12th Annual Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. I cannot tell you how happy I am to finally be here at this summit, something that I’ve heard so much about from so many of my friends, including Melanne over the years, and which I could never make work in my schedule. So I know you didn’t come to Washington to make this happen, but I’m very glad you came to Washington – (laughter) – so that I could participate in this extraordinary gathering.
I want to thank Melanne for that introduction. She is our country’s first global ambassador for women’s affairs and has traveled the globe on behalf of our country’s values and our commitment to girls and women. I want to thank Pattie Sellers for her real effort to make this such a welcoming and exciting event for everyone participating. I want to thank a long-time friend, Ann Moore, with whom I have conspired on more than one occasion about how to advance the opportunities for girls and women here at home and around the world.
And as I look out at this audience, I really want to say, “Ladies and Warren,” because – (laughter) – because Warren is a stalwart supporter of the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and he kind of likes being one of the very few men in the crowd.
This is, as I’m told, the 12th year that Fortune has brought women together to share ideas and forge friendships and embark on new partnerships, and just from walking into the hotel until I walked out on this stage, I saw friends of mine that I hadn’t seen in way too long, but for whom I have such great affection and excitement at finally, again, forging those connections.
So once again, you’ve organized a terrific conference, Fortune, and I’m very pleased to join President Obama and Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Mullen and so many others in welcoming you to Washington and being part of this exciting adventure.
Now, this conference has a broad impact, because it’s not just the participants who benefit. Ann Moore was telling me about the 75 high school students who were there last night for speed mentoring, which I love the concept of. But this has a ripple effect. It goes out to staffs and colleagues and your own mentors and protégés, people whom you may never meet in person but whose lives you are influencing because of the work that started here. I’m here today not just to see old friends and to look out at the audience and see some of the women whom I admire most, but because I, too, like you, am in the business of trying to solve global problems while strengthening our country, and knowing that together we can cut across all of the partisan lines, all of the ideology, and find common cause if we seek it together.
Therefore, I think you are each individually and as members of a broader, united community, critical to America’s position in the world, to the assertion of our values, the pursuit of our interests, our common human moral beliefs. And I am here to say thank you, because out of these gatherings have come many ideas that we are putting in practice in the State Department. And I just want to mention a few.
I am a firm believer in the power of mentoring. There are women and girls in our country and around the world who have the talent, the intellect, the drive to succeed, but who lack the support. I have become convinced that talent is universal, but opportunity is not. And you never know when what you do or say can open that door to opportunity for someone who is ready to walk through it, but could not get under, around, or over it without your help. And still in too many places, support for women is in short supply. But through mentoring, we can help meet that need. And it’s low-cost, high-impact, and deeply rewarding.
Now, it might seem that an executive in the United States and an entrepreneur from a village in Bangladesh or a crowded slum in Kenya do not have enough in common to connect meaningfully through mentoring. But in fact, we do. We are connected by shared experiences and aspirations no matter the circumstances of our lives. And through global mentoring programs, we can replicate one of those shared experiences, one that happens every day in countless places around the world, women coming together to support each other and to see how we can together make progress.
Now, that is one of the purposes of this conference. But as we meet at this conference of powerful women, let us remember that we are just one conference of such women. Thousands more take place every day. They may not be in hotel ballrooms, but they are coming together to try to figure out how to solve the problems that they see in their own lives.
Last year in Mumbai, I visited a shop owned and operated by women selling crafts and textiles, most of whom come from the very lowest socioeconomic stratum, all of whom are organized through one of the most effective women’s organizations in the world, the Self-Employed Women’s Association known as SEWA. I’ve worked with SEWA for many years. I have literally seen the transformation in lives that banding together has catalyzed in individual women’s lives.
I also, last summer, went to – went back to Cape Town, and for the third time, I visited a group of women who, on their own, transformed their position as squatters into homeowners and then community leaders. I’d already been to one of the housing developments that these women through their own sweat equity had created, and this time I went to the second housing development that they are starting. The women that I have come to know don’t have much education, but they are among the most powerful and effective women I have ever met. And they have created now two thriving communities where before there was apathy if not despair.
I’ve been all over the world talking to women who have overcome odds that even I find daunting, thinking about coming from oppression and repression, coming to stand against family members who want to keep you down, government officials, and other threats.
