|New American Strategies
for Security and Peace
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MS: David, distinguished guests, friends, and
there’s some overlap between the two categories.
It’s very touching to be introduced by a close
friend, a colleague who worked very closely with me
for four years, with whom we tried to forge policies
that would be responsive to the realities of power and
to the demands of principle.
To the extent that there were any accomplishments
to which I can lay claim I am certainly more than eager
rightfully so to share them with David Aaron. What more
can I say about that introduction. Since our relationship
with President Jimmy Carter was invoked perhaps the
only additional thing I can say is to repeat what he
recently said after being equally generously introduced.
He came up to the podium and said of all of the introductions
I have ever heard this one was the most……….
Ladies and gentlemen, forty years ago almost to the
day an important Presidential emissary was sent abroad
by a beleaguered President of the United States. The
United States was facing the prospect of nuclear war.
These were the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Several emissaries went to our principal allies. One
of them was a tough-minded former Secretary of State,
Dean Acheson whose mission was to brief President De
Gaulle and to solicit French support in what could be
a nuclear war involving not just the United States and
the Soviet Union but the entire NATO Alliance and the
The former Secretary of State briefed the French President
and then said to him at the end of the briefing, I would
now like to show you the evidence, the photographs that
we have of Soviet missiles armed with nuclear weapons.
The French President responded by saying, I do not wish
to see the photographs. The word of the President of
the United States is good enough for me. Please tell
him that France stands with America.
Would any foreign leader today react the same way
to an American emissary who would go abroad and say
that country X is armed with weapons of mass destruction
which threaten the United States? There’s food
for thought in that question.
Fifty-three years ago, almost the same month following
the Soviet-sponsored assault by North Korea on South
Korea, the Soviet Union boycotted a proposed resolution
in the U.N. Security Council for a collective response
to that act. That left the Soviet Union alone in opposition,
stamping it as a global pariah.
In the last three weeks there were two votes on the
subject of the Middle East in the General Assembly of
the United Nations. In one of them the vote was 133
to four. In the other one the vote was 141 to 4, and
the four included the United States, Israel, Marshall
Islands and Micronesia.
All of our NATO allies voted with the majority including
Great Britain, including the so-called new allies in
Europe—in fact almost all of the EU—and
Japan. I cite these events because I think they underline
two very disturbing phenomena—the loss of U.S.
international credibility, the growing U.S. international
Both together can be summed up in a troubling paradox
regarding the American position and role in the world
today. American power worldwide is at its historic zenith.
American global political standing is at its nadir.
Why? What is the cause of this? These are facts. They’re
measurable facts. They’re also felt facts when
one talks to one’s friends abroad who like America,
who value what we treasure but do not understand our
policies, are troubled by our actions and are perplexed
by what they perceive to be either demagogy or mendacity.
Maybe the explanation is that we are rich, and we
are, and that we are powerful, and we certainly are.
But if anyone thinks that this is the full explanation
I think he or she is taking the easy way out and engaging
in a self-serving justification. I think we have to
take into account two troubling conditions.
Since the tragedy of 9-11 which understandably shook
and outraged everyone in this country, we have increasingly
embraced at the highest official level what I think
fairly can be called a paranoiac view of the world.
Summarized in a phrase repeatedly used at the highest
level, “he who is not with us is against us.”
I say repeatedly because actually some months ago I
did a computer check to see how often it’s been
used at the very highest level in public statements.
The count then quite literally was ninety-nine. So it’s
a phrase which obviously reflects a deeply felt perception.
I strongly suspect the person who uses that phrase doesn’t
know its historical or intellectual origins. It is a
phrase popularized by Lenin (Applause) when he attacked
the social democrats on the grounds that they were anti-Bolshevik
and therefore he who is not with us is against us and
can be handled accordingly.
This phrase in a way is part of what might be considered
to be the central defining focus that our policy-makers
embrace in determining the American position in the
world and is summed up by the words “war on terrorism.”
War on terrorism defines the central preoccupation of
the United States in the world today, and it does reflect
in my view a rather narrow and extremist vision of foreign
policy of the world’s first superpower, of a great
democracy, with genuinely idealistic traditions.
The second condition, troubling condition, which contributes
in my view to the crisis of credibility and to the state
of isolation in which the United States finds itself
today is due in part because that skewed view of the
world is intensified by a fear that periodically verges
on panic that is in itself blind. By this I mean the
absence of a clearly, sharply defined perception of
what is transpiring abroad regarding particularly such
critically important security issues as the existence
or the spread or the availability or the readiness in
alien hands of weapons of mass destruction.
