MR. BROKAW: There are lots international crises in the world. Obviously, the Russian Bear is crashing around in the woods again; we are at war on two fronts; China made a very strong, symbolic statement just two weeks at the beginning of the Olympics; there was a good deal of concern -- as we saw there this morning on the screen, in this country about global trade and the economy. For me, personally, however, my BlackBerry crashed this morning. Laughter.) And that's of much greater concern to me than anything else that is going on in the world.
Nonetheless, I'm going to set that aside, if I can, for the next hour or so, so that we can share with this terrific audience that we have before us -- and a special welcome to all the students who are here today, some of the very best minds in America -- (applause) -- give yourself a round of applause -- some of the very best minds in America on these vexing problems that we saw Geoff so clearly point out on the screen, and how we can get some resolution from them, for them in the course of the next four years, and in the course of the lifetime of these young people who are here today.
Let me begin the introductions at that end of the stage -- the man working on The New York Times crossword puzzle right now is Richard Holbrooke. (Laughter, applause.)
MR. HOLBROOKE: I'm working on your BlackBerry.
MR. BROKAW: (Laughs.) Who's a kind of a uber-foreign policy expert for the Democratic Party dating to his days as a young Foreign Service officer in Vietnam. As you know, he has served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations; the ambassador to Germany for this country; in the highest levels of the State Department; and he is the man who muscled through the Dayton Peace Accords that finally brought a time of peace to a very embattled part of the world called Bosnia.
Next to him, with an elevated leg this morning -- there's a health care forum going on just across the hall, by the way, Jessica -- is Jessica Mathews, long-time writer and analyst on international affairs, known for the great clarity of her thinking and the strength of her perceptions about where we're going in the world, now running the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Vin Weber, former Republican Congressman from southwestern Minnesota, who in 1994 helped Newt Gingrich construct the Contract With America, and helped create -- (laughter) -- the modern --
MR. WEBER: Not exactly -- not exactly. (Laughs.)
MR. BROKAW: -- Republican Party. Now has been very active in the Council on Foreign Relations as well, and is a very familiar and very highly regarded figure, in a kind of bipartisan way, of looking at these issues. But he is here today, I know, representing the interests of his party.
Madeleine Albright, who, as Tim Wirth pointed out, has deep roots in Denver, having come here as an immigrant -- and an experience that she's talked about very movingly. She has served as the United States ambassador to the United Nations as well, and, of course, is the first woman secretary of State. (Cheers, applause.)
MS. ALBRIGHT: Hometown crowd.
MR. BROKAW: Richard Haass, who is right next to me, is the captain of the good ship CFR, the Council on Foreign Relations. He too is a long-time commentator and analyst of foreign policy, and he served at the highest levels in the State Department, most recently at the right hand of Colin Powell in the Bush-43 administration.
Richard, let me begin with you. Is the United States in more trouble in one part of the world than in other parts of the world? And let's set aside the Middle East, as I ask that question -- we know the kinds of grievances that are exhibited out there. But, give me your analysis of Europe versus Asia, for example; South America versus the Subcontinent.
MR. HAASS: A good opening question. The United States is in difficulty in the world, in part, because there's so many problems out there, and U.S. tools to deal with those problems are not in abundance. So, we're stretched militarily; we're obviously in a bad situation economically; we're heavily dependent upon expensive energy; at a time we've got to deal with problems from North Korea, throughout the greater Middle East, now Russia, as you mentioned; plus, not simply local or regional problems, but global problems.
Indeed, one of the hallmarks of this era of international relations is the diffusion of power around the world into many hands, and a lack of international arrangements to cope with it. We've got a gap between the challenges and the institutions that exist to deal with them.
If I were looking at the world, though, regionally, I would say the greatest chunk of problems, as you suggested, is the greater Middle East -- Iran, Iraq, the Pakistan-Afghanistan conundrum. Asia's been surprisingly positive. One would have thought, historically, that an area of that much dynamism -- emerging great powers like China, India, a strong Japan, and so forth -- history would have suggested that would result in an awful lot of friction. I think Asia is one of the great stories in today's world.
If you want to include South Asia, a little bit more concern, in part, because of the unraveling of political authority in Pakistan. I think Latin America is largely a good story -- largely stable, largely democratic, the more "centrist left" is in the ascendant over any sort of a more "radical left." Africa is a mixed bag but, again, a lot of successes, in addition to the problems. Europe is largely whole and free, though, obviously, the emergence in recent weeks of, if you will, shades of the past about how to deal with Russia, and so forth.
But, all things being equal, to me, the two principal sets of challenges in the world are still the greater Middle East, and global challenges which aren't, if you will, limited to any particular locale.
MR. BROKAW: Madeleine, in your travels around the world, do you find, as I often do, a demarcation between governmental attitudes toward the United States government, and attitudes toward the American people and the American idea?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that basically people are very smart, in terms of seeing that all Americans don't agree with the current policies. And there is a great admiration for, I think, the American "can do" spirit, the optimism that Americans have. I know that when I give speeches abroad, a number of foreigners would come up to me and say, "We couldn't give this kind of a speech. You're clearly an American because of your view about the future and the sense of optimism."
I must say that there was a little bit of it -- in some polling that I'd seen that the Pew people have been doing, is that there was a fall off between 2000 and 2004. In 2001, or so, when polls were taken, there was a vast division between American policies and the American people; the American people being very popular and people wanted to emulate our music, technology, et cetera. But, I'm -- to get partisan right away here, but there was a real difference after 2004 because, in fact, President Bush had gotten reelected and, therefore, there began to be some questions even about American people.
But, I think people want to see American leadership. They have, however, found American leadership wanting. And so, one of the issues, here in my conversations, are that people want to see us back, but -- to tag onto to what Richard was saying, they want to see us cooperate. They want to see us try to regenerate some of the institutional structures -- the U.N., strengthen alliances; and wanting us to consult before, not after, and not, kind of, demand that everybody step in line and salute whatever we think. So, I think there is a very, very strong residue of goodwill for the American people.
MR. BROKAW: Mr. Holbrooke, let me be a devil's advocate here, if I can. The United States, in the eyes of a lot of the world, is a kind of piņata at the moment, but what about the responsibility of some of our allies for some of these vexing problems that we are facing? Take Afghanistan, for example, where NATO has moved in but it's moved, primarily, into its compounds, and it's not as robust a presence there as the United States would like to have it to be, and yet Afghanistan, and what happens in Afghanistan, is not of concern just to the United States but to Western Europe as well.
MR. HOLBROOKE: Thanks, Tom. Your question illustrates two critical, interrelated aspects of policy. And I can pick up on what Madeleine just said. First of all, the world wants American leadership. And you can get no better illustration of what Madeleine just said than the fact that in Germany approval of the United States is at 30 percent, but when Barack Obama went to Berlin he got 200,000 people in streets, and he could have done the same thing in London had he wanted to. (Applause.)
What those Germans were saying was, "We still love America, and we're not anti-American, but we're anti-Bush." And they understood the point -- (applause) -- Madeleine and I see it all the time.
