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Water: A Global Crisis, Middle East Peace Process; U.S.-Yemen Relations, A Stranger in Her Own City; Petraeus Says No U.S. Ground Troops Contemplated for Yemen
Aired January 10, 2010 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: This week: Failed security, failed warnings and a failure to connect the dots, all of this still happening eight years after 9/11.
I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to our program. This week has been taken up by rising concerns over American security policy, everything from the intelligence infrastructure to whether development is the long- term answer. Should the U.S. completely rework some aspects of its foreign policy? It's a question that's dominated the week's headlines.
At the White House, President Obama took responsibility and said that the U.S. failed to understand the intelligence that it did have just before the attempt to bomb an American airliner on Christmas Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It appears that this incident was not the fault of a single individual or organization, but rather a systemic failure across organizations and agencies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: At the Pentagon, a draft intelligence report said that more detainees released from Guantanamo Bay are returning to terrorism. Almost half of those who still remain there are from Yemen, and President Obama has halted their return home after the failed Christmas Day bombing plot.
And in a mea culpa from Yemen, the foreign minister told us that his government had spared al Qaeda while it was busy fighting insurgencies in other parts of the country. And in Kabul, the top U.S. military intelligence officer issued a scathing indictment, calling its information- gathering system clueless and ignorant of the local situation.
The commander of Centcom, General David Petraeus, will join us to discuss that and the situation in Yemen. It'll be his first interview since returning from a visit to the capital, Sana'a.
We'll also be talking about another key source of conflict, the fight over water in Yemen and elsewhere, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. And former U.S. secretary of state Madeline Albright will join us later in the hour.
But first, my interview with General Petraeus at Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
General Petraeus, thank you for joining us.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CHIEF, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Great to have you at Centcom.
AMANPOUR: Yemen is the focus of the military and of everybody's who's looking at al Qaeda. Is Yemen is a safe haven for al Qaeda today?
PETRAEUS: It is certainly the location of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, given that franchise, if you will, by al Qaeda senior leadership this past year. It's been in our viewscope for a number of years. We've been concerned about it. Even when I was in Iraq, we were concerned because it was a source of facilitation and foreign fighters, and so forth. And without question, it has ramped up over the course of the last year or more, in particular with training camps and so forth there.
AMANPOUR: Is it the most important location for the war against al Qaeda?
PETRAEUS: I don't think it's the most important. That would likely still be the western Pakistan, Afghanistan border area, but certainly a very important area, in an area where, again, it has been resurgent, Somalia another one like that, at a time when al Qaeda has suffered severe reverses in Saudi Arabia, been reduced considerably in Iraq, and indeed, even in the western areas of Pakistan, Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: You talk about suffering severe losses, for instance, in Saudi Arabia, but one American official described precisely that victory there as really being like trying to nail jelly to a wall. In other words, you squeeze al Qaeda in one place and it pops up in another place. Do you face a generation of migrating jihadis?
PETRAEUS: Well, this is going to be an enduring effort, without question, and I have certainly never used a word like "victory" in this particular effort. What you have is a need to confront al Qaeda, to confront extremism wherever it is and to try to do it all simultaneously. You remember in Iraq, they used to say we were whacking moles, and I said, You're right, we have to whack a lot of moles all simultaneously. And that's what we have to do with this global movement that is al Qaeda.
AMANPOUR: Tell me right now, how do you assess? Are you winning against al Qaeda?
PETRAEUS: I think there's been progress overall over the course of the last year against al Qaeda. I think that, in general, its capability is diminished. But that's only, again, a relative judgment because there is clearly substantial capability that still is resident. Even in Iraq, for example -- level of violence is down by over 90 percent, violent civilian deaths 90 percent, al Qaeda still does have an ability there to carry out periodic horrific attacks. And so we must maintain the pressure on al Qaeda wherever it is found.
AMANPOUR: You just went to Yemen and you've just returned from Yemen. You had talks with the president of Yemen. Is the United States going to have direct involvement there -- in other words, troops on the ground or launching strikes from inside Yemen?
