On April 12, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong hailed the importance of people-to-people engagement during the second annual U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE). The CPE aims to enhance and strengthen ties between the citizens of the United States and China in the areas of women’s issues, education, culture, sports, and science and technology.
During the CPE closing session, Secretary Clinton and State Councilor Liu announced the launch of the U.S.-China Women’s Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD), which will be jointly led by the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues and the All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF).
Through Women-LEAD, the United States and China will seek to increase dialogue between high-level Chinese and American women leaders and to expand exchanges between organizations, think tanks, and universities on gender equality. Key goals of the initiative are to promote the sharing of knowledge and expertise on developing women’s leadership across all sectors – including entrepreneurship, science, and technology – and provide support for capacity building programs for emerging women leaders. Facilitating public–private partnerships for women’s empowerment programs will be a key element for achieving Women-LEAD objectives.
Cross-cutting collaborations to be pursued under the Women-LEAD banner include:
- Madam Song Xiuyan will lead a delegation of senior-level women leaders to the United States for a high-level dialogue with American counter-parts. This event will take place either later in 2011 or in 2012.
- The United States will send a delegation of senior-level women leaders to the International Forum for Women and Sustainable Development in China hosted by the ACWF in November 2011. Following the Forum, the delegation will conduct a field visit and a U.S.-China working group meeting will be held to discuss plans for the upcoming year.
- With the support of corporate leaders in both countries, the United States and China will collaborate to build the capacity of women entrepreneurs.
- Yale University will work with ACWF and other relevant Chinese agencies to organize management and leadership programs targeted at senior-level women leaders.
- China will explore partnerships with U.S. organizations to raise awareness of breast cancer in China.
We are deeply concerned by the dangerous and deteriorating situation in Cote d’Ivoire, including recent reports of gross human rights abuses and potential massacres in the west. The United States calls on former President Laurent Gbagbo to step down immediately. His continuing refusal to cede power to the rightful winner of the November 2010 elections, Alassane Ouattara, has led to open violence in the streets, chaos in Abidjan and throughout the country, and serious human rights violations. Gbagbo is pushing Cote d’Ivoire into lawlessness. The path forward is clear. He must leave now so the conflict may end. Both parties bear responsibility to respect the rights and ensure the safety of the citizens of Cote d’Ivoire.
We also call on the forces of President Ouattara to respect the rules of war and stop attacks on civilians. President Ouattara’s troops must live up to the ideals and vision articulated by their elected leader. At the same time, we call on the UN peacekeeping mission to aggressively enforce its mandate to protect civilians.
As President Ouattara takes the reins of government, he must prevent his troops from carrying out reprisals and revenge attacks against their former foes. The people of Cote d’Ivoire await and deserve the peace, security, and prosperity he has promised, and that they have for so long been denied.
Remarks Before the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: (In progress.) – request for FY2010. The request by the Administration totals $47.5 billion in discretionary spending, of which approximately $37.5 billion is to support overseas contingency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
Late yesterday afternoon, the Administration forwarded a request of $2.8 billion to support our humanitarian operations in Haiti. The committee has not had an opportunity to review this matter, but we’ll do so over the coming weeks.
To review the defense and international affairs portion of the supplemental request, the committee is pleased to receive testimony from the Secretaries of State and Defense, Ms. Hillary Clinton and Mr. Robert Gates. And it’s good to see both of you. We look forward to your responses to the many questions I’m certain we’ll have.
Over nine years ago, in response to the 9/11 attacks, our nation embarked on a mission to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban and al-Qaida, and to work to ensure security and stabilization in the region. But once we entered Iraq, many believe, our efforts in Afghanistan were shortchanged and only are we refocused on our primary missions: the defeat of al-Qaida and regional stability. With a renewed effort and focus, President Obama has approved a military and civilian strategy in Afghanistan that will, hopefully, enable us to restore regional stability and to begin withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan in the summer of 2011. The supplemental request before us provides the necessary resources for a military and civilian surge that is critical if we are to achieve that goal. We look forward to hearing today about the preliminary results of this surge and the challenges we face in meeting the President’s timetable.
As I noted, we have been at this war for almost a decade and now we have our eye on the target. At the same time, we are also seeing the spread of al-Qaida with cells in Yemen, al-Qaida members showing up Somalia, and related activity elsewhere in Africa. While we focus our efforts on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, we also need to allocate sufficient resources to curtail the growth of these terrorist cells. We cannot allow new safe havens to be created elsewhere as we tighten the stranglehold on al-Qaida’s senior leadership in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. We hope to get assurances from both Secretaries today that they understand these dangers and are responding to these hot spots with enhanced efforts and focus. Hopefully, these issues will be among those addressed either in your statements or in the questions which follow.
I will note to my colleagues that I recognize that there are many issues which you may want to address, and remind you that today’s hearing is on our wartime funding requirements and not on other matters. And I would urge you to focus your questions on that topic. In addition, as you can see, we have many senators, but they are all over the place. They are in press conference, and they’re on — en route here. But we’d like to limit our questions to four minutes per senator, and I would like to urge you to keep your answers as brief as possible.
Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates, the committee thanks you both for appearing today. Without objection, your full statements will be made part of the record. And at this point, I would like to yield to the Vice Chairman, Senator Cochran, for any opening remarks he may wish to make.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, thank you. And I’m pleased to join you in welcoming our distinguished witnesses to this hearing.
Of course, the focus of the hearing is on the immediate need to address the President’s request for full funding or the mission that is now President Obama and his Administration’s suggestion as to how we can better achieve likely peace in the region and in due course begin withdrawing some of the 30,000 troops that have now been identified as needed for the effort in Afghanistan. We know that’s going to cost money and we are anxious to get the facts about what those funds are to be used for and to justify the appropriations request that this committee will transmit to the full Senate. I hope you will let us know of any urgent unmet requirements that aren’t reflected or haven’t been discussed publicly that we need to know about. I’m sure the committee is going to want to move expeditiously without delay in acting on this request and urging the Senate to follow the leadership of this committee.
With respect to Iran, we would also appreciate your thoughts on the challenges that we face through Iranian activities in Afghanistan and Iraq, and what that might mean for the need for additional funds as well. But we thank you for your distinguished service and the jobs you have, and they are very important. And we want to be helpful, and I think this hearing will help us start that process in the right direction. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I thank you very much, and may I now call upon Secretary Clinton.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and Vice Chairman Cochran and members of the committee. It’s very good seeing you all and especially in this historic room to have this hearing. I thank you for the opportunity to testify alongside Secretary Gates, because we are very much committed together on behalf of our civilian and military efforts in the front-line states. We don’t think that they can be separated because the challenges we face demand that we draw on all of the tools of American leadership and American power, and the strategies we now have in place in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq do exactly that.
This whole-of-government approach has shown results and it has also enabled us to more clearly understand the challenges we face. That’s why we’re coming to you today with a $4.5 billion supplemental request. Without this new funding in 2010, we will fall short in all three of the front-line states. I am well aware of the economic strain we all face here at home, and I believe, along with each of you, that every dollar must deliver clear results. Our request addresses urgent demands that will advance our efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan and Pakistan and ensure a smooth transition to a civilian-led effort in Iraq.
First, with respect to Afghanistan, we are implementing the strategy President Obama announced in December. Success requires a fully integrated civilian and military effort, one in which security gains are followed immediately by economic and political gains. As new troops arrive, our civilian surge has already tripled the number of civilians on the ground, and it is these civilian-led efforts that will translate the bravery of our troops into stability for Afghanistan and security for Americans. The challenges are still great. The enemy is still determined. But we are recapturing the momentum in Afghanistan. New funds in 2010 will give us the capacity to move forward at a time when every day is crucial.
Let me briefly describe what we are currently doing in Marjah and the surrounding areas – for Marjah is a proving ground for our strategy and the story thus far is an encouraging one. Our civilians were on the ground within hours and days of the military operation. They quickly stood up a district support team that has helped already to open two schools and a prosecutor’s office. They’ve registered more than 7,000 farmers to begin receiving supplies for licit crops. They’ve employed more than a thousand residents a day through cash-for-work projects. A nearby USAID-built airstrip has allowed the Ministry of Agriculture officials to reach Marjah’s farmers, and a USAID contract is paying a woman-owned Afghan firm to rebuild the highway.
The military offensive rightly may get the headlines, but what happens behind the scenes is equally important. As our military leaders put it, after clearing, we must hold, build, and transition. And Marjah’s residents have made it clear they will judge the Afghan Government and us on our ability to help build enduring security and credible governance. Our $2 billion request for Afghanistan supports efforts like those in Marjah which we are ramping up quickly and which need additional assistance and operational funding in 2010. New assistance will help Afghans provide for their families and revitalize the agricultural sector, which is crucial to reducing poppy cultivation and drawing insurgents back into society.
We also have funding for governance and rule-of-law programs as well as the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund, which helps build capable institutions. These will work in conjunction with U.S. support for the Afghan National Security Forces, which I also would urge you to fully fund. And through all of this, we have maintained our focus on expanding women’s opportunities, one of our best tools for combating extremism and spurring progress.
In Pakistan, our efforts are vital to success in Afghanistan, but also to our own American security. We’ve made it a strategic priority to strengthen our partnership with the Pakistani people. And I’m under no illusion that success in this arena will come quickly or easily. But think about where we were a year ago. The extremists were 100 miles from Islamabad. They met little resistance in launching attacks on American troops from border areas. Since then, the Pakistani Government has launched important offenses in Swat, South Waziristan, and throughout the country.
We’re moving in the right direction, and the progress that we’ve made is possible because we have demonstrated a clear commitment to work with the people and the Government of Pakistan. Yesterday at the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, we worked very hard – in fact, late into the night – to advance the resolve that we have begun building with the Pakistani leadership. The $370 million we’re requesting for assistance and operations in this supplemental will allow us to expand civilian cooperation at a critical moment.
The military offensives have created new humanitarian needs that, if not addressed immediately, could make these areas ripe for extremism. And in much of the country, water, energy, and economic problems create new challenges. So our success depends on rapidly and sustainably scaling up our efforts, especially in high-impact projects that visibly demonstrate our long-term commitment on helping the Pakistanis build capacity while ensuring accountability.
In Iraq, we have different challenges. But in the wake of this election, we’re at a moment of great opportunity to consolidate stability and forge an enduring partnership sustained by a strong diplomatic presence. Our $2.1 billion supplemental request should be seen in light of the more than $15 billion decrease in Defense funding. As we prepare to move from a Defense-led to a State-led mission in Iraq at the end of August, new funding will allow us to make sure our civilians can work safely in still-dangerous places. It will allow us to move from an intensive, Defense-led police training program to a smaller, State-administered program for police leadership. And our support of Iraqi civilian law enforcement, like support for the Iraqi security forces, is critical to the success of their new democracy.
Now, in putting this supplemental together, I’ve had to make some tough calls and had to have some tough conversations about priorities. And the decisions reflect that. The result is a request that addresses only urgent needs directly related to our security interests. And I want to emphasize all of these programs have been designed with careful attention to accountability and a determination to learn from past mistakes. Waste and corruption are fundamental threats to our success, and we’re serious about combating them.
So we have more funds for strengthened oversight by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and takes into account the problems highlighted by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. We’ll also be working with the Congress on updated benchmarks.
Just a brief word on Haiti, Mr. Chairman: Despite the work the United States has done to respond to the disaster, there is still too much suffering. And our rebuilding, along with the international community, is an important commitment to the people of Haiti and to our hemisphere. Of our 1.6 billion Haiti supplemental request, about 500 million will reimburse relief efforts by State and USAID. The rest will go to strategic investments coordinated with our international partners.
I thank the Congress for the ongoing bipartisan support of these efforts. And Mr. Chairman, I thank you for this committee’s continuing work on behalf of the missions and the priorities of our country.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: All right. Thank you very much, Madam Secretary, and now, may I call upon Secretary Gates?
SECRETARY GATES: Mr. Chairman, Vice Chairman Cochran, members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity this afternoon to discuss the Defense Department’s portion of the Fiscal Year 2010 supplemental request. I’m honored to appear with the Secretary of State. Our joint testimony today reflects the close cooperation of our two departments and the importance of a properly funded and integrated civil-military approach to the challenges we face in Iraq, Afghanistan, and around the world. And at the outset, I would like to offer my strong support for the important programs funded in the State portion of the supplemental request, without which our military efforts would not be – will not be successful.
These times of economic and fiscal stress place enormous pressure on all of us to be good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, including the two departments represented here today. That is why President Obama and I, in last year’s and this year’s budget, made tough decisions about major programs that were either performing poorly or in excess to real-world needs. However, even at a time of budget pressures, I believe it is critical to sustain an adequate, sustainable level of investment in the instruments of national security, be it defense, diplomacy, or development, that are so essential to America’s security and position in the world.
I recently returned from a visit to Afghanistan. There, I had the chance to talk to our military commanders, Afghanistan’s leaders, and our troops serving at the tip of the spear in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. Overall, I believe there are grounds for guarded optimism as our campaign to roll back the Taliban gains momentum and as the Afghan Government shows an increasing willingness to take on additional responsibilities. Nonetheless, there will be many long and tough days ahead. And it may take several months to produce visible results, as most of the additional forces ordered by the President have not yet arrived in theater and begun operations.
I would also caution against an overly ambitious view of what true stability and security will look like in a place that has known nothing but war for three decades. For most Afghans, a roof over their heads, an opportunity for their children – both boys and girls – to attend school, and the ability to provide for the basic needs of their families, free from violence, would be considered a pretty good life. The scale of the international coalition’s efforts and ambitions should reflect that basic reality.
The FY2010 supplemental request totals $33 billion for the Defense Department, almost all of which is to support operations in Afghanistan and the additional 30,000 troops being deployed as a part of the President’s strategy announced in December. We remain on schedule to see overall U.S. troop levels reach 98,000 by the end of the fiscal year. The request includes $1.1 billion on top of the one – 11.3 billion already enacted to field and sustain lifesaving, mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and MRAP all-terrain vehicles for troops already in theater and for the additional forces being deployed. Finally, this supplemental contains $2.6 billion to strengthen the Afghan National Security Forces. The goal of the President’s strategy and our supporting military efforts is to create conditions that will allow for a full transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan Government.
Earlier this month, I visited the combined fielding center at Camp Black Horse, near Kabul, and had a chance to speak with Afghan troops undergoing training. I told them that Afghanistan is their country, and ultimately this is their fight to win. I know many of you have concerns about the Afghan security forces. I share those concerns, as do our military commanders. The Afghan army has made real progress over the last year and many Afghan soldiers are shedding their blood for their country. Increased Afghan involvement in operations is critical to success and is being demonstrated in Marjah. Significant work remains to be done with the police force, but there, too, changes are underway that will, I believe, yield progress. As you consider this request, I would emphasize that successfully accomplishing the training mission represents both our exit strategy and the key for long-term stability in Afghanistan.
The supplemental request also includes $1 billion to strengthen Iraqi security forces. These additional resources will be used this year to strengthen Iraqi capabilities in areas General Odierno believes are important to ensure that the Iraqis are fully prepared to assume internal security responsibilities. The money will be spent by U.S. forces in Iraq, not provided directly to the Government of Iraq.
In Haiti, as the President requested, the Department is providing continuing support in the wake of January’s earthquake. Due to the urgent need for an immediate response, the Department used funds from existing accounts, with the understanding that these accounts would be replenished in a supplemental. As such, the $655 million is part of an amendment for Haiti that was recently submitted to Congress and will include funding to cover these costs.
All of these operations are fuel-intensive. Due to rising prices, our fuel costs this year in operations has been greater than anticipated. And so included in this request is $2 billion to partially offset the resulting shortfall in the Department’s base and overseas contingency operations, operating accounts, and to ensure uninterrupted operations.
I should note that this Department has moved most funding for programs not directly related to the war into the base budget. The budget request being discussed today is a true supplemental, as they were originally intended, for the purposes of funding immediate and unforeseen requirements – in this case, primarily the troop surge associated with the President’s new strategy for Afghanistan. And I urge approval of this request by early spring to prevent costly and counterproductive disruptions to the Department’s operations.
Before closing, I’d like to say just a few words about the Commander’s Emergency Response Program, CERP, which continues to be a powerful tool for military commanders in carrying out counterinsurgency operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan. General Petraeus has called it the most important – his most important authority. And I would urge the Congress to fully fund the CERP programs contained in the budgets – the Department’s budget request. Having said that, I understand there is concern, some concern, on this committee about the way CERP has been used in recent years. The Department is currently performing an internal assessment of existing processes, which includes consideration of a single departmental coordinator, additional dedicated CERP managers, and contracting personnel in theater, and increased pre-mobilization and in-country training. Nonetheless, even with improved execution and oversight, it is unrealistic to expect a tool like CERP, whose very effectiveness and existence is tied to its flexibility and the discretion granted to local commanders in a war zone, to attain a zero defect standard.
In conclusion, I’d like to thank the committee for your support of the men and women of the military, extraordinary Americans who have fought our nation’s wars, responded to natural disasters, and protected our interests around the world. I know their health, safety, and welfare will be your top priority in making these difficult decisions in the weeks ahead. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Madam Secretary, Mr. Secretary, I’ll be submitting questions, but I’d like to ask one: Recently, the Vice Chairman and I submitted a request to the Department of Defense inspector general, together with the Department of State inspector general, to look over the contract of the Afghan National Police training program. And I think we all agree that one of the key components that must be in place would be a fully trained Afghan National Police force before we can start withdrawing. However, as you may be aware, the inspector general came out with a rather negative report criticizing the contract and suggesting that the contract be held up. And that, to me, would seem like we will not be able to move out on time. What are your thoughts on this?
