Introduction in Russian]
SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress.) There is no satisfaction and no harder job that I’ve had in my life than being a mother.
QUESTION: (Inaudible): “Do you have any artistic talents that you would like to employ?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: For instance, she writes, “Carla Bruni records songs. Would you like to play in a movie, for instance?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, a movie would be fine, but don’t ask me to sing, and probably not to dance either.
QUESTION: Dimitry Meyer: “What is your favorite book? Do you have one?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s interesting. I was asked this question at Moscow University when I was there in October, and I have many favorite books. But because I was in Russia and I was speaking with young people, I talked about how The Brothers Karamatov had so influenced me as a young person, and I stick with that.
QUESTION: Have you reread it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve reread it several times. Not recently, however.
QUESTION: I have, and really, it’s an amazing book.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is –
QUESTION: How he gets inside people is unbelievable.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The combination of his psychological insight and his political understanding is really unmatched.
QUESTION: That’s right. (Inaudible), can feminism be a negative social force, number one. And number two, with whom do you find it easier to work, with men or with women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I find it easier to work with people who are open, transparent, collegial, either men or women. The question about feminism – I think any “ism” can be a negative, and you have to always try to keep in balance. And certainly, I consider myself a feminist. I believe strongly that women deserve equal rights with men and equal responsibilities. And I’m very keen on helping women to continue to progress around the world.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) He writes, “I’m a second-year student in the city of Sochi. I’m interested in the acknowledgement of genocide committed by the Ottoman empire against the Armenians. Why does President Obama not recognize Resolution 252? During his campaign, he promised that the U.S. would recognize the genocide, but now that he’s President, he seems to have forgotten.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think anyone has forgotten, but what has happened that is of great import is the work going on between Turkey and Armenia. In fact, I was in Zurich last fall with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Armenia, Russia, France, other countries to witness the signing of a set of protocols to normalize relationships between Armenia and Turkey. And in those protocols, there was an agreement between the two countries to establish a historical commission that would look at all of the issues that are part of the past.
And I think that’s the right way to go, I think, to have the two countries and the two peoples focusing on this themselves. I have said many times we cannot change the past we inherit. All we can do is try to have a better future.
QUESTION: Does that commission exist now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They’re working to create it.
QUESTION: They’re working on it. I see.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: I see. Alexander Smirnoff: “Why is the possibility of travel between our countries without visa a long way off, as you’ve said? What is being done to make it easier for Americans to come to Russia and for Russians to visit America?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want to encourage a lot more travel and a lot more exchanges. And as we move forward and we get more experience between our two countries in facilitating business travel, tourism travel, education travel, every kind of travel, I think it will become, at least I hope, easy and easier. And many of our businesses want to have their business leaders come and have open-ended visas. And similarly, a lot of Russians want to be able to come and have as much time as they need. That’s what I would like to work toward.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) She writes “How do you understand the meaning of double standards in politics?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I usually think of it in terms of men and women, but it can also be thought of in terms of countries or groups. I think anyone who believes that their voice is not being heard, that they’re being marginalized, that they are somehow being treated as a second-class citizen, the victim of hypocrisy, we feel as though there’s a double standard. And I’ve seen it in many different settings over the time of my life in politics.
QUESTION: Could it be applying different standards to different countries?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It could be, or to different ethnic groups or religious groups, or between the genders.
QUESTION: (Inaudible): “Being a strong woman and devoted mother, what advice would you give to your daughter regarding a balance between family and career?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ve talked a lot about that because my daughter has come of age when a lot of the barriers that used to exist, that even I experienced as a girl growing up, are no longer there. The legal barriers have been pushed away. But there still has to be a balance in your life, and it has to be a balance that I think looks at what is lasting and most important. And for me, that comes down to family and relationships.
And I tell my daughter and her friends and the young women who work for me that it is very important, if you decide you want to have a career, a profession, to do it, go for it. But never forget, at the end of the day, no one on his or her deathbed ever says “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
QUESTION: Alexander (inaudible): “What in your view is America’s place in the modern world? Is it a force aimed at supporting the world’s equilibrium? Or is it a force aimed at changing the status quo?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s both in this way, Vladimir. It is a force to sustain an equilibrium that permits countries and individuals to progress, to become more self-realizing. I mean, we want very much to have a strong Russia because a strong, competent, prosperous, stable Russia is, we think, in the interests of the world. But at the same time, there are countries and places where the status quo is just not acceptable. Last summer, I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I went to Eastern Congo where 5.4 million people had been killed in the last 15 years, the greatest death toll since the Second World War. We don’t want that status quo to be sustained.
QUESTION: Dimitry (inaudible). He writes: “Have you got an ideal person in politics, past – it doesn’t matter when – but someone who you feel is what you would call the ideal for a politician?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are many people who I admire, including my husband, I have to add. But I think Nelson Mandela is someone I especially admire. Think of what he went through coming out of a struggle against apartheid, trying to, in effect, overthrow the Government of South Africa, the all-white government.
QUESTION: Yes, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Being in jail, and I’ve been to his jail cell, which was about as big as this table, coming out of jail after 29 years or so, and finding it within himself to not only forgive what had been done to him, but to lead his people in a positive direction. We need more of that in the world. We need leaders who are not prisoners of the past. We need leaders who can imagine a different future. We need leaders who can cut across all the lines that divide us in the world today. And no one exemplifies that more than Nelson Mandela.
QUESTION: I have one more question from a lady who says her name is Ana: “In your opinion, is American mass media independent? How true is it they show viewers and who controls it? In the case of the Russian-Georgian events of a couple of years ago, do you think the American TV channels provided a true picture of what was going on? I think that the Russian media provided a totally different view. Who are the people to believe?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: In this time of mass media, that’s a very profound question. And it’s not only about the American media or the Russian media; it is about all media. I think our country has very free media. In fact, it’s almost an excess of freedom in some people’s minds because our media now basically can say whatever it chooses to say, show whatever it chooses. And there are some in our country who regret that, who wish that there were – there was more discretion about what is shown on our media.
But it is fair to say that everybody comes to any event by looking at it through their own eyes. So I might have 10 Russians and 10 Americans looking at the same thing, but seeing it differently.
QUESTION: Interpreting it differently?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Interpreting it differently. And I think part of the challenge – and that’s why I’m so grateful for this chance to be on your show – is that we have to do more to make sure we see through the other person’s eyes, so we don’t just say, “Well, this is the way I see it, this is how I interpret it; I’m right, you’re wrong.” No, we have to say, “Well, why did you think that?” And “Let’s try to make sure we understand each other better.”
QUESTION: Well, I hope this interview is going to help a little bit, but now we’re going to take a break. We have a little bit of advertising to do.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yes. I understand that, too.
QUESTION: So don’t go away.
QUESTION: Looking back a little bit, in your book Living History that came out in 2003, you wrote that preserving your marriage with Bill and running for senator were the most difficult decisions of your life. Could you explain that a little bit?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I write in the book, there were many things going on at that time in my life and at that time in my country’s life. And trying to balance the personal and the public was extremely difficult. I come from the point of view that at the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you. You cannot make decisions that are being promoted by the press or by other political persons; you have to get very quiet and think about what’s important for you. And so there was all kinds of advice coming in at me from all directions. I think I made the right decisions.
QUESTION: Was your decision to run for president – was that also a difficult decision?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It was, but not as hard, because I worried greatly about what had happened in our country the prior years of the last administration. It’s not a secret that I disagreed politically and I thought that there were a lot of ways that America needed to be strengthened and put on a track that more resembled who we are, what our character is, and that I could make a contribution to that debate. And so I’m very happy I had the chance to run, and it was an extraordinary opportunity. And much to my amazement, the man I ran against so hard for so long, President Obama, asked me to be in his Administration.
QUESTION: And that’s another thing I wanted to ask you. During this – the debates that went on, so you said some pretty hard things about now-President Obama. Did you have any problem at all accepting this offer, actually? You know.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, he said some hard things about me.
QUESTION: Oh, absolutely. That’s the point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But that’s what politics in campaigning often is about. It was a hard job to accept because I wanted to return to being a senator from New York. I was very anxious to go back to representing New York in the Senate. And when now-President Obama asked me, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe that he was offering me this very important job. And at first, I said, well, I’m not so sure; you should think about this person or that person, someone else. But he was very persistent and he kept coming back to how, despite what superficially appeared to be a tough campaign, underneath that we had so many fundamental agreements about what needed to be done in our country. And at the end of the discussions, I concluded that it was really about serving America.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And when I started traveling as Secretary of State, it was the most common question people asked me, from Indonesia to Korea, all places around the world: How could you work with and for someone against whom you had campaigned? I said because we both love our country. That, to me, was the bottom line. What can we do to continue to serve?
QUESTION: And I take it you have no regrets.
SECRETARY CLINTON: None. No, I have no regrets.
QUESTION: When you were writing or decided to write Living History, did you already know that you were probably going to run for president?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I really didn’t. I know there are people who –
QUESTION: I’ve read, but that’s not the point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I know. There are people who say that. I didn’t know it. I knew people had talked to me about it and had encouraged me, but it’s such a grueling experience to run for president, and the job is practically impossible.
QUESTION: Pretty grueling experience to write the book.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is but we have one president who embodies head-of-state, head-of-government. You have a president and a prime minister. Other people have the same system. Some people have a king or a queen and a prime minister. We have one person. So that one person bears the entire load of symbolizing the country and running the government. So I thought long and hard about it, but it – at the end of my deliberations, I decided I would try because I thought I could contribute.
QUESTION: The book was the book and that decision was that decision –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: — and there was no –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No connection.
QUESTION: Okay. Let’s take a look at U.S. foreign policy.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You wrote an article for the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs back in 2007 and you blamed George W. Bush for the fact that the U.S. kind of had lost the respect and the trust of even its closest allies and friends. Has there been a change now? Do you feel that you’ve overcome what happened during those years?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. And here’s why. What I have seen in the last year started with relief that the prior administration was gone and a new administration was in place, a lot of excitement and anticipation about President Obama and what he symbolized and his brand of leadership, and we have worked very hard at rebuilding relationships. Just today in meeting with President Medvedev, we acknowledged that we’ve come a long way in doing that. We still have work to do because these problems are never ending. I think there’s a difference – what some people confuse. There’s a difference between being able to have an open, frank , constant communication which we now have with Russia and other partners in the world, and agreeing on everything. We’re not going to agree on everything.
And sometimes people look at me or look at another foreign minister and say, well, if you’ve got such a great relationship, why don’t you agree? Well, that’s the wrong way to look it because what we want to do is find the areas where we can agree and move forward together, like we are with the START treaty that we’re about to finish. And where we have disagreements, more of those through the kind of honest communication that we now are engaged in.
QUESTION: One of the things that you seem to disagree with is the idea of spheres of influence.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You’ve said that that’s old fashioned, 19th century, whatever and that’s something the United States does not accept. And I was thinking about the resolution that was adopted by the Congress back in 2005, which specified the right of the United States to have pretty much unlimited access to communications centers, the key areas, global resources. What’s the difference between that and spheres of influence? It sounds pretty much like the same thing.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know exactly what the Congress meant in that resolution five years ago. But what we mean is that, of course, great countries like Russia and the United States are going to have influence. They’re going to have influence globally. When your president or prime minister travel, they don’t just travel in a few places. They travel globally. And they make a case and they negotiate over all kinds of matters. So do we. But there shouldn’t be any automatic presumption that any country because of geographic proximity is within a – quote – “sphere of influence.” We have many countries to our south in the Western Hemisphere. We’re obviously going to try to influence them, but they’re independent countries. They get to make up their own minds about the direction of their foreign policy, for example.
QUESTION: Is the Monroe Doctrine still alive in your mind, which says pretty much stay out of here; this is our part of the world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. No. I mean, we recognize the new reality that in a globalized economy, you’re going to have China, Russia, the European Union. You’re going to have constant trade flows and business deals and investments. You’re going to have bilateral foreign policy agreements in the Western Hemisphere, in Africa, in Asia, everywhere in the world. The United States is going to do our best to make sure that we’re in there; we’re not going to cede any ground to anyone. But we don’t expect our partners in the Latin American region to say, “Oh, I can’t talk to Russia because I’m in America’s sphere of influence.” We don’t expect that. We think that is old fashioned and we need to move on so that every country is being given the opportunity to chart its own course.
QUESTION: Do you support the famous adage of Theodore Roosevelt about speak softly but carry a big stick?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a pretty accurate description of what American foreign policy has been off and on for the last hundred years. We know we have a lot of influence and power. We know we have a very strong military. We have extensive economic relationships. But I think what you’ve seen with President Obama is an emphasis on the “speak softly” part. How do we engage better? You’ve seen that very clearly with respect to Iran. When President Obama came in and said, “We will extend our hand if you unclench your fist,” and then directed that we all began to try to reach out, talk with Iran, get Iran to engage with the rest of the world. But at the same time, we always had the possibility of a second track of engagement, which are the kind of sanctions and pressures that we think the time has come to impose.
QUESTION: Since you brought up Iran, I was going to ask anyway: In a worst-case scenario – in a worst-case scenario, do you think it would be possible to use force in Iran?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that would not only be a worst case; that would be a very last resort. No one wants to see that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And that is why we’re working so hard to persuade Iran to change its behavior. If you look at Iran – we were just talking a few minutes ago about looking through others’ eyes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: If you look at Iran through the region, the neighbors in the area, they see an aggressive force coming out of Iran that is trying to destabilize other countries –
QUESTION: You’re speaking about Israel or you’re speaking about –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I’m speaking about the Arab world.
QUESTION: The Arab world, right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We hear this all the time. North Africa, Morocco just expelled the Iranians because they were proselytizing and fomenting against the regime in Morocco. It’s very broad, Vladimir, and so it’s not just the United States saying this. I think, as President Medvedev said, no one likes sanctions, but they may be inevitable when you try to change behavior. Our goal is to change Iranian behavior; to have them stop supporting and exporting terrorism; to have them stop proselytizing in ways that destabilize other countries of the region and the broader Islamic world.
QUESTION: But the main thing is the nuclear program, is it not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is the main thing, because, if they get a nuclear weapons program, that will launch an arms race in the Middle East the likes of which we’ve never seen.
QUESTION: And it might even provoke a nuclear confrontation.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, heaven forbid. We want to avoid that at all costs.
QUESTION: The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is a very close one. And the United States has always supported Israel, to the point where some people think it allows Israel to thumb its nose at the rest of the world. There are some people who look at it that way. Now, when Vice President Joe Biden was going to visit Israel, right on the eve, the Israeli Government announced that they were going to build 1,600 new housing units in Eastern Jerusalem, which provoked a lot of anger and you were not happy with that. And you spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, making it very clear that that was the case. You were very critical. And now according to what I’ve read about a week later, you’re tone was much more conciliatory. Why?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, because we’ve seen the Israelis recognize that the resumption of negotiations between them and the Palestinians must begin. And, therefore, they are looking for ways to improve the atmosphere and to take steps that will produce a positive reaction, not just from the Palestinians, but from all of us who are trying to create this negotiation that will lead to a two-state solution. I think that – we had a meeting of the so-called Quartet here in Moscow that Foreign Minister Lavrov called. And at the table was, of course, Russia, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, and the Quartet representative, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. We, once again, in a statement, condemned what Israel had done. And we, once again, called for everybody to get back to the main business at hand, which is charting the way toward a state for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.
QUESTION: I think it was in April in 2008, you were on Larry King. And you spoke about the enormous problems facing the new President, whoever he or she might be. And among others, you said it included winning the war in Afghanistan and ending the war in Iraq. Now, in 2002, you were among those who voted “aye” for giving Bush the right to use force in Iraq. A, do you have any regrets about that today looking back? And B, are you satisfied with what has happened in Iraq, in the sense, do you feel that democracy now is established there and when the U.S. pulls out its troops, it’s going to be all right? And finally, what does it mean to win in Afghanistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to Iraq, I have expressed very many criticisms and regrets about the way that the Bush Administration took the authority and used it with respect to Iraq. Where we are right now is that Iraq just went through another election, which by all accounts is credible, legitimate, an astonishing accomplishment in that region.
