March 10th, 2010
01:47 PM ET
11 years ago

Clinton: Improving the health of others is good foreign policy


Former President Bill Clinton and Bill Gates testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday. (PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images)

Washington (CNN) - Aside from a moral obligation, improving the health of people in other nations is smart foreign policy, former President Bill Clinton said Wednesday.

"We live in an interdependent world in which we have learned the hard way that no matter how brilliantly our forces perform, we can not kill, jail or occupy all of our adversaries," he told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in discussing why the issue of global health should be important to the United States.

"We have to build a world with more partners and fewer adversaries," Clinton said. "That's what foreign policy's about. ...if people think you care whether their children live or die, you don't have to send our young people off to war as often," he said.

He and Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft and the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, testified on global health before the committee. Clinton established the William J. Clinton Foundation, which works on global initiatives, including the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative.

In his opening remarks, Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said that U.S. work on global health issues should be strongly bi-partisan, such as President George W. Bush's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the reauthorization of the measure in 2008.

Kerry also said that an Obama administration proposed global health initiative has identified principles that should guide U.S. thinking on the matter: Looking beyond the "vertical silo" of any one disease; focusing on women and girls, who are at the "center of each family's health"; and empowering other countries to eventually assume full responsibility for their citizens' care. Kerry said the administration is "finalizing" the initiative.

"A strong global public health system is not merely a favor we do for other countries, Kerry said. "It is the right thing to do morally and strategically, and it protects our own citizens."

Gates and Clinton acknowledged budget restraints in providing care to people around the world, but said the work was important.

Gates said that he hoped that Congress will be able to increase the funding for vaccine allocation and for The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, a financial organization that organizes and distributes resources to fight the diseases.

"This is very very important work, we have evidence about the great impact that these investments have, we have a chance to increase them and make them more effective," Gates said.

Filed under: Bill Clinton
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. Texas Jack

    At the expense of the American tax payer. Do you think these other countries would come to our aid. I THINK NOT. We're so far in debt now and to think we're promising aid to someone else. GIMME A BREAK. I'm a humantarin but face reality you can't take away from the American People until you make them a third world country. When famine hits this country no one will car. All they'll say is DIE INFIDELS. OBAMA WILL HAVE ACCOMPLISHED HIS MISSION.

    March 10, 2010 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    How do we "empower other countries to eventually assume full responsibility for their citizens care" when we are so broke from Obozocare, we cannot handle our own problems? Sounds like some sort of libertard , elitist, smary talk, but look who said it. The wizard of weird.

    March 10, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |

    OMG, it's not enough that these loony lib Dems are going to destroy our economy by instituting government run health care for America. They are already leaping to create a GLOBAL healthcare system, and claim that we have a "moral obligation" to pay for all of this!

    Hey, Bozos, here's some breaking news for you: WE ARE BROKE!! What is it about being TREEELLIONS of dollars in debt that you do not understand? These Dems must be completely defeated if we are to survive.

    March 10, 2010 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  4. LacrosseMom

    Yes, it goes hand in hand with educating our children well. Its sad and tragic that in the wealthiest Nation on Earth, thousands die every year because they do not have healthcare.

    What I can not understand is how Republicans who claim to be Christian can deny their neighbors healthcare?!

    "Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you have done to me." ~ Jesus (Mat. 25:40)

    How can you be pro-life and okay with your neighbors dying?

    March 10, 2010 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Sgt. Flagg T. McLiberty, Superpatriot

    Caring for other people???? SOCIALISM!!!

    March 10, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  6. Eddie

    Great. How about working on improving the health of Americans vis-a-vis high obesity rates, smoking and lack of health insurance for countless millions!

    March 10, 2010 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  7. Moderate

    It might be nice to try improving our health care system too. Seeing how we rank 37th in the world now. I believe we use to be number one

    March 10, 2010 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. Dave

    So the two Bills are teaming up with their eugenics ideas?! Please people, do your research on this. Gates' "foundation" is a qaint cover to push his and the elites global population control.

    March 10, 2010 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. gwen from Ohio

    Clinton was such a good president, so intelligent and to see him still engaged and trying to help the world, and help America by helping the world is really inspiring!! Obama is very intelligent too and also knows that helping the world and making less enemies in the world will help us in the long run – something Bush, who was definitely not the shapest tool in the shed – never seemed to get. I think Obama is doing a great job I just wish the republicans would stop fighting him on everything no matter how much it hurts Americans just so they can get him to fail! He won't fail though – he's too smart for the republicans and Americans are becoming more informed about the tricks of the conservatives.

    March 10, 2010 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  10. j

    Improving educational standards is an even better idea – but we should first establish good programs in the USA so we can compete at the top in the global economy. If we're going to compete with Japan, India, Europe and many of the other industrialized and emerging economies, we need to SPEND some money to improve our own programs and encourage people to seek advanced degrees – make EDUCATION more AFFORDABLE.

    Once we fix our own broken health care system THEN we can help other countries improve theirs. I don't understand why Conservatives are so afraid of European or Canadian systems – from what I hear, some of the happiest countries have good socialist systems that WORK, unlike our broken system.

    March 10, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  11. Gar

    I commend Bill Gates and Bill Clinton for raising private money to help with medical issues around the world. These are important programs.

    However, until this government learns to live within its means (no deficits) the Federal government should not be doing the foregn aid. Leave it in the hands of the private sector.

    March 10, 2010 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  12. SLM

    How about improving the health here at home before we worry about everyone else!!

    March 10, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  13. Steve Judd

    Hmmm...Focus on the health of other countries while ignoring that of our own country. I am interested to see what the bipartisan response is to this.

    March 10, 2010 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  14. File under "Sarcasm"

    Love the Picture! Clinton looks like he really gives a crap what Gates is saying. I guess Bill Clinton is the only speaker Bill Clinton appreciates.

    March 10, 2010 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  15. Carole


    Missing the surplus that President Clinton left when he finished in 2000.

    It's Wednesday......this will not post due to the rightwing moderator for Wednesday watch.

    March 10, 2010 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Obama the Arrogant Liar

    GO AWAY Bubba and take the ice maiden with you.

    March 10, 2010 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  17. stephen

    all that money, and bill gates can't get a decent haircut.

    March 10, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Aunt Bea and Opie

    Hahaha,Coming from the owner of Boardwalk and Parkplace,Bill Gates.Bill Clinton, your just a wannabe,that sold our jobs overseas and allowed more people to come in and take good jobs,thanks to the bag of cash Gates gave you.

    March 10, 2010 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  19. A. Goodwin

    This is true. Now, lets get some healthcare reform here at home!

    March 10, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  20. dondie

    Bill Clinton had a moral obligation to the sub-culture of gay Americans who helped put him in the history books and he turned his back on them. He knows little about moral obligations which usually require a backbone, a pulpit and the ears of the world. We know he had two of the three. He signed the Defense of Marriage Act with one hand while trying to destroy his own marriage and presidency with the other in the bathroom of the Oval Office.

    March 10, 2010 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  21. Monkey wrench

    The laws of nature apply to us too, our constant circumventing of and intrusion into the natural order of things is why our planet and our Nation are so screwed up. Terminally ill people die off so as to make room for new healthy people, it is the circle of life which includes death. The Inuits put you on the ice when you became a burden on the people, the Plains people left you to fend for yourself. It may seem cold and harsh to some people that can't accept that we are dying from the moment we are born but it is the natural order, this ideology of saving and protecting everyone is the biggest facade these government elitists push, otherwise people might wake up and figure out we don't need them at all!

    March 10, 2010 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  22. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    Says the president who was inept at foreign policy.

    I knew they want us to pay for free health care for the entire world. When they say "universal" health care, they really do mean UNIVERSAL!

    March 10, 2010 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  23. Angry White Male


    Let's make sure we're not improving the health of our enemies while we attempt another "Dudley Do Right" foreign policy initiative.

    Foreign policy down the barrel of gun works most effectively.

    March 10, 2010 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |