Interview With Fareed Zakaria of CNN
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Fareed, and thank you for coming to Nairobi for this opportunity.
QUESTION: It’s my pleasure. Let me take you back a little bit. Let me ask you – you are somebody who has had an incredibly full life with many different accomplishments. But much of it was not spent in the realm of foreign policy. What is the first memory you have of a foreign policy event that you remember?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, for me personally, it was in 1979, I think, going to the governor’s mansion – no, when was this – going somewhere with Jimmy Carter when Deng Xiaoping came, so when he was either the president then – yes, I guess he was the president when he came in late ‘70s. And it was the first foreign leader I had ever met, and Bill was invited because he was the young governor of Arkansas. And I was just very taken by the whole experience, and that was my first real introduction. I had been abroad, but I had never been anything other than a student of international relations and had always avidly followed the news.
QUESTION: And when you were a student, you were quite active on Vietnam. As I recall, you joined Eugene McCarthy’s campaign.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: And was Vietnam an (inaudible) part of the reason you joined?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It was. I mean, I think it even goes back further. My father was a great newspaper reader and loved to talk about current events around the world over dinner. And I was very taken with President Kennedy’s inauguration and, of course, his speech and I was too young to --
QUESTION: Wait, you were? Because your father was a Republican and --
SECRETARY CLINTON: He was.
QUESTION: -- also you worked for Goldwater.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right, but my mother was a closet Democrat, which she has later admitted. But I was very taken by the role of America in the world. I was a big Eisenhower fan even at a young age. But just going through all of that in ’68, that incredible year of tragedy in our country, I was involved in student politics around Vietnam. And then in ’72, I worked for McGovern, in part because of my continuing concern about that. So it’s always been an interest to me; I just never had a chance to actually meet a leader or be involved in it until years later.
QUESTION: What do you think you bring from those early years, though? What – you know, what stays with you as something you want to do now that you’re Secretary of State?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think several things. First, I have been a student of foreign policy my entire life and I think I bring a very broad interest and a voracious appetite for information about how decisions are made and how to promote values within foreign policy. I think too that my political background is actually very helpful, because – especially in these emerging democracies where they’re learning politics, but they may not be learning governing, I think I have a grasp of the difficulties that they are facing, assuming good faith that they actually want to be able to govern well.
And then of course, my deep and abiding interest in women’s issues, that goes back certainly to my college and law school years, and the role that women must play in their societies if we’re going to advance democracy and human rights and economic empowerment, all of which I think are at the core of what our foreign policy objectives should be.
QUESTION: And then we get to the unusual circumstances of your becoming Secretary of State. There’s a lot of --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Unusual is an understated way of saying it. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Well, there’s no way – no way around talking about this partnership or this relationship with Barack Obama.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right, right.
QUESTION: Because it is very unusual in the American political context to have the chief rival of a presidential candidate then become part of his cabinet. And people have often referred to the experience of Abraham Lincoln picking William Henry Seward. But there is another example, which is Woodrow Wilson had to pick William Jennings Bryan as his secretary of state, and that didn’t end up so well. It was a choice made for political reasons. Wilson made foreign policy out of a kitchen cabinet in the White House with Colonel House. William Jennings Bryan was kind of the guy who was sent around to make speeches. Do you worry about that happening?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Not at all, and I think it’s a unique relationship. If there is an analogy, it is much closer to Seward, whom I admire, having been a New York senator myself. No, because I think that in many ways, the policies that President Obama and I talked about during the campaign were maybe difference in degree, not kind. We have a world view that says America should be leading by example. It’s not the – I think my husband said, actually, it’s not the example of our power, but the power of our example that we want to convey.
And so when the President asked me to consider this, I was personally very surprised. And I became even more surprised when accounts of the campaign came out and said that he had been thinking about it for some time. But I also believe that what I brought to the job, the real commitment that I have to being not just effective, but being part of a team that’s effective – which the President knows, we served in the Senate together – has really worked out better than anybody could have predicted.
I think our personal relationship has certainly deepened and broadened over the course of the last six and a half months, the time that we spend together, the difficult problems that we wrestle with. But also the team – Bob Gates and I, Jim Jones and I, others who work with us – are really open. And Henry Kissinger said to me that he was very surprised; it was the first administration he could remember where if he talked to me and then he talked to somebody in the White House, he got the same story.
