SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN:
When I accepted this invitation I expected to be talking about the ABM treaty, about our military priorities in the context of an evaporating budget surplus, or about missile defense versus the more urgent threats we could face—and now, in fact, do face. I thought the questions I might be asked would be about strategic doctrine, about relations with traditional adversaries like Russia and China, and whether the Yankees will win another World Series. I certainly did not, for one instance, think we'd be here today wondering about our short-and long-term goals in a war against terrorism: Will we succeed? How long will it take? What constitutes victory? But those are, in fact, the questions facing the United States, and, I confess, they're not easy to answer.
First, our immediate goal is to cut off the head of Al Qaeda, break up the network, leave them no safe haven. That means the removal of Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and the Taliban leadership. I don't know how long it will be before the regime is toppled. I wouldn't want to guess. But the handwriting is on the wall. They've lost the support of their key sponsors and are essentially isolated. But some of these sponsors may need reminding that they've got to make a clear break with the past, and we should not hesitate to spell that out. After Al Qaeda and the Taliban fall, and— to use the phrase of the day—we drain the swamp, the medium-term goal is to roll up all Al Qaeda cells around the world.
Then, with the help of other nations and possibly with the ultimate sanction of the United Nations, our hope is we'll see a relatively stable government in Afghanistan— one that does not harbor terrorists, is acceptable to the major players in the region, represents the ethnic make-up of the country, and provides a foundation for future reconstruction. In the long term, our goals are easy to articulate, but much more difficult to achieve. We'll need to deter any potential state sponsors of terrorism from providing support or haven to future bin Ladens.
We'll work with others and try to help rebuild a politically and socially stable Afghanistan that does NOT export terrorism, narcotics, or militancy to its neighbors and to the wider world—more like it was in the 1950s. We'll need to stabilize Southwest and Central Asia and prevent the Talibanizing, if you will, of Pakistan and other countries. And we'll need to address some of the economic and political forces that can be manipulated by men like bin Laden. We must do this with the full awareness that attention to social and political development alone won't prevent another bin Laden from emerging. But, at least, it will severely limit the pool from which he can draw recruits and support.
If we're successful in prosecuting this effort in Afghanistan, it ups the ante for other nations harboring or sponsoring—directly or indirectly—other terrorist groups. The President believes, and I agree, that we must stay involved in the region, not necessarily with American troops, but with American leadership, and resources. The President has repeated many times, and it's important that we say it over and over again: This is not a war against the Afghan people or any one faith. This is a war between nation states and transnational terrorist organizations, between civilization and chaos. We need to remind the world's 1.2 billion Muslims—the vast majority of whom are sickened by the attempted hijacking of their faith—that our beef is with bin Laden and Al Qaeda, not with them.
American policy has long been marked by a blend of the Wilsonian trend and realpolitik, but whatever our motive, it has not been guided by religious imperatives. When we sought to bring peace and stability to the Balkans, the Muslims in Bosnia and Kosovo were the primary beneficiaries. When we went into Somalia, our aim was to feed starving people who happen to be Muslims. And, when we provided 170 million dollars in humanitarian assistance to the Afghan people in the last year, it had to do with our principles, and the people there were Muslim, too. Unfortunately, we're doing a terrible job of disseminating information. We have to take a fresh look at public diplomacy and determine the most effective ways we can get out our message. But I'm under no illusions. Winning the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in the Islamic world is an uphill battle, but one we must undertake.
We must enhance the means we use as well as the message—whether it's people to people visits that explain our principled respect for the diversity of all faiths and cultures— or radio and television broadcasts that inform and ultimately empower moderate Muslim voices. What we cannot do is let the Taliban wage the same propaganda war Saddam waged in Iraq, with photographs of mothers and children scrambling for food and endless footage of destroyed buildings—all designed to portray America as anti-Islam. That's a bald-faced lie. Regardless of whether we succeed in getting our message out, the truth is, we CANNOT and we certainly WILL not walk away from seven million displaced and desperate Afghans surviving on little more than grass and locusts. We must do more to help the Afghan people, and we must do FAR more to make our aid visible across the Muslim world.
I'm reluctant to use the word "nation building" because it's such a loaded political term—but, if we leave Afghanistan in chaos, it'll be another time bomb waiting to explode. And there's an enormous powder keg right next door in Pakistan. If we think we have a problem now, imagine a nation with six times the population of Afghanistan, a nuclear arsenal, and a Talibanized government. To avoid that scenario, we have to work with the World Bank, the IMF, the U.N., other NGOs and our allies, especially those in the region, to help build an infrastructure in Afghanistan that works. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said it will take nearly $600 million just to get the Afghan refugees through the winter.
But that's only the beginning. In the long term, Afghanistan will need to find a way to break the hold that the madrassas have had on a generation of young men. They will need to educate a generation of young women, to give them the tools necessary to seize the rights so cruelly denied them under Taliban rule. They'll need to de-mine the most heavily mined nation in the world. They'll need crop substitution programs to rid themselves of the title of the world's foremost producers of heroin and opium. They'll need wells, water purification centers, hospitals, village clinics, even simple roads from one town to the next.
