Interview With Wyatt Andrews of CBS
Secretary of State
QUESTION: Thanks for your time this afternoon. In this whole debate about the Libyan no-fly zone and who participates, you several times expressed a sense of urgency, certainly about the international consultations. But you’re also waiting on this UN resolution at the Security Council that’s still being drafted, and which you’re pretty sure is going to be opposed by the Russians and the Chinese. So where’s the urgency?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Wyatt, first I think that there was a sea change in opinion when the Arab League issued its statement on Saturday. For the Arab League to call for military action to protect civilians in Libya against a member of the Arab League was an extraordinary statement of leadership and real conviction. That has changed the thinking of a lot of people. In fact, as we consult in New York on a UN resolution, there’s a much greater openness than there was a week ago.
And the answer to why a UN resolution is because we need to have international support for anything that anyone does on behalf of the opposition and the civilians in Libya. To go unilaterally, whether it was a European nation, the United States, or an Arab nation, would fly in the face of the international community. And it would also limit the kind of support that would be necessary. I think what you’re seeing today is a recognition that whatever is decided in the UN Security Council must include Arab leadership and Arab participation. So many different actions are being considered. Yes, a no-fly zone, but others as well, to enable the protection of Libyan citizens against their own leader, who seems to determined to turn the clock back and kill as many of them as possible.
So I think that it is certainly fair to say that it took a while for people to feel that there was going to be international support, including Arab support, for any action. But now that’s being considered.
QUESTION: But you’re saying something important here. Arab support – do you see a time where you might ask Arab air forces and Arab pilots to take on some of the risk that they were previously asking of the United States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think we’re going to take this one step at a time. We’re going to try to see what can be negotiated. And right now, that is ongoing as we speak. But certainly, we and others have made it clear that there must be Arab leadership and Arab participation. How that will be defined depends in large measure on what the Security Council decides to call for.
QUESTION: But I’m sure you remember that during the first Gulf War, Arab armies took the field against Saddam Hussein.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Mm-hmm.
QUESTION: Do you think it’s possible that you will be asking for Arab air forces to be included in any action against Qadhafi?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it is important to see what the Security Council will come up with, but I think the Arab League statement, their very courageous stance, suggests that they know that they have to step up and lead and participate in any action that would be internationally authorized. The details of that have not been in any way determined.
QUESTION: They have to step up. You want to leave it vague, but you believe they have to step up. Fair to say?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: Outside of the no-fly zone, there is pressure in Congress for the United States to help arm the Libyan resistance. Do you support that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I want to see what we can get out of the United Nations because there is no way that the United States will take unilateral action on any of these issues. We are not going to act alone. There would be unforeseen consequences to that that I believe would be detrimental. But as part of the international community, there will be a wide range of actions discussed. As you know, I met with one of the key leaders of the Libyan opposition. They had many requests for what they thought would help them. All of those are being considered by the Security Council. But I do think that it’s important to go back to the very basic point about why we are all discussing this. We want to do what we can to protect innocent Libyans against the marauders let loose by the Qadhafi regime.
And yes, time is fast upon us. There is an urgency to it, which is why I think that once the Arab League acted, there has been much more intensive consultations. And many of the countries on the Security Council that were reluctant or opposed are now willing to discuss what might be possible because of that Arab League statement.
QUESTION: Do you think the Arab League statement means that Russia and China are not quite as opposed as they used to be? Is that what you’re saying?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think they’re willing to talk about what’s at stake here. A regime that is acting as he is, with all of the consequences that that entails, not only for the Libyans but for the region and beyond, I think has been given new impetus because of the Arab League statement which made it clear that this is not something Europeans are concerned about or Americans are concerned about, but this hits very close to home right here in the region. And the Arab League taking that position has, I think, opened up some doors that were closed.
QUESTION: Let’s move to Bahrain, please. There was renewed violence in Bahrain today. Several pro-democracy demonstrators were killed. This comes on the heels, in just the last week where both Secretary Gates and you have asked the Bahraini leadership for restraint. So what is American policy now that the Bahraini leadership doesn’t seem to be listening?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we find what’s happening in Bahrain alarming. We think that there is no security answer to the aspirations and demands of the demonstrators. We’ve made it very clear to the Bahraini Government at the highest levels that we expect them to exercise restraint. We would remind them of their humanitarian obligation to keep medical facilities open and to facilitate the treatment of the injured, and to get back to the negotiating table. We have also made that very clear to our Gulf partners who are part of the Gulf Cooperation Council, four of whose members have sent troops to support the Bahraini Government. They are on the wrong track. There is no security answer to this. And the sooner they get back to the negotiating table and start trying to answer the legitimate needs of the people, the sooner there can be a resolution that will be in the best interest of everyone.
QUESTION: But right now, Madam Secretary, does it make the United States look bad? Does it give the United States a black eye to be so allied with a monarchy that is now shooting its own people?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we are absolutely opposed to the use of force, and we have said that repeatedly. Secretary Gates gave a very strong message to the Bahraini Government when he was there, and not only urging restraint but pointing out all of the problems if they were to pursue any other alternative. So we have been very clear about that, and we are going to continue to stress what we think is in the best interests not only of Bahrain and the people of Bahrain, but of the entire region. This kind of use of force against peaceful demonstrators, a refusal on all sides – because we want to make sure that no one is using force, whether they are in the security forces or in the demonstrators, everyone needs to resolve their differences in a peaceful manner and to look for a political solution. There is no long-term alternative other than that.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.