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New American Strategies for Security and Peace
Conference Transcripts:

Panel Two:
Richard Holbrooke, Joseph C. Wilson, Flynt Leverett, Jessica Stern, Major General William L. Nash, USA (Ret.)

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I congratulate everyone involved, The American Prospect Magazine, which is a wonderful magazine; Dick Leone and The Century Foundation; and the Center for American Progress. I’m particularly impressed by what John Podesta and the Center for American Progress are doing.

Before I talk about the subject of the panel, I want to say one simple thing. Ideas matter. Ideas matter. And in the old cliché, you can’t be somebody with nobody.

You have to have an idea. And even if the something’s a bad idea, you need something to counter it. The Democrats were the party of ideas. The Republicans understood this and for the last 30 years they have relentlessly used 501(c)3 organizations to put forward a biased analysis.

Our problems, as progressives or liberals, I prefer the word “liberals”, frankly… [CLAPPING]. I’m a liberal and I’m proud of it. And I’m glad Ted is clapping because President Kennedy defined it best. If liberal means A, B, C, D, then I’m a liberal. And if we call ourselves progressives, then the Republicans and the right wing will still call us liberals and define it for us.

So I prefer the Kennedy-Sorensen approach to the word. Besides which my parents voted for Wallace in 1948 -- I mean, the real Wallace, Henry A. Wallace. And I asked them. They were both refuges from communism and Hitler. And I said, “Why did you vote for Wallace? He was a Moscow stooge.”

And they said they just didn’t know. So that was my first introduction. Well, they were new — they were new Americans and he’d been FDR’s Vice President. Anyway, I’m a liberal and I think we need new ideas for liberals. And this is why I think what John Podesta and his colleagues have done is historically important.

Now this panel is supposed to talk about peace-keeping and nation-building. So let us begin with an advisory warning. Since these words are outlawed by the current administration, we have to warn everybody in the room that the language in this panel may offend some people.

You should leave now because we’re going to talk about these terrible things, nation-building, peace-keeping, post-conflict resolution. Since I must leave early, and I apologize for that, I want to make a few observations on the subject and introduce this great panel, which Richard and Bob Kuttner and John Podesta assembled.

Peace-keeping, nation-building, post-conflict reconstruction. Call it whatever you want. It is an integral and essential part of American foreign policy and has been for 70 years or more. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we failed. But the goal is correct.

It has been associated overwhelmingly with Democratic administration. Sometimes for good and sometimes tragically -- in Vietnam where the intent was good, the execution mishandled, the outcome catastrophic for the nation and for our party not so good. But it represents an important part of American foreign policy.

In the 2000 election Governor Bush attacked the Clinton administration and Vice President Gore directly for these actions, specifically discussing Bosnia and Kosovo. Wes Clark already talked about Kosovo. He and I were shot at together trying to get in Sarajevo.

We lost three of our negotiating team in that terrible first attempt to get into Sarajevo. He was my military assistant advisor for a long time. He’s a wonderful man, and what he said I fully agree with. But Governor Bush attacked us. He said inaccurately that he would not have soldiers of the 82nd Airborne accompany school children to classes, which they don’t do.

He mocked our efforts. Well, today, just short of eight years after the Dayton Peace Agreement, whose anniversary is November 21st, Bosnia is at peace. We achieved our strategic objectives. The American troop commitment went from 20,000 on Day One down to 12,000 today.

The NATO commitment from 60,000 overall, including Russians and Ukrainians, the very kind of multi-national coalition which everyone here is calling for, down to about 12,000 today, and the total amount of casualties, as pointed out in the current issue of Newsweek on the $87 billion mess in Iraq, the total number of western American NATO overall casualties since Dayton is zero.

Zero killed and wounded. And in Kosovo, in the four years since the end of that war, zero. And we have achieved our objective in Bosnia. The country’s at peace. Going a little more slowly than I would have liked. It’s still a cesspool of corruption. The central government isn’t strong enough.

NATO has completely failed to capture Corrada Chimalatage (ph.), which is a massive failure. And there are many other problems. But we achieved our objective at acceptable costs.

Annual costs, which you and I and others agonized about, amount to about one week of our current costs in Iraq. One week. And that was at the height of the involvement. It’s now a fraction of that. That is nation-building and peace-keeping. It ain’t perfect, but it worked.

And imagined if it hadn’t worked. Bosnia would, today, be an Al Qaeda center in the middle of Europe, a failed state and a holocaust genocide of historic proportions. And, yet, we were attacked and criticized for it. And when this administration took office two and a half years ago, they said that they would be the anti-Balkans in every way.

