Tempe Mission Palms Hotel
MICHAEL CROW: Good morning everyone. My name is Michael Crow, president here at Arizona State University. I’d like to welcome you to what I hope will be an informal discussion throughout the day about the world, global issues, global politics, where we’re going, all in the context of the very exciting opportunity we have here in Arizona to host the final presidential debate in what is turning out to be an exciting race for president.
The opportunity we have here today is to have students and faculty and leaders of our community, through the graces of the Council on Foreign Relations and through the gathering of everyone that we’ve brought here today, to have an opportunity just to talk. So I want you to make sure that you focus on being casual and interactive. And I want to speak specifically to our students that are here. Don’t be shy. I know you’re not shy, but let me reiterate, don’t be shy. Get your ideas out, get them on the table, and let’s get the discussion going.
We have not very much time with Senator Kyl today, so I’m going to make my remarks brief.
And basically for those of you not from Arizona State University [ASU], I’d like to just tell you what we’re trying to do here very quickly. It all can be boiled down to just a couple of sentences. We are focused on the building of an academic institution of the highest possible quality that is simultaneously inclusive, to the deepest extent imaginable, into our society.
This is counter-intuitive for most universities. Universities generally believe that the way that you reach excellence is by who you leave out, who you exclude. The university that I served on the faculty of for 12 years, at Columbia University in New York City, before coming here was very good at that. We took the upper 1 percent or 2 percent of students, at most, and sometimes even less than that in certain programs, and we felt pretty good about that. Well, it did make for a great learning environment, but it wasn’t a hugely impactful institution in that sense.
At this institution we’re trying to do something which I think one of our faculty members winning the Nobel Prize in economics this week epitomizes, which is the gathering of a great and creative faculty with high energy students adequately trained in high school to participate in a great learning institution from which they will go out in very large numbers and transform society. That is the institution that we are building here.
And as a part of all of that, we realized that we’ve not been engaged as much globally in our thinking as we should. I said when I first came, a little over two years ago, that the compass headings from ASU and the compass headings from Phoenix and the compass headings from Arizona were a little bit weaker. What I mean by that is that there should be a huge, huge awareness and connection to the South, a huge, huge awareness and connection to Asia, and that has not been the case. It’s not been the case in the intellectual environment of the university to the extent that it should be. It’s not been the case in the economic orientation of the community to the extent that it should be. And it’s something that at least at the university we’re working to remedy. Our new School of Global Studies, new programs in international technology and science, and so forth are parts of what we’re trying to do. And so that’s a piece of what we’re trying to do as we build this great intellectual environment here.
Now the Council on Foreign Relations— I think they have their— the sign behind me— is one of those groups out in New York, big and powerful and intellectual and dynamic and engaged, and they really set the agenda very much for our country in terms of the very, very complicated issues that we have.
We’re not— you know, I’m— Henry Cabot Lodge is gone. We’re no longer isolationist. We’re working to decide what our future should be on this planet and how we should move forward, and the Council really helps us to do that.
Today we have the executive vice president of that Council with us, Mike Peters. Mike was a serving officer in the Army for many, many years, and from a part of the Army that I think in future years— he and I were just commenting— will be dramatically enhanced. He served as the highest-ranking officer in the Army in Civil Affairs. What do you do when the Army occupies a territory and attempts to advance transformation of a nation-state? Something we need to know a lot about.
And Mike was at the Pentagon, at West Point, in the field in Panama, in the field in the first Gulf War, and has done much to serve our country and for the last almost 10 years has been working at the Council. And it’s really a great honor to have the opportunity to introduce Mike Peters. [Applause.]
MICHAEL PETERS: Thank you very much, Michael. And Senator Kyl, ladies and gentlemen, as a New Yorker, I feel a little bit odd welcoming you to a conference in Phoenix. But nonetheless, as part of the sponsoring organization, you’re welcome. It’s great for the Council to be here with you and to be able to cooperate with Arizona State University and the School of Global Studies.
We’re really looking forward to today’s conversations. And as Michael pointed out and I would really add, I think we have some tremendous speakers, starting, of course, with Senator Kyl and members of the panel. But we really have taken pains to leave plenty of time for conversation, for questions, for comments from all of you. And like Michael, I really encourage you and especially the students here to probe, to ask questions, to disagree but disagree agreeably, which is one of the Council rules, and to draw as much from the time that we spend here together as you possibly can.
We’re excited about this because the Council has, over the past few years, made a real effort to try to get beyond our traditional roots in the Northeast, in New York, and Washington, and to build our programs and our membership and our engagement in what we call key cities around the country. And we very much see Phoenix as part of that, and thanks in no small part to Dick Mallery, who has really helped us to focus on Phoenix, we’re excited about the prospects.
