2008 Foreign Policy Symposium: Democracy and America's Role in the World

Thursday, September 4, 2008

MR. WEBER: Good morning and welcome, everybody, to our fourth day of programming at the Humphrey Institute in this Republican Convention week. I see a lot of people who -- some people who have been here throughout the week and some people who are probably here for the first time this week, but it's really been a remarkable week of programming here and I think you're -- I hope you're as excited about it as I've been.

I'm Vin Weber. I am a former Minnesota congressman, but when I'm here I point out that for 14 years now I've been a senior fellow at the Humphrey Institute and it's been really one of the more rewarding experiences of my life. And in a second I'm going to introduce the dean, who will moderate today's program, but we have to get a few thank-yous in order.

First of all, this entire week of programming has been cosponsored with the Humphrey Institute by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Win Wallin Foundation. We'd like to thank them for their generous support.

Today's program, this panel is hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations, and I'm proud also to be a member of the board of trustees of the Council on Foreign Relations, and for financial support the council has been helped out by Chevron Corporation, Coca-Cola, and Stanford Financial, so we thank them for their generous support for today's programming.

I want to pay special tribute to my friend, Dr. Larry Jacobs, who is the head of the -- who is with the Humphrey Institute and has really put together most of the work that's been done this week. Thank you, Larry, for all the leadership that you've shown for us.

And now to move on to this very exciting panel we're going to have this morning on a very important topic in front of us. It's my real pleasure to introduce Brian Atwood. Dean Atwood has been here for a few years now and has really led the Humphrey Institute in a remarkable new direction. Prior to this he did do his service as AID administrator and president of the National Democratic Institute, and the leadership that he has provided us here at the Humphrey Institute has been truly extraordinary. Join me in welcoming Dean Atwood.


MR. ATWOOD: Thank you very much, Vin. And Vin belongs to so many organizations, is affiliated with so many, we're very proud that he's been affiliated with us all these years. He does a wonderful job entertaining our policy fellows when they go to Washington. There isn't anyone in Washington who doesn't know Vin, and on both sides of the aisle. But today the relevant affiliation is that Vin is the chairman of the National Endowment for Democracy, a very prestigious position and a program that was basically initiated during the Reagan administration by President Reagan in a bipartisan way. So we'll talk more about that in a minute.

I also want to recognize Professor Larry Jacobs. And this has been a wonderful three days, and it will be four by the end of this day, and he's done such a great job in getting these panels together, and the affiliations we've had with groups like the Council on Foreign Relations has really made this work very, very well.

I also want to thank Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Richard has a very rich experience in foreign policy and he's been a great leader. My friend Les Gelb was the leader of the council and I thought probably no one could do a better job, but you've reached that goal, Richard. It's really working well.

MR. HAASS: That will help me -- (off mike).

MR. ATWOOD: Yeah, thank you. (Chuckles.) I'm sure that Les gives you advice frequently. But I also want to thank Irina Faskianos, who's been really helpful in helping us put these three panels that the council has worked on here together.

Let me just introduce our panel. It's a very -- it's a superb panel. And I must say this: I take particular -- pay particular attention to the fact that we have here this morning Henry Kissinger, Nobel Prize winner, former secretary of State, someone who doesn't need any introduction, and I thank Richard for convincing him to come here this morning. He is of course a legend in American foreign policy and it will be really interesting to hear his views on the subjects that we raise this morning.

To my right here is Michael Gerson. Some of you know that his column appears in our Star Tribune coming from the Washington Post. He's the Richard (sic) Hertog Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He was an assistant in the Bush White House on policy and strategic planning. He did a little speechwriting as well.

To my immediate right is my old friend Ken Wollack, who I worked with at NDI. He's the president of NDI. He too was a former journalist and former vice president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. He's been at NDI for a long time and just has come from Denver where they did a program for the foreign guests very similar to this one. About 500 foreign VIPs came to that convention. There are many here as well and we welcome all of you.

Vin Weber I've introduced, and over on the far left over here, although he'd prefer to be seeing himself on the far right. (Laughter.) Lorne --

MR. HAASS: You can move to the middle.

MR. ATWOOD: -- Lorne Craner, who is the president of the International Republican Institute, the partner of NDI and the National Endowment for Democracy lineup. He's a former assistant secretary of State for Democracy and Human Rights. He has worked for years on the staff of Senator McCain when he was in the Senate. Senator McCain is the chairman of the board of the International Republican Institute, and so if anyone knows about Senator McCain's position on issues, it's certainly Lorne Craner.

I just want to say a few words to frame the issue and to be as provocative as I can. I, as some of you know and has been mentioned, was president of NDI. I clearly believe that democratic development is an important thing for the United States to do. Under my leadership at AID we expanded democracy governance programs exponentially, and there was just recently a National Research Council report on democracy governance programs. It somewhat surprised me that they say that AID has spent, since 1990, $8.47 billion in 120 countries -- quite extraordinary. I and several of the members of this panel also serve on an advisory group to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on democracy promotion. Lorne, Vin, Ken and myself are on that panel. So there's no question about where I'm coming from, but I'm going to be, frankly, in a different role today as the moderator. I'm going to be asking some provocative questions and raising some issues.

Since 1984, when President Reagan spoke at Westminster, we've had a bipartisan consensus around this issue that we should be supporting democracies around the world. In particular, his plea to Western countries was to support the young democracies in particular, to help them to set up the institutions that are necessary for a democracy to run smoothly. I'm somewhat surprised to say today that this issue of democracy promotion is more controversial than I would have imagined, on both sides of the aisle. So support is eroding and I think much of this loss of support is the result of some actions that have been taken over the last several years, and I'll just tick off a few. Obviously the one that people look at most seriously -- and it's going to be part of this presidential debate -- is Iraq. One of the rationales for going into Iraq was to establish a democratic stronghold in the Arab world, and the controversy is whether or not we have, overall in the Middle East, been able to expand democracy. In particular it's been difficult in light of that invasion.

We supported elections in the Palestinian territories, and Hamas, a designated terrorist group, was allowed to run and to win, which of course has complicated the peace process vis-a-vis the Israelis and the Palestinians. We publicly announced a $75-million program to promote democracy in Iran, which was widely interpreted as a plea for regime change in Iran and clearly hasn't had much of an impact inside Iran except perhaps to precipitate a crackdown on democrats there. We've had little success in promoting democracy in Egypt, although some, and we don't even try in places like Saudi Arabia. The Latin American democracies have elected anti-U.S. populists in places like Venezuela and Bolivia, Ecuador. And then, finally -- and this is arguable -- we seem to have severely harmed the reputation of our own democracy abroad and our standing to promote democracy in abandoning habeas corpus in Guantanamo and flirting with this issue of torture, and taking other steps domestically to counter-terrorism.

So, in light of this record, it may not be surprising that people on the liberal internationalist side of the foreign policy spectrum have begun to argue that prosperity and stability ought to be higher priorities than promoting democracy, and realists -- some of whom are represented here on this stage -- have never been entirely enamored with the idealistic tendencies in our foreign policy, and they've been reinforced in their concern that values such as democracy promotion seem to be outweighing a more pragmatic pursuit of our interests.

