Madam Secretary

Clinton: We can’t sacrifice human rights in ‘zeal to stop terrorists’

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting on terrorism today, Secretary Clinton said when it comes to human rights and the rule of law, "We cannot sacrifice those values in our zeal to stop terrorists." Alluding to the horrific maltreatment of females by Islamist extremists, Clinton went on to say, "Our values are what makes ...

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Speaking at a U.N. Security Council meeting on terrorism today, Secretary Clinton said when it comes to human rights and the rule of law, "We cannot sacrifice those values in our zeal to stop terrorists."

Alluding to the horrific maltreatment of females by Islamist extremists, Clinton went on to say, "Our values are what makes us different from those who are trying to tear down so much of the progress that has been made over the course of history, and I have to add, especially for women and girls."

Clinton said that members of the international community must work harder in their joint efforts against terrorism and strengthen the multilateral institutions in place to tackle the problem:

[O]ur joint efforts [are] only as strong as our shared commitment. And today, let me emphasize that the United States is committed to working through multilateral institutions, including the United Nations, to confront the threats posed. We are also committed to strengthening this multilateral architecture. We believe it can do better. So although we are very supportive, we want to work with all of you to improve it.

Clinton also reminded the Security Council that efforts must be made to stop people from becoming terrorists in the first place, which means "addressing the political, economic, and social conditions that make people vulnerable to exploitation by extremists." She went on to say:

For people whose lives are characterized by frustration or desperation, for people who believe that their governments are unresponsive or repressive, al Qaeda and other groups may offer an appealing view. But it is a view rooted in destruction, and we have to provide an alternative view that is rooted in hope, opportunity, and possibility.

This sounds like a huge, daunting "save the world" job, but Clinton is right — improved political, economic, and social conditions would go a long way toward giving people an outlook of hope and opportunity and a sense that there’s more to be lost than gained by joining or supporting terrorists. But giving people an "alternative view that is rooted in hope, opportunity, and possibility" (if outsiders can even do so) would be a long-term, multiyear effort that would span generations — 25 or even 100 years, depending on whom you ask. Would the American public be up for such a long-haul effort? Perhaps if it didn’t involve too much money or too many American lives lost. But this does seem to be the only true way to ultimately nip terrorism at its roots.

Here is the video of her remarks:

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. @pjaroonFP
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