PETRAEUS: Well, in fact, you talked to the Yemeni foreign minister, as well, and he was quite clear that Yemen does not want to have American ground troops there. And that's a good -- good response for us to hear, certainly. We...
AMANPOUR: You doesn't want to put ground troops there.
PETRAEUS: No, of course, we would always want a host nation to deal with a problem itself. We want to help. We're providing assistance. So we're going to provide more assistance in the course of this year than we did last year, after, I think, having zeroed it out, as you'll recall, back fiscal year '08. So this is an effort that we want to help them to deal with a problem that threatens their very writ of government and their very existence as they know it.
AMANPOUR: You talk about providing more aid. From what I can gather, aide was sort of increased by about $12 million between '09 and 2010. You said when you were there that it was going to double next year, or in this year. Is that going to happen?
PETRAEUS: I think it will. The programs that we submitted that were part of the budget that has since been approved -- the appropriations bill that's been signed by the president -- would, in fact, more than double the security assistance. Last year, it somewhere around $70 million. Over the course of this fiscal year, it should be somewhere around $150 million or more. And the amount of economic aid increased, as well.
AMANPOUR: Isn't that, though, paltry? I mean, it's a big sum, but isn't it really paltry, given that al Qaeda is the United States' chief objective, destroying, defeating, whatever you want to call it, compared to the billions of dollars that are spent in Afghanistan, that have been spent in Iraq and elsewhere? I mean, $150 million?
PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, we're not the only country with a huge interest in what goes on in Yemen, and in fact, there are very significant sums provided by other partners in this effort. The Saudis...
AMANPOUR: Such as?
PETRAEUS: Saudis, reportedly, $2 billion in the course of a year. The Emirates I think just publicly pledged, I believe, some $600 million or $700 million. So there are very significant other partners in this particular endeavor to help Yemen, and that's appropriate. They -- we all have a significant interest.
There's going to be a big conference in London after the conference on Afghanistan. The Yemeni president was very pleased with that. Indeed, some years ago, there was a pledge of billions of dollars in aid to Yemen, but not all of that has been provided, in part because of the security concerns and in part because of the absorption capability of the Yemeni government, and so forth.
AMANPOUR: There is the former U.S. ambassador to Yemen who's saying today that, in fact, there's no strategy beyond throwing money and arms at this program -- at this problem. There's no development strategy. Most people say that this is not going to be won by the military alone. Do you agree with that, that this needs real aid, a real strategy of development because it's the great poverty there that's a recruiting tool for al Qaeda?
PETRAEUS: Well, no question that it has to be a whole-of-government approach, and again, ideally, governments, with an "S," again, denoting that it's many more than just the U.S. government that have a stake in success there. Certainly, security, though, is -- again, without that, you cannot provide the aid and the assistance.
AMANPOUR: But do you agree that sort of the desire for quick results, the short-termism that the United States is (ph) often described as, needs to change? Do you think there needs to be a systemic change to issues such as Yemen, which is so obvious, so many people say, that the grinding poverty there is such a recruiting tool?
PETRAEUS: I think that's exactly right. I think, really, that we have arrived at that conclusion. I think we recognize that these are not short-term problems. These aren't campaigns where you muster a force, take the hill, plant the flag and go home to a victory parade. These are endeavors that have to be comprehensive in nature, and they have to be enduring in their timeframe.
AMANPOUR: Let me ask you -- the foreign minister told us that they had perhaps, quote, "spared" al Qaeda in the fight against their other secessionist and other rebellions in that country. We're going to play that sound bite.
ABU BAKR AL QIRBI, YEMENI FOREIGN MINISTER: I think our fault was that maybe we should spare al Qaeda in the last year or -- because of the confrontation in this house (ph) (INAUDIBLE) but al Qaeda took advantage of that.
AMANPOUR: Do you believe that the Yemeni government is as committed to fighting al Qaeda as it is to the other problems it faces in its own country there?
PETRAEUS: Well, time will tell, but we have certainly seen significant commitment, over the course of recent months in particular. Now, I think it's now well known that in July, I went into Yemen, had a very, very good, very constructive meeting with President Saleh. It was at that time that we really started embarking on the much more serious intelligence sharing. And this is very much a two-way street because the Yemenis are indeed committed to this.
