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Civilian Power for Security in the 21st Century

Speaker: Maria Otero, Undersecretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, U.S. Department of State
Presider: Glenn Kessler, Diplomatic Correspondent, The Washington Post
January 6, 2012
Council on Foreign Relations

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GLENN KESSLER: All right. Welcome to this -- I'm Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post. Welcome to today's Council on Foreign Relations meeting.

Please turn off, not just put on -- not just put on vibrate -- oh, that's me, too -- (laughter) -- your cell phones and your BlackBerrys and your wireless devices -- turn off -- to avoid interference with our sound system.

Now, as a reminder, this meeting is on the record. And first of all, I'm sorry for the confusion we had outside earlier, getting in here. (Fortunately ?), the president of the United States decided that he was going to have a meeting on this street. So he's left now, and when we -- when this is concluded, you can just go out the normal way.

And before we begin today's session, the council is pleased to announce an upcoming meeting on January 20th, "The American Agenda for United Nations Reform." And there's information on the back of your program, if you want to know more about that.

And I'm going to speak for about -- interview the undersecretary for about a half-hour, and then we will open it up for questions.

And we have a very fine biography here of Undersecretary Otero. I'll just simply note that she was formerly president and CEO of ACCION?

MARIA OTERO: ACCION.

KESSLER: ACCION International, a pioneer and leader in microfinance working in 25 countries around the globe. And she was sworn in as undersecretary of state for democracy and global affairs on August 10th, 2009.

Now, part of the reason we're here today is that actually, her title has changed. She is now undersecretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights. And not only that, but the label on her bureau -- on her -- what she oversees has changed from G to J, which, if you know anything about bureaucracies in Washington and particularly at the State Department, the way you're described is -- you know, internally is very important. And the G used to stand for "global affairs." J stands for "just society." And the idea is that all these programs and entities that she oversees all have a common mission. And she in fact lost a couple of bureaus there. The -- one of the bureaus on the environment went off to work for E -- is it E?

OTERO: Mmm hmm. (Affirmative.)

KESSLER: The economic guy, Bob Hormats, who many of you probably know. So that's an important aspect.

The -- and in fact, I -- you know, I've covered State for nine years and actually wrote a book on Condi Rice.

And I was reminded of the something that happened to her when she first became secretary of state which was, she asked one of her staff members, how much money are we spending in -- I think it was -- Pakistan or Egypt? And it took nine months for her to get an answer, and she was so upset about that that she actually directed a massive change so that you can now go to a website at -- run by the State Department and USAID and type in and instantly find out how much we're spending in each country. But it took quite a while to get that change into effect. And so those kinds of things have impact, they have importance, and we're going to talk about here about what these changes mean in terms of bringing the just society around the world.

And as part of this reorganization, there were two new bureaus created. One is called Conflict and Stabilization Operations, which will have an assistant secretary instead of someone known as a "coordinator," and there is also a bureau for counterterrorism, which will be led by the coordinator for counterterrorism.

And just to read a little bit from what the Undersecretary Otero said yesterday at the State Department press briefing: "The new structure will help us be more effective and efficient in carrying out our policies and enable greater collaboration among the many tools available to us that contribute to civilian security. For example, we strengthen democratic institutions and judicial systems. We denounce human rights abuses. We build stronger law enforcement capacity. We provide humanitarian assistance. We address transnational crime, whether it is drugs or trafficking in persons. We combat violent extremism and we engage in youth and civil societies."

So I want to try to drill down a little deeper in those specific areas. But first, just to deal with some of the bureaucratic things, since I have this new flowchart here.

Basic question: What will ensure that this isn't simply moving around boxes on a chart, that this actually changes the way the State Department operates?

OTERO: Well, let me just start by thanking you for this interview and for this opportunity to be here at the Council on Foreign Relations to be able to address some of these questions that, of course, for me are front and central to what I am doing.

And to begin right away, just to take a bit of a step back, because it's very important to understand that this isn't just moving chairs around in a room, it really -- it's important to bring it back to the context of what Secretary Clinton put forth as a vision originally, which was expressed in the QDDR, which I'm sure everybody in the room has read backwards and forwards several times. But the QDDR lays out what the secretary noted as some of the challenges and the political, economic, social issues that we face in the 21st century, that are quite different than what we had before and that require us to adapt our foreign policy so that we can deal with the transnational threats, we can deal with the new international actors that are at play, we can recognize that diplomacy's no longer state- to-state but that it also incorporates a whole set of other players that play a role in the way in which this operates.

So as part of doing that, she emphasized the importance of strengthening and creating our own civilian power in order to be able to do that; that is, strengthening civilian institutions to be able to carry out this work.