When I was in the Democratic Republic of Congo last summer, I met some of the most extraordinary women I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, women who themselves had been brutally attacked and assaulted, left for dead, but who refused to die, and who are now part of a healing community. I also have talked with a number of women who are making their own entrepreneurial mark on the world, from Jerusalem to Islamabad, meeting women who are taking the tool of microenterprise and turning it into better lives for themselves and creating supportive communities.
And just here in Washington, I visited with a group of women entrepreneurs from Central and South America that the State Department supports through our Pathways to Prosperity Initiative. I do make it a point, as I have for nearly 20 years, to meet with women as I travel throughout the world and to convey the support of the United States and our women here, and to look for ways we can help each other.
So today, I want to thank those of you who are mentors, and if you are not, to consider becoming one. You’ve already heard about the partnership between Fortune and the State Department to mentor women abroad. We’re very proud of this program and just a few stories tells you why.
Grace Nanyonga, who is here today from Uganda, is mentored by Susan Chambers from Wal-Mart. (Applause.) And Grace is the director of a fish processing company, and when she returned home from the program with machinery donated by Wal-Mart and a $5,000 Vital Voices/ ExxonMobil Challenge Grant, she taught women from 44 households how to spice, smoke, and sell tilapia and silverfish from Lake Victoria. This, in turn, led to the rise of new businesses in her village selling spices and firewood, as well as higher incomes for Grace’s students.
Anne-Valerie Milfort is here also today from Haiti, and – (applause) – thank you. She is using her experience with her mentor, Rhonda Mims from ING, to help run community programs for at-risk Haitian girls. They receive mentoring of their own along with empowerment training in a safe, welcoming place, and are becoming able to take on a role in helping to rebuild their own country.
So whether we’re training women entrepreneurs in Morocco or expanding a cosmetics company in Nigeria or running a micro-lending program somewhere in the world, the protégés are really making a difference. And I’d like to mention one of the women who helped get the Fortune-State Department program off the ground, Dina Powell, who has since gone on to lead the 10,000 Women Program at Goldman Sachs, another partner of ours at the State Department. And I understand last night, two women who are operating orphanages in Afghanistan and South Africa were honored.
Now, I mention this because in our National Security Strategy and in our recently issued Presidential Directive on Development, we have placed economic growth, inclusive prosperity, and further economic opportunity at the core of what we are attempting to do. We believe, and it’s something that is borne out, of course, by our own experience, that helping countries cut through red tape and bureaucracy make starting a business and doing business easier. Empowering women to participate in the economy, in the formal economy, are some of the best investments that we can make. And we cannot and do not want to do it only through our government. We want these partnerships like the one that Fortune has pioneered.
Now, we are just beginning a new initiative called TechWomen that I announced in April during the President’s Entrepreneurship Summit here in Washington. Through TechWomen, we will match women in Muslim-majority countries with women working in tech companies here in the U.S. And we will send American mentors to their protégés’ countries to engage on a wider scale with the people there. We obviously want to harness one of America’s great strengths – our excellence in technology and innovation – and use it to build effective and lasting partnerships with rising women leaders in Muslim countries. And I invite you to participate in that.
We’re also partnering with companies to support women, and indeed, working with the private sector is such a critical element that I want to mention just one of our public-private partnerships. You’ll be hearing from Andrea Jung later today, and earlier this year, the Avon Foundation made a grant of $500,000 to the Secretary’s Fund for Global Women’s Leadership to accelerate the fight against the global epidemic of violence against women. And I want to thank Andrea and Avon for that. (Applause.) We are using this money to identify and support local programs that are addressing this epidemic.
Now, I have said many times before that supporting women and girls is both the right thing to do and also the smart thing to do. That’s why we have made it a key priority of the foreign policy in the Obama Administration. And yet working with you is really essential to whether this initiative can be successful. By coming here to Washington, each of you has proven you get it; you know the value of community, the importance of partnership, the impact that women have already made – you’ve seen it in your own lives and you’ve seen it around you – and the importance of helping women not only succeed, but lead. So each of you has a stake in this enterprise, and I thank you, and I especially thank Fortune for being such a good partner.
