President Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of state Sen. John Kerry stressed at his confirmation hearing late on Thursday that the U.S. foreign policy should not be defined only by its military strength and urged Congress to fix the U.S. economy to ensure America’s role as a world leader.
The five-term U.S. senator and Vietnam War veteran, who was the Democrats’ 2004 presidential nominee, said the “first priority” in protecting his credibility as a diplomat was the country’s ability to get its fiscal house in order.
“Foreign policy is economic policy,” Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he has chaired for the past four years.
“American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone,” Kerry said in outlining his views. “We cannot allow the extraordinary good we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role we have had to play since Sept. 11, a role that was thrust upon us.”
Faced with Iran’s nuclear program, Kerry said the United States will do what it must to prevent Tehran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, but he also signaled that diplomacy remains a viable option.
The senator said he was hopeful that the U.S. and other nations could make progress on the diplomatic front, but that Tehran needs to relent and agree to intrusive inspections.
“If their program is peaceful, they can prove it,” he said.
Kerry also said during the hearing that he would push for a revival of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, suggesting the United States could consider a new peace initiative despite the failure of Obama’s first-term efforts.
“We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward. But I also believe that if we can’t be successful, the door, window ... to the possibility of a two-state solution could shut on everybody, and that would be disastrous in my judgment,” he said.
Thursday’s hearing is the first of three for Obama’s national security nominees, and the least controversial. The president’s pick of Chuck Hagel to be the next defense secretary will face tough questions about his past statements on Israel, Iran, nuclear weapons and defense spending at his confirmation hearing next Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
John Brennan, Obama’s choice for CIA director, will be quizzed about White House national security leaks and the use of unmanned drones at his hearing next month.
Hearing on the Nomination of Senator Kerry to be Secretary of State, 1/24
SENATOR ROBERT MENENDEZ (D-NJ):
Good morning. This hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consider the next -- the nominee for secretary of state have come to order.
Let me again ask, as I did yesterday -- since the full Senate has not yet passed the committee resolution seating members, I asked unanimous consent of returning members to allow our prospective members to participate in today's hearing. And if there's no objection, it is so ordered.
Let me start with saying that you're not at the -- you're not at the table yet, Senator, but we're going to have you there shortly. (Laughter.) Wow, what a high-price staff member. (Chuckles.) Let me say, Senator Kerry, or should I say Mr. Chairman, since you are still our committee's chair, that -- deeply humbled to preside over the committee today as we consider your nomination. We're honored to welcome you as the president's nominee for a position you have most deservedly earned, from the first time you testified before Chairman Fulbright as a young returning Vietnam War hero in 1971 to the day the president nominated and announced your nomination as secretary of state. You may not be aware of it, but you will be the first member of this panel to ascend directly to the position since Senator John Sherman of Ohio became President McKinley's secretary of state more than a hundred years ago. So you are clearly making history once again.
Yours is a big chair to fill, and I will do my best today to live up to your example. I've watched your lead on the committee with an equally deep and abiding commitment to get to the heart of the matter, always probative, always open to debate, always ready to mitigate disagreements, always looking for the truth for answers, uncovering the facts, hearing all the evidence and then publicly speaking truth to power, based solely on what was the best interests of the nation.
As a senator, as a member of this committee and as chairman, you have already built strong relationships with leaders around the world which will help you seamlessly into the role of secretary of state. You will need no introduction to the world's political and military leaders and will begin on day one fully conversant not only with the intricacies of U.S. policy but with an understanding of the nuanced approach necessary to effectively interact on the multinational stage.
When Vice President Biden sat in this chair, he said on more than one occasion: Good international relationships are always predicated on strong interpersonal relationships. I think we can all agree that you have set the highest standard for developing those relationships throughout your career, and as secretary of state, you will continue to strengthen those relationships on behalf of the president and the furtherance of American foreign policy.
I'll have some questions later on policies and your views, including how you will explain to world leaders how you could have been rooting for the Boston Red Sox instead of what the world knows is the New York Yankees as the team of the world -- (laughter) -- but let me say, Mr. Chairman, it's been a pleasure working with you and looking forward to continuing to work with you on the issues you've championed over the years: fighting global terrorism; preventing the spread of nuclear, biological, chemical weapons; fighting for human rights and against HIV/A-I-D -- AIDS around the world; fighting crime, corruption, drug trafficking and standing up, as you always have, for the interests of the foreign service around the world.
In your new role, should you be confirmed -- and I know you will -- your portfolio will be greatly expanded. You will be center stage, representing the interests of all of us, from securing our embassies and protecting our overseas personnel to promoting commerce-enhancing, cross-cultural ties and keeping America secure through cooperation where possible and isolation where necessary, as in the case of Iran.
And of course it goes without saying that you have truly been a world leader on one of the most consequential issues of our time: climate change. And it heartens me to know that someone with your commitment to the issue will be our voice to the world.
The fact is, whatever the challenges we will face, in my view, the State Department could not be in better hands. When it comes to America's role in world affairs, I know we agree that it is critical that the United States remain fully engaged, that we project not only the power of our military strength when necessary but the wisdom of our democratic ideals as we adjust to the new threats and new demands we will inevitably face. And there is no doubt you will be tested in your new role as secretary, nor is there any doubt that you will pass any test with honors, as you always have.
Before I recognize Senator Corker, let me thank you on behalf of the committee for all you have done through your long and illustrious career here in the Senate and in the chairmanship of this committee. In anticipation of your confirmation by the full Senate, I wish you good luck and godspeed on the many journeys that lie ahead, and we will look forward to having a close working relationship with you as the next secretary of state.
Let me now recognize Senator Corker, the ranking member, for his comments.
SENATOR BOB CORKER (R-TN):
Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank our three distinguished guests who are going to introduce the chairman in just a moment. I want to say to the chairman, I want to thank you for your courtesy over the last six years as I've served on this committee.
I look at you in being nominated for this as someone who's almost lived their entire life, if you will, for this moment of being able to serve in this capacity. There's no one in the United States Senate that has spent more time than you have on issues of importance to our country. The experience you develop while being on this committee and spending time abroad with world leaders with your wife, who's at your side today -- there's almost no one who spent that kind of time and effort. So I'm happy for you.
I know the many conversations we've had over the last two weeks -- you're very anxious to serve. You're ready to go. My sense is your confirmation will go through very, very quickly. I do look forward to your testimony today.
Secretary Clinton's here today after a day of hearings both here and in the House. And I think you know you're inheriting a department that, like many departments throughout government, has numbers of challenges. We saw systemic issues that need to be addressed, and they're in the process of being addressed right now.
Our nation has budgetary constraints, which means that in all of these departments, creativity is going to have to be utilized to make sure that we make the most of what we have in making sure that our U.S. interests are put forth. We have a world that is a dangerous world, and things continue to come over the transom, sometimes at surprising times. And I know as secretary of state, you're going to have to lead our country in addressing those as they come about.
I do hope that you'll work closely with this committee, as you've worked very closely with this committee over the last many years, in helping us work with you to make sure that as we move ahead, we move ahead together and that it's seamless.
We have many challenges. And I know on Monday President Obama said that America will remain the anchor of strong challenges in every corner of the globe and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crises abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.
I could not agree more. I look forward to, again, hearing your testimony today about what you hope to do in your new capacity. And I certainly welcome the three distinguished people who are here today to introduce you, which I know is a tremendous honor for you.
Thank you for your service. I look forward to your testimony.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you, Senator.
We have a have a star-studded panel here to introduce the nominee, starting with -- I'll introduce you in order of your presentation, but I just want to start off by welcoming back the secretary again. And we appreciate you coming back to us so soon. And again, you know, the thanks of a committee and a grateful nation for an incredible service to our country.
And my understanding, although I'm being told differently, are you going, Senator Warren -- Senator Warren, who is our new colleague from the grate state of Massachusetts, is going to be part of introducing her senior senator before the committee, then Secretary Clinton, and then our distinguished colleague, a member of this committee now as well, Senator McCain.
With that, Senator Warren.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): Thank you. Thank you, Senator Menendez.
It's an honor to be here with Secretary Clinton and Senator McCain to introduce my senior senator and my friend, Senator John Kerry. I have the privilege of speaking for a man I know will continue in the tradition of John Quincy Adams and Christian Herter as great secretaries from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Although John learned much about diplomacy overseas and in the Senate, he would be the first to tell you that Massachusetts is also a great teacher of diplomatic skills, whether it was negotiating his way to make the ballot as a long shot underdog in a five-way heavily contested state convention back in 1982, or the way he brought labor and management to the table, locked the parties in his Senate office over a long weekend, brought in Dunkin' Donuts and negotiated an end to the 92-day-long Brochton (ph) teachers nurses strike -- nurses strike. If anyone wants to learn diplomacy, come try Massachusetts politics.
John certainly has.
John's story is well-known to many of us, from his youth as the son of a foreign service officer, seeing diplomacy up close and learning about foreign policy around the dinner table each night, to his service in combat in Vietnam. Less well-known is the story of his foreign policy work inside the Senate, his 90 overseas trips that he made in 28 years on the Foreign Relations Committee, his work with Dick Lugar to ensure free elections in the Philippines, his work with Bill Frist on AIDS in Africa, his work as chairman of the New START treaty and his very public and successful diplomatic interventions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan. I think one day historians will judge his Senate years in terms of his impact on foreign policy much the same way so many recognize Senator Ted Kennedy's impact on domestic policy.
From his many years in the U.S. Senate, John has developed a very personal understanding that we represent not just states or government but also people. I once asked John why he loves the Senate. He said it's the pride he feels in trying to get things done for people. For three years now he's been working quietly to help a father from Newton, Massachusetts, Colin Bower, whose two sons were kidnapped and taken to Egypt. John even called former President Mubarak and had a screaming match with him about it. Five times he's been to Egypt since then, and every time Colin has been at the top of his list in every meeting.
Every senator here has a Colin Bower. It's what we do. We fight for people back home. As secretary, John will understand that and bend over backwards to help us do that. He will be a terrific bridge from the Hill to the administration.
I know that John cares deeply about our country and our national security. I know he believes through and through in the good that America can do in the world, because he's seen it and he's lived it all his life, from seeing the Marshall Plan in action with his father in post-World War II Europe to volunteering to serve in the military and then traveling all these years as a senator.
John says, America isn't exceptional because we say we are; we're exceptional because we do exceptional things. When the airplane, the one that says on the side, "United States of America," lands anywhere in the world, I will be proud that it will be John Kerry representing us.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you, Senator.
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY CLINTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's very good to be back and to have this opportunity to join with Senator Warren and Senator McCain in introducing President Obama's nominee to be the next secretary of state. I was very honored when John asked me to take part in this, because John is the right choice to carry forward the Obama administration's foreign policy, and I urge his speedy confirmation.
As we've heard from both the chairman and the ranking member and just now Senator Warren, he will bring a record of leadership and service that is exemplary. He has a view of the world that he has acted on, first as that young, returning veteran from Vietnam who appeared before this committee through the time that he served with such distinction as its chairman.
He's been a valued partner to this administration and to me personally. He has fought for our diplomats and development experts. He understands the value of investing in America's global leadership. And as we work to implement the Accountability Review Board's recommendations, he is committed to doing whatever it takes to prevent another attack and protect our people and posts around the world.
Now, working together, we've achieved a great deal, but the State Department and USAID have a lot of unfinished business, from Afghanistan to nonproliferation, to climate change, to so much. We need to sustain our renewed engagement in the Asia-Pacific, continue ramping up economics as a tool for advancing American interests and jobs, pressing forward with unleashing the potential of the world's women and girls, keep championing the kind of smart power that looks to innovation and partnerships with governments and people alike to promote peace and stability.
John has built strong relationships with leaders in governments here and around the world, and he has experience in representing our country in fragile and unpredictable circumstances. He was in Pakistan and Afghanistan a few years ago, and we were consulting over the phone. He played an instrumental role in working with President Karzai at that time to accept the results of the election and to move forward. I had to call Harry Reid and ask Harry not to schedule any votes so that John could continue to stay there to see that mission through.
But that's what he does. He is a determined and effective representative of the United States; has been as a senator, will be as secretary.
Let me close by saying that leading our diplomats and development experts is a great honor, and every day, as I testified yesterday, I've seen firsthand their skill, their bravery, their unwavering commitment to our country. I've been proud to call them colleagues and to serve as secretary of state, and I'm very pleased that John will be given the chance, subject to confirmation, to continue the work of a lifetime on behalf of our country.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you, Madam Secretary.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I am pleased to be here with Senator Warren and Secretary Clinton to introduce and speak -- say a few words about my friend Senator Kerry to the committee. Obviously, the nominee doesn't need to be introduced to the committee on which he has served for over a quarter of a century, and as its chairman for the last four years. So I can dispense with the customary summary of the nominee's record of public service and qualifications for the office for which he has been nominated. They're well-known to you and to all of our colleagues.
But I'd like to take a few moments to attest to the personal qualities that Senator Kerry would bring to the office of secretary of state which I think are well-suited to the position. He and I have been friends for quite a long time now. We've had our disagreements, which is unsurprising given our political differences and is often the case in our business. Our friendship has been affected from time to time by our enthusiasm for our differing views and by the competitive nature of politics. But the friendship has endured. I believe it is based in mutual respect.
Some observers have attributed that respect to the fact that when we were much younger, nicer and better-looking men than we are now, Senator Kerry and I spent some time, at the Navy's behest, in a certain Southeast Asian country in less pleasant circumstances than we're accustomed to in the United States Senate.
While I've always respected and honored Senator Kerry's service in Vietnam, my respect for John as a senator and my support for his nomination today originated in a very different experience. Although that experience too concerned the country and the war he and I were privileged to serve in, it did not require martial valor. On the contrary, it required, at least on Senator Kerry's part, and considerably less so on mine, extraordinary diplomatic skills.
The administrations of President Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush had pursued limited engagement with the government of Vietnam for the purpose of encouraging Vietnam to provide answers to the fates of many Americans who were still listed as POW/MIAs. That effort was led by a man both John and I respect enormously, General John Vessey, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who continued as the president's special emissary to Vietnam in President Clinton's administration.
By the early '90s, I think both John and I had come to the view that it would be better for our country to have a relationship with Vietnam that served our current and future interests than one that continued to nurse the hostilities of our recent tragic past. But we both understood that could never be the case unless we knew American soldiers were not still kept against their will in Vietnam and until Vietnam fully cooperated in helping us account for Americans who didn't return home from the war.
To help find answers to their fates, in 1991 then-Senate Majority Leader Mitchell and Minority Leader Dole appointed a select committee which John and Senator Bob Smith chaired, and I was appointed as a member as well.
Members of that committee had passionate and conflicting views on the subject of whether or not Vietnam still kept American POWs.
The subject was controversial and provoked the strong passions of many Americans, not the least of which were the families of the missing. Most Americans who cared about this issue were people of sincere good will and honesty. But there were also a few charlatans and con artists involved in the activist community who, for various reasons, promoted all kinds of conspiracy theories and implausible scenarios.
On many occasions, our public hearings became a circus. Behind the scenes, arguments between members often became as heated and as personal as any I've ever experienced. Getting information about POW MIAs from the intelligence community was fraught with the usual objections and difficulties, and getting information from the Vietnamese even more so. It wasn't a pleasant experience, to say the least.
But through it all, John led the committee with fairness to all sides, with persistence in the pursuit of the truth and with an absolute, unshakable resolve to get a result that all members could accept. Really, no matter how contentious and at times crazy things got, John always believed he would eventually get all the committee to see reason and provide an answer that would be accepted by most veterans and most, if not all, Americans who cared so much about the issue.
And he did. He got all the members to agree to an exhaustive investigative report that concluded there wasn't credible evidence that Americans remained in captivity in Vietnam. It was a masterful accomplishment.
After that experience John and I worked together to encourage the Clinton administration and the government of Vietnam to begin normalizing relations.
I witnessed John's diplomatic skills in practice again -- his patience, his persistence, his persuasiveness, his tact, and his singular focus on getting the best result possible in negotiations with a diverse array of government officials in both countries, convincing a reluctant administration to make what the president's advisers considered a politically perilous decision, and reluctant fellow citizen -- senators to vote for a resolution recommending normalization. It was an impressive performance, to say the least.
Helping to establish a relationship with Vietnam that serves American interests and values rather than one that remained mired in mutual resentment and bitterness is one of my proudest accomplishments as a senator, and I expect it is one of John's, as well. Working toward that end with John and witnessing almost daily his exemplary statesmanship is one of the highest privileges I've had here. Should he be confirmed, and I'm confident he will be and become our next secretary of state, I'm sure we will have our disagreements, which I know neither of us will hesitate to bring to the other's attention. But I know he will acquit himself in that office with distinction and use his many talents and his indefatigable persistence to advance our country's interests. And I commend his nomination to you without reservation.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Wow. You might want to rest your case there, Mr. Chairman. (Laughter.)
With our thanks to this distinguished panel -- we thank you very much, Madam Secretary; thank you again to our colleagues; and now we call up Chairman Kerry to the -- . (Pause.)
Well, Mr. Chairman, we welcome you to the other side of the committee and look forward to your testimony and any introductions you may want to make.
SENATOR JOHN KERRY (D-MA): Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Corker and members of the committee, thank you very, very much. I'm in awe of the wonderful comments that were just made, and I appreciate them, and I'll say a little bit more about them.
Before I begin, I would like to have the privilege of just introducing very quickly. I think most of you know my wonderful wife, Teresa, who's been part of this great journey for a long time. My brother Cam, who is serving over in the Commerce Department as counsel there, and I trust they know he's here and have given him time off. And my daughter, Vanessa, and her husband, Brian, both of whom are working as physicians at Mass General in Boston. And another daughter is not here, Alexandra, and three stepsons, who likewise are spread around the world. But we are thinking about them as we embark on this wonderful journey.
For 29 years I've sat up on the dais where you all are and I've kind of looked down at the witnesses and wondered what they're thinking sometimes as we question them. And I don't want this to affect your opening questions, but let me say I've never seen a more distinguished and better-looking group of public officials in my life. (Laughter.) Suddenly I am feeling a lot of sympathy for the folks who sit down here. (Chuckles.) I want you to know that a couple nights ago I was watching "Godfather II," so be forewarned. If someone suddenly shows up with my long, lost brother back in the audience, all bets are off, folks.
And I am enormously grateful for the generous comments of the chair and the ranking member. Thank you very, very much. Thank you also for your tremendous cooperation over the course of the last years. And providing that you get me out of here quickly, I will be able to congratulate you more fully when you officially assume your responsibilities.
I will tell you, all of you on this committee, the new members particularly, that I have enjoyed chairing this committee and working with you as much as anything that I have done or been privileged to do in all of my career.
