tv Today in Washington CSPAN February 22, 2011 8:00am-9:00am EST
nonfiction books all weekend every weekend right here on c-span2. >> coming up, secretary of state hillary clinton and u.s. strategy in afghanistan. a little later at 9:00 a.m. eastern you will hear from the head of the new consumer protection bureau on new credit card rules. industry executives, academics and consumer advocates will join her for this live coverage on c-span2. then more live coverage with a look at retirement and the future of social security at the woodrow wilson international center in d.c.. ..
>> welcome. i am jack wadsworth, a trustee and vice chair of the asia society. i'm standing in for chip kay, our chairman, who is out of the country today but sends his very best. he's sorry he can't be here. i spent over 15 years building morgan stanley's business in asia, and i have to say reflecting bang on that -- back on that experience, the asia society was one of the great sources of knowledge to me for understanding the culture of the region. first, let me welcome everyone on behalf of the board of trustees and the staff to this very special program with the honorable hillary rodham clinton, secretary of state, to celebrate the legacy of ambassador richard holbrooke. let me add to that welcome a small group in san francisco who
is live broadcast from here, and as you might not be surprised to know, richard holbrooke was one of the great advocates of the digital age and moving this organization into the modern era, so i couldn't be more pleased to have my colleagues in san francisco today live along with the many thousands of others on webcast. much has been written about this giant public figure, richard holbrooke. today i would like to focus on his extraordinary contributions, briefly, to the asia society, an institution that he loved very deeply for more than four decades. richard holbrooke was first spotted as a young with man with real promise by our founder, john d. rockefeller iii. mr. rockefeller invited this young diplomat to participate in our annual williamsburg policy die hog in 1972 -- dialogue in 972 and stayed in touch with him through the late '70s when
richard served as assistant secretary of state for east asia with president carter and was heavily involved in the normalization of relations between china and the united states. we lost richard to europe and to global affairs in the 1990s, but he came back to his early love for the asia society when he became chairman of our organization in 2002 and remained our leader in that position until january of 2009. when he entered into government service this time as special representative for afghanistan and pakistan. to say that richard holbrooke was a dynamic or strong-willed chair is an understatement. from the very beginning, richard threw himself into the workings of this institution first with nick plath and then with vishakha desai. he pushed us to be more media savvy, he constantly brought new
supporters into our orbit. some of you in the audience today have felt the holbrooke to join the asia society, and we thank you for your support. during richard's tenure as chairman of the board, the asia society became a stronger institution with a number of significant new initiatives. we inaugurated two new centers, one in mumbai and one in seoul. we celebratedded our 50th anniversary with richard urging us to project our global presence. this included getting a live connection with the chief executive officer, c.h. tung in hong kong, that night, in the middle of our gala dinner at the waldorf. richard was instrumental in encouraging the late arthur ross, our honorary life trustee, to establish the center for u.s./china relations. today the center is thriving under the leadership of orville shell. richard was a force of nature,
and sometimes that force seemed too powerful for others to withstand, but in the end it was clear, he had the very best interests of our institution at heart. when richard stepped down from the chairmanship in january 2009 to take on the most challenging assignment of his career, he had already been focused on the issues surrounding afghanistan and pakistan. he urged us to develop programs on the region and convinced our trustee, jim freston, to help support them. he also urged us to look out for the next generation of leaders in policy around the world to bring them into the asia society's fold. i'm pleased to tell you that as part of our departing gift to richard, we established the richard c. holbrooke fellowship to be awarded to promising young leaders in asia and the united states. in fact, we were working on having the first group of
fellows meet richard sometime this spring. we will continue to add to the holbrooke fellowship fund through contributions we have received in his honor. when richard stepped down, he said, quote, the asia society will always be an important part of my life. we know that richard's contributions to this institution will be invaluable to it future ongoing life. now, finally, richard came to san francisco often where i live and co-chaired the center in san francisco, and every time richard came we left with new assets in the san francisco. one trip within the space of six hours we ended up with george schultz as our honorary chair and dick blum as an adviser. those trips are memorable, and he is still very much a part of our san francisco mission.
