Secretary Clinton Delivers Remarks Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
June 23, 2011

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss civilian efforts in Afghanistan on June 23, 2011. Secretary Clinton said, "...As the President said last night, the United States is meeting the goals he set for our three-track strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The military surge has ramped up pressure on al-Qaida and Taliban insurgents. The civilian surge has bolstered the Afghan and Pakistani governments, economies, and civil societies, and undercut the pull of the insurgency. The diplomatic surge is supporting Afghan-led efforts to reach a political solution that will chart a more secure future.

"All three surges -- military, civilian, and diplomatic -- are part of the vision for transition that NATO endorsed in Lisbon last December and that President Obama reaffirmed last night. As he said, Afghans must take responsibility for their own future.

"Today, I want to amplify on the President's statement and update you specifically on our civilian efforts. And I also look forward to answering your questions about the road ahead. Because despite the progress, we have to stay focused on the mission. As the President said, “We have to put al-Qaida on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.”

"First, let me say a word about the military effort. Last night, the President explained his plan to begin drawing down our forces next month and transitioning to Afghan responsibility. I will leave it to my colleagues from the Defense Department to discuss the specifics. But the bottom line, as the President said, is that we have broken the Taliban's momentum. So we do begin this drawdown from a position of strength.

"With respect to the civilian surge, we greatly appreciate the attention that this committee has devoted to it. Because improving governance, creating economic opportunity, supporting civil society is vital to solidifying our military gains and advancing our political and diplomatic goals.

"Since January 2009, we have tripled the number of diplomats, development experts, and other civilian specialists on the ground in Afghanistan, and we have expanded our presence out in the field nearly six-fold. And these new civilians have changed the way we do business, focusing on key ministries and sectors, and holding ourselves and our partners to higher standards.

"And there should be no doubt about the results of our investment, despite the very difficult circumstances that you all know so well. Economic growth is up, opium production is down. Under the Taliban, only 900,000 boys and no girls were enrolled in schools. By 2010, 7.1 million students were enrolled, and nearly 40 percent of them girls.

"Hundreds of thousands of farmers have been trained and equipped with new seeds and other techniques. Afghan women have used more than 100,000 microfinance loans. Infant mortality is down 22 percent.

"Now, what do these numbers and others that I could quote tell us?

"First, that despite the many challenges that remain, life is better for most Afghans. And the Karzai government has many failings, to be sure. But more people, in every research analysis we are privy to, say they see progress in their streets, their schools, their fields. And we remain committed to fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law in a very challenging environment.

"The aim of the civilian surge was to give Afghans a stake in their country's future and provide credible alternatives to extremism and insurgency. It was not nor was it ever designed to solve all of Afghanistan's development challenges. Measured against the goals we set and considering the obstacles we faced, we are and should be encouraged by what we have accomplished.

"And most important, the civilian surge helped advance our military and political objectives. Let me just offer one example. Last November, USAID began funding the reconstruction of irrigation systems in Wardak province, providing jobs for hundreds of workers and water to thousands of farmers. In March, just a few months ago, insurgents demanded that the people abandon the project and support the spring offensive. The people refused. Why? Because they asked themselves, “Should we trade new opportunities for a better life for more violence and chaos?” Frustrated, the insurgents threatened to attack the project. Local shuras mobilized and sent back a clear message: “We want this work to continue. Interfere and you will become our enemy.” And the insurgents backed down.

"We have now reached the height of the civilian surge. Any effort of this size and scope will face considerable logistical challenges. And we have worked hard in the last two and a half years to strengthen oversight and improve effectiveness. We have, frankly, learned many lessons, and we are applying them. And the efforts of our civilians on the ground, working in some of the most difficult conditions imaginable, continues to be nothing short of extraordinary. Looking ahead as the transition proceeds, we are shifting our efforts from short-term stabilization projects, largely as part of the military strategy, to longer-term sustainable development that focuses on spurring growth and integrating Afghanistan into South Central Asia's economy.

"Now, the third surge is our diplomatic surge. It is diplomatic efforts in support of an Afghan-led political process that aims to shatter the alliance between the Taliban and al-Qaida, end the insurgency, and help to produce more stability. To begin, we are working with the Afghans on a new strategic partnership declaration that will provide a long-term framework for bilateral cooperation and NATO cooperation, as agreed to, again, at Lisbon. And it will bolster Afghan and regional confidence that Afghanistan will not again become a safe haven for terrorists and an arena for competing regional interests.

"As the President said last night, this will ensure we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan Government. It will also provide a backdrop for reconciliation with insurgents who must meet clear red lines -- they must renounce violence, they must abandon al-Qaida, and they must abide by the constitution of Afghanistan, including its protections for women. As I said in February in the speech I gave outlining this strategy, those are the necessary outcomes of any negotiation.

