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Symposium on America, Europe, and the World: Luncheon Keynote Address

Speaker: Pierre Hassner, Emeritus Research Director, Centre D'etudes et de Recherches Internationales
Presider: James M. Goldgeier, Whitney Shepardson Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations, Council on Foreign Relations
April 23, 2008
Council on Foreign Relations

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This symposium was made possible by the generosity of the European Commission and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

JAMES M. GOLDGEIER:  We'll go ahead and get started with our lunch session.  Just once again say thank you to everyone who's joined us today, and particularly the speakers and presiders from the two panels this morning, which were just excellent.  I'm really thrilled with how stimulating the discussion has been.

And it's a great pleasure to be up here with Pierre Hassner for our lunch discussion.  The bios are in the folder, so I won't go over again all of Pierre's distinguished appointments and his wonderful prizes.  But I do want to say that, as you can tell from that, he's one of the leading international relations scholars in the world.  But what the bio doesn't say he's not only one of the leading international relations scholars in the world, he's one of the leading international relations teachers in the world.  And several of his former students are here, which is just wonderful.  But I really congratulate him, both on his terrific scholarship but also for his wonderful teaching.

We, in the other sessions, have been focusing on specific issues or parts of the world in trying to think about the transatlantic relationship in that context.  What we've asked of Pierre is to take a step back and think more broadly about how changes in the international system have and are and may in the future be influencing the transatlantic relationship itself.

So again, thanks to you all, thanks to Pierre for being here.  And I look forward to our discussion.

PIERRE HASSNER:  Thank you very much, Jim.

I'm delighted to be here, not only as an occasion to meet many good friends but also because when I got your invitation I thought I shouldn't accept it because the more I age and the more sensitive to jet lag I am, as you'll soon discover, but I was very immediately tempted because I liked the title and the theme of this conference.

Just a month ago, I gave a lecture at LSE in London.  And I was asked to do a transatlantic relations partnership, how to mend them, whatever.  And I said I don't have much to say about that.  And there are some good things.  There is an Adelphi Paper to it, people from here have contributed to -- about that.  But I changed the title to "The West and the New World."  And that is exactly the focus you chose, and I appreciated that very much.

I don't want people always ask me, what about Sarkozy and Merkel, and does that affect that there are less anti-American people in Europe -- does that mean much and so on?  And I don't know.  I don't follow it very much, and I think there are very great uncertainties.  But the important thing, it seems to me, is that the world has changed, that many people, including theorists, haven't taken that into account.  And the question is how we, the West, see the world and how the world sees us and whether there are divergences in that.  And that's a preliminary to our relations with each other.

So I'll -- on the program but slightly attenuated by the excellent prime minister we heard, I don't have to repeat them because those of you who know me, if I have such a broad subject, I tend to talk for much too long and to try to make up by the speed of delivery for the lack of time.  (Laughter.)  But very much of what I could say about the international system now has been said in the panels.  So I'll go very quickly on that and a little more about its challenge to the various schools of international relations and the problems we are facing.  Needless to say, don't expect me to give any solutions to those.

First, the international system, I think there is no question that we are in a crisis of world order from different points of view.  There is a change, and I'm trying in this first part to be as general and abstract as possible while alluding slightly to the fact that -- to the consequences for America and for Europe.

A transformation of power -- of the military dimension of power.  We live, I think, in a kind of counter-revolution in military affairs.  There was this idea about the use of force through precision, through technology and so on.  And we saw how it enables you to win wars in a few days, but then it doesn't help you on the contrary to achieve your political objectives and to stay there.  And I think I don't have to develop that. 

There is what I think is an excellent book by General Rupert Smith.  Some of you may have seen "The Utility of Force" which speaks about the real transformation of war.  And I think it makes military use of force, especially by liberal democracies with public opinion and so on, much more difficult because more than seizing territory or something like that, the struggle is about, as it says, it's war amongst the people.  And the people includes a region of people, the world at large and the domestic -- the society at home, which changes the result or the sustainability of the results of military action.

Economically, it's an area on which I know very little.  But it seems to me, and it's enforced by the panel we heard, that there is also a crisis of the economic order.  I don't know how serious the present things -- the financial crisis, the food crisis.  But already before, one has the impression to take the old label which we know from Marxist theory which was never fulfilled, the crisis of capitalism, there is, at the very least, a crisis in the perception of capitalism, perhaps less in this country.  But the problem of inequality, even here, comes back more and more within countries -- between countries.  Some -- it's reduced by the rise of the emerging powers, bricks and so on.  But then others, the inequality with them, with other countries which don't have the same development increases. 