he and i came to know each other well as partners on the search committee that had rhode island island -- vishakha become president in 2004. hard to believe that was 2004, time has flown. richard and i had a few disagreements over the years, but on vishakha we were 100% on the same page. richard and vishakha became partners in the leadership of the society. they were a special team. i will never forget the evening of the 50th anniversary which i mentioned before celebrated at the waldorf where as co-hosts, and i'm sure many of you were there, they entertained, inspired and choreographed one of the most moving evenings if asia society family ever celebrated. we have today's asia society, it is my pleasure to introduce my friend, colleague and president,
vishakha desai. [applause] >> thank you, jack, for that generous introduction which i don't deserve, but i'm delighted to be here with all of you. good afternoon and welcome to this very special program with the 67th secretary of state, honorable hillary rodham clip -- clinton. to celebrate the legacy of our powerful and beloved former chair, late ambassador richard holbrooke. many people have mentioned that the last assignment of richard holbrooke was, perhaps, the toughest of his life. he accepted this challenge because he was persuaded by his friend, secretary clinton. secretary clinton, you have this
effect on people. it's hard to say no to you. because you always appeal to the highest instinct in all of us for serving this nation. and the truth is, serving this nation is what richard holbrooke was all about. every day of his life. we're honored to welcome you back to the society, madam secretary. last time you spoke here was on february 13, 2009, less than a month after you were sworn in as the 67th secretary of state of the united states. this was on the eve of your first overseas trip to asia. those of us who are asia watchers were very happy that you were going to asia first, and it was your first major speech on the renewed u.s. commitment to engage with asian
powers. right before the program i definitely and distinctly remember getting a call from richard. he was on his way to pakistan, his first trip as your special representative to afghanistan and pakistan. imagine his surprise that he didn't even know that you would be speaking at the asia society. and it wasn't because he had twisted your arm. he was very proud of the fact that your office had reached out to us without his prodding as it was always the case before then. at that point i knew that we could actually go on without richard being our leader. much has happened since that first speech that you gave here, secretary clinton. ambassador holbrooke is no longer with us, and we feel his loss acutely every day.
in your tenure so far in this two years, you've made it very clear that asia is central to the obama administration's foreign policy. we also know that now as of late january you are the most-traveled secretary of state. out of that we also know that you have traveled to asia eight times in two years. that is more than most secretaries of state. your articulation of smart power as the basis of foreign policy has meant that nontraditional issues such as women's rights, educational exchanges and true public/private partnerships for tackling major global issues have received higher attention than ever before. it's not surprising that in many parts of the world you're treated like a rock star. most importantly, you have used all the implements in your tool kit to create a dynamic and
effective foreign policy for our nation. we've assembled a special group of our patrons and friends of richard. we also have a large group of people from all over the world joining us virtually, and i should add that in addition to our san francisco center, we also have colleagues in houston and hong kong listening to this along with all of you with who are on our live webcast. at the asia society, we recognize that a deeper understanding of the issues around the u.s. engagement with afghanistan and pakistan -- one of the most complex regions of the world today -- requires a strong public/private partnership. we are very pleased here at the asia society to do our part. this spring both of our special exhibitions will focus on the historical dynamism and cross-currents of the region. it will remind you that, in fact, a city like herad that
today is part of afghanistan was bart of the great persian empire. our education department has developed online resources for teachers and students, and our policy division will launch a major report into it -- entitled pakistan 2020 with scholars from pakistan as well as the united states. we've worked with your colleagues in the state department on many of these projects, and we are delighted that we can continue to do this with your support. i'm pleased to announce that this season of afghanistan and pakistan this spring will be dedicated to the legacy of ambassador richard holbrooke. i personally am deeply grateful that you so readily agreed to give this memorial lecture in honor of our friend and partner, late ambassador richard holbrooke. we are also thrilled that you
