Deutsche Bank AG
Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton
Introducer and Moderator: Jacques Brand
New York, NY
Tuesday, October 07, 2014
SEC. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. And I'm delighted to be here and to have this opportunity to share some thoughts and then to answer questions.
I apologize again for the traffic delays that slightly threw the schedule off, but it's a special treat for me to be here for many reasons, but especially because I have friends and colleagues in the audience.
George Mitchell and Heather are here. (Applause.) I had the privilege of first working on Northern Ireland in the 1990s with George, and then at the State Department where he courageously accepted the offer from President Obama and myself to be our envoy to pursue peace in the Middle East. And I'm very grateful to him for his service to our country.
Ambassador Mike McFaul, whom I think you heard from earlier, did a great job representing American values in Russia, despite the best efforts of Vladimir Putin to keep him silent. (Applause.)
Also I saw earlier former Commerce Secretary John Bryson. He teamed up with me when he was at the Commerce Department to go to bat for American companies and workers around the world, including standing up against unfair trade practices in China.
And also Richard Haas, a distinguished diplomat, the President of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a very valued advisor on all matters global.
So for me this is a special treat to see all of you.
It's also a pleasure to appear once again with Jacques. We did have a good conversation when we were together in Washington. And I was listening in the back to his description as to how the capitol was moved from New York to this swamp on the Potomac, in large measure because of disputes over who would carry the burden of the debt. A lot of the then states wanted to have that be totally a state responsibility, but of course that was in large measure because some states had no debt. But Hamilton made the passionate argument that if it was going to be a United States, there had to be a sharing of the debt, and part of the compromise was to give the south the capitol.
So it worked out fine, all things considered, but -- (laughter) -- there's a fascinating book about it that if any of you are interested in that really goes into the details about what the deals were that led us from Wall Street to Pennsylvania Avenue.
I also want to applaud the philanthropic contributions that Deutsche Bank is making around the world, from microfinance loans that help lift people, particularly women, out of poverty in the developing world, to supporting impact investing in social enterprises, public health, clean energy, and indeed supporting Mayor de Blasio's efforts in this city to expand affordable housing for New Yorkers.
I'm particularly grateful for Deutsche Bank's contributions to the Global Alliance for Clean Cook Stoves, which I launched in 2010 to do several things, help families around the world avoid the toxic smoke from open fires and dirty stoves that kill millions of people. It's the fourth leading cause of death in the world. And we have the technology to address these dangers.
The challenge, as we face both the health consequences and the global warming consequences, because it's a big contributor to black soot, was how to create a sustainable market that would put cleaner stoves in the hands of people who need them. And Deutsche Bank has become a key partner in this effort, helping establish a $100 million working capital fund to spur cook stove innovation.
Now, you're not going to see that on the front page of any major newspaper, but it has such significance in dealing with health issues, particularly for women and children, and doing our part on the global warming front, as well as creating a market, a sustainable market that can attract entrepreneurs and small businesses. And I appreciate not only Deutsche Bank's contributions but helping to get other financial institutions onboard and making this a priority.
Now, I'm looking forward to having a discussion about how our world is changing and some of the challenges and opportunities that we face at this time. It is a time of unprecedented interdependence, and that has both a huge upside and an obvious downside.
Now, there certainly is a lot to talk about. The headlines today are enough to make anybody's head spin: chaos and conflict again in the Middle East, Russian aggression again in Ukraine, protests in Hong Kong, Ebola in West Africa, a global economy that still is not producing enough growth or shared prosperity.
But I want to take a step back and consider the trend lines as well, because behind the crises of the moment are longer term challenges to our security and prosperity and to the global order that America has done so much to build and defend, along with our major allies.
There are big questions ahead of us that will determine the success, not only of our foreign policy but the strength of our leadership across the globe in the coming decades.
Will we have the discipline and dexterity to follow through on our pivot to Asia where so much of the history of the 21st century will be written, while managing new and old crises in the Middle East and Europe?
Can we get our relationship with China right, navigating between the twin shoals of excessive accommodation and the potential for dangerous conflict?
Will our traditional allies in Europe and East Asia step up and share the responsibilities of upholding a global order under pressure from so many fronts?
Can we together update and extend a system of rules of the road that manages conflicts, mobilizes common action, and enforces beneficial norms on everything from trade to human rights to disease prevention to nuclear proliferation?
