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Over the Horizon: Global Trends Affecting Genocide

Panelists: Chris Kojm, Chairman, US National Intelligence Council, Peter Schwartz, Senior Vice President for Global Government Relations and Strategic Planning,, and Timothy D. Snyder, Bird White Housum Professor of History, Yale University
Moderator: Dana Priest, Investigative Reporter, Washington Post
July 24, 2012
Council on Foreign Relations


MICHAEL ABRAMOWITZ: I would like to introduce the moderator of our first panel, my former colleague and friend from the Washington Post, one of this town's great reporters on intelligence, Dana Priest, please, give Dana a round of applause and she will introduce the rest of our panel.

DANA PRIEST: Hello. So glad to be here. Mike is a great colleague, was a great colleague and remains a great colleague. So I'd like to introduce our other panelists as they join us. First, we have Christopher Kojm who is the Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. So he's usually under wraps but he's come out today to talk to us about the future, which is the subject. And we're talking about the future not just because we can, but because obviously maybe it can make a difference in preventing future genocide and mass casualties.

We have Peter Schwartz next to Chairman Kojm. And Peter has been a great friend of the Museum and helping it think about its future and direction it should go. And he also happens to be a founder of a super computer technology firm that he's explained to me is just a mega giant in its field and he'll talk to us a lot about technology.

And then we have Tim Snyder who is a professor of history at Yale University. And who has written extensible on environmental impact or the environment's impact on creating genocide, scarcity of food and things like that. And his latest book is titled Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. And I also, doing my homework just read this fascinating piece that's not very—from 2010 in the New Republic—called "The Coming Age of Slaughter" which is an eye opener. So we'd like to start with Chairman Kojm and he will give a 10-minute synopsis of some of the things that they are looking at for the first time. And then follow up with a conversation. And after an hour we hope to open it up for questions. So thank you.

CHRISTOPHER A. KOJM: All right, thank you, Dana. Thanks for the introduction. And it is a pleasure to be here. And I do want to thank the Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Council on Foreign Relations Center for Preventive Action for the invitation to speak. And I also do want to recognize at the outset the important work by the Committee on Conscience and the work it has done focusing on cases of extreme violence against civilians. At the National Intelligence Council we too look over the horizon at factors that could contribute to instability, to the outbreak of conflict, to mass atrocities and genocide.

The National Intelligence Council under the direction of the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is charged with providing strategic assessments on future threats and trends as well as opportunities to senior policymakers. As Secretary Clinton just noted quoting the President, preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a quote, "core national security interest," end of quote. Therefore, we have been directed, directed by the President, to work on the first ever National Intelligence Estimate on the global risk of mass atrocities and the prospect for response by the international community. The timeframe will focus on the period out to the year 2018. National Intelligence estimates are comprehensive undertakings and represent the best information and analysis available to the intelligence community and draw on research, analytic approaches, and our best trade craft, and insights from experts both inside and outside the government. We will do our very best to meet the task we have been assigned, to support our policymakers, to provide them timely information and to help them make the best possible decisions.

The study of genocide and mass violence suggests that the factors contributing to such horrific violence do not suddenly appear two weeks or two months before an event happens. As Secretary Clinton noted there are slow motion crises that develop over time, long before videos posted on social media go viral. We at the National Intelligence Council can identify factors. We often refer to them as "drivers" that over time can lead to increased risk. We believe that monitoring such drivers will enable Secretary Clinton and the Atrocities Prevention Board to more closely monitor risks, and develop initiatives to address root causes earlier and to break a cycle that could lead to the unimaginable. Long range analysis of risks can lead to a reexamination of assumptions under pending policies and help us in thinking ahead. We want our analysis to inform government budget cycles which requires anticipating future requirements. Our analysis can identify opportunities for where assistance or U.S. actions can help mitigate risk and reduce the potential for such events to occur. Prediction of when and where violent conflict will erupt is among the toughest challenges that analysts and governments face.

The National Intelligence Estimate is part of a broader effort and process aimed at early identification of risk factors. We refer to it as "indicators in warning," identifying a risk that can lead to mass atrocities. We work continuously at trying to refine and improve our effort to identify risk including those triggering events that then cascade into crises leading to violence and massive atrocities. The study of the past embodied in this museum and informed by some of the world's brightest scholars, researchers and advocates, some of whom are here today, will help us think about the future. In past mass atrocities contributing factors have included, but most certainly are not limited to: rule by authoritarian or hybrid political regimes, underdevelopment and economic crisis, state policies of discrimination against groups within societies, and conflict within bordering areas. Other factors include the recent outbreak or high risk of violent or regime-threatening stability, a history of ethnic conflict, prior loss of territory or authority and persistent intractable conflict between groups.

Yet, we must remain open to the possibility that the past is not necessarily a predictor of where and when mass atrocities will occur or the means by which they will be perpetrated. They may involve nation-states, but could also occur between non-state groups. Looking to the future, it will be important to understand trans-boundary risks that do not fit neatly within the classic nation-state map of the world. In this regard the National Intelligence Council is currently working on a document called "Global Trends 2030." It is the fifth in a series that began in 1996 to take a look at what the world may look like in the future. We will complete that report towards the end of this year.

