Last Friday, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton spoke to an audience of mostly uniformed men (and the odd woman) at the Ecole Militaire in Paris, hosted by IRSEM (the Institute for Strategic Research at the Military School). Her approach to European Security was one of the most forthright and clear I have heard in a long time. She links European security to US security on almost all levels and reinforced the historical and cultural links between the two parts of the world (read the text of the speech here).
Secretary Clinton referred to five major points in her talk:
I. First, the cornerstone of security is the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states. II. Security in Europe must be indivisible. III. We will maintain an unwavering commitment to the pledge enshrined in Article 5 of the NATO treaty: that an attack on one is an attack on all. IV. We are committed to practicing transparency in our dealings in Europe--and we call on other nations to do the same. V. People everywhere have the right to live free from the fear of nuclear destruction.
But what I found the most interesting was the Question and Answer period following her talk. Professor Gloria Origgi, of the CNRS, asked a very important question about the links between Security and Poverty. Dr. Origgi made a reference to Secretary Clinton's admiration and support for Prof. Muhammad Yunus, the Nobel Peace Prize winner for his pioneering work in Microcredit along with the women of the Grameen Bank for the Poor in Bangladesh. She also reference Obama's Mother, Ann Dunham, who spent many years working with Microcredit and women in rural villages, especially in Indonesia. And she drew parallels between our cultural similarities in Europe and the US as to how we view women and women's place in the world.
Secretary Clinton was very pleased to talk about how alleviating poverty, specifically by targeting women and girls, is one of the fastest and most sustainable ways to fighting terrorism and ensuring security. It was fascinating to listen to Secretary Clinton, a woman who has dedicated her life to serving her country both at home and internationally, talk about non-militaristic answers to problems of Security in front of an audience of mostly male members of NATO, and other militaries.
If we spent as much time and money and effort as we put into defense budgets into fighting poverty, a lot of wars would have been stopped before they began. If we focus more on women and girls and their role in creating a better world (as Sec. Clinton said they did at Davos) then the snowball effect will insure a better and more secure future for all of us.
Prof. Gloria Origgi (CNRS-Paris) and Dr. Vivian Norris de Montaigu (Vigilante VNM productions-Paris) are co-authoring a documentary about the life and work of Obama's Mother, Ann Dunham.