Friday, July 24, 2009

Softball Suthichai Yoon and Hillary Clinton (and insults her to boot !)

The Nation

The Nation's Editor in Chief Suthichai Yoon and Nation Channel Editor Veenarat Laohapakakul talk to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an exclusive interview on July 22, 2009.

Suttichai: Welcome.

Clinton : This is such a wonderful opportunity in a beautiful setting. and I'm looking forward to this discussion.

S: You met the prime minister yesterday.

C: I did.

S: How did his British accent strike you?

C: [Laughs] Well, we had a very good discussion. It was broad ranging and quite constructive. I started of course by thanking Thailand which has been such a strong and very positive ally of ours going back 176 yrs, and then we talked about both what we're doing together -- fighting HIV/AIDS, our military relationship, our fight against human trafficking, something I care particularly about -- and then our regional work, particularly in light of the Asean meeting.

S: What is the image of Thailand in Washington these days? Is it a positive or negative image?

C : Well, I think our relationship and our close partnership over the years gives us a broad understanding of Thailand. It's both the land of smiles and a place that is a vibrant democracy. Perhaps sometimes its politics is as spicy as its food. We know that this will be a set of issues that the people of Thailand will have to work out. But we have great confidence in the vibrancy of your democracy and the stability of your country.

Weenarat : Woman: is there any specific reason why you picked [a] green [suit]?

C: Well actually I consider this turquoise. IS that wrong? Well its funny because I know there are certain colors that I should not wear.

[crowd laughs]

But that's all right because some of them don't look very good on me.

W : What's your key message to ASEAN? Because your predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, never gave much importance to this region.

C: Well the key message is that President Obama and I are giving great importance to this region. We not only have longtime friends and allies like Thailand, but we believe that the entire region holds such promise and potential. That's part of the reason why I came to Asia for my very first trip, and why I am back within six months to come to Thailand and to go to Asean in Phuket. Because we want a closer relationship -- not only country to country, but regionally.

There are a lot of issues that the United States and Thailand can't solve on our own. We have to deal with everything from pandemic disease to piracy. And we've got to have a really good alliance of people whoa re willing to cooperate.

I believe strongly that the US has to be involved in this region, have to work together to solve problems, we have to demonstrate our leadership and our commitment, and that's the message that I want to send.

S: What's the main difference between the Bush foreign policy and the Obama foreign policy towards Asia?

Hopefully, the Obama Administration will demonstrate that America is back, and that we are pursuing our foreign policy in accordance with our values and our interests, with high standards. Its important to me personally to recognize that there's been so much progress in many areas within Asia, and yet there is still so much work left to be done. and we want people in Asia -- not just governments, but people -- to know that the US is in it for the long haul. We have been friends with some countries like Thailand, and we are trying to broaden and deepen our relationship with countries like China.

And we are going to work hard to try to bring a sense of future possibility, where we can have a more peaceful, prosperous and progressive region. and I think that's all possible. I believe that there's a great commitment to continuing to push forward in Asia, and yet it's unclear exactly what the form of that will take.

So the more we work together in partnership -- that we stand up for each other, and stand up for our interests -- I think that the better we can see the future unfold.

S: What were the mistakes that the previous Administration was doing towards Asia that you want to correct?

C: Well I don't want to go back to the past, that's over.

Well, there was an important election that was held, and the American people made a very definite decision. With president Obama, we have someone who has roots in Southeast Asia. The time that he spent in Indonesia was very formative. So we would rather focus on what we can do going forward.

Every country has to constantly be asking itself, "Are we doing the best we can? Are we making the right decisions?" and in our case when we came into office it became clear that many of our friends in Asia had felt like we hadn't been paying attention, that we'd been absent.

I don't know if that was the case here, but certainly I've heard that communicated. And the United States is uniquely geographically positioned. We are both an Atlantic and Pacific power. I don't think you can do one and not the other because our interests, our alliances, our partnerships span the globe.

We're not going to pretend or claim that we are the answer to every problem, but we want to be a major and constructive actor in dealing with the problems of Asia.

W: What do you think is the biggest threat to peace in the region at this moment?

C: Well the threat that I always worry about is the proliferation of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Obviously we're very concerned about North Korea and recent reports with what we call Burma.