So within that, the vision that the secretary brought was a particular emphasis on civilian security.

And by civilian security, we mean basically the role that governments have to play in protecting their own people and the role that they have to play in helping create just societies.

So the concept and the strategy and the vision that the secretary brought forth also pointed out that within the State Department, there's a wide array of bureaus that, in one way or another, respond to this issue of helping protect individuals, helping build societies. But they are operating everywhere in the department, without much connection between them, without an overarching view of what they are doing, really looking specifically whether they're addressing (denouncing ?) human rights at that or whether they're addressing law enforcement or trafficking of persons.

So the mandate, then, that she put forward to reorganize all this is very much what I called the form really following the substance, as you would have. If you're organized a certain way, you can carry out a vision better. So that has resulted in not only renaming this undersecretary, but in bringing together five bureaus and three offices, a very strong set of bureaus that bring different expertise to the table because they operate in different sort of platforms of what they're doing, they bring different resources, and they bring different mandates of how they see security overall.

So when you bring them all together and you mandate them to be able to collaborate and to work together in addressing these issues, then you're not moving chairs around.

KESSLER: Mmm hmm.

OTERO: You are in fact bringing forth a new way of operating, which of course does not happen overnight and requires a lot of practice. But it's a recognition that if we are going to work in the sort of diplomatic landscape of the 21st century, that we need to bring all these forces forth to be able to really help countries develop their own capacity to do the protecting and the creating of just societies.

KESSLER: And, you know, the -- we're in a period of very tight budget circumstances, and I think the funding for State Department -- the last I checked, it was getting cut back on Capitol Hill. I mean, do you have the money to actually -- I mean, how do you -- how do you make these changes and make these bureaus effective in this new direction, with this period of flat funding?

OTERO: You know, I come from having run an NGO for many years, so I know all about how it is that you can take resources and make them yield even more than you had before.

The idea here, knowing that we are working in an environment where resources are not going to be increased, is to find ways to use the resources that we have -- and there are already quite an amount of resources -- and be able to use them more efficiently, use them more effectively, leverage from one bureau to another, enhance a joint effort to do things in a way that allows you then to yield more with less.

And so we don't anticipate that this is going to require a huge increase in funding; it's not there. But we do recognize that the minute that you reorganize and create more ability for these bureaus to work together, you will become more efficient. You will be -- you will be able to make sure that if one bureau has people in the field, they are also supporting and looking out for what another bureau is doing.

Or you are creating joint delegations that go out together in order to be able to come back with a grouping of ideas that convert into one policy. So there's a variety of different ways in which we can proceed without having to allocate more resources.

KESSLER: All right. And one thing that I found interesting was the creation of this bureau for -- what is it? -- stabilization -- conflict and stabilization -- reconstruction and stabilization, excuse me, which -- I believe that was a brainchild of Secretary Rice. It never really got a tremendous amount of support on Capitol Hill. And now it's being elevated into a bureau. So do you have the support on Capitol Hill for this?

OTERO: You know, this was originally an office. And it was an office that was called conflict reconstruction and stabilization. And turning it into a bureau, of course, you interact with the Hill, you engage with them, you answer their questions. And we have been able to move forward and not only have their support, because otherwise we really wouldn't be able to move it forward, but also we have been -- the idea is to take this bureau and to revise its vision somewhat. It is no longer a bureau that addresses reconstruction. It now really focuses on conflict stabilization, and as such, it focuses on conflict prevention and stabilization.

The notion of conflict prevention is also one that comes out in the QDDR and is highlighted -- in fact, Chapter 4 is the chapter to read -- which speaks to the issue that if we are able to understand better and use the tools for early warning systems and other ways in which we can understand the sources of conflict better and prevent them from turning into a full-blown crisis that then becomes far more costly and more difficult and creates so much more damage to people, then we can improve in the way in which we can help these countries.

x x countries. But -- so this bureau is now going to focus, really, on preventing conflict, and it's going to focus and concentrate its efforts into priority areas so that it can be more nimble, can be more effective, and it can focus some of the expertise that it has to support these other bureaus and offices that are part of this new J family.

KESSLER: So instead of preemptive war, it's preemptive peace?

OTERO: Wouldn't that be wonderful.

KESSLER: Well, let's try to drill down, then, with some examples currently going on on the global stage and see how these new tools you have might come into play and be effective. I mean, for instance, well, the QDDR was released a year ago, in December, before we had an inkling of the Arab Spring.

OTERO: Indeed.

