Townterview Hosted by Bahrain TV
Secretary of State
MODERATOR ONE: Madam Secretary, welcome to Bahrain. It’s an honor to have you here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, and thank you for hosting this wonderful event. And thanks to all of you for being here at the museum for this discussion. I’m very much looking forward to it. I think that – you may know this is my first trip to your country, but already I am feeling very much at home. So I hope we can have an open and very broad-ranging comprehensive conversation this afternoon and I’m looking forward to it.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) Do you believe that (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. I am very impressed by the progress that Bahrain is making on all fronts – economically, politically, socially. There is a very comprehensive vision of where the people and the Government of Bahrain are headed. I’ve had an excellent, long discussion with His Majesty the King. I know that there are still challenges as there are in any society. I come from a country that has made a lot of changes over the course of our existence, and we have continued to push the boundaries of opportunity to include more and more people. And I believe that the elections that you held six weeks ago with a very high participation of 67 percent was a really strong signal of the progress that is being made.
So I’m delighted that I can be here to talk about what is being done, what remains to be done, the opportunities that young people see, because really the work that I do every day is for the future of the young people here in this audience and the kind of lives that you will lead. So I’m impressed and supportive of the work that is being done here.
MODERATOR ONE: Madam Secretary, it gives me great pride to first see you, as a leading figure, say these things about our kingdom. But when you compare Bahrain to the rest of the region, with the recent parliamentary elections that we’ve had that have been praised by a number of worldwide figures, how do you see that as contributing – I know you touched upon the parliamentary elections a minute ago, but how do you see that as contributing to our democratization process here in the kingdom?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the commitment to democracy is paramount and I’ve heard that from a broad range of your leaders and your citizens. There seems to be a strong broadly-held commitment to democracy. Then how each country travels the road of democracy because it’s not a destination; it is a constant journey. We are still perfecting our democracy. And as I look around the world, I see that most democratic countries are still working to improve. So the commitment you’ve made is very promising, but there are a lot of decisions that still will confront you. What is important is that the entire society work together to achieve democratic progress, and I hope that is what will happen over the next years here in Bahrain.
MODERATOR TWO: Maybe you can take a question from our audience if you don’t mind, Madam Secretary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’d love to.
MODERATOR TWO: (Off-mike.)
QUESTION: Right here.
MODERATOR TWO: (Off-mike.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: There you are. Back there.
QUESTION: Yes, welcome again to Bahrain. How is Mr. Obama? How is the President? We heard that he had 12 stitches on his lips. Is he okay? Can he talk?
SECRETARY CLINTON: He is in great shape. I have to say the President is a really physically active man and he works out every day, he plays basketball nearly once or twice a week. So yes, he was in a hard-fought basketball game, and the people he was playing with did not care if he was the President if he was on the other team. (Laughter.) And he ended up with an elbow in his mouth that required 12 stitches, but the next day, he was out on the court with his two daughters who are playing basketball at their school, helping them improve their game. So thank you for asking and I will tell him that you did. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR ONE: Send him my regards, please. I have a question here from Miss (inaudible).
MODERATOR ONE: Okay. Stand up, please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi.
QUESTION: How are you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m fine, thank you.
QUESTION: It’s very nice to see you here in Bahrain.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: I actually just have a question about the current situation now. Obviously, there were some issues with WikiLeaks. I don’t mean to bring up a very sensitive subject, but in the case that Israel does take military action towards Iran, how do you feel – how would the U.S. react in this case? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think – first of all, I think that it is not a surprise to anyone – it’s what we call old news – that many countries, many people in the region and beyond, are worried about the possibility of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. I know that’s a concern here in Bahrain. I know it’s a concern in Saudi Arabia and in the UAE and in Egypt and Jordan and Israel. But it’s also a concern in Europe and it’s a concern in the United States. And it is such a concern that countries all over the world, including China and Russia, supported strong sanctions against Iran in the United Nations to try to send a strong signal from the entire international community that Iran needs to know it cannot violate international rules and obligations and it is entitled, as every country is, to the peaceful use of civil nuclear power, but not to nuclear weapons.
