JOEL ROSENTHAL: This is the second in a series of panel discussions on "The Ethics of the New War." We have two more events coming up, one at the Asia Society, and another at the New York Public Library.
After September 11th, there was real concern that the ethical dimensions of the new war were not being addressed directly—and when they were addressed, we felt that they were confounding, rather than clarifying, the situation. So the staff gathered our questions, called upon the expertise of our friends and colleagues, and put together the programs in this panel series.
Some ideas and issues benefit from discussion together as a group, so it is in the spirit of mutual learning and exchanging of views that we have chosen our topics and our panelists, and you can see that we have even solicited the views of our black-tie constituency.
When we first assembled this panel, we had no idea how the actions in Afghanistan would turn out and what they might lead to, and we certainly did not anticipate President Bush's State of the Union Address and the ascendence of the "Axis of Evil" as an organizing idea in American foreign policy. But we did have some general questions, and they still hold up. We asked our panelists to consider the following as they were preparing their remarks:
First, how has the United States defined its interests in Central and South Asia since the end of the Cold War?
How should those interests evolve? The United States has set out to end terrorism, yet this goal also requires maintaining a strategic balance in a volatile area of ethnic and regional conflict, vast impoverishment, and nuclear instability.
Can the United States achieve its objectives without setting into motion a downward spiral of violence that might pit the West against the rest; and, if so, what moral arguments should be offered and what policy options pursued?
As the United States pursues this war on terrorism, we might ask some more specific questions:
What are the legitimate objectives of this war? For example, in addition to the destruction of terrorist networks, should the war include regime change as a goal?
What constraints should be considered in the pursuit of the war's objectives? Are any means out of bounds?
Is the language of war even appropriate for this fight?
Is our moral rhetoric getting in the way of moral action?
And, insofar as the United States pursues its war objectives by legitimate means, what are the overall prospects for success?
Ethics is about making choices in connecting the ends and means, so we have constructed our panel to help us think through some of these questions. Each panelist will give a ten minute presentation of his own thinking on these questions, and then we will open the floor to your questions and discussion.
Brian Hehir will start with his overall impressions of the world political situation through the normative lens. Jim Johnson will then talk about these questions from the "Just War" perspective. James Chace will give us the realist, the "unjust war" perspective, but certainly a tour of American foreign policy and some of the challenges to American diplomacy. Ian Bremmer will conclude by describing the regional perspective of Eurasia and Central Asia.
BRYAN HEHIR: Thank you very much. Let me say a word about Ending Terrorism: A Strategy for the Future, the interrelationship of politics, strategy, and ethics.
I will make some remarks about the ethics of war and antiterrorism (is there a relationship or an identity?); a word on Afghanistan; and then a couple of words about beyond Afghanistan.
Since September 11th, the phrase that has been used almost everywhere is that "everything has changed." I have resisted that notion, because it is inaccurate. Some things have changed, others haven't, and it is crucial to politics, policy and strategy to sort out what has changed and what hasn't.
From the perspective of understanding the war on terrorism, one thing that has changed is the stress that this is a different kind of war, and that it is even questionable to decide that "war" is the overarching term to describe the long-term strategy that is necessary to address terrorism.
The question, in part, that one faces in dealing with ethics and war is: Have things changed so drastically with this kind of war that the traditional set of ethical terms, particularly in the "Just War" tradition, are no longer useful?
My argument is yes they are, but with some changes. In the last ten years, many of us have been thinking about how far can you adapt the "Just War" ethic to questions of humanitarian military intervention, different from nuclear war. And now we're faced with terrorism, which is neither like humanitarian military intervention nor nuclear war. So the ethic itself has a certain kind of resilience, but has to be adapted by a work of art.
Part of the difficulty is how you adapt it to terrorism, which is not a univocal term. There is, indeed, great difficulty in finding a common definition of the term.
The State Department defines terrorism as premeditated political violence focused on civilians with the goal of creating fear in the general public.
I define terrorism in terms of the following elements: the agent, the means, and the motive.
The agent is different, in the sense that most terrorist agents, but not all, are non-state actors. You can think about terrorist states, but non-state actors are the predominant agency of terrorism. The particular concern, launched since September 11th, is non-state actors with a transnational capability. So agency focuses on non-state actors.
The means. Terrorists by definition go after soft targets. Terrorists by definition cannot launch full-scale military enterprises.
The motive. Here, Michael Walzer's distinction is useful between political terrorism and "transcendent terrorism." Political terrorism has specific political goals. It may use means that are objectionable, but it has defined, specific goals. Transcendent terrorism" is a conception of the objective of terrorism that may encompass the political, but goes beyond the political by using religious or other ideological objectives.
The "Just War" ethic in the face of this is a state-centered ethic which has stressed limits on means, particularly protecting civilians, and, as one of the great figures in this building, Paul Ramsey, taught us, "Just War" is always part of political statecraft.
In some ways, the ethic doesn't seem to fit. It focuses on state, it emphasizes limits, and it is political by nature. Terrorism is non-state, tends to focus precisely on striking civilians without limits, and goes beyond the political. But it is applicable to take the ethic and to frame it to apply to this new situation.