Now, this leads into your very important question, Tom. And here again Madeleine and I worked side by side through these issues in the Balkans. Here is the mantra: America cannot go it alone. And that was a historic mistake of the current administration. America must lead broad coalitions. But, the key word here is "lead," and we cannot renounce our leadership role. We're currently facing a new and extraordinarily dangerous challenge from the Russian invasion of Georgia. No one knows the long-term consequences of it, but Moscow has broken the post-Cold War rules and invaded a neighboring state.
Whether you think the Georgians provoked it or the Russians provoked it is a worthy debate for some other forum, but what is unambiguous is that the Russians went the length and breadth of the country destroying the infrastructure, destroying the ports, and as we speak today, they're still occupying the country. And yesterday they threw an even greater challenge to the West by recognizing the two breakaway enclaves.
The U.S. is not going to go to war over South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Georgia any more than we went to war over Berlin at the height of the Cold War. But to respond, we need support of our allies. And Tom's question is very important, because I agree with the underlying premise of your question, that the Europeans don't do enough. And, on the other hand, this administration doesn't know how to muster an international coalition.
Madeleine and I sat -- in a memorable evening at Heathrow Airport in the fall of 1998, with the Coalition on the Balkans, including the Russian foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, trying to muster an international coalition. It took us about three or four months to do it. But, when the Clinton administration acted in Kosovo, it acted with the full support of NATO because we practiced leadership and diplomacy, mixed with the appropriate use of force as necessary.
We have to restore that balance. Everything Geoff Garin showed us suggested that the majority of the American public -- I noticed the slide which said they don't want a diplomacy-only foreign policy. We would agree with that. Force can never be removed from the table, but force as a first option, force as a constant threat -- which this administration did, and which the Republican candidate for the president seems very clearly addicted to, if you look at his statements on Iran -- is a very serious problem.
So, Tom, I think, yes, the Europeans must do more. And you're quite right, the issue for the next president, whether it's Obama or McCain, will be Afghanistan -- no question about it. But, the United States must show, in leadership, the willingness to listen to the concerns of our allies, and form coalitions so we don't have crash after crash -- as we had at the NATO summit in Bucharest where President Bush tried to get Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, or in Membership Action Plan, the Europeans said no; the current arguments over how to respond to Moscow; the arguments over Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.
There are always frictions in the alliances, but the world still looks to us for leadership.
MR. BROKAW: Jessica, it's my experience that -- in the last 10 years, especially, that the NGOs of the world have moved into a lot of the vacuums that exist out there because of the absence of a coherent foreign policy. The International Rescue Committee, with which I'm pretty deeply involved; the Refugees International Organization; Doctors Without Borders; Human Rights Watch -- and they're taking a more active role, whether it's in Asia or in the Subcontinent.
And in many ways they're doing very, very good work, on the ground, providing those services. But as their political profile is raised as well, does that present a potential conflict for an administration competing against the agenda of the NGOs? Does it become a kind of extra-government of the United States?
MS. MATHEWS: I don't think that it goes that far. But, there are no question that -- and particularly for a Democratic president, and particularly for the next Democratic president who has an unprecedented number of crises to deal with -- that NGOs press for action on a very broad number of fronts when there is a limited amount of national capital, if you will, to spend. And so, to me, that's -- that's the toughest challenge that the president faces vis-a-vis the NGOs. And then the positive side, of course, is mobilizing them to work with him.
But, if I may, I'm interested -- we've all talked about the need for U.S. leadership, but what strikes me is that the United States is right now not in a position to lead. You can't lead from the caboose. (Applause.) And on any number of issues -- whether you're talking about energy, whether you're talking about climate change, whether you're talking about nuclear proliferation, indeed, even if you are talking about civil liberties, terrorism and human rights issues -- U.S. domestic policies right now leave us in a position, in a hole where we are unable to lead even if a new president, on January 21st, says, "I want to make climate change, energy, whatever, my top priority."
We are not yet ready to change our ways on energy. We have not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which makes it important for us to lead on nuclear proliferation; we have an abysmal record on torture and civil liberties from the last few years, all of which has to be -- (applause) -- all of which has to be rectified before we can lead in a positive sense.
My point is simply that -- and I think, and this comes back, actually, to the question of NGOs working with an administration -- is that everybody is going to have to recognize that President Obama is going to have to climb out of a hole, back up to ground level, before he can exercise international leadership on a whole range of critical issues. (Applause)
MR. BROKAW: You wondered about the power of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace? Jessica Mathews just elected President Obama here on the stage today. (Cheers, applause)
Let me give Vin Weber the authority to elect President McCain.
MR. WEBER: I was just going to say, knowing where I am I'm not going to protest too loudly, but can we say that it wasn't unanimous? (Laughter.)
MS. MATHEWS: (Off mike.) Yes. (Laughs.)
MR. BROKAW: But, what do you see in Senator McCain's campaign, and in his discussion of foreign policy, that indicates to you any kind of a sharp departure from the, largely, 'go it alone' policies of the last six years, particularly?
MR. WEBER: I think the most important difference -- and I'm not trying to get into the ad wars that -- versus Senator Obama, but the main thing is, he does have vast experience internationally. And I contrast that with President Bush, who came into office with virtually no foreign policy experience, and I think that that showed in the first couple of years, particularly, and throughout his administration.
So, I think, first of all, although there are policy arguments, you do have a candidate in Senator McCain who has about as much foreign policy experience as anybody that has run for president, in either party, for quite awhile, maybe with the exception being his father. I think that that will show a great -- a great difference.
I think that you've seen his approach to some of the international issues that we're concerned about here, quite different. We have achieved a movement in America's attitude toward climate change. That's already happened. How it works itself out, in terms of treaties and policies in the next administration -- the Obama administration or maybe another one, yet remains to be seen.
But, I think that -- I think that Senator McCain does have a different set of attitudes. He's called for the closing of Gitmo. He's been outspoken on the issue of torture. There's a lot of issues on which there's agreement between Senator McCain and some of his critics in the Democratic Party, and illustrate a different attitude going forward.
I want to say, though -- and, you know, I've not been part of the Bush administration. It's not my job to come here and defend the Bush administration. I will say I'm not quite as sanguine about overcoming some of the difficulties, internationally, simply through more effective diplomacy. Can we have more effective diplomacy? We surely can. Can we have -- project a different image from the White House? We surely can.
Getting the cooperation of Europe to do things that we talked about a few minutes ago, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, in my view, doesn't simply require more effective diplomacy. We've got some very difficult changes in attitude among the Europeans. You know, a few years ago we were very worried about the emergence of the European Defense Force. We're not very worried about it now because the Europeans won't fund it. Well, that's an attitude on the part of Europeans that plagued your administration, in many cases, in the Clinton years; that plagues this one.
My only point being, whoever is elected president, some of these realities are going to remain difficult. And I worry, when I look at the data that -- the excellent data that Geoff Garin put up there, I think some Americans have an attitude, have developed an attitude that, "Well, we'll get a new president, and he will say the right words, and all of a sudden, you know, NATO will step up to the plate, and the United Nations will step up to the plate, and all of these things will be handled multilaterally."
I don't think it's going to be that easy. I think there are some big institutional, cultural and demographic problems that are likely to keep that from being nearly as easy as the American people think, hope and want it to be. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: Richard, you have been a student and an architect of Republican foreign policy. What do you see in the McCain approach to the world that encourages you?
