Pakistani civilian and military leaders are arriving in Washington this week for a U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue, and Secretary Clinton will be formally introducing them to the new U.S. ambassador to their country, Cameron Munter, seen above in Brussels last week, whom she swore in on Oct. 6.
"No country has gotten more attention from Secretary Clinton than Pakistan," Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told the New York Times recently. Indeed, when Clinton visited Pakistan in July, she announced a giant slew of development projects for the country -- hydroelectric dams, refurbishment of municipal water-supply systems, hospital renovations, agricultural projects, etc. -- that are being funded through the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation passed in the United States last year that provides $7.5 billion over five years to fix Pakistan's infrastructure and promote its economic develpment. And, she appealed to Americans to text help to Pakistanis during this year's historic floods and last year's refugee crisis in the Swat Valley.
The new ambassador has a huge job ahead of him. Winning hearts and minds isn't easy, as research by an FP contributor recently concluded: "it's easiest for Westerners to win hearts and minds only when that's not what they're explicitly setting out to do."
GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton said today that she and the U.S. government support reintegration and reconciliation with Taliban members who meet specific criteria. We are "willing to support what's called reintegration -- namely, people on the battlefield coming off and going back into their society -- and reconciliation, which is a much more political process to work out terms of peace with people who [have] led the Taliban, but only on very clear conditions," she told ABC's Robin Roberts during an interview in Brussels, where she attended a NATO ministerial meeting.
Those "clear conditions" are:
Clinton was cautious with her remarks and said she's unsure how many Taliban leaders would agree to these conditions. In fact she said, "I think it's highly unlikely that the leadership of the Taliban that refused to turn over bin Laden in 2001 will ever reconcile. But stranger things have happened in the history of war, but it can only happen if they [are] willing to abide by the red lines that we and the Afghan government have established."
Other the other hand, Clinton sounded somewhat optimistic about lower-level Taliban members who likely joined in the first place just to get a paycheck. "I am increasingly convinced that many of the lower-level Taliban, young men who frankly went to fight for the Taliban because they got paid more than they could make anywhere else -- I believe that they are, in increasing numbers, laying down their arms and coming back into society."
She also told Roberts, "What we are seeing is a move by the lower-level fighters, many of them, to leave the battlefield, which is all to the good because they are being convinced that this fight is no longer one they want to be part of."
Anything about the Taliban joining peace talks or becoming part of the Afghan government will make most Americans nervous. Anyone can pay mere lip service to meeting the three "red line" conditions listed above; how do you tell whether someone isn't surreptitiously supporting violence and al Qaeda on the side? I also wish Clinton had reiterated that no political reconciliation should come at the price of Afghanistan's women -- which is one of the scariest things about involving the Taliban in peace talks and the government. Back in July during her visit to Kabul, Clinton made it starkly clear that Afghan women can't be marginalized in the reconciliation process, saying:
I don't think there is such a political solution that would be a lasting, sustainable one that would turn the clock back on women. That is a recipe for a return to the kind of Afghanistan -- if not in the entire country, in significant parts of the country -- that would once again be a breeding ground for terrorism. So we've got our red lines, and they are very clear: Any reconciliation process that the United States supports, recognizing that this is an Afghan-led process, must require that anyone who wishes to rejoin society and the political system must lay down their weapons and end violence, renounce al Qaeda, and be committed to the Constitution and laws of Afghanistan, which guarantee the rights of women.
Below is an edited video of today's interview:
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton blasted Pakistan's government today for not taxing its rich more, yet expecting developed countries to aid the country. She declared, "It is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part."
Clinton made the remarks at a news conference in Brussels with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton (seen above) in which they discussed flood-recovery efforts in Pakistan. Clinton mentioned that a stable Pakistan is essential to the fight against terrorism, which is when she started on her pet peeve: poor countries that don't tax their elite. Here are her demands of the Pakistani government, which you can also listen to in the video below:
We also believe that stability in Pakistan is essential to our shared fight against terrorism and to protect the security of the people of our country and friends and allies like those in Europe. Now, of course, the international community can only do so much. Pakistan itself must take immediate and substantial action to mobilize its own resources, and in particular to reform its economy.
The most important step that Pakistan can take is to pass meaningful reforms that will expand its tax base. The government must require that the economically affluent and elite in Pakistan support the government and people of Pakistan. We have been very clear on that, and I am pleased that the government is responding. I know how difficult this is, but it is absolutely unacceptable for those with means in Pakistan not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while the taxpayers of Europe, the United States, and other contributing countries are all chipping in to do our part. The government must also take steps to alleviate the crippling power shortages that stifle economic growth while making life difficult for the Pakistani people.
If U.S. President Barack Obama is having such a hard time repealing the Bush tax cuts on America's rich, his administration is going to have an even harder time getting another country's government to increase taxes on its rich (or begin collecting taxes from the rich in the first place). Clinton is certainly right that Pakistan's elite should pay its fair share of taxes -- the rich there pay laughably small amounts or none at all, Clinton pointed out last month. But, the United States has limited influence on the country's government. Just two weeks ago, Pakistan closed the Torkham Gate crossing into Afghanistan after U.S. forces accidentally killed several Pakistani border guards. The crossing has since been reopened, but the multiday closure held up trucks that supply international forces in Afghanistan. So, who's really in a position to be calling the shots?