will inaugurate the season of programs at the asia society. so, ladies and gentlemen, please, welcome the 67th secretary of state, the honorable hillary rodham clinton. [applause] >> thank you. thank you. [applause] well, it is wonderful to be back here at the asia society, and i thank vishakha for that introduction and for her strong leadership. i also want to thank jack wadsworth and all the board members and supporters who are here doing what i think is very important work, continuing to build ties between people across regions and continents and looking for opportunities to
find those points of common concern and common cause. it is always a pleasure to to be back here. i tell vishakha it's mostly because of the gift shop -- [laughter] that i'm always coming back. i gave my first major speech, as she said, as secretary of state here, and i am so pleased to be back here today to really celebrate you and all you do to strengthen b -- strengthen relationships and understanding. and i also want to say a special word of greeting and acknowledgment to cati martin, the wonderful partner in life of richard holbrooke and a dear, dear friend and colleague to so many of us who are here. now, if there were ever any fear that e might somehow -- that i might somehow forget about the asia society, that could not happen with richard holbrooke being sure to remind me at every
single turn. he never stopped serving as a champion and promoter for this organization that he loved so much. and in the days after we lost richard i heard so many stories, many be of which made me smile in memory of similar experiences that i and others had had with richard along the way. and one story in particular about the mark that he left on this organization involves his time as chairman of the society. and he was trying to recruit orville shell who is out there somewhere in the audience to run the new very exciting china center. orville, who had a really nice life in if northern california -- [laughter] he was reluctant. now, if any of you have ever tried holding out on richard, you know what a losing proposition that turns out to be.
and richard would have none of orville's reservations. and in the midst of one intense recruiting session, richard picked up the phone and ordered a private helicopter to whisk himself and orville off to east hampton for an impromptu meeting with a key donor. now, orr orville, you have to admit it, you were really impressed. [laughter] and ended up taking the job, and we were all the better for it. but that was just richard being richard. he had a flair for the dramatic, to be sure, but it was far more than theatrics. he understood in every cell of his body that bold action and big ideas can and will change history. after all, he did it himself again and again. and that was how richard approached his final mission in afghanistan and pakistan. he called it his toughest assignment, and certainly, the
challenges were almost beyond description. and richard was always the first to enumerate them. but he understood the importance of this mission to our national security and to the future of such a critical region of the world. we've made progress, but the tribal areas along the border between afghanistan and pakistan remain the epicenter of violent extremism that threatens americans and peace-loving people everywhere. here in new york, richard's hometown, we need to reminder of the stakes. nearly ten years ago, al-qaeda launched a terrorist attack planned and prepared in the safe havens of taliban-controlled afghanistan. and it took, tragically, the lives of thousands not only of our fellow citizens, but individuals from across the
world. since then al-qaeda and its followers have killed innocent people and encouraged the killing whether it was in afghanistan and pakistan, madrid, london, bali or istanbul. these attacks have served only to steel our resolve. as president obama said at west point, we did not ask for this fight. but we will surely finish it. since that terrible day in 2001, two successive administrations from different points on the political spectrum have made an enormous commitment of american lives and treasure to pursue the terrorists who attacked us and those who harbor them. and after all that many americans understandably want to know how we plan to achieve the goals we have set forth.
for their part people in the region, not just in kabul or islamabad, but in beijing, moscow, delhi and tehran wonder about america's long-term intentions and objectives. they want to know if we will walk away again as we did in 1989 after the soviets withdrew from afghanistan. today i want to answer some of those questions and talk in more detail about a new phase of our diplomatic efforts on afghanistan. i will be clear right at the start about a few key elements; our adversary, our goal and our strategy. first, our adversary. despite heavy losses, the al-qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 retain dangerous capabilities. they continue to plot
large-scale, catastrophic international attacks and to support and inspire regional affiliates. the united states and our allies remain their principle targets. before 2001 al-qaeda was protected in be taliban-controlled afghanistan. al-qaeda and the taliban along with various associated groups still maintain an alliance based largely in the border region between afghanistan and pakistan. and the taliban continue to wage a brutal insurgency against the government in kabul in an effort to regain control of the country. the taliban and al-qaeda are distinct groups with distinct aims, but they are both our add adversaries and part of a syndicate of terror that must be broken.
