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Innovative Solutions in Responding to Future Challenges

Panelists: Arwa Damon, Beirut Correspondent, CNN, Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Chairman, Econet Wireless, Sarah Sewall, Founder and Faculty Director, Mass Atrocity Response Operations Project, Harvard Kennedy School, and Richard Williamson, Nonresident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy, Brookings Institution
Moderator: Wolf Blitzer, Anchor, CNN
July 24, 2012
Council on Foreign Relations


MICHAEL ABRAMOWITZ : I would like to, just a short thing, we've had a lot of very distinguished guests here in the audience today. I would like to thank Congresswoman Jackson Lee was here for much of the session. So I just want to recognize her. And I'd like to invite the panelists to come up for our final program. And I have the great honor to introduce someone who really does not need any introduction, but we're turning this hall into the Situation Room for the next hour. Please welcome Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER: Well, thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen for showing up this morning. This looks like it's CNN versus the world over here. So Arwa and I are going to try to do our best to make sure that all of you learn something and all of us learn something that hopefully in an hour or so when we leave we'll be able to walk away and say, "You know, we're a little bit smarter than we were before this panel." So I want to get right into the conversation. And Arwa Damon is here. All of you who watch CNN most of you get basic cable, I assume, so you know Arwa Damon's one of our most courageous, fearless, brilliant reporters. She really has done an amazing job for all of us going back to the war in Iraq in 2003 and before. She is really brave, a lot braver than I am. She stays there. She's covered war for a long time. I don't know how she does it, but she does it. And she looks beautiful in the process. So it's a great thing to be able to do. Right now, she's based in Beirut but has been a lot of her time covering what's going on in Syria. Earlier, she was in Egypt during the Tahrir Square and what was going on there and Libya. Wherever there's a hotspot in the Middle East, Arwa is there and we're really fortunate to have her at CNN. So let's give it up for Arwa Damon. And she will be in the Situation Room later today for those of you who are interested, 4 p.m. eastern.

Strive Masiyiwa is the founder of Econet Wireless. He's a Zimbabwean business man. He now lives in Johannesburg, South Africa, because of obviously what's going on in Zimbabwe. But he's really been courageous in what he has done in Africa, throughout all of Africa. Econet is the only African-based company with a telecom license in the United Kingdom. He serves as its chairman. He moved with his family to Johannesburg in 2000. That's where the company is now based. He was the publisher of the Daily News —Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper until it was shut down in 2003. He's a very, very courageous business man. He does very important things for people, not only in Africa, but around the world. And so let's give it up for him as well.

Sarah Sewall is the founder of the Mass Atrocity Response Operations Project at Harvard University's Kennedy School. She advised President Obama on foreign policy. Her expertise is on using military force to oppose mass atrocities. No easy challenge to be sure. In 2010, she led a seminal study for the U.S. military on efforts to reduce civilian casualties. She directed the Obama transition's National Security Agency review process. In 2008 she helped put really good people in charge of various national security projects in the Obama administration. During the Clinton administration she served as the first Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance. Earlier, like so many others who worked their way up in the executive branch of the U.S. Government, she served in the legislative branch of the U.S. Government, as a Senior Foreign Policy Advisor to then Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell. Sarah, thank you.

And Richard Williamson is here, a senior nonresident, as opposed to a resident, does that mean you don't have an apartment at the Brookings Institute because you're a non-resident? Is that what it says?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Just an office, a home in Chicago.

WOLF BLITZER: Okay. Good. He's a senior nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution and a major foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney who, by the way, later today is going to be delivering a major foreign policy speech. I've gone through the excerpts that have all ready been released. For those of you who are interested in national security and foreign policy and want to hear from Mitt Romney he goes into some specific details on the eve of his big trip to London for the Olympics. Then he's going to Israel. Then he's going to Poland in the coming days. So this will be a major speech and sets the tone if he were to be the next president of the United States what he might be doing. And I know Richard Williamson is one of the senior advisors. He previously served as a Special Envoy to Sudan in 2008 and 2009. He's an expert on human rights, multilateral diplomacy, nuclear nonproliferation, post-conflict reconstruction, all of which means he's a really, really smart guy. As part of the Bush administration he served as Ambassador to the United Nations for Special Political Affairs and as Ambassador to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. He also served in both the Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations as well and we're really fortunate that he joins us here at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum today. So let's give it up for Rich.

One of the amazing things in the Arab Spring that we've seen and in other revolutions that have come up around the world in recent years is the power of social media. And, Arwa, I want to start with Arwa, because she's really sees it up close and she sees what's happening with social media whether on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. And we get a lot of information that is broadcast around the world thanks to social media. So the question to Arwa, the Arab Spring, what's happened in Egypt, in Libya, in Tunisia, elsewhere, now in the front lines in Syria, how big of a role, Arwa, has social media played in giving the opposition a voice?

ARWA DAMON: Well, I think it's fair to say that social media is very much the opposition's lifeline in a number of these situations—bar Egypt where the media was actually present and we were able to witness it firsthand. When we look at Libya and Syria, had social media not existed, a lot of what was taking place there would have just happened inside a dark hole. If we remember back to February 17th last year when the uprising in Libya began and demonstrations in Benghazi broke out, how did we find out about them? There was a complete and total Internet blackout. The only reason why we found out about what happened is because a young man born in 1983, a very young father, was brave enough to set up cameras in the square in front of the courthouse. Somehow managed to have the knowledge to be able to establish a satellite two-way and two days after the demonstrations first began was broadcasting them to the world. Had that not happened, who knows what would have then transpired in Libya, in Benghazi.

And, of course, when we look at what's happening in Syria given all of the media restrictions right now, if social media did not exist, if those brave activists did not literally crawl out on their stomachs to get that one shot of a tank because they need to prove to the world that Assad is not abiding by a ceasefire, we would not be where we are right now. That being said, we're not exactly where we need to be when it comes to the debate and the solution for Syria. But had social media not existed, you could almost be guaranteed and assured that the killings would have by far surpassed what they're surpassing right now.

WOLF BLITZER: Strive, you play a major role in all of this. Describe from your perspective how one person having a cell phone, for example, one person with a cell phone can make a difference in challenging an authoritarian regime.

