Interview on CTV's Power Play with Tom Clark

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Ottawa, Canada
March 29, 2010

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thanks very much. Welcome back to Canada, by the way.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. I’m always happy to be in Canada.

QUESTION: Let’s start off with the headline of the day. We’ve had a terrorist attack in Moscow, dozens of people dead. Is this localized, in your view, or is there a wider implication?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s hard to tell, but I think there is a connection among most of the terrorist activities that we’re seeing around the world. They get encouragement from each other, they exchange training, explosives, information. I don’t know the details of this particular one other than, apparently, they were women who were the suicide bombers. And we know that Moscow has had problems for a number of years now with Chechnya and other places within the Russian Federation. So there are connections. I don’t think we want to go so far as to say they’re all part of the same operation, but certainly, there is a common theme to many of them.

QUESTION: Could I move on to Afghanistan? It occurs to me that our two countries haven’t been this close in this sort of an alliance really since World War II. Strictly and purely from an American perspective, how important is it that that connection between the two countries continue, and perhaps continue beyond our pullout date of 2011 – again, purely from an American point of view?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are very grateful for the Canadian forces, the Canadian Government, and most of all, the Canadian people with the support and solidarity that they have shown with us in this mission in Afghanistan. We would obviously like to see some form of support continue because the Canadian forces have a great reputation; they work really well with our American troops and the other members of our coalition. There’s a lot of commonality. I know that there’s the hockey rink at Kandahar that our troops and yours take advantage of, and unfortunately, ours usually lose again.

So there’s just a really close working relationship. And I think our militaries have become even closer because of this deployment. Obviously, it’s up for Canada to decide the way forward, but we certainly hope there will be some continuing connection and visible support, because we’ve all learned so much. And we believe in the United States, with the new strategy that President Obama has set forth, we’re making progress. I mean, it’s been a long slog trying to learn how to take on these insurgents, to have great militaries like our countries do, but to have to go back to basically guerilla warfare, asymmetric warfare to take on the enemy. But we’ve made a lot of progress and we would very much look forward to having Canada involved in any way that you think appropriate.

QUESTION: And by saying that, just to clarify, are you talking about maybe a noncombatant role but a Canadian military role continuing on past 2011?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s all kinds of things that are possible. The military could switch more into a training role instead of a combat role, a logistics support role instead of the frontline combat. Certainly, the nonmilitary functions of working to encourage development, better governance, the rule of law – all the pieces of the strategy that have to be married with the military. And Canada has a particular commitment to and experience with that kind of development work that would be very useful.

QUESTION: Just going beyond the borders of Afghanistan and the military for a minute, what has Canada gained or benefitted from this alliance with the United States?

SECRETARY CLINTON: You mean overall, the kind of alliance?

QUESTION: Yeah, in a tangible type of way, Canada’s participation in this war with the United States, what’s it brought to Canada?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would say three things. First of all, we’re partners and allies in NATO. And when our NATO partners invoked the Article 5 collective defense obligation under our NATO treaty, that was the greatest sign of solidarity. I mean, we were attacked. It was the most horrific attack on the soil of the United States. And Canada and our other NATO partners joined with us. That is an incredible show of support, which we are very grateful for.

Secondly, we face a common enemy. Whether you’re in a Moscow subway or a London subway or a train in Madrid or an office building in New York, we face the same enemy: the extremists who would try to turn the clock back on civilization, who are nihilistic, who pervert religion and values. They are, unfortunately, not just after Americans, but they’re after Europeans, they’re after Canadians, they’re after people who stand up against them and what they are promoting. So we’ve become, I think, aware that we face the same threat. And both of our countries are better prepared today than they were 10 years ago, and I think that’s a tangible benefit that we both have obtained.

And finally, I think that, unfortunately, we have to go after the terrorists. They are not going to just disappear into the ether. They are very committed. They are well-disciplined. They use the tools of the modern world, from airlines and credit cards to the internet. And we live in fear that they would get their hands on nuclear material and made a crude nuclear bomb.

So our militaries both had to learn how to deal with this new enemy. To be very blunt about it, we had great forces that were trained to fight the Cold War, and now we’re in a different kind of conflict. And I think both the American and the Canadian military would tell you that they’re not the same militaries that they were 10 years ago. They’ve had to be more agile, flexible, adjustable. They’ve had to look at how you combine military action with development and diplomacy. I think that’s really in the interests of our mutual defense.

QUESTION: This is a good time to take a short break, Madam Secretary. If you’ll stand by and Power Play will continue right after this. Stay tuned.


QUESTION: We’re back with the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Good to have you here. We were just talking about the benefits to the two countries working together in Afghanistan. I want to switch that now to the Arctic. We’ve got a couple of issues between our two countries.

Let me point out one, the Northwest Passage. We claim that it is our sovereign territory, that this is Canadian waters. The United States has never recognized that. But could you foresee a time when the United States might recognize Canadian sovereignty over the Northwest Passage, say, in exchange for joint management of that water right?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s what we’re beginning to discuss seriously. I know this has been a longstanding issue between our two countries, but it’s only now that we have the attention being paid to the Arctic that it deserves. We had an excellent meeting today with the five Arctic coastal countries called by Foreign Minister Cannon. There is so much we can do together, and that’s what we’re looking for. We have to do search-and-rescue. We have to include Russia, Norway, Greenland, and Denmark. We have to do more joint exploration, and Canada and the United States are doing that. We’re trying to map the ocean floor, figure out what’s there. Neither of us could do it alone. Together, we’re getting very valuable information.

