Interview With Vladimir Pozner of First Channel Television
SECRETARY CLINTON: (In progress.) There is no satisfaction and no harder job that I’ve had in my life than being a mother.
QUESTION: (Inaudible): “Do you have any artistic talents that you would like to employ?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.)
QUESTION: For instance, she writes, “Carla Bruni records songs. Would you like to play in a movie, for instance?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, a movie would be fine, but don’t ask me to sing, and probably not to dance either.
QUESTION: Dimitry Meyer: “What is your favorite book? Do you have one?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it’s interesting. I was asked this question at Moscow University when I was there in October, and I have many favorite books. But because I was in Russia and I was speaking with young people, I talked about how The Brothers Karamatov had so influenced me as a young person, and I stick with that.
QUESTION: Have you reread it?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’ve reread it several times. Not recently, however.
QUESTION: I have, and really, it’s an amazing book.
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is —
QUESTION: How he gets inside people is unbelievable.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The combination of his psychological insight and his political understanding is really unmatched.
QUESTION: That’s right. (Inaudible), can feminism be a negative social force, number one. And number two, with whom do you find it easier to work, with men or with women?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I find it easier to work with people who are open, transparent, collegial, either men or women. The question about feminism – I think any “ism” can be a negative, and you have to always try to keep in balance. And certainly, I consider myself a feminist. I believe strongly that women deserve equal rights with men and equal responsibilities. And I’m very keen on helping women to continue to progress around the world.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) He writes, “I’m a second-year student in the city of Sochi. I’m interested in the acknowledgement of genocide committed by the Ottoman empire against the Armenians. Why does President Obama not recognize Resolution 252? During his campaign, he promised that the U.S. would recognize the genocide, but now that he’s President, he seems to have forgotten.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t think anyone has forgotten, but what has happened that is of great import is the work going on between Turkey and Armenia. In fact, I was in Zurich last fall with the foreign ministers of Turkey, Armenia, Russia, France, other countries to witness the signing of a set of protocols to normalize relationships between Armenia and Turkey. And in those protocols, there was an agreement between the two countries to establish a historical commission that would look at all of the issues that are part of the past.
And I think that’s the right way to go, I think, to have the two countries and the two peoples focusing on this themselves. I have said many times we cannot change the past we inherit. All we can do is try to have a better future.
QUESTION: Does that commission exist now?
SECRETARY CLINTON: They’re working to create it.
QUESTION: They’re working on it. I see.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: I see. Alexander Smirnoff: “Why is the possibility of travel between our countries without visa a long way off, as you’ve said? What is being done to make it easier for Americans to come to Russia and for Russians to visit America?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we want to encourage a lot more travel and a lot more exchanges. And as we move forward and we get more experience between our two countries in facilitating business travel, tourism travel, education travel, every kind of travel, I think it will become, at least I hope, easy and easier. And many of our businesses want to have their business leaders come and have open-ended visas. And similarly, a lot of Russians want to be able to come and have as much time as they need. That’s what I would like to work toward.
QUESTION: (Inaudible.) She writes “How do you understand the meaning of double standards in politics?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I usually think of it in terms of men and women, but it can also be thought of in terms of countries or groups. I think anyone who believes that their voice is not being heard, that they’re being marginalized, that they are somehow being treated as a second-class citizen, the victim of hypocrisy, we feel as though there’s a double standard. And I’ve seen it in many different settings over the time of my life in politics.
QUESTION: Could it be applying different standards to different countries?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It could be, or to different ethnic groups or religious groups, or between the genders.
QUESTION: (Inaudible): “Being a strong woman and devoted mother, what advice would you give to your daughter regarding a balance between family and career?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’ve talked a lot about that because my daughter has come of age when a lot of the barriers that used to exist, that even I experienced as a girl growing up, are no longer there. The legal barriers have been pushed away. But there still has to be a balance in your life, and it has to be a balance that I think looks at what is lasting and most important. And for me, that comes down to family and relationships.
