MS. EINHORN: Good morning. I'm Jessica Einhorn, and I want to welcome everyone to today's Council on Foreign Relations meeting with Senator Chuck Hagel.
As a reminder, could you all please make sure that you have turned off your cell phones, BlackBerrys and any other ringing devices that work in the wireless world. I also want to call your attention to the fact that today's meeting is actually on the record, which is not the usual format at the council. (Ringing is heard.) There it goes! (Laughter.) Thank you very much.
As you know from the council e-mail, Senator Hagel has recently returned from his fifth trip to Iraq, and he shared some of his impressions two weeks ago in The Washington Post. Today in our conversation we will hear from the senator about these and other issues on his mind, and then engage in a conversation with him that will conclude at 9:30 sharp.
There's little need for an introduction to the fourth-generation Nebraskan, the senior senator of his state. Senator Hagel's journey from his home state university to the Senate is the stuff of the American ideal before the movies made that into a phrase of irony. If we had topped off his resume before the Senate, we still would have found an American war hero, with public service in his DNA, a flare for private success, an early appreciation for technology, and a record of personal courage and conviction.
The years since 9/11, it's easy to say, have been a difficult time for America. Senator Hagel has wrestled with that difficulty from the prominent platform of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is well known for taking the issues related to the war and searching for the answers that are independent of party affiliation.
At this time of intense and important partisan negotiation of a controversial legislation, it's of particular interest to hear from Senator Hagel.
Senator, the podium's yours.
SEN. HAGEL: (Applause.) Jessica, thank you. And I am grateful for an opportunity to be here, exchange some thoughts and learn from your most enlightened panel that you have assembled here, all 100 of you. And I look forward to questions, comments, suggestions, solutions, insults, whatever, if you would care to share.
Over the weekend, not unlike many of you in the audience, being responsible parents -- some of you might be irresponsible parents. (Laughter.) I can't identify you quickly, but nonetheless you may be there. I spent Saturday at my eighth-grade son's baseball game, then taking my daughter to a horseback-riding lesson. She's a sophomore in high school. Planting flowers. Painting the floor of one room in our basement. And doing some reading and preparing myself for two speeches that I gave in New York yesterday.
Then on Sunday, my daughter read for the first time before the congregation at our church and my son was an usher, and so the family was in a high state of spiritual exhilaration for all of those great deeds. And of course my wife was given credit, as she should have been, for her leadership in those areas. Me being a shameless politician, we're rarely connected with anything spiritual. (Laughter.) But nonetheless, I make a hell of an effort most of the time.
During that 48 hours of great joy, and it was, I read -- reread President Eisenhower's farewell address, which is a very short speech which I'm sure most of you have read. I don't know how many of you have read it recently. But I have always believed that 1961 -- January 1961 speech given by, in my opinion, one of the best presidents we ever had, said as much in as few a words about the world, but maybe more importantly, where the world was going. And if you've not read it recently, you should read it, because it's a very short speech, maybe five pages long, and every paragraph in that speech struck me again with what he had to say in 1961 and where we are in the world today.
And whether you measure that, of course, through the most attention he received from that speech, often referred to as the military-industrial complex speech -- and by the way, many of you may know that there was a word taken out of that phrase. The word taken out of that was the military-industrial-congressional, and "congressional" was taken out. It should not have been, actually. It should have been kept in there. It would have been a little more riveting. Probably more attention would have been paid to that part of the speech, but nonetheless a lot of attention was paid to the speech. But that was the piece of the speech that received the most attention.
But I wanted to share one sentence with you, which is going to elide me into some general comments this morning about our world, and then we'll open it up and talk about whatever you want to talk about. But early on in the speech, he says this in talking about America's leadership and pre-eminence in the world and our future leadership capabilities and the emerging dynamics of a dynamic world that we can't control nor predict. And so that's the framework of the context of what I'm about ready to share with you. And he says in all of this, "Understandably proud of this American pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches and military strength but most importantly on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment."
I think he captures in his statement the essence of, certainly, the success of our country over the last 60 years in the world. Because we the United States have been more identified with helping others, a foreign policy, a policy not just rooted in our own self-interest. And of course we respond in our own self-interest. Every nation does. That's a predictable dynamic of foreign policy, and there's a safety valve in all of that. When nation's actions are unpredictable, that's what's dangerous, and predictability is good in this.
And when he focuses on how we use our power, that's a perception issue, which today we're not doing very well with around the world. And I need not remind everyone in this audience, our standing in the world, by measurements of any of your liking, is as low as it has been since polling probably began, or certainly is as low as it's been since World War II. And this includes indispensable allies since World War II, like Turkey, good, strong, historical allies like Great Britain, Australia. And when you look at those numbers, what the perception is in those countries of America, many of those perceptions are in the teens. Some are below 10 percent.