There is the food thing, there are the groups or classes in developed societies which are standard and losing.  And there is, I think, even on the moral foundations of capitalism, I think it's Mr. Burke who left with us saying about equality that it is an attack on the individual -- I noted his expression -- but all the people have called the possessive individualism, one has the impression that there is no substitute for it.  And yet, it is a crisis.  It has stopped delivering, more or less, automatically the goods.

There is, of course, the environmental crisis and the dilemmas between development and environment, ecology.  So in both cases, there are the social consequences.  And the migrations, we didn't talk directly about migrations here, but apparently the environmental refugees are going to be a very significant number.  So this introduces, again, a new dimension.

There is a political crisis on the role of the state.  I think the state is coming back in the economy.  There is a call for regulation and intervention.  There are the funds which are coming.  And politically, this is, I gather, the subject of the day, the rise of countries which want capitalism but with a strong state, with strong borders -- autocracies -- and one should call them like that. 

And this coincides with the fact, on the other hand, of transnational networks, whether financial, which are so quick and important that they can be controlled, networks, terrorism and so on.  So there's a dialectic between the state being negated and the state coming back is very much at the center.

And perhaps mostly this is the thing I am trying to understand or analyze myself.  I'm working on the role of the passions in international relations.  There is this, how to say, unleashing of myths and passions which are contradictory.  There is, as Brzezinski has put it, a kind of community of resentment in the world against the consequences of modernization, against the former colonial things.  There is a kind of global resentment produced by globalization and which produces its opposite -- the call for closing against immigration, the ethnic nationalism and so on.

So there it's, I think, a very agitated and very hard-to-decipher world in which there are various trends of conflicts.  As Arnold Wolff used to use -- probably most of you don't know who he is; I still think he's the best author in the idealist school --  what he was calling the relationship of major tensions, but there are several contradictory relations and less and less manageable relations of major tension.

One example of that, I was just telling Jacques Levesque about it.  I saw in today's paper that (al Davari ?) is accusing Iran of spreading the idea that Israel did 9/11 things in order to detract from the glory and the heroism of the Sunni al Qaeda martyrs who have done it.  (Laughter.)  So here you show these kind of clash of perceptions and myths.  Incidentally, one should tell Senator McCain about it because he's always accused of thinking al Qaeda and Iran are the same thing.  But still, it shows this incredible thing of all the Arabs I know are -- were persuaded that it is Israel who did 9/11.  But now, it's from the horse's mouth that it's not them and that it's an Iranian plot in order to not to spoil the glory they would have by that.

So I think there always were myths.  There are people who have never seen a Jew in Japan or in Malaysia who say it's all -- or the international crisis, it's all due to the Jews and so on.  But the myths are running all over the place and above all these passions of humiliation, resentment, fear and so on. 

And I think basically there is this global awakening, but which is more directed against the West than anything else.  And one of my recurring themes which I'll repeat two or three times is this role of China and Russia, which is, I think, a very central paradox in the current international system.  They can play the mitigator or the balancer because, in a way, they don't have the same burden of misunderstanding and of hatred and of resentment.  And they can present themselves as a model but more to spoil the game of the West. 

They are, at the same time, indispensable partners -- financially, energy.  At the earlier panel, someone said, well, what does the United States -- how much does it need Russia?  It's still needed for Iran, for everything nuclear, for all kinds of things and, of course, the Europeans even more.  It is an indispensable partner.  It is a rival for the sources of energy.  And they are noted, but they are at the same time, ideological to the extent that they wanted their own modern ideological adversary.

So how do you deal with that?  Everything conspires, it seems to me, to making the work of the West the class -- and its role more difficult.  Where does that come from?  Again, I'm going very quickly.  There is a revolution in the means of destruction.  Technology gets cheaper, so it's asymmetric warfare, but it's smaller.  They have more and more way to inflict harm and maybe one day with nuclear or biological weapons. 

There is a revolution of communications which spreads all these myths, feelings of globalization, of hatred and so on, and at the same time, makes it impossible for developed democratic powers to have, like in the 19th century, a decent policy at home and a very strong and violent repression in India or in Algeria and so on because everything is seen immediately and known.  And there is this historical process which I, myself, all my life I've been East-West.  I don't know the South, and my main preoccupation and passion has been freedom versus totalitarian, peace against war but along these East-West relations.