I think this is one of the great committees of the United States Senate, and it is the only major committee that I have served on since day one when I arrived in the Senate in 1985.
As you know, the committee carries special, consequential responsibilities with respect to the security of our nation, and I thank each and every one of your for the serious consideration that you give and have given to the challenging issues and for the remarkable cooperation that I have had as chairman of the committee.
If confirmed, I look forward to continuing to work particularly closely with all of you as we tackle some of the toughest issues and challenges that I have seen in the entire time I've served on this committee. And I particularly welcome the new members in that regard.
I'm very grateful to President Obama for nominating me and entrusting me with this important responsibility, and I am particularly grateful to Secretary Clinton, Senator McCain and Senator Warren for their introductions of me just now. I will not take it personally that this may be the one item in Washington that seems to unite Democrats and Republicans to get me out of the Senate quickly. (Laughter.)
There -- Secretary Clinton particularly has served above and beyond the call of duty. I think everybody on this committee would agree. Her service as been superb, and we all thank her for a job well-done, for her tireless efforts on behalf of our nation. She has set a very high mark for the stewardship of the State Department and her commitment to country. And I can pledge to you that with the consent of the Senate, I will do everything in my power, summon every energy and all of my focus to build on her record and on the president's vision.
Senator McCain, as he mentioned, is a longtime friend. We met here in the Senate, coming from very different political positions and perspectives, but, you know, we found common ground. I will never forget standing with him in Hanoi in the cell, in the Hanoi Hilton, in which he spent a number of years of his life, just the two of us, listening to him talk about that experience.
I will always be grateful for his partnership in helping to make real peace with Vietnam by establishing the most significant process in the history of our country or of any country for the accounting of missing and dead in any war and then for working to lift the embargo and ultimately normalize relations with an old enemy. John had every reason to hate, but he didn't. And instead, we were able to help heal deep wounds and end a war that had divided too many people for much too long.
And as we talk about war and peace and foreign policy, I want all of us to keep in our minds, as I think we do, the extraordinary men and women in uniform who are on the frontlines even as we meet here today, the troops at war who help protect America. I can pledge to you that as a veteran of war, I will always carry the consequences of our decisions in my mind and be grateful that we have such extraordinary people to back us up.
I also thank my new colleague Senator Warren for her generous comment. She is a longtime, fierce fighter for what is just and fair. And if her testimony has had effect today and helps win votes for my confirmation, she will become the senior senator of our state in a record few legislative days. I spent 29 years. (Laughter.)
It's humbling to here -- be here before you in this new role as President Obama's nominee for secretary of state, but my approach to this role, if confirmed, is also deeply informed by the 28-plus years that I have been privileged to spend in the Senate. That perspective will remain with me if confirmed as secretary, and I'm already excited by the many ways that we can work together and in which we must work together in order to advance America's security interests in a complicated and ever more dangerous world.
I would add that I'm particularly aware that in many ways, the greatest challenge to America's foreign policy will be in your hands, not mine, because while it's often said that we can't be strong at home if we're not strong in the world, in these days of fiscal crisis -- and as a recovering member of the supercommittee -- I am especially cognizant of the fact that we can't be strong in the world unless we're strong at home.
And the first priority of business, which will affect my credibility as a diplomat and our credibility as a nation, as some -- as we -- as we work to help other countries create order, the first priority will be that America at last puts its own fiscal house in order.
I really can't emphasize to you enough how imperative this is. People all over the world are looking to the United States for leadership. We are known as the indispensable nation for good reason. No nation has more opportunity to advance the cause of democracy. No nation is as committed to the cause of human rights as we are. But to protect our nation and make good on our promises, as well as to live up to our ideals and meet the crisis of this moment, it is urgent that we show people in the rest of the world that we can get our business done in an effective and timely way. It is difficult enough to solve some of the problems that we face. But I will tell you it becomes impossible or near impossible if we ourselves replace our credibility and leverage with gridlock and dysfunction. I've heard it in my trips, and Secretary Clinton has heard it in her trips. And any of you who travel will begin to hear questions about whether or not the United States can or will deliver.
Moreover, more than ever, foreign policy is economic policy. The world is competing for resources and global markets. Every day that goes by where America is uncertain about engaging in that arena or unwilling to put our best foot forward and win, unwilling to demonstrate our resolve to lead is a day in which we weaken our nation itself.
My plea is that we can summon, across party lines, without partisan diversions, an economic patriotism which recognizes that American strength and prospects abroad depend on American strength and results at home. It's hard to tell the leadership of a number of countries that they have to deal with the IMF, balance their budget or create economic order where there is none if we don't provide it for ourselves.
It's also imperative that, in implementing President Obama's vision for the world as he ends more than a decade of war, that we join together to augment our message to the world. President Obama and every one of us here knows that American foreign policy is not defined by drones and deployments alone. We cannot allow the extraordinary good that we do to save and change lives to be eclipsed entirely by the role that we have had to play since September 11th, a role that was thrust upon us.
American foreign policy is also defined by food security, energy security, humanitarian assistance, the fight against disease and the push for development, as much as it is by any single counterterrorism initiative. And it must be. It is defined by leadership on life- threatening issues like climate change or fighting to lift up millions of lives by promoting freedom and democracy from Africa to the Americas, or speaking out for the prisoners of gulags in North Korea or millions of refugees and displaced persons or victims of human trafficking. It is defined by keeping faith with all that our troops have sacrificed to secure for Afghanistan. American lives up to her values when we give voice to the voiceless.
I share with the president the conviction that it is equally imperative that we assert a new role in a world of increasing failed and failing states. Burgeoning populations of young people, hungry for jobs, opportunity, individual rights and freedom, are rebelling against years of disenfranchisement and humiliation. A fruit vendor in Tunisia who ignited the Arab awakening wanted dignity and respect.
He wanted to sell his fruit without corruption and abuse. That's what led him to self-immolate.
The youth of Tahrir Square who brought Egypt its revolution represented a generational thirst for opportunity and individual participatory rights of governance -- not a religious movement. The developed world can do more to meet the challenge and responsibility of these aspirations. With the help of all the members of this committee, I am determined to help President Obama meet this moment. It is vital for our nation that we do so.
The world is well aware we face a number of immediate, dangerous challenges, particularly in the Middle East and South -- Central Asia. Given our extraordinary interest in nonproliferation, we must resolve the questions surrounding Iran's nuclear program. The president has made it definitive; we will do what we must do to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And I repeat here today: Our policy is not containment. It is prevention. And the clock is ticking on our efforts to secure responsible compliance.
This administration, working with Congress and an unprecedented international coalition, has put into place crippling sanctions on Iran. Mr. Chairman, you have been a leader in that effort and I know will continue to be. President Obama has stated again and again, and I want to emphasize this, he and I prefers a diplomatic resolution to this challenge, and I will work to give diplomacy every effort to succeed. But no one should mistake our resolve to reduce the nuclear threat.
Nearly 42 years ago Chairman Fulbright first gave me the opportunity to testify before this committee during a difficult and divided time for our country. Today I can't help but recognize that the world itself then was in many ways simpler, divided as it was along bipolar Cold War antagonisms. Today's world is more complicated than anything we have experienced, from the emergence of China, to the Arab awakening, inextricably linked economic, health, environmental and demographic issues, proliferation, poverty, pandemic disease, refugees, conflict ongoing in Afghanistan, entire populations and faiths struggling with the demands of modernity and the accelerating pace of technological innovation invading all of that, shifting power from nation-states to individuals.
With the end of the Cold War, Henry Kissinger pointed out in his superb book on diplomacy, he said, "none of the most important countries which must build a new world order have had any experience with the multistate system that is emerging. Never before has a new world order had to be assembled from so many different perceptions or on so global a scale, nor has any previous order had to combine the attributes of the historic balance-of-power system with global democratic opinion and the exploding technology of the contemporary period." That was written in 1994, and it may be even more relevant today.
So this really is a time for American leadership, a time for fresh thinking, a time to cross party lines and divide and come together in the interest of our nation, a time to find ways to work together to maximize the impact of all of America's resources, including the great resource of this committee and of the United States Senate.
If I am confirmed, one of the first things that I intend to do is sit down with Senator Menendez and Senator Corker and invite all the members of this committee to come together, hopefully at a time when there is no interruption and we can actually really dig in and talk, and talk about how we can have a constructive dialogue and a collegial relationship because, even as we pride ourselves on the separation of powers and the unique oversight role that the committee plays, the challenges in the world are so enormous that we would do our country a disservice if we didn't identify the ways that we can help each other to confront a unique set of questions globally.
If you confirm me, I would take office as secretary proud that the Senate is in my blood but equally proud that so too is the foreign service.
My father's work under presidents both Democrat and Republican took me and my siblings around the world for a personal journey that brought home the sacrifices and the commitment the men and women of the foreign service make every day on behalf of America.
I wish everyone in the country could see and understand firsthand the devotion, loyalty, amazingly hard and often dangerous work that the diplomats on the frontlines do for our nation. Theirs is a service which earns our country an enormous return on investment. I will be proud and honored to represent them, and I will work hard to augment our public diplomacy so that the story is told at home and abroad.
Everyone on this committee knows well that the road ahead is tough, but I believe just as deeply that global leadership is a strategic imperative for America. It is not a favor that we do for other countries. It amplifies our voice. It extends our reach. It is the key to jobs, the fulcrum of our influence, and it matters. It really matters to the daily lives of Americans. It matters that we get this moment right for America, and it matters that we get it right for the world.
One discussion that I particularly look forward to beginning with you, my colleagues and with our country is about the commitment that we make in our foreign affairs budget: less than 1 percent of the entire budget of government at a time that the world is getting smaller, that our economy depends on its relationship with every other country in the world, that we face a more global market than any time in our history.
So not just in my briefings at the State Department but in my conversations with business leaders, in my trips to crisis areas, to war zones, to refugee camps and in some of the poorest countries on Earth, I have been reminded of the importance of the work that our State Department does to protect and advance America's interests and do the job of diplomacy in a dangerous world. And particularly, I think there is more that can be done to advance our economic capacity and interest.
In this debate and in every endeavor, I pledge to work very closely with this committee, Mr. Chairman and Mr. Ranking Member, not just because it will be my responsibility but because I will not be able to do this job effectively, nor will our country get what it needs to out of these initiatives, without your involvement and your ideas going forward.
So thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I know there's a lot of ground to cover.
PROTESTER: (Off mic) -- you're killing thousands of people. The Middle East is not a threat to us. (Off mic) -- see enough. (Off mic) -- got people going -- (off mic) -- I'm tired -- (off mic) -- to the Middle East -- (off mic) --
MR. : Welcome Mr. Secretary -- (off mic). (Laughter.)
SEN. KERRY: Well, you know, I tell you, Mr. Chairman, I -- when I first came to Washington and testified, I obviously was testifying as part of a group of people who came here to have their voices heard. And that is, above all, what this place is about. So I respect -- I think the woman who was voicing her concerns about that part of the world -- and maybe one of you have traveled there, some of you there were recently -- Senator McCain, you were just there. You were in a refugee camp, and I know you heard this kind of thing.
People measure what we do, and in a way that's a good exclamation point to my testimony.
So, Mr. Chairman, I know there's a lot of ground to cover, and as a veteran of the committee, I know we do better when we're having a good dialogue, so I look forward to having that dialogue. Thank you.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your very thoughtful presentation.
Let -- on behalf the committee, we welcome Teresa and all of the family, and we thank you for your commitment as well, because obviously it is a commitment of family as well to the service that Senator Kerry will provide as secretary of state, and there are sacrifices in that. So we appreciate it very much.
Let me start off with a round of questioning. The chair will recognize himself. And let me say that we -- I think we all appreciate and embrace your offer of the engagement (with the ?) committee. We look forward to that. And having come from the Senate, I know that we will particularly appreciate your understanding of this institution and its importance and -- of the committee. And so we really embrace that offer and look forward to that moment.
Let me start off with Iran. In the last 13 months Congress has passed and the president signed three major sets of sanctions against Iran. They have been tremendously effective in reducing Iran's oil revenues and at least nominally bringing Iran to a negotiating table.
However, Iran remains defiant, entrenched in its nuclear weapons ambition. It has not slowed its enrichment activities. The IAEA believes that Iran has conducted live tests of conventional explosives that could be used to detonate a nuclear weapon at the Parchin military base, to which it denies IAEA entry. And between May and August of this year Iran has more than doubled the number of centrifuges at its fortified Fordo facility, which is buried deep inside a mountain to protect it against strikes.
Now, Iran claims it needs higher-grade uranium for the purposes of peaceful nuclear programs. But a country with peaceful ambitions doesn't enrich uranium in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. It doesn't fail to disclose its operations or hide them inside a mountain. And a peaceful nation doesn't breach the international inspections regime compelled by the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty. So Mr. Secretary, in this -- (chuckles) -- Mr. Senator, in this respect --
SEN. KERRY: Sorry, I -- (inaudible) -- (laughter) -- I thought this could be quick. (Laughter.)
SEN. MENENDEZ: I have -- I have a sense -- I have a sense of clairvoyance.
In this respect, many of the sanctions are overseen by the Department of State in terms of enforcement. And it's crucial that that enforcement can bring a verifiable agreement, hopefully, with Iran. Under your leadership, will the department be committed to the full enforcement of the sanctions passed by the Congress and to multilateral efforts to ensure the adherence of other nations to these sanctions?
SEN. KERRY: Yes, totally. And I might just quickly add, and very quickly, the rial has dropped by about 80 percent. Other nations have been extraordinarily cooperative in reducing their dependence on Iranian oil. There is a clear indicator of the impact these are having, and I think the Congress deserves credit, together with the administration, for having put the toughest sanctions and the biggest coalition together in history.
SEN. MENENDEZ: In that respect, as we hope that the -- while the president said all options are on the table, we hope that the sanctions, which are a peaceful diplomacy tool, ultimately drive us to a successful conclusion. What would be the basic parameters in the P- 5 plus one effort in terms of enrichment capacity, retention of enriched uranium, the Fordo facility inspections? What would you seek as part of any agreement?
SEN. KERRY: Well, we'd seek compliance with the requirements of the IAEA and the requirements of the U.N. resolutions that have been passed with respect to it, and compliance with the NPT itself.
Now, I'm not going to -- it would be totally inappropriate for me here to begin to negotiate with myself and the committee with respect to how they would come into compliance or what would be required. I can tell you this: It is going to be imperative that they come into full compliance. And there are several ways in which we might be able to get there, most prominently, obviously, the P-5 plus one; but the president has made it clear that he is prepared to engage, if that's what it takes, in bilateral efforts, and hopefully there's a negotiation going on right now for the next meeting of the P-5 plus one. I think everybody's very hopeful that we can make some progress on the diplomatic front now.
And so I'd simply say, Mr. Chairman, that Iran -- I'd say this to the Iranians. I hope they listen. They have continually professed the peacefulness of their program. It is not hard to prove a peaceful program. Other nations have done that and do it every day. And it takes intrusive inspections. It takes living up to publicly arrived- at standards. Everybody understands what they are.
The allies in the P-5 plus one have made it clear -- and that includes very powerful entities, obviously, people who have been supportive of Iran in other ways at times, China, Russia -- they have made it clear that we are all united in this standard and that we are looking for the full compliance with the NPT.
So I think the process itself has to flesh out the details, but the Iranians need to understand that there's no other agenda here.
They -- if their program is peaceful, they can prove it, and that's what we're seeking.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Let me move to Afghanistan. President Karzai was here with President Obama. In essence, they announced a series of agreements that would ultimately, as we move in that transition, we would have the largest civilian mission in the world in Afghanistan.
Can you articulate what you believe the administration's end goals are in Afghanistans (sic), and what metrics would you use to guide our continued presence? Is it our intention to focus, for example, on strengthening institutions, supporting civil society, achieving development goals, or will the mission be guided by success in counterterrorism?
SEN. KERRY: Well, the mission is really a twofold mission, Mr. Chairman. It is to, number one, turn over responsibility to the Afghan forces, for them to be able to assume responsibility for security, which is slated to begin in earnest -- I mean, it's begun already, but a milestone will take place in the spring. President Karzai, in his visit here, moved that date up himself and has asked for it to be accelerated.
It's the judgment of General Allen and others that we're on target to be able to meet a more rapid rate of turnover, and that will mean our troops in the near term, at some point this year, will not be in the lead and will not be the ones principally taking the brunt of any kind of activities, offensive activities.
The second purpose is to maintain a capacity to prevent the kind of basing for terrorism which took us there in the first place.
So there will be a counterterrorism mission that will continue. President Obama has been very clear about the fact that that counterterrorism mission will continue beyond 2014 and that the training will probably continue beyond 2014.
So there's going to be, according to the president's own statement, some measure of engagement, but the effort is to have the Afghans in the lead, the continued training of the forces, build an enduring partnership with Afghanistan and support an Afghan-led reconciliation -- not a U.S.-led but Afghan-led reconciliation, if it is possible. And obviously, the strategy is to have a sufficient capacity within the ANSF that if it isn't possible to have that, the government of Afghanistan is still sustained.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Finally, the Western Hemisphere. 2013 will be a year of great change in the Western Hemisphere, particularly in Latin America. The impending change of leadership in Venezuela will have a profound internal impact but also ripple effects on the political and economic relations throughout the hemisphere. The newly elected president of Mexico is talking about refocusing his bilateral relationship, emphasizing economic cooperation while continuing to prioritize security concerns. The Colombian government's peace talks with the FARC have the potential to turn the page in a long-running conflict.
Public security questions throughout the region, the desire of the region to engage in more critical ways in a broader-based agenda -- it would be my hope that upon your confirmation, Mr. Secretary, that your leadership would consider more strategic-level approaches to the region, taking advantage of changing political tides and opportunities to enhance multilateral efforts on counterterrorism, narcotics trafficking, transnational crime organizations, opening up new markets and of course a commitment to our democracy programs throughout the region and, (for that fact ?), throughout the world.
So can you briefly talk to me about your views and vision as it relates to what I think is a new and momentous opportunity in the hemisphere?
SEN. KERRY: Well, I agree with you, Mr. Chairman. It is an opportunity that's staring at us, and I hope that we can build on what Secretary Clinton has done and the Obama administration has already done in order to augment our efforts in that region. You have the Merida Initiative, working with Mexico. There's been increased effort on anti-narcotics, anti-violence. There's been the Central American Regional Security Initiative. There's been development assistance in Guatemala, Honduras, energy initiatives with Brazil and -- energy and climate initiatives, I should say, with Brazil. There's increasing economic integration.
But as we all know, there have been some outlier states that have not been as much a part of -- not been as cooperative or as -- in a position to be as cooperative, and we all know who they are. And I think depending on what happens in Venezuela, there may really be an opportunity for a transition there. Likewise, I would hope that in Bolivia, Ecuador, we could make progress.
