USAID Administrator Mark Green’s Interview with Washington Watch’s Tony Perkins

Interview

For Immediate Release

Thursday, July 18, 2019
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email: press@usaid.gov

 
QUESTION: Well, joining me now to talk about this historic event and the role that the United States Government in every aspect is playing when it comes to foreign policy in advancing international religious freedom is the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. He spoke today, actually headed off the second portion of the day with a speech and then Ambassador, Mark Green. Ambassador welcome to Washington Watch.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: It's great to be with you.

QUESTION: Let's start out by highlighting something that Pompeo said yesterday. He was on the program talking and he highlighted the inalienable right that each of us has bestowed by God to, and I quote, "practice one's religion and then follow their conscience and to take care of their souls," unquote. This is critical in and you're coming in, especially -- you spoke about several troubled areas in the world. But in particular, you've been going deep in Iraq, and that region of the world. And faith has been at the center of the conflict there, but it's also a part of the resolution.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: That's very much true. So, as we all know, ISIS attempted to extinguish Christianity and Yazidis and other religious and ethnic minorities from the region. Of course, they've been there for thousands of years, but they've always been part of the cultural mosaic, you know, part of what makes Iraq a special place, Yazidis, they tried to wipe them from the face of the earth. And so, we think that's part of ultimately defeating ISIS is rolling back what they attempted to do. So, we're working with community leaders. We're working with faith-based leaders to do development work, to restore essential services, so that these poor people can begin to rebuild their lives, begin to restore their way of life and not be forced to leave. So, it's a crucial part of what we do. But you said something very important. For us at USAID, around the world, we are far more effective when we partner with a community of faith. The community of faith, faith-based organizations, help us to reach corners that we could not reach in this world through the government. Secondly, a community of faith, faith-based organizations take a look at those who we serve as whole people.

QUESTION: Right.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: They administer to the whole person. And so, in so many cases, the damage that's been caused to religious persecution, through the scourge of terrible diseases. So, we're able to do material things as we are a government agency, but if we partner with a community of faith, we really can help lift lives and build communities.

QUESTION: But that's a -- you know, I know there's been other administrations, but I think this administration is doing this quite well because you don't see the faith community as competition, but rather, as you said, a partner. Because together we can do so much more than if we try to do it alone.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Oh, very much so. And I particularly want to salute Vice President Pence. Vice President Pence has been a fearless advocate for working with the faith community. The door is open, and we not only welcome the community of faith, but we seek out the community of faith because, again, that's how we're much more effective. And we're more effective to the American taxpayer when we partner with a community of faith to reach those corners that are otherwise left behind and left without.

QUESTION: I would say this, Administrator Green, you’re modeling what we’re wanting other countries when it comes to the religious freedom is to allow -- you are allowing the religious NGOs to fulfill that calling to serve others by partnering with them.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: You know you'd mentioned about the extraordinary numbers here. So, last year the numbers, which were probably 30 percent of what they were what they are this year. That was a large Ministerial, that was a huge gathering. And I think some of it, quite frankly, is probably curiosity to see whether or not the Administration was serious. This year, we've had to turn people away. So, the thousand people who are here, it could have been much larger. So, I think first off people see the Administration, the President, the Vice President actually serious about partnering with the community of faith. Secondly, I think there's a recognition that religious freedom is under attack in too many areas, and that we do have to protect the religious freedom that benefits those of other faiths if we expect the (inaudible) to be preserved.

QUESTION: I mean you make that clear in your comment today. This is about the fundamental human rights of religious freedom regardless of what your have faith may be, or even if it's no faith, that there's a fundamental human right.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: It is freedom of conscience. It is what brought people to these shores in the first place, that fundamental freedom that makes every other freedom possible. It is what makes America what America is. But, as we all know, it's much more than that. This is not simply an American value; it is a universal value. And that's why I think you see the numbers here.

QUESTION: You're listening to Washington Watch. I'm your host Tony Perkins. My guest in this first segment, the Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, Mark Green. We're at the Ministerial at the State Department, a historic gathering of leaders from around the world. I want to go back to Iraq, where you've done a lot of work, you've been there, the Vice President has shown a lot of interest. The role of USAID in coming in and creating opportunity for economic development and stability, basic infrastructure, allowing people to come back in. You've got the others taking care of the security issue. You take care of the stability issue. How important is it -- and you've talked about ISIS and what they did there. From my perspective -- tell me if I'm right or wrong -- but this is critical for that region of the world that didn’t work. That this rebuilding in Iraq is successful so that ISIS cannot come back in or that they own that claim that they purged this region. So, this -- we were talking before we were on the air that Americans have a short attention span. We're not yet stable in that region. We still have some work to do.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: We definitely have work to do. There's something interesting that was said to me by an Iraqi leader in Baghdad. I was talking about minority communities and he said, "You know, we don't call them minority communities." I said, "What do you mean?" He said, "We call them component communities because we don't believe that we can be whole as a country if we do not have these components." So -- he was Muslim, he said, "Look, if we don't have our Christian community in Northern Iraq, we are not Iraq. We are not that cultural mosaic of faiths that we believe is a source of strength." And I think he's right.

So, we really are trying to open the door to the restoration of the tolerant culture that was there for so long, as we all know, these are for, we Christians, truly Holy Lands, important lands, fundamental to our religious identity. And we want people to have the freedom to be able to return to those lands. It's hard work. It's down in the community, but we're working with some wonderful faith leaders, community leaders, and we're working to do the hard work of restoring electricity, restoring water, so that people have some sense that they're welcome, that they can be here, that they can begin to rebuild their lives and have a future there.

QUESTION: You know this is -- I was just thinking as you were describing the things that have to take place and that are taking place there, and what USAID does really around the world. It's exhausting work. It is a costly work. But, you know, eventually (inaudible). And for America, if America wants to help shape, especially on this issue of religious freedom and promote this value which, brings with economic growth, social stability. It takes work.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: It does take work, but I agree with you. I believe in America as a shining city on a hill. I believe in an America, that stand for certain values, and religious freedom is at the heart of that. What we need to do is to help these countries get back on their feet. We build their capacity to lead themselves. They are sovereign, independent.

QUESTION: We want to bring them to the point where they're self-sustainable. It's not long-term.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: The purpose of foreign assistance must be ending its need to exist. So, we want to help them lead themselves. We'll walk with them in that journey, but it is their journey. And we can be compassionate by providing those things which they cannot provide for themselves. But we seek to put them in a position to lead themselves.

QUESTION: Almost out of time. Ambassador Green, where else in the world should we be looking for -- I mean, what are some of the hotspots in the world?

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Well, I always look to Venezuela. So, in Venezuela, 10 percent of the population of Venezuela have now fled the country. And the largest Venezuelan city outside of Venezuela is Lima, Peru. Five thousand net per day are leaving. And these poor people are suffering horribly. Northern Nigeria, where Christians are under attack. So, the world's on fire in a number of places, but I do believe in the power of faith, and I do believe in the power of working with faith groups to lift lives, build communities, and create opportunity for a brighter future.

QUESTION: Ambassador Mark Green, thanks so much for taking time out today to join us.

ADMINISTRATOR GREEN: Oh, I'm honored to be with you.

Last updated: July 18, 2019

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