Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

By The Situation Room - July 16, 2012

LABOTT: Madame Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.

Let's start with your trip to Egypt. It wasn't a very warm welcome by a lot of Egyptians. There were very nasty protests, protesters throwing shoes in your meetings with Christian leaders, a lot of uncertainty about U.S. Policy. It doesn't seem very popular. They feel that you're siding with the Muslim Brotherhood.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, Elise, there's a lot of uncertainty and anxiety in Egypt right now. They're doing something they've never done in, you know, 5,000 plus years of history. They have had elections. They've elected a president, but they still don't have a government. They don't know what the platform is going to be. They're not sure of the legal standing of some of their new institutions.

And there are understandable concerns be many, many Egyptians. I -- I don't think that's at all unusual.

But what I was looking for was a chance to hear directly from people. And I knew very well there would be a lot of passion and conviction expressed, which I think demonstrates how invested the Egyptians are in trying to make sure their democratic transition works out for the benefit of all the Egyptians, men and women, Muslim and Christian, everybody.

LABOTT: Are you prepared to use U.S. Influence, like aid, to make sure the military lets that transition happen?

CLINTON: Well, we've been talking with everybody in Egypt about what we can do to try to help their economic situation, which is quite serious. But until there's a government in place, until there's a finance minister and a prime minister, people with whom we can actually talk specifics, we won't be able to know exactly what we can offer, what we can expect and then what kind of accountability to seek.

LABOTT: Let's talk about Syria. A year ago, when you were in Lithuania, you said that time was running out for the Assad regime. There were 1,000 people dead. When you were in Tokyo, you said the sands are coming out of the hourglass.

Now there are 10,000 people are dead.

Now, what is the threshold, Madam Secretary, that these don't become empty words and there will some type of intervention to get rid of President Assad?

CLINTON: Well, we are trying to intervene. We're trying to intervene in a way that brings about an end to the violence and a transition to a democratic future; that doesn't require adding to the violence, further militarizing the conflict, perhaps killing more people and pushing them across the borders.

I think that everyone is very wary, for good reason, of that kind of intervention.

But, certainly, what we've tried to do to get nations that have been skeptical on board with us, most particularly the Russians and the Chinese, what we've done to try to help reassure and provide humanitarian assistance to the neighboring countries that are absorbing the refugees.

But, you know, Elise, everybody is as outraged as I am -- and I think for very good reason -- at what we see happening. It's horrific what's happening.

But, you know, you have to look at all the consequences of any action that the outside could take. And, you know, there are many instances that I could point to where you could make things worse. You could add to the violence through some kind of military intervention, which is why you see the region itself, which is living with this terrible regime and what it's doing to its people, being especially careful.

So, yes, the time is running out. I can't put a -- a definite, you know, hour and minute on it. But the Assad regime is not going to survive. I just wish it would end sooner instead of later.

LABOTT: Yes, but you keep saying that the Russians need to pay a price. You're urging the world to show Russia there's a price.

What price is the U.S. Prepared to make Russia pay?

CLINTON: Well, our commitment is to try to get Russia to cooperate with us. So we want the rest of the world to put pressure on Russia, in the Security Council, so that they will support a Chapter 7 resolution, where we can impose very hard sanctions on people and institutions that support the regime. That would be the best signal we could send to Assad that his days are numbered. As long as he has Iran in his corner, which he does, and as long as he has Russia uncertain about whether or not to side against him in any more dramatic way than it already has, he feels like he can keep going. And that's the message we want to reverse.

LABOTT: I know you don't like to talk about politics right now, but Mitt Romney is using you in a campaign -- in a negative ad against President Obama -- using a clip of you talking in the campaign.

How does that make you feel?

CLINTON: Well, you know, I am out of politics. And I haven't seen any of the -- the ads that you're talking about. But I have to say, I think it's a waste of money. I mean everybody knows I ran against President Obama in 2008. That's hardly news. Everybody knows we ran a hard-fought campaign and he won.

And I have been honored to serve as his secretary of State, working with him to advance America's interests, values and securities. 

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