And we’re also excited about building more relationships with colleges and universities and hoping that we can be a better resource for professors, for faculty, and for students who are interested in international affairs and foreign policy.
And so this is again very much a part of where the Council sees itself in the future. We’re excited to be here. We’re looking forward to the day. We appreciate the hospitality that all of you are showing us. And without further ado, I will turn it over to Michael to introduce Senator Kyl. Thank you all very, very much. [Applause.]
CROW: Thanks, Mike. It’s my pleasure now to introduce Jon Kyl, Senator Jon Kyl. And I think I’ve destroyed the microphone. [Laughter.]
Senator Kyl is, I guess I would say, one of the brainiacs in Washington, one of the members of Congress who has the capacity to deal with the complexity— by the way, senator, that’s a term of endearment at a university— [laughter]--one of the members of Congress who has the capacity to confront the most complex issues that we face, issues related to how we design our economy on a global basis, how we provide for health care in this complex part of our economy, almost 15 percent of which is devoted to health care, dealing with issues of terrorism and national security and homeland defense and all of the complexities about the oath that all public officials take to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
That’s a pretty complicated oath in terms of its actual implementation. How do you do that? How do you protect the country, its Constitution, ourself, where we’re headed? It requires a kind of intellect. It requires an understanding of what we are, where America has come from, what the Constitution is all about, all of the complexities of individual rights and all of the complexities of the collective.
This is something that Jon Kyl understands intimately, which is why he is often called upon by national organizations to offer explanation and analysis. He is a member of Congress that is deeply committed to the building of our country, the protecting of our country, but he’s also a member of Congress, and as a senior member of the Senate, who is a friend of this university. He works very hard, especially when we can come up with a good idea— [laughter]--he works very hard to help us to understand how to advance our good ideas in the system. And our good ideas that we’re working to advance have to do with the same kind of thing: protecting the country, advancing the country, and moving forward.
Jon Kyl is a person often talked about as a supreme jurist in the sense that he has the capacity to potentially serve on the Supreme Court. He has the capacity to be a senior senator. He has the capacity to be a leader in the Senate. And we’re at a time in our country— obviously, we’re at war with multiple enemies. We have threats against the United States as we speak. We have unbelievable political complexities as the world grows more and more complex.
And so it’s a great, great privilege to say that Jon Kyl represents Arizona in the United States Senate and is here to speak with us here today. Senator Kyl. [Applause.]
JON KYL: Thank you. Well, I’ll tell you, to be called a brainiac by Michael Crow is indeed a compliment— [laughter]--and I treat it as that. Thank you, Michael.
And congratulations to ASU for just all of the achievements; not only of hosting the debate tonight, of course, but also the Nobel laureates, the great work that’s being done in so many of the different colleges of the university. And not the least, by the way, a dang good football team this year. So congrats to everybody all the way around.
My job this morning is to set the stage for the discussions that you’re going to have later. And in discussing or looking at the world to identify the strategic opportunities and challenges to the United States, there’s a lot of different ways you could look at the problem, different constructs that you could use.
I hope to be objective in my analysis this morning, but also perhaps a bit provocative for your subsequent discussions. And I’ve chosen to look at our world today in this context in three different ways, sort of a three-dimensional look. There are other constructs that one could use to analyze the situation, but here are the three specific ways in which I choose to look at the problem this morning.
First, the shifting characters of the only two strategic powers in the world that could seriously threaten the United States are Russia and China, and I think we have to look at the issues that Russia and China present to us.
Second, the changing nature of traditional alliances and international institutions, and how that is impacting the ability of the United States to work around the world.
And the third way to look at it is, of course, the war that the militant Islamists have declared on the United States and the West. [Conservative writer] Norman Podhoretz calls this World War IV. One can’t look at the world today without looking at it through that prism as well.
So those are the three different constructs that I’m going to use to analyze where we are in the world today.
And let’s start with the shifting characters of Russia and China. Of course the world has seen two dramatic events defining events over the last 15 years that have really shaped our strategic environment, the first of which was the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, and the second, of course, the terrorist attack of September 11 and the launching of this global war against militant Islam.
The two residual characteristics of the Cold War that I think we need to spend a little time on that still remain are the nuclear and missile capabilities of Russia and China. Both of these countries are spending enormous sums of money on technical advances to their nuclear and missile programs. The characters of these two countries continue to evolve, but as the only two potential existential or strategic threats to the United States, they’ve got to be examined both for their challenges and their opportunities. And any serious strategic planner realizes that you’ve got to start any gaming exercise with an understanding of both the intentions and the capabilities of potential adversaries, so we start with that.
