R. NICHOLAS BURNS: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to the council. I'm Nick Burns. I'm a council member. And Stewart Patrick is the hero of the day, the one who's going to lead this discussion. I'm just going to give the introduction. Then we'll look forward to a good discussion with all of you.
I want to welcome all of you here. I particularly want to welcome Ambassador Tom Pickering -- we're talking about the United Nations -- our former ambassador to the United Nations. So I'm sure Ambassador Pickering will have a lot to say. And Tom Miller, who headed the U.N. Association of the United States after his retirement from the State Department. Rick Inderfurth, also very much involved in these issues. So it's a pleasure to have all of you here today.
I just wanted to say a few words of welcome and also to introduce this subject. The council decided that we ought to look at the future of the United Nations Security Council at a time when there's an obvious shift in the global balance of power under way, and when at least the permanent membership of that council, having been formed just after the Second World War, we might want to look at that to see if it's consistent with the power balance of the world of the 21st century.
And so we asked Stewart Patrick and Kara McDonald -- Stewart's a senior fellow at the council, Kara was a fellow at the council, now back at the State Department -- to look at this issue. And this report is theirs. It's not one of those council reports written by committee. It's written by these two people. It has a point of view. I think all of you have a copy. If you didn't receive a copy, there's one at the table outdoors.
And they were assisted by an advisory committee, which I chaired, a committee with a great deal of depth and experience; some of our former ambassadors to the U.N., like Don McHenry, people like Princeton Lyman, who had worked with the United Nations and at the United Nations for a number of years. And we simply met to try to give some guidance and advice to Stewart and Kara as they thought through this very difficult issue of whether or not the United States should have an ambitious view of seeing the council expanded and how you would do that; what is the math of getting to 128 votes in the General Assembly, to make the necessary amendments to see the council expanded; and whether or not there should be conditions placed on new members or a criteria-based approach given to the selection of new members. All that will be made clear by Stewart in a moment.
Our advisory committee did not have one point of view. We had about 20 members, so we had about 14 points of view. We never tried to bring the group to any -- a common viewpoint, and so I'm not here to voice a singular opinion from that group; I can just voice my opinion and introducing Stewart. My opinion is that the United States ought to be taking the lead in modernizing the most important international institutions that are vital for our national peace and security.
We've already seen both President Bush and now President Obama decide that the G-8 can no longer be the adequate forum for discussion of global economic policy. President Bush essentially made that decision just after President Obama's election in November 2008, when President Bush hosted the G-20 meeting -- the first G-20 meeting, in the middle of the financial crisis. President Obama has cemented that change, along with Hu Jintao and the other world leaders.
I think a commensurate move by the United States to think through broadening the permanent membership of the Security Council, leading that effort and making the case that the council is no longer representative of power as it exists globally in the world is no longer as effective as it should be. I think that's something that the United States should undertake. And I said my piece in the meetings, but this report is very much Stewart's and Kara's.
Kara, unfortunately, could not be with us today because government duty pulled her away, so Stewart's going to speak for both of them. I'll give him the microphone and then I'll just ask for comments from all of you and we'll have a good discussion. So thank you again for being here.
STEWART PATRICK: Thank you so much, Nick.
All of you who know Nick Burns and have come to respect his work and expertise over the years know why he was the ideal chairman for such an advisory committee. As usual, Nick, with an expertise in multilateral diplomacy, managed to steer a very constructive but not always like-minded group of interlocutors, with really quite diverse political points of view and initial opinions about this, towards, I think, a document that, although we didn't ask them explicitly to sign off on every bit of it, I think that by and large most were quite happy and could certainly live with the conclusions we came up with.
Again, apologies that Kara could not make it. She was called in -- she's the deputy coordinator for Haiti now and was called in, obviously, in the aftermath of some of the violence in the election and also the ongoing cholera situation. I also want to thank Paula Dobriansky, who served as a member on the advisory committee with us.
I do also want to just make the point that this meeting -- it's in the notes, but unlike most council meetings, is on the record. So we probably will be doing a transcript of it. But we encourage frank and candid exchange of views anyway.
Our basic argument here is that the U.S. should take the lead in proposing a modest expansion of U.N. Security Council, to incorporate critical rising but also critical -- but also potentially established powers as new permanent members. We do, however, argue that for any such enlargement to be in the U.S. national interest, it's terrifically important to be able to have confidence in the behavior of those powers once they would come on the council, and that they would actually assume the weighty obligations of membership as guarantors for international peace and security. So what we do in the report is we call on the Obama administration to develop a long-term roadmap towards enlargement based on agreed membership criteria.
What we're trying to do in this report is to try to shift the conversation from a conversation based on entitlement to one based on responsibilities. And by doing that, we think that the United States would be in a better position to ensure that new permanent members accept not only the privileges but also the burdens of power.
Now, we're not Pollyannish -- when you read the report, you'll note that we're not particularly Pollyannish about the costs and benefits of enlargement or the ease by which the United States could actually engineer such a thing. Obviously, many schemes over the years have been hatched for how this might happen.
But we do think, as Nick suggested, that the long-term interests of the United States and also the international community require a Security Council that reflects a world of 2010 as opposed to 1945. And we also believe that determined U.S. leadership could help break this logjam. We also importantly argue that U.S. advocacy for such an agenda could pay some diplomatic dividends whether or not enlargement actually occurs.
Now, until the president's surprise announcement in India, which delighted New Delhi, and then his follow-on statement about four or five days later in Tokyo, that reaffirmed the historic U.S. position for Japan's Security Council seat, the administration actually has been largely silent on the topic. And this is a little bit ironic. You know, as Nick notes, one of the major themes of the Obama administration, of course, has been the need to adapt and reform institutions of international cooperation to reflect the rise of new powers. And he mentioned, of course, the creation of the G-20.
But then there's also been quite a move within the international financial institutions, including some elements of the United States, playing hardball this summer with respect to European representation and trying to accommodate rising powers within the international financial institutions, particularly in the International Monetary Fund.
You know, so why this guarded, reticent approach to council reform? Well, I think it's pretty obvious. It may be obvious to many people in this room, as well, that -- they may have the same opinion. But for many members of the Obama administration, and I think across the U.S. government, there is a sense that, yes, distributions of power are changing, but there is major doubt as to whether or not any conceivable enlargement could work in U.S. national interest in terms of having the Security Council deal with the problems on its agenda, on the one hand; and then even if it is, there are lingering doubts about whether or not it would be possible at all for the United States actually to effectuate these changes.
And we try to offer what we consider a sober analysis on the main arguments for enlargement. So we go -- we run through those. And we basically find that not all of them are equally compelling. Proponents of enlargement typically, or often, argue that the U.N. Security Council is suffering from a crisis of legitimacy, that it's no longer as effective as it might be, given its geographic representation and its composition, and that its relevance is actually declining. We go through a number of those arguments and basically are skeptical of them.
We think that the argument for legitimacy based upon -- which tends to be couched in terms of regional representation -- is problematic. We remind the reader that basically the U.N. Security Council, the permanent membership is about being a guarantor of international order; it's not about representing Latin America, say. To the degree you want to get regional representation, you should be looking at the elected members of the council.
Nor do we believe that the council is particularly declining in relevance. Not only are countries attempting to get on the council in sort of a furious pace every year when there's a new election, but the big problems, even though the United States and other countries make use of different multilateral frameworks, the big problems tend to fall at the address of the Security Council.
And then finally on the issue of implementation and effectiveness, it's true, no doubt, that the Security Council has problems with implementation of its -- of its resolutions, but linking that to actual composition and the need for composition reform, the connection there is not as persuasive as it might be.