But the other line and the other story, the North-South de-colonization, the rise to wealth and power of people who have scores to settle and others who are even more resentful because they are not -- they may be rising to wealth but not to the power they think they should have -- is complete now.  And I think we are at a time when all the many crises which were predicted forever but are coming to fruition.

Napoleon I was saying when China awakes, the world will tremble.  And Marx taught of the global market when there wasn't any such thing.  But now there are its consequences.  And many people have warned about the dangers to the environment or the fact that if everybody had the consumption of the Western powers that would be impossible.  Now all these things somehow seem to converge at the same time.

So what then?  How can one react?  Here, it seems to me, I'll be perhaps a little bit polemical, including with some friends, but I think that the ongoing schools one can say, there are the imperial and people who are for empire or the neocons -- realists and delivering institutionalists.  Nobody knows exactly how to cope with this complicated and contradictory and -- not only uncontrollable politically, but very hard to pin down reality intellectually.

Empire, of course, is gone.  And I was amused to see the last paper which some of you may have seen by Bob Kaden where he says the dreams, we are back to reality, the dreams are finished.  But he doesn't speak about the dream of the benevolent empire written in '98 that, with the possible exception of France, everybody knows that the American benevolence to Japanese good for them and so on.  And where he retreats now is his description is very good but leaving the central theme out, it seems to me. 

He says back to the balance of power and back to the struggle between the autocracies and democracy because of the rise of the two autocracies.  So he wanted to say -- he says it's like in the 19th century.  He wants to have the balance of power of the 19th century but still to have the Cold War and the bi-polarity between the good guys and the bad guys.  But of course, in the 19th century, there was a common legitimacy of the powers with the holy alliance, but there were also one was allied with Turkey against Russia and with, you know, Russia against Germany and Italy -- (inaudible).  So there was this movement. 

But above all, he says, that's the serious thing, because contrary to the Bush administration, he says terrorism and Islam is no, because that's traditional and modernity will wipe that out.  What remains is a struggle between the great powers.  But he doesn't take into account, it seems to me, always this certain dimension of the non-state and these global perceptions, which we can always pooh-pooh the Arab street or things like that, but then it expresses itself in sympathy or support for people who have their own crazy agenda like al Qaeda.

All these movements, which I tried to describe, is absent.  If you take the liberal institutionalists -- John Eikenberry has written, well, China, we shouldn't be afraid, but it should understand that it should integrate in the liberal world order -- the institutions.  So that's very true, but as I think the first speaker was saying with their weight in the economy, they want to change them.  Now it's their turn.  They won't meekly take a seat in our own institutions according to our own conceptions.

And I take another friend, Michael Mandelbaum, he was saying the ideas which change the world -- peace, market and democracy.  Wilson was a bad politician, but a good prophet.  Well, I think all these ideas are terrible -- they are all over the place.  Democracy's not universally accepted and may be on the retreat.  And the market, yes, there's no substitute for the market, but the belief in the market solving by itself -- the things are in flexibility before everything.  One can see in Germany, also, Merkel abandoning all her programs, because the left is mounting; or Berlusconi, who is not of the left, but is not a very market-oriented person either.

So I think we -- and then the praise of Goliath.  But Goliath is, I think, more than ever -- what was the title of Stanley Hoffman's big book in -- (speaking in French) -- I forgot the English title.  It's also -- Gulliver is in trouble also by the multiplication of Lilliputians around him, which he doesn't know how to deal with them.

So the question then, it seems to me, is even if you look at the electoral campaign I think -- I don't know if Obama says it, but I think Hillary certainly does -- to reestablish American leadership and so on.  And many of the critics, like Zbigniew Brzezinski -- who I think in his last book had some very perceptive things about this global movement and so on -- but it's always America should manage it and so on and have a big game plan and on.  And I think that's finished.  The base of American, Western hegemony, in fact, are finished. 

But that doesn't mean that we have a multi-polar world with -- on the model of the classical concept of Europe or balance of power.  There are all these fuzzy elements and these transnational elements.  So the question -- and we still are -- the United States is still the first economy and the first military power and so on. 

So always the question to which I have no answer, but which I think is the same as the question raised by this meeting -- this is why I was attracted -- is how can we defend our principles, our interests and our influence in a world which we no longer control -- if we ever did -- and in which our legitimacy is challenged?  We have -- power takes many different forms and some are antagonistic with each other.  And the legitimacy, it is a question to come back to occasional who puts -- takes the occasion to attack his former ally Frank Fukuyama, he says, the end of history.  Sure, but the end of history ended almost as soon as the thing was written.