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Aisha, the 19-year-old Afghan whose nose and ears were hacked off by her husband and who appeared on the cover to Time magazine this summer, has a new prosthetic nose!
With her new look, she attended the Grossman Burn Foundation's benefit event in California on Oct. 8 and received an Enduring Heart award from Maria Shriver, wife of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. "This is the first Enduring Heart award given to a woman whose heart endures and who shows us all what it means to have love and to be the enduring heart," Shriver said.
The Grossman Burn Foundation paid for Aisha's surgery in California, and plastic surgeon Peter H. Grossman, co-director of the Grossman Burn Centers, is hoping that a "permanent solution" can be found, perhaps reconstructing Aisha's nose and ears from bone, cartilage, and tissue from other parts of her body, reports the Daily Telegraph. Now, Aisha is beginning a new life in the United States. What a brave young woman.
Update, 4:13 p.m.: The brutality inflicted on women like Aisha shows us why Secretary Clinton is so adamant that absolutely no political reconciliation in Afghanistan should come at the price of Afghan women's well-being. As she said in July in Kabul:
I don't think there is such a political solution that would be a lasting, sustainable one that would turn the clock back on women. That is a recipe for a return to the kind of Afghanistan -- if not in the entire country, in significant parts of the country -- that would once again be a breeding ground for terrorism.
Here is a CNN video about Aisha, whose surname has not been disclosed, and her new look:
Thumbnail images, left to right: Grossman Burn Foundation, Getty Images
It's absolutely deplorable that anyone would poison innocent children just trying to get an education, but it appears to be happening in Afghanistan, with children -- especially girls -- becoming poisoned at school by toxic gases over the past two years. Blood tests have found toxic levels of organophosphates in victims of 10 mass poisonings, the New York Times reported Aug. 31. Organophosphates are found in herbicides and insecticides and are used in the development of chemical weapons, such as the nerve gases VX and sarin.
Just last Wednesday, Aug. 25, another gas poisoning occurred at a girls school Kabul, and dozens of girls and teachers had to be taken to the hospital, as seen in the photo above and video below. These poisonings are particularly tragic because as humanitarian Greg Mortenson of Three Cups of Tea fame puts it, education promotes peace "one school at a time." With every girl who can't learn to read and every school that is attacked, Afghanistan remains one giant step farther from peace.
Details -- whether all the poisonings were deliberate and how the gases were delivered -- are still under investigation, but Secretary Clinton, an unflagging advocate for the empowerment of girls and women, has condemned these disturbing attacks through the following statement, issued Aug. 31:
The United States is deeply concerned by the recent poisonings of Afghan school children in Kabul. While details of these attacks are still being verified, Afghan schools, teachers, and students, particularly girls, are regularly targeted by anti-government elements seeking to destabilize Afghanistan and undermine progress. We condemn such attacks and are working with the Afghan government to address this important issue and prevent further incidents from occurring.
Afghanistan and the United States, together with 40 other co-sponsors, presented a joint resolution to the Human Rights Council that was adopted by consensus in June concerning attacks on innocent students, particularly girls, in Afghanistan. We urge the international community to continue their support for the Government of Afghanistan in combating repression and violence against girls seeking an education, and in bringing to justice those responsible for these appalling attacks.
Our deepest sympathies are with the families of the victims, and we assure the government and all the people of Afghanistan that the United States will stand by you as you continue working to bring peace and stability to your country.
Below is an Al Jazeera video about the gas attacks:
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
In two moving video messages released by the Ad Council today, Secretary Clinton appeals to her fellow Americans to donate to flood relief in Pakistan through the Pakistan Relief Fund, set up by the U.S. government through the State Department. With poignant music playing in the background, Clinton says, "Americans have always shown great generosity to others facing crises around the world. And I call on you to do what you can."
Just text "FLOOD" to 27722 to contribute $10. (You can also donate online or via postal mail by clicking here.)
Donations to help with flood relief have been dismally low compared with those after other natural disasters, such as the Jan. 12 Haiti earthquake. A recent FP piece, "Why Doesn't the World Care About Pakistanis?", states the simple truth: People don't care because the victims are in the country of Pakistan. In other words, "the humanity of Pakistan's victims takes a backseat to the preconceived image that Westerners have of Pakistan as a country." The piece concludes:
Pakistan has suffered from desperately poor moral leadership, but punishing the helpless and homeless millions of the 2010 floods is the worst possible way to express our rejection of the Pakistani elite and their duplicity and corruption. The poor, hungry, and homeless are not an ISI conspiracy to bilk you of your cash. They are a test of your humanity. Do not follow in the footsteps of the Pakistani elite by failing them. That would be immoral and inhumane. This is a time to ask only one question. And that question is: "How can I help?"
Below is the first video, which is 30 seconds long, followed by the second one, which is 60 seconds long.
(By the way, does the photo above remind you of Dorothea Lange's famous Migrant Mother photo from the Great Depression?)
RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images
Each year on August 15th, we join with Indians around the world to honor Mahatma Gandhi and the heroes of the Indian independence movement who proved that great change can be achieved through nonviolent resistance. Their courage and determination has inspired generations of leaders around the world, including Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others who advanced America's own struggle for civil rights and equality. Sixty-three years after Independence, India is a world leader, and the "Indian Dream" of freedom, tolerance, and prosperity continues to offer an example for people who yearn for democracy and liberty around the globe.