I commend the President for promising $320 million in Afghan aid. In my opinion, this might be the best investment we could make. I say this notwithstanding the many obstacles to achieving these goals that exist in a region that has not proved fertile for incubating democratic institutions. Clearly, we can't do it alone. As demonstrated since September 11th, it's even more obvious, at least to me, that our national interests can't be furthered, let alone achieved—in splendid indifference to the rest of the world.
Our interests are furthered when we meet our international obligations, keep our treaties, and engage the world. Far from the black and white of campaigns and up against the gray of governing, it's much easier to see the virtues of multi-nationalism and the shortcomings of unilateralism. The same tools we used to build this coalition may, in the long term, help change the dynamics of bilateral relations, and present real and unexpected opportunities to define this new century.
And by the way, the Administration has figured it out.
Where the Administration may have once been tempted to see only strategic differences with China over national missile defense and Taiwan, today there's a growing recognition that we have common strategic interests as well—like fighting terrorism and maintaining peace and stability in Central Asia. Where the Administration may have once seen relations with Russia through the prism of the Cold-War, today there's the promise of entering into a fundamentally different relationship with the Russian Federation.
Where the Administration may have once viewed relations with Iran within the confines of a twenty-year time warp, today Iran has signaled a desire to at least explore a relationship based on newly defined common interests. They've even said they would assist in search and rescue operations of any downed American pilots. Clearly there's an internal rift in Iran. The reformists would like to go further. All they could get through the system was this modest gesture. But because the system operates on consensus, I'm virtually certain Khamene'i approves, which is significant in itself.
Let's not be under any illusion that there will be full blown rapprochement with China, Russia, and Iran. But if we do this right, if we look at our adversaries in a new light, there will be much to build off in the future. This weekend the President was in Shanghai for the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. He met with China's leaders, who now see more clearly than ever the threat posed to them by the proliferation of nuclear, chemical, biological, and ballistic missile technology. I guarantee that Jiang Zemin can imagine a plane crashing into an 80 story office tower in Shanghai. I expect that China's leaders will never think of their nuclear and ballistic missile exports to Pakistan in quite the same way.
Working with China against terrorism, however, does not mean jettisoning our concerns about China's human rights record, or overlooking proliferation. In fact, we may need to remind China's leaders that respect for the human rights and religious liberty of China's Muslim minorities is not only morally right, but also essential if we are to deprive the terrorists of recruits. In Russia, President Putin has emerged as a strategic thinker who realizes that, in order for Russia to advance into the ranks of highly developed nations, he must cast his lot with the West. Putin recently said "Today we must firmly declare: the Cold War is over."
And with respect to our efforts in Afghanistan, he said "I have no doubt that the U.S. leadership and President Bush will do their best so that the peaceful population does not suffer, and they are already doing their best."
Putin is willing to confront entrenched, reactionary domestic opposition when necessary. He overruled his senior military, and gave the green light for American planes to overfly Russian territory and to permit troops on former Soviet territory in Central Asia, actions virtually unimaginable not long ago. We have a genuine opportunity to pursue a new relationship with Russia, and we should. If the news out of Shanghai this weekend is accurate, it may well be possible to reach agreement on mutually limiting offensive capabilities and allowing Tests of missile defense systems.
I hope the President will resist those in his Administration who would have him risk squandering this opportunity by withdrawing unilaterally from the ABM treaty. I've always said: nations, like people, use crises to resolve differences, or create opportunities. In the case of Russia, we have a momentous opportunity. It may well be possible to deal not only with strategic forces, but also with NATO enlargement and our non-proliferation concerns. That new relationship could shape this half-century as the Cold-War shaped the last. Three days ago, Secretary Powell said in Shanghai, "Not only is the Cold War over, the post-Cold War period is also over."
If the Administration proceeds pragmatically, rather than ideologically, the new era could be good, indeed. But let's remember that Russia is not the only country that matters in developing a new strategic doctrine. We must take care not to provoke a major Chinese arms buildup, which could lead to more nuclear arms in India and Pakistan. We need the help of both in the war on terrorism. And nobody needs more nuclear weapons along a border that is already getting too hot for comfort. The time is right to consider joint efforts to reduce strategic arms; commit to a joint program to combat terrorism; develop a bilateral plan to prevent other countries or terrorists from gaining weapons of mass destruction; find ways to counter infectious disease epidemics and clean up the residue left by our weapons programs. And we should do everything we can to help Russia stay on a path of economic and political growth and stability.
Once the foundation of cooperation is firmly established, we can pursue missile defense— if that's what we want—without rocking the boat of strategic stability. Look, in the long-term—even if the coalition breaks down—we'll have the potential opportunity to create a new day of enhanced bilateral relations with China, Russia, and maybe even with Iran.
