The United States supports countries transitioning to democracy not out of idealism, but of necessity, she said, Voice of America reported Saturday.
"We will not return to the false choice between freedom and stability. And we will not pull back our support for emerging democracies when the going gets rough. That would be a costly strategic mistake that would, I believe, undermine both our interests and our values," Clinton said in remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
While many Americans may have questioned of the status of democracy in countries such as Libya since the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi, Clinton said the acts of a small group of people should not outweigh the "broader aspirations and actions" of people in the region.
"They want more freedom, more justice, more opportunity -- not more violence. And they want better relations with the United States and the world, not worse," she said.
Clinton added that "reservoirs of radicalism" could not be eliminated in the short period since the beginning of the Arab Spring.