The United States is committed to further strengthening our cooperation and partnership with India. As President Obama noted during our Strategic Dialogue, the relationship between our two countries is unique. It is rooted in common interests, shared values and democratic traditions, and strengthened by our extensive people-to-people connections. We look forward to further developing these bonds when President Obama visits India this fall. Because it is only through dynamic, global cooperation between India and the United States that we can address the defining challenges of the 21st century.
Once again, I congratulate the people of India on all you have achieved and wish you a safe and joyous Independence Day celebration.
(In the photo above, Clinton smiles at Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Nov. 24, 2009, at the State Department in Washington.)
PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton congratulates Pakistan on the 63rd anniversary of its independence in 1947. Unfortunately due to the massive flooding, the day isn't as joyous as it could be; Independence Day celebrations have been canceled. Here's her statement, with video below:
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States of America, I am delighted to send best wishes and congratulations to the people of Pakistan as you mark 63 years of independence.
Fatimah Jinnah once said that the story of Pakistan is a story of "the ideals of equality, fraternity, and social and economic justice." Since gaining independence in 1947, the people of Pakistan have been writing that story, one day at a time. Together, you have overcome significant challenges. In just the past few weeks, Pakistanis and partners from many countries have worked to protect people and homes from the floods that swept through so many areas. The damage is serious, but I know Pakistan will rebuild.
And the Pakistani people will continue to write the story that began 63 years ago. As you do, please know that the people of the United States are committed to standing by you. We admire what you have accomplished since Independence. And we seek to support you as you build upon the ideals that inspired your nation from the start.
So on this occasion, let us reaffirm the partnership our nations share, the strong bonds that connect our people-bonds of family, friendship, history, and common purpose. And let us recommit to making the founding ideals of Pakistan - ideals of equality, fraternity, and social and economic justice - making them real. They helped give rise to Pakistan's creation, they stand today as goals that we all hold dear, and they provide encouragement as you continue to build a strong, prosperous, progressive, stable, secure nation for the future. Here's to the democracy of Pakistan and to the people who deserve all that you can build together, knowing that we and others will be there with you on this journey.
(In the photo above, Clinton poses with Pakistan's flag in Islamabad on Oct. 28, 2009.)
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton yesterday issued a statement condemning "in the strongest possible terms" the murder of 10 aid workers by the Taliban. Today at 3 p.m., she will be delivering another statement on this despicable tragedy. The last four paragraphs of yesterday's statement are below, with my bolding for emphasis:
We are heartbroken by the loss of these heroic, generous people. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this senseless act. We also condemn the Taliban's transparent attempt to justify the unjustifiable by making false accusations about their activities in Afghanistan.
Terror has no religion, and these acts are rejected by people all over the world, including by Muslims here in the United States. The Taliban's cruelty is well-documented. Its members have assassinated tribal elders and thrown acid in the face of young girls. Earlier this summer, they accused a 7-year-old boy of spying and hung him. With these killings, they have shown us yet another example of the lengths to which they will go to advance their twisted ideology.
The murdered medical aid workers, as well as the volunteers from many nations and the international coalition working to establish stability in Afghanistan, represent exactly what the Taliban stands against: a future of peace, freedom, opportunity, and openness, where all Afghans can live and work together in harmony, free from terror.
That is what we are working to achieve in Afghanistan, in partnership with the Afghan people. As we mourn the loss of these aid workers, we will continue with our own efforts, inspired by their example.
In the photo above, taken today, family and friends carry the coffin of Jawed, 24, seen at left, one of the two Afghans killed. According to the website of the International Assistance Mission, the aid group the 10 deceased were working with, Jawed served as the team's cook and also helped dispense eyeglasses. He was known for his sense of humor, and his survivors include his wife and three children, who are less than school age.
This is just so sad.
From top: SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images, International Assistance Mission
FP blogger David Rothkopf has written an impassioned post, "Women and Islam: The real test of our values," in which he states that the way women are treated in many Islamic countries is "a disgrace every bit as grand and incomprehensible and awful as the Holocaust -- only it is much bigger, much more ancient, and if possible, much more evil if only due to the extent of its reach and the breadth of our acceptance of what has happened."
Just as I did last week, he mentions that Secretary Clinton "argues we will not forget the women of Afghanistan -- that they are one of the reasons we are there." When it comes to the rights of women and girls, he states, "No one has been more tireless or vocal in pursuit of these goals than Clinton." Which makes me wonder: In what ways would the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan be different if Clinton had been elected president?
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton this morning encouraged Americans to text "SWAT" to 50555 to help with relief efforts in Pakistan and assist those devastated by the historic floods that have so far killed at least 1,500 people and adversely affected 3 million. You'll be making a $10 donation to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees that will go toward providing tents, food, clothing, and clean water. (Reply with "yes" to confirm the gift.)
"U.S. helicopters have already airlifted hundreds of people out of danger and delivered critical supplies, including hundreds of thousands of halal meals.… We've sent boats to help with the search and rescue and water-purification units to provide clean water for thousands of people, as well as temporary bridges to replace the bridges damaged by the floods. All of this has been done in close coordination with the government of Pakistan and their disaster-management specialists.
