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  • HAASS: Well, good morning. I'm Richard Haass, and I want to welcome all of you here, as

  • well as those watching on screens of various sorts, to this meeting of the Council on Foreign

  • Relations. At its core, the Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, nonpartisan organization.

  • We're a think-tank, and we're a publisher dedicated to helping its members and others

  • better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States.

  • And it's difficult to imagine a person better to do just that, to help us understand the

  • foreign policy choices facing the United States and the world, than the 67th secretary of

  • state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

  • CLINTON: Thank you, Richard.

  • (APPLAUSE)

  • HAASS: The timing of today's meeting could hardly be better, given all that's going on

  • in the world. Turbulence in the Middle East continues to mount. Iraq's central government

  • is steadily losing control of territory, including Mosul, its second-most-important city. Syria's

  • civil war, now in its fourth year, shows no signs of abating. Egypt's new president faces

  • a divided public and a struggling economy. The Israeli-Palestinian talks have hit a wall.

  • And it's far from certain that negotiations with Iran will produce agreement on a nuclear

  • program that is enough for that country and not too much for others.

  • Elsewhere, the peace that we've all grown accustomed to in Europe has been shaken by

  • the heavy-handed Russian interference in Ukraine. Asia, for three decades characterized by economic

  • dynamism and political stability, now is defined more by economic slowdown and political tension.

  • There's a new government in India with broad popular support, but next door, there's a

  • weak government in Pakistan with a growing nuclear arsenal and a growing terrorist threat.

  • Another Afghan government will soon emerge, but how it will fare is anyone's guess.

  • Meanwhile, here at home in the United States, recent polls show a large number of Americans

  • have little interest in this world and an even larger number who think this country's

  • ability to lead the world is in decline. I would imagine at times like this, our speaker

  • is pleased to be the former secretary of state.

  • (LAUGHTER)

  • This is Secretary Clinton's ninth visit to the Council on Foreign Relations, and we're

  • honored to have her. And I expect I speak for everyone in this room inand watching and

  • thanking her for her decades of public service as first lady, as senator here from the great

  • state of New York, and as secretary of state.

  • (APPLAUSE)

  • Now, unless you've been in the witness protection program, you will know that she has just published

  • a memoir of her time at Foggy Bottom, "Hard Choices." It comes in at 656 pages. For the

  • record, this is longer than the memoirs of James Byrnes, Warren Christopher, Alexander

  • Haig, and Madeleine Albright, but it is shorter -- in some cases, much shorter -- than those

  • of Dean Acheson, George Schulz, Condoleezza Rice, James Baker, Henry Kissinger, and Cordell

  • Hull.

  • (LAUGHTER)

  • It is also to the page the same length as Colin Powell's. Make of all this what you

  • will.

  • (LAUGHTER)

  • This meeting today is part of the Council's History Maker Series that focus on the contributions

  • made by prominent individuals at a critical juncture in U.S. foreign policy, and I would

  • like to thank HBO and Richard Plepler for making this possible.

  • The way we're going to do it is the secretary and I will speak for a time, and then I will

  • turn it open to CFR members for their questions.

  • Madam Secretary, welcome.

  • CLINTON: Thank you.

  • HAASS: Your first visit as secretary of state was to Asia. And for many observers -- and

  • I'll count myself among them -- the biggest foreign policy idea of your tenure as secretary

  • of state was what some call the pivot, others call the rebalance to Asia.

  • So to begin, do you actually agree that -- do you see your own legacy that way? And why

  • and how did you choose Asia for such a focus?

  • CLINTON: Well, Richard, first thank you, and I'm delighted to be back here at the Council

  • and have an opportunity to talk with you and then with the audience about these issues.

  • I do see it as one of the most significant strategic moves that we made during those

  • first four years. And if you just step back from the immediacy of all of the crises that

  • you were listing, you do have to keep your eye on the trend lines, not just the headlines.

  • And there is certainly no doubt that much of the history of the 21st century is going

  • to be shaped in Asia, and the United States has always been a Pacific power, but when

  • I became secretary, there was a widespread feeling among our friends and our competitors

  • in Asia that the United States had basically vacated the field and there was a great pent-up

  • desire that we begin once again to demonstrate our concern for and involvement in the Asia

  • Pacific. And that's why I decided to go first to Asia.

  • And also to do what is one of the most important jobs of American foreign policy right now,

  • and that is to defend and renew the rules-based order. That's true globally, but it was especially

  • true in Asia, to demonstrate that there had to be a consensus about the way forward economically

  • and politically. It's why I went to Indonesia and signed something called the Treaty of

  • Amity and Cooperation, hardly a headline-grabber back here at home, but it committed the United

  • States to be an active participant in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and

  • eventually become a member of the East Asia Summit, because our goal was to support and

  • embed the United States in the multilateral architecture of Asia.

  • It was also important to reassure our friends and our treaty allies, such as Japan, that

  • the United States was still committed to their security, as well as to economic prosperity.

  • And I also brought with me the idea that we would try to have a broader dialogue with

  • China. Most of our dialogue up until that point, as you know, had to be about economics.

  • And the Treasury Department led that. Secretary Paulson had done a heroic job, you know, really

  • working and involving China in conversations about currency, trade and the like.

