Transcript: Hillary Clinton on the political upheaval in the Middle East after the Arab Spring

Transcribed and edited by Jenny Jiang

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on emerging democracies post-Arab Spring. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya was held on Jan. 23, 2013:

First, we cannot retreat from, give up on, turn our backs on these new Arab Spring revolutionary countries and new regimes.

They are very new. Most of them have leaders that have never run anything.

They have come from backgrounds where they are suspicious of security because security was dirty word; it threw them in jail, harassed themselves, their families.

So we have to do some work, and that work requires we stay engaged.

Secondly, we have to do a much better job in helping rebuild security apparatus that can be used.

Quick example: We had a terrible assault on our Embassy in Tunis, and I called the President of Tunisia. I said, “You have got to send reinforcements right now. Our Embassy is going to be overrun.” He sent it. It stopped. The government has really been responsive, understanding that these terrorists, these extremists don’t just threaten us Western countries, they threaten the stability and the future of these governments.

So we have to help them the way we helped Colombia years ago.

And finally, we need to do a better job conveying a counter-narrative to the extremist, jihadist narrative.

You know, I’ve said this to this committee before – a lot of new members on it – we have advocated the broadcasting arena. Yes, we have private stations – CNN, Fox, NBC – all of that. They’re out there. They convey information. But we’re not doing what we did in the Cold War. Our broadcasting board of governors is practically defunct in terms of its capacity to be able to tell a message around the world.

So we’re advocating the ideological arena and we need to get back into it. We have the best narrative. Most people in the world just want to have a good, decent life that is supported by a good, decent job and raise their families. And we’re letting the jihadists’ fill a void. We need to get in there and compete, and we can do it successfully.

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