And when it comes to the future of the global economy and our own domestic prosperity, this is a crucial set of questions, because we are doing well and we're grateful for that, but we know we have a long way to go, and we know that nothing is certain.
Now, let me share a story that Secretary John Bryson knows well. For many years both FedEx and UPS have done profitable business in China. By 2009, FedEx was operating in nearly 60 locations across China, and UPS in 30.
But then China imposed new postal laws that required domestic operating permits for express delivery service companies. And the move was widely seen, I think correctly, as a way for Beijing to put its thumb on the scales for the state-controlled China Post.
Both FedEx and UPS rightly worried they would receive severely restrictive licenses that would curtail where and how they could do business. And they kept doing their best to make the argument in Beijing to anybody they could buttonhole, but they weren't making much progress. They were finding it very difficult to fight city hall, or in this case fight the Chinese government.
So Fred Smith picked up the phone, somebody I've known since Arkansas days, and called me at the State Department to explain the dilemma and ask for help. It was one of many times that American businesses came looking for assistance in competing on a level playing field, and, in fact, where they were competing was anything but level.
So our diplomats in Beijing raised the issue at the highest levels of the Chinese government but to no avail. I brought the matter up directly with then Vice Premier Wang Qishan.
Secretary Bryson and I followed up with a joint letter, and we kept the pressure on. We made it clear that the U.S. government was not going to sit on the sidelines in the face of unfair competition to two of our important companies. That caught the Chinese by surprise, as they later admitted, because they were used to a much more laissez faire attitude.
Well, that was then and this is now. The new tone began to get results, and eventually the Chinese pledged that over the course of a three-year period they would grant more permits. And although the issue is far from settled, both FedEx and UPS are still operating in China and have a base that they still expect to be able to expand from.
This is just one story but it speaks to a larger set of challenges that the United States and Europe and our other allies who have free market economies are increasingly going to face.
You all know this. I'm not telling you something new. China is the leading exponent of their economic model called state capitalism, state-owned, state supported companies that frankly masquerade as commercial actors, use public resources and influence to dominate markets without the transparency and accountability that shareholders and regulators ensure.
State capitalism, as well as new forms of protectionism involving barriers behind borders, such as prejudicial regulations, discrimination against foreign companies, forced joint ventures and technology transfers represent a growing threat to the ability of American and European and other businesses to compete around the world.
There's also a strategic threat. As Mike McFaul knows well, Russia's state controlled energy conglomerate, Gazprom, has used its vast gas supplies to bully Ukraine and other neighbors to advance Putin's political agenda.
That's why one of my highest priorities as secretary was to continue to try to convince the Europeans to get serious about finding alternative energy sources and invest real resources in their infrastructure so they would not be at Russia's mercy. We set up a new entity called the U.S. EU Energy Council. We made some progress but frankly not enough, because I think a lot of the Europeans, even though there had been a series of gas cutoffs and hiked prices, never thought Putin would go as far as he has.
Now, going forward the United States and our allies need to decide if we're going to let China, Russia and other relatively closed markets continue to rewrite the rules of the global economy in a way that disadvantages American workers and companies and other companies like Deutsche Bank that play in the global marketplace and deserve to have the transparency that a free market should produce.
I think we all, not just public officials or outside analysts, but people at the heart of the private sector need to keep making the argument that a more open, resilient economic system will create more broadly shared prosperity than state capitalism, petro-capitalism or crony capitalism ever will.
And when self-enlightened arguments fall short, we need to be prepared to take stronger stands against the abuse and manipulation of the marketplace, because if Americans won't defend the level playing field, no one else will either.
That's why I titled a chapter about the global economy in my book, Hard Choices, A Level Playing Field. We believe in a level playing field, whether it's in sports, business or politics. It's an idea of fundamental fairness. It's kind of written into our national DNA going all the way back to our founders' efforts to begin to put together a new form of government and to buttress it with a vigorous, dynamic economy as they memorably said, all men are created equal, and thankfully got around to including women as well. And these principles of fairness and opportunity are as vital to our domestic economy as they are to the global economy.
Now, Jacques was talking about Eleanor Roosevelt, and I hope a lot of you have seen the extraordinary Ken Burns documentary series on PBS about the Roosevelts. It's just riveting. And you should see it if you haven't, because it tells stories and shows pictures that have never been seen before of Teddy Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt.
