Remarks by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
This event took place on January 10, 2011. It aired on January 16, 2011.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.) (Applause.) Your Honor, Mrs. Clinton, it is such an honor to have you on our show tonight.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: You are a fascinating lady.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Thank you.
MODERATOR: I mean, you have overcome so many obstacles on your way up to the status you are in now, the Secretary of State of the United States. Of course, you are an example to every woman who wants to achieve her ambition, and this is the way to enable her and strive for everything she wants to strive for, to achieve it. Welcome to our show, Mrs. Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I want to thank each of you for the opportunity to be on this show, which I know has such a broad audience and for now, nearly nine years, has presented subjects that are of importance to women and men, but through a woman’s perspective and with women’s voices. And so it’s a great honor for me to be here with you.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. We are so interested in hearing what you have to tell us tonight. We’re going to have a lot of questions for you. I hope you’re ready.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m ready.
MODERATOR: But first we’re going to hear something.
SECRETARY CLINTON: In 1995, in one voice, the world declared “Human rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.” And for many, those words have translated into concrete action. But for others, they remain a distant aspiration. Change on a global scale cannot and does not happen overnight.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
MODERATOR: And honestly, it’s because you also said that there is no true democracy without women’s voices being heard. Now, men are the decision-makers; every power decision-making in this world is made by men. How is a woman’s voice going to be heard?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think that I’m in a country that has made a real commitment to education and to the inclusion of women in many if not all aspects of society. And I think that is a remarkable statement, that there has been so much progress. And in the region as a whole – not everywhere, but as a whole – there has been a change toward including women in government, business, the professions, academia, every walk of life.
So when I talk about women’s voices, I know women’s voices are important in the home. I know that women are very often decision-makers in the family. I know that in society, women influence greatly what goes on in the lives of the society. But now, we’re seeing women’s voices like the three of yours emerge in a more public way. Change is inevitable. It’s a question of how that change goes forward, whether it will be in a way that enhances the respect for culture, history, and identity, or whether it will try to turn the clock back and make it very difficult for societies to move forward.
So I think that what you’re doing on this show, which is one of the reasons I’m privileged to be here, is demonstrating that women’s voices should be heard and should be respected. And I’m hoping that in parts of the world today where that is not the case at all, that there can be heart given, encouragement given to girls and women, and a real opportunity for them to feel that the future will be better.
MODERATOR: Okay. Hillary, let me break the ice. You look much prettier than you look on TV. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you, I think. (Laughter.) Thank you, and congratulations on your marriage. I’m just a tiny bit embarrassed that you came back from your honeymoon to do this show, and please give your husband my apologies – (laughter) – my best wishes.
MODERATOR: (Inaudible.) Thank you. A lawyer, a wife, a mother, a senator, and now a Secretary of State – which of these are the real Hillary Clinton?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They all are. They all are, as I think it is in any woman’s life. Some of what I do has been acted out on the public stage now for a number of years. But I’ve always said that every woman I know is a multitasker, does a lot of different things, and assumes different roles, and not just in the home but also in the influence outside the home.
So for me, being a wife and a mother, being an advocate, a very active citizen, as well as having the privilege to be the first lady of my country, a senator from New York, and now Secretary of State has been a great honor. And I look at all of them and I feel very blessed and fortunate that I’ve had those experiences, but that, of course, only challenges me to be more so that other women can make the choices that are right for them. Not everyone wants to be a Secretary of State or a senator, but every woman may want to do more with the talent that she has and the abilities that she’s willing to invest in. And I love to see those opportunities available for young women.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Clinton, you’re talking about multitasking.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: You travel a lot.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do.
MODERATOR: Do you like traveling?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I like getting to where I’m going, yes.
MODERATOR: We all do.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: But in the course of your travels, you have met hundreds of women of different backgrounds, different cultures, and so on. I do want to ask you about the differences. I want you to tell me what are the common challenges that women face in today’s world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s an excellent question, and there are common challenges despite the differences that we all have, which I think makes life more interesting because we’re not all the same. We have different experiences, we have different parents, we have different historical, cultural, religious backgrounds. But the vast majority of women whom I know in not only my own country, but around the world, they want to feel as though they are fulfilling their God-given potential, that they are able to contribute to family and society.
And every one of us is in a constant balancing act, because in – I’ll speak just for myself, and I’ve written about this in a couple of books that I’ve written – there is a constant challenge for women; are you doing enough of what you should be doing in every part of your life. So if you’re working and you’re a mother, how do you balance the responsibility which is the most important responsibility, in my opinion, namely to the next generation, to your children? How do you balance that with being a good worker outside the home? How do you balance the constant pressures from society to look good, to perform at the highest level of expectation from your society?