KESSLER: And so what -- how can the tools that you have help with these countries? I mean, for instance, right now in Egypt we just saw a crackdown on U.S.-funded NGOs. What specifically would your bureau, your team be doing in Egypt now, and what can you do differently that you couldn't do before?

OTERO: You know, the transitions in the Middle East provide a really excellent example of how it is that this undersecretariat can bring some value-added to the State Department and to the U.S. government response overall. So let me outline a couple of examples of how the restructuring of this really brings -- sort of elevates the issue and brings more coordination and more -- more collaboration together.

I travelled to the Middle East in September and to engage particularly in the issues that were current then and are still current right now: the role of civil -- of NGOs was a very important one there; crowd control; issues related to the law enforcement concerns. I mean, these were all of course the topics that were under discussion as part of the transition.

In -- I happened to arrive in Cairo the day in which the Israeli embassy was attacked, if you remember. And it also happened to be the day when there was -- when the Al-Jazeera office -- the live video office was closed down by the government and it was closed down because it didn't have the right license to operate.

So in that, in that context, my conversations with the government officials, with the military officials, the staff, with youth organizations, with civil society, with law enforcement agencies, with bloggers -- I mean across the board -- gave me the important perspectives on how some of these issues related to the transition needed to be addressed.

From there I went to Tunisia, and in Tunisia I went to the Libyan border, where there were many refugees coming in from Libya, into Tunisia, which was already trying to manage a complex transition itself. So -- now I was accompanied by high-level officials from some of these bureaus that comprise the J family, so that -- being able to see the totality of all of this, then we could sit down and assess the situation and look at where it was that we could bring some responses that were going to be the sort of sum total of some of these areas, how it was that we were going to address the human rights issues and, at the same time, address how you protect citizens, which is more, say, training police and so on.

So in that context, if we look, for example, at the work that we've been doing with the NGOs, that you're pointing out, in Egypt in particular, there is no question that we then were able, back in Washington, once the NGOs were raided and once the issues about their role were elevated by the government, by the Egyptian government, to be able to then sit down far more naturally there and be able to sort out our own response to this issue.

And I think, as you know, we've been very active in responding. The raids on the -- on the Egyptian NGOs and on our own NGOs are inacceptable. These are clearly part and parcel of the Egyptian society that have to play a role if Egypt is transitioning into a democracy, and they need to be able to be allowed to play that role. Most of those NGOs were training people so that they could participate in a democracy, were helping people develop political parties, were doing exactly the kinds of things that we take for granted.

So our role was much more strengthened, and it wasn't relegated only to one bureau that addresses human rights. It was one bureau that had the support of all the other bureaus that could then give a much more robust and strong response to this.

So this is -- this is one example of the way in which we're proceeding. If you look at transitional justice, for example, in the Middle East, also writ large -- this is another example -- if you look at that issue, you can look at everything from the Mubarak trials and the Gadhafi trials that could have been all the way to how it is that you provide security sector reform, you know, in countries like Tunisia, where that -- the police has been basically a force of oppression, how do you convert it into a force that will protect its citizens and that will work for the citizens.

When you looked at this, the Department of State had four different bureaus reporting to four different areas of the department working on these issues, from war crimes to human rights to INL, as we call it, which is basically International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Bureau, and you saw that they were all interacting on their own. Now they are working together.

And by working together, I mean they are sitting around a table. They are developing joint decisions on this, they are understanding each other's resources that are available, and then they are putting together a program that is the culmination of all of those but responds to both what they can bring to the table and the broader situation that we have.

So these are examples of how the process that we are using internally or that we are putting in place right now -- because it's really in its beginning stages -- can then yield a result that can be a far more cohesive and effective effort to address those -- the situations that we're facing.

KESSLER: And how does it -- I mean, just to move a little bit -- well, in another part of the Middle East, how does it work in a country like Bahrain, where, you know, one of your -- one of the things you talked about was, you know, calling out human rights abuses, and yet there are also strategic interests that the United States has there.

How does that come -- how does that come into play?

OTERO: Well, clearly, we -- you know, the work that we are doing is not work that is isolated from working very closely with the regional bureaus and with the rest of the department, of course. And there are other considerations that come up.

But in Bahrain, I think, as you know, there is -- the government put together an inquiry -- a commission of inquiry to look at the human rights abuses that have been in place. Our assistant secretary very recently -- for democracy, human rights and labor very recently, in the last month, visited Bahrain to address specifically these issues, to see how the people that have been detained are being released and to see how the recommendations that have been made by this inquiry -- this commission of inquiry are being carried out.