So although the council is not currently experiencing crisis, we also don't think that the long-term trajectory is particularly sustainable, and we think that there are both practical and geopolitical reasons for the United States acting now, when it has a window of opportunity, when it remains the most powerful country in the world, when it can actually shape the debate and in the contours of what occurs.
Just at a basic level, to be the custodian of international peace and security, the United Nations needs to be able to draw upon the political support and the material contributions of the most powerful countries in the world. That's basically our bottom line.
Now in 1945, the primary criterion was basically political-military power, the ability to deter and, if necessary, wage and win war. There's an open question as to whether or not one should be looking a little bit more broadly for the relevant aspects of power these days. Obviously that remains an important precondition or (that remains ?) an important attribute you would like to see in permanent members, but there may be others too in terms of technological, economic and other diplomatic prowess.
There's also a powerful geopolitical argument that we make, which is that international politics historically has been particularly turbulent in situations where there's -- where there are dramatic changes in the -- in the distribution of power and where international institutions are not adapting to this.
Now, we don't take a "Cassandra" position either, that -- you know, that the sky is falling and that we are in the midst of, you know, a 1930s sort of crisis and that the U.N. Security Council now resembles the League Council. But we also believe that the longer this and that the greater this divergence, that what you're going to find are rising powers and leading powers looking elsewhere at -- for different fora, not investing in the United Nations and not giving it their political support. At some stage there will be a crisis.
So, again, as I said, our argument is that at this stage, the United States has a window of opportunity, and that this is not a magnanimous gesture on the part of the United States. It's, in a sense, an institutional bargain. The goal is to give critical, emerging and established powers a stake in the current order so that they actually -- so that they buy into global arrangements as they exist currently and they provide their own contributions to global public goods, including obviously international security.
Okay. Well, even if change were desirable, there is a major question as to whether or not the United States can effectuate this in a complicated diplomatic landscape, and we acknowledge the enormous hurdles to charter reform that Nick basically introduced. You know, the charter has only been revised three times during its entire existence, including in 1965 after a two to three year campaign to enlarge the council from 11 to 15 members with the addition of four elected members.
Now, two -- a couple of years ago, negotiations moved from the aptly named "Open Ended Working Group" up in New York, which had been going on forever, to "Intergovernmental Negotiations." Now, this is perhaps a reasonably small victory, but it at least raises the possibility that you could actually get a vote brought on a particular reform plan. That being said, the -- basically through -- I think it's been five rounds at this stage, there have been -- of negotiations -- it's basically been a restatement of the main positions, and those, as you know, are the Group of 4, G-4 position with a -- led by the main four aspirant states, the so-called uniting for consensus position, led largely by the regional rivals of those major aspirant states, and the African Union, which is stuck in a very maximalist and quite unrealistic position at present.
Obviously pivotal in what's going to happen will be the attitude of the permanent members, and here, obviously, Britain and France are the most forward-leaning. An issue we may want to discuss is European representation on the council, which is an issue in the U.N. Security Council, as it is in many other international institutions -- you know, perhaps forward leaning undoubtedly because there's a certain sense of vulnerability of those seats. But they have actually proposed an interesting compromise position, which would be a long-term interim status, potentially renewable longer-term seats, elected seats, that the final disposition of which could be ultimately dealt with in a -- in a -- in a review conference.
Amongst the other P-5, the Russians and the Chinese, obviously the most skeptical -- the Chinese favoring something along the lines of uniting for consensus position, that there should be 20 elected members, lots of representation for Africa, et cetera, but not at all enthusiastic about new permanent members; and the Russians being -- having a somewhat similar position in terms of no more permanent members and obviously being very guarded with the veto.
Now, to date, the Obama administration, until its India announcement, had basically taken a line that was very similar to the Bush administration, and continues in a lot of ways to do so. They basically had broad statements of support for an expansion in both categories of permanent and nonpermanent seats. And there are five parameters basically that they say: that any enlargement should not diminish the council's effectiveness or efficiency; that it names specific countries, that is, there will not be any so-called framework proposals that allow regional blocs to choose what -- who their representative would be; that candidates be judged in their ability to contribute to peace and security; and that there be no changes in the veto.
Now, the fact that both the Bush administration and the Obama administration, despite their -- certainly the rhetorical level, rather different approach to international cooperation -- suggests something of a common assessment of the likely rewards and risks of enlargement. I mean, from a U.S. perspective, arguably the best -- the best scenario would be, just bring on the G-4 countries, I mean, in the best of all possible worlds. You know, in that regard you'd have two -- almost -- I mean, two quite consistent votes in support of U.S. policies, not without occasional problems, but in the form of Germany and Japan, and then two others -- two other democracies, India and Brazil, that quite frequently would line up with the United States. The difficulty, of course, is that the requirements for U.N. General Assembly ratification would undoubtedly push those numbers higher and push elected numbers higher as well.
Our report believes that the United States has enormous stakes in an effective U.N. Security Council. And despite, you know, like, recurrent frustrations with the way the council operates, particularly deadlock amongst the P-5, it is -- the United States returns to it again and again. And this is something that both the previous administration and the current one found.
The big questions are, what would be the effect on -- the effectiveness of -- how would enlargement influence the effectiveness of the council and what behavior could we -- believe we could see from any aspirant state.
Now, this question of effectiveness is a tricky one. Certainly in terms of efficiency, decision making will get tougher, but I want to make a distinction between efficiency and effectiveness. If you have a bunch of countries that are accepting their responsibilities as global stewards and are able to bring their capabilities to bear, then an enlargement could -- would not necessarily hurt effectiveness. It is true that vote counting could get quite difficult and vote counting gets -- in terms of blocking or winning coalitions. And that -- the higher you get in numbers, the bigger the -- the bigger the risk there.
But certainly, which states are around the table: Is this important as how many? And here there's a question. You know, the optimistic case would say -- and I'm just -- we'll just take the simplest case of having, say, the G-4 countries, and let's throw in South Africa as well -- the simplest case -- I mean, the optimistic case would say, hey, these guys are all democracies; they'll tend to line up alongside us. The more skeptical case, particularly for the developing country representatives, is that many of these countries are G-77 countries, in some cases nonaligning nations, countries -- all are G-77 members -- and that in -- there's often a major distinction between how these countries deal with us on a bilateral basis, which is often very close relations, and how they deal with is in a multilateral framework. So the question is, what kind of behavior could we see from them?
This leads us to our criteria-based approach. Given that U.S. interests in enlargement are based in a sense on the future behavior of aspirant countries, we basically call for a discipline criteria-based approach to enlargement. And this is basically designed to ensure that these countries have a commitment and a capacity to defend international law and to contribute to regional and global stability.
And we have a number of criteria that we've put out there. Some mixture of these -- you know, these are all criteria subject for debate, but we want to put them out there.
One is a history of political stability. Another is globally or regionally deployable military or relevant civilian capabilities that could be placed at the -- at the disposal of the -- of the United Nations pursuant to U.N. Security Council resolution; financial contributions to the regular budget and peacekeeping budget; a demonstrated willingness, importantly, to make use of the coercive powers of the U.N. Security Council, including sanctions and perhaps the use of force if necessary.
This is important because a number, particularly, of the G-77 countries have a -- sort of a generic unwillingness or skepticism about making use of the council's (chorus ?) of powers. I think that's a deeply problematic -- we think it's deeply problematic.
A diplomatic capacity to staff the U.N. and also staff U.N. activities globally, I think, is very important; and a record of conforming to global security regimes, including nonproliferation regimes. This obviously is an issue, outstanding lingering issue, with respect to India.
