Sec. Clinton Discusses Middle East in Final Week
Hillary Clinton spoke this week before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and at a global town hall, summarizing her tenure as Secretary of State and sharing her thoughts about the state of the world and the future of American diplomacy. At CFR she reflected on the past four years, saying “America today is stronger at home and more respected in the world. And our global leadership is on firmer footing than many predicted.” Clinton discussed the importance of human rights and the U.S.’s role in advocating for them. She specifically pointed towards America’s effort to defend internet freedom, and her belief in the importance of women’s rights. She said gender equality would create “political and economic progress everywhere…it therefore must be central to U.S. foreign policy.” She added that the U.S. must be a positive influence because it “is still the only country that has the reach and resolve to rally disparate nations and peoples together to solve problems on a global scale, we cannot shirk that responsibility.”
Turning specifically to the Middle East, Clinton said, “There has been progress: American soldiers have come home from Iraq. People are electing their leaders for the first time in generations, or ever, in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya…All good things. But not nearly enough.” She cited remaining regional difficulties including the “turmoil in Egypt and Libya,” the conflict in Syria, Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and terrorist threats in Yemen and North Africa. Clinton stated, “We want to see a region at peace with itself and the world–where people live in dignity, not dictatorships, where entrepreneurship thrives, not extremism.” She noted that this is a difficult goal and would require “every single tool in our toolkit.”
At the global town hall Clinton again discussed the challenges facing the Middle East. One of the main threats, she believes, is Islamic extremism: “This is not what the Arab revolution was about, and there’s a great deal of concern across the region about people who choose to use violence to try to impose their extremist views rather than participate in politics.” Clinton stated that the revolutions “hold such great promise” but that the transition from authoritarianism to democracy does not happen overnight. She added that some groups “don’t believe that there can be cooperation among people who have different points of view…That has to be overcome.” Clinton also said that she does not want Iranians to suffer under sanctions but that the situation is a dilemma. She affirmed that “Iranian people…deserve to have a government that integrates them into the world, not isolates from the world.”
These were Clinton’s last public events as Secretary of State as John Kerry was sworn in Friday morning.