenge to make the most of this critical window of opportunity, to enlist emerging powers as partners, and strengthening a global architecture of cooperation that benefits us all.

I am glad that Europe’s engagement in the Asia Pacific is on the agenda here in Munich, because we need to reach out together to regions already playing a growing role in world affairs. Now, a great deal has been said about the importance of a rising Asia Pacific for the United States. But not nearly enough has been said about its importance for Europe. America and Europe need a robust dialogue about the opportunities that lie ahead in the Pacific-Asia region. And we are building one here today. Taken together, all of these elements point to a larger enduring truth: When Americans envision the future, we see Europeans as our essential partners. There is no greater sign of our confidence and commitment than just how much we hope and need to accomplish with you.

We have not sustained the most powerful alliance in history by resting on our laurels. Our predecessors planned for the future together. They acted on the belief that America, Europe, and like-minded nations everywhere are engaged in a single common endeavor to build a more peaceful, prosperous, secure world. That is as true today as it ever was. And in this time of momentous change, let us have that same spirit guide us as we chart our path forward together. Thank you. (Applause.)

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you, Secretary Clinton. Thank you, Secretary Panetta. We are running just a little bit behind schedule, but I think we should have time for a few questions. A couple of questions have already reached me here.

And I will start this question and answer session by reading a question from someone you know well, Karl Kaiser, sitting somewhere here, from Harvard. His question is — I think it is addressed to the Secretary of Defense, I imagine — “Is the U.S. posture during the Libya crisis of ‘leading from behind’ and relying on allies to assume the main share a pattern likely to remain?” I think that goes to you, Leon.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Look, in the world that we are dealing with, with the myriad of threats that I outlined, whether it is terrorism, whether it is the war in Afghanistan, whether it is the threats from Iran, North Korea, turmoil in the Middle East, I think we need to have a broad and flexible approach to dealing with each of those crises. We can’t just rely on one mode to be able to confront the conflicts in today’s world. Libya, it worked to have NATO come together. It was effective, it was successful. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that that particular model might apply if we had to go to war in North Korea, or if we had to confront a threat elsewhere.

I think the most important thing the United States has done in developing our defense strategy is to maintain our capability to be able to engage in a broad way, depending on what the crisis is, what the threat is. So if we need land forces to confront land forces, and we have to take the lead on that, we have the capability to do that. If we have to deal with someone trying to close the Straits of Hormuz, we have the naval and air force capability to be able to do that. We can do that in conjunction with NATO, or we can do it on our own. We need to maintain a full, flexible, agile, and strong defense in every way. And that means working with NATO, but at the same time understanding that all of us have to have the capability to deal with threats as they emerge.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you very much. The next question goes to Secretary Clinton, but I can’t read this properly. It comes from Stefan Kornelius. Could somebody give a microphone to Stefan over there, and we will invite him to present his question himself?

MR. KORNELIUS: Wolfgang, I am glad to give you a lot of (inaudible) both questions I want to ask myself.

Secretary Clinton, the question of Afghanistan and their sort of emerging probable negotiating process with the Taliban, the first steps have been made. Is the Administration prepared to do a confidence-building measure in thinking of releasing detainees in Guantanamo, as the other side demands?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am not going to go into any details about what we are or are not prepared to do, because we are just at the beginning of this process of exploration whether or not there is an opportunity to bring about an end to the conflict through a political solution. But this is, first and foremost, an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned process. We support the Afghan Government in its efforts to work with the representatives of the Taliban and other insurgent groups, to see whether there is common ground on which to build enough trust — to go back to that word again — to have a resolution.

There are certain conditions that certainly the United States would look to. We would expect anyone who was engaged in such talks to: renounce violence, to be prepared to lay down arms and enter the political process, if that is what they were to seek, to have their views known within the Afghanistan political system; to renounce all ties with al Qaeda because of the history with the Taliban — that is a very important issue to the Afghans, to us, to NATO-ISAF; and to agree to abide by the constitution of Afghanistan.

So, there will continue to be all kinds of speculation about what is or is not happening. But I think it is important to say of course we are exploring whether there is a way forward in partnership, and with the lead of the Afghans themselves.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you. Because we are running out of time I will call on two more. If you could be brief, first one is member of the German Bundestag, (Inaudible) Stinner, and the second one is Francois Heisbourg, over there. So we go to (Inaudible) Stinner first.

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you very much. Due to the shortage of time, I would like to do it in English, then. The question goes to Mr. Panetta, Secretary Panetta, with regard to missile defense. This morning we heard a very interesting presentation by Senator Nunn. And my understanding of these two presentations from him and from you, I see a difference in tonality. Senator Nunn, to a very large extent, elaborated on the political issue with regard to coming to terms with Russia. You more or less concentrated on a technical aspect of defending ourselves, which is most valued, of course.

But would you subscribe to the ideas of Senator Nunn, that it is of utmost political importance to come to terms with Russia, and that we are to take into consideration the political and psychological concerns of Russia?

And the last question is with regard — is Russia fears that the missile defense will undermine their capability of defense themselves. I think it is unjustified, as far as it goes, from phase one to three. With regard to phase 4, inaugurated probably by 2020, I see that this phase 4 will indeed — or will eventually indeed undermine Russia’s capability. To what extent are you willing to subscribe to what Senator Nunn has done with regard to political implications? And what do you think about Russia’s concerns here? Thank you very much.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, I greatly respect the work that Senator Nunn has done. And frankly, I don’t see a contradiction here. I think to engage in what Senator Nunn wants to do, to be able to reach out to develop the kind of communication and relationships that are important to trying to prevent war in the future, I think that is absolutely essential. But I also think you need to do that from a position of strength, not a position of weakness. And, therefore, I think we have to continue to build our defense. We have to continue to be able to deploy that which we think is important to the defense of Europe. And we intend to do that.

Now, we do not view, very frankly, the ballistic defense system that we are trying to develop here as in any way a threat to Russia. We have made that clear, time and time again. We will continue to make it clear to Russia. And we hope that, ultimately, we can resolve those issues, so that we can proceed in a way that represents the defense of Europe, not a threat to Russia, but the defense of Europe.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Thank you. And the last question goes to Francois Heisbourg, from Paris.

QUESTION: Yes, Secretary Panetta, in the very substantial changes in the American defense posture which you announced recently, the — your starting points are defense budget reductions which do not take into account sequestration.

Am I right in assuming that sequestration would be countermanded, would not need to be taken into account if, for example, President Obama were reelected and the balance in the Congress would change? But if one assumes that, does that mean that there would be no further defense cuts beyond those upon which you have based the announcements in the change of defense posture? Because the difference between a world with sequestration and a world without sequestration is about half-a-trillion dollars of defense spending.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Sequestration, for those of you that are not familiar with that term, is a crazy formula that was developed by some of our colleagues in the Congress that essentially said if they didn’t reach a number of savings to be achieved — it was done with this committee, the super committee that had been appointed. The committee was to achieve at least, I think, about 1.4 trillion in savings. And if they did not achieve at least that amount, that then an automatic cut across the board would take place of that amount. And for defense, that represents a virtual doubling of the cuts that we would confront.

As the President has pointed out, and I have emphasized, we are not paying attention to sequester. Sequester is crazy. And therefore, I am going to urge — and we strongly urge — the Congress to be able to come forward and try to detrigger that amount. Because, frankly, it is not only the amount, but it is the way it would be done. The formula is built in to sequester. It would cut across the board. And, as I have said, it would virtually devastate our national defense. And for that reason, we are saying no, we are not planning on sequester taking place. If sequester happened, I would have to throw the strategy that I just developed — I would have to throw that out the window. And I think that would be dangerous for America, and it would be dangerous for the world.

With regards to the future, obviously we will continue to work. I think we have developed a very strong strategy for the future. I think the strategy that was developed with the service chiefs — I developed it with the service chiefs, with the under secretaries of defense. It was a unified effort to establish a strategy that would give us a defense not only now, but in the future, and make it one that would be agile and flexible for the future. We think we want to stick to that, because it is important for the United States to set a strategy, and a consistent strategy, so that the world understands where we are going with defense, not just now but in the future.

AMBASSADOR ISCHINGER: Let us all thank our two Secretaries for a great presentation. (Applause.)

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21st Century Defense Priorities

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
January 5, 2012

 


This morning, President Obama and Secretary of Defense Panetta unveiled new strategic guidance that reflects our 21st century defense needs and secures America’s leadership for the future. The Defense Department and State Department continue to work side-by-side to bring the full range of American assets to bear on our foreign policy. As the new strategy notes, meeting our challenges cannot be the work of our military alone. Diplomacy and development are equal partners with defense in our smart power approach to promoting American interests and values abroad, building up our economic prosperity, and protecting our national security.

This new guidance is a critical element in our integrated approach to strengthening American leadership in a changing world. It enhances the capabilities and relationships we need to lead and meet our responsibilities for years to come. And it promotes our strategic priorities, including sustaining a global presence while strengthening our focus on the Asia-Pacific region; deterring our adversaries and fulfilling our security commitments; investing in critical alliances and partnerships, including NATO; combating violent extremists and defending human dignity around the world; and preserving our ability to respond quickly to emerging threats. As we move forward with this strategy, we will continue to consult our allies and partners to address our shared concerns, seize new opportunities, and bolster global stability.

I look forward to continuing the close partnership between the Departments of State and Defense as we work together to realize President Obama’s vision for the security of the United States and its people.

 

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For some reason I do not know, the pictures from San Francisco yesterday did not come in until this morning… as if SF were on the other side of the earth!   Mme. Secretary was wearing one of my favorite jackets – the one with metalic stripes – in these pictures with Kevin Rudd, Stephen Smith, Leon Panetta, and, yes,  that is George Schultz receiving the Honorary Order of Australia from Rudd.

The AUSMIN Conference pictures from today show her wearing the black jacket we saw at Ground Zero on Sunday.  Enjoy.

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There will probably be a video of some statements later.  Meanwhile we have this fact sheet on the results of the conference.

 

Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) 2011 Joint Communiqué

Media Note

None None
San Francisco, CA
September 15, 2011

The U.S.-Australia alliance is an anchor of stability, security and prosperity in the world. Forged by our shared sacrifice during the Second World War and affirmed in the midst of the Cold War, our alliance has succeeded in adapting and innovating to face the new challenges of the 21st Century. Our shared values, our commitment to democracy and the rule of law, and the natural friendship between our peoples form the foundation of a proud and deep relationship between our two great nations. Our service men and women have fought side-by-side in every major conflict since the First World War and continue that storied tradition today in Afghanistan. And while the bonds of the U.S.-Australia alliance were forged in the defining battles of the past century, that is but one dimension of a multi-faceted relationship. Today, our diplomats work together to address emerging transnational challenges, to advance and support human rights, democracy, the rule of law and fundamental freedoms around the world, and to shape the evolving architecture of the Asia-Pacific that will provide a context for the region’s continued dramatic growth and rise. Our aid workers help empower those on the margins of society from the Mekong to the Horn of Africa.

We come to San Francisco to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the U.S.-Australia alliance. It is fitting that we return to the Presidio, where our countries signed the ANZUS Treaty six decades ago. We meet to reflect on the rich history of our relationship, to honor the leaders whose foresight and vision forged this alliance, and to chart a course for the future of our enduring partnership that underscores and situates the U.S.-Australia alliance as an anchor of the Asia-Pacific. We reaffirm our shared security obligations, underscore our common approach to regional developments and global security, and stress our resolve to increase future cooperation to address common strategic objectives.

I. Shared Security Obligations

We reaffirm that the ANZUS Treaty serves as the political and legal foundation of the U.S.-Australia security alliance and that the alliance remains indispensible to the security of Australia and the United States and to the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Today, we affirm that our commitment to peace, security and prosperity also acknowledges the importance of promoting a secure, resilient and trusted cyberspace that ensures safe and reliable access for all nations.

II. Regional trends in the Asia-Pacific Region

We underscore the growing importance of the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S.-Australia alliance is key to peace and security in the region, further fostering Asia’s tremendous economic growth. We recognize the need to work together to shape the evolving strategic landscape that connects the Indian and the Pacific Oceans. We value the dialogue on East Asia undertaken by our two governments, and express a joint commitment to continue this and other strategic dialogues. In this context, we have decided on the following shared objectives to guide our countries’ ongoing cooperative and individual work in the Asia-Pacific:

Japan

  • Support the U.S.-Japan alliance, which is critical to peace and security in East Asia, and the developing Australia-Japan defense and security relationship, and take steps to further increase interoperability and training opportunities among the three countries.
  • Enhance trilateral policy coordination among Australia, Japan, and the United States on a range of regional and global security issues through the Trilateral Strategic Dialogue and the trilateral Security and Defense Cooperation Forum.
  • Strengthen coordination with Japan on regional and global development and assistance efforts.

Republic of Korea:

  • Continue to work closely with the Republic of Korea (ROK) on defense and security issues, including international peacekeeping operations, anti-piracy, counter-proliferation, counter-terrorism, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
  • Work closely with the ROK to ensure stability on the Korean Peninsula and deter further provocations by North Korea.

North Korea:

  • Continue to urge North Korea to improve inter-Korean relations and regional stability by demonstrating through concrete actions that it is committed to enter into serious negotiations through the Six-Party process.
  • Deter provocations by North Korea through enhanced training and integration with the Republic of Korea and Japan.
  • Work to implement the goals of a complete, and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea, including its uranium enrichment program, through irreversible steps, and through the Six Party process; resolution of issues related to proliferation, ballistic missiles, illicit activities, and humanitarian concerns, including the matter of abductions by North Korea; and full implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and the September 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks.

China:

  • Welcome the emergence of a stable, peaceful and prosperous China that plays a constructive role in Asian and global affairs.
  • Seek to build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship with China aimed at expanding cooperation on regional and global challenges, while constructively managing differences.
  • Pursue fair, balanced and mutually beneficial economic relations with China, recognizing that such engagement also contributes to the maintenance of stable and constructive relations more broadly.
  • Encourage stable, healthy, reliable and continuous military-to-military relations with China, featuring open, transparent and substantive discussions of capabilities and intentions.
  • Enhance trust and confidence through greater dialogue on strategic security issues.

India

  • Welcome India’s engagement with East Asia as part of its ‘Look East’ policy.
  • Deepen strategic ties with India.
  • Identify areas of potential cooperation between the United States, Australia and India, including maritime security, disaster risk management and regional architecture.

Indonesia

  • Build on our enhanced coordination and our respective strategic consultations with Indonesia on a range of political, economic, and security issues, as well as on climate change and education.
  • Work through our respective partnerships with Indonesia to strengthen defense and security cooperation and in particular, enhance coordination on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, international peacekeeping, anti-piracy efforts, maritime security, and counterterrorist activities.
  • Support Indonesia’s important role as 2011 ASEAN Chair and assist in preparations for a productive East Asia Summit (EAS) in November.

Burma:

  • Promote human rights and genuine steps toward democracy in Burma in the interest of lasting peace and stability in the country.
  • Welcome reform promises by President Thein Sein and urge the Government of Burma to translate these promises into action.
  • Urge the Government of Burma to make concrete progress on core concerns including the release of all political prisoners, cessation of violence against ethnic minorities, and the establishment of a process of dialogue with ethnic groups and opposition leaders, including Aung San Suu Kyi, in order to begin a genuine process of national reconciliation.
  • To this end, acknowledge the August 19 meeting between President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi as a first step in the right direction.
  • Underscore the importance of Burma’s fully complying with all its international obligations, including UN Security Council Resolutions on nonproliferation and highlight the need for greater transparency in Burma’s engagement with North Korea.

Pacific Islands

  • Affirm our enduring commitment to work together to play a constructive role in the Pacific.
  • Continue and expand joint efforts to strengthen democracy, support economic reform, enhance good governance, encourage environmental sustainability and address the impacts of climate change, in partnership with the governments and people of Pacific Island countries.
  • Support the protection of the region’s fisheries, enhance maritime monitoring, control, surveillance and enforcement capacity, and build on existing initiatives to strengthen management of fisheries resources and to deliver equitable and sustainable outcomes for Pacific Island countries.
  • Coordinate closely on encouraging Fiji’s early return to democracy, including through restoration of the rule of law, strengthening of civil society, and rebuilding democratic institutions.
  • Work with the Pacific Islands Forum, the Secretariat for the Pacific Community, and other regional bodies to strengthen regional cooperation and deliver results for the people of the Pacific.

South China Sea:

  • Reiterate that the United States and Australia, along with the international community, have a national interest in freedom of navigation, the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, and unimpeded lawful commerce in the South China Sea.
  • Reaffirm that we do not take a position on the competing territorial claims in the South China Sea and call on governments to clarify and pursue their territorial claims and accompanying maritime rights in accordance with international law, including the Law of the Sea Convention.
  • Reaffirm that the United States and Australia support the 2002 ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea and encourage each of the parties to comply with their commitments, including exercising self-restraint and resolving their disputes through peaceful means, and to make progress towards a binding code of conduct.
  • Reiterate that we oppose the use of coercion or force to advance the claims of any party or interfere with legitimate economic activity.