So right now, we basically say it's hard to define any country, necessarily, aspirant country, that could make all of these criteria, but by trying to establish these criteria, you could usually shift the focus of the conversation from one based on entitlement to qualifications, provide some level of incentive; you wouldn't a priori be excluding any aspirant, which might help you a little bit in terms of the very poisonous debate up in New York.
So this is -- this is the general -- this is the general idea. Now, just in terms of their recommendations, and then I'll finish; we believe that the U.S. -- that enlargement of the U.N. Security Council has the potential to advance U.S. national interests, provided it adheres to certain parameters in terms of size on the one hand -- in other words, it's not too big -- and second, that it promises to harness emerging and, of course, any established powers that would join, to responsible global effect. And none of the major proposals that are out there right now would do that.
And we acknowledged that the risks of taking -- the United States taking this on are relatively high, but we believe that the rewards are also potentially high and that this will only get more difficult with time as power diffuses to other parts of the world.
We have basically five recommendations -- five or six recommendations. The first is basically to launch a more serious inter-agency effort to try to actually study these things and what the implications would be; play out different scenarios in terms of voting with different forms of membership, play out what a strategy for trying to build international consensus would look like, ascertain what U.S. -- absolute U.S. red lines would be in these things. My understanding that in the run-up to the India announcement that the U.S. government did -- went at least some way towards studying some of these things, looking at how -- what countries had sort of a -- both in terms of what their capabilities are, and then also what their behavior is -- how they might be expected to behave as members of the Security Council and playing out different scenarios. I think a lot more of that needs to be done.
The second, on the basis of that -- provided that the conclusion is similar to our own conclusion -- the president, we believe, at -- perhaps at the next U.N. General Assembly could outline a -- basic U.S. support for a modest enlargement of the Security Council based on agreed criteria.
The third would be -- the third element is basically a -- initiating dialogue in capitals with the P-5 and the major aspirant states. Now, we call for discrete dialogue. You know, in the week -- in the last couple of weeks, the notion that any dialogue could remain discrete -- (scattered laughter) -- has perhaps become a little too fanciful to imagine. So undoubtedly, you know, we understand that in any -- in any sort of scenario, undoubtedly, this stuff gets into the bloodstream and gets into the media, et cetera.
The key is that these dialogues happen at the -- absolutely the highest level: the presidential level, head of government, head of state level. And the idea here is ultimately for the P-5 to serve as something of a credentials committee. Now, this is far easier, we recognize, amongst the P-3, but we also concluded that at the end of the day, if there was sufficient momentum, Russia and China would not wish to be isolated and be seen as blocking U.N. Security Council reform. That's our wager. You know, I understand others may differ in that regard.
We also think that this has to be a major item on the agenda of each of the strategic dialogues that the United States has with major emerging countries. We have -- we have to have these dialogues with virtually all of these countries, and it -- and it has to be there. The reason for making it -- the P-5 a credentials committee is so that this isn't entirely seen as a made-in-the-USA enterprise, which, again, has its own diplomatic problems.
Fourth point is preparing ground with Congress. Obviously since the Treaty of Versailles, through the Kyoto Protocol, through the new START treaty, the need for bipartisan groundwork has been apparent in major new U.S. international engagements. I mean, this is going to require a Senate treaty ratification. That is no mean hurdle. We also talk about some reforms that could be done with -- to U.N. Security Council working methods, but we don't kid ourselves that those sorts of reforms would satisfy the major aspirant states.
And then finally, we talk a little bit about identifying alternative fora, for instance, at the G-20 or others in which one might encourage responsible behavior amongst emerging powers and also gauge the willingness of these countries to begin to contribute to international public goods. That being said, I think there is a danger without movement on U.N. Security Council reform that you start to get a -- quite a large migration over time of the agenda of the U.N. Security Council towards frameworks like the G-20. I think to some degree that's inevitable, just like the G-7, G-8 has taken on some of those things over the years, but there's something unique, obviously, about the charter-based nature of the U.N. Security Council. And as Nick said in introduction, it's probably time for it to look like the world that exists today.
So that's our ambitious scheme. Thank you very much.
BURNS: Thank you. Stewart, thank you very much. We're going to go to our discussion, but I thought I might just take the prerogative of the chair to make three quick comments based on what Stewart just said. Then I'll be very interested to turn to all of you.
The first is history. There is a history here, as many people in this room -- Frank and Tom Pickering and Paula and Stape (sp) and others -- I'm sure know, many administrations have worked on this. I can just speak from the perspective of President Bush's second term, when very early in 2005, Secretary Rice decided that we ought to be supporting U.N. Security Council expansion. And that became the position of the administration. It was never a priority; it was never led with a lot of vigor, certainly not by the president, but the -- Secretary Rice and the president and people like me had very specific discussions with the governments of India, Japan and Brazil -- those three specifically -- about whether or not we could support them for Security Council membership.
We were -- so there's a history here, and the Obama administration can build on some of that history, and it can be bipartisan. I don't see any reason why this ought to be a partisan fight as we enter into this debate. That's the first point.
The second is that I think many prior administrations have been concerned with effectiveness. And Stewart quite properly frames this as a question of effectiveness and legitimacy. And from the position of one of the permanent members, the United States, we certainly did not want to see -- when I was working for Secretary Rice, we didn't want to see the council become ineffective because -- due to a large expansion. And so I think our position was, we could support perhaps four or five new permanent members. Interestingly, as that debate ensued, all of the prospective members said privately and publicly that they would not insist on the veto, should they gain membership. And that, I thought, made this discussion easier. And the modest size of any expansion would ensure at least a modicum of effectiveness for this council going forward.
The other point I wanted to make is that we were also concerned about legitimacy. And I think that Americans in particular need to reflect on the fact that much of the rest of the world, particularly the emerging powers, do not see the council as a legitimate instrument of global power; not when Japan, the largest contributor to the U.N. system, second to the United States, is not on the council; not when India is not on the council. There's no African country represented on a permanent basis on the council, and Brazil's not on the council. And we didn't support in the Bush administration the G-4 proposal at the reform summit of 2005, in particular because we felt that Europe was over-represented on the council.
But certainly I think that administration, and I suspect this administration, given the announcements of the last month would see India and Japan and Brazil as likely new members, and certainly an African country or two African countries as likely new members.
So it's really not hard to see the outlines of a proposal that could move this forward on a more practical basis at the United Nations. The difficulty is the debate at the General Assembly and the getting to 128 votes. So to start this conversation, I thought we'd just focus -- would should focus on a couple -- at least these questions: Is this the right proposal for the United states, the one that Stewart and Kara have made in this council study. Should there be a criteria-based approach? Is that the right conditions-based approached? Because some of the countries who want to join the council do not believe there ought to be conditions placed on this debate.
Third, how monumentally difficult is it going to be? And there we might turn to Ambassador Pickering -- (chuckles) -- to tell us not just how difficult, but how extraordinarily difficult it's going to be to engineer any kind of practical vote that would succeed.
And finally, from an American perspective, which countries ought we want to see on the board -- on the council, excuse me -- going forward? There was a big debate in our committee about whether it was in the interests of the United States to see countries come on that don't regularly vote with us on important U.N. Security Council votes or General Assembly votes. Some people felt: Well, the countries will work their way into membership and that the behavior of certain countries would be affected by the fact that they were permanent members. Others felt that that should not be assumed and that there should be an indication, perhaps in looking at their voting record in other U.N. institutions or international bodies -- indication of a more -- of greater willingness to work with some of the permanent members before those permanent members would vote for them.
