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Preventive Priorities for a New Era, Session I

Speaker: Madeleine K. Albright, Principal, The Albright Group
Presider: Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
Introductory Speaker: Paul B. Stares, President, Center for Preventive Action
December 9, 2008
Council on Foreign Relations

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This session was part of the Center for Preventive Action Symposium on Preventive Priorities for a New Era, which was made possible by the generosity of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

 

 

PAUL STARES:  Okay, if you could take your seats please so we can get started.

All right.  Well, good day, everyone.  Welcome to the second annual symposium sponsored by the Center for Preventive Action here at the council.  Thank you for joining us here today.

For those who don't know me, I'm Paul Stares, director of the center and the General John Vessey senior fellow in conflict prevention.

Now, some of you may recall from last year's symposium, we took a look back over the last 10 years since the release of the groundbreaking Carnegie Commission report on preventing deadly conflict, basically to take stock of what has been accomplished and what still needs to be done in the field of conflict prevention.

This year, we're going to move or look forward to examine the preventive priorities for the next administration and, more generally, for a new era of emerging threats to peace and stability.

For the United States, the necessity for preventive action to forestall potential conflicts hardly needs to be stressed at this time.  Our military is exhausted.  We are financially stretched.  The public is in no mood for more foreign (adventures ?).  And there are pressing domestic problems to attend to at home.

The stakes are arguably growing larger, too.  There are emerging proliferation challenges to contend with, the threat of mass-casualty terrorism which we saw recently in Mumbai, the possible reemergence of great-power friction and rivalry and the potential security consequences of climate change and resource scarcity.  These are just some of the more ominous concerns that makes preventive action not just nice to do but actually need to do.

Now, before I stray too much into the substance of the symposium, let me preview for you what we have planned to do this afternoon.  I will shortly hand off to Richard Haass, president of the council, who will introduce our keynote speaker today, the Honorable Madeleine Albright, who will share with us her thoughts on what the preventive priorities for the next administration should be.

I recently had the honor and pleasure of working with Secretary Albright on the bipartisan Genocide Prevention Task Force that she co-chaired with former Secretary of Defense William Cohen.  The report was released yesterday.  I'm sure she will say something about the findings of this report, especially since today is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the genocide conventions, many of you may know.

In the second session this afternoon, we will hear from three outstanding your council experts who have been tasked to give us their assessment of the most pressing threats to peace in three critical regions of concern -- South Asia, the Middle East and Africa.  These regions account for most if not all of the conflict in the world today.

I'm particularly pleased that this session will be chaired by Jane Holl Lute, assistant secretary-general at the U.N. for Peace-building Support and a longtime supporter of the CPA.

The third session will focus on how to improve our strategies and capacities for responding to these emerging priorities.  We've asked three conflict prevention practitioners to tell us how we can improve our ability to prevent violent conflict -- Jean-Marie Guehenno, formerly head of peacekeeping operations at the U.N., Martin Griffiths, director of the Center for Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva,  a leading practitioner of what has become known as private diplomacy or private peacekeeping and Elisabeth Kvitashvili, who oversees, among other departments at USAID, the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation.

Now, after all this, we will wrap up with a reception which I hope you will all stay for.  And depending on what we hear today, we may need a stiff drink at the end of the day.

So let me end with a few housekeeping requests.  Unless indicated in your program, the sessions are on the record.  Please turn off your cell phones and electronic devices.  The only exceptions are the ones Richard always reminds us, which are pacemakers and other essential medical devices.  Times are too hard for us to lose any valued council members at this time.

And I should also acknowledge that this is being webcast around the world live.  So we're very pleased about that.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the generosity of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, who has made this meeting possible.

Thank you.

With that, Richard.

RICHARD N. HAASS:  Well, thank you, Paul, for that and for all you do here guiding the Center for Preventive Action.

It's great to be here for this year's annual conference which is fast becoming a tradition.

For those of you who are not as familiar with the Center for Preventive Action, or the CPA as our aficionados call it or as familiar with it as we'd like you to become, it provides a forum for developing policy ideas to prevent and resolve conflicts around the world.  Another way of saying it, it's mission is to put itself out of existence.

The need for this is as strong as ever.  Conflicts, be they actual or potential, are widespread.  Most recently, India and Pakistan faced the reality of renewed tensions, hopefully not reality of renewed conflict, after the attacks in Mumbai.  And obviously, Pakistan itself faces challenges in its own western reaches.  And increasingly, there is very little difference between what happens in the west of Pakistan and what happens in its neighbor Afghanistan.

Farther afield, we've got situations in Africa, Darfur the most familiar, Congo, in some ways now, the most troubling.  Somalia, also, conflict not just on land but at sea.  Piracy, we used to think of as something in the movies with Johnny Depp or in the past.  And suddenly now, piracy has really become a modern-day reality.  It's simply terrorism at sea by an old-fashioned name.

We also have the challenge of shoring up or making permanent the progress in a place like Iraq where there has been obviously conflict for years.  And one could go on and on.  A lot of raw material for the CPA.

It's important what the CPA does is an important part of our work here at the Council on Foreign Relations.  Demand for their products is high.  But the resources of preventive action, peacekeeping forces, dollars, diplomatic time and attention is relatively scarce.

A new administration is going to be coming into office, as many of us have pointed out, with an in box about as daunting as in boxes tend to get.  And I expect it will be looking at a lot of the kinds of things that we're going to be discussing here this afternoon.  And it's a perfect example, I believe, of how work here at the Council on Foreign Relations can have real relevance and real utility to those who suddenly find themselves with great responsibilities.

Under Paul Stares' leadership, the council's been doing a lot of work.  In the last year or so, we've published council special reports in Zimbabwe, Syria, Pakistan's Tribal Areas and the Congo.  We also have a regular series of roundtables, essentially seminars, on a lot of these subjects.

Most recently, as of yesterday, we started up the new website of the Center for Preventive Action.  So if you go to cfr.org which I know all of you have bookmarked and go to first thing in the morning, if you now go there, you will see the website under that of the CPA.  It has all the publications, the text, analysis, links to other things, including our Emmy-winning Crisis Guide here at the Council on Foreign Relations.