And, in fact, the Secretary of Defense tried to pull the troops out immediately. Now there are five relevant examples that we need to discuss today, plus some other things which at least one member of the panel is going to talk about. The five are Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those are the important peace-keeping experiences of the last decade, the period dating from 1995. The period preceding that has three tragic examples of failures. Bosnia itself in the U.N. period stretching over the Bush administration and I must say in all frankness the first two years of the administration we were associated with.

President Clinton himself would not disagree with that. Rwanda, which we also must recognize as a very sad experience, and we must learn from it and acknowledge that it was a terrible mistake. And finally Somalia, an inherited problem from the Bush administration which blew up exactly 10 years ago last week in Mogadishu.

But leaving those three aside, Bosnia, Rwanda and Somalia, let’s look at the other five very quickly. Bosnia was a success because we engaged, we stood up, we talked about nation-building. We didn’t run away from it. We spent money and we internationalized it.

And Bosnia is now a sovereign state with international support under U.N. approval, but not directly under the U.N. We never put Bosnia under the U.N. in the Dayton period because the U.N. had failed in the early ‘90s and we could not let them back in. They were not respected.

So they have a minimal role, but we set up a bypass structure. But then, and this is the key difference when you get to the U.N., between the Clinton administration and the current administration, even after we kept the U.N. out of Dayton, even after we told the U.N. that we couldn’t use them in the process, we went back to the Security Council and they unanimously legitimized what was happening.

So the kind of international cover you need for a situation like that existed from the beginning. Kosovo is still a work in progress because the sovereignty issue, the status issue has not been resolved. And it is best we bypass it here because it’s not relevant to this panel.

Nation-building isn’t happening yet in Kosovo four years after the war for two reasons. The status isn’t clear. Is it a nation or is a part of something else? And this administration, combined with the European Union, has turned its back on it and allowed it to drift.

And as it drifts, the sides (the Albanians and the Serbs) harden. It’s entirely different from Bosnia. And Bosnia, the new generation of Croats, Serbs and Muslims are beginning to talk to each other again, common language, inter-marriage, so on. But Albanians and Serbs really hate each other.

And unless the U.S. stops its disengagement, gets involved, the situation will get worse. It is a very serious problem because of administration neglect. But let’s skip over it. East Timor, a success for the international community in both peace-making and nation-building in — after 25 years of disaster from August of 1999 until May of last year.

In less than three years an Australian-led military organization, military unit with full authority to shoot first and ask questions later, sanctioned by the U.N., went in, pacified half an island and then the U.N., under the leadership of the brilliant, great Sergio Vero de Mills (ph.), presided over the transition of democracy.

And it was Sergio Vero de Mills’ experience in East Timor, of course, that led him by a route he did not personally want to take to Baghdad and his tragic death a few weeks ago. Afghanistan and Iraq.

Afghanistan, the administration did some things right and some things wrong. It did get U.N. approval and it did hold a conference in Bohn after the Taliban was disbursed from the major cities. And it created a legitimate, internationally-recognized government under Karzai. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they also did the exact opposite of nation-building.

Because, again, they have contempt for the concept. They’ve refused to let the international peace-keeping group leave Kabul. They’ve limited them to 5,000 soldiers, put no Americans into it and turned down British, French and German offers of support.

And built up the peace—the war lords in the city of Kandahar (ph.) and Herrod (ph.) and Kundas (ph.) and Mazzari (ph.) Shariff (ph.) and Jalalabad (ph.), all the other great centers of that complicated country. This was catastrophic. And in the last few weeks the administration has belatedly semi-admitted it by putting the International Security Systems Force under NATO, which it should have done almost two years ago.

But they still are just faking it. They are undermining their own achievement in Afghanistan. And why? Because they resisted learning from the successes and non-successes over Balkans and East Timor. And why did they do that? Because, as you all know, they followed the ABC policy.

Anything but Clinton or in the kind of context ABP, anything but Podesta. Now let’s me turn to Iraq and then introduce the panel. Iraq does not fit this panel. We are at war in Iraq as we speak. I do not understand why those of you in this room, why the Democratic members of Congress, why the Democratic candidates for the Presidency are not simply getting up and saying the truth.

We are at war. This is a war. CNN calls it the Iraq conflict on its screen. Let’s avoid euphemism. Somebody should ask the President and the Secretaries of State and Defense the simplest question. Do you think this is a war? Every soldier knows it. People are getting killed everyday over there, as you all know.

The attacks of the day before yesterday were particularly extraordinary. Excuse me – yesterday -- were particularly extraordinary because there were, for the first time six of them. Not all the bombs went off. They were fully coordinated. Bill Nash, my friend from the United States Army and from Kosovo, can tell you that when six bombs are set to go off and four do in a one hour period, that’s called coordinated.