"In the last four months, this Afghan-led political process has gained momentum. Twenty-seven Provincial Peace Councils have been established in Afghanistan, and the Afghan High Peace Council has stepped up its efforts to engage civil society and women, even as it also begins reaching out to insurgents. And let me underscore something which you will not be surprised to hear me say, but I say it not because of my personal feelings but because of my strategic assessment: Including women and civil society in this process is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart and strategic thing to do as well. Any potential for peace will be subverted if women or ethnic minorities are marginalized or silenced. And the United States will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the social progress that has been made in the past decade.

"But we believe that a political solution that meets these conditions is possible. The United States has a broad range of contacts at many levels across Afghanistan and the region, that we are leveraging to support this effort, including very preliminary outreach to members of the Taliban. This is not a pleasant business, but a necessary one, because history tells us that a combination of military pressure, economic opportunity, and an inclusive political and diplomatic process is the best way to end insurgencies. With bin Ladin dead and al-Qaida's remaining leadership under enormous pressure, the choice facing the Taliban is clear: Be part of Afghanistan's future or face unrelenting assault. They cannot escape this choice.

"Special Representative Marc Grossman is leading an active diplomatic effort to build support for a political solution. What we call the Core Group -- Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States -- has met twice and will convene again next week. At the same time, we are engaging the region around a common vision of an independent, stable Afghanistan and a region free of al-Qaida. We believe we've made progress with all of the neighbors, including India, Russia, and even Iran. Just this past Friday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously to support reconciliation by splitting its sanctions on al-Qaida and the Taliban into two separate lists, underscoring that the door is open for the insurgents to abandon the terrorists and choose a different path.

"We welcome these steps, and for the United States the key diplomatic priority and indeed a lynchpin of this entire effort is closing the gap between Kabul and Islamabad. Pakistan must be part of this process. Earlier this month, the two countries launched a joint peace commission and held substantive talks at the highest levels. Also, very significant, was the full implementation on June 12th of the Transit Trade Agreement, which will create new economic opportunity on both sides of the Durand Line and lay the foundation for a broader vision of regional economic integration and cooperation. This agreement started being negotiated in the early 1960s. It therefore took decades, including great, heroic effort by the late Richard Holbrooke and his team. But the trucks are now rolling across the border.

"I recently visited Pakistan and had, as we say in diplo-speak, very candid discussions with its leaders. The United States has clear expectations for this relationship, and as President Obama said last night, the United States will never tolerate a safe haven for those who kill Americans. We are looking to Pakistan to take concrete actions on the goals we share: Defeating violent extremism, which has also taken so many innocent Pakistani lives; ending the conflict in Afghanistan; and securing a stable, democratic, prosperous future.

"Now, these are obviously tough questions to ask of the Pakistanis and there are many causes for frustration. But we should not overlook the positive steps of just recent weeks since May 2nd: Counterterrorism cooperation continues and several very key extremists have been killed or captured. As I told the Pakistanis, America cannot and should not try to solve Pakistan's problems; they have to eventually do that themselves. But nor can we walk away from this relationship and ignore the consequences, for all the reasons that Senator Lugar outlined in his opening statement: Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state sitting at the crossroads of a strategic region. And we have seen this movie before. We have seen the cost of disengaging from the region. As Secretary Gates, who was there at that time, has stressed, we cannot repeat the mistakes of 1989.

"That's why it's important we have the resources to continue implementing our strategy. The State Department is following the Pentagon's model and creating a special emergency fund -- an Overseas Contingency Operations account -- that separates normal operating costs from extraordinary wartime expenses. Now, I will hasten to say we are painfully aware of today's fiscal reality. And I know that it is tempting for some to peel off the civilian and diplomatic elements of our strategy. They obviously make fewer headlines; people don't know as much about them. And it would be a terrible mistake, and I'm not saying that just for myself, but as our commanders on the ground will tell you, the three surges work hand-in-hand. You cannot cut or limit one and expect the other two to succeed.

"Ultimately, I believe we are saving money and, much more importantly, lives by investing now. And let's not forget: An entire year of civilian assistance in Afghanistan costs Americans the same amount as 10 days of military operations."

You can also read Secretary Clinton's remarks here.

Related Entry: President Obama Delivers Remarks on the Way Forward in Afghanistan

Comments

Comments

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 28, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece,

Well I don't detect deception, rather a neglect to mention..(chuckle).

I be guilty of same.

