Remarks at the Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series: Audience Question and Answer Segment

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Clinton Presidential Center
Little Rock, Arkansas
September 30, 2011

MODERATOR: Thank you. And now we’re going to open it up for questions. And let me assure you there’s going to be a lot of hands from the Clinton School side, so you’re going to see me call on them a lot. I just want to be very clear on that.

To start if off, let me ask the president of the student body of the Clinton School to ask the first question.

QUESTION: Thank you Dean Rutherford, Madam Secretary, it’s an honor. My name is I’m Fernando Cutz, and on behalf of all of us, thank you very much for coming. We truly do appreciate it.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. (Applause.)

QUESTION: But to get to the fun part, my question involves the fact that since 9/11 our country has had a policy where anybody who harbors terrorists is considered a terrorist themselves. And it’s now become pretty evident that Pakistan has been harboring the Haqqani Network for a while, not just harboring them but even helping them.

So my question to you as our chief diplomat is: How do you plan on balancing the pressure that we need to put on Pakistan to stop that with the fact that we also need them as an ally in the war on terror? And thank you again.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And I think your question sums up the challenge and the policy that we have been pursuing. Our relationship with Pakistan is critical to the ongoing stability and peace of the region, as well as the fight against terrorism. And I think it is important to remind ourselves that Pakistanis have paid a much greater price in the war against terrorism and in the violence perpetrated on them over the last 10 years than, thankfully, we have. Nearly 30,000 people have been killed – civilians and military, scores of bombing attacks all over the country in places from mosques to markets to universities to police stations.

So the Pakistani people are trying to navigate through a very difficult security environment. And I like to remind myself and my colleagues of that because they have a great stake in trying to end terrorism against themselves, but they bring to their fight against terrorism deep concerns about the relationship with India, about what happens in Afghanistan after U.S. and coalition troops draw down, what happens in the greater region that could destabilize them further.

So it’s a challenging position for us to be in and to advocate. But if you, for example, looked at Admiral Mullen’s entire testimony, where he did express deep concerns about ties between the Pakistani Government and terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network, and the absolute necessity for us to continue to work at this relationship, there were two sides to his address to the Congress.

Now, I also think it’s important to take a little historical review. If you go on YouTube, you can see Sirajuddin Haqqani with President Reagan at the White House, because during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States Government, through the CIA, funded jihadis, funded groups like the Haqqanis to cross the border or to, within Afghanistan, be part of the fight to drive the Soviets out and bring down the Soviet Union.

So when I meet for many hours, as I do, with Pakistani officials, they rightly say, “You’re the ones who told us to cooperate with these people. You’re the one who funded them. You’re the ones who equipped them. You’re the ones who used them to bring down the Soviet Union by driving them out of Afghanistan. And we are now both in a situation that is highly complex and difficult to extricate ourselves from.” That is how they see it.

And they also have used groups in the past to support their ongoing conflict with India over Kashmir. And when I became Secretary of State, they were trying to basically appease the Pakistani Taliban who were attacking them. So they were trying to draw a distinction between the good terrorists and the bad terrorists, because we had funded the good terrorists together. And so they were dealing with this network of terrorism that had been better organized and directed because of al-Qaida, which brought a lot more funding into the border area between Afghanistan and Pakistan and much more of a sense of mission, because bin Ladin and those who worked with him had a very highly developed idea about how to inflict damage on the United States and others.

So one of our first rounds of discussions with the Pakistanis was how it was not in their interest to permit terrorists to take over territory, something they thought would appease them, which obviously did not and could not. So they began moving troops off their Indian border. They began going after the Pakistani Taliban.

So I think it’s important that we appreciate their perspective about where we both are right now. That in no way excuses the fact that they are making a serious, grievous, strategic error supporting these groups, because you think that you can keep a wild animal in the backyard and it will only go after your neighbor? We have too many stories where that doesn’t turn out like that.

So I think that we are pressing and pushing on every lever that we have in the relationship, and we have to be effective in trying to achieve our strategic goals, which is to prevent any attacks against us emanating from Pakistan, as well as to try to help stabilize Pakistan against this internal threat, and to create the best possible circumstances for Afghanistan to be able to have control over its own future. Those are all extremely difficult, and we are learning it, each piece of that, every single day.

MODERATOR: Ms. Abrams.