MR. HAASS: One thing that I would point out is the openness on issues in the economic realm. One of the things in the data -- actually, the single thing that worried me most about what we heard half an hour ago was the shift in the number of Americans who -- and the increase in the number of Americans, quite dramatic, who essentially want to turn their backs on the world.
The word "isolationism" is a loaded word, but that was the thrust of what you were hearing, that people increasingly were beginning to associate international involvement with costs. I don't know how much of it was (Iraq ?)-generated, but a general sense of cost. I think it's part of a larger phenomenon we're seeing in this country. We're seeing it on the trade debate; we're seeing it on the immigration debate; we're seeing it in the growing resistance to flows investment in the United States, despite our need for these, for these flows.
And I worry about the increasingly "closedness," if you will, of a growing number of Americans to the world, at a time we can't close ourselves to the world if we wanted to. And I think there's powerful arguments that we should not want to. Globalization, at the end of the day, isn't a choice, it's a reality for the United States. To put it another way, the world is not Las Vegas. What happens there won't stay there. We have got to deal with the world, and the question is how we, how we deal with the world.
So, I like it when Senator McCain talks about engaging the world on climate change. And I like it when he talks about the United States -- he wants to get trade promotion authority, essentially fast-track negotiating authority to negotiate a new global trade agreement. To me, it's this essential openness -- economically; also on immigration issues, where there has been strong elements in the Republican Party, which I think he's largely resisted, wanting to take a very closed approach to immigration.
I'm not here to defend him or criticize him, or defend Senator Obama or criticize him, but I do think there's elements of openness there which are both wise and necessary for the, for the United States if we are going to thrive in, again, what is essentially a global world.
MR. BROKAW: Richard, you have seen administrations come and go. The new president -- and you and I have talked about this -- whoever it is faces probably the most daunting agenda of our lifetime: Two wars, international energy crisis, global climate change, the rise of China, Russia being more proactive again, and the list goes on and on.
As we saw in that poll, most voters in this country are desperate to have something done about the economy, and what could arguably be the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. So, the new president who takes office can only bite off so much, as we know. If they try to take in too much in the first nine months, it really sets them on a course in which re-election is problematic, which is always part of the goal.
So, this new president, whoever it is -- John McCain or Barack Obama, won't he have to focus first on the American economy to respond to the reason that he was elected?
MR. HOLBROOKE: As you said, Tom, I believe -- and, indeed, wrote for Richard's magazine, current issue, "Foreign Affairs" -- I think the new, next president inherits the worst opening day position in American history in international affairs. (Applause) Of course, Lincoln inherited the worst situation of anyone because the country was about to go to civil war.
But, no president -- Truman had a tough situation, but we were winning those wars -- no president has inherited two wars. There's the confrontation with Iran; there's the new challenge from Russia which will change the global strategic landscape in ways we still don't understand, or try to sort out, even as we try to watch people deal with the current crisis.
The history of presidents in their first year in office has not been entirely (in ?) comforting on this regard, Tom. And we've gone over this before. Kennedy stumbled in his first year, at the Bay of Pigs and in his meeting with Khrushchev in Vienna. Ronald Reagan had a very rough first year. Jimmy Carter had a rough first year and had to change some of his campaign positions. Bill Clinton had a difficult first year before he got himself straightened out -- first year included Somalia and, extending it just by a few months, into Rwanda, and a very uncertain start on Bosnia. George W. Bush had a bad first year, and then a bad second year, and so on, and so forth. (Laughter, applause, cheers.) That was not a partisan remark, just a historical observation. (Laughter.)
I serve on Vin Weber's board of the National Endowment for Democracy, I'm going to get a little lecture on this in a minute. So, the next president -- Tom, you talked about the first nine months, the next president is going to have to get off to an immediate start to capitalize on the period of good feeling that -- we've discussed earlier, he's going to have to show leadership and he's going to have to set priorities.
Now, what I would suggest that the two macro priorities are: The one you just mentioned, the economy; and restoring respect for the United States. Let me start with the second, briefly, and then move back to your point. We are today not as respected in the world as we used to be; we're not as well liked; and we're not even, as well, as much feared -- even though our defense budget exceeds that of the entire rest of the world combined.
The next president must immediately do some things to begin to repair our image, and, as Vin said, it can't be done over night. And that means the two immediate things that can be done by executive order are Guantanamo, and an unambiguous position on torture. (Applause.)
Now, on Guantanamo, there are only 240 prisoners left. It's a complicated legal problem, but a lot of things are complicated in life that must be done. On torture, I need to clarify one point that was just made by Vin. John McCain's courage in the face of torture is a dramatic story in his life, and one that those of us who consider ourselves as friends admire.
But, there is a difference between the two candidates now, because in the latest legislation Senator McCain voted for a dual standard whereby the CIA would not be bound by the Army Field Manual positions; and Barack Obama voted for a uniform standard. Those of us who have worked with the CIA -- and the fact that many CIA agents are, in fact, sheep-dipped military who take off their uniforms -- would view that as not a small exception but a giant loophole. Nonetheless, let's get back to the point: Respect is critical.
Now, to your point, the economy. I'm not a historical determinist, but I believe that if there's one law of history that does apply it's that, in the end, nations rise and fall based on their economic strength. From Portugal, to Venice, to Spain, to the Netherlands, to England -- they rose and fell with their economies. Right now our economy is in a decline. Is it cyclical or secular? None of us know. But, one thing is clear, oil has quadrupled in the last four years -- and Geoff Garin's poll shows that the American public knows what the real issue is, oil has quadrupled in four years; and at the -- if you take $100 a barrel as the average cost of oil, and right now it's somewhat higher than that, much higher, and you look at the facts, you come up with the following: We consume 21 billion -- million, million barrels of oil per day. We currently import 13 million of those.
Every single day we are transferring, from our country to the oil producing states, $1.3 trillion dollars or more -- $1.3 trillion a day -- a billion a day. How long can we keep doing that without impoverishing ourselves? And, secondly, a lot of that money is going to countries like Venezuela, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Russia who use it for -- what?
MS. MATHEWS: (Off mike.)
MR. HOLBROOKE: Russia. (Laughs.) Thank you, coach. (Laughs.)
And, meanwhile, we're not dealing with the climate change issue. So, on this question, we not only have to break our dependence on oil because of the pain at the pump, we have to break our dependence on foreign oil for our own national security interests.
So, Tom, I would say that fixing the economy is not just the domestic priority, but if you add in the energy-climate change issue, it is a national security imperative. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: Madeleine, and then Jessica, and then Vin, I'd like to hear all three of you weigh in on this because I think there's a longing out there for not doing business as usual: Is a new paradigm required in the structure, as well as the philosophy, of how we do -- conduct foreign policy in the 21st century?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I think that if you look at the various issues that are out there, they all require a great deal of cooperation internationally. And I do think that there is an internal structure in our government as to how we deal with it. And I think many of us have been participating in various discussions about whether the national security system needs to be changed, and whether the State Department needs to regain power, vis-a-vis the Defense Department, because it clearly is off-kilter at the moment.
I think the thing that is clearest is that more and more parts of the U.S. government are involved in some form of international activity. It goes to Dick's point, is that these issues require a great deal of internal cooperation. It also goes to how the next president needs to establish his cabinet as a result of that. I have written a book called, "Memo to the President-Elect," and one of the things I talk about is the importance of an internal domestic team.