STRIVE MASIYIWA: Wow, that's a big one. Thank you so much for the opportunity to participate in this important discussion. Perhaps I would answer you with a bit of an anecdotal story. You know, I come from Africa as you know, and one of the most successful revolutions has been the telecommunications revolution. In 1994 when the first cell phone licenses were being issued in the world less—70 percent of the African people had never heard a telephone actually ring. Today, over 660 million Africans have a cell phone, almost 70 percent now own one. And today what we're also witnessing is already more than 20 percent of the African people now have access to the Internet via their cell phones. And over 60 percent of those who have access to the Internet are on social media. That is the primary use of the cell phone to data service capability today. And I've often sat and wondered, what impact this would have been if this is where we had been at the time of the Rwanda genocide in '94? Would we have been able to stop that genocide? I cannot say to you, Wolf, what one man with a cell phone can do to prevent a genocide. But I believe that the fundamental shift is that access to telecommunications, as opposed to access to information, is moving towards a fundamental human right. Thank you.

WOLF BLITZER: Thank you. And let me bring Sarah into the conversation as well. Social media, it's had an enormous impact, I think, all of us recognize right now. And what's a going on in North African and the Middle East and elsewhere has been so powerful and it's been obviously aided by what the social media, all of the new media. But it's not just the social media, it's the old media as well. It's satellite and cable television. Whether, in the Middle East there's a lot of Arabic satellite and cable television networks that are reporting what's going on, people see what's going on. Obviously, radio, newspapers; there's a lot of old media as well. Here's the question to you. Are we, given the fact that the Soviet Union—and I was there in Moscow when it collapsed in 1991 and 74 years of communist rule went down rather quickly relatively speaking—there was no social media, Sarah, at that time, as you know. There was the BBC, the Voice of America, there was CNN. There was Xerox machines and copying machines, stuff like that, faxes. There was no Internet. So here's the question to you. Are we overemphasizing what social media does today or has it been as powerful a factor in the change, in the revolutions that we've seen unfold?

SARAH SEWALL: To be honest, Wolf, I'm not sure I know the answer to that. I think the point I would maybe raise here is that social media connects people to the transparency that I think is really critically important both for understanding what's going on in a country, for raising awareness of an international concern about how to respond, and for actual evaluation of the tools that are ultimately employed to respond. But neither old media nor social media answer the question of, "How do you actually affect the decision-making of response?" And, you know, in our earlier panel I think Tim very compellingly talked about all of the structural reasons why if we have a globe of plenty and if we have good governance everywhere we're unlikely to have genocide. But I think much of the discussion of activism and social media and old media today has more to do with these incipient genocides. So for me one of the more important questions regardless of the form of media, is what do you do with the awareness, and how do you link the potential for global action to galvanize change. And that, I think, relates to a discussion we may have later on in the panel about tools and options. But to me that's really where I see the need for a focus.

WOLF BLITZER: And, Rich, same question to you, but if you're a despot, if you're an awful dictator killing your own people right now, how worried should you be because of this revolution in social media?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: I'll echo some of the points Sarah raised. The social media is certainly changing the capacity of response to repression. But I think we should be very careful not to blend together a discussion of injustices—bad things happening, even mass killings—with ethnic cleansing and genocide which are of a different nature. I agree with Professor Valentino of Dartmouth that if you look at ethnic cleansing and genocide in the last 110 years, invariably it's powerful people trying to deal with difficult problems and a willingness to open the gates of hell to solve it. And by opening the gates of hell they feed off the conditions that were discussed earlier, ethnic tensions, rivalries. But in the end the 17,000 that have died in Syria are not because of global warming or bad governance. It's a bad guy willing to do things that we find inconceivable to stay in power. And the result is you have to address those bad actors to deter them, and respond vigorously. And that requires more than activity. Taking Syria to the U.N. Security Council is activity with no chance of progress. Russia has a client in Syria; its last foothold in the Middle East; its only port to the Mediterranean. It's not going to give that up. So they're either going to veto it—and if they do China joins them. Or they're willing to vote for a totally meaningless resolution. Or they'll vote for a resolution after it's all ready tipped and Assad is on his way out. So by focusing diplomatic effort by going up there with this silliness is a way to divert attention to really dealing…

WOLF BLITZER: So what's the answer? So what would you do?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Well, I think you should have aid, 16 months ago and we just 3 weeks ago began to work with the opposition. Sixteen months ago it started and it's just weeks ago we coordinated with Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey to help arm the opposition. It's 16 months ago and we still aren't being more proactive to try to change facts on the ground. I think we should have been in trying to work with the opposition, trying to find the moderate leaders, trying to help them solidify and organize. We should have helped give them the weapons to prevail because look, Wolf, it was March a year ago when al-Khatib, this 13-year-old boy was taken from a demonstration, two weeks later he's left on his parents doorstep wrapped in plastic and a blanket. And beyond that he was mutilated from head to toe, his ears cut off, his genitals cut off, stuck in his mouth, his body burned, decomposed. You know, I think by then we knew Assad was going to be a bad guy doing bad things to stay in power.

WOLF BLITZER: All right, well, Arwa has been inside Syria. And she's seen a lot of this up close, unfortunately. Go ahead, Arwa.

ARWA DAMON: I have. And I just want to sort of extrapolate the conversation to this notion, though, of bad governance because there are those who would argue that the very existence of the Syrian regime is a byproduct of bad governance when it comes to the global community. Let's not forget that every single dictator that has so far been toppled, every single dictator continues to commit these atrocities against their own people has at some point in time been supported by the U.S. and by the West. So given that factor, does America need to change its strategy when it comes to supporting certain dictators and certain governments? Today it's Syria. Tomorrow it could very easily be Saudi Arabia, other nations in the Gulf that have been long time U.S. allies. So how is America going to change its strategy when it comes to who and how it supports who it is supporting?

WOLF BLITZER: Sarah, that's a great question. What's the answer?

SARAH SEWALL: Well, I think Secretary Clinton's point about the confluence between a strong foreign policy that supports good governance and does all of the right things or maybe it was Mark Penn's point—gosh—the problem with the things being recorded—media. But the point that was made earlier in the conference about how a good foreign policy is the same thing as genocide prevention, to some extent that's true. And to some extent the problem is that there is a lack of understanding in how we go about actually achieving things with a good foreign policy. Because we think a good foreign policy is rule of law, and working with our partners, and it doesn't necessarily mean that we're thinking about the places where we've made calculations based on national security that we have either a different set of interests or a different set of constituencies that lead us to make the kind of alliances with bad rulers.