If, as President Eisenhower noted, America is to continue to project responsible, respected leadership in the world, then it is very much going to revolve around how the world sees our use of power and whether that connects in the minds and the eyes, the souls, the hearts of the people of the world with their interests.
And when you further examine the demographics of the world today -- 6.5 billion people now living in this global community, underpinned by a global economy -- and that almost 40 percent of the world's population is 19 years old and younger, and when you look at nations like Iran or Vietnam or Pakistan, these are countries with overwhelming majorities under the age of 25 and under the age of 30. So what does that mean, what does that prove? Well, what it means is that we are living through probably an historic global generational shift. We've never seen the numbers shifting like they are. And for the United States and Europe, we're on the other side of that; our populations are growing older, our percentages of our population are older. The emerging markets, the emerging world, the emerging powers are the younger generations.
Now, there are two points here. And one was reflected in a book review that I read over the weekend. I've not read the book, and some of you might be familiar with it, it's a new book called, "The Emerging Markets Century." And the thesis of that book, according to what I read, was that by the year 2030 the emerging markets, including the emerging countries, and also emerging companies -- not just countries, but companies -- will essentially dominate the economic power landscape in the world. And this writer is so bold to project that it will eclipse the now developed nations in economic strength.
And I've, again, not read the book, so I can't go into the detail of how he projects that. But when you just examine the thesis of that point, I don't think it's a wild assertion that the world is changing at a rate that's almost incalculable. And many in this room do business around the world, you certainly have interests around the world; you are all connected in some way around the world. You see this happening. And the rate of that change is forcing a global realignment that we have not seen probably since World War II or after World War II. And we, the United States, do not want to be on the outside of that alignment. And if in fact we are to lead -- and I believe we must lead in the next generation, for the next 20 or 25 years -- I'll worry -- let the rest of the younger people worry about the next years after that. But as a policymaker, I have some responsibility for that now. As a father, I have some responsibility for that now.
And the challenge that faces America, whether you look at Iraq -- and we'll talk a little bit about the Middle East and Iraq here in a minute -- but you look at the trouble spots in the world today, it is going to require, as I think it will around the world in every region, a reintroduction of America, a reintroduction of American values, our standards, our purpose, who we are. Because when you look at those demographics, what it tells you is the world is now dominated by a population that has no understanding, no experience of World War II, of really who America is, other than our music, Internet, jeans. It isn't all bad, but there's a lot more to us than that. But the world is seeing a different kind of America than this last generation of the world saw.
The last generation of the world was connected to who we were because we went through a very, very difficult time in the world together, whether you want to start that with World War I or the Great Depression -- but I start it around World War II. And that World War II generation that was somehow connected to us in the rebuilding of the world, the economy. And mistakes -- we made plenty of mistakes, of course we did. But overall, our record has been pretty good. And I'll put America's record in foreign policy, or any policy, up against any nation over the last 250 years -- with all of our flaws, with all our mistakes. We still have been the one nation who has helped guide a world to a higher ground, to a better place. We didn't do that alone, we can't do that alone.
Certainly the great threats of the 21st century are far beyond one nation's capacity to deal with it, whether it's proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, Islamic fundamentalism, poverty, endemic health issues, the environment. Probably the most insidious challenge we face of all is despair, because when man is without dignity, nothing else matters.
So all those threats and challenges are real, they are there. It's going to require, in new global alignment, leaders. And I believe -- and I talk to a lot of leaders, and I get around the world, like you do. The world wants America to lead. The America that the world looks to is not America that imposes or dictates or is unilateral, and we undermine our own self-interest when we do that. And when you look at where we have gotten ourselves in most trouble over the years, it's when we have been either unilateral in our actions or projected or believed to be unilateral in our actions.
So this reintroduction of America to the world is, I think, the most pressing challenge that we will have in this country for some time to come. We must reconnect with this new generation of mankind, because if we lose that generation -- and the challenges are far more complicated today than they were when Eisenhower wrote this in 1961. I mean, you have a billion-and-a-half Muslims in the world. We certainly do not want a projection, a perception, a misunderstanding to develop and develop deep in this young generation that somehow the United States and the West is against the Muslim community and that's easily because of intentional misrepresentation and other reasons. But that is easily accepted in too many communities around the world, and we must do everything we can to avoid that.
This realignment that is occurring right before us -- and you see it, economic realignments, you see political realignments. As is always the case in the history of man, people will move to the higher ground or their own self-interest, and India, China are two good examples of how things are moving in different directions. And I think generally our administrations over the past few administrations have played those China-India relationships pretty well. There may be some calculation issues, but, for example, the arrangement that we made with India last year, imperfect -- you could scale that back and pick it apart on proliferation issues; you could take it and examine it and come out with a different view than most of us came out with -- but over all, I thought it represented some creative foreign policy thinking in the clear interests of the United States.