And it’s because we really try to hash out problems in private. We really understand the significance of the responsibilities that we shoulder at a time of great peril and promise in American history. And the President is a disciplined, decisive interlocutor in the meetings that we have. So it’s been a rewarding professional and personal experience.
QUESTION: So you’ve watched two White Houses up close. What would you say is the principal difference between the way Bill Clinton ran the White House and Barack Obama runs the White House?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think both of them bring just enormous intelligence to the job. I mean, obviously, I know Bill much better. But I have seen in President Obama as well just an intelligence that is so compelling to struggle with the difficult issues that are put before you. I think that the time in which Bill served was so different from the time in which President Obama is serving.
And in the White House, I think Bill is very constantly seeking out information, always trying to figure out where to end up, but he does it in a very public way, I mean, “Well, what do you think, Fareed? I mean, tell me that.”
I think that President Obama is very clear about the process that he wants to lead to his decision. I think, obviously, my husband made a lot of great decisions for our country and I think that President Obama is doing the same.
QUESTION: Do you worry, though, that with a president who is very interested in foreign policy, as President Obama is with a national security staff which has many of his old campaign aides on it, that inevitably, power will move more and more closely to the White House and things will – policy will be made there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t worry about that for a couple of reasons: First of all, because I’m not exactly a shrinking violet, and my opinions are not only sought, but listened to, and I appreciate that very much. And obviously, we do our homework in the State Department so that when we tee up something, we can both explain it and defend it. And I have a great team – Jim Steinberg, Jack Lew, Cheryl Mills and everybody on the political side, and then these extremely professional Foreign Service and Civil Service people.
So we are the implementers. There is no doubt about that. The White House cannot implement policy. But the partnership between the White House, the State Department, the Defense Department, and occasionally other intelligence departments, both DNI and CIA and then others coming in, is truly a team effort. And I think that the White House, in a complicated world with a government as big as ours, has to coordinate. I mean, that is one of its principal roles.
And I think the NSC is really growing into an understanding of how best to fulfill its role. It cannot implement. It cannot execute. And you need very good, solid relationships with the rest of the government to make sure that your policies and your – the direction you want to set are actually followed up on.
So when it comes to making policy, I think that we’ve had such a seamless, ongoing dialogue about everything that – I’ve been around Washington long enough, unfortunately, to know that there will always be people who want to take credit wherever they are or who want to try to take advantage over somebody’s disadvantage. But there’s been so little of that and instead, it’s a really serious professional operation.
QUESTION: So let’s talk about some of those policies. On Iran, there are a number of people, as you know, who argue that the President and you were too slow to condemn what seems to have been fraud in the elections, too slow to offer support to people on the ground because you wanted to preserve the option of negotiating with Iran. Can you really negotiate with Iran at this point?
I understand, in general, one negotiates with all kinds of regimes. But practically speaking, right now, with Ahmadinejad having been inaugurated in a very disputed atmosphere, won’t you be legitimizing him if you negotiate with him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me start with the first part about our reaction. There was another very important aspect. We did not want to get between the legitimate protests and demonstrations of the Iranian people and the leadership. And we knew that if we stepped in too soon, too hard, the attention might very well shift and the leadership would try to use us to unify the country against the protestors. That was a – it was a hard judgment call, but I think we, in retrospect, handled it pretty well. Now, behind the scenes, we were doing a lot. As you know, the young – one of our young people at the State Department got Twittered, “Keep going,” despite the fact that they had planned for a technical shutdown. So we were doing a lot to really empower the protestors without getting in the way. And we’re continuing to speak out and support the opposition.
On the question of engagement, that has been the President’s policy. We have made it clear. We have communicated in a number of ways to the Iranian leadership. But we are under no illusions; we were under no illusions before their elections that we can get the kind of engagement we are seeking. The President has also said, look, we need to take stock of this in September. If there is a response, it needs to be on a fast track. We’re not going to keep the window open forever.