SECRETARY GATES: Mr. Chairman, if we’re talking about the same contract, that – before there – before it was implemented, the contract was protested. The protest was upheld by the General Accounting Office, and so the contract has not been implemented, and the contract with DynCorp has been extended. So they will continue their efforts. We’ve made some changes to improve the terms of the contract, particularly in terms of what we’re asking them to do, but that’s the current situation with the would-be contract.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: So you believe that the criticism that we see in some of the publications has no bearing?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think, as I understand it, the protest was grounded in the vehicle that was being used to let the contract, and the protest was that it was an improper vehicle for the kind of work that was being contracted for. That’s my understanding of what the key issue, at least in the protest, was. In terms of some of the other criticisms, I’d have to look at them in specific.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: So you believe that the timetable is still in place on the withdrawal?
SECRETARY GATES: Yes, sir. The situation with this contract will, as I understand it, will not delay the training.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Cochran.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, the budget request before the committee includes $2.6 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces fund. And we’re told it is for the purpose of accelerating the growth of the Afghan security force. Eight years of training, you would assume would get the forces from where they are now to where we think they ought to be and would be sufficient, and their skills would be sufficient to help maintain, without so much active involvement of American or other forces, a pool of eligible quality recruits to man the ranks of the army and police. Is that what the Administration is advocating here today?
SECRETARY GATES: It is, Senator. And I would just say that at the – for the first several years, the size of the Afghan National Security Forces, and particularly the army – I’m going back to a period when I wasn’t in government, so I may be wrong on some of the particulars – but the initial planning for the ANSF was for forces that the Afghan Government itself could afford. So for the first few years, after we went in 2001, 2002, it was limited to 5,000 or so. And the dramatic expansion of the Afghan Security Forces really began three or four years ago and so we are just really getting – and to tell you the truth, both for the army and the police, there were significant shortages in the resources available for training both of them. We’ve been a lot better in terms of training the army. There is still a deficiency in the number of trainers needed for both.
But I would say that, as opposed to looking at it as an eight-year project that’s just now ramping up, I’d say it’s more of a project that has begun to look at significant numbers for both of those forces just within the last year or two.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Madam Secretary, does your Department not have the infrastructure and people in place to administer programs that are needed now as would be available for traditional military aid programs? What makes this a different kind of program to justify the increase in funding that you’re requesting?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Senator, you – well, your question really could cover both Iraq and Afghanistan, because in the case of Iraq, we are taking over responsibilities from the Defense Department that we are not fully equipped to do without the additional funding. Two aspects of that, which are important, one is that as our troops leave, in accordance with the agreement entered into between the United States and Iraq, they will be taking a lot of their equipment and they will be turning over certain of their facilities that are hardened. And we have to harden our facilities for our civilians to be able to take over the continued police training. And there is, as we do this transition, certain adjustments that are going to have to be made. We will no longer be able to rely on our military forces to protect our civilians, to embed with them on existing military bases. So that’s where the additional costs for Iraq come in, so that we can be prepared to be ready to take on this responsibility as the military leaves.
In Afghanistan, as Secretary Gates said, there has been a decision to give the responsibility for police training to the military, which we fully support because we’re trying to get closer to something resembling a unity of command so that General McChrystal and General Caldwell and our other military commanders are able to coordinate. Because when, for example, they go into an era like Marjah they have to be able to begin to stand up the police force that will be there as our troops transition, so there’s a very close connection between the military and the police training and deployment work and the Defense Department will be taking over that responsibility.
SENATOR COCHRAN: Thank you. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I would like to advise the committee that our witnesses cannot be here all afternoon, so can you limit your questions to about four minutes apiece.
And now may I recognize Leahy.
SENATOR LEAHY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And with these hours we have, most of us wouldn’t last all afternoon either. (Laughter.)
First off, I’m pleased to see Secretary Clinton – you and Secretary Gates. You both know the high, very high regard I have for both of you – doing a superb job for our nation. I’m also glad to see, and this is something I’ve talked with both of you about privately, the effort of the Department of Defense to have the Department of State take over those things that really we – are best suited for the Department of State, which a number of things the Department of Defense, by default, have taken over in the past.
But now I’ve got to figure out where the money goes. We appropriated in Fiscal Year 2010 a total of 4.9 billion – of course this is for Afghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq. We received spending plan for those funds only a couple of weeks ago, didn’t have a great deal of detail. None of the funds have been spent. And for the fiscal year 2009, funds that had been obligated are – or remains to be dispersed. Now you’re asking for another 2.6 billion.
I worry – we’re dealing with countries where – I think in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where enormous corruption, a huge amount of money already in the pipeline. We’re basically borrowing this money from other countries to be able to spend it here. Are we going too fast? I mean, what kind of control – should we have a special inspector general, for example, to go over these funds, I might ask, Madam Secretary, I’m thinking especially of Afghanistan and Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Senator, we share your concerns and appreciate the opportunity to work with you as the Chair of the Appropriations Committee that considers these – the Subcommittee that considers these requests. We are ramping up our spending. We are currently expending funds at an estimated $324 million per month. We are growing that to 400 million with new projects that are starting up, in addition to continued support, to quick dispersing of two programs, such as the Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund that does have adequate safeguards built in.
And what we are trying to do in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in particular, is to build in safeguards to have certification systems in place so that we can hold entities that we contribute funds to to account. It is an ongoing challenge. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it isn’t.
SENATOR LEAHY: Yeah. I mean, under our law money cannot go to army or police units that are violating human rights. I’m quite familiar with that law. But can we say, especially today, that that law is not being violated in either Pakistan or Afghanistan?
And I’ll close with that question, Mr. Chairman, and submit the rest of my questions. But I’ll address that to both of you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, let me say, first of all, on the non-human rights front, we are putting in new personnel, we’re beefing up our presence in both Afghanistan and Pakistan in order to have greater oversight, accountability, monitoring of the funds. It is something that we take very seriously. It’s been challenging to get those people in under the conflict circumstances in Afghanistan, but we’ve made a lot of progress. We’ve quadrupled the number of people that we actually have on the ground in Afghanistan. And in Pakistan, that’s one of the areas that Secretary Gates has been working on with the Pakistanis so that we can have a better oversight mechanism on the funding part of it. But I’ll let him respond to the second part of your question.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, we are very mindful of the Leahy amendment. And I would just say in this unclassified setting, Senator, that we are monitoring the situation in multiple countries very carefully. We have the attention of their leaders on this subject. And if and when there are abuses, we expect and they have acknowledged the need to take action.
SENATOR LEAHY: Well, I don’t want – I think we’re both referring to the same thing. I’m not going to go into it in an open session like this, but I would appreciate being advised just how that’s done. I’ve already – the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs dropped in to see me yesterday to help on this and I – it is a matter of some concern. Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank. Senator Bond.
SENATOR BOND: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I welcome the Secretaries together because your joint appearance represents what we – I believe all three of this committee believes is the only way we’re going to make progress, that is smart power combining the military and the economic, diplomatic efforts. And I believe that the work that has been done by the National Guard teams, which began in Afghanistan in 2008, at a time when we tried for two years to get the USAID to go there and they could not go there. But the National Guard units with their ability to carry weapons and bring training have made tremendous differences. And I understand that there are now about 10 different state Guard units in different provinces, which I think is one part of the solution. And on that subject, I have heard firsthand so many times that the importance of the Commander’s Emergency Response Program funds, which have funded those efforts, and not only those but, again, I have heard firsthand how successful the CERP funds were in supporting the counterinsurgency strategy, for example in 2007 in al-Anbar Province. So I am a strong supporter of it.
But one thing I would caution as the State Department begins to take over, I think there are many security challenges still in Iraq. And I hope that the withdrawal of forces will be conditioned on the ability of the remaining forces to provide the security that’s needed not just for USAID and other State agencies but for our allies there. And I hope you will do that.
But turning to a particular question, last year, Mr. Secretary, you testified the Air Force had over 200 extra C-130s aircraft and the Air Force cut that number to 65. But I have just read in Defense News that there are only — that there are less than 50 C-130s in Southwest Asia, and the reports are that they are — the commanders are requesting more C-130s to relieve the burden on the CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
What is the situation with regard to the heavy lift in Southwest Asia?
SECRETARY GATES: What’s the publication?
SENATOR BOND: This is Defense News.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, Defense News is apparently better informed than I am because I have not heard such a requirement from General McChrystal or General Odierno for that matter. I certainly will ask the question following the hearing.
SENATOR BOND: Well, they cited Lieutenant General Stevenson. So I will follow up with you later. But I do believe there is need for lift, and I am concerned that we not overlook the need not only for strategic lift but for tactical aircraft. And when the Air Force studies itself, I am — I have questions about the reliability of those studies, and we will continue that discussion in other fora today. And I think you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Hutchinson.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it is good to see both of you. And I know how many hours you’re putting in and how hard you’re working. Mr. Secretary, I wanted to talk to you about the issue of Guantanamo detainees. As the ranking member of the Military Construction Subcommittee of this Committee. There is a $350 million request for transfer to the Illinois prison and $150 million of that is for military construction, 200 million for startup costs, and that is in addition to the cost of purchasing the prison.
In addition to that, we were told at the committee hearing that we may need up to a thousand personnel to man the prison and that they will live on the local economy. So I am very concerned about the costs. I am concerned about the security. And I just wondered if there is any effort to look at these costs, considering that we’ve spent hundreds of millions on Guantanamo Bay, and even just in the recent years built a new state-of-the-art courthouse for trying the detainees that are eligible for trial. Is there any thought about reconsidering this in light of the costs, or what is the thinking behind this effort?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, the Administration is still committed to closing Guantanamo. Thompson is – appears to be the most likely civilian site. The costs that you cite are substantial but they are one-time costs. And our latest estimates are that once that transfer is made, that the actual operational costs would be several million dollars a year less than they are at Guantanamo. So for the long-term, the operating costs that would produce savings over keeping Guantanamo open despite the original constructions costs.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: And do you — are you still believing that the thousand people who would be the guards and personnel at the prison can be accommodated in the local economy? It’s a pretty remote area, I’m told. I haven’t been to this place in Illinois, but do you think that it is going to add a significant cost or will there have to be future military construction requests for the housing of the guards as well?
SECRETARY GATES: I would have to get back to you on the record how much of the original costs that you cited are — involve living quarters for the troops that would be associated with the prison for guarding. I think some of those costs are incorporated into that. But let me get back to you for the record on that.
SENATOR HUTCHISON: All right, I would like that. I would also have another area of questioning for the record. Let me ask you one other one, though. During the last BRAC, Congress passed the Overseas Basing Commission. Looking at our overseas basing, the training constraints, the contribution made by the host countries, and determined that we could do better training and have more control when there are training facilities in the United States as compared to those overseas.
Well, I see that my time has expired. I am going to ask you about that in writing, because I’m very concerned that the previous administration’s decision to move 70,000 troops back from Germany and Korea as well as the Congressional Act that created this atmosphere is being changed. And I want to know more of the thinking about it, so I will ask you that for the record as well.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you. Senator Murray.
SENATOR MURRAY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Welcome to both of you and thank you for the tremendous jobs both of you are doing.
Secretary Gates, let me start with you. I think we all recognize that the environment in Afghanistan is extremely complex and our goals there are very challenging. And I wanted to ask you, given the current military and political and social situation that we have there, what are your short-term goals before the surge force departs?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, clearly, the thrust of General McChrystal’s campaign is to reverse the momentum of the Taliban, to deny them control particularly in the south of populated areas and areas of production, and degrade their capabilities. That has begun in Marjah and the next major campaign will be in the Kandahar area. But an important part of this, and it gets to the integrated civil military campaign, was the preparation weeks in advance of the military operation to have civilians both from the Afghan Government and from our government and our coalition partners ready to go into Marjah and begin to provide development and governance. So that will be the same approach that we taken in the environs of Kandahar.
SENATOR MURRAY: Well, Secretary Clinton, then let me ask you this. We make that transition. Assuming we’re successful, do you have the funds that you need within your Department to be able to adequately staff for the transition that will need to take place?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you, Senator. That is one of the reasons for this supplemental. As we evaluate the progress that was made with the Marjah operation and the necessity for our civilian presence to move very quickly, we want to be prepared. So we are ramping up our planning and implementation.
As Secretary Gates just said, it is likely that an operation around Kandahar will be the next mission that our military undertakes, which requires us to have a greater capacity to partner with the Afghans both on the local level and on the national level.
So I am very convinced that what we are asking for is necessary and will give us exactly what your question implies we need.
SENATOR MURRAY: Okay, I appreciate that. And Secretary Gates, I will be submitting you a question about the transition for men and women as they come home into the V.A. and making sure we have accurate datas on increasing number of casualties, both physical and mental wounds of war, are coming home. We need to make sure we are keeping those connections, and I want to ask you that off the record once we’re through here.
But I did want to, while I had a short time left, ask you about the issue of the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts, the MyCAA Program where – it was a great program put out there for spouses. About 136,000 military spouses have enrolled in that program – very popular – in order to get training and classes and certificate training. And a number of them were frozen out of the program over management issues. I wrote to you about this several weeks ago. And I know you know about this, but I am deeply concerned about the number of spouses out there who have now been left out, and the importance of getting this back on track, and wanted your commitment to work with me to make sure we get that moving correctly forward.
SECRETARY GATES: I’m very familiar with it since I launched it with the Secretary of Labor a couple of years ago. This is one of those cases where we had a program that ramped up slowly and then exploded in popularity. Part of the problem that we have is that we have $61 million in the budget for this program for FY10 and I think we’ve only asked for 65 or thereabouts for FY11 in the budget that we have. The applications for the program, as I indicated — first of all, you are correct, there are 135,000 spouses that signed up — a little over that. The management of the program shut it down entirely on – in mid-February because of the incredible demand. This was probably, in my view, a mistake.
We should have – all those who were still in the program we should have kept in the program, kept it open, put the applications on hold. The program was reopened in mid-March to those who had already been enrolled, and we are looking at the way ahead to see how we might be able to accommodate this extraordinary demand. The demand we are looking at potentially could end up with this program costing a billion to $2 billion. So I mean, it’s a measure of the popularity of the program, but it also becomes a real challenge.
SENATOR MURRAY: Well, I think it’s a measure of the significance of this program in terms of readiness for these families who have given so much. And if it’s a matter of requesting money through the supplemental or whatever we need to do, we now have a situation where spouses have gotten the money and the training and living right across the street from somebody who’s not. And it’s created a very unfair situation. And it’s an important benefit and we want to work with you to make sure we get it moving forward again.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Shelby.
SENATOR SHELBY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary Gates, as we review the year 2010 supplemental request, there’s an additional $72.6 million in there for the MI-17 sustainment, maintenance, and training of the Russian helicopter. This is on top of the 596 million that we put in the Defense Appropriation Bill 2010. The committee is still awaiting, Mr. Secretary, the report required from the 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill detailing the current and anticipated demand for MI-17s, which should have been delivered 60 days after the enactment bill. I know you’re busy and the Department is. That was 97 days ago.
Instead, we received a Fiscal Year 2011 request that includes the procurement of 10 more MI-17s for Afghanistan that cost $180 million, which is $18 million per airframe, nearly triple the price that we paid per airframe in ’06. That’s a pretty good price. What’s the status of the overdue report and what’s going on here? Do you –
SECRETARY GATES: I’m aware of the requirement for the report, Senator. I was not aware that it had not yet been delivered.
SENATOR SHELBY: Okay.
SECRETARY GATES: But I’ll find out.
SENATOR SHELBY: Will you get back to us on that?
SECRETARY GATES: Yes. Yes, sir.
SENATOR SHELBY: And I go to another subject – UAVs. This is something you know a lot about. It’s been reported that by 2015, Predator UAVs will have so many simultaneous patrols – it’s a long time off – over Afghanistan that the Predator may soon exceed the bandwidth to carry data to ground stations. A lot of people are concerned that this data overload of networks in the theater are insufficient to the point that information collected by wide area censors is being saved on computer disk and flown back to the U.S. before it can be reviewed – in other words, it’s not quite – we could be retrieving actionable data in real time that could save lives, hopefully of the war fighters.
Can you discuss this issue and what the Department is doing to address this? You familiar with that?
SECRETARY GATES: All I can tell you, Senator, is that I know that bandwidth in both Iraq and Afghanistan is a continuing concern, but I have not heard from General McChrystal or anyone else, frankly, until today that it is a current concern or that they are not expanding the bandwidth –
SENATOR SHELBY: Okay.
SECRETARY GATES: — to take advantage of the additional capabilities that we’re putting in there. I can just assure you I wouldn’t be asking for the extraordinary uplift in the number of – the extraordinary increase in the number of UAVs if I didn’t think the intelligence we could get from them could be made operationally available almost in real time.