On the other hand, what -- in terms of legitimacy and in terms of power, there is, I think, an end to a certain way of seeing Western predominance.  How can we end -- there are the same power, which I took, and legitimacy.  Here it's an open question for me, perhaps for you too, whether one should consider that these new stable, autocratic capitalism, whether it is a different legitimacy or whether it is just a new version of the ancient values that have guided democracy.  People who want capitalism would still want -- I think the question is whether it's stable, but whether ultimately, their legitimacy -- what is it?

There are, I think, the theocratic legitimacy if you have the -- a letter from the Iranian embassy, it's not in the name of the people, it's in the name of God.  Everything they do is done in the name of God.  That's another legitimacy, whereas these autocracies somewhere ultimately say that they are the true democracy.  But that doesn't mean it's the same conception as we have.  Also, Carl Schmitt was saying liberalism is not legitimate because democracy's not unified.  The real democracy is the relationship of the Furher with the people and so on.

So I don't know.  But certainly, even though everybody pays lip service to democracy -- except to some extent, Iran, or at least Ahmadinejad -- but still, there are these various very different conceptions of legitimacy.  And certainly the legitimacy of our role, of our patriotisms is challenged.  I think the Russian specialists, which I am not a part of, will agree that's enormously important also in Russia, where -- I forgot her name, but the lady who is -- rules over St. Petersburg, says at least we no longer have to listen to people who tell us what we should do.

That's absolutely essential, I think, for all -- there are all type of our lecturing and of our criticism and so on.  So should we say, well, it's their turn and abandon our principles and our action?  Obviously not, but the question is then, how?  And here, if I still have time, I'll come to my more concrete part about the problems which are before us and on which I think only a kind of indirect strategy can succeed -- contrary to the frontal strategy, we are going to do the change, we are doing World War IV and so on.

I'll base my thing on a matter on which many of you have seen of Kissinger recently, a few weeks ago -- in The Washington Post, I think it was -- about the three revolutions.  And I think there are -- there is something in each of the three, but again, he misses what concerns America and what concerns this dimension which I was talking about.  That's, I think, his great fault that he never takes into account the societal or social relations.  He wanted a decent interval in Vietnam, but both Congress -- the dynamics of the situation -- blew that up. 

I heard him in Paris before the Iraq war -- a week before -- saying, oh, yes, we must do, because both Israel and America have shown signs of weakness, but if we attack Iran -- the strongest among them -- then we can negotiate with the Palestinians on better terms and so on.  And we know what happened on that -- that both domestically and abroad there are these social consequences which he doesn't really take into account.

So, one,  NATO -- we didn't have a real discussion on it, and certainly I can't, because my chairman is going to cut me off very soon.  But he complains that the Europeans don't really -- are not really engaged in Afghanistan and then not very serious.  That shows we are going to have a two-tiered alliance and so on.  And he links it to this famous saying that the Europeans no longer believe in the state in power and so on. 

And there is something to that, but the important thing, it seems to me, is there are good reasons to be doubtful about engaging Afghanistan, given how badly things are.  And one -- the Europeans, at least those who were opposed to the Iraq war, can feel justified in having warned about Iraq, like De Gault had warned about Islam.  We've been there before.  You can win, but what do you do afterwards?  So does one -- (inaudible) -- thinking sheep?

And for the alliance, I think it's not enough said that for -- in terms of the extension out of area or out of business the United States has won against the particularly French resistance.  It's in Afghanistan; it's all over the place and so on.  But in terms of the conception of the alliance, if the goal is conception, which is one  that everybody -- it's an alliance a la carte.  All these caveats -- one should write an article about the caveat caveats, because it's really everybody -- at least with the goal and the Scandinavians didn't want nuclear weapons in there and so and so on.  But now it's generalized.  And the United States itself picks and chooses.  First, pooh-poohed the Article 5 mention of the Europeans, and now it wants -- then it wanted NATO as a toolbox.  Now he wants NATO to fight.