So we’re all trying to send that very clear message to Iran. And on Monday, Iran has agreed to meet in Geneva, Switzerland with what are called the P-5+1. Those are the countries that the international community has deputized to work with Iran to try to convince Iran not to go forward with a nuclear weapons program. It is the United States and China and Russia and the United Kingdom, France and Germany, plus the European Union. So we’re hoping that when Iran comes to the meeting in Geneva, it will engage in a very serious discussion.
And I will say this today, I will say it tonight at the Manama Dialogue, I have said it all over the world – the United States is sincere in its efforts to engage with Iran. We would very much like to see Iran take a position as a responsible leader that doesn’t intimidate or threaten or scare its neighbors and others. But the choice is really up to Iran and we’re going to keep working to try to come out with the right decision.
MODERATOR ONE: Excellent. I have a question from the other side. I need to move. Sorry, ma’am.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
MODERATOR ONE: Crème de la crème of youths in this gathering, so the questions will be tough, ma’am.
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s good.
MODERATOR ONE: Your name?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, could you stand up? I can’t see you. I’m sorry.
QUESTION: Hi, I want to start off by saying that, first of all, me, along with, I think, a majority of Bahrain and probably majority of the Arab world, we’re ardent Obama supporters. So we’re very glad to see him there in the White House.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will tell him.
QUESTION: And my question is regarding the mosque, the controversy, and – the mosque near Ground --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Near Ground Zero, right.
QUESTION: What is your stance on that? And did you expect that there would be so much controversy regarding the mosque?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I was, for eight years, a senator from New York. And any of you – have you – how many of you have been to New York City? Oh, good, good, and the rest of you need to come.
New York City represents the entire world. I mean, everyone from everywhere lives in New York City, and New York City has figured out a way to enable people to get along, work together, live near one another, and peacefully resolve their disputes. So I have never particularly been concerned that New York City wasn’t capable of making this decision, because New York City is certainly capable of it. And they will do so in accordance with the laws and procedures that the city has. I don't know what the decision will be, but it’s a city that recognizes the strength of diversity and respects it.
And so the controversy, in my view, is something that is not going to affect whatever the final decision the city makes. And I am confident that the right decision will be made and that – it’s a little-known fact, but if you took a map of what is that area of downtown New York and you put a mark by every mosque that was near what is called Ground Zero – because of course, that’s where we were attacked and we take it very personally and seriously – there are a number of mosques in that area already.
So, I mean, people who don’t know about New York City, people who are emotional about what is still a very painful experience in our country, certainly are free to express their opinions. But that’s not how municipal decisions are made. They’re made on is this the right land use, do they have the right permits, and that’s how this will be made. And it’s not going to be controversial; it’ll be decided one way or the other.
MODERATOR TWO: We’ll take a question here. Madam Secretary, I’m personally an optimist and I sense through what you said about (inaudible) that you’re an optimist (inaudible) the future of this country.
During the past 10 years, there has been a huge increase in the numbers of the NGOs, an increase in the number of publications. There has been the empowerment of women; three women have reached the cabinet. There have been major changes. And you mentioned that there could be still some challenges that we could be facing. What are these challenges? How can we face them since we are a young democracy? Yet despite all the challenges we have had, we have managed to reach where we are today.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And you’re right to look at it optimistically. I learned earlier today that there are 526 NGOs in Bahrain, and it’s a small country and that’s a significant number. So the space for civil society, for activists who wish to express an opinion, and so long as they do so peacefully and civilly, should be expanded because there’s a lot of merit in having different voices at the table of any society. Defense of human rights, making sure that the judiciary is independent and the rule of law is followed – and I know there are trials going on now and I believe that the rules obviously will be and should be followed.
The point about democracy that many people who are just beginning to practice it often overlook is that democracy is not just about elections. Elections are a critical, necessary part – how they’re conducted, how legitimate they are. And on that basis, the elections you had six weeks ago, as I said, are widely admired. And then there are all the other elements of democracy, because protecting minority rights, ensuring that people have the full range of freedoms as long as, again, they exercise them responsibly.