And he, as he does his work, is of course engaging with INL and with some of these other bureaus to help carry that out, and it's informing the broader picture, where there are concerns that are also larger than the ones that I am talking about. So -- but them being able to play a very active role in this area -- it of course informs the secretary far better about how it is that this place (sic) into the broader foreign policy decisions that we make.

KESSLER: Right, well, it certainly sounds like it would be easier to get together and meet him if you --

OTERO: (Chuckles.) We'll see.

KESSLER: -- if they were all -- if they were all working for the same boss.

OTERO: Well, it's much easier, and it also means that I can create opportunities for them to come together on a regular basis, which I do, so that they can look at these issues not only where you have a conflict or a crisis or a situation like the (NGOs ?), but when you're anticipating some of these or when you're preparing in order to respond.

KESSLER: Well, I mean, take Libya, for instance.

That is a country that has now -- is now emerging from decades of dictatorship and a -- and a -- and a leader that used -- you know, balanced off tribal loyalties as a way to maintain power. And how would -- how would your bureaus work together, along with the -- of course, Jeff Feltman and his team to help build that society into a functioning democracy?

OTERO: Well, I think some of the ways that I've already mentioned are similar approaches that we would be using here. What is a little bit different is that in each country, of course the situation is different, and the issues that you address and that are of great need vary depending on one and the other, and so you work much more on the ones that are needed as you assess the importance that they have. And as we're working with Transitional National Commission right -- Committee right now, if we're -- as we are helping them address some of these issues, they are also facing topics that are not present in some of the other countries. And so being able to support them in those areas becomes enormously important.

And it also allows us -- and I think this is important to address as we're looking at all of this -- a much clearer way to be able to collaborate and to work together with the other agencies in the U.S. government that are engaged in these countries. And of course, the ones that are of particular importance in our work are AID, obviously, because of the work that they're doing. And the -- our ability to be able to collaborate and work together and to determine when one takes a lead, when one takes -- when the other one takes a lead, is something that we are developing and working and putting together.

And so these countries that we're discussing are part and parcel of that example.

And of course, the other pieces of the government that we would be working with -- out of this undersecretary (or more ?) would be DOD, of course, because DOD has been at the operational level working in humanitarian assistance and in other areas that are -- and in stabilization and other areas that are now also part of what we're doing. So being able to work with the combatant commands, for example, then facilitates a way of doing this work not at cross purposes, but also together.

Department of Justice is another one that's very involved in rule of law and in all of this work, and so we also call on them to be able to provide some of these supports.

And of course, this doesn't relate just to the Middle East but, you know, I just got back from Central America, and in Central America this becomes a very important issue, I mean, which is -- (inaudible) --

KESSLER: Well, we -- with the -- and in the drug violence that is rapidly spreading from Mexico down south?

OTERO: Well, in Central America, there's no question in Guatemala and in Honduras and El Salvador are the countries that are most affected by the drug trafficking and the criminality. But what we note there is that -- the weakness of their institutions, of their judicial institutions and of their law enforcement institutions -- are, interestingly, the priority areas to engage in and to help those governments address, because those are very closely related to especially the human-rights abuses that we're seeing, and particularly in Honduras, where LGBT attacks have been horrific, where journalists have been assassinated.

And so being able to have both those that are working in law enforcement and in training police, those that are addressing human rights, those that are working in some of the other areas that address transnational crime and trafficking in persons and having them work together also means that we work very closely with AID in that because AID's doing a lot of the work in helping address issues related to youth, which is, again, something that we are working with. But working with youth, from my perspective, is conflict prevention writ large. And we're also working with SOUTHCOM and some of the other ones that are involved there.

But the Department of Justice also provides very useful support in just helping develop the capacity of prosecutors, of investigators within Honduras, some of the other countries, to be able to develop the capacity they need to improve the situation in their own countries.

So this approach is certainly not just an approach where we -- that we can use specifically in a part that most of the world is looking at. I wish more people were looking at Central America more closely. I think it's --

KESSLER: Secretary Clinton, I think, has been there 18 times or something like that. She's certainly been there a lot.

OTERO: She's been there. She's been there, and certainly -- I think you certainly know I'm from Bolivia originally. I'm from that part of the world. I've lived in Honduras. And yet I see right now that that's one area where this approach that we have in the department can allow us to respond in a more effective and efficient way as well.

So the point is that whether it's in the Middle East or in Central America or other places, in Africa, you know, where we do see conflict arising or citizens trying to move their countries through a transition period, our effort to respond this way can be more effective.

KESSLER: Well, I have one more last thing before I move to questions from the audience. Do you have an action plan for Burma? I mean, the secretary has just made a very high-profile trip there; there's a -- there's a -- small embers possibly of democracy, maybe, there. What are you doing to try to build on what's going to happen there?