We're not going to unwind where India is nuclear-wise. We're not going to convince them to give up their nuclear capacity. So aren't we far wiser to try to work arrangements on the inside where we have some more influence than we had. Certainly it's in our influence, certainly it affects relationships with China. These are difficult, as many of you know. Many of you have been practitioners in this business, because I see many distinguished former senior officials of this government, ambassadors and others, in this audience -- that you know it is never about the perfect solution. It is always about some arc of interest within that perfect solution, possibility that you come up with, and you finally land on.
But when we look at these great challenges that face not just Iraq, not just the Middle East but the world, and you put some focus on those trouble spots, you can clearly identify every area of the world that is in great stress, in some cases in violent turmoil, with the groups or people that were clearly left behind over the last 60 years. The historic advances of mankind over the last 60 years by any measurement, in any field of endeavor -- whether it's science, whether it's technology, whether it's health, transportation, financial services -- has been astounding. But not all people's of the world were beneficiaries, and every troubled region of the world represents those peoples who were left behind, whether it's the Middle East, whether it's North Korea, whether it's -- many countries in Latin America. They are the ones that do not benefit from market economies, individual liberties, representative government, and those are the areas -- Africa is obviously a clear example of that -- those are the areas that we all are going to have to put a new focus on and understand clear and adjust policies for the human dynamic that has always driven the great issues of the world.
When men are chained down, there will be eruptions. This is all predictable. And you cannot sustain any kind of world order without understanding and addressing the human conditions of man. It will never, ever be any different. And today it's more dangerous than when Eisenhower talked about it in '61, because our margins of error now are far fewer. The calibration of bad decisions, of bad policies -- you don't have the time we used to have to correct those. When you're talking about weapons of mass destruction and the insidious efforts of those in the world who are positioned in pockets -- terrorists -- that we can't clearly always identify who they are or where they are, it makes it very difficult, even for great powers like the United States, when we are hit or when we think there may be something coming. And that's why even more importantly, I think, than ever before, our coalitions of common interests, all the institutions that were formed after World War II for the common interests of man to work together, to deal with global challenges. And if there was ever a time there were global challenges, these are all global challenges today.
These institutions are going to have to be strengthened, enhanced. And if there is a way to deal with these great issues -- and I inventoried some of them -- then it will take, for example, a more enhanced, seamless network of intelligence gathering and sharing with our allies than we have ever had. We've made some good progress in this area. Some of the countries in North Africa, where we have been able to do things that we've never been able to do before -- that's partly because we've had good leadership, strong leadership, but self-interest, mutual self-interest.
Most nations of the world do not want a strong terrorist organization in their country. That's why I have never accepted the so-called theory that if the United States leaves Iraq or when we leave Iraq and the Iraqi government is not the government that we hoped it would be or want it to be or maybe will be, then therefore that will be a base for al Qaeda. I don't accept that. I think that runs counterintuitive to everything I know about the people in the Middle East. The Sunnis and the Shi'as and the Kurds do not embrace al Qaeda. They do not support al Qaeda. They do not want al Qaeda running their country. So that's some of the same thinking by those who got us into the mess we're in in Iraq today.
Is terrorism real? Is al Qaeda in Iraq? Is al Qaeda around the world? Are there other terrorist organizations around the world? Yes. Yes. But we have to be far wiser and smarter in the use of our military, in the use of our foreign policy strategies, tactics, relationships, alignments. And just as the Baker-Hamilton commission report noted -- and I was a strong supporter of those 79 recommendations -- taken in the total, I thought they represented a tremendous opportunity for this administration to build a new frame of reference for going forward, a bipartisan consensus in Iraq. The administration chose not to do that.
But if you look at those 79 recommendations, it was a very wise, smart use of all instruments of a nation's power -- diplomatic, economic, military -- and that will be of course the only way that we are going to be able to have influence in these areas where we have interests. Of course we have interests in Iraq. Of course we have interests in the Middle East. But I also never believed that those who say, well, we're going to have a significant military force presence in the Middle East for years to come -- I don't believe that will be the case. And the reason I don't believe that will be the case -- when you look at some of the countries in the Gulf states -- Qatar, Bahrain, UAE -- where we have smaller contingents -- Kuwait -- but the so-called continental Middle East, the large countries of the Middle East, I don't believe the Muslim populations will ever allow their leaders to encamp large contingents of American or Western military forces on their land.
And I have some ambassadors here and generals here who served many years in the Middle East, and they may have a whole different view of this. But I, for example, spoke in some detail with three rather significant Middle East ambassadors to the United States last week, and I asked them about this. And that's what they told me. That will not happen.
And if you want any further evidence of that, look at Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt. We have trainers there, but I think -- and these are not classified numbers -- in Egypt we have maybe 40 U.S. service military personnel in training exercises. Now in the Sinai, we are part of, as you know, the multinational group, where we have, I think, about 700. Jordan we have maybe 50 American military trainers. Saudi Arabia today, we have about 300, where we are using our trainers, working with their police, working with some of their security people.