There may be a lot of Americans out there rolling their eyes about their tax dollars going to a faraway country filled with millions of people harboring anti-American sentiment, but this is a U.S. national security issue, not just a humanitarian one. If the Pakistani government can't provide satisfactory disaster relief, militant Islamic charity groups will step in. Consider these three paragraphs from Aug. 2's Washington Post:
In past emergencies in Pakistan -- including an earthquake in 2005 and the refugee crisis caused by last year's army offensives -- Islamic charities with close ties to banned militant organizations provided basic services, filling a void left by the government and scoring points in the battle here for the public's affection.
Although that does not yet appear to be happening on a wide scale, analysts caution that the government should soon improve its performance.
"The government, unfortunately, seems to be mostly helpless," said Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani army general. "I'm very concerned that the militant organizations will be jumping in."
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
On International Women's Day this March, Secretary Clinton said:
Investing in the potential of the world's women and girls is one of the surest ways to achieve global economic progress, political stability, and greater prosperity for women -- and men -- the world over.
When you educate girls and women, you change attitudes and increase women's earning power. And when women have a broader view of the world and increased earning power, that changes the internal dynamics of a household, and across many households, that can change a society.
That's why Clinton would be impressed with A Girl Story, the world's first donation-based film series. The animated 11-part film, launched by Nanhi Kali, a nonprofit that helps underprivileged girls in India get an education, follows a fictional Indian girl named Tarla. When I first learned about the short film in late June, I could only view the first few parts, which showed Tarla dreaming about going to school, but being unable to attend. Her big brownish-plum cartoon eyes welled with blue tears, as seen above in the clip from chapter 2.
For the film to advance and show Tarla realizing her dream to attend school, viewers must make a donation. The idea is that it's up to the viewers whether Tarla gets to go to school, or not.
Yesterday I checked out the film, and I was heartened to see that it had advanced to the sixth part of the series, with the story progressing to show Tarla receiving a book and a school bag, but still not making it through the schoolhouse door. But then the film halted, and Tarla told us that to "unlock my next chapter," we must contribute $844 more. (Nanhi Kali's website says it costs just 1,800 Indian rupees -- about $39 -- to send a girl to school for a year for grades 1 to 7, and 2,500 rupees -- or $54 -- for grades 8 to 10.)
Nanhi Kali -- which means "Little Bud" in Hindi -- presently supports the education of more than 58,000 girls in India, but hopes to grow that number. It was founded in 1996 by the Mahindra Education Trust in India, which is registered in the United States as the Mahindra Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. So check out the film, and if you're like what you see, consider making a donation to the foundation.
Video: "A Girl Story Chapter 2," tarlavideo, YouTube
Secretary Clinton and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, along with their advisors, had dinner in Kabul yesterday evening, and afterward the two had a private discussion that went on late into the evening, reports the Washington Post. The meeting was "deeply substantive," a State Department official told the Post, saying that it included talks about reintegration of Taliban members and the handoff of security responsibilities as U.S. troops start to leave in July 2011.
On the subject of reintegration of Taliban fighters: Reconciliation with militants was a subject Clinton touched up yesterday while she was still in Pakistan. During a news conference with Pakistani Foreign Minister Mehmoud Shah Qureshi, she said:
We are supportive … of the reconciliation and reintegration efforts undertaken by President Karzai and the Afghan government. We have made it clear that we think reconciliation cannot succeed unless the insurgents, who have been fighting the Afghan government over the last several years, recognize the importance of renouncing violence if they wish to enter into the political system; renounce al Qaeda, which remains at the center of a syndicate of terror across the world; and agree to abide by the Constitution and the laws of Afghanistan. It seems to us that there will be some who are willing to meet those conditions and others who are not. And we would strongly advise our friends in Afghanistan to deal with those who are committed to a peaceful future where their ideas can compete in the political arena through the ballot box, not through the force of arms. And there are those who will never be reconciled, and we hope that they can be defeated because they pose a continuing threat to Afghanistan and, by extension, to Pakistan.
U.S. State Department/Flickr
Last month, Secretary Clinton commended the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for its $1.5 billion contribution toward women's and children's health, saying, "Focusing on women is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the smart thing to do, because investing in the health of women also improves the health of their families and communities."
I expect Clinton would thus be intrigued by a program in India that aims to reduce maternal morality by providing $30 cash incentives to poor women to give birth in hospitals, and not on the dirt floors of thatched-roof homes.
Why would any woman need to essentially be paid to give birth at a hospital, where the chances of death are much lower? Turns out, getting to a hospital is not so easy, for a variety of reasons. Last week's Washington Post article about the program mentions one rural woman for whom it would cost $4 to take a taxi to the hospital -- a long of money in a poor farming community where the $30 incentive is about three weeks of a family's pay.
The hurdles aren't just economic, but also related to education, class divisions, and patriarchy. The articles says lack of education means a lot of people don't fully appreciate that medical care in a hospital setting can mean the difference between a happy, healthy mom -- and a dead one.
Also, in a society with sharp caste and class divisions, many poor, illiterate mothers-to-be don't have the assertiveness to set foot in the hospital, according to the article. Perhaps if you're from a marginalized, look-down-upon caste or social class, going to a relatively modern and clean hospital can be intimidating. One woman told the Post, "Before this [program], we didn't have a hint of what to do.… The hospital was very confusing. We weren't sure who to talk to or what we needed." Another woman in the article said she was scared to go to the hospital.