One of the great stories of Latin America is Colombia. I can remember when I was working on the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee and Senator Dodd was here, and others, and we were very engaged at that period of time. We -- there had recently been an assassination of 13 members of the Supreme Court in one room in Colombia, that presidential candidates were assassinated. You couldn't run for office.
And frankly, President Uribe stepped up at a critical moment and began the process of rescuing that nation. And President Santos now is doing an amazing job. We've created our greater economic relationship by passing the trade agreement. We have to build on that.
And I think that is an example, really, for the rest of -- the rest of Latin America as to what awaits them if we can induce people to make a better set of choices, frankly.
I think there are some other things that have contributed to the gap between -- in our relationship with some of those other countries. I hope to perhaps be able to try to see if there's a way to bridge some of that, and I would do it in close consultation with you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of the committee, but I think there are some ways to improve and augment our efforts in Latin America.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you. Senator Corker.
SEN. CORKER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and -- Mr. Chairman. I really was touched by your opening comment, and I am -- as I mentioned, I think you've led a life that brought you to this moment. I'm happy for you that you're going to be able to express yourself in this way as secretary of state and for your family. So I really am thrilled that you're in a position that I know you've longed for and think you can make a major difference in.
I also want to say that I asked you 73 questions in advance, and I appreciate the responses that we received this morning, and I know we'll have a few more, but thank you for your diligence. I know it took a lot of time. And many of the detailed questions, we've already spoken about.
The president has nominated someone for secretary of defense. And we all will be meeting with him, and his hearing will be next week.
He was part of a group called Global Zero, and for those of us who care deeply about our nuclear arsenal and modernization and that type of thing, some of the things that were authored in this report candidly are (just ?) concerning.
Typically, there's a tension. The Defense Department presses for weaponry and making sure that our country is safe. The State Department presses for nuclear arms agreements and reductions. And so in the event this person is confirmed, that balance is not going to be there.
You and I have spent a lot of time on the START treaty. I helped you in that effort. You let me be involved in the ratification. Modernization was to take place at a pace that is not occurring. And I'm just wondering if there's something you might say to me that sees our future in a way that with these -- with the combination of possibly these two people, one leading the State Department but one leading the Defense Department in a role that's been very different than previous defense leaders -- is there something you can say to assure me about our nuclear posture in the future and the role that you're going to play in that regard?
SEN. KERRY: Absolutely. Not a question I was anticipating, but I'm really happy to be able to speak to it.
First of all, again, not requested, but I will say this. I know Chuck Hagel, and I think he is a strong, patriotic former senator, and he will be a strong secretary of defense.
And I have dealt with him in any number of fora. He's been the head of the Atlantic Council. That is a mainstream, thoughtful foreign policy/security engagement.
And I think some of the things that have been, you know, sort of -- some of the efforts to color Senator Hagel's approach on some of these things don't do justice --
SEN. CORKER: But on Global Zero --
SEN. KERRY: Well, let me come to it. I'm going to come to it.
SEN. CORKER: OK.
SEN. KERRY: I absolutely intend to come to it, because I think it's very important to think about it.
SEN. CORKER: Yeah.
SEN. KERRY: When that initiative sort of first came out and we began to hear about the potential of people who said let's get no nuclear weapons, I sort of scratched my head. And I said, what? You know, how's that going to work? Because I believe in deterrence, and I find it very hard to think how you can get down to a number in today's world.
But the whole point is, they're not talking about today's world. Henry Kissinger, Jim Baker, I think Jim Schlesinger, former secretaries of defense, many others, have all agreed with that as a goal for the world. It's a goal. It's an aspiration. And we should always be aspirational. But it's not something that could happen in today's world, and nor could any leader today sit here or in any other chair and promote to you the notion that we ought to be cutting down our deterrent level below an adequate level to maintain deterrence.
Now, the military has very strong views about what that is. We've cut down some 1,500 now. There's talk of going down to a lower number. I think personally it's possible to get there if you have commensurate levels of inspections, verification, guarantees about the capacity of your nuclear stockpile program, et cetera.
Now, Senator, I know you're deeply invested in that component of it, the nuclear stockpile (proposal ?). And I may -- we can come to some of that maybe later in the he hearing here. But I believe we have to maintain that because that's the only way you maintain an effective level of deterrence.
And the Russians certainly are thinking in terms of their adequacy of deterrence, which is one of the reasons why they have missile defense concerns.
So I'm -- I don't think Senator Hagel is sitting there or he's going to go over to the Defense Department and be a proponent -- you know, this is talking about conflict revolution, change -- resolution, changes that have to take pace in societies that we'll -- you know, it's worth aspiring to, but we'll be lucky if we get there in however many centuries the way we're going.
SEN. CORKER: I mean --
SEN. KERRY: And so I think we have to be realistic about it, and I think Senator Hagel is realistic about it.
SEN. CORKER: Thank you. I especially appreciated your opening comments about the fiscal issues we face. For a moment, I was wishing you had been nominated for secretary of treasury, but I do appreciate both those comments and the ones you just made.
You've been a senator for 29 years. You've got a vast amount of experience. The president was actually under your tutelage when he came in as a member -- junior member of this committee, like we all are when we first --
SEN. KERRY: I distinctly think he would object to the concept of being under anybody's tutelage, so -- (chuckles) -- I'd like --
SEN. CORKER: Well, I'll let him call and object. I would just say that you have strong opinions, heartfelt feelings about what we ought to be doing as a nation in foreign relations.
SEN. KERRY: That's right.
SEN. CORKER: And I'm just wondering, in the meetings that you all have had together -- yesterday Secretary Clinton alluded to differences that she had as it relates to North Africa and how we deal with al-Qaida. Have you all been able to talk through some of those issues, and what's been the relationship, and do you see any of those -- do you see any major differences in your view of the world and the ones that the president has laid out?
SEN. KERRY: The president has purposefully -- and I have purposefully -- kept away from any deep-dive discussions during the nominating process, partly because he hasn't had time and I haven't had time. But we do intend to sit down next week, and I look forward to having that conversation with him.
SEN. CORKER: Did -- you spent a lot of time with Assad in Syria, as many of us have from time to time. And I know you spent a lot of time really trying to move him more towards a Western alliance. You know, I know he -- I know he saw himself as that bridge between Iran and us, and I know you spent a lot of time with him in that regard. Obviously, things have taken a different turn since that time. And was there anything about those negotiations or discussions that you've taken away and that has, if you will, informed you as you move ahead?
SEN. KERRY: Well, the answer is yes. There -- it sort of reinforces the notion that sometimes there are moments where you may be able to get something done in foreign policy, and if the moment somehow doesn't ripen correctly or get seized, you miss major opportunities.
I think that there was a moment where Syria had an interest, because of its burgeoning youthful population -- young people -- I remember President Assad said to me, I have 500,000 kids who turn 18 every year, and I don't have a place to put them; I don't have jobs for them; I need to be able to change what's happening here and, you know, clearly, thinking down the road, you know, he wanted to try to find some way to reach out to the West and see if there was some kind of an accommodation.
History caught up to us. That never happened. And it's now moot because he has made a set of judgments that are inexcusable, that are reprehensible and, I think, is not long for remaining as the head of state in Syria.
I think the time is ticking. And I think you saw the comments recently of a special envoy of Russia, Mikhail Bogdanovich (ph), who said that it seemed as if the opposition was moving now and winning, and we've seen the exodus of a certain number of Russians who were lifted out of Syria. So I think the process is moving in a way that now makes that ancient history, but it does underscores how if you, you know, get the right pieces together at the right moment, things might conceivably be different someday.
SEN. CORKER: Thank you for your opening comments, for your -- for your answers here, your answers in advance. I do know that your confirmation is going to be speedy, and I look forward to having the same relationship we've had in the past. I may call you "sir" in the future, but thank you so much for being here today and for taking this responsibility on.
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, thank you very much. You've been a gentleman in all of our dealings and candid and I appreciate that. I look forward to continuing that with every member of the committee.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Boxer.
SENATOR BARBARA BOXER (D-CA): Thank you. Senator Kerry, thanks for stepping up to this challenge. It is -- it's a daunting challenge, and I think there's maybe a handful of people in the nation who could do it, and you're one of those.
I've sat very near you in a couple of committees -- this one many, many, many years; Commerce Committee, many years -- I've worked with you on climate issues; I've worked with you on women's issues. And again, I just feel you are the right person for this moment.
Many foreign policy experts and historians have written that the low and sad status of women around the world is hurting entire regions of the world to achieving democracy and economic growth.
And you covered a lot of ground in your opening statement, but you didn't get into this area, which is of concern to a number of us here. So I have a couple of questions on that. Under Secretary Clinton's leadership, the State Department has fought to protect the rights of women and girls in Afghanistan, to end the use of rape as a weapon of war in the Congo, to promote women's economic empowerment in places like Asia, Africa and Latin America and to ensure that women play a meaningful role as new governments and political structures take shape in the Middle East and North Africa.
If confirmed, will you ensure that the position of ambassador-at- large for global women's issues is retained at the -- and that the office is effectively resourced?
SEN. KERRY: Yes.
SEN. BOXER: Senator Landrieu and I wrote a bill to expand scholarship opportunities for women in Pakistan, and we wrote it after the -- well, the heart-wrenching attack on Malala Yousafzai. And we dedicated this bill to her. And we don't create anything new, but we call for an expanded scholarship program in Pakistan for disadvantaged young women.
I know you haven't seen the legislation. Would you commit to me to see the legislation and work with us, and if you think it's well- done and if it meets your standard, would you help us in getting it through here?
SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.
Senator, let me just say that Secretary Clinton and Melanne Verveer, who is her appointee, special ambassador with respect to global women's affairs, have done an outstanding job.
And obviously Secretary Clinton has made this a high priority.
SEN. BOXER: She has.
SEN. KERRY: I think, as you know, I've made a priority on the committee --
SEN. BOXER: You did.
SEN. KERRY: -- because you chair a subcommittee that -- I included women's and girls' --
SEN. BOXER: Yes.
SEN. KERRY: -- and all women's issues under that aegis, and you've been the chair of that and have done a terrific job on it. We had a trafficking hearing here --
SEN. BOXER: Yes.
SEN. KERRY: -- which I thought broke new ground. Secretary Clinton has put a serious focus in the State Department on human trafficking. I intend to continue that. I think it is critical.
But more importantly, what you're talking about with respect to women and girls, in South Africa, in Guatemala, in other parts of the world, in Africa, women have stepped up as peacemakers.
SEN. BOXER: Yes.
SEN. KERRY: Women have made the difference in many of these instances with respect to the security of those -- of communities, the attitude of a state, its willingness to reach out and be inclusive, as we all know in Afghanistan. When we went into Afghanistan, there were 800 -- I think it was about 800,000 kids in school, and no girls. Today there are close to 9 million kids in school, and almost 50 percent are girls. It's an extraordinary story, and I think everyone in the Congress should be proud of it. I think we need to continue that, and I intend to.
SEN. BOXER: Well, I'm very glad -- and the reason I'm pressing you on specifics is to send a message from this hearing to these women and girls around the world that they won't be forgotten, that in fact you will continue, that you have been a champion of this.
There was a national action plan. It was announced by the White House. It's being implemented by executive order. It ensures that the United States makes sure that women are included in all conflict prevention and resolution efforts, such as ensuring that women are at the table during the peace processes. And it sounds so simple, but I've met with many women from Afghanistan who are just devastated that there aren't enough women sitting at the table.
And you've made the point that women, in many of these places, are the peacemakers. They do come forward with the right attitude. So I am asking you if you intend to commit to the continued implementation of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
SEN. KERRY: I do. And I actually was reading it last night. President Obama issued that, and I think it's really important.
And with respect to Afghanistan, we have made it clear -- the administration has made it clear, and I will support that if and when I become secretary of state, and that is the commitment that if there is a negotiation with the Taliban, one of the conditions is they have to give up any association with al-Qaida, they have to give up -- they'll commit to nonviolence, but most importantly, with respect to this issue, they must commit to respect the constitution of Afghanistan and the current status of women and girls within their society.
SEN. BOXER: I have two more questions. You have been a supporter of CEDAW before, the Convention to Eliminate all forms of Discrimination against Women. I know it's a tough issue here. I don't think it should be, but it is. I just want to make sure you continue to support the ratification. And then I have one quick question on another subject.
SEN. KERRY: The answer is yes. And let me just say on that, I look forward to meeting with the committee privately sometime, hopefully down at the State Department, and we can talk about treaties and America's interests. And I look forward to that.
SEN. BOXER: Good, because I think there could be some reservations that we could agree on that could resolve some of the underlying current of disagreement here, which I think we could -- we should move forward on it.
Now, I have -- the last question is about the Keystone XL pipeline.
How will you ensure that any administration decision regarding the presidential permit for Keystone takes into consideration the potential impacts of the pipeline on water and air quality and mitigates any increases in the carbon pollution issue?
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator Boxer, as I think you know, there is a statutory process with respect to the review that falls to the State Department and elsewhere, and that is currently ongoing. And I've already checked into it. It's under way. It will not be long before that comes across my desk. And at that time, I'll make the appropriate judgments about it.
But it does require -- we are responsible for the environmental review, and there are specific standards that have to be met with respect to that review. I'm going to review those standards to make sure they're complete, obviously, in my own judgments about it, but work with the Legal Department at the State Department -- which, incidentally, is a superb, unbelievable group of lawyers with great skill. And we will analyze it and make a judgment.
SEN. BOXER: Thank you. I want to just say thank you so much, Mr. Chairman -- I still call you that -- and just say how much I look forward to voting for you. Casting that aye vote will be a great honor and privilege for me.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator. Appreciate that.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Risch.
SENATOR JAMES RISCH (R-ID): Thank you -- (off mic).
SEN. KERRY: Senator.
SEN. RISCH: While you and Teresa are out globetrotting, I want you to be assured that Vicki and I will look carefully after your Idaho property. I know you dream about retiring there someday.
SEN. KERRY: (Chuckles.) Thank you.
SEN. RISCH: I want to talk about --
SEN. KERRY: Will you come with the property if I go back? (Laughter.)
SEN. RISCH: Like my dad said, we'll see.
Senator, I want to talk about the relationship with Russia and the arms control agreements that we have had and that we are -- you had made a statement previously that you wouldn't be able to come before this committee and recommend new arms control measures until compliance and verification issues regarding existing agreements were fully settled.
You and I have sat through some classified briefings, and I don't -- I don't want to get into details that we shouldn't get into, but I'd like your -- I'd like your thoughts on where we are at the present time regarding compliance and verification in a general fashion.
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, I appreciate your concern about this. And we've had a lot of conversations, especially with the ranking member and previously with Senator Kyl.
And I think it's fair to say this, that we have made significant progress towards a full funding of the amount of money that was committed. As Senator Corker remembers, I think it was about $85 million over -- billion dollars over 10 years. The -- I went and reviewed the amount of money that is now scheduled over the 10 years. It's slightly below that. But it's not way below it. There's no -- there's no sort of undermining, if you will, of the fundamentals of the commitment. There is an increase. In fact, there is a 5 percent increase this year over last year. And it is probably one of the few, if, you know -- I'm not going to say only, but one of the very few parts of the budget that has grown and that has increased. I think it was about 7 billion (dollars), 6 (billion dollars) or 8 (billion dollars) last year. And then the first year it had the full amount of funding that it was supposed to have, and the next year it fell off by about .2 or something to that effect. In the ongoing years, it's slightly below where it was. But the laboratories and the folks involved in it say this is in no way diminishing our stockpile efficiency.
So I think we're on track. And what we need to do is sit down -- Senator Corker, you, myself, Senator Risch, others who are interested -- with the budget folks, with the administration, and kind of work through, you know, what's going to happen here.
But what I want to emphasize to you, because I made the commitment in a serious way -- it is important for any administration to keep faith with the commitments it makes to senators, and particularly in the course of an agreement to a treaty. And if people's votes depend on that, there's an even higher obligation in the Senate. So I recognize that, and I respect it. I don't think we're so far off that any senator ought to sit there and say somebody hasn't kept faith. That's number one.
Number two, there was also an agreement that there should begin negotiations with respect to the reduction of tactical nuclear weapons. That dialogue is taking place. You -- I'm not going to sit here and tell you it's a formal negotiation, but there is a dialogue ongoing, in keeping with that provision. And hopefully we can get the relationship with Russia back to a place -- I think it would be disingenuous and naive of me to sit here and not acknowledge to my colleagues that, you know, that's slid backwards a little bit in the last couple of years. And with the most recent decision of Russia with respect to adoptions, we have some ground to try to make up.
What I -- what I don't want to is prejudice that possibility here today or in the next days. I would like to see if we can find some way to cooperate. We need their help and cooperation with respect to Syria.
I would also say that with respect to Russia, Russia has helped on a number of different things that are critical to us, and people should not overlook them. They did cooperate on the -- on the START treaty itself. They did cooperate on the P-5 plus one and are cooperating today in that initiative. They have cooperated on the sanctions. They have cooperated with respect to the PNTR and trade and WTO accession.
And I think it's fair to say that everybody here knows that our -- they warned us and said, if you do X, Y or Z on such and such a thing, we may respond, and we've gotten into that little back-and- forth. So we're going to have to work our way through it. I'm confident we can, and I'll look forward to working with you.
SEN. RISCH: Senator, appreciate your candor on the acknowledgement of the slippage.
Having been a member of this committee as long as you have -- and I know you have a deep appreciation for the constitutional process regarding foreign relations matters -- there are a lot of us that are becoming increasingly concerned about all this talk regarding executive agreements as opposed to treaties that are negotiated by the executive branch as contemplated by the Founding Fathers and ratified, if appropriate, by this committee and eventually by the full Senate. Can you give us your view on matters regarding executive agreements? How do you feel about that and the bypassing of the committee?
SEN. KERRY: Well, we -- every administration in its history --
SEN. RISCH: Appreciate that.
SEN. KERRY: -- Republican and Democrat alike have entered into executive agreements and --
SEN. RISCH: You agree the better process would be to submit it to this committee --
SEN. KERRY: Well, it would depend -- I would say to you, Senator, that it would depend on what the subject matter is and what the sort of scope is and whether or not it falls under a traditional treaty purview or it falls under executive agreement purview.
I can't -- I don't want to be commenting in some prophylactic way one side or the other without the specific situation in front of me. But I'm confident the president is committed to upholding the Constitution. He's -- I don't think he's -- you know, and I think -- and I'll say this to all of you.
There's no better way to guarantee that whatever concerns you have about the president's desire to move on an executive agreement would be greatly, you know, nullified or mollified if we could find a way to cooperate on a treaty or on the broader issues that face the nation. But you know, I think -- I think there's a lot of frustration out there that some of the automatic ideological restraint here that prevents the majority from being able to express their voice has restrained people and pushed people in a way where they've got to consider some other ways of getting things done.
