Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
August 19, 2010



Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

August 19, 2010
Washington, D.C.

QUESTION: So, the flood. You have – have so much technology, so much resources in the world and still it happened. There’s still people dying. What do you say to those?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Anwar, I mean, my heart goes out to everyone who’s been affected by this flood – the people who’ve lost loved ones and been injured or lost property, who had to flee their homes, it’s just tragic. And we have so much evidence now, given what’s going on in the world weather-wise, that even though natural disasters have always been with us, they may be increasing in intensity and scope, and therefore, we have to summon the resources to respond to this terrible disaster in Pakistan and then work with the people and Government of Pakistan to help repair the damage when the flood waters finally recede. But we also have to do more as a world to try to predict and prevent these kinds of natural catastrophes.

QUESTION: And what the United States is doing, of course – what you’re doing or not, and I’m not trying to belittle the U.S. contribution to it. But you see, some of whatever the world has done so far seems very inadequate. So what do you say to the affected? Why is the response so slow?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think there are several factors. First of all, the extent and location of the flooding has been overwhelming. Having watched and worked on natural disasters over many years now, there are some that just overpower the world’s capacity to respond. I think of the tsunami, I think of even Katrina in my own country inundating one of our major cities. And many of the flooded areas in Pakistan are quite inaccessible, as you know better than I. So I think we have to look at the nature of this natural disaster.

Secondly, I can only speak for the United States, but we are doing everything we can to rush relief supplies in. But until the waters recede and until we have a better idea of the extent of the damage, all we can do is drop food, try to rescue people, work closely with the Pakistani Government and military, and just hope that we can protect as many people as possible. But my experts have told me that the rains haven’t even stopped yet and that there may still be more flooding.

It’s very difficult to mount a relief effort of the size required when the disaster is ongoing. We couldn’t help the people of Aceh in Indonesia until the tsunami had finally stopped and the floodwaters began to recede. So I am always impatient in natural disasters. I am never satisfied. I want to see more, and today at the United Nations I will be announcing more U.S. assistance --

QUESTION: What – 150 million?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes. And I will also be announcing a way for individual Americans to contribute; a fund that I’m setting up here in the State Department so that there’s
a --

QUESTION: Other than what you already have?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, well we – what we’re announcing is taxpayer government funding. But I want to also try to solicit more donations from Americans on behalf the people of Pakistan as well. And we have opened a cell phone portal. People can text FLOOD, F-L-O-O-D, to 27722, and they’ll automatically be charged $10 on their cell phone. So, we are working very hard inside the United States to --

QUESTION: But some say, at least in the media, that the United States is trying to win the goodwill of the Pakistani people. Is it just about goodwill?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No. I think that’s an unfortunate characterization. The United States is the most generous responder to natural disasters anywhere in the world – the way that we responded to the tsunami in Southeast Asia; the way we responded to the earthquake in Haiti; the way we are now responding to the floods in Pakistan, like we did with the earthquake in Pakistan several years ago. I think Americans are grateful for the blessings we have and wish to be generous in supporting our fellow men and women around the world when we face something like this. And for us, having gone through Katrina and seeing what’s happening around the world with the increase in the number of natural disasters and the extent of the damage that they’re causing, which some people believe is linked to global climate change, I think more than ever the United States both –

QUESTION: Do you believe so?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that there is a linkage. You can’t point to any particular disaster and say, “it was caused by.” But we are changing the climate of the world; we’ve seen that with the Russian forest fires, even the Russian Government that has been somewhat skeptical about climate change.

QUESTION: Do you agree with those who say that there’s a link between the Russian forest fire and the flood in Pakistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Not a direct link. But when you have the changes in climate that affect weather that we’re now seeing, I think the predictions of more natural disasters are unfortunately being played out.

QUESTION: Secretary Gates recently said that the floods may affect the war against terror if more Pakistani troops are pulled away from the front. Do you agree with this assessment?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I think that’s an obvious statement, but I have a different reaction. My reaction is: Why are the terrorists targeting for assassination and bombing Pakistanis at a moment of great natural distress? What is wrong with these people? Have they no shame? Have they no conscience? That while the people of Pakistan are literally fighting for their lives against the effects of this flood, the terrorists seem not to care. The Pakistani military must do everything in its power to protect the people and the property of Pakistan. And that means, for the time being, putting as many resources as they can afford to in the fight against the flood.