AMANPOUR: General Petraeus, we're going to go to a break. We'll talk more about Yemen and the catastrophic failure of intelligence that led to that suicide bombing in Afghanistan and other issues when we return.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back. We're still here with General Petraeus down at Centcom headquarters in Tampa. General, thank you very much for being with us.
PETRAEUS: Great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Let's go now to Afghanistan and some of the strategy that has been used -- for instance, drone attacks. You're obviously using drone attacks in Yemen, correct?
PETRAEUS: Again, we haven't discussed the assistance that we have provided in Yemen, and I'm afraid I won't here today.
AMANPOUR: You are stepping up drone attacks in Pakistan.
PETRAEUS: Again, we...
AMANPOUR: We understand there are six or so.
PETRAEUS: As you know, we don't -- we don't talk about the source of the explosions in western Pakistan. But certainly, many commentators have noted the considerable pressure that has been brought on the leadership, in particular, of al Qaeda and also of some other important extremist elements there.
AMANPOUR: Well, I ask you this because a new video has emerged showing the Jordanian al Qaeda double agent, with Baitullah Mehsud's brother, essentially saying why he blew up himself in that CIA base in Afghanistan. And it seemed to have quite a lot to do with the drone attacks. Does that concern you?
PETRAEUS: Well, first of all, Baitullah Mehsud and his organization carried out horrific attacks inside Pakistan, and that is what I think should concern the Pakistanis, as certainly it concerns us.
AMANPOUR: But how much of a concern for you is the backlash against those drone attacks?
PETRAEUS: Well, let me talk about it in a general context, if I could. And that is in the conduct of any campaign, particularly a counterinsurgency campaign, there has to be enormous effort in trying to minimize the loss of innocent civilian life, to minimize collateral damage. And that does, indeed, characterize our campaigns.
General McChrystal -- among the number of initiatives that he has undertaken has been to issue counterinsurgency guidance that gets right at that issue and then has been quite -- really very, very determined in implementing that, as well. There will be loss of innocent life in war, but we have got to make sure that we minimize it and that we try to avoid it just about at all costs.
AMANPOUR: The top U.S. intelligence officer in NATO based in Afghanistan has called intelligence gathering and information gathering, quote, "clueless," ignorant of the local situation. Do you agree with that?
PETRAEUS: Well, in fact, when we did the strategic assessment that was part of my taking command...
AMANPOUR: That was requested by you.
PETRAEUS: ... in the winter of 2008 into 2009, one of the conclusions we reached was that we hadn't devoted anywhere near sufficient intelligence capacity, analytical capability, just sheer resources to the Afghanistan and Pakistan effort. I shared that with Director Blair, for example, the DNI, and he, in fact, created an associate DNI for Af/Pak. We created a center of excellence. We have the Af/Pak end (ph). And we even sent General Flynn to Afghanistan to help work on that issue. We still have a lot of work to be done.
AMANPOUR: So what needs to change, then, General? Because this is -- this is incredible, to hear that that's happening still after all these years, all these troops in Afghanistan, all this money and human resources and sacrifice, and that the intelligence is still not up to scratch because they don't know the local communities.
PETRAEUS: Well, in fact, we have not devoted the kind of resources to it that is necessary. I know what it takes. We built an intelligence structure, we built an entire organization overall in Iraq to conduct counterinsurgency operations, and it requires a significant commitment. We are now making that kind of commitment to Afghanistan, but we had not before.
AMANPOUR: Is it late?
PETRAEUS: It is late. Sure, it is. I mean, we're years into this, and we are at the point where we have got to produce progress, even as there is this significant message of additional commitment that the president has provided in his policy decision and speech back in December. He's also convened (ph), I think understandably, a message of urgency, that we've got to get on with it and so that we can, indeed, turn this and try to produce the progress that is necessary to enable us to carry on.