SEN. RISCH: Well, and that's exactly what concerns us, Senator Kerry, is the fact that it's OK to do this through the regular order if it gets done, but if it's not going to get done, then it's -- the ends justify the means; it's OK to end-run around the Constitution.
SEN. KERRY: Listen, I'm going to say --
SEN. RISCH: And I got to tell you that I feel strongly that that is not the appropriate way to do it. The Founding Fathers didn't say do this if it's convenient, and it's OK to not do it if it's not convenient. I have real difficulties with that.
SEN. KERRY: Senator, I would agree with you.
SEN. RISCH: Thank you.
SEN. KERRY: And I'm not -- I'm not suggesting that that is the standard. But I am suggesting to you that there -- and I think you know exactly what I'm talking about -- that there are times around here when, in recent days only -- and I don't want to get deeply into it -- where certain arguments that are not necessarily based either on fact or science or anything except the point of view of some outside entity have prevented certain things from being able to be done.
And I think what we ought to do is sit down, all of us on this committee -- and I look forward to doing this -- and let's have a discussion about what the facts tell us. Let's have a discussion and see if we can arrive mutually at agreeing that there is actually some truth about something. And if there is some truth about it, maybe there's a way for us politically to be able to do it, in keeping with what you would call the regular order.
And so I'm not saying we ought to do it. I'm just saying I understand the frustration that leads people to think about it. And as I say to you, I'll comment on it, on any particular instance, when it's relevant.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you.
SEN. RISCH: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SENATOR BEN CARDIN (D-MD): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Kerry, it's been a real pleasure to serve with you in the United States Senate. I thank you for your extraordinary record of public service, from your military days to your service here in the Senate. We -- people have talked about your service on different committees. I remember your chairmanship of the Small Business Committee and your advocacy for small businesses. The same -- the same energy you brought to the chairmanship of this committee you brought to helping small businesses in our -- in our country.
So I applaud you and thank you for your willingness to continue to serve our nation, and I'll look forward to you serving as secretary of state. It's going to be great for our country.
I must admit I had prepared two sets of questions, one much more difficult than the other, depending on the outcome of this weekend.
SEN. KERRY: (Chuckles.)
SEN. CARDIN: It worked out well.
SEN. KERRY: (Chuckles.) God, I'm taking it -- I'm taking it for the Red Sox. I'm taking it for the Patriots. (Laughter.) If the standard here is which team you root for, I'm screwed. (Laughter.)
SEN. CARDIN: As long as the outcome is OK, we'll forgive you. But you'll have to show some of your diplomacy here.
But it is -- it's interesting. Secretary Clinton really advanced the integration of our national security baskets, with working with the secretary of defense on the use of our traditional military and the use of diplomacy and international development assistance, recognizing that all three are interrelated into our -- into our national security needs; that if we're going to have a country that is reliable, we need to have a sustainable economy in that country, that the country needs to respect the human rights of its citizens.
And that has been certainly, I think, the hallmark of what we've tried to move forward.
We've also learned that Americans interests are not served by giving aid to a country where that money is used to funnel corrupt leaders.
As you know, I serve as the Senate chair of the Helsinki Commission. You're a former member of the Helsinki Commission. Secretary Clinton was a former member of the Helsinki Commission. And we recognize the importance of advancements on human rights issues.
And I appreciate the comments that you made in your opening statements concerning this. You mentioned trafficking. Trafficking actually started with the work of the Helsinki Commission where we advanced that, not just in the United States but globally -- working with Senator Lugar, we advanced in this -- in the last Congress the transparency for resources being used to help the country rather than, again, financing corruption by having more transparency. Senator Boxer has mentioned the gender equity issues, which is critically important for sustainable governments.
So I just want to give you a chance to expand a little bit on your commitment to make the highest priority -- working with us, working with the Helsinki Commission -- to advance American values on human rights in countries that we deal with on bilateral or multilateral basis. Whether, again, it is to fight corruption, to protect children who are (trafficked ?), to deal with gender equity issues, these are American values, these are important for our national security, and I'd like to give you an opportunity to express your priorities for these issues.
SEN. KERRY: Well, let me begin, Senator Cardin, by expressing my admiration and respect for your leadership on the Helsinki Commission. You've done as much if not more than any chairman that I can remember or any representative on our committee, and I really think you've been just superb in your -- in your perseverance and vision. And I appreciate it and I thank you for it.
As I said in my opening, I mean, we are the indispensable nation with respect to this. The levels of corruption in some places has grown beyond anything that I've seen in the 29 years, now my 29th year on this committee. I am -- I'm deeply disturbed by it and troubled by it in terms of what it means for people's rights and abilities in countries. And there isn't any continent that doesn't see some kind of issue with respect to that.
So we have huge challenges, and I think the United States has a fundamental -- fundamental obligation that comes from our -- from the definition of who we are as a nation, comes from our Declaration of Independence, comes from our own struggles here in our own country to keep faith with those who are struggling in various parts of the world.
And we do it in many ways. The State Department gives awards of different kinds, to women, particularly, who have stood out and stood up. There are other entities within the United States where we choose to do this. We are funding many different efforts in many parts of the world right now to help develop -- whether it's global health or whether it is education, we're doing things that are making a difference in people's lives with respect to those rights.
And we -- I am absolutely committed -- USAID gets criticized, and there have been some obvious problems with our contractor-aid relationships in the past; the committee did, I think, some superb work in putting out a report last year with respect to some of that -- but I think we can do more even than we're doing today and more effectively.
SEN. CARDIN: I appreciate that.
I -- we had a -- you just had a discussion with Senator Risch on Russia. We've seen some slippage since the breakup -- the Cold War ending. You mentioned Secretary Kissinger's comments in 1994, the complexity of this arrangement. We've seen slippage.
We've seen slippage in Russia with their human rights tensions. There's been slippage among our allies and friends, what's happened in Hungary with recent elections and the government changing the -- trying to change the constitutional protections and slippage in the Ukraine with imprisoning their opposition.
So, you know, our relationships with other countries can be mature enough where we can build strong alliances but still raise critical concerns when, particularly, they violate commitments they've made. The Helsinki Final Act applies in all three of those countries, and we've seen their violations.
So I just want to underscore your commitment to be able to raise these issues of concern to countries that we need to have good relations with on other issues, that we will make a high priority their commitment to live up to the basic human rights of their citizens.
SEN. KERRY: Senator, let me just say to you, I've occasionally wrestled with that when I've made a visit to one country or another and we have a primary objective and we're trying to get it done, but I've never hesitated in any visit to raise human rights concerns, usually in the context of particular individuals where we're trying to get them out of a jail or trying to get them, you know, out of the country. And I obviously will continue to do that, as I know Secretary Clinton has.
And she's been diligent about it, and I intend to continue.
SEN. CARDIN: And let me just lastly mention -- you mentioned Darfur, I think, in your opening comments, where the humanitarian crisis was so severe. We still have concerns in the -- in the Southern Kordofan and in the Blue Nile. South Sudan still has problems. Burma, where we had hope in November -- there has not been any progress made. I hope that you will make these areas where there is humanitarian crises a highest priority to try to protect the safety of the people that live in these areas.
SEN. KERRY: Well, I will. And I intend to do that. First of all, the president, I think, will continue to -- with an appointment of a special envoy to the Sudan -- we've just had Princeton Lyman there, Ambassador Lyman, who's done a superb job, under tough circumstances. I was there myself during the course of their referendum on the independence. I have met with President Kiir many times. I've met with -- obviously not with Bashir, but with people underneath him in the north. And my hope is that we can get the status or the number of components of the CPA that were not fulfilled finally fulfilled.
Blue Nile and South Kordofan are a human tragedy. The bombings are continuing, starvation taking place, displacement. And in some ways, Darfur has slipped backwards. So the NCP, which governs the north, needs to be held accountable, and we will. But the south also needs to show greater determination and better governance. And so we've got our work cut out for us with respect to both, but I can promise you it's going to remain a focus.
SEN. CARDIN: You have a full agenda. Thank you.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Rubio.
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Kerry, congratulations on your nomination. You have been nominated at an interesting time in American foreign policy.
We're having this debate in this country, and we're well-aware of it because we've had it on this committee, between, you know, on the one hand, we can't solve every problem in the world. We never have been able to do that, but we certainly can't do it now. We can't afford it. No single nation can.
On the other hand, America is indispensable to foreign policy. The world is a -- is a dangerous place when America's not leading. And in fact, the fundamental issues that confront the world today require coalitions of nations to confront it. And the only nation on earth that can form these coalitions and lead them is us. It's not the United Nations; it's not the Organization of American States or any of these other multilateral organizations. It's the United States of America that can help form these coalitions to confront global challenges and help to lead them.
And so the center issue of -- or the central issue of foreign policy today is this balance between making sure that we're not trying to do more than we can and ensuring that we're not doing less than we should. And where that really comes to play, for example, is this debate on foreign aid, where on the one hand I think there's been this perception created in this country that foreign aid is 20 percent of our budget when in fact it's a very small percentage. On the other hand, our foreign aid has to make sense, and you touched upon it a moment ago about foreign aid going to countries that are corruptly using it, and so we ought to make sure that our foreign aid is furthering our national interest.
So what I hope you would help me with, because in your testimony you alluded to President Obama's vision for the world, and in the two years I've been here, I've struggled to fully understand what that vision is. If you go through the different countries -- Russia's been mentioned. You know, the situation there has deteriorated as Russia and its leadership have made the decision that they want to recapture some of the Cold War stature that they had and the best way to do that is to be confrontational with us.
We had a hearing yesterday on Libya. What we didn't get a chance to talk about is how U.S. policy towards Libya in the Gadhafi conflict created many of the conditions that led to the attack on the consulate.
A weak government, the forming of these militias is all the product of an extended, protracted conflict where the U.S., once it made its decision to get involved -- and we can debate whether we should have gotten involved or not -- but once it made their decision to get involved, got involved in the early stages and then turned the rest of it over to our allies who simply didn't have the capability to bring that conflict to a quick conclusion and, as a result, created the weak government and the situation that we face there.
We've repeated that in Syria where, again, we can debate whether it was in our national interest or not to get involved -- as Iran's best friend, as the, you know, grand central station for terrorists all over the world, I think it was in our national interest to help an opposition form and organize itself. We've been so disorganized in our involvement in Syria that now we're at a point where the opposition in Syria, when they win, and they will win, are just as angry at us as they once were at Russia and China and the other nations -- and Iran and other nations that stood with Assad.
We go to Latin America where, on the one hand, in 2009 the administration condemned what happened in Honduras, which is debatable whether that was a coup or not; on the other hand, they stole an election in Nicaragua. We had to hold -- I had to hold up a nomination here just to get a strongly worded statement out of the administration.
We move over to the Middle East where Israel, quite frankly, has been concerned, whether they admit it publicly or not, that for many -- for the early years of the administration, they were more focused on the Palestinian question as the biggest issue in the Middle East when, in fact, the biggest issue in the Middle East is that Iran wants a nuclear weapon so they can attack Israel and potentially other nations.
As we talked about Iran, in 2009 the people of Iran took to the streets in defense of the principles that we say we stand for, and the president in the United States said, we're not going to interfere in their sovereignty. That totally demoralized the opposition.
North Korea today announced that they're developing a weapon that can reach the United States of America. And lest anybody accuse me of being overly partisan here, I think the Bush administration was wrong to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and I hope we'll reverse that.
And finally, China and the territorial conflicts that are going on in Southeast Asia and throughout the region. China's being increasingly aggressive about their territorial claims, and their neighbors are looking to the United States and U.S. leadership as a counterbalance. We've talked about, and I think -- you know, I congratulate the president for talking about pivoting to Asia, but if this sequester goes through, what are we going to pivot with?
And so these are the fundamental issues that we face. And I guess my question to you is, as you sit with the president and, as part of his Cabinet, help him form a vision for the world and for the U.S.'s role in the world over the next few years, what advice are you going to give him in terms of what the U.S.'s role should be and what our -- how that should be reflected in our foreign policy?
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, that's obviously a very broad and comprehensive question, and I appreciate --
SEN. RUBIO: You have two minutes to answer it. (Chuckles.)
SEN. KERRY: Well, you know, I mean, I could say to you, look, let's sit down and talk about it and we'll get together and go through it, but let me just give you -- I want to do that, but let me say a few things to you about this.
As you know, there was a debate, as there was in Congress, about whether or not anything should have been done in Libya. And the president moved and the president decided that he was going to become engaged, through NATO, in ways that met our interests, I think, at the time and got the job done. I thought it was smart. I thought the way he approached that was, in fact, very effective, and the results, obviously, were exactly what we wanted to achieve. We could tell that if we did this, then -- and Senator McCain you were deeply involved in that. We recommended the no-fly, we pushed for certain things, and those things were put into place. And it was effected without American boots being put on the ground at a time where we'd just come out of Iraq and we have American soldiers, the largest number, in Afghanistan.
And so I think the American people approved of the way in which that was handled.
Now the aftermath of all of these places -- I asked every member of the committee -- we need to spend some time on this, all of us. There is a monumental transformation taking place. This is the biggest upheaval in that part of the world since the Ottoman Empire, since it came apart.
And as all of us know, many of the countries, lines drawn, were drawn in relatively arbitrary fashion, and people were put in places of power as the sort of vestige of a period of colonial enterprise and of that war.
It is a highly sectarian, divided, tribal part of the world, and I'm not sure that every policy has always been as sensitive or thoughtful about that as it perhaps ought to be.
SEN. RUBIO: I just -- because I know my time is up, but I just want to clarify, on my statement about Libya, I was not suggesting that the U.S. should have invaded or put soldiers on the ground. We did certain things in the first 48 to 72 hours of that conflict. Had we extended that for a couple weeks, that conflict would have ended a lot sooner, and I think, in hindsight, a shorter conflict there would have certainly led to a government that would have been stronger and less instability than what (exists. That was my point ?).
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, it might have -- honestly, it might have or it might not have. There's no way -- you know, Gadhafi had patched together a remarkable sort of, you know, mixture of various tribes, and he'd cut deals over time with all those tribes. And those tribes had created their sort of tiers of power structure, which was the reason that you had a revolution. And the revolution sought to, you know, give more people more opportunity and change.
It's going to take time. Took us a while.
You know, we went from Articles of Confederation to a Constitution. And finally, through the Constitution, we went through a lot of upheaval, including a civil war, because of the things that were written into the Constitution before they were written out.
So we need to be sort of thoughtful about the history and the culture and the nature of the places that we're dealing with. And you can't just take an American concept and plunk it down or a Western concept and plunk it down and say, this is going to work. So all I'm advocating for is to be thoughtful about this.
I think there is a struggle that is going to go on while we are here, while I'm secretary and you are senators. There is a struggle going on for the minds of people in many parts of the world. I believe we can do a better job, frankly, of galvanizing people around the values and ideas that we have organized ourselves around, but we have to do it, I think, in a lot of different ways.
And one of the things -- and I don't have all the answers to this as I sit here today, but there's a new media, there's a new -- you know, there are -- there are alternative means of communication bringing people together. There are other avenues. I'll give you one: Prince Ghazi of Jordan and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia have been engaged in an interfaith initiative. I was privileged to speak at the -- at a meeting of an offshoot of it at Yale University a couple years ago where there were 68 mullahs, imams, grand mufti, ayatollahs who came, and there were 68 evangelicals who were there. And this meeting, you know, sought to try to find some of the commonality of the Abrahamic faiths, which is there.
I think those are the kinds of things that we need to explore so that -- as I said in my opening, we cannot afford a diplomacy that is defined by troops or drones or confrontation.
We have to find a diplomacy that achieves, you know, understanding, rapprochement, whatever you want to call it, through other kinds of fora and initiatives.
Now, specifically -- and we're all going to have to face this -- Egypt is a quarter of the Arab world. It is critical to everything that we aspire to see happen in the Middle East -- peace with Israel, protection of the Sinai, security, the development of that part of the world with respect to an economy that is open and competitive and based on rule of law and rules of the road. How are we going to do that when you have 60 percent of the population of the region is almost under 30, 50 percent is under the age of 21 and 40 percent is under the age of 18? And it's growing.
And if they don't find jobs, if they don't get educated, and if we don't do something, all of us in the developed world -- and I'm including China, you know, in the near-developed at least, and I would say developed; Russia, South Korea, Brazil, Mexico; those developed countries that have the capacity are going to have to come together and think about this because everybody is affected. And I think that's a challenge for all of us.
And so, you know, Senator, that's sort of my response to a very big question that is a very legitimate question, and we ought to really sit down, as we will, I know, and work through this in the days ahead.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you.
SENATOR JEANNE SHAHEEN (D-NH): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And Senator Kerry, I am thrilled to be here with you on the other side of that desk as the nominee for secretary of state. I can't think of anyone better to continue the efforts of the current administration at this challenging time for the United States and the world. So thank you for being willing to take on this task, and let me welcome your family, Teresa and Cam and Vanessa and her husband here. We're delighted that you're able to be here with us this morning too.
And let me just say I look forward to casting my vote in support of you as sectary of state and I am also happy to join you in defending the Red Sox and the Patriots.
SEN. KERRY: (Chuckles.) Finally! Thank you. (Chuckles.)
SEN. SHAHEEN: I want to begin by echoing Senator Boxer's concern about continuing to support an agenda that urges equal rights and opportunities for women around the world. I think about if we had a situation in many of the conflict areas that we're facing now where women share the same equality and opportunity that the men do in those areas, that we would be facing a very different challenge.
I also want to go back -- you mentioned Syria and being in what appears to be the final period of the Assad rule in Syria. One of the real issues that we're facing there is what happens to the chemical weapons, should Assad fall.
Yesterday at the hearing on Benghazi there was -- there were several references to the weapons in Libya that are now falling into the hands of terrorists in Africa. In Algeria, we saw some of those weapons on the recent terrorist attack there.
So when I asked General Mattis, who is the CENTCOM commander, about this issue, he suggested that it's going to require an international effort to secure these weapons when Assad falls. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about how you view that international effort being -- coming together and what role the secretary of state should play in that.
SEN. KERRY: Senator Shaheen, it's an important question. The president's policy, he has made very clear, is that if they -- if we have evidence that they have -- are using them or about to use them, if they lose them -- i.e., lose control over them -- or if they move them in any significant way, that will change the calculation.
Now, the administration is drawing up contingency plans and working with neighbors in the region, NATO and others, in order to do that. I can't go into those today because I'm not read in on them yet. I'm not briefed in on exactly what those contingencies are. I just know that they are making them and they are deeply concerned about it.