So I just wanted to stress again in closing our advisory committee was advisory to Stewart and Kara. We did not have a uniformity of views, but there was a sense that we need to engage on this issue, and that without American leadership there is no possibility for this issue going forward. And it's been very striking to me to see -- and Stewart mentions it, I think, in the forward to this report -- that just the declaration by President Obama in Delhi about a month ago that the United States would support India for permanent membership has sparked this debate again.
So it's a very good time for this report to come out. And again, I want to thank Stewart and Kara for their excellent work in bringing it about, after about a year's worth of effort.
And I think, Tom, we should -- Ambassador Pickering, we should start with you and address all these questions, if you would. (Laughter.)
THOMAS PICKERING (vice chairman, Hills and Company): I'm not sure that this works but --
BURNS: It's on, actually.
PICKERING: Okay. Nick, thank you very much. You looked enough in my direction that I had to make some notes here, to be defensive. (Laughter.)
First, let me thank Stewart and Kara for an interesting report. I've just had a chance to glance at it, and I apologize for not having read it. And if I say something that totally misunderstands what you have, you'll forgive me. And I say what I say in a sense of humility because this is a very tough question, as you've said.
Let me begin by saying I think that, with all respect, the council didn't ask entirely the right question. The council asked part of the right question, but it's subsumed, in my view, in the right question. And Nick, you mentioned it. It's been a bugbear that's been around for a long time. But it is in what I would call the strategic interest of the United States to have a Security Council that acts effectively and responsively to U.S. interests. That's not something that anybody can guarantee particularly forever, but it is significant; and therefore, the question of enlargement needs to be played against that. And my argument would be that enlargement is one part of it; maybe not necessarily the whole and most significant part of it, but a piece of it. And what you've done is extremely useful and it raises the question.
Secondly, I think, in general, what you have had to say, to me, makes a lot of sense, but it doesn't go far enough in some of the analysis that I think has to be made here and some of the home truths that have to be faced, not just the legislative difficulty of getting this through. My own feeling is that there is no enlargement without complementary expansion for the other players. The other players can play a significant role in the acceptability of this, particularly if in fact they become a mass in favor that can influence Russia and China, who are not oblivious to their interests; that it goes without saying that P-5 unanimity has to be achieved. And the really interesting question is, can it be achieved by force majeure; can it be achieved by negotiation? We, ourselves, have in the past -- when Dick Holbrooke got the money back, he committed himself to a 22, 23, 24 upper limit for the United States. And we're on record there, and you perhaps have already got it. But I think it's important to keep that in mind.
The ghost at the picnic -- which is usefully suppressed by all of us up until now, but in my view, if you raise this question, will not stay suppressed -- is the veto. I have peculiar ideas on the veto. My own view is that in a number of circumstances, and perhaps for the foreseeable future, the veto works against American interests more than it works for American interests. This is particularly true on things like genocide. It may be particularly true on state-to-state aggression, and it may be true on nonproliferation. Indeed, we can only look at the historical record of how to deal with Iran to see in fact that we have not been among the foot-draggers.
I think there are a number of ways to address the veto. The veto might well be an important bargaining chip in the process. The great difficulty is that it is at the moment totally lunatic, bordering on the, I think, certifiable, to believe that any of us will ever give it up. And as a result, it would take a huge leap of faith and an enormous amount of effort to make that happen. And it could happen and come only if it becomes basically the single most significant deciding factor in making something happen that would be a totality of Security Council reform. It's a dream world to believe that the council will always operate in our own interests and will always operate in a way in which we would like to see it, or that there is some magic formula that we can apply on a consistent and foreseeably always-the-same basis that will make that happen.
We need to look at that in terms of the veto question -- my last remark on the veto -- if only because we see ourselves moving into a world where our preponderant -- the preponderant beliefs that we espouse and the values in which we operate move rapidly into the minority. I'm not sure that's the case, and it's a very tough judgment; but if it is that judgment, then we have to leave the veto alone. I think if we leave the veto alone, our chances of getting significant reform at the council diminish.
There's one other irritating issue I'll mention, and then a few other thoughts. And that's the council having moved, particularly since the beginning of the early 1990s, from specific actions and resolutions keyed directly to issues, case-by-case, of threats to peace and security, to general legislation. And that's an irritating factor for some of the purists -- Mexico, in particular; but others. And it would seem useful for us to think about whether for the foreseeable future there could be some kind of understanding that -- and this is a -- I hate to make this argument, because it's a kind of John Bolton-type argument; and my fondness for John is unalloyed, but my fondness for his ideas is equal and opposite. (Laughter.)
But in a sense, we should reach some understanding of how and in what way we reach for general principles, and on what subjects, at least to have some knowledge ourselves, because we run several risks. We run the risk of having the council continue to pass things that nobody (obeys ?). And this is the greatest factor undermining the council today, and it's very significant. And we risk -- we run the risk of having the council have supreme legal legitimacy under the charter, and absolute fecklessness in terms of its operation in the international sphere.
The second set of questions we need to be very concerned about is war -- in my view, the international legal regime is moving to close in on wars of choice -- and that the legitimacy for wars of choice is increasingly now circumscribed; and that the bases for going to war in a legitimate way have to be self-defense, maybe expanded -- and some of our legal advisers will talk about it from the old days, when basically you had to be physically attacked to operate under self-defense -- and Article 42, Chapter 7 kinds of actions. And my feeling is that that's becoming the legal norm. There'll be plenty of arguments that it never will be. And that can be buttressed and strengthened by regional organizations, but Chapter 8, in my view, kind of irrevocably on the face of it rules out the notion that they will have a preponderant and dispositive voice in going to war. And we need to be careful about that, and see how it's going to go.
I'll finish now very briefly. My feeling is that a not ideal circumstance is, but probably a totally impermissible one -- would be to have a kind of G-20 operating under the charter; that is, a sort of legitimacy. And I think, Stewart, that's what you have sort of said, in a slightly different way. I think that the notion of moving in the direction of reform by small steps is not a totally bankrupt idea, and that the fundamental piece there is rotating longer-term memberships for aspirant states. It gets us a control over size, but it changes the balance.
And I don't believe for very long the small states, the developing states of the world will sit by and basically be satisfied with that kind of effort. Because, in effect, in the long run the large majority of states turn out to be represented, instead of once every 25 years, once every 72 years, or whatever statistics you want to lose -- use.
I finally think that European membership is nowhere in sight in terms of a common foreign and security policy as a basis. On the other hand, it is not totally illogical to think that in the course of some kind of reform, either seriatim or as part of the total reform, the Europeans could be persuaded. And the fact is that they have presented an unmanageable proposal, but at least "have presented an unmanageable proposal" is an early indication that they see their vulnerabilities in this regard and perhaps we could be persuaded to go along.
Finally, how to succeed. I really don't know. I think that I suggested earlier that the large majority of states could possibly have some influence if Russia and China were holding back on a consensus among the P-5. And how to operate that would be an interesting opportunity. I can go back to the repeal of Zionism as racism, where our tactic was not to take the resolution to the General Assembly until we had enough cosponsors to pass it. And I suspect on anything like this kind of reform, you would want to do something like that, so you would have to build up privately the preponderance of support. And it would be a huge job and a very expensive one. And even if, in fact, all five were working to mobilize that, which we know probably would not be the case -- it would probably be three against two in that kind of issue -- that would move.