And according to a new book by former Humphrey faculty member Ethan Kapstein called "Young Democracies in the Balance," half of the democracies that have come into being since 960 have failed. Now, some of them have been revitalized, but these new democracies are clearly very fragile in that their institutions are weak and that there are few checks on strong political leaders within these societies. These societies are often very poor, and so poverty relates to our ability, it seems to me, to carry through.

Then finally, we're seeing impressive economic growth in countries like China and even Russia, countries that are not exactly democratic. Interestingly, Russia did try to democratize and has pulled back significantly. China never tried to democratize; rather, it has liberalized its society and seems to be doing very well, economically at least. So this growth pattern, in economic terms, seems to belie the notion that democracy alone is the path to prosperity.

So let's get into this and ask our panelists some questions and I think probably the broadest question we'll start with, which is this: What role should democracy promotion play in U.S. foreign policy in relation to other objectives? Let me start with Michael, if you would.

MR. GERSON: You know, in our White House experience we often found in times of crisis that the democracy agenda was incredible, unachievable until it was absolutely irreplaceable, so that if -- when you have disorder in Pakistan, for example, the first question that is asked is, what have you done in the last 10 years to build the institutional structures that will allow transfer of power in a weak, you know, governmental system to a responsible alternative to Islamism? It's exactly the kind of crisis I believe we'll eventually face in Egypt. You know, this is a government that has done very little for its own people. I think it's fragile in many ways. And when the crisis comes, even some of the critics of the democracy agenda will be asking that question: What did you do in the last 10 years to prepare the ground for some kind of alternative to both authoritarianism and Islamic radicalism that allows for an outcome that's favorable to U.S. interests?

And so I think that there's a practical realist argument in many of these circumstances when you get into a crisis, particularly when we're talking about this ideological challenge of radical Islam in the Middle East. Is there a good alternative that would equally serve the cause of trying to include and change the nature of conservative, religiously oriented political involvement in those countries? Is there an alternative that's going to assure some kind of the possibility of a transition, a post-authoritarian transition, that's not deeply unfavorable to American interests? And those arguments get harder. We also found -- which I think some people neglect -- that the alternative to this agenda is not a gradual flowering of civil society in these countries, okay, you know, with a benign neglect. The alternative to this agenda, in the long term, is the conditions that created 9/11. The circumstance that we face is not a stable one and, you know, that creates some urgency in these matters.

So I guess, you know, it's easy to dismiss straw men in this debate. You know, it's a straw man that you want immediate elections. It's a straw man that you always prefer this kind of idealism above immediate interests. It's a straw man that you can be completely consistent. There is no other consistency in these issues. Now, hypocrisy is an essential element of the democracy agenda, but when you're looking at the kind of long-term strategic alternatives, there don't seem to be many good ones.

MR. ATWOOD: Richard, is there a way to avoid hypocrisy in pursuing this agenda?

MR. HAASS: Well, inconsistency can actually be a virtue in foreign policy. You don't always have the luxury. This is an easy debate to caricature between idealists and realists, and I think the fact is almost everyone would argue that American foreign policy here has got to be a balance. There has got to be a pro-democracy dimension of American foreign policy, but it only gets interesting, this conversation, when you really talk about the prominence and you talk about the pace. And I really think those are the two issues.

To what degree ought democracy promotion be a defining principle for American foreign policy and how do you weigh it against other concerns that you have vis-a-vis, say, a China or Russia. To what extent should the process of de-democratization -- which you're right to point out in Russia -- what degree of prominence ought that to have as opposed to everything from their behavior in Georgia or their behavior vis-a-vis Iran or what have you, and I would simply say the emphasis ought to be on their external behavior rather than their internal nature. I don't think democracy ought to be the defining principle of our relationships with other countries -- one of the reasons I'm questioning a league of democracies as an organizing principle, because, again, we need to work with non-democracies to deal with so many of the fundamental challenges of this era of international relations.

But Michael Gerson's point is right. I don't want to go to the other extreme. Funnily enough, even though I'm a card-carrying member of the realist club, I gave, I believe, the first speech in the Bush administration about the need for democratic reform in the Arab and Islamic world, because you're right, we don't want to make the choice between tired, unresponsive authoritarian regimes, essentially the Iran scenario, and where people feel the only place they can go is to the mosque. And we don't want people to ultimately choose the radical Islamists only because they're so against non-responsive, non-performing authoritarians. And that's where, again, the question is not simply one of emphasis, it's one of pace, and I think it's something very different. One sees democracy promotion as something you're in a hurry to do, as opposed to something that you see yourself in the work of decades, indeed, and generations, and then one thinks very carefully about democratization as a process. And so many of the people on this panel have done really important work in civil society building, rule of law encouragement, accountability encouragement, and I think those are the building blocks, and I think there's an important place for that, but -- one last thing and I'll stop.

It reminds me of some of the stuff we used to teach at the Kennedy School. You've got to think just as hard about implementation as you do about purpose. And so, so much of this debate I think really does become one of pace and sequencing -- economic reform, political reform, where do elections -- and what kind of elections -- fit into the process? And I would simply say it's awfully hard. You think about it in our society; engineering of other societies ought to make even -- ought to make us all somewhat humble. So this is an important task, but I would also suggest that it's an extremely difficult task to get right and the Hippocratic Oath ought to be observed here. Yes, it's important to do, but it's also important to first also avoid doing harm.

MR. ATWOOD: Thank you very much. You've raised an issue relating to the influence of China and Russia in the world. These are preoccupying us at this point. And in a minute I want to turn to Secretary Kissinger because he dealt with these issues when he was secretary, but first you raised also the league of democracies. I'm not sure I fully understand what Senator McCain is proposing and I thought, Lorne, you could describe what that means and what the implications are.

MR. CRANER: Yeah, the league of democracies has been proposed not as an alternative to the United Nations or even an adjunct to the United Nations anymore than the OAS is an alternative to the U.N. or NATO is an alternative to the U.N. The simple idea is that democracies have things in common. And we have found this with many other countries around the world, and it's worth bringing them together to consider international problems. Senator McCain has not laid this out as a here it is, take it or leave it proposition. We've solicited and continue to solicit opinions and thoughts from other countries on how this would operate.

You know, I think he understands well it has a limited utility. It's one thing if you're bringing together a hundred democracies from around the world to ask for a nice statement about democracy. If you're bringing 100 and some countries around the world to consider some very, very difficult questions, many of them are going to fall off. It's also the case, I think, that even -- I was going to say new democracies, but even some of the older democracies -- take India for example -- don't yet view themselves as part of a club of democracies. They still see themselves in a regional context and they still see themselves in a developing world context.

So it's a -- you know, it's a good idea. It's worth bringing people together, but I think everybody understands the limits of its utility.

MR. WEBER: Can I make --


MR. WEBER: The question of the league of democracies comes up an awful lot, and I think it's important -- I don't fully understand where it leads either, but the concept of the league of democracies is not to promote democracy, and that gets all confused in this discussion of the promotion of democracy. As Lorne pointed out, it's based on the notion, as I understand it, that democracies have certain things in common and can come together to promote other interests and deal with other problems, but it shouldn't be confused with, for instance, the Community of Democracies, which has as its objective the promotion of democracy, which is what we're talking about here today.

