CHRISTIAN BARRY: I wanted to explain the title of this evening's program before turning it over to our panelists. The title is "Shifting Priorities of Global Justice."
The attack of September 11th raised many questions about terrorism, globalism, and, perhaps most importantly, about the role of the U.S. in the world, and subsequently it has been invoked for many different competing political agendas. Many of these discussions have been very strategic, but our purpose is to examine some of the reasons for taking different policy initiatives in response to September 11th.
There are many contending views about what global justice consists of, but I will break it down into three different components which on some interpretation most people would accept.
The first is that our international order be arranged to minimize unjustified violence and to punish wrongdoers—the corrective retributive security element of global justice.
A second is that life-threatening poverty be minimized insofar as possible—distributive justice.
Third, inclusion or democratic justice, is the idea that people should have some meaningful role in the decisions concerning the policies and institutions that affect them.
Clearly, these different elements of global justice can be interconnected. People who are desperately poor are unlikely to have much of a meaningful role in political decisions that affect them, and denying people a voice in political decisions may lead to insecurity, conflict, and poverty.But there is no reason to believe that all of these elements of global justice will all be realized equally well by different policies, and there may be difficult choices that need to be made about which should be given priority in our considerations.
A second element to the title is the idea of priorities, which again raises three distinct questions.
Whose priorities are we talking about? We have assembled a diverse range of panelists from different organizations. We will hear how their work has been affected by these events.
What reasons bear on different actors in determining what their priorities should be? There is no reason to suppose in advance that what the U.S. Government and its priorities should be and how they have changed in response to the attacks are identical to humanitarian organizations' or to different agencies' within the United Nations.
What kinds of strategies can permissibly be used to meet the objectives of these different actors?
We will emphasize questions on the role the priorities of the United States, given that most of the people here are citizens of the United States and bear a special responsibility for the policies that are enacted in our names. But the question is obviously broader than that.
ROBERT BACH:I congratulate the organizers for a very subtle, but provocative title. It is the question mark in the title that I want to focus on, in particular, because if you raise the question of whether there has been a shift in priorities after 9/11, as a New Yorker, as someone who was living here during the attack, as someone who was from Washington and had colleagues in the Pentagon, it's almost a commonsense expectation that the answer is yes.
Did we miss something? Did we have a priority that was out of whack, misaligned, wrong? The people sitting at this table, excluding myself, are people whose priorities are right on the money. Doctors Without Borders, certainly their commitment to medical help, to providing medicine, to fighting hunger, is a priority we can all embrace. We embrace truth-telling. I read recently, Elizabeth, your interview with Jim Lehrer in 1998, when you called some of the aspects of Bosnia's reconstruction a "Potemkin village," a façade hiding some of the ethnic hatred. And those of you who do not know Omar and his work at UNDP and the UN know that the idea of putting a priority on measuring outcomes and moving towards reduction in poverty is driving the international system towards success.
But the title gives an expectation that there should have been a change in priority.
So let me give you two experiences that I'm proud of having: one is, being in the philanthropic world and struggling with this notion of changing priorities; and then, a reflection on U.S. policy as I was in the Clinton Administration.
The philanthropic and civil society world probably changed very little, and perhaps needed to change more. U.S. policy leaped forward—or backwards, depending on your point of views—but perhaps needs less change in priorities.
From the philanthropic world, the question of what to do after 9/11 frankly implied a sort of self-criticism. Many felt the need to reassert that they have long been focused on root causes, and by changing priorities we would somehow devalue our existing projects. It was not surprising, then, that the philanthropic community here in New York and elsewhere responded very generously and quickly. But much of the money came from reserves, did not cause a shift in established programming, and was funded locally. The priorities did not change, because they were focused on things like food, basic health, peace and stability, leadership.
But there has long been an unease in this philanthropic community which came to the fore during this period and raises the question "why not more change in this philanthropic civil society community?"
We can go, first of all, to George Soros, who, not too long ago, said that the only thing worse than a strong state is no state at all—obviously anticipating some of the breakdown in states and the rise of non-state actors with control over the means of destruction.
International agencies, at summit conference after summit conference, talked about "the failure to achieve UN goals" because of the "structural logic of the global economy driven by private markets, new technologies, and weak institutions." "The fundamentals," one international leader said, "are misaligned, and they are even mal-aligned."