QUESTION: All things considered.
SECRETARY CLINTON: All things considered. As they form a new government, as they begin to make these decisions that every democracy has to make about how to allocate resources, we are hoping that they stay on the course that they have begun. Right now, they present at least room for optimism about where they could end up. But at the same time, we know how hard this is. I mean this is tough work trying to bring feuding parties together, people who have not worked in any kind of collegial way, get them all on the same page going forward on behalf of their country. But we’ve seen some signs that are very promising.
QUESTION: But you are confident that the U.S. will pull out its troops?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we have made a commitment. We have signed an agreement with the Government of Iraq. Now, we will have a normal relationship where we will continue to support the Iraqi Government. We will provide aid as they request, but we are going to be withdrawing our combat troops from Iraq. On Afghanistan, nobody knows better than the Russians, what a very difficult situation is presented. I think, though, we are seeing progress in creating the environment for a political solution. This is not a conflict that can be won decisively, but enough ground can be gained that the people’s confidence in supporting political reconciliation can be obtained. And that’s what we’re looking for.
QUESTION: Do you accept the idea of working with the Taliban if the Taliban is willing to talk to you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Under certain circumstances, we do. You cannot make peace with those who will not commit to peace.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You can’t make peace with those who won’t put down their weapons and participate in the political process. But if members of the Taliban renounce violence, renounce al-Qaida, commit themselves to the constitution of Afghanistan, as with many conflicts around the world, then there can be a negotiation.
QUESTION: There’s a question that a lot of Russians have brought up and I figured I’d ask it myself, because I’ve tried to bring in everything that was asked. What really is the difference between Kosovo – which was since ancient times part of Serbia and yet is now independent thanks to support by NATO and, of course, the United States – on the one hand and, on the other hand, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, which were part of Gruzia of Georgia and are now independent, thanks to the support of Russia. What is the point of the principal difference if we’re speaking about what we call the integrity of a country, the territorial integrity, in both places? It’s a problem, isn’t it? What makes it okay for Kosovo and not okay for the others?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the circumstances are very different from, again, the way we see it. With respect to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, when the component pieces were breaking up and there were efforts to create independent states, there was a great demand on the part of Kosovo to become independent, because if felt like it had been put into Yugoslavia in a way that was not commensurate with its ambitions or its identity. People basically did not accede to that, but there was internal turmoil within Serbia, which led to the ethnic cleansing that was so demonstrably upsetting to have it take place in Europe. And then, of course, Kosovo decided it wanted to be an independent state.
The way we see Georgia is that Georgia was a much more integrated country. There were different groupings of people as there are in the United States or anywhere else in the world; and that it was meant to be a country where those different experiences, cultures, ethnic identities come together. Now, we understand that from the Russian perspective and from the perspective of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that’s not perhaps how they saw it. But we see a significant difference and we regret the break-up of Georgia, because we think that an integrated, whole Georgia is much more in the interests of everyone who is in the component parts of it.
QUESTION: Except those who don’t want to be.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a problem everywhere. I mean we all face that.
QUESTION: All right. Okay. In your view, is the protection of human rights still the cornerstone of the U.S. foreign policy?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is one of the cornerstones.
QUESTION: One of the cornerstones.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, it is. Absolutely.
QUESTION: Do you find that it hinders your relationship with China? The reason I ask is because the State Department has issued a paper where China is the number one country that does not respect human rights, followed by Russia, according to the State Department papers. So the feeling, again, a lot of Russians get is that you make an exception for China because the U.S. is so involved financially in China, has such a deep interest in China, but you kind of – you say the words, but you don’t really follow up when it comes to China.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s not the case. What we are trying to do with both China and Russia, is to have such broad and comprehensive relationships that they don’t rise or fall on any one issue, no matter how important. So we always raise human rights with China. We have a very significant difference over Tibet and the treatment of Tibetans; over religion and the suppression of religion; over the treatment of dissidents, lawyers who stand up for the rights of small farmers, people who spoke out against problems after the earthquake. We constantly are raising their concerns and bringing them to the attention of the world as well as to China.
But our relationship with China is very broad. And one of our goals in the Obama Administration is to keep relationships on track. If you get – if you have a hundred things that are important, but you only talk about one of them, well, of course, everything’s going to be seen through the prism of that one, no matter how significant it might be.
So let’s take our relationship with Russia. We have spoken out against the murders of journalists. We have spoken out against some of the oppression of dissidents, because we think Russia is a great enough country that it can absorb dissident expression, that people can express their views and that it adds to the dynamism of Russia in the 21st century. But even while we speak out against that, we’re hard at work in Geneva to continue to finish the START agreement on nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: Is that going to happen soon?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, it is going to happen soon.
QUESTION: The reset button?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: What is necessary, in your view, on the Russia side for it to really work? And what is necessary for it on the American side to really work? Because it can’t be that one side says to the other, “Well, it’s going to work only if you do this.” And the other side says, “No, I’m sorry.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think both of us have to change our mindsets and our attitudes about the other. We live with an inheritance of feelings and historical experiences. We were allies in World War II; we were adversaries during the Cold War.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re now in a new era. I think one of the best changes that each of us could entertain is looking toward the future instead of constantly in the rearview mirror.
One of the fears that I hear from Russians is that somehow the United States wants Russia to be weak. That could not be farther from the truth. Our goal is to help strengthen Russia. We see Russia with the strong culture, with the incredible intellectual capital that Russia has, as a leader in the 21st century. And we sometimes feel like we believe more in your future than sometimes Russians do.
We have 40,000 Russians living in Silicon Valley in California. We would be thrilled if 40,000 Russians were working in whatever the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley is, providing global economic competition, taking the internet and technology to the next level. But in order to achieve each of our goals in our relationship, we have to break with the past. We have to be committed to an open and honest and dialogue. We have to be very honest about our differences, and I think we’ve begun to establish that level of communication. And we have to find ways of working together.
A couple of weeks ago, the State Department sent a delegation of business leaders from the high-tech industry plus a famous American actor. They “Twittered” their way through Russia. I don’t know if you had a chance to talk to any of them.
QUESTION: I didn’t, but I read about it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: They met with really smart young innovators. They met with academics. They came back blown away. They said some of the smartest people they’ve ever met are in Russia. But then we asked then, “Well, do you want to do business in Russia?” And they said, “It’s really hard to do business in Russia. It’s hard to get through the bureaucracy. It’s hard to set up the kind of arrangements that we need.” We want to break down barriers. We want to create more free flow of people and information.
QUESTION: On the 12th and 13th of April in D.C., there is going to be a global summit on nuclear safety. I wanted to ask you, do you believe it’s possible to create a nuclear-free world. And are you not of the opinion that it’s only thanks to mutually assured destruction, MAD, that there was no war between the U.S. and the USSR?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question Vladimir. I share the vision that President Obama outlined in Prague last spring of a world without nuclear weapons, but I believe it’s a long time off in the future. What do we have to do today to move us closer to this world? This nuclear security summit is one means of bringing together the world to try to do more to safeguard nuclear materials.
The United States and Russia are the leaders, and therefore we are the stewards of the nuclear arsenal that exists in the world. Mutually assured destruction or effective deterrent worked in part because we never stopped talking. We had summits all the time, even during the depths of the Cold War. We had an understanding that each of us was a rational being. Now, we might disagree with your system; you might disagree with our system. But we thought we had kind of common understandings of how human beings think about the world. We didn’t think either one of us was suicidal. We fear adversaries in the world today who are suicidal, who would obtain nuclear material and use it to such great destruction in your country, my country, elsewhere in the world.
So it wasn’t just the fact that we both had huge arsenals of nuclear weapons; it was who we were as a people, how we thought, the premium on rationality. We might see the world differently, but at the end of the day, we chose to survive and to live and to raise families and to build a better future. We can’t count on that with some of the actors on the world stage today, which is why it’s so important what we’re doing in Geneva on START, and it’s so important that we work together to move toward a time in the future.