But we’re not just sitting here waiting for somebody in Iran to say, “Let’s talk.” We are working with our allies to make the case that we need to have prepared a very robust set of sanctions that we can get the international community to sign off on the way we did with North Korea. We are also, though, looking at an incentive package. We’ve got to be able to say to the Iranians, “Well, here’s what’s in it for you if you get back into the good graces of the international community on your nuclear program – you foreswear nuclear weapons, you take appropriate safeguards regarding any kind of civil nuclear program.”
QUESTION: You’ve talked about that, the importance of making clear to the Iranians that they do have a right for a civilian nuclear program, but not for nuclear weapons.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: One potential solution, that in the past the Iranians have suggested they might be open to, is to have an Iranian enrichment capacity in Iran, but under permanent international supervision. Do you think that is a potential way out of this dilemma?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that would not be our first choice. We would rather that the Iranians not have control and authority over the full enrichment and reprocessing cycle, that it be under the supervision of the IAEA, but in another country, Russia being the example that has often been discussed.
But these are the kinds of issues that would be part of the negotiations. There are certain safeguards that might be acceptable, but others that would, we know, be merely shammed. So trying to get to the full panoply of what could be available is part of what we’re teeing up in the event there is such a negotiation.
QUESTION: I have to ask you a question that is of personal interest. Newsweek reporter Maziar Bahari --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: -- has been arrested and is now going through what can only be called a kind of Stalinist show trial. What is your reaction to that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am just appalled at the treatment that Mr. Bahari and others are receiving. It is a show trial, there is no doubt about it, and it has caught up journalists and clerics and former elected officials and even people in the current what was the government before the elections. And it is a sign of weakness. It demonstrates, I think, better than any of us could ever say that this Iranian leadership is afraid of their own people and afraid of the truth and the facts coming out.
We’ve expressed our concern about Mr. Bahari’s confinement and now the trial. As you know, he’s a Canadian, and we have certainly told the Government of Canada that we would be willing to do whatever is appropriate. They have thanked us for that, thanked us for our concern. They believe that they should take the lead on that and we’re supporting them.
QUESTION: Let me ask you about Afghanistan. It’s a little bit confusing, I think, to Americans to understand where we are, because it seemed as though there was an Afghanistan strategic review, the President made clear that he was sending troops, but also that this seemed, from a lot of the body language, to be the final increase in troops that Afghanistan would receive. Secretary Gates, on our program, said it would be a very hard sell to send any more troops.
Now we have a new commander in the field, there is some talk of perhaps needing more troops, Secretary Gates has said, well, now maybe I’m open to it – all this happening against a backdrop of the worst month of U.S. casualties in Afghanistan. Why are the casualties rising? And is sending more troops there in these circumstances sending more troops into a black hole?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Fareed, the strategic review on Afghanistan, which set forth an approach that we’re following, made it clear that we needed to integrate military and civilian assets, and try to build up the Afghan National Army and a Afghan police force as quickly as possible. What we’re finding is that that is the key. If you read the accounts of what our marines and soldiers are encountering, it’s tough fighting. I mean, they’re really taking it to the Taliban in areas that have been largely uncontested. And --
QUESTION: So you think this is a little bit like the surge in Iraq; that once you start engaging the enemy, inevitably your casualties mount and perhaps this might even be a sign of success?
SECRETARY CLINTON: There are certainly military experts and analysts who believe that, who are explaining to me and to others that what we’re seeing is tragic, and the loss of life is something that I deeply regret. I mean, nobody’s more anxious than the President and I are for us to be successful and to be able to send our young men and women home. But not being on the sidelines, moving out of the comfort zone – remember that British and NATO forces have also suffered their greatest losses – is a kind of combat challenge that the Taliban has been able to avoid up until now.
But no decisions have been made about the military side of our strategy. There’s a lot of discussion going on, and what I like about the President and the White House and the team that we have is that we’re always asking, “Well, what are we doing,” or “Can we do it better, what are the costs, what are the consequences?”
So there’s been no decision, but I think it’s important for the American people to know that we have our best commanders, we have our best civilian team, we have an embassy headed by a former general who served in Afghanistan, but who really gets the civilian component of this, to other ambassadors who are there to run our aid program and to work on the political dynamics inside of Afghanistan.