I think what's interesting -- people have been talking about President Lincoln's team of rivals, and I do think Washington has a very bad habit -- which doesn't happen in Denver, and that is that people in Washington show how smart they are by making the person sitting next to them look stupid. What is more important is to get a team of people that actually present a variety of different views, but don't make it a zero-sum game.
And what you want is a president who listens to a lot of different ideas. And I've talked about the need for a president, with confidence, to listen to diverse ideas -- not certainty, because a "certain" president -- a "certain" president doesn't even know what he doesn't know. So, I think it is important to have that kind of mixture. (Applause.) So, I would look a lot to how the next president puts his team together, and very much aware of the number of difficult players that have to be a part of it.
I also do think that the international system is broken. And there have suggestions about having more regional coalitions of various kinds. As I listen to Richard go around the world of where the issues are, there are different ways that we have to look at some of the regional aspects, and look at coalitions of various groups.
I happen to believe in the U.N. I'm so happy to be in Denver for any number of reasons, but I won the United States contest for the "Rocky Mountain Empire" when I was in -- a sophomore in high school here -- (applause) -- and mainly because at that stage I was able to name the 51 countries of the U.N. in alphabetical order -- (laughter) -- which would be much harder to do today. But, I am a believer in the U.N.
I was interested in Geoff's material, because it does show that people understand that we can't do everything alone. And I think international organizations need to be structured in a way where they can be more effective, and we do have to operate differently.
And it also goes to the NGO point. I actually think that we have to figure out a better way to have non-governmental organizations be a part of what we're doing. They still have to put pressure on, but I do think -- (inaudible) -- more partnerships.
And then finally, I think that it's very important to realize the role of corporations. They play a huge role, and many of them a positive role. And I think that it's important to get all those to the table so that, for instance, huge companies may have a larger budget -- do -- than many of the small countries in the world, and so those voices need to be heard. And I do think that the international system needs to be adjusted to deal with huge issues.
One last point, in terms of priorities, I think we need to do away with the "100-day" gimmick. This is not FDR's time. There are many more issues. And I think that the next president needs to have a very clear set of priorities, and a little bit of PR. Frankly, if you set yourself three priorities, and you accomplish two, you've done two-thirds of your work. If you have 10 priorities, and you accomplish four, even though you've done double, it looks like you haven't done as much as you promised. And so, laying out the priorities in some kind of order will help get through the honeymoon period, help in terms of expectations.
MR. BROKAW: Congressman Weber, should we take down the Department of Homeland Security and admit that it was designed to fail, and it succeeded, at this point? (Laughter.)
MR. WEBER: I think the -- the Department of Homeland Security is a good example of being very careful about what you wish for, because there is no more -- there's no greater bipartisan disaster, in my judgment, than the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security -- and it was genuinely bipartisan. (Applause.)
To stop just short of the answer to your question, we have it now; it has a set of responsibilities; you can't just go in and bulldoze the organization, we have to figure out how to restructure it. But, I certainly agree, we threw it together quickly in response to political pressures, and it was a -- it was a big mistake; and it has to be restructured and we have to figure out how to do it right now. And that's going to be a major task.
I want to just come back to a couple of things that Madeleine said. One of the things that she alluded to, in terms of the next -- the structure of foreign policy in the next administration, that's so important, is it's pretty hard to identify a Cabinet agency anymore that isn't an international agency -- and, in some cases, the dominant agency.
You know, you look at our relationship with China today -- the largest nation in the world, I would argue that maybe that the Treasury Department is the lead agency in the things that really matter, in terms of our relationship with China. And that's just somewhat obvious.
The Department of Agriculture (laughs) has a lot to say about policies that are doing great damage in the poorest areas of the world -- in Africa and elsewhere. When the farm bill came up, there was a lot of international involvement around that issue. (Applause.)
So, you know, we have to, we have to rethink all of this, and make sure that the people that are put in -- that there's a coherence to an administration's policy, that goes through all the different departments.
Let me just use this -- one more second, one opportunity to say one more thing that I think we need to get on the table a little bit. I worry -- and we didn't talk about it in this polling that Geoff had, but I've seen it in a lot of other polling; I know Madeleine and Richard are very familiar with it too -- democracy has a bad name around America, and American promotion of democracy has a bad name around the world right now. But democracy, as a part of American foreign policy, is not the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq.
When Madeleine Albright came in as secretary of State she formed the "Community of Democracies" in the Clinton Administration. The Clinton campaign, back in '92, was somewhat critical of the Bush administration -- the first Bush administration for not doing enough to have democracy as a part of our foreign policy agenda.
We have to find a way of making sure that the promotion of democracy, or what we would call the "preconditions of democracy" -- human rights, women's rights, labor rights, independent media, all the things that lead to a democratic society -- don't get thrown out, like the baby with the bathwater, because of unhappiness, or a false identification of democracy promotion, with armed intervention.
I think that that's going to be very important for the next administration. I'm pleased to say the Democratic platform is very strong on this issue, and the Democratic Congress -- at least in terms of the organization that I chair, the National Endowment for Democracy, has been very good in their financial support. But I worry that the public is not supportive, and I don't see the candidates in either party -- including the ones that got thrown aside in the primaries, saying much about the proper role of democracy. And I think it's very important for a successful long-term foreign policy for the United States. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: I want to pick up on that -- I want to pick up on that in just a moment, if I can.
But just to, if I can, to finish off on restructuring, Jessica, there was a lot of talk four or five years ago about the importance of cultural diplomacy, that the United States was not just exporting the American ideal anymore but that we would have to find a way to be much more interactive with other cultures and come to understand them.
Those efforts really crashed in this administration. There were two, kind of, well-publicized but, what turned out to be, feeble attempts to reach out to the rest of the world, and understand. and find common ground. Is that going to be more and more important? And do we need to look at that in a much more sophisticated fashion than we have so far?
Let me just say, parenthetically, we also remember that when 9/11 happened the kind of pathetic example of the director of the FBI at a news conference saying, "Does anybody speak Arabic?" -- we need some people to help us in understanding the language of that part of the world.
I've kept track of that. There is no spike in the population of a people in this country who speak Arabic. There are no students, in a kind of large and profound way, diving into Arabic studies, or the culture of Islam, and finding out where the points of conflict are -- as we all did when we were growing up, about the Cold War, what was going to happen with Russia, and what our interests were, and so on.
Is that something that we have to pay a good deal more attention to as the world becomes a smaller place -- more populated, cultures rising in dramatic new ways?
MS. MATHEWS: I think it's enormously important. My own organization, we have websites -- full websites in Russian, Chinese and Arabic which, I will tell you, is both expensive and really difficult, especially the Arabic. But we do it because, even though the elites may read English, you, (a) ?) could grab a much wider and different audience if you do it in the language of the region that you're dealing with; but you also send a totally different message, and you engage a completely different kind of discussion.
But on the points you raise, I mean, there have been many people who have tried to go to work for the government who are Arabic speakers, who couldn't get clearance. And this goes to another of the things that is seriously broken in Washington -- it sounds awfully tactical but it isn't, because one of the reasons you don't get a honeymoon, you get a nightmare, and one of the reasons recent presidents have stumbled so poorly in the first year is because they can't get their staffs cleared -- confirmed by Congress.