And I tell my daughter and her friends and the young women who work for me that it is very important, if you decide you want to have a career, a profession, to do it, go for it. But never forget, at the end of the day, no one on his or her deathbed ever says “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
QUESTION: Alexander (inaudible): “What in your view is America’s place in the modern world? Is it a force aimed at supporting the world’s equilibrium? Or is it a force aimed at changing the status quo?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s both in this way, Vladimir. It is a force to sustain an equilibrium that permits countries and individuals to progress, to become more self-realizing. I mean, we want very much to have a strong Russia because a strong, competent, prosperous, stable Russia is, we think, in the interests of the world. But at the same time, there are countries and places where the status quo is just not acceptable. Last summer, I went to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I went to Eastern Congo where 5.4 million people had been killed in the last 15 years, the greatest death toll since the Second World War. We don’t want that status quo to be sustained.
QUESTION: Dimitry (inaudible). He writes: “Have you got an ideal person in politics, past – it doesn’t matter when – but someone who you feel is what you would call the ideal for a politician?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, there are many people who I admire, including my husband, I have to add. But I think Nelson Mandela is someone I especially admire. Think of what he went through coming out of a struggle against apartheid, trying to, in effect, overthrow the Government of South Africa, the all-white government.
QUESTION: Yes, yes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Being in jail, and I’ve been to his jail cell, which was about as big as this table, coming out of jail after 29 years or so, and finding it within himself to not only forgive what had been done to him, but to lead his people in a positive direction. We need more of that in the world. We need leaders who are not prisoners of the past. We need leaders who can imagine a different future. We need leaders who can cut across all the lines that divide us in the world today. And no one exemplifies that more than Nelson Mandela.
QUESTION: I have one more question from a lady who says her name is Ana: “In your opinion, is American mass media independent? How true is it they show viewers and who controls it? In the case of the Russian-Georgian events of a couple of years ago, do you think the American TV channels provided a true picture of what was going on? I think that the Russian media provided a totally different view. Who are the people to believe?”
SECRETARY CLINTON: In this time of mass media, that’s a very profound question. And it’s not only about the American media or the Russian media; it is about all media. I think our country has very free media. In fact, it’s almost an excess of freedom in some people’s minds because our media now basically can say whatever it chooses to say, show whatever it chooses. And there are some in our country who regret that, who wish that there were – there was more discretion about what is shown on our media.
But it is fair to say that everybody comes to any event by looking at it through their own eyes. So I might have 10 Russians and 10 Americans looking at the same thing, but seeing it differently.
QUESTION: Interpreting it differently?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Interpreting it differently. And I think part of the challenge – and that’s why I’m so grateful for this chance to be on your show – is that we have to do more to make sure we see through the other person’s eyes, so we don’t just say, “Well, this is the way I see it, this is how I interpret it; I’m right, you’re wrong.” No, we have to say, “Well, why did you think that?” And “Let’s try to make sure we understand each other better.”
QUESTION: Well, I hope this interview is going to help a little bit, but now we’re going to take a break. We have a little bit of advertising to do.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, yes. I understand that, too.
QUESTION: So don’t go away.
QUESTION: Looking back a little bit, in your book Living History that came out in 2003, you wrote that preserving your marriage with Bill and running for senator were the most difficult decisions of your life. Could you explain that a little bit?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as I write in the book, there were many things going on at that time in my life and at that time in my country’s life. And trying to balance the personal and the public was extremely difficult. I come from the point of view that at the end of the day, you have to do what is right for you. You cannot make decisions that are being promoted by the press or by other political persons; you have to get very quiet and think about what’s important for you. And so there was all kinds of advice coming in at me from all directions. I think I made the right decisions.
QUESTION: Was your decision to run for president – was that also a difficult decision?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It was, but not as hard, because I worried greatly about what had happened in our country the prior years of the last administration. It’s not a secret that I disagreed politically and I thought that there were a lot of ways that America needed to be strengthened and put on a track that more resembled who we are, what our character is, and that I could make a contribution to that debate. And so I’m very happy I had the chance to run, and it was an extraordinary opportunity. And much to my amazement, the man I ran against so hard for so long, President Obama, asked me to be in his Administration.
QUESTION: And that’s another thing I wanted to ask you. During this – the debates that went on, so you said some pretty hard things about now-President Obama. Did you have any problem at all accepting this offer, actually? You know.
SECRETARY CLINTON: (Laughter.) Well, he said some hard things about me.
