Women in the World
Transcript: Thomas Friedman Interviews Hillary Clinton and Christine Lagarde
FRIEDMAN: What was I thinking?... I’ve just got my girls in my head: “Don’t blow it, Dad.” Okay, so… It’s a treat to be here. And I really want to begin, first of all, let me say that there’s just been some remarkable testimony by all these women from these different countries. But I want to pick up with what Uslana(?) was saying about Ukraine. You’ve both had to negotiate with Vladimir Putin, who does not strike me as the most people-friendly guy, let alone a woman-friendly guy. What did you learn from that experience? What should we know about him as a person, and how are we doing in managing this crisis? Madam Secretary, would you begin?
CLINTON: Well Tom, first, it’s great to see you, and I’m thrilled to be back here at this wonderful conference, and I thank Tina and everybody who’s put it together, and I’m especially pleased to be here with Christine Lagarde ,who has just shown such great leadership, Ukraine being one example, but there are so many more through the International Monetary Fund. you know, we could be here till breakfast, talking about what’s going on with Russia and in particular what’s going on with Vladimir Putin, so I’ll try to be brief and just make a few points. Vladimir Putin, in my view, is motivated by the past. He wants to recreate it, he wants to reclaim it. He wants to restore what he views as the proper place of Russia in the world order. He is motivated by his looking back on history, going back to the Czars, he has publicly said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a great catastrophe. He believes that politics is a zero sum game, which means that Russia can’t do well, with all of the great resources and assets Russia has, starting with its people, if other people are doing well, and therefore he wants to do what he can to elevate the Russian position, particularly in its neighborhood, among those countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union and/or part of the Warsaw Pact. So what he seems now to be doing is looking for ways to score points at home, to build up his political base, relying on nationalism and the appeal to greater Russia, to avoid the kind of protests and demonstrations that were beginning to raise questions about his legitimacy, about the direction he was taking his country, so one of the surest ways of diverting attention is, you know, to cause a ruckus somewhere else. He wants to stop the further Europeanization of those parts of Europe, particularly south and east, and he wants to try to create a competitor to the European Unit, which he calls the Eurasian Unit, with countries like Belarus or Kazakhstan, and then of course, there’s the very personal feeling that Crimea was given away. So he has set about to redraw the boundaries of post World War II Europe, something that we all thought were settled. Now I really believe that over the long run, this is a losing strategy. But I think that the United States and our European allies, we have to be both strong and patient. We have to help to restore the opportunity of the Baltic nations, other eastern European nations, to feel free from intimidation, and that is largely a question of both energy supplies and preventing the subversion of their democracies by influence-peddling, if you will, starting from Moscow. And I think that this is a time for the West, led by the United States and international organizations like the IMF, to be very clear that the takeover of Crimea was illegal, illegitimate. The United Nations General Assembly has just overwhelmingly condemned it. That we need to be putting together both financial and technical assistance for Ukraine, so that they can emerge from this crisis stronger and unified, and we have to play a long game ourselves, and part of our problem is we are a raucous democracy, as are our friends in Europe, and we’re all still trying to get our budgetary houses in order, we’re trying to set our own priorities for our own people, but we, like previous generations of leaders and citizens, have to say to ourselves, it’s really important that we say No to somebody like Vladimir Putin, and that we do it in a smart way that makes him think twice about what he’s trying to achieve.
FRIEDMAN: Thank you.
FRIEDMAN: Madam Lagarde, you know, it’s interesting, maybe the two most important people that Putin has to wrestle with right now on the international stage are women: yourself and Angela Merkel, who will actually determine, you know, more about how this story ends and whether it ends well. Bring us up to date on your negotiations with Ukraine, because obviously, you’re central now to providing t he economic support they need to sustain them through this crisis.
LAGARDE: Thank you very much, Tom, and I’m also delighted to be with the two of you, and with you Hillary, very much so. On Ukraine, we have been on the ground, as soon as the new authorities of Ukraine called us. We started with fact-finding, because we needed to know what was in the books, how much reserves there was in the central bank…
FRIEDMAN: How bad was it?