MODERATOR: Wait for the mike. Wait for the microphone, ma’am.


QUESTION: I’m fine. What I want you to do is what I’ve known you’ve always done. I’m futurist celebrating my 80th birthday here Sunday. But Time Magazine – (applause) – had a front page cover page about what’s going to happen in 2054, and I want you to help me to know systemically how do you plan to address the immorality of the world (inaudible).

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Annie, I think it is wonderful that someone about to celebrate her 80th birthday is looking forward the way you are, as you always have, and by asking your question forcing all of us to look forward. Bill has – one of his many great observations is there are the headlines and then there are the trend lines. And it’s so easy to get caught up the headlines. That’s true if you’re in government, and it’s true if you’re a citizen trying to follow what happens. But you’ve got to keep your eye on the trend lines.

And I think that the trend lines favor United States if we do what we’re expected to do, if we keep true to our values, our faith, if we pursue our interests in a smart way, if we get over the internal political conflicts that we have too much of today. Because it really is – to quote my husband again – an example of us majoring in the minors, and we need to start looking at what’s important for us: How do we grow this economy, how do we take care of our people, how do we close the income gap, how do we take on inequality in our own nation, how do we keep perfecting our union and improving our democracy?

Because we have to remain the exemplar. When people are trying to figure out what does democracy look like in Egypt or Libya or Tunisia or Indonesia, they look at us. Now, that doesn’t mean they’re going to adopt everything we do whole cloth, because they have different histories, different cultures. But we have to be a good model of what it means in what I’ve referred to as the age of participation, where everybody wants to participate, where everybody has the means to do so through technology. How do we make sure that democracy just doesn’t collapse under all that participation and all the diversions for making decisions that are going to benefit us for years and decades to come?

So I do think that we have all the raw materials. We have all of the ability that God gave us. We have used it and risen to the challenge many times before, and we will again. But it is – as we are often reminded by the old Winston Churchill observation, Americans will eventually do the right thing after trying nearly everything else. (Laughter.) So that’s where we have to keep our focus. Because it’s not only important for our own country, it is important for the world.

I’ll give you an example of – when I first started traveling as Secretary of State and my first trip was to the Far East, to Japan and South Korea and to China and to Indonesia, and I would do public events in all of these settings, usually at universities, sometimes on popular television shows. I was asked so many times, and then in the months afterwards, “How can you work with President Obama? You two were running against each other. You were trying to beat him. He was trying to beat you. He won, and why would you be working with him and why would he ask you to?”

I said, “Well, in our country, we really think that we have to close ranks after elections are over. We have to put aside the differences. And I think the really simple answer is we both love our country and both want to serve our country.” (Applause.) And that was so hard for people to understand. Because politics is a blood sport, and truly a blood sport in some places. It’s a contact sport at the very least here. (Laughter.)

And I’ve met so many people who – fathers and mothers and sisters and brothers and sons and daughters have been killed because they were trying to participate in developing a democracy. So part of what we have to tell the world is there are certain fundamental values, and there is a morality to democracy, where we respect the other, the other’s opinion, the other’s aspirations; where we try to work together to find that common ground and that common good. And if we ever stop doing that, then we’ll be a great country. We’ll still have a great economy for very, very far into the future, as far as I can certainly imagine, but we won’t be the kind of model that the world desperately needs.

There is a democratic awakening in places that have never dreamed of democracy. And it is unfortunate that it’s happening at a historic time when our own government is facing so many serious economic challenges, because there’s no way to have a Marshall Plan for the Middle East and North Africa.

I’ll just end with this, but think about how we remarkable this was. End of World War II, hundreds of thousands of Americans killed, everybody in the country totally dislocated, millions of men off to war, women in factories. I mean, it was a full experience from every part of society. And like my father, who was in the Navy for all those years during the war – he came home; all he wanted to do was get back to his business, start a family, live his life.

And along came Harry Truman and George Marshall, and they said, “We want a future that will be good for your children, the so-called baby boomers, the post-World War II kids. Guess what, we have to rebuild our enemies, and that means we have to keep taxing you to pay for us to do that.”

So here’s my dad and all the men like him, and some of the women too, who thought, “I just want to be left alone. I just want to make my own way. And now my President and this general Secretary of State is saying, “Sorry, we have to build for the future.” And so they did. And it was in today’s dollars about $150 billion of a commitment to rebuild places like Japan and Germany and Italy and war-torn Europe.