But Eleanor Roosevelt in particular is someone that I admire as one of my predecessors, and I adore the book that Jacque's mother-in-law has written about the relationship that she and her late husband, who was Eleanor's personal physician, had with Eleanor Roosevelt.
And you look at the documentary and you really are struck once again how every generation has to do what it can to make sure that economic opportunity is broadly shared and upward mobility remains at the core of the American dream and experience.
I mean, Teddy Roosevelt said it well. His commonsense slogan, the square deal, captured the American imagination and still resonates today.
Just think about the changes that were going on at the turn of the last century: technological transformation, growing economic inequality, the steady accumulation of vast power and wealth in the hands of a select few.
Roosevelt was a Republican from the party of big business, but he resisted both the elites who sought to protect their gilded age advantages and the rising tide of populist anger that threatened to sweep the nation. Instead, he stood up for the level playing field, no special deals, just a fair shot for everybody willing to get out there and work hard.
I think that's a message worth recalling today when so many hardworking American families, and I add European families feel like they're falling further and further behind, while they see, in their view, the playing field becoming more unlevel, and feeling as though it doesn't matter how hard they work because the game is rigged against them.
Now, to me this is not just about fairness, although I think that's an important principle. We now know, based on research done by the IMF and others, that income inequality holds back growth for the entire economy. There is no more important driver of growth around the world than the purchasing power of American consumers. That is once again becoming clear as we move forward more dynamically than a lot of our friends and allies are economically.
Stagnating wages translate into fewer customers, and that's not a new insight. Just ask Henry Ford who first articulated it.
And it's no surprise that many Americans feel frustrated, some even angry, as you probably see in news coverage. And a lot of that anger has been directed at the financial industry.
Now, it's important to recognize the vital role that the financial markets play in our economy and that so many of you are contributing to. To function effectively those markets and the men and women who shape them have to command trust and confidence, because we all rely on the market's transparency and integrity.
So even if it may not be 100 percent true, if the perception is that somehow the game is rigged, that should be a problem for all of us, and we have to be willing to make that absolutely clear. And if there are issues, if there's wrongdoing, people have to be held accountable and we have to try to deter future bad behavior, because the public trust is at the core of both a free market economy and a democracy.
So it is in everyone's interest, most of all those of you who play such a vital role in the global economy, to make sure that we maintain and where necessary rebuild trust that goes beyond correcting specific instances of abuse of fraud.
Last year, the head of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Terry Duffy, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that caught my attention. He wrote, and I quote, "I'm concerned that those of us in financial services have forgotten who we serve, and that the public knows it. Some Wall Streeters can too easily slip into regarding their work as a kind of moneymaking game divorced from the concerns of Main Street."
We heard a similar point from a more global perspective this spring at a conference in London on inclusive capitalism organized by my friend, Lynn Rothschild, who's here with us tonight. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, offered what we in America might call straight talk about how the financial industry has lost its way and how to earn back public confidence.
And I think his words are worth both quoting and thinking about. Here's what he said. "The answer starts from recognizing that financial capitalism is not an end in itself, but a means to promote investment, innovation, growth and prosperity. Banking is fundamentally about intermediation, connecting borrowers and savers in the real economy. In the run-up to the crisis, banking became about banks not businesses, transactions not relations, counterparties not clients."
And then Mark Carney went on to outline proposals for stronger oversight, both within the industry and by government authorities, but he noted "Integrity can neither be bought nor regulated. Even with the best possible framework of codes, principles, compensation schemes and market discipline, financiers must constantly challenge themselves to the standard they uphold."
So this is a time when for all kinds of reasons trust in government, trust in business has eroded. And I believe that it has to be rebuilt, not only by those in offices in Washington or Albany but by so many of you.
Over the years, I've had the privilege of working with many talented, principled, smart people who make their living in finance, especially when I was Senator from New York. Many of you here were my constituents, and I worked hard to represent you well. And I saw every day how important a well-functioning financial system is to not only the American economy but the global economy.
That's why as Senator I raised early warnings about the subprime mortgage market and called for regulating derivatives and other complex financial products because even among my smartest supporters and constituents I never understood what they were telling me when they tried to explain what they were.
I also called for closing the carried interest loophole, addressing skyrocketing CEO pay and other issues that were undermining that all important link between Wall Street and Main Street.