MR. ATWOOD: As I recall, when Secretary Albright attended a meeting in Poland with the Community of Democracies, the big issue was how to define it and who to invite, and who not -- who would be excluded.

MR. : That's a tough question.

MR. ATWOOD: And it becomes highly politicized.

Let's turn to Secretary Kissinger. I know a lot of you came here this morning to hear him rather than the moderator in particular -- (laughter) -- but he dealt a lot with a tripolar world. The world has changed a lot, but in some ways we're coming back to a world where there's a preoccupation with China's growing influence -- clearly not a country that is democratic but which has liberalized considerably, and Russia now, especially in light of Georgia. And we've had, by the way, five delegates from the Georgian parliament here off and on. I'm not sure they're here today. So it's a great controversy, and of course hegemony is an important issue for Russia. Some people think they want to reconstruct the Soviet Union by other means. How do we influence their behavior in this complicated world we live in, and how does that relate to democratization in our policy with respect to democracy, Mr. Kissinger?

MR. KISSINGER: First of all let me say that for me it's a particular pleasure to be in this building. Hubert Humphrey was a very good friend of mine, and he served in a period in which there was still possibly a kind of bipartisanship. For example, in 1976, when he was thinking of running for the presidency again before he was felled by cancer, I was secretary of State and under some attack, and he called me up and he said, this is all a Beltway phenomenon. You go out into the country and you talk about foreign policy and local newspapers will start reporting it, and if you go to Minnesota, I will travel with you through Minnesota -- inconceivable almost today

MR. ATWOOD: That's true.

MR. KISSINGER: And he did. And for a day he and I traveled through Minnesota. I was giving foreign policy speeches, mostly about philosophical aspects -- relations of Congress to the executive. Occasionally I let Hubert introduce me. I say "occasionally" because if he introduced you, you never got to speak. (Laughter.) Somebody said in Israel that he went to a tree-planting, and by the time he was through they were standing in the shade. (Laughter, applause.) But he was a great human being. You knew him, of course.

MR. : Oh, a little bit, yes.

MR. KISSINGER: So I've helped even a little bit at the beginning with the fundraising here.

Now, on the issue -- let me first make a general comment about democracy -- democratic states. Usually when I get to speak on this subject, people say, here's the guy who's interested in power and he likes to manipulate power, and just to make sure people don't misunderstand it they say realpolitik, you know, shows -- walk around with a steel helmet. (Laughter.) Let me say, first of all, the manipulation of power, it's the most difficult thing in international affairs, and the few statesmen who have based their policy on that got themselves into situations which were inextricable because the final decisions in foreign policy are 54.5 against 49.5, and if you have no moral conviction to guide your direction, it is very difficult to assess the elements of power and then to decide whether the sacrifices are worth it.

So the issue is not whether there is a moral base but how you assess two things: What is the nature of the moral base? What is your capacity to influence it? Because societies are like organisms; it's a rate of change which they can absorb, and if you go beyond that you have to sustain it usually, historically, but violence. And this is the real dilemma: One, what are we trying to do? And, secondly, how are we able to achieve it? And, third, in what time period? And how is it related to other objectives you also must have. So in this respect -- in most respects I agree with Richard.

I lived in a totalitarian society as a persecuted minority, so I know what democracy can mean to people, but also I have lived so long now that I have seen America, for my lifetime, go through a series of enthusiasms and then relapse into periods of passivity and self-hatred because the goals could not be fulfilled. And all of us who went through the Vietnam experience and experienced how, in the '50s, when I went to graduate school -- of course, I never saw a Republican at Harvard -- (laughter) -- but the idea that governments were criminal and lying all the time, that didn't exist. That comedy was destroyed. And so we have to keep in mind absolute values in certain ways, but none absolutists strategies, and strategies that are sustainable over a period of time -- over a historic period. So this is the basic thing.

Now, how did we deal with Russia and China? What was the basic dilemma of the Nixon administration, not this stuff you read from fragments of conversations? The basic problem of the Nixon administration was it took over in a war in which we had 550,000 people as far away from the United States as you could be, in a war that had absolutely divided the country, and for which at that point no strategy for extrication existed -- strong desires but no strategy. Secondly, the domestic debate was not about the wisdom of Vietnam; the domestic debate was do we have a government that is so criminal that it prefers war to peace? And so we had two objectives, at least two objectives -- I mean two necessities; I wouldn't say objectives. One, how do you extricate yourself from Vietnam? And, secondly, how do you create an international environment in which your people can believe that you are generally working for peace? Those were the dominant considerations. Now, placard carriers can say the way to get out of Vietnam is by ship -- a terrific line when you have 500,000 troops surrounded by 100,000 enemies and 100,000 allies who will be your enemies if you -- (inaudible) -- them.

So that had to be put on one track, and that was done by gradual withdrawal. And I don't want to get into that now -- I'll be glad to answer questions -- but we had two objectives with respect to Soviet Union and China. On the one hand, we challenged the Soviet predominance in Eastern Europe. Richard Nixon was the first president to visit Eastern Europe, and he selected those countries that had stood up to the Soviet Union. So we went over, against everybody's advice, in June '69 to Romania, then in '70 to Yugoslavia, and in '72 to Poland. So we put our marker there. At the same time, we began conversations with the Soviet Union on the theory -- in the attempt to turn the Soviet Union -- to see whether the Soviet Union could be made to behave like a nation state, as a country rather than a cause. And we picked as a subject -- many subjects, but we thought that the issue of strategic nuclear weapons.

Now, we got into great trouble with the conservatives on this subject because we started from the premise that we were strong; they started from the premise that we were weak. We thought that you could use the debate on strategic weapons to teach the Soviet Union the realities of our perception of power. And if you read the dialogue that we -- Nixon and me and Brezhnev and Gromyko, they were long philosophical passages: Here is how we conceive what nuclear weapons can and cannot do.

And one issue that became very dominant showed a difference in approach. Early in the Nixon administration I called on Dobrynin and I said something that's anathema to many people. I said, we do not challenge your right to determine the emigration policy of your country, but if you increase emigration we will notice it and we will reflect it in our conduct, but we will never claim that we made you do it, and emigration went from 900 to 40,000 by 1972. We never claimed it, never -- then came the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. Now we had a policy and we demanded emigration and we put conditions, and it went down to 10,000. So this was a different approach, and I'm not saying these are universally valid approaches, but our major effort with the Soviet Union was not to democratize them but to normalize them, to normalize the relation, and to think that over a period of time this would bring about -- and to try to pry loose as much of freedom of maneuver as we could into the satellite orbit.

Relations with China had, again, a sort of historic basis. Nixon and I separately had come to the view that China had to be brought into the international system. We didn't know what this would show us once it happened, so I claim no democratizing credit for the opening to China other than it opened up the international system, and because of the contribution it made to our domestic debate, that we had a government that wanted a peaceful international order, but when we opened to China, the Cultural Revolution was going on, and our then-dominant view was to get China into the international system to give us flexibility on Vietnam, to give Russia something to think about and therefore make it more a nation state. As things have evolved, of course China raises the issue of democracy in this sense: Here's a country over 4,000 years and the longest continuous history, a country that as it has evolved has become very proud of its past and the past has an ethical foundation in Confucianism. When you have ethical principles that govern a society, they, in themselves, create a dual sense of loyalty over a period of time.