So I guess the point that I would make is that as we think about foreign policy decisions we need to recognize that there's a difference between having the right impulse in your foreign policy and being able to actually deliver results. So, for example, if we talk about how we're doing governance-building in country X, whether or not we sent X-number of State Department people—and I don't really know how they were trained or how effective they're going to be—is a different question about whether or not they're having the results that we want them to have. And I think we too often in the United States concentrate on our intentions and the process that we use as opposed to necessarily, objectively evaluating the results that we use. And this gets back to, you know again, Chris Kojm, with all due respect to the National Intelligence Council, they've got a huge problem in trying to identify what are the precipitating factors that are actually going to matter in this case at this time. Because the real mystery about all of these drivers is that they exist everywhere across the world all of the time. And most of them don't result in actual genocide.

And so trying to sort out the wheat from the chaff in terms of what is it that has to occupy our attention? What's a long-term foreign policy concern? What's a short-term potential crisis? And how do you actually take steps? And I think Secretary Clinton's point about being in concert with other people is really vital because any steps that we take are infinitesimal and have to be joined with a broader strategy. But we don't necessarily know the right levers to pull and we're not very honest about their results.

WOLF BLITZER: I'm going to bring Strive into this conversation in a moment, but I want Rich to just follow up. And I want to make sure that I fully understand what you're saying. You would take, if you had your way in Syria, you would take decisive Libya-like military action, cruise missiles or bombings or embargos, arming the rebels, all that kind of stuff that the U.S. and the NATO allies did in Libya to get rid of Gaddafi, you would do similar things in Syria, even without a United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing it?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Well, a couple points. One, you went far further than I prescribed in my comments. It's like debates in the Oval Office. The Secretary of Defense always says when you say, okay, we should go deal with putting a ship outside the port of Sudan or taking out one helicopter, then the Secretary of Defense comes back with a plan for 500,000 troops on the ground which, of course, is dismissed. And so he wins. There's no more action taken. What I was talking about are far different than that. And this is really important. There's a menu of options available diplomatically…

WOLF BLITZER: Even without Security Council?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: …economically and militarily. And among the military ones in the case of Syria would have been helping the opposition organize, help identify moderate forces. Have others or us help train and equip them. All of this is far short of what happened in Libya. And looking at trying to create safe havens. Turkey and others who have a greater interest, who are interested. And I do feel it's okay—I think that President Clinton was right in going to Kosovo and not letting Moscow veto our effort to protect and end ethnic cleansing. So yes, I do feel you can take other multilateral coalitions. And I think Mark Penn's survey identified coalitions. It didn't say necessarily the U.N. And I think that you now have with the Arab League already being more forward leaning a potential group that you could put together to have a coalition for action.

WOLF BLITZER: Okay. I didn't want to put words in your mouth, that's why I wanted you to clarify exactly where you stand on it. I understand that now. Strive, let's talk a little bit about Africa right now because there's been amazing changes over these years. I was in Rwanda in 1998 when Bill Clinton was there and he basically apologized to the people of Rwanda and Burundi for the genocide that occurred. About 800,000 people were slaughtered within a few months, really, mostly by machetes. And he knew about it. He knew. He was in the Oval Office. He knew what was going on. Everyone in Washington knew what was going on. And the world was silent and didn't do anything about it. And he later came to Rwanda and he was just there this past week, once again, and he basically apologized. And said his deepest regret as President of the United States was just sitting on the sidelines and not taking action when the U.S. and the international community could have taken action and maybe stop this or stop some of it. Here's the question, it's still going on today, isn't it, in parts of Africa?

STRIVE MASIYIWA: Yes, that is true.

WOLF BLITZER: And the world is basically silent.

STRIVE MASIYIWA: That is also true. I wish I could—but I think there is a fundamental difference from back in '94. The President may have known but most of us didn't. I think the big difference with the technologies that are there today is many ordinary people are empowered to speak, particularly the victims. You see with YouTube and social media today that it's not just about the specialists and those who have access to a higher level intelligence that know, but ordinary people around the world because of the Internet. And also the victims themselves, the technologies today, it's becoming easier and cheaper for reports to come through about what is happening. And I think that whilst we can always debate about what actions should be taken or could be taken, what options are available, that is always a major debate between people, and we can agree or disagree about what can and cannot be done. But I think it's a big step forward when the victims themselves can speak out, can call out and talk to the media in ways that were not possible. We were talking earlier on with Arwa about the fact that she's talking to people who are on the ground, who are saying, "We are being bombed." That wasn't possible before. And, I think, perhaps that just adds something as a new dimension for us to consider.

WOLF BLITZER: Because Arwa, you know, we spend a lot of time, as we should, on what's going on in Syria, for example, right now. But we, I'm talking about the international news media, we don't spent a lot of time talking about what's going on in Africa, right now, in certain parts of Africa, whether it's Sudan or Congo or elsewhere. And I wonder as someone who's covered war and you've been in the middle of it for a long time now-—she's a lot older than she looks. As somebody who has been in the middle of it and watching all of this unfold tell us—she's not really—tell us your perspective, on why we cover certain stories the way we do and we ignore other studies the way we do? It's a serious question.

ARWA DAMON: I think it's a fundamental failure on our part that we don't push for more coverage in places like Africa where we do know that certain things are taking place. I think even as news outlets we have a vision of what we want to be. We have certain ideals but we also end up being driven by what we think the public is interested in that's not necessarily correct. You know, constantly we are trying to fight for certain stories to get on air, not to bypass the Africa conversation but I can give an example out of Iraq. By 2007 we would keep hearing—and it wasn't just us, it was throughout—"Oh, America doesn't want to hear about the war in Iraq anymore. Americans have war fatigue." And that's where you have this responsibility to fight back and say, "I don't care that America has war fatigue because America bears a responsibility for what's happening in Iraq and that's why we have to keep reporting it even though everyone is tired of hearing about the daily death toll. These are human lives that we're talking about." And, I think, we do need to make more of a concerted effort to bring that kind of passion and that desire to pull stories out of regions in Africa, out of regions in Asia that are not being adequately or properly covered. And I think that's our responsibility as journalists. But it is also the public's responsibility to push our various news organizations to turn around and say, "We want to know about what's happening."