S: You refuse to call it Myanmar?

C: We do. We would like to see a democracy make decisions about the future of a country and that hasn't yet come to pass. We are very strongly in favor of putting pressure on that government, on making it clear that the future doesn't lie with those who would try to oppress their people and limit the opportunities to a very small ruling group. That is not in the interest in people of Burma or of people anywhere. So we worry about the transfer of nuclear technology and other dangerous weapons from North Korea to Burma.

S: So you are concerned about the ties between NK and Burma. How serious are these?

C: Well, we're going to explore that in Phuket in talking to all the other foreign ministers who are there. We want to focus on countries that have direct relationship or who share a border, as Thailand does, so that there can be a united front against that ever happening. I'm not saying that it is happening, but we want to be prepared to try to stand against it.

S: NK is the main focus of your talks this time. How serious is its threat to the United States?

C: It's not a serious threat to the US. At this time its weapons capacity and technological progress is not a threat to us,. but it is a threat to our allies, if it continues, and it is a threat to stability in East Asia and particularly northeast Asia. We'll be talking about many important issues at the Asean meeting.

I'm very proud that I'll be signing on behalf of my country the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. The work of Asean is just beginning to explore other areas. There was just the first joint exercise in the Philippines to try to do better on disaster assistance. So we have a full agenda, but of course that the behavior and provocative action of NK raises issues.

For example, if NK pursues this Nuclear program, other countries are going to feel our of their own self-defense necessity that they must do this also.

This produces a chain reaction, and its one of the reasons why in another part of the world, we're concerned about Iran. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons than other countries in the Middle East are going to think, "Well we have to have one too."

Pretty soon, you have so many nuclear weapons, and not just in the hands of states. But also non-state actors. North Korea has been notorious proliferators of nuclear technology. we know that.

So we want to continue to put the pressure - and I must say I'm very gratified that we've had a united front in Asia -- on coming together in the United Nations, passing a Security Council resolution with real teeth, to try to go after all of the different institutions and individuals that are part of the proliferation network in North Korea and that supports it outside. So I think we're making progress in creating a strong response to North Korea.

W: Who gives you more of a headache: Kim Jong Il, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Than Schwe, Osama Bin laden...?

C: That's why I have a headache all of the time. You've mentioned some of the people who we think are playing a very negative role in the world, and I have to worry about all of them unfortunately.

S: You said on ABC on Monday that North Korea is like an unruly child trying to seek attention all of the time. What did you mean by that?

C: Well I think if you look at the behavior of North Korea in the last months and going back some years, its hard to understand what they're real objectives are other than to try to get everybody to pay attention.

And of course it's sad because when you look at the Korean peninsula, the progress and the success of South Korea, and the opportunity that South Koreans have demonstrated towards pursuing economic progress, academic achievement, so much else -- and then just across the border a country who can't or wont feed itself, whose people are literally shrinking in size because they're malnourished, and yet they want to have the world stage when it comes to trying to launch missiles, and claiming inaccurately that they launched a satellite.. and to me, it's sad.

Because obviously the Korean people have so much potential, but they're badly governed in the north. and it would be a wonderful change in attitude if leadership in North Korea said, "Well, let's compete in a peaceful way.

Let's see if our students can beat your students in competition, lets have our businesspeople outsell your businesspeople". The kind of competition that you're seeing in Asia: peaceful, very aggressive, and vigorous from time to time. that's how countries should be looking at our future, and we're a long way from North Korea being able to do that.

S. What about Burma? If Aung San Suu Kyi is not released, would you be sorry to see Burma kicked out of ASEAN?

HRC: Well that's up to ASEAN.

S: Are you going to encourage Asean to do that?

C: Well I think that would be an appropriate policy change to consider, because the other countries in ASEAN, despite what happens in other countries - there are ups and downs and there are problems -- but there has been steady progress on democracy and human rights and economic prosperity that is broadly shared.

And that hasn't happened in Burma. Now there's a great debate that goes on -- can you influence the Burmese military junta more by exchanging ideas and engaging with them or sanctions and trying to get their attention and removing them from international organizations and the like.

It's a fair debate, and I've had the discussion with leaders in the region who have advocated both sides in the debate. But you've put your finger on a particular painful issue for me personally as well as for my country.