And, you know, way back when, Bob McNamara staffed the Pentagon in a week. Now you only fill out the first 25 pages of your clearance form in a week, and maybe hire the lawyer you need to get to it. So, many of our organizations have worked on this and failed to try to find a better system. It is something -- it sounds trivial, and it really isn't. It robs presidents of either party of effective policymaking for at least the first six months and maybe more.
MR. WEBER: (Off mike.) (I decided ?) it's not at all trivial. Another hat that I wear, as a member of Secretary of Defense's Defense Policy Board, and I would just say it is a very serious concern of the Department of Defense -- with all the challenges we have around the world, that are in front of us right now, or that may emerge immediately -- that we may have a large number of unfilled positions in the Department of Defense. That's a national security issue. It's not a trivial issue.
MS. MATHEWS: (Off mike.) So, I just -- (inaudible) --
MR. BROKAW: I want to, if I can --
MR. HOLBROOKE: Tom, could I add something -- because you were just Beijing, and it seemed to me, watching your brilliant coverage, you and your network -- from what I could tell, you had cultural diplomacy at its best in the person of Kobe Bryant, who appeared to be, from your coverage, the most popular athlete there, or one of. Cultural diplomacy, it should be understood, is not about culture, it's about projecting the best of American values.
And this administration has failed, organizationally. For those of you who don't follow these trivial things, the United States Information Agency was merged into the State Department over a decade ago. It may be time to restore an independent status. There is a job called "Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs" -- excuse me, "for Public Diplomacy," which has been vacant over half the time, and inadequately staffed, in the Bush administration, and the process has not been given the attention it should get.
I will just say a personal thing to my friend the moderator. In my dream administration -- just like John F. Kennedy, recognizing the importance of this issue, put Edward R. Murrow as head of USIA, I think that the head of our cultural diplomatic efforts in the next administration, regardless of who wins, should be Tom Brokaw. (Cheers, applause.)
MR. BROKAW: If I could figure out a way to conduct cultural diplomacy from a trout stream in Montana, I would accept the position. (Laughter.)
Short of that, however -- Jessica.
MS. MATHEWS: Just to finish, because I -- my own sense is that we were trying to do -- that cultural diplomacy is not a separate thing --
MR. BROKAW: Right.
MS. MATHEWS: -- that our message is what we do.
MR. BROKAW: Right.
MS. MATHEWS: And it's going to take awhile to restore leadership. It's not going to come on day-two. And, frankly -- I know this is a minority view, but I think it -- obviously, I think it's true, I think the concept of public diplomacy, in the current world media environment, is totally out of date.
It is not like the old days when one broadcast channel could reach people who had no other access to information. People are swamped with information. And I think it's a very modest --
MR. BROKAW: It requires -- in my judgment, it does require a new paradigm. But the fundamental issue is, you just can't be on "send," you've got to be on "receive" a little bit as well. And there are many -- there are myriad ways of doing that now that are not being exploited or being used.
But let me --
MS. MATHEWS: (Off mike.) And that's where language -- the ability to speak languages is a critical part --
MR. BROKAW: A huge part of it.
MS. MATHEWS: -- of "receive."
MR. BROKAW: A huge part of it.
Richard, Vin raised something that I think is critical to whoever is elected president -- and whatever the discussion we have in this country, about the future of the world as we see it. Is the great debate in the next decade going to be "democracy versus stability."
MR. HAASS: It's one of the great debates, and it's probably the single most important fault line in the intellectual debate about American foreign policy. But, the question of what should the principal purpose business of American foreign policy be: Should it be to promote better relations between states to shape the foreign policy behavior of governments? Or, should it be to shape the internal nature of other countries and their societies?
Now, before everyone jumps down my throat, it's obviously not an either/or question. But, like everything else in life, it is a question of "balance" -- to use a word which showed up earlier quite a lot, and it is a question of detail. And when you come to the question of democracy promotion, we have to think an awful lot about its priority in American foreign policy; about how we go about it; and we have to think a little -- and by, I mean "go about it," it's not simply the question of whether to use force or not, which I would obviously say is a questionable issue, but the sequencing of it: How fast so you try to (bring ?) it about; what is the relationship between economic reform and political reform; what is the place of civil society development? -- all the issues Vin was alluding to.
But putting all that aside, I do think there is something of a first-order debate, which is essentially -- take the question of China. Should U.S. relations now towards China largely be informed, say, by their behavior towards Tibet; their behavior towards human rights; land confiscations; how they deal with their own people, their repression of political freedoms and religious freedoms? To what extent should that inform U.S. policy, as opposed to Chinese behavior towards North Korea, or its dollar holdings, or what it does on climate change? Or Russia, even though obviously the Georgian issue has complicated it, to what extent should U.S. policy towards Mr. Putin's Russia -- and it seems to be Mr. Putin's Russia, largely, still -- be shaped by the fact that he essentially is engaged in a sustained process of what you might call "de-democratization.?" How much would that, again, inform U.S. policy, as opposed to some of the issues with Russian behavior vis-a-vis Iran, where obviously we need their support diplomatically; or on energy policies, or what have you?
Now, we can say, in the long run, again, we want all countries to be democratic, and fully mature democratic countries make better international citizens. That's great, except there's a long time between then and now. We may not be -- it might be decades before these countries seriously democratize. Plus, it's clear to me -- and China actually brought this home, I thought, during the Olympics, countries do have different visions of the end-point. There is not a universal image of what the full maturation, or evolution or development is, of a society. And I truly do not believe that China's definition of a mature, modern society is necessarily the same as ours, or a British definition.
And this is the -- this debate has been going on for more than 100 years in American foreign policy. It's caricatured a bit, as realists versus idealists, or realists versus Wilsonians, but I do think, in it, there is -- there are some real differences. And I would simply say, for the next administration, and the one after that, I think the emphasis -- not the exclusive focus, but the emphasis, given the "inbox" we're going to inherit, given the many constraints on our resources and tools, the emphasis in most situations needs to be on the external behavior of governments.
Given all the challenges this countries faces, I would simply say, we don't have the luxury, we don't always have the wisdom, and we don't always have the means to reengineer other societies in our fashion.
MR. BROKAW: You know, I was -- I shared -- (applause.)
MS. ALBRIGHT: Tom can I speak to this, because I'm chairman of the board of the National Democratic Institute, an organization that has for -- since the early '80s been dedicated to the promotion of democracy, which is very different than the "imposition" of democracy. And what has given democracy -- (applause.) -- this administration has given democracy a bad name. You can't impose democracy. It's an oxymoron.
And I think what has to happen is if we believe, as I do, that we're all the same, and that people want to be able to make decisions about their own lives, then I think it is most appropriate for the United States, in partnership with other democracies -- which is the key part, to offer other countries the tools for enabling people to make decisions about their own lives.
And, so, ultimately, there should not be a paradox as to whether "democracy" or "stability," the most stable governments are democratic governments. And I would argue that China, ultimately -- as you're looking at various aspects of it, there are demonstrations by those who don't like what's happening in environmentally, or what happened with the earthquake, et cetera, and so I think we've got to be very careful not to just eliminate the concept that America, just because it's been done so badly, does not stand for democracy, which means that we also have to practice it at home. (Applause)
MR. BROKAW: Congressman?