But look at the evolution of Russia here first. The [Vladimir] Putin government’s response to the terrorist attacks, especially from Beslan, illustrates what has been going on for some time, which is a continuing shift away from the nascent democracy that was beginning in Russia and an aggressive turn toward a more totalitarian form of government there. For example, Putin’s concentration of power in the hands of the president, the abandonment of popular election for the 89 regional governments now becoming presidential appointees, the elimination of independent members of parliament— you only vote for party slates. And he’s further, obviously, cracked down on the press as a result of the Beslan terrorist attack. And that internal push toward autocratic rule is accompanied by increasingly aggressive tactics in dealing with the former Soviet states, primarily on Russia’s southern and western borders, areas like the South Caucasus, Central Asia, Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus.
For example, Russia has now violated the OSCE [Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe] agreement to withdraw troops from the Transdniestr Republic in Moldova. It refuses to evacuate bases in Georgia, against the wishes of the Georgian government. It maintains a military presence in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, all in contravention of their government policies there.
In the upcoming elections in Belarus and Ukraine, The Washington Post commented, and I quote, “Belarus and Ukraine face a choice this fall between the democracy and free-market capitalism of the West and the subordination to a Kremlin-directed economic sphere and Mr. Putin’s managed democracy.”
So, how to deal with this challenge, this evolution of Russia? You’ll discuss it later today, I suspect, but I’ll offer at least one concept. Just as we did during the Cold War, I think it’s important for the United States to continue to focus on the abuses of freedom and democracy internally in Russia, as well as its efforts to suppress neighboring states, to get these events out in the open and always on our agenda in dealing with Russia. It’s precisely what we did in the case of the former Soviet Union. And as one columnist for a Russian business daily recently commented inThe Wall Street Journal Europe, the only reason the Soviet dissidents weren’t totally crushed and could thus kindle the flame of freedom in the USSR was due to the Kremlin’s concern about publicity abroad, notably U.S. public opinion. So it does matter.
Let’s turn now secondly to China. Four years have passed since the U.S. Congress voted PNTR [permanent normal trade relations] to China, the trade status. And at the time, proponents of economic engagement argued that this permanent trade status and World Trade Organization [WTO] accession by China would not only provide economic benefits to the United States, but would also accelerate the pace of China’s political reforms. But the theory hasn’t proven out in either case.
While China’s economy has grown rapidly, that growth has not been accompanied by the reforms explicitly required in the WTO accession agreements nor by those implied by its greater share of world commerce. The USTR’s [United States trade representative] latest annual China compliance report raised serious concerns over China’s compliance with commitments on agricultural commodities, services, IPR [intellectual property rights] protection, tax policies, trade laws and regulations, trading rights, distribution services and others, and concluded that there was no way that China would be able to meet the compliance milestones that are called for in its WTO accession.
We know that its leaders continue to resist political reforms, as well. The PRC’s [People’s Republic of China] government’s response to the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre was still to refuse to admit any mistake and aggressively thwart its citizens’ attempts to commemorate the anniversary. It continues to pressure Hong Kong’s Democrats. Its human rights record remains poor and, in fact, has deteriorated over recent years.
And perhaps importantly from a strategic point of view, it has continued to threaten to retake democratic Taiwan, by force if necessary. According to The Washington Post article, recently, the PRC government warned Taiwan’s President Chen Shui-bian to pull back from a “dangerous lurch toward independence or face destruction.” Those are their words.
The PRC’s military modernization and buildup focus on countering Taiwan as well as the United States. The Chinese military is very good at planning how to defeat the United States primarily Navy and Air Force. And U.S. assessments indicate that this cross-strait balance of power is steadily shifting toward China’s favor.
These concerns are not going to be alleviated by the United States ignoring them, turning a blind eye. The Chinese government is very clever, as I said, about trying to appear helpful on some matters, like working with us on the [North] Korean [nuclear] issue, in the hopes that we will turn a blind eye.
But one of the most— best potential foils to China is, of course, Japan. And in this region, Japan is a country with whom the United States must continue to foster a very close relationship, not least of— for which is the role that Japan can play in— as a foil to the increase in power by the Chinese government, including the possibility that if the North Korean peninsula should become nuclear, that Japan would have to reconsider its armament policies, all of which should be of great concern to China.
Well, that’s just a superficial look at those two evolving countries and a look at some of the challenges that they’re going to present to us.
Now let’s turn the prism to a completely different direction and look at the world in a completely different way. Rather than a strategic threat analysis, this would be more akin to an evaluation of the international institutions, arrangements, agreements, and alliances that in the past have characterized, really since World War II, the approach that U.S. foreign policy has attempted to take.