Now, in my view, the challenge of China now and the challenge for American policy in China is that, inevitably, a country that has gone through the transformation that we have seen must change and will change its political structure. There are so many more forces coming up. You cannot have a coast like Europe in economic development, an interior like Africa, 100 million people looking for jobs at any one moment, cities in which more than a third of the population is illegal, technically, without creating new patterns of organization. And so, in my view, it is a mistake to believe that we can tell China what national institutions it should have in its evolution, but China will, by its own necessities, be driven into adjusting its domestic structures, and it's adjusting. So in that respect we need a certain historical sense.

Now, in the political relationship with China, the temptation is to slide it into the position vacated by the Soviet Union and to deal with it as a military threat, and to deal with it by containment and military means. I think the impact of China will be political and cultural and economic, and if one wants to contain China, of course a certain military component is necessary, but it is above all a political and economic and partly cultural issue, and we don't want to produce a generation of Chinese nationalists to substitute for communism, who substitute nationalism and anti-Westernism for communism by the clumsiness of our conduct.

So in my view we need to know where we want to go, but we need to develop enough of a patience to be relevant to a massive historical process that is going on, and not to look for a checklist that you can expect, and even less a checklist that we can impose. So that is --

(Cross talk.)

MR. ATWOOD: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary -- very, very interesting. And I must say, if we feel competitive urges toward China, perhaps we should set a goal of wining more gold medals at the next Olympics the next time. (Laughter.)

You know, I would like to stir up a little bit of a debate here. I'm not sure I'm going to get there, but we have a spectrum of realists versus idealists with respect to this democracy issue on this panel, and so far we've been all to much compatible. (Laughter.) I'm going to turn to Ken Wollack to try to stir it up a little bit. Ken, you idealists are always accused of trying to encourage elections everywhere, as if elections really mean democracy. I, for example, was somewhat critical myself of why we had, at that moment in time in Iraq, to have an election when in fact we knew that the Shi'a majority was going to win. And yet NDI and IRI played a huge role, and the election went well and the predictable happened, and the debates, it seems, were between Shi'a factions. Is this the right approach to democracy promotion in the world, to push elections everywhere?

MR. WOLLACK: Well, I'll go back to what Mike said earlier, that I believe this is a straw man, that somehow this notion that those in the democracy community, or even in this administration, have pushed elections solely and equate elections with democracy. I think most people that analyze these issues realize that elections are a necessary but insufficient condition for democracy, but I think, going back to what Richard said earlier, that we have to be very careful about hubris, about this notion that we can reengineer societies.

Having worked in this field for more than 20 years, we have found, I think not surprisingly, that the world has changed over the past few decades, and I think we've drawn a couple of conclusions. The first is that people are in a demanding mood in this growing interdependent world, that they want to put food on their table and they want to have a role in the political life of their country, and most people around the world do not see those issues as mutually exclusive. The question them becomes is how do we respond to those universal demands and aspirations that people have? And I think there is a growing body of evidence -- and we have seen it, but NDI and IRI and the National Endowment for Democracy -- operating on the ground in more than 70 countries around the world, that we are responding to the demands that people have in their societies, that one has to believe whether sovereignty derives from the people of these societies or sovereignty derives from these regimes.

And I think we have found, not surprisingly, in places in the 1980s like Chile and the Philippines, that extremist forces have a symbiotic relationship, and that ultimately peace and stability came to these societies when the moderate middle, from left of center to right of center, were able to operate freely in their societies and were able to emerge, and they drew strength and sustenance from the support they received from the international community. And I remember, as you do, Brian, a seminal speech given by the then-president of Venezuela, Carlos Andres Perez, to the Organization of American States, deriding the organization's nonintervention clause after General Noriega stole the elections in Panama in 1989, and he said that non-intervention is a form of intervention on behalf of non-democratic forces in a society. And as a result of that speech and a result of many conversations after that, the OAS ultimately dropped, in the Santiago Declaration, the non-intervention clause, went on to adopt a democracy charter as the African Union is doing now.

So I happen to believe that what we are doing is not promoting democracy. I believe we are responding to demands of citizens around the world that are demanding a say in the political life of their country. Now, we have to accept the notion that they want to elect the leaders in their society. This is one of the primary principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In Iraq -- we were not pushing elections in Iraq, but ultimately it was a single individual, in his home, that decided we were going to have elections. We somehow thought we were going to have a gradual process whereby we were going to have local elections and the provincial elections, and this would lead naturally, over time, to where the Iraqis would want to elect their national leaders.

Well, not surprisingly, a demand happened virtually overnight, and we were forced to respond to those demands.

MR. ATWOOD: Who was the individual?

MR. WOLLACK: Sistani -- Ayatollah Sistani. I don't think there would have been peace agreements in places like Mozambique and Sierra Leone, in El Salvador if there had not been the prospect of elections. I think elections that took place as a result of roundtable negotiations in Central and Eastern Europe that ushered in the democratic transition were absolutely necessary. I think elections in places -- in the poorest places in the world, places like Niger and Mali and Ghana, were the result of national conferences where people were demanding the right to elect their leaders. I think the only way we came out of a crisis in Pakistan was through elections.

So while elections have taken it on the chin in recent years, we can't ignore that they've played an important role in democratic transitions. They've played an important role in post-conflict situations, and they've played an important role in resolving conflicts. Now there are places where there are bad elections and we have to work for elections that actually reflect the will of the people, and we have to put more emphasis on what happens between elections, and we have to invest more resources into building those democratic institutions that are going to actually deliver on quality of life issues because if these political institutions fail in nascent democracies, one of two things will happen: People will go to the streets to resolve public policy issues, or they will vote for populist demagogues who promise to cut out representative institutions.

So I think we have to recognize that elections are necessary, are important, they serve an important role, and we are responding to local demands by supporting them. And we have to realize that much more has to be done to build the institutions and the practices of democracy between elections.

MR. ATWOOD: Michael, what about elections that produce anti-American leaders?

MR. GERSON: Well, if you're talking about Hamas in particular or --

MR. ATWOOD: Well, even eventually perhaps Iraq. I don't know. We don't know where that's going.

MR. GERSON: You know, I think you have to be very careful here in that, you know, no one -- I don't believe anyone in the Bush administration would ask for national elections tomorrow in Saudi Arabia. The outcome of that election would be far worse than the current situation, which is really bad. And so there is a strategic element to this; there's absolutely no question. If you can't make a distinction in the democracy agenda between where a country like Saudi Arabia is, where a country like Egypt is where at least they have an independent judiciary or a tradition of it -- they have some history of liberalism from the 19th century -- and, you know, and where other countries are, then you're not going to be able to have a strategy at all.

So I think you do have to be careful here, but you also balance it from a circumstance like in the Palestinian Territories. If the United States -- you know, we Americans supported those elections, but there was a building demand for elections in these circumstances. These were poorly ruled society that deeply resented the ruling party, and elections didn't create those sentiments; they reflected them, and to some extent revealed them, and you have to deal with them.