MR. WEBER: In the promotion of democracy, let's just say -- we should right now say, there is a model that we are quite all very fond of -- Richard's on the board of NED, Madeleine just mentioned she's the chairman of -- (inaudible) -- the NDI, NED and, I would add, International Republican Institute model is the correct model for the way in which this country should go about promoting the preconditions of democracy.
And it's very important, country-by-country, every situation is different. Elections are not the first priority. Preparing people for elections, in all the ways we've talked about -- women's rights, and political parties, and (all those things ?), but most important of all, in terms of this model, you don't come in and impose it by the United States. You'd find indigenous folks to work with and help supply them with the tools.
This goes back to the question that Jessica was asked earlier about how NGOs are having more difficulty as they're getting more visible. The difficulty, in my view, is in separating themselves from the United States government, we don't, we don't want -- and I think Ken Wollack and Madeleine would say this is how NDI operates too, you don't want a big "made in America" stamp on the democracy promotion efforts, whether they're in the Middle East, or Africa, or anywhere else. You want it to be local people, reflecting the values and cultures of their own continent, if you will.
But, that doesn't mean we can't help. We can be of a lot of help and we should always be of help. And I agree with Richard on the part about sequencing, going right to elections is usually not the right thing. But there's a phrase that I don't like, and if -- I hope this doesn't -- (inaudible) -- I don't like the phrase, "They're not ready for democracy there yet." I hope we don't say that.
MR. BROKAW: Richard, just let me, for a moment -- I want to get to a student's question, but I'm sure this was Richard the other night. Having just gotten back from Beijing, where I'd been going since 1974, and so over the years I have made a number of friends there, and it's been really quite remarkable to watch the evolution of their own thinking.
I had dinner in Beijing the other night with a group of very successful Chinese entrepreneurs and what you'd call "members of the intelligentsia." And we were talking about the conditions in Beijing and the relationship with the United States. Now, mind you, this was a fairly high-end group from Beijing, but one of them finally looked at me and smiled and said, "We think America has too much time on its hands. (Laughter.) It's telling us how to live our lives. We kind of know what we're doing at the moment, and America ought to be looking at its own problems, we're beginning to deal with some of ours."
Dick, we have a question from one of the students here that goes to the role of America in the world, and two issues that are of great interest to you. Sophia Frisbe-Lowe (sp) and Bethany (sp) Ferguson: Why does the United States plan to help Georgia with its problems with Russia, yet has not responded to what they describe as the "genocide" in Tibet? (Applause.)
MR. HOLBROOKE: It's a very good question. I've spent over 20 years working with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and making myself somewhat less popular in China, than otherwise, by bringing this issue up consistently. It is a tragedy what has happened in China (sic). And the Chinese argument that it is an internal affair is not a sufficient answer to the crushing and destruction of a great cultural and theological tradition through the massive influx of Han Chinese on the High Plateau, and various other things that have happened.
Now, the specific answer to your question lies in international politics. No one disputes the fact that Tibet is part of China, among international participants. The Dalai Lama himself has said consistently, for over 20 years, that he accepts the fact that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China, even though it has all the cultural, linguistic and historical attributes of an independent state. Therefore, an American internationally-backed effort to support a Tibet independence movement would only lead to a disaster of historic consequences because, let's be honest about it, the Chinese are quite ready to use massive force, and the world would not do something about it. At the time of the American assistance to Kosovo, in 1999, a lot of Tibetans came to us and asked the same question you're asking.
Now, what about Georgia? Georgia is an independent state since 1991, recognized a member of the U.N.; clearly-defined borders, which include the two breakaway enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- which yesterday were recognized as independent nations by Russia. Most of the world is going to reject this because it would result in chaos. So, the United States' support for Georgia -- and you can argue about how it started, and you can argue about the level of support, you can argue about NATO membership, but you should not question the fact that international -- not just American, but international support to rebuild Georgia and to make clear to Russia that they can't eat up parts of their neighbors, is an important issue.
Now, what can we do about Tibet? In my view, it needs to be a major part of the international agenda, whether or not -- whatever your view on it. And to go back to Richard Haass' and Madeleine Albright's colloquy, I come out much closer. I come out where Madeleine does, of course. The traditional tension between realism and idealism, exporting our values versus protecting our other security interests, is never going to be resolved. True leadership mixes them. But, on issues like Tibet it is absolutely essential -- and anything regarding promotion of democracy, we're not, we're not here to tell the rest of the world how their governments should be structured, but we do have an obligation and a right to do two things: The right is to focus on human rights of individuals. The U.N. doesn't call it the Universal Declaration of "Democracy," it's the Universal Declaration of "Human Rights," and it was written by Eleanor Roosevelt and a team she led in 1948. And if you read Condoleezza Rice's article in the last issue of Foreign Affairs -- which, I did it with a number counter, she used the word "democracy" or " democratization" a full 97 times, and the word "human rights" once. And that is not the right balance.
The second point is our obligation. And that is that we cannot talk about democracy, freedom, liberty, human rights, the phrases we all hold sacred, unless our actions are consistent with our words. Otherwise, we debase the things we're trying to promote. (Applause.) And when it comes to Tibet -- when it comes Tibet we must be forthright in speaking up, not for independence of Tibet -- which would lead to a tragic war, and not for the internal political structures, but for protection of their human rights, including cultural, religious and self-governance within the People's Republic of China. (Applause.)
MR.BROKAW: I have another question -- Madeleine, I think you are the appropriate one for this, given your long and distinguished personal history. Eric Plofkin (sp) and Alaya Radovich (sp) want to know: How can we, as students, help repair the damaged image of this country, and get more involved -- by extension, in what is going on, as students?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Well, I do think that young people and students really are going to play a crucial role because they have a different understanding of the world, in terms of some of the questions that we've talked about, on the use of technology, and the capability -- I remember in the olden days we had pen-pals. But now, as a result of technology, it's possible to communicate across the world with a wide variety of people.
I think students can contribute by learning a great deal about the history, the religious backgrounds within the countries. I know that sometimes people think that you shouldn't learn about the religious aspects of a country because there's the separation of church and state. But I think, as a practical person, you need to know the religious background.
I think that exchange programs are absolutely essential. And then, I think -- this goes to our universities and to the American government's policies at the moment on visas, of allowing students to come in so that those exchanges take place -- and then I truly do think, and I've noticed this in my students because I teach at Georgetown, is that there is a desire for public service. And it isn't just a matter of signing up to go into the military -- though, I think that it's remarkable the number of young people that are doing that, but, generally, in terms of going into the Peace Corps, national service, a variety of kinds.
And I would like to see the next president really focus in on creating a national public service in a variety of different ways. So, I do think that students can play a huge role. And they can on many issues, but we haven't talked that much, at the moment, on the energy and environmental issue. It is one time that the kids are so far ahead of the rest of us, and they are the ones that really have to lead the way. (Applause.)
MR.BROKAW: Congressman, is that -- the formation of some kind of a new national public service program, an easy bipartisan target for whoever is elected president?