The article also mentioned the patriarchal culture, stating that in rural India, many poor husbands don't let their pregnant wives to go to the hospital.
But money talks -- including in Indian languages. In Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of India's poorest states, the percentage of women delivering in medical facilities more than doubled from less than 20 percent in 2005 to almost 50 percent in 2008. Physicians say that's due to the incentive program.
India still has a long way to go on maternal mortality -- its rate of maternal mortality is around 10 times China's rate. Women's education and economic development are the long-term fix to the problem, but until then, it's the lure of $30.
Emily Wax/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Over at FP's AfPak Channel, Nancy Birdsall of the Center for Global Development and two of her colleagues explain how Secretary Clinton can build the trust of the Pakistani people -- rather than merely buy it through the aid from the $7.5 billion Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation. In summary, they suggest:
First, [Clinton] should declare, unequivocally, that the goal of the U.S. aid program is Pakistan's own long-term development. Second, she should lay out a clear and compelling vision of what that means -- supported by specific examples and indicators of success. Third, together with the Pakistani government, she should commit to measure progress against those indicators and provide useful information to ordinary Pakistanis about the issues that they care most about.
Clinton has already done the first part -- earlier today she stated,"[I]t's our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the U.S. is concerned about Pakistan for the long term." Will doing the second and third parts build Pakistanis' trust -- such as that of the operating-room technician seen above at the Al-Shifa Trust Eye Hospital in Rawalpindi, who was watching Clinton earlier today on TV?
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
In Islamabad today, Secretary Clinton announced a whole slew of development projects for Pakistan: hydroelectric dams, refurbishment of municipal water-supply systems, hospital renovations, agricultural projects, etc. In the photo above, she points to a map marking the location of many projects, while Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi looks on.
The projects are being funded through the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation passed in the United States last year that provides $7.5 billion over five years to fix Pakistan's infrastructure and promote its economic develpment. The U.S. government is trying to dispel the distrust that many Pakistanis have toward the United States, and Clinton was trying to make it clear that the development aid is for helping Pakistan itself and is not just for advancing U.S. security interests. At the news conference with Qureshi, as seen in the photo above, Clinton said:
"There's a legacy of suspicion that we inherited.… It's not going to be eliminated overnight. But it's our goal to slowly but surely demonstrate that the U.S. is concerned about Pakistan for the long term, and that the partnership goes far beyond security against our common enemies."
"We are committed to building a partnership with Pakistan that of course strengthens security and protects the people of Pakistan, but goes far beyond security."
It seems pretty naive to think this aid package isn't primarily about security. Regardless of intent, however, will it win Pakistani hearts and minds? Methinks not. As of last October, when President Obama signed the Kerry-Lugar-Berman legislation, only 15 percent of Pakistanis surveyed supported it. Many think the aid money comes with too many strings attached and compromises Pakistan's sovereignty.
I wish Clinton good luck, though. With her star power, you never know.
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton will be visiting Pakistan in July -- presumably early enough in the month to return in time to prepare for daughter Chelsea's July 31 wedding. She'll be attending the second session of the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, the first of which was held in the United States in March.
Among the topics of discussion: U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan's border region with Afghanistan. Another sensitive point in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship right now: Pakistan's recent gas deal with Iran, in which energy-starved Pakistan will import 760 million cubic feet of natural gas daily from Iran through a new pipeline starting in 2014.The United States is not comfortable with the deal because it could run afoul of sanctions against Iran that the U.S. Congress is finalizing and weaken international efforts to pressure Iran on its nuclear program.
Speaking to the media on June 20, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said his country would follow U.N. sanctions and said today that Pakistan was "not bound to follow" unilateral U.S. sanctions.
(In the photo above, Clinton stands next to the Pakistani flag in Islamabad on Oct. 28, 2009.)
AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images
The United States is "definitely committed to the consideration of India" on the U.N. Security Council, Secretary Clinton said yesterday in a news conference (seen above) after meeting with Indian External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna as part of the U.S.-India Strategic Dialogue.
In her opening remarks to the dialogue, Clinton had said:
India's growing global role requires us to reassess institutions of global governance. India's rise will certainly be a factor in any future consideration of reform of the United Nations Security Council.
Later in the day, when Clinton and Krishna met with the media, a reporter from the Press Trust of India asked Clinton, "[Y]ou spoke about India's being an indispensable partner and trusted friend. So what is holding United States from endorsing India as a member of -- permanent member of -- the United Nations Security Council?"
After discussing other issues for a bit, Clinton answered:
"[W]e don't have any way forward yet on Security Council reform, but we are obviously very committed to considering India. At this point, as you probably know, there is no consensus in the world, and that is the challenge of dealing with multilateral organizations. I think as Minister Krishna said at another point in our meeting today, once you get to multilateral negotiations it slows down considerably. But we are definitely committed to the consideration of India."
Other notes about Clinton's big India day:
In her opening remarks, Clinton made some highly complimentary remarks about India:
We've said it many times, but it cannot be said too often: India is the world's largest democracy, its second-fastest growing economy, and a rising power, not only in Asia but globally. It has vibrant democratic institutions, a very free press, a robust civil society, and an innovative private sector. It is also a model of democratic development that is lifting millions of people out of poverty by widening access to tools of opportunity, such as education, health care, food, water, and jobs.