And so I -- you know, there's no magic about it, but it does flow both ways. One of them is sometimes you do need preliminary reforms, institutional reforms before you end up in an election process. Sometimes an election process helps create a national community that becomes -- you know, creates the possibility of democratic reform in key ways, but you have to be able to measure your tools.

Now, one thing that I wanted to agree with is that -- to even complicate matters further -- is that there are preconditions for the success of these kind of societies and they -- you know, some of them have to do with matters as practical as disease. You know, I was in Zambia not too long ago. This is a country where -- you know, I have a friend there that was there in 2001 and before the arrival of AIDS drugs, and he had to bring his daughter across town to the English-language school, and he would have to leave 45 minutes to an hour extra every single morning because of the funeral processions that went constantly all day every day. It was taking all the doctors, nurses, lawyers, civil servants, everybody else. And so there was clearly -- you know, American intervention there was an enabling kind of thing. Development can play this role too. I mean, in societies, you know, where the benefits of globalization are not widely shared, it give an opportunity for populist demagogues to take advantage of genuine discontent to overturn democratic institutions.

So there are -- you know, that's another area where we can be active. And, you know, ultimately these come down not necessarily to economic progress issues. I'm not sure I buy an economy first approach in these things, but there are often governance issues about, you know, rule of law and basic rights and ability to incorporate and a lot of other things. And that seems to be -- I would mention there -- is the genuine innovation of the Millennium Challenge approach as a tool of democratization because it takes and ties directly foreign assistance to a series of governance issues that I think, you know, helped create those enabling condition for the emergence of civil society.

So that to me is another tool. You have to think broader. It's not just promoting elections. There are a variety of kinds of methods that you can use.

MR. ATWOOD: Larry, I'm not sure whether we're passing out cards for questions. We can do that. The audience could give me some questions, if you will. I want to ask Vin --

MR. WOLLACK: Brian, can I make one quick point about the Palestinian elections?


MR. WOLLACK: People make the argument that there are too many elections on the West Bank and it created a problem. One could also argue there were too few elections. The elections that brought Hamas into power in 2006 were supposed to be the third elections between 1996 and 2006, and if there hadn't been those pent up hostilities, if there had been more regular elections during that 10-year period, perhaps Fatah and the Palestinian Authority would have received a less severe reaction from the Palestinian population.

And the second problem was that they didn't have candidate requirements, that Hamas was not required to pay an admissions price to enter the political arena, and those were, I think, two issues that affected the results and our response to it.

MR. ATWOOD: Yes, Mr. Secretary?

MR. KISSINGER: I don't question any of your assertions as subjects of study, nor your conclusions, in a certain way. What I would question is the ability of the United States government to carry out a democratization policy on a global basis in this manner. We should understand that process better. We should have private organizations who want to get engaged in it. That is all to the good. But the United States government to make itself responsible for the political transformation of every country in the world is beyond our capacity and involves us in crises that will in time become unmanageable.

And so, for example, I'm not sure what the outcome will be in Pakistan. The problem in Pakistan was that you had an authoritarian government and two totally corrupt democratic parties -- so-called democratic parties -- and nothing in between. And the way it's going now, it is as likely that the cycle will repeat itself, that these parties will deadlock -- when you can have the head of a party who has been in prison for 11 years emerge by appointment, no election within the party, and then run for president. So we have to understand what can be done in any particular cycle by the United States -- by the United States government, not by the United States nation, and that is a test we don't always meet.

MR. CRANER: Can I just jump in? I understand what Dr. Kissinger is saying and I agree with him, but the main democracy promotion efforts that NED is involved in, NDI is involved in, IRI is involved in, are based on precisely that point, that the U.S. government can't come in and impose democracy and sort of "Big Foot" its way through the country. We -- Ken and Lorne are on the front lines every day on this, but the efforts of NDI and IRI and the NED are to bend over backwards to try to find people on the ground and give them support with as little identification with the United States government as possible. In fact, I'm sure that you guys would agree with me; if a program, whether it's to help with women's rights or workers' rights or establish independent media or train political parties becomes identified as a U.S. government initiative, it's almost certain to fail.

So I'm agreeing with you; I'm just saying our best democracy promotion efforts conform, I think, to the conditions you just talked about.

MR. GERSON: Let me add one point, though, particularly on presidential leadership because I agree with that on-the-ground kind of leadership, but in a circumstance like China -- you know, we found, of course, that China tends to pursue its interests when America doesn't raise human rights issues and it pursues its interests when America does raise human rights issues, but that there was a benefit for -- you know, I was involved in pushing for the president to meet with house church leaders and lawyers -- you know, Chinese lawyers who were fighting, you know, property cases, and a lot of others. And their reaction in the meeting with the president was interesting. The reaction was we're so glad that you've taken our side because the Europeans, all they care about is money.

And so you've got multiple audiences when you do presidential diplomacy. Some of them are the regime itself. Some of them may be the future leaders of a different China. Some of them may be people that are under persecution and need to be stood up for, for the cause of American consistency and ideals. And so, you know, sometimes there's also a role, as we found in the eventual conduct of the Cold War, for taking the side of victims in societies in public ways, not in ways that fundamentally endanger important strategic relationships because I think what Dr. Kissinger was talking about, about a theory of engagement, that we're all better off if China is a responsible member of the world community, is a consensus of administrations, Republican and Democrat, since the Nixon administration.

But that does not mean -- as it is often, by the way, interpreted at the State Department, at least when I was in the government -- mean that you can't raise human rights issues because the relationship is too important. That's a simplistic argument, it seems to me. It seems that you can have a mature, two-track relationship in these circumstances.

MR. KISSINGER: I think we should make a distinction between human rights issues and democratic promotion issues, and I think we should be more ready to raise human rights issues on a governmental basis than the institutional ones.

MR. GERSON: Hmm, that makes sense.

MR. ATWOOD: Let me take this in a slightly different direction. I understand all of the arguments as to why certain steps were taken after 9/11 to protect ourselves against terrorism, but I want to ask in particular Lorne -- and maybe Richard can comment on this as well -- obviously Guantanamo remains a major controversy. I'm aware that Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates would both like to close the place. We've had this debate over torture in this country. We've had the FISA laws with respect to bugging Americans without court rulings, or whatever. How has that affected your ability, Lorne, to do this work overseas?

MR. CRANER: I think it's -- you know, the popular perception is that it's really harmed this cause and that we simply can't ask for these issues overseas without having Guantanamo and torture thrown in our face. I think it's going to be very important moving forward because in large part there is agreement on the Democratic and Republican side on issues like torture issues like Guantanamo, that it needs to end. And in repairing whatever damage has occurred, it's going to be very important to make distinctions and not just to look at it as a blanket case that it's hurt us all over the world with everyone. I think it has hurt us, for example, in Europe. I think it has hurt us in terms of getting Europeans to agree to be part of this effort because Europeans have looked at us in a certain way.

I think if you look, secondly, at dictators around the world, it's hard to make the case that it's really hurt us. It is difficult to make the case that Robert Mugabe would say, okay, it's time for me to leave if we close Guantanamo, or the Chinese would say, you're right; we need to be a democracy now that you've ended torture. That would be -- yeah, or the Burmese -- that would be difficult.