President Bush in September of 2002 said this: “The major international institutions of American society were designed in a different era to meet different requirements. All of them must be transformed.” Now that is a provocative statement, but I agree with it. And one need only look to a couple of the more important international organizations to see why this is so.
One would start, of course, with the United Nations. The United Nations is being used today to minimize U.S. influence and power and curtail U.S. actions. If one believes in U.S. policy and actions, this is not a good thing.
The oil-for-food scandal is perhaps one of the most current examples. The Duelfer report that you’ve read about this last week outlined how Saddam Hussein used lavish gifts of oil vouchers and contracts to secure the support of countries to lift the U.N. sanctions on Iraq and oppose American initiatives in the Security Council. The report notes that Benon Sevan, the former top U.N. official in charge of the oil-for-food program, was himself a recipient of Saddam’s scheme. It says that Mr. Sevan was allocated 13 million barrels of oil, of which 7.3 million— I said billion; I think I did— million— 13 million barrels of oil, of which 7.3 million were cashed in with these vouchers.
Also, according to the report, an Iraqi intelligence report indicated that one nation, France, was bribed to use its veto in the United Nations Security Council against any effort to use armed forces in Iraq, and of course France threatened to do exactly that. France was joined by Russia and China as the top three countries in which influential individuals, companies, or entities received these oil vouchers. According to the report, Russia received 30 percent of the vouchers, France 15 [percent], and China 10 percent. Perhaps this explains why from 1991 to 2003, France, Russia, and China prevented the United Nations from enforcing its own resolutions, and on numerous occasions pushed for loosening sanctions on Saddam’s regime.
It should be plainly obvious that this most recent U.N. failing demonstrates that, given its membership, its leadership, its structural nature, the United Nations is not only unreliable, but at times harmful to U.S. interests. It is not a body that can or should confer moral legitimacy on our actions. The oil-for-food scandal, and in fact the entire experience with Iraq at the United Nations illustrates something even more troubling than the problems with that particular institution to me. It is not an exaggeration to say that it demonstrates the collapse of the transatlantic alliance. Even our traditional allies in Europe voted against us. Because of the desire of some of those countries to check U.S. power, we are now as apt to get Russian or Chinese votes in the Security Council as we are to get the vote of a supposed U.S. ally.
Let me just quote some— I happened to read an article that discussed our long-standing relationship with France and noted that our problems with France are not of recent origin. But to just illustrate this with three quick quotations.
[Former French President] Francois Mitterrand, before he died in 1996, said this: “We are at war with America, a permanent war, a war without death. They are very hard, the Americans. They are voracious. They want individual power over the world.” Excuse me, “undivided power over the world.” The French view; a French leader.
Jean-Francois Revel, a noted commentator today: “If you remove anti-Americanism, nothing remains in French political thought today, either on the left or on the right.”
And as I said, it’s not a recent problem. General [Dwight D.] Eisenhower said this: “Next to the weather, the French have caused me more trouble in this war than any single factor.” So it’s not a new problem.
Look at the organization that we’ve relied upon so much in the Cold War, NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organization]. It’s made some progress in transforming itself into an organization to deal with today’s strategic threats. It’s training folks in Iraq. It’s working with us in Afghanistan. But these steps can’t cover the fundamental problem with this alliance. The truth is we don’t see eye-to-eye on security matters with many of our European allies on large issues, and we no longer share important values and objectives with many of these allies.
It’s still worth debating whether the U.S. and Europe are permanently parting ways, another construct with which I think this topic that you’re dealing with today could significantly inform us. Look at the different views with our European allies to the problem that I mentioned, of China’s rearmament. [French President] Jacques Chirac said this: “France favors lifting the European Union embargo” imposed on China— these are my words— imposed on China after the Tiananmen Square massacre. That’s why we imposed it. And Chirac again: “We are trying to obtain from the European Union the lifting as soon as possible of an embargo that dates to another time that no longer corresponds to the reality of things.”
Iran, clearly— an issue that I’ll deal with in just a moment here, with respect to its nuclear program. The European members of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, have completely failed in their effort to restrain Iran in its nuclear program, taking over the negotiation from the United States— or as Secretary [of State Colin] Powell says, working with us. But the reality is, as [The] Washington Post said, their going around behind us and negotiating yet another delay in Iranian compliance is, as the Post said, a feckless policy. Only time will tell if our policy with Iran can be righted, but the reality is that if we don’t get to the United Nations Security Council with a resolution that refers the matter to the council, Iran could end up nuclearized, and we will not have been able to do anything about it.