How do you do it? Partly, you have to sort out the agents. As we pass from ethics to strategy, and think about the Bush Administration proposal specifically, we have to keep in mind distinctions between terrorist organizations, the states they inhabit, and the civil society they are part of. So that when one is saying "we are going after terrorists," the question is: What are you going after? What do you have a right to go after? You may have terrorist organizations who are not connected to states; and, even if they are, you constantly sweep civil society into that framework.
Secondly, the crucial gist of the ethic will always be arguing that the only moral and legitimate force is limited force, and non-combatant immunity in fighting terrorism, observing restraints on non-combatant immunity and proportionality, is not only necessary for our own sense of limits on our policy, but necessary symbolically lest we be seen as terrorists in pursuit of terrorism.
Thirdly, is the question of authority, which I haven't mentioned yet. If you are dealing with transnational activity, you will have to have a transnational legitimization of your effort.
In the case of Afghanistan, there was a just cause; authority was provided by a series of UN resolutions, along with the inherent right of self-defense. The proportionality and non-combatant immunity questions are the more debatable questions, at least on some aspects of U.S. policy.
Beyond Afghanistan: To justify the use of military force there is not to write a blank check for the Administration to then take this show on the road. There is a need in every case beyond Afghanistan to debate the question from the beginning about cause, means, motive, et cetera. The so-called "Phase II" needs to be subjected to debate.
In that debate there is wisdom in going back to the warning of Michael Howard that war may not be the best term to describe what we are about, that military force might be an element of it, but to describe it as "war" is to encompass the whole reality in a term that might not have sufficient nuance.
JAMES JOHNSON: Joel asked us each to comment on the three questions that he identified earlier, but first, some observations aimed at placing the general problem into a broader context.
1) Is terrorism always bad? Is there such a thing as a good terrorist? What of the old saw that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter"?
My answer is: yes, terrorism is always bad, because it intentionally and directly attacks the innocent as a way of influencing policy, or simply as an instrument of hatred or rage.
Regardless of the motive, there is never a moral justification for attacking the innocent directly and deliberately. What did the victims of the September 11th attacks do to deserve their deaths? The answer is: nothing; there was no possible justification. Terrorism, because it attacks the innocent by its very nature, is always wrong. It belies the very values for which it pretends to stand.
Sometimes, as in the case of Al Qaeda, terrorism is also wrong for another reason. It is the action of a self-constituted private group to achieve its own ends. Such groups or private individuals who commit terrorist acts for their own reasons do not have what the "Just War" theory and the jihad theory alike require of those who initiate use of violent force—namely, responsibility for the well-being of a recognizable political community and act on behalf of the common good of that community. That is the moral distinction between public and private violence.
That terrorism such as that of September 11th falls on the private side of this divide is why we are right in thinking of it as inherently criminal. The quintessential form of terrorist acts, attacks on the innocent, are evil in either case. Yet, states and heads of state can be held to account in different ways than private groups and individuals.
Institutions for doing both are now in a stage of development. The inadequacy of those institutions at present means that the efforts to combat terrorism must involve means that in ordinary life we tend to keep separate. They must now be used together. It also means that a coherent strategy for combating terrorism needs to include seeking to improve those institutions and ensure their effectiveness and coordination.
2) My second issue is: What of the link to Islam? If we recall the discussions of the weeks immediately following the September 11th attacks, it is useful to get our bearings by thinking about two New York Times writers, Judith Miller and Andrew Sullivan. Miller made the rounds of the morning talk shows, arguing the position that Islam is really an ideological cover for actions and intentions that do not really have much to do with religion. Sullivan wrote a piece in The New York Times Magazine, in which he argued that the problem is fundamentalism; if we just had some way of dealing with fundamentalism, we probably wouldn't have terrorism.
The truth lies somewhere in between those two. It is neither of these and yet it is both of these. It goes farther than Miller and it is more discriminate than Sullivan. This is why we need to be very careful about invoking the idea of a necessary clash of civilizations, about Islam or the rest against the West.
Interestingly, to think this way echoes the language of Osama bin Laden, who has repeatedly characterized his aims and those of Al Qaeda as a struggle on behalf of Islam against the West. Consider his 1998 Fatwah, where he lays out the justification for what ultimately became the 9/11 attacks:
"In compliance with God's order, we issue the following Fatwah to all Muslims. The ruling is to kill the Americans and their allies as an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it"…"This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, and fight the pagans together as they fight you together, and fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression and there prevail justice and faith in God."
This is a specifically religious appeal and not simply an ideological cover. It is also grounded in a very real element of Islamic doctrine, although it is a heterodox interpretation of that doctrine.
We are missing the point if we don't identify Al-Qaeda as in some sense religiously motivated. At the same time, we need to realize that Al-Qaeda is motivated by an understanding of Islamic history and doctrine and its place in the world that is not universally shared by any means.
3) My third point is the breadth of the terrorist threat. It is not quite global, but it is certainly quite widespread. It encompasses North America; Europe; parts of Africa and the Middle East; as well as Central, South, and Southeast Asia -and, if North Korea is to be added, as President Bush would like, Northeast Asia as well. The breadth suggests the need for a broad front and a wide range of kinds of efforts, and it shows the limits of the United States' ability to go it alone.
There are things that we alone can do. There are other things that other nations will have to do on their own or in collaboration. Part of a coherent strategy for combating the threat of terrorism is recognizing which is which and acting accordingly. This reminds us that, though U.S. military ability today is simply awesome in its reach and its ability to identify and strike hard and fast at discrete targets, this is only part of the solution.