In that regard, we see a growing nexus among energy, water and food issues. Demand for resources is very much on the upswing owing to an increase in global population from 7.1 billion today to about 8 billion by 2030. And there's a concomitant call on resources. Demand for food could increase by 50 percent as emerging middle classes shift their diets in the direction of meats and away from grain. Energy needs will also sharply increase. Nearly half of the world population will live in areas with severe water stress. Many of these same countries will have limited natural resources, water and arable land. And they will also have disproportionate numbers of young men as high population growth rates continue in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and parts of the Middle East. These factors all taken together increase the risk of interstate and intrastate conflict. Most intrastate conflicts will remain in the form of irregular warfare, but the spread of precision weaponry may change the character of some of these conflicts.

We also study demography and it helps us to look over the horizon. There is some good news looking out to 2030: global deaths from communicable diseases are projected to drop by more than 40 percent. So people will be living longer lives. But other aspects of demographic change are more complicated. We will see increased trans-border migration and not just to the developed world but to emerging economies and nations as well. And the urbanization of humanity currently near 50 percent will reach 60 percent by 2030. The point here is that rapid political and social change may drive increasingly serious deficits in governance. And we know from our study that societies moving from autocracy to democracy have a track record of instability. And some 50 countries fall into this major risk group. However, the upside is that economic progress also increases the capabilities of governments and can improve their ability to govern.

Next, I want to talk to turn to technology and Secretary Clinton has touched on that. And I know my colleagues on the panel will as well. The Holocaust Memorial Museum and Harvard's Carr Center have examined the role of satellite imagery analysis, the use of un-manned aerial vehicles and innovation in the use of information and communications technology. As Secretary Clinton noted, these technologies can be used for early identification and warning, shaping global opinion, and mobilizing local, regional and global responses. And, of course, these technologies, as well, also provide us useful intelligence. These technological capacities are not the sole province of governments. Innovative uses are coming from many quarters, multilateral organizations, NGOs and even individuals who want to make a difference. These important efforts and capabilities will add to our ability and provide a better picture for early warning. Imagery on analysis, more broadly geospatial analysis, is a sophisticated art of interpretation. And by complementing it with other sources of information we can help our policy customers reach far better and form judgments.

While there is much reason for optimism on the technology front, it is clear that technology also will pose new challenges—ethical, legal, moral—challenges for warning, sharing of information and international response. For example, if people use social media platforms to share videos and observations of violence on the ground they will have an increasingly difficult time assuring anonymity and their video may provide openings for perpetrators to identify, detain, and do worse. We will face challenges in authenticating videos. And with analytic questions on the size, severity and scope of the threat that cannot instantly be gleaned from a YouTube video posting. The characteristics of communications technology use, well-known and seen today, multiple and simultaneous action, near instantaneous response and feedback loops, and mass organization across geographic boundaries, increases the potential for potential outcomes, the potential for early warning and early action. But also increases the potential for discontinuity and shocks. The application of communications technology also will give governments an unprecedented ability to monitor their citizens. How these uses of communications technology play out is one of the important topics we will be addressing in the National Intelligence Estimate. Thank you and I look forward to our discussion.

DANA PRIEST: Well, I have about a dozen questions but I'm going to put them all off and turn to Peter who's world, who is of the technology world, and ask you do you have the same view, different view of technology? And are there other drivers or considerations that we might want to think about in this discussion?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Thank you. And let me just offer my thanks to Sara Bloomfield, Mike Abramowitz for having me here. I consider it a profound honor to be a part of this panel. I take it very personally. I was born in a DP camp in Germany in 1946. My mother survived Auschwitz. My father was a slave laborer. So these issues are very personal from my point of view and I'm very grateful for the opportunity to participate and contribute.

I want to touch on three things briefly in response to what Chris said: the first on technology, second on the role of international institutions, and demography. Technology, I think, it is undoubtedly the case that governments who wish to use technology against their people can do so. But I think it is almost unequivocally the case today that the polarity of technology has shifted from big central systems to the individual: the availability of the cell phone camera, the ubiquity of that technology around the world I think radically increases transparency. And even when we think about things like drones and so on—I have my own predator. I built it myself. It has an eight-foot wingspan. I live in the people's republic of Berkeley. I can make sure there are no atrocities in my neighborhood. And I fly it around. I take pictures of my friend Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired and he has his own predator and tries to catch me in my hot tub.

But the point is that multibillion dollar systems were the tools of governments. Today for $800 an activist can build a predator, can look at things that otherwise would not be seen. And I think radical transparency almost always favors the individual in that respect. And I think that is the world that we are moving towards and that technology is enabling. Yes, there are the downsides that I think Chris Kojm mentioned. I don't want to diminish those. But on the whole, I think, the polarity has shifted from the central state to the individual in that regard on technology.

I think demography, as Chris mentioned, is another key factor here. I think one of the historical mistakes that sociologists made was to assume 30 or 40 years ago that we were becoming more secular, that religion would have less sway in the future, that as we became more scientific and so on that faith would be less significant. And that turned out to be a fundamental mistake. That, in fact, religion is more powerful today, more consequential, with much greater impact, more adherence and so on. And religions come up against each other. And Secretary Clinton put it very eloquently when she said the permission to hate becomes the permission to kill. When religions hate each other, we find killing in mass numbers. And you can see fully predictable today at least two major instances coming right on the horizon.