SEN. SHAHEEN: And should we feel some confidence that Russia and China might join into an international effort on chemical weapons should there be concerns about what happens to those weapons?
SEN. KERRY: I can't tell you whether or not -- again, I just don't know about the details of the plans. I do know that they have expressed public concerns about that. And in fact, I do know there were conversations with the Russians when the first indicators took place about the potential of movement, and the Russians apparently were deeply concerned and they also weighed in at that time. So I think there is a serious concern everywhere that those weapons not fall into the wrong hands.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you.
Senator Cardin mentioned the good work that you did as chair of the Small Business Committee, something that's very important as we think about the economy of the United States and, as you pointed out, of the other developing countries around the world.
One of the efforts of this administration has been to promote business advocacy abroad for domestic businesses at home. I led a trade mission to India about a year and a half ago with a number of businesses from New Hampshire. And they talked about how important it was to have that support from the state officials in India as they were looking to try and establish those business relationships. Can you talk about how you might continue that and commit that this is something that you would be focused on and willing to continue to support?
SEN. KERRY: Well, I'm -- as I said in my opening, I think foreign policy is increasingly economic policy. And we have an undersecretary for economic affairs, economics, energy, et cetera. I think that the State Department historically used to have the foreign commercial service in it back in 1979. It slipped away -- I think Undersecretary Muskie at the time.
I think that's something we ought to be doing in a very significant way, obviously working with Treasury, with Agriculture -- Ag has an enormous amount of interest abroad and engagement abroad; Commerce Department obviously does; Treasury Department does. And I think there's much more we can do to augment our engagement with the private sector and their desires and needs abroad.
I'll give you an example. When I was in Hong Kong a number of years ago, I was struck. I met with our foreign commercial service people there. We had three of them -- three people in Hong Kong. And they said they were overwhelmed. They had no ability to be able to marry RFPs from China to companies commensurate with much smaller countries.
France was there. Germany was there. England, others were much more aggressive in their promotion of their companies. And that's the world we're living in today. So I think we have to be much more aggressive in that respect.
It's not an expenditure. I don't view it as spending. I view it as investing. And it returns on investment many, many times over. So I intend to focus on that. I want to get in and feel it a little more and, you know, get to know the folks who are working on all of that and see what they think about it. But I think there's a lot we can do.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thank you. My time is almost over, but I wanted to raise a final point about the Western Balkans. With so much conflict going on across the Middle East and Northern Africa, we forget that not too long ago we were involved in conflict in the Western Balkans. And there has been tremendous progress that has been made in that area, but we're still -- have a stalemate in Macedonia over the name issue. We still have the Serbia-Kosovo dialogue that has not been completed. We still have those countries that aspire to ascendancy into the EU. And I would just urge you that further progress in that area is going to continue to require American leadership. And I hope that we will continue to work in the region to ensure that they continue to make progress.
SEN. KERRY: We will, Senator. And I just want to thank you for your leadership of the European Affairs Subcommittee. You've been absolutely terrific on it. And I look forward to working with you.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Me too.
SEN. KERRY: Thanks.
SEN. SHAHEEN: Thanks.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Johnson.
SENATOR RON JOHNSON (R-WI): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Kerry, I really appreciate your thoughtful opening statement. I appreciate your thoughtful response to these questions. I have a great deal of respect for your level of experience, your depth of knowledge in these areas.
And I would have enjoyed working with you as a member of the committee. I'm going to enjoy working with you as secretary of state, and I mean that in all sincerity.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you.
SEN. JOHNSON: I want to have a very close working relationship. These are -- as you said in your opening statement, these are complex issues; these are dangerous times.
You know, I certainly grew up hoping that that maxim of politics ends at the water's edge was actually true. You know, I'm not sure it ever was, but I think it's something we can aspire to. I truly believe we share the same goals. You know, we want a secure America, we want a prosperous America.
Now, I think that starts being open and honest with each other. So I hate to go back to yesterday's news, but I think this is important. You know, yesterday, when I was asking, I thought, a relatively simple question -- I realize, being persistent -- Secretary Clinton's reaction was, and I quote, "what difference, at this point, does it make?" -- you know, trying to get to the truth of the matter in Benghazi. And I'd run out of time, so I didn't really have a chance to answer the question. Let me quick answer, then I'd like to hear your reaction.
I think it makes a big difference. I think it matters a great deal that the American people get the truth. I think they have the right to be told the truth. I think they have the right to know what happens. And it makes a big difference whether or not the American people have the confidence that the president and the administration is being truthful with them.
So I guess my question is, do you agree with that point? Are you willing to work with me? Or do you basically kind of agree with Hillary Clinton that, ah, that's kind of yesterday's news and let's move on?
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, if you're trying to get some daylight between me and Secretary Clinton, that's not going to happen here today on that score.
But I think you're not -- I think you're talking past each other. I don't think that --
SEN. JOHNSON: We would be.
SEN. KERRY: I don't think that was the question. I think that if your -- if your question is, should the American people get the truth and does it matter, Hillary Clinton would say yes, and I say yes.
But that's not what I think she was referring to. I think what she was referring to was sort of the question of, you know, the sequencing and the timing of how particular information came in with respect to the talking points and the public statements that were made. And there was a difference of opinion, in my judgment, as to how you saw that versus how she saw that.
SEN. JOHNSON: Well, the point I was making is we could have avoided all this controversy, you know, this doubt for a couple weeks, by just making a couple phone calls. So let me -- let me ask you: As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, did you make any phone calls to those evacuees? Did you ascertain whether there was a protest or not?
SEN. KERRY: I --
SEN. JOHNSON: Early on?
SEN. KERRY: Again, I'm not -- I don't want to go back and relitigate sort of the events that took place. Yes, I made phone calls. I was in constant touch with the State Department. I was talking to Undersecretary Nides and others immediately. And we were involved in what was happening, and I -- (went out ?) --
SEN. JOHNSON: How soon did you know that there were no protests? I mean, because it's pretty obvious by the Accountability Review Board report that there were no protests. I mean, did you know that pretty immediately?
SEN. KERRY: Senator, it's -- the intel that I got and that I was told by people was that there were no protests at that -- at -- in -- there were no protests in Benghazi but that there had been protests in Cairo.
SEN. JOHNSON: And we understood that.
SEN. KERRY: And --
SEN. JOHNSON: But that wasn't the issue. It was really were there protests in Benghazi.
SEN. KERRY: Yeah, but I don't think --
SEN. JOHNSON: Is there -- is there a reason that we wouldn't have those Department of State officials, those security people testifying before us so we can find out who knew what when, I mean, to actually get to the bottom of that?
SEN. KERRY: Well, there's no reason down the road, I would assume. But for the moment, I know that there is an FBI investigation going on, because I personally called the FBI director and was debriefed by him and was told that they're making progress and that some things, you know, may or may not be right to take place in the not too distant future, because I was anxious to know that.
SEN. JOHNSON: OK. Well, will you work with me, then, on an ongoing basis, then, so we can get that behind us, so we can find out what actually happened? Then we can move beyond that. I mean, can you just make that commitment to me?
SEN. KERRY: Well, I think -- Senator, in all fairness, I think we do know what happened. I think that it is very clear. I -- were you at the briefing with the tapes?
SEN. JOHNSON: No.
SEN. KERRY: Well, there was a briefing with tapes, which we all saw, those of us who went to it, which made it crystal clear. We sat for several hours with our intel folks, who described to us precisely what we were seeing. We saw all of the events unfold. We had a very complete and detailed description --
SEN. JOHNSON: Yes, but we -- yes, we know what happened in Benghazi now, because we have the report. What we don't know is why we were misled.
But again, let's -- you know, I'm just looking to make sure that you --
SEN. KERRY: Well, let's --
SEN. JOHNSON: -- you as secretary of state will work with me, so we actually do find out what the administration knew, how they misled the American public.
SEN. KERRY: But again, in fairness -- Senator, in fairness, I don't want the American people to be left with a misimpression here. When you say "why we were misled," that implies an intent to actually mislead you somehow. I think that there was the description of a variance in talking points. I don't know why that happened, but there was description of that.
SEN. JOHNSON: And all I'm asking -- will you help us get to the bottom of why that happened? That -- then we can move on. That's -- I just want to get that behind us. I just want that commitment.
SEN. KERRY: But the State Department -- the State Department will continue to cooperate --
SEN. JOHNSON: OK. Great.
SEN. KERRY: -- as it has -- as it has -- in every respect to any request of this committee --
SEN. JOHNSON: OK. Let's --
SEN. KERRY: -- or to any committee of relevant jurisdiction.
SEN. JOHNSON: Great. And I appreciate that commitment.
I just want to go back to -- you said foreign policy's economic policy. I couldn't agree more.
I mean, we don't have the luxury of deciding whether we want to
compete in a global economy. We must compete. And you know, I agree with Senator Corker. Maybe you should have been, you know, up for an economic position here.
But will you utilize your position, secretary of state, to try and get the president to work with us to solve the debt and deficit issue? Because this is a matter of prioritizing of spending. I mean, I just don't think we can continue to tax the American economy. We need economic growth. But it's about prioritizing spending. And I'm a fiscal conservative, believes that foreign aid can be extremely useful. But we have to get our spending under control. Will you utilize your position as secretary of state to encourage the president to work with us in good faith to solve the debt and deficit issue?
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, I spent six months, I guess it was, or five months as a member of the supercommittee. And I put an enormous amount of energy and hoped that we would be able to get the big bargain, grand deal. I'm not here to go through all the details of why we didn't, but there was a very hard-line, non-negotiating position that prevented us from being able to come to an agreement, which, incidentally, we just came to. But we cam to it with far less on the table and far less accomplished than we would have had if we'd come to that agreement six months ago or a year ago.
So my hope is, yes, I certainly will weigh in on that to the degree that it has an impact on my ability to do my job and the ability of the State Department to be able to do its job. We cannot -- we cannot reduce the funding for some of these initiatives that we are engaged in without great cost to our ability to be able to help American business, help create jobs and help strengthen our security in the world.
So it's in my interest to help get this budget effort resolved. Even though I'll be negotiating other things, I'll certainly weigh in with anybody who will listen with respect to the imperative of getting it done. But it requires some compromise and some reasonableness on everybody's part.
SEN. JOHNSON: OK. Well, thank you. Now, I really do look forward to working closely with you. Thanks.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Coons.
SENATOR CHRISTOPHER COONS (D-DE): Thank you.
I want thank Senator Menendez for chairing this critically important hearing today, to express my strong support of Senator Kerry for your nomination to serve as our next secretary of state. To Teresa and your family, welcome, and thank you for all you've done to support John's tremendous service to our country and the continuation of your family's long tradition of public service.
Now, I have deeply enjoyed serving under you here on the Foreign Relations Committee the last two years as I've chaired the Africa Subcommittee and had the opportunity from a close vantage point to watch as you've led the ratification of the New START treaty, as you've personally intervened to resolve diplomatic crises in difficult places, from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Egypt and Sudan. And I really look forward to working with you on some of the challenging issues that face our country and the world.
Let me start, if I might, by referring back to something a number of senators have referred to, your opening statement, in which you said that foreign policy more than ever is economic policy. And I just want to say I've been deeply encouraged by your response to Senator Shaheen's comments and Senator Rubio's questions. In my view, Africa is a continent that holds enormous promise, where seven out of 10 of the fastest-growing economies in the world currently exist, and where, sadly, our foreign commercial service is woefully under- represented and where our opportunity to advocate for American business and American values needs and deserves more attention.
As you know, I chaired two hearings on this last year. I'm about to come out with a report from the subcommittee. And I'd be interested, as my first of several questions, in how you see us successfully competing with China, which has a rapidly growing footprint across Africa, in both economic opportunities and our differing values agenda, and what difference that makes going forward and how you would address that as secretary.
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator Coons, I want to begin by thanking you. And I say to all the members of the committee, you know, one of the pleasures of having been chairman of the committee was watching individual senators kind of pick their targets and go after things. Senator Isakson's not on the committee anymore, but he and Senator Coons were a terrific team with respect to Africa.
And I know Senator McCain just took a trip, an important trip. He was in Cairo in Egypt. He was also in Afghanistan. I just met with the members of that trip. It was a bipartisan trip -- Senator McCain, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Ayotte and Whitehouse and Blumenthal, I think, and -- and Senator Coons, correct.
And, you know, that kind of (rapport ?) and that kind of intervention has an impact. And I know already from reports that what you all did there had an impact with President Morsi, had an impact on policy. And so I urge all the members of the committee to be ready and wiling to travel and to engage in the way that Senator Coons has done. I think it's valuable.
Now, with respect to China and Africa, China is all over Africa, I mean all over Africa. And they're buying up long-term contracts on minerals, on -- I mean, you name it. And there are some places where we're not in the game, folks. I mean, I hate to say it. And we got to get at it. But it takes a little bit of resourcing. Believe me, somebody's paying for those folks to be over there, and somebody's investing in their investment of time.
And we have to be prepared because I think that what we bring to the table is, frankly, a lot more attractive than what a lot of other countries bring to the table.
People like to do business with American businesses. People -- we're open. We're accountable. We're -- we have freedom of creativity and other kinds of things.
And I think that if we can organize ourselves more effectively in this sector, we can win. And when I say "win," I don't mean in terms of, you know, sort of Cold War terms. I mean win in terms of, you know, business contracts, business opportunities, jobs for Americans, ability to export, import, all of these things that make a difference to what the average American pays for the goods they use in everyday life. So I think there's a lot of opportunity, and I look forward to working with you to develop it.
SEN. COONS: You mentioned earlier there's just three Foreign Commercial Service officers in Hong Kong. As Senator Durbin knows all too well, there are only 10 on the entire continent of Africa. And it would be great to work with you. We've also worked together before on the issue of poaching and the tragedy of wildlife being killed all across the continent, which then helps finance transnational criminal and terrorist networks. That's also an area where I think we need to stand up and challenge China on being the largest market to which a lot of this illegal product is going.
On the trip that I just took with Senator McCain, Senators Whitehouse and the others you reference, we visited a Syrian refugee camp and heard very sharp feedback on their perception that the humanitarian aid we've provided so far, the more than $200 million in humanitarian aid we've provided, has not reached the people on the ground, has gone through Damascus and the Red Crescent but not through the Syrian Opposition Council. What would you do as secretary to ensure that we are more effectively and visibly engaged in supporting the opposition that we've now recognized?
SEN. KERRY: In supporting the opposition in --
SEN. COONS: Syria.
SEN. KERRY: Oh. Well, there's a discussion going on right now about other kinds of possibilities.
I know Senator McCain cares about it, and I've offered to sit down with Senator McCain and you and others and work this through. And I think, in fact, Senator Whitehouse asked to see some folks at the White House to talk to them about this.
But we need to change Bashar Assad's calculation. Right now, President Assad doesn't think he's losing, and the opposition thinks it's winning. That is not an equation that allows you to reach some accommodation for transition.
The goal of the Obama administration, I think the goal of the international community, is to effect some kind of orderly transition. Now, it's complicated by the fact that now a second envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, has been engaged after Kofi Annan's efforts, and both have found an intransigence on the part of the opposition to be willing to negotiate a departure. The Russians have indicated -- and I've had personal conversations prior to being nominated as secretary with Foreign Minister Lavrov -- which indicated a Russian willingness to in fact see President Assad leave, but they have a different sense of the timing and manner of that.
So our hope -- my hope would be that if confirmed and when I get in there, to have an ability to really take the temperature of these different players and get a sense of sort of where it is. But we have to increase, I think, the ability of the opposition -- strike that. We have to increase the readiness of President Assad to see the die is cast, the handwriting's on the wall, to be willing to make a judgment here that will save lives and hold the state together in a transition.
SEN. COONS: Thank you. And if I might, in closing, it's my view that these admirable diplomatic efforts need to continue. But we, frankly, also face a very narrow window to make a difference on the ground in support of the opposition that we've recognized. I'll follow up, if I might.
SEN. KERRY: I hear you. And I understand exactly what you're saying, and you don't want to wind up with them blaming you for not having -- I get it. But you also need to have some understanding, which I don't think is clear yet, of what step one brings you. What is step two? What is step three? And there's not a clarity to that right now, particularly with the presence of al-Nusra, al-Qaida from Iraq, et cetera. And I think -- look, I don't -- what I commit to do is sit with you guys as -- all of you as much as possible. Let's sit with the administration, which I will then be part of, and see how these equations work through as we go forward.
SEN. COONS: We have plenty of challenges in Kenya, in Mali, across the continent and the world. I'm grateful for your willingness to step up and take on this role and look forward to voting in support of your confirmation.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Senator.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Flake.
SENATOR JEFF FLAKE (R-AZ): Thank you.
Thank you, Senator Kerry. And I've had the opportunity, while I was in the House, to travel a few times overseas with you, and I've seen the regard and respect that officials in other countries have for you and for your record and for what you've done. And I appreciate that and think that you're well-suited, obviously, for this position.
Let me just mention one item briefly and then ask a few questions. With regard to Cuba, I've felt, perhaps differently than some of my colleagues on this panel, that the best way to foster change and progress toward democracy is to allow travel, free travel of Americans, to let them go as they wish.
I don't think that that's a weakness or any capitulation at all. I think it's a -- it's a way to show strength. In fact, I've often felt that if we want a real get-tough policy with the Castro brothers, we should force them to deal with spring break once or twice. (Laughter.)
But -- (chuckles) -- but in all seriousness, this president has taken measures to allow more Americans to travel freely, relatives travel for religious or cultural, education purposes. I think that's a good thing. I hope that you'll find ways to continue that and continue more innovative approaches to deal with change there.
With regard to the United Nations for a minute, the PA was granted membership into UNESCO in 2011 and then in 2012, full membership by the General Assembly. That, in my view, and I think all of ours, is an impediment to real negotiations that have to happen.
The General Assembly has had a habit of doing this over the years and the decades. We all remember in the '70s, I believe, they designated the PLO as the sole and authentic representative. I spent time in Southern Africa. They had designated one of the parties in the country of Namibia as the sole and authentic representative of the people, and that did nothing but delay meaningful negotiations between the parties that needed to happen.
From your position at the State Department, what measures will you take to ensure that our position and the Congress' position is to deny funding to some of these U.N. organs if such recognition is made? And I know there's some wiggle-room for the administration to deal with that, but what is your position in that regard, and how can you make sure that our interests are carried forward?
SEN. KERRY: Well, let me say categorically -- and I think the administration made this clear in its vote and its public statements -- that we do not feel that unilateral steps are helpful on either side anyway.
They are not a substitute for the parties negotiating and resolving the issues.
With respect to some of the funding on the collateral memberships, if you will, because they're not a full member, but we have found that, you know, we're better able to actually protect against nefarious activity and, in some cases, resolutions which attack Israel or other things; we're better able to affect that and negate it if we're participating. And if we, you know, cease to pay the dues and so forth and take a different attitude, then we -- then we see -- we sort of lose the opportunity to protect our friends, which we want to have.