Regional Architecture

  • Strengthen regional architecture to maintain and enhance peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific.
  • Work toward a successful 2011 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum under U.S. leadership, which will accelerate APEC’s strong momentum, advancing free trade and economic integration across the region.
  • Reiterate the importance of the EAS, whose mandate, membership and agenda establish a framework for cooperation on a range of issues.
  • Welcome Australia’s leadership role in building a more robust community in the Asia-Pacific region through the EAS.
  • Use this year’s leaders’ meeting in Indonesia to set the direction for the expanded EAS and engage in substantive discussions in Bali on November 19 on regional political, economic, strategic, and other issues.
  • Build close links between the EAS and other ASEAN-centered ministerial-level forums such as the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
  • Welcome the establishment of the ASEAN Defense Ministers’ Meeting Plus (ADMM-Plus) as an important element of regional architecture and contributor to regional security and stability.
  • Work towards a successful conclusion of the current Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations in order to expand trade, investment and growth among the nine TPP parties, including the United States and Australia, and drive further regional economic integration.

III. JOINTLY CONFRONTING GLOBAL SECURITY ISSUES

We share a common approach to global issues, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, the Middle East and Libya.

Afghanistan and Pakistan:

We recognize the achievements and honor the sacrifices of our armed forces in Afghanistan, welcome the successes of the military campaign, and have decided to:

  • Continue close cooperation on our common goal of a stable, prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan embedded in a stable, prosperous and peaceful region.
  • Support the transition to Afghan-led security responsibility while committing to long-term engagement to support Afghanistan’s stability and economic development.
  • Support and engage Pakistan in its efforts to combat terrorism, strengthen democracy and promote economic development.
  • Promote security, trade and investment in the region, stressing the importance of the upcoming Istanbul and Bonn conferences and the vision for a “New Silk Road.”

Middle East / North Africa:

We reaffirm the importance of continued assistance and support to encourage the democratic transitions taking place across the Middle East. We have decided to:

  • Reaffirm that we are in full agreement about the urgent need to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians and strongly support the vision of Israeli-Palestinian peace outlined by President Barack Obama in May 2011. We strongly appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral negotiations without delay or preconditions.
  • Ensure full implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions on Iran, while jointly addressing Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation.
  • Reiterate our call for Syrian president Assad to step aside and allow for a democratic transition to take place in Syria.
  • Work with the Libyan Transitional National Council and international community to support the Libyan people as they confront the challenges of a post-Qadhafi Libya, and encourage an inclusive transition that leads to a democratic Libya.

Development

We stress that international development assistance is critical to our diplomatic and national security interests, as it fosters stability, security and prosperity in developing regions and countries. Recognizing this, we have decided to:

  • Continue to strengthen the partnership between AusAID and USAID, which was formalized last year through a Memorandum of Understanding on international development cooperation.
  • Delegate cooperation agreements between USAID and AusAID in Tanzania, on maternal and child health and family planning, and in Indonesia, on water connections.
  • Continue cooperating closely in Afghanistan by supporting law and justice programs and dispute resolution mechanisms at the community level in Uruzgan Province, and by assisting the Government to deliver essential services through the Civilian Technical Assistance Program.
  • Plan to deploy Australian Civilian Corps personnel alongside U.S. Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization personnel to support conflict resolution and stabilization in South Sudan.
  • Develop opportunities for collaboration in East Asia, particularly in the lower Mekong region, to advance food security, mitigate HIV and other pandemic diseases, and address the impact of global climate change.

We reaffirm our shared commitment to addressing global development challenges including gender inequality and violence against women. Empowering and protecting women and girls requires strong, coordinated action by the international community. As an example of our shared commitment, Australia and the United States are co-hosting a policy dialogue this year on effective means to combat gender-based violence and promote the empowerment of women across the Pacific region.

IV. STRENGTHENING ALLIANCE COOPERATION

The U.S.-Australia alliance is a strategic anchor for peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. On the 60th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS Treaty, we approve of measures designed to further strengthen alliance cooperation, interoperability, and capabilities. We affirm the ANZUS Treaty and our shared commitment to advance peace, security, and prosperity. We are concerned by evolving threats in the sea, space, and cyberspace, and non-traditional security challenges, and have decided to:

  • Increase coordination and consultation on the evolving strategic environment in the Asia-Pacific, to ensure that the alliance adapts to address challenges as they arise.

Space

  • We endeavor to expand our close cooperation on space situational awareness and the development of transparency and confidence-building measures.
  • We support the efforts to develop a U.S.-Australia Combined Communications Partnership, building on the Military Satellite Communications Partnership Statement of Principles signed at AUSMIN in 2008.

Cyber

As a further reflection of our alliance’s continuing ability to adapt in the face of changing circumstances, we have decided to:

  • Address the growing cyber threats facing our two nations and the wider international community.
  • Endorse a joint statement, reflecting and enhancing the close collaboration between our two nations on cyber issues.

Force Posture

Last year, we established a bilateral working group to develop options to align our respective force postures in ways that would benefit the national security of both countries and which will help us to shape the emerging regional security environment. Together, we have refined and assessed a range of potential cooperative initiatives, including:

  • options for increased U.S. access to Australian training, exercise and test ranges;
  • the prepositioning of U.S. equipment in Australia;
  • options for greater use by the United States of Australian facilities and ports; and
  • options for joint and combined activities in the region.

Our discussions have acknowledged that our respective military forces must be postured to respond in a timely and effective way to the range of contingencies that may arise in our region, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and to enhance our ability to work with the armed forces of regional partners.

We are satisfied with the progress that has been made and have directed that the options be further developed for consideration by our respective Governments.

Interoperability

We underscore that interoperability has long been a hallmark of the alliance and will only grow stronger through closer alliance cooperation. The implementation of the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty will support this cooperation. We have decided to:

  • Enhance the interoperability of our forces, especially as this relates to our common commitment to cooperation on combat and transport aircraft, helicopters, submarine combat systems and torpedo technology.
  • Build on the expanded civilian component of the successful TALISMAN SABER exercise, our largest and most important combined military exercise, to strengthen interoperability and our combined capacity to deal with post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction.

Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD)

  • Australia noted and will continue to consult with the United States as it develops the phased adaptive approach to BMD outlined in the U.S. BMD Review, which will allow missile defense to be adapted to the threats unique to the Asia-Pacific.
  • We are continuing our cooperation to build a more detailed understanding of regional ballistic missile threats; cooperative research on systems to counter such threats; and options for practical cooperation in this area.

V. AUSMIN 2012

Australia looks forward to hosting the 2012 AUSMIN consultations.

 

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Public Schedule for September 15, 2011

Public Schedule

Washington, DC
September 15, 2011

SECRETARY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON

Secretary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta co-chair the 2011 Australia-United States Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN) in San Francisco, California. They are accompanied by Chief of Protocol Ambassador Marshall, Assistant Secretary Campbell and Assistant Secretary Shapiro. Click here for more information.

8:30 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton co-chairs AUSMIN Session I, at the Presidio Golden Gate Club in San Francisco.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

10:45 a.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton co-chairs AUSMIN Session II, at the Presidio Golden Gate Club in San Francisco.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)

12:00 p.m. LOCAL  Secretary Clinton co-chairs AUSMIN Session III, at the Presidio Golden Gate Club in San Francisco.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)

2:00 p.m. LOCAL  Secretaries Clinton and Panetta hold a joint press availability with Australian Ministers Rudd and Smith, at the Presidio Golden Gate Club Ventana Room, in San Francisco, California.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)

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I apologize for the mistag. Originally, this was to be hosted by CNN. In the end is was CSPAN that carried it. The video is being rerun there after midnight tonight for those who would like to record it.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

A Conversation with Secretaries Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta

Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Director of the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs Frank Sesno
National Defense University
Washington, DC
August 16, 2011

VICE ADMIRAL RONDEAU:Welcome to NDU. This is the apex and the vortex for interagency and whole-of-government education, knowledge, conversation, dialogue, and discussion. We are indeed extraordinarily privileged and honored to have the inaugural Distinguished Leader Program speakers be our secretaries of Defense and State and the very distinguished Frank Sesno. Please let’s give a very warm NDU welcome to these great leaders. (Applause.)MR. SESNO: Well, good morning, everybody. And good morning to both of you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Good morning.

MR. SESNO: It is a great pleasure and privilege to be here with the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense, and I cannot think of a more propitious time for this conversation with the world watching this country going through the budget gyrations, I think is the right word, with a world so uneasy with our wars ongoing. So some of what perhaps we can talk about here today – and we will incorporate your questions into this conversation – will be: Is America a wounded colossus? Are these wars winnable? Where and how do these two big departments, this extension of American foreign policy, diplomacy, and military strength work together?