Then, of course, you were left with the wonderful piece of having a reform halfway through the process, because then you've got to go to the ratification processes of a significant number of the 191 current members actually to get it through. And you can imagine that everybody will be waiting to see what the U.S. Senate does. So you're quite right in pointing the importance of that. But my feeling is that this, instead of being a three-year proposition in 65, kind of gets multiplied, maybe by a factor of three; I don't know.
So with all of that optimism -- (laughter) -- why are we meeting? Because, of course, it's a very important issue. And to go back to Stewart's original piece, it's important because this is the one area where we have the potential for a legitimatizing series of international activities. And if we can work to promote that and bring people along -- not only do you have to get resolutions, but you can have people follow -- this is an important factor in international relations, which I think is one of the potentially significant and instrumentally very, very important questions for the 21st century, where you have a whole series of issues that will, one way or another, want to be solved, hopefully on a basis. And the notion that 15 can speak for the whole in some of the most critical questions facing the world is not, in my view, something you want lightly to toss aside.
BURNS: Tom, thank you very much. Your comments help us to frame the entire set of issues, so we're really grateful to you for that intervention. I just want to say, if YOU don't know how to succeed in getting 128 votes, it's hopeless and we have no hope.
But the one thing I'd just say -- I think you're right to stress P-5 unity here. And at least when I was working on this issue, it was clear to us that Britain, France and the Russian Federation had a point of view that they were in favor of enlargement of the council, that each of them had made public announcements about who they could and could not support -- we were the country late to that part of the drama -- and that China and State might be -- might want to comment on this.
China was conspicuously silent, publicly and also privately. And China very much took a retiring point of view here. But our assumption always was -- but State will correct me if I'm wrong, if that was a false assumption -- that should the four arrive at some kind of agreement on a -- who should constitute -- which country should constitute a modest enlargement? China would not seek to block that. But I'd be interested in your views, Dave, whether that's the case, and particularly the case of India. And then when State finishes, what I'd like to have you all do is just let me know, by putting your placard this way, who'd like to speak. We'll collect some questions for Stewart, and I'd answer at the end.
QUESTIONER: I'll just comment very briefly. The bugaboo for China has been having Japan come into the Security Council under circumstances where Chinese-Japan relations are not good. It secondarily applies to India as well, but it -- Japan is much more the neuralgic issue, because there's much stronger domestic constituencies in China. So China would have to be answerable to a domestic attitude on the question if it were to support Japan coming in.
It is true that China does not like to be isolated in the -- in the P-5. So if Sino-Japanese relations were moving on a positive track, and particularly if there had been some frictions in U.S.-Japan relations, there's a possibility that China would be prepared to go along with it because of the pressure from other sources to expand the council. But if Sino-Japanese relations are bad, China has the moral fortitude to stand against the other four and block Japan. It was quite clear when we had Germany and Japan linked together that, at a time of real tension in Sino-Japanese relations, it was going to go nowhere, and it didn't matter what the voting balance was on the U.N. Security Council.
BURNS: Thank you, State.
QUESTIONER: Thank you, Nick. I'm delighted to see this council report, because I am a veteran of the open-ended working group on Security Council reform. David, you remember '93 through '97 --
QUESTIONER: I see the scars still. (Laughter.)
QUESTIONER: I'm sorry?
QUESTIONER: I said I see the scars still.
QUESTIONER: The scars are there. We actually called it the never-ending working group. (Laughter.) Working group on Security Council reform. And in fact, I even had one moment when, delivering the annual General Assembly address for the U.S., I ad-libbed my approved State Department remarks. We were endorsing Germany and Japan for a permanent seat, and I had the temerity to ad-lib to say the United States "enthusiastically" supports Japan and Germany, whereupon I saw Ambassador Fulci of Italy making his way down the aisle. (Laughter.) They never let me forget it. "Why did you -- it's not in your printed remarks. You said -- why did you say enthusiastically?" Actually, he called me Ambassador Enthusiastic ever since then. So I have that.
So with that having been said, I'm delighted to see that serious --
QUESTIONER: (Inaudible) -- deal.
QUESTIONER: -- I'm delighted to see this kind of interest being shown on the subject.
I do want to agree with Nick on your comment about legitimacy. I do think this is about longer-term legitimacy. I did a piece a while ago in the L.A. Times and making all these points. They simply entitled it, the piece, "Too white, too small." And I think that sort of captures that concern about legitimacy.
I also think that on the issue of the veto, which is, you know, hovering, I look forward to reading what Stewart and Kara wrote about the veto. That is the big one. And I too was encouraged by the fact that the four aspirants -- Germany, Japan, Brazil and India -- agreed, much to my surprise, to, you know, not dwell on that. I think they said, Look at it again in 10 years, but we will accept a permanent seat without insisting upon the veto. So I think -- that, to me, opened, unlocked one of the most difficult pieces of this.
Now, in response to the question about criteria-based approach, I jotted down the criteria. I'm not sure that the permanent members of the council to date could meet those criteria themselves. That's a problem. You can't have, you know, a criteria for some joining that those who are currently members could not themselves then be on the council.
So I think that -- in looking at the criteria, I think the better way to look at that is -- I'll take you back to something else we did: PDD 25 peacekeeping. So if you hear -- remember that? We tried during the Clinton administration to devise criteria for how to approve peacekeeping operations.
We were under a lot of pressure from the Hill that we were approving everything that came through. Peacekeeping was on the increase, numbers of missions. And then we hit some bumps with UNPROFOR, and also with Somalia. So they said, you need to have criteria for how you're going to approve this.
The reason I mention that is that a lot of people saw that as placing a straitjacket on the U.S. ever approving any peacekeeping mission. I didn't see it that way. I saw those as factors to be considered in the deliberations for the U.S. decision. So what I would recommend in terms of the criteria, that that be looked at not as they must meet each and every one of these, because that would be tough to meet, but these are the kinds of considerations that should be taken into account as the general membership looks at the expansion of the council. So I would have a looser usage, if you will, of those criteria.
Two final points. One is the need for a -- laying the bipartisan groundwork. Yeah, the interagency needs to get to work on this, et cetera, et cetera. But the bipartisan nature of this in Congress, I cannot tell you the nightmare it would be if the U.S. took the lead on this, and then got all countries engaged and votes in the General Assembly, and then it comes to the U.S. Senate, and they refuse to ratify it. Let's don't go down that road.
QUESTIONER: Let's don't do that to ourselves. International criminal courts, new START treaty, it doesn't seem that we can get anything through the Senate. So if they don't -- if we don't have the buy-in before that there is interest in considering this, then I think that we are -- would be performing a disservice to try to raise the expectations that we're going to be a leader of something that we could not see through to the end.
So I don't know how you do that, but 67 votes --
BURNS: Can I just ask you to clarify your position? And thank you for your comments. So you're not saying the United States shouldn't lead. You're saying we shouldn't lead without being prepared to have had our own debate and discussion --
QUESTIONER: Oh, absolutely. No, I'm all in --
QUESTIONER: -- favor of taking this on, and leading, and actually doing that. But we really do need to be -- have some -- we can't be certain -- but to have some sense that we could actually see it through the end. And actually that leads to my final point.
Is there any -- is there any view that this administration has any appetite for taking on this kind of major diplomatic effort in its last two years of this term? I have not heard anything. Maybe others have. Maybe there is some interest. If it's not, then this is a great report and useful for at some point when we do want to do it. But I don't -- I have not heard anything that this administration's interested in this issue. So thank you. A little bit too long. I'm sorry.
BURNS: No, thank you. And some good questions at the end.
