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A Conversation with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Speaker: Hillary Rodham Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State
Presider: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
July 15, 2009

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered a speech at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations on July 15 that outlined broad foreign policy objectives of the Obama administration at the six-month mark. Secretary Clinton emphasized the role of "smart power" initiatives, such as the willingness to carry on diplomacy with adversaries, the heightened role for development aid, and the need to integrate civilian and military action in conflict areas.

Here are some of the points featured in her speech:

  • Negotiating with Iran. Clinton called for a direct U.S. role in talks to try to end what she said was Iran's march toward trying to achieve a nuclear weapon, its support for terrorists, and its ill treatment of its citizens. "Neither the president nor I have any illusions that dialogue with the Islamic Republic will guarantee success of any kind," she said. "But we also understand the importance of offering to engage Iran and giving its leaders a clear choice: whether to join the international community as a responsible member, or to continue down a path to further isolation."
  • War in Afghanistan. U.S. forces, Clinton said, are at war with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan "because the Taliban protects al-Qaida and depends on it for support, sometimes coordinating activities. In other words, to eliminate al-Qaida, we must also fight the Taliban."
  • Reinforcing the newly announced Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review. "Let's face it. We have devoted a smaller percentage of our government budget to development than almost any other advanced country, and too little of what we have spent has contributed to genuine and lasting progress."

The meeting highlight below features Clinton's speech and some of her responses to questions from CFR members in the audience.

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