QUESTION: One of the sticking points in the relationship today is this whole thing about the deployment of an antiballistic missile system in Europe on the part of the United States. And it seems that the United States doesn’t really understand why the Russians are so disturbed by this. And I was (inaudible) ask you what if the Russians deployed a system like that in Venezuela, saying that would protect Russia from somebody out there. Don’t you think it would rub people the wrong way, that they would see a kind of a danger there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if that is the perception, then you can see where that chain of reasoning leads. But here’s what we believe and what we are saying. When we look at the threats in the world today, as we were just discussing, we don’t see a threat from Russia, and we hope Russian doesn’t see a threat from us. What we do see is the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran, an arms race in the Middle East with no telling who’s going to be in charge of the weapons, instability in other countries, the extremist violent terrorist network, the syndicate that al-Qaida is a part of, seeking every day to get a hold of nuclear material, development of missiles by states like North Korea and Iran that can reach Russia, can reach the rest of Europe. We have offered and we continue to offer the fullest cooperation with Russia to jointly develop missile defense.
Honestly, we don’t see Russia as a threat. We believe that those days are behind us. But what we do see is the potential for others to fill that danger gap, if you will. So that’s what we would hope for in the future, is to build enough trust that we would enhance our early warning signals and our alert systems, that we would be in constant communication between our militaries, our intelligence communities, that we would have our experts working to jointly create missile defense, because it’s a sad commentary that we’re working so well together, but unfortunately the world that we helped to create, a world that does have nuclear weapons, is now being inhabited by those who don’t necessarily have the same values that Russians and Americans do.
QUESTION: We’ve been talking about U.S. foreign policy and U.S.-Russian relations. I’d like to ask you something about the United States. In your view, what is the most serious problem, or what are the most serious problems, facing the United States? And let’s keep the rest of the world out of this, just the U.S., the American people.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. I think we have several challenges. One of them is very general, and that is to make sure that our democracy, which is the oldest in the world, continues to function well and deliver results for people. Therefore, our gridlock in our political system is deeply frustrating to Americans. They look at our Congress and they say, “Why can’t you get anything done?” And our leadership, our political leadership at all levels of government, have to be able to promote – get over their partisan differences and their ideological, philosophical differences, and work for the betterment of the people. That’s the kind of general challenge we face: How do we make sure our system works for the next 200-plus years the way it has for the last.
We also, on the economic front, have to be sure that our economy continues to function for all Americans. I mean, one of the great achievements of the American economy was how broadly wealth was shared, that you could be born into a very poor family and work your way up and be a successful professional in business.
QUESTION: Called the American dream.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The American dream, exactly.
QUESTION: Is it still alive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is still alive. But as with any dream that is lived out in the real world, the world in which we are awake, you have to constantly be updating it. And we have a problem now, which I think is common to all advanced economies. Many of the jobs that we used to take for granted that employed people, gave them a good middle class life, we no longer can afford to do them. They’re being done in China or they’re being replaced by technology as productivity increases. Take airlines. Airlines during the global recession laid off all kinds of people who worked behind counters. Well, now they’re coming back and their business is picking up, but they’re saying, look, more people are using the automatic machines. They’re sticking their credit card in. We don’t need all the people behind the counters. We’ll never have those jobs back again.
We have to keep creating jobs because we have to keep the work ethic alive. We have to give people meaningful work that they’re proud to do, that provides a living for them and their families. That’s a big challenge for us.
And then we always work on our equity issues. We believe in equality. It is one of our founding values. We can’t ever permit there to be such a huge gap between those who are at the very top and those who are –
QUESTION: The rich and the poor.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The rich and the poor. And to us that’s an article of faith, but it should be to any democratic economy. You’ve got to keep generating jobs and wealth and a meritocracy so that people feel like they can climb the ladder to success.
QUESTION: Thank you. I am now going to give the floor to (inaudible) to have a few questions. I spoke to him this morning and he –
SECRETARY CLINTON: How’s he doing?
QUESTION: Well, he’s doing pretty well.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well good. Good.
QUESTION: He’s still quite famous.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m glad to hear that.
QUESTION: All right. What human quality do you most admire?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Forgiveness.
QUESTION: What human frailty would you be most likely to forgive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Stupidity. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What would you not forgive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Meanness.
QUESTION: What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Impatience.
QUESTION: What do you most regret?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t have any regrets, honestly.
QUESTION: To you, what is happiness?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Feeling fulfilled in all aspects of my life, public and private.
QUESTION: What is your favorite word?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Love. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What quality do you most value in a woman?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The same that I value in a man: humanity.
QUESTION: When you appear before God, what would you say to him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m glad I made it. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (In Russian), Hillary Clinton. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good morning.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I would ask them, please, to recognize that President Obama is very committed and very sincere about working together with President Medvedev and with Russia. Obviously, this is challenging for many reasons, but I think the 68 percent who answered yes understand that Russia and the United States have so much in common that we need to be working more closely together. And we have an opportunity with our two presidents to really forge a new relationship, and that’s what we’re working for.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I often meet with several officials in the countries where I go. It’s usual that I would meet with a foreign minister and a president or a prime minister for three reasons – first, to convey the continuing commitment that President Obama and I and others feel to the highest levels of government in a country. Second, to go into more depth with all officials about exactly what we are working on together. And thirdly, even though we’re living in an age where people communicate over the electronic media or the internet, nothing substitutes for building personal relationships.
And at the end, the President sets the policy. I carry out President Obama’s policy. Minister Lavrov carries out his president’s policy. So making sure that we’re all communicating is very important.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I thought it was a very successful meeting. I don’t want to give grades because that’s not my business, but I am very satisfied by the meeting. It was open. I find both in the meetings that I’ve attended in London and in New York with President Obama and President Medvedev that he is very engaged, he is very knowledgeable. There is not a subject you can raise that he does not respond and know what he wants to express.
The two presidents have very good personal chemistry. I think they trust each other. Now, that doesn’t mean we’re going to agree. I mean, you don’t agree in a family on everything. But it does mean that there is an atmosphere of goodwill and of a positive sense that we can do things together that maybe in the past were not possible.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would have enjoyed meeting with Prime Minister Putin, and we certainly had intended to do so, but our schedules didn’t work out. So I’m looking forward to seeing him on a future occasion.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Look, I believe in a world in which our interdependence and our interconnectedness is recognized. And we’re not living in a bipolar world; we’re not even living in a multi-polar world. We’re living in a world of interdependence and we need multiple partners. I like to think of it as a multi-partner networked world.
So it is far better to have two great countries like China and Russia cooperating commercially, looking for ways to support the economic growth and prosperity of their respective peoples. I think that’s to the good not only of China and Russia, but to the world as a whole. The United States is not threatened or worried by relationships between other countries. We just want to be sure that there’s a sense of equity and parity in this partnership world that we’re developing, because we have so many difficult challenges.
And it is imperative for countries like Russia, the United States, and China to lead against the forces of disintegration and destruction so that we can stand united against those who would undermine the opportunities that we are seeking to promote.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, I do, and we have evidence of that. During the United Nations General Assembly, I attended a meeting with Minister Lavrov, Minister Yang from China, as long – as well as our other counterparts. We agreed to a very strong statement that basically told Iran that the international community expects Iran to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities. And in it, we said we want to pursue engagement and diplomacy, but it might not work. It is our preference, but as President Medvedev said, sometimes sanctions and pressure are inevitable. So we are pursuing that.
And then at the October 1st meeting in Geneva, among the P-5+1, very important steps were agreed to. Number one, Iran agreed to open its covert facility to inspection. Number two, they agreed in principle to ship out their low-enriched uranium, actually to Russia, to be reprocessed. Number three, that there would be another meeting shortly after to continue this important dialogue. So I think that we’ve come a long way in the last six months.