SENATOR SHELBY: Okay. The command and control for the unmanned systems – this has been an ongoing thing – one issue that continues to be of concern is the army’s ability to continue utilizing unmanned systems when and where our soldiers want them. And we continue to hear from our commanders on the ground about the importance of retaining control of tactical UAVs. A lot of our success depends on this. Some would like to see the army lose that. What’s your opinion on all that? I know it’s kind of an inter-service deal. And you might not –
SECRETARY GATES: (Laughter.) Well, I think that the key – what we have seen with the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities that we have deployed, first in Iraq and now in Afghanistan in ever-growing numbers, is a unique fusion of intelligence and operations in the history of warfare. My view is that it has to be responsive to the needs of the commander on the ground. And whatever mechanism is required to do that is the way it ought to be handled. But it – just as we need the bandwidth so that it can – the intelligence itself can be transmitted to the ground in real time, we need the capability for those systems to be responsive to the commanders on the ground in the same way.
SENATOR SHELBY: Thank you.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Feinstein.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and welcome, Madam Secretary. Welcome, Secretary Gates.
Secretary Gates, let me follow up on Senator Shelby’s questions. I have a good deal of concern about UAV technology. It is getting better. These are able to fly higher, stay in the air longer, they can carry heavier payloads, a mix of both guided and unguided munitions. And many of these advances are now being made by foreign countries which may or may not support our international objectives. With technical modifications, even UAVs that do not currently carry weapons can, in fact, be modified to carry capable armed platforms. They are proliferating all over the world.
So I have three specific questions to ask of you, if I can turn my page. And let me ask the three of them and then you can choose your answer. What is DOD’s current policy regarding the sale or transfer of UAVs to foreign countries? Two, what is your view on limiting the export of the United States UAV technology, capable of being employed as a combat platform? And three, what is the Department doing to ensure that UAVs are not used against American troops?
SECRETARY GATES: First of all, our policy toward the sale of UAV technology – I would differentiate, first of all, between armed and unarmed. But overall, our policy is guided by the Missile Technology Control Regime. And so at this point, to the best of my knowledge, we have only sold UAVs, at this point, to Italy and the United Kingdom, two NATO allies. There are other countries that are very interested in this capability, and frankly, it is, in my view, in our interest to see what we can do to accommodate them.
But I am – I share your concern about the possibility of the transfer of technology or about these capabilities getting into the hands of those who are our adversaries. And the reality is that countries like Iran are developing their own UAVs and already have a UAV capability.
With respect to export, again, as I just suggested, I think there are some specific cases where we have allies with whom we have formal treaty alliances who have expressed interest in these capabilities. And we have told them that we are limited in what we can do by the MTCR, but I think it’s something we need to pursue with them. The reality is so far, we have been in situations where UAV technology cannot be used or has not been used against our troops anywhere. I just referred to the fact that Iran has UAVs and that is a concern, because it is one of those areas where I suppose if they chose to, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, they could create difficulties for us.
By the same token, UAVs are relatively slow fliers and we have very capable air forces. And so I actually think that our ability to protect our troops from these things, particularly in a theater of combat like this, is quite good. My worry would be capabilities like this getting into the hands of non-state actors who could use them for terrorist purposes.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much. The Drug Caucus of the Senate, which I happen to chair, has been looking into the narcotics picture in Afghanistan. And this raises – and let me just be very quick with this – this raises the question of standing by and letting these opium poppies grow; at the same time, the Taliban is emerging into a major drug cartel. I think it’s a problem. The DEA tells me it’s a problem. People that have made the busts in Iran tell me that it’s a problem. And I would be very interested in your response to that.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, about a year and a half or two years ago, the coalition in Afghanistan received changed rules of engagement that allowed them to go after drug lords and drug labs. And we have been fairly aggressive in doing that. Ninety-eight percent of the poppies grown in Afghanistan are grown in seven provinces, where – and they are the ones where we are engaged in the most significant combat.
Let’s just face facts here. Until we have measures in place, until we can establish a security environment that allows us then to go forward with economic development and provide alternative – the means to grow alternative crops for these individual farmers, I have believed all along that if you eradicate a man’s crop without getting – giving him a substitute income, you have just recruited a significant number of additional Taliban. And so we have to weigh aggressive efforts to go after the lords and the labs with providing the – with the time required to provide the security where you have the environment that we can go in with the civilian capabilities and provide these people alternative means of supporting their families, so frankly, they don’t pick up a gun and start shooting our soldiers.
SENATOR FEINSTEIN: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Landrieu.
SENATOR LANDRIEU: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary, Madam Secretary. Many of the questions that I had on Afghanistan have been addressed, but I wanted to bring up Haiti, if I could. I understand that’s a subject of this hearing, Mr. Chairman; is it not – the Haiti supplemental?
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Haiti –
SENATOR LANDRIEU: The Haiti supplemental – yes. I know that you are both aware – and maybe the committee, I know, has been focused on the tragedy in Haiti. And I guess I’m particularly close to it because we went through a horrible situation just four and a half years ago in South Louisiana and Mississippi.
But I just think, for the record, it’s important for us to focus just a minute, despite all the extraordinary challenges of our military in other parts of the world, that 220,000 individuals lost their lives in this disaster, compared to about 2,000 on the Gulf Coast, just to put it in scale. 1.3 million people are living in temporary shelters. That’s really a stretch of the imagination, because actually, it’s a piece of plastic. There are 105,000 homes that have been completely destroyed; 200,000 were severely damaged; 1,300 schools were destroyed; and 50 healthcare centers collapsed.
I know that Secretary Clinton’s focus and heart and attention have been on this. And so my question, Madam Secretary, might be with the documents that are before us, which were just received last night, looking at the situation for Haiti. I’m a little concerned that I’m only able to find about $5 million stuck down in the budget for USAID to completely repair, it looks like, these families, which is going to be difficult since I understand that most children in Haiti don’t even have a birth certificate. So this is going to be a long, hard road to climb, trying to a) shelter, sustain these families with just the basics; help, with our international partners to get housing built quickly for them; but also, Madam Secretary, trying to get the wherewithal to create some sort of civil registry, with our international partners, to just get the basic birth certificates so we can start actually finding families for children, getting them families if their families have been lost, et cetera, et cetera. So could you just comment on some of your ideas along these lines?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, Senator. And thank you, as always, for your deep concern about children, and particularly children who are in the foster care system or who are orphaned. And your voice has been very, very strong on that.
And as you know so well, children within the context of a complex humanitarian emergency such as we saw in Haiti are among the most vulnerable children in the world. And I want to assure you that the United States Government recognizes that the protection and caring for these children has to be one of our highest priorities. So we have been working to support children on our own, in partnership with the United Nations, other international organizations, NGOs, and many faith-based organizations.
First and foremost, we continue to focus on meeting children’s emergency needs for medical care, shelter, food, water. Simultaneously, we are supporting an effort, led by UNICEF and the Government of Haiti, to find unaccompanied and separated children and ensure they are in a safe place until we can determine whether they have any family at all that they can be reunited with, or what alternative permanent care provisions can be made.
We’re also expanding child-safe and child-friendly spaces within all of the facilities that we are supporting in Haiti. And that includes health, nutrition, education, psycho-social support. The Haitian health professionals are asking for a lot of assistance in understanding how to deal in a psychological way with children who have been so traumatized. And we’re supporting the Government of Haiti and UNICEF to rapidly assess all the orphanages in the earthquake-affected zone, with the aim of addressing their security and subsistence needs.
In all of these efforts, we are coordinating closely with the UN protection cluster and the Government of Haiti, which, as you know, has very strong feelings about being in charge of their children. And I understand that, and we’re trying to provide the support they need in order to meet their obligations.
But we will continue to work closely with you and keep you closely informed because this is our very highest priority, and we’re trying to do it in cooperation with the many other organizations that are as concerned as we are.
SENATOR LANDRIEU: And I thank you. My time has expired, Mr. Chairman, but there are many members of this committee I’ve had informal discussions with, Madam Secretary. And their support for laying the foundation of a new, more vibrant Haiti focused on strengthening each and every family in Haiti and providing every child, serving them through families, not independently, not in an orphanage, but through families. So I thank you for your longstanding commitment to this issue.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you. Senator Voinovich.
SENATOR VOINOVICH: I thank you, Mr. Chairman. And it’s nice to see the two of you sitting next to each other (inaudible) foreign relations people came in and said we need (inaudible).
My question is this. I met with Ambassador Holbrooke in October and I was very impressed with his plan in terms of securing the environment there and nation-building. The question I have is: How much is that costing us? Number one. Number two, how long are we going to have to be there? Because I don’t think that we’ve been as candid with folks as we should be in terms of how long it’s going to be. Next is how much help are we getting from our NATO and other allies in terms of this nation-building? So that’s on your side of the coin.
Secretary Gates, on your side, I’d like to know – and you don’t have to maybe give it to me now, but I’d love to have the information – is how much help are you getting now from our NATO allies with boots on the ground without caveats. We have people there but they have – still caveats. I’ve gone to countries and they’ve said, “I’m sorry, Senator, we cannot have our people involved in military activity, but we’re willing to train these individuals.” So the question is: How much help are we getting there from them? And last but not least, you’re asking for 2.6 billion to build up the Afghanistan army. And the question I have: Is anybody else pitching in to help pay for the Afghanistan army? And we know that we’re probably going to have to spend maybe twice that amount in the future for a long period of time in order to maintain the security that you talked about in terms of dealing with the drug problem and so forth. So could you both comment on what I’ve raised?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much, Senator, and first let me say that our request is aimed at our diplomatic and development efforts. We view these not as nation-building for Afghanistan but as in the core security interests of the United States. Without additional resources, we cannot create that environment that our troops need as they clear –
SENATOR VOINOVICH: I understand that the real issue –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
SENATOR VOINOVICH: — here is: about how much is that costing us? And the question is how long is that going to have to continue to the point where we can kind of say we’ve done our thing? Is it five years, 10 years, 15 years?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Senator, I don’t know if I can answer it that way, but I can answer it this way: We believe that our efforts, which are coordinated so closely with our military, will transform into a regular diplomatic and development relationship. I mean, we provide development aid to a lot of countries where we don’t have troops, because we think it’s in our interests. And so as we are in this intense phase that will be several years – obviously, I don’t know that either of us could put a timeline on it – what we’re trying to do simultaneously is clear territory from the Taliban, be able to work more closely with the Afghan army that Secretary Gates will talk about by helping to build them up with our allies – and we’re getting a lot of support there – and at the same time create more capacity.
SENATOR VOINOVICH: Madam, could you outline the help that you’re getting from these people on that – in that score?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Sure. And we can give you in detail, and we’d be happy to take that for the record. But just as in Iraq, our troops are going to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. Well, we’re going to have relationships with Iraq, we’re going to have an embassy with Iraq, we’re going to continue to fulfill the requests that the Iraqis made to us in the framework agreement about continuing assistance, and most particularly high-level police training. So we’re going to continue to have relationships, and so that’s going to go on for the foreseeable future. Just like – I was in Mexico Tuesday; we’ve got – we’re putting money into Mexico because there’s a lot of challenges that are in our interests. So it will be a different relationship but it will still be one of priority for the United States.
SECRETARY GATES: Senator, we have at this point pretty close to 45,000 non-U.S. troops in Afghanistan. There are several thousand more that have been pledged. So that by the time the pledges that we see are fulfilled, there will be pretty close to 50,000 non-U.S. troops. That’s up from 17,000 in 2007. I would say that for the last year, year and a half, but especially since the NATO summit last spring, we have seen a number of NATO allies reduce or eliminate their caveats. And so the number of situations that we face now where caveats have prevented effective operations have really dropped pretty dramatically. So I think we have really good cooperation from our NATO and other partner nations, and they have really stepped up to the plate despite, in many cases, considerable domestic opposition to it.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Nelson.
SENATOR NELSON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Secretary Gates, Secretary Clinton for being here. We appreciate very much your candor.
Secretary Gates, the materials that were submitted with the FYOCO Supplemental Request highlight that you’re requesting an additional 1.3 billion for the military intelligence program to enhance U.S. intelligence capabilities and operations, which includes ISR. And I’d like to talk a little bit about the Department’s efforts to coordinate investments and enhance the ISR mission. We’ve heard from all of the services that combatant commanders have a large appetite for ISR. And my concern is that the focus has been on how many UAVs are in the field, which I think is important, and how quickly we can get more, but I hope in that effort we’re not overlooking the critical aspects of expanding ISR, like how the services plan to train the analysts that will be required to process the expanding volumes of data and what infrastructure will be required to move data and share it with those that need it.
In a sense, maybe the easy part is buying the next Predator. The hard part is exploiting and using the intelligence that we’re able to get from it. A GAO report issued last week states that within Central Command, less than half of the electronic signals collected by Predator are exploited. The report also identifies a shortage in analytical staff to process ISR – and you already mentioned bandwidth – and limited bandwidth to disseminate intelligence as principal challenges. I’ve asked questions of General Schwartz about the manning mission, and he stated that the current manning structure was unsustainable. And I’m just concerned, so can you give me some idea of what DOD is doing to help coordinate services so that we match ISR capability with the ability to access it, and also coordination within the services?
SECRETARY GATES: There are two aspects to this. First of all, when you say that the commanders’ appetite for ISR is large, I would say that’s one of the great understatements of all time. (Laughter.) Insatiable is more like it.
We have taken – two things: First of all, we understand – I understand very much that when we talk about ISR, it is not just the platform. It’s the analysts, it’s the linguists, it’s the ground stations. And in fact, one of the problems that we had a year and a half or two years ago when we really began pushing this capability to the field in significantly added numbers was the shortage of ground stations.
Another problem that has been remedied by the Air Force and the Army over the last year or so was also a shortage of crews to run these UAVs. So I think we’re addressing those issues. I think that we have – linguists, I would say, is a real challenge, as well as analysts. There are two bureaucratic vehicles for coordinating this effort on behalf of the Department. The first and the most institutional is the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, General Clapper, who has complete overview of this and watches the full package, not just the platforms.
And then the other has been the special task force that I established on ISR about a year and a half or two years ago that has been focused on how can we get this capability in useable fashion to the field, and using not only unpiloted vehicles, but also we are putting a number of what are the equivalent of King Airs in there, the MC-12 Liberty Aircraft. So all of these capabilities – we are very mindful of the need for the full package so that, as I told Senator Shelby, if we can’t get the stuff to the commanders in the field, it’s not worth the investment.
SENATOR NELSON: Well, and getting it adequately analyzed would be such a significant portion of getting it to them in the field. I appreciate your answers and I hope –
SECRETARY GATES: But I would tell you I went to a counter-IED facility the other day that is run by DIA, and I had – I took the Canadian defense minister there and I had no idea – we talk about the commanders in the field, but with today’s electronics, I walk into a room that’s probably got 60 analysts in it from all over the intelligence community sitting here in the Washington area with real-time links to the UAVs and other capabilities in the theater and providing information on IED networks to the theater. So the theater doesn’t have to do all the analysis; a lot of it can be done back here with today’s electronics.
And we have these capabilities. This is one of the things the JIEDDO has done. This is under their auspices. So there’s a lot of capability here. But as we try and ramp this up, there are obviously going to be some imbalances that we have to try and fix.
SENATOR NELSON: Well, I appreciate that you’re on top of it. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. I’d just like to announce that a vote just started. So if some of you wish to go, be my guest. Senator Pryor. (Laughter.)
SENATOR MURKOWSKI: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don’t think I’ll go yet. How about that?
Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, thank you so much. Good to see both of you again.
So many of us have had an opportunity to travel recently to Afghanistan and certainly recognize the challenges, the great difficulty that we face over there, that the men and women who are serving us face every day.
We were in a situation – we were in – down in the Helmand Province down outside of Garmsir and were able to walk through a market and felt very comfortable given the situation. Left, and five days later in that same community, eight people died as a result of suicide bombing. So we recognize the volatility of the situation. One term that we heard used quite frequently was this deficit of trust that remains there. And I think, Secretary Gates, you have said that successfully accomplishing the training mission represents both our exit strategy and the key to long-term stability in Afghanistan.
But again, going back to this deficit of trust situation that we heard so much about, it was very clear that the people there appreciate that there is a – there’s a clear choice. You can either side with the Americans, who it’s clear will someday leave, or you side with the Taliban, who will likely be there indefinitely.
And the question to you is: While an exit strategy is absolutely necessary as part of any military operation, what assurance are we able to give to the Afghan tribal leaders to ensure that they do, in fact, remain on our side of the fight, that they believe that it is more worthwhile in the long term to stay on our side of the fight?
SECRETARY GATES: First of all, I think that the thing to remember historically and culturally about many Afghans is that they’ve been at war for 30 years and the average Afghan is going to come down on one side or the other only when he thinks he’s spotted who’s going to win. And that’s part of what our endeavors are about. When I talked earlier about General McChyrstal’s first objective being to reverse the momentum of the Taliban, that is, in the first instance, about changing the psychology of the people about who’s going to win this struggle.
I think that the thing also to keep in mind is that the Taliban may be vicious, but they’re also incredibly unpopular in Afghanistan. Every reliable poll that I’ve seen over the past couple of years shows the Taliban support in Afghanistan at around 10 percent or less. So these people aren’t fond of the Taliban; they’re just intimidated by them for the most part.