The first is, of course, obviously in Afghanistan where the United States intends to pull out, rightly, understandably from a military point of view in roughly 18 months from now. And we can be absolutely certain on the day that our troops start to come out that the women of Afghanistan will be profoundly threatened. Young girls who went to school, women who worked with us will all be vulnerable to the Taliban. And you can see mass killing in vast numbers coming right there in front of us. What are we going to do about it? I mean the only thing I can imagine is putting large numbers of civilians on the ground, not military, but civilians to prevent the killing. I don't know if that'll work but I think that is where we can see one coming right ahead of us.

And one that is beginning to emerge, where all of the slow motion forces that Chris referred to are underway today and that's in Nigeria. One example of mass killing that was not on the list which I saw personally when I was in the Peace Corps was Biafra and it's coming again. You can see it right now. The ten-degree line across Nigeria with the Muslims in the north and the Christians in the south. They're burning churches. They're killing each other already. You can see it coming.

And I don't know that anybody is even taking that one seriously. So the population growth of Nigeria, the intense confrontation of the Muslims and the Christians there are leading inevitably to mass killings. So I think that's a second one we can already see coming.

And then the final point I would make is the role of international institutions. If you contrast the first half of the twentieth century with the second half the first half 180 million people died in war. In the second half, it was 20 million. Now that's a pretty terrible number but it's a whole lot better. And what's the difference? It's the role of the international institutions, the United Nations, the Security Council, the IMF, the World Bank, NATO, all of these things that prevented international conflict from carrying out vast amount of killing. Today, we in the United States no longer support those institutions. People no longer support the United Nations. We didn't sign the International Criminal Court. Just last week the Republican Party said we won't sign the Law of the Seas. All of these things that have helped ensure relative peace and stability and prosperity we no longer support in this country. So this is something our leadership can do right now and that is to revive support for the international institutions that we created, we set in motion, that have assured peace and prosperity for the last 50 years and today that we are backing off from.

And an example where we can see it playing out right this moment, because we don't have good tools for dealing with it, is the so called war on drugs. Fifty-thousand Mexicans have died in the last few years because we have a war on drugs. It's a war on people. It's not a war on drugs. Let's be very clear. No drugs are dying. People are dying. And we're using just as many drugs this year as we used last year and the year before. So let's be very clear about that. The war on drugs is a war on people on the people who are producing it. And that is a form of atrocity as well. We have to end the war on drugs as well.

DANA PRIEST: Okay. Thank you very much. Tim Snyder, first I have to ask you, do you have your own predator? And if you don't want to answer that… You're a historian. Let's just stay on the topic of technology for a minute, is there something about the history of technology that applies to the discussion we're having today?

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Very much so. The history of technology is right at the center of the history of the Holocaust. And if we want to understand what I think is the most important connection we could possibly draw on this conversation, that is the connection between the Holocaust as it actually happened, as an event in history, to the future of humanity we have to be able to see certain kinds of technical problems and certain kinds of technical solutions. I very much agree with much of what's been said. Think about the technology that you associate with the Holocaust. You probably think of the gas chambers at Auschwitz and Zyklon B. You probably don't think of bullets, even though they killed far more people. You probably also don't think of the internal combustion engine, even though that technology killed far more people than Zyklon B.

The reason that we don't think of the technologies that were actually important in the Holocaust is because they are too close to us. We displace them from us because they're a part of our daily lives. Many of us have shot firearms. All of us have used internal combustion engines, most of them use them every day. So what we do with the history of technology in the Holocaust is we put it in a nice box and we keep ourselves out of that box. We look at that box perhaps through Plexiglass, but we don't realize that we, ourselves, are in that box. So the fundamental point I want to make about the history of the Holocaust is the point about responsibility and I'll come back around to what I mean by that.

What's happened in the last 25 years is that the Holocaust has shifted from being a subject only of memory and commemoration to being a central subject of history. That may seem like a strange thing to say but it's true. When this museum was founded, the Holocaust was not a central subject of European history. You could read histories of Europe after the war. You could even read histories of the war which didn't mention the Holocaust at all. Because in the last quarter century we have moved it to the center of historical discussions, we now have a much more serious account of how it happened and why it happened. And what I'd like to stress is that a serious historical explanation of the Holocaust, a historical explanation which involves causes is extremely useful for the future. If we can identify what Chris has called "drivers" in the most significant example of mass killing, then we have some purchase on trying to prevent similar things from happening in the future.

So what do we know about the causes of the Holocaust that we might not have known 20 or 30 years ago? The first of them is the fundamental significance of war. And this is one reason why, I think, one has to be cautious about the default way of thinking about genocide prevention, which is that we wait for it to happen and then we fight a war. Pretty much every instance of genocide has involved that argument. Hitler's Holocaust involved an argument from genocide prevention, namely something worse is going to happen if we don't kill the Jews. So one has to be very careful about that kind of argumentation because it will always be used no matter what is happening. One has to have careful protocols. I think the Secretary was quite wise to speak of force as a last resort. What we know is that almost all episodes of mass killing, the Holocaust is the central example here, happened in times of war. And if not of war, then of civil strife or this internal situation which leaders call a war, use war as a metaphor.