4) This leads me to the fourth point: the moral dimension of the response to terrorism viewed from the "Just War" perspective. It is not right to think of "Just War" tradition as having to do with states. It is about the use of force on the authority of the sovereign leader, of a political community to protect and defend the common good of the community against threats to it. In the modern sense it has to do with a state. The same kind of rationale that you find justifying war is also the rationale for use of force domestically to combat criminality.
This is not a case where we need to revise "Just War" tradition in order to make it bear on terrorism. This is something that the "Just War" idea about the use of force had already addressed centuries ago.
Historically, there are a number of criteria to be satisfied for a right use of force. The use of military force by the United States thus far meets these criteria. It is not at all clear, however, that when we think about other prospective uses of force that our having met these moral criteria thus far gives us a blank check. Each situation has to be judged on its own, anew, in a serious kind of way, and so it is the job of us moralists to keep the policymakers' feet to the fire.
Finally, to the question of U.S. interests, I would also extend it to include the entire "green belt" of Islamic culture across Northern Africa and the Middle East, down through Indonesia and the Philippines. The memory of Vietnam has hit us hard in much of this area. So did the end of the Cold War. The result of both was a virtual withdrawal of connections that had been forged and maintained during the Cold War.
More generally, the memory of Vietnam fostered a reluctance to involvement in this area, as well as many others. The Somalia experience - the "Black Hawk Down" experience - fostered similar reluctance to military intervention, even for good purposes.
At the same time, the conflict in the Balkans drew U.S. attention to Europe, and while the changing shape of events and economic and other interests in Russia and Central Asian states formerly part of the Soviet Union have tended to make for new connections there, these have been complicated by the legacy of the past and by geography.
The only clear case where U.S. interests in the realist sense have been recognized and acted upon consistently throughout this period has been the Middle East, and particularly the Persian Gulf region. But these have not extended to efforts to assist political reform in the friendly states of that region. And the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains a festering sore in itself and a complication to other relations.
My earlier remarks imply greater involvement of a range of sorts, but also that the problems cannot be solved by the U.S. alone. We are rich and powerful, yet we are neither rich enough nor powerful enough, even if we had a mandate to act, to resolve all the problems of this region.
Some of what is represented as the result of policy failure on the part of the U.S. is actually the presentation of U.S. blame by those in the region wishing to divert attention from their own failures. That's not something the U.S. can or should address by policy changes. The effort, instead, ought to be directed at those who are responsible for these anti-U.S. presentations to bring about change.
As to the evolution of U.S. interests, first, we should always understand our interests as not excluding the protection and spread of values, for our other interests are defined ultimately by our value perspectives. And second, the issue is not so much how our interests might evolve in themselves, but how our conception of our interests ought to evolve. Our increased presence and interaction with countries in this area since September 11th speaks for itself as an indicator of what a changed perspective ought to be and what the positive results of such change might be.
JAMES CHACE: First, I agree with Brian Hehir that 9/11 both changed things and did not change things. What it did, in particular, was to throw into relief certain things already underway. More specifically, after 9/11 who would deny that there is an American empire?
The American response to the attack on the World Trade Center was very swift and merciless. Thousands of troops swept down upon Afghanistan in an effort to kill or capture terrorists and their protectors.
The Afghan War lasted really only a few weeks. The continuing search to root out terrorists worldwide and those who harbor them has no endpoint. As the usually cautious Secretary of State Colin Powell, echoing the President, declared at the World Economic Forum in New York, the United States will "go after terrorism wherever it threatens free men and women," even if that means taking head-on "evil regimes."
We also see that American military power is in fact awesome on land, on the sea, in the air. Bush has called for a defense budget over the next five years that will reach $451 billion. We now spend more on defense than the next fifteen industrialized countries combined.
What, therefore, is the nature of this American imperialism, why did it come about, and what should its role be in the 21st century?
Almost two decades ago, the historian Arthur Schlesinger referred to "America's empire" specifically as "an informal one, not colonial in the traditional sense of using military forces and colonial administrators to run a territory occupied by an imperial power. Rather," in Schlesinger's words, one "richly equipped with imperial paraphernalia - troops, ships, planes, bases, proconsuls , local collaborators - all spread wide around the luckless planet."
Now, I would like to discuss the growth and reach of this American imperialism, but not by emphasizing its economic dimension, but rather its security focus. The growth of the American empire that I want to talk about is not so much through a search for economic well-being as a quest for absolute security or invulnerability. Although political and military leaders want to ensure the interest and security of the state - which also means expanding trade and investment - there is also a peculiarly American cast of mind that links this quest for security to American exceptionalism. In essence, this was the belief that America was a great experiment, fraught with risk, but animated by the conviction, as John Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts, said that America should be "as a city upon a hill, with the eyes of all people upon us, and if we should fail to make this city a beacon of hope and democracy and 'deal falsely with our God,' we should be cursed."
At times, this has given America a messianic mission, to redeem the world, as Woodrow Wilson believed. At other times, even the founders of the nation, who preferred to see the United States as a model for mankind rather than a crusader, believed that the infant republic was "a rising empire." "Extend the sphere," James Madison wrote in the 1780s, and evoke the image of an "extended republic" as "one great, respectable, and flourishing empire."