QUESTIONER: Yeah, thank you. Just one brief observation on what Rick said, I don't think there's any way realistically of arriving at any assurance as to what the United States Senate will do no matter what we do by way of prior consultation. For one thing, it won't be the same Senate. So it's -- that's just built-in to our constitutional processes. And the prospect of having 1919 all over again is just something that we have to live with if we go down this route.
I think having listened to what Tom said, with which I agree entirely -- I can't imagine anybody here would be optimistic that in the short term we could succeed if we lead this effort -- that leads to a different question, which may have been focused and discussed in this report -- I haven't read it so I don't know. And that is whether it is in the interest of the United States to sponsor Security Council expansion and reform -- along the lines of what you're suggesting, there might be some modification, et cetera -- even if we believe we don't have any realistic prospect of succeeding in the short term.
I would argue that it is, because I think the United States aligning itself with these new powers, seeking to manifest their greater status in the world in a significant way is a positive thing. It furthers American foreign policy interests, even if we have little prospect of succeeding in the short term. I don't there's any indication that the Obama administration's going to take this on as a major priority, which would be required, surely. But on the other hand, to put forward a sensible, constructive position, which recognizes the aspirations of very significant powers in the world and entirely legitimate aspirations, I think aligns us with the future in a way that is very supportive as far as American foreign policy is concerned.
On the other side, of course if we don't succeed and we've tried, then I think we would have to -- I would certainly realistically assume that we will not succeed, at least not in the short term. Is that a hit on us? Is that something we want to do even if we think we're not going to succeed? Those two considerations, it seems to me, need to be balanced out. I myself would favor going forward because I think there's a great deal of positive energy that we can gain in terms of our foreign policy by supporting constructive reform.
BURNS: David, thank you very much. I can just say in 2005 and '06, it was very much part of our thinking that we had to recognize publicly what we saw as the legitimate global role of some of these emerging powers. We wanted to be associated with it. And I suspect that was at least partly the reason for President -- I suspect; I don't know -- for President Obama's announcement in Delhi. It's a really interesting point.
QUESTIONER: Yeah, I -- just picking up on both Rick and David's comments and the always very important comments of my old boss Tom Pickering, I think -- and I haven't had read that; I just leafed through this thing. I think what is needed is a little bit more on the how. You've got a lot on the what. But the how gets to your questions of -- and this is -- this is absolutely the worst time in the history of mankind to try to push this issue right now. We just had a president who's having his own party run out on him on the -- on the tax issue. But that doesn't mean you don't plan for a time when there's perhaps a little bit more momentum than you have right now, and that will come around. Everything in American politics does come around.
What I would like to see in this thing, and a little bit more, perhaps not today, but discussion later on is the how, because I think that's -- I think that's very, very important. There's always an assumption that the U.S. will lead. And I would even question that assumption, or at least question the assumption of how we lead. Sometimes standing out there, as many of us who are at embassies getting the demarche, you know, we realize it was the worst thing you could possibly do. And there are different ways to lead. And perhaps coming up with a better game plan, a more sophisticated game plan, then we will take the lead in this very complicated world.
So my suggestion, Stewart, is if you could address a little bit, you know, in whatever subsequent work you're going to do of the how, how you get about, you know, bringing this whatever the what is, you know, to a point of success. Politically, it's a total loser right now in this country, but that doesn't mean that the timing won't be better, you know, at some point in the future.
BURNS: Thanks, Tom.
QUESTIONER: Hello. Since it's on the record, I should specify I'm from the French embassy. I just -- first, a quick word on Europe representation, because it's been addressed, I remember being in charge of this issue some 10 years ago. And we basically -- I had many discussion on that issue, people saying that France and the U.K. were the two most reluctant permanent members, and that's because they were feeling vulnerable. (Laughter.) And now we are said to be the most looking forward, and pushing forward countries, and that's because we feel vulnerable. And actually since the mid-'90s, we've been pushing forward a U.N. Security Council enlargement. So I don't know whether we have the good reasons for that, but we've been on that track for more than 15 years now, and pushing in that direction without suspension.
And we also agree that Japan, India and Brazil should be a permanent member. We support a permanent representation for Africa, but we also consider that Germany should be a member. And that's not because we think that Europe is underrepresented or should be more represented. It's because we agree with what Stewart said about the fact that it's not about entitlement. It's about responsibility. It's about contribution. And we feel that Germany has a responsibility, and is contributing, and we want to push that further in the right direction, as we deal with Japan or with Brazil and India and potentially some African permanent member.
But I have two questions. I'm going to spare you the longer version of that. The first thing is about the U.S. leadership, the feeling some people have -- I've been hearing that for some years now -- is that if there's some kind of U.S. leadership, right now it's reluctant.
This is the place where people used to talk about the reluctant sheriff; it could be the reluctant leader. And the recent support about the India candidacy would be a case in point, that it's because the relation with India is so much important; it's because the recognition of India's role on the international stage is so obvious that President Obama has been carried to that point. But basically, what comes next? What's the follow-up of that declaration? As far as we know, there's nothing clear.
So I would wonder whether you would agree with this characterization, and what do you think -- would that reluctant leadership be enough, or what would it take to go to a more bold -- to a bolder leadership?
And my other question is, we've been discussing a lot about the leadership from the U.S. I was wondering what you think is the role that the candidates to permanent seats should be. What is their part in the leadership, the reform? Thank you.
BURNS: Thank you very much.
QUESTIONER: Yeah, I'd like to actually introduce a flat recommendation that the U.S. should not lead. I'm in favor of the enlargement, but I think for all the reasons that Tom laid out and others that it's very unlikely that this would proceed very quickly. I think it could backfire domestically in this current political season.
But I also think that the whole question of legitimacy of the U.S. leading in this would be put in question. There are still very raw feelings about a war of choice that we went on, which was in defiance of international law, which was in defiance of U.N. sentiment, and I think there'd be a lot of people that would resent the U.S. leading on this and dictating the terms -- at least, they would think it -- of the criteria and so forth in terms of just U.S. national interests.
So I think, in terms of what some of the other people were saying about more on the how, that we should put more energy into thinking creatively about some form of collaborative leadership in favor of this. I think it would diminish the kind of backlash you might get at home because I can see people who would be -- who are just anti-U.N. saying, well, we're basically negotiating the terms of our own surrender to rising powers. Which is not the case at all, but I can see that argument being made at home. And I can see that the U.S. stature would be in danger if people would just say, the U.S. doesn't have any moral basis for leading on this, given what it did in Iraq.
So it seems to me that there could be some collaborative caucus or collaborative group, including the aspirant nations, that could form a contact working group or something that would form a bloc in favor of this. And I think it would be a lot more in U.S. interest to lead by stealth, if you will, than to just take a kind of unilateral position that we're going to be bold on this and we're going to really try and stake a ground that this is a U.S. proposal. I'm not sure if we really want it -- that we want to put that stamp "Made in the USA" on it.
So the whole question of leadership in the traditional way, I think I would argue against it and argue that we should try and promote it, but promote it in some sort of collective, creative assembly of nations, which even if then it fails, we've already established relations with these states, worked with them collaboratively and really, I think, scored more points with them.
BURNS: Thank you, Pauline. Very thoughtful, thank you.
QUESTIONER: I want to follow up on what Mr. Birenbaum said, in a sense, and what Pauline said as well. I mean, it strikes me, when I think of Mr. Birenbaum's proposal, that possibly the best position for the U.S. would be to lead up to the point where we think we're going to win, and then back off so that we actually don't win internationally, because it'll never get past, you know, internally. So we -- do we get the benefit of, so to speak, of kind of coming out in favor of, you know, closer relations with certain countries internationally and maybe win them that way? But we don't want to go so far. I know that's rather cynical, but at least it made me wonder, in terms of your proposal.