WOLF BLITZER: I totally agree. But there's another issue and I want Sarah and Rich to get into this because both of you have had extensive experience working for a president of the United States, a democratic president and a republican president, and I'll start with you, Sarah. How much responsibility does a president or a secretary of state or a secretary of defense have in educating the American people about the slaughter that continues in various parts of the world? And forcing, in effect, the news media, like us, to pay attention and let the world pay attention?

SARAH SEWALL: I don't often hear from the news media that they need to be forced by the President to cover issues.

WOLF BLITZER: Because if the president, I say this because if the president of the United States goes into the Oval Office or into the East Room of the White House and delivers a primetime address…

SARAH SEWALL: Right, no I take your point.

WOLF BLITZER: …saying that hundreds of thousands of people, men, women and children are being killed, right now, we would take that speech live. I can assure you every television network would take that speech live and it would be a source of enormous amount of interest and we would send reporters and production crews to that part of the world and do the best we can to cover it. So the question is, yes, we have a responsibility in the news media but how much responsibility as a president or a secretary of state, or a secretary of defense, [do they] have in focusing the world's attention on atrocities and genocide?

SARAH SEWALL: Well, I think, you know, every president and every serving cabinet member has a different personal sensibility, a different history, a different set of values and a different understanding of their responsibilities. And this president, one of I think his, I think his signal strengths and contributions, is to say, you know, "This a central feature of my vision of what it means to be America. It's a central feature of my vision of what it means to be leading the world's greatest nation is that we do have this moral responsibility and it is a national security interest." And I think it's quite remarkable, the extent to which he has made genocide prevention a signature issue for the nation at this moment. Different presidents and presidential candidates will have different views on this matter. So I think, in part, it just depends. I think it does get harder over time in the sense that I think there is a normative culture and set of expectations that build over time. I think the creation, as Secretary Clinton was talking about, of the Atrocities Prevention Board becomes a signal way of both forcing the system to bring these issues up and it becomes a piece of the institutional architecture that's hard to dismantle for a future administration. So I think there can be a progressive building, but ultimately I do think that these are questions that different leaders come to with different senses of commitment to. And I think we're headed in a very positive direction now under President Obama.


RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Yeah, I want to be careful because I don't really want to be partisan because I think both the weaknesses and the better impulses exist probably in every president and are bipartisan. I do think the responsibility is not solely for the head of state. I think in the Sudan case we saw an incredible proliferation of activists because of new media. When I became the President's Special Envoy to Sudan I changed my e-mail a couple of times and had almost a million e-mails from different activists. Thank you very much, don't do it again. But it had an impact and reach out to Congress. You also had NGOs who played a big role in Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch. There was a public Congress.

But ultimately the President has a unique bully pulpit. And one of the things that made it easier for me is every six weeks—first, any time I wanted to talk to the President I could. And every six weeks we had an Oval Office meeting where the press was allowed in. And so the President had a platform to keep the issue alive. And I want to quote something from the President Obama which I think does capture the sense of the American people. He said on the Libyan action, quote, "To brush aside America's responsibility as a leader, and more profoundly our responsibility to our fellow human beings under such circumstances, would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refuse to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action." I do believe that's the impulse in America. There's a political resonance. But in Syria, we see there's conflicting pressures. And the application of that is uneven. And ultimately, it's up to the public and the activists and the NGOs to hold each president accountable.

ARWA DAMON: And just to add on that especially when it comes to Syria, not to sort of put a damper on this whole social media conversation because it most certainly is a new phenomenon. It is part of our lives. It's allowing people to communicate to one another instead of communicating via television screens or newspapers, but there is awareness about Syria. Everyone knows what's happening and they've known what's been happening for the last 16 months. And I think we're at a stage right now, where I was just in the hospital in Tripoli, Lebanon, that was getting a lot of the casualities from one of the villages and homes that have been bombarded. And there was a mother in the hospital bed along with her three children—two little girls ages five and six and her little boy who's probably around three years old. They were all wounded. Their father had just been killed. And I went in in the horribly intrusive way that we sort of have to maneuver when it comes to our jobs asking her for an interview. And she said, "No." And my response was no, I understand, you're worried about your security. I can obscure your identity. No, we won't say where you're from, exactly what happened.

She just looked at me and she said, "No. We've been talking for 16 months. We've risked our lives to talk about this for 16 months. Look at me, look at where I am now. If I talk to you, is it going to bring my husband back?" And there was nothing I could say to her about that. So the big question we keep getting from the Syrian opposition, to which there is no answer is, "This awareness exists. People know what's happening in our country. What does it take to actually act upon that moral responsibility we keep hearing various administrations and world leaders referring to when you know an atrocity is taking place?"

WOLF BLITZER: Those are important questions, great questions. And I would be remiss, Strive, if I didn't ask you because I don't know what's going on, and I assume most of the guests here today don't know what's going on in Zimbabwe, your homeland, right now. What is going on in Zimbabwe? You've basically left. You can't work there. You can't deal there. It's too dangerous. Give us a brief summary of the situation in Zimbabwe.

STRIVE MASIYIWA: Well, Wolf, you probably know more than me. You haven't gone and I haven't gone in for 12 years. Look, we have a Government of National Unity which is the opposition and Robert Mugabe's party. And they have been in this government now for four years. And its term of office must come to an end next year in June, by June next year, which means there must be an election. So the world is holding its breath to see whether we can have a free and fair election by June next year. And that's about as much as I can say.

WOLF BLITZER: And you think that's realistic?

STRIVE MASIYIWA: I have to hope so.

WOLF BLITZER: You want to say something?

ARWA DAMON: Not to jump in on your moderating, but…Do you feel that countries like the U.S. and other western nations and global leaders had a responsibility to do something about what was happening in Zimbabwe, years—if not decades—ago?


WOLF BLITZER: Okay. Me too.


WOLF BLITZER: Do you want to add something?

SARAH SEWALL: I want to just add, I mean, I think it's really interesting in light of the poll results that were shared with us earlier this morning, but this notion of a responsibility to act—the devil's in the details. And so acting—the notion that action exists as an abstract and it's a binary decision I think is really dangerous. And I think it haunts a lot of the discussion about genocide prevention. And the question about acting and the reason why multilateral action is so important is that action is tied directly to the feasibility of the action and the cost of the action. Sometimes we forget that answering those questions and thinking about how to parse responses in ways that are both doable—and doable at a cost that can convince those that hold the keys to execute those actions—is as much a part of caring and advocacy as the emotional response to understanding what's going on in a country. And I think that's really the next stage for the anti–mass atrocity movement to come to is trying to think about more than just how do we know what's going on or do we care about what's going on? But what specifically do we do? How do we dissect the options that are available to us and think about which are within our power to do unilaterally or collectively or regionally, internationally? And what the costs are whether they will be borne in the context in which we're advocating for them? That's a sophistication that we need to attain.