And the President’s extraordinary, extraordinary statement yesterday which I believe if I understood correctly was that the more terrorism against us the better we’re doing (or maybe it was the better we’re doing, the more terrorism we’re going to have), is going to rank as one of the most extraordinary statements made by any Commander in Chief in our lifetimes. [CLAPPING]

And sitting right next to him, my old State Department colleague, Jerry Bremer said, and I quote -- I quote this because it was worth writing down. Otherwise you’ll think I made it up. “The good days outnumber the bad days”. Right. That’s great. “All that matters is the last day of the war.” And this goes to the point of this panel.

You cannot do nation-building with a country at war. It’s not possible. That the non-military part of the $87 billion, the $13 billion in loans and grants pledge in Madrid, a lot of which, of course, will never be collected. But I think we should all note, as Frankie Fitzgerald reminded me, that the Vietnamese are sending rice in irony and the Serbs are sending a thousand soldiers into the region because they have had a lot of experience with Muslims.

I’m not making this up. I was in Belgrade three weeks ago and they explained to me how they wanted to show the Americans how little they minded what Wes Clark had done to them for 77 days four years ago. But we promise that we won’t let any indicted war criminals go to Afghanistan from Serbia.

These efforts are fine, but it doesn’t really matter how many. It’s good to build schools. It’s good to repair water lines. We have to do it. But it doesn’t matter as long as you’re at war. Those of us who lived part of our lives in Vietnam seemingly a century ago in a distant part of the world (and I spent three and a half years in Vietnam) can tell you that all the efforts we made were for naught because a few people could disrupt them.

And it doesn’t matter if the majority of the people want stability or the majority of the people oppose what’s happening. Until you’re at peace, you can’t build a nation. And we are at war, and the most alarming thing about it is that the administration, the military do not seem to know who is attacking us.

Is it Baathist remnants? Is it Al Qaeda? Is it infiltrators from the neighborhood which, by the way, would mean Saudi Arabia as well as Syria and Iran? And that would pose different problems. Is it Shiite, xenophobic people? The only thing that seems clear to me is this.

We. I shouldn’t say “we”. The administration managed to do something completely legitimate. A regime change in Iraq. And I supported them on this. I thought if we in the Clinton administration had opposed Milosevic, we owed it to President Bush to support a change of regime in Baghdad because Saddam was even worse than Milosevic.

But because of the way it was done, the unbelievably inefficient, ineffective, self-destructive way it was done, we managed to overthrow an Arab who was a bad Muslim, a heretic in the eyes of Bin Laden or the Wahabities (ph.) or other deeply religious Muslims. We managed to overthrow a bad Muslim Arab and turn a growing majority of the Muslim world against us.

And to what’s emerging is a kind of a jihad. Even in countries like Indonesia. The epitome of modern Islam in all the years I’ve been going there is now rising so that as Clyde Prestowitz mentioned earlier, President Bush had to spend only two hours in the country and go to the only Indo—part of Indonesia.

So we are facing a rising tide of problems. Finally, then, we need to ask this administration very, very bluntly what do they think is going on. Does the President believe what he said yesterday or, like Rumsfeld, does he have a set of secret memos telling us what he really thinks to be made public later?

Do they understand what’s going on? I don’t know. I haven’t been in Iraq yet, but I do want to make clear before we go on to the panel that we’re talking about peace-keeping, nation-building, a proud part of what the Democrats should stand for and always have. And Iraq, at this point, is something quite, quite different.

Let me now turn to the panel and introduce this very extraordinary panel and, since I will have to leave early, also ask my old colleague and friend, Gayle Smith, who worked in the National Security Council on African Affairs to take over for me when I have to leave.

Our panel in the order they will speak are Joe Wilson, — the Manager of J.C. Wilson International Ventures, a consulting firm specializing in strategic management, international business development and destroying the Bush administration single-handedly. [CLAPPING] Anything else you want to know about Joe? He’s such a quiet, modest, typical FSO.

Jessica Stern. Her recent book, “Terror in the Name of God: Why Are Religious Militants Killed” is an extraordinary book. Jessica gets into the minds of the terrorists. Her subject really isn’t directly related to the panel, so rather than talk about peace-keeping I suggested to Jessica she just tell us as succinctly as she can what she understands about terrorists.

The people we’re fighting in Iraq may use terror tactics, but that’s not terrorism in the sense of 9/11. It’s something else. And I think Jessica has very important things to say. She worked on President Clinton’s National Security Staff and was something, believe it or not, at the Council of Foreign Relations called the “Super-Terrorism Fellow”. Super-Terrorism. And, as you all know, was played by Nicole Kidman in the movie.

Flynt Leverett is a visiting fellow with the Brookings Institutions Savan (ph.) Center. And he also worked at the National Security Council in the second Clinton administration.