I want to thank National Defense University and Admiral Rondeau for your gracious welcome today. So welcome to both of you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Frank. Thanks for doing this.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you, Frank.

MR. SESNO: Let’s start with the budget, which is, I know, your idea of a good time. (Laughter.) The world has watched with bated breath as to whether we were going to default, whether American troops were not going to get their paychecks, which is an incredible thing. As you face the prospects of budget cuts and the reality of this – Secretary Panetta, go first – what’s really at stake here? What’s really at stake for foreign policy as well?

SECRETARY PANETTA: I think this is about the national security of the country. Our national security is our military power, our Defense Department, but it’s also our diplomatic power and the State Department. And both of us, I think, are concerned that as we go through these budget tests that we’re going to go through that the country recognize how important it is that we maintain our national security and that we be strong. We recognize that we’re in a resource limitation here and that we’ve got to deal with those challenges, but I don’t think you have to choose between our national security and fiscal responsibility. And I want the country to know that we can get this done, but we have to do it in a way that protects our national defense and protects our national security.

MR. SESNO: You already agreed to – not agreed, but you’re going to have 350 billion or so in cuts.

SECRETARY PANETTA: No, that’s right. That’s right.

MR. SESNO: If the trigger takes place, if there’s an inability for the Congress to decide where to go from here, it could be 500 billion more. Then what?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I made the point that with the numbers we’re dealing with now, that the President and Bob Gates before me basically decided pretty much the parameters that we would have to be looking at, and we’re within that ballpark with what the Congress just did. If they go beyond that, if they do the sequester, this kind of massive cut across the board, which would literally double the number of cuts that we’re confronting, that would have devastating effects on our national defense, it would have devastating effects on certainly the State Department.

But more importantly, when we think about national security, I think we also have to think about the domestic discretionary budget as well, because education plays a role, other elements of the discretionary budget in terms of the quality of life in this country play a role in terms of our national security. More importantly, and I’ve made the point based on my own budget experience, that if you’re serious about dealing with budget deficits, you can’t just keep going back to the discretionary part of the budget.

MR. SESNO: What would be the most damaging part? And Secretary Clinton, I’ll come to you in just a moment. But what would be the most damaging part to the Department of Defense and to the national security if you had to face hundreds of billions of more above the 350? Examples.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Very simple. Very simply, it would result in hollowing out the force. It would terribly weaken our ability to respond to the threats in the world. But more importantly, it would break faith with the troops and with their families. And a volunteer army is absolutely essential to our national defense. Any kind of cut like that would literally undercut our ability to put together the kind of strong national defense we have today.

MR. SESNO: Secretary Clinton, you have a harder case to make given the public skepticism about development aid, foreign aid, where America is spending its money.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Frank, I know it’s a harder case because I think there is a lot of both misunderstanding and rejection of the work that is done by the State Department and USAID. We comprise, if you round it off, 1 percent of the discretionary budget. And what we have done over the last two and a half years, I think was long overdue, because basically we said we are a national security team, we’re all on the American team. And by that I mean that we have civilians who are in the field with our military forces in areas of conflict, we have civilians who are in the field on their own in other very dangerous settings without our military with boots on the ground, but we are trying to enhance the coordination to achieve our national security objectives.

So one of the goals that Secretary Gates and now Secretary Panetta and I have is to make the case as to what national security in the 21st century actually is. It is, of course, the strongest military in the world that has to be given the tools to do the jobs we send it out to do. It is our diplomatic corps, which is out there on the front lines all the time, trying to deal with very difficult situations to the betterment of America’s national interest and security. And it is our development experts who put another face on American power, who are trying to deliver, as we speak, aid to 12 million people in the Horn of Africa who are facing famine and starvation, in some measure because of al-Shabaab, which makes our challenge even more difficult.

I want to go back though to underscore something that Leon said, because between the two of us, we have many years, probably more than either of us care to admit, of experience in dealing with a lot of these issues. And Leon as the chair of the budget committee, as the director of OMB, as the chief of staff in the White House in the ’90s, was part of a process that got us to a balanced budget. This is not ancient history. We’re not talking about some time so far back we can’t remember it. The tough decisions were made in the ’90s to, yes, cut spending, yes, deal with some entitlement issues, and yes, increase revenues so that —

MR. SESNO: Raise taxes?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. Absolutely, so that we had the kind of approach that got us on a trajectory, had we stayed on it, where we would not be facing a lot of these issues. And I will end where you started, Frank. I know how difficult this was for our country domestically over the last months. It’s always hard seeing the sausage being made. I happened to be in Hong Kong a few weeks ago, and I said confidently that we were going to resolve this; we were not going to default; we would make some kind of political compromise.

But I have to tell you, it does cast a pall over our ability to project the kind of security interests that are in America’s interest. This is not about the Defense Department or the State Department or USAID. This is about the United States of America. And we need to have a responsible conversation about how we are going to prepare ourselves for the future. And there are a lot of issues that are not in the headlines but are in the trendlines. We are reasserting our presence in the Pacific. We are a Pacific power. That means all elements of our national security team have to be present, and we can’t be abruptly pulling back or pulling out when we know we face some long-term challenges about how we’re going cope with what the rise of China means.
We have so many issues that Leon and I deal with every day that are not going to be getting the screaming headline coverage but which we know, looking over the horizon, are going to affect the economic well-being of our country and the security of America citizens.

MR. SESNO: A couple things, and then we’ll go to our – to the audience for our first question. Secretary Panetta, talk about the headlines through, there was one, and it really bears directly on the budget and some of the very tough choices and big changes that may be in store. And that is a report on CBS yesterday that the Pentagon is considering a very substantial revamp of the retirement program for those in the military, 401(k)s and ending the eligibility after 20 years and making it normal retirement age. Is that true? Is that the kind of change and the depth of change that’s out there?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, that report came as a result of an advisory group that was asked by my predecessor, Bob Gates, to look at the retirement issue. And they have put together some thoughts. They’re supposed to issue, actually, a more complete report at the latter part of this month. No decisions have been made with regards to that issue.

MR. SESNO: But that’s the kind of thing that you have to think about?

SECRETARY PANETTA: But look, it’s the kind of thing you have to consider in terms of retirement reforms in the broad form.

MR. SESNO: So when do decisions –

SECRETARY PANETTA: But you have to do it, Frank, in a way that doesn’t break faith, again, with our troops and with their families. If you’re going to do something like this, you’ve got to think very seriously about grandfathering in order to protect the benefits that are there.

MR. SESNO: So it wouldn’t affect the people in this room?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Exactly. So at the same time – (laughter and applause).

MR. SESNO: You know what they say about know your audience.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I know my audience. (Laughter.) No, but – well, you do have to do that. You have to protect the benefits that are there. But at the same time, you’ve got to look at everything on the table. I mean, my view when I was on the budget committee, when I was director of OMB, was that you have to look at everything; you’ve got to put everything on the table. You can’t approach a deficit the size we’re dealing with and expect that you’re only going to be dealing with it at the margins. You’ve got to look at everything, and we should.

MR. SESNO: Secretary Clinton, back on the budget and then to the audience. And perhaps, Secretary Panetta, you’ll want to respond to this. You and your predecessor talked a lot – or Secretary Panetta’s predecessor – talked a lot about your budget and the need for the development budget and how development is cheaper than war. We had that conversation at George Washington University. What do you say to Secretary Panetta about your budget and your needs, and your needs and your lobbying for more in terms of what he’s got and what you need to accomplish?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, obviously, the DOD budget far outweighs the combined budget of the State Department, USAID, 10-12 to 1. We understand that. And we know we’re going to also have to put everything on the table. We’re going through a very difficult budget process. And we have –

MR. SESNO: And that includes development, which you hope to grow. You’ve been wanting to grow that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it includes everything, because I’m not saying we should be exempt and education or healthcare here at home should bear all the costs. I’m just saying that as we look at everything that is on the table, we have to try to do a reasonable analysis of what our real needs and interests are. And it’s easy in a political climate, which I know something about, as Leon does, to say, “Oh, well, look, I mean foreign aid.” If you go out to the American public and you say, “What’s the easiest thing to cut in the American budget?” it’s always foreign aid. “Well, how much do you think foreign aid represents in the American budget?” And people honestly say something like 15, 20 percent. And then you say, “Well, how much should it represent?” And they say, “Oh, maybe 10 percent.”