Now how we get to where we’re going, which is the goal of preventing Iran from being a nuclear weapons power – they are entitled to peaceful nuclear energy, but they are not entitled to nuclear weapons. And so we have to continue to work closely together, and we are. And President Medvedev reaffirmed that yesterday.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: What we are doing is negotiating a new START agreement to reduce our nuclear arsenals. As part of that agreement, we do want a system of verification, and verification would include visits by our respective experts to one another’s facilities. Again, we are open to this. We want to make sure that Russia knows that we are complying with the agreement and, as we say, vice versa; we want to have that level of verification. So that’s part of what’s being negotiated. We hope to have this agreement done by its deadline of December 5th.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s our goal, because the current agreement, the current START agreement expires December 5th. So we want to have a new agreement to be able to replace it.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do, and I was very encouraged. President Medvedev said let’s get it done. In fact, he said our negotiators should go to Geneva and they should be locked in a room until they finish negotiating and come out with the agreement. And we said okay, we’ll tell them to pack a big suitcase.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, they should come out with an agreement so that we can begin the important business of reducing our nuclear arsenals.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I can’t really respond because I don’t know what he has said. But of course, President Obama is committed to taking steps that would move our world toward a world without nuclear weapons. Now, we know that’s not going to happen in the near future, but it is really important for Russia and the United States to lead.
Russia and the United States have not only the largest arsenals in the world, but we have been the stewards of nuclear weapons. Other countries may have them, but people look to us to set the tone and to provide the leadership. So I’m hoping that our efforts on nonproliferation, which we’ve agreed to pursue together – President Medvedev will be at the summit that President Obama is holding in April in Washington on nuclear security – we’ve agreed to work together to try to round up any vulnerable material so it won’t end up in the wrong hands. I think our cooperation is getting deeper and broader all the time, and I think that’s important.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, no.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, no decisions have been made, and what ideally we would like to do is to cooperate jointly with Russia on missile defense. You see, we believe that the threats in the future come from countries and terrorists who are not responsible stewards of the enormous power of destruction that nuclear weapons represent. They may not even be deterrable.
Remember, during the worst of the Cold War, the United States, and then, the Soviet Union, we never stopped talking about nuclear arms. We never stopped communicating. We might have gotten too close to the line, but we always pulled back. And we kept the world from suffering from such terrible weapons.
Missile defense is meant to protect people from the ambitions that some places like Iran may have or al-Qaida may have. So when we did a review of what the prior administration had decided about missile defense in Europe, we concluded it didn’t meet the threat that we were worried about. We do not believe Russia and the United States pose a threat to one another. What we believe is that these other actors pose threats to both of us.
So we have offered for the closest cooperation between the United States and Russia. We would be happy to be making these decisions jointly with Russia. So we haven’t made final decisions at all, but we’ve changed what we are doing because we think it is more reflective of the real threat we face.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I can’t speak to that. I think that’s really up to the technical experts. I don’t know.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and I have no reason to believe at all that anything would be deployed in Georgia. No, I have no reason to believe that, and that is, I know, a matter of great concern to the Russian Federation. But again, that’s why we would like to work with – we would like to eliminate the concerns. We would like to have a joint missile defense program to protect our people, your people, our European friends and allies, to put as broad a missile defense system so that we can guard against short and medium-range missile that might have nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: We talked about Georgia. Now we do have a difference there, and even though we are working hard to not just reset our relationship, but deepen our relationship, we will disagree about Georgia. Georgia is providing troops in Afghanistan. We are training Georgians to be able to go to Afghanistan. But we’re also making it very clear that we expect both the Georgians and the South Ossetians and the Abkhazians and everyone else to avoid provocative action, to deal with whatever problems they have through peaceful and diplomatic means.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Minister Lavrov did not ask me that question, but we will help the Georgian people to feel like they can defend themselves.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think he knew the answer. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, not at all. Yesterday at Spaso House, I was honored to address a group of activists on behalf of civil society, democracy, anticorruption, human rights, and very clearly said the United States stands by our values. We support those who are struggling on behalf of the universal rights of men and women and who want to see their country improve and become even stronger and better. So we are very clearly committed to supporting people who are democracy advocates in every sense of the world.
We also believe that we can have a broader, more effective relationship, government-to-government, than perhaps the prior administration did, because we think we have a lot to work on together. We also think we need to do more people-to-people. I think that there are some misunderstandings that are sometimes held by the Russian people about what we are doing and why we are advocating for certain actions.
But I have no doubt in my mind that democracy is in Russia’s best interests, that respecting human rights, an independent judiciary, a free media are in the interests of building a strong, stable political system that provides a platform for broadly shared prosperity. We will continue to say that and we will continue to support those who also stand for those values.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I mentioned the names – I mentioned the killings of journalists, and I said that this is a matter of grave concern not just to the United States, but to the people of Russia, and not just to the activists, but to people who worry that unsolved killings are a very serious challenge to order and to the fair functioning of society, and that we did not believe that enough was being done to make sure that no one had impunity from prosecution who might have been involved in any such criminal acts.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think all of these issues of imprisonments, detentions, beatings, killings, it is something that is hurtful to see from the outside. I mean, every country has criminal elements, every country has people who try to abuse power. But in the last 18 months – well, and even going back further – there have been too many of these incidents. I met an activist yesterday at Spaso House who was badly beaten.
And I think people want their government to stand up and say this is wrong, and they’re going to try to prevent it and they’re going to make sure the people are brought to justice who are engaged in such behavior.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I hear Kazan is a beautiful place. And when I travel, I like to go places in addition to the big cities, the capitals. Of course, when I come to Moscow, I spend most of my time with officials, although I was able to go to the opera last night and I also was able to go to the Boeing design center and see Russian engineers working with American engineers.
But I also like to get out of the capital. I know in my own country, you get a better feel if you get out of Washington, D.C. for example. And what’s particularly attractive to me about Kazan is that you have a mosque and a Russian orthodox church side by side in the capital there. And the larger Tatarstan is predominantly Muslim, but people live very peacefully together, and in an interfaith way. So I wanted to come and see that for myself and I wanted to also have a chance to hear from them about how successful that has been.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, thank you for this opportunity to have this interview and speak directly to the Russian people, and particularly at a radio station that has been such a strong voice for positive change inside Russia. And I’m very excited about what we can do together. We have so much more in common than sometimes people give us credit for, but we do have to keep working to understand each other better and to find common ground, and I thank you for this opportunity to express myself to your listeners.
QUESTION: (In Russian.)
MODERATOR: Hello, everyone. My name is Dr. Therese Arsenau. I’m from the University of Canterbury. And I have to say I have a very easy job this afternoon. I’m introducing a woman who needs absolutely no introduction. It’s fair to say that Mrs. Clinton has been at the very heart of American political power and a political heavyweight for two decades, and she’s now brought these incredible qualities to the world stage as well.
So I’d like to focus instead on two things that I think make her absolutely extraordinary. It has been a career unlike any other. She has followed her own unique political path from First Lady to Secretary of State, and I think it’s that – taking that road less traveled by that has given her a unique perspective that makes her so valuable in the role of Secretary of State.
The second thing, of course, is that she’s a powerful role model for women, one of only 38 women ever to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first elected to represent the state of New York. Mrs. Clinton won more partisan delegates than any other female candidate in presidential primary history, and I have to say that it was a race that had us in New Zealand absolutely transfixed, even to the point when our own national election was taking place at the same time, and I’m afraid it sort of paled in comparison. (Laughter.) It was a really exciting campaign.
But of course, she is here to recommit, as she said, to the U.S.-New Zealand partnership. And some people talk about the thawing of relations that came yesterday that was a sign of the Wellington (inaudible). I see it more as a coming of age of the relationship. And it’s a relationship based on unity and diversity. We are deciding to build unity on the shared positions that we have in foreign policy, while still allowing and recognizing that we have distinct views on other issues.
And we’ve already seen the fruits of the labor in the announcement yesterday of an issue that I think would be very close to your heart, Madam Secretary – a program about the empowerment of women in the Pacific. And that was something that’s also very dear to my heart.
So that’s why she’s in New Zealand. She’s come to Christchurch in particular – and I heard just as I walked in that she is, in fact, the first Secretary of State to officially visit this town. And she’s come in solidarity with us post-earthquake. And I think as Canterburians, we’ve been incredibly moved by the reaction of people around the country and around the world, and we certainly do appreciate you coming here today.