Remember what Teddy Roosevelt did. Yes, he took on what he saw as the excesses in the economy, but he also stood against the excesses in politics. He didn't want to unleash a lot of nationalist, populistic reaction. He wanted to try to figure out how to get back into that balance that has served America so well over our entire nationhood.
Today, there's more that can and should be done that really has to come from the industry itself, and how we can strengthen our economy, create more jobs at a time where that's increasingly challenging, to get back to Teddy Roosevelt's square deal. And I really believe that our country and all of you are up to that job.
When I served as Secretary of State, I visited 112 countries, traveled nearly a million miles, had a chance to see America as the rest of the world does. I came home more optimistic than ever about our future, because we have so many advantages from the diversity and creativity of our people, to the strength of our values, to the enormous opportunities unleashed by clean energy, technology and other innovations.
But everything I've seen and learned has also convinced me that we have to roll up our sleeves together. We have to make the hard choices at home and abroad, that our leadership, economically, strategically, politically, is not a given. It has to be earned by every generation. I think that's part of the challenge we face, I think it's our responsibility, but also our great opportunity.
And I thank you for thinking hard, as I hope you will, about what needs to be done to make sure that we create that balance once again that rebuilds trust, the glue that holds together free market economies, free people democracies, and gives the United States the continuing wind at our backs to do what only we can do to try to lead into this century, as we have before.
Thank you all very much.
JACQUES BRAND: So thank you, Secretary, for your insightful comments. I know that our audience looks forward to having a conversation with you.
We clearly are at the crossroads of both domestic and foreign policy issues. A moment ago you mentioned Russia's aggression in Ukraine. When you were Secretary you reset our diplomatic relations with Russia. You faced off against Putin. What's your take on our current situation? What should the U.S.'s and the world's endgame be with Russia, and how do we get there?
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: Well, how much time do we have, Jacques? That's one of those really open-ended questions, and I'm sure you've already heard from Mike McFaul, who is quite expert on all this. I'll make just a few points.
If you remember in August of 2008 Russia invaded Georgia. And I think there was a desire on the part of everybody, our Administration at the time, certainly the Europeans, to try to find a way out of it that didn't cause a confrontation. The idea being that, you know, Saakashvili, then the President, has a famously bad relationship with Putin. Maybe he did something that might have provoked it. And so let's try to just get the status quo confirmed. They lose two provinces that are part of Georgia that are now basically satellites of Russia, and let's all hold our breath and hope nothing else happens. Totally understandable as to how that thought process played out at the time.
But I think when we came into the Administration, President Obama and I and others believed that we had some business we had to get done with Russia. And although as a Senator I was very outspoken about the invasion of Georgia, I agreed absolutely that we had to try to get Russia onboard on Iran. We had to try to get Russia's help in moving troops and equipment through Russian territory to get into Afghanistan so we weren't relying on coming through Pakistan. We had to try to continue the efforts of bipartisan Administrations going back to decrease the number of nuclear weapons on both sides. So we have serious business. And we were dealing primarily with Medvedev, because at that time he was the president, and we got all those things done.
We set some goals for the so-called "reset" and we had to make it a reset in a symbolic way because we had to demonstrate we were going to focus on a positive agenda. And for two-plus years that's what we got done. We got them onboard on sanctions against Iran, which was a heavy lift, but finally pushed over the finish line because we could show them some intelligence that they didn't know. In fact, one of the most amazing meetings that I was in as Secretary was our first meeting with Medvedev in London in April of 2009. And we were talking about Iran, and he basically said, he said, you were right and we were wrong, because they had thought they could manipulate and be able to somewhat influence decisions by the clerical leadership, and they were finding that not likely to occur. So we made progress of a new START Treaty, et cetera.
So you fast-forward to Putin's announcement in the fall of 2011 that he's going to be President again, and Medvedev will be Prime Minister. I really dislike their system, but there is something to recommend in that approach. And so he makes this big announcement. They wear their black leather jackets on stage together, and raise their hands. Okay, so Putin is coming back. He always was the power behind the so-called president, but what this would mean to us was yet to be fully unveiled. And I'm not sure really Putin had a set of strategic aims yet.
So in December there were elections in Russia. They were highly irregular. Putin was determined to get people "elected" that he chose. And much to his amazement, people poured out into the streets, particularly middle class, upwardly mobile Russians who thought that maybe they were going to get to live in a normal country, tens and tens of thousands of them in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and some other urban centers.