After 9/11, a president of a New York-based foundation recalled that the mission of philanthropy is being challenged here—that mission is wealth can transcend its own parochial interests, transform wealth into pursuing the common good. But in the past decade, these efforts at responding to dislocations, poverty, inequality, and exclusion have increasingly been reduced to the growth of the market, rather than efforts to overcome parochial interests and establish the basis for common good.
It was not, then, a question of opening a new initiative after 9/11—that is, focusing—as we received thousands of proposals to open a new initiative on Central Asia or focus on Afghanistan. Rather, many of us felt, and still believe, that 9/11 represented or carried through this unease and said: "What needs to be changed fundamentally?" The answer is the mechanisms of global governance. A couple of examples become clear.
Trade—trade as the dominant form of global governance.
Property rights—it is unlikely that in today's copyright-heavy world, the New York Public Library would even be able to exist.
The basis of new social exclusions throughout the world and the inability or lack of willingness to seek out an increased participation in global governance.
And where is the system of checks and balances on a global governance scale?
Whereas the philanthropic community had this unease and stayed the course with its existing programming and priorities after 9/11, not so for U.S. policies. Policies move forward very quickly, and those of us who were worried even months before about the slide into insularity by the U.S. Government now repeat that standard line "be careful what you ask for; you may get it," because, clearly, the U.S. Government has launched a new round of defining its role as world leaders. It is still taking shape, but there are some clear priorities, some of which we should not only embrace but add to.
And then, I want to raise a hypothesis to challenge you as you think throughout the evening.
The first issue, clearly, in the U.S. definition of global priority is the new security issues around the war. It has rekindled a very good ethical discussion around so-called "just wars." The priority of self-defense clearly has moved to the top of the ranking in terms of moral legitimacy, priority of financial resources, and national commitment.
The first principle of a "just war," which we have as the United States been pursuing, is that of a just cause. It is not by accident that the operation in Afghanistan is called "Operation Just Cause"—that is, rising to self-defense is morally legitimate, according to this ancient theory.
But "just wars" also require just conduct of that war and, perhaps most importantly, just settlement of the war. We are a long way from that point, but it is not too early to begin to question our priorities and our leaders about those aspects of a morally justified war.
As profound as those questions are about priorities, though, the hypothesis which I leave you with is more challenging, and reflects the next stage of U.S. priority-setting: The U.S. military will not sustain its visible leadership role because in a democracy in the United States we will not allow a military to continue to lead a democratic society. But, with great influence, it will pass the mantle of leadership to a new global network of civilian law enforcement, one that we have not seen before, that has serious potential for questions of rights, democracy, and security.
If that happens, what should we expect, should we be worried, and what are these priorities? Let me name a few.
After 9/11, the very first legislative response of the United States was a congressional action that recalibrated civilian law enforcement authorities and powers and virtually left unrestricted powers to the government, to the civilian law enforcement, to obtain information, to investigate, and to detain.
Second, as a civil society, the United States is extremely ill prepared to keep up with this civilian law enforcement. We are at a stage comparable to the beginning of the era of nuclear deterrence.
Third, as a democratic society, we are organized only in opposition to our civilian law enforcement officials, to the new security force. The only people willing to worry about its implications are those dedicated to civil liberties, civil rights, and they are waiting to sue. That may be a useful democratic mechanism, but it is not preparation for governance when we have to combine both security and rights.
OMAR NOMAN: Danny Pearl was murdered recently in my home town, Karachi, kidnapped from a place where I spent quite a bit of my childhood. Six months ago, I was in my bedroom window watching the second plane go into the Twin Towers. In both of these diverse acts of terror there is a message of hate that has enormous implications on the relationship of the United States with the Muslim world. That is the frame I want to use for today's talk.
What is this message of hate? It has a very perverse logic, which is to get the United States out of Muslim countries, and the way to do this is to turn this into a war against Islam, not against these groups. This strategy will be played out over the coming months in a greater attempt by these groups to turn this into a conflict with Islam and the Muslim world.
Why? The logic behind many of these groups is to create a theocratic state, and one of the most important aspects is to take out many of the influences which they see as hampering that particular vision.
What is the response, before we even begin to talk of a relationship of social and global justice?
What is critical every time the U.S. is tested—and the hearts and minds of Americans will be tested much more than its government—is a coalition of reform with the Muslim world. Without this coalition of reform, you have a very dangerous period ahead, even within the Muslim world.
One of the key objectives of this coalition of reform is to isolate these terrorist groups from Muslim societies. Let me explore what this implies for my country of origin.