MR. WEBER: It is easier because John McCain is the Republican standard-bearer. The argument in Republican Party is about compulsion in that area. The Republicans are sort of proud of the fact that they abolished the draft, and they don't want to reestablish it, either militarily or in terms of domestic policy. But John McCain has taken a little different attitude. He has talked about national service for a long time.
And so I think that is one issue -- there probably are a lot of details to be worked out, but I would think that that's one issue where there going to be a lot greater openness to a bipartisan approach in the next, in the next administration.
MR. BROKAW: Richard, let me be nakedly self-promotional here. After several trips to Iraq, and Afghanistan especially, I came back -- and I think you and I have talked about this -- having spent a lot of time at Special Forces (fire ?) bases in really remote regions, in which these highly effective, extraordinarily well-trained military teams were fighting the bad guys all night long, and then during the day expected to go off to the villages and win hearts and minds.
And it was just inconsistent missions, frankly. They were well-trained, their attitudes were completely right, but they would go into the villages in humvees, with Kevlar goggles on -- and, as one of my friends, a former CIA senior official said, "In Afghanistan the problem is they have reversible turbans, it depends on who's in town that day" -- and so you don't have an extended-stay program.
I proposed in an article that I wrote for The Washington Post that we have a "diplomatic" special forces, that we create a whole new branch of the State Department. Get adventurous young people; train them in languages and skills; and they get assigned. Because, these Special Forces are all over the world -- they're in Colombia right now, they're in the Philippines, and it's a military presence only. And if we don't complement it with a civilian presence of some kind, that recognizes the new realities -- (applause) -- as I promised you -- I promised you it was self-promotional. Is there any chance of something like that happening?
MR. HAASS: Well, the first thing, Tom, I'd be the last person to criticize you for being self-promotional --
MR. BROKAW: (Laughs.)
MR. HAASS: -- so, just as a matter of principle here. I think there's a recognition of two things: One is, the military can't do it all. Our military is stretched with Iraq, and even if we dial down -- or when we dial down there, we're going to, to some extent, be dialing up in Afghanistan. Plus, there's other contingencies we've got to be prepared for, and there's got to be a military that can deal with both advanced conventional wars, as well as these messy, aftermath-like situations. We're simply putting too much on its plate.
And what we need to do is create some sort of a civilian reserve counterpart. And I think this idea is gaining momentum. Bob Gates, the secretary of Defense, is one of the first people to recognize it. I would think that some sort of a civilian reserve, where you would have all sorts of retired policemen, teachers, medical workers, and so forth, who could then be deployed to specific areas, particularly where either their skill-set was relevant, their language skills were relevant.
You don't need to keep it as a full-time body. It would almost be run like the Reserves for the military, but this would be run on a volunteer basis -- if you will, a civilian reserve that could be deployed internationally. And given the pattern of the last 10 or 15 years, where so much of what the United States gets involved in overseas -- whether it's the Balkans, whether it is now the greater Middle East, Haiti, other parts of the world, is these messy situations where there's a security dimension, which is paramount. And we've learned that you can't succeed unless security is established.
But, it's not enough. That's simply the beginning of a much larger process of economic and social and political development. And, again, we've got to create a civilian counterpart. So, the short answer is that, yes, I think you are on the right track. And coming back to something Vin Weber said, because this will be done voluntarily, I do think, in our society, you will find bipartisan, and beyond -- if you will, beyond governmental support.
There is still, then, some real technical problems about implementation, obviously -- when people get in harm's way. And what's so difficult about these situation -- and Richard Holbrooke knows about this as well as anybody, what looks like a stable situation at 9:02 in the morning, at 9:03 in the morning can blow up on you. And it can just transition. And that's one of the reasons the military's there. They're the best we have at dealing with these gray-area situations that can change in personality and become deadly in a second.
And so I think we need -- it's going to take a lot of thinking through. And it's actually an area where a lot of us -- because we're all associated one way or another with organizations that are in the thinking business -- this actually is an idea, or set of ideas, that could use some refinement. Where I actually think the kind of thing you were writing about, and many of us have been thinking about, needs to be refined because government needs some assistance in this area. We can't keep doing it the way we're doing it.
MR. BROKAW: There's --
MR. HOLBROOKE: (Off mike.) Tom, this does -- this does exist already. The State Department has an emergency civilian corps, run by a former ambassador in the former Soviet Union, John Herbst. It's located in Arlington. They have these, sort of, SWAT teams. They're going to send them to Georgia now.
So, I think it isn't as far advanced as your idea. It needs to go much further. I like the way you've added to it. But, for the audience to understand, it is already in a early stage.
MR. BROKAW: I'm keenly aware of that. But, in the meantime what has happened, the image of this country really is Kevlar, heavy ordnance, humvees going down a rutted road so the farmers have to stand aside. And I think we have to think about it more organically rather than just special-assignment SWAT teams going into Georgia.
Richard was saying that, you know, things that seem stable at 2:00 in the morning, suddenly are not stable at 3:00 in the morning. I was in Beijing for the opening ceremonies when the president came into the stadium and found, as one of his seat-mates, the president of Russia, who, that day, had invaded Georgia. And the question I really wanted to ask the president was whether at that moment, when he looked into Putin's eyes -- (laughter) -- if he saw tanks, and not his soul. (Laughter.)
But, I didn't -- I probably was not going to get an answer to that. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: Jessica?
MS. MATHEWS: I just -- because we've crept around the edge of it, in a geographic sense, but I think one of the things that we would be remiss in not talking about right now is Pakistan. Talk about between 9:02 and 9:03, we're looking now -- no number of reconstruction teams in the world will work in Afghanistan so long as that sanctuary is there across the border. Even a --
MR. BROKAW: A nuclear power.
MS. MATHEWS: -- even a strong, coherent government in Pakistan couldn't deal with the North-West Frontier. And now we have a nuclear power with a fractured government --
MR. BROKAW: In a meltdown, politically.
MS. MATHEWS: -- that doesn't look like it has any strong likelihood of an effective government, that commands a significant majority, or that could even begin to deal with that problem. It should remind us of two things: One is, you have to look far, around Washington, to find anybody who really knows very much about Pakistan.
Two, we have always put other priorities ahead of Pakistan whenever there is a crisis. And now this really comes home to roost because Pakistan really is the key.
And three, to realize -- to remind us again of what we constantly forget, of how important the nonproliferation agenda is. It is a very different deal, as you say, to be looking at a nation that is in danger of becoming a failed state -- at least politically, that has nuclear weapons, that one that doesn't.
MR. BROKAW: The long and short history of Pakistan is chaos, politically. And we're going through now a new episode that, it seems to me, is more dangerous than ever before.
I'm going to exercise a moderator's prerogative, in part because of my own schedule. I think that there's been an astonishingly encompassing -- (I think ?), I'm not quite done, I'm going to ask them all -- (laughter) -- I'm going to ask -- there are so many things we didn't get to, that we could have. Nuclear proliferation is an example of one of them. Quickly, (run the traps ?).
Richard, I know there's not a lot that keeps you up at night because you're a sound sleeper, but what does, when you wake up in the morning and say,'o my god, what are we going to do about that one?'
MR. HOLBROOKE: (Laughs.) Where do we begin? (Laughter.) You know, recently I read a column from The Washington Post, and recently I found out something which simply illustrates how many problems out there we're not aware of, which is that one of the most important countries in the world, Indonesia, has asserted a right that they own viruses that originate in their countries.