I would say to you, finally, I never had a dissident or somebody who was fighting for their human rights in a country say to me, I really can't talk to you; I cannot accept your support because of Guantanamo, because of torture in the United States. What I heard repeatedly -- because Abu Ghraib had just come to light as I was leaving the administration, and I talked to folks afterwards -- was, we know America's not perfect. We have seen America go through periods of crisis and scandal in almost every administration. We know you are not perfect, but all we want is the institutions that have righted wrongs in America. In America, if a person, if the executive does something wrong, you have an institution called the press that will reveal it, and you have an institution called the judiciary that will take care of it, and you have an institution called the Congress that will make the laws to right those wrongs. It's not that America can't get out of whack, they would say, it's that you have the institutions that can bring it back to the center. And they would say, that's all we want in our country.

So, again, I think, in looking for it as we move forward -- and I think we will in the next administration -- it's going to be important to know how to address different audiences on these issues.

MR. ATWOOD: I should make the point, both candidates have been very strong on this issue, closing Guantanamo and ending torture.


MR. ATWOOD: There's a question here from a member of the U.K. Parliament, United Kingdom. Since my wife is British I think we should ask it. (Laughter.) But also, Richard, I know the council has looked into some of these issues. The issue is how can we improve our capacity to work in post-conflict situations and transitions -- nation-building, if you will? Obviously Iraq and Afghanistan are in the forefront, but there have been many others.

MR. HAASS: Let me answer that in two ways, Brian. Even before capacities, I think we have to do more to encourage a view of sovereignty in the world, which is -- at the risk of saying things that will be controversial, that is less than absolute, because even before you get into post-conflict situations you get into pre-conflict situations where governments are abusing their own people, allowing genocides to take place, what have you, and I think we have to create something more of an international norm where governments -- that along with sovereignty come certain obligations and responsibilities, and when governments are unable or unwilling to fulfill them -- be it to protect their people and not allow terrorists to operate, it has consequences for international relations. And this is not simply a theoretical point, but it matters with things like the Darfurs of the world and it will matter with Pakistan, which is a country that is either unable or unwilling to fulfill its obligations, and it will create questions of intervention.

Many of these interventions, at some point -- indeed, most of them will not involve traditional military battlefields. The era of international relations we're entering into is one in which the least likely scenario will probably look like the first Gulf War. Indeed, one of the ironic consequences of the way the United States dispatched Iraq as quickly as it did is led a lot of countries to believe that's the one scenario you don't want to engage the United States in, with advanced conventional munitions on battlefields. You either want to go above it with unconventional weapons or below it with some versions of terrorism or urban warfare.

What we're seeing in the Army, which might be the most adaptive institution in American society, is we're seeing the Army, intellectually and physically, adapt to that. It's quite extraordinary. The Marine Corps, the same thing goes. We've been adapting much slower on the civilian side and we've lagged behind, but we finally have a new department in the -- bureau within the State Department, and I think ultimately we will need to have a civilian counterpart. And just interestingly enough, again, it's Bob Gates, who is some ways has -- the secretary of Defense who's made the strongest case for it. But we are going to need a large civilian counterpart of everyone, particularly in the police area, which is probably the single-biggest shortcoming in the Afghanistans and Iraqs, but also in the infrastructure, building area, educational area, but virtually every aspect of helping other societies work we're going to need to have our equivalent in the National Guard or the reserves that can then be sent in, hopefully with language skills and so forth, that we can -- it doesn't have to be just the United States -- working with Europe, working with the U.N. and others to go into these countries to help them -- I don't ever like much the phrase nation-building, but essentially it's capacity building, and in some ways it's consistent then with some of the things we've talked about here.

The single-biggest lesson, I would say, of a lot of these scenarios is you can't promote democracy if you don't have an element of security. That's one of the obvious lessons of Iraq. The democracy-building in the absence of a foundation of security was feckless, or at times actually counter-productive, but these have to go hand in hand: economic development, political development and security promotion. And the military is adapting on the security side. We need to strengthen our capacity to build police forces, and obviously there's the political counterpart to mention, but building civilian capacities is -- I'm actually heartened to see that there's something of a bipartisan consensus here, and I actually think that we've understood it, and now, like all things in life, we've got to implement it and execute it. But I actually think if we had this meeting in four years or eight years at some future convention, my hunch is we'll be able to look back on some progress there.

MR. WOLLACK: Can I just make one quick point that Vin made earlier? If we're going to build the capacity of a civilian corps to deal with these very difficult issues, the question is how they will be seen on the ground in these countries. Are they going to be seen as government employees in post-conflict situations or are they going to be seen in the context of people-to-people relations? So where the line is drawn between government and these individuals I think is very important in designing something that you're talking about, Richard.

MR. HAASS: My hunch is --

MR. ATWOOD: Quickly, Richard.

MR. HAASS: -- early on it will have to be largely government simply because the more uncertain the security environment, my sense is there's going to have to be more of an official role. The goal, though, should be to -- what's the word? -- de-governmentalize it -- pardon me, to normalize it over time, but I think that's more likely to happen against a backdrop of an improved security landscape. Until then, I think for legal and other reasons, my guess is we're going to have to have it be more an extension of government.

MR. ATWOOD: There's a great debate going on below the surface, and I don't think it will surface much during the campaign because I don't think the two candidates have a lot of differences on these issues, but that is the role of the military in these situations, and it's mainly been by default that the military has moved into what they call stability operations, which really they, I believe -- at least Gates believes -- that this is a civilian job to do, but the civilian capacity, when you compare a $600 billion defense budget to a total of $38 billion -- which pays for everything including the World Bank, the United Nations, and embassies abroad, and our foreign aid program is not -- it's just not sufficient for what we are faced with in the world today.

I want to -- this may be our final question. We end at 9:30, right, Larry? Or is it --

MR. JACOBS: Nine-forty-five.

MR. ATWOOD: Nine-forty-five. Good. Good, we've got time. This is a little lighter question, but it is kind of pertinent to what we're all involved in right now. It's for Lorne and Ken. "You've brought world leaders to both conventions. What does the convention scene teach foreign people about democracy in this country? (Laughter.)

MR. HAASS: As opposed to partying.

MR. ATWOOD: As opposed to partying, Richard says.

MR. CRANER: Let me let Ken go first on this one. (Laughter.)

MR. WOLLACK: Well, I mean, you can look at conventions, you know, as pageantry, and it's easy to look at it with balloons, although in Denver they banned balloons this year. But, also, I think when people look at the conventions, it's a celebration about politics, and it's also about energizing party activists. It's about bringing people together with common interests. It's about going forth. It represents to some degree the culmination of many of the attributes of democracy: citizen participation, competitive elections, grassroots organizing. And so, in a sense, seeing it in sort of broader context I think people have come to appreciate these gatherings as something more than just a celebration or festivities and they do represent something that's important for the two-party system.

