Would we expect any less? Hillary Clinton’s major foreign policy speech Wednesday, delivered to the Council on Foreign Relations, outlined her highly specific aspirations for the conduct of foreign policy — and global development work — by the United States as well as firm, but reasonable, expectations regarding Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as interesting distinctions about the Taliban groups in different areas.
To its credit, MSNBC was the one news channel to post her entire speech (video below), but I posted the State Dept.’s video first because it includes the Q&A session following Secretary Clinton’s speech.
If you didn’t hear about Hillary’s speech, you can blame both the overtime hearing for Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation as well as President Obama’s health care press conference which was held during Secretary Clinton’s speech — which is typically “verboten” and exposed either a lack of coordination in the White House or a lack of knowledge of administrative “etiquette.” (See “Hillary Loses Air War to Obama,” NY Daily News. Their server is down, so I’ll quote from the story at the end of this post.)
Personally, I was thrilled that essential objectives for helping women and girls were highlighted in Secretary of State Clinton’s speech — their issues too often get short shrift in foreign policy development.
Here is the MSNBC video of Secretary Clinton’s speech. (MSNBC also aired a significant portion of her speech live, which the the other news channels didn’t do, best I know.)
On the effects of the global recession on women and girls:
Our development agenda will also focus on women as drivers of economic growth and social stability. Women have long comprised the majority of the world’s unhealthy, unschooled, and underfed. They are also the bulk of the world’s poor. The global recession has had a disproportionate effect on women and girls, which in turn has repercussions for families, communities, and even regions. Until women around the world are accorded their rights – and afforded the opportunities of education, health care, and gainful employment – global progress and prosperity will have its own glass ceiling.
On Iran — a sensible approach, I believe:
Exhausting the option for dialogue is also more likely to make our partners more willing to exert pressure should persuasion fail.
With this in mind, I want to say a few words about Iran. We watched the energy of Iran’s election with great admiration, only to be appalled by the manner in which the government used violence to quell the voices of the Iranian people, and then tried to hide its actions by arresting foreign journalists and nationals, and expelling them, and cutting off access to technology. As we and our G-8 partners have made clear, these actions are deplorable and unacceptable.
We know very well what we inherited with Iran, because we deal with that inheritance every day. We know that refusing to deal with the Islamic Republic has not succeeded in altering the Iranian march toward a nuclear weapon, reducing Iranian support for terror, or improving Iran’s treatment of its citizens.
Neither the President nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind, and the prospects have certainly shifted in the weeks following the election. But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member or to continue down a path to further isolation.
Direct talks provide the best vehicle for presenting and explaining that choice. That is why we offered Iran’s leaders an unmistakable opportunity: Iran does not have a right to nuclear military capacity, and we’re determined to prevent that. But it does have a right to civil nuclear power if it reestablishes the confidence of the international community that it will use its programs exclusively for peaceful purposes.
Iran can become a constructive actor in the region if it stops threatening its neighbors and supporting terrorism. It can assume a responsible position in the international community if it fulfills its obligations on human rights. The choice is clear. We remain ready to engage with Iran, but the time for action is now. The opportunity will not remain open indefinitely.
On Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as differentiating the various sects within the term “Taliban”:
Our fourth approach is to ensure that our civilian and military efforts operate in a coordinated and complementary fashion where we are engaged in conflict. This is the core of our strategy in Afghanistan and Iraq, where we are integrating our efforts with international partners.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, our goal is to disrupt, dismantle, and ultimately defeat al-Qaida and its extremist allies, and to prevent their return to either country. Yet Americans often ask, why do we ask our young men and women to risk their lives in Afghanistan when al-Qaida’s leadership is in neighboring Pakistan? And that question deserves a good answer: We and our allies fight in Afghanistan because the Taliban protects al-Qaida and depends on it for support, sometimes coordinating activities. In other words, to eliminate al-Qaida, we must also fight the Taliban.
Now, we understand that not all those who fight with the Taliban support al-Qaida, or believe in the extremist policies the Taliban pursued when in power. And today we and our Afghan allies stand ready to welcome anyone supporting the Taliban who renounces al-Qaida, lays down their arms, and is willing to participate in the free and open society that is enshrined in the Afghan Constitution.
To achieve our goals, President Obama is sending an additional 17,000 troops and 4,000 military trainers to Afghanistan. Equally important, we are sending hundreds of direct hire American civilians to lead a new effort to strengthen the Afghan Government, help rebuild the once-vibrant agricultural sector, create jobs, encourage the rule of law, expand opportunities for women, and train the Afghan police. No one should doubt our commitment to Afghanistan and its people. But it is the Afghan people themselves who will determine their own future.
