Complete transcript. Excerpt below:
Katie Couric: Secretary Clinton, let me ask you about the decision that President Obama facing. He has a critical decision to make about the road ahead in Afghanistan. How important is this in terms of not only the immediate ramifications, but for U.S. policy long term, U.S. foreign policy.
Hillary Clinton: Katie, that's, I think, one of the best ways to pose this. Because, you're right, the President is going through a very deliberative process, as he said he would. Back in Spring, when we took the policy that we inherited and-- tried to stabilize. He changed commanders. He-- agreed to add more troops. But he said, "We want to get through the Afghan election, and then we will take stock of where we are." Which is what we're doing. And I think it's an important process-- for him to be able to make the ultimate decision. But you can't look at it-- as a standalone-- assessment. It has to be put into the regional context and the historical context. There isn't any doubt, in my mind, that-- this region of the world, what is often referred to as the Afghanistan/Pakistan region, but of course, it's embedded in a region that includes Iran, a number of countries-- to the north. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, of course, India. Is one of the most critical areas for our long term security.
Clinton: Many people view what is happening in Afghanistan and Pakistan as having ramicat-- ramifications-- far beyond-- what this initial decision might-- suggest. And I think the President is right to say, let's look at how we got to where we are historically. What we can do to-- help stabilize Afghanistan. Accomplish our core goal of-- disrupting, dismantling-- and defeating Al Qaeda. Take-- a very close look at what we need to do to deal with the Taliban, which is-- indigenous phenomenon, as well as associated with Al Qaeda. And work with a Pakistanis who are now in a fight against those who threaten them.
Clinton: While at the same time realizing that there's a lot of other moving parts to this. And the United States, to some extent, has to acknowledge, being among the creators of the problem we are now dealing with. It seemed like a great idea, back in the '80s to-- embolden-- and train and equip-- Taliban, mujahidin, jihadists against the Soviet Union, which had invaded Afghanistan. And with our help, and with the Pakistani support-- this group-- including, at that time, Bin Laden, defeated the Soviet Union. Drove them out of Afghanistan, eventually. Saw the fall of the government that they had installed. And the rest we know. They eventually took over. But when we accomplished our primary mission of seeing the Soviet Union thrown out of Afghanistan, we withdrew. And we left the problems of a well-equipped, fundamentalist, ideological and religious group that had been battle hardened to the Afghans and the Pakistanis.
So, I think it's understandable that people are saying, sort of, "Well, what's your real commitment? What are you trying to accomplish? Do you understand the historical context and the regional geostrategic context?" So, I think it's important to pose it as you do. Let's look at it in the broader question. It's not about do we put more troops in or not? Do we do this on economic development or not? You have to look at it in that broader context.
Couric: Well, what are the long term ramifications for U.S. foreign policy?
Clinton: I think several. First of all-- Al Qaeda is degraded, to some extent, but it is still alive and well. We just saw that with the arrest last week of-- the terrorist plot where-- Zazi had been trained in a camp run by Al Qaeda, in Pakistan. Pakistan has now realized that their-- stability and some would argue survivability, but certainly stability-- in maintaining control over their territory, means they've got to take the fight to the Taliban. Some of whom are allied with Al Qaeda. We know that the Taliban is-- regrouping and showing momentum in Afghanistan. And what their ultimate goals are may not be clear, but certainly if they were able to control great swaths of Afghanistan or even eventually take Afghanistan back over, there is every reason to believe they would once again provide the support and the haven that jihadist terrorists are seeking-- and that Al Qaeda once had.
Clinton: We know Pakistan has nuclear weapons, which is-- a further complicating factor-- in this-- challenge. We know that-- Iran is on the border of those two countries, with interests of their own. So, we are trying to analyze what is in the best interest of the United States? That is our primary obligation. How do we prevent or disrupt attacks on us? How do we prevent attacks on our interests and our allies? How do we prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for future attacks and other staging-of-- jihadist activities? And how do we work with the Pakistanis to support and stabilize their government. It's a big order