So the second thing that we know about the causes of the Holocaust, which I think is extremely relevant, is that the Holocaust began in a zone of state destruction. As Sara mentioned at the very beginning of her remarks, Hitler was in power for eight years before the mass killing of Jews began. A couple of things had to happen before the mass killing could start, one of them was the war itself, first against Poland, then against the Soviet Union. Another was the destruction of state power and its displacement by something else. One of the things that is now at the center of the study of the Holocaust which was generally ignored is that where the killing actually began, not the ghettos, not the concentration camps, but the killing, where the killing began, was a place where states had been destroyed both by the Germans and by the Soviets, in a dark zone of double state destruction. Now, this has immediate implications for how we think about the future of mass killing because it means that sensible policies which are often derided, such as nation and state building, or the rule of law, are intensely and directly relevant.

The third cause of the Holocaust which may be a bit unfamiliar, which is now central to its academic study, is something that you might call de-globalization. So we think that there has only been one globalization. I mean one of the nice things about Americans and twenty-first century people in general is we think everything is new, right? But there was, in fact, another globalization, very much like our own. We didn't have instantaneous communication then, but people were probably better informed about their lives than we are. There was less obesity. That's the other thing I noticed. This globalization was—the less obesity points can become really serious in just a second—this globalization was in the 1880s, 1890s, until the First World War. Global trade then was increasing very quickly. Almost everything we see about our globalization was happening then. And then it stopped. It stopped with the First World War, with the Great Depression. The Holocaust was the bottom point of this de-globalization.

What de-globalization leads to are desires for re-globalization on a regional basis which goes under the old fashioned name of "imperialism." What Hitler was trying to do was to take a de-globalized world and re-globalize it in Germany's favor, eliminating enemies, building a colony, and so on. So what this means is that globalization is something that we've had before and we've also seen it collapse. And its collapse was one of the fundamental causes of the Holocaust, again, clear recommendations for policy flow from that.

The fourth thing, and the most important thing, I think, and the most unfamiliar cause of the Holocaust is ecological panic. Ecological panic having to do, and here I'm agreeing with both speakers already, ecological panic having to do with fears about food supplies. When we think of Germany in the 1930s we think of a hypermodern country. Germany in the 1930s—and it was—it was the most developed country in the world. But Germany in the 1930s was not self-sufficient in food. They counted calories because they didn't have enough of them. The entire scheme of controlling Eastern Europe, the world homeland of the Jews, had everything to do with controlling land which was fertile. That was the primary imperial objective of the Nazi regime. Now, the reason why I refer to this as a panic is because in the 1920s and 1930s people didn't know what we know now and take for granted. In the 1920s and 1930s when Hitler was writing Mein Kampf when Hitler speaking about Lebensraum, when Germany was going to contest Easter Europe as its own empire in order to control that land, people did not know that in the 1950s and 60s, hybrids, pesticides, irrigation and other technology were going to solve the food crisis in Europe. They didn't know that an oversupply of food was going to become the problem in just a few decades. They didn't know that. So there was a gap when the Holocaust was possible between the 1920s and 1950s. After that it becomes unthinkable for purely technological reasons. It could only happen during this interval of ecological panic.

Now, is this good news or is this bad news? Well, in one pretty obvious way it's bad news because you, I and everyone on planet earth are now living through a next moment of ecological panic which goes under the heading of "global warming." Now, when I say that it's a panic just to be very clear about this, I'm not saying that it's not true. People are panicking for very good reason. The reason though that it's particularly relevant to this issue of mass killing is that it opens this window which will last as many decades as we choose for it to last between fear of uncontrolled access to food and water, and the technical solution which hopefully eventually is going to come. So we are now in a situation like the beginning of the twentieth century where we're not sure where food is going to come from, right? If you don't know what I'm talking about look at the drought pictures in the Midwest, check what food prices are right now. We're entering into this moment. And whether you believe what I'm saying or not, in a way is irrelevant, because the Chinese are quite convinced. And they're all ready acting in such a way as to prevent this problem by buying up land in Africa, and even ironically enough buying up land in Ukraine which was what the Nazis saw as their breadbasket. So we've entered into this moment of ecological panic. Global warming will itself almost certainly directly cause mass killing, but it will likely indirectly cause it as major states such as China and also the U.S. try to control access to food and water in the decades to come. That's the bad news.

The good news would be that all of the things which led to the Holocaust were preconditions. You had to have all of them. Antisemitism was, of course, a critical precondition to a Holocaust. You can't imagine the Holocaust without antisemitism. But the Holocaust happened in 1941 and not some other time because of these other preconditions: de-globalization, environmental panic, destruction of states and war. If you can head off any one of these things you're making mass killing much less likely.

The other reason why this might be good news is that a lot of these things are sound policy, in general, right. So foreign policy that works against war, for the rule of law, for globalization is probably a sound foreign policy anyway. And the gap between sound foreign policy and genocide prevention might be rather small, as Secretary Clinton has already suggested.

The final reason why this might be good news is that technical solutions are in large measure up to us and subject to national policy. It's hard to control other people's ideologies. What you can do, though, is invest a lot more money in fusion. That's a relatively easy policy decision to make, or in other sorts of alternative energy which will then have a solid, and I think probably decisive, long-term impact on reducing the likelihood of genocide.

Let me just close with one final observation to try to bring this home. There was a Russian-Jewish writer called Vasily Grossman, one of the most important chroniclers of the Holocaust. When he arrived at Treblinka and wrote his report about Treblinka he began with a remark. He said, "I've seen here a technology." He meant the gas chamber. "I've seen here a technology which theoretically could kill every man, woman and child on the face of the earth within a finite time." The technology he had seen was the internal combustion engine.