after he took office, president obama launched a thorough review of our policy and set out a clear goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-qaeda and prevent it from threatening america and our allies in the future. al-qaeda cannot be allowed to maintain its safe haven protected by the taliban and to continue plotting attacks while destabilizing nations that have known far too much war. from the tigress to the indus, the region will never live up to its full potential until it is free of al-qaeda and its creed of violence and hatred. that is an aspiration that should unite every nation. in pursuit of this goal, we are following a strategy with three mutually-reinforcing tracks, three surges, if you will.
a military offensive against al-qaeda terrorists and taliban insurgents, a civilian campaign to bolster the government's -- governments, economies and civil societies of afghanistan and pakistan to undercut the pull of the insurgency, and intensified diplomatic push to bring the afghan conflict to an end and chart a new and more secure future for the region. the first two surges set the table for the success of the third. which aims to support an afghan-led political process to split the weakened taliban off from al-qaeda and reconcile those who will renounce violence and accept the afghan constitution with an increasingly stable afghan government. that would leave al-qaeda alone and on the run. in 2001 after 9/11 i would
remind us all, the taliban chose to defy the international community and protect al-qaeda. that was the wrong choice. and they have paid a heavy price. today the escalating pressure of our military campaign is sharpening a similar decision for the taliban. break ties with al-qaeda, renounce violence and abide by the afghan constitution, and you can rejoin afghan society. refuse, and you will continue to face the consequences of being tied to al-qaeda as an enemy of the international community. they cannot wait us out, they cannot defeat us, and can they cannot escape this choice. all three surges are part of the vision for transition in
afghanistan that president obama reaffirmed in his despoil review -- december policy review and that nato endorsed in lisbon at the most recent summit. ultimately, afghans must take responsibility for their own future; for providing security, for strengthening governance and for reaching a political solution to the conflict. that transition will be formally launched next month with troop reductions starting in july and continuing based on conditions on the ground. it will be completed by the end of 2014. as transition proceeds and afghan leadership strengthens across the country, a process of political reconciliation will become increasingly viable. in turn, successful reconciliation will reduce the
threat to the afghan government making transition more sustainable. crucially, the enduring commitment of the united states, our allies and our partners will continue to support the stability of the afghan government and the durability of a responsible political settlement. that is the vision of transition, one that is shared by the afghan government that we are pursuing. so we have a big challenge with many moving parts. let me go through each surge; military, civilian and diplomatic, and explain how they fit together to advance our larger goals. first, the military surge which sent thousands of additional american and allied troops to afghanistan to deny safe haven for al-qaeda and to break the taliban's momentum.
more and better trained afghan security forces are also in the field working side by side with our troops. and we honor the service and sacrifice of all the women and men from every nation as well as their civilian colleagues who have put their lives at risk and all too tragically, for too many, paid with those lives. they are engaged in a very tough fight, but we are in it together. thanks to their efforts, the rapidly deteriorating security situation the obama administration inherited in january 2009 has begun to stabilize. expanded local security measures at the village level have helped protect vulnerable populations. security has improve inside kabul and in key provinces like helmand and kandahar.