Given America's quest for security, coupled with America's sense of itself as an example for the world, or sometimes as a crusader for an empire of liberty, oscillating between these two things, can America today find common ground with other great powers, such as the European Union - which I am going to consider for the moment is a single great power - China, Russia, Japan, and India, seeking areas of shared interest, moral, economic, and political, that would prevent a balance of power from being organized against our current predominance?
We are an empire, however, without a periphery. In our emphasis to seek safety, we seem to be embarking on an endless series of military interventions - Afghanistan now, the Philippines next, Indonesia, Iraq. Will these efforts to stamp out terrorism succeed, or will war beget war?
Pericles said that he did not fear our enemies so much as he did ourselves. With that in mind, I would like to consider three propositions:
The United States is a power of such magnitude that the exercise of this power and the threat of our being able to employ ever more power will make our enemies too fearful to launch any further attacks on American lives or property.
Our actions will result in generalized hostility to us, not least among our putative allies. In this respect, the United States loses its moral standing by using means far in excess of achieving the end's desire, the very question of proportionality that Brian Hehir referred to.
Without allies and Russia and China, we cannot win any War against Terrorism.
Despite lip service paid to multilateralism, the Bush Administration has threatened to use armed forces to intervene against any nation that might be developing biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons that could theoretically threaten the United States. Specifically, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz warned that a preemptive strike aimed "at prevention, not merely punishment" awaits those who oppose America's will and jeopardize their sense of security.
An evolving Bush doctrine thus emerged in Bush's State of the Union Message on January 29th, 2002 when he labeled Iraq, Iran, and North Korea an "Axis of Evil" that he would not permit to threaten America with weapons of mass destruction. To combat such a build-up, the President said he would not "wait upon events while dangers gather, nor stand by as peril draws closer and closer," statements that surely imply the use of conventional forces in preventive strikes against missile launchers and other facilities that might be involved in the creation/production of weapons of mass destruction.
While disclaiming any intention of "imposing our culture," the President struck a very Wilsonian note of American messianism by listing as non-negotiable demands "the rule of law, limits on the power of the state, respect for women, private property, free speech, equal justice, and religious tolerance." Although the President again and again referred to working closely with "our coalition to defeat terrorism," his endorsement of the unilateral use of American power to disarm "the world's most destructive regimes that threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons" is likely to make it ever more difficult to create a coalition of nations willing to approve such a strategy.
In the wake of Bush's addresses, therefore, the accusation of the French Foreign Minister, calling Bush's world view "simplistic" and criticizing American for "making decisions based on its own view of the world and its own interests," may have been harsh, but were echoed by the other European allies.
The most significant statement of our allied nations was made by the German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. I have been listening to German Foreign Ministers for more years than I like to count, and they all say the same thing. The speech must have been written by someone in 1949 and passed down.
But this time he said something quite different. This is far more important than what the French Foreign Minister said, because people expect the French to criticize us, and to rather enjoy it. As General de Gaulle said, they often say what others think but are afraid to say, most notably the Germans.
Joschka Fischer declared, however, that "the international coalition against terror is not a foundation to carry out just anything against anybody. All the European foreign ministers see it that way." And he goes on to say, "Throwing Iran, North Korea, and Iraq into one pot, where does that lead us?"
Thus, from a realist perspective, if the Bush Administration remains determined to eradicate terrorism from the world, Washington will need this close cooperation not only with traditional European allies, but also from Russia and China. Intelligence and bases, the use of air space and port facilities, are indispensable for any long-term campaign to uncover and root out terrorists and terrorist organizations.
As long as countries remain independent, they, by definition, make the decisions. An imperial power, such as the United States, may well conclude that its definition of its values are universal values. But were the United States to link its national interest, and hence its values, to a search for the common interest, the redefinition of a nation's vital interest might very well shape a different world in the 21st century.
Such a world might even be a planet free of nuclear weapons, though to obtain a commitment to abolish nuclear weapons, for example, the nuclear powers that now possess them - America, China, England, France, India, Israel, Pakistan, and Russia - must work together not only to reduce, but even to eliminate, these weapons, but also to prevent, by military force if necessary, other nations from building them.
Unless these changes are discussed and presented to a vast public in terms of interest, they are very unlikely to be supported. Even Hans Morgenthau, that preeminent theorist of 20th century realism, argued that it was "a moral consensus aimed at moderation, rather than the balance of power, that brought about the relative stability of four decades after the Congress of Vienna in 1850." This did not mean that Morgenthau was dismissing the balance of power as a means of containing conflict, but rather that he believed stability was more likely if the balance was underpinned by a moral consensus.
In an era of unparalleled American predominance, these are some of the ideas that spring to mind when considering, as another realist theorist, David Frankenhauser, talks about "the Rooseveltian vision of a common interest and its linkage to America's moral exceptionalism and its quest for invulnerability."
Nonetheless, while America should take the lead in searching for areas of common interest among nations, we should once again try to heed the words of Alexander Hamilton, the father of American realism, who reminded Americans that "we, as well as the other inhabitants of the globe, are yet remote from the happy empire of perfect wisdom and perfect virtue."