We have to all own our connection to these technologies. We have to all think about the little role that we might play for good or for ill in all of this. Because the chief moral lesson of the Holocaust is not the easy lesson that we ought not to be victims. If you and I are victims we haven't done anything bad. It's also not only about the perpetrators. The major moral lesson about the Holocaust is about the bystanders. The people who might have done something small, one way or the other, and didn't. When it comes to heading off ecological panic and these other preconditions to mass killing that's where we all are. Thank you.

DANA PRIEST: Are there places, let's take your paradigm, are there places now where there's been enough ecological, environmental depredation and enough re-globalization to begin to have drivers of mass killings already showing up?

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Yeah. I mean, if Chris takes questions at all this is also a question to Chris because there are projections about water usage. But I would say that the two major African cases that we have in the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century, Rwanda and Darfur, both had an awful lot to do with resources. And with Africa, in general, we have to keep in mind that it isn't just the Africans competing with the Africans over resources. What is already happening is the Chinese—and we're going to come in and do this too, everyone is all ready doing it—the Chinese and others are going to try to control African fertile land and African water. And the headlines of that will be, "Africans kill Africans." But the reason why it's going to happen is because of this, what you've just rightly called, I think, this re-globalization, imperialism under another name which is almost certainly is going to happen with climate change.

PETER SCHWARTZ: If I can add one to that, and I don't want to put Chris in an uncomfortable place. But one can see—I think the point that he made about the nexus of energy, food and water is exactly right. And one of the places where you can see this most profoundly playing out is in Asia where every major river system has one source, namely the highlands of the Himalayas. And whether it's the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Yangtze, the Yellow, but the one that worries me the most is the Mekong. Mekong goes through six countries beginning in China. So as the Chinese are already damning those rivers, Laos just wanted to build a dam to make electricity. Well, we've slowly stopped that. But what happens when the climate change reduces the amount of water? The Chinese need all of that water for irrigation and the Vietnamese who grow the rice, the Cambodians who grow the fish, the Thais who live off the river, the Burmese and so on, all depend upon the Mekong. When the Mekong begins to dry up do the Vietnamese just die? Do the Thais just die? Or is this a source of conflict with China? And you can just see it coming. And the risk is very great. The salt line is all ready moving up the Mekong from the reduced flows. And the consequences of that are fully predictable. And I think it's a perfect example of the risk of mass death and conflict that comes from precisely that nexus that Chris was talking about.

DANA PRIEST: And are you looking at those same factors?

CHRISTOPHER A. KOJM: Absolutely. On the question of water, it was really at the direction of Secretary Clinton that we did extensive work on the water question, some of which is in an unclassified form. And Peter has spoken quite eloquently to many of the issues that we have been seeking to address. I think the point here that has been made by both my colleagues is on the mark, that questions of security, how nations view their security do have a resource availability as a significant driver that informs state behavior. I think it's also important to note that in this post-1945 world we have had an international order, an open international system, an open trading and financial order. And all the countries in East Asia that Peter has referenced have prospered enormously under and through participation in that international order. Hundreds of millions of people in China, in India and throughout East Asia have been lifted from poverty.

We face the projection and you know many dire things can be said about how the world will look in 2030. But we are looking in the world of 2030 where we will be reaching 50 percent of the world's population for the first time entering the middle class. That's never happened in human history before. And those, again, picking up on the factors that Tim has mentioned, that's an enormous contribution to stability in the international system and order. I don't want to, again, say the challenges we face, the strains on international institutions that suited us well for many decades are under increasing stress, that's quite evident. And the international order has to adjust to a change in power relations, to ensure that these international institutions can provide the stability role, the fundamental drivers of stability. And I think as Tim has eloquently stated, it took, really kicking out all the supports in the international order for mass atrocities and genocide to become possible. And our policymakers, and we in our work in supporting them, the work we do is meant to help keep those supports and the international system in place and to support policymakers who are striving to ensure an open international order, ensuring access to resources through markets and not through land grabs, or what have you, or resource grabs.

I think the final point I want to make on this comes back to the question of energy that we haven't touched on quite as much. And, again, we see here where changes in technology are having profound effects in energy markets. And they happen slowly but they're composite changes over time, both in green technologies, in natural gas production, are helping to reshape the international order. And so as much as we see threats and there's ample topics to worry about, there are also drivers in the international system that are contributing to stability.

DANA PRIEST: Do either of you see those positive sides, overwhelming the negative side yet?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well, I think Chris's point that he just made is quite critical and it goes back to what Tim said earlier when the German people could not imagine how productive food production would become. Only a few years ago we believed we were running out of oil and gas, well we aren't any more. Technology has advanced rather dramatically to, in fact, increase. The world is awash with gas and soon will be with oil. The same can be down with water. And that is the problem I mentioned of the Mekong. If the Chinese were very efficient in their use of water and the Vietnamese were very efficient in their use of water, why the conflict opportunity would be much less. Similarly in energy. We have lots of alternatives in energy so that, in fact, if we push the frontiers of technology on the supply side and on the efficiency side, then we are going to reduce some of the potential for conflict. So I think technology can be a very powerful lever in that respect on the positive side.