So every woman I know is in a constant balancing act in her own life and in her family and her society. And I think that for many women, it becomes – it can become a bit distressing because you never measure up to everything that is expected of you. And at some point, you just have to relax and say, “I’m going to do the best I can, and that’s all that can be expected of me.” And so I have these conversations in practically every part of the world.
MODERATOR: That’s very interesting, Madam Secretary, and yet the Western media often depicts the Arab woman as oppressed, as having basically no human rights, as being uneducated. Why and how can we solve this problem?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it comes from a lack of awareness or understanding that needs to be slowly but surely changed. And there – it’s one of the reasons why I very much appreciate the chance to do a program like this, because I have a lot of the American press with me and they look at the three of you, and maybe that breaks down some stereotypes. Maybe that begins to create what I know to be a much more comprehensive and complex view of women’s roles in this part of the world or in many parts of the world.
I think that it’s not only unfair to stereotype any group of people, but it does a great disservice because then you don’t get the full appreciation of what is happening in this part of the world back in my own country. So I’m determined, through my travels, to do a lot of meetings like this. I do town halls, I do interviews like this, because I want to be someone who helps break down those stereotypes.
I really do believe that despite the differences that exist among us, there is such a common desire for our children and for the next generation to live in peace and prosperity and to be free of violence and want of all kinds. So I think part of my job is not just to meet with leaders and officials – with whom I will be meeting later, with the president and others – but to be a vehicle by which my country and others can get a somewhat clearer sense of what’s really happening. I can’t take everybody; I can’t take all 300 million Americans on my plane. But through the media, I can communicate a different message.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Mrs. Hillary, thanks for those answers, and they really were interested to have this interview. But as you know, we are Zayed University, and we have lots of the students here. And I think they have lots of questions. So let us have one of the questions that you would like to ask for Mrs. Hillary.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m looking forward to that. Now, don’t be shy.
MODERATOR: She’s very sweet, (inaudible).
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s a hand that’s up right there.
MODERATOR: Where is –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right there in the second row, I see this young woman raising her hand.
MODERATOR: We’ll start with –
MODERATOR: Ladies first.
QUESTION: Good morning, Madam Secretary of State. I am (inaudible) with (inaudible). My question is: What do you think of a woman’s right in term of to choose for what they wear, (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I am in favor of women having the right to choose what they wear. I’m against women being forced to choose any particular form of dress. I think it should be respected what the women’s choices for dress are. But I believe strongly that each woman should have the opportunity to choose. And so that is my hope. And I look around here and I see all different sorts of choices being expressed, and I think that’s healthy, and it’s also a reflection of one’s identity. And so I hope that there will be that opportunity for choice.
MODERATOR: Great. We need another – more question, please? Okay. Yeah, we should give the men some.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, a question: The Middle East is going through a tremendous change currently, and clearly and fortunately, they are being provided to women in the region. This provides – and also introduces challenges where women are now breaking out of shelter, the society that shelters women. And shelter is also an opportunity for women to depend on husbands, family, and I have aunts and mother and sisters, and they are also coming out of a shelter. These opportunities are being provided.
I don’t see that most women are taking these opportunities. What advice can you give the women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s a very honest question because you’re right, that many women have been, as you say, sheltered, protected within the family. I would hate to see the opportunities for women, particularly young women, to gain an education, to enter the workforce mean that they would not be respected within the family. So I think it is like any change that is going on in any society; there will be millions of decisions made over the next years about how best to do this.
And I do think it’s important to send a very clear message to the larger society that women who are going to school, who are being educated, who are participating publicly in their voice being heard in society, still retain the respect and the protection of their families. But at the same time, that’s not used as an excuse or a reason to prevent women from pursuing those outside interests. So I’m very aware of the potential conflict and confusion that such changes create.
And it’s interesting to me; I’ve had many conversations about this with many men from this region, and many men are very proud of their daughters. And they’re proud of their daughters’ academic achievements and they’re proud of what their daughters are becoming. And so as men see their own daughters achieve these levels of accomplishment, I think that helps to put into perspective how best to open up doors within society for other men’s daughters. And that’s what I would hope to see.