LAGARDE: It was bad… And what’s more complicated with Ukraine is that you have all the normal authorities that you can think of, but then there are some you know, other parallel entities like (?) and a few others, which are operating legitimately but have also some funny, you know, second set of books. So we did that, and we immediately converted, as soon as it was possible, and when the authorities asked us, into a negotiation mode, and I’m so proud of the team that was on the ground, because there was a group of men and women, I (?) to add, who stayed there, stationed in Kiev, and working, you know, some 18, 19 hours a day, day after day after day after day. They concluded the negotiation, and we will be submitting to the board of the IMF, which includes, obviously, all member states, including Russia, a program under which we will lend to Ukraine, anywhere between 14 and 18 billion dollars, probably, and, more importantly, because money is one thing, and there is a need for money, not just the IMF, but many others as well… we will expect the Ukrainian authorities and the Ukrainian people to take their destiny, to take their economy into their own hands, and to deal with it in a transparent, honest, governed by the rule of law, manner, so that they can go in the direction that the people have indicated was their future. And to do that, there will be lots of things. I won’t bore you with the budget that needs to be voted, with the truth on the price of energy that will have to come about, the right exchange rate, where the currency has to be, all of those things have to go, have to happen over time. It doesn’t have to happen just overnight, but it needs to happen, and it needs to be implemented, checked, controlled, in the name of the people.
FRIEDMAN: A quick follow-up: Are we, the United States, doing our share to support the IMF in this mission? Tell the truth. Haha.
LAGARDE: Alright, you’re asking the truth? No. No.
FRIEDMAN: What aren’t we doing, because I think… (applause)… I think everyone here who doesn’t know the inside of the story would be interested to know What aren’t we doing?
LAGARDE: Okay. The IMF is in three businesses: Surveillance – we go under the skin of the economy of our members, to see whether the numbers are right, and how the economies are doing; we lend money to countries in difficulty, and we’ve done that over the last 70 years around the world, starting in Ukraine after the second world war, went to Latin America, to Asia, back to Ukraine, to all of central and eastern Europe at the time, when the Iron Curtain fell. And we do that. That’s our business. And we do technical assistance and capacity building. Now to go strong, because we need to do that with some countries including, in particular, Ukraine. We need to have a very solid capital base. We cannot live on sort of renewable loans. You cannot be a firefighter and have a little tap that opens over time. You need to have the big hose, right? Well, that’s what we need. And pretty much the entire membership of the IMF has ratified the reform that was agreed to, and actually supported actively by the United States back in 2010, and now, unfortunately, the Congress has not taken the opportunity to finally ratify this reform, and because the United States has a veto right in the institution, because it’s a leading member, it was a founding partner, it can block everything, so I’m the firefighter, and I’ve got this tap, which works, you know, it’s a pipe, but it’s not a big hose, as I need it.
FRIEDMAN: Haha. Gotcha. Secretary Clinton, 19 years ago you went to Beijing and participated in the first UN Women’s Summit there, and one of the things you said there was “Never again will we separate women’s rights from human rights.” How are we doing?... Give us your report card.
CLINTON: Well, you know, Tom, we came out of Beijing with a platform for action, that was agreed to by the 189 countries that sent official delegations. And that platform for action called for the full participation of women, in their economies, in their political systems, with access to health care and education, to be fully functioning equal citizens, and I think we have certainly made progress. There is absolutely no doubt about that. I’m working, through the Clinton Foundation, on a project called No Ceilings, to try to really assess what we’ve achieved, what the gaps are, and also what the agenda for the future should be, because 19 years ago, we didn’t really imagine the digital, technological world in which we find ourselves today. So we’re looking at a glass half-full, not half-empty, the way it was 19 years ago. And there are different challenges, depending, in part, on different levels of development, and different cultural, religious, social attitudes and practices. And I think it’s important, particularly for a fabulous gathering like this one is, to be part of the international taking-stock of what we have achieved and what more we need to do. There are still some horrific situations, you know, there are still girls who are born who are not even registered at birth, they are so considered secondary. There is still a disparity, particularly in Asia, driven primarily by China and India because of their large populations, between the population numbers of girls and boys. There’s about a three million plus gap. Girls are still the last to be fed, still denied health care, still forced to labor, unable to go beyond primary education, married at very young ages, with all that that means. So we know that we have those obvious discriminatory laws, regulations, practices, that we still have to tackle. But then there are the more subtle obstacles. The ones that Christine and I have talked about, and that she’s been highlighting through the work of the IMF or the World Bank or the UN, and so many other organizations, in both the public and the private sector. So I think it’s important that we really look at this broadly and say Yes, we’ve made progress, let’s be proud of that, but we can’t rest. We have a long way to go before the goal that was set in 1995 is reached.