MR. CRANER: Yeah, we -- you know, it's kind of don't try this at home when you bring foreigners to a convention. We have -- (laughter) -- we asked Frank Fahrenkopf the other day to talk about what does a convention mean, and he said, it means a lot less than it used to. It used to be at conventions that the candidates would actually get picked and there would be some drama. In the modern times the media keeps hoping for a hung convention, but it hasn't happened in a while. But in the modern times, what I think people from overseas -- and frankly many of the countries where we work -- it's a winner take all system. Even if they have elections sometimes it's a winner take all system. People can go to jail, people can get shot, people can get exiled, depending on whether they win or lose. People run as persons, not as a leader of a party that has a platform, and there's not a whole lot of participation. In many countries it's a very closed system, picking political party leaders.

So to explain to them how we got to a convention, that there are caucuses, that there are primaries, that in this case, in both sides, the unexpected candidate won -- you know, the unanointed candidate won in both cases -- why did that happen? -- and to persuade them to begin to open up their own political parties so that the citizens can be more involved in it and feel more of a -- that they're more enfranchised in it, talk about how we get to a platform, et cetera. I think that's a lot of what these people learn, coming to a convention.

MR. ATWOOD: I have to say this as well, that there is more interest in this election around the world than one can imagine, and if you track the Pew Foundation polling on this, America's reputation has improved as a result of people observing our democracy, and I think that's important. So what we do at the convention is sort of culmination, but I guess November 4 will be the real culmination.

Secretary Kissinger, we have a question here about Saudi Arabia, but I want to broaden that a bit and just ask you about our dependence on oil and what that means strategically for the United States. Obviously it creates a conundrum with respect to how we deal with Saudi Arabia with respect to democracy, but there are other issues, including the issue of the fungibility of oil and the fact that Iran is producing a lot of it and it's important to world markets. Iraq has that potential as well.

MR. KISSINGER: Two separate questions.

MR. ATWOOD: You can look at it that way, and I know you have a way of --

MR. KISSINGER: I the first instance -- I mean, what to do about Saudi Arabia?


MR. KISSINGER: It's an issue that has defeated every administration that I've ever observed. (Laughter.) I think everybody, if they were given truth serum, would recognize that this is an unviable system, and nobody has been willing to face the consequences of overthrowing that system. And I'm sure if I were in office I'd again face that same -- would be driven to the same conclusion because any alternative that you can see will be almost certainly worse and might produce a degree of foreign intervention from so many different parts that Saudi Arabia would turn into a battlefield.

And so I can give you no intellectual answer to your question. So every administration has kicked the can down, hoping that some enlightenment would strike them.

MR. ATWOOD: Kick the oil can down, right?

MR. KISSINGER: I have never seen anything -- any plausible operating concept. Now, it depends on oil. That is a relatively easy question intellectually. That is, of course we ought to reduce our dependence on oil, and we know how to do it on two levels. We know the alternative sources that are needed and we know but have never executed another weapon that should be created, namely a coalition of consumers that will maximize not only their common technical interests but also their common political interests. The oil market is not a normal market. The oil market is a monopoly that is producing at maximum capacity at the moment, and therefore the prices are set by political decisions and not simply by economic decisions, and therefore they could be affected by political decisions were it able to get the consumers to be organized in a consumer group that analyzes the problem from that point of view and would then share their technologies and assign to each other -- I mean, most of the oil is -- we use our oil mostly for driving cars. Other countries use their oil mostly for power generation. So one could imagine, if the consumers really have common interest, could be organized in some manner.

We tried to do it in the '70s and succeeded to a limited extent, but then the price of oil fell and so many of the innovations that had been agreed to fell by the wayside. So that would be my answer. And could you do the consumer group, then the relative position of the oil producers would rapidly decline, and then the issue of political evolution would be less fraught -- if it didn't matter so much whether there was a period of uncertainty in Saudi Arabia, you could tackle that problem in a different way than you can under present circumstances.

MR. ATWOOD: Richard, do you want to add to that?

MR. HAASS: Yeah, let me say two things, because the energy debate is what we could do to increase supply, what could we do to limit demand, but for the purposes of this conversation on democracy, let me suggest two connections with the energy issue.

One is it is one of the biggest factors that dilutes American ability to influence others, whether we're talking about the promotion of civil society or their external behavior, but it's a major constraint on American influence, particularly with countries like Russia, with Saudi Arabia, with Iran, Venezuela. It gives them the capacity to essentially thumb their noses at us and act, to some extent, autarchically. To use an old Soviet phrase, it shifts the correlation of forces somewhat in their direction, and it's one of the many prices we pay for our energy policy, or lack of one. But it has a second effect also, given the subject of today's meeting, which is the perverse effect it has within their own societies. Oil and energy receipts have in many ways liberated these countries and these governments from some of the normal demands a government faces.

I'm going to make now a bizarre argument at a Republican convention. One of the interesting factors about taxes is it makes citizens feel that because they give to the government in the way of taxes, they have some rights to demand things of the government. One of the bad things about societies that don't tax at all -- the Saudi Arabias and others -- is there's no relationship between the government and the people, and the citizens of these societies get, if you will, a kind of entitlement on steroids, but they don't get political rights because there's not the relationship, again, between the citizen and the government. So oil interrupts the normal -- and the oil receipts -- the normal evolution of societies. And we've seen it in the Middle East; we've seen it now in Russia. Oil receipts have actually worked against democratic evolution.

So, again, it makes an argument that whether you're thinking strategically or in some of the subjects we're talking about today, the United States pays an enormous price for not having an energy policy, given the repercussions and consequences of it, directly and indirectly.

MR. ATWOOD: That is really --

MR. KISSINGER: If I may make one more point about the consumer --

MR. ATWOOD: Yes. Yes.

MR. KISSINGER: -- that is sort of an obsession I've had since the '70s about a consumer organization. It is true that the consumers need to buy, but the producers also need to sell. So if you can shift the willingness and if you can increase the capacity of consumers to withstand boycotts, the consumers are, in every other respect, in a stronger position, and it would then shift the bargaining power. And if it were coupled then with the technological innovations which we know are possible, that would fairly rapidly change the pattern.

MR. ATWOOD: It's all been about supply, and you're talking about somehow influencing demand by consumer cooperation.

MR. KISSINGER: Demand and the capacity of those --

MR. ATWOOD: Right.

MR. KISSINGER: -- who are now being dealt with individually by the producers --

MR. ATWOOD: Right.

MR. KISSINGER: -- to deal with the political aspect of the price, because I talked to some leader of an oil-producing country and I said, if there is an economic price, where would you put it? He said, around $70. But what drives it up to $140 are various political constellations and expectations about the future, that they think in the future the demand will be even greater and the capacity of the producers even greater. So if you can affect the expectations about the future, that in itself would affect the price.

MR. ATWOOD: I'm going to throw out a question to the entire panel here and try to be as provocative as possible about the Russia-Georgia situation. Putin has called Georgia an "American project," for many reasons. That's because NDI, IRI, NED have been involved in trying to help the Georgian democracy. Obviously there are other factors, including the expansion of NATO, the positioning of interceptor missiles on the border of Russia that have influenced Russian behavior with respect to this, but it's also possible that all of the democracy work and the friendships -- true friendships, including the five Georgians we have here at this convention -- have created a notion on the part of Georgia that they may be invincible. I'd like people to react to that, you know, to all of those factors. Has our democracy program caused Georgia to miscalculate with respect to the power of this bear that's on its border?