WOLF BLITZER: And in this poll that we've released—and I want to just throw out a couple of numbers and let Rich who was an envoy in the Sudan react to this. Seventy-eight percent of those polled said they support the United States taking military action to stop genocide or mass atrocities. Sixty-three percent believe genocide occurs mainly because political or military leaders order or encourage people to kill. So based on your experience in Sudan, what's the most important lesson that you learned and that all of us should learn on dealing with mass atrocities and genocide in a real world situation? And whether or not the U.S., there are limits to what the U.S. can do.

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Right. There are limits. And Sarah in her work on response whether it's military doctrine for response to mass atrocities, whether it's the progress made with the Atrocity Prevention Board, the administration has tried to make progress in this way. But there is the question of a decision in the Oval Office, where you say, okay, we're going to take some action. And it's always a risk. I spent time in the Oval Office with three presidents, it's always a risk when they say, okay, we're going to do something if it's robust. And in the end the President has to decide that moral imperative is worth it because the political benefit is not going to be that great. And I think that is what we have to try to demand, the difference between rhetoric and action. And, again, I want to be careful. I'm not trying to be just critical on Syria because I think every president has had places where they could have done more. I think President Bush could have done more in Darfur. But I think those that are engaged and active should be demanding it and not finding excuses. And I think our politic too often gives a buy to the President, whoever it is, and also allows Congress to pass resolutions as opposed to being more vigorous and robust. And so it's easy to posture on issues like this. It's easy to say it's really hard. It's easy to say these are historic ethnic conflicts that go back generations in a world far away and little understood. But in the end, I mean I've spent time with Hun Sen, with Mugabe, with Omar al-Bashir, these are bad people making decisions that it's okay to do horrific things to stay in power. And we have to say, "No."

WOLF BLITZER: Yep. Strive.

STRIVE MASIYIWA: Well, Wolf, I just wanted to add two issues. We've talked about the exciting developments with new media and technology, but you know we must never lose site of the fact that at the end of the day, technology is amoral. It's not about the technology. It's about people. We can provide all the technology possible but it's about the willingness of people to act and to have a conscience. And we have to stay engaged. It's never—what we need to avoid is very short attention spans. And this is one of the problems we have today that we tend to see these crises in terms of the media having an attention on them, when, in fact, these things—once you guys move away with your cameras, it's almost as though it has ended. And what we need to do is to develop that capacity of an attention span and it's a collective thing. It can never be about specific actors. All of us as society must build a value system of what is not acceptable.

And I also want to point out as someone who goes out to build out these networks, I think the biggest threat today, particularly if you are a network provider, is the constant pressure to cut off these systems. You know, Twitter or YouTube doesn't happen all of its own. Somebody has to build and provide an infrastructure on the ground. We are not protected as network providers from being forced to switch them off. You saw the pressure that the operators had in Egypt to switch off certain things. And these tendencies are not just in countries, the emerging countries where you may have a problem. These tendencies, even inadvertently, may be in developed countries where, because of a riot or something, people start staying well they use Blackberry, maybe we should monitor and control it. I think we need to get to a common consensus that these systems should never be switched off, because at the end of the day, it is the ability for people to access these systems that is so fundamental.

WOLF BLITZER: Let me ask Arwa, in Syria right now, for example, how much access to the Internet do people have?

ARWA DAMON: Not a whole lot. But this is what's fascinating—where you think about what is it that these young activists are going through. And they've evolved right now to this point where in every single neighborhood or almost every single neighborhood that's being bombarded or is a flash point they set up something of a makeshift media house. And they have managed to smuggle in satellite dishes that they literally in some cases carry through two kilometers, you know, three miles worth of tunnel, and they set it up on top of a house that invariably ends up being one of the main focus points for the Syrian government's bombardment. And they'll sit in the darkness a lot of times because there's no electricity running—just enough power to a car battery to keep this element of technology going because that is their only lifeline. And, you know, you look at these conditions they're living in. I mean I was stunned when I went to Baba Amr and Homs in February. The building itself had absolutely no glass left whatsoever. It had all ready been hit once. It was hit while we were there. It is, of course, the same building where Marie and Remi were killed too. And these activists would huddle inside a living room. The only thing running down from this blown-out building was the wiring from their satellite dish that they had. And they've managed to repeat this and overcome the very fact that the government was trying to silence them but they wouldn't be.

WOLF BLITZER: I remember your reporting from there. It was very, very courageous reporting. I want to open it up to your questions and our answers in a moment. But a sensitive subject—one that has intrigued me especially when I've seen slaughter and mass atrocities, mass murder, genocide post-Holocaust over the years. And the question, and I'll throw it to Rich first, then we can go around and whoever wants to weigh in. At what point, Rich, and you were working in the U.S. Government, do you think it would be okay, it would be acceptable to kill, to assassinate, a leader, a world leader who is torturing and killing and slaughtering his own people?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: I'd like to, if I could, just leverage off the earlier comment and then go to the second question. I had an experience and it goes to not only the means and how hard people will go to get messages but also what message we should be sending. And I was in Gdańsk in 1999. There was a conference, 1989, 10 years later of Eastern and Central European leaders who had been under communism, laid a wreath at the Gdańsk Shipyard where the Solidarity started. Anyway, three days later the president of Poland has about 30 people and the president of Latvia stands up and turns to the head of Solidarity and he says, "I want to salute Solidarity because when I was a freedom fighter back home I'd go to my one-room apartment at night discouraged, disappointed, almost hopeless. And I'd take my radio, battery radio, from one corner to another to finally pick up a scratchy signal to hear about the brave exploits of Solidarity. And it gave me strength and hope and faith to carry on." So the message matters. Then the president of Solidarity stood up and turned to me because he knew I'd been on Reagan's senior White House staff. And he said, "We in Solidarity did the same thing because we were discouraged and hopeless and concerned. And we picked up the Voice of America and we could all say the following: 'We're engaged in a great battle that will be won not by guns and ships and aircraft, but by ideas, the great ideas of democracy, freedom and human rights, Ronald Reagan'."Anyway, the point is we have a responsibility for the content in that message as a leader, as a country. So whether it's to allow people through Twitter, through social media, through regular media that we stand with them. And that's something we've not done such a great job.