OTERO: Well, the secretary has been there, but she's also been accompanied by some other of her, you know -- some other government officials including people from the J family, in particular Assistant Secretary Posner. And so as we look at Burma and the possibility of its moving in the direction that we certainly would applaud, there are specific areas in which we need to look at carefully which, again, are part of the J family.

One is prisoners. There's -- you know, our calculation is that there's about 1,100 prisoners that are in Burma and that are -- and the Burmese have talked about releasing these prisoners. In fact --

KESSLER: Repeatedly.

OTERO: -- we had expected yesterday or the day before that more than I think eight or 10 would be released. And so our work as we look at the broader efforts to engage with Burma and to be able to help them move in the direction that we think is important, our own work from the J family is to ensure that these topics that are particular to the work that we do are not only that we're providing good follow-up to it, but that we are (insistent ?), that we are playing a very active role in addressing these issues.

Issues related to minorities in the country are also emerging and coming up in the Kachin state.

And so again, we can identify the specific issues that are in place, and then we can put our forces and our efforts to address them and thereby to really enhance the way that we're addressing the whole policy.

KESSLER: Right, because it's a real balancing act --

OTERO: That's right. That's right, yeah.

KESSLER: -- where you don't want to --

OTERO: Boy, I know. (Chuckles.)

KESSLER: Anyway, well, let me take questions from the audience. And the first hand up was Barbara there, so --

Oh, wait, wait, I forgot the little one sheet. I should say this: Wait for the microphone and speak directly into it. Please stand and state your name and affiliation. But Barbara has been through this, so -- and keep questions and comments concise to allow as many members to speak as possible.

QUESTIONER: Yes, sir. Barbara Slavin from the Atlantic Council, former fellow traveler with Glenn on secretaries' planes. Madam Undersecretary, can you talk a little bit about what your people can do regarding Syria given the difficulty of working inside the country? Are you active outside? Are you looking toward ways in which to help groups that are trying to alleviate what is obviously a huge humanitarian crisis in that country? Thanks.

OTERO: Well this is clearly one of the other countries that we're -- that we're trying to address. The -- we are seeing the difficulties that emerge in Syria on a daily basis, our concerns with the Arab League, which is now there trying to address some of these issues. We are -- they are monitoring, and they are looking at some of the ways in which they -- in which we can assist. And we are -- we're watching that. We're working with them, and we're trying to see how it is that we can -- that we can provide the support that's needed to be able to move this country into a completely different situation.

And so again, we can identify the specific issues that are in place, and then we can put our forces and our efforts to address them and thereby to really enhance the way that we're addressing the whole policy.

KESSLER: Right, because it's a real balancing act --

OTERO: That's right. That's right, yeah.

KESSLER: -- where you don't want to --

OTERO: Boy, I know. (Chuckles.)

KESSLER: Anyway, well, let me take questions from the audience. And the first hand up was Barbara there, so --

Oh, wait, wait, I forgot the little one sheet. I should say this: Wait for the microphone and speak directly into it. Please stand and state your name and affiliation. But Barbara has been through this, so -- and keep questions and comments concise to allow as many members to speak as possible.

QUESTIONER: Yes, sir. Barbara Slavin from the Atlantic Council, former fellow traveler with Glenn on secretaries' planes. Madam Undersecretary, can you talk a little bit about what your people can do regarding Syria given the difficulty of working inside the country? Are you active outside? Are you looking toward ways in which to help groups that are trying to alleviate what is obviously a huge humanitarian crisis in that country? Thanks.

OTERO: Well this is clearly one of the other countries that we're -- that we're trying to address. The -- we are seeing the difficulties that emerge in Syria on a daily basis, our concerns with the Arab League, which is now there trying to address some of these issues. We are -- they are monitoring, and they are looking at some of the ways in which they -- in which we can assist. And we are -- we're watching that. We're working with them, and we're trying to see how it is that we can -- that we can provide the support that's needed to be able to move this country into a completely different situation.

Second thing is, are you putting collaboration into their performance plans? When people have grown up in stovepipes, they tend to not want to share what they're doing. So I'm curious about how you're going to implement this sort of dramatic behavior change.

OTERO: Thank you. This is very -- I smile at that second question, because it's an important one.

You know, on the first one, I think if you look at universities right now, you will see that many universities are providing areas of studies that feed right into what we are doing -- peace studies, conflict resolution, just -- there's a wide array of students that are concentrating now and studying areas that didn't really exist a few years ago.

And so from that perspective, we are developing the disciplines that are necessary, the academic disciplines, in order to be able to carry out this work.