So getting the right balance is what I know you are seeking. And it is not easy; it is hard to do this. If it were easy, people could just snap their fingers. But that’s not the way it works. You have to balance traditions that you value and that you want to keep with modernizing and developing to the full extent of your intellectual and human capital. So there’s a real opportunity here, but there is also, inevitably, a tension. We face that in our own country, because of course, I know more about the United States than I know about the real substance of Bahrain, the society and the political structure. But in my own country, we’re constantly having to balance.
The internet is an incredible invention that came out of scientific work done in the United States over a period of years, and then basically given to the world, where now it connects every one of us, from the poorest to the richest. What a great invention. But you can say or do so many things on the internet that are harmful. We have young people in America who are being bullied on the internet, and people say untrue or unkind things about them. And we’ve had some young people kill themselves because they’ve been so embarrassed and so humiliated by accusations that were made. Well, what do you do? How do you deal with that? I mean, we want a free and open internet, but you don’t want it to be a vehicle for sending falsehoods around the world and saying things about people that are so hurtful that it leads to such terrible outcomes.
These are the kinds of issues as just an example that societies have to be balancing all the time. So democracy is not, as I said, a destination. You don’t get there and take a deep breath and say, “Okay, we’re here, we can rest now.” Because technology doesn’t rest, human nature doesn’t rest; things keep changing all the time. So you have to ask yourselves how do we keep this balance between what we value about our traditions, making sure that we maintain those, and at the same time moving toward greater openness and democratization.
MODERATOR ONE: Madam Secretary, you just said that technological progress – or democracy in other words, is a – could be turned against itself if used negatively. Madam Secretary, we see that sometimes western media portrays this region of the world negatively more often than not, and hence creating a thin line between, let’s say, the freedom of the press and stereotyping basically. This, in turn, propagates a negative stereotype within the American society. What can you do as your role in the U.S. Government to fix this?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that’s a really important question, Mohammed, and one of the reasons I’m here is because I am concerned about that. I’m concerned about stereotyping. I’m concerned about it in respect to your region, but I’m also concerned about how the United States is stereotyped.
And I think that the media – if you think about media, you – and certainly the press often takes things and blows them up, makes them bigger than they might be. I have often said about my country based on the television shows that traveled around the world the last 20 years that you probably think that every man is a wrestler and every woman walks around in a bikini. I mean, it’s a terrible stereotype and people worry, “Well, what goes on in America?” And if you don’t get out and see our people and meet our people and go across our country, which I’ve learned today many of your leaders, including His Majesty, have done and the crown prince have done – you would be dealing with stereotypes. So similarly, images of the Gulf or the Middle East or the Arab world can also lend themselves to stereotypes.
So what’s to be done about that? Well, I think it’s important for us to have a much broader array of media images and discussions and programs so that you get a much more comprehensive view of each other. I am a strong supporter of more exchange programs, more – and I was delighted to see so many hands go up of people who have been to New York. And I hope you go to other places in the United States. And I hope more Americans – and of course, Americans have come to Bahrain for many years. You have hosted the Fifth Fleet. So we’ve had thousands of sailors and their families, and that’s one of the reasons why Bahrain is viewed so favorably in the United States, because people have personal experience.
But that’s not true with other parts of the region or the world. It is important that we all work harder to keep a more open mind. And one of the great challenges in the 21st century is despite our differences, which actually make life more interesting when you think about it – how boring would it be if there was only one kind of person who looked exactly the same as everyone else in all of the culture and the religion and everything was the same – so we’ve been blessed. We’ve been blessed with this richness of human diversity.
But we also, at the same time, as we recognize and even celebrate that, have to keep searching for our common humanity. We have to be able to relate to and empathize with others. And that takes good upbringing. That takes parents and family members who teach you to be proud of yourself and proud of who you are and proud of where you came from, but also sympathetic to and understanding of the other.
And I worry that in a fast-paced world, like the ones that most of the young people exist in today, that’s harder and harder. You think about all of the social networking that goes on, and it’s wonderful because you can stay in touch with so many people. But if you’re only staying in touch with people who already believe what you believe, see the world that you see, understand as you understand, then we can actually become more isolated instead of more open. So it’s a difficult moment in history, because the opportunities are just limitless for greater understanding and cooperation, but there’s also a sense that people in the face of all this face-paced change and this flood of information may feel more comfortable just shrinking their world and not venturing beyond it except in superficial ways. So I’m hoping that one of the things we can do is more exchanges, more openness, more real connections, so that people can appreciate each other better.