AMANPOUR: All right, let me read some conclusions from another study that you commissioned, among others, from the retired U.S. general Barry McCaffrey, who's just came back from Afghanistan, who basically is saying that the 18-month deadline to begin exit strategy is unrealistic, that we are, quote, "unlikely to achieve our political and military goals in 18 months. Inevitably, this will become a three to ten-year strategy to build a viable Afghan state, one in which their security forces are up to scratch, to enable U.S. security forces to be able to pull out."
PETRAEUS: Well, let's remember what we're trying to do in 18 months, and that is not to achieve all of our political and military objectives. It is to achieve progress to enable us to begin a conditions-based transition of some tasks to Afghan forces...
PETRAEUS: ... and a responsible beginning of a drawdown of our forces.
AMANPOUR: So three to ten years to set up a viable and responsible withdrawal and exit strategy?
PETRAEUS: Well, that's his assessment. Again, I'm not going -- I always refuse to put timelines...
AMANPOUR: But you commissioned this.
PETRAEUS: ... when I was in Iraq and Afghanistan...
AMANPOUR: Do you agree with it?
PETRAEUS: ... and so forth. And again, I will not put a timeline on something like this. We've not done that in the past and it's not something I think is productive for me to do in the future, other than to say what I have said repeatedly, and that is that this is going to take significant, enduring commitment. And that is what I think this policy represents.
AMANPOUR: OK, I'll ask you another thing that he came up with in terms of his conclusion. You've been talking and we've been talking about development. The U.S. has been talking about the civilian surge that's vital for Afghanistan. General McCaffrey says that the civilian surge, quote, "will not materialize. Afghanistan in the next two to three years will simply be too dangerous for most civil agencies to operate."
Do you agree with that assessment?
PETRAEUS: Actually, with respect, I don't. The civilian surge is materializing, in fact...
AMANPOUR: But can it operate? I know people are being sent there, but can it actually operate?
PETRAEUS: I think it can. Look, in Iraq, we were able to do this and the level of attacks was many multiples what we are seeing in Afghanistan right now. That is not to in any way diminish the enormous security challenges in Afghanistan. It is to say that we have been able to do this in vastly more violent situations, and that was certainly Iraq in 2006 and 2007.
AMANPOUR: General Petraeus, thank you very much for joining us.
PETRAEUS: Great to be with you, Christiane. Thanks.
AMANPOUR: That was General Petraeus talking to me at his Centcom headquarters in Tampa, Florida.
Coming up, how a shortage of resources fuels instability in Yemen.
And we'll take a closer look at the water crisis gripping billions of people around the globe.
AMANPOUR: As we've been hearing, Yemen is now at the forefront of the war against al Qaeda, but the government in Sana'a says that much of the violence in the country is about disputes over resources, such as water. According to the World Bank, Yemen is pumping about a third more water than is sustainable. In some areas, Yemenis are draining supplies even faster, and residents in parts of Sana'a, the capital, only receive piped water once every two weeks. By one estimate, Sana'a could actually run out by 2015, as we heard earlier in the program.
And it's an issue in so many other parts of the world, as well, including the Middle East, as U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mentioned at a news conference on Friday, when she added access to water to the essentials for peace in the Middle East.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We know what a final resolution will have to include -- borders, security, Jerusalem, refugees, water. We know what the elements of this two-state solution must include.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: And we'll be taking an in-depth look at the Israeli- Palestinian disputes over water next. And later, we'll have a special interview with former U.S. secretary of state Madeline Albright and all of her insights.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Fredricka Whitfield at the CNN headquarters in Atlanta. Here's a look at our top stories.
President Barack Obama is accepting Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's apology for making a racially insensitive comment about him while on the presidential campaign trail. A new book quotes Reid as saying Obama would win the Democratic nomination in part because of his, quote, "light skin," and because he had, quote, "no Negro dialect." Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican Party, says Reid should step down as Senate leader.
And people across much of the nation struggling to stay warm in bone- chilling cold weather. The deep freeze stretches from the Midwest all the way to Florida. Snow flurries have been reported as far south as Naples, Florida, and growers in central Florida are scrambling to protect their multi-billion-dollar citrus crops. The state provides three quarters of the nation's orange crop. A hard freeze watch is in effect for the area tonight, with temperatures expected to be in the 20s.