TIMOTHY SNYDER: Yeah, it goes both ways. I mean my whole argument goes both ways. When genocide is prevented, then you don't have genocide, right? So you don't see it. I mean our notion of genocide prevention is the bad guys are about to do something wrong, we come in and stop it. That's really, really hard to stage manage frankly. The genocides that have been prevented were the ones that we don't know about because they were headed off by changes in technology. They're invisible. A prevented genocide is a genocide that we don't see. You're not going to read about a genocide that didn't happen in the New York Times. And I would say, and this is the other side of my argument, the green revolution of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s in the developing world, but also probably more importantly in the developed world, the green revolution of fertilizers and hybrids and pesticides—these things which never get mentioned in conversations about the Holocaust—that probably prevented tremendous genocide, because it made the kind of thinking that Hitler and Stalin indulged in about control of territory being necessary to preserve one group at the expense of others seem incoherent. Seem incoherent. The Europeans like to tell us that they learned from the Second World War. They learned an awful lot more from fertilizer and from hybrids and so did we all, thank God, right? So the argument is that technological transformations can prevent, and indeed almost certainly have prevented, genocides.

Now, that doesn't mean that we're out of the woods because as history moves on you face different kinds of resource crunches. And in some unfortunate ways, China is similar to Germany in the early part of the twentieth century. It's a very rich and ambitious country which does not itself control the resources that it needs, not just energy resources, but it has water problems. It gets a lot of its fresh water from glaciers which are going to be gone. I mean not quite by the end of this conference, but they're going to be gone very, very soon. It has relatively little fertile soil. These are natural resources which the Chinese leadership are quite aware they don't have. And they're all ready making provisions for what they're going to do about that. That is worrisome.

And the final thing I wanted to say about technology is that I really think the atmosphere is a qualitatively different thing. It's possible for us to desalinate water. It's possible for us to find oil. It's possible for us to process shale gas. What we cannot do is generate for ourselves another atmosphere. There's only one atmosphere. It's not a resource like other things. What it is is a kind of multiplier of other resource problems. So global warming is not a resource crisis like water or food is a resource crisis. It's a multiplier of other resource crises which is why the chief technical challenge in my view has to be getting the global warming under control because the global warming causes problems but it also causes this fatal thing: unpredictability about the resource future. And it's that unpredictability which opens the ecological panic in which I'm afraid is going to lead to mass killing in the decades to come.

DANA PRIEST: Well, on that note, we're going to start to take questions. We have microphones somewhere. There, the woman with the red shirt. And you want to come down here? Here's a question right here. But as you do, let me just ask you quickly, the National Intelligence Estimate, which they are working on now, will be used by policymakers in what way?

CHRISTOPHER A. KOJM: Well, our policy customers are avid readers of what we produce. And what we endeavor with every estimate is to really set the stage, to help policymakers understand, "What are the forces at work? Where do we see trends leading?" And most importantly, "Can we help point the way to positive policy action that can amplify the opportunities and to mitigate the risks?"

DANA PRIEST: Thank you. Sir?

AUDIENCE MEMBER : Thank you. I appreciate the discussion about ways to avoid conflict and the global trends relating to that. But I'd like to shift the conversation just a little bit to a more down to earth immediate everyday kind of global trend that Samantha Power wrote about in her Pulitzer-prize-winning book on genocide in the twentieth century when she observed that everyone is opposed to genocide but no one wants to do what it takes to stop it. And it's not hard to see the parallel with the often expressed concern by the United States about genocide in Sudan—especially Darfur, which we've all heard about—but now the Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile state and the lack of action by the U.S. to stop the Government of Sudan from committing more mass atrocities. Secretary Clinton very briefly noted this as the problem of political will. So the global trend I'd like you to speak to is the problem political will. And we have a real test case with Sudan. So what should the U.S. be doing on Sudan, to avoid becoming a chapter in Samantha Power's next edition of A Problem from Hell?

DANA PRIEST: So is political will a driver to preventing genocide?

CHRISTOPHER A. KOJM: Well, sure. Governments make decisions. They all do. They all choose priorities. Political will is a crucial factor in international behavior.

PETER SCHWARTZ: I think this is really a quite critical issue. I can remember so clearly when the mass killings were under way in the former Yugoslavia—Serbia, in Kosovo, and Bosnia and so on. As someone who had experienced it very personally I found it painful to have no personal alternative, nothing that I could do as an individual other than to support the right kind of political action by my own country and eventually we got around to doing I think the right thing. I think the challenge here is that all the institutions that we have are the product of nation-states. And states are concerned principally about their sovereignty. And that becomes the fundamental issue that we face in Sudan. It is the issue that we faced in Rwanda. It is the issue we face, again, and again. And I think the challenge we have therefore is to build a framework of security beyond the nation-state. Can we create institutions, say, to replace the Security Council which we see its frustration, even as we speak, with respect to Syria. Can we devise—and I frankly don't have a good answer to how—but can we devise institution whose political will is not dependent upon the nation-state's ability to act and challenge the sovereignty of other nation-states?

DANA PRIEST: Now, has that ever been, can we think of an example of that?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well, the Law of the Seas is a potential example of that, but again it's under the United Nations framework. So the answer is, I don't think we have a good institution. The role of NGOs, I think, has been critical in this respect. I mean people like Amnesty International and so on I think have done a spectacular job, Witness, Global Witness, Human Rights Watch, all of those. And maybe it is, in fact, in the framework of NGOs as they learn how to collaborate, work together and become more effective, that really provides a counter pull to the nation-state and some framework of that but that's pure speculation on my part.