QUESTION: I’d like to go back to a point that you had made, Madam Secretary, about the freedom of expression and the press. We keep on debating whether there should be responsible freedom of expression, or should the freedom of expression be so extreme that anyone can say anything and publish anything they’d like to publish. Sometimes this could backfire at society. Do you believe in responsible freedom of expression or extreme freedom of expression?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I believe in responsible freedom of expression. Now, I don't believe that should be used as an excuse of limiting legitimate freedom of expression. But it goes back to the example I gave. The difference between a child on a playground being bullied and being able to run home and have his mother or father say, “All right, here’s how you deal with that,” and having the bullying be known around the world is extreme. Just think about everyone in the world knowing you’ve been accused of something, whether it’s true or not. We’ve had a lot of gay young people who have killed themselves because their schoolmates, their fellow students, have said – told the world, going onto the internet, “John is gay. Mary is gay.” And they were so humiliated and unable to cope with it that they killed themselves.
Well, so how do we deal with this? And that’s why I think that the press itself has to have internal discipline about checking and being careful about what is published. And the public has to try to get that right balance again, walk that line between responsible freedom of expression and not let a government or a corporation or a rogue individual abuse it. So when our Constitution was passed, we had the First Amendment to guarantee the freedom of expression. But as smart as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin and John Adams and all the founders of our country were, they could have never imagined the internet.
So how do you take what is a good principle and a fundamental value and move it into the 21st century? It’s similar to being a woman in my country. When my country was founded, women couldn’t vote, women didn’t have rights to property, women were not allowed to serve in positions like the one I’m in now. But the fundamental principles concerning freedom were eventually applied, because otherwise it didn’t add up; it didn’t make sense. And so I think that we all have to be asking ourselves how do you make responsible progress in ways that enhance our common humanity, respect the human rights of every person, and give us a chance to have a more coherent society? And the answers are hard, but we have to be asking.
MODERATOR TWO: (Inaudible) do you have any question?
MODERATOR ONE: Many questions actually. We’ll have quick questions and hopefully quick answers, ma’am, if it’s possible. Let’s have a guy and then a girl. Yes. Your name, please? Could you please stand up?
QUESTION: Matar Ibrahim. I’m a member of the parliament.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good.
QUESTION: I got the opportunity to enter the exchange program, (inaudible) the program, Leaders for Democracy. And it has a good impact on my election in the last period. It was a great opportunity to enter such a program. Thanks for the Department of State for what they are paying and the programs for me be – it is very useful for us, and I think we should see in parallel progress in the foreign affair policy in the United States.
My question is related to the declines in many areas. When Bahrain was chosen as a strategic ally to United States, we were in the thick in term of many areas, in term of civil society, in term of human rights, in term of democracy. A lot of declines happened in the last period, and you are aware about all these things. Many people are arrested, lawyers and human rights activists. Sometime we feel that there is no, let’s say, red lines or constraints between United States and their allies. The situation was perfect, but now it is changed.
So my question is: Do you review the policies of your allies from time to time, and how can we see our relation with United States as an opportunity for, let’s say, a growth for the democracy? Sometime look, for example, for the Fifth Fleet here in Bahrain as a obligation for the progress, and we’d like to see it as a support for the change here in Bahrain. Thanks a lot.
MODERATOR ONE: I think you hijacked the mike. I think you did. Seriously, I mean, next time we need just one-minute question. And I’m --
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I’ll try to be quick in my answer too.
MODERATOR ONE: Yes, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: First of all, thank you for the positive words about the MEPI program. That’s one of the initiatives that we support out of the State Department to help educate and train young people in Bahrain and elsewhere in the Middle East to run for parliament, to start new businesses, to be active in their society. So I am delighted to hear that you think it was worthwhile.