And some scary moments when a strong earthquake rumbled through northern California. The 6.5 magnitude quake struck late yesterday near Eureka, California. Crews are making progress today in restoring power to thousands who lost electricity. The quake left behind scattered debris but no reports of serious damage or injuries.
And those are the headlines. Back to AMANPOUR in a minute.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST: Welcome back, as we've been reporting, there's another key source of conflict in Yemen, a shortage of water, which also affects billions of people in other parts of the world.
Today, one in three people don't have enough water and that number could double in 15 years. And human efforts to divert water to parched fields and also to factories are causing immense damage to the environment and even fueling violence.
And in one of the most intractable conflicts in the Middle East, water is a major issue between Israelis and Palestinians, as CNN's Paula Hancocks reports from the Hebron Hills in the West Bank.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Izat Abdulla [ph?] and his grandson have just enough wheat to plant, but they don't have enough water to make it grow. Abdullah already knows the crop won't be enough to feed his animals or his family. It's the fifth year of drought here in the Hebron Hills of the West Bank.
He says, "When I was young, it used to rain a lot and no one used to worry about a lack of water."
In the neighboring village, Alad Defa [ph?] shows me his well. It's eight meters deep but it's cracked so it doesn't hold a single drop of water. Now, he and his donkey have a daily four-hour trek to fill up four containers of water.
The water shortage affects not just crops and families, but also, of course, politics. Israel controls this part of the West Bank. Palestinian farmers say if they try to dig new wells, the Israeli military stops them. The region's water also has to serve Israeli settlements and farms.
HANCOCKS (on camera): Here in Gaza, the water shortage has reached a crisis point. Global aid organizations say that the underground aquifer which supplies the vast majority of 1.5 million people here is up to 95 percent polluted. It's unfit for human consumption.
(voice-over): The Arab/Israeli conflict is often described as a battle over land, but just as crucial is the shrinking about of water that runs through it. And conflict over water is not restricted to this small plot of real estate.
The United Nations estimates about 300 places around the world are at risk of potential conflicts around the world over water.
One result of the 1967 Arab/Israeli War is that Israel captured land giving it access to the Jordan River and control of the Sea of Galilee.
Talk peace in the Middle East and war is at the top of the agenda. Israel's peace deal with Jordan in 1994 spelled out water rights in detail. Israel's aborted talks with Syria stumbled, among other things, over water-related issues.
In any future Israeli peace deal with the Palestinians, water could prove as much as a deal breaker as the holy city of Jerusalem.
But a deal might as well be a world away for Dufa [ph?]. At 73 years old, his constant fight for water has little chance of ending.
Paula Hancocks, CNN, in the Hebron Hills of the West Bank.
AMANPOUR: So, how should the world deal with this developing crisis? Joining me now is one of the world's leading environmentalists, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. who's founder and president of the Waterkeeper Alliance.
AMANPOUR (on camera): Welcome to the program.
ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, WATERKEEPER ALLIANCE: Thanks, Christian.
AMANPOUR: What is the real crux of this matter? We can see that it's fueling all sorts of violence. But there's also contamination and scarcity. What can be done about it?
KENNEDY: Well, generally that's a regional question. And, for example, in the Eastern United States, the big issue is water equality, pollution of water and the destruction of water. This is an issue all over the world, as well.
In the Western United States, the kind of conflicts that you're seeing in the Mid East are happening there, as well. It's over water quantity.
AMANPOUR: Tell me about them.
KENNEDY: Well, it's not a question so much of violence, it's a question of big battles between states and lots of lawyers over diminishing quantities of water in the western states. There's an old expression in the west that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting.
And the Colorado River used to supply most of the water needs of the western states. Today, Lake Powell is about 100 feet below its historic levels and soon it's going to be dry.