Just to conclude this second point of analysis— I mentioned international agreements. As much as international associations, agreements can bind us as well— and is the attempt of a lot of allies, frankly, to bind us with these agreements for their own purposes. The Chemical Weapons Treaty, for example, was violated by Iraq, by Libya, by Syria. The International Criminal Court— we’ve heard about the problems with that. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty— Iran and North Korea violating without any compunctions.
There are some new international groupings that are based on more of a coalition of the willing, if you will, concept that are actually— that have great promise, I think. One of these is the Proliferation Security Initiative, which is a State Department initiative that has now over 60 countries participating with the United States to deny the ability of countries to export their technology and products of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery, by interdicting them in legal waters around the country, and in other ways sharing intelligence and stopping the flow of these goods and technology. And as I say, this holds great potential.
So the second way, then, of looking at the world as it is today is to ask the question: Is it any longer appropriate for us to place our trust in these international organizations and some institutions, many of which are operating as constraints on U.S. power in ways that are inimical to our interests? And I think that in analyzing the strategic posture of the world today, one has to at least think about the problem in terms of this evolving nature of international institutions and agreements and our role in those groups.
Obviously the third way to view the world today has to be through the lens of the war against the terrorists. I prefer to use the construct of Norman Podhoretz of the militant Islam, the World War IV that we are engaged in at this time. It’s a global challenge and we have to view it that way. It’s not a war that can be fought seriatim in individual countries, it has to be fought simultaneously all over the globe where these terrorists are, or where support for them is coming from. And we’ve had a significant degree of success with a lot more to be done.
But if you just look at it as a global challenge— first of all, I was in Pakistan just 12 days before September 11 with the chairmen of the House and Senate intelligence committees, and I was on the Senate committee, trying at that time to get the Pakistani intelligence to help us get Osama bin Laden. They wouldn’t do it. From that moment, things have changed so dramatically in Pakistan. [Pervez] Musharraf is— the president— putting his life on the line every day to cooperate with us. Things have changed dramatically, but much more needs to be done.
In Afghanistan, the Taliban has been defeated and elections in the country were held this week. A tremendous turnaround.
Saudi Arabia, a country that clearly was supporting terrorists— 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Once they got bombed themselves last May, they got serious about helping us, primarily with terrorist financing, to reduce the impact of the Wahhabi sect of militant Islam that is behind so much of this war globally today.
Obviously, we dealt with countries like Sudan and Yemen. Libya saw the writing on the wall when we went— prepared to go after Saddam Hussein, and Libya has now begun the process of joining the world of sensible nations.
And then Iraq. Obviously, the effort there was to really tilt this fulcrum once and for all to the side that’s going to win the war, the side of values and not the side of militant Islam. And with a successful Iraq, it is believed that the other holdouts, in effect, even Syria, with whom we’ve made some progress recently, and then ultimately, of course, Iran, the biggest sponsor— state sponsor of terrorism, will be able to come our way.
But it’s a global conflict that’s going to require a lot of effort simultaneously to defeat the terrorists. And as the president said, “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen.” That was what he said on September 19, just eight days after the attack, and of course it’s been true.
Accompanying this global war on— against the terrorists is the question of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, because that is the ability of the terrorists that causes the most harm. And proliferation has become a huge problem around the world. You’ve heard about it in the presidential debates.
The two problems are closely intertwined, and when you think about weapons of mass destruction, you first think of the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea. We don’t have time here in just this survey to get into depth, but the point with regard to Iran— as I said, the countries that have interceded to attempt to deal with the problem, our European allies Great Britain, Germany, and France, have not helped us. And time is marching on. It would be great if a regime change could occur in Iran, although that isn’t clear that that would necessarily stop their nuclear program. But if we don’t get the violations of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty referred to the Security Council in November, then I am very pessimistic about our ability to stop that Iranian nuclear program.
North Korea— again, a choice between some bad options. We’ve got the six-party talks going right now. And my own view is that the best way for us to deal with this is to get the Chinese to put the pressure on the North Koreans, and the only way you’re going to do that is to persuade them that it is possible that Japan could change its policy, and if North Korea went nuclear, it would have to go nuclear as well— something the Chinese do not want. That’s high-stakes poker, but I don’t see any other way to resolve that situation.
And then, finally, with regard to this problem, we do need to move beyond mere nonproliferation, get to counterproliferation, to roll this problem back. And there are a lot of different ways to do it. I’m just going to throw them out.
The NPT, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, has got to be modified— and we have an opportunity to do that soon— to remove the requirement that nations with nuclear power are obligated, in exchange for a commitment not to weaponize, to provide nuclear technology to these countries. That nuclear technology is what countries like North Korea and Iran have used to build their nuclear programs.
The Proliferation Security Initiative, what I mentioned— that I mentioned before.