I think it is absolutely clear that the United States is constantly reviewing not only our allies, but our relations with every country. And we issue several reports. We issue a human rights report, we issue a religious freedom report, we issue a human trafficking report and other reports where we express concerns about other nations. And since I became Secretary of State, we’ve also been reviewing ourselves, because I think it’s only fair if we’re going to review other countries that we review the progress or problems in the United States.
And I know when you’re in the midst of societies that are as dynamic as Bahrain is, with so many changes happening, that it’s easy to be very focused internally and see the glass as half empty. I see the glass as half full. I think the changes that are happening in Bahrain are much greater than what I see in many other countries in the region and beyond.
Now, I’m not saying – as I’ve said many times already this afternoon, nothing is perfect, nothing is done, there’s a lot of work that still lies ahead. And people in the parliament are going to bear some of the responsibility for being able to navigate toward positive outcomes. And yes, I mean, people are arrested and people should have due process, and there should be the rule of law, and people should have good defense counsel. We believe in all of that and we say all of that. But on the other hand, the election was widely validated because it was free and fair and had high participation. So you have to look at the entire picture. And maybe we have the perspective because we’re looking at the entire world all the time to see how much progress you’ve made. And we encourage additional progress, which is why we have programs like MEPI.
QUESTION: Can I ask you something?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sure.
MODERATOR ONE: (Inaudible.) One more question from this part, and then I’ll go to the other side. (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My name is (inaudible). I just have one quick question because I’m so curious. I’m sure most of you agree that one of Bahrain’s biggest assets is strong, courageous women. So what I was wondering – I’m sure you know about all of our women empowerment achievements here in Bahrain. And I’m curious to know what are the challenges that American women face currently? I’m sure that they went through a lot during history and that’s what brought you, like, here today. So I was wondering what type of challenges they face. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for asking that, because that’s another part of the answer to the young parliamentarian’s question. The role of women in Bahrain has advanced much more than in many places in the region and beyond. Women are playing an active role in your government, in your professions, in your business community, the academic world, the not-for-profit, NGO world. And I learned today that 47 percent of the women – or 47 percent of the positions in government and civil service are women. So that is an amazing accomplishment in a relatively short period of time. And I’ve met with some of the courageous pioneers here in Bahrain, and I am deeply impressed by what they have done to open doors for the young women I see sitting in front of me, who will have the opportunity to pursue their own particular dreams.
In our country, we have made tremendous progress. In my own lifetime we have, and I’m very grateful for that. There still remain challenges, as there do in any society. One of them is nothing to do with laws or with barriers, but how women balance family and work. If you are, as I am, very proud and happy that I have been able to combine work and family and raising my daughter, you have to admit that it’s challenging, and it’s something that each person has to work out for herself within her family. And we don’t have very much support for working women, not enough in my view. We don’t have enough support for maternal leave and the kinds of things that some of the European countries do. So we still make it hard on women to go into the work force and feel that they can be good at work but then doing the most important job, which is raising your children in a responsible and positive way. But there still are lots of people who are working even to change that.
So we make progress, but I’m not here to tell you that we have all the answers, because I don't know any society in the world that does. And part of what I hope is that we can support each other as everyone makes these changes and tries to improve.
MODERATOR TWO: Madam Secretary, do you believe – we just had a question from a member of parliament, and it’s nice to see a young man in our parliament. Men and women above the age of 30 are allowed to enter as candidates. Do you believe that this in itself is a very good sign? Do you believe that what’s happened lately with Bahrain’s parliamentary elections when the biggest political opposition party won 18 seats, do you believe that the society should look at this in a very positive way? Especially when opposition gets to occupy that many number of seats in the parliament, doesn’t it reflect integrity?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I believe it does. I mean, I think you’ve got to recognize, again, that in many places in this region, there are no elections of any real validity or legitimacy. There are no opposition parties or candidates or office holders. And so what you have done with this election and many of the other changes that have gone on is to make a commitment to democracy that is paying off.
Now, elections, as I said, are just the beginning, and whether you’re in the majority or you’re in the opposition, you have to compromise in a parliament. Nobody gets his or her own way a hundred percent of the time in a democracy. And that sometimes is frustrating to people. People who believe that they have all the answers, that they hold the truth, that it’s their way or no way, find it difficult to function within a democratic system, and particularly in a parliament.