Absolutely shocked Putin, he couldn't believe it. He couldn't grasp the fact that maybe Russians wanted an election where they could vote for people on their own. I criticized him, because the election was so illegitimate. And then he lashed out at me, basically saying that I was behind these people pouring out into the streets. So I'm personally dialing every middle class household in Moscow saying, go protest against Putin.
And that was the first real sign that he was insecure and unsure about how he was going to establish his legitimacy again. He was clearly going to be enshrined in power, come hell or high water, and he just had to figure out how to do it. So he gets himself elected in the spring of 2012. Meantime, we're having all of these arguments about Syria, the Russians are basically supplying Assad and there's all kinds of other static in the air.
And I think what Putin in my view has concluded is that he knows how to govern in a way that is retrograde. He knows how to excite the nationalistic passions of the Russian people. He knows how to win over the Russian Orthodox Church. That's part of what his whole campaign against the LGBT community in Russia is all about. And he knows that if he uses energy as a club he can intimidate much of Europe, and then he adds to it a disinformation campaign that he's quite familiar with, from his KGB days, and he can be really secure in his position within Russia, and he can be asserting Russian dominance and position, particularly along the borders, but not only there, reestablishing some kind of beachhead in the Middle East, for example, working to try to undermine American involvement, even in our own hemisphere, where Putin has been making some outreach and trips.
So the bottom line for me is it's a tragedy, really, almost a classic tragedy. The Russian people deserve so much better. They are so well equipped to play a major role in a modern world. You know as well as I the talents, the intelligence, the high levels of education, the scientific, mathematical capabilities. And instead their president for the foreseeable future wants to aggrandize power to himself and a few close associates, stamp out all opposition from the press, from political activists, anybody else and to try to reassert the fear of Russia.
And I would end by saying that I don't think this should be underestimated. I think this is a very serious threat. And it's a particularly serious threat when it comes to destabilizing some of the former members of the Warsaw Pact and the former Soviet Union. I've recently met with a lot of leaders from the Baltics, and from Central and Southern Europe. The Russians are making heavy investments in media. They're even doing it in our country. I don't know if any of you have seen the ads where Russian TV is presenting itself as an alternative to American press and going after Bush and Colin Powell, and people like that. And they are very active in parliamentary elections.
And I don't know how many of you saw the recent article about the Russians crossing the border with Estonia and snatching an Estonian intelligence official with whom certain elements of Russian society was interacting, because of the smuggling problems across the border. They are in it to reassert Russian influence and I would argue even control. And therefore I think we have to be much more united between the United States and Europe.
The sanctions are helpful, but I think we have to do more to help Ukraine, including giving Ukraine some support and some military assistance. That doesn't have to necessarily be from the United States, or from NATO, but there are lots of other ways of getting it there, because I think Putin is the kind of guy who will go as far as he thinks he can get away with. And I think that's bad for Europe and it's bad for a lot of the values that we all believe in.
JACQUES BRAND: Thanks for sharing your perspective. I'm sure there are lots of questions that our audience wants to ask you. So perhaps I can just throw it out to a very shy audience, I'm sure.
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: These people are hungry, Jacques.
QUESTION: Hi there. We're had a lot of cyber attacks this year, Target, Home Depot, JP Morgan, not Deutsche Bank. If you were ever in a position to issue an executive order, where would cyber be in your administration?
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: I think cyber security, cyber warfare are in the top five, because it's a growing threat. And it is a complicated threat to deal with. A lot of the attacks are traced back to either Russia or China, but not exclusively. We've had some Iranian attacks, as some of you know, on distribution of disruption of service in financial institutions. And it's a relatively cheap, labor-intensive way to take advantage of our dependence on the Internet, both for criminal purposes, as well as strategic national purposes.
So it's in the top five, because I don't think we've yet taken it seriously enough as a nation and I know the administration tried to figure out a way to take the public and private sector and work through some standards and some protocols, and there was reluctance on the side of the private sector, and especially after Snowden, a lot of concern by some of our companies, particularly our tech companies, to do anything to even look like they were cooperating with the government.
But, I think this is a rolling threat that will only increase in intensity and so I appointed the first ever cyber security expert in the State Department. We were attacked every hour of every day and not only through the State Department system, but also through individual, personal accounts, just really fishing for anything they could get. And we knew it. And they knew we knew it.