India's rise is a defining storyline of the early 21st century .
Clinton also called upon India to open its economy more, saying:
Together, we must reduce barriers to trade and investment going in both directions. And we urge India to reduce or ease caps on investment in critical sectors, which would help open markets and create millions of jobs in both countries.
She also expressed hope that India would pass legislation allowing foreign universities to open campuses in India, a topic addressed by Sudip Mazumdar in the recent FP piece, "Will There Be an Indian Harvard?" Clinton said:
[W]e hope that India will pass legislation now under review that would allow foreign universities to open campuses in India in accordance with appropriate regulations, of course. A number of U.S. institutions have expressed interest in opening Indian campuses and working with Indian scholars and students, whose talents are internationally renowned."
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
"... it's like walking through the Old Testament" -- that's a description of Afghanistan's Uruzgan province provided by Dutch Army Brig. Gen. Tom Middendorp to the Washington Post last summer.
The United States wants 21st-century-style women's liberation in Afghanistan, but can the United States make that happen -- and fast? It took the United States 144 years (1776 to 1920) to grant women the right to vote. Now Afghanistan is expected to go from Old Testament times to the 21st century in something closer to 144 months.
It would be great if the United States had a magic wand to make Afghanistan a land of freedom, democracy, good governance, and women's rights. Gen. Stanley McChrystal even thinks he has one; he calls it "government in a box." Reality check: The only people who can create a stable, free Afghan government that is "of the people, by the people, for the people" is the Afghan people themselves. And unfortunately, it doesn't seem like a critical mass of them are onboard yet to make that happen. So, the United States and its allies find themselves trying to drag Afghanistan kicking and screaming into the 21st century.
Yes, this is discouraging. Every day that goes by is another day that Afghan women are treated worse than animals. But there are a lot of people out there who think that if the United States just perseveres and just continues plugging away at it, democracy and women's rights will happen -- just read Valerie Hudson and Patricia Leidl's excellent FP piece, "Betrayed," about why the United States must not let down the women of Afghanistan.
The authors point out that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- an absolutely unflagging advocate for women and girls around the globe -- said in March, "... the subjugation of women is a threat to the national security of the United States." Hudson's research proves it: "states with higher levels of violence against women are also less peaceful internationally. Indeed, violence against women is a better predictor of bellicosity than level of democracy, level of wealth, or presence of Islamic civilization."
I share the authors' belief that the United States shouldn't abandon the women of Afghanistan, but I also think there are limits to what the United States can do. Just like you can't force someone to fall in love with you or command an atheist to genuinely believe in God, you can't make an entire society embrace women's rights. Yes, social change is possible -- the West went from burning women as witches to women burning bras -- but it unfolds indigenously, organically, slowly, over decades, centuries. Now the United States wants to hit the fast-forward button on social change in another country. Imagine if Dutch troops dropped into Alabama and pushed for sincere, societywide, approval of same-sex marriage -- how fast do you think social change would be?
Continued after the break …
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
"We will not abandon the Afghan people. Our civilian commitment will remain long into the future," Secretary Clinton said this morning at the State Department in her opening remarks to U.S.-Afghan bilateral discussions. She also said, 'The ability to disagree on issues of importance to our respective countries and peoples is not an obstacle to achieving our shared objectives.… Rather, it reflects a level of trust that is essential to any meaningful dialogue and enduring strategic partnership."
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, as seen above with Clinton, said the international forces in his country must do more to prevent civilian deaths, but also noted that Gen. Stanley Chrystal is the first foreign commander to personally apologize to him whenever a military operation ends up killing civilians.
There's a lot more of Karzai on Clinton's schedule today. At 3:30 p.m., she has a one-on-one meeting with him, and at 5 p.m. she will host a reception for him. She already hosted a dinner for him yesterday, as seen in the photo below, in which it's striking that she's the only woman. I wonder how that feels -- to be the only woman in so many of these gatherings.
Top to bottom: Mark Wilson/Getty Images, PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes yesterday and discussed the attempted bombing at Times Square, among other foreign-policy topics. Just like she did last year when she was visiting Pakistan, she said that somebody, somewhere, in the Pakistani government knows where Osama bin Laden is:
I'm not saying that they're at the highest levels, but I believe that somewhere in this [Pakistani] government are people who know where Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda is, where Mullah Omar and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban is, and we expect more cooperation to help us bring to justice, capture, or kill those who attacked us on 9/11."
When asked by 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley why the Obama administration isn't putting more pressure on the Pakistani government to apprehend Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda's No. 2, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Clinton responded:
I have to stand up for the efforts the Pakistani government is taking. They have done a very significant move toward going after the terrorists within their own country."