So I think the elections were a very important milestone. Now, of course, it’s getting the parliament to function, getting people to talk to each other across lines that otherwise divide you, trying to get some common objectives that will advance the well-being of the people – that’s what is expected when you’re in the parliament, to make a positive contribution.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, it is more than safe to say that your achievements so far have been remarkable. It’s a great honor for me to sit here across the table from you and I’m still shaking, actually. But I must ask this question. Where do you see yourself after your term as Secretary of State? Are you planning to run for president once again?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no. I am not. And I had – I’ve had a fascinating and rewarding public career. I started as a young lawyer in an NGO called the Children’s Defense Fund, where I advocated and represented in court abused and neglected children, children who weren’t able to go to school because they were blind or deaf or paralyzed.
So I started off as an advocate and I started organizations. I chaired an organization called the Legal Services Corporation to provide attorneys for poor people so they could defend their rights in our courts. And of course, I practiced law, I was a law professor. I had the great privilege when my husband was governor of Arkansas, one of our poorest states, of leading a campaign to reform and improve our schools. And then when he was president, I was very active on a whole range of issues, including healthcare and what to do with children who were abandoned by their families or taken away from abusive families and how to give them better family situations. And then I had eight years as a senator and now, I’ll start my third year as Secretary of State next year.
And I think I’ll serve as Secretary of State as my last public position and then probably go back to advocacy work, particularly on behalf of women and children, and particularly around the world. Because if you look at what is still happening to women in many parts of the world, it is tragic and terrible and the women here, who – as I look at you, who are educated and have the options and choices in your own lives, I feel very lucky because of my parents and then my education and the opportunities I’ve had. So I would like to continue working to improve lives for others as well.
MODERATOR ONE: Back to the floor.
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s Mohammed back there.
MODERATOR ONE: Yeah.
MODERATOR TWO: One more.
MODERATOR ONE: Yeah, one question from you. Yeah. Your name, please?
QUESTION: My name is (inaudible) and I was an alumni of University of Arkansas.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh my goodness. Hello.
QUESTION: Hello. My question is – Madam Secretary, is at 2000, you were elected the senator of the state of New York, and previously you were the First Lady. So how was the transition from being the First Lady to a public office or serving?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a wonderful question. When were you at the University of Arkansas?
QUESTION: I graduated in 2006, I had the honor of meeting Mr. Bill Clinton at Arkansas in 2006.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Excellent, excellent. Well, I enjoyed greatly both opportunities. Being the First Lady of the United States is not a job; there’s no job description. You are in the position because your husband has been elected President, and your primary responsibility is to support your husband in the hardest job that one can imagine. I know the young lady back there who said the very nice thing about President Obama, but every president, if you watch what they look like when they came into office, you can see their hair turn white.
QUESTION: He looks younger.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I mean, it’s because it’s such a hard job. And so I spent a lot of my time doing things that my husband had asked me to do or recommended that would further his vision for our country. And I got to travel around the world and I did a lot of work on behalf of women. I started an organization called Vital Voices and I know there is at least one Vital Voice award winner here – yes, there you are.
And so then when I ran for the senate, that’s a very defined job. I mean, first of all, you have to get elected on your own. People have to decide they’re going to vote for you not because of who you’re married to or where you’re from, but because of what you stand for. And I was very honored to be elected. And then the job itself is a demanding one which includes representing your constituents and New York is a big state – it’s not just New York City; it’s also farmland and beautiful countryside. And so the jobs were very different. But I’m a lucky person. I’m very grateful and I’m very blessed that I’ve had these experiences.
But I think that’s an interesting point on a larger plane, because most of us will live longer than our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. We will have a chance to do different things in our life. So what is the best way to be prepared? Well, obviously, it starts in the home with what kind of upbringing you have, what kind of character, what kind of moral values you’re given. And then your education; how well-prepared you are to deal with new opportunities and new challenges. It’s not so much what life throws at you; it’s how you respond, because every one of us has difficulties that we live through, and they can either knock you down and you don’t get up or they knock you down and you get up stronger.