We’re trying to make sure that there’s a – as free and fair and legitimate election as can be held on August 20th. And then once there is a winner of this election, we have some very hard tasks about what we expect from the Government of Afghanistan. And first and foremost is helping us expedite the training of an Afghan National Army that will help our forces hold ground and then take over that responsibility.
QUESTION: Is the current administration in Afghanistan being a useful partner, both in terms of trying to do this stuff and actually getting it done? Or could one potentially see a change in administration in Afghanistan as a good thing?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re actively impartial in what’s going on in Afghanistan in terms of the election. I think it’s surprised people that this has turned into a real election. There are campaign rallies, there’s radio and television advertising. I think the incumbent, obviously, as incumbents do, has an advantage. But very vigorous campaigns are being run by several contestants. So we’re just going to do everything we can to make sure the election is fair, and then once there is a winner, we will work.
Now, the previous years of the term of President Karzai has been mixed. I mean, in some areas, we’ve made a lot of progress and have had a very good relationship. In other areas, it needs improvement. So we will work with whomever the people of Afghanistan select, but we will be very specific about what we need to see coming from the government.
QUESTION: You and the President have both communicated to the Government of Israel that you do not want any more settlements. You were very clear in your statement; you said no exceptions. And yet the government in Israel seems to be making an exception. Do you intend to in any way enforce that view that the United States has to ensure that the Government of Israel does not do what you don’t want it to do, which is to expand the settlements in the West Bank?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as you know, we’re in the midst of the very intense negotiations that Senator Mitchell is carrying out. And I think both Israel and the United States are working from a position of friendship, a durable partnership, a commitment by the United States to the security of Israel, which is absolutely imperative and nonnegotiable.
But there are steps we would like to see all the parties take in order to maximize the chances for success of the negotiations to reach a comprehensive peace that result in a two-state solution.
And there are areas where Senator Mitchell is hammering out the details with the Israelis, with the Palestinians, with Arab countries. And I’m actually cautiously optimistic that we will be able to tee up negotiations. Now there is no guarantee. These are very, very difficult issues to resolve. But I think that starting with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s important speech where he accepted the two-state solution and laid out --
QUESTION: But placed conditions on it with the Palestinians regarding entirely (inaudible) --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but both sides do that. I mean, that’s politics, that’s negotiations. I mean, people are likely to end up in a place that makes neither of them happy, and then the rest of us can say, “Well, that’s probably a good outcome,” but they start from maximalist positions. That’s where people obviously begin.
QUESTION: But the relationship with Israel has been prickly. I’ll give you one example: You extended a kind a nuclear umbrella, the prospect of a nuclear umbrella, to Israel and potentially other countries in the Gulf. And we’re talking about the Iranian nuclear program. The response from the Israeli Government was to criticize you, was to say that you were giving in to, you know, accepting an Iranian nuclear program. Were you surprised by their response?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think they misunderstood what I was saying. I said defense umbrella. I didn’t specify what kind of defensive measures might be available to those in the region. But I clearly was sending a message to Iran, and we’ve obviously explained that to our friends in Israel.
But the message was to make clear to whoever is making decisions in Iran these days, particularly about something as important as their nuclear weapons potential, that if they believed that this would give them a more secure position, a greater capacity to influence events, to intimidate their neighbors, to expand the reach of their ideology, they were mistaken, that there was no chance in the world that even if they were to obtain that – and it was obviously prefaced and meant in that way because our position remains the same – we do not intend to accept nuclear weapons by Iran. We think that is unacceptable.
But for the sake of argument and for the sake of their calculus, if that is among their objectives, they need to think again, because they will render their position less secure, they will trigger an arms race in the region, and they will certainly put greater pressure on the United States to extend a defense umbrella in order to hem in and contain them. So I just wanted to be sure that they were thinking like we were thinking, and I think the Israeli response only looked at the fact that, “Oh my gosh, well, does that mean you’re changing your policy, that now, somehow it’s acceptable?” No, of course not; we think this influences the thinking inside Iran.