But the point is, we have to view the Middle East from a far wider lens than we have in the past. Iraq cannot be viewed in some isolation. Iraq is part of the general regional dynamic of security. Iran -- there will be no peace or stability, security in the Middle East without Iran being involved in that in some way.
That's why I have strongly encouraged and was pleased to see Secretary Rice meet with the Syrian foreign minister last week in Egypt.
The Baker-Hamilton report was rather clear on that point. Great nations engage. Great nations engage because they believe in who they are. Great nations engage because they are strong. Great nations engage because they are secure in their beliefs.
I mean, I occasionally will use Ronald Reagan as an example here, as a president who in every time he had an opportunity, almost, to mention the Soviet Union in a speech or anywhere, he referred to them in rather harsh terms and always -- almost always as the "evil empire." But Ronald Reagan engaged the Soviets. He sat down with the Soviets. He knew that great powers had to engage. Things don't get better when you don't engage. Things don't get better when you defer the problem. That's, I think, rather constant in life. Whether it's a medical problem or there's a relationship problem or whatever it is, if you got a problem, you better fix it. You better deal with it.
And we have to deal with some of these issues, and I don't think we're doing a very good job overall in how we're doing that.
And when you look at the Middle East today, I doubt if there would be many people who would say that the Middle East is in better shape today than it was four years ago, that it is less dangerous or less complicated. Of course not. It is far more dangerous. It is far more complicated. We have far more difficulties than we did four years ago.
I don't say that that's all the fault of the United States. There are many uncontrollables, and that's another dynamic in this business that many of you had to deal with for your careers. You factor in uncontrollables. You can't control uncontrollables. And so you fasten onto and you focus on the areas where you can exercise control. It's -- whether you put a business plan together or any other kind of plan, you factor in those uncontrollables into the equation of your plan, of your strategies.
But you have to have a plan. You have to have a large, wide strategy. What is the policy that is to lead that strategy? What is the strategy then to implement that policy? But there has to be a policy, and it must include -- it must include -- the nations of the Middle East, for example, if we're talking about Iraq. That's why some of us have pushed over the years for a regional conference, for bringing other powers in, for bringing the people in who have the most to win or lose, who will be most affected by the outcome in Iraq. Yes, we'll be affected by it, but we're not going to be affected by it as much as King Abdullah in Jordan. Those people who have the most to win or lose must always be part of the process and the strategy and the solution and the development of that solution.
Well, I've not gone deeply into any of these issues, but I wanted to leave that for questions. But I thought to give you maybe, at least in my opinion, a general scope -- view of what I think we need to do, going back to Eisenhower, to project our country, our standards, our values, not impose those standards.
But tolerance is going to be a big part of this, and we are going to have to accept the world in many ways as it is. That doesn't mean that we don't strive to work with nations to help them, to be better, to unchain them, to give them more opportunities, but we can't fix the problem for them. And I think if there is an essence of an issue that we are finally delineating down to in Iraq, that is, it's the Iraqi people are going to have to sort this out. We can help them. We've been there now for more than four years, in our fifth year, at a very high cost to this country. You saw the front page of The Washington Post today. The Iraq-Afghanistan combined wars are now the most expensive set of wars that the United States has been engaged in, except World War II. We have now surpassed Vietnam, and where this ends, I don't know.
But the Iraqi people will determine the outcome of Iraq. We can help, we can support, we can train -- we will continue to do that. But at some point, they have to take some responsibility for the outcome of their country, for their fate. I know that's difficult, but we can't continue to do that; we won't continue to do that. You know where the political reality is on this, and the thing that we have to be very careful about is that we don't allow this to get to a crisis point. I noted this in my Washington Post piece that I wrote. That not unlike what happened in 1975 in the Congress regarding Vietnam, it won't happen exactly that way -- it's a different time, different situation, different dynamics -- but there are some parallels.
The American people have just said, "Enough is enough, and we want out. And we don't give a damn about the consequences; we want them out now." That's where this is going unless we get some control of this, in the sense that we can control as much of our own destiny and bring as many of our partners into this. That is not the right way to leave Iraq. That's not the way most members of Congress want to do this, and we shouldn't do it that way. But the political reality, it may well get to that point, and we need to avoid that. We need to assure that the people of our country, and certainly of the Middle East and Iraq, can count on the United States. We have implications, we have consequences, as we always do when we get into these things -- but more importantly, how do we get out of them -- that will live with us and policies for a long time. So this has to be handled just right.
Well, again, you were very generous to give me an opportunity to speak to your much-learned group here, Jessica, and I always look forward to being here and look forward to taking questions.
Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
MS. EINHORN: Thank you. It comes to the time to invite the council members to join in the discussion. I'm going to pose one question, and read out the rules, and then open this up.