Well, we understand that we have a case to make and it is a case that we’ve been making. And there is a new way of looking at it, which Bob Gates and I, and now Leon and I, are working on. The military has always had in the defense budget something called Overseas Contingency Operations that go to the kind of conflicts and investments that have to be made in places like Afghanistan and Iraq. For the first time, we have now the Congress accepting that we, too, need what’s called an OCO, because we have a lot of costs that will begin to go down over time because they’re not part of our base.

So we’re doing things to try to get smarter about explaining what we do and what it’s going to cost for us to do it. But the bottom line, Frank, is we want national security to be looked at holistically, and we want people to understand that a lot of what we’re going to have to be doing in the future is not sending our young men and women into harm’s way, but trying to avoid that in the first place.

MR. SESNO: In a word, what’s your view of her budget?

SECRETARY PANETTA: It’s absolutely essential to our national security.

MR. SESNO: Should it grow or it’s going to be need to be cut? Or are you saying that in this –

SECRETARY PANETTA: No. Listen, we all know we’re going to have to be able to exercise some fiscal restraint as we go through our budgets. But the bottom line is that what I hope the Congress doesn’t do, what I hope this committee doesn’t do, is to walk away from their responsibility to look at the entire federal budget. I mean, the entire federal budget now – annual budget is close to $4 trillion. In the discretionary side, which is around a trillion plus, it’s already been cut a trillion dollars by virtue of this deal that was made in the Congress. So we’re already taking a trillion dollar hit over these next ten years. Two-thirds of that budget has not been touched. Two-thirds of the federal budget has not been touched.

If you want to deal with the deficit, you’ve got to deal with mandatory spending programs, you’ve got to deal with revenues. Every budget summit that I’ve been a part of, going back to – Ronald Reagan was the first budget summit I participated in. It was a balanced package that dealt with cuts and revenues. It was true for Ronald Reagan, it was true for George Bush, it was true for Bill Clinton, and it has to be true today if you’re serious about dealing with this –

MR. SESNO: Let’s take our first audience question. Anybody got a question on the budget? This gentleman right here. We got a mike over there? I’d ask you to identify yourself and ask your question briefly, and we’ll get a response.

QUESTION: Colonel Rich Outzen. I’m an Army Foreign Area officer and a student at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. Welcome to both of you. Like many of my peers here, I’ve spent about five years out of the last ten in the Middle East and Afghanistan. One of the things that concerns me, as we see the budget tsunami approaching, is problems with the teaching of foreign language and culture. It’s an incapacity we’ve had in the Force that persists now. How will we deal with that as we lose the hundreds of millions of dollars to throw at contracting solutions? Have we looked at ways that maybe State and Department of Defense can synergize efforts to teach? Have we looked at working with academia? Is that sort of restructuring and reengineering how we approach these missions that are budget sensitive going on?

MR. SESNO: Secretary Panetta, why don’t you start?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I certainly think we’ve got to look at creative ways to be able to deal with it. I’m a believer in foreign language training. I think, unfortunately, this country hasn’t devoted enough resources really to foreign language training. We’ve looked at the three Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic – but we haven’t looked at reality of the world that we deal with. And in order for – I mean, when I was CIA director, I did not think you could be a good intelligence analyst or operations guy without knowing languages. And I believe that for the Defense Department and I think for the State Department, there’s a recognition that you need to have language in order to be able to relate to the world that we live in. So my goal would be, as we go through the budget, as we develop the restraints that we have to develop, that we are creative and not undermine the kind of teaching and language training that I think is essential to our ability not only to protect our security, but frankly to be a nation that is well educated.

MR. SESNO: You have similar issues at State.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly say amen to that, and I think your suggestion that we look for ways that we can better coordinate our language and culture education programs is a very good one. I have begun to do that in the State Department/USAID because they had different platforms; they had different IT platforms, different language instruction platforms. And when I came in, I didn’t think it was the most sensible way for us to train our development experts and our diplomats, but I think we are going to have to be more creative. I mean, NDU is a perfect example of whole-of-government education. We have Admiral Rondeau, who leads the NDU team, and Ambassador Nancy McEldowney from the State Department, who is the number two. That is what we have to get in our minds is more likely to be the pattern of cooperation both before deployment, whether it’s as a military or civilian personnel, and then after deployment because we cannot, number one, afford to do it any other way.

But secondly, I think it gives us a better result. You may have seen the article in The Washington Post over the weekend about one of the civilian employees in Afghanistan. I think it was Garmsir District. And because of his Pashto facility, the military really looked to him because he was able to communicate not just in a formalistic way, but informally, colloquially, in a way that really captured the attention and eventually the cooperation of a lot of the Afghans. That’s what we need across the board. So any way we can work together, it’ll save us money, but it also will begin from the beginning to put together this whole-of-government national security team.

MR. SESNO: Let’s move around the world a little bit. Let’s start with Afghanistan –terrible, costly week last week; 35 Americans lost their lives there. And there are a lot of Americans who say: With this loss, is this worth it? Are we prevailing? Should we stay? What is your response to that? How do you view what is happening in Afghanistan and the trajectory?

SECRETARY PANETTA: It was tragic what happened last week. We’ve lost 4,500 in Afghanistan. We’ve lost many more – we’ve seen a lot more that have been wounded. There are a lot of our men and women that have put their lives on the line on the mission that we’re involved with there, and we can’t forget the mission. The mission, as the President said, is that we have to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaida, and make sure that it never again finds a safe haven in Afghanistan from which to launch attacks to this country. I think we’ve made good progress on it. I think – I just talked with General Allen this morning. We are making very good progress in terms of security, particularly in the south and southwest. Those are difficult areas. We’ve now got to try to improve the situation in the east.

But overall, the situation is doing much better. We have weakened the Taliban significantly, and we’re continuing to work on that. We are continuing to build the Afghan army and police; they are right on target in terms of the numbers that we needed to develop. So we are working in the right direction. We’re going through transition, we’re beginning to transition areas. There are others we’re going to have to do. We’ve got to make sure that the Afghan Government is prepared to not only govern but to help secure that country in the long run. But I really do believe that if we stick with this mission that we can achieve the goals that we’re after, which is to create a stable Afghanistan that can make sure we never again establish a safe haven for the Taliban or for al-Qaida.

MR. SESNO: Secretary Clinton, what is the conversation the two of you have about the reliability and stability of the Karzai government and whether you should be negotiating with the Taliban?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Frank, we have, as Leon just stated, a strategy for transition that we are following. And it is based on, frankly, the decision that President Obama made upon taking office that we had lost momentum to the Taliban. When he came into office, the situation that we found was not very promising. And so he did order additional troops. I ordered and fulfilled the more than tripling of the civilians on the ground from 320 to more than 1,125. We put in a lot of effort to try to stabilize and then reverse what we saw as a deteriorating situation.

I think we both believe that we are now at a place where we can begin the transition and do so in a responsible way. Part of that transition is supporting Afghan reconciliation. We have said that for a very long time. I gave a comprehensive speech about our approach in February at the Asia Society in New York. Ambassador Marc Grossman, who is leading our efforts to build a diplomatic framework for this kind of reconciliation effort, is proceeding very vigorously, because we know that there has to be a political resolution alongside the military gains and sacrifice that we have put in alongside the sacrifice and suffering of the Afghan people. But we want this to be, as we say often, Afghan-led and Afghan-owned.

MR. SESNO: But can it be with the Afghan team– regime that you’re working with?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes. And as –

MR. SESNO: Do you trust Karzai?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. I mean, look, I deal with leaders all over the world who have their own political dynamics that they’re trying to cope with, which are not always ones that we experience or that we think are necessarily the most important. But they get to call the shots. They’re the ones who are coming out of their culture. They’re trying to implement democracy, often in places where that’s a very foreign concept. It can be a difficult and challenging partnership; there’s no doubt about it. But there is certainly a commitment on the part of the Karzai government to this transition process.

Remember, when we adopted this process that will go through 2014 at the NATO Lisbon Summit, it was in concert with the Karzai government making the same commitment. Now, we’re also discussing what kind of ongoing partnership – diplomatic, development, military – that we will have with Afghanistan. President Karzai made a very important statement just this past week: He is not seeking a third term, which is a very strong signal that there has to be an active dynamic political process to choose his successor.

So look, I’ve dealt with President Karzai now for nearly 10 years. I’m looking at my old chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee down there, John Warner. I dealt with him as a senator and I have dealt with him as Secretary of State, and you have to listen to him because all too often we come in with our preconceptions about how things are supposed to be, and he says over and over again, you know, I don’t like this or I’m not sure about this. Take the private contractor issue. That went on for a long time because we didn’t quite get what his concerns were.

So it’s not all a one-sided critique here. I think there is – there’s got to be a recognition that we have a dialogue and a partnership and that we both have to work at it.

MR. SESNO: A question on Afghanistan from the floor. The gentleman right there.