So, in the short term we want to eliminate bin Laden and his top aides and remove Mullah Omar and the Taliban leadership. In the medium term, we'll need to establish a relatively stable regime in Afghanistan and roll up Al Qaeda cells around the world. And in the long-term, we have to deter state sponsorship of future bin Ladens, help rebuild Afghanistan, and stabilize Southwest and Central Asia.
What will be much more difficult, will be to clearly identify and address some of the root causes of this hard-core, hate-driven zealotry so we can limit the pool from which another bin Laden can draw recruits.
The list of root causes is long—from the lack of legitimate channels of dissent in the Arab world, to desperation, resentment at American material success, a perception that our actions don't match our ideals. All of these issues are worthy of our attention, but they can never be excuses for terrorism.
Which brings us to Israel.
Let me just say, Israel did not produce bin Laden, and we can't let Israel be the scapegoat. We are in a tough stage right now, and there are many cross-winds buffeting our relationship, but our friendship with Israel is not a transitory event, a marriage of convenience, or a short-term alliance. Differences are normal even among friends, but airing them in public is never useful. Surely there are sufficient channels to communicate our views. Let us not create any false impressions about the fundamental, long-term basis upon which the U.S.-Israel relationship rests: we continue to be bound by unshakable, shared democratic values. After all this, the question remains—what constitutes victory in the war on terrorism?
If we cut off the head of Al Qaeda, help to rebuild a stable Afghanistan, and if, in the process, we find a way to stabilize the relationship between Pakistan and India, and enhance bilateral relations with China, Russia, and Iran, then we have achieved a victory that may well define the 21st century.
In sum, just as we could not have put together a viable coalition if President Bush had already walked away from the ABM treaty, so too will we have trouble nurturing future bilateral relations if we decide, when the crisis is over, to go it alone, again. We should be figuring out right now how we revive the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Biological Weapons Treaty, move on arms control proposals that go to Start III, environmental treaties, and how to amend—and not jettison—the ABM Treaty.
Before I take some questions let me leave you with these final thoughts. On September 11th the world changed for the terrorists. It was, I believe the beginning of the end of a way of life, not for America, but for international terrorism. Out of our dark grief our nation is newly united and abroad we have new opportunities.
As my mother says, "Out of every tragedy, if you look hard enough, you can find one good thing." Or, in the words of another great Irish poet, Seamus Heaney: "History says, don't hope On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme."
I truly believe, notwithstanding incredible difficulties we face in doing even half the things I mentioned here, that we're on the verge, if we do it right, of making hope and history rhyme. But we cannot squander this opportunity. I believe the President has made a genuine transition in his thinking on foreign policy.
I hope I am not kidding myself. If he has, I think not only will he go down as a great President, I think we will have marked the beginning of a new era in international relations.
The following transcript of the Question and Answer period has been provided by the Council on Foreign Relations. The moderator is former Congressman Vin Weber.
VW: Thank you. It's my job to screen questions for the Senator without trying to get too much between the questioner and the answer. Under the rules of these engagements, when I call on you will you please stand up and state your affiliation, and try to state your question as concisely as possible. To get things going, though, I'm going to take the prerogative of the Chair and ask the first question. Senator, you talked at some length about some possibilities in terms of relationships around Russia and other places. Talk about a place where there might be some strains, the American people at least are being fed a significant diet of negative information about our relationship with the Saudi's and their relationship to terrorism over these past many years. Is there a deeper problem there than we thought, and how should the American people and the government think about that relationship?
JB: I've been admonished to make the answers very, very brief, so I will make them brief, if you want me to expand I will attempt to do that. Number one, I do not doubt the pressure that the Saudis are under, like other Arab states in the region, having to essentially buy off their extreme groups in order to maintain themselves. But the Saudis have gone above and beyond the call in destabilizing the region, in my view, in terms of essentially funding a significant portion of what we are now dealing with in the extreme example of Islam gone awry.
It's one thing to decide you're going to export Wahhabi Sunnism, by setting up Madrassas around the region. Okay, I get that. But what I don't get is setting them up where they have a third feature: that they're a hate-filled, anti-American breeding ground. I think we should have a very simple, straightforward discussion with the Saudis and they should understand that they have a hell of a lot more to lose in the breakup of the relationship than we do. That is taking a great risk.
I am not sanguine about the fact that we get 1.6 million barrels of oil a day from there, but I would be prepared, were I the Secretary of State, or I was in another position, to tell the Saudis: Don't push it. Don't push it. Cease and desist on this activity. There will be consequences. At any rate, that's my view.
SR: I'm Steve Robert of Robert Capital Management. As I listened carefully to your address, which I thought was very good, it seems the center of gravity in the debate over missile defense has changed. Because while the opponents of missile defense prior to September 11th would have just probably said it's a foolish idea and the wrong priority, what you seem to be saying is that, it's almost inevitable if we also cut nuclear arms stockpiles, renegotiate the arms control treaty and the strategic arms treaty and so forth. So is this in fact what you mean to communicate, that we're now just talking about how we get to missile defense, as opposed to whether we should have missile defense at all?