We've also started something up that's new called the Preventive Priorities Survey.  And the idea is we've gone to a group of experts who have a wide range of expertise.  And we've asked them to look at the entire globe, and we've basically tried to rank or cluster actual or potential crises, namely potential ones, and say, which of the situations out there are most likely to become violent?

Secondly, which ones have the greatest impact on U.S. interests?  And thirdly, which ones are potentially the ripest -- to use my favorite word -- the most ripe for diplomacy to have an effect?  And the idea is to look at this combination of stakes, urgency and ripeness and help policymakers come up with a set of criteria to determine, where do you invest your calories?

Because as all of us who have worked in government know, there's a limited amount of calories, particularly time, but also dollars, military resources and so forth.  And the question is, how do you decide where to weigh in most?  Where should the secretary of State or the president invest the time?

And we're hoping by, again, weighing or relating these three different sets of variables that we can make a contribution to thinking about preventive action, not just simply here but in government.

Paul's already outlined what we plan to do today, so I will not.  But as you all know, we've got with us, Paul himself mentioned actually, we have an advisory committee for CPA.  And we're thrilled that General Joulwan is here today.  He's going to be taking it on.  We're in good hands.  As you may know, he's a retired general from the Army -- in my experience, generals never quite retire -- and served as a commander of Southern Command and also SACEUR, the supreme allied commander in Europe.  So again, we're thrilled that not just he's here today but that he's given us his time and experience.

We're glad that other members of the advisory committee are here.

We're most glad, though, that we've got Madeleine Albright with us today to keynote this.  Madeleine is, appropriately enough, the principal the Albright Group -- it's amazing how these coincidences work out -- and also in care of Albright Capital Management.  There's another coincidence.

Most important, from my perspective, she's a member of the Board of Directors here at the Council on Foreign Relations.  As not just everybody in this room but everybody in just about any other room knows, she served as secretary of State in the United States, number 64 if my math is correct.  And she's clearly also a trendsetter.  Three of the four last secretaries of State have been women, and Madeleine clearly kicked off a new trend in diplomacy and American foreign policy.

So on a personal as well as professional level, I'm thrilled to welcome her here today.  She will speak for as long as she speaks for.  I've learned not to put a time limit on it.  So if she wants to give her Fidel Castro speech, she is welcome to do it.  (Laughter.)  If she wants to be more concise, however, we will live with that.

And then afterwards, we will spend a few minutes together chit-chatting.  And then we will open it up to you members.

Madame Secretary.

(Applause.)

MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT:  Thank you very much, Richard.

In fact, I was asked at a press conference recently whether a man could be secretary of State.  (Laughter.)

Thank you very much, and I'm delighted to be here with so many friends and the opportunity to talk on this topic because preventive priorities for a new era, I think, is absolutely an essential topic to discuss.

And Paul, I'd like to thank you for everything that you've done here and other places.  You have been instrumental in this report that the task force has put out.

In fact, I think, while the era may in fact be new, the thorniest problems our next president will face are indeed inherited.  And these include a global financial crisis, al Qaeda, hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, ongoing divisions in the Middle East, climate change and a viper's nest of regional rivalries.

President Obama will be called on to address these challenges, despite a depleted Treasury, an overstretched military, an anxious American public and a deeply divided world.

More positively, the president will have the benefit of a first-rate national security team as well as the attention of an international community that has greeted his election with enthusiasm.

I have to say, when President-elect Obama asked me and Congressman Jim Leach to meet with the members of the G-20 a couple of weeks ago, the uniform message is a great sense of excitement and expectation for the Obama administration.

Now, the new president will also have the benefit of free advice from a lot of smart people, including a lot of the people that are on our panels today.  And that guidance will focus less on the immediate problems President Obama will face and more on potential future dangers.

For me personally, this is appropriate because preventive diplomacy has been very much on my mind.  Later this afternoon, I will go to the U.S. mission at the U.N. and join former Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen in presenting a task force report on stopping genocide.  Many of the themes in that report are reflected in the points that I will outline here today.

And my first point is that crisis prevention is a universal and ongoing responsibility.  It should be part of the daily job description of every Foreign Service officer, AID official, overseas military commander and member of our intelligence community.

One doesn't have to be a specialist to raise the alarm when a bad situation begins to spin out of control.  Better to have 10 voices crying wolf than to have one remain silent at genocide unfolds.

My second point is that although the complete prevention of conflict is not attainable, the more versatile we are, the more effective we will be.  And this argues for a robust military matched by a much stronger and better-financed civilian national security capability.

Even the Bush administration has admitted that nation-building is sometimes necessary, but a nation cannot be built by military means alone.  There's a vast gap between the Marine Corps and the Peace Corps, and we need to fill that gap with people who are skilled in law enforcement, good governance, economic reconstruction, the art of reconciliation and the creation of lasting democratic institutions.

It's true that we have already begun this effort, but we could do better with bolder leadership and more generous investment of money.

My third point builds on the second.  We will be more successful in preventing crises if we have strong and capable partners to act as a force multiplier, thereby enabling us to do more for the world at less cost to us.  Our strategy going forward, therefore, should include a renewal of alliance vows and a commitment to respecting, reforming and improving international organizations.

I am very happy that General Joulwan has taken part in this.  As a supreme allied commander, I think he is somebody I worked with very closely on these issues.

And by the way, the best introduction in the world is when you are somebody like George Joulwan, and they say, and here's the supreme allied commander.

Anyway, George, I'm very glad that you're a part of this.

My fourth point is that we must fully integrate crisis prevention into our government's decision-making process.  During the Clinton administration, we devoted countless hours to emergency simulation exercises and to long-range planning sessions designed to identify potential trouble spots.

We asked the intelligence community to monitor places where the risk of genocide or other forms of extreme violence was high.  And we engaged in conflict prevention efforts in, among other venues, Northern Ireland, the Middle East, the Balkans, Indonesia, Nagorno Karabakh, the Horn of Africa, Sudan, Burundi, the Congo, Sierra Leone, Guatemala and along the border between Ecuador and Peru.

All of this was necessary, and yet it was still not always enough.

By this time next year, President Obama may well find himself agreeing with the Red Queen's statement to Alice that it often takes all the running you can do just to stay in the same place.  There are many areas around the world where the kindling of crisis exists.  The sparks may be ignited in any number of ways, including a military miscalculation, an assassination, a terrorist bombing, shortages of fuel or food or simply an attempt by one group to seize the land or livestock of another.

