(9:25 a.m. EDT)
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very – is this on? Is this on? I want to get to your questions. I think it might help to do a quick overview of what we do have in the supplemental and the reasons behind it. We know that we’re asking for a significant sum, but it represents only a fraction of what we spend each year on national security. And we think that diplomacy and development are ever more important to safeguarding the security and prosperity of our people and our nation, because after all, if we are successful in either managing or solving problems, we save the money and the lives that would otherwise have to be spent in dealing with conflict.
You know very well on this Committee the range of difficult problems we’ve inherited and that we are attempting to cope with. We have launched a new diplomacy that we believe is powered by partnership and pragmatism and principle. And I’m very proud of the men and women of the State Department and USAID who literally work around the clock and around the world.
We’ve requested, with respect to Iraq, $482 million in the supplemental budget for civilian efforts to partner with our military efforts as the withdrawal continues. Already, the Iraqi Government is exceeding our spending for reconstruction, and in many areas, matching or exceeding our efforts on individual projects. We want to help manage that transition. And this money will enable our civilian American employees and their local counterparts to help create an environment in which we assist the Iraqi Government to take more and more responsibility.
Obviously, security is our paramount concern in Afghanistan. The supplemental request of $980 million for Afghanistan is targeted to specific areas essential for security and stability. As a result of our strategic review, we’re not trying to be all things to all people. We are focusing on making government institutions more accountable and effective, promoting the rule of law, stimulating licit economic activity, especially in agriculture. Afghanistan used to be self-sufficient in agriculture and even was an exporter beyond its borders.
We also are going to be working with local communities at the provincial level and below to help stabilize the security situation through job creation. What we have determined through our analysis is that many in the Taliban are there not because of ideological commitment, but frankly, because they’re paid better than you can be paid in the Afghan police force. So we are trying to unlock this puzzle about how to attract young men, in particular, into legitimate employment. Our commitment to train up the Afghan National Army and the police force will go hand-in-hand with that effort. And we are also focused on continuing to support women and girls. We think that is an essential part of our foreign policy.
But progress in Afghanistan, we believe, depends on progress in Pakistan. And we do seek supplemental funding of $497 million. I take very seriously Chairman Obey’s comments and cautions. And Mr. Chairman, my view on this is that in order to manage, we have to make these commitments. We have to keep our pledge at the Tokyo Donors’ Conference. Other nations seek Pakistan as we now do, and therefore came forward with $5.5 billion in commitments. We have to try to strengthen civilian law enforcement, particularly in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in the Northwest Frontier Province.
And there are humanitarian needs that we think serve our national security interests, which we have, in my view, never sufficiently built on. Following the earthquake in Pakistan, Pakistani public opinion toward America improved dramatically, because we were there with both military and civilian assets to help the people who had been stricken by the earthquake. We never followed through. We never had a strategy to say, “We’ve made some progress in these areas. What more do we need to do to consolidate that?”
Key to our new strategy for both Afghanistan and Pakistan is to hold ourselves and our partners accountable and we are committed to doing that. We obviously are going to set performance measures. I remember very well for six years on the Armed Services Committee trying to get accountability measures for both Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to get what we then called benchmarks. We never got them. We’re going to prepare them. We’re going to share them with you. We’re going to work with you to try to figure out what are the ways we can tell whether we are successfully managing and/or solving our challenges.
We also are focused on the Middle East, as Chairwoman Lowey mentioned. Both she and Ranking Member Granger emphasized the importance of this region to our country. If we are genuinely interested in achieving a comprehensive and secure peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors, we have to remain steadfast in our commitment to Israel’s security.
At the same time, we believe, we should continue to help the parties find a path to a two-state solution and support efforts initiated by the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of Prime Minister Fayyad, to end corruption, promote security, and build infrastructure to demonstrate tangible benefits of peace to the people of the West Bank. And we think as part of that strategy, we have to address the humanitarian needs in Gaza by working directly with carefully vetted partners.
We have made it clear that we will only work only with a Palestinian Authority government that unambiguously and explicitly accepts the Quartet’s principles: a commitment to non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations, including the Roadmap. In the event of any Hamas participation of any sort in this coalition, this would apply if the government, representing all of its agencies and instrumentalities, accepts these principles.