QUESTION: Tom Nicholson, International College – Industrial College of the Armed Forces. We’ve mentioned a lot about Iraq and Afghanistan, and it comes to mind our allies and partners in Pakistan are also critical in what’s going on with our efforts there and as a strategic partner going forward. What are your thoughts on how we continue to enhance that relationship, especially given the difficulties we’ve had recently?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying we consider our relationship with Pakistan to be of paramount importance. We think it is very much in America’s interests. We think it is in the long-term interest of Pakistan for us to work through what are very difficult problems in that relationship. And this is not anything new. We’ve had a challenging relationship with Pakistan going back decades.

And we’ve been – we’ve kind of been deeply involved with Pakistan, as we were during the ‘80s with the support for the Mujaheddin, the old Charlie Wilson’s war issue. And if you remember the end of Charlie Wilson’s War, the Soviet Union is defeated and Charlie Wilson and others are saying, well, now let’s build schools, let’s work in Afghanistan, let’s support Pakistan. And our political decision was we’re exhausted, we’re done, we accomplished our mission, which was to break the back of the Soviet Union; we’re out of there.

So I think the Pakistanis have a viewpoint that has to be shown some respect: Are you going to be with us or not, because you keep in, you go out? And it is –

MR. SESNO: Well, are they partner or adversary?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, they are partners, but they don’t always see the world the way we see the world, and they don’t always cooperate with us on what we think – and I’ll be very blunt about this – is in their interests. I mean, it’s not like we are coming to Pakistan and encouraging them to do things that will be bad for Pakistan, but they often don’t follow what our logic is as we make those cases to them. So it takes a lot of dialogue.

MR. SESNO: Secretary Panetta, let’s talk about Pakistan for a minute. I mean, there was a story that the Pakistanis, our adversary – our allies here, handed over parts of the helicopter that went down in bin Ladin’s compound or gave access to it to the Chinese. Is that true and is that what an ally does?

SECRETARY PANETTA: As the Secretary has said, it’s a – this is a very complicated relationship with Pakistan. (Laughter.)

MR. SESNO: Is that a yes? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY PANETTA: I’ve got to protect my old hat. (Laughter.) I —

MR. SESNO: It’s not a no, though.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I’m not going to comment because it does relate to classified intelligence. But –

MR. SESNO: But are you concerned about this?

SECRETARY PANETTA: — clearly we’re –

MR. SESNO: Are you concerned?

SECRETARY PANETTA: We’re concerned with the relationships that Pakistan has. What makes this complicated is that they have relationships with the Haqqanis, and the Haqqani tribes are going across the border and attacking our forces in Afghanistan, and it’s pretty clear that there’s a relationship there. There’s a relationship with LET, and this is a group that goes into India and threatens attacks there and has conducted attacks there. In addition to that, they don’t provide visas. They – in the relationship there are bumps and grinds to try to work it through.

And yet there is no choice but to maintain a relationship with Pakistan. Why? Because we’re fighting a war there. Because we are fighting al-Qaida there and they do give us some cooperation in that effort, because they do represent an important force in that region, because they do happen to be a nuclear power that has nuclear weapons and we have to be concerned about what happens with those nuclear weapons.

So for all of those reasons, we have got to maintain a relationship with Pakistan. And it’s going to be – it is not – as I said, it is complicated. It’s going to be ups and downs. I mean, the Secretary and I have spent countless hours going to Pakistan, talking with their leaders, trying to get their cooperation.

MR. SESNO: Take us into – let me ask the two of you to take us into a conversation that you might have together in the privacy of several hundred people and cameras. (Laughter.) This war that you talk about is largely conducted with drones. Those drones are deeply resented and complicate your efforts on the diplomatic front. How do you balance that? Isn’t your best asset your worst nightmare?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. Let me take you back to conversations that are not maybe so current but I think relevant. Shortly after I became Secretary of State, we were quite concerned to see the Pakistani Taliban basically taking advantage of what had been an effort by the government in Pakistan to try to create some kind of peace agreement with the Pakistani Taliban and to, in effect, say to them, look, you stay in Swat, which is one of the territories, you stay there and don’t bother us, we won’t bother you. And I was very blunt, both publicly and privately, with my Pakistani interlocutors in saying you can’t make deals with terrorists. I mean, the very people that you think you can either predict or control are, at the end of the day, neither predictable nor controllable.

And I was very pleased when the Pakistanis moved in to Swat and cleaned out a lot of what had become a kind of Pakistani Taliban stronghold. And then they began to take some troops off of their border with India to put more resources into the fight against the Pakistani Taliban.

Now, as Leon says, we have some other targets that we discuss with them – the Haqqanis, for example – and yet it’s been a relatively short period of time, two and a half years, when they have begun to reorient themselves militarily against what is, in our view, an internal threat to them. We were saying this because we think it will undermine the control that the Pakistani Government is able to exercise.

So we have conversations like this all the time, Frank, and I do think that there are certain attitudes or beliefs that the Pakistanis have which are rooted in their own experience, just like we have our own set of such convictions. But I also think that there is a debate going on inside Pakistan about the best way to deal with what is an increasing internal threat.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Let me just add to that. I mean, the reason we’re there is we’re protecting our national security. We’re defending our country. The fact was al-Qaida, which attacked this country on 9/11, the leadership of al-Qaida was there. And so we are going after those who continue to plan to attack this country. They’re terrorists. And the operations that we’ve conducted there have been very effective at undermining al-Qaida and their ability to plan those kinds of attacks.

MR. SESNO: What’s left of them?

SECRETARY PANETTA: But let me make this point. Those terrorists that are there are also a threat to Pakistani national security as well. They attack Pakistanis. They go in to Karachi, they go in to Islamabad, and conduct attacks there that kill Pakistanis. So it is in their interest – it’s in their interest – to go after these terrorists as well. They can’t just pick and choose among terrorists.

MR. SESNO: What’s left of the al-Qaida network?

SECRETARY PANETTA: The al-Qaida network has seriously been weakened. We know that. But they’re still there and we still have to keep the pressure on. Those that are suggesting somehow that this is a good time to pull back are wrong. This is a good time to keep putting the pressure on to make sure that we really do undermine their ability to conduct any kind of attacks on this country.

MR. SESNO: Will they ever be defeated, or was Donald Rumsfeld right and this is just the long war?

SECRETARY PANETTA: You know, we can go after the key leadership of al-Qaida that I think has largely led this effort, and we have seriously weakened them. We certainly took out bin Ladin, which I think seriously weakened their leadership as well, and I think there are additional leaders that we can go after. And by weakening their leadership, we will undermine al-Qaida’s ability to ultimately put together that universal jihad that they’ve always tried to put together in order to conduct attacks on this country.

So the answer to your question is that we have made serious inroads in weakening al-Qaida. There’s more to be done. There are these nodes now in Yemen, in Somalia, and other areas that we have to continue to go after. But I think we are on the path to being – seriously weakening al-Qaida as a threat to this country.

MR. SESNO: Let’s talk about Iraq for a few minutes and then we’ll take a question on that topic from the audience. We’ve seen a terrible string of attacks over the last 24 hours that have claimed, at last count, nearly 90 lives, hundreds injured, leading to grave concerns about the ability of the Iraqi Government to look after its own security. What is happening in that country now? What do you read from this wave of violence?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, what I see happening is that there continues to be a terrorist capacity inside Iraq. I don’t know as – at the time I left my office, no one had claimed credit, but we believe that it could very well be al-Qaida in Iraq trying to assert itself.

MR. SESNO: The Sunni extremists.

SECRETARY CLINTON: The Sunni extremists. At the same time, we know that there are Shia extremists who have been also conducting attacks, not quite to the extent of what we saw yesterday, but attacks that have killed Americans and killed Iraqis.

Now, I’m of two minds about this, Frank. I mean, I deplore the loss of life and the ability of these terrorists to continue to operate inside Iraq. I also know that until recently, the trajectory of violence had been going in the right direction, namely down. And we saw that and we were feeling that it was headed in the right direction.

The Iraqis themselves have more capacity than they did have, but they’ve got to exercise it. And we spend a lot of time pushing our friends in the Iraqi Government to make decisions, like naming a defense minister and an interior minister, so that they can be better organized to deal with what are the ongoing threats. And certainly we’re in discussions with them now because they do want to be sure that they have sufficient intelligence and surveillance and reconnaissance capacity, ISR. They want to be sure that they can defend themselves both internally and externally, and that’s a conversation that our ambassador and our commander are having in Baghdad.

MR. SESNO: Has it been worth it, and should we stay?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, the bottom line is that we are going to maintain a long-term relationship with Iraq to ensure that they remain stable.