QUESTION: If you had to choose, which is worse: a Iranian nuclear weapons program or an American attack on Iran?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, we have no intention to pursue the latter. This is something that is a very delicate and difficult issue to even contemplate. And yet at the same time, we are very concerned about Iran being a nuclear weapons state. And it’s not going to surprise anyone that Israel views that as an existential threat, that many in the United States see that also as a direct threat to American interests.
But force should never even be contemplated except as a very last resort. We are still focused on our engagement. We’re still focused on bringing international pressure. We’re still focused on trying to effect the calculations of the Iranian Government. And we’ll see where that leads us.
QUESTION: You just got through a bilateral with China, a strategic and economic set of meetings. Do you believe that China is now assured that the United States is managing its fiscal house well? The concerns that they have publicly made several times about their fears of an American deficit, management of the dollar, were those – in those discussions, did you get a sense that they are breathing a sigh of relief?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that it is fair to say that they are somewhat reassured. I think Secretary Geithner and Larry Summers and the economic team have done an excellent job of keeping the Chinese informed about the steps that we were taking in our government. I think the recent signs of stabilizing in our own economy have been reassuring. Obviously, we are not out of the woods yet and neither are they. But it is fair to say that the – in my view, the very large stimulus that both of our countries took – ours in dollar terms bigger than theirs, but as a percentage of their economy, quite significant from them – have really helped to get the global economic engines at least beginning to turn on.
The problem, of course, is that both of us may well have been, prior to this recession, on unsustainable pathways. I mean, we could not continue to spend the way we had spent on an individual level or at a government level, and now, of course, our deficit is even greater, which the President has said is going to be addressed. They have an export-driven approach, but at some point, they’re going to have to stimulate internal demand. So --
QUESTION: Did they make any assurances that they were going to do that? Because right now, it is the government spending, right?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is.
QUESTION: The Chinese Government, not the Chinese consumer?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s right. Well, but they are taking some steps toward creating what we would call a safety net – some kind of health insurance program, some kind of social security type program. Because you have to render people secure if you expect them to spend. Otherwise, they have to keep their own money under the mattress or in the bank so that they can draw it down when they need it. So there has to be some government expenditure to try to create that safety net.
Now we’re having our political battles over healthcare, but certainly, we do have a safety net – unemployment, insurance, social security, et cetera. We have to reform it, but it’s there. And American consumers have spent in a way that kept the global economy afloat for years now. I mean, if you think of the global economy before the recession, it was like an inverted triangle resting on the shoulders of the American consumer. But I think spending habits, at least in the short term within our country, are not going to be what they were before. So it is in everyone’s interests that some of the developing economies do more to generate internal demand.
So we face our challenges. I think we have gotten through this first period better than many had expected. We still have some choppy water ahead, but the President’s view is that we inherited this terrible crisis. The ship of state has been stabilized, but now we have to determine what direction we go. And I certainly believe we’re going to have to go in the direction of lowering our deficit, reforming some of our entitlement programs, encouraging more exporting of our economy, which means investing in our manufacturing sector, which is part of what I hope comes from the stimulus bill, and the investment in clean energy.
So there’s a lot of – a lot to be done, but I think the Chinese are breathing a little easier.
QUESTION: North Korea.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You famously now compared North Korea to an unruly teenager demanding attention, and you said, “I’m not going to give them that kind of attention.” But didn’t your husband do precisely that – give them the attention they sought with this extraordinarily high-level visit? That was – they were demanding attention and we gave it to them.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but we see this as two very different approaches. I mean, they were demanding attention with respect to their provocative actions on missile launches and nuclear tests. And previously, that had always gotten a response, not just from the United States, but the international community. That has not been forthcoming now.
These two young women, however, caught up in this nightmare, as Laura Ling termed it correctly, were really a humanitarian plea that I felt strongly we needed to answer. They needed to be brought home, reunited with their families, but also to resolve that so it wasn’t hanging over our head as we work to try to move back in to a process to lead to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
And both the President and I had said for weeks that we wanted to do whatever it took to try to get them home, and I’m very happy that happened.
QUESTION: Tell us a little bit more about it. So President Clinton comes back. He spends three hours talking to the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il. What was his impression of him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re going to get a full debriefing, which we really haven’t had the chance to get.