We admire Aung San Suu Kyi. We think that the sacrifices she has made for her people, for Burma, are admirable and that she has shown that one person can make a difference by standing up for the rights to determine your own future in a country.

I regret deeply that this unfortunate incident that she has nothing to do with has serve as an excuse for her to be put on trial and put into prison. And yes, we would like to see her released. let me just at that there are a lot of opportunities that could be made available to the Burmese government and the Burmese people if they did release her. this would open up doors for investment and for other exchanges that would help the people of Burma. so we'll wait and see what happens.

W: What can we expect form the US on Iran?

C: Well as you know, our President came into office with a very clear preference for talking with people, and not prejudging what might come from those talks. Winston Churchill famously said that it's better to "jaw jaw" -- meaning talk -- than "war war".

That is our view. the President and I made it clear that we would be willing to have direct talks with Iran. And we had hoped that we'd get a response that was positive, that would help to create the circumstances for that kind of dialogue.

Well, then their election happened. I don't think that there's any doubt that irregularities occurred, and then when people tried to peacefully protest they were brutally repressed. There's a great debate that's going on within Iran. We saw it just this last week with some of the leading clerics and former presidents even speaking out.

So we have said that the door is open to what we would like to see as a on-on-one engagement with Iran. But they are so preoccupied right now. And at the same time the nuclear clock is ticking.

We know that they are continuing to pursue their nuclear program. So we're discussing with our counterparts around the world. if there is no meaningful and sincere engagement, not only with us -- you know there's a mechanism called the P5 plus 1, that's the Security Council basically, the US obviously, where we've been talking with the Iranians about their nuclear capacity for a number of years.

So its' not just the US and Iran, it's the world and Iran. And you know, it's the people in Iran's neighborhood who are most concerned. They have come to see me, and they have deep appreciation about what might happen.

So we will still hold the door open, but we have also made it clear that we will take actions - as I've said time and time again, crippling actions -- working to upgrade the defense of our partners in our region.

We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment: that if the US extends a defense umbrella over the region, if we do even more to support the military capacity of those in the Gulf, it's unlikely that Iran will be any stronger or safer, because they won't be able to intimidate and dominate as they seem to believe they can if they have a nuclear weapon.

So there's still a lot of opportunity here, but we're not going to keep the window open forever.

S: As you arrived in India last week, there were bomb attacks in Jakarta. IS international terrorism still a big threat?

C: It is, and it is of course an overwhelming priority of the US because of our own experience. I think that what happened in Jakarta was tragic, as all of these cowardly terrorist attacks are. It's especially cowardly because Indonesia had just gone through a Democratic election.

Ten years of democracy solidifying in Indonesia, a real exciting dynamism that you can feel in the country. When I visited a few months ago I was very impressed with what I saw Indonesia doing.

The terrorists, they don't want to compete in the political environment, they don't want to take the results of that kind of competition and you now actually try to compete in the marketplace of ideas. So they engage in this very destructive, violent behavior. But I have a lot of confidence in the resilience in the Indonesian government, and of course in the Indonesian people.

So as tragic as something like that is, its important to convey to the terrorists that they will not intimidate us, that they will not in any way undermine our resolve to defeat them and their networks.

S: What about stories about suspected terrorists being tortured. Guantanamo camp will be closed, right -- how are you going to reconcile the question of treating the terrorists in a way that is acceptable to the international standards at the same time giving them the message that you are getting touch.

C: Well, that's a very important question. Despite how difficult it is, President Obama is committed to prohibiting torture, to ending Guantanamo, and what we believe is that there are very effective ways to combat terrorism, and there are effective ways to interrogate without crossing the line.

In fact many of the experts in interrogation will tell you that you get more information by treating someone humanely and trying to appeal to them and trying to make some common connection. Now, I'm quick to add that they are very difficult and very dangerous.

There isn't any doubt about that. But I think that we are in a very difficult contest in some part of the world for, as they say, the hearts and minds.

What we want -- and we're seeing some evidence of that -- is for the family member or the neighbor of the terrorist to say, "I don't believe in that, and I know that my brother or my cousin or my schoolmate has signed on with this terrorist group, and I'm going to tell somebody."