JB: What I'm suggesting is, and it's a very good question, what I'm suggesting is, we should be prepared to explore, assuming we can amend the ABM Treaty to do the exploration, whether or not a viable missile defense system is feasible without starting a new arms race, and without producing an economic hemorrhage of a half a trillion dollars with little return on our investment. Right now we're caught between the rock and the hard place.
In order to go forward, according to this administration—and I think they're inaccurate—but the gentleman sitting behind you has forgotten more about this issue than I am going to know. But in order for them to go forward with the testing program they have in mind, they can do it without having to violate the ABM Treaty. But it has become sort of religious doctrine on the right that the ABM Treaty is, per se, bad.
I'm hopeful that we're at a place now, where the President, if we in fact—and I happen to support significant further reductions in all offensive capability—if we get the Joint chiefs to agree upon a number significantly below where we are, I'm willing to go along with an amendment of the ABM Treaty, assuming that we have scrubbed this in a way that we understand what the likely response in China will be to such a system.
If in fact, notwithstanding the fact that the Russians would agree, this will start a significant—and our intelligence agencies publish widely, and I can only tell you what was in the paper, only confirm . . . I won't confirm, I'll state what's in the paper—that they will do ten times as much as they would have otherwise done in offensive capability if we build such a system.
If we cannot get through that wicket, then it seems to me it is not worth a candle. The cost is not worth it, and the consequence of going forward with the limited benefit that would flow from it may very well start that arms race which I worry most about in the most dangerous part of the world. It was dangerous before, and it's considerably more dangerous now.
So I cannot fathom India sitting by if China rapidly racks up their nuclear capability, and I cannot figure Pakistan doing the same, and so I see it as a disaster. But this is a beginning step, and I guess the polite way of saying this, I'm happy the President seems to be moving in the direction where he may not unilaterally walk away from the ABM Treaty. That's a big deal.
VW: I want to go to Rita next, but if there are other questions on either strategic defense or the ABM Treaty, I'll take them now, before we leave that topic. If not, we'll go to Rita.
RH: Rita Hauser. You didn't mention Iraq. Do you see Iraq in the second stage as a target for the terrorists counter-offensive, and what is your view on the continuation of our policy of sanctions?
JB: I happen to think that the sanctions policy needs to be changed. The Secretary of State has discussed a smarter sanctions policy. I thought he was going in the right direction, I was hoping that it would be embraced, although I now think there's an opportunity to embrace it because the dynamics have changed in Moscow, and the dynamics have changed in France, and the dynamics have changed in China somewhat, and I would further explore going back to that approach, that is, a smart sanctions policy.
I'm of a view that what has changed has all been bad from a Iraq standpoint, for the Iraqis. The idea now that we are going to just disregard what Saddam has done, walk away and just seek economic opportunity, as some of our friends and allies have done, I think is being reconsidered in those very capitols. Rather than have a second phase, the way in which the press uses it, and I assume you're talking about, that is, after we finish with Afghanistan, do we invade Iraq? I think that is not the prudent approach.
I think what we attempt to do is to build a coalition, reconstruct a coalition that is tighter and stronger and with more demands placed upon the behavior of Iraq. My view is, if we're able to do that, and the behavior is still as bad as it has been in the past, you will be able to much more likely generate a consensus on at least standing by as we took action, or having multilateral action. But to just go from here to there I think would be a disastrous mistaken in the near term.
VW: Go back to that table. I'm going to try to move the audience as best I can.
FW: Frank Wisner from the American International Group. The current crisis . . . (Overlap)
JB: Why are you taking folks out of Delaware? We want to talk about that . . . (Laughter) . . . I want to know this, Mr. Ambassador, this a parochial, this a serious stuff. (Laugher) I'm only joking . . . (Overlap)
FW: . . . we have commitment . . . (Overlap)
JB: . . . I just want to kind of throw you off. (Laughter)
VW: . . . He's not really joking. (Laughter)
JB: . . . Former Congressman, I can tell you, I'm worried about it, but . . .
FW: Senator, coming back to the subject of your terrific speech today, (Laughter) . . .
JB: It went from good to terrific. (Laughter)
FW: This crisis has brought to light other tensions, and among them has been the sparking of tension between India and Pakistan, with very heavy Indian shelling, acts of terror in Kashmir. As you look at that aspect of the challenge to American diplomacy, what message do you have to the parties in the region, how they can get on top of the problem they have and the role the United States can play?
JB: Let me answer it in reverse order.
The role of the United States. The United States should stay engaged the way the Secretary has gotten engaged in the last week. It's made a difference already. I think there has to be a clear understanding, both in Delhi and Islamabad that we are interested, we are looking and we are watching.