IAN BREMMER: It is certainly true that the Europeans as a whole, as most of the world, blanched at both the evangelical and jingoistic nature of some of the rhetorical excesses that came out of Bush's speech, which was intended far more for domestic consumption to get Democrats on-board with both economic and military initiatives, and succeeded in doing so, at the expense of just about everyone outside the United States.
We must also keep in mind that the French and the Germans, in particular, have elections coming up this year, and thus they, too, have domestic constituencies that are very important. This is not contradictory, but rather complementary to that point.
I will speak about what is happening around the War on Terrorism on the ground in Eurasia, some of the big things that have changed, and some of the things that we thought would change and that look as if they probably will not change.
One thing that has clearly changed is that politics are trumping economics all over the place.
Turkey has received far more money from the IFIs than they could possibly sustain, and will continue to get such money irrespective of their inability to maintain a banking system or to pay it off, because they are America's strongest ally from the Islam world. They played a critical role in terms of the peacekeeping forces in Afghanistan; they are going to play a key role in Iraq; and also they have made a lot of headway on Cyprus. Turkey has hit the foreign policy trifecta and they are going to see a lot of cash as a result, politics trumping economics in large part, after September 11th.
Argentina: Were Argentina to have some members of Al-Qaeda running around in the Pampas, it would clearly be much better for the Argentinean economy. They don't, and as a consequence, no one has paid attention, which is ironic, because the one part of the world that Bush really knew something about pre-election turns out to be the one part of the world to which he's paying absolutely no attention now. Why? Post-September 11, politics trumping economics.
Pakistan: We lifted sanctions on both India and Pakistan that had been levied because of non-proliferation. But one of the most unusual statements I heard from the State Department was: "Since they've already got nuclear weapons, clearly the sanctions didn't work, so we might as well rescind them." Pakistan now has so much money and so many international commitments that Standard & Poor's has actually increased their rating. That doesn't mean that Pakistan is any more stable in the long run. It does mean that right now they have more capacity to pay off their outstanding debt than they did before.
So Pakistan has clearly benefitted, though I would argue that in the short, to medium, to long term, the level of stability in Pakistan is either unchanged or is actually considered less stable because of the high tension of forces vis-à-vis India, the problems in Kashmir from domestic sources, the refugee issue, clerics, the ISI, the intelligence forces that, to a great extent, felt that he sold out too much, too fast, without getting enough from the United States and the West.
Afghanistan: The Taliban have received lots of money and the commitment of more to come. Yet, it is still ungovernable. Yet, there are still acts of violence against people who are viewed as dissidents to local warlords, and the capacity of unitary state to exist anytime in the near future seems virtually nil. Although clearly the humanitarian situation is much better than it was before, the actual governability of the state has improved only marginally.
Now, the biggest potential for a geopolitical shift, since the Cold War was over was the new sudden friendship, even alliance, of the United States and Russia. This relationship included Putin's unilateral assistance. Then, further than that, Putin gives an historic speech in Germany about the prospects of a new relationship with NATO, the possibility of Russia joining down the road, and joining in a strong partnership in the U.S.-led coalition in the war against terror, and they even closed intelligence-gathering bases in Cuba and Vietnam.
Let me point out a couple of interesting samenesses which are very important as we look forward to what we can expect from this historical change, the final end to the Cold War, as many pundits were saying in the weeks after September 11th.
First of all, the United States has had one predominant policy initiative in Eurasia since the Clinton Administration which has not changed since 1993-1994: the creation of an energy and transportation infrastructure that would go east-to-west across the Caspian, taking energy, gas and oil, telecommunications, transport, skirting Russia, moving it through the Caucasus, to Turkey, and then to Europe. The linchpin of that is the Baku-Jihan Pipeline which is now finally being constructed.
September 11th and the new relationship with Russia has done absolutely nothing to change the U.S. fundamental interest long-term in Eurasia, which is the construction of that pipeline and the infrastructure around it. That will bring a lot of money into the countries to be squandered by many of them. It will bring Western interests and international economic interests into these countries. It will also annoy the Russians, as it brings these countries inexorably more towards the West.
A second thing that has not changed was the thought that now that there was a war on against Al-Qaeda, and that the Russians and the Americans were joined at the hip in fighting the War against Terrorism, that that meant we were on the same side in Chechnya. And indeed, the Germans had said that there will be a price to pay on Chechnya.
The Americans didn't get that memo and continue to push the Russians on Chechnya. They have continued to meet with members of Chechen representation, much to the annoyance of the Russians.
In 1999, the State Department circulated a memo which talked about Al-Qaeda and their cooperation and bin Laden's cooperation with Chechens in Chechnya. They pointed out that Al-Qaeda back then were terrorists. The Chechens were never considered terrorists, but rather insurgents fighting for rights to have their territory within Russia. Russia was having a civil war and we wanted peaceful resolution with these people. That remains the policy today and, from everyone I've spoken to in the State Department and from the U.S. Ambassador to Moscow, that will remain the policy for the foreseeable future.
Two of the most important policies to President Putin right now vis-à-vis the United States have changed not an iota since September 11th. We do have bases, but we haven't provided the money that they are looking for in terms of both fast-track WTO accession and repayment of debt.