But look what it gave us. It gave us the greatest period of prosperity and peace. And just dreaming, if we had the means today to really make a huge commitment in these places that are talking about democracy, but they don’t have labor parties, they don’t know what that really means for them to have to do, we could have a very significant impact. Because it’s not only political reform they need; it’s economic reform. And the thing about the Marshall Plan that people forget is that we basically gave money to businesses to rebuild, to hire people. We can make a huge difference in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Libya, and elsewhere.

But we are stretched here at home and we have our own priorities. But just think of the difference not only in leadership. Everybody talks about oh my goodness, we need this and that in leadership, but in citizenship. Now, it’s also why Harry Truman nearly lost the election and how he had to work really hard didn’t run for re-election, but then 10, 15 years later was viewed as the great statesman, not only American but global, that he actually was.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) didn’t run for --

QUESTION: Madam Secretary, thank you for being here. I’m a second-year masters candidate here at the Clinton School.

I just wanted to ask you because I was honored last week to be at CGI and got to sit in on a session with Her Majesty Queen Rania from Jordan and other influential women from the Middle East. They talked about their experience women’s role. And I just wanted to know what you saw, what kind of impact you see women having with the new Middle East.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s a great question. And the short answer is the jury is out. Women were at the forefront in Tahrir Square, in Tunisia. And it’s too soon to really speak about what will be the outcome of their sacrifice and their commitment. But we constantly raise how important it is that if you have a democracy, it means you respect human rights, you respect women’s rights, you respect minority rights.

I just met with the foreign minister of Egypt and he and I had a very good comprehensive discussion about that. I just did an interview on an Egyptian television show saying, “Look, Egypt has the chance to demonstrate that we have a democracy after 5,000 years of history, but you can’t do it by leaving out women. You can’t do it by marginalizing the Coptic Christians. You can’t do it by having one election one time, where one group wins and then they never want to have another vote.” So all of these are concerns that we raise constantly with our counterparts.

And the United States has tried to be supportive of groups that are working to make sure that the full meaning of democracy is not lost. Because I think for too long people thought, okay, we have an election, fine; then we’re a democracy. And we know from our long experience you need an independent, free press; you need an independent judiciary; you need protection of minority rights; you need all kinds of a framework for freedom of speech and freedom of conscience and religion, and all that goes into to really showing respect and the dignity of every individual.

So we are pushing this at every opportunity, but it’s too soon to tell. And a lot of the voices of the women that you heard at CGI are very important because they’re from the region. They’re speaking out, they’re trying to make a difference. But we all have to be really vigilant about that.

QUESTION: Hi. My name is Kate (inaudible). I’m a second year student here and I’m also a graduate assistant at the Center (inaudible) here at the school. And I’m wondering if you could speak to the role of citizen diplomacy and development diplomacy in the U.S. role (inaudible), and also if that impact is different than traditional diplomacy.

SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a great question. And I think that – I think both citizen diplomacy and development diplomacy have been part of our diplomatic arsenal for a long time, but the benefits of each is becoming much clearer. And when I became Secretary of State, I ordered the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. The Defense Department does what’s called the Quadrennial Defense Review, a QDR, so we do the QDDR, to say how can we be more effective. And two areas that jumped out were citizen diplomacy and development diplomacy.

With respect to citizen diplomacy, we can actually talk about it in a disciplined way now because of what we call 21st century statecraft. Technology, social networking, connections of all kinds that people can make directly citizen-to-citizen have changed the landscape.

Back when – in June 2009 after the Iranian election, and there was a great outrage among the Iranian people and a lot of efforts in the streets to try to overturn what was clearly a fraudulent election and to have a voice in their own future, and we had a really difficult decision to make because a lot of our Iranian contacts were saying, “Don’t get too out front on this. We want this to be Iranian. We don’t want this to be American.”

But at the same time, people arranging for demonstrations and sharing information were on the internet doing that through all of the various sites. And we were told that some of the sites were going to – just as – on a regular cycle were about to be shut down because it was the time of year when they shut them down for, like, a day and took at look at them. So we intervened and said, “No, you’ve got to keep the information flowing so that the people in the streets can communicate.” And then, of course in Tahrir Square and in Tunisia, we saw that without that kind of connection to technology it would have been very difficult to put the people in the streets to be demanding their rights.

Now that’s citizen-to-citizen in a very direct way. Governments are catching on. They’re becoming much smarter about how they try to block that. So what we’re doing in the State Department and in the Obama Administration is putting a lot of money into devising ways with our experts in technology to get around a lot of the barriers and the ways that governments try to shut these down. There was that period in Egypt when the Mubarak regime shut the entire internet down, but it so damaged business and it also damaged the government that they had to get it back up again. So we’re watching all of this, and we’re very concerned about how we keep adding to what is possible for citizen-to-citizen diplomacy.

On development diplomacy, really I’m always a little bit saddened when people say, “Well, we can balance the budget if we just end foreign aid,” which, if you could do it, maybe it would be worth thinking about. But obviously, it’s not at all credible. We have a very limited amount of our budget – about 1 percent – that goes to foreign aid. Well, what do we use it for? Well, we use it for emergencies, like after the earthquake in Haiti. America was there and we were seen as really reaching out and helping. Other national disasters around the world, where we get there, we try to help organize, and I think it’s a real credit to us. We use it to deal with some of these trend line problems, like malaria and HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis because we do it for humanitarian reasons, but we also do it because in this interconnected world diseases travel.

So there’s a lot of reasons why development is good for America, but it’s also a way of interacting with countries other than military or diplomats. It’s a different approach. It’s a different way of enlisting the understanding of governments and people in other countries that they, too, can help improve the lives of those who are less fortunate. So there’s a lot that we do through those two means.

MODERATOR: (Inaudible) did you have a question? Let’s wait for the-- let’s wait for the microphone here. I don’t think to identify (inaudible). (Applause.)

QUESTION: (Inaudible) many ways through your career and especially since (inaudible) I wish that you could convey to all of us here all of the work that you do empowering women all over the world. We need a good dose of that in this country here. (Laughter.) I find that too many women since I’ve moved back to Arkansas don’t feel (inaudible) but I know the work that you’ve done with women all over the world (inaudible) and to the young (inaudible) so I’m proud of (inaudible) has done. Just speak to us a little bit about that.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Betty. And I think this empowering women, giving women their full and equal rights, is the unfinished business of the 21st century. And it’s always dangerous to make sweeping generalizations, but we all do it. And if you look at the 19th century, the struggle against slavery was central. We fought a Civil War over it. The 20th century, the struggle against totalitarianism was life or death. We fought two world wars and a cold war over it.

And when you look around the world and you say what holds back countries, what diminishes economies, what makes for less stable societies and therefore more likely grounds for conflict and extremism to take root, it is the unfinished business of recognizing that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s right. (Applause.) And yet women have certainly enjoyed greater opportunity, but we are not yet where we need to be.

Now, in some places, the laws are no longer in play, but there are attitudes, there are psychological barriers, there are cultural expectations. There are, as Betty said, women even in our own country who are unable to see what they are capable of as independent human beings in their own right. And so we have to continue to work with our girls and our education systems, our families, to make it clear that what’s so wonderful about our country is although it’s taken a long time, we are breaking down the barriers to equality and to opportunity.

And so we want to maintain this meritocracy that has been the hallmark of our vision of how America should work, and it needs to include women and people with disabilities and the LGBT community and minorities and everybody else who has the willingness to make a contribution and wants to be judged on his or her own merits.

Now, in much of the rest of the world, we are still battling laws and customs that are debilitating for women. Just about 10 days ago, I made a speech out in San Francisco about all the data about the economy that we now have gathered, the World Bank has gathered, gathered at the IMF, other financial research groups, which show how much more productive every economy in the world could be, including our own, if all the barriers to women’s full economic participation were eliminated.

And that’s especially important to remind ourselves of, because it’s not only the right thing to do, which, indeed it is, but it makes economic sense and it helps to build stronger societies and stronger democracies. So it’s been a particular concern of mine in my entire adult life, and I have seen a lot of progress and I’ve known a lot of very brave women and men who have joined in this struggle. We just lost one just last week, one Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to be given a Nobel Peace Prize, who got it because she understood the connection between women’s lives and environmental degradation. And so she began a green movement across Kenya and then into other areas of Africa where women were planting trees and nurturing them, and it really sent a message to the poorest girl in the poorest village that you have a role to play and it’s important.

And there are so many examples of women like that. At CGI last week, Aung San Suu Kyi from Burma was interviewed by long distance along with Archbishop Tutu, a woman who has shown amazing strength and dignity over so many years on behalf of democracy in her country. I could go down the list, whether it’s a woman or a man who is struggling for equal opportunity for their voices to be heard, it’s really in America’s interest to support that.

And I think it’s particularly in our interest to support the education of girls and women, the empowerment of girls and women, because what we know is that you have more stable societies and a better chance at avoiding conflict if women themselves are part of the entire fabric of a country.

So I’m not doing it just because I’ve always done it. I’m doing it because every year I get more convinced it’s in America’s interests and the world’s interests that we do it. (Applause.)

MODERATOR: (Inaudible.)

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam Secretary, for speaking with us today. My name is (inaudible) from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and I am a first-year Clinton School student. Madam, (inaudible) questions about talking about women in Africa, allow me to thank you for your visit in the Congo in 2009.(inaudible), where (inaudible) in my country. But mostly, thank you for visiting Goma, the most dangerous place in Africa today as a woman, despite security concern, you went on to be (inaudible). Also, thank you for speaking out against the unspeakable crimes against women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Madam, (inaudible) people when they learn (inaudible) student, they ask me, “Have you met with President Clinton yet?” But I know why people from my country ask, “Have you met Madam Secretary Clinton?” (Laughter and applause.) Madam, since your visit in 2009 there have been some change, some (inaudible). Thank you for what you have done for us and (inaudible) to my country. (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON: Let me thank you for being here, for attending the Clinton School, and for increasing your understanding and skills so that you can contribute to future of the Democratic Republic of Congo. As you said, I was very honored to go to Goma, which is in eastern Congo, in the heart of the area where conflict has claimed more lives in the last 20 years than anywhere else in the world, probably at least five million, and where violence against women and using rape as a tool of war has become commonplace.

And it always is, for me, humbling to meet women and men who every day work to try to protect the most vulnerable, who work to try to end the conflict, who work to try to change the underlying reasons why the conflict continues. Some of it is because of spillover from neighboring countries, as you know, and some of it is over the great vast wealth of the Congo, including conflict minerals. Some of it is because of the difficulty in extending governmental control over such a vast country as the DRC is.

But for whatever reason, the main victims of war today are women and children, because there are no front lines to these wars. Whether it’s in eastern Congo or the northwest provinces of Pakistan, the way war is conducted is indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians. So militias roam through eastern Congo, going village to village, killing the men, raping and maiming women and children, and we are all struggling to help try to put an end to this unspeakable, horrific history of violence.

But I’ll just end by saying that what I took away most from going to Goma was the extraordinary spirit, energy, joy that I saw in so many of the people with whom I met. Because even as hard as it was, they had a love of life that was overwhelming. And those who were working in the trenches to deal with the physical and mental wounds of the vicious attacks that so many people I met with and saw had suffered were doing it with money from their governments, from multinational organizations, from religious organizations. They were all committed to doing what they could to start hospitals to help save lives and give people a new future.

And I met one woman who herself had been brutally raped. And what happens often when this occurs is that the family doesn’t want the woman back because the shame of it, the confusion of it, is just too much. And so often they are separated from their remaining families, not taken in. And this woman found refuge in one of the hospitals that has been established in Goma, and thankfully she successfully underwent physical surgery. When I met her, she was returning to the forest every week, searching for women who were left there to die and were too ashamed to try to struggle to come forward, and she was literally picking them up, moving them into the hospital, staying with them and helping them.

Everywhere in the world there are examples of that level of courage and commitment to life that I think is not only inspiring but should remind us of how fortunate we are, even in these hard times, how fortunate we are, and how there isn’t anything that we face that we cannot overcome if we roll up our sleeves and get to work, and that there’s a big world out there with people who need us, need us individually, need us through organizations like our religious faith organizations or other groups that we’re part of, and need us as Americans through our government. Because I went on a government mission to show that the United States of America cared about the last, the least, and the lost among us, and that we were going to do all we could to have a foreign policy that reflected the golden rule that is the cornerstone of every major religion, and we were going to send a message where people were suffering, the United States, in our extraordinary public- private partnerships, would try to be there.

Thank you all very much. (Applause.)

PRN: 2011/1652