So it's true they dreamed -- a former foreign minister says, okay, he's not against sending troops to Afghanistan and to make a difference it would have to be much more than 700.  But that should be preceded by a real discussion about what is NATO?  What it should do.  There was a time when one said, now it becomes a security institution.  One was saying to the Russians, don't worry.  But of course, what the East Europeans want is protection -- military protection -- although I doubt that Article V would do much good to Georgia or the Baltic States and so on.  But there is a complete confusion as to what NATO should be and will be.  And that -- he simply bemoans the possibility of the Europeans, which I bemoan too, because Afghanistan -- Iraq we were against and Afghanistan we were all for.

Secondly, there is the transnational Islamic fundamentalism.  It's not simply the states and so on.  That's very true, but first, as I said, it's part of a broader movement which he neglects because he likes states and only states.  But then, speaking of states, it was obviously one of -- at least in Kissinger's mind, I don't know if in Bush's mind -- but the Iraq war was an occasion to do better what the French and the British had failed to do in 1920 and to restructure the states and so on. 

Well, the final result, they -- so I think at the time I think it was future Marshall Webster who said Wilson wanted a war to end all wars, but we did a peace to end all peace.  And that has been even strengthened by the American presence there.  So there is a transnational -- there is also the national feelings which then is a contradictory thing, what nationalism or Islamic, Arabic or Syrian, Jordanian and so on.  But all these measures in a kind of intractable resistance, which he seems not to really take into account.

And he says that everybody can agree.  The thing that moved from Europe to Asia -- yeah, here and there, I think the Europeans -- they are beginning to be worried by China, but not by China and Taiwan.  And Taiwan -- they couldn't care less about Taiwan, but about the Chinese economic penetration and about the European jobs which are lost. 

But then, in Asia itself, it seems to me I don't know much about that.  I just read an article by someone who was for the Iraq war, Robert Kaplan, who announced there's a new balance of power and said the main geopolitical consequence of Iraq has been to hasten the coming of the Asian century because, in a way, America is strengthening its ties with Japan or India, but still China is on the move and all these organizations of which China is a member.

So I end up where I should start, because there's the main thing, but of course it's the most difficult.  The concrete things which are in front of us:  Iraq, of course.  But in a way, Iraq everybody knows, in fact, it can't be won.  And one day other -- it's a failure and one day or the other one will have -- the United States will have to retire.  But on Afghanistan -- Afghanistan-Pakistan, one should say -- Iran and Israel.  Palestine, personally, it seems to me we are in a terrible mess.  And here I express perhaps a minority opinion also in this room.  But there is a problem of Pakistan, which you cannot do much about Afghanistan without.  There are the American methods -- we -- efforts and so on raising or -- (inaudible) -- where women are sleeping and are unveiled or whatever.  It's a mess. 

I don't know that the Europeans would do much better.  But it's true that one needs a real discussion about -- my main thing about Europe and America is that very often we don't contribute enough.  And I think in Afghanistan, it's everybody's loss if it's lost and we should be more actively engaged and not have all these distinguished -- we go to the -- not to the south or not to the east or we do peacekeeping and not fighting and so on, which are only concessions to domestic public opinion, but are not tenable politically in terms of the alliance.

But on the other hand, we should also disagree more and say more and earlier and present an alternative.  I don't know that it would work, but to the American support during all the -- and following the advice of the Pakistan ISI at the beginning with the Taliban and so on.  So we are in a situation which is very bad.  It's like the Irish joke that I want to go there, or if I were you I wouldn't start from here.  So I wouldn't start from there either.

On Palestine, I think probably I'm a minority in the States, but I think that you cannot have a peace negotiated with Abbas, who is losing ground all the time, who is no longer representative.  Perhaps there is no peace to be had, but if there is a peace to be had, it has to be with the people who fight.  We've been through all that before in Indochina and Nigeria.  De Gault was saying he cannot talk with people who have killed babies and they should leave their knife before entering and so on.  And finally, he did with those with whom one was fighting for.

So I think to say to the opponent he should recognize Israel and abandon violence and terrorism as a preliminary, it never is like that.  If one can have a prolonged truce which finally ends up by recognizing, by a changing legitimacy, is the only thing to be had.

So I tend to be, on Israel and Palestine, I think while one protested very loudly against Iraq, I understand that we all are for the defense of Israel.  On the other hand, this thing of asking for elections -- and once they have a thing we don't like, then canceling it until -- I think it's going for a disaster for Israel and for the West.

And for Iran, at the same time, I think some of our friends feel what we need there -- I remember -- (inaudible) -- perhaps remembers too.  I don't know exactly when it was.  Two years ago there was a second compact written by Phil Gordon and Charles Grant about asking for sanctions about Iran.  And I refused to sign it, saying it won't work, and you know, it will make things worse.  So we don't have the sanctions option. 