MR. SESNO: Militarily? This is a discussion they’re having internally themselves.

SECRETARY PANETTA: I think we’ll – that’s a discussion that we’ll have with them as to what kind of assistance we’ll continue to provide. But the bottom line is, whether it’s diplomatic, whether it’s military, we’ve got a long-term relationship with Iraq. We’ve invested –

MR. SESNO: So if asked to stay –

SECRETARY PANETTA: We’ve invested a lot of lives there.

MR. SESNO: If asked to stay militarily, we’d stay?

SECRETARY PANETTA: We’ve invested a lot of blood in that country, and regardless of whether you agree or disagree as to how we got into it, the bottom line is that we now have, through a lot of sacrifice, established a relatively stable democracy that’s trying to work together to lead that country. And it happens to be a country that is in a very important region of the world at a time when there’s a lot of other turmoil going on. And it is very important for us to make sure that we get this right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: But Frank, I just want to just append to what Leon said. The President made a commitment that we would be withdrawing our forces from Iraq and that he would follow the timetable that was set in the Bush Administration, which is for our troops to be out at the end of this year.

MR. SESNO: Right.

SECRETARY CLINTON: So that is – that’s a period. That’s the end of that commitment. There is, however, a discussion that the Iraqis are having internally and beginning to have with us about what we would do following that. So I don’t want there to be any confusion about that. I mean, our combat mission in Iraq ends at the end of this year. Our support and training mission, if there is to be such a one, is what the subject of this discussion would be.

MR. SESNO: But don’t these attacks demonstrate that the security situation is still precarious, that if the Iraqi Government were to ask for an ongoing American military presence, it might well be more than mere training, that there is combat that is still taking place?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but we don’t believe that the Iraqis have that on their list of asks. I mean –

MR. SESNO: Do you agree?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I think what they want to do is to, obviously, be able to confront counterterrorism within their own country. And we’ve given them help; we’ve given them training; we’ve given them assistance in that effort. And obviously, that’s something as a country they’re going to have to confront. But their main goal right now is to get the kind of training that will allow them to improve their defense capability and —

MR. SESNO: Let’s turn to the audience for a question on Iraq. Anybody have a question on Iraq? On the aisle right here, if we can bring the mike over here. Do we have a microphone? Right down here. Yes, sir. Stand and tell us who you are and ask a question briefly.

QUESTION: Keith Crane, the Rand Corporation. I’ve been – I was in CPA in 2003 and followed Iraq every since. I just want to ask you, don’t you see it in the U.S. national security interest to actually have all the troops leave by the end of the year, I think, in terms of both the Middle East, Afghanistan, for the Iraqis themselves? I understand what the Secretary Clinton had said in terms of we are leaving, but even to have troops there training there afterwards, don’t you think it’d send a really strong signal that we’re not interested in bases and that we would – are going to leave if we do not have a training mission there as well?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I think – I mean, as the Secretary said and as the President’s made clear, we are leaving by the end of the year. Our combat mission is over. The discussions now are what kind of assistance can we continue to provide with regards to training, with regards to other assistance that is provided. We do this with other countries. We’ve done it with other countries in that region. And I think this would be what I would call a normal relationship with Iraq if we could establish that kind of approach for the future.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s why I wanted to be very clear that the combat mission is over and our troops are leaving and they are in the process of literally packing up, and that was what we agreed to. And I agree with you that that is very much in America’s interest to keep that commitment. But what Leon is saying is also important. If a country comes to us within what we would view as a normal diplomatic relationship and says, “My troops need training. They’re not yet what they need to be. I’m going to need continuing help on collecting intelligence, learning how to do it for counterterrorism purposes,” I think it would be irresponsible of us not to listen to what they’re requesting.

And indeed, the Iraqis have not made a formal request, but we have reason to believe that they are certainly discussing it internally. We do that in Kuwait, we do that in Bahrain, we do that in Qatar, we do that in UAE, we do that in Saudi Arabia. So it would be a little bit, I think, unusual for us to say, “No. We will not respond to a responsible request.” What it is, we don’t know yet, and that’s the next stages.

MR. SESNO: But I think the bottom line here is very interesting, and it’s something that the country will respond to, which is that if there is a responsible request, as you put it, a military relationship of some form going forward, not unlike these other countries in the region, in Europe, in much of the world after other conflicts, will be part of the military diplomatic landscape.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Look, Frank, just to – for the record, this is going to be a process of negotiation and there’s going to be discussion. And I think what – the good thing is that the Iraqis indicated a willingness to have that discussion. We will have that discussion and try to deal with it. But as to what ultimately turns out, we’ll have to leave to them.

MR. SESNO: A couple other issues in the time remaining. Syria – is it time for the United States to clearly, emphatically, unequivocally state that President Asad has to go, should step down? There’s been talk that that is going to be forthcoming from the Administration. It has not been yet. Is today the day?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Frank, I’m not a big believer in arbitrary deadlines when you’re trying to manage difficult situations. And what we see happening in Syria is galvanizing international opinion against the Asad regime. And that is a far better landscape for us to be operating in than if it were just the United States, if it were just maybe a few European countries.

Just think of what’s happened in the last two weeks. You’ve had the Arab League reverse position. You’ve had King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia make a very strong statement and the Gulf Coordinating Council also making a strong statement. You had Turkey desperately trying to use its influence, which is considerable within Syria, to convince the Asad regime to quit shelling its own people, withdraw its troops from the cities, return them to barracks, begin a process of real transition. And yesterday, the foreign minister made it clear that the Asad regime is not following through on that.

So I happen to think where we are is where we need to be, where it is a growing international chorus of condemnation. The United States has been instrumental in orchestrating that. And we are pushing for stronger sanctions that we hope will be joined by other countries that have far bigger stakes economically than we do.

MR. SESNO: I get all of that. But you know that your critics are saying leading means being out in front, that you condemn from the White House the heinous acts of the Asad regime, but —

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, look, we have condemned it, and we will continue to condemn it.

MR. SESNO: So tell him to leave.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I have to say I am a big believer in results over rhetoric, and I think what we’re doing is putting together a very careful set of actions and statements that will make our views very clear, and to have other voices, particularly from the region, as part of that is essential for there to be any impact within Syria. I mean, it’s not news that the United States is not a friend of Syria’s. That is not news to anybody. But it is, I think, important that we send an ambassador back there. I’m very proud of what Ambassador Ford has done, representing the best values of our country. So I think we have done what we needed to do to establish the credibility and, frankly, the universality of the condemnation that may actually make a difference.

MR. SESNO: Secretary Panetta, another place to go to, since the world is such a cheery place these days – (laughter) – Libya. So we find these very interesting developments where we hear of another defection, potentially, from the senior ranks of the Qadhafi government, and yet we also hear that the rebel forces may be having some very serious internal pressures, tensions, and disputes themselves. What is your read on the military campaign in Libya and whether Qadhafi is any closer to being driven out?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, I talked with our commanders in the area just within the last few days. And the indication is that yes, there are these concerns about the opposition, but we’ve had concerns about the opposition for a period now. But the fact is the opposition is moving. They’re moving in the west towards Tripoli, towards the coastline, and moving in that direction. The opposition in the east is moving to Brega and moving in the direction of Tripoli as well, that that pressure is having an impact, that the regime forces are weakened. Qadhafi’s forces are weakened, and this latest defection is another example of how weak they’ve gotten.

So I think considering how difficult the situation has been, the fact is the combination of NATO forces there, the combination of what the opposition is doing, the sanctions, the international pressure, the work of the Arab League – all of that has been very helpful in moving this in the right direction. And I think the sense is that Qadhafi’s days are numbered.

MR. SESNO: We’re moving into our final few minutes of the conversation. I’d like to take one last question from the audience, if someone’s got one. If I see a hand – this gentleman here.

QUESTION: Randy Crabtree, Defense Intelligence Agency and a student at Industrial College of the Armed Forces. My question is: Are the messages we’re sending in Libya and Syria really sending a message that the U.S. isn’t prepared to underwrite stability in the world anymore and that we just simply can’t afford it?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I don’t think so. I’d see it somewhat differently. I think it’s a message that the United States stands for our values, our interests, and our security, but that we have a very clear view that others need to be taking the same steps to enforce a universal set of values and interests. So I view this somewhat differently than I know some of the perhaps commentary has evidenced.