And just sitting next to you is Tara, and she's reminding me that the U.S. Institute of Peace itself has developed a very important set of training capacity to also increase the number of professionals that specialize in issues that have to do with conflict and stabilization. Certainly if you want to say anything about it, you can talk about it a little bit more.

QUESTIONER: Well, the one thing I would add is -- (off mic) --

KESSLER: Here.

QUESTIONER: -- program -- hi. I'm Tara Sonenshine with the U.S. Institute of Peace. One of the places we're starting is middle school and high school now, not just at the college level.

OTERO: That's true.

QUESTIONER: The peace essay contest, which you've helped to oversee, is really to begin to get -- and we're now backing into middle school -- to begin to get people to have an awareness and an understanding that conflict prevention, management and resolution are real fields today --

OTERO: That's right.

QUESTIONER: -- and you can only have this kind of approach if you're ready to see them in a holistic, interdisciplinary way.

OTERO: And then, just to answer on the collaboration, there is no question that change in the way people are used to working takes some time and takes some effort --

QUESTIONER: And some time.

OTERO: Pardon me?

QUESTIONER: And time.

OTERO: It does -- I said it takes some time and effort.

QUESTIONER: (Off mic.)

OTERO: A lot can be done when the -- when the forces from above operate that way and demonstrate that in fact this is the way that you should be working.

It is also very interesting to see that when you are creating the opportunity for people to form teams and to work this way, they love it, and they do it and they see that their work is enhanced and that the sharing of information in fact allows them to do their work better. So I'm not trying to be Pollyannaish about this, because I've managed for a long time, even before I came to State. But I do know that there are ways of operating that you can really promote, and this is certainly one that I think will be welcomed by a large majority of people.

KESSLER: Let me see if we can get to someone in the back.

Yes, sir, with -- yeah, with the red vest.

QUESTIONER: Dane Smith, from the Office of the Special Envoy for Sudan. You mentioned that in the thinking about this new CSO bureau you were focusing on conflict prevention and stabilization, and not reconstruction; yet I noted that you referred to security sector reform, which strikes me as falling into the reconstruction area. I wonder if you could tell us a little more about that thinking and what you're trying to avoid?

OTERO: Well, the security sector reform that I'm referring to has more to do with how it is that you rebuild the civilian forces within a country that help protect citizens.

So I'm referring more to the police and to the other groupings that might exist in a country that (allow ?) to bring security and that (allow ?) to protect people. And a lot of that work falls under our Bureau of Law Enforcement, which, very interestingly -- which also handles narcotics -- which, very interestingly, not that long ago dedicated over 75 percent of its budget and of its activity to drugs, and today it dedicates about 75 percent of its time, resources, on giving, you know -- an approximation -- to law enforcement and to addressing rule-of-law issues, to providing training, to building capacity, to providing equipment that improves the way in which technology is used in this area.

And so that's why security -- improving security sector reform, that's really what I'm referring to. And that's something that we're going to be doing with considerable strength. And we will be doing it now with more input from human rights people, who can also help make sure that if you are training police, you are also providing and increasing their capacity in human rights.

We're working also together with the people that work in trafficking in persons, so that if you're training police, you can use a case study on trafficking in persons and, in the process, not only train them, but help them understand the importance and the issues related to trafficking that are so crucial to the work that we're doing.

KESSLER: I'm just curious: Is most of that budget Iraq and Afghanistan, the law enforcement piece?

OTERO: No. The law enforcement we do all over the world.

KESSLER: I see.

OTERO: And even if we begin to look at -- to go back to the Middle East, you see that security reform -- security sector reform is part and parcel of helping these democracies be able to stand up effectively.

And that requires -- it was very interesting. In Tunisia, I met with the minister of interior, and they were looking to find ways to almost dismantle the security -- their security force, their police force, in order to really rebuild it with a different culture, with a different approach, with a different set of capabilities.

And it's precisely in that area where we can come in and provide support, provide equipment, provide expertise. We can bring people from other U.S. government agencies to also support in that. And so in that area, you see -- we're doing that all over the world. And so that is an important way, then, of bringing in these other bureaus to help carry that out effectively.

KESSLER: I see.

Yes, ma'am, right there. Yeah.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Cory Shockey (ph) from the Hoover Institution. One of the things I thought most interesting about the QDDR was the emphasis on creating cultural change in the State Department, rather memorably expressed in the QDDR as "being as comfortable in combat boots as in wingtips and as comfortable in cargo pants as in pinstripes." That would be an enormous --

OTERO: Not aware any of that stuff -- (inaudible) --

QUESTIONER: That would be an enormous change from the way State has operated. That strikes me as quite a difficult management task. Can you talk us through your management program for bringing that about in your secretariat?