TIMOTHY SNYDER: I'm not sure the question is really more down to earth, honestly, because the moment when it becomes a question of political will it's probably too late. Even if you have political will at the critical moment it's probably all ready too late anyway for all sorts of reasons. By the time it's a question of political will, you're all ready in a state of exception where even if you did absolutely the right thing within the capabilities that you have you're probably not going to stop the episode of mass killing. I mean, forgive my pessimistic historian's reading, but that's pretty much what every case in the history of genocide says.

So I think in order to prepare the way for political will which is this exceptional thing, you have to think about the long term structures and ask what's politically possible in the short run to make the long run more—to make the long run less murderous than it's very likely to be. It seems to me that there is much more political—there's a lot of political room for change in energy policy, not as much as I'd like, but probably more than there's going to be for military intervention when the time comes. The changes in public opinion are remarkable. And the Secretary's speech today was extraordinary. But nevertheless, I would emphasize if what we're going to count on is political will, we're all ready in a tough position. And the notion that we have of genocide is being like one critical moment after another that demands decisive action. That's heroic. It's Hollywood. We like it. But in the long run it's not the way to prevent genocide. In the long run, the way to prevent genocide is to keep the moments where we need political will as few and as rare as possible.

DANA PRIEST: Chris, did you want to add…

CHRISTOPHER A. KOJM: Yeah. I just wanted to pick up on Peter's point which I think is really exactly on the mark. That we're in a world of diffusion of power. The nation-state and its authorities are changing. The role of individuals through social media and the power of technology has increased. The role of NGOs has increased, the role of corporations… So you see many more international players who really matter and make a difference in international affairs. And yet, at the same time, institutions have nation-state members. Nation-states still really do matter and make a difference. So we're in a transition to a different world and we're not quite sure what that world will look like. But it is certainly correct that governments alone, even acting in concert, really their ability to shape international behavior has diminished over the past generation. And so how to harness individuals and a wide variety of nongovernmental institutions to work in concert with governments—that's really hard going forward. So I'll leave it at that.

DANA PRIEST: Okay. We have another question up there.

AUDIENCE MEMBER : Thanks very much. Thank you for holding this panel today. And this discussion on genocide has covered a lot of issues that bring up one question. And I'm glad that the general historian raised the comparison with Germany and China because I'm here to talk about the 13 years of persecution of Falun Gong in China.

DANA PRIEST: And do you have a question about that?

AUDIENCE MEMBER : I do. I do have a question because there has been a number of senior statesman that have identified the genocide going on with Falun Gong in China. Not only from torture in labor camps but also from the organ-harvesting, where they estimate numbers of 65,000 Falun Gong practitioners that have died from that. And I'm just wondering these are senior statesmen David Majors, who has represented Canada at the UN, the International Criminal Court, David Kilgour, former Secretary of State, Vice President of the European Parliament, Edward McMillan-Scott, has represented Falun Gong in China at the UN Genocide Convention. So I'm just wondering, all of the things you've talked about state, genocide, propaganda, hate against a group, what can you see can be done about that?

DANA PRIEST: Who would like to answer that question? And does it need the…

PETER SCHWARTZ: Can you repeat the question because I'm not sure I actually got the question to be honest?

AUDIENCE MEMBER : I'm sorry. I'll repeat the question. It's just that all of this discussion China has been so little mentioned and yet this is a huge atrocity of human right crime of great proportion. And it's a genocide against a group of people in China. We all want China to be a better place. And it's a crime against Chinese people. So I'm asking what can you see can be done, with all of the strategies, this has been going on for 13 years. What can you see can be done with a country like China?

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well, again, I point to transparency as an important part of the answer. One of the great issues is Tibet and what happens to the Tibetan people. I think almost no one believes that the Tibetan people as an indigenous group will survive the next 50 years. That Tibetan culture will be wiped out in China. Tibetan history will disappear in China. And finding the ways in which to change that, I think, is very difficult. Having said that, I think the various efforts by particular NGOs to highlight and to focus on how profound the impact is, is probably one of the only weapons because we are not going to invade China. We are not going to convince China to do otherwise. I think China will have to respond to pressure from the world as it becomes a genuine global player in that respect. But I would only add one other thing in that respect, and that is we have to clean up our own act. I mean let's be clear, I mentioned the war on drugs. When you look at the incarceration rate in the African-American community that we don't want to face at home, that is another form of, I think, atrocity that's simply because politically no politician will get up and end that war and say gee, it's a crime that we lock up a disproportionate amount of our population. Until our moral credibility increases it's very difficult to hold others morally accountable.

DANA PRIEST: Tim, did you want to add anything to that?

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Implicit in Chris's remarks—I don't you know, perhaps he wouldn't expand them in this way—is a distinction between internal and external factors. In general, democratic-rule-of-law states are less prone to this sort of behavior than authoritarian states are. Getting from one to the other is a pretty big problem. When we think about the future of genocide over the next few decades we have to recognize we're still dealing with a world in which some of the major powers are authoritarian. Which means that the factors then become not internal but external and we have to be concerned about global warming and how the Chinese are going to react to it. We can't assume that China is going to become a nicer place. We have to work on the assumption that it's the place that it is and then think about what we can do. And partly that has to do with our own energy policy. For example, not letting the Chinese have more fusion physicists than we do which is the current situation, right?