  • But there were a lot of strategic questions that needed to be addressed. So Tim Geithner

  • and I formed the Strategic and Economic Dialogue. And I think there's a tendency too often in

  • our country, in our Congress and in the public, the press, that these kinds of steps to build

  • strong foundations are not the real stuff of important diplomacy. They're not the headlines

  • that people are seeking. But I believe that we have to rebuild this rules-based order.

  • We have to come up with an architecture that can persuade countries that it is in their

  • interests then to be a part of it.

  • So we had all of this at work when I went in February 2009 and then followed through

  • over the next four years.

  • HAASS: An important part of the pivot and the rebalance was the -- was an economic dimension,

  • and was obviously trade, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Is it your sense that, given

  • where this country is, in part also given where your own party is, the Democratic Party,

  • that it's possible right now for the United States to give the president the authority

  • he needs to complete the negotiations of such an agreement?

  • CLINTON: Well, he can complete the negotiations. That is ongoing. And in fact, I have been

  • briefed that there is progress being made on the so-called TPP negotiations. The challenge

  • -- and really, what your question was about -- is whether there will be what's called

  • fast-track authority granted to the president...

  • HAASS: Trade promotion authority.

  • CLINTON: Trade promotion authority. Right now, I think that's not likely, but that doesn't

  • mean that the treaty can't be presented and considered on its merits, and particularly

  • if it can be used to convince the American electorate, as well as the Congress, that

  • we have to address these internal at the border barriers to our products, we have to begin

  • to take on state capitalism, because it's one of our biggest competitive threats, we

  • have to be able to raise standards on goods that are going to end up in our markets one

  • way or the other, it may be possible -- and I certainly hope it will be -- to make that

  • case. But, of course, it depends upon what's in it. And we don't yet have the final document.

  • HAASS: One of the crises you had to manage with China was over -- with the human rights

  • activist Chen Guangcheng. And in the end, it all worked, and he was able to come here.

  • He actually spoke here at the Council on Foreign Relations. What did this experience teach

  • you about dealing with the Chinese and about how you see the right balance between promoting

  • political change in China, yet at the same time having a relationship that deals with

  • strategic issues?

  • CLINTON: Yeah. Well, you know, this book is named "Hard Choices" for a purpose, because

  • that is exactly the experience that I had. You're constantly trying to promote your values.

  • We think they're American values, but in my view, they're universal values and we need

  • to stand up for them. You're trying to pursue your interests -- strategic, economic, political

  • -- and you're also trying to protect the security of our country, our friends, and our allies.

  • And oftentimes, those are in conflict or at least appear to be.

  • This is a case, however, where I think the work we had done for the previous two-plus

  • years to create this more comprehensive relationship and to spend a lot of time building the personal

  • relationships that go into that with the Chinese leaders paid off, so that when I got that

  • phone call at my home telling me that this flyingblind dissident, this human rights activist,

  • had escaped from house arrest and he was seeking to be driven to Beijing and find refuge in

  • the American embassy, because there was nowhere else that he felt safe, that was the kind

  • of tribute to American values that you don't just turn your back on, or at least I don't.

  • And I said, "Go get him," and we did get him, a little, you know, James Bond-ish kind of

  • activity going on there. And we brought him into the embassy, where he was treated by

  • our medical team. And we then began working with him to try to figure out what he wanted

  • and how we could help facilitate it.

  • The negotiations with the Chinese, as I recount in this chapter, were contentious. They were

  • not happy, to put it mildly. I was on my way to China just a few days after I gave the

  • order to go out and get him. But we had a very candid, open, ongoing discussion. There

  • were a lot of false starts and detours, but we ended up in a good place. We didn't sacrifice

  • the relationship, and we stood up for our values at the same time.

  • So that's why this very slow, hard, boring -- to paraphrase Weber -- in the diplomatic

  • sphere, as in politics, is so important. And we can't get impatient. Building these relationships,

  • continuing to stand up for our values, pursue our interests, protect our security is a long-term

  • investment, and it takes the kind of strategic patience that, you know, we're just going

  • to have to demonstrate more effectively in the years to come.

  • HAASS: You mentioned the phrase in your answer there about personal relationships. You dealt

  • with some fairly strong personalities. Mr. Lavrov, the...

  • CLINTON: Well, I like to think that the same is true.

  • (LAUGHTER)

  • HAASS: ... touche -- Foreign Minister Yang of China, the prime minister of Israel. And

  • to what extent did you come away actually thinking that the personal relationship mattered?

  • Or at the end of the day, whether they liked you or you liked them, it didn't really matter

  • that it was just good, old-fashioned statecraft?

  • CLINTON: I do think the personal relationships matter, which is why I stressed building them,

  • expanding them, trying to understand the point of view of the other party. But at the end

  • of the day, leaders are going to do what they think is in the best interests of their states.

  • Part of building that relationship, though, is perhaps to open the window a little wider

  • about how to define those interests. Again, just to build on the Chen China example, both

  • the Chinese and we valued the relationships we had been building. They were not one-offs.

  • I mean, I did a lot of, you know, personal time and hospitality to demonstrate respect

  • and appreciation for the Chinese leaders. They reciprocated. So that when we kept running

  • into obstacles to resolve that particular crisis, we could fall back on those relationships.

  • And I think the same is true going country by country. There are obvious exceptions,