The most important starting point as a framework for a relationship is not to see the renewed relationship as one of money being given to Pakistan as compensation for pursuing U.S. interests. That would be fundamentally to undermine the whole relationship from the start.
The relationship has to go back to one very important lesson from the last intervention in Pakistan, which was also related to Afghanistan. At that time, it also so happened that a military dictator had been in power for two years and sought international legitimacy through what happened in Afghanistan.
During this period, General Zia came to power and in his wisdom for ten years turned Pakistan towards institutionalizing a theocracy, introduced a constitution that was theocratic, measures that made the evidence of two women equal to one man, and public flogging. U.S. policymakers and others were caught in a dilemma: Pakistan was critically useful in the fight against the Soviet Union, but the alliance was with a regime in which almost every value that the U.S. would call for domestically was being tested.
During this period, although there was a very rapid rise in growth, education and health standards, spending actually stagnated or fell. After a fifty-year relationship and $50 billion in aid, Pakistan had a literacy rate of 30 percent, with some areas in which women were not literate at all—"literacy-free zones." The net result was a country awash with weapons and drugs.
So what is the lesson from this, of a relationship which emphasizes a certain amount of justice as central to the relationship? There are four elements:
The first is a very serious commitment to educational reform aimed at narrowing what is virtually an apartheid in Pakistan between a very small elite that is educated in English and most of the country, which has either the vernacular language or no education at all. It is looking the other way at this domestic apartheid which resulted in the growth of the madrassahs, those religious schools that have fanned such hatred. The issue of bringing the society closer is a central part of the relationship.
A second element is to avoid personalizing the issue of the important modernizing enterprise in Pakistan. Musharref and the U.S. trying to drive this would do the whole enterprise a great disservice. Personally I like Musharref a great deal. He has the right spirit, the right ethos in what he will do, and good luck with many of the things that he is confronting.
But the real test of this modernization exercise is how you carry the country with you. Therefore, it is extremely important for the U.S. to develop a relationship across all sectors of society, including political figures.
Needless to say, some of these modernizing enterprises, as in the case of the Shah of Iran, went horribly wrong and had very adverse consequences.
The third element is the very curious need at this moment, when there is so much talk of a military response, to actually de-militarize societies. How to remove weapons from this society will be a particularly tough challenge. The weapons you have in the public space in most societies, the narrower the options for women. So if you are going to go into mandatory primary education, expansion of the education system, you also have to complement that by a public space where weapons, especially light weapons, are taken away. Support for such measures is vital.
The fourth point, which was partly covered earlier, is that there is a very difficult dilemma when you are dealing with such a government on where and how you promote an open society and a democratic government. This will be put to the test in elections in October. The best way of moving forward is to move towards a government of national unity, which does not do away with President Musharref at all, but a broadening of the base whereby this relationship is seen to be something that is of value across society, of addressing social justice, of promoting certain openness and political pluralism, because in no election has any of these fundamentalist groups and parties ever come to power in Pakistan—no more than 5 percent of the vote—even as a strategy to isolate and marginalize, building a framework of political reform is critical.
So that's by way of a very quick illustration of the kinds of threats that are posed to the U.S. and the type of response, not only to Pakistan, but this kind of framework is needed across many Muslim countries to engage and move forward, rather than withdraw, which will be the ultimate victory of the Osama bin Ladens of the world.
NICOLAS DE TORRENTE:I will speak from the perspective of Médecins Sans Frontières, Doctors Without Borders, which I will abbreviate as MSF, an international medical humanitarian organization.
First, a definitional point. What is humanitarian action? Humanitarian action aims to preserve life and alleviate suffering of those who are most in need, whomever they are, wherever they are. It is born of a very simple, core conviction: that in times of crisis and conflict, noncombatant people, particularly civilians, are entitled to protection against undue violence and assistance for their survival. This was Henri Dunant's vision when he founded the Red Cross at the end of the 19th century. States have enshrined this into international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and the Protocols of 1977. These have become fundamental values that are shared throughout the world.
International humanitarian law also recognizes the role that independent humanitarian actors, such as MSF, can play in providing assistance to victims. As such, the humanitarian action is related to the broader concerns of global justice—or I would rather say global injustice, the repression and persecution that is exercised against particular populations, the unequal distribution of economic resources and opportunities.
Humanitarian action addresses the worst disparities and inequities, the most terrible abuses, the most fundamental violations of human rights.
However, although it is very challenging in its practice, humanitarian action is also relatively modest in its aims. The goal is to improve the plight of those most affected by violence, neglect, and oppression, and it is not really to fundamentally modify the underlying causes of those grave problems.