But I just want to put you all on fair warning: We’re going to ask even more. We need more partnerships, we need more mentors, we need more good ideas about how we can really spread and replicate the excitement that you have felt over these last three days.
So thanks to one and all, and I look forward to working with you, and now I look forward to talking with Ann and answering all those hard questions. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MS. MOORE: This is going to be fun. (Laughter.) Madam Secretary, let’s start out with something that I’ve been wanting to ask you since July. I was in South Africa at the Fortune Global Summit with your husband and he looked so trim, and he said that’s because you and Chelsea were forcing him to eat tofu. (Laughter.) Is that true?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no, it’s not true, but – (laughter) --
MS. MOORE: Did he --
SECRETARY CLINTON: But there’s truth in it. It’s – I don’t know, as somebody would say it’s got truthiness. (Laughter.) No, I mean, I think he decided that he wanted to really get in shape for the wedding, and so he, in response to our urging, really embarked on what became a very successful diet. But it also was good for his heart, and there’s so much evidence now that you can lower your cholesterol, you actually can reverse damage to your arteries, by eating plant-based meals. So he’s been off of red meat, which I’ve already heard from the American beef producers. (Laughter.) And --
MS. MOORE: I’m pointing at Warren.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I know. Well, Warren and I do not share this view that my husband has adopted. But no, he’s gotten great medical results, which is important because he’s – as you know, he’s had a bypass and then he had a stent put in. So it’s worked.
MS. MOORE: It has. And did he cry going down the aisle?
SECRETARY CLINTON: He – well, if you saw the picture, you could tell that he was trying very hard not to cry.
MS. MOORE: Right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And it was a very emotional moment for all of us, but especially for Bill, walking our only child, our daughter, down the aisle. And I’ve had so many people come up and say, “Oh, I felt so bad for him.” I said I felt so good because he actually didn’t cry. (Laughter.) He kind of kept it in check until at the very end.
MS. MOORE: And you had a beautiful day for the wedding.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It was fabulous.
MS. MOORE: Perfect, perfect.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m a huge fan of upstate New York and I always knew it would be a perfect day, and it turned out to be.
MS. MOORE: All right. So I’ve known you for 20 years, and back then you had long, blond hair with a headband and I was dark brown. And I’m, like, thinking about retirement and you have the energy of a teenager flying all around the world, like 64 countries, 350,000 miles. How did you get this second wind? What are you doing to deal with this travel schedule? Because you look great.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, well, thank you. Well, first of all, I love what I’m doing. I feel so privileged to serve at this time in American history, and I am excited and energized by the opportunities we face and also very humbled by the challenges we’re confronting.
But I do try to take care of myself and I try to – I’m not, by any means as you can tell, an exercise fanatic, but I do try to do as much as I have time and inclination for. And like a teenager, I need to sleep. And so I do. I get on a plane and I fall asleep. And some people can do that and I’m lucky I can, and I know a lot of people can’t. But it is mostly that I get up every day and I’m totally captivated by what the day holds, which I often have no idea what it’s going to be, and I very much enjoy the work.
MS. MOORE: This is a hard job, a line job – 12,000 employees, 265 offices. I know that when you were contemplating taking it, half your staff said, “Are you crazy?” The other half, I think, even tricked you into calling Biden, maybe, thinking it was his birthday, because they knew he would sway you. What did the President say to you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, we have nearly 60,000 employees worldwide.
MS. MOORE: Sixty thousand.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sixty thousand, because that includes all of our locally employed staff. And it’s an incredible organization – the State Department and USAID, which I am also responsible for. And I really was looking forward to going back to the Senate. I loved representing New York and I knew that it would be an exciting time to be in the Senate because a lot of issues would have to be addressed. And so I was the most astonished person you could find after the election.
In fact, I’ll tell you, Bill and I were going for a hike. We like to take hikes on the weekends and we were in one of our favorite places in Westchester County. And his phone rang and it was then President-elect Obama, and he said I wanted to – he wanted to talk to Bill about some personnel issues. And Bill said, “Well, we’re in the middle of the woods right now, so I’ll call you back if I can whenever it’s convenient.” And he said, “Oh, and I also want to talk to Hillary.” So I didn’t really think anything of it.