Secondly, I think a message should be delivered very strongly to the Indians, do not attempt to take advantage of the circumstances this moment, it's against your interests across the board. And thirdly, we have to make clear to the Pakistanis that, notwithstanding the fact we need you very much right now, you are in a position where if you are going to continue to foment the terror that does exist in Kashmir, then you are operating against your own near term interests, because that very viper can turn on you.
And I think we have to talk and talk and talk and talk, and engage and engage and engage. Because as you well know, part of the cry on the part of India has been, just somebody pay attention . . . or excuse me, in Pakistan, someone pay attention. And on India, we don't want any part of anybody being involved and looking at any of this problem.
The truth of the matter is, the whole world is looking at their problem now in Kashmir, not just us, the spotlight is on and the consequences for how they will be treated relative to all other nations in the world is very much up in the air right now, and they should be made constantly aware of how tenuous the circumstance is for both of them. In this case, particularly India . . . in my view, particularly India.
VW: Can I follow up on that myself? Because at the beginning of this administration, the administration seemed to be tilting, to use a term, toward India, the Indian Foreign Minister was given a meeting with the President, and it seemed as if the administration was going to try to, as one of the cornerstones of their foreign policy, build a much better relationship with India than we've had in the past. In view of what you just said, do you think that that was then, and this is now, or is there still an opportunity going forward to forge a much closer relationship with the Indians?
JB: I think that was then, and it's almost still that way now. (Scattered Laughter) And let me explain what I mean by that. I may be mistaken, and I may be a bit cynical, but I think the initial, quote, tilt toward India was related to Beijing more than it was to Pakistan or anything else. And I think that the relationship with Beijing was going south very rapidly. And continued to move south in a precipitous way until Powell made his visit.
I coincidentally happened to take a small delegation of Senators to some very high level meetings for six days in China, just on the heels of that visit, and you could literally see, maybe a mild exaggeration, a sigh of relief on the part of the Chinese, that maybe this collision is not inevitable, it is not inevitable. I think it chastened the Chinese a little bit, I think it made them focus on the precipice, as well as us.
Now what's happened is, I think, you have, and it's a . . . I cannot prove this, I think what you have in India now is a look north and saying, whoa, it looks like these guys are talking again. We may have moved past our opportunity to make a substantial change in the relationship. That would be a mistake on their part, to think that. Because I think that there is a desire in the administration to actually, genuinely better relations with India.
I think it is an absolute essential element of American foreign policy that that be done. And part of that is simply engaging . . . engaging them and treating them like what they are. They will, in not too long, be the largest, most populous nation in the world. They are a democracy, as flawed as you may think it is. They are someone with whom we should and must have a much, much, much better relationship and understanding.
And the whole world has changed for India. It has changed not only when the Wall came down, and when their protector evaporated, it changed now as the relationship with China begins to mature, and they're going to have some great difficulty internally figuring out how to deal with that. But we should be engaged at the highest level on a daily basis, literally with India. So I don't think the administration is jettisoning India, but I think they're beginning to look at India in a different way, not as cynically as just a card to have been played against Beijing.
VW: Questioner behind Frank, then I'm going to try to go the back of the room for a question.
ME: Monsoor Ejaz. Senator, it's always good to hear you speak so frankly, so I'm going to try and get you on the record on another sensitive issue. Does the United States need a military policy to deal with an eventuality in which a Taliban-like force would hold control over Pakistan's nuclear weapons? And if it does, what should that policy look like?
JB: Well, I think we're engaged in that policy right now. And I have every reason to believe from my conversations with the President, and I don't pretend to be his confidant, I don't want anyone . . . I know you all know that, but the CNN audience might think I'm trying to foist myself off as the President's close advisor.
I've been flattered the President has engaged me as the opposition and as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and we've had, as they say, full and frank discussion, probably five, six hours' worth in the last several months, and . . . but my impression and my understanding is, coming from both the Secretary of State as well as the Secretary of Defense and as well as the President of the United States personally, that that is the essence of their policy at the moment. It is reflected in certain ways.
You see, and I'll be very parochial, and I'm going to give you a specific example. Right now there has been, and continues to exist, a real dissatisfaction on the part of the Northern Alliance that we have not done, which is fully without our capability to do now, and that is with air power, essentially provide air cover that could decimate the Taliban capability of holding them back, not only from Mazar-i-Sharif, but also holding them back from the capitol.
And the President has not been as blunt as I'm going to be, because I don't speak for him, so I can say it, I believe the President's actions have been somewhat circumspect for very good reasons. He understands that if in fact the Northern Alliance marches into Kabul and sets up a government, that we will have the potential for a disintegration in Islamabad, and that Pakistan may very well, and Musharraf may in fact collapse, it may be gone. And so I think that . . . I'll give you that as one example of my view of the President's understanding of how difficult this is. We have also done things which were not particularly comfortable for me to do, quite frankly.