And since I wanted to say something at least mildly funny about everybody here, I asked his wife, Hillary Mann, who worked for me at the U.N., a wonderful foreign service officer, if she could tell me anything really funny about him. And she said, and I quote, “He is the author of the failed Mid-East roadmap”.
That must be a terrific marriage. Where are you Hillary?

Okay, finally, Bill Nash. Bill Nash was a two-star general when I first met him, commanding -- was it the First Armor Division, Bill? First Army at Fort Hood. And we were in the middle of the Dayton Peace Negotiations and we wanted to really impress Milosevic, Tuchman (ph.) and Isovegavich (ph.) about the troops we were going to send in.

And it was one thing for Wes Clark and me to say we’re sending in troops, but I wanted somebody who really would scare the bejeezus out of them. So we called up the command. I think Wes made the call because I didn’t know Bill. And a few days later in comes this guy with every medal you’ve ever seen, smoking a cigar in his combat boots, chomping, chomping away.

And we introduced him to these guys. We said to Milosevic, Tuchman and Isovegavich, “After we’re finished, he is going to lead the American division that’s going to come into the American sector”. We got a peace within a few hours. Bill is a terrific guy. He has served with great distinction in the U.S. Army.

I next saw him in Mitrovitza (ph.) in civilian clothes. Mitrovitza is easily the ugliest, most dangerous city in Europe. And it is one nasty place. Half Serb, half Albanian. Still a place where I guarantee you if the American troops, the NATO troops left, there would be a genocide within hours.

And Bill was there to try to get it under control. He did a great job working for the U.N. He’s now the John Vessee (ph.) Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Center for Preventive Action. So that’s our great panel. I thank you all for coming and I’m going to ask Joe Wilson to speak first. Thank you. [CLAPPING]


Thank you. Thank you, Dick, very much. I appreciate that introduction. When I wrote my modest little piece in July that was entitled “I Remind You What I Did Not Find in Africa”, I had little idea that it was going to be anything more than a two day story until I heard from a Republican who called me up and said, “Thank you very much”.

“You’ve given us the ammunition we need to begin to roll back from the (inaudible) conservative (inaudible).” And then I heard from a Democrat who no doubt out of deference to my years experience in Africa, called me up and said, “Congratulations. You’re the baboon who threw the terd that finally hit the target and stuck”.

That’s when I had an idea we were onto something. I want to thank you, John and Bob and Century Foundation for doing this. Somebody said this was the best thing to happen to foreign policy deliberations in the last 50 years. I’m a little older than 50 years, but I can’t say that.

What I can say is this chair beats the Southern Baptist Convention -- which I haven’t been invited to for a repeat. There are three great debates that I’m part of in this town right now. One is how’d we get in this mess. Second one is how do we get out of this mess. And the third one is who decided that their political agenda was more important than the national security of our country and decided that as a consequence they would leak the name of a national security asset to the press.

Now all three are characterized by lies, misstatements of material fact and really incredibly poor judgment. The third one I’ll take up first. The first one I won’t take up at all, but the third one I just want everybody to know that my wife, whose name was the one that was leaked to the press, is doing very well thank you.

Her culture and her people have embraced her. And she’s still serving our country and doing what she swore to do not quite three decades ago, but a long time ago, to defend the Constitution of the United States. That said, whoever it was who decided their political agenda was more important than everything that she represents in terms of national security, is still apparently alive and well and ready to leak again in the White House.

So I must say I am absolutely appalled at the apparent nonchalance with which the President of the United States addressed this issue. I was just in Los Angeles the other day and I urged some of my friends out there that they ought to talk to their friends back here and see if we can’t get “No Way Out”, the film with Kevin Costner, looped on one of these movie channels for a few weeks so people can understand what it really does mean when national security assets are leaked into the public.

The second debate, the how do we get out of this mess, is the one I think we’re all here to talk about today. And I’m delighted to do that. I was not a big fan of the invasion conquest, occupation high risk, low reward scenario that this administration adopted. I thought we could do regime change somewhat differently.

As it turns out, we had infiltrated the military well before. If you go back and you take a look at Colin Powell’s speech and the President’s State of the Union Address, we had significantly disrupted the weapons of mass destruction programs. And the question really was why did we have to go in in order to achieve our objective when a little bit of patience, a certain amount of tenacity and a willingness to use many of the other tools in our arsenal might have yielded the desired result and kept intact some of the infrastructure that we needed in order to begin to rebuild.

Instead, we decided we would go in and occupy Iraq. And in so doing, we failed even those lessons we failed to learn and internalize those lessons we had learned in Afghanistan, much less what we had learned in Bosnia when we did that. And I was a political advisor to George Jawin (ph.) when we did that one.