And then we got back to our house and Bill called the President back, and they talked and then put me on the phone with the President. And the President said, “I really – there’s things I want to talk to you about.” And I said, “Well, I’d be happy to talk to you about it.” He said, “Well, I’d like you to come to Chicago on Thursday.” I said, “Fine, I’ll come to Chicago.” And then I saw these little articles about how I was being considered. And with all due respect, I don’t believe anything I read in the press, so – (laughter). Not all the press. (Laughter.) So I kept telling my staff, I’d say, “That’s ridiculous. That’s absolutely – I mean, maybe he wants to talk to me about who I think would be good in these various positions.”
And when I got to Chicago, the President said he wanted me to do this. And I said, “Oh, Mr. President, there’s so many better people. There’s so many other people.” So I did spend a couple of weeks trying to convince him that there were other people who could do the job. And he spent a couple of weeks, ultimately successfully, convincing me to do it. And it was a very, very hard decision. It was one of the hardest professional decisions I’ve ever made. And I’m very grateful that I have this opportunity, so it turned out well.
And we have a wonderful working relationship. I know there was a lot of chatter about would we or would we not work together. And I tell you, one of the best stories that I tell as I travel around the world, because I try to get out of the bubble of the official meetings, get out of the palaces and the government offices. So I’m doing a lot of local media and I go on all these shows, like the morning show in Indonesia, which is called Awesome or an interview in Thailand where their famous anchors question me.
And what I tell people in countries where politics is a blood sport, where it’s very difficult to overcome family, clan, tribal, personal grievances, I say, “Look, I spent a year and a half trying to win and to beat President Obama. I was not successful. It was a really hard-fought campaign. Our supporters said a lot of nasty things about each of us and the other.” I said, “But at the end of the day, when the President asked me to serve with him and for our country, I agreed to do that because we both love our country.”
And it’s fascinating how so many political leaders and media leaders in these various countries look so surprised. And I really force them to think about what it takes to kind of overcome the back and forth, particularly in new democracies. And we’re seeing that in Iraq where they can’t form a government, and we’re seeing it in old democracies where, like Belgium and Netherlands, it’s difficult to bring competing constituencies together. So I think it’s worked out well.
MS. MOORE: Now, you mention the media. Today’s stories have you and Biden swapping jobs. (Laughter.) I'm not going to ask you what –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s why I don’t believe what I read.
MS. MOORE: But do you think Biden – what do you think the Vice President would think of that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think – look, I think the Vice President is doing a wonderful job. He’s a great friend of mine. We work together closely. He’s an expert on foreign policy. He chaired the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate for years. And we have a great relationship and I have absolutely no interest and no reason for doing anything other than just dismissing these stories and moving on. Because there’s just no – we have no time. We have so much to do, and I think both of us are very happy doing what we’re doing.
MS. MOORE: This summer with your husband, I met Desmond Tutu and Graca Machel, and I had three of the most wonderful days of my life. And I realized it’s because they were such wise people.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
MS. MOORE: And we don’t get the luxury of being with wise people very often. So in all the travels and the 300 – who is the most inspiring leader you’ve hung out with? Who’s the wisest guy on the planet right now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I mean, Nelson Mandela.
MS. MOORE: Oh, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, you had the chance to be with Graca Machel and Desmond Tutu, who are also two of my favorite people. But I was really privileged as First Lady to spend a lot of time one-on-one with President Mandela. He took me to Robben Island. He personally took me into the cell where he’d been confined. He and I spent time just talking. And he was incredibly inspirational to me and still is.
And one quick story. As some of you old enough to remember know, our politics in Washington can be extremely harsh and very personally difficult. And there were some of those days in the ‘90s, as you might recall. And I went to President Mandela’s inauguration and I went with Vice President Gore and Mrs. Gore. We had breakfast in the morning at the presidential house with the outgoing Afrikaner administration. We went to the inauguration, which for all the reasons you can imagine, was an unbelievable experience in every way. Then we went back to the house, which had been transformed. We drove down this long driveway and there were dancers and musicians and all kinds of activity, many people in their tribal garb.