I'm the guy, as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, that was responsible for either facilitating and/or proposing the lifting of all the sanctions, of which I have supported relative proliferation, not to proliferation questions, as well as democratization. And we've even looked at Section 508, and so my point is that we have taken extraordinary actions, which is sort of against our instincts, with only the promise, only the promise of elections a year from now, with the commitment to be kept, and only the hope, the hope that we will be able to stabilize, that the region will, with our help and others, be stabilized in such a way that we don't have to face that God awful specter of radical Islamic groups taking over a country that is multiple sizes larger than Afghanistan, with nuclear weapons. So I think the administration is fully appraised, fully understands, and is doing everything within its power, understanding, and I don't . . . in defense of the administration, no one has a hole card here.
No one that I know, maybe some of you do, and if you do, let me know because I want to nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize in advance. No one I know has a surefire way to assure that stability in this part of the world will result from the actions undertaken. Conversely, I don't know of anyone who . . . I do know of some, I don't know anyone in this room would like to suggest we should not and need not have taken the action we are taking.
We're not going to get into the weeds here. It's going to start to get . . . we talked, and I hope I don't offend anybody saying this, at our table here, we talked about how long the honeymoon, how long the unquestioning period of unabashed support for the President's policy will continue. I think everyone . . . I shouldn't say everyone . . . I mean the vast majority of the foreign policy establishment, of the Democratic and Republican sides of the aisle, in fact share the view that up to now the President's done a pretty darn good job of assembling this multilateral force, resisting what were very strong entree's from parts of the administration to bypass Afghanistan and go straight to Iraq, et cetera. I think he's done well. But now we're going to get into the tough calls.
Case in point, and I'll stop with this. How much longer does the bombing continue?
Because we're going to pay every single hour, every single day it continues, we're going to pay an escalating price in the Muslim world. We're going to pay an escalating price in the region. And that in fact is going to make the aftermath of our, quote, victory more difficult to reconstruct the region. Conversely, the President's in a very difficult spot. How much does he have to do to make the environment in which we are going to send, and we will, American forces, hospitable to the extent . . .) (Council on Foreign Relations tape turned to side B . . . several seconds missing . . .) . . . tell you, though, I hope to God it ends sooner rather than later, because every moment it goes on, it makes the aftermath problem more severe than it is . . . was an hour ago.
And so that's what I mean when I say they're fully appraised of their problem. They are going to engage in activities that we may . . . I may be able to Monday morning quarterback and second guess, but I know of no clear path that suggests how they secure the notion that there is no possibility of Pakistan degenerating into chaos, and us dealing with a problem there.
The ultimate answer would be, if that were the case, we would find ourselves with a whole hell of a lot more forces in that region than we have now, which would be a very bad idea.
VW: Going to go right straight to the back of the room, and then I have a question at the middle table up front.
DG: I'm Davey Gaw(?), with the conference board. Senator, you gave us a picture that was historic, and it raised the question in my mind, to this effect. Is there an advertising problem, is there a genuine insoluble intellectual issue, or simply have we not solved the following? It seems to me that for the past 50 years or so, the U.S. has always been stuck in a corner, on the one hand we launch into the world with noble causes, and then we tie ourselves to ignoble regimes so that we have (Inaudible) for purposes, but people think that we're married to these regimes, and the same thing is occurring now in the Middle East. What's wrong? Why can't we do a dual track strategy? Why can't we send a message that's credible, that we do serve double purposes on the one end, but we also do not want to marry ignoble regimes on the other? Why can't we solve that issue?
JB: Because life's tough (Scattered Laughter) There are hard choices. I don't know. I don't want to get him in trouble, but I suspect Les Gelb may remember, about a dozen years ago, my proposing we start to distance ourselves from some of those various regimes, and for example, during the Gulf War, one of the reasons I voted against the resolution that was put forward was, I did not get any commitment from the administration personally that they would in fact make sure that when we freed Kuwait, the circumstance in Kuwait would change.
I did not see merely putting the Emir back in power as anything that inured to our great benefit. The territorial principle of not crossing a border was a big deal, and important and oil mattered, but it seemed to me we should have extracted in return for that some commitment toward the movement toward, some movement toward, not outright democracy, but some movement toward a liberalization of the system.
I have been the odd man out on that for a long time with regard to Saudi Arabia as well, and other countries in the region. But I acknowledge to you, it is incredibly difficult to do. And you got to be prepared to take a risk, and the risk is serious. The down side is high. The costs economically are severe. But I think we're at the point now where we have to take those risks. But it's not easy. It is not easy because the truth of the matter is, we inherited what was there, we helped make and sustained what was there, but we did it for reasons relating to our immediate self-interests that were of consequence to us, enabling us to do other things in other parts of the world that were necessary to be done.