And the key here is when we begin the process of transitioning security control to the Afghans in a province-by-province or district-by-district area, that we have degraded the capabilities of the Taliban to the point where local security forces and the Afghan National Army and various national police units can sustain the security of the people. So it’s not that the Afghan army or police are ever going to achieve the skill level of American forces. The truth of the matter is nobody in the world is ever going to do that, with all due respect, even to our allies.
But can we degrade the capabilities and the numbers of the Taliban fighters to the point where the local security forces and the Afghan army can keep them under control and provide the kind of local security for people that is required.
The way this works is if you get the population on your side, and we saw this in Anbar, that is a self-reinforcer of security. It is the local population in Anbar. Once they began – once they felt that they could defeat al-Qaida in Iraq, that they began telling us where the IEDs were being planted and so on. We’re beginning to see that in some places in Afghanistan where the local population is figuring maybe this is going to go the way of the Afghan Government and the coalition. And so they’re beginning to cooperate with us and support us.
So as Secretary Clinton talked about, this is a complex business, but having the population not necessary trust us but have confidence that their security will be protected is a mix of our capabilities over the next number of years, the capabilities of our allies and the capabilities of the Afghan forces themselves – and not just the national forces, but I would say also local security forces.
SENATOR MURKOWSKI: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Senator Pryor.
SENATOR PRYOR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ll try to keep mine to four minutes or less even because I know we have a vote.
Thank you both for being here. Secretary Clinton, let me start with you if I may. And that is I know that you have been a champion for women’s rights for a long time. And in Afghanistan, as I understand it now, girls and women are doing three things that we take for granted here in this country. They’re going to school, they’re getting jobs, and they’re actually participating in the government. I’d just like to hear your thoughts on where that stands and if you think that is a long-term change in Afghanistan or if that’s still in its infancy and could go away at any time.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you for asking that, Senator, because I think it’s important that we use that as one of the markers for the kind of success that we’re hoping to achieve there. You’re absolutely right; there has been a great deal of change in the opportunities available to women and girls. When you look at the increase in the number of young women going to school, it’s dramatic. But there’s still a long way to go. There are a lot of obstacles that are deeply cultural and historic.
What we are looking out for is not that we can mandate a change in culture and history, but to keep that door of opportunity open and not let anything slam it shut. So we’re particularly concerned about the reintegration reconciliation plans that the Karzai government has undertaken. They have thus far made it clear that they are expecting people with whom they reconciled to abide by the laws and constitution of Afghanistan, which does provide protection for women’s rights. But thank you for raising it because it’s a high priority of ours.
SENATOR PRYOR: Well, thank you. I think it’s a great policy and a great priority.
I recently read that the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that corruption comprises 25 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP. When I see a number like that, it’s obviously shocking. And it also makes me realize that we need to be very, very careful in how we’re spending U.S. tax dollars in Afghanistan. So when it comes to accountability for our foreign aid there, could you give us a status report of the things that your Department is doing to try to make sure there is sufficient accountability?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Senator, we are increasing our support for our inspectors general. We are also adding more auditors in order to keep track of funding. We are certifying any Afghan Government entity that would receive any of our funding, to be clear that it is managing those funds in a way that we find acceptable. We are working to put people into those agencies. So we’re taking a lot of prophylactic steps but, as you point out, corruption is a deeply ingrained problem and we just have to be very vigilant about making sure that we are not caught up in it.
SENATOR PRYOR: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Specter.
SENATOR SPECTER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I propose to use it to raise a number of questions. There’s hardly time for questions and answers within four minutes, and I understand the limitations that we have here.
The first question that I have relates to a report in The Washington Post yesterday, where General Petraeus is quoted as saying that the conflict foments – referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – the conflict foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of U.S. favoritism toward Israel. His comment – IN the commentary is – the paper – his comments suggested that U.S. military officials were embracing the idea that failure to resolve the conflict had begun to imperil American lives. Well, that’s obviously very serious and very heavy. And my question, which I’d like you to respond to for the record, would be: What evidence is there to lead to that conclusion?
The second area that I’m going to address likely is one which I’ve corresponded with you about before and talked to you about, and that is the expensive war in Afghanistan. The question of success in Afghanistan is very much open. I think it’s going very well and I commend what is going on at the present time, buttressed by a visit which I made recently there with other colleagues. But the question on my mind, when al-Qaida could organize somewhere else – in Yemen or Somalia or somewhere else – why fight in Afghanistan, where it is so costly and where the Soviets, the Brits, going back to Alexander the Great, there has not been success?
A third area of questioning is what is happening with Pakistan and India? There have been some suggestions that there could be a cooling of that relation – of the tension, which might lead a number of Pakistani military to assist the United States in fighting al-Quaida or fighting Taliban. In the CODEL, where we met with the Indian prime minister, we raised this directly. And the prime minister of India was explicit, saying that he would like to see a lessening of tensions, soldiers released, but there would have to be a control of the terrorists by the Pakistan Government. And he was asked, “Well, do you think that’s realistic?” And he said very emphatically, “Yes. They are their creation.” So that if there’s a real prospect here of that, there may be more Pakistani soldiers to help us, and they’re showing some more inclination to do so, that would impact that picture very decisively.
The area of sanctions is a very difficult one against Iran. We have been discussing that for a long time in a lot of contexts, and I know there’s no simplistic answer. But the question that I get consistently involves where are we going when the military option is on the table. Everybody says it’s unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon. President Obama drew a line in the sand last December – hard to really be specific about lines in the sand, but that was my sense of it, the sense of a number of people. So the question is what is it going to take? Is it a constantly moving position by China? I don’t envy either of you in dealing with China or, for that matter, in dealing with Russia – although we congratulate you on what appears to be a really big breakthrough on nuclear weapons. But what are we looking for? There is talk about gasoline that could bring them to their knees if we really got tough on financial matters.
Well, it looks like I could go on indefinitely. (Laughter.) You have a question, Senator?
SENATOR COLLINS: I do.
SENATOR SPECTER: Well, I have posed those areas of concern, and my request would be that you respond on the record as opposed to asking a question-and-a-half and having the four minutes go.
Thank you for your service. Thank you for taking the job, Secretary Clinton. Thank you, Secretary Gates. Great to see a graduate of the grade school in Wichita, Kansas that I attended doing so well in the tough Washington climate.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Is that the same school you and Bob Dole went to?
SENATOR SPECTER: Well, Dole and I are from Russell, which is a smaller town. Gates’s experience in Kansas is limited to a big city, Wichita, where I left when I was 12. Thank you very much.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Well, to another Kansan here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Kansans everywhere. (Laughter.)
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Yeah, absolutely. No, we’re going to make the rest of the country Kansas. That’s how we’re going to fix that.
Mr. Chairman, I didn’t know if you knew this, but Secretary Gates was Kansan of the Year this year. And his mother was at the ceremony – who is – was very proud of her son, and we all were, of what all he’s – what all you’ve done, and very appreciative of that. It was a very touching moment. And you gave a beautiful, beautiful speech at it as well.
A couple of things that I wanted to raise with you if I could – Secretary Gates in particular. One is – and this is the old one that you’re familiar with, very familiar with, on the tanker contract. And what I’ve been reading is that Airbus is asking for an extension of your RFP time period that – for them to make another bid at this. And I’ve been reading throughout the European press that Sarkozy and others are concerned and they think this is terrible that they haven’t been able to bid with Northrop. I would hope we would stick with the timeframe and the timeline that this 10-year project is, hopefully, getting close to a conclusion and that it not be extended on the time for a bid to be put forward by EADS. Have you made a decision on that? The last press account I recorded seeing on your part was that you were reviewing it.
SECRETARY GATES: That’s correct. We have had some informal, as best I’ve – as I’m up to date, we’ve had some informal questions from EADS about it. And I think they were going to do a letter to us. I have not seen that letter. I don’t know if it’s been received in the Department. We will look at it. As I told the House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee yesterday, we will not change the requirements. We are buying the best plane for the Air Force and to meet Air Force needs. And so we will look at this letter. Believe me, no one is more eager to get on with this than I am.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: But no decision has been made whether –
SECRETARY GATES: No decision.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: — to extend the time deadline?
SECRETARY GATES: No.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Because obviously, I would urge you to stay with the current time deadline. This thing has gone on far long enough and it’s time to move on. And then you’ve also seen that the WTO has recently ruled in the United States’ favor that the airframe that EADS has proposed to bid was an illegally subsidized airframe that they developed. And that’s now a final ruling by the WTO.
I saw in the –
SECRETARY GATES: Senator, I’ve just been handed a note – late-breaking news, as it were – we have received the letter requesting an extension from EADS, so we’ll look at it and see what it has to say.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Well, my vote’s no – (laughter) – on this, that we not extend it, and certainly not off of President Sarkozy’s concerning things. Because the very thing that they’re going to bid with is the very plane that they’ve beat our brains in on the commercial marketplace for a number of years and knocked several of our big companies out.
This has been a 20-year litigation by USTR that we just win, and that they’ve really driven down our share in a commercial market space. And now they want to take it in the military airframe space. I see no reason to concede this to the Europeans, and particularly since they’ve been cheating on subsidizing this aircraft and stealing commercial market share from us on it. So I really hope you would look at that.
And I noticed yesterday, you were saying that whether or not the current DOD law actually prohibits you from addressing the illegally subsidy issue, you said that you were not – I believe you said yesterday you were not required – or there’s no basis to include it. If I could get a finer point on that – and if you can’t address it here, I understand – but do you understand current law to actually prohibit DOD from addressing the illegal subsidy issue or are you saying only that no provision requires DOD to account for illegal subsidies?
SECRETARY GATES: I think that we are prohibited, but let me get you an accurate answer for the record.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Okay. If you could. And then finally, General Caldwell, a guy I got to know at Leavenworth, that’s doing your military operation on standing up Afghan training forces. That sure looks like to me just paramount for us looking at an exit strategy in Afghanistan. Do you have any idea on timeframes of when you think you’ll have sufficient Afghan troops stood up for us to be able to pull down?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think it’ll be a gradual process, much as we saw in Iraq. Just as an example, when the Marines first went into the south last summer, the partnering with the Afghans was about nine Americans to every Afghan. Now, in the Marjah operation, it’s three Americans for every two Afghans. So as they train up and get into the field and partner, those ratios and capabilities will grow. The – I think that in some ways, the way to look at the process that we will use is very similar to that that we used in Iraq. And it’s better described as a transition than a transfer.
Right now, in some of these places, we’re in the lead and the Afghans are with us. At a certain point, we will partner, then they will be in the lead, then we will withdraw to a tactical overwatch and then a strategic overwatch. So this multiphase approach is the way we did province by province in Iraq, and it really worked pretty well. And I think that General McChrystal has the same kind of model in mind in Afghanistan. So we don’t need the Afghan army to be fully trained up everywhere in the country at the same time. We will do it on a province-by-province basis, and I think that he’s pretty optimistic he can make this work.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Over a two- to five-year timeframe?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, as the President’s made clear and as we agreed in the process, we will begin that first transition or that first transfer, if you will, in July of 2011. But from that point on, it will be decided on a province-by-province basis based on the conditions on the ground.
SENATOR BROWNBACK: Thank you. Thank you, Chairman.
SECRETARY GATES: And I expect that to take some period of time.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Collins.
SENATOR COLLINS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, while everyone was out of the room briefly, I had this brief shining moment when I might be in your position. (Laughter.) And it was a wonderful feeling. However, fleetingly, it passed.
Secretary Gates, I’ve read a lot of press reports recently that describe our Marines as extremely frustrated with their Afghan counterparts. And I must say I’ve been surprised at that because I’ve always had an image of the Afghans as being very good fighters and very effective fighters. But there have been two major stories that suggest that the Marines are so concerned that the shortcomings of the Afghan soldiers could undermine our joint efforts in the region.
Could you give me your assessment of whether these reports are valid and whether the Afghans themselves have the desire and the skills to succeed in the fight?
SECRETARY GATES: First, just in terms of answering the last questions – the last point first, this is actually one of the principal reasons, Senator, why I came around to the view that it was important to set a time when we would begin a transfer or transition to Afghan security control. They need to know this is their fight and that they are going to have to assume responsibility for it and not at some distant, unknown date, but beginning next year. And between that and the pay raises that we saw last November, we have seen a significant increase in recruitment in Afghanistan for both the Afghan army and the police.
Retention has improved significantly in the army. It’s still a problem in the police. But we – they need to know that this is going to be their fight at some point, and I think they are taking that on board. The feedback that I’ve gotten – I have not heard complaints from General McChrystal or the commander in RC South, General Carter, about the quality of the Afghan troops. I must say that, as I mentioned in my opening statement, I went to Camp Blackhorse outside of Kabul a couple of weeks ago when I was there, where the Afghan army is being trained, and the Americans that I talked to there were pretty impressed with them.
By the same token, when I talk to our troops, I get mixed reviews. Some of them say that they’re really good fighters and that they’re really good partners and are very impressed with them. That was certainly the case in Nawaz (ph) where I toured a marketplace. I didn’t – the security is a lot better there, but I had no illusions as to the security that was around because I was there.
But on the other hand, others are not as impressed. And so I think it’s a mixed picture, but in terms of the views of the commanders, who have a view of the entire battle space, I think they’re very impressed with the quality of the Afghan National Army and believe that it’s making good progress.
SENATOR COLLINS: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, when I was last in Afghanistan, the most common complaint that I heard from our military personnel was the lack of a civilian surge. And I know today that you commented earlier that we have increased the number of civilians to do the civilian counterpart that is so essential to the counterinsurgency strategy.
Could you give a brief update – since I just got a note that my time has expired – telling us your level of satisfaction in meeting the requirements for civilian employees?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, Senator, and thank you. We have roughly quadrupled the number of civilians in a year, and they are both in Kabul working with the Government of Afghanistan and then they are out in the country. They are, in effect, embedded with our military, so they move with our military. And they are working closely to leverage their presence. We don’t have battalions of civilians. It’s a much smaller number in comparison to our military forces. But each one leverages, on average, about 10 other civilians – NGOs partnering with civilians from other countries who are there as part of the government commitment, partnering with the United Nations, partnering with Afghans, hiring Afghans.
And one of the examples that I was going to give – if Senator Bond had asked because I know how interested he is on agriculture – this just gives you a little bit of a taste. As soon as the Marines secured Marjah, civilians began to go out. And they have a program called the Afghanistan Vouchers for Increased Production in Agriculture Plus – don’t ask me why – the AVIPA Plus program. They’ve distributed 7,000 of those vouchers for fertilizers, for new seeds, trellises for grapes. And it’s that kind of intensive work on the ground that doesn’t take a lot of civilians; it takes the right kind of civilians.
So we have USDA agriculture experts, we have people, as Senator Bond has pointed out, from National Guard units who have expertise in agriculture. So we are leveraging the presence of our civilians, and we will probably be adding more, but we want to be sure that where we add them is really critical to the mission.
SENATOR COLLINS: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Thank you very much. Madam Secretary, Mr. Secretary, this afternoon, we have focused our attention on Afghanistan, Iraq. And I believe we focus our resources there also. However, we have been receiving disturbing news of the deteriorating conditions in Somalia and that Somalia is now becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida.
My concern and my question is: Do we have sufficient resources to counter the Somalia Al-Shabaab? Is that becoming a threat to us, Somalia’s situation?
SECRETARY GATES: We probably both ought to answer on this one.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: You want to –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
SECRETARY GATES: Yeah, go ahead.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Senator, we are working very hard, again, in our civilian-military cooperation with the aim of trying to bolster the Transitional Federal Government in Somalia, which doesn’t have a lot of scope of authority. It’s basically confined to a part of Mogadishu. Our main source of support is the AMISOM, the African Union troops primarily from Uganda, that are providing a lot of the logistical and backup support that the Somalis need.
Al-Shabaab is a threat. I mean, Al-Shabaab is a very clear threat. And we see, unfortunately, it’s morphing into a kind of al-Qaida junior partner over the last year. But there is a growing sense that many of the Somalis themselves are no longer willing to be intimidated by or just give in to Al-Shabaab. They’ve been extremely brutal in their treatment of people – a lot of amputations and other kinds of very barbaric punishments. They have stolen and diverted food aid and prevented it from getting to the people. So there’s a gradual growth of opposition internally in Somalia.
But clearly, our support – our support for the African Union Mission, and then the additional help that our military is providing in terms of training – is critical to the survival of the nascent government there and our hope that we can gain more ground by supporting it.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: Senator Cochran, do you have any questions?
SENATOR COCHRAN: Mr. Chairman, no, except to thank our witnesses, the Secretaries, for being here and helping us fully understand what we need the funding for. I’ve been impressed with the testimony and their leadership in their departments.
CHAIRMAN INOUYE: I wish to echo that also. And so now, the committee stands in recess subject to the call of the Chair.
(Whereupon, the committee was adjourned.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: All set? I apologize for my voice.
Good afternoon and I want to begin by expressing certainly our gratitude to the prime minister and the foreign secretary and the entire government for hosting this important conference. I’ve just concluded a very full day of business covering an array of issues with a broad range of counterparts.
I began the day with a meeting with Dr. Jibril and two other representatives of the Libyan Transitional National Council to hear their perspective on the situation in Libya. We talked about our efforts to protect civilians and to meet humanitarian needs and about the ongoing coalition military action in support of Resolution 1973. We also discussed the need for a political solution and transition in Libya, and I reiterated the support of the United States on behalf of President Obama for the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people, and our commitment to helping them achieve those aspirations.