And it also has to do with keeping up something which Secretary Clinton mentioned and which Peter has just mentioned in a different way as well and that is treating human rights language as normal. We're not going to change China in the short term, maybe not in the medium term. But if our diplomacy treats the human rights language which has come out of the Holocaust directly as normal, that will eventually have some kind of effect. And I think it would be a mistake to make concessions on that front pretty much no matter what. But I think Peter's point is quite right. You have to sort of follow a Hippocratic principle here. First, do no harm. Let's make sure that you're not doing any harm. That's not only good in and of itself, but it also sets a kind of example. And there are institutions, and I would count the International Criminal Count as one of them, where we simply cannot say that we're meeting that standard.


DANA PRIEST: We have time for one more question and I think there's someone over here. Yep. Go ahead.

AUDIENCE MEMBER : You've all talked a lot today about security structure and technology as key focal points of genocide prevention. But I was wondering if I could switch gears a little bit and ask about a genocide that's all ready happened—the 1915 genocide of the Armenians—and if its recognition—what kinds of conflicts or issues could that possibly create, if it is eventually recognized by the United States?

DANA PRIEST: We saw in the poll that that got the fewest percentage of recognition by people polled. Tim.

TIMOTHY SNYDER: Okay. So one of the things that struck me about Mark Penn's fascinating and really provocative poll results was that on the genocide one you had the Holocaust with over 90 percent, and then you had a bunch of stuff which just happened, some of which is maybe genocide, some of which isn't. But the great historical examples of mass killing besides the Holocaust aren't really there. And, of course, Armenia is one of them. And the general point I would make is that we need to see that mass killing, mass atrocity are a central feature of modern history. That the Holocaust is the clearest example and it's an unprecedented example because it's the only time that a state saw to eliminate an entire group physically. But that the whole fabric of modern history is full of instances such as this. When we recognize that, when we see it, so to speak, as natural, then we're in a better position to try to change the nature of things I think. Seeing, knowing about Armenia, in that sense, is extremely important. Knowing about Armenia, knowing about the famine in Soviet Ukraine, knowing about the whole series of imperialists and post-imperialists episodes of mass killing in Africa—these are all very important to seeing history in the way that it has to be seen.

The label of genocide or not for me is a little bit less important because it seems to me that a lot of the episodes of mass killing that are important for us to understand, like, for example the Great Leap Forward famine in China. I think it's very important to understand that we have a continuity of regime in China between one which starved 40 million of its own people to death and one which is still in power now and facing these global resource issues that we're talking about. If you want to think about this seriously we have to know that the same regime that starved 40 million of its own people is in power. If you want to evaluate what the Chinese are likely to do in the world of global warming that's a historical fact we have to know. Though I would say we have to know about Armenia because we have to know about this broader history of the twentieth century. That's how I'd see it.

DANA PRIEST: I think we do have one more question. I think you were on. You just need to speak a little louder.

AUDIENCE MEMBER : [inaudible]

DANA PRIEST: Thank you.

PETER SCHWARTZ: Well, you know, this is a profound dilemma. You know, how do you help in the midst of a situation like that? I think the fundamental issue is basically that sense of compassion for humanity, for people who are starving and dying. And I think you can't withhold food because governments will abuse the use of that food. Having said that, it is a real dilemma. Dilemmas don't have a good answer. There isn't an either/or outcome of that. And I think the reality of conflict in those kinds of situations inevitably creates those kinds of dilemmas. We face that even with the Holocaust. The argument was, "Gee, well it would better to stay in the bombing campaign against the Germans than to try to take out Auschwitz." Well, whether that was the right answer or not that was an argument that was made. And so I think this issue always creates those kinds of dilemmas. And where I come down in the end is I think you have to treat people—you can't let people starve in that respect because you want to undermine the governments that are, in fact, doing the harm.


TIMOTHY SNYDER: The question is a really important one because the implications go beyond central Africa. It's a general truth about recent history that famine is political. That was an important finding of a very important book by Amartya Sen, which was largely about capitalist cases, but it's also true of the non-capitalist cases. It's true of the Soviet Union in 1933. It's true of China in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Famine in general is political. It has a very important political component. And we need to understand that because it reminds us that famine is a central element in this history that we're talking about, the history of mass killing. The deprivation of people, of food when food is actually present, in one way or another, is a central element of the history of mass killing. And we need to know that because unfortunately the politics of food is going to become more, rather than less, intense in decades to come.

So what I would think about your question is that a government that will abuse food aid is also a government that will abuse the food that's already in a country. So if a government is going to starve its citizens it will do that with the food that's already there as well as the food that's provided. And so it's a deep, dark dilemma with no easy answers. But what I would say is that the politics of food is something that we have to have front and center in the early twenty-first century because we know from an abundance of examples that it was crucial to the politics of mass killing in all of modern history.


CHRISTOPHER A. KOJM: I think Peter and Tim have spoken eloquently to the dilemmas that policymakers face. And we, through our support for them, really try to help them work through those questions and come up with the best possible decisions on really hard questions, so thank you.

DANA PRIEST: Okay. I'd like to close by thanking our panelists, and they'll be here for a little while, but we have a second panel after a short break. So thank you.

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