And then we went to a large lunch of so-called VIPs. And Mandela got up to speak and he thanked us all for coming, and there were presidents and prime ministers and vice presidents and other such. And he said, “But the most honored guests I have here today that I want to introduce to you are three of my former jailers from Robben Island.” And these three white South Africans stood up. And he said, “I had many jailers. Some treated me like I was not a human being. Some added to the misery of being in prison for so many years. But these three men treated me with respect. They were able to connect with me and I with them. And I am so honored they’re here.”
And you sat there, as I did, thinking that’s the attitude we need to have in the world today. There are so many old conflicts, so many grievances, and it’s probably the biggest impediment that I deal with every day to bring people together. And some of these grievances go back 50, 60 years, and some go back five, six hundred years.
But Nelson Mandela understood the power of forgiveness and the power that it gave him to lead. And I wish I could bottle it and pass it out as I travel around the world to leaders who are unwilling to take that step and to find any kind of common ground and humanity. So he, to me, remains my most important inspiration and model.
MS. MOORE: The single best leadership book for this crowd was, I think, put out this year by Rick Stengel, it’s lessons on leadership from Mandela. And the one thing I remember is – and I think about this a lot, because we all need to know this. This is what he says: “No is a complete sentence.” (Laughter.)
When you took over to prepare for the Middle East peace process, you asked your staff for this exhaustive analysis of major peace initiatives. What was your takeaway from this? And three of the last four secretaries of state have been women. Do you think women, mothers are steeped in the art of teaching and maybe make you better Mideast peace negotiators?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to think so, but I think that it really is up to the parties. I mean, I think the United States plays a critical, essential role in trying to create an atmosphere conducive to building a relationship and enough trust between the Israelis and the Palestinians that their leaders can make the hard choices that are required to achieve a two-state outcome.
And I am convinced that both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas want to do this. But like all leaders, they have those naysaying voices and they have legitimate fears and concerns about what the future would bring, and it does take a lot of patience and persistence to keep trying to move the dialogue forward. But I think it’s important to be on the field trying. I’m not particularly troubled by or deterred by all the armchair critics who try to game everything out, because I think there’s a certain self-fulfilling momentum in human relations, as well as in relations between countries, and you never know where it’s going to lead unless you’re out there trying to push it in the direction you think is the right one.
So I am very – I’m very committed to doing all that we can in this Administration to try to bridge these very significant divides and see if we can’t find a way through to get to a comprehensive peace agreement.
MS. MOORE: You gave a speech, I think last month, about the new American moment?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
MS. MOORE: A moment when our global leadership is essential. And you did mention that the financial crisis in this country has affected your ability to – how we are perceived in the world. And I think an example that was given was that we may have lost some credibility, for example, in China. China’s come up a lot over the last couple days. I mean, I think a number of people and panels have mentioned – how do you feel about – how do you think the economic woes here complicate your job?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think when President Obama came into office and I became Secretary of State, the crisis was acute; the patient was in intensive care. And there was a great deal of anger and questions here at home and around the world about how did this happen.
And as I began traveling very early in ’09, and one of the first countries I went to was China, I got the very firm impression that many countries were quite upset with us. I mean, this was a global crisis, but everyone had looked to our financial institutions for leadership, for the kind of decision making that was reliable and predictable. And without going into all the reasons why it did or didn’t happen, there was a belief that maybe the United States and our market economy were no longer going to be dominant in the world in the future.
Now since then, we’ve demonstrated through what I think is extraordinary leadership by the President and the economic team how we can navigate through such a difficult crisis. But there is a residue. And there is, I would say, skepticism on the part of many around the world now as to how reliable our economic recovery will be. And here at home, we see that being acted out in our political system where people who might have been very anti-government policies now are also very suspicious of our market and feel like both our economy and our political system let down Americans. Well, there’s that sense around the world to some extent.
Now, I’m a big optimist about our country. I think we are – we have a well-deserved reputation for being the most resilient, the most dynamic economy, the premier political system, despite our ups and downs. So I am absolutely confident we will work through this. It is going to be hard in our country as well as in many developed economies to figure out how we’re going to produce enough jobs for enough people. I don’t think anybody yet has the code to crack on how we’re going to do that, so we still have a lot ahead of us, and we need to do it right.