Or, "I know they're making bombs down the road from where I live." You've probably seen in the news the very dramatic development in trial in India of the surviving Mumbai terrorist, who confessed in court.

But what I found so interesting about his confession is that he was a young man without much purpose in life, he was in a job that he didn't find particularly satisfying, and he was susceptible to the blandishments of the terrorist organization.

You know, "This will make you feel strong and powerful, this will give you a meaning and a purpose in your life," and he bought into that and joined this group that was trained from the Mumbai attacks.

Yet when you listen to his confession, this is not someone who had some deep overriding ideological commitment, this was someone who got swept up in it. so we want to convey to families and communities across the world that there's a better way. Now, we have to put some meet on the bones of that statement.

We have to make sure people do get a good education, we have to make sure that people do have jobs. Those are all part of what we see as a more positive alternative to what the terrorists are selling.

S: Are you going to stop the practice of the CIA have secret camps like the one in Thailand using torture tactics against terrorists.

C: Well, again, I'm not going to talk about the past, we have moved beyond that. Our government is committed to very open and internationally accepted norms that we intend to follow.

W: but did they exist?

C: Well, I can't talk about any of that, whether they do, whether they don't.

S : Do you not know? Or is it because you can't talk about it?

C: By not talking about it I'm following long-term advice. you don't' talk about intelligence. so my not talking about it doesn't mean yes, doesn't mean no, it means we don't talk about it [laughs].

S: But do you want to know? [lighthearted]

[big laugh from Clinton]

Well I think that we have a very positive relationship with Thailand, that we want to look at how we're going to focus on areas where we're going to make a difference to the Thai people and the American people in the 21st century.

W: Talking about Thailand, do you think that there are any particular areas where we can improve our relations.

C: Well there are a couple that we are working very hard on together. As I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, the trafficking issues is one that I personally am committed to. In 1996 I went to the north of Thailand and visited some of the shelters that had taken young girls in.

And I met a young girl, only 12 years old, who had been sold by her family. And it wasn't clear whether the family knew what her destiny would be or if they had been told a different story, but she was sold, and she ended up unfortunately in basically the brothels. And when she got sick with HIV /AIDS she got kicked out, and she made her way back home but her family wouldn't let her it.

And so I met her when she was dying in one of the centers that had been set up for children in her condition. And so that's a very personal experience. And I know that Thailand's making a lot of efforts to try to end that scourge of human trafficking, and we want to work with you and do what we can to accelerate those efforts.

I think the research efforts that are doctors and scientists are doing our diseases is especially important, not only on HIV/AIDS but also other diseases where the facilities and reputation of your institutions and your researchers are so high, and we have a great partnership. So I think that there's a lot of positive work for the future.

We're grateful that we have a wonderful relationship wit the military in Thailand, because we want to be ready for disaster assistance or any other crisis that may occur. Across the board, we feel positive -- and I want the Thai people to know how positive we feel. I don't want anyone thinking that under our new administration we are taking Thailand for granted.

That's why I'm here with a very strong message of our appreciation for our partnership and friendship.

We'll start with a question from Chiang Rai province.

[Clinton says that's she's been there]

It's from Doctor Jakaphan Wongburanawat -- he's now the dean of the school of liberal arts Nappa Luo University?? university.

Video -- hello Mrs. Clinton. I would like to welcome you back to Thailand again. Actually I met you in 1996 when you visit the Thai women of tomorrow project in Chiang Rai. At that time I served as the dean of the faculty of social sciences at Chiang Mai University, and also serving as the director of the Thai women of tomorrow project. I would like to report to you that we can really accomplish our goal -- that we can really find the workable model to solve child prostitute problem in Thailand. In this regard I would like to thank the US government for supporting for the first days of the project.

What are the new US policies for controlling drugs and human trafficking from Southeast Asian countries.

C: Dr. I think we got the question. I know that your dedication to this issue -- particularly saving children from childhood prostitution. and I well remember my visit to you and to the project that you showed and explained to me. I thin that Thailand has made a lot of changes.

When I was here in 1996 I actually met with some of the people in the government at that time, and we talked about some of the laws that were being considered. A lot of those laws have been passed, they're on the books, so to speak.