We have actually experienced in recent months a dramatic
demonstration of an unprecedented intelligence failure,
perhaps the most significant intelligence failure in
the history of the United States. That failure was contributed
to and was compensated for by extremist demagogy which
emphasizes the worst case scenarios which stimulates
fear, which induces a very simple dichotomic view of
I think it is important to ask ourselves as citizens,
not as Democrats attacking the administration, but as
citizens, whether a world power can really provide global
leadership on the basis of fear and anxiety? Can it
really mobilize support and particularly the support
of friends when we tell them that if you are not with
us you are against us?
I think that calls for serious debate in America about
the role of America in the world, and I do not believe
that that serious debate is satisfied simply by a very
abstract, vague and quasi-theological definition of
the war on terrorism as the central preoccupation of
the United States in today’s world. That definition
of the challenge in my view simply narrows down and
over-simplifies a complex and varied set of challenges
that needs to be addressed on a broad front.
It deals with abstractions. It theologizes the challenge.
It doesn’t point directly at the problem. It talks
about a broad phenomenon, terrorism, as the enemy overlooking
the fact that terrorism is a technique for killing people.
That doesn’t tell us who the enemy is. It’s
as if we said that World War II was not against the
Nazis but against blitzkrieg. We need to ask who is
the enemy, and the enemies are terrorists.
But not in an abstract, theologically-defined fashion,
people, to quote again our highest spokesmen, “people
who hate things, whereas we love things” —
literally. Not to mention the fact that of course terrorists
hate freedom. I think they do hate. But believe me,
I don’t think they sit there abstractly hating
freedom. They hate some of us. They hate some countries.
They hate some particular targets. But it’s a
lot more concrete than these vague quasi-theological
I think in the heat of debate Democrats should not
be nay-sayers only, criticizing. They certainly should
not be cheerleaders as some were roughly a year ago.
But they should stress a return to fundamentals in so
far as American foreign policy is concerned. Above all
else in stressing these fundamentals, Democrats particularly
should insist that the foreign policy of a pluralistic
democracy like the United States should be based on
bipartisanship because bipartisanship is the means and
the framework for formulating policies based on moderation
and on the recognition of the complexity of the human
That has been the tradition since the days of Truman
and Vandenberg all the way until recent times. That
has been the basis for American foreign policy that
has been remarkably successful and has led us not only
to a triumph in the Cold War but to emerging as the
only global superpower with special responsibilities.
Bipartisanship helps to avoid extremes and imbalances.
It causes compromises and accommodations. So let’s
cooperate. Let’s cooperate and challenge the administration
to cooperate with us because within the administration
there are also moderates and people who are not fully
comfortable with the tendencies that have prevailed
in recent times.
That has a number of specific implications that are
of a policy type. The first and most important is to
emphasize the enduring nature of the alliance relationship
particularly with Europe which does share our values
and interests even if it disagrees with us on specific
policies. But the sharing of values and interests is
fundamental, and we partake of the same basic beliefs.
We cannot have that relationship if we only dictate
or threaten and condemn those who disagree. Sometimes
we may be right. Sometimes they may be right. But there
is something transcendental about shared values that
shouldn’t be subordinated to tactical requirements.
We should seek to cooperate with Europe, not to divide
Europe to a fictitious new and a fictitious old.
And we should recognize that in some parts of the
world Europeans have more experience and more knowledge
than we and certain interests as important as ours.
I think particularly of the Middle East. We should be
therefore supporting a larger Europe, and in so doing
we should strive to expand the zone of peace and prosperity
in the world which is the necessary foundation for a
stable international system in which our leadership
could be fruitfully exercised.
Part of the process of building a larger zone of peace
involves also engaging Russia and drawing it into a
closer relationship simultaneously with Europe and with
the Euro-Atlantic community. But we can only do that
if we are clear as to what we are seeking in pursuing
that strategy. I would say that what we ought to be
seeking unambiguously is the promotion of democracy
and decency in Russia and not tactical help of a very
specific and not always all that very useful type purchased
at the cost of compromising even our own concept of
what democracy is.
I am troubled by the unqualified endorsements of a
government in which former KGB types are preponderant
as a successful democracy. That has been the judgment
rendered at the highest levels again within the last
few weeks without any qualification. But in fairness
we have to say that some of that happened before this
administration assumed office as well.
We should be aware of that. If we are going to pursue
a bipartisan policy let’s be willing also to accept
some shortcomings on our part. But if Russia is to be
part of this larger zone of peace it cannot bring into
it its imperial baggage. It cannot bring into it a policy
of genocide against the Chechens, and cannot kill journalists,
and it cannot repress the mass media.
I think we should be sensitive to that even if they
do arrest oligarchs with whom some of our friends on
K Street have shared interests. That is not to be approved.
It is to be condemned, but surely there are deeper causes
for emphasizing that it is important that Russia should
move towards democracy.
To increase the zone of peace is to build the inner
core of a stable international zone. While America is
paramount it isn’t omnipotent. We need the Europeans.