See, I got a long distance call from "homie" the other day, seems the Wise One is doin' a little proof reading and wanted me to tie up a loose end or two regarding the tale of bin Laden's search for the meaning of life;

, and you remember later how I sent two of my bro's to steal a certain file , well the file proves that the taxidermist screwed up. All this time the intel community had thought he'd been vaporized at Tora Bora, but it seems he mistook him for a look-alike.

So homie has these two sherpa bro's that bring up tea and crackers to the Wise One every two weeks or so, and until May 2nd they had no idea it was bin Laden they found frozen stiff and all busted up at the foot of K2 after the wise one booted him out of his cave. Hell, I figued he was gone for good but bin what's his name was the litteral truth for he had amnesia and one day simply wandered off from the monestary where he was recovering.

Well, we all know the end of trhe story, but as a famous radio broadcaster once said,

"And now for the rest of the story..."

Well these two sherpas dug him on out of that frozen crevase all right, but like Mr. Otzi- the alpen Iceman, he was minus a member from frosbite.

Thus explains all the porn Seal Team 6 found, and why bin Laden was hunched in a blanket watching re-runs of himself.

He never could get warm enough again after the experience and when the taliban found him wandering lost, they attempted to restore his memories.

"And now you know the rest of the story."

And John, you do realize of course that when and if the Dept of State does this "official" book of, by, and for the public interest, it's going to have these words printed in letters so large it will take up the whole of one page;

"Each story reflects an individual's experience and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. government."

(chuckle).

THE END

(Dedicated to Linda, who taught me that you can get through the hardest of times, "so long as we remember our joy.")

Onward through the fog toward "Change We Can Live With!"

John
|
Canada
June 29, 2011

John in Canada writes:

USAID should be careful, should countries get any ideas from Orlando, California – USAID workers might end up sitting in jail for feeding the hungry.

Given the budget debate – I imagine it would be considerably cheaper to assist the charity in obtaining the license required. (License to feed the hungry tsk, tsk)

For certain this would be cheaper then 21 arrests and prosecutions – never mind it’s the decent thing to do.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
June 29, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

John in Canada,

Sorry for the delay getting back to you, I just wanted to inform you that I'm already previously on record here of being willing to pimp out my cat for rodent control if DoD thinks it has a rat problem on its hands.

(all proceeds go to the "Friskies fund", she enjoys earning her keep.)

On UBL...I was just reiterating his public excuse for his declaration of war on America back in the 90's...and generally speaking if one is declaring war on a nation, they are more inclined than not to be willing to see it's destruction.

On Orlando..., The question the federal government needs to ask itself is whether there is any dicernable difference between 'lil Kim's rationale in starving his people to death in North Korea, and the city of Orlando's towards its homeless population?

I do believe they just covicted folks of upholding the "Good Samaritan Act" in which by law a citizen is required to render aid to a fellow citizen in distress, or at risk.

Whether a homeless kitchen is licenced or not is irrelevent as the law mandates aid be given regardless of the form it takes, or the method used to deliver it where it is needed.

Most states I believe, as well as the Fed. Gov., have such a good samaritan law on their books, I know mine has.

If one is to make illegal the notion of "Neighbor helping neighbor" then this nation is then truly subject to the ravages of political stupidity.

I rest my case.

EJ

John
|
Canada
June 29, 2011

John in Canada writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

Like freedom – stupidity knows no borders; unfortunately it seems to be the human condition worldwide.

My point simply is that stupidity cost dollars all over not just in America. I’m a critic of all nations.

America is kind enough to let me voice my thoughts and opinions without the threat of imprisonment, beheading or some other medieval threat. At least not yet (laugh)

But, it sure is frustrating sometimes to watch the avoidable become the unavoidable.

Oh well such is life, how’s the fires in your neck of the woods? Is your cat glowing yet? The whole south seems to be burning. It’s too bad we can’t send some of the northern flood waters your way.

Nice bit of info on the “Good Samaritan act” we certainly could do with a few more of them around the world.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
July 1, 2011

John in Canada,

Fire's at just under 100,000 acres now, but WE GOT RAIN! It's pouring buckets...as I write this, and maybe, just maybe it will rain on ...our monsoons are overdue.

If you read my last update on the "week in review", folks really did a great job out here turning mother nature's fury.

Folks learned lessons from the last big fire and I think folks would say generally that it made all the difference.

All stupidity aside, never ever neglect the talkin' monkey's ability to lend himself a "teachable moment" in desperation ..or just the want of something better to do.

(chuckle).

Could be why I started writing in the first place, but only my muse knows for sure...(grin).

EJ

seo m.
August 2, 2011

S.M. writes:

Spot on with this write-up, I really assume this website wants rather more consideration. I’ll most likely be again to read far more, thanks for that info.

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