On a lighter note, Clinton also talked about daughter Chelsea's upcoming wedding:
When it comes to salvaging the strained U.S. relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Secretary Clinton is the best person for the job, according to Daily Beast writer and Hoover Institution research fellow Tunku Varadarajan. In his piece yesterday, "Bring on Hillary," he begins with "It's time to end the sleazy whispering campaign against Karzai -- and empower Hillary Clinton, America's best hope to salvage relations with Afghanistan" and concludes:
Of all those who make (or mar) U.S. policy toward Afghanistan, Hillary is the one who bears no blame for the recent bad blood with Karzai. She has a fine grasp of the difference between diplomacy and bluster, and shutting her out of much of the main AfPak action has been a major -- even calamitous -- mistake. […]
One clear change that could, and should, be made to the architecture of our AfPak diplomacy is to elevate Hillary above Holbrooke in the AfPak theater. The latter has had an opportunity to make an impact. The results have been dreadful. It is now time to hand the job -- the hardest in American diplomacy -- to the hard lady of American politics.
(In the photo above, then-Senator Clinton meets with Karzai on Jan. 14, 2007, in Kabul, Afghanistan.)
MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images (Jan. 14, 2007)
In recent days, Secretary Clinton has offered six New Year's greetings:
In Thailand, the recent political violence hasn't stopped people from celebrating the three-day Songkran new year holiday, which began yesterday and features soaking people with water as part of the festivities. In the photos above and below, Thais and tourists celebrate yesterday on Bangkok's Khaosan Road, a spot popular with backpackers, which as recently as Saturday night was the site of violence, with Thais and tourists seen examining bullet holes and blood on Sunday.
Photos: Luis Ascui/Getty Images
At 8 a.m. today, having returned to Washington from Mexico, Secretary Clinton hosted the opening session of the U.S.-Pakistan strategic dialogue, a two-day event during which nuclear energy, economic assistance for Pakistan, and security issues will be discussed. (Above, Clinton shakes hands with Pakistani Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi.)
The Pakistani delegation will probably ask for a civilian nuclear deal similar to the one the United States signed with India, Pakistan's archenemy, but a lot of people on Capitol Hill and in New Delhi aren't going to be thrilled about that idea. (For more on whether Pakistan should get a nuclear deal, check out the FP piece, "Should Pakistan Get a Nuke Deal?")
A few excerpts of Clinton's remarks, as reported by the Associated Press:
Clinton acknowledged that "misperceptions and mistrust" have grown between the two countries, and said that overcoming the mutual suspicion requires sustained work across several areas of government.
"This is a new day," she said.
"You are fighting a war whose outcome is critical first and foremost, of course, for the people of Pakistan," Clinton told the foreign minister. "But it will also have regional and global repercussions, and so strengthening and advancing your security remains a key priority of our relationship."
JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
On the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, celebrated by Iranians, Afghans, Kurds, Azeris, and other people across Central Asia and the rest of the world, Secretary Clinton delivered a message, which included these remarks:
The spring equinox is a time of reflection and renewal across cultures and continents -- signifying the hope of rebirth, health, and prosperity. This is an opportunity to remember how much we have in common -- the aspirations we all share for a peaceful and prosperous future -- and to reaffirm the human rights and fundamental freedoms that are our universal birthright. As the Iranian poet Simin Behbahani writes, "we are all parts of the same body, similar in essence." On this Nowruz, we honor those common bonds.
President Obama also once again delivered a Nowruz message. For what Obama should have ideally said to the people of Iran in his Nowruz message, check out Karim Sadjadpour's FP piece, "The Message Obama Should Send to Iran."
In the photo above: Goldfish swim in bowls at a market in Tehran on March 20 as Iranians shop for Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Traditionally, goldfish are among the items that Iranians buy during Nowruz celebrations.
ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images
With the troop withdrawal date of July 2011, Secretary Clinton said, the U.S. administration is sending a "message of urgency" to Afghans and their government to go after the Taliban and al Qaeda more effectively. She made the remark in an interview yesterday with CBS's Katie Couric. When asked by Couric, "Why start withdrawing U.S. troops just 18 months after the surge begins?", Clinton's response was:
Well, I think there's been considerable misunderstanding about what the president said and what he meant. He said [Tuesday] night that our goal is to begin transferring responsibility for security and hopefully being able to bring some of our troops home starting in July 2011. But this is going to be done in a responsible way and based on the conditions as they are assessed. And we want to send a message of urgency to the people and government of Afghanistan and others that they have to be part of making sure that we go after al Qaeda and their allies, which include a lot of the Afghanistan Taliban."
When Couric followed up by asking, "So is this a not-so-subtle message to Hamid Karzai that he better step up to the plate because the U.S. will not be there forever?", Clinton answered:
Well, I think that this is a very clear message to President Karzai and to the rest of the Afghan leadership [that] what has gone [on] before hasn't been as effective as it needed to be, and we want to have the Afghan attention focused in a way that will produce results."
But will establishing a date of July 2011 for the beginning of a U.S. troop withdrawal truly give the Afghan leadership a kick in the pants to get its act together? And even if it does try hard to go after the Taliban and al Qaeda, will it be able to succeed? Based on all the corruption and dysfunction in the Afghan government, it's hard to be optimistic, but for the sake of Afghans and the world's security, I hope Clinton is right and that the situation in Afghanistan will become more tolerable.
Clinton says she thinks Pakistan's nuclear weapons are secure and protected. In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel on Monday, she said: "… the nuclear arsenal that Pakistan has, I believe is secure. I think that the government and the military have taken adequate steps to protect that."
I really hope Clinton is right, because the prospect of nukes getting into the hands of Islamist extremists is frightening. As Clinton herself acknowledged in the interview, "… the safe haven that al Qaeda has found in Pakistan is very troubling. They are still actively engaged with the elements of the Pakistani Taliban that are threatening the state of Pakistan."