Missile defense. Don’t forget: Israel feels— I mean, if you talk to Israelis today, the existential threat to Israel is the Iranian missile and nuclear— potential nuclear weapon. Put yourself in Israel’s position. Missile defense is today what would protect them, because the missiles that Iran currently has Israel at least has a maybe 80 percent capability of defeating, as a result of U.N.--U.S. assistance to the Arrow missile program.
So missile defense remains one of the counterproliferation techniques that we shouldn’t forget. There’s the foreign aid and public diplomacy component of this, sanctions that we selectively use, the doctrine of pre-emption that can never be taken off the table. All of these combined enable you to have some tools in your toolbox to roll back the proliferation that we talked about.
In conclusion, there are other paradigms that you can use to view the strategic environment of the world today to evaluate the posture of the United States and what we should be doing. These three, I think, are ways at least to get the conversation going. And if anything, they illustrate we’ve got a very big plate, or a full plate, I guess I should say.
As the end of the Cold War showed, human nature being what it is, there will never be an end to history as far as foreign policy is concerned. And I guess for the Council on Foreign Policy, that’s a good thing.
Thank you. [Applause.]
CROW: I think the senator has a few minutes for some questions or comments from anybody. Don’t be shy.
QUESTIONER: Senator, I was wondering what— [inaudible]--modify the international organizations— [inaudible]. In your outline of— [inaudible]--so forth, it almost sounds like we can’t deal with our allies— former allies anymore through institutions, and therefore there’s no use for these institutions. Is that a misapprehension of what you were saying?
KYL: Well, it’s one of the potential problems with the way things are going today. And we need to recognize this and be truthful. I mean, you cannot ignore the problem. Countries like France today and, to some extent, some of the other European allies now have a foreign policy primarily aimed at reducing American power. Now, that’s a reality. They seek balance in the world. They’d like to be the other counterbalance.
But when your friends have as a desire reducing your ability to act in ways that you think are in your best interest, you got a problem. And if you’ve joined up with an outfit that claims the moral authority to determine whether or not what you are doing is legal or appropriate or right in the world and they’ve got a veto over it in the Security Council, that power is exacerbated. And as a result, you’ve got to look at the organization and decide whether, at this point, it’s a place where you want to necessarily go to validate what you do. If that’s the decision you make, then you’re going to constrain yourself in very serious ways.
So there are a lot of options out there. One of the options is that we— you can leave the United Nations, it’s a great body for countries that don’t believe in democracy to talk a lot and never do anything about real problems, like we’re seeing in Sudan today, but create new constructs. You can create new— and this sounds a little partisan, but new coalitions of the willing; that is to say, new organizations of countries that do share values, that are willing to sign up to a common goal and that may have constraints on actions of their members, but at least who share a common set of beliefs about what ought to be done. And I believe that if the United States led that effort, we would soon see a lot of countries of the world signing up to that new construct because they see the corruption, the inaction, the hypocrisy in the United Nations and realize that there’s not a lot of future there if it doesn’t dramatically change.
NATO has got to be re-evaluated, as I said. There are new arrangements that are literally halfway between organizations and agreements, like the Proliferation Security Initiative. That’s a group of countries that have committed, sort of on an ad hoc— so solve an ad hoc problem here with a commitment that’s embodied in an agreement. And so for this particular problem, these countries are going to join together and try to solve that problem.
That may be a way to try to act in the future as to specific kinds of problems. And I think that the more out of the box we’re willing to think about these things, the more initiatives we’re willing to take, the more it might send a message to the folks that want to stick with the old constructs that are now over a half-a-century old to say, “Maybe this needs a little reforming or it’s going to become irrelevant.”
QUESTIONER: [Inaudible]--a fairly hostile picture of the global situation. And apart from, you know, the discussion over that, what seems to me to be unquestioned is the importance of foreign-language training in this kind of environment, whether it be as hostile as you paint it or not. Yet the Senate has made it very difficult, with declining funds for the NSEP [National Security Education] Program, reduced funding for Title VIII to the State Department Research and Training Act, the National Foreign Language Center, the critical programs that support foreign-language training, our own Critical Languages Institute, are on the line. Is this something that we can count on your support for?
KYL: Yeah, first of all, let me just say I think my job was to identify the problem. So I’m actually— I may not be Pollyanna-ish, but I’m pretty much an optimist. But I’m talking about problems that we need to confront in the world today. I don’t think everything is bad or that everybody’s against it or that, you know, woe-is-us because of things I talked about. But I think you have to be realistic, and that’s what I’m— that’s the picture I’m trying to paint this morning.