QUESTION: But you must have spoken to him on the phone.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I do. I had – I have spoken to him on the phone, but I have this policy, I never talk about what I talk to my husband about, Fareed. But I think he’s going to be able to meet with a lot of our Administration officials over the next days and weeks to share his impressions, along with other members of his delegation. Obviously, what we are hoping is that maybe without it being part of the mission in any way, the fact that this was done will perhaps lead the North Koreans to recognize that they can have a positive relationship with us.
I mean, remember, when I first went to Japan and South Korea and China right out of the box as Secretary of State, I said, look, we have to get back to the full and verifiable denuclearization of the peninsula, but we want to take steps to move toward normalization with North Korea. We have no designs on North Korea. We’re not, in any way, intending to threaten North Korea in an offensive manner. Our concern is what they do internally that then threatens our allies and our partners and eventually us. It’s not a good feeling to see them exporting nuclear technology as they have, or to continue to build up their own capacity.
So we reached out to the North Koreans, made it very clear that we wanted to create that kind of engagement, and they not only rejected it, but they began to take these provocative actions which resulted in the entire international community – most importantly, China – saying, wait, you can’t do this. I think they were surprised by that. I think the consequences of the Security Council Resolution 1874 and the sanctions that have been imposed, the most onerous that we have ever had, were quite eye-opening for them.
So we’re hoping that we can get back to a process that they will participate in with the understanding that yes, we demand that they denuclearize, but we also are not coming empty-handed. If it is full and verifiable, the international community will be responsive.
QUESTION: But the Bill Clinton mission, it was unorthodox. I mean, here you have a former president going on what appeared to be a state visit from the way in which he was greeted, being received by North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator. It’s a mission that was funded by private corporations and individuals. Is this something we – you expect to see more of as a way of reconciling his role in America?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. I mean, this, as you know, came from the families. I mean, this was a message that Laura and Euna were given by the North Koreans, which they passed on to their families and former Vice President Gore.
QUESTION: Naming him specifically?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Naming him specifically. And then they passed it on, obviously, as they should, to the rest of us. And it was not anything Bill was interested in seeking or even contemplating. But of course, when Vice President Gore called and when our Administration evaluated it and began to brief him, he said, look, if you think it’s the right thing to do and if you think I should do it, of course I will do it. But it is a private humanitarian mission. It was not in any way an official government mission.
QUESTION: But John Bolton, the former UN ambassador said --
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Should I even go on?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry. No, you shouldn’t.
QUESTION: Should I?
SECRETARY CLINTON: You really shouldn’t. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: But he said this is rewarding hostage-taking.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well --
QUESTION: Why – why is he wrong? Because you – they effectively took hostages.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have done this so many times before. I mean, we’ve had former presidents do it, we’ve had sitting members of Congress do it. It is something that – it is absolutely not rewarding them. It is not in any way responding to specific demands. It is a recognition that certain countries that I think are kind of beyond the pale of the rule of law hold people and subject them to long prison terms that are absolutely unfair and unwarranted.
And maybe it’s the fact I have a daughter, but I believed that if we could bring these young women home, we should bring them home. And it had nothing to do with our policy, and of course, you mentioned somebody who – heavens, if President Obama walked on water, he would say he couldn’t swim. So I mean, it’s just not – it’s not something that I think is relevant to what we’re trying to do.
QUESTION: You’ve made an important speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in which you talked about a kind of new model of multilateralism where you had not great power of competition, but great power of cooperation. The idea is basically to solve some of the collective action --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: -- problems we have by getting the other great powers of the world to cooperate. But what if they don’t? I mean, what – how does this model work when you have a China that says we’re not going to accept binding targets on missions; when we have an India that says don’t even bring up the issue of climate change in terms of targets; the Russians who have been quite non-cooperative on many issues? It’s a nice theory, but how does it work in a world in which these major countries simply don’t see eye-to-eye with the United States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think, though, you have to put it in a broader context. First, on a number of important issues, even since we’ve been in power over the last six and a half months, we’ve gotten very positive cooperation out of the countries that you named. And in some areas, we are going to see eye-to-eye. And we don’t want to be in a zero-sum game where if we don’t agree with somebody, we therefore don’t even try to partner with them on a whole other range of issues that are important to us.