the momentum of the taliban insurgents has been blunted, and in some places, even reversed. now, from the beginning we have recognized the fundamental connection between our war effort in afghanistan and the extremists' safe havens and enablers in pakistan. it is no secret that we have not always seen eye to eye with pakistan on how to deal with these threats or on the future of afghanistan. but as a result of growing cooperation between our governments, militaries and law enforcement agencies and determined action by the pakistani army, we have been able to dramatically expand our counterterrorism and intelligence efforts. pressure is increasing on both sides of the border. as a result, the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 are under
threat like never before. al-qaeda's leadership is weakened, its safe havens in the border regions are smaller and less secure, and its ability to prepare and conduct terrorist operations has been significantly degraded. but make no mistake, al-qaeda remains a serious threat. but it is finding it tougher to raise money, train recruits and plan attacks outside the region. just as importantly, we have given its taliban allies and sympathizers reason to question the wisdom of their loyalty. now, let me turn to the second track. i know there are some on capitol hill and elsewhere who question whether we need anything more than guns, bombs and troops to achieve our goals in afghanistan. as our commanders on the ground
would be the first to say, however, that is a short-sighted and ultimately self-defeating view. we will never kill enough insurgents to end this war outright. the military campaign must proceed hand in hand with a robust civilian effort that helps the afghan government build credibility with its own people, offer alternatives to the insurgency and provide incentives for all afghans to renounce violence and work together toward a better future. that is how insurgencies end. and that is why we have matched our military surge with a civilian surge that tripled the number of diplomats, development experts and other specialists on the ground. these efforts are mutually reinforcing, and both support
the transition process. we now have more than 1100 civilian experts from nine federal agencies working in afghanistan on everything from improving agriculture to expanding infrastructure to stemming the drug trade and training afghan civil servants. we have also expanded our civilian efforts in pakistan including through the kerry-lugar-berman assistance program which is funding projects to address pakistan's urgent energy and economic needs. after the devastating floods, we stepped up with aid and relief, and our strategic dialogue is building habits of cooperation between our governments at every level. now, of course, there are still significant challenges to overcome in our relationship. distrust lingers on both sides. and we need to work together
carefully to prevent misunderstandings and disagreements from derailing the progress we have made in the past two years. so in both nations the decision to deploy additional civilian resources is paying dividends even as we remain determined to work smarter and better at how we deploy these resources. the budget that president obama announced on monday provides the resources our diplomats and development experts need to be effective partners to the military to get the job done. retreating from the civilian side of the mission as some funding proposals currently before congress would do, would be a grave mistake. now, i certainly appreciate the tight budget environment we find ourselves in, but the fact is that these civilian operations are crucial to our national
security. consider the long-term price we have paid as a result of disengaging from afghanistan after 1989. as secretary of defense bob gates told the senate armed services committee just yesterday, we cannot afford to make that mistake again. or consider iraq where the transition to a civilian-led mission is helping the pentagon save $45 billion. and the state department and usaid require an increase of only $4 billion to make sure that we are robustly engaged with the government and people of iraq. that is a good deal by any standard. so we are working with congress to insure that the civilian surge in afghanistan and pakistan receives the support it requires now and in years to come.
now, i will not sugar coat the fact that the afghan government has, from time to time, disagreed with our policies, and there is no denying the challenges that our civilian efforts face in afghanistan. corruption remains a major problem. fighting fraud and waste is one of our highest priorities. a major focus of the civilian surge has been expanding our presence in the field, getting more experts out to provide hands-on leadership of our development projects. we have partnered with the military to put in place stronger controls on contractors, and we are working with afghan institutions that we fund directly to help them improve auditing and accountability. so as the military surge weakens the insurgents and pressures them to considerral alternatives to armed resistance, the
civilian surge creates economic and social incentives for participating in a peaceful society. together the two efforts prepare the ground for a political process which history and experience tell us is the most effective way to end an insurgency. and that brings us to the third track. president obama's despoil review -- december policy review emphasized, and i quote, that our civilian and military efforts must support a durable and favorable political resolution of the conflict. in 2011 we will intensify our regional diplomacy to enable a political process to promote peace and stability in afghanistan. as promised, we are launching a diplomatic surge to move this conflict toward a political outcome that shatters the
