Forging a World of Liberty Under Law: U.S. National Security in the 21st Century - Final Report of the Princeton Project on National Security

Tuesday, October 3, 2006
Anne-Marie Slaughter
Dean, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University; Co-Director, The Princeton Project
President, Council on Foreign Relations

RICHARD HAASS: (In progress)—of public and international affairs of this upstart university called Princeton. She is co-director of the Princeton Project; more about that later. And most important, she’s a member of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations. She got there the hard way. She was elected by—(laughter)—many of you in this room here today.

To her left—this is all geographical, let me make clear; I have no idea about the politics—John Ikenberry, not to be confused with Karl Eikenberry, who heads American forces in Afghanistan. This is John Ikenberry, who heads American intellectual forces at Princeton University and who wrote what I think is really one of the finest books in the field to come out in recent years about the conceptual dilemmas facing the United States after the end of the Cold War called “After Victory.” And it really is, I think, one of the—it’s a perfect example of what people, I believe, in academics should be writing. It’s thoughtful, relevant, helps give you a construct to think about American foreign policy.

What we’re going to do today is talk for a few minutes about this, shockingly enough, in the colors of the Princeton Tiger—I’m sure that’s a coincidence by your designer. We’ve been working on branding here at the Council; we’ve yet to be this on target. We’re going to talk a little bit about this report and then we’re going to open it up to you, our members, for comments, questions, and constructive criticism. And then I’ll use my favorite line, but as I always tell my wife, the entire concept of constructive criticism is, from my point of view, vastly overrated. (Laughter.) But hopefully our two speakers today are more open-minded than your president.

Besides the fact that both of you physically inhabit Princeton, why do we call this the Princeton Project?

ANNE-MARIE SLAUGHTER: The Princeton Project on National Security, called the Princeton Project because we convened it, but called the Princeton Project because, in a deeper sense, it was a deliberate effort to hark back to Princeton’s greatest foreign policy strategist, George Kennan. We started this project two and a half years ago, in May 2004. And February 2004 was George Kennan’s 100th birthday, and there was a wonderful celebration at Princeton and at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies.

And after that celebration, we found ourselves thinking about the impact of the “X” article, and we noted that everybody we knew, and probably anyone who’s a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, has at some point, whether they admit it or not, dreamed of being the person who would write the next “X” article, the person who, in theory, would then chart the course for American foreign policy. It didn’t happen quite so simply even with George Kennan, but that’s the legend.

So we set out to write a collective “X” article. We decided to use Princeton’s power to convene almost 400 academics, government officials, former government officials, policy experts from think tanks, all over the country, and to bring them together in a long process of identifying the major threats to American national security and coming up with a coherent strategy to address the range of threats we face in the 21st century.

So we started in May 2004. We had seven working groups, nine conferences, countless encounters with various people working on different issues, and we finally brought it all together in the final report.

Let me say two things about that before turning to the headlines of the report. The first is, it is deeply bipartisan in that from the beginning we brought people together from both parties, from former government officials, from administrations, both Democrat and Republican. That does not mean that people in both parties would subscribe to all of it. What it means is that the lines of division about what we say are within parties more than between them. So within the Democratic Party there are people who like this and oppose it, and the same thing is true within the Republican Party. And we’ve seen that already in our talking about what we’ve said.

The second thing to say is, the final report is John’s and mine alone. In other words, it’s not a consensus document. You can imagine; we had almost 400 people involved. We had a very good steering committee of about 14 people. We didn’t try to do anything that everyone would sign off on. John and I drew on the reports of the working groups, the papers that we had commissioned for the project and our own work and put this together. So I don’t want anyone to think that this was something that everyone signed on to, because there will be a lot of debate even among people in the project.

So let me give you the overall idea of our report and give you the three categories in which we make recommendations, and then we’ll have a conversation and we can bring up more of the report in questions.

We went looking for something like containment. We went looking for that one magic phrase that would capture American national security policy in the 21st century in the way that containment did, at least apocryphally, in the 20th century. About halfway through, we realized that was impossible, that the point of national security strategy in the Cold War was there was one major threat, so there could be one major response. Containment was containment of the Soviet Union.

In the 21st century, there are multiple major threats. We identified global terrorist networks, nuclear proliferation, global pandemic—could kill millions of people—an implosion in the Middle East, and the rise of China and India. China and India, that’s a challenge, not a threat, but most international relations theorists would say the international system has never integrated two rising powers of that magnitude without a global conflict. So that alone would be enough to keep us busy.

So there’s no one threat. There can be no one response to one threat that drives our national security strategy. Instead there has to be a positive vision of the world that America wants and a set of principles about how you get there. And that positive vision has to allow you to build an infrastructure that will let you respond to any of these threats.

On 9/11 we were looking at China. We got hit by al Qaeda. We’re now looking at al Qaeda, but we could have a crisis in the Taiwan Strait tomorrow. We’re facing nuclear proliferation. We see bird flu in the headlines. Any one of these is enough to occupy our time, and we have to build an infrastructure of capacity and cooperation to face it.

So what we articulated is a world of liberty under law, that the world that the United States wants, the world in which we would be safest and strongest and richest, is a world of liberty under law within nations and between them; three subcategories to flesh out that wonderful umbrella phrase.

First, what do you do in terms of individual nations? We argued for promoting liberal democracy. That’s one of the areas that crosscuts parties, which we’ll discuss. But we argued for promoting democracy right, which means not focusing immediately on elections, but doing exactly what our own founders did, which was to focus, in Thomas Jefferson’s words, on the blessings of ordered liberty. And by order he meant rule of law. You need liberty and you need law. To get there, you need the panoply of economic, social and political institutions that support any liberal democracy.