So it is with great pleasure that I welcome the Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to Christchurch and to the podium. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, good afternoon and Kia Ora. I want to thank Dr. Arsenau for that introduction and for her kind words about our relationship, which is such an important reason as to why I’m here for my first visit to New Zealand and my very first visit to Christchurch. I want to thank Mayor Parker for his introduction. I want to recognize Gerry Brownlee, the earthquake recovery minister. This is a very hard job and we’re very grateful for your leadership. And I am delighted to have heard and to see just a little bit with my own eyes about how Christchurch has rebounded from the September 4th earthquake.
It’s hard to imagine for someone like me coming in now that a quake of the magnitude of 7.1 could have hit just two months ago. Many people deserve recognition for this speedy recovery, including both the mayor and the minister, but so many others – members of your local fire brigades and police departments, the men and women who did so much in the aftermath of the quake. And I want to acknowledge the students at Canterbury University who set up a Facebook page for volunteers and within three days had organized more than 1,300 people into cleanup crews.
For everyone here in Christchurch, the United States sends its best wishes and lets you know that I’m very impressed by how this community responded, and more than that, I recognize that Kiwis come to the aid of so many others when they’re in need, including those countries that had been devastated by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and the Samoan tsunami last year. Americans admire your willingness to step up and do whatever is needed and do it with resilience and irrepressible good cheer. These core Kiwi and American attributes are the foundation of the long friendship between our two countries.
Earlier today, I visited the War Memorial in Wellington. I met veterans from World War II and Korea, Vietnam, and those who are serving today. We have shared the sacrifice and the service of so many of our brave citizens together. And now in Afghanistan, the United States is proud to work with your Provincial Reconstruction Team in Bamiyan Province and your elite special air services in Kabul.
Our scientists are working together to understand better the effects of climate change, and I just came from an event out at the airport at the U.S.-New Zealand Antarctica project to thank the people of Christchurch and New Zealand for the support that they have given to generations of American scientists and researchers who, working side by side with your own, have begun to unlock the mysteries of Antarctica which have direct impact and relevance to our challenge from climate change, and in fact have constructed wind turbines for renewable energy so we do not have to transport so much fuel, and have also engaged just recently with a New Zealand crew rescuing an American worker.
Our student exchange programs strengthen long-term bonds, and we are cooperating on health innovation, sustainable energy, biofuels, and so much more. We have made a decision in the Obama Administration that we want to broaden and deepen our relationship, look for ways we can work together on the challenges of the 21st century, from nonproliferation to the alleviation of poverty, from women’s rights to violent extremism.
And so yesterday, the foreign minister and I signed the Wellington Declaration which commits both of our countries to deepening our cooperation. It declares our goal of promoting sustainable development and strong democratic institutions across the Pacific region. And it sets the stage for a deeper, more regular dialogue on these important challenges. And it signals that we will work together through global and regional institutions like the East Asia Summit.
Now, we do not agree on every issue. I don’t know two countries that do; I don’t even know two people who do. And nuclear issues have divided us. But we share a common goal. Both of us are committed to creating a world without nuclear weapons. In fact, President Obama has set that as a vision for the United States. Now, I’m aware it may not happen in his lifetime or in yours, but it must remain a goal that we continue slowly but surely to move toward. And in the meantime, we agree that we must never allow nuclear materials to fall into the wrong hands, so we were very pleased that Prime Minister Key came to the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington early this year.
There is an enormous agenda ahead of both of our countries and also between our peoples. It will not surprise you to hear that New Zealand is highly admired by Americans who are intrigued by what you have built here, who are trying to understand rugby and the great attraction that it holds, and who are very committed to learning more about New Zealand. And I’m particularly committed to learning more from you.
So what I’d like to do now is to take your questions and comments. Our Ambassador who is here has started a very important, innovative program in Wellington where he reaches out and has students from all the universities throughout New Zealand – I think I am told there are eight major ones – who have students chosen to serve as advisors and sounding boards so that we learn more about what younger people in New Zealand are thinking. And as the example of the Canterbury students show with using Facebook for putting together cleanup crews, there are new ways of connecting and communicating that are part of what I’m trying to do as Secretary of State in establishing what I call 21st century diplomacy.
And so let’s get into any thoughts, questions, ideas or comments that anyone here might have, and Therese will call on people if you want to raise your hand. And I’ll be happy to have this dialogue. So who wants to start? Here’s a hand right there. And please identify yourself just for purposes of introduction.
QUESTION: Firstly, Madam Secretary, thank you so much for coming to our beautiful country.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: My name is Andrew (inaudible). I am especially privileged to be able to ask you a question today. Kelly (inaudible) and I here are both post-graduate students from the University of Otago School of Business, and we’re both particularly interested in negotiating an alternative dispute resolution. We understand that you were recently very instrumental in getting Israeli and Palestinian negotiators back to the table to continue to discuss peace settlement.
And we are basically curious as to how you went about achieving this, and also if you could perhaps provide us with your views on approaching difficult negotiation situations. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I’m delighted that you and Kelly are interested in dispute resolution and negotiations, because that’s the core of diplomacy, but it’s also the core mechanism in politics, in democracies, in business, and in families to negotiate toward what preferably are win-win, not zero-sum outcomes.
Specifically with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as you’re well aware, there have been many negotiations going back many years, most particularly back to the Oslo process. And unfortunately, there has not yet been a resolution of the outstanding issues in the conflict. And it is an incredibly intense, emotionally fraught set of issues for both peoples, which makes any negotiation hard to get into, hard to continue, and hard to resolve. But we bring in our government a commitment to a two-state solution – the state of Israel being accepted and secure and able to live in peace with its neighbors, and the people in Palestine having a state of their own that gives them sovereignty and the right to fulfill Palestinian aspirations.
When the Obama Administration came into office, it was a particularly difficult time. There was a conflict going on in Gaza that the Israelis had entered into in an effort to end the bombardment of rockets by Hamas from the territory of Gaza. The Israelis were in the midst of elections. And it took some months to sort out who would actually be the prime minister and what kind of coalition the prime minister would have, and Prime Minister Netanyahu emerged from that process. So it was not until June of ’09 that we really began to have serious conversations, although President Obama and I appointed former Senator Mitchell on the second day of the Obama Administration to head up our efforts. He had been, as some of you know, very successful in helping my husband and the Irish and British governments work toward the Good Friday accords of Northern Ireland.
So we were pleased when Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly declared his support for a two-state solution, something that he had not done previously. And we began working with him and with President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad. As you know, the Palestinian political situation became even more complex when Fatah and Hamas split and Hamas essentially conducted a coup against the Palestinian Authority and took over Gaza, so that the Palestinian Authority is able to exercise jurisdiction at this time in the West Bank. So you already start with a division among the Palestinians, with the Palestinian Authority committed to a two-state solution, committed to the path of negotiations, with Hamas committed to violence and rejectionism – an intensely complex set of players and factors.
But we have worked very hard to get the two sides, namely the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority, talking about final status issues. And the negotiations are proceeding in a context of difficulty because of demands that all settlement efforts cease, and the United States supports that, believes that settlements are not legitimate, but recognizes the political reality in Israel that has to be dealt with.
So I guess the bottom line for me is if you wish to be someone who helps to guide and participate in negotiations, you must have a high threshold for disappointment, for setbacks, for the give-and-take, the to-and-fro of human interaction. And you have to stay very focused on finding whatever areas of potential common purpose you can. And we are very committed to this because we think it’s in the interests of both the Israelis and the Palestinians, but more than that, we think it’s in the interests of the larger region, and indeed, the world.
So just a final word on negotiations in general – there’s a lot of good information that has developed over the last quarter century about how to do negotiations, what works, what doesn’t work, what kind of styles are sort of more common than others. But you just have to get comfortable doing what feels right for you and you just need a lot of practice. You just have to go out there and do it and try to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. I did a lot of negotiating as a lawyer back in the days that I was a practicing lawyer, and then certainly as a senator in all kinds of political settings, and now as Secretary of State.
And I’m delighted to hear that you know the importance of doing this. And we need a lot more people who are able to put aside their own preconceptions, their own prejudices, their own feelings, and work with parties who come with plenty of those and give them the space and the encouragement to try to find some common ground. In today’s world, that’s a very, very important function to perform. Thank you.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My name is Dr. (inaudible). I am part of the Te Ohaakii a Hine National Network Ending Sexual Violence Together. We were part of a government task force for action on sexual violence. I wanted to thank you for your address to the UN in September 2009 where you placed the sexual violence against women and girls as a core concern for security. And you commented that to solve this issue, women needed to be at the table.
And I would like to share an inspiring story from New Zealand where our community groups have come together and we have formed a two-caucus community national network, one representing Maori, one non-Maori, and we came to the government and we said we come in – treaty relationship. And we formed a partnership with the government and we got a task force for action on sexual violence.
I just wondered, in your travels as Secretary of State, whether you come across a similar partnership between indigenous people and non-indigenous people, and also in partnership with the government, because this has been written about in papers at a conference as being quite a unique outcome.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first of all, thank you for focusing on this issue. Gender and sexual-based violence is a scourge that affects literally millions of women, and in some settings, very acutely, it is increasingly used as a tool of war and conflict to not only exert power, but to break the spirit of families and communities. And it is a matter that I am very committed to speaking out about and looking for realistic answers to.
I do not know of any other specific program like the one you’re describing which has in New Zealand Maori and non-Maori participants in partnership with your government. But I think it’s an excellent idea and I commend you and everyone associated with it. But part of our challenge is, first and foremost, to raise the visibility of this issue.
I was just in Papua New Guinea before coming here and I met with a lot of the women there. And they talked about the many issues that they are coping with, but violence against women was right at the top of the list. A high prevalence of such violence against girls and women undermines the productivity, the livelihoods, the parenting abilities, the community-building efforts of not just slices of society, but society as a whole.
So I’m raising this as I travel around the world, and I am pleased that the United Nations is finally focusing on this. They’re focusing on it both on its own but also in the context of conflicts, probably the most horrific example of that in the world today being the Eastern Congo. I went to Goma, met with some of the survivors of these attacks by primarily Congolese army soldiers and militia members of the many different groups all fighting each other in Eastern Congo.
And I was pleased that just recently, the United Nations Secretary General has made two excellent appointments – a long-serving political leader from Scandinavia, Special Representative Wallström, and the former president of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, who will become – or has become the head of something called UN Women.
So we’re raising the visibility and I think it starts close to home; it starts in our own communities where there can be zero tolerance for violence against women and girls, and where there has to be more education. I’ve worked in this area for probably 30 years, and when we first started, we really had to make the case that it was not just cultural, that there were not just some people, certain kinds of people for whom that sort of violence was just part of who they were and their traditions and their history.
We made it very clear that violence against women was not cultural; it was criminal. And therefore, we had to work with the police and the courts in the United States. One of the leaders on this is our Vice President Joe Biden; when he was a senator, was the principal sponsor of legislation called the Violence Against Women Act. So we’ve been at this in the United States. We have a lot more awareness now of the problem, a lot more programs to respond to it, we have hotlines and shelters. And so we have certainly worked at confronting it and eliminating it, and yet even, I have to say, in our own country it remains a significant social problem.
And then around the world, the more we can not only do what you’re doing internally in New Zealand, but link up groups like yours and governments like yours, the more we can make progress together. So I’m hopeful that this issue will be right up there on the top of the agenda. And I just have to conclude by saying that I know that sometimes, people say to me, “Well, isn’t that – I mean, that’s an important issue, but it’s not like negotiating Middle East peace or ending other conflicts or taking on nonproliferation.” And I just respectfully disagree.
I think where you do not start with respect for the human rights of the people closest to you, you can unfortunately unleash behaviors that have repercussions throughout society. And where women and girls are not respected and accorded their full rights, then it’s not far from there to societies like the one we are together trying to help in Afghanistan, where you go from it being just a little problem of somebody else till all of a sudden, there are no girls going to school. There is a direct line between extremism and repression of women. In fact, my colleagues and I around the world often remark on the fact that most extremist groups not confined to any one religion, but in fact, extremists in every religion always seem to end up trying to undermine the rights of women for reasons that escape me. I don’t understand where that comes from, but it unfortunately is all too common.
So kudos to you and I’ll look to be kept informed about what you’re doing.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, my name is Vicki (inaudible). I am a student at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School. As a young person who is living in a world where we find it desirable and indeed necessary to balance toleration with national security, I’d like to hear how the United States defines the wrong hands that nuclear weapons could fall into.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m sorry, you’d like to hear me what? I couldn’t understand the very end of what you said.
QUESTION: What is the United States’ position on the wrong hands that you describe nuclear weapons may fall into?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That nuclear materials could fall into?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah, excellent question. It is probably our single biggest fear in the United States Government that nuclear devices or nuclear materials can fall into the hands of terrorist groups or rogue regimes that would use them against either their own people or others. And I did a lot of work on this when I was a senator because the fact is we have overwhelming, credible evidence that al-Qaida has sought nuclear materials for years. And you understand why, because it is – if you’re talking about terrorism, it is the ultimate terrifying prospect.
But we are equally concerned about countries like North Korea which engage in provocative and belligerent acts such as the recent sinking, unprovoked sinking of the South Korean ship by a North Korean torpedo. Their continuing search for nuclear information, expertise, over the course of the last number of years, has led to them exploding nuclear weapons and we know that they are still, unfortunately, focused on building up their arsenal. And it is a very dangerous situation, so we would like to see the total denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
At the recent Nuclear Security Summit that your prime minister attended at the invitation of President Obama, there were a number of cases cited and discussed where countries had intercepted smugglers who – particularly from the former Soviet Union, had gotten their hands on nuclear materials and were selling them in the market to – or attempting to sell them in the market to various and sundry buyers. And so we are deeply concerned about that.
And we are also very worried about Iran’s continuing efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. And I want to draw a distinction here because I think it’s an important one and to hear it from me directly. We have no problem with anyone obtaining nuclear power for peaceful civilian purposes. We think that’s one of the answers in a big menu of answers to climate change. We do have a real problem with a country like Iran pursuing nuclear weapons, which has the unfortunate consequence of intimidating their neighbors and making it more likely that if they proceed to obtain a nuclear weapon, then other neighbors will feel they have to as well.
It’s an intensely difficult environment where knowledge cannot be contained, where people who have information or expertise can go into the marketplace and sell it. The United States was deeply concerned about the nuclear scientist behind Pakistan’s program selling his expertise to a number of countries, including North Korea. We follow constantly reports of other countries trying to do business with North Korea to get their own foot in the door on nuclear weapons.
So the consequences are incredibly dangerous if this proceeds, which is why we worry about it and why we do things like the Nuclear Security Summit which New Zealand participated in. So that countries that are responsible, governments that understand the risk that this poses to people, can work together to try to prevent it from coming to fruition.
When intelligence experts and security experts come together and they’re asked what is your biggest worry, what is the biggest threat we face, invariably they say a suitcase-size nuclear bomb that would have very grave consequences, if not in tens of thousands of lives killed depending upon the kiloton impact, would contaminate areas, would serve as the ultimate tool of terrorism – because what is terrorism for but to terrorize people. And that’s why we worry about it and that’s why we have a lot of people working every day to try to make sure it doesn’t happen.
QUESTION: Welcome, Madam Secretary. My name is Ruth Richardson, and when I was much younger I served as this country’s first woman minister of finance. I ask the question on behalf of our grandchildren yet to be born. What do you believe are the geopolitical shifts that are going to be witnessed over the course of the next generation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a very profound question and one that I wish I were smart enough to answer completely and convincingly. The geopolitical shifts are many and they intersect. They amplify one another and to some extent may even cancel out each other. But in no particular order and in no means exhaustively, let me just mention some of the things that we are looking at, because I deal every day with the urgent problems that must be responded to; with the immediate, which we know are important and we must get to by the end of the day; and with the long-term, which if we don’t tend to will become immediate and urgent. So it is a constant balancing act to try to look at what we need to do in order to create an environment that is more hospitable toward the values that New Zealand and the United States share.