But, it was an ongoing challenge and I think we're going to have to come together and figure out some smart ways to do a better job protecting ourselves, because I don't know even if a very, very large private institution, like JP Morgan for example, which you mentioned, can do it on their own anymore, because the attacks and the talents of the attackers are improving dramatically. And I'm just not sure unless we have a more concerted, focused effort, maybe by sectors, but with government backup, or government advice and counsel, we can stay ahead of this. So I'm very worried about it.
JACQUES BRAND: A question back there?
QUESTION: Where do you stand on exports of natural gas to both MTA and non-MTA counterparts?
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: I think that we are very fortunate that we have increased our production of both gas and oil. It is one of the reasons why I'm very bullish about our economic prospects. I'm concerned, as you can hear from my remarks, about whether we have inclusive broad-based prosperity, with enough jobs for enough people. And I think you have to look at the two together, productivity and increased economic activity and the impact on people.
But I think when it comes to gas and oil, there's a lot of serious thought being given, as you know, in Washington right now about how to go about making decisions about LNG terminals, because right now we don't even have the capacity to export gas. We have one terminal that has gotten underway, but there are a lot of others standing in line trying to get permission either to build new terminals or to reverse engineer the import terminals that they have built in the past couple of decades.
So we have to make some decisions. And I believe that we should have a targeted approach. Right now, we have a platform for increasing manufacturing, for decreasing the cost of energy that I don't want to lose, but at the same time I want to be able to export gas, especially to our friends, in order to undercut in Europe's case the pressure from Russia, or in Asia's case the turn back to using Iran if we don't figure out a way to resolve our nuclear issue.
So I think we have to look at it, but we have to be smart about how we turn the spigot on and them maybe slow it down or even turn it off if certain benchmarks of our needs aren't met. So that's how I would approach it.
JACQUES BRAND: Question, Barry. Wait for a mike, please.
QUESTION: So good afternoon, Madam Secretary, or good evening. There are reports that you, Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the National Security Council, the Defense Secretary everybody told the current President that he had to go and do something in Syria. He didn't. ISIS was born. Today it's like a cancer and it's got a lot of heat behind it. It's grabbing land. It's got a lot of money.
And I read something this morning, a sermon, actually, from the holidays where the rabbi spoke that this is pure evil. This is like a force we've never seen before that you cannot equivocate, that you must lead and be black and white about what this represents to the developed world.
Talk about it. What do you think we would do or should do, and is there anything we can do short of putting feet on the ground, which nobody really wants. What do you think about this? And this is kind of a new thing. It developed from nowhere and it certainly has a lot of attention now.
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: Well, let me separate the two parts of your question, because I think it's important to put some context into it. It is accurate that I and Dave Petraeus and Leon Panetta worked on an approach to try to vet and arm Syrian opposition fighters, the Free Syrian Army and others, who were truly formed out of the Syrian opposition to Assad.
Now if you recall, as soon as the rebellion started, Assad took the position aided and abetted by Putin that everybody was against him, the pharmacists, the schoolteacher, the banker, everybody against him was a terrorist, because that's one of the ways he kept the Alawites and the Christians and some of the Sunni business leaders really on the line as to how they they devil they knew was better than some other devil.
That was not the case early in the rebellion. It was a genuine uprising by Syrians. And we did recommend that we should try to figure out how we could identify, vet and train and aim through a covert cooperative effort with others in the region. And we debated it. We had a lot of very healthy debate on it. And the President decided that at that point not to proceed.
And as I write in my book, I cannot sit here today and honestly tell you if we had done what Petraeus, Panetta and I recommended we would have been successful. In part, because these were truly not fighters. These were ordinary citizens picking up weapons against the oppression of Assad. And the political opposition, which I worked extensively with, was woefully unorganized and incapable of presenting a united front against Assad. And I spent countless hours trying to organize them and focus them. So this was a judgment call, and it was a hard judgment. And so I want to really make that clear.
But the second point is that so-called ISIS is a direct descendent of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was one of our most virulent, vicious adversaries when the United States troops were in Iraq. They were so barbaric, similar to what we're seeing now with ISIS, lots of beheadings and other terrible actions, that the Sunni sheiks in Anbar Province and elsewhere were finally fed up. They said, no, we've got to fight these people. And the United States was on the ground, ready to assist with intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and actually combat troops. And were in partnership with the Iraqis led primarily with the Sunnis who had formed, in effect, militias able to decapitate Al-Qaeda in Iraq, rid them out of the places that they had taken hold of, and many of them migrated into Syria.