As we proceed, we must not forget that success in Afghanistan also requires close cooperation from neighboring Pakistan, which I will visit this fall. Pakistan is itself under intense pressure from extremist groups. Trilateral cooperation among Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States has built confidence and yielded progress on a number of policy fronts. Our national security, as well as the future of Afghanistan, depends on a stable, democratic, and economically viable Pakistan. And we applaud the new Pakistani determination to deal with the militants who threaten their democracy and our shared security. …
Here’s a snippet from “Hillary Loses Air War to Obama,” NY Daily News. Although I want Hillary’s speech to be the focus of this post, since the newspaper’s site is temporarily down, I’ll quote from the blog post yesterday afternoon so you have the full story on why Hillary’s speech didn’t get the press that it deserved:
The upbeat advance press for Clinton’s speech was breathtaking and it appeared she would be the story of the day. But then President Obama scheduled an event at the same hour in the Rose Garden, appearing with nurses to attack insurance companies over what he sees as lousy health care coverage.
Not surprisingly, the cable news networks carried Obama’s remarks live as Clinton began to speak. Fortunately for Clinton, at least one cable network eventually flashed to Clinton, but not until after the President stopped speaking.
Naturally, the White House said it was sheer coincidence and there was no intention to play dueling speeches. …
But one veteran of the Clinton White House tells The Mouth, “In other administrations when the President was speaking no one else in the administration was allowed to speak. Alternatively, if another administration official was already scheduled to speak at an event, the White House press office made sure the President spoke either before or after and not during.”
Our source puts the blame mostly on the White House. “At the very least it’s complete non-coordination between the White House communications and press operation and Cabinet agencies — in this case a high profile department and Cabinet secretary giving a major address outlining the President’s agenda,” the source said. “It does not make sense for the President to drown out his secretary of state when she is trying to line up influential and public support for his foreign policy. Scheduling matters.”
Last, but not least, here is a section of the Q&A following Secretary Clinton’s speech that goes to the primary focus of her address — requiring a hard-focused review of agencies involved in foreign policy:
MR. HAASS: Hattie Babbitt.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Hi, Hattie.
QUESTION: Hi. I wanted to ask you to talk a little bit more about the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. It’s – I understand from your speech on Saturday – modeled in – a little bit after the Defense QDR, but in many ways more complicated because of the numbers of departments and agencies that have a stake or are stakeholders in the process. And could you talk more about how you envision that happening?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thanks, Hattie. I served on the Armed Services Committee for six years. And the Quadrennial Defense Review, it seemed to me, was a very important discipline and tool for the Defense Department. It forced the Defense Department to take a hard look at itself, put forward priorities and the means to achieve them. And I thought it was one of the many reasons why Defense had increasingly taken a paramount position in our foreign policy. So among the many steps we’re taking, I decided we would do the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, because I think it requires us to think hard about what it is we’re trying to achieve, to be as specific as possible, to match our mission with the resources we need, to justify what we believe we are doing and to demonstrate results.
Especially in a global economic downturn, I feel a real responsibility to be able to explain to people who are not currently employed or hanging on by their fingernails, why am I asking for more money for something called diplomacy and development? I’m not asking for the money to build tanks or airplanes. I’m asking to send people to represent the United States, to engage in important negotiations, to be early warning signals. I’m asking to send experts into the field who can work with other nations, achieve sustainable results for the investment we make, lift the standard of living, which we believe then helps to sow the seeds of stability and, hopefully, democracy. And we have to make that case.
So we have embarked upon this. I think it is extremely complicated. I have no illusions about that. It is also, as Hattie said, something where we have to coordinate with a number of other agencies. Defense does work that you could call diplomacy and development. Treasury and the multilateral financial institutions are certainly engaged, at least in development. You’ve got USDA. You’ve got the U.S. Trade Rep. You can go down the list. And we want to try to explain the whole-of-government approach. And so in addition to what we will be doing internally, we will be working with the White House to bring together all the other stakeholders in diplomacy and development.
Now, it won’t surprise you to learn that I am also deep into discussions both with the Pentagon and with the Congress about bringing back some of the authorities and some of the money that went with them that has been used by the military for diplomacy and development. And the migration of those authorities and those resources is one of the many reasons why the State Department and USAID have had a challenging – a more challenging time than usual in the last years.
So this is both a policy tool as well as an attempt to explain and justify what it is we believe we can accomplish. And I want it institutionalized. I think Howard Berman may put it into legislation, so it’s not just a one-shot deal, it’s not just because I’m Secretary of State, but it will require the same level of rigor and analysis every four years by State and USAID.