When we denounce indiscriminate bombing of civilians or when we push for lowering the cost of unaffordable essential medicines, our goal is always to achieve immediate improvements for those most in need, to prevent death, provide relief for those who are trapped in their homes, or to provide treatment for those who are entitled to care. This is the vision that we have tried to carry out in our work throughout the world.
In a way, it can be described as a radical drive towards fundamental justice for each individual, that no one deserves to be sacrificed or abandoned, irrespective of the cause. This is also a significant point, because even great causes that can be couched in terms of global justice—such as peace, economic development—they are not only subject to interpretation and debate, but also entail costs and tradeoffs when put into practice. And so, however lofty the objectives that are being pursued, humanitarian action cannot be subordinated to these broader collective imperatives, because that would really deter from our single-minded focus on improving the fate of individuals.
How have these terrible and indiscriminate attacks in the United States and the U.S.-led antiterrorism campaign that followed affected our efforts around the world?
Fundamentally, our mission, determination and priorities have not changed because the need has not changed. However, the environment in which we operate has changed, and I would like to discuss two of these major modifications with you: first, a shift in political and public attention to crisis situations worldwide; and second, the efforts to integrate humanitarian action into nongovernmental organizations within the antiterrorist campaign.
Some crises have been put under the spotlight since September 11th. Since September 11th, the men, women, and children of Afghanistan and their plight has really touched people around the world, and a real and genuine concern has been expressed by people here in the United States, in Europe, and elsewhere about what they were going through.
When we think about this, it is a remarkable change of fortunes, because for many years the plight of Afghans had gone largely unnoticed. Last summer I was in Afghanistan, where we have run large medical projects for about twenty years. We provide essential services that the collapsed health care system cannot, and we respond to numerous emergencies—cholera, malnutrition, epidemics, and vast displacement.
In August of last year, the ongoing violence and persecution of minority groups such as the Hazara, the cumulative effect of three years of drought, and large-scale population movements were pointing to a catastrophe in the making. In seeking to respond, especially to the mounting malnutrition and nutritional emergency, we were also struggling with how to provide effective aid under the Taliban regime's repression and discrimination . This very grim picture was there, but it did not touch many outside of humanitarian circles.
The contrast now is striking. Half a year later, the situation remains dire for many Afghans, but there are substantial efforts underway to provide people with necessary assistance. It has really taken a full-scale war for most of the world to take notice of what is happening there.
So while Afghanistan has become the focus of much attention, there are other conflicts and victims that have been recast in a different light since September 11thbecause of the realignment in international relations.
The best example of that is the ongoing war in Chechnya. There is a change in interpretation, but labeling this conflict a "war of national liberation," as the Chechnyans have done, or an "antiterrorist campaign," as the Russian Army does, does not change the fundamental reality there, that civilians continue to be victimized in very brutal ways by the way the Russians are conducting the war.
In Ingushetia and neighboring republics, there are about 150,000 displaced people. Efforts were made by the Russian authorities to cut back on assistance so as to push them back into Chechnya, despite the ongoing brutal conflict there.
The shifting notion of terrorism leads to a shifting of categories, how we view conflicts. When we see what has happened since September 11th, there is really an absence of scrutiny by Western powers, the U.S. and European countries, as to what is going on in Chechnya. This is an effect of the aftermath of September 11th that we see with some trepidation.
And finally, in this political and public attention to crisis, there is also a continued lack of attention to many under-reported and forgotten crises. There are a number of ongoing conflicts throughout the world that are having a very severe toll on civilian populations—the Congo, Colombia, Sri Lanka, Angola, Sudan.
Also very disturbing to us is an increasing erosion of the protection afforded to refugees worldwide. The fiftieth anniversary of the Refugee Convention, which occurred in December, really went unnoticed. Refugees are increasingly trapped within the violence that they are seeking to escape and they are contained within national borders. We saw this as well during the war in Afghanistan, where Pakistan and Iran closed their borders and people were not allowed to flee to security, which is really a fundamental right in these situations.
To conclude on this issue, we are not saying that a higher awareness and attention to crisis situations would really translate into immediate solutions, but turning a blind eye, or shifting and looking at victims in a different light just because of this shifting alignment in international politics, is not the way to go and is not the way to help people who are in dire circumstances throughout the world.