OTERO: You know, that's a very good question, and I'm very glad that you're asking it because as I said at the very beginning, when the secretary addressed a vision for the work that we're doing as it sits within the diplomatic landscape of the 21st century, one of the things that was very clear there was that there are many actors outside of states that are contributing to the way in which the world evolves and that the Department of State cannot limit their conversations to be bilateral conversations that are state to state, but really have to expand and work way beyond with other actors that are international, that are networks, that are civil society and so on, which has not been part and parcel of what we think about what one of these pinstripe diplomats do.

And so the secretary herself has really given us the example that when she travels -- every time she travels -- she sets aside time and meets with civil society organizations; she holds town halls; she engages with people outside of what you would consider the traditional set of policymakers in a country. And to follow that, then the rest of us of course do the same.

For me, personally, that work is really part and parcel of what I did before I came to the Department of State because I worked with people who are involved in the informal economies. I walked vegetable -- open markets throughout the countries that I worked in. I, you know, engaged in the slums and addressed, you know, worked with people who were among the poor in the country. And so for me to now have, as an undersecretary when I travel -- have within my agenda -- an absolute, be given -- that I will meet with civil society organizations, with human rights organizations as I did in Egypt and Tunisia and Central America and the Congo -- everywhere.

If I can sit and meet with youth and bloggers, for example, if I can have input and engage with them and have a dialogue with them about their own views of both the United States, their own country, the issues at hand, then our own making of foreign policy is informed by that input.

And when I do this and I take other officials that are part of the bureaus of the J family and we go outside of the capital so that we can see how it is that an election commission in Nigeria is operating not in Abuja but in some place where I drove I don't know how many hours in a -- and then I begin to understand, and I think the State Department through us begins understand better, precisely how the combat boots, if you will, or the -- you know, not the wingtips, but being able to be out in the field place into what we're doing.

So this, I think, is a really important, if you will, almost bold foreign policy statement, that we need to reach out and we need to be able to work in a way that brings in input from those that are not normally our interlocutors on a bilateral case.

KESSLER: Yeah, I can affirm, having traveled with Hillary Clinton, that she does long hours and meets with lots of people. (Laughter.) I was with her with India, and she had breakfast with guys that were billionaires and then a(n) hour later was meeting with women that made $2, you know, a day.

OTERO: They -- right, yeah.

KESSLER: In the back there with the -- I don't -- can't see you, but you have a blue shirt on or something like that. Yes.

QUESTIONER: Yes, Shaun Waterman from the Washington Times.

Could you talk a little bit about how this, you know, new vision of your shop over there at the State Department -- how you're going to be working with the military?

I've heard it said by people that in conflict situations where U.S. agencies and military are on the ground, sometimes the biggest challenge they face is working with each other. I mean, is that -- could you assess that statement? And could you talk about, you know, the changes that you hope to make, the improvements that you hope to make now with this new setup you have over there?

OTERO: For this new setup. There is no question that the work between agencies and among agencies, be they whatever, is not easy to do. And when you're talking about Department of Defense, that really has a very different view of the world than Department of State, being able to bring defense and diplomacy to be able to work together is -- clearly takes some work.

However, again going back to the secretary of state, one of the important emphasis that she's made is that the work of defense, diplomacy and development -- what she really calls smart power -- is something that we really need to be able to balance but we need to be able to really work together and with each other.

So from our own perspective, working with the -- let me restart that sentence. DOD operates at an operational level in several of the areas where the J family operates -- in humanitarian work, in stabilization work, in areas in which we are operating as well. So -- and they bring some very important knowledge and expertise and advantage.

They have logistical capacity. They know how to move things from one place to another very easily and very well. And we can -- in order to be able, for example, to carry out our humanitarian works, if we're able to collaborate with them more effectively, it will help us to do that.

So have taken on -- done two things. One is to enter into a direct interaction with the combatant commands and to understand better what areas they're working in that correspond to the areas that we are working in, and to really look at ways in which we can collaborate through these areas.

And the second, I brought someone into my own staff from DOD who -- a colonel -- who will be able to then also help provide those linkages with DOD that will help us be able to do this work in a more effective way.

KESSLER: Ma'am?

QUESTIONER: Thank you. Margaret Daley (ph). Maria, we ran into each other in the hotel in Santiago.

OTERO: Yes.

KESSLER: And what was your affiliation?

QUESTIONER: I'm sorry. I'm with Georgetown University. The -- my question goes -- do you envisage extending the collaboration and partnership in police reform, judicial reform, institutional reform, say, in Central America to include the cooperation, collaboration of countries like Colombia, Chile and others that have already undertaken reforms in many of these areas? And how will that occur?