But in Afghanistan we did, at a minimum, have a fair amount of international cooperation going in. We had an objective. We had defined the objective in ways that the international community could understand and have some sympathy and support for in the aftermath of 9/11.

But we gave it up. We basically decided that going in and cracking a (unintelligible) bunch of china was really all we needed to do. And we let the wussy Europeans handle the really tough tasks of nation-building because we don’t do that. And at that time I thought, “Well, we’ve got really two schools of thought here in the Administration”, one I call the whack-a-moles, which are the guys who see a threat out there and go out and whack it, come home and wait for the threat to re-emerge.

And if they have to, they go out and whack it again. Those are the ones who eschew nation-building. And the other one I call the “(inaudible) pith helmet crowd”. And that’s taken from a Max Boot article which—about Afghanistan in which he waxes nostalgic about the 19th century British Empire with British imperialists striding across their empire in pith helmets.

And for me that was a classic way to describe these new conservatives who are bound and determined to have a certain (inaudible) head over there as opposed to over here. The more I look at this, however, it seems to me there really is just one school out there, and that’s the whack-a-moles.

And there may be a couple of (inaudible) pith helmet guys, notably the President who continues to talk about Iraq and Afghanistan being beacons of democracy for that part of the world upon which we can kind of build the concepts that we hold dear.

But if you take a look at it, and Afghanistan’s a good example, Iraq is an even better example and I’m prepared to put the assets to it. And, in fact, with respect to Iraq, it seems to me that (unintelligible) could be excused if he actually concluded by the bad reconstruction effort that Balkanization of Iraq is an acceptable outcome, which, of course, is the antithesis of what the President articulated in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute and in subsequent statements.

So I argue that, in fact, the President who gets his advice and his information only from his advisors, he said that on (unintelligible) the other night, deserves, and we certainly as a country deserve, for him to have the best advice possible. And with respect to Iraq, which I know far better than Afghanistan, it seems to me that we need to do a number of things in addition to winning the war, beating the insurgency that’s reared its ugly head.

Notably just in the last couple of days beginning to hit the soft targets which really undermine our ability to do nation-building type activities. And I think fundamentally we need to do a couple things. One, we need to internationalize this about as quickly as possible.

Not because it means that we have less responsibility or less obligations, but because at the end of the day we really do need to make an attempt to get the Iraqis to understand that this is a global effort to help them in their hour of need after 35 years of Baathist rule, three wars, and shock and awe.

And it’s not enough to have the U.N. flag (although, I think the U.N. flag is necessary), but it’s important to have a lot of different flags. The U.N. is seen in Iraq as an agent of the west, the implementer of the sanctions regime. So it’s not enough just to have that.

In addition to which we obviously have to Iraqi-ize it as quickly as possible. And all of this means that you have to have a different configuration of troops and a different troop strength. And Bill can talk a little bit about this.

But we need to be focusing on trying to get the Iraqis to understand that their future can be brighter than their past was, and get them to look upwards and outwards rather than downwards and inwards and reverting to the traditional family clan and tribal mechanism of self-defense in times of hostile occupation or hostile action against their core interests.

Now I happen to believe that the hundred day window that the people went out there several months ago is almost closed. And, you know, you really very rarely get a second chance to make a good first impression, unless you’re Muhammad Ali or Andre Agassi. And then it takes two decades and we don’t have two decades.

So we need to work on this quickly. And it deals with providing public safety, providing basic human needs, support, and providing services. You cannot do this the way this thing is structured now. And I’ll close on this. When we did Bosnia, one of the things that when we briefed the operation, George Jawin had two slides in his slide show.

One had big “M”, little “c” and one had “C”, little “m”. And what he meant by that is when you go into an unstable situation, you have to go in with a big military presence and the military has to take on not just the task of stabilizing and securing the situation, but it also has to take on some of the requirements of satisfying the needs of the population in unstable times.

As the situation becomes stable, then you can begin to hand off to the civilian component those tasks for which the civilian organizations are better suited to accomplish and which are really peripheral to the core military tasks. And in so doing, you can grow the seed.

And as the security situation stabilizes, you can reduce the “M”, the military part of that. That hasn’t been done here in Iraq at all, as far as I can tell. As far as I can tell, there’s been a contract let to a major contractor and sublet down to subcontractors, all of whom are expected to provide their own security, their own logistic support and give the contractors a performance bond to insure that they will execute the tasks that they are asked to do.

In a security situation such as Iraq, you cannot do that. The military has got to be able to provide the security and provide the public safety if we ever hope to create a situation in which the Iraqi population, particularly in the metropolitan areas, are beginning to see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Now I’ve argued and before I got blown out of the water on this other issue, I argued that if you internationalize this, one of the things that you need to do is you need to look at this pretty much as a business venture. And, of course, this is a business administration; therefore, they might understand this.