FRIEDMAN: Madame Lagarde, in your work in the developing world, are you seeing in your investment in education for women and girls, are you seeing the multiplier that you expected in these economies?
LAGARDE: Tom, I brought a present for you.
FRIEDMAN: My column for Sunday?
CLINTON: Promise, promise!
LAGARDE: Which is called… Women, Work, and the Economy. So you’ll have all the numbers here.
FRIEDMAN: Give us a summary.
LAGARDE: Okay, back to the numbers, because it’s really important to actually measure, and to then identify what policies need to be fixed, in order to give access, open up the economy, remove the barriers, and not just the cultural barriers, but the economic barriers as well, the tax barriers. So what we did with that work is actually identify, in many countries, what the, what input women can bring to generate more output. I know this is economic jargon, but essentially, if you bring more women to the job market, you create value, it makes economic sense, and growth is improved. There are countries where it’s almost a no-brainer: Korea, Japan, soon to be China, certainly Germany, Italy. Why? Because they have an aging population. And in countries like Japan or Korea, immigration is complicated. So what’s the deal? Open up the market for women. And there are very explicit numbers in there that show that the level of GDP in each of these two countries can be significantly improved just by letting women access the job market. And we are very pleased that having done those studies and very detailed work about some of those countries, the prime minister of Japan, Prime Minister Abe has decided to put in his budget a big allocation for child care centers. He has set targets…
LAGARDE: …Because in addition to measuring, you also need to set targets. We can talk about quote, but targets are really important. When you have the prime minister of Japan who says, “There will be 70 percent women in the work force.” Rather, 70… percent of the women will access the work force, not… When you have the Prime Minister of Korea saying the same thing, and there are measurable results to be had as a result of that. If you look at what the Netherlands have done: encourage part-time, eliminate all the discrimination, that has improved the situation of Dutch women accessing the job market. When you look at what President Lula in Brazil did, followed by President Rousseff, to actually subordinate the benefit of certain indemnities, allocations, and other welfare benefits, to the fact that women can actually go to work and show up for work, so that the people who eventually prevented, or were in the way, have to admit that because there’s money at stake, it’s actually worth it. It has changed the mark entirely, so we look at numbers, we look at the upside, we look at the barriers and the obstacle(?). I’ll give you a final example, in tax: In many countries, tax is assessed on a family unit. And guess what? The marginal rate of taxation applies much more heavily on the secondary wage. And guess what? Because women are generally paid less than men for the same job, they are the secondary wage, right? So they’re taxed much more heavily because of the taxation system in place. If you change that, and instead of having a family unit, you have taxation on the individual, then that discrimination, that disincentive, goes away. Those are the kinds of things that the IMF, for the first time, is actually studying in details and with empirical data.
CLINTON: Tom, if I could just add. you know, for many of us, and I, before the lights went in my eyes, I could actually see people I knew out there, but for many of us, the argument for women’s equality, for women’s rights, was first and foremost a moral argument, right? And it was a political argument, but I think where it is now, as an economic argument, is, in many respects, the maturing of the case that women’s rights are human rights, but also a very important way of enlisting greater support. you know, you are well known for your writing about, you know, the world is flat. Well, it can’t really be flat if you have half the population, either discouraged from or discriminated against when it comes to economic activity, because you will not be as productive as you would otherwise.
FRIEDMAN: I think you’ve talked about it: It’s not only smart, it’s strategic.
CLINTON: It is. It’s very strategic, and where women are more equal, you have less instability, fewer conflicts, greater democracy and accountable government. you know, these go hand in hand. So part of what…
CLINTON: …Part of what Christine has done, and I will toot her horn, the IMF has only recently begun looking at these statistics, because the IMF has these three principle missions. Governments listen to the IMF. So when they make the case that increasing women’s access to and full participation in the economy will raise your Gross Domestic Product, and that’s true even in the United States.
CLINTON: It’s not just true somewhere else. I mean, the percentages are not as great here, but even in the United States, what we’re learning, and you know, Cheryl Sandberg(?) with Lean In(?), a report out of Google in the last 48 hours, the way women are treated is often now much subtler, but no less damaging, not only for the individual woman, but for the economy as a whole. And that’s a profound message that I hope more and more people and institutions will help us make.