And I’m out of politics. I am not in any way involved in any of the political campaigns that are going on up to this midterm election. But I see the impact that our domestic decisions have on our role in the world. I was heartbroken that we lost the leverage we had in 2000 with a balanced budget economy, or a balanced budget in the federal government in an economy that was always going to have to make adjustments. But I thought some of the policies were unfortunate that followed. So now I think we’ve got to do what I plea for in foreign policy, and that is make evidenced-based decisions, not ideologically-based decisions.
And if we can demonstrate a steadiness of leadership going forward, I think the damage that may have been done because of the crisis will be reversed. That doesn’t mean that we’re going to have easy sailing with China and other competitors because, look, they’ve got their own economic policies that they’re following. But we can be, once again, competitive and effective in dealing with the global economy, and that will be reassuring to everyone.
MS. MOORE: Thank you. Why don’t we open it up – I know you have a lot of questions in the audience. We’ll open it up to a few questions. Raise your hand if you – I have many more questions for –
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s a question way back there.
MS. MOORE: Can we go right in the back? Can you get her a microphone? Would you – when you stand up, would you identify yourself and where you’re from?
QUESTION: Janice Trait. In July at Krakow, you gave a marvelous speech with the 10-year anniversary of Community of Democracies. Will you share with this audience some of the initiatives, including open up closed societies using internet freedom and other initiatives? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you. One of the new areas of emphasis for us in the State Department, what we call 21st century statecraft, is to use new technologies to try to open up closed societies. We know this is not an answer for everything, but we think, as we learned in the uprisings in Iran after their election challenges, that keeping the lines of communication open among people who wish to express an opinion, who wish to organize and peacefully demonstrate, is a specific outcome.
And then more generally, using technology on everything from helping to improve electoral systems, which we recently did in Kenya so that the recent constitutional referendums went off peacefully, because votes were tallied in real time using technology. And it was a total reversal of what had happened previously. Or using mobile banking – I’ll be doing an event later with Cherie Blair – to use mobile banking to reach more people, particularly more women, around the world; using mobile phones to provide health information; using e-government platforms to cut the number of steps between having to get a license for a business and the number of hands you have to grease in order to get it by being able to do it online.
So we think these provide really important tools, and there’s a lot more on internet freedom and on technology that we’re doing to try to empower civil society around the world. And I spoke at some length about that in Krakow for, as you say, the 10th anniversary of something called the Community of Democracies, which we strongly support.
MS. MOORE: Question in the back?
QUESTION: Naina Kidwai from HSBC India. I couldn’t agree more with your observations right now on mobile banking, but you have led the relationship with India – you, President Clinton – with a lot of warmth and intellect. What are your expectations of President Obama’s visit in the next few weeks?
SECRETARY CLINTON: More warmth and more intellect. (Laughter.) Look, I think our relationship with India, which I was very pleased to open up in the ‘90s and then followed by the work of my husband and his visit and then the follow-on work by the Bush Administration on the civil nuclear agreement is going from strength to strength. I mean, we are now implementing a very comprehensive Strategic Dialogue between us.
And by that, I mean it’s not just the visits and the meetings at high levels between the President and myself and our counterparts, but really getting into our respective bureaucracies, which, as you know in both of our countries, pose problems to actually getting things done. Also, looking for ways to network our business communities, our academic institutions, our NGOs – we are very bullish on India. We think that India’s growth rates and India’s commitment to lifting people out of poverty and doing the necessary economic reforms is essential for further development for India.
And at the same time, India is assuming more of a regional leadership role and a global leadership role, which we welcome and encourage. So the President’s visit in November will be yet another very clear statement of our support and our commitment to the relationship.
MS. MOORE: A question in the back.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, Debbie Lee with BET Networks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, Debbie.
QUESTION: How are you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good.
QUESTION: Good to see you. I have a three-part question. One, what’s your proudest accomplishment to date in this position? Two, what would you like to accomplish more than anything in the time you have left? And three, how do we get out the story about your accomplishments and the President’s accomplishments and all the great things this Administration is doing before the midterm elections? (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Debbie, I am very, very proud of sort of the two very large commitments we have embraced. One is to really organize the State Department and USAID, not just for my term as Secretary, but hopefully beyond, to be more agile, more effective, more results-oriented. And we have great people in both the Department and the Agency, but our systems have not kept up with the demands that we face.