Might. But when you have a vision, as the President has articulated, and it is clear that you’re failing in achieving that vision, and as a consequence you go to outside equity partners to seek additional financing and support in order to achieve that vision, there are a number of things that you have to do.

You generally have to give up seats on the board, you have to give up staff and line positions, and you have to harmonize your vision to the vision of those outside equity investors. So if we really hope to succeed in this, it seems to me the President of the United States would be well advised to begin making those changes necessary so as to be able to persuade the outside equity investors that this is a going concern and that they’re giving them some confidence that we all share the same vision.

Because at the end of the day… I go back to what I said earlier. The reconstruction has gone so badly so far that there is legitimate reason, for objective, outside observers, to conclude that failure (and by failure, failure to achieve the President’s vision, failure meaning essentially the Balkanization of Iraq), could be an acceptable outcome to those who have so badly managed the reconstruction.

So that would be step number one. I’ll leave it there. Thank you. [CLAPPING]


FS: It may well be that we are at war in Iraq as Investor Holbrooke has said, but many of the soldiers that we are fighting there are not necessarily attached to a state but to an idea, the idea that globalization and U.S. (inaudible) is deeply humiliating to Muslims.

And that the best way to address that humiliation and to find a new identity is to pick up a gun. As soon as the war in Iraq became imminent, antipathy to the United States increased dramatically in much of the Islamic world according to (unintelligible). And the Al Qaeda movement began to use the war as a rallying cry to attract recruits.

Intelligence agencies throughout the world reported that recruitment to the AL Qaeda movement was up and that the new recruits were often younger with a more menacing attitude. There were more converts and more of them were women, the women for the most part recruited for logistics roles.

To fight this terrorism successfully… And I am focusing on the terrorist aspect, the Jihadists that are coming into Iraq as opposed to the national liberation kind of war that is also going on. To fight this terrorism successfully we need to understand its appeal.

Terrorists exploit vulnerabilities at various levels. At the global level they exploit open borders, ease of travel, ease of moving money and value. They use the internet to recruit to spread their message, to raise money. They ask for checks to be sent to their bank accounts.

They sell posters of (inaudible), key chains to help generate support, but also raise money. And they also run businesses on the internet that actually have nothing to do with terrorism or their purported missions just as a way to raise money. At the level of states, terrorists exploit festering conflicts.

They exploit deep frustration with corrupt autocratic regimes, especially in the Islamic world, and a tendency to blame the U.S. for supporting them. Weak states are, perhaps, the most important risk factor, the most important vulnerability that terrorists exploit.

Terrorists often step in where the state fails. They provide hospitals, schools, after-school programs, often through social welfare organizations affiliated with the groups. And some of the social welfare that they provide is quite legitimate, but it feeds, in fact, most, but it feeds directly into the military wing of these movements.

Many of the extremist religious seminaries funded by Saudi charities in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and, to some extent, Indonesia are becoming factories for Jihad, creating cannon fodder. Poverty plays a role here. Poverty is clearly not a root cause of terrorism.

If it were, we’d see a lot more terrorism in poor countries. But terrorists are able to exploit the poor. They take advantage of the poor and they take advantage, for example, of the poorest of the poor who end up at these extremist (inaudible) that function as orphanages.

At the personal level I think the most important vulnerability that terrorists exploit is a sense of confused identity and humiliation. And that applies to all of the religious terrorists that I’ve been interviewing over the last five years, not just the Islamist ones.

They try to provide, and often do provide, a sense of collective identity to those who feel this humiliation. And remember, humiliation is a feeling. It isn’t necessarily easy for outsiders to understand. I have a very famous colleague who likes to say that I have Prozac approach to terrorism because I focus so much on humiliation.

And I’d just like to tell you that you really don’t have to take my word for this. You can go look at the writings of Zawaheri (ph.) and you will see that he talks about humiliation and that the way to find a new identity, to become dignified is by participating in a Jihad.

And by Jihad he means holy war, a violent, holy war. This is why our continuing problems are so counter-productive to the war on terrorism. Baghdad is a very important city in Islam. Its occupation by U.S. troops and tanks is deeply humiliating. And in the words of a Saudi dissident who has now been quoted extensively in the press, “It is a gift to Bin Laden and the Al Qaeda movement.”

One thing I’ve discovered as a result of my interviews with terrorists over the last five years is that they start out, or they may start out in any case, truly believing in a mission. But then overtime the mission becomes significantly less important as a motivation for them, and it becomes more of a marketing strategy.