So we outline a way to promote democracy over the long term that is likely to be far more effective and will also give the United States much more room to work with individual countries from China to the Middle East in ways that will be effective and will not get us into the elections trap. That’s the first part: How do you create a world of liberty under law with respect to individual countries?

The second part turns to international institutions. Now, many of you know that John and I like international institutions. Indeed, one of our members of the Princeton Project said we had to make sure this project didn’t become all institutions, all the time. However, we look at the 1945 system of international institutions and see major problems across the board. All of these institutions—the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF, the WTO—all no longer fit the mission for which they were originally created. They are, in our words, in crisis, but also in demand.

Take the United Nations. We focus primarily on the United Nations, and we argue that if you’re serious about having the United Nations be a global collective security organization with any impact and any legitimacy in 2020, then you have to expand the Security Council. You have to actually include the powers of the 21st century rather than the powers of the 20th century. Those powers obviously include India and Brazil and Germany and Japan—Germany and Japan are the second- and third-largest contributors to the U.N. budget—two African nations and at least one or more Muslim nation.

So we recommend expanding the Security Council. To make that effective, you’d have to end the veto on resolutions calling for direct action in response to a crisis. You would keep the veto in censure resolutions; that’s playing politics with the Security Council. The United States is the country calling for action and other countries block that action. If you’re going to have a real Security Council that reflects the actual world of the 21st century, you have to change the voting rules.

At the same time, we call for creating a new institution, a concert of democracies, a concert of democracies that would be considerably smaller than the community of democracies that exists now. You would be able to be a member of the concert of democracies if you signed on to a very specific treaty that has quite stiff obligations so it’s not about just sort of being a member of the club but with no actual obligations. And that body, the concert of democracies, which would again include India and Brazil and South Africa and Indonesia, countries north and south who meet these criteria by self-selection, that institution would be a lobby group within the U.N. for serious reform, also in other institutions.

It would also, over the long term, serve as a possible alternative to the U.N. if you can’t get the kind of reform you need. We argue that you must work through institutions—their force multipliers, their sources of legitimacy—but you’ve got to have institutions that work, and this is a way to reform the United Nations and to create something that would help you get there that also could serve as an alternative.

Finally, you can’t have liberty or law without force. We know that domestically. We think that internationally. So the final part of the report looks at the role of the use of force and makes three recommendations.

The first goes to our national defense policy, and we argue that instead of working for primacy, where the United States basically says to the world, “We want to be the biggest country in the world and we don’t want anyone to get near us,” which we argue creates all sorts of counterproductive reactions, we should be thinking about our military power in conjunction with other liberal democracies, so that we should aim for a strong balance of military power in favor of the liberal democracies.

Europe has 90,000 troops deployed around the world—90,000 troops. That’s a lot. They’re in Bosnia. They’re in Afghanistan. They’re in Africa. They’re in Iraq. Without those 90,000, we would be far more stretched even than we are now. We should be thinking about our military power together with other liberal democracies.

Second, we need to update deterrence. We kind of threw deterrence out with the Cold War. Deterrence did a lot for us during the Cold War, and there are ways to use doctrines of deterrence against states who sponsor terrorism and who could transfer nuclear weapons to nonstate groups.

And finally, we talk about rethinking rules governing the use of force. We worked a lot with the project in the Hoover Institute, headed by George Shultz and Abe Sofaer. We recommend that you have to keep the preventive use of force on the table, to be used as a last resort and only on extremely good intelligence and subject to strict criteria.

Above all, we argue that if you’re going to use force preventively against a state, then it must be authorized by a multilateral organization, preferably the United Nations Security Council, but failing that, at least an organization as broadly representative as NATO.

So forging a world of liberty under law as a positive vision that will help you work to address multiple threats, not just terrorism, not just nuclear proliferation, not just the Middle East, not just China, but all of them, through promoting democracy rights, reforming international institutions and rethinking the rules governing the use of force.

HAASS: Thank you.

John, do you want to chime in at this point, or do you want to just go straight to some questions from your—

JOHN IKENBERRY: I think questions would be great.

HAASS: Okay, I’ve got a couple. (Laughter.)

SLAUGHTER: How did we guess?

HAASS: (Inaudible)—(consider ?) the fact that you said there is no single idea out there which organizes American foreign policy. I won’t take that as a personal slight—

SLAUGHTER: We cite you.

MR. HAASS:—for those of us who put forward such an idea. But it does get to a serious question, which is—I put forth one; others have. You say in your report that it’s not a threat-based approach; it’s an interest-based approach, which I think is a fundamental difference from containment. Why isn’t it the administration’s favored approach, which is essentially democracy promotion? Why do you not accept that as your single organizing approach for foreign policy? I know I don’t. I’m just curious why you all do not accept that, if you will, the successor to containment?

IKENBERRY: Well, I guess, you know, we aren’t rejecting democracy. The enlarging world of democracy is something that’s valuable. And certainly if we think about these countries in terms of rule of law, popular accountable government, as we do, bringing countries up to par is part of what we see as a fundamental mission of American foreign policy. But it’s part of a larger challenge, I think. And the report tries to argue that in looking out at both threats and opportunities in the 21st century, simply expanding democracy doesn’t get at what, in many ways, is the companion challenge, which is to build structures of cooperation, institutions, infrastructures that allow us to tackle a whole range of different problems.