Then can you point any successes to date in our efforts in Central America, in particular?

OTERO: Well, in Central America, I think as you know, there is a regional effort to do this work, called CECA, which is the effort to address the security initiatives of the Central America region. And through that work, you see all the countries in Central America coming together to address their security -- their security needs. It's within that context that we see countries like Colombia, Mexico, hopefully some other countries, but primarily Mexico and Colombia that have worked so carefully in these areas and that they themselves have made changes, coming in to provide both resources and expertise and be donors, if you will, in addressing some of these issues.

So this CECA effort is not only the countries in Central America, but about a dozen countries that include some European countries that are also trying to help provide a regional response to the security issues that we face.

But the countries from the region, interestingly, are the ones that have the most to provide. They are -- Colombia's now providing training directly to Central American countries. They are putting resources on the table. And as we move forward, they're going to be one of the more important players in helping address some of these problems in that region.

And I think, you know -- sorry -- the successes -- you know, I think the fact that we see the attention that the governments are paying to these areas is in itself very important. I don't know that you can say immediately, you know, there's this success or that success right now, but I think we are seeing a real emphasis in some of these areas in a way that is beginning to move things in a direction that we think is important.

KESSLER: Since we try to end these things on time, I think we have time for one more question. I -- there are so many hands. I apologize.

Yes, sir, here in the front.

QUESTIONER: Thank you. My name is Nouren Bashir (ph), economic counselor from the Embassy of Chad. I have two questions for Madam Secretary of -- actually, Undersecretary of State -- (chuckles) -- one for Africa, and the other question is for Islamic Republic of Iran.

For the Africa, to what extent, Madam Undersecretary, you agree with me the conclusion that most of African governments, if not the absolute majority -- they came into conclusion that human right violation, oppression of opponents and corruption no longer works for them. So they start changing their behavior. For instance, in my country, Chad, they -- for the first time in their history, to create formal body to fight corruption and arrested three ministers in prison. And they clear their prisons from any opponent -- no political prisoner. And also, there's not one single Chad soldier in the military, unlike to our past history. So to what extent do you believe some or most of African governments, they learn their lecture of Arab Spring?

The other question, about the Islamic Republic of Iran -- many people, they believe that the Islamic Republic of Iran pushing the United States and the West into real conflict. And if that happen, for sure, many believe that that will be another September the 11th. The whole political map going to be reshaped. So to what extent do you believe the confrontation between Iran and United States is real? Thank you.

OTERO: Thank you. We -- going to end it on that question?

KESSLER: Yeah. (Laughter.)

OTERO: I think on the question related to Africa, you know, we work, of course, very closely in Africa out of the J family, and we haven't had a chance to discuss it quite so much. But there's no question that in Africa, we see an effort to really move countries towards more democratic governments, towards efforts that are going to evolve those governments into ones that are more responsive to people, that are more accountable to them.

We see, for example, that in the past two years there have been 24 elections in Africa. And of those 24 elections, there are quite a number that have gone well, fairly well. Some of the ones that we are most aware of, Cote d'Ivoire and now the very recent DRC, which has been seriously flawed, of course are the ones that stand out. But we don't look at the elections, for example, in Nigeria, which went very well, and that's why you didn't read about them, or in Zambia. So these are examples of some of what you are, I think, describing and talking about.

We also see efforts in a variety of different countries to be able to address accountability issues and to be able to put into place some of the ways in which governments can become more accountable to their own people.

We're seeing some governments in Africa use technology in order to be able to make their budgets more available to their citizens or to display information that otherwise generally was just not available to people.

So these are precisely the areas in which we, as the J family, want to work with governments and help them move forward and carry out the -- their efforts to really be more democratic and more responsive and, in the case of Africa, where resources are so few and where so many people live under poverty, to be able to use the resources in order to really benefit and bring economic empowerment to the large number of citizens that they have.

On Iran, I think clearly we -- this is a -- clearly in the news right now. We're seeing that the issues related to the increased embargo are moving forward, and this is something that we need to see. We do see Iran as a -- as a threat, as a threat with -- because they support destabilization and because they have -- they have really supported things that are threatening not only the region, but the world overall. So this is going to be moving forward, and we will continue to be supporting an embargo that will tighten the noose around them.

KESSLER: All right, well, thank you very much. I want to remind everyone to -- (applause) -- is -- this was on the record. (Inaudible, applause continues).

OTERO: Thank you. Yeah -- (inaudible). Thank you.

KESSLER: Yes, you're welcome.

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