Now, I will emphasize that they're getting close to a line that would be very damaging. If there were any effort to take Israel, for instance, or any other country to the ICC, if there's any effort to try to invoke other power, that's the kind of unilateral action that we would feel very, very strongly against and see it as extremely counterproductive.
My hope is -- you know, there were just elections yesterday. We don't know what kind of government will be formed or where things will go. But my prayer is that, you know, perhaps this can be a moment where we can renew some kind of effort to get the parties into a discussion to have, you know, a different track than we've been on over the course of the last couple of years.
And, you know, I'd like to reserve all of the capacity to be able to do that, so I'm just going to stop where I -- where I -- what I've said. But unilateral efforts are not helpful.
We oppose them, and we don't think they are -- I don't think symbolic or other kinds of efforts are what we need. We need real negotiation. We need real results. We need progress.
SEN. FLAKE: Thank you. Just two weeks ago some of us returned from Afghanistan and seeing the operations there. And you've described it well, I think, in your opening statement about the progress being made for the Afghan security forces to take over.
With -- if we take back and look at Iraq for a minute, some of us traveled there in the couple of years before that conflict ended there and saw some of the building that was going on, in particular for -- planning for a more robust presence than we currently have. There are a lot of State Department or embassy buildings that lay vacant now.
And I'm wondering, what are we doing to ensure that we don't do that same thing in Afghanistan? What lessons are we learning from Iraq? We overbuilt there, and when taxpayers see that kind of thing happening -- there was a report on the news a while ago about this kind of thing. What can we do -- and some of this is outside of your purview; it's with defense and the bases in Afghanistan -- but what can we do, with regard to the State Department, to ensure that whatever presence we have -- and I hope we do have a residual presence, an agreement to go on to carry out the missions that you outlined. But what are we doing to make sure that it is right-sized?
SEN. KERRY: Well, that's a very good question, Senator. And in fact, the State Department has a specific group, a transition group that has drawn the lessons from Iraq, that comes out of that experience and that is applying them to this transitional effort in Afghanistan now. I'm not familiar with everything that they've dug into.
I know they're doing it. I know it exists. And I think people are thinking very hard right now about what size footprint ought to exist post-the 2014 transition.
Let me make clear that I think we have -- I think we have about a thousand-something personnel now directly in the embassy in Iraq still. We have some 4,000 -- slightly less than 4,000 contractors in Iraq still. That's a pretty big footprint, postwar.
And similarly, in Afghanistan, we're pretty large.
I intend to look at that very, very closely, partly because there are obviously deep security concerns that we understand post-Benghazi, but also because there's just a legitimate question of what size, you know, footprint you want in the aftermath.
But I can assure you a lot of very qualified expert people who went through the Iraq experience are specifically taking the lessons from that and applying them to this transition in Afghanistan.
SEN. FLAKE: All right. Thank you.
SEN. KERRY: And I'm sure, you know, in a future hearing at some time down the road, we'll dig into that a little more, I'm sure.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you.
SENATOR ROBERT CASEY (D-PA): Senator Kerry, it's great to see you in this capacity, at the -- what is really the threshold of a new chapter of your life of service. So we're very happy to see you here today.
I won't congratulate you because we're still in a process, but I think that'll be forthcoming.
I'm also grateful that Teresa is here, With all due respect to the nominee, you're my constituent, Teresa, so if you need something today, I hope you call us. (Laughter.)
But I wanted to explore a couple of --
SEN. KERRY: She needs -- she needs a vote for me. (Chuckles.)
SEN. CASEY: (Chuckles.) I think that'll be forthcoming as well.
A couple of issues -- really I wanted to focus on two places in really three questions.
One is Afghanistan, and the second is Pakistan.
With regard to Afghanistan, wanted to ask you about -- the first question relates to President Karzai and the elections ahead of them. When he was here just a couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to visit with him in Leader McConnell's office, and a number of us -- Senator Kaine was there as well -- and to ask him directly about the elections and also to ask him about my second question. But I wanted to get your sense of where you see those elections going, what efforts you can undertake to make sure that they are free and fair, because they become, I think, central to the next chapter in this transition. I just wanted to have you comment on that.
The second question as it relates to Afghanistan is one that Senator Boxer raised, and her work on this has been exemplary, on women and girls. And in particular, I have an amendment that we got through the National Defense Authorization Act which will require both State and Defense to file a report on the efforts to promote the security of Afghan women and girls. Just by way of itemization: monitoring and responding to changes in women's security -- that'll be part of the report -- secondly, improving gender sensitivity and responsiveness among the Afghan security forces and increasing the recruitment and retention of women in the Afghan security forces.
So both with regard to the election and women and girls.
SEN. KERRY: Senator, with respect to the women and girls, I had a conversation with Senator Boxer earlier and with Senator Cardin in which I committed to the ongoing significant efforts that Secretary Clinton has invested in. We will continue to have the ambassador and special office -- two different things -- within the State Department.
But more importantly, we think that there can't be an effective peace, and there won't be, in Afghanistan if we can't hold onto the gains and continue them, continue the progress that is being made with respect to women's participation in Afghan society. And so we remain committed to that, and I'll work in every way possible to augment what -- I've had some -- a number of people have made suggestions to me; I won't go into all of them now because of time, but they're exciting. There are people who want to, you know, be involved in this endeavor. They've been inspired by what Secretary Clinton and Melanne Verveer have done. She's been the ambassador in that role. And so we're going to continue to do that.
Now, on the elections, there is a group within the American initiative, within our effort in Kabul, in Afghanistan, working very hard on the sort of rules of the road for the election and working with the Afghan election commission. They're working right now on some of the computer programming and other things that are necessary in order to be able to guarantee that the voting lists are up and accurate and available. There had been meetings with potential candidates for president, with the opposition folks and others in Afghanistan in an effort to be inclusive and transparent in the process.
And I think President Karzai knows -- I've said this personally to him, I've said it publicly in a press conference in departure from Kabul, and I've said it here in the Senate as chairman -- that having an acceptable elections -- not going to be perfect, we're not going to be able to have perfection in this process for a lot of different reasons, but having an election that passes musters and is acceptable according to international observers and standards will be critical to our ability to have the kind of transition we want to have and to have confidence that the government that succeeds in 2014 has legitimacy.
If it doesn't have legitimacy, if we don't succeed in that effort, it is going to be very, very difficult to convince the American people and convince our allies in ISAF and beyond to stay engaged in this effort if they're not willing to provide for themselves with respect to that.
I went through this personally with President Karzai in the last election, where there was -- there were serious questions about the propriety of process, and we have to sort of strike the compromise about it. I don't think there'll be room for a compromise in the aftermath here. So this is a very, very important initiative, and I will certainly make sure that we're riding herd on it very, very closely.
SEN. CASEY: Thank you. And secondly, with regard to a terribly difficult challenge we have with regard to the IEDs that are constructed somewhere between Pakistan and Afghanistan but become the roadside bombs that have killed so many of our troops, the leading cause of death, and wounded so many as well, we know that it's -- that there's a legal impediment in Afghanistan -- doesn't do us much good because of he calcium ammonium nitrate that comes across the borders from Pakistan. And this has been not just horrific to watch, but it's been terribly frustrating when I go to Pakistan three times, and in the last visit, as you have made numerous trips, telling the Pakistani leaders, we need you to help us with this, not only to protect our GIs but to protect your own people.
And they promise, and they promise, and they talk about a great plan and a strategy, and it's so far completely inadequate, their response.
And I know you've worked on this, Secretary Clinton has, and I just want to get your sense of how we can make progress on that, to put -- to use every bit of diplomacy, engagement, pressure, whatever it is to insist that the government of Pakistan takes steps which are readily identifiable to reduce this flow of -- this -- what is really a fertilizer that becomes a --
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator Casey, I'll just say quickly, first of all, you've been a terrific leader on it, and you've paid a lot of attention to this, and it's made a difference. And it is frustrating.
I've had those conversations. I've had them at the highest level with President Zardari, with General Kayani, with General Pasha when he was there as the intel chief. I have not been back to Pakistan in the last year or so for a number of different reasons, but I have been in touch with General Kayani before, again, I was nominated. And I -- and he and I look forward to having conversation, as I do with President Zardari and the civilian leadership, and see if we can't find a metric here that works for both of us, because we have to.
And I won't go into the intel here; you know it full well. There is no question about where it's being produced, where it's coming from or how, and it -- and it just has to be one of those things that we see greater cooperation on.
SEN. CASEY: Thanks very much. Thank you.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator McCain.
SEN. MCCAIN: Well, thank you. And again, thank you for allowing me the honor of introducing you to the committee, and I look forward to many of our spirited conversations that we've had for many years.
I didn't want to bring it up, but since it was brought up, I'll have to respond again.
Americans do care. They do care. They do care why four Americans were murdered.
We do care why the American people were misled. They were misled by the talking points that Secretary Rice told the American people, which were false. They were misled when the information that we needed to know about what -- how those talking points were put together, which we still don't know the answers to many months later. We were misled when it was -- when we were not allowed to -- when we don't -- still haven't gotten answers why there was not better security at the consulate when there was clear indications of the threat. We were misled when we were not told that there was a request for the 16-member security force to remain at the consulate and were removed.
The list goes on and on. We still haven't gotten the answers as to what happened at Benghazi. And for anyone to say that we don't care what happened is absolutely false. And I can tell you that because I talk to the families of those who were murdered. And we will -- there are some of us that will continue our efforts to find out the answers to these questions. The American people deserve them, including why the president of the United States, after alleging -- in a debate with Mitt Romney, said that he had called it a terrorist act when in fact he hadn't. In fact, that same day he did an interview with CBS News saying he didn't know what happened. As far as two weeks later, he told various news programs that he didn't know what was the cause of it.
We knew what the cause of it was. We knew that people don't bring RPGs and mortars to spontaneous demonstrations.
So we -- there's some of us who will not give up on this, despite what some in the media think we should do, until we get all of the answers.
While I was hanging on every word that you were saying, John, I happened to glance at my apps. Here's a BBC News report, says, the U.N. says there's been a huge leap in the numerous -- numbers of Syrian refugees arriving in Jording -- Jordan, putting a considerable strain on resources. The UNHCR said that more than 26,500 refugees had crossed into Jordan since 1 January. The officials -- BBC -- that up to 3,000 were arriving every day and at least 50,000 were waiting to cross. That happens to be the camp that we visited. That happens to be the camp where just a few days ago -- before there was very bad storm, and these tents were blown down, and there was riots and demonstrations and anger and frustration and the belief that we're not helping them, the anger that we felt -- that we felt when a young woman who's a teacher said, this generation -- this next generation of children will take revenge on those that did not help them.
We are sowing the wind in Syria, and we're going reap the whirlwind. And that whirlwind will be the increased presence of al- Qaida and Islamist groups, which are now flooding into Syria, as you know. Sixty thousand dead and counting, and the fall of Assad is, quote, "inevitable." You know that Assad is thinking about Plan B, and that's going to the coast and doing some ethnic cleansing and having Alawites there.
Your -- I appreciate your optimism about the Russians. The Russians continue to supply him with arms.
The Russians continue to veto every single resolution that might do something about Syria. And of course, Putin has just enacted one of the most inhumane laws in preventing Americans from adopting Russian children, who clearly have -- are now deprived of an opportunity of a better life.
So I don't think the status quo in Syria is something that we just need to have some more conversations about. I think we ought to tell the Syrian people that we're either going to help them or we're not. We know that a no-fly zone and we know that the supply of arms so that they can defend themselves to counter the arms that are being provided by the Iranians and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard on the ground -- and there's now hundreds of thousands of refugees that are putting the strain on our allies.
I've had a lot of conversations. We've had a lot of hearings. We haven't done anything. And we've got, again, 60,000 dead and -- after 22 months, and all I get, frankly, from the administration is, the fall of Assad is, quote, inevitable. I agree; but what about what happens in the meantime?
So I hope that you -- and I know you are deeply concerned about that situation. But it's terrible. It's heartbreaking. To meet a group of young women, as I did in a camp in Turkey, a refugee camp, who have been gang-raped is really a horrible experience. And we can do a lot more without putting American boots on the ground, and we can prevent this further slaughter and massacre and inhumanity. Otherwise, we will be judged very, very harshly by history.
I hope that -- and I know that, from our previous conversations -- that you will make this your highest priority. And I look forward to at least exploring and try to implement a different policy than the one that we have pursued for the last 22 months.
I think -- go ahead, please.
SEN. KERRY: Well, John, thank you. I have -- and you know this because you and I have talked about this at great length -- I have complete understanding of where you're coming from on this and knowing your frustration and know what you're trying to say about it.
I do want to say to you that I don't want inquisitiveness or curiosity about what possibilities might exist with Russia to be translated into optimism. I don't have optimism. I have hope because the easiest way to resolve it would be if they were to be able to help -- if together we were able to find some track that changed the equation and the calculation of Assad.
What I think everybody worries about, John, is that if you have a complete implosion of the state, nobody has clear definition of how you put those pieces back together, number one. And number two, you have a much greater risk with respect to the chemical weapons. Now, that's why I want to get in and see what the contingency plans are because I can't measure risk without having a sense of what's on the table.
What I do know is that there are a lot of weapons there. There are people in the Gulf, and you know who they are, who are not hesitating to provide weapons, and that's one of the reasons, together with the fact that al-Nusra has been introduced to the equation, that the movement on the ground is faster than the movement in the politics.
So that's what makes this very complicated. And I'm deadly serious when I say to you, we're going to have to sit down. There's nothing we need more than congressional consensus, if we can build it, on something like this, particularly if the worst happens and you have, you know, disintegration.
There are other forces at play that none of us have any control over. One of the things that has struck me in the last year is the more I've traveled to the region and talked to people is the depth of the sectarian divide. And you know it well. Sunni-Shia considerations enter deeply into lots of judgments out there. And so we have to be particularly -- and then others. I mean, you've got 74 percent of Syria is Sunni -- is Muslim. And of that, you know, you've got about 16 percent that's made up of the Alawi -- Alawite, and then some Shia. And the Alawite are about 13 percent. Christians are about 10 percent. Druze are about 3 percent.
So you have this breakdown with interests in various parts of the country. And I know one of the scenarios everybody's talking about is that people could sort of break up off into their places, and the Kurds could be up in the northeast, and you could have a disintegration, and who knows where that leads. These are the risks. I mean, this is what is at stake in this new world that we're dealing with. And nobody could sit here and tell you how it all plays out.
But we're going to have to get our heads together, regardless of party, and think about the interests of the United States of America, think about the region, think about the interests of the neighbors, think about the interests of our friends, like Israel, and figure out how we come up with an equation that is workable and meets those interests.
Now, final comment, John -- I don't want to go on about it, but I didn't suggest and I don't want to suggest and nor do I believe that Secretary Clinton was saying people don't care about knowing what happened. I think she was talking about the difference between what the recommendations of the ARB were and implementing them and this notion that we have to go backwards.
But here's what I say to you. After 29 years here, or in my 29th, I respect the prerogatives of the United States Senate and the members of Congress. You represent the American people. You're the other branch of government. You have the right to know what took place. And I have an obligation, commensurate with the, you know, regulations and classifications and privacy and other things that are at play here, to help you get the answers. And we'll do that. And I hope we can do it in a noncontentious, appropriate way.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Thank you.
SEN. MCCAIN: Thank you.
Could I just mention, Mr. Chairman, very quickly, I think you would agree with me that every day that goes by in Syria, it gets worse.
SEN. KERRY: Every day that goes by, it gets worse.
SEN. MCCAIN: It gets worse. So there is a -- seems to me a very strong impetus that we realize that the present policy is not succeeding and to look at other options to prevent what has gone on for now 22 months and 60,000 dead.
I thank you for you indulgence, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. KERRY: Yeah, I'll agree. But I think you would agree with me that whatever judgments you make, they have to pass the test of whether or not, if you do them, they're actually going to make things better.
SEN. MCCAIN: Absolutely.
SEN. KERRY: And you have to make a test of a cost analysis in doing that. And I mean all kinds of cost, human life cost, treasure, effect on other countries.
SEN. MCCAIN: Thank --
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Durbin. Thank you.
SENATOR RICHARD "DICK" DURBIN (D-IL): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. John, thank you for being here. (Clears throat.) Excuse me. Teresa, it's great to see you and the family here as well.
The spirited questioning from our mutual friend John McCain is not unexpected. He promised it, and he delivered it. But I do recall his opening comments introducing you, and it brought me back to my first days in the Senate when you and John McCain, Vietnam veterans, worked together in a noble task to establish normal relations with Vietnam, which continue to this day, and to deal with the controversial, contentious issue of POWs and MIAs.
And I came to you as a brand-new senator, both of you, on behalf of Pete Peterson, the congressman from Florida, who had been named ambassador -- first ambassador -- to Vietnam by President Clinton, Pete Peterson himself a five-year prisoner of war as an Air Force pilot. And you two did an extraordinary job of moving him forward and giving him that chance to serve. And John McCain, thank you for reminding me of that chapter in my public career and reminding me what you and John Kerry accomplished together.
I want to ask you a question about the role of the Department of State in the security of the United States. It is often called upon to negotiate to make us safer. Certainly since World War II, that has involved nuclear weapons, and it does to this day as we discuss the future of nuclear entrants like, God forbid, Iran into the nuclear club, which we don't want to see happen. We also know after 9/11 there came a new threat, terrorism in a different form: biological/chemical weapons and stateless organizations that attack the United States and killed innocent people.
But it was I think last year or the year before that we were briefed by the State Department and Department of Defense about the greatest threat to the security of the United States, and it wasn't either of those things. It was cybersecurity.
And I think you may have attended the briefing, the classified briefing for members of the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, and they explained to this -- to us this invisible war that goes on even as we meet between the United States and many who are not our friends that are trying to invade us, invade our infrastructure, invade our technology and do great harm to us not just in economic terms, but in terms of human life. And we are told this is the most serious threat facing us today. It brings to mind the fact that in the 21st century, war as we know it is much different. It is a war involving the invisible workings of computers. It is a war involving drones and aircraft.
So I'd like you, if you could, to just reflect on this in terms of the role of the secretary of state of the United States in negotiations to make us safer in a world where cybersecurity is our greatest threat.
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, that's a huge question. And you've hit the nail on the head with respect to a significant threat. And as you know, there is legislation -- or there was legislation last year -- which we tried to get through here which would have helped us, a very small step, incidentally, in trying to deal with this issue.