QUESTION: Oh, absolutely. That’s the point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But that’s what politics in campaigning often is about. It was a hard job to accept because I wanted to return to being a senator from New York. I was very anxious to go back to representing New York in the Senate. And when now-President Obama asked me, I was amazed. I couldn’t believe that he was offering me this very important job. And at first, I said, well, I’m not so sure; you should think about this person or that person, someone else. But he was very persistent and he kept coming back to how, despite what superficially appeared to be a tough campaign, underneath that we had so many fundamental agreements about what needed to be done in our country. And at the end of the discussions, I concluded that it was really about serving America.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And when I started traveling as Secretary of State, it was the most common question people asked me, from Indonesia to Korea, all places around the world: How could you work with and for someone against whom you had campaigned? I said because we both love our country. That, to me, was the bottom line. What can we do to continue to serve?
QUESTION: And I take it you have no regrets.
SECRETARY CLINTON: None. No, I have no regrets.
QUESTION: When you were writing or decided to write Living History, did you already know that you were probably going to run for president?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I really didn’t. I know there are people who —
QUESTION: I’ve read, but that’s not the point.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I know. There are people who say that. I didn’t know it. I knew people had talked to me about it and had encouraged me, but it’s such a grueling experience to run for president, and the job is practically impossible.
QUESTION: Pretty grueling experience to write the book.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, it is but we have one president who embodies head-of-state, head-of-government. You have a president and a prime minister. Other people have the same system. Some people have a king or a queen and a prime minister. We have one person. So that one person bears the entire load of symbolizing the country and running the government. So I thought long and hard about it, but it – at the end of my deliberations, I decided I would try because I thought I could contribute.
QUESTION: The book was the book and that decision was that decision —
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: — and there was no —
SECRETARY CLINTON: No connection.
QUESTION: Okay. Let’s take a look at U.S. foreign policy.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You wrote an article for the November-December issue of Foreign Affairs back in 2007 and you blamed George W. Bush for the fact that the U.S. kind of had lost the respect and the trust of even its closest allies and friends. Has there been a change now? Do you feel that you’ve overcome what happened during those years?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I do. And here’s why. What I have seen in the last year started with relief that the prior administration was gone and a new administration was in place, a lot of excitement and anticipation about President Obama and what he symbolized and his brand of leadership, and we have worked very hard at rebuilding relationships. Just today in meeting with President Medvedev, we acknowledged that we’ve come a long way in doing that. We still have work to do because these problems are never ending. I think there’s a difference – what some people confuse. There’s a difference between being able to have an open, frank , constant communication which we now have with Russia and other partners in the world, and agreeing on everything. We’re not going to agree on everything.
And sometimes people look at me or look at another foreign minister and say, well, if you’ve got such a great relationship, why don’t you agree? Well, that’s the wrong way to look it because what we want to do is find the areas where we can agree and move forward together, like we are with the START treaty that we’re about to finish. And where we have disagreements, more of those through the kind of honest communication that we now are engaged in.
QUESTION: One of the things that you seem to disagree with is the idea of spheres of influence.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You’ve said that that’s old fashioned, 19th century, whatever and that’s something the United States does not accept. And I was thinking about the resolution that was adopted by the Congress back in 2005, which specified the right of the United States to have pretty much unlimited access to communications centers, the key areas, global resources. What’s the difference between that and spheres of influence? It sounds pretty much like the same thing.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I don’t know exactly what the Congress meant in that resolution five years ago. But what we mean is that, of course, great countries like Russia and the United States are going to have influence. They’re going to have influence globally. When your president or prime minister travel, they don’t just travel in a few places. They travel globally. And they make a case and they negotiate over all kinds of matters. So do we. But there shouldn’t be any automatic presumption that any country because of geographic proximity is within a – quote – “sphere of influence.” We have many countries to our south in the Western Hemisphere. We’re obviously going to try to influence them, but they’re independent countries. They get to make up their own minds about the direction of their foreign policy, for example.
QUESTION: Is the Monroe Doctrine still alive in your mind, which says pretty much stay out of here; this is our part of the world?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. No. I mean, we recognize the new reality that in a globalized economy, you’re going to have China, Russia, the European Union. You’re going to have constant trade flows and business deals and investments. You’re going to have bilateral foreign policy agreements in the Western Hemisphere, in Africa, in Asia, everywhere in the world. The United States is going to do our best to make sure that we’re in there; we’re not going to cede any ground to anyone. But we don’t expect our partners in the Latin American region to say, “Oh, I can’t talk to Russia because I’m in America’s sphere of influence.” We don’t expect that. We think that is old fashioned and we need to move on so that every country is being given the opportunity to chart its own course.