Now what happened in Iraq is a very unfortunate story because when the United States left, a date that had been set by the prior Administration as to when we would leave if we did not have a status of forces agreement. We had so many assurances and guarantees from Maliki that almost 24 hours after we left he began to renege on. And one of the biggest that he reneged on was using the army to purge Sunni officers, denying support for the Kurds, and generally turning the security forces into a sectarian arm of his leadership.
And it turned off a lot of the Sunnis and the Kurds. And so they were basically siting on their hands. And in the meantime you've got Syria engaged in a real conflict, and the poor so-called moderates, Free Syrian Army types are suddenly seeing on their battlefield these Al-Qaeda like groups, Al-Nusra being one, and then this direct predecessor of Al-Qaeda in Iraq being another, and they are better armed, they are better funded and they're more experienced fighters. These guys have been fighting in Iraq. Some of them, frankly, fighting in Afghanistan, fighting in other places, and they are now taking up arms inside Syria.
And I agree with you completely. This is a very dangerous, virulent enemy. This is not an enemy that can be ignored because they are an expansionist, jihadist, extremist group. In other words, they're going to hold territory, and they're going to expand from that territory, and they consider it part of their mission to catalyze attacks in Europe or in the United States.
And I think that when they were just inside Syria, they were one of a number of groups all vying for territory. When they crossed the border and the largely Shi'ite poorly motivated army fled leaving them to occupy and plunder Mosul is when people suddenly woke up and said, wait a minute. This is beyond anything we had expected.
The Peshmerga are very good fighters, but frankly they haven't had much to fight about for a number of years. Their equipment is outdated. Their raining is not up to speed. They are very brave. They are fighting this bloody battle right now on the Syrian border with Turkey for Kobani.
So I think, and I was in Ottawa yesterday right at the time they were having the parliamentary debate about whether Canada would send fighter jets and refueling planes. And I don't want to interfere in their internal deliberations, but I made it very clear that this is an important commitment. We've got to try to slow them down, degrade them, and then work to get the Iraqi Army back in shape, work to better fund and support the Peshmerga, work to get the Turks to defend their own border, just beyond, which is for them a real dilemma because they don't want to fight on behalf of the Kurds, which I think is short-sighted.
So there's a lot of moving parts here that we are slowly putting in place. And I think the president was absolutely right to demand that Maliki be removed and we couldn't I've been calling for his removal since 2007. I always thought he was not the right person to try to lead an inclusive, non-sectarian government. He wasn't interested in that.
So I think we're in for a long haul. This is the best-funded terrorist group. They're better funded than Al Qaeda in its heyday was. Al Qaeda had resources, but they have somewhere between $1 and $2 billion from robbing banks, from stealing oil and selling it on the black market. They have captured a huge amount of military equipment that certainly overpowers the poor Kurdish Peshmerga.
So we have a real struggle on our hands and I think it's significant that you've got Arab countries flying. That's a whole complicated other story about why we end up with these extremist, jihadist, Wahhabis, but we'll put that to one side, and take what we can now and work with our Arab allies in trying to stop the advance, take out as much equipment, take out military warehouses where they are heading to get more heavy weaponry, and do our best quickly to upgrade the Peshmerga, the Iraqis, and try to get the Turks to defend their own border, even though it's just slightly across the border, but it is the same thing, because they're going to be faced with another huge influx of refugees.
JACQUES BRAND: So I think we have the opportunity for one last question.
QUESTION: Hillary, Ed Kangas, Former Chairman of Deloitte, now a proud member of the advisory board of Deutsche Bank. For over 20 years you had an opportunity to work for some presidents, and to observe up close the presidents, see what they do well and not so well. What has that led you to conclude about the experience that someone needs to be president?
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: This is just a hypothetical question right, Ed? You know I have had a remarkable front row seat and I've worked with or been around presidents going back quite a ways. I worked for Jimmy Carter. And I got to know Ronald Reagan on some issues like welfare reform and I got to know George H. W. Bush on education reform. And obviously I observed my husband as president. And I worked closely with George W. Bush on post-9/11 issues and appreciated his support for New York. And I have had the great privilege of working for and with Barack Obama.