As you know, Tom, I work, I run an HIV/AIDS organization -- HIV/AIDS, malaria and TB, a coalition of businesses. Many of the businesses that sponsor this great forum are members of it. So, I follow this pretty carefully. The Indonesians have asserted that if a virus originates in their country, they don't have to share the data with the WHO and the CDC.
Now, Indonesia has the largest number of avian bird flu cases in the world. And there is some sign that there's some person-to-person transmission that's started. They have withheld from the international health community the data, the actual specimens. So, if some unknown disease breaks out in some other country now, it could spread while people try to figure out where it came from.
The phrase they've used is "viral sovereignty." And the minister of health of Indonesia, Madame Supari, has written a book on this. The Nonaligned Movement, a coalition of about 130 nations -- a Cold War relic that still exists, many of the ambassadors here represent Nonaligned Movement countries -- is going to take this up at the end of the year. It is a threat to every person on this planet.
The Indonesians will not share the data. The reason they don't want to do it, in their view, is that if they give it to the WHO, big pharmaceutical companies will back-engineer the virus, create a vaccine and -- and I'm not making this up, in the words of the minister of health of Indonesia, "infect people and then sell the vaccine." It's a plot out of "The Constant Gardener," le Carre's novel.
You wake up in the morning and you think you know all the problems that we have to face, and you suddenly find a new one -- and a really serious one. Our ambassador in Indonesia, Cameron Hume -- who worked for both and me, is working overtime on this issue with no attention or support from the secretary of State, the White House, no one seems aware of it. I can't even tell you how dangerous this is. We could have a world-wide epidemic while its origins are withheld for bizarre ideological reasons.
I cite that, Tom, both for its own merits, because I hope -- I want more people to be aware of it; and secondly, because there are so many other issues out there. But the main ones we've identified on the stage today, and I think the next president is going to have to focus on those first and foremost, because if he doesn't, we will have a leadership gap, which all of us, as Americans and as citizens of the world, will pay for.
MR. BROKAW: Jessica?
MS. MATHEWS: Pakistan currently keeps me up at night, as does the watershed moment that we -- that we've just encountered with Russia. And these issues come and go. But the two that have stayed with me over many, many years, and that I think we have to confront immediately, I've said several times: nonproliferation and climate change.
And I hate to end on a, kind of, a "down" note, but I don't think this country is anywhere near ready to confront its own energy use issues. We are still, as a country -- in so far as there is a discussion, it is oil versus alternative fuels. And that's not the choice. The choice is demand management. Nothing will work to replace oil, or to replace fossil fuels so long as our energy needs are on the demand curve that they currently are on.
The key priority is to change that curve. And I don't see a readiness in this country to confront that remotely, alas. And it is the precondition for doing something serious on climate, where I think time has run out on delay. So, this adds one more immense priority, and immense expenditure of political capital for whomever is the next president. And that is something that does keep me awake at night. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: Vin, apart from having a Democrat in the White House, with a filibuster-proof Senate and a Congress, and the Democrat Party, what keeps you up at night? (Laughter.)
MR. WEBER: Well, first of all, Tom, since your Blackberry crashed you may not have gotten the word that the new moderator of Meet the Press is going to be Bill O"Reilly. (Laughter.)
MR. BROKAW: Yeah, right. (Laughs.) He couldn't afford the pay cut.
MR. WEBER: If you put the specter of higher marginal tax rates in front of me, I don't know if I can shake it off.
I think all the concerns people have raised are big, and long-term. If I were to say what is my immediate, like my most acute and immediate concern is that we will find out some day that the -- and I want to phrase this properly, that the Israelis have found it necessary to strike Iran. Maybe it is necessary. I don't think so.
I don't think -- and, by the way, I used the wrong word there, I wouldn't even say "strike" Iran. I don't think there is anything like a surgical strike against Iran. I think if that happens -- if we decide that diplomacy won't work, and that sanctions won't work, or that deterrence won't work, you're in a prolonged struggle with Iran, because we all know you can't take out their program with one strike, so you're sort of committing yourself to an ongoing program.
Furthermore, they have tools to strike back, not just against the Israelis, but against us in this country, whether or not we're cooperative in the venture. So, you know, we've got enough problems so that everybody can have a different one -- that's mine.
MR. BROKAW: Madeleine?
MS. ALBRIGHT: Mine is a little bit different in that I think that as we talk about the issues, I am concerned about the unintended consequences of the decisions that we're making now; that there is a desire always to "fix" something; and often the "immediate" crowds out the "important." And an example -- for instance, on energy, is that biofuels seem to be the big thing. Now, you can't blame the food crisis totally on that, but it was a step that was taken with good will.
The other that I talk about a lot -- because I was in the Carter White House at the time, but our reaction to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan was one for which we are paying now because the U.S. decided to arm the Afghan mujahedeen. And among them -- not specifically, but among them was Osama bin Laden. And Zbigniew Brzezinski went to the border at Khyber Pass, looked at them and said, "God is on your side." All that is fine, but, if you think out how that all has played out, I just use it as an example of thinking about the unintended consequences.
The other part that I think is very difficult, and when you ask a question -- we've all been asked the question, "What is the most important thing to do?" We all come up with something different, but the bottom line is, is that we -- politicians or people in the government are required to take an immediate action to respond to something. And yet the issues that are going to bite us -- like Dick's issue on the virus, or what Jessica was saying, are all issues that take much longer to work out.
And we had a very interesting panel yesterday with the Club of Madrid people who are former heads of countries. And as politicians, people are required to deliver now. And sometimes that immediate deliverable takes the place of something that takes longer to work out and doesn't show immediate results. And so, the sequencing of things is what worries me.
MR. BROKAW: Richard?
MR. HAASS: Well, the advantage and disadvantage of going last is an awful lot of 3:00 a.m. phone calls have been discussed already. The only one or two that come to mind, particularly, that I would add -- before making a more general point, is the possibility that what we've seen between Russia and Georgia will spread and will ultimately come to involve Ukraine, which I think is also in Mr. Putin's eyes. And the stakes there are considerably bigger.
The other is Pakistan -- we've talked about, but also vis-a-vis India. The situation in Kashmir is getting worse, and the consequences of new problems between India and Pakistan, I believe, would be great.
What I would simply say, though, what keeps me up is the combination of everything we've just heard. It's a stunning number of problems of significant scale and complexity. They're coming at a time that the United States is not well-positioned to deal with them militarily or economically. And they're coming at a time when both the international community doesn't have the arrangements in place, and we ourselves do not have the political consensus in place to deal with it all.
And it's this combination of challenges, and a lack, if you will, of the tools and consensus in place, internationally and domestically, to deal with them, that makes now -- I think, in a sense, we, in the international relations business are going to give the economists a run for their money, in terms of who's the dismal science. This is a sobering moment in international relations. And, again, who's ever the 44th president, be it Mr. Obama or Mr. McCain, he is going to face just one of the most testing moments in the 200 years-plus that this country has known. (Applause.)
MR. BROKAW: Ladies and gentlemen, thank you all very much. It's been enlightening for me and, I trust, for our audience as well, and to those
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