But if you take climate change, which I think is a critical, collective action, common good problem, I think you’ve got to get below the surface a little bit. The arguments that are going on between our negotiators and our countries over how best to approach climate change are not a rejection by either China or India that climate change is real; that, in many respects, it threatens a lot of their territory even more than it threatens us, given the projections. But what they’re saying is, look, we can’t be in the same regime as the developed countries. I mean, we’re not there yet; we don’t have the historical responsibility. We believe in mitigation, but we got to be able to take steps that we think will fulfill our responsibilities.
And I actually think if you look at China, which has done a lot more on renewable and a lot more on some of the technology than they are given credit for, and in some respects, even more than we’ve done to date; if you look at India, putting $3 billion into reforestation out of their budget, and you ask, “Well, that’s not what we’re doing,” well, but then their response is, “We are moving pretty rapidly. We may not be moving exactly as you would want us to move,” and India is saying, “We haven’t gotten credit for reforestation, but that’s a real effort to mitigate against climate change. We need credit for that.”
I think we’re in the beginning of the hard bargaining and the sorting out. And what we want them to do is not match us in absolute terms, but have reductions from business as usual; given the technological advances, don’t repeat our mistakes. I mean, to be fair to us, for 150 years, the industrial revolution, we didn’t really get it. We knew that you couldn’t breathe until you had to clean up the air for that purpose, but we didn’t understand the connection with climate. We have no excuses left now.
And our argument to China and India is: Yes, you have a right to develop and we want you to develop, and in fact, we admire your commitment to eradicating poverty and we want to help you do that. But you can’t do it the way we did it, because you will suffer consequences that will undermine your development. I think that that conversation is a very healthy one for us to have, and to try to figure out how we’re going to get to Copenhagen and come up with an agreement that is credible.
QUESTION: Speaking of final questions, speaking of hard negotiations, what message would you have to the Senate Democrats who seem to be holding up the passage of a comprehensive healthcare bill? Or are they amending it in ways that are useful and productive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, actually, I think that it’s a very healthy process that’s going on. They are having to hammer out all of their differences. And there are serious differences in viewpoint, for example. But what the President has said, and what I believe is the right approach, is that this can’t be put off any longer.
I mean, it’s a little bit like what I was saying about climate change. Back in ’93 and ’94 when I was on the frontlines and taking all the incoming fire on this issue, people didn’t really accept in their gut that we had to do this. They kept thinking there’s another way out of this, and it’s not that bad, and we’ll try managed care and we’ll try more HMOs, we’ll try all of that. And now, all these years later, we realize that we have some fundamental problems with our existing system that has to be – that have to be addressed.
So I actually believe that at the end of the day, with all of this negotiation and back and forth, we’re going to come up with something. My hope is that it’s going to be meaningful enough to make a difference; to make a difference on the cost side, which is the paramount issue for people like us who have insurance – okay, how do we keep affording it and making sure that it is of high quality; assurances that what we’re going to do on the public side – the Medicaid and Medicare programs – are not going to undermine those programs in ways that they can’t deliver cost-effective quality care; getting people insured and moving as rapidly as possible toward universal care; changing the delivery system and the incentives so that we actually figure out ways to reward prevention, pay for prevention.
In ’93, for example, Fareed, I have – a man who became a friend of mine, but I didn’t know him at the time, Dean Ornish – he came to see me and he said, “Look, I have proof – ”
QUESTION: This is the doctor that --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Who did a lot of work on cardiovascular health, and he said, “I have proof that changes in diet, stress reduction, exercise are as effective if not more effective than medical interventions in lowering people’s overall threat of heart disease.” He said, “But I can’t get Medicare to pay for somebody going to an exercise class, or to pay for a nutritionist to come to their house and talk to them.”
Well, we worked and worked on that all through the time my husband was president. And then finally, during – sometime during the Bush Administration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, CMS, said okay, fine, we’ll begin to pay for this. Well, it shouldn’t be that hard. We’re more than happy to pay for a pill or pay for a procedure; how do we change behaviors, how do we convince the medical establishment to do that. There’s just a lot that needs to be at least included,