To the second point. And I think it resonates with respect to the use of drones and the whole Tuesday, deck of cards picking out enemies and all of that. My own view is I have no problem picking out really bad guys. But I do think there has to be a review. It shouldn't be one individual—even the President of the United States—making that decision. Unilaterally, I think it's just like eavesdropping. There should be some court that has a review. A capacity to respond quickly within 24 hours, but there should be a check. The President of the United States shouldn't be making that decision unilaterally—picking who's going to live and die, accepting the casualties of innocence that are going to die with that drone attack.


SARAH SEWALL: I think it's really important to distinguish between the notional context of a war which is sort of the claim that we've made that underpins the counter-terror drone strategy and the context in which you raised the question about essentially assassination for gross human rights abuses, for mass atrocity and genocide. And I think one of the signal accomplishments of the creation of the ICC is the notion that even in the end, in the course of trying to stop genocide and mass atrocity, it's the rule of law and accountability that needs to triumph and that it comes full circle.

So my own view is that as much as I can't wait to see Joseph Kony die, I would much prefer that he be captured and tried in a court, by the International Criminal Court, and have the ability for those who have been his victims to see him forced to assume accountability. I think whether you're talking about the decisions of political leaders to take risky action to stop genocide, or whether you're talking about the decisions of genocidaires to carry out their crimes, this notion of personal accountability is really critical when we talk about anything that doesn't come from a pure sort of self-defense national security argument. And so the Atrocities Prevention Board tries to put accountability all the way up the chain for decision-making in the United States to say, "Put your money where your mouth is and figure out how to take the action." That's not quite as clear internationally and we need to do some work on that.

But to answer your narrow question about killing, I think, it really is rule of law and a trial that can provide some modicum of catharsis and processing for victims and can show that at the end of the day what we really do want is governance according to collectively agreed rules. I think you shouldn't underestimate the importance of that for resolution and to end these cycles of violence.


STRIVE MASIYIWA: There is never a point, Wolf, that I even question the legitimacy of the concept of regime change because I think that also often complicates the search for solutions. If there's a government there, you start talking about regime change we often lose our way. There is no point that you should diminish yourself by reducing yourself to the standards of the people that you are trying to remove. We have to follow legal, democratic processes no matter how odious you feel they are…

WOLF BLITZER: Except during a time of war, you mean?


WOLF BLITZER: I raise the question because we're at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and scholars have asked the question, what would have happened if Hitler would have been assassinated in the 30s or the early 40s, how many millions of people would have lived if this one man would have been killed? And in that context I ask this question to you.

STRIVE MASIYIWA: Correct. And then that was a clear war and that's pretty, I think, that's a legitimate situation. But to say we're going to—we should take measures to assassinate Assad or something like this, I think you're going down a very dangerous path.

WOLF BLITZER: Okay. Let's take questions and answers. Go ahead, ma'am. We've got a microphone.

AUDIENCE MEMBER : Thank you all for being here. I have a question about Sudan. There seems to be a lot of discussion about moral equivocation and moral relativism where we're equating South Sudan and North Sudan. And I'm wondering could you speak, maybe starting with Mr. Williamson, about how do we get through the kind of academic exercise of discussing atrocity? When you have victims—I'm with Act for Sudan and we work with people all of the time, and in my writing I do this as well. I'm a survivor of sexual and gender-based violence. I know a lot of people who do not have the ability that we do in the United States to talk to someone, to call 911, to have their dad come and save them, to do all kinds of things that we have here that we almost take for granted. When we are talking about presidential policy, and presidential leadership—we're Americans—at what point do we when we're exporting our best values—do we stop with moral relativism and equivocation and implement policies that help save lives and put innocent people first instead of equivocations and academic exercise?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: Look, I believe it's important to engage. It's important to collaborate, cooperate, coordinate, be practical, pragmatic, proportional—but we should be animated by our values. And in the case of Sudan, Khartoum in the north, Juba in the south, they are no saints. I used to always say to George Bush, "I can't find a white hat. There's dusty white hats and there's really black hats." But in the case of Sudan, in the case of the violence that's gone on in the Blue Nile in the Southern Kordofan region in the last year it was perpetuated by the same people, initiated by the same people who killed two million people in southern Sudan over decades, who killed 400,000 over six years in Darfur because to the regime in Khartoum those are legitimate tools. I used to ask, "How can they do this to their own people?" And an old Sudan hand told me the obvious: they don't think these are their people. They're not Arab-Islamists. And so they're chattel to be expended.

So while I have great respect for my successor Ambassador Princeton Lyman, who I've worked with off and on for 25 years now, I think the administration would be better placed to be honest and admit that Khartoum is perpetuating unacceptable atrocities; that they're violating international humanitarian law by not having access. You know, when I met with Omar al-Bashir the first time he said to me, "You know, my people have read what you've written. They told me to never meet with you." And I said, "Well, to be honest with you, Mr. President, I never wanted to meet with you." But we negotiated. I mean it's not like he doesn't know he's a bad guy. It's not a surprise. The surprise is when you give him a pass and don't call him a bad guy. So I think the administration should be tougher in its language and condemnation, more aggressive to get use of UNAMA, the peacekeeping mission, to guarantee humanitarian access. The fact is thousands have died, a couple hundred thousand are displaced, living in desperate conditions and nobody knows it, and it's a tragedy.

WOLF BLITZER: Good question, good answer. Go ahead, next question.