You started the -- if you'd like to sit down, they can mike you, and if you'd rather stay up there, either one is okay.
You started the speech with the interesting quote, which clearly resonates with you, on Eisenhower and the military industrial complex. I wonder if you have some thoughts about how that military industrial congressional complex -- and maybe it's too precise -- is it affecting the resolution debate that we're having right now about Iraq?
And while you get miked and think of that answer, let me just mention the rules that we have a custom of describing at the council. We'll be inviting the council members to join the discussion. Please wait for a microphone, which will be quick to come to you, and speak directly into it. Could you please stand up and tell us your name and affiliation, if you have one to share. And as you know from council meetings, we ask that you keep your questions concise. Many of you may have two of them, but try and resolve to give only one of your questions, and allow as many as possible members to speak.
So with my one question, and then, we'll open it up.
SEN. HAGEL: More to the point, the senator should keep his answers concise. (Laughter.) It's in our contract to just go on and on, you know. (Laughter.)
The current debate on the resolution is factoring in all the dynamics of the immediate -- where do we go from here; what may happen next year. But we are not particularly good and never have been at more far-ranging, visionary actions when it comes to supplementals or any other action required by the president's request or what we do ourselves. Partly that is a measure of when you -- the fact that we are dealing with a so-called emergency supplemental. And if you just define that term, emergency means to most of us, we need the money right now. So we are not expected to do any long-term thinking, even if we were capable of that.
I am not one who believes you should ever, ever complicate these kind of things. I, for example, told Harry Reid and the Democrats, and I'd been working with both sides on this, that we should have stripped all the money out except for what the president requested. Now incidentally many of you know, there's a lot of money in there within the $25 billion of the new money that is for veterans, that is for directly connected military issues.
But it complicates it. And it allows both sides to play political games, which both sides are not immune from, saying, as the president does: Well, that's all -- that's pork in there. And: There we go, we're getting money for the spinach people in California when the poor troops need the money.
Well, take that away from both sides. Just keep it simple. Take the money out, keep it focused on the roughly hundred billion the president wanted. Let's keep the debate on the issue.
Second, the language. There will be some language. In my opinion, there needs to be some language. We're now in the fifth year of this conflict at a very high cost to this country. And what this administration projected would be the case, none of that has turned out. And so the Congress not only has a constitutional responsibility, but I think we have a moral responsibility.
When I had to call the parents of two young people who were killed, from Nebraska, in Iraq last week, they asked me the question. I'm not going to confide in anyone else what I talked about to those two parents of those two young soldiers who were killed, but they asked me some pretty tough questions: Where was the Congress? What were we doing about this? Did we have any role in this?
Of course we have a role in this. We've been embarrassingly absent on this debate the last four years. So, where do we go from here, and what we likely to see? We're going to see so-called benchmarks. We're going to see probably no specific timelines. We're going to try to find some consensus that enough members of the House and Senate will vote for and the president will sign.
But I think where this goes -- and it's the old Wayne Gretzky hockey conversation, when Gretsky was asked the question, "Why are you considered one of the greatest, maybe the greatest hockey player of all time?" and Gretzky said, "Well, I don't know about that but," he said, "I had a very simple principle always when I was playing. I always tried not to skate to where the puck was. I tried to always skate to where I thought the puck would be."
That should be the guiding principle, call it the "puck principle," in foreign policy. You should be guiding your policies toward where you think the puck is going to be. That's what we should be doing in this resolution, because that puck is going to land right in the middle of everything around September. You saw, most likely, most of you saw the story on the front page of The Post on that as well. That's what the Republicans and the Democrats are saying. That's what Petraeus is saying.
So you now have almost a self-imposed kind of a deadline of September. So when September comes along -- many of my Republican colleagues are quoted in this saying, well, we're in or out, or the president's going to be standing there alone, or Petraeus is going to have something to say. I don't like the idea of half the money now, half the money later. I don't think -- General Meigs is sitting here. We have some distinguished military leaders in this room. I don't think that's smart for our military, to put them in that kind of a position. I don't think it's smart in any way.
The other thing, it's the reality of this. So July comes along, and Petraeus and the president have to come to Congress. And what are they going to say? "I don't need the money"? "It's not working"? "We're being defeated"? I doubt that Petraeus and the president will say that. They might. So we go through the whole thing again. We take America through the whole thing again. Well, it's just nonsense. It's irresponsible.
And unfortunately, it resonates in a very partisan way. And I think the Democrats have really misplayed a lot of this, and I've told them that. You don't want to go around saying, "Well, the Republicans are going to -- they're going to loose a lot of seats over the war next year." The fact is, the Democrats, if you want to calculate it in just a raw political way, they're doing pretty well. When you have almost 68 percent of the American people going the other way on this and do not support the president's policies in Iraq, the Democrats ought to just shut up and let that play rather than making it more partisan.