If the state of Pakistan is indeed threatened, then it seems that doesn't bode well for the security of the nuclear arms.
While speaking today at a news conference in Singapore (where, as seen above, she's attending the APEC summit), Secretary Clinton urged Burma to plan for "free, fair, and credible" elections in 2010. She also pointed out that it's in other countries' interests to have a stable Burma, saying, "Any country that does business in Burma wants to be sure that their investments and their business are safe, and the best way to ensure that is to move toward democracy and the kind of stability that democracy creates."
At a news conference today, Clinton also said yesterday's naval skirmish between North and South Korea will not not affect U.S. plans to send an envoy to North Korea to try to restart nuclear talks. Clinton said, "This does not in any way affect the decision to send Ambassador [Stephen] Bosworth. We think that this is an important step that stands on its own."
A couple of other Clinton tidbits:
•Clinton has been urging Iran to accept a U.N. proposal that lets the country ship low-enriched uranium abroad (to Russia and France) to be further enriched for a Tehran reactor that makes medical isotopes. She also stated on The Charlie Rose Show that, "It is not in Iran's interest to have a nuclear arms race in the Gulf, where they would be less secure than they are today. It is not in Iran's interest, to the Iranian people's interest, to be subjected to very onerous sanctions."
•Clinton was a star guest at Starbucks today, though she didn't order anything to drink. She sat for about 30 minutes at a table outside the Starbucks in Singapore's Suntec convention center. She was joined by U.S. Congressman Sander Levin (D-Mich.) while four diplomatic security agents monitored from a distance. Three of the four ordered lattes and cappuccinos. The manager said, "They came by very quietly. … Suddenly, this branch has become historic, an icon. I feel lucky."
Photo: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images
Secretary Clinton arrived in Pakistan today. Here's a photo summary of her day so far. (Also, posting will be light this week; I've been given some large projects that I have to prioritize.)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton receives flowers from Pakistani girls upon her arrival at the Chaklala military air base in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, on Oct. 28. Clinton kicked off talks in Pakistan on a day when a car bomb ripped through a crowded market in the northwest city of Peshawar, killing at least 90 people. Clinton, promising new investments while fending off bitter criticism of Washington's policies, arrived within hours of the blast.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani speaks with Clinton during a meeting in Islamabad. The United States will stand shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against "brutal extremist groups," Clinton said after the day's massive bomb blast.
Clinton stands next to the Pakistani flag at the prime minister's house in Islamabad.
Pakistani demonstrators with Hizbul Tahreer shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest in Lahore. The car bomb in Peshawar underscored the gravity of the extremist threat destabilizing nuclear-armed Pakistan. The explosion, which brought down buildings in Peshawar, coincided with Clinton's arrival in Pakistan to bolster the troubled U.S.-Pakistan alliance against the Taliban and al Qaeda.
Photos, top to bottom: STR/AFP/Getty Images, AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images, AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images, Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images
Remember how Secretary Clinton got to preside over a session of the U.N. Security Council last week and led an effort to pass a resolution against wartime rape? Well this one sentence from Clinton has some people in Sri Lanka fuming:
We’ve seen rape used as a tactic of war before in Bosnia, Burma, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere.
Sri Lanka lodged gave a "note of protest" to the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, complaining about Clinton's suggestion that Sri Lankan security forces used rape as a weapon of war against Tamil LTTE rebels. "We vehemently reject and condemn the irresponsible statement made by US State Secretary Hillary Clinton," the country's defense spokesman was quoted as saying in the state newspaper.
Meanwhile, the prime minister said on a radio program that Clinton has apparently forgotten the Monica Lewinsky affair and should tend to her own backyard before alleging that women are being maltreated in other countries. There was also this rant in Sri Lanka's state-run newspaper.
The State Department's 2008 Human Rights Report had this to say about wartime sexual violence in Sri Lanka:
Civil society activists reported that the resumption of the conflict had led to an increase in gender-based violence perpetrated by the security forces. Statistics were unavailable because few, if any, charges were filed in such incidents. For example, human rights groups in northern districts alleged that the wives of men who had disappeared and who suffered economic deprivation as a result often fell prey to sexual exploitation by paramilitaries and members of the security forces."
A January 2002 Amnesty International report titled "Sri Lanka: Rape in Custody" said this:
In Sri Lanka, like in many other countries, incidents of rape in the context of armed conflict such as the above examples are reported on a regular basis. During 2001, Amnesty International has noted a marked rise in allegations of rape by police, army and navy personnel."
That's one of the tricky things about being a Western outsider to a developing country. No matter how true and legitimate one's criticisms of human rights violations may be, it rankles locals when it comes from someone perceived as a "neocolonialist" outsider. It's one thing when criticism comes from your fellow citizen; it's quite another thing when it comes from an outside "meddler." Hopefully Clinton will be able to use her star diplomacy skills to advance human rights while not coming across as a judgmental outsider -- which she, of course, isn't. Based on Sri Lanka's reaction, though, it can be a tough job.
Photo: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
Madam Secretary is an obsessive blog about all things Hillary Clinton. From her policies to her pantsuits, Madam Secretary delivers up-to-the-minute news, analysis, and gossip about America's top diplomat.