Unfortunately, the warning signs do not conform to any real pattern.  The causes of conflict might be the absence of a strong central government, as in Somalia, or the presence of an oppressive regime, as in Burma.

It might be violence that creates refugees, as in Iraq, or fighting caused by the inability of refugees to find a permanent home, as in Congo.  It might be the lack of a democratic electoral process, as in North Korea, or the aftermath of a disputed election, as in Zimbabwe.  It might be a violation of sovereignty, as between Russia and Georgia, or the use of sovereignty to facilitate genocide, as in Sudan.

Sometimes, we may see a fire starting and still have a few realistic ways to douse the flames.  But often, we can act in time if we have the knowledge and the will to do so.

Our leaders can improve the odds by letting it be known that however preoccupied they might be with today's crisis, the prevention of genocide and mass atrocities is a top priority to the United States.  They should make it clear to the heads of every agency that important information should be shared quickly so that the opportunity to act is not squandered.

They should set aside regular times in their schedules to analyze potential problem areas so that the right questions are asked early and every assumption is put to the test of critical thinking.

This last point is especially important because it's easy to fall into habits of analysis that are simple, convenient and wrong.  We often attempt to predict the actions of others by imagining ourselves in their shoes.  The catch is that we frequently do this in a superficial way by trying to impose our sense of logic on people who have been conditioned to think differently.

If we are truly to anticipate dangers instead of just reacting, we must probe deeply into the history, culture and personalities involved in a particular situation.  We must inquire into the motives of those who threaten violence, into the character of their leaders, the origin of their grievances, the cohesiveness of their support, the nature of their decision-making and possible pathways to compromise.

Even as we ask such questions, we must be mindful of our own penchant for attaching the labels of good, bad, moderate and extreme to people and groups within contexts that we do not fully understand.  We should be wary of dividing the world into teams of international affairs, as if it were a game of chess.

In fact, it more closely resembles billiards with one ball smacking into another which crashes into still others, creating a new pattern at every move.  I always think of billiards as unpredictable.  I do have a Chinese student, however, who says that it's completely predictable, but not in the way I see it played.

In Iraq, for example, we have formed a tactical alliance with former enemies, while in Afghanistan, some of the people we helped two decades ago are now our mortal foes.

We should be wary, as well, of limiting our options.  The changes we seek in the world require new calculations on the part of those currently hostile to us. Those changes may come through coercion, persuasion or a combination of the two, but they are unlikely to take place without communication.  Purposeful engagement is not appeasement.  It is what effective diplomacy is all about.

Preventing crises in the modern world requires both the vision to look ahead and the wisdom to identify a destination others will want to share.  It requires a systematic plan for early warning, the effective deployment of every foreign policy tool and a willingness to adjust course while still being true to certain core principles.

For me, those principles include a commitment to democracy and respect for the dignity and rights of every human being.  Now, that may sound idealistic, but without such a commitment, there would be no unifying theme to American foreign policy, no justification for sending our troops into battle and no real difference between our objectives and those of the powers that routinely carved up the world in generations gone by.

America cannot prevent crises abroad if it suffers a crisis of identity here at home.  And that's why I personally am looking forward to January 20th to a revival of what is best about our country and to a renewal of our purpose and reputation across the globe.

Thank you, all, very much.

(Applause.)

(Inaudible) -- Chinese style.

HAASS:  Yes.

Well, thank you, all, very much.

Do you prefer preventive diplomacy or preventative diplomacy?  I want to start with the really core question of the issue.

Next question?  (Laughter.)

ALBRIGHT:  It probably has some very deep, Talmudic meaning.  But just so long as we make sure that nothing happens.

HAASS:  Good, okay.  We'll work on that.

You went through a long list of things out there that give you pause.  Out of all those, what keeps you up most at night in this world of potential conflicts?

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think, as you know, Richard, there are many countries and problems that vie for number one problem of the day.  The lottery has just, I believe, been won by Pakistan which contains everything that gives you an international migraine.  It has nuclear weapons, extremism, terrorism, poverty, corruption, a weak government.  And it is in a very difficult location, one that is very important to us.

And so I think, not just because of what happened in Mumbai or not just because of what's happening in Afghanistan, but that kind of collection of problems, I would put Pakistan as number one.

Now, that doesn't mean that there are not a lot of others.  But at this stage, that would be what would keep me up most at night.

HAASS:  And in the context of preventive action, when we think of Pakistan, what is it we should be trying to prevent?  Is it Pakistan and India going at it?  Is it to prevent Pakistan from failing?  Is it to stop Pakistan from providing a staging area for Afghanistan?  Is it essentially all of the above?

ALBRIGHT:  I think it's all of the above, but it's interesting to pack that a little bit.

HAASS:  So to speak.

ALBRIGHT:  So to speak.  (Laughs.)  I think that -- this is terrible, I'm sorry.  (Laughs.)  That's really bad.  But I think that there is the danger always of a failed state.  And I think we worry about that everywhere.  And in this report that we did on genocide prevention, you look at what happens to a state that doesn't have institutional structure, or you're worried about the instability created when nothing is working, and the levers of power don't seem to be connected properly.

So what you have in Pakistan is, how does the president relate to the military and the ISI?  And I actually believe that General Musharraf committed a coup against the rule of law when he dismissed the judges.  And all of a sudden, you saw lawyers in ties demonstrating.  You don't have that in a lot of countries.

But I think the failed-state aspect of Pakistan is a very serious issue.

I think the India-Pakistan issue is also very dangerous.  And I thought that the Bush administration, building on what President Clinton had done, began to de-hyphenate that relationship, which is very important.  I think that the Pakistanis wanted very much to be viewed as a friend themselves, and so did the Indians.

And yet, what has happened, again, is there is this kind of rivalry, I think. And the Mumbai thing clearly complicates that.  And the question is whether the military is more concerned about aligning itself or positioning itself to go at India rather than really worrying about what's happening in the northwest territories.

And then there are issues to do with the fact that their economy and their whole infrastructure is questionable and then creates a climate for terrorists. And that then spills over into Afghanistan, so the regional aspect of it.