Now it's a question of enforcement, and of changing attitudes -- like the attitudes of police officers and judges. this is something that we work with countries on across the world. A lot of police forces or judicial systems are hard pressed for funds and they worry that if they pay attention to human rights abuse they're not going to be dealing with murders and robberies. They have to understand that it's all part of the same set of challenges to a law-abiding society.

So I think there's some additional training and sensitizing. I also think that societies across the world has moved towards understanding that girls are just as valuable as boys, and that girl children deserve that the investment you made in your daughter, sending her to my alma mater, Wellesley college, or that Bill and I have made in our daughter, and that daughters are not a commodity to be sold .

I remember that when I was in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai that one of the people that was showing me around showed me the houses that had the satellite dish were the houses that had sold their daughters and the houses that down the road next door that didn't have dishes either didn't have daughters or refused to sell their daughters.

S: What is the latest report on the US economy? Has it hit rock bottom?

C: Well actually the reports are that we are stabilizing, that we are not out of this yet at all, and that we still have very high unemployment, particularly in some parts of our country. But our Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified yesterday before Congress and said that we think that we should be able to maintain the plateau we're on.

We're obviously, like much of the rest of the world, at negative growth, but we might at the end of this year or early next year see a slight positive growth and then jobs returning. But we're not out of the woods yet. I guess that's the best way of saying it.

W: Are you here in Asia because you want to balance the power of China?

C : Well I think we all want China's remarkable rise to be a peaceful one. We want China to compete peacefully, in the economy and in the political arena. And therefore the more we involve china, in the work we're doing and in the organizations like ASEAN, the more opportunities we'll have to create a positive framework for not just china's future but also Asia's future.

Now I know that China's neighbors have expressed concerns, so we want to certainly strengthen our relationships with a lot of the countries that are in East and Southeast Asia, but what we hope is that we all can work together and that China remains focused on raising the economic wellbeing of their people and competing in the marketplace. And that's our goal.

We'll be starting a very significant strategic and economic dialogue with China on Monday, which I will lead along with our Treasury secretary. So we want to explore areas of cooperation. And I think there are some. Obviously we were very pleased to get the cooperation from China with respect to North Korea, which is important because they have a border with North Korea and longstanding ties with North Korea. And we want to look for other areas to deepen that cooperation.

S: When you were in China in February, some critics said you were too soft on the human rights issue.

C: No, what I said was that we'll always have human rights as a key part to of our foreign policy. And I raised the tough issues - Tibet, Taiwan, religious persecution. But that's not all our relationship is about. I think it's more important to have a comprehensive relationship. The Chinese know what we're going to say about Tibet and Taiwan. There are no surprises there.

We believe that they should allow more autonomy for the Tibetan people, they should respect Tibet's religious and cultural traditions, they should have a dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives.

They know what we're going to say about Taiwan: that we have every intention of following the policies between the US and China that were established years ago. There's a One China policy and we understand that, but we also have a relationship in the economic sphere and in defense with Taiwan, and they know that.

So it doesn't help to broaden our relationship if we come and say the same things, and they say the same thing back and we don't talk about education, healthcare, the economy, the political challenges we face. So my goal was to have a broader base, and that's what we're going to pursue.

S: Do you detect a new approach from the Chinese as well?

C: I think our relations in the least six moths have been very positive. Now we do disagree, there's no doubt about that. But I think we'll find during this strategic and economic dialogue starting Monday that the Chinese are as willing to talk with us as we are as them to see as many areas of agreement as possible.

W: Do you think the US's image around the world has changed since the beginning of the Obama administration?

C: I think it has. It certainly feels that way when I travel. There is a great sigh of relief in some places. People believe that we will show mutual respect, that we will listen, and that we will try to find common ground. Now we're not going to agree with everyone - that's obvious. We have our own perspective and experience and goals. But we want to work in a constructive way.

I'll give you an example in our hemisphere. There was recently an action in Honduras, where part of the government removed the president who had been lawfully elected. And in the past a lot of the people would have expected the United States to just side with the establishment. And we didn't.

We said, this is unacceptable; we are working very hard to try to resolve this. And it was a surprise to many people in the region.

We've opened upon talks with Cuba again which had been on hold for a long time. So around the world we are trying to do what we think is actually smart power, which means you have to work with people you have to be conscious about what their expectations and goals are.