The other big source of water in the west is the Ogallala Aquifer, which is 10 million years old. It's several hundred feet below its historic levels. And communities like Scottsdale and Phoenix and Las Vegas are continuing to encourage rural development and build golf courses in the desert. And these are huge. These are becoming greater and greater issues.
The Colorado River no longer even reaches the sea. It dries up in the Sonora Desert.
AMANPOUR: Whose responsibility is it to provide water? Is it a basic right?
KENNEDY: Well, if you talk about a right, it's part of the commons so that historically water was governed. Water is part of the commons and so government has a -- it can't be privatized. Government has a responsibility to make sure whether you're rich or poor, humble or noble, black or white, that you have a right to your share of that resource. Everybody has a right to use it. Nobody has a right to use it in a way that will diminish or injure its use and enjoyment by others.
Today, one of the big issues that we're seeing around the world that's causing a lot of conflict is the growing attempt to privatize public water supplies, to hand them over to private corporations.
A few years ago, the Bechtel Corporation took over a public water supply in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and then hiked the rates, which caused riots in the streets. It caused the collapse of the government there.
And this is a bad trend. And it's a trend that I think everybody, you know, decent people who have thought through this issue want to make sure that water stays in the hands of government and the people rather than being allowed to be privatized any more than you would want to privatize the air supply.
AMANPOUR: But what about the issue then of contamination? For instance, I did a report some 10 years ago in Bangladesh about arsenic in the water levels and just a few weeks ago looked to the front of "The New York Times" here in the United States and found that some 20 percent of America, its water supply is contaminated with among other things, arsenic and such things. Forty-nine million people having to suffer levels of bacteria and other such things in the water. How is that possible?
KENNEDY: Well, there's lots of threats to water quality in the United States. One of the threats that isn't receiving increasing attention is the level of pharmaceuticals in our drinking water. In New York City, where we are today, has one of the finest drinking water supplies in the world with their 122 sewage treatment plant discharging into the 2,000 square mile reservoirs upstate in the Catskill Mountains and Westchester County. Those sewage treatment plants -- the water that comes to New York City is unfiltered waters. It has to be heavily chlorinated. That creates a class of chemicals called trihalomethanes, which the City of New York doesn't even test for.
In addition to that, there's growing concern about pharmaceuticals in our water supply. About 80 percent of the estrogen in a -- when a woman takes birth control pills, about 80 percent of that estrogen goes through her body and then ends up in either the septic system or the sewage plant, which discharges it into public drinking water. And in addition to that, there's antibiotics. There's anti-depressants in immeasurable amounts in almost every public water supply in our country.
AMANPOUR: That was the environmental activist, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. speaking to me earlier.
And coming up, the U.S. launches a new attempt to kick start the stalled Middle East peace process. Will it succeed? I'll sit down with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have directed my national security team to develop a strategy that addresses the unique challenges posed by lone recruits. And that's why we must communicate clearly to Muslims around the world that al Qaeda offers nothing except a bankrupt vision of misery and death, including the murder of fellow Muslims while the United States stands with those who seek justice and progress. To advance that progress, we've sought new beginnings with Muslim communities around the world, one in which we engage on the basis of mutual interest and mutual respect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: That was President Obama speaking on Thursday. A day later, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton called for a resumption of the Middle East peace talks -- quote -- "without preconditions."
So, can the U.S. win the confidence of the Muslim world? Joining me now, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright.
Welcome back to my program.
MADELINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Great to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So in all of this, you know, ramping up again of the war on al Qaeda, President Obama still is saying that we must continue our outreach to the Muslim world. Is that because he's sticking to his policy or is that a strategy for winning?
ALBRIGHT: I think it's both, frankly. I mean he wanted and he made that very clear in his Cairo speech and in a general way that we had to have a different relationship with the Muslim world. Actually, a term, Muslim world doesn't work in many ways because it's not monolithic.
But I do think that he believes, as do I, that an outreach is very important and an understanding of what is going on. So, I think it is sticking with his policy, but at the same time, also making clear that there has to be movement on the Middle East peace talks and generally on having a different relationship.
