Venue: House Foreign Affairs Committee
Channel: C-SPAN 3
Howard Berman: The gentleman from Texas, Mr. Paul, is recognized for five minutes.
Ron Paul: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And welcome, Madame Secretary.
I have a general question I want to ask about foreign policy, but leading up to that question I would like to mention first that the election had something to do with bringing about change in tone with our foreign policy. And I think there have been some very positive changes in tone and many of us have argued for more diplomacy rather than more threats, so many of us are pleased with that. It goes back to the old saying of, “Speaking softly and still be willing to carry a big stick”. But sometimes I wonder whether that big stick doesn’t get wielded a little too often.
But I do want to caution all of us that what we say is very important and can be very beneficial, but what we do is also very important. So that may cancel out the benefits of speaking more softly and being willing to talk and negotiate. Some people say that we shouldn’t talk to our enemies, but I remember the cold war rather well, and we did talk to kruchev and Mao Tse Tung when they were great threats to us. So, sometimes I think that when we look at how we stood up to tens of thousands of nuclear weapons, that we should be cautious as far as what we might do in Pakistan and put it into a proper perspective.
But my big concern is whether or not we can reverse the empire mentality that I think we have adopted over these many, many decades, and also the relationship of this to our financial burden. Though we are speaking more softly and would like to get some troops home, the first thing that was done was that our DOD budget was increased by 9% in a time when our national debt in the last 12 months went up 2 trillion dollars.
All great nations have been brought to their knees for economic reasons. We didn’t have to fight the Soviets. The Afghanistan adventure that the Soviets were involved with was very significant and I don’t know how we can ignore that.
So, I would like to ask the question about whether or not you can give me some signs or indications or some encouragement that maybe we shifted policies in the slightest manner. Have we brought any troops home? Are we less involved in Iraq? Will that war ever end? Or we really going in the opposite direction because we’re seeing Pakistan as so necessary, we need more troops, more expansion, more money, more DOD funds.
So, coming from my perspective I can’t see the difference even though, like I said, I am pleased that there is a willingness to talk and try to work things out and I think that is very positive. I always think that people who aren’t willing to talk are insecure. This whole idea that we are so strong, to me, it seems that we lack confidence if we can’t talk to people. And we are strong enough. Nobody is going to attack us militarily.
So, I see it as very important that we change our tone. I think it’s good that you got rid of the term “war on terrorism”. How can you have a war against a tactic? It doesn’t make any sense. But I am not sure “overseas contingency operation” is more specific. So could you address that and maybe give me some answers that maybe we may be seeing actually some shift in our policy.
Hillary Clinton: Well, thank you, Congressman. I think that the president’s actions in these nearly 100 days do match actions with words, although I admit there is a lot more to be done. We are still sorting out everything we’ve inherited and trying to make sense of it. We want to protect America’s national security, but we think there are better and more effective ways of doing that. So we are ending the war in Iraq. There is a definite end date for our troops to be there. The president did close Guantanamo. The president is looking for ways to engage with those who nobody wanted us to talk to, which is a sea shift in how we are proceeding.
Words and actions both matter. I mean, at the end of the day actions count more. But you have to begin by at least articulating a new approach. In our budget we have asked for more money for diplomacy and development. And the budget committee, in both the house and the senate, cut back the president’s request. It’s kind of old thinking, in my view. I mean, the secretary of defense has said that there are fewer foreign Service diplomats posted oversees than there are sailors and marines on one aircraft carrier. There are more musicians in the military bands than there are diplomats across the board. So, we are trying to shift this gigantic ship of state, Mr. Paul. And we are looking for your help to do so.
And at the risk of going over our time, I just want to say having campaigned during the last presidential election, you had the most enthusiastic supporters of anybody I ever saw.
Ron Paul: I love to hear that.
Hillary Clinton: Well, I mean, my goodness! Everywhere I went they were literally running down highways holding your signs. So, I’ve never had a chance to tell you that, but your message obviously resonated with a lot of people.
Ron Paul: Thank you.
Howard Berman: You’re going to encourage him.