I just came from India, and the US and India has some disagreements over what the best way is to deal with climate change. But in listening to the Indian officials there are many areas of agreement. So why should we focus on the disagreements? Lets find the areas of agreement to sign off on, and then try to tackle the disagreements.

So I think that many people around the world feel as though we are following through on what the President and I said, which is that we're going to have a different kind of diplomatic presence.

Question from the audience:

I'm Kinnoma Khunasomtee from Faculty of Arts and Sciences Chulalongkorn University. My question is which of the US policies do you think has had the most impact on Thailand and Thai education?

C: We have been working together for 176 years, and there have been a number of important initiatives over that long period of time. But I think educational exchanges and student exchanges are among the most important. And I would like to see more of them. I would like more American students coming to Thailand, more American faculty coming to Thailand, and I'd like more students and faculty form Thailand coming to the United States. It think that's one of the reasons that our alliance has been so strong over the years, because people know a little bit more about each other's culture.

We have experienced it. We respect each other, and I 'd like to see us do even more of that. I'd also like to see the very important research that we do with our Thai counterparts expanded even more. Because I just think that the more we share personal experiences and avoid the stereotypes—'"Well this is what Thailand is like," or "This is what the United States is like."

You know I gave a speech in India a few days ago and a student just like you said she had just come back from studying in the US. And she said "how do we get our cultures to understand each other better?" And I think that there's just no substitute for person-to-person connection.

Because we are fighting against cultural media stereotypes. You know, the media paints a picture of the United States that in many cases has nothing to do with reality. For a lot people that's all they'll know about the US unless we create cultural exchange opportunities.

S: As Secretary of State, one of your main responsibilities is to make your image better. There are reports in your American press that your role has not been very outstanding, that you have been sidelined, that you have overshadowed by the President, by the Vice president. Is that true?

C: Well I don't think so. I think that we have a great team. It's funny to me, having been in the White House with my husband… The President is the President. You know, I tried to be the president and was not successful, so I know - the President is the President [audience laughter] I think that what the president does is to get a team that he believes complements what he's trying to achieve.

And I was very surprised when President Obama asked me to be the Secretary of State because we had competed very hard in the primary elections. He said, Look, I need you, and I believe that we can have a great relationship, and we do. Its' been everything I could have hoped for.

We see each other on a very frequent basis, and I work closely with the Vice president and the National security advisor, the Secretary of Defense and others. But what happened is I broke my elbow. I tripped and fell, and my elbow broke in two places -

S: But you're sixty two this year -

C: Why do you have to tell everybody that? [Audience laughter] I could have gone all day without that in the interview. So once I broke my elbow I couldn't take some trips I was supposed to take. And I didn't want to do anything to interfere with the important trip I was taking to India and Thailand. And I knew that if I delayed my recovery that might interfere. So I went to see the president and I said, "I'm not going to be able to go to Russia with you. He said, we need you to be 100 percent, we're in this for the long run.

So now its about a month and a few days after my surgery and I'm much stronger. And I really appreciated the chance to do the physical therapy.

So anyway, I'm not with the president on the trip, and all the sudden everybody goes, " Where is she? She's gone! She's disappeared!" It was one of those things that happened.

W: How does it feel to work with a former competitor?

C : You know its one of the most common questions I'm asked in Asia. And think about it: we really worked hard to defeat the other, and w said some things about each other that weren't the nicest things to say. But in our country when the election is over we try to work together for the good of the country.

And in our system when the president asks you to serve, you feel that you really should because you want to help the president to succeed. And so the President has asked Republicans to serve - not just me. And the Vice President, Joe Biden, also ran against him for a while. So the President has tried to have a very unified approach to his administration.

When I was in Indonesia, it was such a common question because in many countries the hard-fought political competition continues. They don't talk to each other, it's very personal, and lines are drawn. So the Indonesians kept saying, "How do you work with someone you ran against?" And I said that's something we've learned with all our years of democracy--that the country must come first. That politicians come and go. People win and lose elections. But once the contest is over, you can still have policy disagreements, and we do, but we should try to get along, and we should try to pull in the same direction for the good of the country. And I have no problem with that at all.

S: how many days did it take to make that decision, after the president called?