As a consequence of Phase Two of the war, as we move into Iraq, the Russians are going to have a real problem. They have $8 billion in debt outstanding to Iraq. They have oil contracts which are potentialities. The Russians are very pragmatic. They are prepared to be paid off and they won't care about Iraq anymore. If we give them the money, it's not just buying silence; it will buy active support.
Thus far, I have not seen the Americans expressing willingness to pay them off. And frankly, there's not much of a constituency within the Bush Administration, outside of President Bush himself and a few people like Secretary of State Powell, to really provide the kind of change in policies from Washington that would make that happen.
The United States will lose interest in Afghanistan. The media has already lost a lot of interest. As that happens, we will also lose interest in the sands. And, clearly, Russia has a much better capacity to leverage these countries from a military and economic perspective, Baku-Jihan notwithstanding, so the balance of power will probably remain in the hands of the Russians, but it will continue to have great game-type formulations for some time to come.
Let me just add that in terms of the War against Terrorism and Phase Two, the Russians can be bought off and the Turks have already been bought off. My sense from Washington is that the Saudis and the Jordanians are close to being bought off at this point. They have been bought off for removing Hussein, but not for how Hussein should be removed.
There is no longer a question anywhere in the Bush Administration among people who have anything serious to say about this about whether Hussein should be removed. There is complete agreement that he should be removed and will be removed, and he will be removed by the United States alone if necessary.
But that there remains considerable debate not only about when - June is the absolute earliest, but it could be considerably later than that - but also about how. You get Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld talking about 250,000 troops U.S. on the ground to make that work. But you have others from intelligence and from State that believe that having that kind of military operation on the ground at the same time that India and Pakistan are at razor's edge against each other and Israel and Palestine look to be headed into a full, all-out war, and all the other potential spiralings out of a Middle East conflict that will occur from a sudden regime change in Iraq, not to mention the problems of potential revolution in Iran, problems of Shi'ite minorities in Saudi, all of these issues is a bad idea. Much better to support heavily with advisors, materiel and Turkish troops - for example, the Kurds in the north, the Shi'ites in the south - use special ops, strategic bombing, and also intelligence from other Middle Eastern allies in the region.
We have done the grandstanding in the past month. The next three months will intensify politicking with our European and Middle Eastern allies, and with the Russians, and potentially even with some other states, about how and when it is that Phase Two of the War against Terrorism should occur. And again, because of consensus in the United States - and Bush in many ways views someone like Tony Blair as a member of the Cabinet, for good and for bad - there is going to be a fair amount of international consensus or perhaps involvement, which may or may not get to a good place when America finally decides to go.
Questions and Answers
QUESTION: The United States was not engaged in a war with "the mouse that roared." We did not go to war against Afghanistan. We went to war against Al-Qaeda, which was using Afghanistan as a base, and the Taliban was merely the tool of Al-Qaeda in holding Afghanistan relatively hostage.
Regarding the private nature of Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda was not and is not a private organization. It was founded, funded, and trained by Iranian and particularly Pakistani intelligence, so essentially it's a tool of some very powerful nations in the Islamic community.
Its web has not been destroyed. In our action against Afghanistan, we went after the training camps. We did not go after the Afghanistan government and then declare that we had won the war. That war has not even begun. We have not found any of the leaders of Al-Qaeda. So where are they? We don't know who is giving them shelter. They may be dead in the caves or they may be elsewhere, and radical Islamic sects that belong to this whole organization internationally are still at work.
Some of President Bush's statement was meant for domestic consumption. On the other hand, it also says to the rest of the nations of the world: "We mean business about this. We are going to make sure that you have a backbone, that the leaders of Europe are going to help us in this undertaking, and however it is going to be done, it will be done with a coalition."
Are we really involved in a pax Americana, or are we in fact engaged in a struggle against an international movement that has political ramifications in both the Islamic world and elsewhere? We have had some cooperation from Russia, but Russia is concerned about the movement of the Islamic militants into the sands, just as China is using this now as an opportunity to crush the Islamic movements in Xinjiang Province and say, "we're moving against the Islamic militants," but it also wants to reestablish its control.
QUESTION: You gentlemen addressed many national/international strategic policies, but one that you didn't mention, and which certainly has surfaced since September 11th, is the clear unhappiness beyond the Islamic world of people with the United States. There seems to be great concern and resentment of the United States, which was suspected by some but which has become eminently clear through so many other means since September 11th.
It is engendered not by the national or international policy of governments, but the difficulties of the people in various nations to survive or live and their mixed feelings about the United States as a model, at the same time a resentment of not having it themselves. And now that this has surfaced, and is probably going to become greater, beyond Al-Qaeda, what do we do to address that?
QUESTION: When we were told that this was just the beginning of the war, we were worried about whether we would be attacked again. Now we're wondering about whether we are going to be constantly at war and be a policeman around the world. Back in the early 1960s and 1970s, when they wrote about the "ugly American," they said that our policy was that we would try to avoid becoming the policeman of the world. Does September 11th justify our becoming the policeman of the world again in order to protect ourselves from being attacked?
Does this mean that American lives are more important than all the other lives that were lost in the years before in terrorist attacks in all parts of the world?
BRYAN HEHIR: Let me go to the second question first. My view in this debate about why they hate us: I really found that an adolescent question. International politics is much more complicated than that.