You are absolutely right that we’ve got to be better engaged. One of the biggest problems we have today is that we’re not telling a very good story, and one of the reasons we’re not is because we don’t have the language skills to do it. You’d think Madison Avenue— I guess that term still applies to us— a country that believes in free enterprise and marketing and sells better than anybody in the world, would be able to at least be able to sell our policy in a— I shouldn’t use the word “sell”--but at least convey in an understandable way what we’re trying to do. And people don’t know this. And language skills are one way to do that.
I’m not aware of the specific funding profile problems that you’re talking about here. Please let me know. And yes, I support them. On the intelligence committee, I was very supportive of trying to improve these language skills because that was clearly one of the problems that we were facing in our ability to collect intelligence.
But public diplomacy is critical to our efforts. In no way should I be understood as saying that we just go it alone. What I’m saying is, we think we’re right, we have to be prepared to do that. But it’s sure a whole lot better if we can convince others that we’re on the right track here. And language skills are a fundamental part of that.
So let me know exactly what you think I should support.
CROW: One of the other things the senator has been supportive of, that I think is related to this, is the public diplomacy initiatives that are not at the level they need to be, which is the other word for marketing. I recall the senator’s support of that. Over here.
QUESTIONER: Senator, would you expand on your comments about the possibility of democracy taking root in Iraq and really expanding to promote—
KYL: In Iraq or Iran?
QUESTIONER: In Iraq. And then that leading to a spread of peace and stability in the Middle East. And the reason I ask is I’m concerned that it may not come down that way, that there may be other much more ugly scenarios. For example, given the apparent anti-Americanism in Iraq right now, that you could have a situation where a representative government would be hostile to the United States; and you could have a situation where if such a government were elected, take power there, that it could be hostile to the United States, demand the expulsion of U.S. troops, demand tens of billions of dollars in reparations, move to rearm, maybe forming alliances even with a nuclear Iran.
So— I’m not predicting this will happen, but there are some other scenarios quite possible. I just wonder if you would expand on why you think— why are you so optimistic about this scenario?
KYL: Well, first of all, what I presented was a strategy, not a prediction tainted by optimism. The strategy I said was to fight the global war on terror everywhere it needs to be fought in the unique way that it needs to be fought in each country.
For example, while you might debate the proposition, I think the consensus even among the presidential and vice presidential candidates is that it was right to try to topple Saddam Hussein. Do you take military action against Iran? No. So you treat the situation differently in different countries. You’re able to achieve in Libya what may take a little longer to achieve in Iran. You’re able to do some things with the Saudis that you don’t have to deal with the Syrians, but you have to deal with them in different ways.
My point about Iraq was that having achieved a degree of success— and it’s a continuum; this thing isn’t over; it’s going to take a long time— but having achieved a degree of success in a variety of other countries, and I mentioned Yemen and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Libya, and progress, at least in the last six months, in Saudi Arabia, and hopefully in Syria. The situation in Iraq has the potential for being that all-important event that causes the fulcrum to tilt and to point downward in terms of the slope that we’re on in winning this war, with the country that really needs to be dealt with left, most importantly, as Iran.
Now, that presupposes that Iraq doesn’t totally go south, that all of the things that you suggest could happen, happened. But I think that as the election in Afghanistan demonstrated, it is possible to have an election. That alone is progress. It is possible to have a country that now governs itself, albeit perhaps along somewhat religious lines and with a policy that’s not pro-American in the sense that maybe El Salvador is, but that isn’t going to be pro-terrorist either. And that’s obviously the bottom line here. If we can bring Iraq into the family of nations that does not support terrorism, even though we may disagree with some of its other policies; if it is not proliferating weapons of mass destruction— and I think that we have to make sure that that doesn’t happen— and if it’s not supporting terrorists, we will have achieved a big part of our objective.
And as— their democracy obviously will be a great deal different from ours, but the bonus, I think, is that the people of Iraq will have the opportunity at least to govern their own affairs.
CROW: How much time do you have left?
KYL: I should leave at 9:00.
CROW : OK. One more question. Over here.
QUESTIONER: Senator, you say that there are opportunities to form new world alliances that— pardon me— but at the same time, we should not be afraid to essentially go it alone in order to protect American influence and what we believe is right. However, historically, if you look at singular world powers, it is frequently when they became over- extended without allies that those fell. You know, none has remained forever obviously.
How do you recommend that the American government and American citizens self-moderate to ensure we don’t fall to the side of a certain imperial hubris that ultimately will be— will not be beneficial to our interests? You know, turn down the language, don’t make everyone mad at the same time is sort of something we need to watch out for.
KYL: Well, two points.