The second major change has been the effort since September 11th to integrate humanitarian action within the antiterrorist campaign. From the beginning, the U.S. Government has argued that the antiterrorism campaign was being fought through a variety of means—military, political, diplomatic, economic, and including humanitarian action.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair talked about a humanitarian coalition to complement the military coalition, a "bombs and bread" campaign. Colin Powell talked about nongovernmental organizations that provide development and humanitarian aid as "force multipliers" and as "an indispensable part of the U.S.'s combat team."
So in many ways, this concept is not new. A link has always been made, in the 1990s especially, to integrate humanitarian action and political and security concerns. We have seen it in different guises in Somalia, in Bosnia, where humanitarian action was used as a fig leaf not to do anything. So this is not new, but it is putting it in a very stark light at the moment with the antiterrorist campaign. We are asked to drop our established notions of being independent, impartial, and neutral, and join forces in the name of a higher cause. It would be a fundamental error for humanitarian agencies to do that, and we should resist efforts to be placed in this paradigm of antiterrorism versus terrorism.
It is counterproductive for us, in that it would certainly impede our ability to gain access to victims and gain the consent of local forces, and this is what we have to do. We have to negotiate access to people throughout the world who may be suspicious of Western motives and foreigners. If we are subsumed within a broader campaign and we do not have our independent clear humanitarian identity, it puts us into a very difficult position.
Just to finish on that, the other major problem that we would have if we were to be subsumed within the antiterrorism campaign is we would be in a difficult position to assist victims that the antiterrorism campaign could hurt. The war in Afghanistan has raised a number of concerns about the conduct of the war and the impact on civilians, and we need to be able to address that in an independent and focused humanitarian fashion. The confusion and blurring of lines will not help victims throughout the world.
ELIZABETH NEUFFER:As I looked at the title for tonight's talk and tried to decide what to talk about, I wasn't sure what portion to take. Should I talk about September 11th and how I, as a war correspondent who has been in Bosnia and Rwanda and the Gulf War, found myself in my own backyard, in the World Trade Center, covering fire fighters as they emerged from the rubble? Or, should I talk about shifting priorities and, again, how, instead of going off to cover a long-awaited story about the plight of garment workers in Bangladesh, I found myself spending Christmas in Afghanistan? Or perhaps I could talk about global justice because it is the topic I know the most.
I will talk to you about what I have learned over the course of six years reporting on two societies that have not been in the news recently at all but whose experiences tell us a lot about what we face now as Americans in the wake of September 11th, and those societies are Bosnia and Rwanda and their search for justice through the two UN war crimes tribunals that were created to address them.
What do Bosnia and Rwanda have to do with global justice?
One of the things that has come out of the creation of the two UN war crimes tribunals for Bosnia and Rwanda has been a three-fold opportunity:
One has been to allow victims to come before international tribunals and tell their stories to the world for the first time.
Another has been to create a historical record, to compile testimony, evidence that created an undeniable factual, historical record.
And, perhaps, lastly, what justice did was to provide a sense of individual versus collective guilt, so you can no longer blame all Americans, all Muslims, or, in the case of the Yugoslav War Crimes Tribunal, all Serbs.
One of the reasons why this is so important is because of some of the policy choices that face us and our government: what to do with the al Qaeda members who have been captured once we attempt to bring them to trial; what to do about the two existing UN war crimes tribunals, whether to allow them to continue, or, as the Bush Administration proposed just last week, to tell them to hurry up and get their work done because they are really too expensive; and lastly, the decision of whether to advocate for the Bush Administration, which, like the Clinton Administration, is reluctant to pursue the idea of a permanent International Criminal Court. Those are three big issues that are going to be hovering over us in the days to come.
What is the appropriate place to try the al Qaeda terrorists? For the moment, the Bush Administration is considering bringing them before a military tribunal. Again, we talk about priorities and tradeoffs. The discussion at the heart of this is that national intelligence, questions of military secrets and national security, mean that these proceedings shoujld allow certain things to be kept secret.
There is a good reason why these should be carried out in very public fora, like the two UN war crimes tribunals that I had the privilege to watch unfold over the course of the last few years. There is an extraordinary public value in having global justice for what was really a global crime. Think again of who was killed on September 11th. We know that while it affected us perhaps in the greatest number, we were not alone.
For my book, I followed six people over the course of ten years as they pursued justice. One young Bosnian Muslim has spent much of his life tracking down exactly what happened to his mother, his father, and his little brother when Dutch UN peacekeepers ordered them off a base overrun by Bosnian Serb troops. As you will remember, this happened in Srebrenica, where 8,000 Bosnian Muslim men and boys were massacred in the space of four days. Hassan has been able to at least discover that two of his family members were among them.
