SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, good afternoon, everyone. It is wonderful to be back here at Stanford, to be in California in Silicon Valley. We’ve had a couple of great days covering The waterfront, including meeting with some remarkable tech innovators last night, going to the Accelerator this morning, and then spending time here on campus at Stanford. And I really want to thank Secretary Rice for the incredibly warm hospitality and the great conversation, as always. And it was particularly great to be with so many students.
We are at an inflection point. The post-Cold War world has come to an end, and there is an intense competition underway to shape what comes next. And at the heart of that competition is technology. Technology will in many ways retool our economies. It will reform our militaries. It will reshape the lives of people across the planet. And so it’s profoundly a source of national strength.
At the same time, it is front and center in the positive vision that we have for the future: technology finding cures for diseases; technology making sure that people around the world have sustainable, healthy food supplies at a time now of growing food insecurity; technology to make sure that we can power our economies going forward without relying on fossil fuels and making sure that we’re dealing with climate change; technology to have resilient, strong supply chains – we’ve experienced what it looks like when we don’t; and technology ultimately that can produce good jobs for the future.
And so much of that technology is coming to fruition starting here in Silicon Valley and right here at Stanford University. It’s also front and center to our foreign policy, first because we can’t do any of these things alone as effectively as we can when we’re working in partnership and collaboration and cooperation with others. And deepening those collaborations, deepening those partnerships, including on technology, is part of our foreign policy.
We also have to be the ones who are at the table who are helping to shape the rules, the norms, the standards by which technology is used. If we’re not, if the United States isn’t there, then someone else will be, and these rules are going to get shaped in ways that don’t reflect our values and don’t reflect our interests; or no one will be there and we’re going to have chaos before we have a world that’s actually organized to try to take advantage of all of the progress that we’re making.
We’ve tried to build a State Department that is fit for purpose, that has the right people, that has the right organization, that has the right focus, to make sure that America is leading around the world on issues related to science and technology. And so part of our conversation here in Stanford and throughout the last 24 hours was listening and learning from people about how we can continue to effectively do that. We stood up a new bureau on cyberspace and digital policy; as we’re building that out, having a real dialogue and learning from people here makes a huge difference. And we want to make sure that we have a sustained, ongoing dialogue as we’re working around issues of science and technology both here in the United States and around the world. So for me, this was an incredibly fruitful visit, but it’s part of an ongoing conversation, an ongoing dialogue.
Finally, I’ll say this. We are at our best when we’re investing in our own strengths. I was at The Accelerator this morning seeing some of the extraordinary things that are being done there, literally from looking at the tiniest particle to the cosmos in its entirety. And the work that’s done at this national lab is literally going to provide the answers that we’re seeking to dealing with the challenges of our time, from climate to health to food and so on.
But it works best when we’re making the right investments in it. And happily, we are. What just took place a few weeks ago with the passage of the CHIPS and Science Act, that’s the kind of investment in basic science, in research and development, that’s going to pay off for generations to come. And it also makes the United States an incredible place of attraction around the world. When people see that this is what we’re doing, that we’re making smart investments in the future, they want to be part of it. They want to come here, work with us, collaborate, and they want to work with us around the world in helping to shape the way all of this technology is being used going forward.
So it’s an incredible source of strength, and it’s also happening right here. With that, happy to take any questions.
MR PRICE: Claudia.
QUESTION: Secretary, thank you very much. As you know, there was a fatal fire at Evin prison in Iran —
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah.
QUESTION: — over the weekend. A couple of U.S. citizens involved in those fires. I understand that they’re okay, but does the State Department have any accountability when it comes to U.S. detainees there?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: We are working for the release of any American who’s being wrongfully detained, as are Siamak Namazi and Emad Sharghi in Iran in Evin prison. We’re working on that every single day.
When we found out about the – what happened at the prison, we immediately reached out to different countries around the world that may have better visibility and better information about what’s happening inside Iran, including our protecting power, Switzerland, to make sure that our two citizens were, in fact, accounted for and were not harmed. And they are accounted for and they haven’t been harmed.
But they need to be released. They need to be returned to their families as soon as possible. And we’ll continue to work on that every day.
MR PRICE: Anastasiia.
QUESTION: Earlier today Russia once again resorted to the use of Iranian drones to bomb Ukraine infrastructure as well as their abstention buildings. What will be the response of the U.S. in terms of the change of the types of aid provided? Can we expect (inaudible) alliance on that piece and if so, on what condition?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: From day one, from even before day one, as we saw the threat of this Russian aggression mounting before February 24th, one of the things that President Biden did was to try to make sure that Ukrainians had in their hands the tools that they would need to deal with the Russian aggression. And so going back more than a year ago, September a year ago, we did our first drawdown of military equipment for Ukraine. We did a second one around Christmastime, again before the – before the Russian invasion.
And as a result of that, when Russia did invade, Ukrainians had in their hands some of the tools that they needed to repel that aggression, especially around Kyiv, and pushed the Russians back. First and foremost, that was because of their incredible courage, but it’s also because we tried to make sure that they had what they needed to deal with it.
But what’s happened since then is the nature of the aggression has changed. It’s moved to different places, different terrain, different weapons being used. We have adjusted every step along the way in very close collaboration with our Ukrainian partners as well as with many countries around the world to try to make sure that based on what Ukraine actually needed, we were doing as much as we could to get it into their hands as quickly as possible. And we now have a mechanism that Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has put in place, the Ramstein process, to make sure that this is happening not just by the United States but by several dozen countries. And if we don’t have something, maybe someone else does. We’re making sure that they get it.