C: Well, it took a while because I loved being a senator from New York. And after my campaign ended I was very happy with the idea that I'd go back to representing New York. So right after the election I said, "Oh, I have so many other people who would be so much better, let me give you names."

But as you've seen on TV, he's very persuasive. Despite our hard-fought campaign, we agreed on most things, and we magnified our differences on the campaign. So what we talked about in the days after our election is how we would proceed, and he gave me an enormous amount of authority as Secretary of State, and really everything I asked for. And I was running out of excuses. I remember one night I said, "I don't know, you're rally making this hard for me," and he said, "I mean to make this hard for you! I want you to take this position."

W: How much to you and Bill Clinton talk?

C: We talk all the time, about everything. Because I really value his advice. But you know he's so busy in his charitable activities right now. There's no real connection between what he's doing and my official capacity. He's always ready to offer whatever constructive advice he can, but he's very happy to be doing what he's doing on behalf of his project on HIV aids, his project on Climate change and this wonderful initiative he started to get people to do charitable good works.

Q: Good morning, my name is Paul. [Actor and TV host] this coming August 12 is Queen Sirikit's birthday and also mothers day in Thailand. As a working mom who's done such a wonderful job raising your own daughter, do you have any tips to share with moms on how to balance your personal and professional lives? And also: which job is the most difficult for you - being the Secretary of State or being a mother.

C : Well I really appreciate your mentioning her majesty the queen. When visited with my husband on our official state visit. We had a wonderful time wit them, we stayed at the Palace, we really appreciated the gracious hospitality and Her Majesty the Queen talked to me a lot about the projects she champions of women and children.

So I extend to her a very happy birthday. I think being a mother is the hardest job, I do, and I only have one child. Those who have many children, I don't know how they manage it. It is a very big issue in the minds of a lot of young women and men today: how do you balance the work you have to do raising your family - and it truly is work, you have to be committed and willing to sacrifice for your family - with the pursuit of both income and some satisfaction in the outside employment that you do.

What you want to think about is how at different stages of your life you try to balance that. The most important thing for a working mother is a very supportive working father. A father who understands that he has responsibilities as well, and that there's a partnership in the family. And I think that employers increasingly recognize that if they're going to keep talented young women, they have to be more aware of the pressures that exist. There's no one anwer, and it really does vary person to person. And I've seen successful models and unsuccessful models in every kind of setting. You know I've seen mothers who never work outside the home who are overwhelmed by their responsibilities.

Their children are not as disciplined as perhaps they should be, and I've seen mothers who work sometimes two or three jobs whose children who are well and focused on doing the right thing. So its every possible m model in between.

And I just wish that - its fine to have a Mothers day once a year - but I wish that every day people would respect the job that mothers do, and try to support mothers in the family and in society. That's something I've spent a lot of my time as an advocate trying to improve. But at the end of the day, being the first lady is a great experience and it lasted for eight years, being senator from New York was a great experience and it lasted for eight years, being a secretary of state has been a great experience and It's lasted so far for six months and a hope for a few more, but on February 27th 1980 I became a mother for the rest of my life. And I think that's how I view it, and that's always a primary obligation that I take very personally.

W: As secretary of State, what's the legacy that you would like to leave behind?

C: We want to demonstrate that the US will lead effectively in the world through creating partnerships with friends and allies like Thailand. And that how we exercise our power will use all the tools at our disposal. Of course we have a very strong and dedicated military, but we'd like that to be a last resort, not a first resort. We'd like to emphasize diplomacy, and exchanges, and dialogue, and I think if we can change that approach and get results for people — because I'm interested in how people's lives change, not just agreements between governments, but do these agreements lead to more children going to school, or more mothers getting healthcare, or more jobs getting created - that's what I'm looking for, that's how I think we should judge the work we should.

W: Will we every get to see you as president of the US?

C: That's not something I'm at all thinking about. It think the job I have now is incredibly demanding, I'm incredibly focused it. And in my country when you're in the secretary of state position, you're out of politics. And that's fine with me because it's so demanding.

S: You've given up hope to be the first lady president?

C: Well, I've got a very interesting and demanding job right now. And I'm not somebody who looks ahead. I don't know, but I doubt very much but I doubt very much that's something like will ever be part of my life.