QUESTION: Do you support the famous adage of Theodore Roosevelt about speak softly but carry a big stick?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It’s a pretty accurate description of what American foreign policy has been off and on for the last hundred years. We know we have a lot of influence and power. We know we have a very strong military. We have extensive economic relationships. But I think what you’ve seen with President Obama is an emphasis on the “speak softly” part. How do we engage better? You’ve seen that very clearly with respect to Iran. When President Obama came in and said, “We will extend our hand if you unclench your fist,” and then directed that we all began to try to reach out, talk with Iran, get Iran to engage with the rest of the world. But at the same time, we always had the possibility of a second track of engagement, which are the kind of sanctions and pressures that we think the time has come to impose.
QUESTION: Since you brought up Iran, I was going to ask anyway: In a worst-case scenario – in a worst-case scenario, do you think it would be possible to use force in Iran?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that would not only be a worst case; that would be a very last resort. No one wants to see that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And that is why we’re working so hard to persuade Iran to change its behavior. If you look at Iran – we were just talking a few minutes ago about looking through others’ eyes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: If you look at Iran through the region, the neighbors in the area, they see an aggressive force coming out of Iran that is trying to destabilize other countries —
QUESTION: You’re speaking about Israel or you’re speaking about –
SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I’m speaking about the Arab world.
QUESTION: The Arab world, right.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We hear this all the time. North Africa, Morocco just expelled the Iranians because they were proselytizing and fomenting against the regime in Morocco. It’s very broad, Vladimir, and so it’s not just the United States saying this. I think, as President Medvedev said, no one likes sanctions, but they may be inevitable when you try to change behavior. Our goal is to change Iranian behavior; to have them stop supporting and exporting terrorism; to have them stop proselytizing in ways that destabilize other countries of the region and the broader Islamic world.
QUESTION: But the main thing is the nuclear program, is it not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is the main thing, because, if they get a nuclear weapons program, that will launch an arms race in the Middle East the likes of which we’ve never seen.
QUESTION: And it might even provoke a nuclear confrontation.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, heaven forbid. We want to avoid that at all costs.
QUESTION: The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is a very close one. And the United States has always supported Israel, to the point where some people think it allows Israel to thumb its nose at the rest of the world. There are some people who look at it that way. Now, when Vice President Joe Biden was going to visit Israel, right on the eve, the Israeli Government announced that they were going to build 1,600 new housing units in Eastern Jerusalem, which provoked a lot of anger and you were not happy with that. And you spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, making it very clear that that was the case. You were very critical. And now according to what I’ve read about a week later, you’re tone was much more conciliatory. Why?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, because we’ve seen the Israelis recognize that the resumption of negotiations between them and the Palestinians must begin. And, therefore, they are looking for ways to improve the atmosphere and to take steps that will produce a positive reaction, not just from the Palestinians, but from all of us who are trying to create this negotiation that will lead to a two-state solution. I think that – we had a meeting of the so-called Quartet here in Moscow that Foreign Minister Lavrov called. And at the table was, of course, Russia, the European Union, the United Nations, the United States, and the Quartet representative, former Prime Minister Tony Blair. We, once again, in a statement, condemned what Israel had done. And we, once again, called for everybody to get back to the main business at hand, which is charting the way toward a state for the Palestinians and security for the Israelis.
QUESTION: I think it was in April in 2008, you were on Larry King. And you spoke about the enormous problems facing the new President, whoever he or she might be. And among others, you said it included winning the war in Afghanistan and ending the war in Iraq. Now, in 2002, you were among those who voted “aye” for giving Bush the right to use force in Iraq. A, do you have any regrets about that today looking back? And B, are you satisfied with what has happened in Iraq, in the sense, do you feel that democracy now is established there and when the U.S. pulls out its troops, it’s going to be all right? And finally, what does it mean to win in Afghanistan?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, with respect to Iraq, I have expressed very many criticisms and regrets about the way that the Bush Administration took the authority and used it with respect to Iraq. Where we are right now is that Iraq just went through another election, which by all accounts is credible, legitimate, an astonishing accomplishment in that region.
QUESTION: All things considered.