We see shifting of power to a more multipolar world as opposed to the Cold War model of a bipolar world. We believe that the United States will remain for the far foreseeable future the largest economy, the largest military, the only country with a true global reach, but we work with and in fact are supportive of other countries that are rising. So we support China’s rise, we support India’s rise, we support Brazil’s rise. We want to see South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, and others that are important regional players take a more responsible, productive position in the world.
And sometimes people mistake our support for these countries and their ambitions as agreement. Indeed, we have many areas of agreement, but we have many areas of disagreement. But we think it is far better for the United States to be working to try to promote the right kind of success and the right acceptance of responsibility in these new emerging power centers and hope that we see the kind of maturity and acceptance of responsibility that goes with both economic success and political reach.
At the same time, we are very focused on the population shifts that are occurring in the world. Much of the growth of population in the world is in less developed countries. The population in some countries in Africa, in the Middle East, in Latin America and Asia is 50 to 60 percent below the age of 25. And these young people are very often not getting good educations, they are not growing up in political systems that hold out the opportunity that they are seeking, they often can’t find enough food or enough jobs in order to make a living in anything resembling a formal economy, they are crowding into cities that are becoming mega-cities that are very, very difficult to govern, with all of the consequences that that suggests.
So our work to partner with a lot of these countries is to focus on the basic services like food, clean water, health, education, look to improve the rule of law and good governance so that perhaps we can see some changes in the way that countries respond to their own people, how they meet the needs of this great mass of young people. We are looking at the effects of climate change. There are still some who discount it. But whether you believe in climate change or you don’t, the fact is that there’s increasing drought and other changes in the atmosphere that are compounding the problems that we see in Africa.
There is just a lot that needs to be addressed to try to help countries govern themselves in a more effective fashion in order to create ladders of opportunity for these millions of young people who, shut out of opportunity, shut out of a chance to realize their own God-given potential, find other outlets, whether it be extremist groups or criminal networks, with consequences that are not confined in any one nation’s boundaries.
For example, in Latin America over many years the Government of Colombia has very successfully taken on the combined threat posed by the insurgency known as FARC and the drug traffickers. And it has been a very difficult but important effort. Now these drug traffickers have moved into Central America, moved into Mexico. In their effort to seek new markets, they are taking their illicit drugs across the Atlantic Ocean and corrupting governments and countries in West Africa that now serve as transit points for drugs to move north to Europe.
So there has to be more cooperation globally in order to address these kinds of very serious threats to law and order, to the maintenance of a stable government and economic setting.
So those are just some of the many issues that we track – pandemics, the problems that we see coming from countries that are not able to respond to their own people is first and foremost what we worry about because you can take some countries that are very rich at the top and increasingly poor with the 98 percent below, and it’s a stew for all kinds of conflict and problems that are going to spread. And we think we have to try to contain that.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madam Secretary. Thank you again for being with us. My name is Robert Patman. I’m a professor of international relations at the University of Otago. One question I’d like to ask you concerns the United States relationship with the United Nations. In the post Cold War era, many countries, including your own, I mean for a small country like New Zealand, of course the United Nations is a very important player and we accept, I think many of us here, that it’s certainly got problems. But what I’d like to ask you about, the Obama Administration seems to have taken a much more constructive approach to the United Nations. Could you say a little bit about how you foresee the United Nations improving itself so that it becomes more acceptable to mainstream opinion in the United States? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Another very good question. We believe that if the United Nations did not exist, we’d have to invent it, that there has to be an international forum of that sort to work on a full agenda that doesn’t always get into the headlines and people are not complaining about, but governing postal service rules or aviation security – there’s just an incredibly diverse group of issues that our governments work on together through the United Nations. So you’re right; when President Obama and I were looking at areas that we wanted to work more in, working with the United Nations was one.
Having said that, we would like to have the United Nations be more effective, more cost-effective, streamline its many organs and agencies and departments and divisions and all of the bureaucracy that it has. And we’re working on that. The prior Secretary General Kofi Annan had a group of distinguished world leaders look at these problems and came back with some very good suggestions. The current Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is also committed to a reform agenda.
But the United Nations cannot do anything that the member-states don’t want it to do. So what we’ve tried in the United States is to work more with our partners in the United Nations, first and foremost in the Security Council because that does drive so much of the agenda, where we are looking at reforming peacekeeping operations that is a key to how we can more proactively prevent conflicts and more quickly respond to them.
The United States under our watch rejoined the Human Rights Council, which was, as you may know, controversial in some quarters in our country. But I think because we joined, we’ve seen a much more productive set of issues rise to the forefront.
We are very committed to working with the United Nations on issues like sanctions against North Korea and Iran for their nuclear programs and very pleased that within the last 20 months there have been two very strong sets of sanctions adopted by the Security Council that really put the international community on record about the dangers posed by both North Korea and Iran’s nuclear weapons programs.
So we know that there is a minority within our country that is very suspicious of the United Nations and sometimes to the point of really putting wild ideas into the media that the United Nations is going to take over the world and black helicopters landing on lawns across America and the like. There’s a real resistance to the United Nations ever commanding any American troops, for example, under the blue helmets.
But we have pushed hard to develop a much stronger relationship. But the United Nations itself has to be more effective. And I was frankly disappointed at the climate conference in Copenhagen. I know again it’s the member-nations that determine the limits of UN action, but the UN has to be much more effective in pushing whatever the agenda is.
So we will work with the United Nations whenever we can. We will support the United Nations. We’re the single biggest donor to the United Nations. But we do want to see reforms and we think it’s important for the international community to push those reforms.
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, I’ve had the signal that we only have one last question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Okay.
MODERATOR: You know there are at least 20 people who’ve put their hands up. Very quickly.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) My question relates to the Wellington Declaration.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Could you pull your microphone up, please? Thank you
QUESTION: How can the Wellington Declaration signed by the U.S. government and the New Zealand government help support indigenous peoples in the Pacific to attain and maintain autonomy within their own countries and in particular (inaudible) New Zealand?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have discussed at some length between our two governments how the United States and New Zealand can work together to support change within the Pacific Island nations. There are many areas where New Zealand on its behalf or the United States on our behalf work on education or healthcare or other issues that are of importance. But we actually think if we work more closely together, we can have greater impact. And we don’t want to duplicate each other’s efforts, we want to amplify them.
From my perspective, the work that New Zealand has done in the Pacific Island nations is very highly regarded. The feeling is – and of course, no country maybe from the inside is viewing itself the way that you are viewed from the outside – but the feeling is that New Zealand comes to the table in talking to indigenous people throughout the Pacific with a lot of credibility, because of the involvement in every aspect of New Zealand life of Maori people.
And I can speak for my own country; we are by no means perfect, but we have over the course of our history opened wider and wider the doors of opportunity for minority groups of all kinds in the United States. And similarly, going back to the 1860s, New Zealand did the same. And again, I am not an expert on New Zealand history so I’m not going to offer an opinion. I will only say that from our perspective, New Zealand has an enormous amount of experience and credibility in working to help the people of the Pacific Island nations get more support, build up their institutions, create better mechanisms for dealing with the problems that they face. And we look forward to working much more closely with New Zealand to try to do that.
Thank you all very, very much for coming out on a rainy afternoon. Thank you. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Madam Secretary, I’m actually going to ask Sam Johnson (ph) to come forward. As a good university lecturer, I’m going to defer over to my student, former student, who actually is someone you spoke about. This is the young man who organized the Facebook group in reaction to the earthquake. So I’m going to ask Sam, actually, to say a quick thank you to you. And he didn’t know this until now. (Laughter.)
MR. JOHNSON: Thank you. Madam Secretary, I just thought I would come up here and really wish a sincere vote of thank you to you for coming not only to New Zealand but especially down to Christchurch today. It’s incredible to have someone such as yourself come and visit New Zealand, let alone down to Christchurch. I’m sorry our weather wasn’t (inaudible) Wellington – (laughter) – but it really is fantastic to have you here, and thank you for your very kind words to the people of Christchurch who have been very badly affected by the earthquake. And it’s a great lift of morale to have yourself here, so thank you so much and have safe travels. Thank you. (Applause.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much. (Applause.)