AMANPOUR: Well, we're going to talk about that. In fact, let's just read what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. She said that, "We must now and we're working with the Israelis, Palestinians, etcetera to re-launch negotiations as soon as possible and without preconditions."
That sounds a little bit like a back track to me. Does it to you because they started by having a firm condition and that was the freezing of all settlements?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that is what they would really like. But also what I think has to happen and that is what both the secretary and the president are saying is that we just can't kind of sit around while the situation deteriorates in many ways in Gaza and generally in the Middle East. And then it's important to get the talks going again.
I have listened quite carefully also to what Senator Mitchell has been saying. He is either on his way or about to go to the region in order to really push for a restart of the talks and try to look at different ways that the United States can bring the parties together.
One of the images all the time that were out there when I was in office was that the Middle East peace talks are so much like a bicycle that you just do have to keep peddling and the bottom line is that it has been quiescent for several weeks, months at this point. And the U.S. believes it's essential to get back together.
AMANPOUR: Former Senator Mitchell, the special envoy, said that he thinks that it must take two years and it will take two years and then it'll be done once it's started. Is that realistic?
ALBRIGHT: I think that what is realistic is not to have people think that this can happen instantly. And I think that's part of the thing that Americans would like to say. New administration, bring them together. There is a willingness to move the process forward. And I think what he has indicated is that the complications of the final settlement issues and the deterioration of the situation is going to take time. And so, he has laid out the fact that you can't expect something instantly.
AMANPOUR: What about the whole idea of a two-state solution? Obviously, most people want that. But even former administration officials who worked under you and your administration are really saying that this is getting a more and more distant hope the longer it goes.
ALBRIGHT: Well, people are analyzing the situation very carefully and thinking about what some options are. I happen to think the two-state solution is the way to go. But there are those who ultimately think that they will -- could be a one-state solution, which I think is, in many ways, problematic because given the demographics and the combination of an increasing number of Palestinians within that area, there is then a question as to whether Israel stays a Jewish state. And so, in many ways, what we were working on when we were in office was a two-state solution with demarcated borders and a way that two peoples could live side by side.
AMANPOUR: Let's jump back to Yemen. We're hearing now and it's being written everywhere and talked about by a lot of people that it must be a long-term development strategy for Yemen. You could say that for Afghanistan and elsewhere. But there are many people who doubt that the United States has the desire, the staying power to actually do that. What does the U.S. need to do? Doesn't it just need to change the way it does foreign policy in these places?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think what we're seeing more and more -- and Secretary Clinton gave, I think, a very compelling speech about the importance of development and diplomacy and defense.
AMANPOUR: Can we just play that sound bite because we do have it and then talk about it?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We must also be honest that in some situations we will invest in places that are strategically critical, but where we are not guaranteed success. In countries that are incubators of extremism like Yemen or ravaged by poverty and natural disasters like Haiti, the odds are long. But the cost of doing nothing is potentially far greater.
AMANPOUR: Well, here I'm kind of perplexed because in November of this year, she practically said the opposite when talking about Afghanistan, that the days when we'll come and talk about how we're going to help the Afghans build a democracy and a more functioning state are pretty much over. So the question really is, what is the policy? Do they know?
ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that they are dealing with two very complex situations. You're talking about Afghanistan, Yemen and you could add Pakistan.
AMANPOUR: But it's still all about development and about long-term investments.
ALBRIGHT: I think that what people have said is that there are various ways that some people talk about military solutions in places. And that seems to always be the quickest fix.
On the other hand, anybody who really looks into the problems there understands that these are long-term issues and that they require what a lot of people I've been calling kind of a comprehensive solution that requires the security provided by the military, but, in fact, in a long- term way developments requires development, education.
It doesn't mean that it's all done only by the United States. And so, I think that what you're seeing, and so far people have been mostly talking about Afghanistan, but I think this will move to Yemen also, is conferences like the one in London in a couple weeks where there's going to be an attempt to have the international community understand that our security and the well being of the people in the region are going to require some kind of a comprehensive approach.
AMANPOUR: You say it's not just the United States, but, obviously, the U.S. has the biggest pockets and the biggest ability to do that. Will it pursue that program because, as I say, again, leading up to the Afghan question, there was a push back on the idea of development?