And I commissioned the first-ever Quadrennial Development – Diplomacy and Development Review. It’s called the QDDR. And I got the idea from having served on the Armed Services
Committee where the Defense Department does these four-year planning exercises. It’s called the QDR, the Quadrennial Defense Review. And Dr. Anne-Marie Slaughter, the former dean of the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, is here and she’s leading our efforts. Because we have to elevate diplomacy and development to be on the same platform as defense. We cannot use our military to solve our problems around the world. (Applause.)
And the fact is what I call the three Ds have to be not only coordinated, but integrated. A quick example – I am now responsible for the handover that is occurring in Iraq where civilians are going to be picking up a lot of the work that used to be done either by the military or by civilians, but under our own military’s protection. Well, my diplomats and development experts don’t carry automatic weapons. So going into many situations is quite challenging and even dangerous. In Afghanistan, we’re doing the same, where I have more than tripled the number of civilians on the ground who are partnering with our soldiers and Marines.
So I am trying to put our diplomacy and development on an equal level, make the case for greater resources, because the fact is – and Bob Gates and I talk about this all the time – Bob Gates can go to the Congress and ask for $500 billion and get it all, and I go to the Congress and ask for $50 billion and they cut $5 billion. So until we can really embed the ideas that I am putting forward, we’re not going to have the kind of robust diplomatic and development systems that we need. And I am determined to do all I can during my secretariat to accomplish that.
With respect to what we’ve – the many things that we’re working on, there’s many, many areas that we’ve made a lot of progress in. I think I’ll wait until the end of my tenure because we’re in the midst of so many difficult negotiations and a lot of what I am pleased that we’ve made progress on is not necessarily firm, because of the constant pressure that countries and leaders face. But I feel like every day, I go to the office and we push; we push really hard to make a difference.
And I was given advice that I rejected. The advice was you could either try to manage the bureaucracies or you can try to focus on the policy issues. How do you – those of you who are corporate executives, that’s like saying forget how the corporation is run; you just go out and be a big personality and make change. That doesn’t happen. That’s not the way it works. You have to have people throughout your bureaucracy, both those you bring in, which is a limited number in government, and those that are there – the civil servants and the Foreign Service officers who are dedicated but need leadership.
And then in the second basket, well, go out and do policy, I was told, well, you can’t take on too many things at once so just pick one or two things. Again, I’m sitting there thinking, okay, fine, so I’m not supposed to comment when there’s a coup in Honduras or when you have increasing pressure on governments in North Africa from Islamic extremists, or – you go down the list. So we tried to organize ourselves to be able to do a lot of things at one time, to try to push forward the values and the interests of the United States.
And on your final question, it is frustrating. We’re going – we just got the START Treaty we negotiated out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The President has made a very big commitment to zero nuclear weapons. And I want to thank Warren Buffett. He’s our partner in trying to get a global fuel bank through the International Atomic Energy Agency so that we can provide civil nuclear power to countries without the danger of them becoming nuclear weapons countries. We had the first Nuclear Security Summit. We’re working hard on nonproliferation and we managed the very difficult UN process to get to a very good result. We’re working hard with our Mexican friends to combat this terrible threat they face from the drug – the narco-traffickers, on and on and on.
And yet, look, foreign policy doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the American media. And so we have worked hard to break through on that. The President has been very willing to do a lot of interviews about foreign policy, both here and around the world. And we’ll keep trying, because obviously, it’s not only my job; it’s my passion. And many of the issues that Americans should be most concerned about are in the foreign policy arena, and they aren’t much of an issue in this year’s midterm elections. It’s mostly, as you know, about the economy and other related matters.
But I take your point and we’ll work as hard as we can to get that information out there.
MS. MOORE: I’m getting the “cut” sign. I just want to say, Madam Secretary, I look at Billie Jean King in the first row here and I think --
SECRETARY CLINTON: My friend. Hi, Billie Jean.
MS. MOORE: Yes. Next to Billie Jean, I can’t think of another woman in my whole career I’ve met who exemplifies more Billie Jean’s phrase, “Champions adapt and pressure is a privilege.” Thank you very much for coming today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Thank you.