But there is a substantive question and that is you can argue that there were loads of things problematical about American foreign policy on September 10th and many reasons to change various aspects of American foreign policy, not only State policy but our relationship with the multilateral institutions and how they impact people in other countries.
Therefore, after September 11th we've got a dual-track problem: How do you deal with the attack, specifically what it meant and how do you deal with that; and how do you not forget that there were many problems before September 10th that are still there and have inevitably become intertwined as you then respond to the attack?
You must distinguish between a descriptive account of American foreign policy - what's right, what's wrong, and what should be changed - from justification for the response that was made on the World Trade Center; and then, thirdly, distinguish what you do after September 11th. You've got to deal with the immediate problem of Al-Qaeda; and then, secondly, you've still got to deal with the larger and deeper problems.
JAMES JOHNSON: I just want to second the thrust of what Brian said and add that I'm not at all convinced that the matter is as clear-cut as was suggested by the question.
Much of what we hear about anti-American thinking and the reaction abroad in the street is actually made to appear that way. It is not at all clear to me that the United States is unilaterally hated by people around the world for our policy. The picture is much more mixed, and there is also a love/hate relationship that plays itself out in funny ways. I don't agree with the premise of the question.
Just a footnote about the matter of Al-Qaeda as a private organization. We could argue about the degree to which the support by the Pakistani intelligence makes this an arm of the Pakistanis. I tend to think that this was supportive rather than controlling. In any case, if you think about the people who signed that 1998 Fatwah that I read from - bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and three others - these are all people who represent local terrorist organizations in reaction against their governments, with the exception of bin Laden himself, who put himself in the position of being the Primus inter Pares because of his international aims.
My point, first of all, was that why we have to combat terrorism is the evil that is involved in the choice to attack non-combatants as a way of trying to get something done that you favor, and that, secondarily, there is very often, although not always, a problem of public versus private. If it is private, then there is something else wrong with it. If it is public, then we have a different kind of circumstance that gets us into state-state relations, and we have institutions, including war, for dealing with this. But where we are talking about private terrorism, then the matter is a good deal murkier, and we are still in the process of trying to figure out how to deal with this institutionally in the future.
JAMES CHACE: Before 9/11, we would have had a somewhat similar discussion in one respect. I probably would have talked about the United States being a hegemonic power rather than an imperial power. People don't like hegemonic power - they never have in history; they are not likely to now - even if one hegemonic power may be more benevolent than another, and we have certainly been more benevolent than other hegemonic powers than I can think of in history.
On the other hand, the dislike and the resentment of the United States is a very complex issue. It's not a question just of United States foreign policy. For example, many people think that if our policy towards Israel changed radically - for example, we were far more pro-Palestinian - this would really end the problem. The problem is much more complex than simply a series of foreign policy initiatives.
Secondly, when you are a power of our magnitude, when the United States does nothing, it is a form, paradoxically, of action. Rwanda is a good example, and we have been criticized by many people because we didn't act in Rwanda to stop the genocide, and therefore it was a form of action in a curious way. "It's okay," that's the message sent out, "we're not going to bother with this."
In 1950, the United States almost immediately went for a UN Resolution for Korea. But, as Axton said later on, what if we hadn't got a UN Resolution? We took a smart diplomatic step, got approval for the whole thing in Korea and made it a UN action, because the Russians weren't there to veto it.
But let's say that they had been there. Either we wouldn't have gone or they would have vetoed it. Does that mean that we wouldn't have gone into Korea? Absolutely not. We would certainly have gone into Korea whether the United Nations approved or not.
The United Nations was useful to the United States, at that point, just as it is useful to the United States to have Russia bought off if they want to attack Iraq.
A great power will and has always done what it believed its national interest was. How does a power of this magnitude act? Again and again, I see it acts as other powers have in history, which doesn't mean that we're evil; it also doesn't mean that we can stamp out evil in the world. But it means that we can ignore Argentina, as Ian pointed out, if we want to, because it is not important to us at this particular point, and, conversely, continue to strike at the Al-Qaeda network wherever we believe it to be.
IAN BREMMER: We were, in part, at war against the Taliban for two reasons. One is because we believed that there was not just a question of harboring the Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but also because of the familial interlinkages between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. The second reason is because it is easier to take the Taliban out and show that you've got them than Al-Qaeda.
Bush certainly recognized, especially from the legacy of his father, that it is important to have at least a few war aims that you can actually show that you can accomplish quickly, and that is part of his success.
I'm not as opposed to the "why do people hate us?" question. It is complicated. For example, in 1991, if you looked at polls on how the Russians felt about Americans, they loved us. Part of the reason was because there were few of us there and the ones that were there mostly spoke Russian and stayed for awhile and learned the culture. But the other reason was that in October 1993, we supported the bombing of the White House. Yeltsin went in and sent in the tanks and that was it and the U.S. said "fine."
James talked about Rwanda, where we have been criticized for inaction. Many Iranians are criticizing us for inaction in Iran. Three-quarters of Iran's population is under eighteen. They mostly romanticize the days of the Shah, and they can't stand not having their MTV and satellite televisions now. They are one of the most pro-Western, pro-American, very educated communities in the Middle East. And yet, they are being repressed by Khamenei and would love to see something happen that could get rid of these guys, and if the Americans would help, so much the better.