FRIEDMAN: Just go a little from the public to the more personal. Is there still a double standard in the media about how we talk about women in public life?
FRIEDMAN: …And I want to ask specifically, because I had a lot of fun actually researching both of you, and I came across a story which you, I can’t believe is true, but you were meeting with a foreign leader, you had flown all night, you had said that you’d tied your hair back, and he, when you came into the room he was really frightened because he had heard that when your hair was back, it meant that you were going to deliver unpleasant news.
CLINTON: That’s right.
FRIEDMAN: And Christine, when your hair is short, it means you’re going to devalue them?
LAGARDE: I’ll tell you, I had my hair a bit longer last October, for the annual meeting. A journalist actually wrote a story, full page, saying that because my hair was longer, there would no longer be hair cuts(?). Hair cuts are the death of a sovereign state.
FRIEDMAN: I guess that answers that question. But Hillary, pick up on that, yeah…
CLINTON: Really, Tom, I think… (laughter)…
FRIEDMAN: I mean, seriously, human sacrifice!
CLINTON: There is a double standard, obviously. We have all either experienced it, or at the very least seen it. And there is a deep set of cultural, psychological views that are manifest through this double standard. you know, I remember as a young lawyer, and this was so many years ago, I read, there was a column in the paper in Arkansas, and it was advice about the workplace, and one of the questions that I read one day was, “Dear so and so,” it was a man who wrote it, and the writer said, “I got a promotion, so for the first time, I’m going to have my own office, and I don’t know how to decorate it. Do you have any advice about what’s appropriate for the workplace?” And it was initials like H.R. or something. And the answer was, Well, I can’t tell from your initials whether you’re male or female. Because if you’re male, I recommend, if you have a family, put the pictures in your office, because then everyone will know you’re a responsible, reliable, family man. If you are a female, don’t have any pictures of your family, because then they think you won’t be able to concentrate on your work. I remember reading that, and this was so long ago, and yet, some of those attitudes, we know still persist. And if they persist in as open and in many ways, transformational society as ours is right now in the 21st century, you know how deep they are. And that’s why it’s important that we surface them, and that we talk about them and, you know, help men and women recognize when they are crossing over from an individual judgment, which we’re all prone to make, and have a right to make about somebody, man or woman, into a stereotype, into applying some kind of gender-based characterization of a person. So yeah, the double standard is alive and well, and I think, in many respects, the media is the principal propagator of its persistence, and I think the media needs to be, you know, more self-consciously aware of that.
FRIEDMAN: Madame Lagarde, I want to ask you to answer the same question from your experience, but also talk about, you know, you headed a major international law firm, first finance minister, first head of the IMF, but as a European woman, is the glass ceiling different? Is it thicker, thinner, in Europe? How is it different trying to be a pioneer there than here? Because many people don’t know, you actually did your senior year of high school in the United States.
LAGARDE: You know, the glass ceiling is different, yes. But there is equally a glass ceiling there as well. I think it’s different because I was privileged to grow up in a country, France, which has always regarded… women going to work as something that was either necessary, right after the second world war, because there had been so many casualties, so many people had died, so many men had died, so women had to, you know, participate in the work, in the factories, in the schools, in the civil service, and I think, not to rewrite history, but General De Gaulle was also himself convinced that it was necessary to bring the women in. He was the first one who actually gave the French women the right to vote. And he wasn’t(?) powerful(?) long enough to actually make a mark. So there’s always been there at least a solid financing, you know, society financing of child care centers, of institutions that could actually help families, not just mothers but families… enable both men and women, fathers and mothers, to actually to go work, unlike in Germany, unlike in Italy. So in that way, I was, myself, privileged, and had the benefit of that. But there are equal glass ceilings nonetheless. you know, when I was hired as a young associate, or rather when I was interviewed as a young associate, I went to one of the, to the best law firm in France, and they said, “Yeah, your curriculum is fine. Language practice, yes, okay, good. Yeah, we’ll give you a job.” I said, “Great, and what can I expect?” They said, “Don’t expect to make partnership.” I said “Why is that?” They looked at me with surprise, “Because you’re a woman!” So that was there many years ago. I’m not sure that it has changed massively in the last 30 years or so. So there is still that element of glass ceiling and, you know, this smile that I see myself so often, in board meetings, in discussions, when there are many gray suits around the table. And whenever I speak about women’s issue, women’s access to the job market, their share in the economy, I see that little imperceptible smile.