So if I were to pinpoint the problem with democracy promotion as a single idea, it in some sense misunderstands the forces that are necessary and the complexities of actually promoting democracy. And secondly, it misses the challenge of building the governance arrangements for running the system, which isn’t accomplished simply by promoting democracy.

SLAUGHTER: I’d add one thing on that. The administration’s approach to democracy promotion is seeing through the lens of terrorism. They got there through democracy as the answer to terrorism. And the way we’ve been promoting democracy is very much shaped by that.

We would argue you actually need to start with the vision of liberal democracies and liberty and law. If you start with that and look around the world, it gives rise to a whole set of much more nuanced policies than democracy as the response to terrorism. So even as an overarching principle, it needs to be broadened out and given real substance and moved away from democracy itself.

HAASS: Since we’re talking about democracy, let me continue on that for a second. You talk about creating a concert of democracies, which, as Anne-Marie said, is a narrower concept than the—this organization which meets about once a year or so that has 90-odd countries. Presumably your definition of concert of democracies would not, at the moment, include either China or Russia.

And so the question I have is, how do you avoid redividing the world? If you’re going to have a concert of democracies—essentially the United States, a couple of Europeans, Australia and one or two others—and, by the way, would Israel be in it?—then how do you avoid alienating large chunks of the Arab and Muslim world, not to mention China and Russia, from the future of international relations?

IKENBERRY: Well, I mean, that is an important question, and we struggled with that in this project. I mean, we want to do two things simultaneously. We want to create structures that integrate countries that are not democracies into the global order and provide incentives for them to move in this direction.

At the same time, the concert is really an effort to harness the energy and latent possibilities for joint action by countries with like-minded systems. So we are trying to build, in the first instance, a coalition of states that can push for greater democratization in the form of the existing international institutions. So think of it as a sort of pressure group, as a kind of caucus, trying to make the old system, which everybody agrees is in need of repair and reform, to get those countries together, working together on reform.

And secondly, it’s an interesting idea because it allows us to bring into the core of governing of the global system countries that have been rising up over the last few decades—India, Brazil, Mexico, countries that are not in the old 1935 core. So you provide opportunities to bring new states into the system, give them responsibility, let them share with you the burdens of running the system.

HAASS: Can’t we do that now, though, through everything from NATO enlargement to ad hoc coalitions? Why create a new defined grouping that would potentially alienate other countries from whatever it is you’re doing? Again, doesn’t that risk redividing the world, in some ways declaring—almost contradictory to what you both just said—you’re basically saying the dividing line of American foreign policy is whether you’re up to snuff as a democracy. If you are, great; we invite you in to do stuff. If you don’t, then we’re going to basically define you as not kosher, and therefore you can’t get involved with us in dealing with these challenges.

IKENBERRY: Go ahead.

SLAUGHTER: Let me take a crack at it. So again, remember, you would promote a concert of democracies. In the first place, you’d work with other countries like India or South Africa or Brazil to help create it. If it’s seen as made in Washington, it’s not going to get there. But it would be absolutely tied to the United States would come out and say, “We want to expand the Security Council to actually reflect the structure of power in the world, and we’re actually willing to redo the voting rules to some kind of weighted majority voting system,” which would be a strong statement about actually wanting to include countries around the world before you create the concert of democracies.

But on the concert of democracies, we get this question all the time. I see it as countering what is happening right now, where the world is being divided into Muslim countries versus other countries. We’re strongly opposed to the whole focus on Islamo-fascism as the heir to Nazism or communism. That’s exactly the kind of 20th century vision that we argue against. But effectively, that’s what’s happening. We say we don’t want it to happen, but that is what’s happening. When we argue, when we talk about fighting terrorism, that you shouldn’t talk about Islamo anything, because people at the National Defense University and elsewhere argue to us, “The minute you say Islam connected to terrorism, you are deepening that division.”

You said immediately, “Well, it would be the West, you know, the U.S. and Europe and Japan, a few other countries.” No, it would be claiming, wait a minute; the line of division the line of division is not between cultures and civilizations. The line of division is between countries who share universal values and promote universal values and those who don’t. And that transcends Islam. It transcends geographic divisions and religious divisions across the board.

HAASS: It doesn’t transform China. It doesn’t include China, Russia and the Arab world at the moment.

SLAUGHTER: It doesn’t—well, it doesn’t include China or Russia. It includes other Asian countries, so it’s clearly not about being Asian.

IKENBERRY: And it’s important, I think, Richard, to put it in the larger context of the other proposals as well. With China we are proposing a new security mechanism in East Asia that would allow—that China would be a part of, would be establishing its leadership and position in the region through—so in some sense, you have to envisage in the 21st century a layer cake of institutes. Some will be universal, others will be regional, others will be invidious based on these membership requirements associated with government type. But they are, in some ways, working together solving different problems. Each has a role. And in the end, we hope there’s a Security Council that is the traditional “great power” mechanism that I think you see as important as a kind of capstone to it. But these other institutions can help you get there and do other things in the process.

HAASS: Let me raise a few other issues, just to put them on the floor, and then people can raise their questions.

One of the things you talked about this is in the case of nuclear terrorism; that we should—we the United States should announce in advance that we the United States would hold the source of the nuclear materials responsible for any nuclear terrorism.

What happens if it can’t be proven? What happens if you basically have the A.Q. Khan problem at large, or even the case in Iran? Imagine—and we’ll get to Iran in minute—imagine, though, with some other country. They have nuclear material, enriched uranium or bombs, and it happened not intentionally, but by accident. They say, “Gee, these terrorists broke in and they stole a suitcase worth of enriched uranium or fissile material.” How do you hold them responsible when it wasn’t intentional?