HAASS:  Just to interject for a second, what I find so hard is we've got all sorts of priorities with them, so it's very hard to decide which one actually is the top priority.  And second of all, if we don't like what they're doing and incentives don't work, as tempting as sanctions would be, one can imagine bad situations getting worse.  And we don't want to contribute to the failure that you ranked as the top concern.

ALBRIGHT:  Well, let me just say, what was interesting when we were in office, sanctions are a very loved tool of foreign policy in many ways.  And we learned a lot with sanctions as to whether you tailor them to smart sanctions and how you end them.

But one of the issues that we had when Pakistan went nuclear, there were a set of sanctions that came in automatically.

HAASS:  I was involved in the decision.  I think it was 1990 when the United States government finally declared -- (inaudible) -- that we could no longer judge that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device.  And we had to put --

ALBRIGHT:  Well, Gary knows what happened.  When they explode their device, then there's a whole set of these things that came in -- (inaudible) -- whatever.  And all of a sudden, we lost all our leverage.  And there was a period we just weren't talking to them.

So I think, I would hope -- and let me just make this clear.  I speak for nobody at this point, for myself only and my opinions.

HAASS:  That's pretty good.

ALBRIGHT:  But I think that we have to be very careful not to cut ourselves off again from them.

I do think that President Zardari wants to have a functional relationship with the United States.  I found his op-ed today in The New York Times interesting and useful.  And I think that we need to build a relationship with them.

HAASS:  I was actually envious.  It's so hard to get an op-ed in The New York Times nowadays.

Let me zero in on some of the things in your talk.  You discussed the civilian nation-building capability.  And you mentioned that we're off to a decent start.  And you're right, there's a big gap between I think you said the Marine Corps and the Peace Corps.  What more should we be doing there?  What's your image of -- is it a -- I mean, I one idea out there is obviously build a massive civilian reserve of lawyers, teachers and policemen and other things and that that's the way we do it.

I don't know if it was on your watch or not or maybe subsequent to it that we created this capacity inside the State Department, this new bureau.  How should we go about creating, if you will, the civilian foot soldiers of nation-building?

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I think it is -- let me go back in terms of my history. When I was ambassador to the U.N. and it was really the period where there was more activity in peacekeeping, peacemaking.  The United Nations forces, there were something like 80,000 peacekeepers out there.  We were in Bosnia, various places.

And I made it a point to go and visit all the peacekeeping operations.  And what I found was there was something missing, and then when the Americans went in, something between and armored personnel carrier and a retired policeman with a baton.  And so people began to use the Carabinieri or the Guarda Sevilla or some group that had something in between.

So clearly, there is a missing component -- George and I talked about this --in terms of, you know, who could do this.  And was our military trained to do these kinds of issues?

And part of our report talks about the fact that our military needs to have training in a whole host of other issues than just killing and seizing land.  And so I do think that our military can be used better.

I do think that there are -- I'm chairman of the Board of the National Democratic Institute.  We have people from a variety of countries that go in and try to talk to people about how nation-building is not a four-letter word, that really are able to help in institutional structures.

And then, I do think -- it was later, actually, that the State Department did more with this -- but I do think that there are people who are willing to go and live in countries and help in terms of their educational structures -- I'm looking at Alan (sp) -- and really try to figure out what we can do across the board in putting together institutional structures.  And I do think there's a place for that.

But -- and I'd like to make this clear -- Americans are not the only ones that can do this.  And part of what is important is to create international teams and to make it not be -- Iraq has given us a terrible name, and it has given democracy a terrible name.  And what we have to do is to be able to work with other countries in order to have these groups of civilian, military, retired, all kinds of people from a variety of countries doing this together.

HAASS:  Let's talk a little bit about genocide, given the day.  You were, as everybody also knows, the perm rep at the U.N.  Genocide often happens within countries, which often then gives governments the protection of sovereignty.  And you've got at least two countries on the Security Council, China and Russia, who have a fairly absolutist or expansive definition of sovereignty.

Where does that lead us?  Does it mean that we basically try to persuade them to adopt a more permissive approach to intervention?  Or does it basically mean that we have to find ways to sideline the U.N. and the Security Council if we're going to deal with the Darfurs of the world?

ALBRIGHT:  I think there are two parts to that.  And by the way, the United States is a great protector of sovereignty in the way that we have joined the United Nations in many different ways, whether it's International Court of Justice or whatever.  We always have the optional clause in various ways of our protecting our sovereignty.

I think that what is interesting is in the whole other doctrine that is out there now that people are trying to make work, which is the responsibility to protect.  The job of a president or head of state of a country is to protect his or her citizens.  If it is not being done, then there is this new doctrine that it is part of the international community's responsibility to do that.  It is pretty questionable to some because is does allow, quote, "for interference" in internal affairs.

I think that, first of all, in our report, we are suggesting something which, frankly, I think the U.S. may have a hard time with, but that the veto be given up by the permanent members of the Security Council on issues to do with genocide and mass atrocities.  But I think that that is an important suggestion and needs to be really looked at very carefully.

But the other -- and I have to say that I was personally involved in this.  I could see what was happening in Kosovo.  I thought we had been too slow on Bosnia. We tried to go in there and do a humanitarian intervention under the auspices of the U.N.  It was evident it wasn't going to happen.  I had spoken to the Russian foreign minister, who said they wouldn't allow a veto-proof resolution to go through.

And by the way, you know what I did?  I called -- the Europeans doubted what we were doing.  So I decided -- I was sitting in my hotel room in Moscow knowing full well that everything I said was being listened to.  And I said I have just had a conversation that indicates that the Russians will veto anything that we do through the U.N., so I think we should do something through NATO.  And nobody said, we disagree with what you've just heard.  And so we did go through NATO.

And I do think, at a certain point, if one can figure out another mechanism, multilateral as possible, to stop mass atrocities, then I think it's important, despite the fact that the U.N. still thought that what we did was not exactly legal, according to the charter.

HAASS:  I could go on, but I will show uncharacteristic restraint.

Let me open it up to our members.  Maybe even one or two of those viewing this via webcast will participate.  Let us know.  Raise your hand, wait for a microphone, identify yourself.  And the more succinct you are, the more succinct we promise to be.

Professor Garrett, we will begin with you.  The home team is clearly not holding back here today.