SECRETARY CLINTON: All things considered. As they form a new government, as they begin to make these decisions that every democracy has to make about how to allocate resources, we are hoping that they stay on the course that they have begun. Right now, they present at least room for optimism about where they could end up. But at the same time, we know how hard this is. I mean this is tough work trying to bring feuding parties together, people who have not worked in any kind of collegial way, get them all on the same page going forward on behalf of their country. But we’ve seen some signs that are very promising.
QUESTION: But you are confident that the U.S. will pull out its troops?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, we have made a commitment. We have signed an agreement with the Government of Iraq. Now, we will have a normal relationship where we will continue to support the Iraqi Government. We will provide aid as they request, but we are going to be withdrawing our combat troops from Iraq. On Afghanistan, nobody knows better than the Russians, what a very difficult situation is presented. I think, though, we are seeing progress in creating the environment for a political solution. This is not a conflict that can be won decisively, but enough ground can be gained that the people’s confidence in supporting political reconciliation can be obtained. And that’s what we’re looking for.
QUESTION: Do you accept the idea of working with the Taliban if the Taliban is willing to talk to you?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Under certain circumstances, we do. You cannot make peace with those who will not commit to peace.
SECRETARY CLINTON: You can’t make peace with those who won’t put down their weapons and participate in the political process. But if members of the Taliban renounce violence, renounce al-Qaida, commit themselves to the constitution of Afghanistan, as with many conflicts around the world, then there can be a negotiation.
QUESTION: There’s a question that a lot of Russians have brought up and I figured I’d ask it myself, because I’ve tried to bring in everything that was asked. What really is the difference between Kosovo – which was since ancient times part of Serbia and yet is now independent thanks to support by NATO and, of course, the United States – on the one hand and, on the other hand, Abkhazia and Southern Ossetia, which were part of Gruzia of Georgia and are now independent, thanks to the support of Russia. What is the point of the principal difference if we’re speaking about what we call the integrity of a country, the territorial integrity, in both places? It’s a problem, isn’t it? What makes it okay for Kosovo and not okay for the others?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think the circumstances are very different from, again, the way we see it. With respect to the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, when the component pieces were breaking up and there were efforts to create independent states, there was a great demand on the part of Kosovo to become independent, because if felt like it had been put into Yugoslavia in a way that was not commensurate with its ambitions or its identity. People basically did not accede to that, but there was internal turmoil within Serbia, which led to the ethnic cleansing that was so demonstrably upsetting to have it take place in Europe. And then, of course, Kosovo decided it wanted to be an independent state.
The way we see Georgia is that Georgia was a much more integrated country. There were different groupings of people as there are in the United States or anywhere else in the world; and that it was meant to be a country where those different experiences, cultures, ethnic identities come together. Now, we understand that from the Russian perspective and from the perspective of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, that’s not perhaps how they saw it. But we see a significant difference and we regret the break-up of Georgia, because we think that an integrated, whole Georgia is much more in the interests of everyone who is in the component parts of it.
QUESTION: Except those who don’t want to be.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s a problem everywhere. I mean we all face that.
QUESTION: All right. Okay. In your view, is the protection of human rights still the cornerstone of the U.S. foreign policy?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is one of the cornerstones.
QUESTION: One of the cornerstones.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, it is. Absolutely.
QUESTION: Do you find that it hinders your relationship with China? The reason I ask is because the State Department has issued a paper where China is the number one country that does not respect human rights, followed by Russia, according to the State Department papers. So the feeling, again, a lot of Russians get is that you make an exception for China because the U.S. is so involved financially in China, has such a deep interest in China, but you kind of – you say the words, but you don’t really follow up when it comes to China.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, that’s not the case. What we are trying to do with both China and Russia, is to have such broad and comprehensive relationships that they don’t rise or fall on any one issue, no matter how important. So we always raise human rights with China. We have a very significant difference over Tibet and the treatment of Tibetans; over religion and the suppression of religion; over the treatment of dissidents, lawyers who stand up for the rights of small farmers, people who spoke out against problems after the earthquake. We constantly are raising their concerns and bringing them to the attention of the world as well as to China.
But our relationship with China is very broad. And one of our goals in the Obama Administration is to keep relationships on track. If you get – if you have a hundred things that are important, but you only talk about one of them, well, of course, everything’s going to be seen through the prism of that one, no matter how significant it might be.