I also had the opportunity to meet with both Prime Minister Cameron and with Foreign Minister Hague. I expressed the United States’ gratitude for the critical leadership that the United Kingdom has shown in building an effective international response to the crisis in Libya. We consulted on the way forward, the military, political, and humanitarian dimensions. And we also discussed events and broader trends across the Middle East and North Africa and our joint efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I had the opportunity also to consult with a number of other counterparts about Libya because today’s conference is taking place at a moment of transition, as NATO takes over as leader of the coalition mission, a mission in which the United States will continue to play an active, supporting role. Some of our coalition partners announced additional support and contributions today, which we welcomed.
In addition to our joint military efforts, we discussed the need for progress in Libya along the three nonmilitary tracks: First, delivering humanitarian assistance; second, pressuring and isolating the Qadhafi regime through robust sanctions and other measures; and third, supporting efforts by Libyans to achieve the political changes that they are seeking.
We also agreed on a structure for decision making going forward on both the military and political tracks. On the military side, we agreed that the North Atlantic Council with coalition partners fully at the table will be the sole provider of executive direction for NATO operations, similar to the ISAF approach for Afghanistan. On the political side, we agreed to establish a contact group to offer a systematic coordination mechanism and broad political guidance on the full range of efforts under Resolutions 1970 and 1973. And as I’m sure you just heard from the prime minister of Qatar, Qatar has agreed to host the first meeting of the contact group, along with the UK.
In a series of side meetings, I also had the chance to discuss a number of issues, including Syria. I expressed our strong condemnation of the Syrian Government’s brutal repression of demonstrators, in particular the violence and killing of civilians in the hands of security forces. I also discussed efforts that are undertaken by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, particularly our joint effort to pass a resolution at the Human Rights Council that promotes tolerance and respect as well as free expression. And we greatly appreciate the OIC hosting a meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan and Pakistan in Jeddah. I was also able to consult on a number of regional matters, including, of course, Libya with Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey.
So it was a full day for all of us. We came to London to speak with one voice in support of a transition that leads to a brighter future for the Libyan people. I’m very pleased with the progress that we have made both today and in the days preceding it, and grateful for everyone who participated in the conference and in the broader effort in Libya. I think we are making a lot of progress together, and we could not do it unless we were representing the international community as we are.
So with that, I’d be happy to take your questions.
MODERATOR: Our first question is from Andy Quinn of Reuters.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, in your meeting today with Dr. Jibril, I was wondering, were you able to make any concrete offers of assistance to them, either through turning over the $33 billion in Libyan funds that have been frozen in the United States, or in discussing possible arms transfers?
And Admiral Stavridis told the Senate today that intelligence shows flickers – he called – he used the word “flickers” of al-Qaida in the Libyan opposition. How great a concern is that? And is that part of the U.S. debate over any potential arms transfers to the transitional council?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andy, first of all, we have not made any decision about arming the rebels or providing any arms transfers, so there has not been any need to discuss that at this point. We did discuss nonlethal assistance. We discussed ways of trying to enable the Transition National Council to meet a lot of their financial needs and how we could do that through the international community given the challenges that sanctions pose but recognizing that they obviously are going to need funds to keep themselves going. We discussed a broad range of matters and certainly their presentation, which some of you may have seen earlier today, as to what kind of civil society and political structure they are trying to build in Libya are exactly in line with what they have consistently said were their goals. Their commitment to democracy and to a very robust engagement with people from across the spectrum of Libyans is, I think, appropriate. We do not have any specific information about specific individuals from any organization who are part of this, but of course, we’re still getting to know those who are leading the Transitional National Council. And that will be a process that continues.
MODERATOR: Our next question is from Sam Coates of the Times of London.
QUESTION: Two things. First of all, is it your understanding that the UN Resolution 1973 makes it illegal to supply arms to the Libyan rebels, or do you think there could be some room for maneuver of that should it get to that?
And secondly, it’s quite striking when the rebels were talking earlier today, none of their names are public apart from three or four of the 30-odd of them, and they clearly have access – they have quite a lot of power and access to a lot of funds through oil money. Do you think that they should be more transparent in terms of declaring who they are, where they’re from, what kind of groupings they come from, and how they’re using the money?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the first question, it is our interpretation that 1973 amended or overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya so that there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a country were to choose to do that. As I said, we have not made that decision at this time.
Secondly, I do think that greater transparency will, of course, be expected and will be delivered. But I think you have to put this into context. I mean, this is a very fast-evolving, but by no means settled, structure that they are trying to build. They also claim to have a number of people who are willing to work with them from central and western Libya who, for security reasons, cannot yet be named.
So I do think that this is a work in progress. And just as with respect to Andy’s question, we don’t know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know. We’re picking up information. A lot of contact is going on, not only by our government but many governments that are part of the coalition. So we’re building an understanding, but at this time, obviously, it is, as I say, a work in progress.
MODERATOR: Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal.
QUESTION: Thank you. I have a question regarding Syria. Over the weekend, you gave an interview where you said how many members of Congress viewed President Asad as a reformer. Is that your position? Because you know there’s been well-documented cases of Syrian support for terrorist groups, allegations it’s pursued atomic weapons, and some in Congress said that Syria actually poses a greater threat to the United States – its national security – than Libya does. Is it the Obama Administration’s position now that it can work with President Asad to instigate or initiate some of the reforms that its people are clearly calling for? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Jay, as you rightly pointed out, I referenced opinions of others. That was not speaking either for myself or for the Administration. We deplore the crackdown that is occurring in Syria and we call on Syria, as we have throughout the last months, to respect the rights of its citizens, to allow people to protest peacefully, to work toward political and economic reform that would be to the benefit of the Syrian people.
So there is no difference in how we view this than how we have viewed the other incredible sequence of actions that we’ve seen in North Africa and in the Middle East. And we hope that there is an opportunity for reform. We hope there’s an opportunity for reform in all of these countries. We want to see peaceful transitions. We want to see democracies that represent the will of the people.
So I think that we’re, like the Syrian people, waiting and watching to see what comes from the Syrian Government. They dismissed the cabinet today, which resigned en masse. And as we have said so many times before, we support the timely implementation of reforms that meet the demands that Syrians are presenting to their government, such as immediately eliminating Syria’s state of emergency laws, which has been in effect for a long time.
It is up to the Syrian Government, it is up to the leadership, starting with President Bashir Asad, to prove that it can be responsive to the needs of its own people. So we’re troubled by what we hear, but we’re also going to continue to urge that the promise of reform, which has been made over and over again and which you reported on just a few months ago – I’m a reformer, I’m going to reform, and I’ve talked to members of Congress and others about that, that we hear from the highest levels of leadership in Syria – will actually be turned into reality. That’s what we’re waiting and watching for.
MODERATOR: And the final question from Duncan Gardham of the Daily Telegraph.
QUESTION: Hi, I wondered how you view the situation in Libya at the moment. There seems to be a bit of almost ping-pong going on. The rebels seem to be withdrawing from some areas today. How do you see the situation evolving in Libya? How long do you see it lasting? And if you’re talking to Qadhafi, what are his options? He can obviously try and stay or he can face the ICC, but is there a third option where he could travel to another country?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think that what we are seeing in Libya is a strengthening of the opposition, a consistent and very persistent effort by the opposition to try to hold ground which they have had and to regain ground which they have lost. Unfortunately, we are also seeing with Qadhafi a continuing pressure on the rebels, on his people, a willingness to use force. We had reports today of continuing military action by Qadhafi’s forces in Misrata and elsewhere. So this is a volatile, dynamic situation that is unfolding.
We accomplished a lot in a very short period of time. We clearly believe, as President Obama said last night, that we prevented a massacre in Benghazi, that we were able to stop the military advance that was moving rapidly from west to east, and that we sent a clear message through the international community’s willingness to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians that that kind of ruthless behavior by a leader toward his own people would not be tolerated. This has happened so quickly that we’re now facing questions like the ones you ask, but I’m not sure that we know exactly when we will get to any change in attitude by Qadhafi and those around him.
As you know, there’s a lot of reaching out that is occurring, a lot of conversations that are going on, and as the Arab League has said, it’s also obvious to everyone that Qadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead. So we believe he must go. We’re working with the international community to try to achieve that outcome. He will have to make a decision. And that decision, so far as we’re aware, has not yet been made.
You probably know that the secretary general’s special envoy will be going to Tripoli and Benghazi, once again to urge Qadhafi to implement a real ceasefire that is not going to be immediately breached by his own forces, to withdraw from those areas that he has taken by force, and to look for a political resolution, which could include his leaving the country. So, I mean, all of this is in play. And many of the nations that were here in London today are working together to try to gather information, to share the impressions each has with the conversations that are coming from Tripoli and from those close to Qadhafi about what is or isn’t being considered.
So I expect to see things continue to move in a positive direction. But I can’t by any means give you any sort of timeline. That is just not sensible at this point. We don’t have enough information to do that.
MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.
MODERATOR: (In Arabic.) Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I’m honored to be given the opportunity to welcome Secretary of State Madam Hillary Clinton this morning. Welcome to Oman, Your Excellency. We appreciate you taking the time to visit with us today. We understand you have a very busy, demanding schedule. So we truly are grateful for your audience this morning.
Civil society is the basis for a thriving, functioning society. It is not a substitute for, but rather an ideal complement to the state-backed structures of government and commercial institutions of the market. The civil society in Oman made up of different association, commissions, and nonprofits blur the boundaries between the government and private sectors at times working independently, but more often than not with an active support of either or both sectors contributing in its own unique way to enrich the community as a whole.
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos in his far-reaching vision set up the foundation for a strong civil society early on encouraging more participation and giving people the means to be active citizen beginning his reign in July, 1970 with these words: “My people, I will proceed as quickly as possible to transform your life into a prosperous one with a bright future. Every one of you must play his part towards this goal.”
The people of Oman took up His Majesty’s goal, and today the role played by various NGOs and nonprofits across the sultanate is vital in raising awareness about important issues, organizing relief programs, and providing services at the grassroots level. Civil society initiatives in Oman have been able to indirectly affect change in public policies by engaging and motivating people to work together towards the greater common good whether it being the field of cancer awareness, disabled welfare, environment concerns, or education. The list goes on.
Initiating and coordinating events and outreach programs that matter to the people is the driving force behind all the work that is carried out in the daily basis by dedicated individuals who volunteer their time and effort to affect the change they want to see in their communities. It is gratifying to see everyone, citizen and expatriates alike, working together. We have seen repeatedly that the determination of a dedicated few can achieve much. There are always challenges that are faced, especially when setting up unprecedented initiatives. But anyone who does this type of work will assure you volunteerism is its own reward.
I’m very grateful to be able to contribute in whatever small way I can to promote this growing nation. However, I remain aware of what a great privilege it is to be able to carry out the work we do, and I’m humbled by His Majesty’s vision and the overwhelming positive response received from different government institutions, members of the private sector, and the individual philanthropist, as well as the support we receive from regional and international affiliates who generously share their experiences and best practices with us. Together we can and we do make a difference.
Once again, thank you, Your Excellency. We appreciate you taking the time to address these important very relevant issues with members of the civil societies here in Oman. You are a renowned champion of human rights and civil society and have galvanized a global movement for women rights as the First Lady, the first female elected to the U.S. Senate, and now as the Secretary of State. We hope you will have a chance to visit some of the impressive sites we have in Oman during your short stay and enjoy some Omani hospitality before you return to your snowy winter weather in the States.
You need no introduction, Madam Secretary. Please take the platform.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much, Yuthar, and thank you for your leadership on behalf of civil society and, in particular, awareness of cancer and other health challenges. It is wonderful being here. I want to thank Ambassador and Mrs. Schmierer for helping to arrange this town hall meeting.
I want to also thank the Zubair family for inviting us into this really impressive complex, and I had a chance before coming into the room to see a traditional Omani home and become convinced that the use of wind is a probably more efficient way to cool than the use of air conditioning.
And I am so pleased to be here in Oman. This is my first visit. It is, unfortunately, going to be a short one. So it will whet my appetite, and I will particularly think of Oman as I return back to all that snow and cold weather.
But I, first and foremost, wish to underscore the point that because of His Majesty’s vision 40 years ago, Oman has made more progress than any other nation in the world in the last 40 years. According to the United Nations statistics, I am now in the country that has shown greater progress. And in addition to the improvements in the lives of the Omani people, Oman stands out as a nation that has achieved not only stability at home, but peace with your neighbors and the kind of human progress that is especially important. America values your country and the people of Oman as a friend and partner.
The free trade agreement that we signed in 2006 has brought our people even closer together and helped to create jobs and widen prosperity in both of our countries. We certainly see that agreement not only as an opportunity to open markets and exchange goods, but to exchange ideas about sustainable development and how to, as we connect with the global economy to ensure that we provide benefits to all of our people.
I know that human security is not just an absence of violence; it is the presence of opportunity. And Oman has shown that it is possible for a nation to focus on education, to empower women and girls, and to put people at the center of its development strategy. I was told in preparing for my visit that just 40 years ago the entire country had only three primary schools which educated fewer than 1,000 boys and no girls. And today, you have universal education, something that is still not obtained by every country in the region and beyond. You have women and men studying at the universities.
And it is apparent to me that when the UN Development Program ranked Oman as the world’s most improved country in human development since 1970, it was because not of the great infrastructure, the impressive modern airport, all of the physical manifestation of a country that has worked hard for 40 years, but because of the quality of the improvement in people’s lives.
I think that education remains a key to Oman’s future. That’s why we’re working together with the ministry of education and civil society to recruit talented students for exchange programs like the Fulbright Scholarship, Women in Science, and Leaders for Democracy Fellowship. The number of Omanis studying in America is on the rise, but I personally would like to see it grow even more.
We see a generation larger than any we have ever seen coming of age in the greater Middle East. And these young people are looking for opportunities and freedoms and greater voice in their societies. Yesterday in Sana’a, I had a town hall, and most of the people there were young people, students, young graduates of university, and we ended the town hall with a young woman and a young man who expressed their desire to make a contribution to their country, and how they can see your neighbor provide some of the same benefits that are provided here.
I think that the challenge facing countries in the 21st century is to recognize this high expectation. Young people today are connected globally, but focused locally. They want to see improvements in their own circumstances. And that’s where nongovernmental organizations come in, because as committed as governments can be – and certainly the government here of His Majesty is very committed as we have seen for the last 40 years – governments need partners. And some governments recognize that and embrace civil society, and some governments try to shut the door to citizens working to improve themselves and their communities.
We believe in the United States that nongovernmental organizations play a critical role in helping to empower citizens, articulate needs, push for education and healthcare, progress in human rights and the rule of law. And we know that there are many Omani groups, like the General Federation of Oman Trade Unions that protect the rights of people who work in Oman today – not only laborers, but graduates of universities.
I also want to acknowledge the efforts of Tawasul, the first independent think tank. And through its We Work project, it’s increasing the capacity of local organizations to engage in public discussion and to train female candidates for this year’s consultative council elections. And while I’m at it, I want to congratulate the all-female Omani teams who in recent years have won youth entrepreneurships contests across the Arab world.
There’s so much I want to learn from you, and I’m looking forward to our discussion today to hear your ideas, your questions about what we can do as partners and friends to continue to provide greater opportunity, and some of the views that you have about what more can be done in your own country and in the larger region.
Coming from Yemen as I did yesterday and landing here in your country has certainly highlighted the challenges that exist within a very small geographic area. And we have to ask ourselves in addition to good leadership, which Oman has enjoyed for 40 years – and I will congratulate His Majesty on the 40 years of his leadership – what are the other ingredients that has made Oman so successful. Because if I could bottle it, I would take it to some other places near and far and try to persuade leaders and citizens alike to make the same decisions, to walk the same path, and to recognize that when we invest in the future of our young people, we are doing the most important work we are called to do here on earth to give our children a chance to fulfill their own God-given potential. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you, Your Excellency, for an informative and inspiring talk. Can you hear me? Everybody can hear?
Okay, ladies and gentlemen, before I open the floor for questions, I would like to tell you that around – we’ll have just not a lot of time. So please if you can keep your interjection as short as possible so that we have more time for everybody to speak and ask questions, or just make a short remark.
Please introduce yourself briefly before asking your question or making your comments. There is an interpreter on hand, so you can you address your remarks to Madam Clinton in both Arabic and English. I have an honor to ask the first question.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s the prerogative of the moderator. (Laughter.)
MODERATOR: Your Excellency, where are areas, in your opinion, given your recent tour of the region, where civil society can play a more active role?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I certainly believe that Yemen is an example of that. Now, Yemen does have a very active NGO community. Many thousands of NGOs have formed, but they don’t yet have the voice and the space that would enable them to contribute as much as possible to their nation’s future. So that’s one example. And in other countries in the region, civil society is really just taking off. It doesn’t have the 40-year history that you were referring to, Yuthar. And there are so many needs not only in this region, but around the world. I’ll just mention one, because I see it increasingly, and that’s how to help people with disabilities, because there are so many more people, young and old, who survive that didn’t survive 40 years ago who have disabilities of various sorts and societies have to work to try to find ways to empower such people. This is something I’ve worked on for many years in my own country, but I hear about it.