So, it's, yes, as a former President once said, life ain't fair. Well, the world ain't fair, and we're left with a lot of Hobson's Choices. If I can elaborate on one piece. This dissemination of information, I put together a proposal that I've been discussing with the administration. I've been sort of the guy who has, and a lot of you have as well, but I mean in the Senate, in the House, I've been sort of the godfather of the radios lately, Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty, the Voice of America, et cetera. It's woefully underfunded.
For example, in the largest Muslim state in the world, where they have 220 million people, we spend two million dollars on the radio, for example. So I put together a proposal at the President's urging, quite frankly, because one of the things I discussed with him, that I'm going to present to him when he gets back, is over a half a billion dollar initial investment, 250 million dollars a year, for public diplomacy, and fundamentally altering the way in which we're able to broadcast to that part of the world. As part of this, I asked my staff, and I have some very talented staff people who know the region well, have worked in the region, and are very academically qualified as well as practically qualified, if they would get together some two or three or four of the most knowledgeable folks on Islam in the world, so that we in fact, when I propose this, I was doing something that was counterproductive. So that we wouldn't find we were causing more problems than there were solutions.
And I sat with these four folks, I'll tell you what they said to me. Now, they're not the end of the day, but they said to me, they said, look, the idea of winning the hearts and minds of the Islamic world, and the Arab Islamic world is not likely. The best you can do is give some reasons for the moderates within that regime to have a reason to sustain their position against the extremists in . . . did I say regime? I meant to say region, against extremists in the region.
And they went on to say, the problem isn't with the American people, it's with American foreign policies, and then they ticked off the foreign policy. Being part of propping up regimes that in fact are anti-democratic and are part of the problem, because again, Osama Bin Laden is after Riyadh, not after Jerusalem. And it's a different problem. And also they then point out Israel, and they say part of the problem relates to our policy relative to Israel. Well, there are certain things we're not going to change.
There are certain things we're not going to change, so the question is, what utility would a significant investment in our public diplomacy have? And it seems to me the minimum what it would have, it would give a context in which we were able to . . . they were able to make judgments about the totality of our action, and would not in fact change the attitude in that part of the world toward us, but would moderate it.
And so these are very difficult questions, though, but I am going to propose we make this major investment, and I think it will fall on, quite frankly, friendly ears in the administration, based on my conversations with the President.
VW: Is there an opportunity to take that a step further to the whole foreign policy budget of the government, the United Nations that you've been involved in, support for our embassies abroad that's been underfunded for some time, foreign aid budget, is that a part of the whole response?
JB: No, because . . . and I'm not being . . . I didn't mean to be so sure. (Laughs) I don't mean . . . (Overlap)
VW: . . . short answer (?) . . .
JB: . . . that's right. (Scattered Laughter) Now, well . . . the answer is no for the following reasons. For the federal government to engage in public diplomacy at home is a very dangerous thing, in my view. For us to fund news organizations that promote a governmental position, it seems to me is not what we need, domestically in the United States. But we do need it abroad. What will change, and has changed that, as Ambassador Negroponte knows, he not only . . . I mean, I love the guy.
We held him up for God knows how long before we approved him, so everybody made sure any accusation ever against wouldn't rub off on them, and they all turned out to be false, and we approved unanimously, wasn't it? I don't think anybody voted against it. And he went up there and did something no one's been able to do, including Prince Holbrooke, no one's been able to do this.
(Laughter) And you know what he did? He went up and there and got immediately the right wing Republicans to free up the money in the House. You know what did that? The world changed. They did not want to have to, as former Senator Carol Moseley Braun would say, wear the jacket of us not being able to put together a coalition because he was unable to do his job in the United Nations because he had to face the constant charge that we weren't meeting our end of the deal. So I think events alter those kinds of things and I think you're going to see foreign policy much more on the front burner of American domestic politics for the reasons that were stated at the outset, that we'll, in fact, up those budgets and people are beginning to understand the complexity. It's not all military, it's diplomacy. We have to lead in other ways, and I think that will be helped by this terrible circumstance.
VW: Senator Biden, thank you for . . . (Overlap)
DG: I'm Dick Garwin, Council on Foreign Relations. Thank you for an insightful and constructive presentation. Now, on the ABM Treaty and missile defense, I can just say Amen, but the rest of the topics you mentioned, we need to have not only some priorities, but more than that. That administration and the Congress are going to have to do a number of things together. First, it seems to me that we have to have refugee camps, and the refugee camps have to be training grounds for democracy.
So, we need to work with the United Nations to do this, and to accomplish that. We need to provide security, but we need to provide more than security. The next priority I think has to be the chemical and biological weapons conventions, especially the BWC . . . essentially all the nations of the world have signed up, but they're not all obeying it.
They're not all doing what they said. Before we have any compliance, we've got to have them say, we're going to do this, we're passing a law, everybody has to stop affiliating with biological weapons and we're going to destroy our stocks. Seems to me that's the next. And finally, in my talk, is the Pakistani nuclear weapons.
