Secretary Clinton spoke before the the Senate Armed Services Committee on the Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Secretary said:
"Yesterday, President Obama presented the Administration’s strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Today, Secretary Gates, Admiral Mullen, and I will all be providing you with additional details. But let me speak briefly at a more personal level about why we are making this commitment. Simply put, among a range of difficult choices, this is the best way to protect our nation now and in the future.
The extremists we are fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan have attacked us and our allies before. If we allow them access to the very same safe havens they used before 2001, they will have a greater capacity to regroup and attack again. They could drag an entire region into chaos. Our civilian and military leaders in Afghanistan have reported that the situation is serious and worsening, and we agree.
In the aftermath of September 11th, I grieved with sons, daughters, husbands, wives whose loved ones were murdered. It was an attack on our country and an attack on the constituents I then represented. I witnessed the tragic consequences in the lives of thousands of innocent families and the damage done to our economy and our sense of security. So I feel a personal responsibility to help protect our nation from such violence.
The case for action against al-Qaida and its allies has always been clear, but the United States course of action over the last eight years has not. The fog of another war obscured our focus. And while our attention was focused elsewhere, the Taliban gained momentum in Afghanistan. And the extremist threat grew in Pakistan – a country with 175 million people, a nuclear arsenal, and more than its share of challenges.
It was against this backdrop that President Obama called for a careful, thorough review of the strategy. I was proud to be a part of that process, which questioned every assumption and took nothing for granted. And our objectives are clear: We will work with the Afghan and Pakistani governments to eliminate safe havens for those plotting to attack against us, our allies, and our interests; we will help to stabilize a region that we believe is fundamental to our national security; and we will develop a long-term, sustainable relationship with both Afghanistan and Pakistan so that we do not repeat the mistakes of the past. The duration of our military presence is not open-ended, but our civilian commitment must continue even as our troops begin eventually to come home.
Accomplishing this mission and ensuring the safety of the American people will not be easy. It will mean sending not only more troops, but more civilians and more assistance to Afghanistan, and significantly expanding our civilian efforts in Pakistan.
The men and women carrying out this military-civilian mission are not members of a list or items on a PowerPoint slide. They are our friends and neighbors, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. And we will be asking them and the American people to make extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security. I want to assure this Committee that I know takes its oversight responsibility so seriously that we will do everything we can to make sure their sacrifices are honored and make our nation safer."Full Text
Read Secretary Clinton's opening remarks before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.