I can tell you that tribunals didn't work for Hassan because courts can't always address everyone's needs. When we hear criticisms of the two UN war crimes tribunals, they reflect the expectations we often have of them.
They were created by the United Nations Security Council as much out of shame as a sense of a desire for action. If you remember, in both Bosnia and Rwanda it was the UN Security Council and UN Member States that failed to intervene aggressively.
But in Hassan's case, he expected that the tribunals would help him find his family members, and he has found that to be far from the case. But does that mean that we should turn our back if a tribunal cannot affect everyone?
A second person in my book, a woman named Witness JJ, a Rwandan woman from a small village, was gang raped repeatedly by Hutu. Witness JJ survived being poisoned by insecticide and gang raped to become the first women to ever testify before an international war crimes tribunal on the topic of rape.
You can imagine JJ—a woman, illiterate, my age, five children, she had never left her village—suddenly plucked from this village in the hills of Rwanda, and flown to the UN War Crimes Tribunal in Arusha, Tanzania, where she saw electric lights, where she saw a video camera, where she also saw the man, Jean Paul Akayesu, who ordered her rapes with the command, "Never tell me again you don't know what a Tutsi woman tastes like. It doesn't matter, because tomorrow they will all be dead."
Witness JJ had a chance to testify against Jean Paul Akayesu. In the process of doing that, she not only had a chance to confront her attacker, but she changed the lives of all of the women sitting in this audience, myself included, because, thanks to Witness JJ's testimony, rape is now considered an act of genocide under international law. In the Akayesu case, the judges found that rape was an instrument in the plan of genocide. JJ would say later that when she testified, she felt a burden lift from her heart.
Let me end by reminding you of the fire fighters coming out of the World Trade Center and their desire for the full knowledge of what happened that day, as our Administration discusses whether we should have secret proceedings to try those found or accused in the September 11th attack, or whether we should push for open hearings, like a UN war crimes tribunal, that can be handled in a neutral, independent, international setting, offering global justice for a global crime.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:I will direct some audience questions to our panelists. "We now think that about 4,000-to-5,000 Americans died in the attacks. This is undoubtedly a terrible thing. But we also know that 30,000 children die every day from preventable diseases. How do we, the United States, set priorities, and how on earth do we justify a $48 billion increase in defense?"
NICOLAS DE TORRENTE:I will answer indirectly by quoting some other figures. Infectious diseases kill 14 million people a year. There is an institution called TDR, which is Training and Development in Tropical Diseases at the World Health Organization in Geneva. They have ten tropical diseases on their plate for which they are supposed to develop new drugs—malaria, TB, sleeping sickness Leishmaniasis. They have a budget every year of $30 million. The inequity in terms of how resources are allocated to very pressing public health needs in the world just beggars belief.
We are trying to raise awareness about this. It is obviously a public responsibility. The U.S. Government is not alone. But clearly, there needs to be a shift in the way the public sector, governments, and behind governments citizens, view these issues of global magnitude, global justice, and particularly global disease and resources—not only resources, but political attention has to be focused on them.
I am not sure how the U.S. should respond, but there is a global shift in paradigm that should be in place in terms of reallocating attention and resources to need, and right now it is just completely out of whack.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:Another related question: "The U.S. has announced that it will provide $50 million in aid to Pakistan to strengthen political and democratic institutions. What is the likelihood of this money getting to its intended aid targets and what will its effect really be?"
OMAR NOMAN: I am absolutely delighted that the money has been allocated. There is a very intense debate in Washington on how and what is the strategy for the U.S. to be supporting an open society in Pakistan. So I wouldn't really worry about so much the implicit part of this question, that some of it may be corrupt and who it will reach, because that is not the issue.
The real issue here is this is an allocation for strengthening institutions and it will come down to the October election as the first test of the kind of support that the United States will give.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:Next question: "Since 9/11, the U.S. media has focused on the terrorist attacks and the subsequent war on terrorism to the exclusion of anything else. As a top journalist to a leading U.S. paper, what do you see as your responsibility for shaping public opinion on the priorities in U.S. foreign policy?"
ELIZABETH NEUFFER:I am glad that someone asked that, because it means I can tell you what I say to my editors almost every single day: "9/11 may be the worst thing that ever happened to a foreign correspondent, because at the moment we can't get anyone interested in anything else." One of my greatest fears as a reporter is that we will be so caught up in covering the war on terror that we will ignore other things that have happened. I proposed doing a story early on, after the first month, about all the stories that had gone uncovered, and it was not received gratefully by my editors at the time.
The reality is that what Americans want to read is about our foremost priority—the war on terrorism.
The Globe specifically tries to address this a little bit differently. We have a very small staff of foreign correspondents—there are seven of us, compared to The New York Times's forty—so we try to cover things in a broader swathe and to look at themes.
What I notice that all of us are now doing is to pick themes from Afghanistan and/or Pakistan and/or the war on terror—maybe we're reporting from Malaysia, we've reported from China—and to draw correlations with other countries, so that at least within the spectrum of the terror restrictions we are pointing out important things that need to be addressed elsewhere.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:Since Dr. Bach has informed me earlier that he is on his way to Washington, I will address the next question to him.
"If there is one major policy change that the U.S. should undertake to achieve the objectives of global justice, what would that be?"
ROBERT BACH:The issue of connecting resources to demonstrated American popular interest in situations overseas is the biggest problem of this government. The United States Government currently is underwriting, subsidizing, against its trade rhetoric, U.S. agriculture to the tune of over $100 billion a year. The effort to increase resources for food aid, which is being driven by the NGO community and civil society, is constantly running up against the political realities, the policy process, where the discussion of that aid to U.S. agriculture is not even put on the table with foreign policy or overseas interests. When you take a poll of the American people, however, they believe that some of that money should be spent attacking global hunger and food shortage.
There is a significant policy mismatch that goes on in the U.S. Government across several different administrations. But if you look at our last election, if you anticipate the next election, look at those issues that would make a difference. Where is food policy abroad on any campaign agenda? Where are the American people being consulted in a way that you could make your voice heard to change the political process?
Changing that calculation, that's government and political reform, but it's democracy participation at the core.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:"Why do you suppose that the U.S. has a moral obligation to raise the standard of living of Muslims in dire poverty?
OMAR NOMAN:You've got to take, first of all, a general moral principle, whether it's Muslims or not. Half of the Muslim countries in the world have a lower living standard now than they did ten years ago. Pakistan has the highest poverty rate in Asia, 40 percent. Even at the general level, we do not have to address whether it is Muslims or non-Muslims.
One would argue that the larger moral question is global response to such levels of hunger and deprivation. In this audience there would be no doubt that there is a certain sense of a moral responsibility that should be shared in addressing the worst forms of hunger.
If one takes seriously the threat that is posed by these terrorist groups, the Muslim societies themselves will get their recruits from humiliating poverty. We endlessly say that they are angry middle-class groups and it is not just the polity question, but the humiliation issue and the indignity of poverty, but across the world, unemployed people between eighteen and thirty-two constitute 98 percent of combatants in conflicts. So if you want a world where there is less conflict, there is a moral responsibility to address those people.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:"The Bush Administration budget for defense is more than the next fifteen industrial countries' combined. What effect will this have on the financial ability of the United States to provide medical care and other humanitarian relief?"
NICOLAS DE TORRENTE:When in Tokyo there was the conference that addressed the reconstruction of Afghanistan, a large sum was pledged, $1.7 billion for the first year. The U.S. pledged $300 million, of which $200 million was new money and $100 million was leftover money from the past year.
There is the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB, and malaria, which now has $1.5 billion, although Koffi Annan asked for $7-8 billion to deal adequately with these issues in one year. The U.S. contribution is $200 million.
When you look at some of the sums that are being spent and the way problems are being tackled, it is not just an issue of money, but also a question of policy and of implementing policies that are conducive to real improvements in health care and alleviation of poverty. When you look at those two combined, the positive resources and policies that do not work in that direction, the situation is very severe.
The U.S. has the right to decide what level of military budget it wants to have, and I don't want to make any comment on that, but there should definitely be a much bigger commitment to the other pressing issues around the world.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:I distinguished between democratic justice, distributive justice, and corrective or retributive justice. Many of the audience questions seem to be indicating that the goals of corrective and retributive justice have been pursued to the expense of the other two. Democratic justice and participation has been improved in Afghanistan, but the prospects for democracy in other countries have not really improved as a result of 9/11, and one might argue that they deteriorated, given the kinds of security measures that states can legitimately put in place.
Is this perceived imbalance in the priorities of the United States in fact unjustifiable; and, if so, what kinds of measures might be taken to address it?