QUESTIONER:  It's a real honor to have you with us today.  Thank you so much.  I'm Laurie Garrett here from the council.  You, toward the end, were mentioning responsibility to protect, R2P.  And so far, it's hard to understand how, if ever, that could be implemented as a doctrine.  Sarkozy tried to implement it for Burma and was roundly, you know, drummed for doing so.  Odinga is sort of hinting at it for cholera in Zimbabwe and for throwing Mugabe out.  Many people have said we're long overdue for Congo for implementing R2P.  Is this an implementable, real doctrine?

ALBRIGHT:  You know, I don't know.  I really don't know.  I'll tell you what happened, and I know kind of the history of this has been as we looked at what the job of peacekeeping operations were or peacemaking operations, what I have found, both as a student and a practitioner, the evolution of the whole United Nations role in all of this and the international community's role in it.  There has been an attempt to get our heads around it.

And it's very difficult.  And it is a real clash between the concept of sovereignty and the nation state on which the United Nations is actually built and then the fact that because we now have so much information, that we really know what's going on in places and the desire to create something known as the international community.

And it's the Canadians who have had a lot because I think they have been remarkable peacekeepers and remarkable international participants in a variety of organizations.  But I think it is very, very difficult.

People are trying also to expand it to natural disasters.  That's the Burma issue.  And what I am asked sometimes, believe it or not, what would have happened if the international community had decided to help in a more active way on Katrina? There was very much the sense that something was not being done here adequately.

And so it does raise an awful lot of questions.  It's a very interesting concept.  And there is clearly some need to do something when you see thing like Darfur or Burma for that matter, and yet I don't know.  That's the best answer I can give you.  I think it is worth examining various aspects of it.

You asked Richard about China and Russia, to some extent.  I mean, we have a long way to go in making them understand if it is not for moral reasons then for national interest reasons that they don't want to see instability in x country anymore than we do.

But I think it's a really hard, hard question.

HAASS:  I'm sitting here trying to wrap my non-agile brain around the concept of humanitarian intervention after Hurricane Katrina.

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I mean, but people asked me.  I got asked the question.

HAASS:  Interesting.

Dan.

QUESTIONER:  Dan Sharp with the Royal Institution World Science Assembly.  Your comment about creating international teams reminds me that President Kennedy's original notion for the Peace Corps, a little-known fact, was an international peace corps.  And I happened to have negotiated the first five treaties that started the Peace Corps as an international organization through the U.N. system to specialized agencies.

When I handed the treaties to Senator Humphrey and he introduced them, Bourke Hickenlooper passed an amendment that effectively destroyed the U.S. support.  Can you imagine at the beginning of the Obama administration that the U.S. Congress would provide support for international teams?  And could you expand a bit on what your notion would involve?

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I do think that there is -- having argued international programs for eight years to the U.S. Congress, even when it was controlled by Democrats, I know how difficult this is.  There is a real question about, why are we spending American money on whatever?

And I have, you know, things I used to talk about that for the cost of one movie ticket, in supporting the U.N., we were supporting UNICEF and the World Meteorological Society and everything.  And people still think that we support the U.N. with huge amounts of money.

But I do think that there seems to be more of an understanding about the multiplier effect of sharing the burden and getting other countries to help in the list.  And so President-elect Obama, or as Senator Obama, spoke a lot about the need to reinvigorate multilateral action, to support alliance structures.

But I do think, to be realistic -- and Richard and I talk about this often --all of my agenda items -- I wrote a book, by the way, called "Memo to the President" in which I outlined a lot of the agenda items.  I didn't get the full scope of the global financial crisis into the book.  I think it creates a whole host of other issues that make it difficult to look at budgets and deficits.

And the argument I would make is that by having international teams, it costs us less in the long run, and that it is helpful in creating stability, and it's a national security issue.  But I think it's hard.

There are people in the United States who fully believe that the U.N. does have black helicopters that will swoop down and steal your lawn furniture.  And then there are people who hate the U.N. because it's full of foreigners which, frankly, can't be helped.  (Laughter.)

So I think that there are arguments, you know.  It's not easy to push it. But I believe it is a good force multiplier.

HAASS:  You're also speaking at an institution today that's also accused of having black helicopters.

ALBRIGHT:  Oh, I know that.  Yes.

HAASS:  I don't think there's any problem with it in terms of having the internationalization, if you will, of nation-building capacities.  I really think the problem will be getting others to do as much as we want them to do.  But it's a natural for a country like Japan that has certain limits on what it can do.

All I would say is, in part, some of the experiences in places like Iraq and particularly Afghanistan aren't very reassuring on certain assignments, for example, like policing, or are parceled out to others.  Shall we say the results came up fairly short?  And we ourselves were not perfect in some of these.

But I would think, politically, I don't think there would be any pushback from here.  And I actually think it's an area that makes tremendous sense where you would have nationally developed capabilities, and you'd need some sort of a clearinghouse mechanism when they would be made available and so forth.  And whether it was located at the U.N. or elsewhere, you would know where you could call if you needed to tap into this amount of policing or medical help or what have.

Quite a lot already happens to NGOs and so forth.  But the idea of making it more governmental, I think, is a good idea.

ALBRIGHT:  But George, you know, with the use of Carabinieri in Bosnia -- and I do think it's possible.  And I think it can be explained as a way of sharing the burden and saving and getting other countries to contribute.

HAASS:  I'll just say one last thing.  It was a Republican president, the previous President Bush, who, towards the end, offered that the United States would invite forces from other countries, train them in places like Fort Dix at the time to build up national capacities that then could be made available in certain types of messy situations.

Suzanne, you had your hand up.

QUESTIONER:  Suzanne Nossel from Human Rights Watch.  I have a question about the political dimension of trying to internationalize conflict-prevention efforts.  And I think implicit in you said is the idea of going beyond the West to integrate some of the large, emerging democracies to participate in these efforts.

And the question is really around your point about ensuring that we understand the lens through which others view situations.  And we've had difficulty.  It's something we confront at Human Rights Watch and that the U.S. government confronts, getting other democracies -- I think of South Africa, the case of Zimbabwe or the Indian government on Burma or Sri Lanka -- to see the imperative of engagement, you know, in a preventive way, but assertive engagement to intervene and play a constructive role in these crises.