MODERATOR: Absolutely. Madam Secretary, our evening is just beginning, but we’re going to return after the break.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The status of the world’s women is not only a matter of morality and justice. It is also a political, economic, and social imperative. Put simply, the world cannot make lasting progress if women and girls in the 21st century are denied their rights and left behind.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Hillary, you were talking about women achievers in the Arab – in general. But in the Arab world, have you met some of them? What did they change in your mind?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I have. I’ve met many of them. And I think that whether it’s the commitment to education that I’ve seen in the leadership of women from Jordan and Qatar, to the fight against violence against women that I’ve seen in Egypt, to the commitment to the new, very modern university in Saudi Arabia, to this university and so much that is happening here in the UAE and so many different places, I’ve met women who are leading the effort, who are very clearly speaking out in favor of what needs to be done within their societies.
And I’ve been impressed by how strong the women are, how gracious the women are, and how effective the women are. And it is, for me, a great – it’s a great lesson about how different women have different styles, just like men have different styles. And the impact of the women leaders whom I have met throughout this region, I think, has been both in private – and encouraging changes with their husbands, their fathers, their uncles, their brothers – and in public. So it’s a very impressive effort.
I also am impressed by the young women whom I’ve met. I had the opportunity to do town halls in Jeddah, in Manama and other places, and the young women have been extremely impressive. So just as I see young women in my own country standing up and speaking out in ways that, when I was their age, I did not see, I see the same here in this region.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, are you ready for the $6 million question?
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Do I win $6 million if I answer it? Of course.
MODERATOR: Do you think the American public is ready for a woman president, seeing that they have enjoyed the leadership of three secretaries of state who are women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. Well –
MODERATOR: Are they ready or not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I tried – (laughter) – back in 2008 and had an extraordinary experience. I think that my country is. It’s just going to take a woman with very thick skin who will run for office and be successful. We have a political system in the United States which is extremely competitive and very difficult for men and women. But I think – certainly, I hope so in the near future to see a woman president, because as you say, we’ve had three women secretaries of state, starting with my friend Madeleine Albright and then, of course, Condoleezza Rice, and now I’m serving.
So we certainly have women representing my country at the highest levels. We had women – just the recently retiring speaker of the house, which is the third most important position in my government, is a woman. So we’ve had it all the way up to vice president and president. We will break through that glass ceiling. I’m not sure when, but we’ll get there, I hope, soon.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) in the political domain either in America or in some countries where women are not so effective?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, occasionally, I have. Well, lots of times, I laugh it off. Sometimes I confront it. But it is less common than it used to be. And yet there still are attitudes, even in my country, about a woman’s place, a woman’s role that – it’s a minority, but it’s sometimes, unfortunately, a vocal minority has. And yet it doesn’t represent the trends, the historic trends and the changes or the vast majority of people. So I really think that we’re getting to a point where we’ll see less and less of that going forward. But I wouldn’t sit here and tell you it’s not still an issue, and it certainly is around the world.
My biggest concerns are not with these incredibly bright young women here or with the three of you who have been so successful. It’s in countries where women and girls are so discriminated against, so brutalized, so mistreated, denied their basic rights. Those are the places that I worry most about. And I think all of us, as women who have our voices, need to speak out.
I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo a year ago summer and just the way that girls and women are treated there is just barbaric. And we have to stand up against that. And when I go to countries that don’t let girls be educated or are still marrying off girls of nine or ten, depriving them of an education, depriving them of an opportunity – that is what I’m most concerned about.
MODERATOR: If there is people like you, they are talking about us, talking, “One day, ladies will get the rights,” we shall assume.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I hope so.
MODERATOR: Dear audience, if you have another question also for Mrs. Hillary, please make it as short as you can because of the time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We can’t hear you.
MODERATOR: Oh. Please use the mike.
QUESTION: It’s an honor for me and (inaudible) having you to be with us. And my question is: Hillary’s direction toward the currently position of political women in the Arab positions?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I really should ask all of you what you think that should be. Now, I know that as a Secretary of State, I see a lot of diplomats. I know that several countries in the region – Bahrain, Oman – have women ambassadors to the United States, that was quite – and parliament members and ministers here and elsewhere. And I know that more and more women are expressing an interest in serving their countries in these ways.
So I think that the opening has happened. It’s a question of making sure that women are well prepared, able to perform, because, to go back to your question, it’s not so much discrimination as a very high set of expectations. There’s an old story in my country that a man who is doing a mediocre job is not particularly noticeable, but a woman who is doing a mediocre job is, because she’s a woman and she is expected to perform at a much higher level. And the fact that she is doing whatever in the political arena somehow represents all women, and – which is not fair, but is still a commonly held opinion.