SLAUGHTER: What we recommend you really—you can trace the nuclear material. And we talk to people who’ve been working on those technologies. And that’s as far as we went in the report, was to recommend that.

We also argue that we should be working on better technology to be able to trace the source of materials. And there are people who are proposing that you would simply say, look, we’ll hold you responsible if we think it came from you. We didn’t go that far. We think that that would probably be destabilizing, but I think our tools are going to get better and better.

HAASS: Also on Iran, you have a very interesting sentence here: “The United States should make it clear that life as a nuclear weapons power, if it came to pass, would be a thoroughly miserable experience for Iran.” (Laughter.)

I know it would be a thoroughly miserable experience for the rest of us—(laughter)—but lets talk about Iran for a second. I guess I have two questions on that—maybe it’s the same way of asking the question. Before, you talked about, Anne-Marie, about your use of preventive military force as an exceptional tool. How does that relate to Iran? Are you basically suggesting in this sentence that you think we should not be using preventive military force against Iran? Or to take you even further, we should only use it if, say, NATO or the concert of democracies gave us a green light, or, strangely enough, the Security Council gave us a green light—as unlikely as that would be.

I’m trying to, basically, almost connect your report to say one of the two or three most pressing foreign policy challenges likely to face either Mr. Bush in his last two years or his successor.

IKENBERRY: Well, I don’t want to start. (Laughs.) I can start and I’ll hand it off to you.

SLAUGHTER: Okay, that’s fine.

IKENBERRY: We can’t claim that all of our—that we have it altogether and you can deduce policies from the top. But we do talk about Iran and we’re concerned with it and we see it as a major rising or instability in the region. And we make arguments about the need to engage Iran and look for bargains that might be struck along the way that can allow for Iran to play a legitimate role in the region without acquiring a nuclear weapon.

So we’re opening up, in some sense, the question of engagement—even, we argue, the discussion of security—negative security guarantees—to the extent Iran’s decision to acquire nuclear weapons is tied to its own search for a deterrent. We think that has to be on the table as well.

So we are trying to think outside the box a little bit about how to provide a full package that can get us to some place that we want to go.

SLAUGHTER: And specifically, that sentence was aimed really at the Russians to try to make it clear that being involved in the nuclear arms race is not—it makes it—it’s very expensive. It’s very difficult. That it’s not going to be what they think it’s going to be, that it will just create a larger arms race. So that’s what that sentence referred to.

But more generally, we make it clear that we wouldn’t take the use of military force off the table. There’s a line in there that says, “You keep things on the table.” But you’re right: Our overall approach essentially says, look, using preventive force, even in a case like Iran, if it is not authorized at least by NATO—if not the Security Council—it is going to backfire so severely that effectively, yeah, we would stand by—but I think you shouldn’t exclude the possibility. You might get to a point where you could get such authorization.

HAASS: This is my last question, and then we’ll open it up.

It’s a bit unfair maybe; I don’t know. Just imagine your doctrine had been the doctrine—the Princeton Doctrine had been the doctrine of the United States five years ago, or Mr. Bush, when he got elected nearly six years ago, had run on this doctrine. Would this have led us to go to war against Iraq or not?

IKENBERRY: You want to try that?

HAASS: I’m trying to get a sense of what difference—


HAASS: What I’m trying to do is get a—

SLAUGHTER: What it would have meant was, we would have been where Tony Blair was. We would have said, three more weeks in the Security Council. You would not have gone to war without the Security Council, unless it had become absolutely clear that either France or Russia or China—as in Kosovo—was not going to give but for self-interested reasons.

It essentially says—and this goes back to your original question—that what’s the difference between the Bush doctrine of democratization and world of liberty under law? Well, liberty under law means within nations and among them. You’ve got to make sure those rules are good rules, that you advance your interests with those rules.

It’s not an idealistic picture, but it says, in the end, that infrastructure of cooperation and legitimacy is critical to your being able to advance your goals. So if you are going to put yourself against the rest of the world, you’re going to be in big trouble.

HAASS: Okay, just so I understand: So therefore, you’re essentially giving it a degree of a multilateral test, to use the “M” word. So in this case, if the United States could not have passed the test, your argument would have been, therefore, consistent with this doctrine. The United States would not have gone to war.

SLAUGHTER: Yeah, the international institution actually proved to be right. Right? I mean, we know—(laughs)—there weren’t weapons of mass destruction. So essentially, the argument for multilateralism—it’s where you’re going to use force preventively—you at the very least have to be able to convince people who are like-minded and see the same threats that you do. If you can’t convince them, there’s a problem. Now, you obviously can still, you know, exercise your right to self defense. Nobody gives that up, but that’s not what this was.

HAASS: See, why I like this—even though, as you can sense, I have some specific disagreements—there’s two things about this which I find quite commendable. One is any group of people ought to be applauded for thinking big. There ain’t a lot of thinking big out there. And secondly, this is thinking big in ways that has consequences. You may agree or you may disagree, but the reason I’m pressing our two speakers here today is it’s important to go from the macro to the micro. So these are ideas that, if you were to sign up to them, that actually would have consequences for American foreign policy and what the United States did and how it went about it.

So again, it’s useful to have out there, because this is the sort of thing that I believe enriches not only our lunch conversation, but enriches a debate at large.

So let me open it up to you all. We go by standard rules here. Wait for microphones. Be brief. One question, and I’ll try to get to as many people.