alliance between the taliban and al-qaeda, ends the insurgency and helps to produce not only a more stable afghanistan, but a more stable region. now, of course, we had always envisioned richard holbrooke leading this effort. he was an architect of our integrated military/civilian/dip lomatic strategy, and we feel his loss so keenly. but richard left us a solid foundation. over the past two years, he built an exceptional team and a strong working relationship with our allies and regional partners. and today i'm pleased to announce that the president and i have called back to service ambassador mark grossman, a veteran diplomat and one of richard's most esteemed colleagues as our new special representative for afghanistan and pakistan. ambassador grossman's first tour
in the foreign service was in pakistan. he knows our allies and understands how to mobilize common action to meet shared challenges. he played a crucial role in the dayton talks, and relationship ard described him -- richard described him in the memorable book that richard wrote as one of the most outstanding career diplomats. ambassador grossman has followed in richard's shoes before when he served as assistant secretary of state for european affairs in the '90s, and i'm absolutely confident in his ability to hit the ground running. now, ambassador grossman and the rest of his interagency team will martial the full range of our policy resources to support responsible afghan-led reconciliation that brings the conflict to a peaceful conclusion and to actively engage with states in the region
and the international community to advance that process. as i said, important ground work has already been laid both by richard and his team and by the afghans themselves. many low-level fighters entered the insurgency not because of deep ideological commitment, but because they were following the promise of a paycheck. so in london last year the international community pledged financial support for the afghan government's comprehensive program to draw them off the battlefield and back into society. as military pressure escalates, more insurgents may begin looking for alternatives to violence and not just low-level fighters. both we and the afghans believe that the security and governance gains produced by the military and civilian surges have created an opportunity to get serious about a responsible reconciliation process led by
afghans and supported by intense regional diplomacy and strong u.s. backing. such a process would have to be accepted by all of afghanistan's major ethnic and political blocs. for this to work, everyone has to feel they have a stake in the outcome and a responsibility for achieving it. president karzai made a good start by convening a broad-based peace jurga in june that set out a framework for reconciliation. he then formed a high peace council which includes representatives from across afghanistan. council leaders are holding meetings in key provinces throughout the country with tribal leaders, civil society, women and individualers to -- villagers to hear their hopes and concerns for a reconciliation process. they are working to form local councils to begin engaging
insurgents and the broader community. the united states supports this afghan effort. over the past two years, we have laid out our unambiguous red lines for reconciliation with the insurgents. they must renounce violence, they must abandon their alliance with al-qaeda, and they must abide by the constitution of afghanistan. those are necessary outcomes of any negotiation. this is the price for reaching a political resolution and bringing an end to the military actions that are targeting their leadership and decimating their ranks. if former militants are willing to meet these red lines, they would then be able to participate in the political life of the country under their constitution. now, i know that reconciling with an adversary that can be as brutal as the taliban sounds distasteful, even unimaginable.
and diplomacy would be a lot easier if we only had to talk to our friends. but that is not how one makes peace. president reagan understood that when he sat down with the soviets, and richard holbrooke made this his life's work. he negotiated face to face with milosevic and ended a war. it won't be easy. old adversaries will need to see that their own self-interest lies in setting aside their grievances. taliban militants will have to decide that they are better off working within the afghan political system rather than fighting a losing struggle alongside al-qaeda in bombed-out caves. the afghan government must be prepared to be more inclusive and more accountable. all parties will have to commit to a pluralistic political system that respects the human
rights of every afghan. the united states is committed to helping afghans defend those rights. we will not abandon our values or support a political process that undoes the social progress that has been made in the past decade. the afghan government needs to safeguard the rights of all afghans, especially women and minorities. i know firsthand from what happened in the balkans, northern ireland and other places, recovering from conflict that the participation of women and civil society groups will be essential to building a just and lasting peace. the united states supports the participation of women at all levels of the reconciliation process because we believe the potential for sustainable peace will be subverted if women are silenced or marginalized.