It’s a way to attract money, support and recruits. Over time the mission will change for the truly professional terrorist organization such as the Al Qaeda movement. Yesterday Al Qaeda’s mission was the force U.S. troops out of Saudi Arabia. Today the mission is attempting to force the U.S. out of Iraq.

Tomorrow it’ll probably be fighting the globalization and its enemies in other venues. What can we do about this? We cannot change the terrorists’ minds. That’s very unlikely. Terrorists become, they tell me, addicted to a life of holy war. That is a word that has come up many times in my interviews indeed.

One of my interviewees said that he was addicted to jihad as I am to writing, which I think was his attempt to humiliate me. It’s very important that we focus on the potential support base of terrorist movements. The level of antipathy toward the United States, as I said earlier, has gone up so high that it alone is a major security threat.

Terrorists always require support in the broader population, and that is why this is so dangerous. We need to focus on failed states not as humanitarian missions, but as national security threats. Addressing weak and failing states needs to be a part of our national security agenda.

We should seriously consider competing with the terrorists in providing social welfare in states that are unable to keep up with the terrorists in that regard. We should be sending in doctors and medicine. There should be visible evidence of our involvement.

We should remove protectionist policies that keep Pakistanis, for example, in poverty because they are likely to become ready recruits if things get desperate enough for them. And I will stop there. Thank you.


MS: Thank you. As Ambassador Holbrooke alluded to in his description of my role in the authorship of the tragic comic masterpiece known as the Roadmap, I have had the experience of working for the Bush Administration, and I suspect there are relatively few of us in this room who can say that.

During the two and a half years that I worked for the Bush Administration, as during the years of government service that preceded that, I was a non-partisan civil servant. But in a spirit of truth in advertising, I should also say that, again I think unlike most people in this room, I voted for the President and I very much wanted to see him succeed.

I was one of the small group of State Department officials called back into the building on the night of September 11th, 2001 to put together the diplomatic strategy for assembling the coalition that would go after Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan that Secretary Powell took to the White House the next morning.

I was proud of that work and the work that I did with Richard Haas and others at the State Department to put that strategy into play. I went to the White House, to the NSC, at the beginning of 2002 very eager to help the Bush administration develop what I hoped would be a serious and creative policy toward the Middle East (inaudible).

This was, after all, Ground Zero in the War on Terror. But I came out of the administration a little over a year after that deeply convinced that this administration does not have, and indeed is incapable of developing or sustaining, a real strategy for prosecuting the War on Terror or a regional diplomatic strategy for supporting such a war, including putting post-Sadam Iraq on a more constructive path.

It’s that lack of a coherent strategy for the greater Middle East that I’m going to talk about today. Now there are obviously a lot of things that have to go into a true regional strategy. In the time allotted to me I’m going to focus on two – dealing with state sponsors of terrorism and managing the Arab/Israeli arena.

But we have surely learned that this is not an option to be pursued lightly. I believe that a strategy for getting state sponsors out of the terrorism business short of regime change has to be rooted in hard-nosed carrots and sticks engagement. To work, we have to put both on the table.

We have to contrast the benefits of cooperation with the likely cost of non-cooperation. In other words, to tell Iran and Syria what’s in it for them if they change their behavior in ways that we want and make sure they understand what will happen to them if they don’t.

Unfortunately, the Bush team comes up short on both sticks and carrots. Their self-generated quagmire in Iraq has bogged us down so that other road regimes calculate that we can’t come after them right now. And the administration has rejected any offer of carrots, which basically makes diplomacy impossible.

I would add to Ambassador Holbrooke’s list of things that this administration doesn’t do, along with nation-building, peace-keeping and the like, it also doesn’t do real diplomacy. [CLAPPING] Now I know this because in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, we wrote roadmaps before the term was taken for other purposes.

We wrote roadmaps for getting each of the terror-sponsoring states in the Middle East, other than Afghanistan and Iraq, out of the terrorism business. But this approach was killed at the White House by the Deputies Committee, the same luminaries from OSD and the Vice President’s Office who before September 11th couldn’t agree that the Al Quada threat was serious enough to warn (inaudible) flights over Afghan territory and who were so eager to go to war in Iraq that our military and intelligence services weren’t allowed to finish the job against Al Quada in Afghanistan.

But the Bush administration’s approach to this critical task has been flawed strategically and tactically in ways that I’m perfectly happy to discuss. But I warn you about getting me started too much on that issue. The administration’s failure in this area is all the more lamentable given the substantive legacy that was bequeathed to them when they came to office.

The President could have put on the table a framework for a two-state solution that built on, rather than ran away from, the valuable work that was begun during the first Bush administration and brought very close to fruition by the Clinton administration.

Without the courage to lay out a clearer vision for the future, to say what a two-state solution should look like, not just to say that it would be nice if there were one, without that kind of courage and without sustained engagement day by day to move the parties forward, no administration can hope to achieve anything in this critical area.