ELIZABETH NEUFFER:I will echo what some of my fellow panelists have said, and even a point that I wanted to make earlier. People say, "What can you, the media, do?" I want to say, "Well, the media is you—i.e. Americans, democracy, the voters, the readers, the people who can e-mail my bosses and say `We want to read about Togo.'"
In terms of the perceived imbalance between use of force in Afghanistan versus justice for victims in Afghanistan, or buildups in military budgets versus money going to feed the hungry, we as Americans know perfectly well what to do, which is to shout, scream, write, yell and make our voices heard. With government reform, obviously our voices would be heard more loudly.
But even so, we underestimate just how much what we think matters to our policymakers, and even to the publishers of the newspapers who do focus groups and decide "what people really want is a lunch menu, not another story about Afghanistan."
So we can't underestimate our participatory role, even as human beings giving money to causes. When I am overseas on assignment, I always feel part of my job is to be a reporter, part to be an ambassador, and another part to be the best possible human being I can be, and often those roles conflict. It is something I have thought about a lot since 9/11, because we have all learned that we have to be ambassadors at home and abroad both for good human values and for American values, or what being American is all about.
ROBERT BACH:One of the aspects of U.S. foreign policy that has always received very targeted and specific support is refugee protection and resettlement, in particular, and one of the reasons for that is the support of U.S. churches and communities. The way that most Americans learn about overseas is through the experience of refugees in their neighborhoods and immigration. That is an expression of the civic will, a heritage, a tradition of this culture and country, that really does make a commitment to the rest of the world and says to the U.S. Government—there is a reason why we've had generous immigration refugee policies.
The dangers now of closing borders in Central Asia, the decline of refugee protection, are very real. That they do not yet touch resettlement in the U.S. is a critical point. But it is beginning to surface in those same communities that worry about why the U.S. is not responding to its historic obligation and will to receive people from around the world.
There will be humanitarian aid available from this government because it is consistent with an emerging defense policy. It is the charitable side of a large-scale defensive strategy.
In addition to Kyoto and all of those instances, I would take as the most important lesson recently the U.S. response to Argentina, where in the face of riots in the streets, social upheaval, the U.S. Treasury said, "You get your act together and then we'll talk." It is that sort of performance-based governance.
What about our own leadership in the world in the governance way? Let's talk about what is working and what is not.
OMAR NOMAN:There were two very interesting things which happened in the three months after September 11th.
First, virtually every dictator in the world heaved a sigh of relief, "Thank God. Are we back to the Cold War? Can you please now support us and not mess with this democracy nonsense?" Every dictator in the world said, "That's what we want you to do. Now you know why we don't want to liberalize, because there are these terrorists amongst us."
Initially, the response was silence, but now you are getting a much more complicated and enlightened signal from Washington: "We may need a security alliance, but this does not come at the expense of any support for democracy." Some of the earlier statements were suggesting the security alliance is at any cost.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:Should the Bush Administration support the ICC?
ELIZABETH NEUFFER:Yes, this goes to the question of American self-preoccupation. One of the themes that I have been hearing tonight is that we have become too preoccupied with the war on terrorism and with ourselves.
The obstacles that America perceives to joining the ICC are fears, largely on the part of the Pentagon, that American military serving overseas would be drawn up by a rogue prosecutor determined to embarrass America.
While there is some room for concern, these fears are very exaggerated and come from our own preoccupation that it is always about us.
An International Criminal Court will be sitting this summer in The Hague beginning to do work on addressing future war crimes.
But as part of that process, countries around the world had to pass laws bringing them into compliance with existing war crimes legislation. One of the most amazing things that has happened is that a large number of countries that had never complied or signed on with treaties and conventions nor passed their own domestic war crimes laws now have.
The idea of an ICC is the court of last resort. It is our ultimate protection. In an ideal world, we would elect everyone, we would build the building, and they would just sit there with nothing to do. In theory, countries are to address their own war crimes issues at home and the ICC is only to step in when those countries fail.
CHRISTIAN BARRY:Normally, with a panel, you want people to have sharp disagreements that lead to nice head-on clashes, but because of the good audience questions and the diverse perspectives of the panelists, we have had an interesting debate without conflict.
One of the things that came up in all of the panelists' presentations was the diverse strategies for pursuing even things like security and undermining threats to the security of U.S. citizens. Some stressed the passive strategies grouped under homeland defense and the importance of these measures; or the active strategies, such as the war on terrorism, but also addressed the root cause strategies that seek to undermine and create the institutional conditions for a safer world.