Of course, we should try to limit trade in dangerous material and so on.  And we don't have the military option, which I think will be a disaster.  So that's why I think if weren't for Ahmadinejad -- (inaudible) -- everybody would realize that.  But the question is still whether one can -- I think the experts I know think -- all one can achieve is perhaps to let them have no explosion, not have an interest in unleashing another race.  But nobody's going to prevent them from enriching uranium and ultimately having the bomb -- potentially.  And I'm sure of that.  It's only some kind of a deal prepared certainly not by including, as we have done, the popularity of Ahmadinejad in enabling him to be the hero who stands up against the West.

So I think on -- and this is really my end -- on my more general problem, like the democratization and nonproliferation that we all are for, but the frontal position saying we want to change a regime or we want to democratize, will not work.  Saying "we can have the bomb, but you can't" -- this is no longer credible.  People who all their life have been in nuclear deterrents and so on, all of a sudden, Kissinger and every -- (inaudible) -- becomes a ban the bomber and says we should cancel nuclear weapons.

Of course, as we say, well, why don't you start?  And then we'll stop also on why don't you let us join you and then we'll all abandon them together.  So I think both on democratization and on proliferation, one shouldn't abandon the struggle, but one should see that it has to be often much more indirect to improve the conditions which make democratization possible. 

And in some extreme cases for democratization in the general side or great things of the human rights, one should pursue public opinion -- like with the Olympic flame and so on -- show our displeasure.  But there is -- we don't have the leverage to make them change their position.  At most we can -- this is the real battleground -- see with our neighbors they have their influence, we have the influence -- and engage them in that competition.

The same for proliferation -- only something which has an idea of reciprocity, of continuity things, can pass in this new context.  The same for the alliance of democracies -- I'm all for democracies acting together.  But to proclaim an alliance of democracies, it's a simple thing that the less democratic a regime is, the more it calls itself democratic -- a democratic Ampuchar (sp), DPR and so on.

So the question is, at least, who is going to decide who is a democrat and not?  I'm all for we having consultation, focus and so on.  But if we declare you have been -- you have made that you are a member of the club of democracy and you are not, it will simply discredit the one who is admitted.

So my final thing is Europe should contribute much more and should be more courageous.  I don't believe a tool -- what many people -- Ortega but also Frank Fukuyama.  Most people say, ah, because America is -- still knows about power and about defending -- defense and the Europeans leaving their paradise and so on.  I don't think they live in a paradise.  I think they're all very pessimistic.  But they are pessimistic about our chances.  They are too passive.  They are able to change their mood if you see the difference in the scene in Holland or in Denmark after the assassinations and so on is absolutely spectacular.  But they are not ready to engage in military adventures, because they learned, perhaps, too much the lesson of the previous adventures -- Vietnam and so on.

So I think a real dialogue should leave to go out of this -- (inaudible) -- in the decade since I've been in the business, you have the Americans wanted more European contribution, but not influence.  The Europeans wanted more influence, but not contributions.  One should get out of this and perhaps out of the fact of the crisis.  The fact that still, basically, we must speak to each other, because there is a community and world which we no longer control, but where we should be neither imperial nor beseech fortress.  There should be a dialogue when the Europeans contribute more, but also are less afraid to criticize when the policy seems wrong.

Thank you.

GOLDGEIER:  Great.  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)

Well, thank you very much, Pierre, for such a sweeping set of remarks. 

And we have some time for questions.  If you can wait for the microphone and identify yourself and ask your question as quickly as possible so that we can get as many folks in as possible. 

And I'm going to start with the back, because usually the back gets left out when do Q&A.  So I see Steve Szabo back there and then Esther Brimmer.

QUESTIONER:  Steve Szabo, German Marshall Fund.

Thank you, Pierre.

I just -- to go to specifics on how we talk to each other.  Even if we have this -- because you said we have to have a dialogue.  But a lot of the key institutions that held us together have been weakened by the Iraq war and the aftermath of that.

So the question will be, first, will this European new constitutional system, when it comes into play next year, will that provide America with a partner that we can talk to?  And do you have any ideas about how we can institutionalize a dialogue? 

For Americans it's always hard.  Do we do it bilaterally?  Do we do it with Europe?  If we do it with Europe, who in Europe?

GOLDGEIER:  Esther.