At Sharm el-Sheikh last month, I announced a U.S. government pledge of $900 million that includes humanitarian, economic, and security assistance for the Palestinian people, both Gaza and West Bank. And Madame Chairwoman, our supplemental request of $840 million is included in that pledge; it is not in addition to it. And it will be implemented under the most stringent requirements we’ve ever put on aid going into that area.
From the first days of this Administration we have also signaled our determination to create partnerships: partnerships with other governments, the private sector, nongovernmental organizations and institutions. This is not a moral or altruistic imperative. We believe that extreme poverty poses a grave threat to global security and certainly to prosperity.
Development experts have predicted that 50 million more people could end up living in poverty this year. A sharp increase in global poverty has the potential to spark new humanitarian crises, erode gains from a wide range of U.S. taxpayer investments in development, reverse progress toward achieving the Millennium Development goals, and destabilize countries that are partners of ours. Many responsible countries cannot raise funds to support safety nets, restore financial markets, serve the poor. And I care particularly about children and women, who are the most marginalized to begin with. And we think this is an important action that our government should take in our interest as well as to further our values.
The $448 million requested for assistance to developing countries hardest hit by the global financial crisis is designed to provide a temporary safety net. And I appreciate Congresswoman Granger’s question. At this moment, we are evaluating which ones of these countries will need our help and how best to deliver that. I think the United States has to remain a world leader in providing food aid and life-sustaining support for refugees and other victims of conflict. And these efforts will be complemented by investments in the supplemental budget for emergency food aid.
The food security problem is especially acute. And I’m pleased that the President has asked the State Department and USAID to lead our government’s efforts in addressing this across the agency. We had the first meeting, Ms. Madame Chairman, ever held in our government to bring everybody together. So our efforts are trying to rationalize and streamline and make more effective our efforts across the board.
We also think it is important that we lead by our example when it comes to shared responsibility. That’s why we’ve included $836 million for United Nations operations, some of which will be used to cover assessments in which we are already in arrears.
Now, we are well aware that the United Nations needs reform and greater accountability. But I think it’s fair to acknowledge that in many areas, UN peacekeeping missions save lives, and frankly, expense for us. I was just in Haiti, where the UN blue helmets cost 75 percent less than if we had to send troops to Haiti, as we did 12 years or so ago. And when I was in Haiti where we support those UN peacekeepers, I concluded, listening to the Brazilian general who led them, that they have made significant gains in security and stability that are still fragile. Our continuing support for peacekeeping missions like this, I strongly believe, are a low-cost way for us to achieve our own goals.
We are asking for small investments targeted to specific concerns: international peace keeping operations and stabilization in Africa; humanitarian needs in Burma; the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program, assuming that they come back to the Six-Party Talks; assistance for Georgia that the prior administration promised that we believe we should fulfill; support for the Lebanese Government, which is facing serious challenges; funding for critical air mobility support in Mexico as part of the Merida Initiative.
Let me end with one final point: In order for us to pursue an ambitious foreign policy to both solve and manage problems, to address our interests and advance our values, we have to reform both State and USAID. And to do so, we have to create a Department and an agency that are funded the right way, where the people doing this work have the tools and authorities that they need. This is particularly important in dangerous regions like Iraq and Afghanistan.
I want to just end with one statistic. I asked for a review about the dangers facing aid workers. In Afghanistan, the casualty rate for USAID employees, contract employees, locally engaged employees, and other international aid workers, is 1 in 10 have been killed in the last eight years. Our comparable percentage for military casualties in Afghanistan is 1 in 57. What we are asking people to do, which we believe is absolutely essential to our country’s security, is assume responsibilities so that we can make diplomacy and development on a par with the military and defense functions of our foreign policy.
But I want to underscore to this Committee, which knows this very well, that this is not easy, it is not safe, and it is extremely difficult to get right. But I pledge to you that we’re going to do everything we can as we move forward, advancing President’s Obama’s and our nation’s vital interests, to make sure that diplomacy and development are well prepared to take our place at the head of our nation’s foreign policy objectives.