Interview With Greta Van Susteren of Fox News
Secretary of State
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, nice to see you. And this is our second trip to Pakistan with you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is. Thank you for coming along.
QUESTION: All right. Now, there’s no secret we’re having horrible economic problems at home. How do you convince the American people that spending money here in Pakistan is something we want to do?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think there’s three ways to make the case, Greta. Number one, this is where the principal terrorist threat to the United States emanates from, and we’ve seen some foiled attacks, thank goodness, in the last several months that have just demonstrated that. And we have to have a much closer cooperative relationship with Pakistan. We have to prevent Afghanistan from falling into a failed state that can then be even a bigger danger to us. And that costs money.
Secondly, if you really think about how much money it cost us as a society after 9/11, it was an incredible economic hit. And so terrorism on top of an economic challenge would be devastating for us, and therefore we have to stay on our toes and try to prevent that from happening.
And thirdly, I think that the long-term benefits of having positive relationships in this part of the world is good for our economy as well. I mean, we have an export initiative that President Obama has announced where we want to double exports. We need to open up markets. Well, how do you open up markets? Well, you raise standards of living, you eliminate insecurity so that people can actually buy the things that the United States produces.
So terrorism, economic, greater access to markets – all of that makes sense to me.
QUESTION: Well, the security issue – it seems to me that Americans really want security. I mean, we’ve recently had the incident in Times Square which originated in this country. But are we getting ahead of the game? Are we actually – is our money paying off in terms of getting security? Because we’ve had this recent event and they’ve even – we see violence all the time in this country.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, and the Pakistanis themselves are paying a big price because of it. They’ve had so many deaths due to bombings that these terrible terrorist networks impose upon the people of Pakistan. Their military has lost a lot of people in fighting. This is tough. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s not. But boy, do I think it would be a mistake to walk away. We’ve done that. We have walked away from both Pakistan and Afghanistan in the past with all the consequences we’re well aware of.
QUESTION: So you think if we walked away from this, didn’t give them money today, it would be worse for us from a security standpoint?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. I do. We’re building a relationship that just did not exist. I said in our last trip when you were with me that we had a huge trust deficit, in part because the United States had – to be fair, we had helped to create the problem we’re now fighting.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Because when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, we had this brilliant idea that we were going to come to Pakistan and create a force of mujaheddin, equip them with Stinger missiles and everything else, to go after the Soviets inside Afghanistan. And we were successful. The Soviets left Afghanistan. And then we said great, goodbye – leaving these trained people who were fanatical in Afghanistan and Pakistan, leaving them well armed, creating a mess, frankly, that at the time we didn’t really recognize. We were just so happy to see the Soviet Union fall and we thought, okay, fine, we’re okay now, everything’s going to be so much better. Now you look back; the people we’re fighting today we were supporting in the fight against the Soviets.
QUESTION: Well, if there were some sort of sense of a win for us in the sense that we see all these casualties – we see the casualties going up in Afghanistan – if we got bin Ladin, Usama bin Ladin, I know that would, I think, inspire the American people to feel much more committed to this project. Do you believe that the Pakistani Government knows where Usama bin Ladin is?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think elements in the government do. I’ve said that before. But I think it’s also important for your viewers to know we have been getting, with Pakistani cooperation, a lot of the top leadership of al-Qaida. Now, we haven’t gotten bin Ladin or Zawahiri, but we have consistently been able to track and kill a lot of their principal leadership.
So there is a story to be told here. It’s not yet what I want it to be, because, as having been a senator from New York on 9/11, I want those guys. I mean, I will not be satisfied until we get them. But we have made a lot of progress and we’ve created a much closer cooperative relationship between the United States and Pakistan in going after what are now common enemies.
QUESTION: All right. Now we have the situation recently in Uganda. We have al-Shabaab, another terrorist group, and who is – it looks like terrorism is just going global again in another area. Are we in any way going to get involved in that, in al-Shabaab?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we have supported the – what’s called AMISOM, the African Union mission which uses Ugandan troops and troops from Burundi. In fact, the reason why al-Shabaab went after the people in Kampala is because Uganda has been going after them inside Somalia. And we have been fully supportive of that. We’re not in any way contemplating U.S. forces, but we want to support Africans fighting for Africa and we will continue to support those who will take on al-Shabaab, which is no longer a threat just inside Somalia but, as you rightly point out, is spreading its tentacles beyond that.
QUESTION: Going back to what you said, some elements of the Pakistani Government know where Usama bin Ladin is?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe that. Now, I --
QUESTION: You believe that. Why do you believe that? I mean, what makes you think that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe it because I think that if I put myself into a position of leadership in our own government and if there were a terrorist network operating somewhere, even in the most remote place in the United States, some sheriff, some local state policeman, somebody in our collective government would probably know that there was something suspicious going on. So that’s why I assume somebody, somebody in this government, from top to bottom, does know where bin Ladin is. And I’d like to know, too.
QUESTION: Can’t we leverage our money or anything --
SECRETARY CLINTON: We are. We are.
QUESTION: -- I mean, to get that information? I mean, he’s a 6’5” guy. He’s not easy to hide. So I mean, I’m --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are leveraging it. We are leveraging it.
QUESTION: Are we getting closer?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t want to put a proximity or a timeline on it, because, as I said, we have gotten closer because we have been able to kill a number of their trainers, their operational people, their financiers. We’ve been able to do that, so in that sense we have gotten closer. But I won’t be satisfied till we get it done.
QUESTION: Does the Pakistani Government say to you, “Secretary Clinton, we’re going to get him for you, we’re really working”? I mean --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, the top levels of the government say they don’t know. To be fair to them, they say they don’t know. And it would be similar, again, if somebody walked into my office and said, “Do you know where bad guy in the Mexican cartel is on our side of the border?” I’d have to say no, I don’t know, but I assume somebody knows. So I think we’ve got to keep pressure on, which we’re doing. But remember, we inherited a situation with such mistrust between the United States and Pakistan that it takes day-by-day confidence building, and we’ve been doing that.
And I think we have a lot to show for it with this Strategic Dialogue that I got started, where we’ve had a lot of American Government officials coming and meeting with their counterparts in Pakistan. Because it’s not just if you get a good relationship at the top; you have to go through the bureaucracy. Because to go back to my example, if I were to start to say, well, who is it who knows where the Mexican cartel leader is, somebody must know, it’s somebody down there in the bowels of the bureaucracy. So you have to set a new tone. You have to set a new sense of direction and authority. And I think that is happening.
QUESTION: You mentioned Mexico.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: And last week, we were with Secretary Napolitano down in Texas-Mexico border. I’ve traveled with you to Mexico as well when you’ve been working on it. Is there a war going on in Mexico?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there certainly is an armed struggle going on. I mean, war usually – I mean, so far, the cartels have not been trying to overthrow the Mexican Government, although they’re trying to seize and hold territory for them to operate their drug activities.
QUESTION: Don’t call it a war?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t know. I mean, I don’t want to get into semantics. This is an armed struggle. This is a conflict against really bad people. These Mexican cartel leaders are the most ruthless people. You talk about what we’re up against in terrorism in Pakistan. Look at these people. They behead their victims. They kidnap children. They indiscriminately kill groups of people. So I mean, they’re just as bad as any terrorist groups. They’re in it for money instead of ideology, but what’s the difference? They are violent, vile violators of human rights and human life.
So I don’t want – call it a war, call it a conflict, call it struggle – whatever. We have to help the Mexican Government defeat these people and take back control of their country so that they are not living in fear of what these cartels and their leaders will do.
QUESTION: Right on our border.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, right.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to talk to you, Greta.