QUESTION: I would like to make a statement. You mentioned that a superpower is somehow subject to different rules, and scale does make for different rules - you don't hold a mouse accountable the way you do an elephant for stepping on flies. But, on the other hand, ignoring Argentina now you justify as being okay because we have other, more important things to deal with. I can't agree with that. If Argentina goes down, it is going to have very serious consequences. We must pay attention to many things going on and the attitude of ignoring Argentina and other situations is a good example of typical short-term American thinking that has got us into trouble before.
It got us into trouble with Afghanistan, when we helped the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan to begin with. Why? Because we wanted to get the Russians out. And what did we do? We walked away and ended up with the situation that we found on September 11th.
This short-term thinking is pervasive in America. It's "sound bite" thinking and it's endemic in our society. It's the evil in our society, the short-term thinking, the inability to analyze. I don't know why these intelligent people up here aren't dealing with more long-term thinking.
QUESTION: If I may inject a Canadian perspective - not the Canadian perspective, but mine - the U.S. is, unfortunately, behaving in the way of all historic imperial powers, and if it continues down this road, it is going to go the way of all those predecessors.
The key to U.S. foreign policy is mass paranoia. That is, you really need as the glue for your national entity to feel that the world is against you. I noticed a great disorientation after you lost your perfect enemy, when you won the so-called Cold War, looking around for enemies. China doesn't quite fit, does it? There are little enemies here and there, but they're not so threatening.
Along comes September the 11th. It's absolutely perfect. It confirms that the world is against you. The real evidence of this is what is happening to your military budget. Nobody in the country complains when the Congress says, "Okay, another $40 or $50 billion. Of course, we can't afford health care for our people. But, because the world is against us, we must build up our military."
One thing I find missing from these brilliant analysts here at the table is a really serious attempt to understand where this terrorism comes from. Who are the enemies? Is the U.S. actually creating its enemies by dealing with them in an essentially military way?
JAMES CHACE: First, government is hard. Anybody who has ever been in any kind of administrative position in any kind of an organization must know the kinds of conflicts that you run into there. At the level of national decision-making, the conflicts, the policies, the choices you have to make are just that much more mind-boggling.
I took the remark about Argentina to be simply descriptive. But it is also a perfectly understandable situation that in times of crisis you focus where the crisis seems to be coming from. This may lead you to wrong-headed short-term decision-making, but at the same time there are very good reasons not to avoid putting all of the resources you have available in dealing with that crisis.
So I take the thrust of the point about long-term planning, but at the same time, there are arguments why the kinds of foci we have had in the last several months make sense from the perspective of governmental decision-making.
Second, on where terrorism comes from and why we aren't doing more to fight it at that level. If you read on in the Fatwah that I quoted earlier, you see that one of the essential problems cited there is the presence of American troops on Holy soil, Saudi soil. As I recall, troops were put there in the first place because of the instability of the region, the threat posed by Iraq, and a different kind of threat posed by Iran. Clearly there is another argument about this.
This not simple and no amount of social-work activities in the Saudi Government or in the Saudi province from which most of the radicals come is likely to deal with the particular kind of interpretation of the meaning of Islam that one finds in that Fatwah.
I think that the roots of the 9/11 attack are to be found abroad.
IAN BREMMER: As a general matter of policy, let me go on record that ignoring Argentina is a bad thing.
To respond to my Canadian colleague: There have been two general wars that the U.S. has engaged in since the end of the Cold War: the War on Drugs and the War against Terrorism. In both cases, we are going after the supply side, and the problem is the demand side. We are trying to cut off all of these countries that are producing drugs and smuggling them over. But we don't want to deal with the real problem which is that in the United States and Western countries there are tens of millions of potential buyers. We refuse to put the cash into the treatment facilities to stop the demand.
In the War on Terrorism we're trying to cut off all of these people that are so disenfranchised that they're actually willing to blow themselves up to act against American, Western, or imperialist targets. What we're not addressing is that we support in Saudi Arabia, after Afghanistan, probably one of the most repressive, conservative regimes in the entire world, with a population explosion, with a per capital income that is now one-third of what it was twenty years ago, an expanding population, no way to feed themselves, and incredible corruption.
We give less than one-fifth of our GDP to foreign aid programs than what the Europeans on average give. We thus far refuse to really address the demand side of the terrorist issue. As long as we continue to handle the War against Terrorism the way we handle the War against Drugs, we're not going to get very far.
JAMES JOHNSON: There is a very strong strain in American history of feeling that we were threatened. Remember, the burning of the lighthouse by the British in the War of 1812 was, in a curious way, almost a terrorist action. It was absolutely unnecessary, but nonetheless it was done. There has been oftentimes in the United States a feeling that if you are building a city on the hill, people may want to tear it down.
Lyndon Johnson once had something when he said, "the Mexicans want what we've got and we're not going to give it to them." In other words, Americans often feel that people either want what we have or resent it or threaten us to take it away, although it's more complex than this.
And as far as the paranoia is concerned, there is an element of truth in that, too. But it is also true, as the authors say, that the paranoids are not always wrong.
JOEL ROSENTHAL: I want to thank the panelists and thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
There was a question here about who the terrorists represent, and that is the subject of our next panel discussion, which will take place at the Asia Society on April 4th. The fourth in the series is "After September 11th: Shifting Priorities for Global Justice," on March 6th.