afghan women made significant contributions to the peace jirga. they must continue to be part of the high peace council, and they have an important role to play at the provincial and local levels if genuine reconciliation is going to take root. reconciliation, achieving it and maintaining it will depend on the participation and support of afghanistan's neighbors. including and most importantly, pakistan. let me be blunt. we all need to be on the same page for this to work. whether we live in kabul or islamabad or washington, we need to share a common vision for the future. a vision of a stable, independent afghanistan rid of insurgency and proxy conflicts fought by neighboring states. a vision of a region free from
al-qaeda. as we have underscored from the beginning, pakistan plays a pivotal role. it is a nuclear-armed nation of nearly 170 million people with deep ties and strong interests in afghanistan. it was with pakistan that the united states and other countries supported the afghan people in their fight against the soviet occupation in the 1980s. and pakistan continues to host thousands of refugees from the current conflict. unfortunately, the historic distrust between pakistan and afghanistan remains a major cause of regional instability and does not serve the long-term interests of the people of either country. pakistan has legitimate concerns that should be understood and addressed by the afghan government under any reconciliation process with
steps that provide transparency and reassurance. but pakistan also has responsibilities of its own. including taking decisive steps to insure that the afghan taliban cannot continue to conduct the insurgency from pakistani territory. pressure from the pakistani side will help push the taliban toward the negotiating table and away from be al-qaeda. for reconciliation to succeed, pakistan will have to be part of the process. it will have to respect afghan sovereignty and work with afghanistan to improve regional stability. we know cooperation is possible. just last month afghanistan and pakistan took a huge step forward with formal ratification of a long-awaited transit trade agreement which will boost
economic opportunity on both sides of the border by opening new markets and trade routes for afghan and pakistani goods. this was one of richard's proudest accomplishments because it had been in negotiation since the early 1960s. expanding this cooperation to security issues including reconciliation is in the interests of both nations and will be a focus of our diplomatic efforts going forward. beyond pakistan all of afghanistan's neighbors and near neighbors -- india and iran, russia and china, the central asian states -- stand to benefit from a responsible political settlement in afghanistan. and also an end to al-qaeda's safe havens in the border areas and the exporting of extremism into their countries. that would reduce the terrorist and narcotics threat to their own citizens, create new
opportunities for commerce and ease the free flow of energy and resources throughout the region. it could also help move other regional conflicts toward peaceful resolution. indeed, we are encouraged by news that india and pakistan are relaunching a dialogue aimed at building trust, and we encourage them to work in that same spirit to support a political process in many afghanistan. in afghanistan. we look to them and all of afghanistan's neighbors to respect afghanistan's sovereignty which means agreeing not to play out their rivalries within its borders and to support reconciliation and efforts to insure that al-qaeda and the syndicate of terrorism is denied safe haven everywhere. afghanistan, in turn, must not allow it territory to be used against others. the united states will intensify our efforts to build broad international support for afghan
reconciliation. in early march we will meet in jeta, saudi arabia, with our partner in the international contact group hosted by the association of the islamic conference. the contact group which richard worked so hard to build brings together more than 40 countries and international organizations including a growing number of muslim majority nations. the afghan leaders of the high peace council will join us and review efforts toward reck reconciliation. nato ministers will convene in paris a few days later to review transition planning. we are also preparing for a conference in germany later this year for the tenth anniversary of the bond -- bonn conference which we hope will be an important milestone in the process. the united states will relentlessly pursue al-qaeda
and those taliban who refuse to renounce violence while working to improve security, development and governance on the ground. again, the afghan taliban have a clear choice: be part of afghanistan's future, or face unrelenting assault. for reconciliation to take hold, for it to be irreversible, afghanistan's government will need to provide security to all its people. so the united states and our allies will continue training, advising and assisting afghan forces. we are working with president karzai to implement a responsible transition to afghan security leadership which will begin in the coming weeks. and in july we will begin to reduce the number of troops based on conditions on the ground. transition to afghan leadership will be complete by the end of 2014. we think this provides the