We need the European Union. (Applause) We have to consistently
strive to draw in Russia while at the same time being
quite unambiguous in what it is that disqualifies Russia
still from genuine membership in the community of democratic,
law abiding states.
Secondly, we have to deal with that part of the world
which is a zone of conflict and try to transform it
into a zone of peace, and that means above all else
the Middle East. In Iraq we must succeed. Failure is
not an option. But once we say that we have to ask ourselves
what is the definition of success? More killing, more
repression, more effective counter-insurgency, the introduction
of newer devices of technological type to crush the
resistance or whatever one wishes to call it —
Or is it a deliberate effort to promote by using force
a political solution? And if there’s going to
be a political solution in Iraq, clearly I think it
is obvious that two prerequisites have to be fulfilled
as rapidly as feasible namely the internationalization
of the foreign presence in Iraq regarding which too
much time has been lost and which is going to be increasingly
difficult to accomplish in spite of the somewhat dialectical
successes with which we are defining progress in Iraq
In addition to the internationalization of Iraq we
have to transfer power as soon as is possible to a sovereign
Iraqi authority. Sovereignty is a word that is used
often but it has really no specific meaning. Sovereignty
today is nominal. Any number of countries that are sovereign
are sovereign only nominally and relatively. Ultimately
even the United States is not fully sovereign as we
go around asking for more men and money to help us in
Therefore there’s nothing to be lost in prematurely
declaring the Iraqi authority as sovereign if it helps
it to gain political legitimacy in a country which is
searching to define itself, which has been humiliated,
in which there is a great deal of ambivalence, welcoming
on the one hand the overthrow of Saddam as the majority
does, and on the other hand resenting our presence and
The sooner we do that the more likely is an Iraqi
authority under an international umbrella that becomes
itself more effective in dealing with the residual terrorism
and opposition that we continue to confront. We will
not understand what is happening right now in Iraq by
analogies to Vietnam because I think they are all together
misplaced, and one could speak at length about it.
If you want to understand what is happening right
not in Iraq I suggest a movie that was quite well known
to a number of people some years ago. Maybe not many
in this audience, given the age of some present, but
it’s a movie which deals with a reality which
is very similar to that that we confront today in Baghdad.
It’s called “The Battle For Algiers”.
It is a movie that deals with what happened in Algeria
after the Algerian Liberation Army was defeated in the
field by the French army and the resistance which used
urban violence, bombs, assassinations, and turned Algiers
into a continuing battle that eventually wore down the
I do not expect we’ll be worn down, but I think
we want to understand the dynamics of the resistance.
This provides a much better analogy for grappling with
what is becoming an increasingly painful and difficult
challenge for us. A challenge which will be more successful
in meeting if we have more friends engaged in meeting
it and if more Iraqis begin to feel that they are responsible
for the key decisions pertaining to their country.
We will not turn the Middle East into a zone of peace
instead of a zone of violence unless we more clearly
identify the United States with the pursuit of peace
in the Israeli/Palestinian relationship. Palestinian
terrorism has to be rejected and condemned, yes. But
it should not be translated defacto into a policy of
support for a really increasingly brutal repression,
colonial settlements and a new wall.
Let us not kid ourselves. At stake is the destiny
of a democratic country, Israel, to the security of
which, the well-being of which, the United States has
been committed historically for more than half a century
for very good historical and moral reasons. But soon
there will be no option of a two-state solution.
Soon the reality of the settlements which are colonial
fortifications on the hill with swimming pools next
to favelas below where there’s no drinking water
and where the population is 50% unemployed, there will
be no opportunity for a two-state solution with a wall
that cuts up the West Bank even more and creates more
Indeed as some Israelis have lately pointed out, and
I emphasize some Israelis have lately pointed out, increasingly
the only prospect if this continues is Israel becoming
increasingly like apartheid South Africa -- the minority
dominating the majority, locked in a conflict from which
there is no extraction. If we want to prevent this the
United States above all else must identify itself with
peace and help those who are the majority in Israel,
who want peace and are prepared to accept peace.
All public opinion polls show that and the majority
of the Palestinians, and I believe the majority of the
Jewish community in this country which is liberal, open-minded,
idealistic and not committed to extremist repressions.
The United States as the government, but all of us
as citizens and Democrats particularly, will soon have
an opportunity to underline their commitments to a peaceful
solution in the Middle East because in the next two
weeks a group of Israelis and Palestinians are going
to unveil a detailed peace plan on which they have been
working for months and months. It’s a fifty-page
document with maps and detailed compromise solutions
for all of the major contentious issues, solutions which
public opinion shows 70% of the Israelis would accept.
When that happens what will be the stance of the United
States? Sharon has already condemned it, and not surprisingly.
I hope we do not decide to condemn it. I hope we will
show at least a positive interest, and many of us as
citizens, as people concerned, should I think endorse
it because if we count on the people who want peace
eventually we will move towards peace. But they have
to be mobilized and given support.
I think one of the reasons that that support from
the United States has not been forthcoming is in fact
political cowardice which I think is unjustified because
I have real confidence in the good judgment, both of
the Israeli people and of the American Jewish community
and more basically of the basic American preference
for a moderate peaceful solution. (Applause)
The last third area pertains more broadly to strategic
doctrine and to strategic commitment. It involves trying
to deal with nuclear proliferation, and we are learning
fortunately that we can only deal with that problem
when it comes to North Korea or to Iran by cooperation
with other major powers.
That we have to support, and if the administration
moves in that direction or is prodded to move in that
direction that is all to the good because there is no
alternative. If we try to resolve the North Korean problem
by arms alone we will produce a violent reaction against
the United States in South Korea--and don’t underestimate
the growing anti-American tendencies in South Korean
nationalism—and will precipitate a nuclear armed
Japan and thereby create a whole duel strategic dynamic
in the Far East.
In the case of Iran it is also in our interest that
the theocratic despotism fade. It is beginning to fade.
It is in its thermidorian phase. The young people of
Iran are increasingly alienated. The women of Iran are
increasingly assertive and bold. Notice the reception
given to the Nobel Peace Prize winner when she returned
to Tehran. That is a symptom of things to come. (Applause)
And if we take preemptory action we will reinforce
the worst tendencies in the theocratic fundamentalist
regime, not to speak about the widening of the zone
of conflict in the Middle East. But beyond that we still
have one more challenge in the area of strategic doctrine
which is how to respond to the new conditions of uncertainty
of weapons of mass destruction perhaps eventually being
available to terrorist groups.
Here I think it is terribly important not to plunge
headlong into the tempting notion that we will preempt
unilaterally on suspicion which is what the doctrine
right now amounts to. The reason for that being we simply
do not know enough to be able to preempt with confidence.
That to me involves one fundamentally important lesson.
We have to undertake a genuine national effort to revitalize
and restructure our intelligence services.
For four years I was the principal channel of intelligence
to the President of the United States. We had a pretty
good idea of the nature of the security challenge that
we faced because the challenge itself was based on a
highly advanced scientific technological system of arms.
Today the problem is much more difficult.
It’s more elusive. We’re not dealing with
nuclear silos and coordinated structures necessary for
an effective assault on American security, structures
that we could begin to decipher and also technologically
seek to undermine or in the event of warfare paralyze.
We were really remarkably well informed and in some
respects prepared for a central nuclear war to a degree
to which we certainly are not today in dealing with
the new challenges of security.
These can only be addressed if we have what we do
not have, a really effective intelligence service. I
find it appalling that when we went into Iraq we did
not know if they had weapons of mass destruction. We
thought they had weapons of mass destruction based largely
on extrapolation. But that also means that our commanders
in the field went into battle without any knowledge
of the Iraqi WMD order of battle.
They did not know what units, brigades or divisions
in the Iraqi armed forces were equipped with what kind,
allegedly, of weapons of mass destruction. Were there
chemical weapons on the battalion level or on the brigade
level or were there special units in the different divisions
that were supposed to use chemical weapons?
What about the alleged existence of bacteriological
weapons? Who had them? Who had the right to dispose
of them? What about the allegedly reconstituted nuclear
program? At what level of development was it? Where
were these weapons to be deployed? The fact is none
of that was known regarding a country that was permeable,
that was not as isolated as the Soviet Union.
All of that cumulatively testifies to a fundamental
shortcoming in our national security policy. If we want
to lead we have to have other countries trust us. When
we speak they have to think it is the truth. This is
why De Gaulle said what he did. This is what others
believed us. This is why they believed us prior to the
war in Iraq.
It isn’t that the Norwegians or the Germans
or whoever else had their own independent intelligence
services. They believed us, and they no longer do. To
correct that we have to have an intelligence that speaks
with authority, that can be trusted, and if preemption
becomes necessary can truly tell us that as a last resort
preemption is necessary. Right now there’s no
way of knowing.
Ultimately at issue, and I end on this, is the relationship
between the new requirements of security and the traditions
of American idealism. We have for decades and decades
played a unique role in the world because we were viewed
as a society that was generally committed to certain
ideals and that we were prepared to practice them at
home and to defend them abroad.
Today for the first time our commitment to idealism
worldwide is challenged by a sense of security vulnerability.
We have to be very careful in that setting not to become
self-centered, preoccupied only with ourselves and subordinate
everything else in the world to an exaggerated sense
We are going to live in an insecure world. It cannot
be avoided. We have to learn to live in it with dignity,
with idealism, with steadfastness. Thank you. (Applause)
(END OF SPEECH)