You know, you don't get to be president by accident. This is not something that is preordained. It's not easy to do, as I know very well, having tried and not succeeded. So I have a high regard for the skills of everybody who has been president that I personally know, and many back through history. And I think you can learn from and take from each of them a number of lessons that anybody who is thinking about running should study and absorb.
You know, when you look at how much more difficult it now is to be president, and I think it is, I think the job which was always incredibly hard, I mean nobody had it worse than Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, obviously, and others, but they did not have to live their lives and make their decisions in the glare of not just the press, but everybody now with a cell phone is a political commentator. It is almost impossible to describe how much more difficult the job is, because these are hard choices. That's why I called my book Hard Choices.
And most of you in business who make hard choices, you have to think about them and you want to elicit a lot of feedback and you want to really run a process that creates options for you before signing off on a major acquisition, or whatever else it might be. In the White House today there is no let up from this constant relentless pressure to have an answer to everything. And so how you organize your White House, how you organize your time becomes even more important.
I mean I read I mean Franklin Roosevelt with his cheery demeanor and going up to Hyde Park as often as he could, and having cocktails in the residence every afternoon to bring people in to tell stories, or Harry Truman getting on the yacht and going down to Key West and staying for weeks to recharge his batteries. We just now want to make it impossible for one person to be head of state and head of government. I don't care whether you're a Republican or a Democrat it is such a hard job.
So, therefore, I think it's important to study those who came before, try to learn what they did really well. I write in the book, the decision that President Obama made to go after Bin Laden was as crisp and smart a display of decision-making and leadership as I've personally seen. It was by no means clear that the intelligence was right. The best we could get out of the intelligence community to kind of red team the intelligence was it's 40 to 60 percent.
Then to be presented with other options, like do you drop a missile on it, and then you'll never know whether he was there or not. Do you send in special ops forces? How do you get across the border? How do you evade Pakistani radar? How do you land in Abbottabad, which is a military town? It was excruciating, and I was one of the small group of people who was weighing that and making my views clear to the President.
So I've seen really good decisions. And I've seen not so good decisions. And I've seen the run of the mill kind of do the best you can and move on decisions. And I really believe that we need elections that are more about the decisions that the President will actually make insofar as those are knowable than what we currently have, which unfortunately does not always enlighten the voters or engage in the kind of public debate and discussion that is called for.
So from my perspective, Ed, relationships are key. Relationships with all kinds of people, with the Congress, with your Cabinet, with outside advisors, keeping an open mind and open door, continuing to evaluate information that you're getting, but making a decision when the time has come, and then moving to sell that decision, implement that decision. You make it clear that you believe in the decision. Trying to stay ahead of events so that as difficult as it is you're not constantly playing catch-up. Set a few agenda items as your priorities, and keep working on those no matter what else is happening.
I think there are a lot of lessons to be learned, and I think every one of our recent Presidents has some real strengths that can help somebody who is thinking about possibly wanting that job.
JACQUES BRAND: So if you don't mind, I'll ask you just one question. That was a perfect set up. Living in the information technology age, you mentioned Franklin Roosevelt. Those people didn't know that he suffered from polio because the media had an agreement with him. In today's environment, when you're a public figure everyone knows every last intimate detail. So what would you be willing to share with this audience, something that most people don't know about you?
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: I don't think there's anything left. Oh, my goodness. The first part of your question, I've kidded Henry Kissinger often because, you know, he snuck off, when he was in Pakistan he snuck off to a house where he pretended to be sick, and then he snuck out of the house and he flew to China and began to negotiate the big opening to China. I said, honestly, Henry, you could never do that today. I mean, some baggage handler, some air traffic controller would see you and whip out their cell phone and you'd be on Twitter within a nanosecond. So yes, it's hard to imagine.
Well, let me see if I can think of anything. Well, here's an interesting comparison I guess you could say. And that is that my husband asked me to marry him twice before I said yes on the third time. And Barack Obama asked me to be Secretary of State three times because I said no twice. So I do have a kind of pattern with charismatic attractive men in saying no initially and then just being worn down and giving in and ending up getting married and traveling a million miles. So that may be something you didn't know.
JACQUES BRAND: So on that note, Secretary, thank you very much for being with us. We are really honored and privileged to have you here this evening. We hope to see a lot more of you on the national and hopefully the world stage. In the meantime, congratulations on Charlotte and enjoy your family.
SEC. HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you all very much.