Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates Talk Shop

October 6, 2009 By Richard Parker

In a lengthy discussion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Bob Gates sat side-by-side at George Washington University on Monday night to discuss the necessity of using smart power tools in solving international challenges.  Both admitted that previous Secretaries of State and Secretaries of Defense have in the past not been the best of friends.  But both Clinton and Gates agreed that modern American foreign policy is most effective when their two departments cooperate and collaborate. 

Gates said he understands “the Secretary of State is the principal spokesperson for United States foreign policy.”  And Clinton said of Gates, “I knew that he understood the kind of “whole of government” approach and was really dedicated to try to make sure that we were doing the best we could for our country.”

Secretary Gates reinforced the importance of development and diplomacy along with defense saying that “the American toolbox should contain something other than hammers.”  Making the case for more resources and personnel at the State Department, he reminded us that “if you took all the foreign service officers in the world, they would barely crew one aircraft carrier.”  And with more resources coming down the pike now to the State Department, Clinton enthusiastically said “We’re hiring.” 

Other topics discussed included: American involvement in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Al Qaeda, Iran and Honduras. Read the full transcript here.