Much of this, as you know, is classified, and so it's hard to, you know, sort of lay it out in full before the American people. But every day, while we sit here -- right now certain countries are attacking our systems. They are trying to hack into classified information to various agencies of our government, to banking structures. Money has been stolen from accounts and moved in large sums from entities. I mean, there's a long list of grievances with respect to what this marvel of the Internet and the technology age has brought us.
But it's threatening. It is threatening to our power grid, it's threatening to our communications, it's threatening, therefore, to our capacity to respond, and there are people out there who know it. And there are some countries that we're currently engaged with -- and all the senators know who they are -- who have a very good understanding of this power and who are pursuing it.
So it is sort of the modern-day -- I guess I'd call it the 21st- century nuclear weapons equivalent that we are going to have to engage in cyberdiplomacy and cybernegotiations and try to establish rules of the road that help us to be able to cope with this challenge.
Now, I -- you know, there are enormous difficulties ahead in that because, as you know -- and I think I'll just be -- try to be very brief about it -- I think most diplomacy is an extension of a particular nation's interests, and in some cases it's an extension of their values. And sometimes you get a terrific opportunity to mix the two and you really can do things that meet all of your aspirations. But sometimes, you know, you're more weighted towards the interests than the values. And you can all pick different countries and different things we've done that meet that.
This is one where we're going to have to find a way to address the interests of other states, to somehow find common ground, if that makes sense to you. And I -- you know, we're just going to have to dig into it a lot deeper. I don't have a magic silver bullet to throw at you here today.
SEN. DURBIN: I wanted to bring it up because I think it is topical and timely in terms of our 21st century challenge. And when you become secretary of state, which I believe you will and hope you will, this will be front and center.
I would also like to come down to a much more mundane issue I raised before with the current secretary, and that is the impact of sequestration on the Department of State. We are literally weeks away from mandated budget cuts within the Department of State. We have spent yesterday and even again today talking about security at our embassies, consulates and for our men and women who risk their lives to represent America. So I would just ask you, in closing, that you would try to, as soon as you can, report to us about the impact of these cuts on our State Department, which has a very small percentage of our budget but is going to face some substantial cuts because of the sequestration requirements.
SEN. KERRY: I'm glad you raise it. We're going to have to talk about it. And I just signal to my colleagues, yesterday you had a hearing in which two very distinguished, you know, people were the basis of the report on which you were having the hearing, which is the ARB, and Admiral Mullen and Secretary Pickering have said we need 1.2 billion (dollars) or more, you know, to be able to do what we need to do for security.
So if you want the American presence out there and you want to provide adequate protections so we're not here for another Benghazi hearing, we're going to have to deal with -- that's why I said we've got to get our business done here and do it the right way.
One final comment, Mr. Chairman. I just want to say to people that -- well, I'll wait till we come to the budget. We'll do it then. `
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Barrasso.
SENATOR JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thank you, Mr. chairman.
You know, yesterday with Secretary Clinton, I asked about the administration's assertion that al-Qaida had been decimated. And she said what we're seeing now are people who have migrated back to other parts of the world where they came from, primarily, who are in effect affiliates, part of the jihadist syndicate. She said some of them, like al-Qaida in Islamic Maghreb -- I'll use that name, others use different names -- she said the fact is they're terrorists, they're extremists, they have designs on overthrowing existing governments. So she said that we do have to contend with the wannabes and the affiliates going forward.
So I would ask your assessment on the strength today of al-Qaida, the affiliates, the wannabes, and the challenge it's going to present to you as secretary of state.
SEN. KERRY: Well, it's very real. But I agree completely with Secretary Clinton's statement and her appraisal. The core al-Qaida -- when we talk about core al-Qaida, we are talking about the al-Qaida that took us to Afghanistan and to Pakistan. That's core al-Qaida. Those are the people who attacked the United States of America. Those are the people that we approved military action against, I think unanimously, in the United States Congress in 2001.
Now, they have migrated. If you go to the intel -- I think this is unclassified -- I know ow it's unclassified -- Osama bin Laden, in the documents that came out of Abbottabad, is quoted as urging his cohorts to go to other places, to get away from the airplanes, get away from the drones. And he specifically encouraged al-Qaida to disperse, and they did. In addition to that, we have been -- the Obama administration, under the directive of the president, who undertook, the most concentrated effort in history in terms of targeting a specific terrorist group -- we have taken out huge proportion of the leadership of core al-Qaida, huge proportion.
You don't want to be number three or number four in line in that business because they're disappearing as fast as they get the job. Obviously, the top dog who took -- Zawahiri, who took the place of the -- of Osama bin Laden, is still at large, but I think there are those in the intel community and the administration who believe that over the course of the next months, that core al-Qaida could really be almost degraded to the point that it's -- that is no longer the threat.
The threat, however, has augmented in al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Qaida in Iraq, which is now playing in Syria, and al- Qaida in the Maghreb. And I think that's why the United States, the president has made the decision to support the efforts of the French in Mali, and that's why there has been a very focused effort, including going after Anwar Awlaki in Yemen, to focus on that part of the world.
Now, there's a success story, even as I talk about that increased threat: Somalia. In Somalia, where the al-Shabab became associated with al-Qaida, we have in fact been able -- in concert with others, not alone -- to drive al-Shabab back and actually see a government emerge, which we've now recognized and which we're in a position to help hopefully stabilize and move to a better (relationship ?).
So we can change these things, but it takes a focused effort. It takes perseverance. Doesn't happen overnight. But I would also argue, it takes something more than just the drone effort and the other effort -- it takes that effort to develop a government like we did in Somalia; we have to be prepared to do that in the Maghreb.
SEN. BARRASSO: I'm looking at -- you know, we talked yesterday about bringing to justice the killers who attacked our people on September 11th. And the president said he would bring those killers to justice. The fact that that hasn't happened, do you think that's emboldened the recent attack in Algeria because no one yet has paid a penalty for the attacks?
SEN. KERRY: Senator, I can't get in -- I can't get into anybody's mind about what they do or don't know about that or what they perceive about it. I'll tell you this, if so, it's going to be short-lived because I know from talking to the FBI director that they are pursuing that diligently. He was personally just in Libya meeting on this, and those efforts are going to continue. And I know that this president, you know, he doesn't bluff about these kinds of things. He has said they're going to pay a price. He said he'd go into Pakistan if we had evidence that we needed to operate on. He did it. And I am confident that when and if we are prepared, we will execute with respect to finding justice for what happened in Benghazi.
SEN. BARRASSO: Wanted to move to Keystone XL pipeline. I know that Senator Boxer asked a question. You said it wouldn't be long before it crosses your desk. Yesterday a majority of senators, a bipartisan group of senators, nine Democrats signed on to a letter to President Obama requesting that he expeditiously approve the construction of the pipeline. We're asking that the review process be completed by the end of March, and I hope you'd be able to comply with that as well.
SEN. KERRY: I will try. I need to check back in with the legal department and make sure -- I can't -- I don't want to make a promise that I'm unaware of what can be fulfilled. But I can tell you this, it's happening in the appropriate due course of business, and we'll try to get done as soon as we can.
SEN. BARRASSO: I had the chance one time to visit with Senator Sam Nunn, a -- who you served with. And he said that, you know, you have to think about what's in the vital interest of the United States, what's important for the United States and what's a humanitarian issue as we look at limited resources. I know climate change has been a big issue that you've been concerned about, focused on. It seems over the next 25 years, the global energy needs are going to increase about 50 percent, that emissions are going to go up significantly, primarily because of China and India, and we could do significant harm to the U.S. economy, I think, by putting additional rules and regulations with very little impact on the global climate. So in this tight budget environment, with so many competing American priorities, I would ask you to give considerable thought into limiting significantly resources that would not help us as an economy, not help us a country and not help us globally in perhaps the efforts that you might be pursuing there.
I don't know if you have specific thoughts on --
SEN. KERRY: I do. I have a lot of specific thoughts about it, Senator, more than we're going to have time to do now. So I'm not going to abuse that privilege.
But I will say this to you. The solution to climate change is energy policy, and the opportunities of elegy -- of energy policy so vastly outweigh the downsides that you're expressing concern about. And I will spend a lot of time trying to persuade you and other colleagues of this. You want to do business and do it well in America? We got to get into the energy race. Other countries are in it.
I can tell you in Massachusetts that the fastest-growing sector of our economy is clean energy and energy efficiency companies. And they're growing faster than any other sector. The same is true in California.
This is a job creator. I can't emphasize that strongly enough. The market that made America rich -- richer -- we've always been rich, but the market that made us richer in the 1990s was the technology market. It was a $1 trillion market with 1 billion users. And we created greater wealth in America than has been created even in the raging time of no income tax and the Pierponts Morgans and Mellons and Carnegies and Rockefellers. We created more wealth in the 1990s, and every -- every -- single quintile of American worker went up -- everyone.
So we can do this, recognizing that the energy market is a $6 trillion market, compared to 1 (trillion dollars), with, what, 4 billion, 5 billion users today, going up to 9 billion over the course of the next 20, 30 years.
This is a place for us to recognize what other countries are doing and what our states that are growing are doing, which is there's an extraordinary amount of opportunity in modernizing America's energy grid.
We don't even have a grid in America. We have a great big open gap in the circle of America. You got an East Coast grid, a West Coast grid, you've got a Texas grid, and then you got a line that goes from Chicago out over to the Dakotas. We can't sell energy from Minnesota to Arizona or from Arizona to Massachusetts or to the cold states and so forth. It doesn't make sense. And we can't be a modern country if we don't fix that infrastructure.
So I would respectfully say to you that climate change is not something to be feared in response to -- I mean the steps to respond to it -- it's to be feared if we don't.
Three thousand five hundred communities in our nation last year broke records for heat. We had a rail that because of the heat bent and we had a derailment as a result of it. We had record fires. We had record levels of damage from Sandy -- $70 billion.
If we can't see the downside of spending that money and risking lives for all the changes that are taking place to agriculture, to our communities, to the ocean and so forth, then we're just ignoring what science is telling us.
So I will be a passionate advocate about this, but not based on ideology, based on facts, based on science. And I hope to sit with all of you and convince you this $6 trillion market is worth millions of American jobs and leadership, and we'd be better go after it.
SEN. BARRASSO: Hmm. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Udall.
SENATOR TOM UDALL (D-NM): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And my good friend Senator Barrasso, Wyoming is a producer state. New Mexico is also a producer state. And I found the same experience that Senator Kerry's talked about in terms of Massachusetts. In New Mexico, the fastest-growing sector are these renewable jobs. And so I think it's a big opportunity for us. We should be pursuing it. I agree with what he just said. And I hope that we can work with each other, because we should -- we should try to pull together and discuss the facts and really pursue this sector that is going to be so vital to the future and vital, actually, to job growth.
But John, great to have you here. You've really earned this. There's no doubt about it.
It's great to see Teresa and Vanessa.
And I was walking over my second time back here, and I saw the cutest grandchild I'd seen in a long time. And I said, are you going to bring him in? And they said no, no, he was going to wait outside. But anyway --
SEN. KERRY: Publicity-shy. (Laughter.)
SEN. UDALL: I -- in my observation here in my short period on the Foreign Relations Committee, I think a great deal of what good foreign policy about is building personal relationships and building personal relationships with leaders around the world. And the one thing that I've really observed, Senator Kerry, of you is that you've done that. And we've had so many of these private meetings across -- over there in the -- in the Capitol, in the small Foreign Relations room. And I could just feel with -- meeting with all these leaders, the tremendous respect that they have for you and the ability you're going to have to build on that to make an excellent secretary of state. So I'm very excited about this opportunity for you.
And I want -- in my first question here, I wanted to focus on Mexico and Central America. During the last decade, relations between the United states and Mexico have strengthened as a result of our shared security goals relating to the Merida Initiative. And one of the pillars of that initiative includes judicial reform, and I think you know this very well.
However, the federal government and many of the Mexican states have yet to pass legislation which would change their judicial system from an inquisitorial system to an adversarial system. I had a lot of experience with this as a state attorney general a ways back. We actually would meet every six months with Mexican states. And they ask us to loan people to them to help train in the adversarial system.
And so my question is how can the U.S. better work with our neighbors in Mexico to improve transparency, efficiency and the quality of the judicial system and improve this transition they're trying to make from inquisitorial to an adversarial system?
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator Udall, that's a -- first of all, thank you for your generous comments. I very much appreciate them and appreciate working with you on a lot of these issues.
We are engaged now, I think -- and you know this. I mean, there are ongoing efforts with respect to the justice system. There's been a lot of focus, as you know, on guns and narcotics and so forth, and there's been a shift in policy within Mexico. The president was, you know, recently here for meetings.
And my hope is that we can keep -- I mean, I want to keep the existing efforts going, which could become subject to the sequestration and budget effort. So I guess we're going to have to convince our colleagues of the importance of these kinds of initiatives actually taking root and having the willingness to kind of stay at them until we do get more results.
Mexico's been under siege, and everybody knows that, and there's been -- it's been very, very difficult. A lot of courage exhibited by military folks and police. I think there's an effort now to try to move it somewhat away from the military and more into the justice system, which is why we're going to sort of double our efforts here and make sure we're funding the personnel and the program itself. So I will work with that. But we'll need the cooperation up here to get that kind of commitment.
SEN. UDALL: Great. Thank you very much. As you know, the new president of Mexico, President Enrique Pena Nieto, has stated that his strategy with regards to security cooperation is to achieve a Mexico in peace is what he calls it, and that his government will not abandon the fight against organized crime. How will you work to ensure that areas of mutual interest between the two countries get the attention they deserve, and how we get that cooperation along the border? It just seems to me that's absolutely crucial is the cooperation along the border. They have six border states. We have four. And it's crucial that we work with each other on that.
SEN. KERRY: Well, and President Pena Nieto is indeed trying to move this, as I said, in a different direction. This has been a highly militarized and very violent initiative over the last years.
We -- you know, I'm a former prosecutor. You're a former attorney general. I used to -- I was the chief administrative prosecutor in one of the 10 largest counties in America, Middlesex County. And I loved prosecuting.
It was a great job. I remember I -- we created a drug task force and had all kinds of, you know, plans for how to proceed to minimize the impact of narcotics on our communities.
And one of the things I learned is that there's no one approach. You've got to be doing everything that you need to do, and that means domestically in the United States, you got to do education and you got to do treatment, because what we have is just a revolving circle of demand, and we're the principal demand country, not alone now. Europe has huge demand, Russia -- there are other countries now increasing demands. So cocaine routes and, you know, marijuana routes, et cetera, are not just coming up from, you know Colombia and other countries where it was -- where it's been produced in Latin America and the Caribbean up to here, but it's going across the Atlantic and out into other countries now, and it comes from Asia and to other countries. It's pandemic.
And so I think we need a more comprehensive approach, one where it's less accusatory, finger-pointing, and you work cooperatively to understand everybody's role in trying to do something about it. I've always felt that this label of "war on drugs" is kind of artificial, because, you know, "war" implies it's all-out, you've got to win, and I don't think it's ever been all-out and principally because we always fail to do our part with respect to treatment and education and abstinence, so forth.
So we got to -- we've got to re-engage ourselves, and I think that would help establish credibility and viability with other countries.
SEN. UDALL: Thank you very much for those answers. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Paul.
SENATOR RAND PAUL (R-KY): Senator Kerry, thanks for coming today and for your testimony. I agree with Candidate Barack Obama, who said in 2007 that the president doesn't have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack. I'd like to know if you agree with Candidate Barack Obama or if you agree with President Barack Obama, who took us to war in Libya without congressional authority unilaterally.
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator Paul, one of the things this committee has spent a lot of time on is the War Powers Act, which I support. And I believe in congressional authority to go to war. I've argued that on occasion with respect to some things here, but there are occasions which I have supported where a president of the United States has to make a decision immediately and implement that decision, execute on it immediately.
I supported Ronald Reagan when he sent troops into Grenada. I supported George H.W. Bush when he sent troops into Panama. I supported President Clinton when, against the will of the Congress, he did what was needed to be done in Kosovo and Bosnia, so forth. And in this particular instance, I think the president behaved in that tradition. And --
SEN. PAUL: I would argue, though, that the Constitution really has no exceptions for when you're having a tough time or when people disagree with you that you just go ahead and do it.
SEN. KERRY: Well --
SEN. PAUL: In the early 1970s, you know, after Vietnam, you were quite critical of the bombing in Cambodia because, I think you, felt that it wasn't authorized by Congress. Has your opinion changed about the bombing in Cambodia? How is Cambodia different than Libya?
SEN. KERRY: No, nor did my opinion change or has it ever altered about the war in Vietnam itself, where I don't believe -- and I argued then --
SEN. PAUL: Is Cambodia different than Libya?
SEN. KERRY: Well, yeah, it is, because it was an extension of the war that was being prosecuted without the involvement of Congress after a number of years. Now, that's very different from something --
SEN. PAUL: Length of time, but similar circumstances: a bombing campaign unauthorized by Congress. See, the Constitution really doesn't give this kind of latitude to sometimes go to war and sometimes not go to war. I thought Barack Obama was very explicit, and it's what I liked about him, frankly. People think, oh, you know, Rand Paul certainly doesn't like anything about Barack Obama. I did like his forthrightness when he ran for office and said, no president should unilaterally go to war; the Constitution doesn't allow it.
SEN. KERRY: Well, I respect that. Look, you can be absolutist and apply it to every circumstance. The problem is it just doesn't work in some instances. When 10,000 people are about to be wiped out by a brutal dictator and you need to make a quick judgment about engagement, you certainly can't rely on a Congress that has proven itself --
SEN. PAUL: Do you think --
SEN. KERRY: -- unwilling to move after weeks and months, sometimes.
SEN. PAUL: Do you think a U.N. resolution is sufficient to go to war?
SEN. KERRY: No. No. I think a U.N. resolution -- when you say sufficient to go to war, I think a U.N. resolution is a necessary ingredient to provide the legal basis for military action in an emergency. It is not by any means sufficient to require the United States to do something because we obey our Constitution and our interests and our rights. But I think --
SEN. PAUL: You've heard President Morsi's comments about Zionists and Israelis being blood suckers and descendants of apes and pigs. Do you think it's wise to send them F-16s and Abrams tanks?
SEN. KERRY: I think those comments are reprehensible, and those comments set back the possibilities of working towards mutual -- issues of mutual interest. They are degrading comments. They're unacceptable by anybody's standard. And I think they have to appropriately be apologized for. Now, (Senator ?) --
SEN. PAUL: They only understand strength.
SEN. KERRY: Let me just finish.
SEN. PAUL: If we keep sending them weapons, they're not going to change their behavior.
SEN. KERRY: Let me just finish. President Morsi -- President Morsi has issued two statements to clarify those comments. And we had a group of senators who met with him just the other day who spent a good part of their conversation in a relatively heated discussion with him about it.