So let’s take our relationship with Russia. We have spoken out against the murders of journalists. We have spoken out against some of the oppression of dissidents, because we think Russia is a great enough country that it can absorb dissident expression, that people can express their views and that it adds to the dynamism of Russia in the 21st century. But even while we speak out against that, we’re hard at work in Geneva to continue to finish the START agreement on nuclear weapons.
QUESTION: Is that going to happen soon?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, it is going to happen soon.
QUESTION: The reset button?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: What is necessary, in your view, on the Russia side for it to really work? And what is necessary for it on the American side to really work? Because it can’t be that one side says to the other, “Well, it’s going to work only if you do this.” And the other side says, “No, I’m sorry.”
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think both of us have to change our mindsets and our attitudes about the other. We live with an inheritance of feelings and historical experiences. We were allies in World War II; we were adversaries during the Cold War.
SECRETARY CLINTON: We’re now in a new era. I think one of the best changes that each of us could entertain is looking toward the future instead of constantly in the rearview mirror.
One of the fears that I hear from Russians is that somehow the United States wants Russia to be weak. That could not be farther from the truth. Our goal is to help strengthen Russia. We see Russia with the strong culture, with the incredible intellectual capital that Russia has, as a leader in the 21st century. And we sometimes feel like we believe more in your future than sometimes Russians do.
We have 40,000 Russians living in Silicon Valley in California. We would be thrilled if 40,000 Russians were working in whatever the Russian equivalent of Silicon Valley is, providing global economic competition, taking the internet and technology to the next level. But in order to achieve each of our goals in our relationship, we have to break with the past. We have to be committed to an open and honest and dialogue. We have to be very honest about our differences, and I think we’ve begun to establish that level of communication. And we have to find ways of working together.
A couple of weeks ago, the State Department sent a delegation of business leaders from the high-tech industry plus a famous American actor. They “Twittered” their way through Russia. I don’t know if you had a chance to talk to any of them.
QUESTION: I didn’t, but I read about it.
SECRETARY CLINTON: They met with really smart young innovators. They met with academics. They came back blown away. They said some of the smartest people they’ve ever met are in Russia. But then we asked then, “Well, do you want to do business in Russia?” And they said, “It’s really hard to do business in Russia. It’s hard to get through the bureaucracy. It’s hard to set up the kind of arrangements that we need.” We want to break down barriers. We want to create more free flow of people and information.
QUESTION: On the 12th and 13th of April in D.C., there is going to be a global summit on nuclear safety. I wanted to ask you, do you believe it’s possible to create a nuclear-free world. And are you not of the opinion that it’s only thanks to mutually assured destruction, MAD, that there was no war between the U.S. and the USSR?
SECRETARY CLINTON: That’s a great question Vladimir. I share the vision that President Obama outlined in Prague last spring of a world without nuclear weapons, but I believe it’s a long time off in the future. What do we have to do today to move us closer to this world? This nuclear security summit is one means of bringing together the world to try to do more to safeguard nuclear materials.
The United States and Russia are the leaders, and therefore we are the stewards of the nuclear arsenal that exists in the world. Mutually assured destruction or effective deterrent worked in part because we never stopped talking. We had summits all the time, even during the depths of the Cold War. We had an understanding that each of us was a rational being. Now, we might disagree with your system; you might disagree with our system. But we thought we had kind of common understandings of how human beings think about the world. We didn’t think either one of us was suicidal. We fear adversaries in the world today who are suicidal, who would obtain nuclear material and use it to such great destruction in your country, my country, elsewhere in the world.
So it wasn’t just the fact that we both had huge arsenals of nuclear weapons; it was who we were as a people, how we thought, the premium on rationality. We might see the world differently, but at the end of the day, we chose to survive and to live and to raise families and to build a better future. We can’t count on that with some of the actors on the world stage today, which is why it’s so important what we’re doing in Geneva on START, and it’s so important that we work together to move toward a time in the future.
QUESTION: One of the sticking points in the relationship today is this whole thing about the deployment of an antiballistic missile system in Europe on the part of the United States. And it seems that the United States doesn’t really understand why the Russians are so disturbed by this. And I was (inaudible) ask you what if the Russians deployed a system like that in Venezuela, saying that would protect Russia from somebody out there. Don’t you think it would rub people the wrong way, that they would see a kind of a danger there?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if that is the perception, then you can see where that chain of reasoning leads. But here’s what we believe and what we are saying. When we look at the threats in the world today, as we were just discussing, we don’t see a threat from Russia, and we hope Russian doesn’t see a threat from us. What we do see is the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran, an arms race in the Middle East with no telling who’s going to be in charge of the weapons, instability in other countries, the extremist violent terrorist network, the syndicate that al-Qaida is a part of, seeking every day to get a hold of nuclear material, development of missiles by states like North Korea and Iran that can reach Russia, can reach the rest of Europe. We have offered and we continue to offer the fullest cooperation with Russia to jointly develop missile defense.
Honestly, we don’t see Russia as a threat. We believe that those days are behind us. But what we do see is the potential for others to fill that danger gap, if you will. So that’s what we would hope for in the future, is to build enough trust that we would enhance our early warning signals and our alert systems, that we would be in constant communication between our militaries, our intelligence communities, that we would have our experts working to jointly create missile defense, because it’s a sad commentary that we’re working so well together, but unfortunately the world that we helped to create, a world that does have nuclear weapons, is now being inhabited by those who don’t necessarily have the same values that Russians and Americans do.
QUESTION: We’ve been talking about U.S. foreign policy and U.S.-Russian relations. I’d like to ask you something about the United States. In your view, what is the most serious problem, or what are the most serious problems, facing the United States? And let’s keep the rest of the world out of this, just the U.S., the American people.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Right. I think we have several challenges. One of them is very general, and that is to make sure that our democracy, which is the oldest in the world, continues to function well and deliver results for people. Therefore, our gridlock in our political system is deeply frustrating to Americans. They look at our Congress and they say, “Why can’t you get anything done?” And our leadership, our political leadership at all levels of government, have to be able to promote – get over their partisan differences and their ideological, philosophical differences, and work for the betterment of the people. That’s the kind of general challenge we face: How do we make sure our system works for the next 200-plus years the way it has for the last.
We also, on the economic front, have to be sure that our economy continues to function for all Americans. I mean, one of the great achievements of the American economy was how broadly wealth was shared, that you could be born into a very poor family and work your way up and be a successful professional in business.
QUESTION: Called the American dream.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The American dream, exactly.
QUESTION: Is it still alive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: It is still alive. But as with any dream that is lived out in the real world, the world in which we are awake, you have to constantly be updating it. And we have a problem now, which I think is common to all advanced economies. Many of the jobs that we used to take for granted that employed people, gave them a good middle class life, we no longer can afford to do them. They’re being done in China or they’re being replaced by technology as productivity increases. Take airlines. Airlines during the global recession laid off all kinds of people who worked behind counters. Well, now they’re coming back and their business is picking up, but they’re saying, look, more people are using the automatic machines. They’re sticking their credit card in. We don’t need all the people behind the counters. We’ll never have those jobs back again.
We have to keep creating jobs because we have to keep the work ethic alive. We have to give people meaningful work that they’re proud to do, that provides a living for them and their families. That’s a big challenge for us.
And then we always work on our equity issues. We believe in equality. It is one of our founding values. We can’t ever permit there to be such a huge gap between those who are at the very top and those who are —
QUESTION: The rich and the poor.
SECRETARY CLINTON: The rich and the poor. And to us that’s an article of faith, but it should be to any democratic economy. You’ve got to keep generating jobs and wealth and a meritocracy so that people feel like they can climb the ladder to success.
QUESTION: Thank you. I am now going to give the floor to (inaudible) to have a few questions. I spoke to him this morning and he —
SECRETARY CLINTON: How’s he doing?
QUESTION: Well, he’s doing pretty well.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well good. Good.
QUESTION: He’s still quite famous.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m glad to hear that.
QUESTION: All right. What human quality do you most admire?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Forgiveness.
QUESTION: What human frailty would you be most likely to forgive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Stupidity. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What would you not forgive?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Meanness.
QUESTION: What do you consider to be your greatest weakness?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Impatience.
QUESTION: What do you most regret?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I don’t have any regrets, honestly.
QUESTION: To you, what is happiness?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Feeling fulfilled in all aspects of my life, public and private.
QUESTION: What is your favorite word?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Love. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What quality do you most value in a woman?
SECRETARY CLINTON: The same that I value in a man: humanity.
QUESTION: When you appear before God, what would you say to him?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I’m glad I made it. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: (In Russian), Hillary Clinton. Thank you very much.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.