First of all, I totally agree with the premise of the question, which is that we should not overextend ourselves. It would be great if we’re all Wilsonian democrats— say we’re going to remake the world in our image. We can’t do that. There isn’t enough— we don’t have enough power to even begin to tackle that problem. But we can have as a goal trying to make better for people around the world, to the extent we can— to support the campaign against AIDS in Africa, to try to support the campaign for freedom among peoples of the world, including the Eastern European countries that I think still look to the United States with great favor because we kept hope alive in those countries. It may take 50 years, but sometimes it can happen.
But you got to be careful when you’ve got a limited military capability; you’ve got potential existential threats out there— as I mentioned, Russia and China; you got huge proliferation problems in countries like North Korea and Iran; and you’re truing to fight this war on terror, and you’ve got a lot of troops on the ground in Iraq. You’re committed about as much as you want to be committed. We’ve got to be very, very careful that we don’t overextend ourselves. You’re absolutely correct, and that’s why you need to look at the world through all these different prisms and see where our strategic interests really are and where we have to prioritize both our diplomatic efforts as well as our potential military efforts.
Having said that, it cannot be the basis of our policy that the most important thing is to have the concurrence of the world in what we do, or be liked in the world, or be the most popular. By definition, the fact that we are the one single superpower itself creates an opposition to us, even among erstwhile allies. And so you can’t say, “Let’s make ourselves weaker so the French will like us again.” That doesn’t work.
We have interests to protect, and the Constitution that Dr. Crow mentioned, that I am sworn to uphold, means that I have to make sure that I do my best, anyway, to see that the American people are protected; that my four grandkids, when they grow up, are not going to have to face serious security challenges in the world.
And what that means is, when you look at the Security Council at any given time, with 15 nations, made up of United Nations nations that are not democratic, who are engaged in genocide against their own people, who oppose freedom and democracy at every turn, as being part of the group that validates U.S. actions, I say no, we can never succumb to that.
Is it useful and desirable to try to have support from the rest of the world? Absolutely. Is it important strategically to be able— or tactically to be able to have the specific practical support of countries that have power? For example, France. France probably has more military capability, after Great Britain, than any other country, and it would be nice to have their support. But you can’t predicate your decision about what is in your best interest on gaining the favor of countries who have a different agenda. And if one of those agendas is to reduce American power, they’re going to see in these international institutions, in which they have a veto, a way of exercising that power to diminish our power. And that is something we can’t do.
And that’s why I just believe we need to look at alternative constructs that will challenge the United Nations to do better, to look within itself and say: If we’re going to be relevant to the future, we’d better get our act together.
And a final point. One of the reasons that we needed to work within the United Nations in the Iraq situation was unique to Iraq. The legal case for going against Saddam Hussein was simply this: In 1991, he signed an agreement to do a variety of things, one of which was essentially to pile up all of his weapons in front of the world— this was to be an internationally observed event— and get rid of everything. He never did that. And after 17 U.N. resolutions saying you never did that, you got to do it because as far as we’re concerned, based upon your most recent declaration, five years before we— or, well, 1998, I guess it was— in which you said you still had this stuff and you’ve never destroyed it and it was your obligation to destroy it and you’re shooting at our airplanes or the British airplanes every day who are flying in the no-fly zone— you signed an agreement. The United Nations is the entity that has the ability to enforce that agreement. At some point, if it’s going to mean anything, you’ve got to take action.
So that was U.S. action based not just on our own security needs and the potential threat that he might have or pose, but also to enforce U.N. resolutions. The U.N. will never be an organization of significance if it’s not willing to enforce its own resolutions, and the United States— paradoxically— was attempting to try to help do that in the action that we took.
Now you can argue about the timing and all the rest of it. I happen to agree with my colleague, [Senator] John McCain [R-Ariz.], who said it wasn’t a choice between the status quo and invading; the status quo wasn’t going to be the status quo for very much longer because the oil-for- food program and other things. The sanctions were going to be lifted, and the Duelfer report makes very clear that the minute that happened, Saddam Hussein was ready to begin reconstituting his weapons. That’s the challenge that we faced. And according to my colleague— and I agree— and the president, you had to make a decision: Do you confront this issue on your time and under circumstances that are more favorable to you, or do you wait until you’ve got a problem like North Korea and Iran? And that was the decision that was made. But again, the point was it was under the auspices originally of a U.N.--of enforcement of a U.N. resolution.
Talked too long. But listen, I hope that’s enough to at least start the conversation today. I know it’ll be a lively one—
CROW: I’m sorry; it’ll be burning once you’re gone. [Laughter.]
KYL: --in preparation for an even more— perhaps an even more lively debate tonight. So thanks a lot. [Applause.] Thanks a lot.
CROW: Yeah. Glad you could be here. [Applause.]
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