Earnest: U.S. Foreign Policy Should Not Be Judged by Whether Yemen Is a Success or Not

‘The measure of the U.S. policy should not be graded against the stability or the success of the Yemeni government. That’s a separate enterprise’

BRZEZINSKI: “Is Yemen still a success story, can you say that?”
EARNEST: “Yemen has four years been in a chaotic situation --”
BRZEZINSKI: “But is it success story?”
EARNEST: “ -- and it is a country that continues to be very dangerous because they do not have the same kind of government structures in place that allow for a country to function. And what we know -- and this has happened the past and we know that it's happening now -- that there are certain extremist groups that have designs on attacking the West, to try to take advantage of this chaos, to try to insert themselves into chaos --“ [crosstalk]
BRZEZINSKI: “Clearly that's what happened. So should we dial back on the words that it is a success story. When you have the president fleeing on a boat.”
EARNEST: “Well Mika, we need to separate out two things here. The measure of the U.S. policy should not be graded against the success or the stability of the Yemeni government. That's a separate enterprise. And the goal of U.S. policy toward Yemen has never been to try to build a Jeffersonian democracy there. The goal of U.S. policy in Yemen is to make sure that Yemen cannot be a safe haven that extremists can use to attack the West and to attack the United States and that involves trying to build up the capacity of the government to help us in that fight. And there is no doubt that we would prefer situation where there is a stable government, where there was a place where U.S. personnel could operate inside of Yemen, could coordinate directly with Yemeni security forces to take the fight to these extremists. But the fact is even though U.S. personnel’s no longer in Yemen, the United States continues to have the capacity and resources and reach to be able to take strikes when necessary against extremists that are operating –“ [crosstalk] 
BRZEZINSKI: “Chris.”
JANSING: “How Josh -- how when you have the embassy closed, the Americans have left. You have a parliament that has been dissolved, you have the president fleeing on a boat maybe toward Djibouti, you have so many less possibilities for intelligence on the ground. How can you say that we're still in a counter terror situation there?”
EARNEST: “Well again –“ [crosstalk]
JANSING: "-- that’s created for AQAP in this chaotic situation.”
EARNEST: “Again Chris, we would much rather be in a situation where there was a stable central government that could actively support our ongoing efforts in a way that would allow U.S. personnel to remain in the country” [crosstalk]
JANSING: “But given the situation you have now Josh, what can the United States do in terms of counter-terror strategy in Yemen?
EARNEST: “There -- we do continue to be in touch with some elements of the Yemeni government. Obviously those -- that effort of security cooperation is not as robust and as successful as it would otherwise be if the Yemeni government were stable. But we still continue to have ties that are important to our security. The United States continues to have resources in the broader region that we can use to strike terrorists if necessary and the president has indicated that commitment to using those resources to keep the American people safe.”

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