But don’t you think it would make just common sense and expression of common humanity for the terrorists to cease their terrible attacks and not be doing what they’re doing continuing even despite these floods? So I understand completely why the Pakistani military must do what they are, but it’s unfortunate that they are fighting an enemy that is so uncaring about the people of your country.

QUESTION: But then what they are saying – what the terrorists are saying now in the last two or three days that, yes, really that – but then the Americans also used the drone attack during the flood.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we can – it’s a lot easier for the terrorists to say whatever they choose to say because there is no accountability. And of course, I never respond to any claim by any terrorist anywhere. I think the facts speaks for themselves, that at a time when millions are fleeing their homes, the terrorists are still attacking the very people who are suffering. I find that just terrible to even contemplate.

QUESTION: Recently, Ambassador Holbrooke, he went to Afghanistan and there was – sorry, Senator Kerry, he went to Afghanistan and, made a lot of statements about corruption being the most important issue in your dealings with the Afghan Government. Why is it not an issue in Pakistan?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, corruption is an issue everywhere and we talk about it everywhere. Corruption is a cancer that eats away at the body of politic and, unfortunately, diverts resources from where they were intended. And I think I’ve been very, very straightforward in my visits to Pakistan and in my interviews in saying that we want to see the democratic Government of Pakistan improve, do better, really deliver services to people. And my commitment to a strategic relationship between the United States and Pakistan includes efforts to help Pakistan do a better job of dealing with the challenges posed by corruption.

QUESTION: And do you agree that those who say that corruption is one of the reasons for the slow response of the world?

SECRETARY CLINTON: No, I don’t think so. I think that – the extent of this disaster is overwhelming. And the other problem is how do you know where and when to deliver resources when the disaster is ongoing? It hasn’t stopped. It’s not – I mean, once the earthquake stopped and the big aftershock stopped in Haiti last January, people could begin to repair and get in. The floods haven’t stopped. In fact, the predictions, unfortunately, are that there may be more flooding in the next week or two.

So I think that the world community has responded. Again, I speak only for the United States; we certainly have responded. But I will be going to the United Nations today, not only to announce our additional assistance, but to do more to urge better coordination and cooperation to get more resources in. But even if the world community were waiting in line to provide resources, this is a difficult environment in which to provide them. And I don’t want people to think if they bring some food for refugees today, then that’s all they need. The reconstruction of Pakistan will also be a long-term commitment that the United States will support.

QUESTION: And so you – what do you say to the media, especially in Pakistan but also here, who are making a big thing out of corruption during this crisis?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I say save lives, save property, do what we can. Corruption, unfortunately, has been with us, is with us, and will always be with us, I guess everywhere human beings congregate. And it must be attacked; it must be rooted out. But I don’t think it does a service to the people who are suffering to have some diversion there, a side conversation about corruption. Let’s get as much done as quickly as possible. Let’s be sure that the funds flow where they’re intended to. Let’s work on a long-term reconstruction plan. And that’s what, speaking for myself and my country, what the United States intends to do.

QUESTION: May I ask a few more questions?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think we have – how much time?

STAFF: We have to – we really need to wrap up.

QUESTION: Just a few more?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I have got to leave because I’ve got to get up to New York, so maybe one more question.

STAFF: One more question, Anwar.

QUESTION: The real goals of the war against terror in Afghanistan, do you think – there have been (inaudible). Now, there’s talk of withdrawal and everything. How – if you withdraw now, (inaudible) negative impact on both Pakistan and Afghanistan. If you stay, you lose the support of your voters. So is it a Catch-22 situation for us?

SECRETARY CLINTON: I think that our position is very clear. The President has made it clear. General Petraeus, Secretary Gates and myself, we are going to be looking at when and how we turn authority over to Afghan forces starting in July 2011. But it’s a conditions-based withdrawal. It’s the responsible approach to take, and I have every confidence that it will be done in an appropriate way.

QUESTION: So it is not a Catch-22 situation?


QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Good to see you.

PRN: 2010/1130