So I think that the changes that I’ve seen in this region are just the beginning, and I would expect to see even more in the years to come.
MODERATOR: A question – another question please?
SECRETARY CLINTON: This gentleman has the microphone right there.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, on behalf of Zayed University Student Council, I’d like to welcome you here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: What advice do you have for young ladies such as the ones who are watching the show right now, or the young students who are going into politics? As a leader yourself, what advice do you have for them?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think the most important thing is what you’re doing right now – to get the best possible education you can get. The world is so complex that our leaders need to be very well informed about what is going on. For example, I am going later to see the results of the work that is being done here in the UAE, from Masdar Institute on renewable energy.
This is an incredibly important area. So you don’t have to be someone who is thinking about going into politics to make a contribution. If you’re an engineer who knows about environmental technology, if you’re an architect who can build into the exciting future what will be energy-saving homes, if you’re an expert in water and the work that is being done here in the UAE on water storage and desalinization – so yes, there are needs for people with expertise, and then there are needs for people who are well educated who know who to listen to, who know how to make decisions about some of the important issues of the future.
So I would strongly urge you to continue what you’re doing here to get the best possible education to be prepared for whatever the decisions that you would face as a leader or as a professional in some other walk of life.
MODERATOR: I’m sure there are many more questions. Don’t go away. We’ll come back after the break.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is also undeniable that the Palestinian people, Muslims and Christians, have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years, they’ve endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, a straight question needs a straight answer. Why could the U.S. of A not deliver?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, what you just heard President Obama say is the policy of our country and what I believe very strongly in pursuing. And as everyone knows, the United States is committed to a two-state solution. We are committed to a state for the Palestinian people and to security for the Israeli people. And we are pursuing that every single day.
But if this were a conflict that could be resolved by effort, it would have been resolved. Each side has to make decisions that are very difficult for them. My husband got very, very close back in 2000. And if he had been successful at that point, we would have had 10 years already of a Palestinian state. It is hard for both the Palestinians and the Israelis to have enough trust and confidence in the other to take the risks for peace. So part of what I am trying to do is to build up outside support for these tough decisions. The Arab Peace Initiative that His Majesty King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia put forth was an extraordinary document. And the more that the Arab world and the Middle East can say that the Arab Peace Initiative needs to be implemented and it will be stood behind, the more confidence that gives to the parties that this will be a broad and comprehensive peace. So we are working all the time, literally every day, to try to build that level of confidence for each side to go ahead and make a decision.
Now, two things have happened that I think are significant. First, the progress by the Palestinian Authority in building their state has been extremely impressive. The World Bank just last year issued a report which says that if the Palestinians stay on the track they’re on, they will be ready for statehood within two years. President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad need the support of the world in order to continue that state-building effort, because this is really hard work. But they are making progress against very difficult odds.
Secondly, the Israelis have a sense that when they left Lebanon, what they got was Hezbollah with 40,000 rockets aimed at them. And when they left Gaza, what they got was Hamas with 20,000 rockets aimed at them. So I ask people, and I know it’s very difficult at times to put yourself ever in the shoes of the other – I ask the Israelis to put themselves in the shoes of the Palestinians, I ask the Palestinians and Arabs to put themselves in the shoes of the Israelis. So the Israelis have to believe that when they leave the West Bank, which they must in order for the Palestinians to have their state, that they’re not going to be surrounded on all sides.
So as we think through how difficult this conflict is to resolve, there is, I would say, an essential role for outsiders – certainly, our country tries very hard to bring the parties together – but also the Arab world to make it clear that the Arab Peace Initiative will be implemented if the parties can meet the agreement that’s necessary on territory and on security and on refugees and on Jerusalem and all of the other issues that are dividing them.
So I am absolutely committed, as is President Obama, to doing everything we can. But the end of the day, the parties have to want to do this. I have said and written before that when my husband left office, some months later, then-President Arafat called Bill and said, “Okay, I’m ready to take the deal now.” And Bill said, “But I’m not president now.” So let’s seize this moment while we have President Obama, while we have progress on the state-building in the – by the Palestinians, while we do have an Israeli Government that will be able to deliver a peace if they can agree to the terms – let’s make sure we don’t let this moment pass so that in 10 years, somebody else gets a phone call and says, “Okay, now I’m ready.”
No, let’s get ready now and let’s deliver a two-state solution which will be an enormous step forward not just for Israelis and Palestinians, but for the entire region.