AUDIENCE MEMBER : Thank you. Comment and a question. The comment is on the social media point. Just to make sure that there's a bit of a caution to the uses, I'm the executive director of United to End Genocide. And one of the crises we're looking at now is in Burma—800,000 stateless people, the Rohingya who are at imminent risk of a blood bath. And social media has actually been used to perpetuate hate speech again the Rohingya and indeed, even, against activists outside of Burma that have taken up the Rohingya cause. So, you know, I appreciate some nuance to the comments about social media as a force that can perpetuate hate and hate crimes as well as be used for transparency. But I can't also resist following up on the point on Sudan and the current mass atrocities in the Nuba Mountains, and Mr. Williamson with gratitude to all of the terrific and important work that you did as Special Envoy, more needs to be done now. And can I press you to talk about the fact that media coverage apart, the administration knows what's happening in the Nuba Mountains, you know, our top policymakers know. What can we do to stop the mass atrocities there?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: I keep doing this qualifier since Wolf identified me as a Romney advisor—I want to be clear I'm not speaking for him and I'm not trying to be overly partisan. But I can repeat the advice I gave to the President Bush near the end of the administration. There are tools that can be used to put pressure on Omar al-Bashir. You can jam all of his communications. And you do that for 24 hours and it's going to get their attention. The only reason Khartoum is able to perpetuate these atrocities is not because of its capacity to prevail on the ground—in fact, they lose more than they win on battles on the ground. The reason they prevail is the coordinated attacks on the air with Sudan armed forces and various militias. And their air force is like a bad movie. It's old equipment. It's terrible. They get a couple of new aircraft a year. The U.S. has the capacity to take one of those out. I advised President Bush, "Let's take one out, just one. You're not going to see them flying and dropping 55 gallons of burning oil on innocent villages any more if we did that." So I think there are steps that can be taken way short of troops on the ground that would increase the leverage substantially. And I only reiterate it not as a criticism for Obama but as something I think that's been available and that we should be willing to engage if, in fact, the words that the President spoke in the context of Libya are ones we actually believe.

WOLF BLITZER: Strive, do you want to weigh in?

STRIVE MASIYIWA: Thank you, Wolf. I think the comment about social media being used also negatively just underlines the point I was making earlier that technology is amoral. You can use it for good and for bad. And we must never lose sight of that. There are no cookie-cutter solutions for any particular problem. And that is one thing we must never lose sight of as well. A solution for Libya is not a solution for Syria. For Iraq is not a solution for Afghanistan and Somalia. We have to accept that there are complex challenges out there. The only thing I would urge is let's act multilaterally, not unilaterally. As challenging and as difficult as things are, let's act legally. Let's always maintain that high moral ground. We will find solutions. And that is why we are there.

WOLF BLITZER: What happens when a country like Russia or China vetoes action that is desperately needed? And you can't get that international legal stamp on some military action that might be necessary to save lives?

STRIVE MASIYIWA: It's been like that for a long time, Wolf. The Security Council has functioned like that. And there are good things that also come out of that—of our ability to have that capacity. I think we just have to step up from a leadership point of view in the search of new and more effective ways around it. But we still have to constrain ourselves to acting legally.

SARAH SEWALL: Can I raise, build on a comment, that Strive made earlier raising the question about regime change, and I think in a gathering like this, it's probably worth pointing out that there's a huge difference between wanting to change the behaviors of a regime and concluding that the regime itself must go. And if the discussion is ending genocide, sometimes you will be led to conclude that the regime must go. But that's different from beginning with the supposition that a change in behavior requires regime change. And this is a huge issue for R2P. As everyone here probably knows, R2P is extraordinarily politicized, now more than ever, precisely because of the concern that the protection of innocents from violence at the hands of their own government or non-governmental actors with the acquiescence or the inability to stop by that government, will inherently lead to regime change. And the international community isn't necessarily up for that.

So to Strive's point—both about be very clear analytically about where you are in diagnosing the problem. And be clear in your own minds that if the behavior were to stop that might lead you to other concluding moments in your pressures than regime change. But also that there's an international system that has to function and keep functioning. So if you want concerted action to try to change behaviors, you don't want to overreach beyond the point at which the collective will necessarily go. There will always be exceptions. But I would just point out that Kosovo was conducted without a U.N. authorization—to your point, Wolf. But it was also not about regime change. It was about a negotiated settlement for Kosovo.

So these situations, again, they aren't binary. They aren't black and white. They don't necessarily present you with regime change or nothing. But we do have to tailor solutions. We do have to think about what the traffic will bear in terms of precedent, in terms of the ability to garner a coalition, in terms of the ability to sustain what happens after the regime change. So it's so much more complicated. And so our work in thinking about even that last resort of military action—what is required it's just far more complicated than we've done.

I just want to make one final point, which is that when you think about the protecting civilians mandate in the context of Operation Unified Protector in Libya and then you ask what was different about what we did as a NATO coalition in Libya from an air campaign that didn't have a mandate to protect civilians? Not much was different. And so if we say to ourselves that our primary goal in using military force is to protect civilians, we have to think very concretely about what that means. And it may, in fact, up the ante in terms of—you may be relying more on defensive modes than offensive modes. You may even be assuming greater levels of carefulness with regard to collateral damage as you prosecute military operations. But, again, just to go to the history of being in this museum, this debate about, you know, do you defeat Hitler to save people from becoming victims in the Holocaust that's ongoing? Or do you focus on protecting those civilians? That's a huge question. And that's a question that in Libya we answered, "Well, we're going to win the war." It is a very complex world and we need to think about the use of military force and the protection function as opposed to the regime change function.

WOLF BLITZER: Rich, you want to say something?

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: I think this is an important point that we can't let slip by, but the last panel and this one to some extent did. Look, I believe the U.N. is enormously constructive. I think it's very valuable to the U.S. interests. For better or worse, I've had three different ambassadorships to different U.N. bodies in Geneva, Vienna, and New York. I've been Assistant Secretary of IO. I believe in it. But you can't—first of all this whole myth of legality requires U.N. Security Council an option. This is not established international law. There have been 220 wars since World War II and Korea is the only time you had a U.N sanctioned intervention. And in Libya we had one but then some would argue we went beyond its mandate. So I think the point the U.S. shouldn't be very, very careful and try never to act unilaterally is the right impulse. I believe trying to get as broad a coalition, multilateral cooperation is valid. But you cannot allow one of five countries three of whom would never have been in the Security Council perm reps today if you had it decide how you protect your interest, which is why every republican and democratic president or presidential-candidate in 50 years has said "No, I'm not going to let them have the final say." So I just want to say respect it, use it, but it is not the final gateway of whether or not you act to protect U.S. interests and I would argue to protect innocents that are being subjected to horrific atrocities.