Identify yourselves.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Jeff Laurenti at the Century Foundation.

Skimming the executive summary and hearing your presentation, I think that what you have offered is something that for the Washington debate is a major step in the right direction.

My question, though, goes to where, once you get outside the United States, you find much of a market for it. I’m struck that the executive summary, at least, makes no reference to dealing with the problem of poverty, which in four-fifths of the world remains the most grinding and the utter preoccupation of elites as well as publics.

And I think that that speaks to why the notion of a concert of democracies, or even the community of democracies, runs into rough sledding. The Indias, the South Africas, the Brazils feel more in common with others that are poor than they do with the wealthy with which they are linked only by governmental forms.

So I wonder if you would—and thus they’ve been behaving in the U.N. Democracy Conference.

So I wonder if you would explore for a bit what it is that the rest of the world has at stake in this, and why they would be willing to join in proposals to liberalize international law and use of force to allow the big superpower to be a little more interventionist.

HAASS: One way to paraphrase your question is whether you’re for or against poverty. (Laughter.)


IKENBERRY: Can we huddle a little bit before we decide? (Laughter, cross talk.)

Go ahead. I’ll follow up.

SLAUGHTER: So Jeff, you misidentified yourself. You should have stood up and said you were Jeff Laurenti, a Woodrow Wilson School alum. As long as we have that! (Laughs.)

MR. : Duly noted.

SLAUGHTER: All right.

So first thing to point out is that we actually, as one of our—we have five threats and two challenges. One of the challenges is managing the rise of China and India. The other is managing globalization—essentially, managing the turmoil that is resulting from the steadily increasing inequality that you’re seeing in places like Latin America and Africa but you’re also likely to continue seeing in places like China. So that that is actually a large focus—and we’re going to take this to both Berlin and Beijing and other places.

But I think the larger point, which we get a lot, is, you know, if the United States does this sort of thing it’s just going to be seen as, you know, more imperialism, essentially. And we are in a very dangerous place in the world where we’ve given democracy or democratization a bad name. There’s one reason that we focus so much on what you have to do within countries, but also in terms of the international institutions—really giving many countries a seat at the table so that their issues are not simply what we trade off against what we want, but they are on the global security agenda.

I can just give you one example. We were in Canada and we were promoting this at the Center for International Governance Innovation, and there was a distinguished Indian newspaper editor there. And he was railing along those lines. And I said, well, you know, we would be offering India a seat on the Security Council. And suddenly, he started thinking and that’s an attractive vision.

So I think if you do this right, you can hold to our values in the way we must, but as I said, redraw some of the current global fault lines.

IKENBERRY: Two points. The first is precisely the point about changing the folks who were at the table in these different institutions, starting with the Security Council. That has a huge impact on agenda setting, on sensibilities about human security, about the role of social justice in the governance of the international system.

Secondly, we do talk about the vision of a liberal international order in its traditional, generic sense that we know it from the 1940s—and when we think about—when we talk about trying to rebuild that liberal order. That liberal order had a component in it that we sometimes forget when we think back on the 1940s, and that was that economic well-being was connected to security after World War II.

There was an argument that the institutions, the IMF, the Bretton Woods institutions had to have mechanisms in them that would allow and really empower governments to make domestic decisions to strengthen the social safety net and allow for an open world economy to be one that people—ordinary people, working people—could not just survive, but would prosper in and feel secure in.

So reclaiming that connection between security, as in national security, and social security, as in the sense of a people being protected and empowered to operate globally, is part of that rebuilding effort. So I think you’re absolutely right. And I think it’s in the report.

HAASS: So both of you have placed a large emphasis on recasting the U.N. Security Council membership.

In the next 10 years, what odds will each of you give on that happening? Something like one out of 10, nine out of 10? Where do you come out on that? Because it’s an important part of your argument. No matter what it is—I’m just curious whether you think this is at all likely to happen.

SLAUGHTER: I think if a U.S. administration were willing to make it a priority, I’d give it well over 50 percent odds. We were actually quite close the year before—the summer—a year ago where the gang of four—Germany, Japan, Brazil and India—were trying to round up votes.

Now at that point, the United States wasn’t not only not supportive, it was opposed. It was supporting Japan and, of course, trying to block Japan. But there was a sense—if you remember, The Economist was writing about Security Council reform, and a sense that you either do this or you forget about the idea that the U.N.’s going to be the central focus of power.

What will then happen is you’ll get a bunch of regional organizations. China will have its, and we will not be in it. And we will have NATO, and the African Union will be there and we’ll be in much worse shape.

HAASS: You think if we push it the odds are better—

SLAUGHTER: If we push it, it’s better than 50 percent.

IKENBERRY: Yeah, I think, you know—the argument that I think makes me believe there’s a possibility is simply that the institution will become less relevant. And shareholders who have the veto now are going to have to ask the question, do I really want to protect my veto and the number of permanent members in a sinking ship, in effect.

HAASS: Let the record show—

IKENBERRY: Look at the IMF. The IMF in Singapore is making decisions to expand its shareholder base, because it knows that the IMF has an identity crisis. It doesn’t have people—states to lend to, particularly in Asia. So part of the process of re-legitimizing an institution is thinking about membership.

HAASS: There’s now consensus on this point up here—not a question of desirability, simply one of likelihood. We will figure out the bet later—

SLAUGHTER: (Laughs.)


HAASS: Because I look forward to collecting on this bet.

SLAUGHTER: I’ll take the bet.