LAGARDE: And then I say, “Yes! I’m the lunatic women who talks about women!”
FRIEDMAN: Given then what you’ve both said, I know there are so many women here, and particularly young women, who would be interested in, you know, what is your best advice to young women who want to rise up in this world, have the kind of careers, pioneering careers that you’ve had, where these, the sexism and these biases still exist?
CLINTON: Well, I get asked that question quite often, which I think is also quite telling, that it is on the minds of so many young women. And I always say, you know, that you have to play both an outside and an inside game. On the outside, you have to find ways to raise these issues, that are truly rooted in sexism or in old-fashioned irrelevant expectations about women’s lives, not in a… not just to score a point, but to change a mind. So when Christine was talking about sitting in the room, and I’ve often been the only woman in a room, and I’ve also had that experience of talking about women’s issues and seeing the eyes glaze over and the mind just wandering, and then you have to think of some way to bring it back, like, “Oh, I know you have a daughter. You must be so proud of her. What do you want her to do?” I mean, you have to think of ways to keep focus on what it is you’re trying to convince the other person, predominantly a man, to believe. So there’s the whole outside piece of it, but the inside is equally important. One of my great predecessors and personal heroines was Eleanor Roosevelt. And she famously said, back in the 1920s, that if a woman wants to be involved in the public, and in her case, she was talking politics, but it’s true in professions, business, etcetera, she has to grow skin as thick as the hide of a rhinoceros. So even back then, this was an obvious point of concern and contention. Too many young women, I think, are harder on themselves than circumstances warrant. They are too often selling themselves short. They too often take criticism personally instead of seriously. You should take criticism seriously, because you might learn something, but you can’t let it crush you. And you have to be resilient enough to keep moving forward, despite whatever the personal setbacks, even insults that come your way might be. And that takes a sense of humor about yourselves and others. Believe me, this is hard-won advice that I am now putting forth here.
(laughter and applause)
CLINTON: …So it’s not like you wake up and understand this. But it is a… process. And you need other women, you need your friends to support you, and you need, you know, male friends as well as female ones, you need good role models. All of that is true. But probably, at the end of the day, you really have to be good, if you have high aspirations. You have to be well-educated, well-prepared, and willing to, you know, take your chances when you come your way, and you know, cut yourself a little bit of slack. I’ll end with this, by saying, you know, at this point in my career, I’ve employed so many young people, and one of the differences is that whenever I would say to a young woman, you know, I want you to do this, I want you to take on this extra responsibility, I want you move up,” almost invariably, they would say “Do You think I can?” Or “Do you think I’m ready?” Well I wouldn’t be asking you if I didn’t think you could and that you were ready, but I know that that’s often the first response from a young woman. When I’ve asked a young man if he wants to move up, he goes “How high, how fast, when do I start?” There is just a hesitancy still about women’s worth and women’s work, that we’re going to have to continue to address, so that more young women feel, you know, freed to pursue their own ambitions and be successful.
FRIEDMAN: Just a quick follow-up on that… Because you’ve talked about all of this media attention, and you’ve been called every name in the book, but there’s only one person in the world who gets to call you mom.
CLINTON: Yes, that’s true.
FRIEDMAN: What have you learned from her?
CLINTON: Oh my goodness, well… She… has worked very hard and very well, and I think has kind of taken the best from Bill and me, thankfully. She has, you know, really high standards, but she also is passionate about her work, and with her and her friends, what I have learned, and what I’ve seen, is how much they support each other. It was still somewhat rare when I was a young lawyer. There weren’t that many young women lawyers, but now there’s a very substantial group of young, professional women that my daughter and her friends are part of, and they really do have each other’s back, and I think we need to do more of that, and encourage more young women to support each other, as I’ve seen with my daughter and her friends.
FRIEDMAN: Madame Lagarde, I want your take on the advice question, and also, what have you learned from your sons?
LAGARDE: I agree 100 percent with what Hillary has said about what young women should do and what all women should do. I would add maybe three things. One is, as a priority, get yourself the best possible education you can, as a young woman, and throughout your life, because while we are good, and we have to be good as you said, unfortunately, we have to be better, and that’s the sad reality of life. But we have to be better. The third thing is, I honestly believe that women are better-equipped than men to deal with all sorts of situations. I’m not saying that women are better than men, but I think that they are better-equipped to deal with all sorts of situations, and better able to adjust, which is a sign of intelligence.