Plus, I've never believed and never seen in any responsible way how a war, when men and women are dying, when the prestige of your country is on the line, how that somehow should be calculated, calibrated as a political issue.
Now, I ask the question, if Bill Clinton would have gotten us into Iraq, how would that break out in the Congress today? Do you think all the Republicans would be for it? I would be quite surprised if all Republicans were for Bill Clinton's war in Iraq. But it's George Bush's war in Iraq. So now all the Democrats -- would all the Democrats be for Bill Clinton's war? Unfortunately, that's the reality of the business that we're in, but it's a very dangerous reality. I don't believe you can ever, ever judge, evaluate, calculate a war based on a partisan position. And I get this all the time, I'm not a loyal Republican -- actually one of the nicer things said about me. (Laughter.) But I'm not even a patriot. But how can I not support my party on the war? Well, it's not a party war, it's a war.
MS. EINHORN: Okay, let's see, everybody who would like to raise a question just raise your hand so we can get a sense of the size of the crowd that's been asking.
And I'll start right here.
Q I'm Priscilla Clapp, retired Foreign Service. Stepping aside from the Iraq issue at hand right now, I have another -- I have a question that relates to the Congress, getting to your point of disengagement.
It seems to me in the last few decades we have gone increasingly towards foreign policy tools that are disengagement, whether it's sanctions or denying foreign aid or denying military aid or somehow punishing countries that we think aren't doing the right thing. A lot of this impetus comes from the Congress. It is legislated, the Congress legislates and the executive branch has to carry through. Having been out in the field following legislative mandates from the Congress, I know how painful that can be in managing relations, foreign relations.
I'm wondering how as we try to adjust our position in the world after Iraq, how the Congress can come around to being more on the side of engagement and accepting subtleties in foreign policy and somehow getting beyond bipartisan fights over everything. It just seems a very dysfunctional Congress when you compare it particularly to what Eisenhower had.
SEN. HAGEL: Well, thank you, I think. (Laughter.) But --
MS. EINHORN: And that's going to be a big question -- (inaudible) -- large crowd.
SEN. HAGEL: It's all those other uninformed members of Congress.
MS. EINHORN: (Laughs.)
SEN. HAGEL: Thank you for your service. You have just very clearly stated one of the big problems that we have, and you are exactly right. When we get off riding down the trail in the Congress on an uninformed area that most of us really don't understand -- you used the term nuance -- I know that is not a particularly good word in this administration -- nuance but foreign policy is all about nuance and the activation and the implementation of foreign policy. I don't have to tell all of you, you're the pros. And we get into things we shouldn't be in.
Sanctions are a good example, you know, well let's just sanction somebody. And then we get on the floor and we're going to sanction somebody and we're going to take this away from them, either they comply with all of this. How you stop that, you'll never stop it because we are Article I of the Constitution, and so every member of Congress has a right to get up and make a big fool of himself as long as he wants to do that. And God knows I've been there.
So I think the way that this is going to have to be handled is a more bipartisan effort. But it has to, I've always believed, start with the president and start with his team, because that is the one identifiable unit of government -- Article 2 -- that is defined as the national leadership of a country. And that's why we elect them, and that's why in the separation of powers they have specific powers.
They are the ones that have to lead that effort. They are the ones that have to reach out to the Congress. They are the ones -- the president, the secretary of State, national security advisor bring people in to try to head off some of these issues. They can't wait for it to happen, because it will happen. And it does happen, and it affects, for example, your profession, the career people. And the career people sit in your offices, and you're around the world, and you shake your head and say, my God what are they going to do next; they're all mad up there; they have no concept of what we're doing out here; they're working against our own interest.
Give you a very clear example of it, in my opinion -- it's not exactly what you're talking about. But I think it's a clear example, is immigration reform. Every country I go to, every U.S. ambassador I see, and I'm out and around a lot, and the career people, at the State Department and other branches or other departments of our government, always talk with me about the visas and the problems and so on. And somehow we are not being able to find a consensus, a common consensus on these type of things.
Now part of the problem we have now, and this is just the reality that we live with, is, as you noted, a war always fractures -- almost, I mean, World War II didn't. But the other wars did, certainly Vietnam. It gets to a point, if they drag out, they will fracture any kind of consensus. We're seeing that now in the Congress. And when that happens, then you cannot produce any wise foreign policy initiatives. And what you see then is more of these amendments, these sanctions, these, well, we're-going-to-punish-somebody kind of efforts going on.
And I don't think you can ever start also by saying, you're either for us or against us. That's not the way to influence outcomes in the world. You're talking about 190 sovereign nations of the world. You're talking about different cultures and religions and ethnicity and geopolitical strategic differences and concerns. And I don't think you can put friends and allies in those kind of positions by saying, you're either for us or against us. There's where public diplomacy becomes a critical element that I don't think we've done very well, probably because we haven't done it over the last few years, and I think we're paying a high price.