MODERATOR: But now, Madam Secretary, there is some warning of war – I mean, the whole area, which is going to be pulling in Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranians, Israel, and all kinds of battles from all over the region. And this time, they’re not talking about skirmishes; they’re talking about a large-scale war and with many more casualties. How seriously should we take this warning?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that we should do everything we can to make sure that those warnings are not accurate. For example, I know you’re Lebanese. I am deeply worried about the effort to destabilize Lebanon. And I met recently with Prime Minister Hariri and I’ve also been working with the Saudis and the French and the Egyptians and others to try to make sure we stabilize Lebanon and prevent any outside interests or anyone within Lebanon who is getting direction from outside interests from taking steps that will destabilize Lebanon and perhaps provoke conflict.
I think it’s very important that we look at how disastrous such a war would be for everyone. And it still is a fact that there is no solution to the problems that beset the area through war. War will not resolve the longstanding concerns. Only intense negotiations to arrive at solutions such as exist between Israel and Egypt, Israel and Jordan – that is the only way forward that will build a lasting peace. So I would send a clear message that the responsible leadership in the region must do everything it can to prevent anyone from taking action that would launch such a conflict, because it would be a disaster. It would cause great suffering, it would cause more refugees, it would cause destruction, and we’d be right back where we are right now. And what good does that do anyone?
What bothers me most is I have been in refugee camps of Palestinians. I have been in many parts of this region over the last 20 years. I’ve met with many Palestinians, many Israelis. And when you talk with them and say, “What is it you want,” what they want is the same things. They want their children to grow up in peace. They want their children to have a better future. And that is what every – nearly every parent that I know of in the world wants. And we’ve got to get beyond the politics, we’ve got to get beyond the history, and create the circumstances that will maintain peace and will lead to an agreed negotiated outcome. So I’m aware of the drumbeats and I think that those unfortunately are being created for very cynical purposes.
Now, let’s just be very blunt here, because I like to be as clear as I can. I think that there is very little doubt that Iran does not want to see any kind of negotiated peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. For its own purposes, it wants to keep its attention off of what is the big concern for the future, which is a nuclear-armed Iran with weapons that threaten its neighbors and beyond. So if they can shift attention away from their own internal decisions about whether or not to pursue and produce nuclear weapons, they will be very happy about that. And we cannot let that attention get diverted and we cannot let any outside influence cause a conflict in the Middle East, which would be disastrous for everyone.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, we really (inaudible) Sudan as a country. What is the new or the next reshaping in our region, in this region?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m very pleased you mentioned Sudan because this could be a great example of a peaceful outcome of a longstanding conflict. I give credit to the government in Khartoum for having agreed in 2005 to let the people of the South vote on their own future. So that is what is happening; the voting started yesterday, it goes for the rest of this week. So far, it has been peaceful, and it hopefully will remain peaceful. If, as is expected, Southern Sudan votes to have its own country, then I hope we will all, in this broader region and certainly the United States will help – will do two things – it will help the people of South Sudan meet their very many needs. It’s a very poor place. It does not have a lot of infrastructure, it doesn’t have enough schools, it doesn’t have enough clinics or hospitals. So we have to help the people of South Sudan.
But I think we also have to work with and invest in the North in Sudan so that they see the benefits of having done a very courageous action, which is move from conflict to compromise, because that is the way the world should work. It’s very unlikely that any one person gets a hundred percent of whatever that person wants if you are negotiating peacefully. So let’s work to help both the government in Khartoum and the government in Juba deliver results for their people, and I think that could make this a very successful transition. Other than what’s happening in Sudan, I don’t see any other actions like that where countries are dividing unless they are forced to by outside forces.
And I would just mention briefly Iraq. Iraq now has an inclusive government, and I think that should be applauded by the region. It has a government that consists of the different sectors within Iraq. And it is a government that is going to try to put Iraq on a firm foundation and make sure that all the populations – Kurds, Sunni, Shia, minority groups, Christian, Muslim, everyone – has a safe home and can then go back to school, get freed of violence.
But al-Qaida is trying to disrupt that. They’ve been attacking government installations, they’ve been attacking Christian churches, and Christians have lived peacefully in Iraq for thousands of years. So again, the outside has to try to help Iraq be stable.
MODERATOR: We don’t know whether al-Qaida or some other people clearly in the background – but I want to go back to the question of Iran. There is a nuclear danger in the Middle East coming from this – and we cannot deny this. And the sanctions, the imposed sanctions on Iran, hasn’t really worked because the consensus is that Iran could have enriched uranium in – within a few months. If they want to have a nuclear weapon, they could. So what are the options that the U.S. is examining?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that the most recent analysis is that the sanctions have been working, they have made it much more difficult for Iran to pursue its nuclear ambition. Iran’s had technological problems that have made it slow down its timetables. So we do see some problems within Iran.
But the real question is how do we convince Iran that pursuing nuclear weapons will not make it safer and stronger, but just the opposite? I would ask you – I mean, those of you from countries here in the region – if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, won’t you believe that you have to have a nuclear weapon too? I mean, it will be an arms race that will be extremely dangerous. So it’s first and foremost in the interest of the region to persuade Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons.
Now, I have said, and I will repeat on this program, Iran, as a signer of the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, has both rights and obligations. One of its obligations is not to pursue nuclear weapons. One of its rights is to have access to peaceful nuclear energy. Iran is entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but only under circumstances where it is absolutely clear that they do not use that to pursue nuclear weapons.
So there will be a meeting in Istanbul in about two weeks where the United States, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, the European Union – we will all be meeting with Iran and continuing our discussion about what Iran is entitled to and what it is not, and to try to find a way forward. But the sanctions are working. Their program, from our best estimate, has been slowed down. So we have time, but not a lot of time.
MODERATOR: I’d like to answer you to your question. As much as we don’t want Iran to have a nuclear program, it’s the same one that we don’t want Israelis to have its nuclear program as well. So it’s a bad –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we do – we would like to see a nuclear-free Middle East. We would like to see that and we are committed to that. And in order to get there, we have to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, we have to resolve Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and I would hope part of President Obama’s goal of a nuclear weapons-free world, that we could make progress toward that.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, we still have more questions, and we have also our audience questions. But we will take a short break. Please watch us after this break.
MODERATOR: All right. Back from the break. Madam Secretary, The Economist has implied last week that America’s influence has somehow faded in the Arab area, and its influence has not – is not as strong as it was before. Would you like to comment on that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly don’t believe that. I think that our partnership with countries in the Middle East is even stronger than it has been. The work that we are doing with many of the countries is at a new level of involvement. And we have some very common aims. We are working together against terrorism, which has strengthened our relationship, because unfortunately, we face some common enemies. We are working together on areas like renewable energy and other important issues of the future.
We’re working together on education. The depth of involvement of the United States in education – to take the UAE, for example, with the NYU campus, the American University campus – you look at all the fellowships and other kinds of exchanges that we’re doing, it’s at a new level of intensity. We’re working together on women’s issues and their impact. And we are certainly in common cause to try to convince Iran not to pursue nuclear weapons. In fact, we are very encouraged by the efforts that have been made by the countries in the region to enforce the sanctions, to send a unified message to Iran that they will become more isolated, and there’s an easy out, which is not to pursue nuclear weapons and to not promote insurgencies and terrorism against their neighbors and against other countries. So I think that it is a – it’s a quality of involvement and partnership that is critically important to all of our countries.
Now, having said that, I would add that many of the countries themselves are playing a more active role and showing not just regional but global leadership on important issues. We welcome that. We encourage that. It’s often said that the United States cannot solve the problems of the world, but there’s not a problem in the world that can be solved without the United States. So we encourage our friends, partners, and allies to show the kind of leadership that we’re seeing here in the region, and we think that’s a win-win for all of us.
MODERATOR: I want to talk about WikiLeaks. Do you think that WikiLeaks has contributed to the decline of American influence in the world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I think it’s been an unfortunate set of circumstances caused by the unauthorized theft of our private communications, which any country would be upset about, and I think we have every right to not only condemn it, but to prosecute those who stole that information.
But I have had many conversations with many leaders in this region and around the world, and most understand that this was something that was unforeseen and unfortunate. So I don’t think it will have lasting consequences. But I will certainly say that it was unfortunate and something that we regret.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Hillary, you know that scholarships in Saudi Arabia – for women especially is very important how – and it’s welcome from the host country, and they cost a lot for that. As you know, that there is some problems in the chaperone that should be with the female coming to States. What is your comment about that? Why they are having this problem just only in the States?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That is something that I’m going to have to look into because you’re the first person who has raised that with me. I don’t understand why there would be a problem, and I will do what I can to get to the bottom of that.
MODERATOR: The visa requirements for the lady, she should have her chaperone (inaudible). So almost they accept the lady, but they have some difficulties with him – his father or her husband or his son. So this is the problem that we are having.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will look into that. Thank you for raising that.
MODERATOR: And now we have the audience questions. Please – who want to ask, to raise his hand, and please make it short as –
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s a lady right there.
MODERATOR: There is a lady there, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s one right there.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, I’m (inaudible) from Zayed University Alumni Association. We’re so honored to have you here with us today. My question for you is: If you were to run for presidency again, what would you do differently to increase your chances in succeeding?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m not going to run again. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing. But I think that it was a very hard-fought campaign, and I am very proud of how much was accomplished through my candidacy and the message that it sent to a lot of other women. But I have no regrets. I feel privileged to be doing what I’m doing now. It’s a long commitment. It’s about a year and a half of commitment to run for president. And it is a great way of seeing every part of my country, which I was very pleased to do.
But looking back on it, I’m very grateful I had a chance to do that. And as I said earlier, I hope that there will be a woman elected while I’m still around, because I would love to see it. (Laughter.) I’d love to be there.
QUESTION: Well, we’ll pray for you. You deserve that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: We’ll take a break and come back.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: The attack was September 11th, 2001, and the continued efforts of these extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to human rights.
MODERATOR: As you said that it’s yet it’s not really – nations are not (inaudible) that they become angry, but when you rob people of their dignity, this is when the violence starts. What is your opinion?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think there are many reasons for violence. I think that that is certainly one of the reasons, but there are many other reasons. What President Obama and I believe is that those who are engaged in terrorist activities are really against the entire world. They are against the right of women to go to school. They are against the opportunities that are now available to both young men and women in so many of our societies. And they are most consistently killing and maiming Muslims, and that’s what is so distressing to me, is that they may have launched an attack on us on 9/11, which was horrible and cost nearly 3,000 lives, but in the years since, they have killed in so many other places.
It is deeply regrettable that they have safe haven anywhere, that any person, any person who cares about life, who cares about the future would give them any support whatsoever. Because they would turn the clock back on everything we’ve been talking. That’s what’s so distressing. It’s that they have a nihilistic view of what the world should be like.
I was telling the story earlier of a very courageous woman doctor in Somalia who is taking care of those who are sick and injured from all the fighting that’s been going on in Somalia, and she’s a widow, and she has two daughters who are doctors, her son was killed in a car accident. And she, every day, is trying to help people. And the young terrorists who are associated with al-Qaida’s philosophy came to her hospital and wanted to destroy the hospital, and she stood her ground and she said, “I am here healing people. What are you doing to help people?” And she had on her property tens of thousands of people who had nowhere else to live who were camping on her property. And she cares for them, she delivers their babies, she and her daughters work around the clock. And suddenly, a lot of women from these – from the camp came out and surrounded the hospital to protect it. But the young boys were shooting x-ray machines, they were destroying property. What does that have to do with anything? That’s not part of any religion. That is just destructive. That’s just the kind of behavior that is criticized everywhere in the world.
So I think it’s important for leaders – but not just leaders, for citizens – to stand up and say, “Does it matter whether you’re a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu, a Jew, a Buddhist?” We are against that kind of destructive behavior. That is unacceptable in our society.
MODERATOR: Absolutely. Madam Secretary, every Arab believes that restoring the Palestinian rights would somehow enhance and better the American image in the Arab world, and also help drain their resistance. What would you say about that?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s why we’re committed, not because we think it would in any way help us, but we think it’s the right thing to do. We think it’s important to try to resolve this conflict. At the end of the day, the United States doesn’t make the decisions. You have two peoples that make the decisions, and we’re doing everything we can to convince them to reach a negotiated agreement.
The United States is now the biggest donor to the Palestinian people. We would like to see even more support for the Palestinians because we think they’re making so much progress. We obviously support the Israelis, because we know that if both the Israelis and the Palestinians do not believe that an agreement will be better for them, it won’t happen. So we have to persuade them to do that.
MODERATOR: Mrs. Hillary, all of us know that 9/11 was the turning point in the Arab-American relations. Why should all Arabs in all the world pay or be condemned because of a few people who are – how can we say it – extremists?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t think that is what the attitude is in America. I think sometimes our media plays up that attitude. But we’re very proud of the millions of Muslim Americans who work, live, study, contribute to our country. We’re very proud of those who are in elected office and are part of our leadership in our country. Now – but there will always be a small minority in any country that is loudmouthed and rude and ignorant that will say things that are just not either true or reflective of what we believe. And unfortunately, there’s often a TV camera that is going while those people are saying those things.