LAGARDE: …So as a consequence of that, if my theory is correct, we are a threat. And we are a threat to men. I’m serious. So when we progress, when we affirm ourselves, we should not threaten them. They’re okay. But they shouldn’t be terrified of what we can achieve, because we can achieve lots and lots of fabulous things, and more than they can. It’s true.
LAGARDE: And that is something that I learned from my sons, to come back to…
FRIEDMAN: Haha. I set that up. Well, that’s actually a perfect segue to my next question. You’ve both, you know, risen to these amazing heights. Madame Secretary, is there any other job you’d be interested in?
FRIEDMAN: I mean… Comptroller of the state of Illinois, or something? You know what I mean…
CLINTON: Not right now. Not right now.
FRIEDMAN: Well let me ask it a different way…
FRIEDMAN: When you think about the country, when you think about America right now, and I worry a lot about our country, and you think about what we need to accomplish in the future, what are the top, what are the priorities on that list, for you?
CLINTON: Well I think, actually Tom, that’s the right way to go at it, because… I think we need that kind of discussion in our country. Look, I spent four years traveling the world on behalf of the United States. I went to 112 countries, nearly a million miles, all the statistics, and I came away from that experience even more confident and positive about our model, about our potential. I don’t want to sound chauvinistic, but I was very proud to represent the United States. Having said that, leadership is not a birth right that you inherit and it just keeps going. Just as Christine and I were saying you have to work hard, you have to be prepared, well, so do nations, and we’ve got some work ahead of us. And it will require us reaching something of a consensus. Now, there will always be disagreements about the particulars, but we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to make our economy produce enough jobs so that particularly young people, the six million 18-to-24 year old Americans who are neither in school nor in work, have a ladder of opportunity that they’re able to start climbing. That we produce inclusive prosperity. I’m a product of the American middle class. I am grateful for everything that I was given as a child, to prepare me to have a fascinating life, obviously. But I don’t want to see other children denied that opportunity. And it is an economic issue. It’s a moral issue. It’s a political issue, and I want to get back to evidence-based decision-making.
CLINTON: …There’s too much that has gone on in… in our politics recently that is just pure ideology, pure partisanship. The disguise of commercial interests behind a political façade. And the result is that we’re kind of marching backwards instead of forwards. So from my perspective, we often reach these points in American history where we’re sort of you know, trying to decide which way we go, whether we consolidate, whether we embrace the future, how we go about doing it, I think it’s one of those times. And if we are going to be true to ourselves, we have an election coming up this year, and we ought to be paying attention to that, because that will set the parameters for a lot of what can or should be done. As Christine was saying, the administration certainly supported IMF reforms. We think they’re in our interests, we think they’re in the world’s interests, but the Congress got all wrapped up around misconceptions, frankly, and political infighting, mostly against the White House. So I think that we need a very open, evidence-based mature conversation. Now we may… that may lead to places that I’m not enthusiastic about, that wouldn’t be my choice, but compromise is an essential part of running a great democracy. We cannot afford to have people who… deny the right and the need for compromise. So that’s what I want to see, Tom, and I want to see it start not just in the editorial pages, where you write about this and try to make, you know, really, the points that I think are important, but we need it, you know, in people’s kitchens and you know, in offices and you know, on the field, watching your kids play soccer. We just need people to start talking and to not be afraid to talk to somebody who disagrees with you. This is one of my biggest problems that I see, because if we don’t begin to talk across all the lines that divide us, we will get further and further separate, and we can’t afford to do that.
FRIEDMAN: A quick follow-up, and then I want to conclude with Madame Lagarde. When you look at your time as Secretary of State, what are you most proud of, and what do you feel was unfinished, maybe love to have another crack at someday…
CLINTON: Well, I really see…
CLINTON: That was good.