So I wish I could fix the problem. I can't. I understand what you're saying. You're right. But what I suggested on a couple of these fronts may be areas where we should do something more about it.
And I just finished reading a book written by Robert Donovan. Most of you would not remember him or know him, but he was the International Herald Tribune White House correspondent back in the Eisenhower days. And in those days, Jonathan, there were very few White House correspondents, and you just had a few. And it was totally, as we know, different.
Well, Donovan got to know Eisenhower and his people pretty well, and he wrote this book about Eisenhower's first administration. It's a fascinating book. When I first was -- I first heard about it; someone referenced it; we couldn't find it anywhere. I mean, it's nowhere to be found.
MS. EINHORN: Not even the Library of Congress --
SEN. HAGEL: Well, we finally got it at the Library of Congress back somewhere, and they had one copy of it, and I have it, by the way. Well, I'm going to give it back, but I -- (Laughter.)
But part of what Eisenhower was talking about in his first few, first two years -- some of you might recall this. He had a very difficult time dealing with his own party. His first two years of his administration, when he had control of the Congress, the people who were giving him the biggest fits were his own people, the Republicans.
And he wasn't altogether that upset when they lost the Congress two years later, because he was having a very difficult time. And then a lot of things happened, too, before that with Vandenberg and Truman, but those were times of some common purpose that they were able to define. And a president must do that. And certain circumstances force that, too, sometimes, that it just becomes a more productive, conducive time for that. But presidents really do make a difference, I think, and their secretaries usually help them with that.
MS. EINHORN: Okay. We have about 10 minutes left, and I think what I'm going to do -- and I'll take some notes so the senator doesn't have to remember -- is call on two or three people for quick questions. I'll write them down, and then Senator Hagel can weave his answers as he wishes.
There's a question here, there's one in the back and one there, so let's go.
Q Yes. My name's Jerry Johnson with American Capital. To use your puck analogy, it seems like the puck is moving toward a nuclear Iran. In what scenario do you see that being acceptable? And at what point do you think the U.S. should use force to stop a nuclear Iran?
MS. EINHORN: Thank you. Second question. Who was our second question, please? If you don't remember, then I'm not going to remember. I think it's back there.
Q Mark Brzezinski, McGuire Woods. You mentioned a reintroduction of America. Tom Friedman wrote that climate change might be something that would unify generations in America and would build bridges with other countries around the world. Could you comment a little bit on that thesis, that the future way to link people in America and with the world is not red, white and blue but green, but also give some more texture to, I thought, your very compelling comment about reintroducing America to the world.
MS. EINHORN: Wonderful, especially with our new leadership in France, who -- to have that question. And -- (inaudible).
Q Margaret Hayes from Evidence Based Research. You mentioned in your comments that the Iraqi people are going to need to sort out their political future. I venture to say that one of the reasons that the American public is losing support for the adventure in Iraq is that it doesn't seem that a leadership is coalescing to bring a solution compromise in that situation. Could you give us some insight into the problems confronting the Iraqi leadership and why they aren't able to reach a compromise?
MS. EINHORN: Okay. So we have Iran, climate change and where we expect the Iraqis to be able to come together, before the Council calls the clock on us, and maybe we'll get more questions.
SEN. HAGEL: Okay. Thank you.
On Iran, first, I think you must engage Iran directly. And I think you can never lay down preconditions on a sovereign nation. Iran is a large, significant nation with a long culture of history. It has tremendous resources. Geopolitically where it lies, strategically, the influence it has in the Middle East -- I don't think you -- when you back a country into a corner like we're doing with our policy, is going to produce anything particularly beneficial or productive. I would engage Iran. I would engage those talks. I would start as soon as you could. I would not put preconditions down. I would use the entire arc of interest, the differences that we have, not just try to segment those differences -- "Well, you all be better boys in Iraq, and then we'll maybe we'll do some other things" -- you're not going to be able to move anything forward there.
We don't really know what Iran has and what it doesn't have, partly because we have not been in there since 1979. We have secondhand intelligence in there. We need to find out more about what they have, what they don't have. We really don't understand it all. On military options -- certainly our nation has military options, but those should always be the absolute last resort. And you've got to understand, when you're using your military, there will be consequences and unintended consequences that will flow from that, and you better be damn well prepared to accept that. I don't think any talk about pre-emptive strikes on Iran, using our military on Iran is wise at all. I think it's counterproductive. I think it's stupid. It drives the Muslim world against us. It drives the Middle East against us. It drives much of the world against us. We don't need to do that. We don't need to do that. So that would be my quick take on Iran.
Climate change -- the issue that was raised by Tom Friedman -- he's right. I think that is one of those common denominator issues where America has really missed, I think, a point here.