WOLF BLITZER: I want to ask Arwa a newsy question because it's come up over the past 24, 48 hours—chemical, biological weapons stockpiles in Syria. The Syrian regime now says they have them. Everybody knew they did. The U.S. knows where they are. They've been moving them around. Based on what you know, Arwa, and obviously it's speculative, if Bashar al-Assad and his supporters become totally desperate, do you believe they would use chemical weapons, biological weapons, nerve agents, sarin gas, whatever, poison gas, to go against those who are opposing them?

ARWA DAMON: I think it is not beyond the scope of imagination to think that there would be some sort of complete and total desperate action that is possibly taken. This is a regime that is akin to cornering a beast who is fighting for its very existence. I mean the dynamics of Syria are just so phenomenally complex. I think we can expect some sort of massive, dramatic action. Whether they would actually go that far, whether they would use it against their own people, whether they would try to strike at those who they believe are behind the uprising in another country…

WOLF BLITZER: Because I just think of the pictures and all of us remember the pictures of when Saddam Hussein's Iraqi forces used poison gas against the Kurds in Halabja killing thousands of Kurds. They used poison gas in the war against Iran in the eighties as many of you probably remember. And in this day and age, if they do that now, we'll see it. I mean, we'll get pictures. It will be a gut-wrenching moment for the entire world to see that kind of behavior and let's just hope it doesn't happen. I think we have time for one more question. Go ahead.

AUDIENCE MEMBER : Thank you. You know, especially standing here in the Holocaust Museum makes you think about what it is that we may have learned from World War II and the Holocaust. And one of the things we used to tell ourselves that we learned from that is that when you have a really dangerous, deadly regime you have to stand up to it and do it as early as possible because if you don't, it only gets worse. It doesn't stop by itself. So it is a question of whether a regime might reform itself. But when you think about Sudan we're now on 23 years and counting of the same people doing the same thing over and over again.

So even though we just had this whole discussion about regime change and how much we should use military intervention or not to support it, at least in the case of Syria today and earlier, Secretary Clinton clearly said Assad's got to go. But in contrast in Sudan I just don't understand, maybe some of you can help me understand, why it is Princeton Lyman on behalf of the United States has clearly stated that the U.S. policy is oppose regime change in Sudan. How such a fundamental thing this regime, 23 years genocide, genocide after genocide, and we still can't say he's got to go? Can you help me understand that?

WOLF BLITZER: All right, well that's the last question. Sarah, do you want to handle that? Good question.

RICHARD WILLIAMSON: I think you now have Omar al-Bashir with an arrest warrant for crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and genocide. We should be taking a much more vigorous approach preventing his travel, putting restrictions on him that we can do with a coalition of the willing like we've done on the economic sanctions to put pressure. He's suffering problems of huge demonstrations in Khartoum because of economic problems. I think the regime could be tipped over. It is really, really hard to negotiate with bad actors. I used to think that when I was practicing corporate law, but it's even worse when you're dealing with people that don't have blood on their hands, but bathe in blood. So I have great sympathy for my friend Ambassador Lyman in this situation.

But I think we should be more candid. We should be more aggressive. And it was interesting when the ICC moved against Bashir—I had a meeting in the Oval Office with the President and there were those in the administration that opposed the ICC, that thought it was too constraining on us and all of the other arguments and why we didn't join it and why President Obama hasn't sent it out for ratification either. And I said to the President, "You know when Wellington once said if he met Napoleon it wouldn't matter where he stood unless Napoleon drew a line and then all of the honor of Great Britain would require him to cross that line. So Mr. President, you can draw a line and say this is about the ICC or you can say it's about holding accountable someone who you have said has committed genocide."

And President Bush, I think to his honor, decided notwithstanding the ICC was the venue, to stand up and protect that arrest warrant, to stand up to the AU and others that were trying to get a pass on that for Bashir. I wish the same impulse existed today in the administration. I think this man is tenuous and can be tipped over but it requires leadership from Norway, Great Britain, the United States, and Sudan's neighbors.

WOLF BLITZER: All right, good. Do you want to have a final word?

STRIVE MASIYIWA: Yes, thank you, Wolf. When you say "we," you think the United States. We, it's the collective global responsibility and we must never lose sight of that. We are as a part to finding a solution as everybody else. And this is why I stress the need to engage and to look for multilateral solutions. How long should our list of bad guys be? There's a lot of bad guys out there in terms of the term "bad guys." And that is why we must strengthen the global institutions. If they're not working satisfactorily—and we all agree the U.N. could be more effective, the ICC, I hope the United States could be a greater part of the International Criminal Court than it is. Gbagbo is there right now and so is Mladic. And so we have complex challenges out there and that's what leadership is all about. But as hard as our emotions are about Bashir I'd like to see Bashir gone yesterday. And he kills black Africans, but I have to accept that these are complex issues. How many wars can you fight? Shall we go into Afghanistan? Can we go into another Sudan? South Sudan is now independent. That's progress. And you played an extremely important role in making that happen. Thank you.

ARWA DAMON: And just to add, actually on, you know, what you're saying about this collective notion of global responsibility, I do think that perhaps we are at a stage where if we do genuinely want to do something this calculation that you were talking about earlier that every nation effectively has to make when it comes to intervening in another country, when it comes to its own foreign policy, maybe it's time to change the formula and the way that we're looking at things to such a way that we're not perhaps calculating benefit, gain, loss. And that we're looking at it in a completely different perspective. Let's hypothetically assume that the Arab Spring had not taken place—the U.S. and other Western nations would still be making excuses for those dictators staying in power. Everyone knew exactly what was happening in these countries. It was no big secret that just emerged once the barrier of fear was broken. So I do think that as a global community we do need to change the formula that we're applying to this entire situation.

WOLF BLITZER: Sarah, you want to say a final word before I say goodbye to everybody?

SARAH SEWALL: Thank you.

WOLF BLITZER: Is that your final answer?

SARAH SEWALL: Thank you, my final answer.

WOLF BLITZER: I think it's fair to say and I think all of you will agree we are right now a little bit smarter than we were one hour ago, is that correct? We all learned something, right? Let me thank Rich Williamson, once again, Sarah Sewall, once again, Strive Masiyiwa, once again, and Arwa Damon, who will join me in the Situation Room later today. Thanks so much.

MICHAEL ABRAMOWITZ: On behalf of the Holocaust Museum I'd also to thank Wolf for a masterful job of moderating. I'd like to thank all of our panelists. We are done. Thank you.