HAASS: Karen House.

QUESTIONER: Karen House, happily retired publisher of The Wall Street Journal.

Mine is a version of Richard’s. How do you get from here to there, and how long do you see it taking? Five years, 10 years, 50 years?

SLAUGHTER: Well, I think that—again, a huge amount depends on what would happen in 2008. I think if you had an American administration of either party committed to some subset of these ideas, the world would be very happy to have us actually playing that leadership role, as long as we make it clear that we’re really serious about these institutions, that we understand you can’t—you know, you can’t get something for nothing. You actually have to accept being constrained yourself to get other people to play. And we understand, after, you know, a certain period of rejecting existing institutions and trying unilateral approaches, that to face all the threats we face, this is the way we’ve got to go.

I think with really good U.S. leadership, and understanding you’d need, obviously, to build your coalition of countries, you could get Security Council reform; you could get the concert of democracies. I think you could get a revised nuclear proliferation treaty. There’s tremendous focus on that—and a bunch of the other institutions we talk.

The democratization stuff, I think you could get through tomorrow. I mean, I didn’t give you the sort of phrase, but we talk about bringing governments up to PARR—popular, accountable and rights regarding government. I think we could implement that very soon as well.


HAASS: You can have a moment, and then I’m going to ask you in the future if you could just limit it to one of you; otherwise we’re going to run out of time.

IKENBERRY: I think that—you know, I think when we in our project and talking to people about national security going forward, there’s a real sense that part of the challenge is to rebuild America’s authority in the world. There’s a sense that we can’t go on this way, that we’ve used a lot of our capital. We’ve got to rebuild it.

The time will be coming when new ideas will be on the table. People will be looking for ways in which the United States can do things to strengthen its international security environment and put itself in the position to do as we suggest is the 21st century challenge to be in a position to do lots of different things and to provide capacity so that we can confront threats that we aren’t even aware of yet.

So there really is, I think, a moment of opportunity coming, and that’s what I think makes reports like this useful.

SLAUGHTER: And there’s a great book to read on that. (Laughs.)

HAASS: Definitely a moment of opportunity coming. Indeed, in two weeks the paperback’s coming.

Mr. Sorensen.

(Aside.) Thank you for that.

QUESTIONER: I’m Ted Sorensen at Paul, Weiss. And by the way, I was an adjunct lecturer at the Wilson School a very long—

SLAUGHTER: And we’re proud of it.

QUESTIONER: First of all, the old adage about A for effort certainly applies here. This is a magnificent effort for which I congratulate the speakers and the entire Princeton community. But inevitably, it’s a mixed bag and I would—(laughter)—

HAASS: See, Princeton—this isn’t like Harvard; not everyone gets an A for (product ?). (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: I would urge you to reconsider, if not remove, the concert of democracies. The first time I heard that proposal was right here in these hallowed halls 18 years ago, if I remember correctly. It was proposed by, you’ll be embarrassed to hear, the—of all people, the Reverend Pat Robertson, as an alternative to the United Nations. And putting your idea out there is an invitation to the enemies of the United Nations to adopt this as a substitute.

With all the U.N.’s limitations, abandoning the principle of universality would not be wise. Look at what the secretary-general did in his most recent travels. Because the U.N. is a universal organization, it has an air of neutrality and partiality which enables the secretary-general to act as an honest broker in some of the worst conflicts of the world, which a concert of democracies would not be able to do.

HAASS: You want to say more than you said?

SLAUGHTER: Okay. So Ted, I think that is a very important criticism. And the question you have to ask yourself is if you believe this is the right thing to do with the United Nations, if you think this is one of the best ways to actually help reform the United Nations and to build a whole complex of institutions, do you not say it because you also know that some people will take that idea and not look at the rest of it?

And we thought hard about that, and we thought, there has to be some advantage to being a university and not playing politics day by day and really looking at what we think is the right thing to do over the long term. I understand that danger, but we also feel—and we felt across the political spectrum—that there is a real value in having an institution that would bring together democracies from north and south, in the context that we recommended, which, as we say—look, we want the U.N. reformed. We want this to be a pressure group for U.N. reform and we believe in the value of universal institutions. We just also think you need this.

But it’s a fair point and that’s the choice we made.

HAASS: Zach Karabell.

QUESTIONER: Hi. Zachary Karabell, Fred Alger.

I want to push on the earlier point. I was going to ask something else, but to push this on the implementation and the practicality. Let’s say we all agree on this—the whole plan.

You know, human beings have reframed international systems in 1648, in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna, in 1919 in the Peace of Versailles, in 1945 after World War II and maybe a little bit in 1989. But absent cataclysmic war that really leaves societies in devastation, there’s not a lot of examples of people recognizing, by virtue of “the time is coming” that the time is coming.

And I would like to push you on how do you literally work—I mean, let’s say the Democrats are going to see the light, which we should have another panel about. How do you get to that point? I mean, what really forces this issue to be more than an academic, in the best sense of the word, exercise to be a real potential?

HAASS: There was a day when the word “academic” was not pejorative. (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: Now we have to apologize for it.

IKENBERRY: That’s a great question, and start with the good news. The good news is that we aren’t at an “after war” moment. I mean, it’s true that most of the innovations in the system have come after big, bloody wars. We’re, gratefully, at a point where we aren’t having great wars like that.

And so—but that does mean that the mechanism that thoroughly discredited the old order and rose—and allowed states to rise up and have this capacity to fundamentally reshape the system, we don’t have those kind of moments—cleaner moments, if you will.