On that, it raises the question in my mind, though, is whom do we anger in the process of all of this? In other words, we're talking about the United States kind of winning friends and influencing people, but it strikes me there are losers, you know, in this as well. Argentina maybe, South Africa, certain other countries. And when we weigh as to whether or not we should kind of make a push in there, who loses in this and how much should we weigh that into the consideration?
And also, then, is the solution to that being maybe -- I don't know, I think you have five here at the end. I just quickly looked. You know, your G-4 plus Nigeria, maybe raising the Security Council to 20, but then maybe as a -- not a sop, but by saying, say, okay, let's raise it to 25, so that some of these other countries that maybe might have lost have the prospect of being on the council more often than they might have been. I don't know, I'm just wondering about that whole picture.
BURNS: Thank you very much. Frank.
QUESTIONER: I want to focus on the how. When I read this, or looked at it earlier, I had -- I liked what it said, I had exactly the same nightmare as Rick did. That is, that we would launch an effort and that we would actually fail to be able -- in an effort to get ratification. And I think Mr. Daniels' solution is clever, but maybe too clever by half, of leading up to the point where you're about to win and then backing off.
My sense is that just -- that this is -- this is a very useful blueprint, but in terms of action, the U.S. should not take a single step toward leading unless it is a bipartisan step from day one. I think what -- in the area of climate change that I've spent more time on -- what would have been different if Al Gore had, instead of taking the position that he did early on -- which was the right position and which made a lot of difference -- if he had had next to him a Republican partner? I don't know. Maybe nothing would have been different, but I sort of think it might have been. And I think this in that sense like that. This is kind of a noble, correct position, but I don't think it's in our interest to push it very far unless you have some chance of actually being able to ratify whatever emerges.
And right now, I would say, without starting the way I suggest, we don't.
BURNS: Okay. Thanks, Frank. Steven.
QUESTIONER: Thanks. I actually come from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the moment, so I thought maybe this would be a good opportunity to say a couple of things. I actually do not disagree with anything that I've heard in the room, and I share the caution that's around here. I would offer a few points.
I think first, there's a question of how important is this issue in terms of our relative priority of multilateral treaties or frameworks that we hope to push in the coming years. So for example, is this the single most important thing, multilateraly, that the president would want to push versus, say, Law of the Sea or something else? And that's, I think, determination one.
Determination two is, even if we do have a strong bipartisan partner, such as Senator Lugar, which is what we're seeing with START right now -- despite that being the case and despite the establishment standing in support of START on both ends, from Kissinger on down, you're still seeing an extremely difficult effort with a huge amount of political capital being spent by the president with results that, you know, I think are favorable as of in the, you know, last couple of days, but not guaranteed. So does that same equation come into play when it comes to this issue?
And then, you know, I think even on the substance of what happens here I think there are a lot of basic questions that will come to the fore. First of all, who are we actually looking at? If you're looking at expansion with countries like Germany and Japan, it's certainly an easier thing to sell, I think, to the Senate. If you look at something -- say, India and Brazil together with Japan, then all of a sudden, you know, in terms of relative benefit and strategic interest and what that means, it becomes a much more difficult conversation.
And then finally, if you look at something even like the veto issue, you know, you have, I think, sort of a couple options. If you say, yes, they come in with the veto, I think that is something politically that will be extremely difficult within the Senate. If you say, though, on the other hand, no veto, then you're essentially creating a second-class status for permanent members, which, you know, in terms of our own international goals and legitimacy, may be undermined. So you don't have an easy, I think, balance either way.
I frankly think in the last two years, in the last session of Congress, we've done a really good job on our end of managing U.N. issues. And I say that because we've managed to take most of the controversial issues and not have them debated. And to me, that's frankly a win. We've seen the amount of amendments that, you know, would slash our, you know, contribution to peacekeeping and whatnot sort of go from your norm of 10 or 15 to two or three.
And I think that's a positive, and that's kind of a sad, you know, lowest common denominator way to look at it, but to raise this issue in the coming years, I would proceed with caution. I'm not saying it can't be done, but certainly you're also opening the door to a wide variety of U.N.-related issues that may not even be specific to this, but certainly sort of, I think, percolate in the ranks of conservatives who have a natural distress for the institution.
BURNS: Thank you very much. Yes?
QUESTIONER: Just two quick observations. One on a point that's been brought up by several people about the need for a bipartisan support. Obviously, it'd be terrifically difficult to get this through the Senate under any circumstances, but bipartisanship would certainly help. And a lot of historians believe that 1919 would not have happened if Senator Lodge had been a member of the delegation that went to Versailles. That would seem to be a lesson that could be learned and applied.
And then what Tom said about a deal, I think, is very important. You don't make a deal unless you give something up. You don't just put the pieces together to make a total win proposition. And the veto clearly is the point of probably most interest for most of the other participants in that deal. It would be terribly difficult, obviously, to get an agreement through the Senate in which the United States gave up the veto, but there may be a lesson that can be learned from what I understand to be European Union voting procedures: Except for a certain number of defined cases where you simply have a weighted voting system, any member state can indeed veto a proposition in the union, but it must declare that it's a proposition that affects its very fundamental, basic interests. In other words, it can't be a 60-40, we think it's better to do it this way or slightly worse to do it that way. It has to be a fundamental national interest.
And if that was applied either by a treaty revision or just by a unilateral declaration of policy, it would probably mean, for example, that the United States would have a difficult time casting a veto on a resolution that, let's say, criticized some Israeli action in Gaza. That would be something that went to a fundamental U.S. interest.
So a watered-down veto, but still a veto, might be something that you'd have to take a look at seriously if you're going to have the components that could make a deal.
BURNS: Thank you very much. If no one else would like to speak, I'm going to give the floor to Stewart.
PATRICK: Oh, it is Paula -- Paula, I think.
BURNS: Oh, I'm sorry, Paula. I didn't see that.
PATRICK: Yeah, she just -- she just put her hand up.
QUESTIONER: I was hesitating, but I will -- I'll just make the comment from being on the council and the committee. First I do want to commend you, Stewart, and also Kara for the product; Nick, you for your stewardship, because, I will say, I think the group did have a very vibrant and very spirited and wide-ranging debate and discussion. In fact, listening to the comments here, I think that many of the points that many of you put forth, actually the group did grapple with extensively. So from that standpoint, I think that you did really yeoman's work in trying to find the right balance.
I'd only make two comments. One is one the congressional side. I think that is a very important component of this. And I actually think -- and, you know, the recommendation, in beginning a process of discussing, debating, holding hearings, is a good one. I don't think that -- maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think that there was a sense that this has to be advanced to the top of the queue. Maybe when you uttered the words "law of the sea" -- and I see Frank Lloyd down there and also Tom Pickering, others on this -- we want to see that through.
So having said that, the second piece is -- well, the first is on the congressional, I do think that there's an opportunity here to have a discussion. There's a momentum, given -- I think some momentum, given the administration's position that it did take in the announcement with respect to India. Having said that, the other piece of this is what Pauline mentioned, and who goes, who leads on this. I think that's the other important element of this, which I think many of us discussed. And, you know, I think the feeling was, it's important the U.S. is part of it, but not necessarily that the U.S. lead. At least that's what I came away with. And I again go back -- I think that the recommendations, I think, are balanced in that sense, that to put ideas on the table and the fact that all of us feel that this is important enough to move on, recognizing there are going to be some very significant challenges along the way; but if we don't move on it, it's not going to go anywhere. And I think that that's going to be unfortunate, but there are a lot of different trip wires as we go along, and I think there was clear recognition to that.
BURNS: Thank you, Paula. Stewart.
PATRICK: Thank you. And Paula, thank you very much for participating as an active member of the committee.
I just want to address a few of the issues -- so many things put on the table. Let me just start on the congressional piece. I would say, in general, absolutely the invocation of Versailles, and maybe if Lodge had been included -- it's actually interesting that the Roosevelt and then later Truman administrations learned that quite strongly. And when you look at the lengths that Cordell Hull went to include Republican members, bipartisan congressional members, during the discussions, during Dumbarton Oaks, for instance, where you had Tom Connally, but you also had Arthur Vandenberg and a number of very prominent Republicans involved in that from the get-go, from the ground floor, which isn't always something that administrations of either stripe have done. I think it's extremely important.
I do think that with the changing environment on Capitol Hill, and particularly with the GOP takeover of Congress, it's going to be interesting to see whether or not U.S.-U.N. relations, generally speaking, are in for a rockier road. Over the past couple of years, there have been fewer, you know, hearings devoted to malfeasance; waste, fraud and abuse; peacekeeping problems, et cetera, than there certainly would have been, one imagines, given the -- you know, the long-standing critiques of many Republican members about some of the shortcomings of the U.N. as an institution. And so I think that that is also another part here.
Bipartisan -- just to pick up on a couple of Steve Feldstein's questions or comments, bipartisan partners are very important, and it has to be more than Senator Lugar, I think that, you know, notwithstanding his tremendous leadership in these issues, it just needs to be broader.
In terms of the appetite of the administration for these things, my understanding is that the administration, in the lead-up to India, did do some blue-sky thinking about these things, looking both at structurally what might be -- what countries might qualify and then what countries might have some shortcomings behaviorally.
And the difficulty, of course, is that -- is that now that -- you know, if we go down this road in terms of a criteria-based approach, I think that there's some question in the administration of how specific they have to get -- they would have to get, and how quickly. And there's a problem because, as was pointed out, that, you know, with Germany and Japan, you know, they would be -- they're pretty ready in a lot of ways, in terms of meeting many of these -- maybe not all of these benchmarks, certainly. But it gets more complicated with some of the emerging powers, and how does one try to navigate that, if you actually set out specific criteria?
A few other points. I think that the -- there has been amongst the G-4 countries I think something that's hopeful; is that amongst the G-4 countries there has been greater flexibility in terms of accepting -- maybe even in a few cases accepting, or moving towards accepting, rotating, longer-term seats as sort of an interim option. I think with the Indians that still remains significantly problematic, and the veto issue also remains problematic. But there has been some flexibility with -- I think is useful.
I also think that among -- when you look at the coalitions up in New York, that the Uniting for Census coalition is not a particularly large one. It tends to be influential. And this, just to pick up on what would U.S. advocacy do, what would be some of the down sides to it in terms of our diplomatic relations, I think here that is an important issue. You know, we have a lot of fish to fry with the Italians, with the Indonesians, with the South Koreas, obviously with the Pakistanis, with a number of others. I don't think that should necessarily stop us, but, you know, when you think about the G-20, not all of those countries but a number of those countries, the middle powers, rising middle powers, are also in that configuration. And, you know, there certainly will be some diplomatic fallout and consequences. The good thing about the criteria-based approach is that it doesn't out of the blue rule out any of those countries. So it's -- I'm not sure that's going to mollify Mexico or Argentina, but it doesn't necessarily rule them out -- or Turkey, for instance.
A few other issues. You know, European membership: I agree that, you know, despite the Lisbon Treaty, there is no inclination that there's going to be any unified European representation any time soon. I think that the euro crisis is leading to a re-nationalization of European politics in many ways that will make that even more difficult.
I think that, again, thinking about what's feasible in terms of the how, as I mentioned, the Uniting for Consensus coalition: not as strong as it sometimes likes to make itself out to be. I also think that the -- in terms of king-makers being -- you know, going back towards -- to what Tom Pickering said about at the U.N., that could you get a situation where you are -- you're sort of forcing Russia and China's hand, in a sense, because you've got a momentum that's getting up towards 128, or however many countries? The AU bloc is an interesting question. They're stuck into this esuinic (sp) consensus which, again, is, you know, two -- at least two African permanent members, with veto, et cetera. It will be interesting to see whether or not, if South Africa, conceivably Nigeria, another African -- major African country, begin to press a bit more on that, if -- whether or not you'd actually start to see an erosion of that consensus.
Just a couple more issues. I mentioned the administration appetite. Again, I think that, you know, the administration is torn very much between, on the one hand, recognizing that something needs to be done, they'd like to, it fits with their broader global institutional reform agenda; but I think that the -- there is also a recognition that up at the U.N. there are enormous fish to fry on a daily basis, and how does this actually -- how do you deal with the urgent at the same time as you're dealing with the important?
There are many more issues that I could address, but I think, in the interest of time and to give Nick a chance to weigh in, I'll turn things over to you.
BURNS: Thank you very much. This has been a very helpful discussion. And as Paula said, it does reflect the discussion that our advisory committee had for the better part of a year on these issues. And I just wanted to say in response to those who raised the veto, there has been a breakthrough, as of 2005-2006. Germany and India and Japan and Brazil have said they would not insist on obtaining the veto, should they become permanent members. And so for those of you who believe that's a barrier, that barrier I think has effectively been dealt with.
Second thing I'd say, Manuel, thank you very much for being here, and thank you for giving us your views on Germany. It's nice to see French-German solidarity in the EU. I think the more -- there is a --
MANUEL RAPNOUIL: (Off mic) -- the limits of the re-nationalization. (Laughter.)
BURNS: (Laughs.) Yes. The one word of caution I'd give, as someone who greatly admires your country, is -- and Europe -- is that there is a feeling in this -- in debate in the U.N., as I participated in it, that Europe is over-represented on the council. I mean, when Europe is so well represented, and India, Japan, Brazil and Africa not, the more countries support Germany, the more some of the emerging countries say: Why won't France and Britain agree to a single U.N. seat, if you're aspiring so much that Europe's view be heard? So it's just a double-edged sword, I think. I'm sure you are well aware of that, and experience that in this debate.
I also wanted to say, on this question of U.S. leadership I'm -- I very much agree that this has to be a collective enterprise. I think Tom's point that he made at the very beginning of this that the council -- the permanent members, the current members have to unify, is well taken. I think there are four who are thinking along the same lines, so it's really a question of working with China.
PICKERING: Three-and-a-half. (Laughter.)
BURNS: I think they're -- the Russians are getting there. They're getting there. So perhaps, three-and-a-half to four. (Laughter.) But I think it's a question, Stape, of working with the Chinese towards a consensus. And that would make this much easier.
But having said that, I think the role of the United States in putting together any kind of solution, if one is to be reached, I think is undeniable. And I don't think we should shrink from that. And despite some of the unhappiness over the Iraq war and others, I think -- my sense is -- that's a little bit of history, now. And particularly with President Obama in office, there is a sense that the world is looking for direction on this and other issues from the Obama administration. So I guess I would -- I'd put more weight on vigorous U.S. leadership, in a larger collective.
I want to thank everybody for coming today. It's been a fascinating debate. I hope you all read this. It's an excellent report by Stewart and Kara. And I want to -- on behalf of the council, want to thank them again. Thanks very much.
PATRICK: Thank you, Nick. (Applause.)
MR. : Nick, China can always be persuaded. If you give them two or three permanent seats, they'll be much more reasonable on others. (Laughs.)
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