I remember in the spring of 2001, I was asked to come to the White House and present my thoughts on the Kyoto Protocol -- which I have opposed; it was the Byrd-Hagel protocol that was voted on in the Senate in 1997 by -- voted 95 to zero and put the Senate on record on Kyoto. I thought -- I'd always thought it was a bad protocol for a lot of reasons, never would work and so on and so on.
But what I say, however -- and I always maintained this, and this is what I told the vice president and most of the Cabinet that day in the Cabinet Room -- the president was not there. Most of his Cabinet was. What I suggested the administration's policy be is move quickly to take a new initiative, an alternative to Kyoto, put something back on the table, engage our partners, engage our alliances, engage our people across the globe who felt that there was something going on and we needed to address this issue. Now we can debate the specifics of that, but it was incumbent upon the greatest power on Earth, the most significant emitter of man-made greenhouse gases, to put something back on the table, take the initiative. That is an issue that can serve as a foundational relationship type issue, because it's in the common interest of everybody, of mankind, to deal with this.
And even though this administration -- and a lot of my language in my bills is now law, especially the two titles -- environmental titles in the 2005 energy act on this -- the administration has moved in a lot of positive ways, and we have spent a lot of money. But it is not a definable program, or it's never been something most of the world has associated with what we're doing -- partnerships with developing countries, billions of dollars in R&D, reaching out to these countries. We've been doing that, actually, but no one's much aware of that.
And then we had the third question, about --
MS. EINHORN: Iraqi leadership.
SEN. HAGEL: -- Iraqi leadership. When I was there two weeks ago, I spent an hour and a half with the prime minister. I spent a lot of time with Iraqi leaders -- Shi'as, mostly; some Sunnis, Kurds; the president, deputy foreign minister, governor of Anbar province.
I think you could -- if we could bring back George Washington, I think he'd even have a hell of a time trying to bring something together in Iraq.
But the fact is, something is going to have to be brought to together. There is going to have to be some consensus. It will be imperfect. It will be flawed. It will not be, I suspect, the way we would like to see it come out. But unless there is some stability that starts to find a center of gravity there through some leadership, then the chaos that will continue to ensue will be very, very difficult to stop. And unfortunately, where that will go -- and I know King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia and Abdullah from Jordan and Mubarak and others are very concerned about this -- a regional Sunni-Shi'a conflict that could very well get out of hand if this is not controlled in some way.
I don't know if Maliki has the ability to get this done. He's dealing with a tremendous amount of uncontrollables here, and problems. But I am convinced on one thing -- and I'm not an expert on any of this; I've been there five times, so that doesn't make me an expert -- but unless the parliament, unless this Shi'a-dominated government is able to bring some consensus and bring in the Sunnis in some way, this is only going to get wider and deeper -- this problem.
And unfortunately, I heard from some senior Shi'a government members, when we talked about why can't we get a de-Ba'athification law through the parliament, why can't we get a hydrocarbon law done, why can't we get these new provincial elections, which -- the governor of Anbar province told me if he had some semblance of things or knowing that they would happen, or ability to go back to his Sunnis in that province and say, "They're paying attention; we're starting to get some help" -- for example, Anbar province is the size of Utah. No electricity in that province except that produced by portable generators. There's no potable water, no sanitation.
The Anbar province governor told me he had been in Baghdad, goes there two or three times a week -- try to get somebody's attention. I don't think there's really a functioning government there to get some help in there. He's going to lose what little they've been able to do, because the Sunnis are going to say -- and it's essentially pretty much across Iraq; things are worse today than they were before America invaded, measured by electricity output, oil output, sanitation, but the human condition -- are people's lives better? For the most part, no, they're not. Crime is rampant, all the rest of it. And until that human condition starts to be addressed, we're not going to find any political solution there.
And I mentioned this to Maliki and Talabani and others -- that they've got to move in some direction to start providing some of that human condition issue and address it, and they're going to need to bring the Sunnis in on this. At least there's going to have to be some confidence there that that's happening.
Whether they can do that, I don't know. Petraeus, Crocker, all of our people that have been there have always said -- and those who are there now say -- there will be no military solution in Iraq. General Petraeus said it again last week.
There is only one way out of this, and that's political reconciliation. And it will be flawed and imperfect, and there will be a problem, and I suspect this problem goes on for many years. I don't know that.
But that's what they have to do. I think they understand they have to do that. Whether they can do that or not, we can't do it for them.
MS. EINHORN: Well, it's too bad, of course, that time is now called out. But this was a terrific talk, and the theme of reintroduction of America, I think, is something that gives us a lot to think about, including following that puck. (Laughter.)
So let's thank Senator Hagel. (Applause.)
SEN. HAGEL: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much.
(C) COPYRIGHT 2007, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE.
NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.
UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.
FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.
FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT.