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Increasing US debt poses national security threat: Clinton

The increasing American debt poses a national security threat, US Secretary of State today warned, saying it could impact Washington's ability to exercise "global leadership".

world Updated: Sep 09, 2010 03:17 IST

The increasing American debt poses a national security threat, US Secretary of State on Wednesday warned, saying it could impact Washington's ability to exercise "global leadership".

"Today more than ever, our ability to exercise global leadership depends on building a strong foundation here at home," Clinton said.

"That's why rising debt and crumbling infrastructure pose very real long-term national security threats," she said in a major foreign policy speech at Council on Foreign Relations, a Washington-based think tank.

She warned the increasing debt poses a national security threat, saying the Obama Administration is focusing on this crucial aspect of the country’s economic policy.

She said US President Barack Obama understands this.

"You can see it in the new economic initiatives that he announced this week and in his relentless focus on turning the economy around," Clinton said.

The rising debt levels poses a national security threat, and it poses a national security threat in two ways, she explained later in response to a question.

"It undermines our capacity to act in our own interest, and it does constrain us where constraint may be undesirable. And it also sends a message of weakness internationally," the top diplomat said.

She underlined that it is very troubling that the "we are losing the ability not only to chart our own destiny but to have the leverage that comes from this enormously effective economic engine that has powered American values and interests over so many years".

So the US do not have a choice, she said, adding "It's a question of how we decide to deal with this debt and deficit."

"I mean, we don't need to go back and sort of re-litigate how we got to where we are, but it is fair to say that we fought two wars without paying for them, and we had tax cuts that were not paid for either. And that has been a very deadly combination to fiscal sanity and responsibility," Clinton said.

She said the challenge is "how we get out of it by making the right decisions, not the wrong decisions".

"I mean, there's a lot of wrong things we could do that would further undermine our strength. I mean, it is going to be very difficult for those decisions," the Secretary said.