You know -- (inaudible) -- sovereignty Richard mentioned as one obstacle.  There can be economic considerations that stand in the way.  There can be a regional solidarity, a whole host of factors.  But I'm curious kind of how you see that unfolding and how you think the U.S. can more constructively engage some of these emerging democracies in these kinds of efforts.

ALBRIGHT:  I think -- I mean, I think you've pointed out the problems really well.  And part of the issue is that each situation is a little bit different.

But what I have found -- and again, I point, I think, more to my work with the National Democratic Institute -- is that we have found that other countries fully understand that creating unstable situations in their neighborhood is not useful, or that they need to make sure that labor rights are properly respected. There are different aspects of the problem.

And I found -- I mean, for instance, let me just use an example of something. NDI's first projects were in Chile, actually, and the "NO Campaign" versus Pinochet.  Therefore, a lot of the Chilean early democrats, we take with us to a number of our other missions that we have.  And sometimes, what they as an emerging democracy have to say is more valuable than us with our 200-plus here.  So I think each situation is a bit different.

The other part, to be very frank as a policymaker, you don't always get the opportunity to be totally absolute and consistent.  I hate to say this.  I'm asked by a lot of people, do you always put human rights first?  I would like to, but it doesn't always work.  Each country has a set of national security interests.  You have to argue within the framework that they have and extend their envelope, so to speak, in terms of how they see stability in their region so that they don't see it in a narrow way.

But that's the hardest part, I think, is looking at each situation and saying -- for instance, on Burma, I spent a lot of time on Burma at ASEAN and trying to get those countries to do something about it.  And it wasn't until Kim Dae-jung, who fully understood the issue of human rights, that there began to be some movement on it within the ASEAN.  So you have to really study the particular situation in which you're operating.

QUESTIONER:  Andy Revkin, New York Times.  You know, I mainly write about the environment, but I've been exploring this issue of security and stability and how it relates to global development as well.  And I'm curious, you know.  Suppose you get a president who reads your book --

ALBRIGHT:  I have the audacity to hope that he will.  (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER:  Do you see it within the president's authority as commander in chief, given that the military has huge budgets for lots of things, is there an ability to start to recast the definition of national security to include some of these things, like capacity-building in poor places, like outreach response to disasters like we did after the tsunami?  That apparently left some pretty good feelings in a pretty unstable part of Sumatra, that kind of thing.  What can a president do on that route that gets around the black-helicopters crowd in Congress, et cetera?

ALBRIGHT:  Well, I do think -- and let me say, I think it's very interesting to be outside of the government for eight years and a part of a variety of task forces, whether to do with the council or Aspen Institute or of all the things I'm involved in.  And basically, I have argued that we need to have a very large view of national security, that it is not kind of your father's national security, that there are a whole host of issues.

There are arguments, for instance -- and I don't know what's going to happen in the Obama administration.  But in terms of when the agencies go to OMB for money, that they argue more in a package of a national security set of issues.

I can, having spent eight days in the Arctic on an icebreaker, I can argue the national security aspect of global warming very easily in terms of refugees that are created that fits into this story, frankly, that we're talking about -- refugees being created.

Or you can make the argument that Sudan actually was caused by desertification and arguing over land and water rights.

So I think what needs to happen -- and just a little advertising -- for all of us here is that organizations such as this need to help educate the public and you that in fact national security is a very large box and that issues that one would not have thought were national security issues practically are.  And that we're much better off going to the Hill with a package.

Now, you know, the legislative people might not agree.  But I do think that you can make the argument literally.  Environment, I think, is a national security issue.  Hunger is a national security issue.  People killing each other over issues, mass atrocities are obviously national security issues.

The only thing I'm afraid of is that we overuse the term.  But it is a way to get people to salute, so I think it is helpful to put things into that larger context.

HAASS:  We have a given ally here in Bob Gates.

ALBRIGHT:  Absolutely, who asked for money for the State Department.

HAASS:  He's clearly taking a different approach.

Bob Lifton (ph).

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  I'm Bob Lifton (ph).  I can understand mediating conflict, but I have a lot of difficult with the concept of nation-building.  The only one I can think of is the effort in the Palestinian example which hasn't been very successful.  But could you give us some examples where nations have been built or we really have succeeded in any way at all in doing that?

ALBRIGHT:  well, I actually think it's a very American concept.  And in my personal experience, I was born in Czechoslovakia.  It was a country that would not have existed had it not been for Woodrow Wilson and the United States and nation-building.  The Czechoslovak constitution is modeled on the American one with one major exception.  It actually has equal rights language in it.

And there are many countries where the American or democratic model has been very helpful.  The Marshall Plan, I think, is an exercise in nation-building, the greatest exercise in terms of transfer of funds and knowledge to try to get countries to pull themselves together.

That's why I think it got a bad terminology.  I don't know why exactly.  But I do think that it is a way that advanced and industrialized countries, not just the United States, can help in the transfer of knowledge.  We know a lot about how countries work.  We know what works a country functional.  Democracy may not be very quick, but it certainly is a better way to run a way than either no government or a dictatorial government.

So I think that there are a set of best practices, again, to go back not necessarily just American ones.  And there are ways to transfer resources in a way that helps us.

I can argue this as an altruistic point or just a flat-out American national interest.  We are better off if countries are stable and in fact are functional players within an international system.

HAASS:  Okay, yeah.  You have to wait for the microphone for a second. It's coming your way.

QUESTIONER:  Felice Gaer, the Jacob Blaustein Institute.  Secretary Albright, I'm interested in your proposal about doing away with the veto in cases of genocide and mass atrocities.

ALBRIGHT:  Yes.

QUESTIONER:  And my question to you is because this is a practical protection issue that's been around in the non-governmental community.  But my question to you is, what would trigger such a determination that the Security Council would do that?  Would you want the high commissioner for human rights to be the one?  Is there some other entity that could do it?  And how could something like this apply in a case, for example, like Georgia where the words were used casually and without substance?

ALBRIGHT:  I have to say this is one of the suggestions in this task force report.  Paul maybe could explain more about why we put it in.  And I think it's an interesting suggestion.  I think it does have its difficulties.

Our whole problem also was frankly we decided to get away from definitional things.  We don't just talk about genocide but also mass atrocities and basically look at issues as when a group of people, civilians, are being ethnically cleansed or exterminated simply because of who they are.

But I think it is worth exploring, Felice.  I don't know all the answers. But I think the U.S., as I said earlier, I think the U.S. is loathed to give up anything to do with vetoes.  I know that because I was, you know, I've been there, done that.  So I think it's very difficult.  And I think the trigger is difficult on it.

But what we put in this report were ideas where in fact we thought there was some way to move ahead along with a proviso for the whole report, which was this is a truly difficult issue.  And what we're calling for in the report is basically a blueprint so that the U.S. government has some action-forcing mechanisms and intelligence-gathering so that is a top priority.

But I think this is obviously going to take a lot of work.

HAASS:  But when you think in the near term, the much more likely path is what you might call the Kosovo path, when you get blocked at the Security Council --

ALBRIGHT:  Take it somewhere else.

HAASS:  You basically go forum shopping and you find some other forum of multilateralism to give you legitimacy and capacity to (approach ?) it.  It seems to me that's -- (inaudible).

Yes, ma'am, in the third row.

By the way, there's lots of people who have their hands up.  I'll do my best to get to you.  I can tell in advance I won't be able to, so don't hate me more than you already do.  (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER:  Nadia Schadlow, Smith Richardson Foundation.  Critics of the U.N. and other international organizations have argued for different approaches to multilaterals, not necessarily unilaterals but arguments about creating ad-hoc coalitions of the willing or communities of democratic nations that want to act in concert.  Could you talk a little bit about that or your sense of alternatives to what some people argue is a post-World War II institution that is not meeting the needs of a post-World War II situation that we find ourselves in today?

ALBRIGHT:  I do think the U.N. -- I mean, I'm a great advocate of the U.N., but it does need to have serious reforms.  There's no question about it.  And one of the things, the expansion of the Security Council, obviously, that's like the Rubik's Cube of the whole thing.

I mean, some of you have heard me tell this story before.  We wanted to have Germany and Japan on as permanent members.  The first country to come to me to complain was Italy, that said, we lost the war, too, which is not exactly a great campaign slogan.  (Laughter.)  So there are issues in all that.

I think that it is worth looking at reform of the U.N. for starters.  I do think that we have found, as we just said, on NATO, for instance, is a venue to pull together.  Coalition of willings are very hard to put together, believe me. It is better, I think, to operate through a structure that exists.  And I think NATO, it ain't easy, either, as we know.  But I think that is an interesting aspect.

I am opposed to a league of democracies.  A league of democracies is different than the community of democracies which was best practices.  And I would love to see a democracy caucus within the U.N., but you can't kind of have democracies versus everybody else.

And I do think, though, that there are -- we need to look at other venues. But I would prefer to try to figure out how to use the U.N. with support of regional organizations.  (Sort of ?) that strengthening the (EU ?) would be -- and it's moving a little bit in that direction.

The OAS is not that kind of an organization.  But I think, basically, some combination of the overall organization with regional support and then getting, if you couldn't do better, a coalition of the willing.

HAASS:  Front row.

QUESTIONER:  Hi.  I'm Kathy Cavalic (ph) from the State Department, from the new Office of Reconstruction and Stabilization and, you may not remember, but a former student many years ago at Georgetown.

HAASS:  Was she a tough grader?

QUESTIONER:  She was very tough.  (Laughs.)  I seem to remember having to memorize how many missiles were in Europe and --

ALBRIGHT:  That was -- (inaudible).

QUESTIONER:  Oh, it's the (bombs ?).  (Laughter.)

HAASS:  Very useful information.

QUESTIONER:  She wanted us to have the facts before we started our arguments.

You talked about the responsibility to protect, which I think is a very interesting concept.  Have you thought about the use of, say, the ICJ.  I think about Mugabe, and I think about things that happen.  Is there a way to use the international courts to call people to account for what they've done and to somehow put that moral pressure on people that violate the responsibility that we see or believe that they should hold as leaders for their countries?

HAASS:  Just to sort of add to that, don't you find the entire gap between the analysis, if you will, to take on Mugabe and the lack of international action?

ALBRIGHT:  Yes.

HAASS:  Anything else highlights what's wrong?

ALBRIGHT:  I actually believe that completely.  First of all, the man didn't win the election, all those different things.  And the point about South Africa.  Their problem is they're afraid of the refugee flow, so there's always some excuse.

I do think -- I took a lot of important votes when I was at the U.N.  And voting for the war crimes tribunal, I think, was one of the ones that I'm proudest of.  And part of it had to do with the fact that it was important to do in order to have individual culpability so that you could then have reconciliation, not collective guilt.

And so I do think that the war crimes tribunals and then the ICC, as it has evolved.

There is the question, however, that when Bashir is indicted, then there are those who think that that's a disincentive because he's afraid that he will go to The Hague.  On the other hand, it's the whole question about how legal systems work.  Do we think that when we arrest somebody, is it a disincentive to other people?

I think it's a useful tool.  I say, frankly -- I teach a course now, and it's called the national security toolbox.  And I say, foreign policy's just trying to get some other country to do what you want.  So what are the tools?  And you have to look at the whole panoply.  And law enforcement, both national and international, is part of a toolbox.

And I do think that the ICC has a role to play in this.  But I do think Zimbabwe shows kind of the helplessness.  Sudan does, too, frankly.  You know, I mean, we've had sanctions, we have various effect.  And I do think that it's why we think this is so hard to do.

HAASS:  It is hard.

Ms. Weschler.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Joanna Weschler, Security Council Report.  I wanted to ask you about the usefulness of the current Security Council of the U.N. as a preventive tool.  I can think of two recent examples when it was attempted, in the case of Burma early in 2007, when the Security Council tried to adopt a resolution months before the crackdown, and then on Zimbabwe indeed in July when the U.S. and U.K. sponsored terror resolution.  And both resolutions were vetoed by China and Russia.  Incidentally, these were the first double vetoes since the end of Cold War.  Incidentally, these two vetoes also had to do with democracy and human rights.  Do you think something can be changed, this dynamic can be repaired?

ALBRIGHT:  I think we have to look at it again.  It is my belief that there is going to be a lot of support for the United Nations out of the Obama administration.  And one thing goes with another.  Our support of the U.N., both financially and in terms of putting it within the scope of American talking about it is important to the United States, will help us in mobilizing other countries to help on votes in the Security Council.

But these are the hardest issues because they are interference in domestic affairs.  And I know this was something -- well, what I find interesting, the Chinese had basically not been interested in whatever was going on in the U.N. unless it was a vote that had something to do with internal affairs like this, so difficult.  I am not rose-colored glasses on this.

But I think that the U.S. needs to be much clearer about it.  And the question is, how?  I don't think the U.N.'s gone through its best period, frankly. And so I think that there has to be a way to revive it and see it as an important player within all the problems that we have, that we lift it here together.

HAASS:  We hope it hasn't gone through its best period is one way of putting it.  (Laughs.)

ALBRIGHT:  No, no, no.  Well, right.  Yeah, however -- (laughs).

HAASS:  Irene.

QUESTIONER:  Irene Meister (ph).  Madame Secretary, we seem to be drifting further and further apart between the United States and Russia, currently.  The press is covering it a lot.  There are lots of problems.  We had Foreign Minister Lavrov here with us at the council.  And he started in a very conciliatory fashion discussing things in a friendly way, and then the moment Georgia was touched, he became very aggressive and rather scratchy about the whole thing.  What can the future secretary of State do?  It's a dangerous situation.  What can be done specifically?

ALBRIGHT:  I know Mr. Lavrov well because he was perm rep at the U.N. when I was.  And so we spent a lot of time together.  And I think the honor is the right word, the difficult job of introducing President Medvedev and questioning him a couple of Saturdays ago in Washington.

And I think that it is very important for us to figure out a functional relationship with Russia.  It is a country that is a power that needs to be reckoned with, though somewhat less given oil prices as they sink.  But I think that they need to be reckoned with and dealt with.  And I think that we need to cooperate on a whole host of matters.

But I also think we need to push back when they invade a sovereign country. It doesn't even -- there's a lot of discussion.  And President Medvedev was a little prickly about that also, about how it all started.  But some of it has to do with that there hadn't been preventive diplomacy.  There was no attention paid to what was going on there.

So I do think that, in the larger picture, I hope that the relations will be different.

What I found very -- I said this at the end of our interview -- I find so interesting that President Medvedev is 43-years old.  President Obama is 47-years old.  It is a different generation.  Putin is looming in the background.  But I do think that there are possibilities, and I think they need to be explored by the new president.

But I also think we should not be bullied into various positions.  What I would advocate is I happen to believe that the agenda that has been out there with Russia has been very badly put together.  Richard has been a diplomat.  It's been loaded down with a whole host of issues that made it much more complicated than it needed to be.

The art of being a diplomat is trying to figure out what are the issues that need to be dealt with and how they work together and not just loading things on the agenda.

And so I hope that there is a way that we understand Russia is a major power that needs to be dealt with, and we have to look at the agenda very carefully.

HAASS:  Can I ask a question on that?  Because here we are, we're meeting in a Center for Preventive Action.  One of the places Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and others are surely going to want to prevent action, so to speak, will be Ukraine.  The last thing we want to see is a version of what happened in Georgia to happen in Ukraine, particularly in the Crimea where you've got all those people who are ethnic Russians.

What sorts of things might be -- is the answer that we have to sort of recast the U.S.-Russian relationship so Russians won't be tempted?  Are there things the United States would do vis-a-vis Ukraine to try to make it clear that the stakes would be greater (even then ?)?

ALBRIGHT:  Well, both, frankly.  But I think one of the things that we -- I -- this is, again, my personal view.  I do not believe that we should allow there to be spheres of interest.  That is a 20th century concept and not a 21st century concept.  And countries should be allowed to choose who their allies are, what alliance they want to be in.  That should be.

Therefore, I would not be hysterical when there is a Venezuelan-Russian visit.  Or when if the Russians want to have, you know, some kind of (cruise ?) in the Caribbean, I can deal with that.

HAASS:  I wouldn't mind doing that.  (Laughter.)

ALBRIGHT:  You know, so, I mean, I think we have to be careful not to fall into the trap again of this is your sphere and this is our sphere.

But I also think that the U.S. has a lot of work to do with Ukraine.  It's a country where nation-building needs a little help.

But I do think the Russians -- what I resent, and that's the best word I can think of, is that the Russians blame the United States for their problems now, that we didn't treat them with respect in the '90s.  That is absolutely not true.  We treated them with a great deal of respect.  And I think the mistake was we -- I don't argue that we won the Cold War.  They lost the Cold War.  It was a system that completely fell apart.  And they blame us for their problems in the '90s.

And they could have had a different relationship.  And I think they bear some of the responsibility for this.  But they need to figure out that they can't control the lives of the countries that are on their borders.

HAASS:  We have time for one last question, (sure ?).  And let me apologize in advance to the half-dozen people I didn't get to.

QUESTIONER:  Thanks.  Allan Goodman, Institute --

ALBRIGHT:  My former boss.

Q    -- of International Education.

Richard, she was not only legendary for being a tough grader but set a university record for being voted the most popular teacher on the faculty.  I think you won the award five times.  So there's a lesson to all of us there.

HAASS:  They just wanted her to ease up on the grades.  (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER:  That didn't happen, I can assure you.  The question is relating to the Fulbright Program.  Given the State Department's success in getting more and more governments to contribute more and more funds to Fulbright, would turning to Fulbright and maybe its alumni corps be a way to jump-start your international nation-building teams?

ALBRIGHT:  I think that's a very good idea, Allan.  I think these are people that have in fact lived abroad, who have done what I've advocated is understand the history, culture and various issues of countries.  I think it's a very good way.

My pet word in life is "synergy."  If you can figure out how to really use a lot of issues together, I think it's a great idea.  And I think we should work on suggesting it to people that we might know.

HAASS:  I have a question, Mr. Stares.  Do we take a break now or not, or do we go directly into the next session?

(Off mike response.)

Okay, okay.  We're going to start then again at 2.  But more important, let me again thank Secretary Albright, not just for today but for all she has done for this country and for all I know she's going to continue to do for us.

(Applause.)

ALBRIGHT:  Thank you.

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