So for me, I’ve had a life that has been filled with all kinds of opportunities and my fair share of challenges, but I’m a very lucky person.
MODERATOR TWO: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, I think we’re running out of time.
MODERATOR ONE: More questions here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay. Here comes Mohammed.
MODERATOR ONE: Yes, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mohammed, you’re like the Oprah of Manama, look at you. (Laughter.) I love it.
MODERATOR ONE: Thank you.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, good afternoon. My question to you is regarding U.S. foreign policy. Given the refusal of the current Israeli Government to renew a moratorium on the construction of settlements, a move that was considered essential by the Obama Administration to engaging in peace talks with the Palestinians, I mean, where would you say this leaves the future of the peace process? And would you be – is the Obama Administration considering taking steps to ensure that this might happen?
MODERATOR ONE: What’s your name?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I appreciate your raising it, because both President Obama and I are absolutely committed to doing everything that we can to bring about a two-state solution. It is our analysis and assessment that the only way to reach that that is sustainable, lasting, permanent is for the parties to negotiate. The parties have negotiated over matters in the past. They had very constructive, face-to-face discussions during September, and I was privileged to be present in a very, very small setting with just President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu and Senator Mitchell and myself.
So I know and believe that they are both sincere, that they are both committed. They both have internal and external political problems that we have to help them resolve. So we are working very hard to do that, and the United States is prepared to play a very active role. But ultimately, whether it’s the United States or the Arab Peace Initiative that 56 Muslim countries signed up to, or the European Union, or anybody else, only the parties can make these hard decisions.
And so what are we doing? Well, we are doing two things. We are trying to deal with Israel’s legitimate security concerns, because – well, here’s their perspective, and this is what I mean about always despite differences trying to say, “Okay, suppose I were in that other person’s shoes.” They feel like they’ve pulled their troops out of Lebanon, and Hezbollah got 40,000 rockets pointed at them. Then they pulled out of Gaza and they left all of the industry that they had, and then Hamas came in and started firing rockets.
So they have a legitimate concern. The concern is, if we pull out of the West Bank, how do we maintain security? The Palestinians have a legitimate concern about how do we get the support we need to build the institutions of the state and how do we try to demonstrate to everyone around the world we are ready for statehood? So we’ve been helping both. We’ve been helping the Israelis think through all their security challenges. We’ve been – we’ve become the biggest single donor to the Palestinians as they build the institutions of their state.
But I believe that there has been more substantive progress and actually thinking through the consequences of a two-state solution in the last months than at any time before. So do I wish we could do it tomorrow? Absolutely. I mean, wouldn’t we all like to do it tomorrow and have it something that the world could celebrate? But it’s hard. So we’re going to keep at it. We are not, in any way, discouraged by the difficulties that are presented. And I think we’ll continue to see some real intense efforts on both sides.
MODERATOR TWO: Well, Secretary, I’m sure that you have a very busy schedule today. We would like to conclude our gathering and our meeting here with you with one final question: Where do you see Bahrain in the next 20 years?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think where Bahrain is in the next 20 years is up to all of you. It’s up to students and parliamentarians, it’s up to members of the Royal Family, it’s up to people who are starting businesses, it’s up to all of you. I will tell you where I hope you are.
I hope that you are as positive and optimistic and results-oriented as I see you are today. I hope you have made even more progress on the path of democracy. I hope you are in a region where your neighbors all get along with each other and that there is a commitment to a peaceful future for everyone. I hope that the brain power that resides here in Bahrain is put to work on solving scientific and research problems and creating new job opportunities so that everyone here has a chance to make a contribution. I hope that parliament is among the best in the world and people actually solving problems and not just engaging in politics and rhetoric, but really coming together to figure out what to do with each other. And I hope that the United States and Bahrain remain, as we have been for decades now, close friends and partners.
We stand very strongly behind you. We have a security agreement, which we fully support. We have a free trade agreement, which we don’t have many of around the world, and we have with you. We have exchange programs. And I hope it only gets deeper and broader every single year. And I hope to come back to Bahrain many times in the future. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause.)