If you look at Libya, this is a case for strategic patience, and it’s easy to get impatient. But I think when you realize that this started in March, there was no opposition, there were not institutions, there was nothing that – there was no address even for trying to figure out how to help people who were attempting to cast off this brutal dictatorship of 42-plus years. The distance they have travelled in this relatively short period of time, the fact that for the first time we have a NATO-Arab alliance taking action, you’ve got Arab countries who are running strike actions, you’ve got Arab countries who are supporting with advisors the opposition. This is exactly the kind of world that I want to see where it’s not just the United States and everybody is standing on the sidelines while we bear the cost, while we bear the sacrifice, while our men and women lay down their lives for universal values, where we’re finally beginning to say, “Look, we are by all measurements the strongest leader in the world, and we are leading. But part of leading is making sure that you get other people on the field.” And that’s what I think we’re doing.

And similarly, as I told Frank in Syria, it’s not going to be any news if the United States says Asad needs to go. Okay. Fine. What’s next? If Turkey says it, if King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way the Asad regime can ignore it. We don’t have very much going on with Syria because of a long history of challenging problems with them. So I think this is smart power, and I talk a lot about smart power, where it’s not just brute force, it’s not just unilateralism, it’s being smart enough to say, “You know what? We want a bunch of people singing out of the same hymn book, and we want them singing a song of universal freedom, human rights, democracy, everything that we have stood for and pioneered over 235 years.” That’s what I’m looking for us to be able to achieve.

MR. SESNO: Before we close today, I want to ask you about one other place, and I want to ask you specifically about the kind of coordinated assistance that your two gigantic departments have tried to bring.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, he’s gigantic. (Laughter.)

MR. SESNO: Well, some might look at your department and see gigantic, too. But what you see depends upon where you stand, right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. We may be small, but there are those of us who love us. (Laughter.)

MR. SESNO: I’m talking about Somalia here – a gut-wrenching, horrible famine, images and suffering that’s brought to American and global homes every night. And some might say this can and should be a model for how these departments respond – how much is humanitarian, how much is military, what the integration and coordination is. Would you talk about that for just a moment?

SECRETARY PANETTA: Actually, that’s a very good example of the kind of close coordination between the two departments in dealing with a real crisis in that area. I mean, the reality is that it’s a very difficult situation in Somalia. You’ve got al-Shabaab, which is a real threat to that area. We’ve got literally thousands upon thousands who are starving right now as well. And so what we’ve been doing – and I’ll just – I mean, on the military side – is we have been working very closely through AFRICOM with the State Department, with the diplomatic sources that are there, with the NGOs to try to make sure that we’re providing whatever assistance we can provide to help in that region. And so –

MR. SESNO: Logistical assistance and other such things.

SECRETARY PANETTA: That’s correct. And so we are working. We’re doing that on a daily basis, and we’ve made clear that any additional assistance we’re prepared to provide. So it’s a very good team approach to dealing with a crisis in that part of the world.

SECRETARY CLINTON: I would just add a few points. The United States was the principal funder of something called FEWS NET, the Famine Early Warning System Network. And when we began seeing signs of a potential famine, we began to pre-position food and material. That gave us the chance to be able to get our equipment and our food into these areas quickly. We’re talking about 12 million people in the Horn of Africa, in an area twice the size of Texas. Ethiopia and Kenya have been responding very generously, given their own situation, and we’ve made progress.

I remember the last time Ethiopia had a famine. I remember those terrible pictures. That affected about 12 million people in Ethiopia. Now it’s down to about five million, which is still an unacceptable number, but shows that we’re trending in the right direction. So the United States has now spent about $580 million in helping these people who are starving and particularly trying to help women and children who are the most at risk.

At the same time, the United States has supported the African Union mission in Somalia, the so-called AMISOM. And we have been making progress in driving back al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu. Very brave troops from Uganda, Burundi, and other places are working with the Transitional Federal Government in Mogadishu. And as you know, al-Shabaab left Mogadishu. Unfortunately, they are still posing a very real threat and obstacle in south central Somalia to our getting food into that area. But we’re making some progress. I say all that because as you look at just the Horn of Africa, you can see the complexity of what we’re dealing with and to try to sort out what is the defense role, the diplomatic role, the development role, how do we work with the UN, how do we work with NGOs, how do we work with governments.

And what I have said, Frank, is that stability in Somalia is so much in the interest, first and foremost, in the Somali people’s interest, but also in the region and beyond. And yet the United States is not going to put boots on the ground. We remember what happened with what started as a humanitarian mission that morphed into a military mission that was, unfortunately, the – resulting in the loss of American lives. But what we are going to do is empower Africans themselves, provide all kinds of support to them, and enable them to stand up for themselves. And this is the kind of multi-layered approach that we’re taking in a lot of complex situations now.

MR. SESNO: We’re virtually out of time. I know that each of you would like to have a moment to kind of pull your thoughts together – the appearance of the two of you here is a commentary in and of itself – perhaps Secretary Panetta to talk to those in uniform here and around the world who are watching; Secretary Clinton to talk to American diplomats and those who are serving in this country and around the world who are watching through our embassies, and our public through C-SPAN and other media.

Secretary Panetta.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Well, we – these are challenging times, as we’ve just seen through this discussion alone. We’re involved in two wars, we’re in a NATO mission in Libya, we’re confronting other threats from Iran and North Korea, we continue to be in a war on terrorism, we’re fighting a concern about cyber attacks – increasing cyber attacks here, and we have rising powers – nations like China, India and Brazil, not to mention Russia – that we have to continue to look at in terms of their role in providing stability in the world. And we’re facing resource constrictions, budget constrictions now.

As I said, I don’t think we have to choose between our national security and fiscal responsibility, but we are a nation that has a special role in the world, a special role because of our military power, a special role because we’re a diplomatic power, but more importantly, a special role because of our values and our freedoms. The key thing that goes to the heart of our strength is the willingness of men and women to put their lives on the line to help defend this country. And I think we need to learn a lesson from what they do, that the leadership of this country needs to be inspired by the sacrifice that’s being made by men and women on the front line and hopefully exercise the kind of leadership that will ensure that this country remains free and strong.

SECRETARY CLINTON: And I think both Leon and I carry that responsibility very seriously because we understand what this country means. We’re both beneficiaries of the generations that came before that gave us our freedom, that gave us the opportunities that we’ve been able to enjoy. And I want to see that continue. I’m very proud to be the Secretary of State of the United States of America even during a period that is quite challenging, and there is no guidebook written for it. And in looking back at history, I’ve tried to take some lessons from other points when these challenges also presented themselves.

And one of my favorite predecessors is George Marshall, who held both Leon’s position and my position, most uniquely in our history. And at the end of World War II, President Truman and George Marshall looked around the world and said, “You know what’s in America’s long-term interests? Rebuilding our enemies, creating stable democracies, creating free-market economies.” And what did they do? Well, they said to people like my father, who had spent five years in the Navy, they said, “Look, we know all you want to do is go home, raise a family, start your business, make some money, have a normal life. Guess what? We’re going to continue to tax you to rebuild places like Germany.” And it was a hard sell. It didn’t happen automatically. Truman, Marshall, and others went across this country making that case, and we invested in those dollars — $13 billion in four years, which would be about $150 billion in our own currency right now. And we helped to make the world stable and safe and open for all the post-war decades.

We have an opportunity right now in the Middle East and North Africa that I’m not sure we’re going to be able to meet because we don’t have the resources to invest in the new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia, to help the transition in Libya, to see what happens in Syria, and so much else. And the problems that Leon mentioned, the rising powers we hope are peaceful and successful, but we’ve got to be competitive. We can’t just hope. We have to work, and we have to make a strong case for the continuing leadership of the United States. So it’s my hope that as we deal with these very real and pressing budget problems, we don’t know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. Budget documents are value statements – who we are as a people, what we stand for, what investments we’re making in the future. Whether we will continue to be strong and be able to project American power is up for grabs. And we’re going to make the best case that we can that American power is a power for the good, that it has helped to liberate hundreds of millions of people around the world, that it has helped to enhance the opportunities for people and to give young girls and boys the chance to live up to their own God-given potential. And we need to make sure we continue to do that. And I think you’ll be hearing Leon and I making that case, and we hope that it will find a ready audience in the Congress as these negotiations resume.

MR. SESNO: A ready audience in the Congress, and I hope a receptive and listening audience in the public, because the public needs to be part of this conversation, needs to understand what’s at stake, needs to have an opportunity to ask the tough questions and get straight answers from you and others. So as this dialogue unfolds, this is of immense importance to the country.

Admiral Rondeau, thank you very much: Senator Warner; Congresswoman Harman; to the men and women in uniform and who are serving the country here and around the world; to those in our Foreign Service and Diplomatic Corps; and most importantly, to Secretary Panetta and Secretary Clinton, thank you so much for a fascinating and insightful conversation today.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Frank.

SECRETARY PANETTA: Thank you, Frank.

(Applause.)

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