CLINTON: That’s why he wins prizes and (?)… Look, I really see my role as Secretary, and in fact, leadership in general in a democracy, as a relay race. I mean, you run the best race you can run, you hand off the baton. Some of what hasn’t been finished may go on to be finished, so when President Obama asked me to be Secretary of State and I agreed, we had the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, we had two wars, we had continuing threats from all kinds of corners around the world that we had to deal with, so it was a perilous time, frankly. And what he said to me was, Look, I have to be dealing with the economic crisis, I want you to go out and, you know, represent us around the world. And it was a good division of labor because we needed to make it clear to the rest of the world that we were going to get our house in order. We were going to stimulate and grow and get back to positive growth and work with our friends and partners. So I think we did that. I’m very proud of the stabilization and the, you know, really solid leadership that the administration provided, that I think now leaves us to be able to deal with problems like Ukraine, because we’re not so worried about a massive collapse in Europe, and China trying to figure out what to do with all their bond holdings and all of the problems we were obsessed with. I think we really restored American leadership in the best sense. That, you know, once again, people began to rely on us, to look at us as you know, setting the values, setting the standards. I just don’t want to lose that, because we have a you know, dysfunctional political situation in Washington. And then of course a lot of particulars, but I am finishing my book so you’ll be able to read all about it. Haha.
FRIEDMAN: I think you also laid the predicate for the Iran negotiations. Without those sanctions… it’s something people don’t see. But I think it was very very important.
CLINTON: Well, you know, I write, obviously, a whole chapter about this, because this is the kind of slow boring of hard boards that Max Weber(?) talks about with politics, but which also applies to diplomacy. It is painstaking, microscopic advantages. And putting together the international coalition to impose tough sanctions on Iran is what eventually changed the calculus inside the Iranian government, and brought them to the negotiating table. Now where it goes from here, we have to wait and see. But it took an enormous amount of effort on the part of a lot of us to put that into motion, so yes, it’s part of the work that we did.
FRIEDMAN: Just (?)… Secretary Clinton, thank you. Madame Lagarde, I want to conclude with you because I was reading The Economist the other day and it said that if the EU, the European Union, were a company, its board would have been sacked. And if it were a football team, it would have been relegated to the second tier. It needs new leadership. Christine Lagarde can be the change…
FRIEDMAN: President of the European Commission? Which would be very interesting, if you’re the president of Europe and you’re the president of America…
(laughter and applause)
FRIEDMAN: I had to ask!
LAGARDE: Oh goodness…
FRIEDMAN: But seriously… when you, at least when you leave your post as MD at the IMF, what is it you hope you will have accomplished and left behind? Because this has really been, you’ve served in this job at a incredibly critical time for the global economy.
LAGARDE: Well, I hope I can leave behind an institution that is confident, proud of the work that it’s doing around the world, which has support of its membership, where women have a place and have a voice, not only around the board table, which at the moment has 24 men and no women except me.
LAGARDE: …But also throughout the entire organization…
FRIEDMAN: I know how you feel today. Haha.
LAGARDE: Yeah… But we’re not threatening you.
FRIEDMAN: No, that’s true.
LAGARDE: And we will have provided real sort of down-to-earth practical value. You ask what, you know, what stays or sticks in my mind. When I went to Myanmar a few months ago, and when Lady Aung San Suu Kyi said to me, “I want to thank the IMF for what you’ve done for my country, and how you’ve helped us improve the economic situation and go one more step in the direction of democracy,” I cried. And that’s, you know, if we can do many of those things around the world, I will have done something good.
FRIEDMAN: Well, I want to thank you both for what you do… I’ve had a chance to get to know you both professionally, and you’re enormously decent human beings, you know, and it’s been a real honor and a privilege for me to be here, and I thank you all for the opportunity.
BROWN: So Tom… He’s gone! He’s gone, but I want to say thank you to Tom Friedman, because the world may be flat, but he’s not, okay?...
BROWN: And to all the young women in the room, I want to say to you tonight, if you want to know cool women, if you want to ask the definition of a cool woman, Left, Right, (?), it’s unbelievable, the two coolest women in the world.
CLINTON: Oh, I love it.
BROWN: Absolutely. And to both of you, Madame Secretary, Madame Lagarde, you have single-handedly banished the term “Ladies in Waiting,” okay? We’re not waiting any more, let’s say that. So thank you so much, we’ve loved having you with us tonight. Deeply honored. To everyone, I want to say to you Good night, and to see you tomorrow morning bright and early. Jon Stewart is coming to moderate this amazing panel on the Arab Spring. Delegates, I want you to go to the promenade for dinner. Thank you so much for being here, thank you so much Madame Secretary, thank you so much Madame Lagarde.
LAGARDE: I think we’re off to a good start!