ALBRIGHT: Well, there was a push back on the idea of term that has required a program of nation building. That is different, I think, than development in terms of trying to figure out whether there isn't a way to get support for the people.
You've done so much work on looking at what happens to the people in these countries and women and the situation. And I think that there is a way, that development -- and Secretary Clinton talked about this with the help of nongovernmental organizations, businesses because they, obviously, have some stake in having something work.
And so to have an approach that has a longer term approach in applying a way that there can be education, there can be a way of resource development not necessarily something that just works with the government.
AMANPOUR: And in terms of -- we've been talking about water and that sort of being a source of instability. You came face-to-face with that in Middle East peace negotiations. How crucial is it in resolving conflicts?
ALBRIGHT: I think absolutely crucial. I mean there are a lot of people who believe that fighting over water as a resource may end up being more complicated and deeper than fighting over oil because in so many ways it obviously has to do with agriculture. It has to do with the style of a life that people have and all of the whole environmental questions. It certainly is a problem in the Middle East.
And it was one of the issues between Syria and Israel as to control over the headwaters and also money and water that comes out of the sea, Tiberius. So I think it is one of the big issues and then delimiting the lines and environmental issues. So, it's a very, very big deal.
AMANPOUR: We're going to go to a break right now, but do you think there's any chance of restarting the Middle East peace process?
ALBRIGHT: I do. And I think that it's something that is going to require detailed work by Senator Mitchell and by the secretary and, ultimately, by the president. But it doesn't happen if you don't really work on it on a day-to-day basis.
AMANPOUR: All right, Secretary of State Madeline Albright, thank you so much for joining us.
And next, we'll our "Post Script," more about Yemen, that deeply conservative company, and a young girl who's challenging its traditions.
AMANPOUR: And now our "Post Script." From its lack of women's rights to its strong distain for American and its western ways, Yemen is a deeply conservative country. Tradition dictates that most women and young girls cover their heads with scarves. And at least one young Yemeni girl is choosing her own path. Thirteen-year-old Najmia featured in the documentary, "A Stranger in Her Own City."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your name?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you go to school?
NAJMIA: Yes, in the afternoons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What grade are you in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you do after school? NAJMIA: I ride my bicycle.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody says anything to you?
NAJMIA: Oh, yes, people have their hang-ups. You should see me. I also ride a scooter. I drive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You drive?
NAJMIA: Sure. The scooter.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do people say?
NAJMIA: They curse at me. But it's none of their business. They're just envious. They say bad things about me. But that's OK. Life is short.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How old are you?
NAJMIA: I'm 13.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, what do you expect?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wear your veil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She should wear the Islamic veil.
NAJMIA: I am free. I am not your sister or your cousin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why should she wear the veil?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a sin!!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shameful. The head is sinful.
NAJMIA: What's sinful in that? It's my freedom. What's important is that a woman can go out with her dignity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can always wear a veil but what you do behind it, that's another matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tuck in your dress as if you're going to work in the fields.
NAJMIA: Ha, ha, ha. Shut up or you'll get flies in your mouth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing now?
NAJMIA: I'm playing in the neighborhood.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're playing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's still young.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's like her mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's grown up. She's 13 already.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's a child.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is she being deprived of her desire to be a child?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She goes out with a male to accompany her.
NAJMIA: Go get a job, all of you, sitting her like a bunch of bums. You've finished school. Find something constructive to do.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This girl is the smartest girl in our neighborhood. She's worth five boys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think of her?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's beautiful and adorable. She doesn't need a veil.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think of all those people who say she has no right to play with the plays?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why not? Let her play however she wants. A human being's honor is in the mind, not in the veil.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Inam of the great Mosque.
AMANPOUR: Extraordinary, really. Khadlia Al-Salami directed that film. And to see a longer version and to submit your videos as part of our "Global Dispatcher's" series, go to our website, CNN.com/Amanpour. Send us a snapshot of your world.
That's our report. Thank you for joining us. Goodbye from New York.