I’ll be in Qatar later, and we’ve been talking with the Qataris about their desire to do more for people with disabilities. So there’s a growing awareness of the need, and as we thankfully and hopefully see people living longer, it’s more likely that more of us will have some infirmity due to age if nothing else. And so working to try to encourage changes that support people with disabilities is an area that is just beginning to be paid a lot of attention in the region.
MODERATOR: Thank you, Your Excellency. Now, I will open questions to the floor. Anybody who would like to ask a question, please, so we can get the mike to you. Can you get the mike here in the front, please?
QUESTION: (Inaudible), and I’ve also had the honor of serving in the U.S. Embassy before, and I’m now working with a variety of NGOs. I would – actually I had a few questions, but they were on different topics. Since the topic going to be on civil society, I would like to draw on your comment and your question – and your comments regarding the use. They are connected globally, but focused locally, and how we have to help them identify the needs and organize them.
I would like to have this in mind and ask what is the essential component within the U.S. foreign policy to address these issues basing in mind the answer to the question that what made Oman successful is that mutual respect and none assumption. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s an excellent point. As I say, I wish I could bottle the ingredients that have worked so well to promote human development here in Oman. But in American foreign policy, I have asked my team in the State Department to put together a policy aimed at empowering and equipping young people around the world to meet the challenges that they confront. We are looking at a wide range of ways of trying to assist young people, particularly in developing less-developed countries.
Now, technology is a thing that can be both positive and negative. On the positive side, it does open all kinds of windows of information to people that can help equip young people with a vision about their own future, an access to information and even education, long distance if necessary, that can be of assistance.
So we are looking to see how we can better use access to information. For example, we are running contests in Africa and asking young people to design applications that will solve a problem in their community. And we’ve just given out some of the first awards and here are two examples. One is using cell phones for farmers to get information about the weather and prices that they never had access to before. They’re often in areas without electricity. So thanks to wireless technology, you now have small land-holding African farmers connected to the global marketplace. Another example: Using cell phones so that pregnant women can get access to information about how to have a better pregnancy – what to eat, what signs to look for in case of problems, and the like. So those are two examples about how technology has helped – and it’s young people doing it. It’s certainly not people my age doing it. It’s young people who are designing these applications.
Another is the educational exchange that I mentioned in the – in my remarks. The more we can exchange views and the more that people can visit each other’s culture, attend classes in another’s country – when I was in Dubai, I met with what are called the Clinton Scholars, and these are young Americans in a program named for my husband set up by the Government of Dubai to bring young American students for a semester – study Arabic, study Islam, meet people, go into people’s homes. We want to do more of that going in both directions because we think that is also a way to have the kind of people-to-people contacts that you can’t really accomplish just through technology.
And finally, we are working in the Obama Administration to promote entrepreneurship. We held our first President’s Entrepreneurship Summit last year and we focused on the Muslim world, in particular the Middle East, North Africa, but as far away as Malaysia and Indonesia. Because we want to have a conversation with governments about how to open up their economies so that more young people feel they can start businesses and can be entrepreneurs, whether it’s in internet businesses or more traditional businesses. And we’ve created, online, a network of entrepreneurs to provide assistance, answer questions, help with business plans. Because there is so much potential for economic opportunity, but it hasn’t been developed in many parts of the world.
So those are three of the ways we’re trying to open doors to young people around the world as part of our foreign policy.
MODERATOR: Thank you, excellent. Another question? Can we have the lady there? Sorry, I didn’t see her face on my – thank you.
QUESTION: Hello, I’m Wanna Handan. I’m working in ISAC. We’re a student-run organization globally and we’re working on some of the things that you just mentioned – exchange, which is our core program, where we send Omanis abroad and we receive internationals working here – here, sorry.
And my question to you is: How do you see the cooperation between youth, namely in ISAC, and the U.S. Embassy here to support your initiatives which you just mentioned?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I would like to be sure that our embassies, our Ambassador and our teams here in Oman help support, with technical assistance and with small funding grants where appropriate, groups like what you’re describing, that are operating on the ground, in your own culture, based on your own assessment of what the needs are.
I mean, the last thing in the world I want is for me as Secretary of State or our Ambassador or anyone else from our country coming and saying, “Oh, here’s what we think Oman needs.” That’s not the kind of partnership and friendship we are seeking. What we want to do is to say, “Well, how do you think you can best provide more opportunities, empower young people, connect up to not only the global economy, but sort of the global information network?” And then to try to support what you do here locally.
It was very touching to me yesterday in Yemen. One of the young women who asked a question said that she had gotten a good education and then a chance to study in the United States, and then her goal is to come and live in Yemen and help her own people, she said. But sometimes, the people around her say, “Well, you went away for education, and so you’re bringing foreign ideas,” when what we want is to provide as much education as possible in order to help equip particularly young people to work within their own societies. And that is our goal and that’s why we want to find more ways of trying to help do that.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Okay. Another? Should we have – sorry, can we have somebody here in the front? I’m trying to sort of divide it. Please.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s always the hardest job – (laughter) –
MODERATOR: It is.
SECRETARY CLINTON: — is picking the hands.
MODERATOR: Wait till I finish, then I’ll have the hands. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, a very warm welcome to Oman. If you allow me to start with a critical part of the queries, I work for the Environment Society of Oman and the issue of the United States positioning on climate change since the failure of COP 15 and what has happened in – lately in Cancun does not bring great news to environmentalists.
Is there – we look upon EPA, for example, the Environment Protection Agency in the U.S. as one of the beautiful examples of how the federal agencies can work together in order to harness environmental concerns. But in terms of the U.S. position regarding climate change and issues of this nature post-Kyoto Protocol, what is it that we are looking at in this term? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, thank you for that, and thank you for your obvious interest and commitment to this issue.
Let me start by saying that President Obama and the Obama Administration are very committed to doing everything we can to deal with the threats posed by climate change. And although the President was unable to achieve the legislative solution that he sought through our Congress, that has not prevented his Administration from moving very forcefully in regulation and action through Executive Branch agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency, of course, being the principal one. So, the so-called EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, is proceeding with the authority it already has to regulate emissions. And I think that there – it remains controversial in our country for political and ideological reasons, but it is a very high priority.
Secondly, I have a slightly different and perhaps more positive view about both Copenhagen and Cancun. It is absolutely true the international community was unable to arrive at the overall comprehensive approach that many believed was necessary. But starting in Copenhagen, a very important step forward did occur, namely, that the developed countries such as the United States and the rapidly developing countries such as China and India, Brazil, agreed that there had to be a framework that would calculate and evaluate emissions, and that it had to be transparent so that the information was universally available on the internet so that the world could see how both the developed and the developing countries were dealing with climate change.
Now, that was not accepted at COP 16 – or COP 15, but it was a principle that we found at Cancun provided the foundation for what was accepted by the conference. And there were some important commitments made in Cancun that yes, there had to be transparency and publicizing of what emission levels were, what regulatory and legislative actions countries were going to pursue. And very importantly, for developing countries, particularly poor countries, and especially island nations that are literally at threat of being overwhelmed by ocean level rise, there was a commitment to a financial package that would help such countries mitigate against that damage.
So we certainly were disappointed that we didn’t have the legislative framework that the President had sought, but we were satisfied that given the progress that was capable, we were putting, to use an American phrase, points on the board. Now, there’s much more to be done, and we look forward to COP 17 in South Africa where we can evaluate what has been accomplished, and take additional steps.
So I think that the glass may be half full or half empty, depending upon how one looks at it, but two years on, we’ve actually moved from rhetoric to a framework for action that is going to at least make something of a difference.
MODERATOR: Thank you. Any more questions? Somebody in the middle there, can you just get a mike? There are three people, actually. You have to choose now.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
MODERATOR: Can you answer – a translator there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: We have a translator right there.
MODERATOR: Yeah, okay.
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
SECRETARY CLINTON: You have to stop so the translator can translate as you go. (Laughter.) I always make that mistake; I get carried away.
MODERATOR: I didn’t want to disturb her.
INTERPRETER: Madam Secretary, basically, the question is that this is Amira Actalavi. She worked in academia and she’s very impressed by you being a female U.S. Secretary of State as well as a wife and a mother. And very recently, your daughter got married and –
QUESTION: (In Arabic.)
INTERPRETER: What are the suggestions that you would put forth to tell women in this region – for every woman to believe how she can fulfill her own aspirations and rise up to the expectations?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think this is probably the most common question I’m asked everywhere in the world, whether it’s a country in Latin America or a country in Asia or Africa or here in the Middle East. I am very supportive, as you know, in educating girls and young women so that they can make the most responsible decisions for themselves, their families, and their societies. And I applaud what Oman has done to help equip your girls and women to make those decisions.
Secondly, I believe that women should be able within their societies to make decisions about the path of life that they choose. I’ve had women friends, now going back my entire adult life, who have made very different decisions. I’ve had women friends who married early, had their children, raised their family, and then went into the workforce. I’ve had women friends who did not marry till later in life and then had their children. I’ve had many women who have both worked and balanced that work with their family responsibilities.
And what I would always hope for is that societies would respect and support responsible decisions by women and men. For me, balancing family and work has been the approach that I have taken. But I always say, because I deeply believe, that the most important job any parent has, mother and father, is caring for the next generation – one’s children and then one’s grandchildren.
So at different points along a woman’s life, you may emphasize that more than at other times. So what we want is for societies to support women being able to go in and out of the workforce, because there’s a tremendous amount of talent in 50 percent of the population. So I would like to see more support for young mothers so that they can concentrate on being the best mothers to their young children as possible. I’d like to see opportunities for women to continue their education, even when they’re raising their family, and I’d like to see more opportunities for women to combine family responsibilities, particularly motherhood, with outside employment if that is what they choose or they need.
Because certainly, when we have these discussions among people like ourselves who are educated and very privileged, we forget that every day in every society, millions and millions of women have no choice. They leave their children alone, they leave their children in the care of others because they have to work either to contribute to the family income or because they are the only source of income. And I have met with many widows from Iraq, from Afghanistan. I’ve met with many refugee women. I’ve met with many women whose husbands are far from home or even in prison because of political activity of one sort or another, in addition to women who, from economic necessity, must work.
So a woman like me had a very clear choice, and I was fortunate to have a supportive family and a situation where I could be a law professor, I could be a lawyer, I could afford to have someone in my home helping to care for my daughter when I was at work. My husband was very involved. So I had a wonderful set of circumstances. That is not the case for many, many women in my own country, let alone around the world.
So if we believe that motherhood and caring for the next generation is an important priority for every society, then let’s be sure that we help support girls and women to be able to do that and to be given the tools that they need in life to be successful at doing that.
MODERATOR: Thank you. I think there’s another, Asma. Yeah, Asma, you can come.
QUESTION: As-Salāmu `Alaykum. My name is Asma Harusi. I’m an interpreter and a businesswoman. I was honored to have been sent to San Diego for – by the State Department with MEPI, which is an executive business training, San Diego – we had a lot of interaction with MENA region, which is the Middle East and North Africa. This was two years ago, but since then we’ve been told the funds have been stopped and because the funds were set up by the Bush Administration.
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, actually we are very supportive of MEPI.
QUESTION: That was the MEET program, MEET program, and MENA region is the Middle East –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Do you know if that was the program, Richard?
STAFF: Yes, it’s for – to – for women and –
QUESTION: Yes – no, it was for men and women. We were both from Middle East and North Africa, but it was female and male.
MODERATOR: Okay. So what’s your question?
QUESTION: This was – the thing is, by doing so – which I thought it was very interactive with other – we had also the Israeli women, and we came to be very friendly, and we – I mean, I – as an Arab, focusing on all the politics coming up, Israelis are enemies, but having interacted with them, we have a lot in common.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right.
QUESTION: I would like to know, you, as your Administration, since you’ve been in the Administration for two years, what have you done for the Arab womens to interact with the Israelis?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s an excellent question, and the program that you’re referring to is one that we are very committed to. We’ve had some budget challenges that we inherited that we’re trying to work through, as you know. But the larger point you make is one that I’d like to focus on. What I have found in the work I’ve done over many years is that you cannot wipe away the history and the differences, but you can begin to create some awareness of common concerns that people have, no matter who they are and where they are.
I’ve seen this work in many different settings around the world and have been involved in it. And when I was First Lady, I helped to start a program called Vital Voices, and Melanne Verveer, who is here with me, ran it for a long time. She is now the first ever American ambassador for global women’s affairs. And part of what we’ve tried to do is to bring women from different backgrounds, whether it was in Ireland between the Protestants and the Catholics, or whether in the Middle East between Arabs and Israelis, or whether in Africa between different tribes, or in Latin America between insurgents and opposition. So we have tried to create these opportunities for people to sit at the same table and talk through their perspectives. And it is – I mean, it is really a common experience that people all of a sudden say, “I didn’t know you cared about that.”
And I’ll give you a quick example from outside the Middle East. When we were doing this work in Northern Ireland, I put together the first-ever meeting between leaders of Catholic women and leaders of Protestant women. They had never had any opportunity to sit down and visit with each other. And it was a little tense to start with because they all came with a preconception about what the other was like. And all of a sudden, they began to talk and a woman would say, “I worry every day when my husband goes to work that he may not come back alive.” And another woman would say, “I worry every night when my son goes out with his friends that he may not come back alive.” And all of a sudden, as women, as wives, as mothers, they began to realize that this violence was ripping apart both of their families and both of their communities. And women played a major role in pushing the politicians to find some solution. It was very clear that there just couldn’t be a divide when people on both sides were suffering in the same way.
Now, there is some – there’s a lot of work that we need to do in this world to try to create that awareness, because through that perhaps can come pressure on governments and leaders to make the necessary decisions that will lead to sustainable peace. I’m very committed to doing everything I can in the Middle East to bring Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Israelis, to lasting resolution of the ongoing conflict. And I think it can’t be done just at the top between leaders. I think it needs to also be between people, so I appreciate what you’ve said.
QUESTION: Thank you.
QUESTION: How is Obama (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yeah.
QUESTION: How is Obama (inaudible)?
SECRETARY CLINTON: President Obama is doing well. (Laughter.) He’s doing very well.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Can we have another question from the gentleman? Where he is?
QUESTION: Thank you for being here. Will we see a joint ticket at the next election, Obama-Hillary – that’s one – and what will we see different?
And the second one, you said to support social society, civil society, giving money and information – you think this will be enough or more needed? Thanks.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I am on President Obama’s team, and I’m working with him very hard. When I agreed to be his Secretary of State, many people were very surprised because I had run really hard against him, and he had run very hard against me. And I was trying to win and so was he, and he won and went on to be elected President and then asked me if I would be Secretary of State. And many people have asked me, “Well, how could you work with him and for him when you tried to beat him?” And I have a very simple answer: We both love our country, we both are committed to helping our people and trying to make a difference in the world so that our whole world is more peaceful and prosperous. So we are very committed to a lot of the same goals.
And with respect to civil society, I would just underscore that it makes such a difference to harness the intelligence and the energy of people who are willing to work peacefully toward change. There are many places in the world today where people think they can bring about change through terrorism or violence, and to me, that is very negative and causes more suffering. And to support civil society, to support people who are operating on our common humanity, is what I look for.
I just have to say this one story, because I’m so touched by it. There’s a woman doctor in Somalia, who, through all of the conflict in Somalia, has taken care of thousands of people. She’s helped women deliver their babies, she has performed surgeries. She has two daughters who are doctors, she’s a widow, her son died in a car accident, so three women alone who run this hospital on the property of her family. And when they were attacked a few months ago by young boys carrying automatic weapons who were a part of one of the terrorist groups, Al-Shabaab, they came in and they were shooting x-ray machines, and they were breaking furniture and overturning what she had spent a lifetime building up to take care of people. And they confronted her with their weapons and they were trying to take her away. And she said, “No, you can kill me, but I’m not leaving. All these people depend on me. I am trying to heal people. What are you doing to help people?” I mean, it is such a powerful story. And thankfully, so far, they have left her alone. She’s now trying to rebuild her hospital and continue serving people.
But that’s civil society at its best in one of the worst of situations. It’s not the government doing it. It’s individuals. And when she was confronting these young men, women from – who had camped out on her property with their sick babies and their injured husbands and sons, they all came and surrounded her to say, “Please, think about what we can do together to build, not destroy.” And to me, that is at the core of civil society, and it has to be protected not just in places like Oman and the United States that are peaceful, but in the worst places that have so many challenges that have to be addressed.
MODERATOR: Thank you very much. I’m sorry we cannot take any more questions. I’m really sorry, I’m sorry. She has an appointment that she has to –
SECRETARY CLINTON: But let me suggest, Ambassador, if we could open a website on the Embassy, I will – if you email me your questions or text them, I will get around to trying to answer every question –
MODERATOR: That’s very kind of you. Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: — because I feel so grateful that we’ve had this chance to have this discussion.
MODERATOR: It’s a short time. You need to come back again.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I will come back. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
Secretary Clinton: Women Senators’ Resolution Calling for Renewed Focus on Women’s Rights in North Africa and the Middle East
I thank Senator Snowe and all the women Senators for shining a spotlight on the critical role women continue to play in the dramatic events sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. I fully agree that women must be included in every aspect of political and institutional reform, because we know that no government can succeed if half its population is excluded from the process. This resolution underscores our current efforts to build capacity for good governance, allow all citizens to participate, and ensure that the human rights of all, including those of women, are respected. The U.S. State Department will continue to work with Congress as we together stand in support of the women in the region who are demanding that their voices be heard.