QUESTIONER:  Thank you.  Esther Brimmer, Center for Transatlantic Relations, Johns Hopkins University.  (Inaudible.)

I wanted to ask you a little bit more about the outlook for human rights.  I mean, one of the great developments of the 20th century was the rise and return of the individual to the international system and recognizing the universality of human rights.

Yet, as you've said, we face both on one hand the return of the sovereign democracy and the strengthening authoritarian state on one hand and on the other hand, an increasing resentment against the West and the values associated with it.  Yet, if we go back to the universality principle, where do we stand on these issues? 

And given that even across the Atlantic we don't always agree on the balance between civil and political and economic, and social and cultural rights, where do we go on human rights issues.  Thank you.

GOLDGEIER:  Okay.  And we'll take one more right now, which is right here.

QUESTIONER:  Trudy Rubin, the Philadelphia Inquirer.

HASSNER:  We met a long time ago.

QUESTIONER:  A long time, yes.  (Chuckles.)

Pierre, I'd like to hear from you how you think the Europeans are looking at the issue of Iran negotiations at this point, and what are they hoping for in a U.S. election? 

For example, when they look at Senator Obama, who proposes unconditional talks with Iran, but also talks about meeting with Iran's leaders -- including Ahmadinejad -- do they look at this as a potential plus or as something that could upset any edifice of progress in negotiations that they might have been hoping for?

GOLDGEIER:  Do you want to take a crack at these and then we'll go back.

HASSNER:  Okay.

They are -- it's very hard for me to answer.  I can see several people in the room who could answer that, because I've always been pro -- very much pro-European and enthusiasts of that.  I remember starting in -- my political interests on the day the European Defense Community was rejected in 1954.  But I've become relatively skeptical about the European institutions.  And at any rate, I'm not very competent on them.

So on Steve's question, I don't know.  I think it's progress, but I don't think the institutions can -- by themselves they can reduce, but they cannot suppress the values, interests and all the prejudices which have been shown in answer to the referendum.

So especially on the energy thing, which I don't know, but one always has meetings which proclaim there was the economic strategy of Lisbon that by 2010 will be the most dynamic -- (inaudible) -- and then it's become a cliche for several years.  We have to have a European energy policy and be less dependent.  And then when one sees the German.  I remember, perhaps Tom knows him, Mr. Neal (sp) of, who was assistant secretary for Energy, I think.  He was telling, you all applaud Angela Merkel for having talked about human rights.  That's fine.  But what difference does it make?  If you want to help human rights in Russia, change your energy policy, become less dependent on us and then you'll have a bargaining power.

And to see what discord there is and how everybody, the Germans, do something with the Polish and Ukrainians, then the Hungarians, the Italians, the Greeks and South -- Ching-Na (sp), Nabuko (sp) and so on.  So I'm a little bit skeptical the commission is doing what it can.  But I'm told the Bulgarians, before signing up with the Russians, kept begging them, what should we do, Putin is coming?  He'll ask us to sign that, and they claim they heard no response at all.

So I must say, I'm a little bit of a skeptic.  I think everything is to the good if there is a foreign minister, if there is a president.  But if there is a not a feeling of urgency and of common interest among the European populations, still even Merkel, who I think is the least bad political leader in Europe today, she has to listen to public opinion and to the electoral things.  So I'm not very optimistic.

Now, on the United States, it seems to me Kissinger was always saying, what is the telephone number of Europe if I have to call Europe?  He didn't see at 3 a.m. at night.  (Laughter.)  Whom should I call?  But it seems to me in fact things have changed, including with Kissinger himself.  And Richard Haass was not the most extreme or anti-European thing, said we find it much more easy to disaggregate and to deal with the different capitals rather than with Brussels.  And I don't know that that will disappear given where the Europeans are.  It's -- I had with (inaudible) -- a  discussion on European defense, it's fine if the United States says you can have it instead of raising the objections of Madeleine Albright -- (inaudible) -- and all that.  But ultimately, if the Europeans want it, they'll have it.  The United States won't give it.

But is there enough will and unity to pursue that and so on?  I don't know.  So again, perhaps I'm too individualistic and -- (inaudible) -- myself, but I don't believe too much in the power of institutions if there is not a real will behind them.

Now, is there -- (inaudible)?  Again, it's a question with which we are all struggling because I believe very strongly in the universality of human rights and so on.  And it's clear that after 10 years of hope and of exuberance and (Kusher ?).  It was right -- (inaudible).  Now that he's foreign minister, he always says how we can be more cognitive of hope.  (Inaudible) -- our country so we couldn't protect the people or we can't be firmer than the Dalai Lama on Tibet. 