We have to do research into the fisheries. As the water warms because of climate change in the Arctic, what’s going to happen to the fishing stock? And how do countries like the United States and Canada, which share a coastal region with the Arctic Ocean, get prepared for that? What about gas and oil and minerals?

I mean, there are so many issues that 10 years ago were kind of theoretical. Today, they’re real. We are seeing the retreat of the ice, unfortunately. We are seeing our indigenous populations under greater and greater pressure. So I am working with Foreign Minister Cannon to see how we can make progress on some of these matters that, up until now, have been kind of academic, but now we need to take them seriously and try to make progress together.

QUESTION: And I get a sense that it’s moving up the chain of concerns, of American concerns.


QUESTION: Because a few years ago, it was fairly low. But when you take a look at it, there are now 66 combat-ready vessels in the Arctic, either on station or soon to be put in, representing only six countries. Are we seeing a new arms race in the Arctic?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, that’s what we’re trying to avoid. Our membership in the Arctic Council, which is the body that is charged with trying to manage the development of the Arctic – we’re cooperating with the countries that are in this region that really have the longest shorelines, like Canada, Russia, the United States. So what we’re trying to do is get ahead of these issues. We don’t want them to become problems, but we’re going to have to take responsibility.

The Norwegian foreign minister made this point at our meeting today. He said it’s going to fall to us. I mean, if there is an oil spill or there is an accident out there on a platform of some kind, who’s going to come? It’s going to be Canadians, Americans, Russians, Norwegians. We’re the ones who are going to be there first because we’re closest. So how do we coordinate that? How do we protect these precious ocean waters from overfishing by countries that are thousands of miles from the Arctic? I mean, if we don’t start coordinating, yes, there is the potential for some challenges. But I think if we get ahead of it and we lay out how we’re going to do this, I believe we can be in good shape going forward.

QUESTION: And if we can figure it out in the Arctic, can we expand that and talk about the continent? You know that for many years there was a discussion of perhaps customs union between Canada and the United States as a way of thinning the border, because all that’s happened is that the border, as you know, has gotten thicker and thicker. Can you foresee the day when you might – your country may look at the idea of a customs union as a way of perimeter security for North America, as opposed to fortress America?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’re not looking at that right now. There are those who are writing about it and suggesting it. But I think your larger point is very important. This is the longest, most peaceful border in the world. We are each other’s biggest trading partner. We have an enormous investment in the economic well-being of the other on the side of the border. And my goal as Secretary of State is to begin to clear away any obstacle or misunderstanding.

Now, in an economic downturn such as the world has gone through over the past two years, people get a little bit nervous and become somewhat anxious about their own futures. But we’ve worked through some of the difficult issues already this past year. And I just want to keep teeing them up. Now, we’re not going to make agreements on everything right away, but we are such close allies, we are such good friends, your country has more American citizens living in it than in any other country other than our own. So there’s just so much that connects us, and I want to broaden and deepen our relationship to make sure that we always remain as strong and partnered as we can be in looking toward the future.

QUESTION: Let me ask you a question that I know that you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and working on, and that is Iran and the situation that’s happening there. It seems that even with sanctions in place, what’s happening is that Iran is continuing apace in terms of building facilities that could lead to the nuclearization of that country. The fact that China is not involved in this process of the sanctions and so on – are we getting to the point where we might just have to start learning to live with a nuclear Iran?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. And in fact, China is part of the consultative group that has been unified all along the way, which has made it very clear that a nuclear-armed Iran is not acceptable to the international community. And I think as the weeks go forward and we begin the hard work of trying to come up with a Security Council resolution, China will be involved. They will be making their suggestions. We’re just going to have to – as in any effort, we’re going to have to try to come to some consensus. And we’re in the middle of that process.

QUESTION: I have to jump to the last topic, and that is Mexico. Sadly, you have lost some consular officials in Mexico.


QUESTION: That’s – the drugs that are on the streets in Canada, yes, they come through your country sometimes, by large measure, but many of them come from Mexico. How close are we to having Mexico – and I don’t know which word you want to choose, whether it’s a lawless state, an ungovernable state, a failed state – how close are we to that with Mexico?

SECRETARY CLINTON: If you get away from the border, life in Mexico goes on. There are flare-ups of violence mostly between the criminal cartels, the drug traffickers themselves. But what President Calderon is determined to do is to stamp out the drug cartels and the violence that they bring, because all too often innocent people are caught up in these gangs fighting each other.

So we worry about the challenge that the drug cartels are posing to the Mexican Government, but we feel very positive about what the Mexican Government is doing in response. They have an all-out effort going on where they’ve got the military and all the different police forces, where their cabinet is unified. I was just down there with a large representation from the American Government, and we’ve made real progress.

And part of the reason we have, Tom, is because as soon as I became Secretary of State, I said what is so self-evident: A lot of Mexico’s problems are because of us; we’re the drug market; we have the demand; people push forward going north to get the drugs into the United States and then eventually into Canada. And we also, unfortunately, are a big gun market where a lot of illegal guns go down into Mexico, being used by these drug traffickers against the police and the military.

So the United States is, for the first time, really saying, look, we’re part of the problem so we’ve got to be part of the solution. We are supporting the Mexican Government. We are engaged in intensive law enforcement efforts on our side of the border. And we’re going to do everything we can to help the Mexicans win this fight against these incredibly barbaric, vicious drug traffickers.

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, it’s been a great honor. Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Great to talk to you.

QUESTION: Great to talk to you, too. Thank you so much.


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PRN: 2010/T27-2