You read in the New York Times Bruce Wehr(?), saying we ought to provide means of going in, and capturing them in case Pakistan regime falls. Well, we'll get a lot more cooperation if we fund Pakistani regime in order to destroy their own, or render them ineffective if the regime falls, and with uranium weapons that can be done in reasonably expeditious fashion.
But how do you solve the problem of priorities, and doing a number of things at the same time which neither administrations nor Congress are good at?
JB: Let me tell you, I fully agree with your list, I shortened my speech on the fly here, I'll give you a copy of it, it mentions all three of those things, particularly the biological and chemical weapons treaty and the implementation. And I think you do just what you said.
Those discussions are underway with the Democratic Congress and the Republican members of Congress and the President on setting those priorities. The question is, the President has an internal dilemma he has to overcome first. He is focusing on first things first, but then he has to deal with . . . and I'm going to get in trouble for saying this . . . but he has to deal with what has not gone away. There is, for lack of a better phrase, still a Rumsfeld-Powell split on how they look at the world, and how they look at these very issues that you've stated here.
I was discussing here at my table, my perception, and maybe, what's that old expression, the father is . . . the wish is the father of the thought, or whatever it is, that maybe I'm just sort of making this up as I go along because I want to feel it. But my impression is, this President is arriving at his own foreign policy. He is arriving at his own foreign policy.
I think he accepted wholesale sort of the movement right position on foreign policy issues, because as a Governor he hadn't paid much attention to those. And I think he's finding that those as a prescription don't fit the modern day world as easily as he thought they may. And so I see the first thing that has to happen is the President himself has to decide what he thinks about these issues. And I hope we throw in CTBT here, because I think to me that is one of the . . . that is the single most important thing we could do at the front end.
But . . . Vin is looking at his watch, understandably, I happen to agree with you. With regard to priorities, Dick Lugar and I are going to be introducing this week after call for a commission that is, I know we got a lot of commissions, but a commission made up, appointed by the President, the House and the Senate, made up of the leading people in America that we could find with the greatest stature, to come forward with us with a threat assessment, a threat assessment that in fact reflects, for purposes of deciding what priorities we should be focusing on. And so I can talk to you more about that later, but my time is . . . (Overlap)
VW: I don't know if we have time for one or two more, but one there, and if there's time for two, it's over there. Les is telling me only one, I'm sorry to say, (inaudible).
M: (inaudible) Talbot(?). Senator, thank you for this broad guarded approach to the problems we face. My question is this, do you foresee the need or the expectation of a Congressional declaration of war, which the Constitution calls for, and if so, against whom? (Scattered Laughter)
JB: The answer is yes, and we did it. I happen to be a professor of Constitutional law. I'm the guy that drafted the Use of Force proposal that we passed. It was in conflict between the President and the House. I was the guy who finally drafted what we did pass. Under the Constitution, there is simply no distinction . . . Louis Fisher(?) and others can tell you, there is no distinction between a formal declaration of war, and an authorization of use of force. There is none for Constitutional purposes. None whatsoever. And we defined in that Use of Force Act that we passed, what . . . against whom we were moving, and what authority was granted to the President. And why don't you take that question, it's not two o'clock, I'll give a yes or no. He may be from Delaware. (Laughter)
RP: Roland Paul, Senator, I concur with everybody else in commending you on your comments, and anyone who's heard you before would certainly not be surprised at how good they were. I would return to a question you answered earlier, and you said as long . . . the bombing, every day it goes on, the harder it may be for us to do something in the past(?). What do you see as the situation if we don't defeat the Taliban in the next four weeks, and winter sets in in Afghanistan?
JB: Again, I'm not a military man. I think the American public and the Islamic world is fully prepared for us to take as long as we need to take, if it is action that is mano-a-mano. If it's us on the ground going against other forces on the ground. The part that I think flies in the face of and plays into every stereotypical criticism of us is we're this high tech bully that thinks from the air we can do whatever we want to do, and it builds the case for those who want to make the cause against us that all we're doing is indiscriminately bombing innocents, which is not the truth.
Some innocents are (indiscriminately) bombed, but that is not the truth. I think the American public is prepared for a long siege. I think the American public is prepared for American losses. I think the American public is prepared, and the President must continue to remind them to be prepared, for American body bags coming home.
There is no way that you can in fact go after and root out al-Qaeda and/or Bid Laden without folks on the ground, in caves, risking and losing their lives. And I believe that the tolerance for that in the Islamic world is significant . . . exponentially higher than it is for us bombing. That's a generic point I wish to make. I am not qualified enough to tell you, although I can tell you what the military guys have said to me, this is not 1948. This is 2001, I'm not at all they're correct, and our ability to wage conflict in the winter, in parts of this region, is within our control, I don't know enough to vouch for that or not, but I do think it clearly makes it more difficulty, and the weather window is closing, as opposed to the tolerance window for a behavior, in my view. Thank you all very, very much. (Applause)