Washington — The United States wants to encourage other nations to enforce “a universal set of values and interests” such as freedom, human rights and democracy, says Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and she pointed to the Arab participation in international operations to help the Libyan people end Muammar Qadhafi’s brutal 42-year reign as an example of “exactly the kind of world that I want to see.”
Speaking at the National Defense University in Washington August 16 with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Clinton said the U.S. use of “smart power” means working with more nations to uphold universal values, as opposed to having only the options of “brute force” or unilateralism in response to global challenges.
“The United States stands for our values, our interests and our security, but … we have a very clear view that others need to be taking the same steps to enforce a universal set of values and interests,” she said.
Clinton said member nations of NATO have been joined by Arab nations in an active response against Qadhafi’s violent repression of Libyans calling for greater freedoms and political openness.
“For the first time we have a NATO-Arab alliance taking action. You’ve got Arab countries who are running strike actions. You’ve got Arab countries who are supporting, with advisers, the opposition. This is exactly the kind of world that I want to see, where it’s not just the United States,” Clinton said.
Secretary Panetta said the combination of the NATO and Arab forces, international sanctions against the Qadhafi regime, diplomatic pressure from the Arab League, and the actions of the Libyan opposition have worked together and been “very helpful in moving this in the right direction,” adding that “the sense is that Qadhafi’s days are numbered.”
Opposition forces are moving toward the capital, Tripoli, from both the east and the west sides. Panetta said that Qadhafi’s forces are weakened, as evidenced by recent senior defections from his regime.
Clinton called for international cooperation to respond to the violent suppression of Syrian demonstrators by Bashar al-Assad’s government, saying Syria’s neighbors can have greater influence over the Assad regime’s actions than the United States, which has had troubled relations with Syria for decades.
The United States is pushing for more sanctions to pressure the regime to end its violence and is assembling “a very careful set of actions and statements that will make our views very clear; and to have other voices, particularly from the region … is essential for there to be any impact within Syria,” she said.
Clinton has previously called upon countries with closer ties to the Assad regime to impose sanctions on Syria’s oil and gas industry and end arms sales to the Syrian government.
“We don’t have very much going on with Syria because of a long history of challenging problems with them,” and it is “not news” if the United States says the Assad regime must go, she said. “But if Turkey says it, if [Saudi Arabia’s] King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it.”
The Obama administration has said that more than 2,000 people have been killed by the regime since March, and Clinton says the situation there is galvanizing world opinion against the Assad regime. The recent condemnations of the regime’s actions by the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have added to “a growing international chorus of condemnation,” she said.
The United States has worked with other countries to establish “the credibility and, frankly, the universality” of the global condemnation, Clinton said, adding, “That may actually make a difference” in Syria.