MR. WOLLACK: Well, let me say I think the government in Russia has always believed that somehow the United States, and many of the NGOs that had received U.S. government money, were instrumental in the Rose Revolution in 2003 --

MR. ATWOOD: In the Ukraine, just to clarify.

MR. WOLLACK: -- and in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and that we were instrumental somehow that this was not a Georgian or Ukrainian effort. But if you begin to analyze what was done in Georgia in 2003, this was not a regime-change strategy by the United States, and the work that was done by nongovernmental organizations. These were not regime-change programs. The programs in Georgia were programs to support the parliament; they were supporting political parties across the political spectrum; they were programs to support civil society. And it was only when the Georgian government, led by President Shevardnadze, tried to seat an illegitimately elected parliament was there a reaction. As a matter of fact, at the time, now-President Misha Saakashvili was not advocating for a victory in the 2003 elections; what he was advocating is that the elections reflected the will of the people, which meant that his party would have had a plurality in the parliament at the time.

So if President Shevardnadze had accepted the actual results of the election, which were reflected in a parallel vote count from the official vote count, he would have remained president to the country. And so the Russians have, unfortunately, distorted what was done by the United States and done by the international community, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. It was a program and programs that were designed to support the integrity of an election process, and there were many teams that were sent to Georgia at the time. Former Secretary Baker led one delegation that was sent by the administration. We had sent a delegation urging President Shevardnadze to hold a legitimate election, and the same was true in Ukraine.

What happened -- and this was an Asian invention, not a U.S. invention, from the People Power Revolution in 1986 following the snap presidential elections in the Philippines. This was a reaction to a failed and fraudulent election process. And also, in Georgia today, you do have a population that overwhelmingly wants to join Europe and join NATO. The referendum that was held in January showed that more than 70 percent of the population in the country wanted to join European institutions, including NATO.

MR. ATWOOD: Are the Europeans right in urging that we go a little slower with respect to this expansion of NATO? Anybody else?

MR. HAASS: What we have here I think is a need to balance, and at the risk of giving you a slightly nuanced answer, but it calls for it. We need to, yes, make clear the limits of what Russia can do, whether it's with Georgia, Ukraine or anywhere else, but we've got to do it in a way also where we do not foreclose the possibility and our own very large interest in integrating Russia in global arrangements that are not -- not as a favor to Russia, but, if you will, as a favor to ourselves, and balancing what things we do in order to increase the viability of a country like Russia to strengthen the government, at the same time, again, without foreclosing possibilities with Russia, is going to be an extraordinarily difficult foreign policy challenge. It's not the sort of challenge, by the way, that's well-handled in the middle of an election campaign. Election campaigns are done in fairly bold strokes and this is going to have to be done in fairly subtle.

I would just say one thing, though, and I think there's an inconsistency. If we want to give Russia a stake in behaving better, doing things like denying them entry into the World Trade Organization is counterproductive. The principal price Russia has paid for its Georgia policy so far has come as a result of integration, and it's economic. It's in its stock market and it's in the decisions of individual investors.

So we should want Russia to be more, not less, involved in international institutions, including the WTO, because they do things like promote the spread of law.

MR. ATWOOD: What about the G8?

MR. HAASS: Same thing. We want to keep them inside because the more they are inside, you have two advantages: They therefore have a greater, I believe, stake in normal international relations, plus they do not feel that international relations are something being done to them. Rather, they feel that international relations are something being done with them. So, for those who want to, among other things, promote the preconditions of democracy -- and I think this applies to the Irans and to the Russians -- we are denying ourselves an important instrument, which is the World Trade Organization. So it's one area that I wish the democracy promoters, if you will, were stronger and more consistent.

MR. ATWOOD: Richard, how would you react, though, to the Russian efforts to undermine some of the principles of the international clubs that they are seeking -- that they are members of: the OSCE, the Council of Europe? How do those institutions respond to those efforts?

MR. HAASS: Well, two answers: One, there's a long-term answer, which gets us back to the energy debate, that we have put ourselves in a position where our ability to shape Russian or Iranian or Venezuelan behavior is much diminished. So, again, it does get us back to some of the things Henry Kissinger was talking about, about energy.

In the other areas I would think we want to keep our reactions confined. So if we have something within the security area, within the OSCE, we would want to put limits around it. We're not looking to create linkages where problems with Russian behavior in one area lead to problems in the relationship across the board. So I would want Western reactions and American reactions to be quite narrow, if you will, and any sanctions, however defined, again, ought to be targeted rather than broadened.

MR. ATWOOD: We are about at the end of our session, but we always give our most senior statesman the opportunity for a final word. Henry?

MR. KISSINGER: On the Georgia question, when it has calmed down at all, we need an analysis of what really happened: How did it start and who did what to whom? I don't believe that what the NDI did in Georgia played any significant role in this. It was almost totally -- I would say totally helpful. The problem arose from the militarization of the relationship and the attempt to identify security with military applications that people were reluctant to carry out anyway and that were an intrusion into the region that is conducting itself in a very explosive way. I mean, all the surrounding areas are in near insurrection, so if you introduce an integrated command into the Georgia region, that creates a totally new strategic problem and temptation.

So, in a general way I would say this: We should understand -- we should learn that security is not always military arrangements, that there are some security elements that are better protected by a combination of political and tacit military arrangements, as, for example, in the case of Finland, which has been independent, democratic, pro-West at the height of the Cold War.

On the general issue of democracy, I support the efforts of NDI as a private organization. I think as a nation we have to understand our reach but also our limits, and this is a balance we have not always known how to strike. That's an essentially bipartisan issue. It is not something that should be claimed as the monopoly of one party, and it's the big challenge before us because we're in a world in which -- in Europe you have -- in the Atlantic you have one kind of set of values; in Asia you have a second set of values; in the Middle East yet a third set. Russia has the misfortune in the sense of being an unstable nation touching all these three areas, so they make it -- that compounds their confusion. And we have the problem that every problem in American history that was recognized as a problem has proved to be soluble in a finite time. We now have to gear our effort to longer timeframes, which therefore don't have any final conclusions, and that's something we are not used to yet. That seems to me our big challenge in this.

MR. ATWOOD: Well, thank you very much, Secretary Kissinger. This has been a wonderful panel. I want to thank the Council on Foreign Relations again, and all of the panel members. Please give them a big hand. (Applause.)

MR. : And there's a lot more to come -- great speech last night by Governor Palin. We're going to have a terrific roundtable in 15 minutes at 10:00 -- Norm Ornstein and Stu Rothenberg to look at that speech, what it means for the elections. Then we've got a panel on tax policy with the senior Obama and McCain advisors who have been working on that policy. And then healthcare. We've got the top people in the country looking at that later this afternoon. See you at 10:00



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Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, adjunct senior fellow in CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy program, sits down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the Kurdish women fighting ISIS and her experience on the ground in northeast Syria. Lemmon’s most recent book on women in Syria, The Daughters of Kobani: A Story of Rebellion, Courage, and Justice, hits bookstore shelves today.