I was trying to argue earlier that we are, nonetheless, at a kind of crisis point where we increasingly recognize that the old system is eroding. The institutions are softening. The U.S. position is weakening in various ways. Hard power isn’t enough to—for America to run the system. Soft power is not what we would want it to be. So there is a sense of crisis, if crisis is defined as, we can’t go on this way; we aren’t at an equilibrium moment historically as a great power, that we need to think in new ways.

And so it’s harder—it’s harder for that to move countries. But it seems to me that there’s something palpable and real about the need to seize the moment and make of the international system what we need it to be for our security in the 21st century. I think that the moments—it won’t be a complete redesign of the system. It will be in ways that we have been describing: reform, some new institutions, certainly new actors who, by being present at the table, are going to change that system in very interesting and exciting ways, I think.

So I recognize it’s a tough question, but interesting—Henry Kissinger came to Princeton several times during this project. And he’s written that the test of American foreign policy today is not how we conduct the war terrorism but how we take advantage of America’s opportunity to recast the international system—an extraordinary concept that basically is saying what we think we are trying to do in the report, which is to get some intellectual software out there to run the system in a new way. And it looks like we need—that kind of intellectual software will be needed.

HAASS: Great.

Bill Drozdiak.

QUESTIONER: Bill Drozdiak, American Council on Germany.

I would imagine any American politician who would seek to endorse these views would ask, will this make America look weak? I mean, this would be seen in some circles, I think, as a willful surrender of all the power that America has amassed right now.

How would you respond to that particular concern or criticism?

HAASS: Let me just piggyback on that. Why are you so against primacy? I could see you might be against shouting it from the mountaintops. What’s wrong with the United States being stronger than everybody else—not to abuse our position, but to basically give us capacity to act, give us capacity to lead and to discourage people from challenging us and getting the world back into the old balance of power game? What’s so bad about primacy?

IKENBERRY: Let me start with that and connect it to China.

It really depends on what the actionable policy is, once you make a decision it’s one or the other. What we’re suggesting is that the emphasis should be on thinking about American power as a—really, the preeminent part of, but yet part of a larger coalition of democracies that also have power and capacity to help do things that we want to do in the world.

So it’s in some sense appreciating the larger configuration of power available to the United States.

HAASS: But how would you—

IKENBERRY: But primacy, if it means the U.S. alone has the capacity—hard and soft power—to run the system unilaterally, is anybody in this room going to make that case? I think it’s clear to us that that’s not either possible or—and certainly given the American power as something that can be sustained long term. So anyway—so I think it’s not a surrender of power, but it’s an aggregation of power.

And when it comes to China—final point—one of the great steps America can take to make sure that a rising China has incentives to accommodate and integrate, rather than challenge the system, is to redouble our commitment to strengthen that system, which means go back. Let’s look at the rules and institutions we’ve been neglecting for a few years. Hardliners who worry about China should be great multilateralists.

SLAUGHTER: Yeah. Can I add one point on the political point? Because we spent a couple days on Capitol Hill talking to various members of Congress. We will be doing events with some members of Congress in their home districts of Nebraska and California and elsewhere. But the line that we hear a lot, and I think it’s important, is, you know, people are very tired of being the global policeman. And the point about primacy is we have taken on ourselves the—whatever task needs doing in the world. If you take our view, you are multiplying our power by thinking in terms of partnerships and by thinking in terms of institutions that can actually do things that we can’t do or take over from us. So I think there’s actually a political line there that falls on quite willing ears.

HAASS: With the willingness to accept uncertainly that others will, in fact, be there to join with us.

SLAUGHTER: You know, we did that in the Cold War.

HAASS: All the way in the back.

QUESTIONER: Jim Dingeman from the INN World Report.

Two interrelated questions—

HAASS: How about one question.

QUESTIONER: Fine. (Laughter.)

What kind of thoughts do you have on the reaction to the American public to the kind of ideas you’re talking about? I’m thinking about the way that the Wal-Martization and deindustrialization of the work force has created a real concrete interrelationship between global politics and, you know, my job at the work place. And how do you think these kind of factors interrelate to the consensus to build up for these kind of grand strategic schemes that you’re talking about?

IKENBERRY: Well, I think it’s—as you say, there are new constituencies in the United States for keeping a system open that allows for trade and investment, and at the same time, social protections.

The question we keep confronting is, is there a domestic coalition, as there was in the 1940s, to support an internationalist American foreign policy? And there are those who say that the coalition is broken down. It’s fragmented. America’s less willing to play a global role providing public goods, building order around alliances and institutions.

And I’m skeptical of that pessimism. I think that in many ways, there is an almost more fully appreciated view in the United States that we can’t return to some period of retreat and isolation. That it’s really necessary for the United States to be active abroad.

In some ways, what we are trying to do is provide a sketch of what that internationalism might look like that can harness this American support. Support for the U.N., for America’s involvement in institutions is as high as it’s been. And so harnessing that and connecting to institutions that work, all in the service—as Anne-Marie said—for helping, allowing, really, other countries to help sharing in burdens—in the burdens is precisely the kind of domestic case you make for an internationalist foreign policy.


QUESTIONER: Hi. Brian Silver from Morgan Stanley.

It seems to me that the veto in the Security Council is one of the keys facts of the international system right now. And I guess I’d hear your thoughts on how—what would the Security Council look like if that veto were gone or significantly limited? And would the Security Council have any effectiveness or have any reality to it at that point?

HAASS: Why don’t you explain your position in the report, exactly on your—the limitation on the veto?