W: So it's wait and see.

C: No, no!

S - Never say never.

C: well I am saying no-

W: -for now -

C: because I have a very committed attitude towards the job I'm doing now. So that's not something that's at all on my radar screen.

S: if you had a choice, because you were running such an exciting campaign, and a lot of us thought you were going to take it - so what do you think was the biggest mistake.

C: Oh gosh I'm not going to go back and look at all that!

S: if you had a choice between Secretary of State, Education, Energy, perhaps you might have had second thoughts?

C: No I don't really. Those are both very important jobs, I've done a lot of work in those areas. But the secretary of state has such an important role in representing our country and our president to the world. And its something I had a lot of experience in. I'd already been to a country like Thailand, I'd already been to visit many places, not just the governmental official residence, but to see how people and how they were living and what they were doing. And to create a lot of structure for women's empowerment around the world. Os I felt really equipped and ready to take on that job.

S: There are a lot of young ladies here who might aspire to be the Hillary Clinton of Thailand someday. What would be your advice to them?

C: First, education is the best insurance policy to prepare you for whatever happens in the future; this goes for young men as well as young women, pursuing your education, challenging yourself. Preparing for the complexities of this new century that we're in.

Second, if you're interested in going into politics, to expand your experiences beyond those that are already a part of your life. If you were raised in a certain way, in a certain community, get out of that - do public service, do charitable work. Met people who don't' have the opportunities that you. Meet people whose families weren't able to send them to good schools, or even to stay in school. And really begin to feel a part of the broader population of your country and really of the world. Because I think leadership in the future is going o require that kind of base to be successful.

And finally don't try to be me or anybody else. Be yourself. Be who you are, and be the best that you can be. Because often when people come up and tell me that I'm a role model. I say, thank you very much, but my life is different from yours by definition. No two lives are the same.

So you have to pursue what's in your heart and its not always easy, but you have to do it to be true to yourself. That's based on a lot of watching lives unfold, and I wish all the young people here well. Thailand needs you; they need your energy and your commitment, your intelligence, and our dedication to your country's future. And I'm very pleased that I've had the chang\ce to talk with all of you today.

I think by reading and watching this interview people can understand why foreign embassies choose to go to Suthichai Yoon for interviews.

He makes Larry King look like Tim Sebastien from Hard Talk.

If I were the press officer for any embassy in Bangkok, I would run to Suthichai Yoon.

He is all fluff and no substance.

Let us examine Yoon's journalistic prowess.

The ugly:

Asking about Abhisit's beautiful English accent. What kind of an idiot would start an interview with that?

Mocking Hillary's pant suits. Yep, the whole world wants to know about Hillary hiding her weight with particular color pant suits.

Insulting her age.

The role model questions.

Hillary knocked them out of the park with charm.

The Bad:

What was up with all the idiotic questions about the primary campaign and insider political talk that has been covered ad nauseum in the American press?

What do any of those things have to do with Asean or Thailand?

Do you talk to Bill Clinton? Uh, he is only my husband.

Will you run for president? Uh, I only have 7 and half years to go in my present job and I will be 70 years old during the next major campaign.

Why did you fail as a presidential candidate? Who really cares? It is over.

I can't believe these people are in the journalism profession.

The question from Paul about motherhood was really lame. It is also sexist and insulting. How often are male foreign ministers asked about fatherhood? Never.

Hillary handled all this stupidity rather well.

The Good:

I can't believe Yoon actually asked about foreign policy. All softballs, of course, that Hillary handled deftly.

It is unfortunate that Suthichai Yoon is too cowardly to ask the former Thai government officials about their role in the secret prisons and torture.

If you look at the totality of the interview, it was perfect for Hillary Clinton, her image and getting the Obama administration's message out to a foreign audience. The US embassy staff should be commended for a job well done. They knew Yoon was weak and Hillary could handle him better than Larry King.

From the point of looking at Thai journalism in action, it was a disgraceful display, but unsurprising.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think talking about Abhisit's accent was supposed to be facetious, to break the ice. Unfortunately for Mr.Yoon, he forgot to take into account that some people might not find his quip amusing. He also did not seem to be aware of the fact that some people, especially those who are constantly on his back, have insufficient cognitive experience to see the humour in his remark.