It’s also, as you know, necessary but not sufficient to get the technology to Ukraine. Making sure that our partners know how to use it with the right training, that’s vital. We’re doing a lot of that. Countries are taking part in that. Making sure that they can maintain it, that’s vital, and we’re working on that as well. But we have and we will continue to address to what is actually needed.
We’re seeing these drones, as you said. What are they doing? They’re attacking civilians. They’re attacking critical infrastructure like power plants, hospitals, the things that people need in their daily lives that are not military targets. And it is a sign of increased desperation by Russia, but it’s also a sign of the levels that they will stoop to and that we’ve seen repeatedly when it comes to targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure. We want to make sure we’re doing everything possible to help Ukrainians defend themselves against this aggression, even as they’re pushing the Russians back from territory that Russia seized. Thank you.
MR PRICE: Janelle.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, Stanford is one of the leading institutions to combat misinformation research and pointing out propaganda narratives and how they spread. How do you envision the cooperation between the State Department and institutions like Stanford in combatting the spread of propaganda, and how does this fit with the recently released National Security Strategy?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Yeah. So Stanford is doing remarkable work on that, and it’s one of the things that we want to make sure that we’re benefitting from, because this is a day-in, day-out battle for us, combating misinformation and disinformation around the world. We have at the State Department itself a big focus on this. We have something called the Global Engagement Center that’s working on this every single day. But that work is both inspired by work that’s being done in academia, including here at Stanford, as well as where appropriate collaborations. And one of the things we have to do is to make sure that we’re using technology itself to deal with some of the downsides of technology when it’s misused, including when it comes to misinformation and disinformation.
So we’re trying to build out these kinds of partnerships to make sure that we’re looking at every place that is actually developing answers, including Stanford, and then integrating that into what we do. It’s also part of a long policy conversation and policy dialogue. My colleagues in other parts of the government are working on this. And of course, there’s the responsibility of the platforms themselves to make sure that these platforms are not being used in a way that’s – that abuses the platforms, particularly when it comes to misinformation and disinformation.
So it’s a vital work. It’s a work in progress. But we’re really grateful for the fact that so much is being thought about, thought of, developed here that we can actually put to good use in dealing with this problem. Thank you.
MR PRICE: A final question from Liz.
QUESTION: First, to her point. Do you have any reason to believe that there’s been foreign meddling in the upcoming midterm election? And secondly, having to do with your visit here, can you talk about your department’s efforts to increase manufacturing of semiconductors, why that’s part of your National Security Strategy, and what you need from Bay Area tech companies to make that happen?
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Sure. So first, when it comes to the midterm elections, the Department of Homeland Security, other agencies in government, track this very, very closely. And we are constantly looking at whether certain countries are engaged in efforts to meddle in, manipulate, or otherwise misinform the elections, and this has been true over a number of past elections. We’re very focused on it now. I would refer you to those other agencies and departments, especially DHS, which is – has a – an entire focus on this.
When it comes to semiconductors, chips, these are the foundational building blocks of the 21st century economy. We have a profound stake in making sure that not only do we remain at the cutting edge of the technology itself, which we do, but that we also make sure that we have very resilient supply chains that can avert any disruptions in the production of chips and also in their distribution, because we’ve seen what happens when those supply chains are disrupted.
Part of that means actually getting back to the business of manufacturing – not just inventing, not just designing the technology, but actually making it here in the United States. And of course, the CHIPS and Science Act makes a historic investment in renewing that capacity. It also is vitally important that we actually have the workforce over many years to be able to do that, that we’re to remain at the cutting edge. We’re seeing that here at Stanford, where that workforce is being developed. A couple of weeks ago I was out at Purdue, which is also leading efforts in this country to make sure that we have a workforce that is focused on chips, semiconductors, and remaining at the cutting edge.
So if we’re making the right investments, we are going to sustain the advantage that we have, we’re going to remain the technology leader. But even as we’re working to run faster, we also have to make sure that we’re doing what’s necessary to protect, by which I mean this. You saw the export controls that were put forward a couple of weeks ago by the administration. That’s to make sure that countries that we don’t want to have the most sophisticated leading-edge chips don’t get them or the capacity to make them, but doing that in a way that also sustains our competitiveness, that makes sure that our own chip producers continue to be able to sell around the world.
What this is fundamentally about is making sure that particularly when it comes to sensitive technologies, that going to one place or another could be a security issue for us, that we’re building the highest possible fence but around the smallest piece of property, as opposed to building a low fence around everything, because we want to make sure that our companies can remain competitive, can remain leaders on world markets, but in a way that also upholds our security. All of that is part and parcel of this.
But it really starts with making sure that we maintain the innovation here, that we maintain generations of people who are expert in this, and Stanford is exactly where that’s happening. We just have to be smart about making the investments that are necessary. And that’s where something like the CHIPS Act comes in. It’s where the Inflation Reduction Act comes in when it comes to climate.
When we’re making the investments in basic science, in research and development, history has shown that we will be leaders in all of these fields. If we back away from making those investments, it allows others to catch up. Happily now, and on a bipartisan basis, we’re actually making those investments.
MR PRICE: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thanks. Thanks, everyone.