SLAUGHTER: Right. So let me actually start by pointing out that the American negotiating position in 1945 was opposed to the veto. It was the Soviets who wanted the veto and we opposed it, then later Congress liked it. We still opposed it, but then in the end crafted the permanent member veto idea.

But the point—the reason we opposed is exactly that we wanted to be able to use this to actually take action and the Soviet view was, you know, not action that contradicts our interest. What we have tried to do is to say, look, there are clearly cases in which the Security Council is asked to, you know, condemn different nations—Israel’s the obvious case, but not the only case—to sort of be used as more like a legislative body where you pass resolutions that state the sense of the community.

You’d still have a veto on those, at least the permanent members would. But you don’t want to add more permanent members with vetoes. That’s completely impossible. And then you can’t reform the Security Council.

Well, if you keep the veto and you say to India and Brazil and Germany and Japan and African states, okay, you know, we’re the permanent members with the veto and you’re the new permanent members without the veto, then you’ve once again re-divided the world in ways and then nobody thinks you’re serious.

So what we argue is you keep the veto to protect against censure resolutions, and then you craft a system of weighted voting that makes sure that the United States’ interests are protected, just as other countries will want to make sure their interests are protected.

There is no rocket science here. You know, the EU has weighted voting. The IMF has weighted voting. I’m not saying that won’t be the subject of really tough negotiating. But we can certainly craft a system where, you know, we will be able to block anything with the British and the Japanese that—or, you know, some coalition of countries we think are reasonable—that we don’t want, but that will also allow us to get stuff through on Darfur or Iran that right now you can’t get through.

So think what you offer in place is important, but you could get there.

HAASS: Can I just push you on that? It seems to me there’s two potential problems with it.

One is just the domestic political problem. In the department of hard sells, that’s going to be towards the top of anybody’s list, merits aside.

The other is a philosophical one. I think that if Mr. Sorensen had the microphone, he would probably raise it, which is this: The U.N. was never designed to be an instrument in which one great power used it against the interests of another great power. How do you avoid it degenerating into just that?

Let’s just take Darfur. Imagine we could build a weighted voting system in which China lost and the U.N. went off, basically green-lighted some sort of international action in Darfur, which on the merits I would say is long overdue and desirable. How do you avoid the sense, then, in China and elsewhere, that the U.N.—also coming back to the Korea model. How do you avoid a sense in the U.N. which begins to look like the Uniting for Peace Resolution on Korea, which serially this or that major power feels the U.N. is now being used against it, and essentially then the system begins to break down. How do you defend yourself on that?

SLAUGHTER: Well, if you had that system—I mean, imagine if we did what you just said, then two African states and India and Brazil would all have voted for intervention. It seems to me it’s one thing for the Chinese things to say, “The Americans forced this down our throats.” It’s another for the Chinese to recognize that actually you’ve got people from every continent who recognize that you have to act.

HAASS: Ms. Philomene Gates (sp), you get the last question. You have to wait for the microphone. Yes—yes. Be very practical and wait for a microphone. (Laughter.)

QUESTIONER: To be very practical, how—what thought have you given to producing your platform for the reform to both political parties for their platforms for the next election? If you could get both political parties to agree on this, then they could both have on their platform, wouldn’t you be a step ahead? (Laughter.)

SLAUGHTER: (Laughs.)

HAASS: More than a step ahead.

SLAUGHTER: We would be—

HAASS: How are you going to get both to agree to this?

SLAUGHTER: Well, one thing we will say is that we spent two and a half years coming up with this report, and it really was a genuinely collective effort. We are going to spend a year promoting it. We are here today. We were in Washington last week. We’ll go back to Washington after the elections. We’re going abroad. We’re going to members’ districts. And as specific issues come up—I mean, we’ve got special recommendations on eight major issues—we will again put our ideas out there.

So our point is precisely to make sure this is part of the debate. We don’t think people are going to say, ”Ah, you know, there we go. We’ve got a national security strategy. Thank you, Princeton!” But we do hope that people, obviously, in the campaigns, in the 2008 campaigns, in what I think will be a hard look at American national security strategy after these elections, that these ideas are very much in the debate and spawning other ideas. We need ideas.

HAASS: I think this is an important point.

Let me sort of thank both Anne-Marie and Professor Ikenberry. This doesn’t have to be a take-it-or-leave-it document. I don’t think it’s meant that way. No one’s going to simply say, fine, and plug it in and this is going to become the national security strategy of the United States.

What it’s become, though, is a basis for conversation and debate for the next couple of years and beyond. And I think in that they’ve done us a real service. And no one’s going to agree with everything in it. It’s not one of those kind of documents. And what’s good is it puts lots of issues on the tables, makes some specific recommendations—some you’ll agree with, some you won’t.

I would think in classrooms it’ll be a really good teaching tool. And again, there ain’t a lot of “big think” out there. There’s not a lot of individuals or groups of people who’ve put out on the table a lot of difficult challenges facing this country, and I think their timing’s good.

I think coming back to the answer you gave to, I think, to Zach Karabell’s question, I do think—here we are, look, almost a generation—almost 20 years now since the end of the Cold War. We’re still casting about for some navigational instruments, and there is the widespread sense that we don’t have it perfect as things now stand. Let me hazard—let me step out on a limb there. (Laughter.) And so there is some political and intellectual openness to “big think” on foreign policy, and that these two individuals and their colleagues have done us a real favor.

So let us simply say thank you.

SLAUGHTER: Thank you.

IKENBERRY: Thank you. (Applause.)






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