QUESTION: Good morning again. And we are joined in the studio by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.
Madam Secretary, let me start with you. Tens of thousands of people have turned out protesting in Syria, which has been under the iron grip of the Asad for so many years now, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, I suppose. And when the demonstrators turned out, the regime opened fire and killed a number of civilians. Can we expect the United States to enter the conflict in the way we have entered the conflict in Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. Each of these situations is unique, Bob. Certainly, we deplore the violence in Syria. We call, as we have on all of these governments during this period of the Arab Awakening, as some have called it, to be responding to their people’s needs, not to engage in violence, permit peaceful protests, and begin a process of economic and political reform.
The situation in Libya, which engendered so much concern from around the international community, had a leader who used military force against the protestors from one end of his country to the other, who publically said things like, “We’ll show no mercy. We’ll go house to house.” And the international community moved with great speed, in part because there’s a history here. This is someone who has behaved in a way that caused grave concern in the past 40 plus years in the Arab world, the African world, Europe, and the United States.
QUESTION: But, I mean, how can that be worse than what has happened in Syria over the years, where Bashar Asad’s father killed 25,000 people at a lick? I mean, they open fire with live ammunition on these civilians. Why is that different from Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I –
QUESTION: This is a friend of Iran, an enemy of Israel.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if there were a coalition of the international community, if there were the passage of Security Council resolution, if there were a call by the Arab League, if there was a condemnation that was universal – but that is not going to happen, because I don’t think that it’s yet clear what will occur, what will unfold.
There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities and then police actions, which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.
QUESTION: Secretary Gates, you have strongly condemned Bashar Asad and said he must learn from Egypt. I think it’s fair to say he didn’t pay much attention to you.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, that’s not a surprise. (Laughter.) No, what I –
QUESTION: Should he step down?
SECRETARY GATES: What I said in – when I was in the Middle East was that the lesson should be – that should be taken from Egypt was where a military stood aside and allowed peaceful protests and allowed political events to take their course. That’s basically the lesson that I was talking about with respect to Asad. In terms of whether he should stand down or not, these kinds of things are up to the Syrians, up to the Libyans themselves.
QUESTION: This whole region is in turmoil now, trouble in Bahrain, in Yemen, whose governments have been allies of ours in the fight against terrorism. Now there are demonstrations in Jordan, one of our closest allies in the Arab world. How do we decide which of these countries we’re going to help and which ones we’re not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, we’re trying to help them all. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways of helping. We have certainly offered advice and counsel. I think the role that the United States played in Egypt, for example, particularly between our military, between Secretary Gates, Field Marshal Tantawi, between Admiral Mullen and his counterpart, was only possibly because of 30 years of close cooperation.
So we have to look at each situation as we find it. We don’t have that kind of relationship with a country like Syria. We just sent back an ambassador for the first time after some years. And as you recall, the Administration decided we needed to do that because we wanted somebody on the inside. The Congress was not so convinced that it would make a difference. Each of these we are looking at and analyzing carefully. But we can’t draw some general sweeping conclusions about the entire region.
QUESTION: Well, let’s talk about Libya a little then. We have – the UN resolution is in place. It’s established the no-fly zone. NATO is going to take over the operations there. But it does not call for regime change, and the President has said that Mr. Qadhafi has to go. That seems a bit contradictory.
SECRETARY GATES: I don’t think so. I think what you’re seeing is the difference between a military mission and a policy objective. The military mission is very limited and restricted to the establishment of the no-fly zone and for humanitarian purposes, to prevent Qadhafi from being able to use his armed forces to slaughter his own people. That’s it. And one of the things that I think is central is you don’t in a military campaign set as a mission or a goal something you’re not sure you can achieve. And if we’ve learned anything over the past number of years, regime change is very complicated and can be very expensive and can take a long time. And so I think the key here was establishing a military mission that was achievable. It was achievable on a limited period of time and it could be sustained.
QUESTION: There are some people in the Pentagon quoted in various newspapers as saying this no-fly zone may last for three months or so. How long do you think this is going to be in place?
SECRETARY GATES: I don’t think anybody has any idea.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But Bob, I think it’s important to take a step back and put this into context. When the Libyan people rose up, as their neighbors across the region were doing, and said look, we want to see a transition, it was after 42 years of erratic and brutal rule. Qadhafi’s response was to basically not just ignore but to threaten and then to act on those threats. Our country, along with many other countries, were watching this unfold.
The United States Senate passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone on March the 1st. As Bob reminded everybody, there’s a difference between calling for it and actually enforcing it. When the Security Council, in a really stunning vote of 10 to 5, 10-4, 5 abstentions, said look, take all necessary measures to fulfill this mission of protecting the Libyan people, it was a mission that the United States, of course, was going to be in the forefront of because of our unique capabilities. But look at the coalition of European, Canadian, Arab countries that have come together to say we’re going to make sure that we protect these civilians.
The military mission is not the only part of what we’re doing. We have very tough sanctions that are ferreting out and freezing Qadhafi and Qadhafi family assets. We have a lot of diplomats and military leaders in Libya who are flipping, changing sides, defecting because they see the handwriting on the wall. We have an ongoing political effort that is really picking up steam to see if we can’t persuade –
QUESTION: So –
SECRETARY CLINTON: — others to convince Qadhafi to leave. So, we see the planes going up, but that is just a piece of an overall strategy.
QUESTION: Well, do you think it’s going well then? I mean, would you give it good marks so far?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think it’s going very well.
SECRETARY GATES: I think the military mission has gone quite well. I think we have been successful a lot. There was never any doubt in my mind that we could quickly establish the no-fly zone and suppress his air defenses. But I think what has been extraordinary is seeing a number of different countries using their combat aircraft in a way to destroy some of his ground forces. That really involves and extraordinary discrimination of targets.
And I pushed back when I was in Russia last week against the comments that both Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev had made about civilian casualties. The truth of the matter is we have trouble coming up with proof of any civilian casualties that we have been responsible for, but we do have a lot of intelligence reporting about Qadhafi taking the bodies of people he’s killed and putting them at the sites where we’ve attacked. We have been extremely careful in this military effort. And not just our pilots but the pilots of the other coalition air forces have really done and extraordinary job.
QUESTION: He is taking bodies and putting them in places –
SECRETARY GATES: We have a number of reports of that.
QUESTION: In more than one place, or –
SECRETARY GATES: Yes.
QUESTION: How many places?
SECRETARY GATES: We just get various reports on that.
QUESTION: Well, let me ask you this. There are reports that we may arm the rebels. Is that, in fact, going to happen?
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s been no decision about that. We are in contact with the rebels. I’ve met with one of the leaders. We have ongoing discussions with them. We’ve sent both the ambassador that was assigned to Libya plus a young diplomat to have this ongoing dialogue with the opposition. But there’s a lot of ways that we can assist them, and we’re trying to discuss that with our allies in this effort. And we will be when I go to London on Tuesday.
QUESTION: Let me just ask you this. Under this arms embargo and the resolution and so forth, could you, if you decided you needed to do that and wanted to do it, could you do it under the current –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: — resolution?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You believe you could?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and the reason is because there is an arms embargo against the Qadhafi regime that was established in the first resolution, Resolution 1970, which applied to the entire country. In the follow-on resolution, 1973, there is an exception if countries or organizations were to choose to use that.
QUESTION: Let me ask you this, Mr. Secretary. We say it’s time for Qadhafi to go. You say that the military part of this, the no-fly zone, is going well. But I don’t think anybody really believes that this rag-tag group of resistance fighters, as brave as they are, could actually topple this man, who has these tanks and artillery and that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: He has a lot fewer now than he did a week ago.
QUESTION: Well, exactly. But how’s the thing going on the ground? And do you really think that these people could topple him without some kind of help from the outside?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, first of all, we prevented him from moving on toward Benghazi. Those forces were destroyed. We have evidence that he is withdrawing from Ajdabiyah and back further to the west. Because we’re not only striking his armor, we’re striking his logistics and supplies and things like that.
And just to Secretary Clinton’s point, we have things in our toolbox in addition to hammers. And so there are a lot of things that can go on here. His military can turn. We can see – we could see elements of his military turning, deciding this is a no-win proposition. The family is splitting. Any number of possibilities are out there, particularly as long as the international pressure continues and those around him see no future in staying with him.
QUESTION: Well, having said all of that, do you think that’s what is going to happen here? I mean can he – can these people really do this with just some help from up in the sky?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, I know how concerned people are. And obviously, the President will speak to the country Monday night, answer, I think, a lot of those concerns. This — the Security Council acted a week ago Thursday. The effort to enforce a Security Council resolution is barely a week old. We’ve already seen quite significant progress on the ground. And Bob just said, we believe, based on the intelligence and what our military is seeing, the Qadhafi forces are withdrawing, moving to the west.
Yes, this is not a well-organized fighting force that the opposition has. But they are getting more support from defectors, from the former Libyan Government military, and they are, as Bob said, very brave, moving forward, and beginning to regain –
QUESTION: Well –
SECRETARY CLINTON: — ground that they lost when Qadhafi was brutalizing them by moving toward Benghazi.
So, this is a really short period of time in any kind of military effort, but I think the results on the ground are pretty significant.
SECRETARY GATES: I would just underscore the military attacks began, essentially, a week ago, last Saturday night. And don’t underestimate the potential for elements of the regime themselves to crack.
QUESTION: All right.
SECRETARY GATES: And to turn. I mean it isn’t just the opposition in Benghazi –
QUESTION: So you think his days are limited?
SECRETARY GATES: I wouldn’t be hanging any new pictures if I were him. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What would be an acceptable outcome? You want him out, but would you be satisfied if the country wound up partitioned or something of that nature?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it’s too soon to predict that. One of the reasons why we are forming a political contact group in London this coming week is because we want to get a unified political approach, just as we have forged a unified military approach.
And as both Bob and I have said, there are many ways that this could move toward the end state. If you think about what happened in the 90s, it took a while for Milosevic to leave, but you could see his days were numbered, even though he wasn’t yet out of office. And so there is a lot of ways that this could unfold.
What is clear is that Qadhafi himself is losing ground. He has already lost legitimacy. And the people around him, based on all of the intelligence and all of the outreach that we ourselves are getting from some of those very same people, demonstrate an enormous amount of anxiety. And that will play itself out over time.
SECRETARY GATES: Could I just make a broader point, Bob? We get so focused on these individual countries. I think we have lost sight of the extraordinary story that is going on in the Middle East. In the space of about two months, we’ve probably seen the most widespread dramatic change in the tectonic plates, if you will, politically, in that region since, certainly, the drive for independence in the 50s, and perhaps since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago. In virtually every country in the region there is turbulence. And we are in dark territory.
I mean, even the changes in Eastern Europe in 1989 took place from a period from February to December – to November. And so when you think back of what has happened in just two months, this is really an extraordinary challenge for the Administration and, frankly, for other governments around the world in terms of how do we react to this, how do we deal with this. And I think the key, and where the President has tried to establish the principle, is here are our principles, here’s what we believe in, but then we’ll deal with each country one at a time, because we have to deal with the specific circumstances. But we can’t lose sight of the historic and dramatic nature of what’s going on and the fact there are no predetermined outcomes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And there are no perfect options. We are choosing among competing imperfect options. I mean if we were sitting here, and Benghazi had been taken, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, and hundreds of thousands had fled, some of them over the border to Egypt, destabilizing Egypt during its particularly delicate transition, we would be sitting here, and people in the Congress and elsewhere would be saying, “Well, why didn’t we do something?”
So the problem is we are trying to, within the broader context of this extraordinary movement toward aspirations that are universal that people in the Middle East and North Africa are demanding for themselves, to support the broader goals but to be very clear about how we deal with individual countries as we stand for our values and our principles but have to take each one as it stands and where it is headed.
QUESTION: Well, I want to thank both of you for your insights.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: We really appreciate it.
SECRETARY GATES: Thank you.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, welcome back to Meet the Press.
SECRETARY GATES: Thank you.
QUESTION: The President said this is an operation that would take days, not weeks. We are now into the second week. Has the mission been accomplished?
SECRETARY GATES: I think that the no-fly zone aspect of the mission has been accomplished. We have not seen any of his planes fly since the mission started. We have suppressed his air defenses. I think we’ve also been successful on the humanitarian side. We have prevented his forces from going to Benghazi and we have taken out a good bit of his armor. So I think we have, to a very large extent, completed the military mission in terms of getting it set up. Now, the no-fly zone and even the humanitarian side will have to be sustained for some period of time.
QUESTION: Is Qadhafi capable of routing the rebels?
SECRETARY CLINTON: At this point, it appears that his efforts have been stopped. I think if you were to look at where we were just a couple of weeks ago, he was clearly on his way to Benghazi. He was intending, by his own words, to show no mercy, to go house to house. I think we prevented a great humanitarian disaster, which is always hard to point to something that didn’t happen, but I believe we did. And now we’re beginning to see – because of the good work of the coalition – to see his troops begin to turn back towards the west and to see the opposition begin to reclaim ground they had lost.
QUESTION: That said, Secretary Gates, would the U.S. supply arms to the rebels?
SECRETARY GATES: No decision has been made about that at this point. The Security Council resolution would permit it. The second resolution, 1973, would permit it. But no decisions have been made by our government about it.
QUESTION: But does this Administration want to see the rebels prevail and overtake Qadhafi?
SECRETARY GATES: I think the President’s policy is that it’s time for Qadhafi to go. That’s not part of our military mission, which has been very limited and very strictly defined.
QUESTION: Well, so how is that going to happen? Secretary Clinton, you said this week that you thought you were picking up signals that he wanted to get out, of his own accord.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, David, there are many different aspects to the strategy that the international community is pursuing. As Bob has said, the military mission has gone very well. It only started just, like, eight days ago, so it has been remarkably well coordinated and focused, and now NATO will take command and control over it.
At the same time, we are pursuing really strict economic sanctions on him and people close to him. We have a political effort underway. The African Union just called for a transition to democracy. The Arab League, the others of us who are supporting this endeavor are going to be meeting in London on Tuesday to begin to focus on how we’re going to help facilitate such a transition of him leaving power.
QUESTION: All right. But you said this week you thought there were indications he was looking to get out. Is that true?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, people around him. We have a lot of evidence that people around him are reaching out. Now, so far what they’ve been doing is to say you’re misunderstanding us; you don’t appreciate what we’re doing; come and talk to us. Well, the Secretary General of the United Nations has appointed a former Jordanian foreign minister as a special envoy. He will be going to both Benghazi and Tripoli in the next few days so that we will provide a very clear message to Qadhafi.
But we’re also sending a message to people around him: Do you really want to be a pariah? Do you really want to end up in the International Criminal Court? Now is your time to get out of this and to help the change the direction.
QUESTION: Bottom line: The President wants him to go, but the President will not take him out himself.
SECRETARY GATES: Certainly not militarily.
QUESTION: So it would have to be other means?
SECRETARY GATES: Yes.
QUESTION: And –
SECRETARY GATES: And as I’ve said, we have things in our toolbox in addition to hammers. Secretary Clinton’s just talked about a number of them. And don’t underestimate what Hillary just said of the people around him looking at what’s happening and the international view of this place and when’s the time to turn and go to the other side.
QUESTION: Let me –
SECRETARY GATES: And so I think one should not underestimate the possibility of the regime itself cracking.
QUESTION: I want to talk about some of the Congressional criticisms. Speaker of the House Boehner issued a letter with questions, some of which were deemed illegitimate questions by the White House. Here’s a portion of it. I’ll put it up on the screen. “Because of the conflicting messages from the Administration and our coalition partners,” he wrote, “there’s a lack of clarity over the objectives of this mission, what our national security interests are, how it fits into our overarching policy for the Middle East.”
The American people deserve answers to these questions, and all of these concerns point to a fundamental question: What is your benchmark for success in Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think it’s perfectly legitimate for members of Congress and the public to ask questions. The President is going to address the nation Monday night. A lot of these questions will be answered. But I would just make a couple of points.
First, on March 1st, the United States Senate passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone. That was a bipartisan resolution. There were a number of people in the House, including leadership in both the Republican and Democratic parties, who were demanding that action be taken. The international community came together, and in an unprecedented action, the Arab League called on the Security Council to do exactly what the Security Council ended up doing.
Now, the United States and other countries were in a position to be able to act to enforce it. If you look at the coverage on Al Jazeera, if you listen to the statements that are being put out by the opposition in Libya, there is a great deal of appreciation for what we and others have done in order to stop Qadhafi on his mission of merciless oppression.
So, this was an international effort that the United States was a part of. I certainly believe it was within the President’s constitutional authority to do so. It is going according to the plan that the President laid out. The United States will be transitioning to a NATO command and control. And then we will be joining with the rest of the international community.
And if you look at the region – can you imagine, David, if we were sitting here and Qadhafi had gotten to Benghazi, and in a city of 700,000 people, had massacred tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands had fled over the border, destabilizing Egypt? Everybody would be saying, “Why didn’t the President do something?”
QUESTION: Can I ask you about Boehner himself?
SECRETARY CLINTON: These are difficult choices.