afghan government the time and space it needs to further build up the security forces, ministries and institutions that will make reconciliation durable and sustainable. just as importantly, a political process that takes insurgents off the battlefield will make it easier for our troops to hand over responsibility to afghan security forces and for transition to proceed. we have been clear that this transition does not mark the end of our commitment to the people of the region. nato has pledged an enduring military and financial commitment to afghanistan that will extend beyond the completion of transition in 2014. and at the request of the afghan government, united states will launch negotiations on a new strategic partnership declaration. it will provide a long-term
framework for our bilateral cooperation in the areas of security, economic and social development and institution building. this new partnership will complement our ongoing strategic dialogue with pakistan. the development of these relationships along with our deepening engagement with key neighbors is crucial to providing stability and confidence in the region. the united states will always maintain the capability to protect our people and our interests, but in no way should our enduring commitment be misunderstood as a desire by america or our allies to occupy afghanistan against the will of of its people. we respect the proud history of resistance to foreign occupation, and we do not seek any permanent american military bases in their country or a
presence that would be a threat to any of afghanistan's neighbors. the united states is not walking away from the region. we will not repeat the mistakes of the past. our commitment is real, and it is enduring. but for all that america is ready to do and for all the work of the international community, the people and leaders of the region are ultimately responsible for their own futures. pakistanis are tired of terror and turmoil. afghans have suffered through three decades of war. but the leaders of both nations in and out of government have not done enough to chart a different course. despite steps by the government over the past two years, pakistan's public finances remain in disarray. energy shortages are hampering
economic growth and causing political and social instability. routine suicide bombings including last week's tragic murders of 31 innocents by a so-called schoolboy suicide bomber underscore the continued threat of violent extremism. and shocking, unjustified anti-americanism will not resolve these problems. america stands ready to assist pakistan's leaders in addressing these challenges. they have already enacted some reforms aimed at stabilizing the economy. the test will be in how they are implemented, supported and expanded. pakistan's leaders still have a lot to do to reduce corruption, to rebuild from last summer's floods and to keep making progress in eliminating extremists and their
sanctuaries. the afghan people also expect their government to present a positive vision for the future. president karzai's stated commitment to enhanced transparency, improve basic services and reduce corruption is a start, but his people will look for deeds to match the words. they will look for strong and independent democratic institutions like the courts and electoral bodies to insure their rights. and most of all, they will look for results that make a difference in their lives. leaders in both nations will have to decide what kind of future they want for their children and grandchildren to inherit. what that future looks like will depend to no small degree on the success of the political and diplomatic process i have described today. so long as leaders in kabul and i lam brad -- islamabad eye each
other with distrust, so long as the taliban have safe havens from which to wage war, so long as al-qaeda operates anywhere in the region, the prospects for progress are slim. last month in doha -- actually now two months ago in december -- just before the protests began in tunisia and egypt, i warned that the region's foundations were sinking into the sand. in afghanistan and pakistan, conflict is blasting the foundations apart brick by brick. reconciliation and reform offer another way. south asia is home to nearly one and a half billion people. they are talented and hard working, rich in culture and blessed with entrepreneurial spirit. if countries of the region can move beyond their historic
conflicts and cooperate to seize the opportunities of the 21st century, there are no limits as to what they can achieve. our friend, richard holbrooke, believed a better future is possible for afghanistan, for pakistan and the wider region. he once observed and i quote: in every war of this sort, there's always a window for people who want to come in from the cold. if they are willing to accept the red lines and come in, there has to be a place for them. those were his words, and that is the policy of the united states. it may not produce peace tomorrow or the next day, but it does offer our best chance. and it offers, especially, the best chance for the people of afghanistan and pakistan who so richly deserve a different future.
the united states will be there as partner to help them achieve that if that is the path they choose. thank you all very much. [applause] [applause] >> i don't have to say anything. [laughter] the truth of the matter is, what a comprehensive, clear-eyed, amazing speech that's going to be quoted all over the world. so, please, on behalf of the asia society family, thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you. [applause]