There was a debate between (Kushner ?) and the -- (inaudible) -- where I participated.  And (Kushner ?) looked completely -- (inaudible) -- that is, speaking of a meeting of the national interest and so on, contrary to his doctrine of  -- all his life.  And I don't blame him.  If you are a foreign minister, it's like that.

So how could we -- you've seen the disaster of -- there was a commission of human rights at the U.N. and of the Council of Human Rights, and it's still the same disaster.  So I think we should try to help the people who believe like us.  We should try to have an environment more amenable for them to human rights.  I mean, some extreme situations -- one, the Darfur, whatever there -- if one can do something about it, one has to intervene.  But it's from case to case.

I don't often write articles, but I did one a month ago in Le Monde in which I was comparing Chechnya, Kosovo and Tibet saying in the three there is a minority -- (inaudible), there is an authoritarian power which suppresses them.  But Kosovo -- it didn't end too badly, although there is going to be lots of trouble because Serbia is important, but it's not China and Russia.  We couldn't intervene there.  We can't there --  There is no way today, given everything which has been described, to save that it's clear that whatever one does, real forces or rather the hostility or the authoritarianism and so on over Russia and China.

I still think one should some symbolical show in terms of our attachment to universal principles.  I don't like this term of "values."  But that is called for.  And in the long term, it may strengthen people who in the leadership and so on say that if we want good relations and trade and travel and so on, we shouldn't be too unpopular.  And the world cares about Tibet or about the people who fight for human rights.

But basically, I don't see any institutional solution to human rights because we no longer have a majority in the institutions.  And even countries which are not autocracies, like India -- look at Burma.  If we can't do anything about Burma and England's refused to do anything about that or Mr. Mbecki says there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, so what can one do?  So I think subterrainially and informally, yes, but I don't see that one can do very much.

And to the -- I can' read my own --, yeah, Iran.  That's the most difficult as I can't read it either in the substance.  The thing is, I know about the French position which puzzles me a little bit because some of the best people I know in or near the administration have always had a very hard line on Iran and complaining that the Germans or the British are not hard enough, and at one point even that the Americans are not.

And I always told that their policy wouldn't produce any result except perhaps strengthening the regime.  Although I am second to none in thinking that if Iran has the bomb, it's not only this danger of Ahmadinejad wanting to destroy Israel but even in cool real politic terms, they are the main power in the region and then Egypt and Saudi Arabia and so forth.  So I'm more than that. 

But what can you do?  I think, again, you can try -- I think I would personally agree with what Obama says.  I saw a study -- I'm not an Iranian specialist -- I saw a study by someone, I forgot from what center it is.  It was in, I think, YaleGlobal, a long study about Khomeini saying still he has a thing and there is no point trying to play games with moderates against the others.  But if there was a proposal of a direct dialogue with Khomeini, maybe he would refuse it, but one should start with something.

I don't think that he sees an alternative to that.  And on the other hand, I think one should really strengthen whatever one can in terms of deterrence or in terms of local antimissile which are more justified, I think, in the Gulf than in Poland and the Czech Republic.  But -- so I know what I think about the question and also about the nuclear thing in general that Sarkozy is out in front in terms of Iran. 

But on the other hand, he spreads nuclear technology all over the place.  And according to at least some American experts, that was -- (inaudible) -- always obsession that the civilian nuclear energy still makes it much easier to have -- (inaudible) -- nuclear energy.  Wrote a study breaking -- making the bond -- bond without  quite breaking the rules.  And I think it's a serious problem. 

So I don't understand and share the French policy.  But I follow, more or less, the American and the French.  And I must confess my ignorance about what is the thinking of the other Europeans in terms of Iran.  I'm sorry about that. 

GOLDGEIER:  In order to keep this on schedule, I think we'll close the session.  I'm sorry for those of you who might have had additional questions.  But hopefully you'll be able to chat with Pierre during the break.

Before we close, I just want to take the opportunity again to thank both the German Marshall Fund and the European Commission for making this symposium possible.  We wouldn't be able to do it without them, so greatly appreciative to them.

We'll take a short break, and then we have our final session today, looking at the broader Middle East.

But once again to thank Pierre for flying across to Washington and for giving us so much to think about this afternoon.  Thank you. (Applause.)

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