QUESTION: Did Speaker Boehner raise any objections when he was briefed prior to the mission?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I know that there was a constant flow of information, both to members and staff. And of course, the President had a conference with some members in person, others – many others, including the Speaker, on the phone – but we have no objection to anybody asking questions. But I think it’s important to look at the context in which this is occurring, and the fact that we have moved so rapidly to have this kind of international action taken answers, in great measure, the legitimate concerns of the people of Libya.
And now, of course, we’re going to take it day by day. That’s what you do in a situation like this.
QUESTION: The military is stretched pretty thin. Look at this map to show what our commitments are around the globe. In Iraq, of course, we have 47,000 troops; in Afghanistan, a hundred thousand strong; and now this additional commitment of U.S. troops – I mean, not troops, but U.S. assets in Libya. How does the President, speaking to the nation Monday night, maintain a sense of national purpose here at a time when we’re so stretched?
SECRETARY GATES: Actually, your list was incomplete. We have a substantial military commitment in humanitarian assistance disaster relief in Japan as well, largely using naval forces. The air forces that we are using, for the most part, and the air forces in particular that we are using in Libya are forces normally stationed in Europe in any event.
The reality is, though, beginning this week or within the next week or so, we will begin to diminish the commitment of resources that we have committed to this. We knew the President’s plan at the beginning was we would go in heavy at first, because we had the capacity to do it in terms of suppressing the air defenses and so on. But then the idea was that, over time, the coalition would assume a larger and larger proportion of the burden. This was the conversation he had with foreign leaders when this whole thing was coming together. And so we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to decline.
QUESTION: Well, how long does the no-fly zone last? Weeks or longer?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, once the air – first of all, nobody knows the answer to that question. But once the air defenses have been suppressed, what it takes to sustain the no-fly zone is substantially less than what it takes to establish it.
QUESTION: Let me ask this question, though, still on the military – and then I want your comment, as well: What if things don’t go as planned? What is our contingency planning? What is the U.S. commitment if things get worse in Libya, if Qadhafi stays, if there is an entrenched civil war, if it devolves into Somalia-like chaos? What then? What’s our commitment?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, the President has made very clear there will be no American troops on the ground in Libya. He’s made that quite definite. Our air power has significantly degraded his armor capabilities, his ability to use his armor against cities like Benghazi. We see them beginning to move back to the west, retreating.
So, this eventually is going to have to be settled by the Libyans themselves. Perhaps the UN can mediate or whatever. But in terms of the military commitment, the President has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do.
QUESTION: I want to ask you, Secretary Clinton, if I can, about the rest of the region, because there’s so much else that is happening, and I want to go to the map and go through these in turn.
First, as we look at the Broader Middle East, we look at Syria – deadly protests because of a government crackdown that have been occurring over the past few days. Is it the position of the government that we would like to see the Asad regime fall?
SECRETARY CLINTON: What we have said is what we’ve said throughout this extraordinary period of transformation in North Africa and the Middle East. We want to see no violence, we want to see peaceful protest that enables people to express their universal human rights, and we want to see economic and political reform. That’s what we’ve called on in Syria, that’s what we’ve called on other governments across the region to do.
QUESTION: What about Saudi Arabia? We go back to the map, as Secretary Gates – the King is quite upset with the President. The relationship has ruptured to the point that he has sent troops into Bahrain, he would not see both of you when you were in the region. What are we doing to fix a ruptured relationship with perhaps our most important partner in the region when it comes to oil as well as other matters?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, first of all, I don’t believe the relationship is ruptured. We have a very strong relationship with Saudi Arabia. I think that the Saudis see all of this turbulence in the region with some disquiet. They’re very concerned about Iran. They believe that Iran will be able to take advantage of the situation in various of these countries, and those are their concerns, and we share some of those concerns.
But I think it’s a great exaggeration to say this relationship’s ruptured. I intend to visit the region in the near term and hope and intend to see the King. So I think we have a very strong relationship, we have a very strong military-to-military relationship. As you know, the Saudis just made one of the largest purchases of American weapons in their history, so I think it’s overdrawn. Do we have some differences of view? Absolutely. But that’s – friends happen – that happens between friends all the time.
QUESTION: Back to the map. In addition to Yemen, I want to actually focus on Egypt, still the strategic cornerstone. Yemen, of course important, but it is in Egypt that is a strategic cornerstone of this region. What are we doing, Secretary Clinton, at this point, to try to assist the young secular movement that wants to find a way toward leadership that may be outmanned now by the Muslim Brotherhood and Mubarak’s own party?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, David, first, we have historically done quite a bit in reaching out to the very young people you’re referring to. When I was just in Egypt, I met with a number of those who had been leaders of the activities in Tahrir Square and that were helping to translate that protest into political action. A lot of them had been in American Government-sponsored programs, they had been on visitation programs to the United States. And we are continuing to reach out and work with them and to try to provide support to them. It is hard moving from being in the forefront of a movement to being part of a political process. It’s hard in any country. But we’re going to stand with them and make sure that at least insofar as we’re able to, they get the support they need.
At the same time, though, we’re also working with the interim government in Egypt. Both Bob and I, when we were recently in Egypt, met with government officials and met with the military officials who are, for the time being, running the government. We want to assist them on the economic reform efforts that they’re undertaking. Now ultimately, this is up to the Egyptians. They’re going to have to make these decisions. But we’ve offered our advice and we’re offering aid where appropriate.
QUESTION: Secretary Gates, is Libya in our vital interest as a country?
SECRETARY GATES: No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of the region which is a vital interest for the United States.
QUESTION: I think a lot of people would hear that and say, “Well, that’s quite striking, not in our vital interests, and yet we’re committing military resources to it.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, but then it wouldn’t be fair as to what Bob just said. I mean, did Libya attack us? No, they did not attack us. Do they have a very critical role in this region and do they neighbor two countries? You just mentioned one, Egypt, the other Tunisia, that are going through these extraordinary transformations and cannot afford to be destabilized by conflict on their borders. Yes. Do they have a major influence on what goes on in Europe because of everything from oil to immigration?
And David, that raises a very important point because you showed on the map just a minute ago Afghanistan. We asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked; the attack came on us as we all tragically remember. They stuck with us. When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interests. The UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, “We have to act, because otherwise we’re seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.”
So let’s be fair here. They didn’t attack us, but what they were doing and Qadhafi’s history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob said, and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests.
QUESTION: Before you go, Secretary Clinton, I want to change the topic. A dear friend and supporter of yours, Geraldine Ferraro, has passed away unfortunately. And she was on this program back in 1984 when she was named onto the ticket to the presidency with Walter Mondale, and – the first woman, of course. And she was asked a question by Marvin Kalb at the time, and I want to show you that exchange and get you to react to it.
MR. KALB: Ms. Ferraro, could you push the nuclear button?
MS. FERRARO: I can do whatever is necessary in order to protect the security of this country.
MR. KALB: Including that?
MS. FERRARO: Yeah, even if it’s politically improper.
MR. KALB: And if you weren’t a woman, do you think you’d have been selected?
MS. FERRARO: That’s a double-edged sword so that – I don’t know. I don’t know, if I were not a woman, if I would be judged in the same way on my candidacy, whether or not I would be asked questions like, “Are you strong enough to push the button,” or that type –
QUESTION: How times have changed. She changed them and you, of course, changed them too for women in politics. What’s your reaction to seeing that and your reaction to her death?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It just makes me smile because she was an extraordinary pioneer, she was a path-breaker, she was everything that – now the commentators will say an icon, a legend. But she was down to earth, she was just as personal a friend as you could have, she was one of my fiercest defenders and most staunch supporters, she had a great family that she cherished and stood up for in every way.
And she went before many women to a political height that is very, very difficult still, and she navigated it with great grace and grit, and I think we owe her a lot. And I’ll certainly think about her every day, and thanks for asking me to reflect on it briefly, because she was a wonderful person.
QUESTION: Thank you both very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
SECRETARY GATES: Yeah.
QUESTION: Appreciate it.
QUESTION: And joining me now in their first interview since the attacks on Libya began, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Madam and Mr. Secretary, thanks so much for joining us.
I’ll start with you, Secretary Gates. The mission is a no-fly zone and civilian protection, but does not include removing Qadhafi from power, even though regime change is stated U.S. policy. So why not have, as part of the mission, regime change, removing Qadhafi from power?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, first of all, I think you don’t want ever to set a set of goals or a mission – military mission where you can’t be confident of accomplishing your objectives. And as we have seen in the past, regime change is a very complicated business. It sometimes takes a long time. Sometimes it can happen very fast, but it was never part of the military mission.
QUESTION: NATO has assumed command and control for the no-fly zone, or is this weekend, but not yet for the civilian protection. When do we anticipate that happening?
SECRETARY GATES: I think Hillary’s been more engaged with that diplomacy than I have.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we hope, Jake, that NATO, which is making the military planning for the civilian protection mission, will meet in the next few days, make a decision, which we expect to be positive, to include that mission, and then just as the arms embargo and the no-fly zone has been transitioned to NATO command and control, the civilian protection mission will as well.
QUESTION: What do you say to the people in Ivory Coast or Syria who say, “Where’s our no-fly zone? We’re being killed by our government too.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there’s not an aircraft – there’s not an air force being used. There is not the same level of force. The situation is significantly different enough that the world has not come together. However, in Ivory Coast, we have a UN peacekeeping force which we are supporting. We’re beginning to see the world coalesce around the very obvious fact that Mr. Gbagbo no longer is president. Mr. Ouattara is the president.
So each of these situations is different, but in Libya, when a leader says spare nothing, show no mercy and calls out air force attacks on his own people, that crosses a line that people in the world had decided they could not tolerate.
QUESTION: When do we know that the mission is done? The no-fly zone has succeeded, civilian protection has stopped. When do you – when –
SECRETARY GATES: I would say, for all practical purposes, the implementation of the no-fly zone is complete. Now it will need to be sustained, but it can be sustained with a lot less effort than what it took to set it up. As I indicated in my testimony on the Hill, you don’t establish a no-fly zone by just declaring it. You go in and suppress the air defenses, and that mission is largely complete.
I think we have made a lot of progress on the humanitarian side and his ability to move armor, to move toward a Benghazi or a place like that has pretty well been eliminated. Now we’ll have to keep our eye on it because he still has ground forces at his beck and call. But the reality is they’re under a lot of pressure. Their logistics – there are some signs that they’re moving back to the west away from Ajdabiyah and other places.
So I think that we have prevented the large-scale slaughter that was beginning to take place, has taken place in some places. And so I think that we are at a point where the establishment of the no-fly zone and the protection of cities from the kind of wholesale military assault that we have seen, certainly in the east, has been accomplished and now we can move to sustainment.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Jake, I would just add two points to what Secretary Gates said. The United States Senate called for a no-fly zone in a resolution that it passed, I think, on March the 1st, and that mission is on the brink of having been accomplished. And there was a lot of congressional support to do something.
There is no perfect option when one is looking at a situation like this. I think that the President ordered the best available option. The United States worked with the international community to make sure that there was authorization to do what we have helped to accomplish.
But what is quite remarkable here is that NATO assuming the responsibility for the entire mission means that the United States will move to a supporting role. Just as our allies are helping us in Afghanistan where we bear the disproportionate amount of the sacrifice and the cost, we are supporting a mission through NATO that was very much initiated by European requests joined by Arab requests.
I think this is a watershed moment in international decision making. We learned a lot in the 1990s. We saw what happened in Rwanda. It took a long time in the Balkans, in Kosovo to deal with a tyrant. But I think – and what has happened since March 1st – and we’re not even done with the month – demonstrates really remarkable leadership.
SECRETARY GATES: I would just add one other thing, in sort of a concrete manifestation where we are in this, and that is we and the Department of Defense are already beginning to do our planning in terms of beginning to draw down resources, first from support of the no-fly zone and then from the humanitarian mission. Now that may not start in the next day or two, but I certainly expect it to in the very near future.
QUESTION: Well, and I wanted to follow on that. How long are we going to be there in that support role?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think the – as I say, we will begin diminishing the level of our engagement, the level of resources we have involved in this, but as long as there is a no-fly zone and we have some unique capabilities to bring to bear – for example, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, some tanking ability – we will continue to have a presence. But a lot of these – a lot of the forces that we will have available other than the ISR – are forces that are already assigned to Europe or have been assigned to Italy or are at sea in the Mediterranean.
QUESTION: I’ve heard NATO say that this – that they anticipate – that some NATO officials say this could be three months, but people in the Pentagon think it could be far longer than that. Do you think we’ll be gone by the end of the year? Will the mission be over by the end of the year?
SECRETARY GATES: I don’t think anybody knows the answer to that.
QUESTION: Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?
SECRETARY GATES: No, no. It was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about – the engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake. There was another piece of this, though, that certainly was a consideration. You’ve had revolutions on both the east and the west of Libya. They’re fragile.
QUESTION: Egypt and Tunisia.
SECRETARY GATES: Egypt and Tunisia. So you had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk, potentially, the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt. And that was another consideration I think we took into account.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Jake, but –
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, how does –
SECRETARY CLINTON: Jake, I just want to add too, because I know that there’s been a lot of questions, and those questions deserve to be asked and answered. The President is going to address the nation on Monday night.
Imagine we were sitting here and Benghazi had been overrun, a city of 700,000 people, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, hundreds of thousands had fled and, as Bob said, either with nowhere to go or overwhelming Egypt while it’s in its own difficult transition, and we were sitting here. The cries would be, “Why did the United States not do anything? Why – how could you stand by when France and the United Kingdom and other Europeans and the Arab League and your Arab partners were saying you’ve got to do something?” So every decision that we make is going to have plusses and minuses.
QUESTION: You heard the Secretary of Defense say that Libya did not pose an actual or imminent threat to the nation, and bearing in mind what you just said, I’m still wondering how the Administration reconciles the attack without congressional approval with then-candidate Obama saying in 2007 the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation and, as a senator, you yourself in 2007 said this about President Bush.
SENATOR CLINTON: If the administration believes that any – any use of force against Iran is necessary, the president must come to Congress to seek that authority.
QUESTION: Why not go to Congress?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we would welcome congressional support, but I don’t think that this kind of internationally authorized intervention where we are one of a number of countries participating to enforce a humanitarian mission is the kind of unilateral action that either I or President Obama were speaking of several years ago. I think that this had a limited timeframe, a very clearly defined mission, which we are in the process of fulfilling.
QUESTION: I want to get to a couple other topics before you guys go, and one of them is in Yemen. President Saleh, a crucial ally in counterterrorism, seems quite on his way out. Secretary Gates, you said this week we have not done any post-Saleh planning. How dangerous is a post-Saleh world, a post-Saleh Yemen, to the United States?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, I think it is a real concern, because the most active and, at this point, perhaps the most aggressive branch of al-Qaida – al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula – operates out of Yemen. And we have had a lot of counterterrorism cooperation from President Saleh and Yemeni security services. So if that government collapses or is replaced by one that is dramatically more weak, then I think we’ll face some additional challenges out of Yemen. There’s no question about it. It’s a real problem.
QUESTION: Secretary Clinton, on Pakistan, Pakistan has been trying to block U.S. counterterrorism efforts in the FATA region, it continues to work with terrorists to attack India, it held a U.S. diplomat in its prisons for several weeks, as I don’t need to tell you. Has this relationship gotten worse in the last six months, U.S.-Pakistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jake, it’s a very challenging relationship because there have been some problems. We were very appreciative of getting our diplomat out of Pakistan, and that took cooperation by the Government of Pakistan. We have cooperated very closely together in going after terrorists who pose a threat to both us and to the Pakistanis themselves. But it’s a very difficult relationship because Pakistan is in a hard position trying to figure out how it’s going to contend with its own internal extremist threat. But I think on the other hand, we’ve also developed good lines of communication, good opportunities for cooperation, but it’s something we have to work on every day.
QUESTION: And finally, we’ve talked a bit about the end of this operation, how it ends. I’m wondering if you can envision the United States supporting a plan where Qadhafi is exiled. Would the U.S. be willing to support safe haven, immunity from prosecution, and access to funds as a way to end this conflict?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Jake, we are nowhere near that kind of negotiation. I’ll be going to London on Tuesday for a conference that the British Government is hosting. There will be a number of countries, not only those participating in the enforcement of the resolution, but also those who are pursuing political and other interventions. And the United Nations has a special envoy who will also be actively working with Qadhafi and those around him.
We have sent a clear message that it is time for him to transition out of power. The African Union has now called for a democratic transition. We think that there will be developments along that line in the weeks and months ahead, but I can’t, sitting here today, predict to you exactly how it’s going to play out. But we believe that Libya will have a better shot in the future if he departs and leaves power.
QUESTION: All right. Secretary Clinton, Secretary Gates, thank you so much for joining us.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
We applaud today’s action by the Human Rights Council to create a Special Rapporteur on Iran who will help the international community monitor and respond to Iran’s continuing human rights abuses. This is the first new country mandate established since the Human Rights Council was formed in 2006.
The United States worked closely with Sweden and a broad group of over 50 co-sponsors to establish this mandate, which passed by a margin of more than three to one. The Special Rapporteur will investigate and report on human rights abuses in Iran and will speak out when the government there does not meet its human rights obligations to its people.
Independent investigation and reporting by the Special Rapporteur will help the international community responsibly address the serious human rights abuses in Iran. It will also give voice to the many Iranians who long not only for reform, but for their government to respect their most basic of human rights and freedoms.