But not everything -- you know, this is always the complication in dealings in the international sector -- not everything lends itself to a simple clarity, black/white, this/that every time. We have critical interests with Egypt, critical interests with Egypt. Egypt has thus far supported and lived by the peace agreement with Israel. Israel -- and has taken steps to begin to deal with the problem of security in the Sinai. Those are vital to us and to our national interests and to the security of Israel.
In addition to that, they have followed through on the promise to have an election. (Inaudible) --
SEN. PAUL: You know, but I know things are not black and white, but the --
SEN. KERRY: Let me just -- you know, they've had an election. They had a constitutional process. There is another election that is coming up shortly for the lower house. The fact that sometimes other countries elect somebody that you don't completely agree with doesn't give us permission to walk away from their election -- (inaudible).
SEN. PAUL: But this has been our problem with our foreign policy for decades, Republican and Democrat. We funded bin Laden. We funded the mujahedeen. We were in favor of radical jihad because they were the enemy of our enemy. We've done this so often. I see these weapons coming back to threaten Israel. I see support for Syrian rebels coming back to threaten Israel as well.
SEN. KERRY: Well, as you know, Senator --
SEN. PAUL: I see problems with this.
SEN. KERRY: As you know, Senator, in any of the arm sales that the United States has ever engaged in in that part of the world, there is always a measured test, which is applied with respect to a qualitative difference in any of those weapons with respect to Israel's defense and security. And we do not sell weapons and will not sell weapons that might upset that qualitative balance.
SEN. PAUL: Yeah, so we sell 20 F-16s to Egypt, we got to give 25 to Israel -- sounds like we're fueling an arms race. Why don't we just not give any weapons to Israel's enemies? That'd certainly save us a lot of money and might make it safer for Israel.
One final --
SEN. KERRY: No, better yet, until we are -- until we are at that moment where that might be achievable, maybe it'd be better to try to make peace.
SEN. PAUL: One final question, if I could, Mr. Chairman, it's very short. Would you consider supporting conditioning aid to Pakistan on the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi? I'm afraid if we don't support informants who have helped us, we're not going to get many more informants.
SEN. KERRY: Well, let me -- let me speak to that. First of all, I have talked directly to President Zardari and I've talked directly to General Kayani about Dr. Afridi. And like most Americans, I find it, as you do, incomprehensible if not repugnant that somebody who helped to find Osama bin Laden is in jail in Pakistan. That bothers every American.
That said, the Pakistanis make the argument that he didn't know what he was doing, that he didn't know who he was specifically targeting or what was happening.
SEN. PAUL: You think he knew it was helping Americans, though?
SEN. KERRY: Let me -- let me just finish. Let me just finish. He clearly knew what he was doing in that, because they also make the argument that he was doing that as a matter of regular course of business for him. Now, that said, that's no excuse. I'm simply explaining to you that rather than cut aid, which is a pretty dramatic, draconian, sledgehammer approach to a relationship that really has a lot of interests -- you know, we have our ground line of communications, which is the military's complicated word for "roads," that go to Afghanistan, and that route is critical to our supply of our troops. We have --
SEN. PAUL: But what I need to know is condition, not cut.
SEN. KERRY: We have -- in addition to that, had intelligence cooperation. Our folks were able to cooperate on the ground in Pakistan. That's one of the ways we were able to get Osama bin Laden.
I don't think the Pakistanis have, frankly, gotten credit sufficiently for the fact that they were helpful. It was their permissiveness in allowing our people to be there that helped us to be able to tie the knots that focused on that, to some degree -- not exclusively, obviously, but to some degree.
In addition, they have lost some 6,000 people just in the last year in their efforts to go after terrorists. They've lost about 30,000 people over the course of the last several years because they've been willing to engage the insurgencies. And so, you know, there are things that the Pakistanis have done, as complicated as the relationship has been.
Now, I think that -- and I intend to raise the issue of Dr. Afridi with them. I can promise you that. But I am not going to recommend, nor do I think it is wise, for American policy to just cut our assistance. We need to build our relationship with the Pakistanis, not diminish it.
SEN. PAUL: Thank you.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Murphy.
SENATOR CHRISTOPHER MURPHY (D-CT): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Welcome, Senator Kerry. I am sorry that our careers in the Senate will only overlap for a few weeks, but I want to thank you because for those of us in our corner of the country who have come into public service in the last 10 to 20 years, it's been your example that inspired many of us to do so, your ability to both position yourself as a spokesman for the disenfranchised and dispossessed but also as a steward of our country's interests around the world. I think there are a lot of us who came into public service in part because of your work for our region. And I thank you for that.
I wanted to spend my short time turning to the Asia-Pacific region and specifically spending a little bit of time on China as well. Secretary Clinton, in a speech she gave in Singapore some time back, crafted a great but -- and very simple phrase about how today, for the first time in modern history, you can become a global superpower simply through the power of your economy, not by the power of your military.
China is obviously the best example of that, though it's now turned its focus to military might as well.
In Connecticut, we, you know, have about 40 percent of our exports sent to that region today on an annual basis. We're increasing our country's exports to the region by a 25 (percent) to 30 percent clip. And yet we know, again specifically with respect to China, that those numbers pale in comparison to what they could be, because high-tech manufacturers cower at the prospect of sending products there that will immediately be replicated and sold in counterfeit markets. Military manufacturers in Connecticut can't even get into China even as their competitors there get a pretty fair shot of getting into our market.
And Secretary Clinton also talked a lot about this new concept of economic statecraft. And I wanted to get your thoughts about how we can use and continue to use the power of the Department of State to try to pressure the Chinese to both correct its flaws with respect to its disposition on intellectual property, to pressure that nation to open up its markets to more American goods and then in general, you know, how you see our ability in that -- our ability to really exercise economic pressure on that region to be a source of what we hope is a doubling of exports, as the president has commanded us to do over the next five years.
SEN. KERRY: Well, first of all, Senator, thank you for your -- for your nice comments. I really appreciate it. And welcome to the committee. I'm delighted to see you and Senator Kaine on the committee. Senator Reid called me, and we chatted about folks who might serve on the committee, and I'm delighted that both of you are there.
And I'm sorry that obviously we won't be working together on the committee, but believe me, we're going to be working together. And I look forward to it.
You -- look, Secretary Clinton, if she was sitting here -- and she has previously said and I will simply reiterate and underscore -- China is an ongoing process, and it takes commitment and perseverance to break through on one issue or another. We have a lot of issues with China.
My intention is to continue to focus, as the administration has begun, through its rebalancing, to grow that rebalance, because it's critical for us to strengthen our relationship with China.
China is, you know, the other sort of significant economy in the world and obviously has a voracious appetite for resources around the world, and we need to establish rules of the road that work for everybody. That's why the administration came up with the Trans- Pacific Partnership, in an effort to try to help establish greater leverage, if you will, for this notion of broadly accepted rules of the road, which are critical to our doing commerce.
But on things like intellectual property, market access, currency, there are still significant challenges ahead with China. Now my hope is that Xi Jinping and the new administration will recognize also the need to sort of broaden the relationship with us in return.
I think -- I mean, I could envision a way in which China could play a much more significant role as a partner in any number of efforts globally.
We shouldn't be viewed as -- I mean, we will be competitors in the economic marketplace, but we shouldn't be viewed as adversaries in some way that diminishes our ability to cooperate on a number of things.
China is cooperating with us now on Iran. I think there might be more we could perhaps do with respect to North Korea. There could be more we could do in other parts of the Far East. And hopefully we can build those relationships that will further that transformation. We make progress. It's incremental. You know, it's a tough slog. And there just isn't any single magic way to approach it.
But if we can find a better sense of the mutuality of our interests and the commonality of goals that we could work towards -- climate change is an example. If we just sit around where we are today, in respect to the comments I think Senator Barrasso or somebody made, we're going to have a problem because China is soon going to have double the emissions of the United States of America. So we've got to get these folks as part of this unified effort, and I intend to work very, very hard at trying to do that.
SEN. MURPHY: I appreciate that. I appreciate that. The one probably most important stumbling block to that growing diplomatic partnership that I agree could have transformational potential for the world is the potential conflict between China's growing military footprint in the region and now our pivot to Asia when it comes to our military interests as well. And we've seen these, you know, growing territorial disputes between China and the Philippines and China and Japan and Korea and Japan. How do we -- how do we ramp up militarily in the region without getting drawn into a lot of these disputes which we have no immediate interest in but makes it a little bit harder to stay disconnected from if we just have a larger footprint there?
SEN. KERRY: Well, Senator, I'm not convinced that increased military ramp-up is critical yet. I'm not convinced of that. That's something I'd want to look at very carefully when and if you folks confirm me and I can get in there and sort of dig into this a little deeper.
But we have a lot more bases out there than any other nation in the world, including China today. We have a lot more forces out there than any other nation in the world, including China today. And we've just augmented the president's announcement in Australia with additional Marines.
You know, the Chinese take a look at that and say, what's the United States doing? They trying to circle us? What's going on? And so, you know, every action has its reaction. It's the old -- you know, it's not just the law of physics; it's the law of politics and diplomacy. I think we have to be thoughtful about, you know, sort of how we go forward.
Pivot -- also, I want to take on the word "pivot." I think "pivot" implies that we're turning away from somewhere else. I want to emphasize: We are not turning away from anywhere else. Whatever we do in China, it should not -- or in the Far East and Indonesia, which is rapidly growing and enormously important, Vietnam, all of these countries -- should not come and I hope will not come at the expense of relationships in Europe or in the Mideast or elsewhere. It can't.
What we need to do is try to bring Europe along with us to a recognition of the opportunities in the Far East. It would improve our clout; it would leverage the market.
Perhaps -- there's been some talk about a U.S.-EU trade relationship. I don't know whether that can become a reality or not. But I think that we need to think thoughtfully about not creating a threat where there isn't one and understanding very carefully where we can find the basis of better cooperation.
Now, I don't -- I want to emphasize that I want somebody out there saying, well, Kerry has a mistaken notion of what China is up to or what they're doing. I'm not saying that you don't have to be pretty careful and vigilant and understand where it's going, and I'm not talking about retreating from our current levels whatsoever. I'm simply trying to think about how we do this in a way that doesn't create the reaction you don't want to create.
SEN. MURPHY: Thank you.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Kaine.
SENATOR TIMOTHY KAINE (D-VA): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator Kerry, your 29 years of service on this committee is a great example for those of us newcomers. And I thank you for that and look forward to working with you as secretary.
A comment and two questions. In the -- in the chair's opening round of questions, he raised issues about our relations in the Western Hemisphere, and that's deeply important to me. Those have also been touched on in your responses to Senators Udall and in the reference to the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the discussion with Senator Murphy.
I worry a little bit that for many understandable reasons, our foreign policy has been very oriented east-west. But the north-south axis is also incredibly important. I worry about the Chinese being all over the Americas and Iran having economic ties and state- sponsored Spanish-language broadcasts throughout the Americas. And in a time of inattention, it's not as if we're standing still; we can be seeing our influence erode. And so I would just -- as you've talked about these matters today, I really, really hope that the State Department has that north-south axis as a key focus.
And onto a question on a topic, your opening comments demonstrated what has long been a position of yours, that you understand that we have an unbreakable bond with Israel, and that's why the definitive statement about Iranians' nuclear ambitions, that we have a policy of prevention, not containment, was very heartening to hear. I believe that very deeply.
As much as I believe that, I also believe that, as difficult as it looks, we also long for the day, long for the prospect that there would be peace between a secure Jewish state of Israel and an independent and prosperous Palestine. It might seem unlikely, but the current peaceful relationships in Ireland seemed equally or more unlikely 30 years ago. What would your approach be as secretary of state in trying to advance that they -- so that it might be sooner rather than later?
SEN. KERRY: Well, part of my approach to help advance that day is not to be too explicit here today.
I have a lot of thoughts about that challenge. And one of the things I can guarantee you is that I don't want to prejudice it by public demands to any party at this point in time.
I think -- you know, I will say this: President Obama is deeply committed to a two-state solution. I've been reading lately speculation about whether or not he is committed to the process or what he thinks or believes, et cetera. I think a lot of it is simply wrong and blown out of proportion. The president understands the stakes and the implications in the Middle East.
And the almost -- I mean, so much of what we aspire to achieve and what we need to do globally, what we need to do in the Maghreb and South Asia, South Central Asia, throughout the Gulf, all of this is tied to what can or doesn't happen with respect to Israel-Palestine. And in some places it's used as an excuse. In other places it's a genuine, deeply felt challenge.
I'm not going to say anything that prejudices our ability to try to get a negotiation moving in the appropriate way, in the appropriate manner, and I'm not even going to go into what that is. But I think I personally believe -- I've been at this for what, almost 29 years in this committee -- we've been at this. I've watched all of it. I was on the lawn when we were there with the handshake -- Arafat, Begin (sic; Rabin) -- and I've been through seven prime ministers and nine in all. Two of them were the same. And I've seen Wye Plantation and Madrid and Oslo and Taba and so forth.
We need to try to find a way forward, and I happen to believe that there is a way forward. But I also believe that if we can't be successful, the door, window, whatever you want to call it, to the possibility of a two-state solution, could shut on everybody and that would be disastrous, in my judgment.
So I think this is an enormously important issue, and I will never step back from my commitment to the state of Israel, which I have shown for the 29 years I've been here. But I also will not step back from my understanding of the plight of Palestinians and others who are caught up in the swirl of this, young children who I've seen who have hopes for future, and I'd like to see us deliver.
SEN. KAINE: The State Department and secretary play critical roles in human rights, and you've touched on those today. Just a recent example that you were involved in, in some way, was the activity of Secretary Clinton and others on behalf of the human rights activist Chen Guangcheng in China.
A human rights issue that I'm concerned about is religious freedom. You and I share a faith background, and we also share a commitment to that bedrock American principle that all should be able to worship as they please or not, without official pressure or punishment or preference, whether it's marginalization of Muslims in Europe or repression of Christians or Baha'is in the Middle East or anti-Semitism anywhere.
The U.S. has a valuable role to play and the State Department does as well on the protection of religious minorities, and I'd love to hear you just talk about that for a second.
SEN. KERRY: Well, I couldn't agree more, and I'm glad you raised that issue. It's at the core of who we are. I mean, our -- the tolerance on which the United States is founded is one of greatest attributes.
And it's interesting. I will tell you that, you know, we -- we've gone through our own sort of turbulence on that. We didn't arrive at naturally. You know, the Puritans come to Massachusetts, and there were a few excesses. Then a guy named Roger Williams left Massachusetts, went down and, you know, traveled through the forests through the winter and came out on a bay and called it "Providence," and it's now Providence, Rhode Island. You had, you know, John Davenport and others who went, you know, down to New Haven, Connecticut, and they all were getting away from religious persecution right here in our own country. It took us a while to get it right. And I think we do.
And needless to say, one of the roles of the State Department is to help people understand what an essential ingredient tolerance is and diversity and pluralism to the ability of a country to flourish, people to have their rights. That is one of the big challenges that we face.
You know, I'm sure my advisers at the State Department would say, you know, stop there, Senator, but I'm going to say --
SEN. : (Chuckles.)
SEN. KERRY: I'll say something additional, which is I have a lot of friends who are Muslim, who I've learned -- who I've met and built relationships with over the years in my travels.
And leaders in that region will be
the first to tell you, me, others that what you see in radical Islam is not Islam; it is radical Islam. It is an exploitation and hijacking of an old and honored religion.
And what we need to do is find a way -- and this is something we have to work at -- for people to understand the degree to which that is happening and becoming, in some places, an excuse for their disenfranchisement, for being deprived of good governance, for being deprived of a good economy, of jobs, of opportunity. And we -- one of our missions is to not let that be an excuse.
So I think that carrying the banner of religious tolerance, of diversity, of pluralism is critical. I know we've raised that with President Morsi. I've personally raised it with him. I think I was the first American to meet with President Morsi before he became -- even knew he was a candidate. And we talked about the need for the brotherhood to be able to respect the diversity of Egypt. Now, that hasn't happened completely, as much as we would like, in the constitutional process. But as I said, that's an ongoing process, and we need to work together in order to try to do it.
But Senator, you raise a central, central issue with respect to what is happening to the politics of certain regions of the world. And it's got to be front and center in our dialogue.
SEN. KAINE: Thank you.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Senator Corker, final comment?
SEN. CORKER: Mr. Chairman, thank you for having the hearing. And Mr. Chairman, I think all of us who have known you and known of your service here for 29 years thought that you would acquit yourself well today, but I think you've acquitted yourself exceptionally well and know you're going to be confirmed in the next very few days.
And I just thank you for your -- I thank you for the fact that you want to serve in this position but also the fact that you developed such an extensive background and understanding. And I know you're going to be really good in this job. I look forward to working with you and thank you for the patience today.
SEN. MENENDEZ: Mr. Chairman, there are two quick question I think will be very easy and hopefully get commitments from you, and one is having gone through the lengthy hearings on the administrative review board's recommendations and what happened in Benghazi, can we be assured that you'll personally oversee the implementation of the ARB and have your senior leadership make it a top priority?
SEN. KERRY: Absolutely.
SEN. MENENDEZ: And secondly, with reference to our democracy programs worldwide, can we expect you to be a strong supporter of those programs?
SEN. KERRY: Yes.
SEN. MENENDEZ: And then finally, a comment. I had no intention of raising it, but, you know, to suggest that spring break is a form of -- a form of torture to the Castro regime -- unfortunately, they are experts about torture, as is evidenced by the increasing brutal crackdown on peaceful democracy advocates on the island just in the last year, over 6,600 peaceful democracy advocates detained or arrested.
Just this past Sunday, the Ladies in White, a group of women who dress in white and march every Sunday with a gladiolus to church, tried to come together to go to church this past Sunday. And the result of that -- these are individuals who are the relatives of former or current political prisoners in Castro's jails -- the result is that more than 35 of the Women in White were intercepted, beaten with belts, threatened to death by agents aiming guns at them and temporarily arrested.
And then we have a United States citizen who all he tried to do is give access to the Internet to a small Jewish population in Havana and has been languishing in jail for nearly four years. That's real torture.
Mr. Chairman, you have given an incredibly thoughtful, extensive, passionate at times and an incredible depth of knowledge before this committee for nearly three hours and 50 minutes. It's a -- it's a testament to your long service, your long commitment and what we can expect of you as the next secretary of state. And I know that your father, Richard, who also served this country, would be extremely proud of you today.
The committee will receive questions for the records until the close of business today, so we urge members who may have any questions to do so by the close of business today. We encourage the nominee as well as the department to respond to the questions as expeditiously as possible. And with that and with a thanks to the committee, this hearing is adjourned.
SEN. KERRY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. (Scattered applause.)
(C) 2013 Federal News Service END