And so part of what I’m trying to do in programs like this is to say look beyond the media hype, look for the kind of person-to-person relationship that we are very proud of and that we have promoted. And although 9/11 was a very terrible tragedy for our country, in the years since, we have been working hard to build our partnerships and our relationships in the Arab world in particular. And of course, the excerpts of this speech that you’ve shown of President Obama in Cairo demonstrates clearly that this President and this Administration are determined to isolate the extremists and not to let the extremists color the view in any place.
Look, we have extremists in my country. A wonderful, incredibly brave young woman Congress member, Congresswoman Giffords, was just shot by an extremist in our country. We have the same kinds of problems. So rather than standing off from each other, we should work to try to prevent the extremists anywhere from being able to commit violence to interfere with the rights of girls to go to school, of taking actions that would shut down a hospital run by a brave woman doctor.
That’s what the world needs to hear. The extremists and their voices, the crazy voices that sometimes get on the TV, that’s not who we are, that’s not who you are. And what we have to do is get through that and make it clear that that doesn’t represent either American or Arab ideas or opinions.
MODERATOR: Right. Because of that, we should love each other, and watch us after the break.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
(Break, music played.)
MODERATOR: Is this the saxophone of your husband?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It could be.
MODERATOR: Oh, no. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I would love it if it were.
MODERATOR: Tell us about it, please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, he –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, yes, but we’re not going to go into that now.
MODERATOR: Yes, we are. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, one thing – he actually was a good saxophone player when he was younger, but he didn’t get to practice enough as he got older and got into politics. So we have a little room in our house where he keeps all of his music and all of his instruments, and he keeps being asked to play in public again, but he keeps saying he has to practice more until he does. But I hope he will sometime. He has a great love of music. He is a real – not – I wouldn’t say expert, but he’s very, very knowledgeable about music.
MODERATOR: And I read some time ago, how you met Bill Clinton –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: — when you were at university.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
MODERATOR: I’m sure a lot of our women audience would love to hear the story.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we were both at law school at Yale University. And my husband is a year older than I am, but he had been a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, so he had gone from college, Georgetown University, to Oxford for two years, and then came to Yale Law School.
So I was actually a year ahead of him and I didn’t know him because he had just gotten there. And I was walking from one class to another class and I was going through what we call the lounge area, where they had the vending machines for soft drinks and candy and things that you shouldn’t eat but you do when you’re studying for exams. And I heard this voice in this southern accent say, “Not only that, we grow the biggest watermelons in the world.” And I said to the – my friend who was with me, I said, “Who’s that?” And she said, “Well, that’s Bill Clinton, and he’s from Arkansas and that’s all he ever talks about.” (Laughter.)
And so Arkansas – you look at a map of the United States, it’s a small state on the Mississippi River between Texas and Missouri and Oklahoma. And I had never been to Arkansas. I had been born in Chicago and then had gone to Wellesley College, which is a woman’s college outside of Boston.
So I saw him around the campus, but I hadn’t been introduced to him. But I saw him watching me all the time and – (laughter) – yes. And it was a little disconcerting because I think he’s incredibly handsome – still do, did then – and so finally, I went up to him and I said, “Well, if you’re going to keep looking at me and I’m going to keep looking back, then we should at least be introduced.”
MODERATOR: Hey, hey, gutsy, isn’t it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I thought so.
MODERATOR: Yeah. (Laughter.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: And so shortly after that, we began to date, and we both ended up teaching at the Law School in Arkansas, getting married in Arkansas, and –
MODERATOR: And the rest is history, as we know it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: — the rest is history, as they say. That’s right.
MODERATOR: Exactly. You are a tough lady in every domain. Are you tough on your son-in-law as well?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. (Laughter.) Because he’s perfect.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, we’re – we are extremely, extremely happy. My daughter and her husband have actually known each other for 15 years. They met as children at an event that our families were attending together. And they were friends before they were boyfriend/girlfriend. And they really got to know each other very well and then realized that they enjoyed each other’s company so much, enjoyed talking about everything under the sun. So I am just very pleased. They’re extremely happy, and they live nearby, which is good.
MODERATOR: Just lovely. And now they are making history –
SECRETARY CLINTON: So – yes.
MODERATOR: — which is fantastic. Madam Secretary, it has been an honor and a privilege to meet you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: And this was a lovely, lovely evening –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
MODERATOR: — spent chatting with you. And I would hope that you would consider this your second home.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: Because you’re always welcome. Thank you. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very, very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Good night. (Applause.)