And our position in the greater Middle East will continue to languish until we do. Now there are obviously many other aspects to a comprehensive diplomatic strategy for the War on Terror and other speakers on this panel and in other panels they’re going to talk about some of those.

But let me conclude by saying that there was and is a positive alternative to the administration’s -- I would say -- non-policy for the greater Middle East. In the aftermath of September 11th we could have focused like a laser beam on the Al Quada threat and used the leverage derived from successful military action in Afghanistan to draw state sponsors out of the terrorism business while keeping Saddam in his box to be dealt with at a time when we could have enjoyed maximum regional and international support.

And we could have enjoyed that support in part because we were moving with vision and tactical commitment to put the Israeli/Palestinian conflict on a path to resolution. This should still be the model for our War on Terror, I believe, and our strategy for the greater Middle East.

But now we’re going to have to pursue such a course with the added burden of Iraqi reconstruction on our soldiers. And in this context I would say it is essential that we begin to think seriously about a regional diplomatic framework for handling Iraq.

In Afghanistan we had the six plus two framework which brought in all of Afghanistan’s neighbors with major players from the U.N. and the international community in a focused, diplomatic forum to deal with the problems of Afghanistan, particularly as we went to war there and were unseating the Taliban.

That framework was a success. The bond conference which set up the Afghan interim authority couldn’t have happened without that and without the kinds of diplomatic contacts that we had in the six plus two framework. I certainly agree that the administration largely walked away from that success, but I think it’s undeniable that in the first few months after 9/11 and with the war in Afghanistan that we were on the right track in our policy.

We walked away from it. We need to replicate that kind of model for Iraq. But that’s going to require, again, something that this administration seems loathe to do, and that is real diplomacy. If anyone doubts that this administration lacks a strategy on the war for the War on Terror, I would ask this.

Phase One of the War on Terror was Afghanistan. Phase Two of the War on Terror was Iraq. Now we haven’t finished Phase One or Phase Two, and can anybody in this room tell me what Phase Three is? If you can, you should be the one to go to work at the Bush White House because you could do a better job than they’re doing explaining administration policy.

But whoever takes office -- whoever is sworn in as President in January 2005 -- has got to do much better with the whole host of facets that fit into any strategy of the War on Terror. But in particular, that President has got to do better with the regional diplomacy. Thank you very much. [CLAPPING]


Some of what Dick Holbrooke told you about my involvement in Dayton is true. One thing that is true is I was walking across the parking lot with General Clark on my first round to meet President Milosevic. I looked at Wes and said, “What the hell am I supposed to say going in front of Milosevic?”

He says, “Bill, don’t worry about it. If you’re asked question or it comes time to comment, say whatever you think is right. If Dick Holbrooke agrees with you, he won’t say anything. If Dick Holbrooke disagrees with you, he’ll speak up, agree with you and then change what you said to match what he thinks.”

When I first heard about this memo, the Longhardt/Slaud (ph.) memo being late, I’ll be honest with you, I thought it was an act of deception. I really did. I thought it was an intentional release of something to get across the message that it would be a Longhardt/Slaud.

But as I read it and have gone over it, there’s so much of it that there’s no way you would allow yourself to say this publicly if you were at all concerned about the perception of you doing your job. October 16th, 2003, does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?

The U.S. is putting relative little effort into a long-range plan. And, gosh, now I understand. [LAUGHING/CLAPPING] And I’m supposed to talk about the role of coalitions and the multi-net—multi-lateral approach, but if you look out over time throughout the period of “this generation of terrorists” into the next generation of terrorists, you cannot take any other approach except a multi-lateral approach.

They were happy that we were there. They were really happy we were there. This is southern Iraq. This is not up north in the Kurds. This is a little thing around Saflon (ph.), the places you heard about during the last war. But the inability to bring any process to bear and the lack of involvement.

In fact, the only friends we had up there at that time were the Iranians who were helping us take care of some of the refugees and the lack of a comprehensive approach. As we went into Bosnia, as we built at the strategic level the coalition to (inaudible) through the Dayton process but then through some very important work.

Well, the one I was most affected by was the Secretary of Defense in the arrangements with the Russians. And suddenly I had a Russian airborne commander calling me up in the morning saying, “Good morning, my commander” to me. Unbelievable. Strategic initiative, operational implementation, tactical work on the ground making things work through.

And as you do that, then nobody can argue with you as you even-handedly apply the terms of Dayton or whatever its like is. And I will tell you the first thing I did when Mr. Holbrooke got me to go to Kosovo and that little town of (inaudible), was I asked for a Russian deputy.

And having a Russian deputy with me as I dealt with the Serb/Alba—Kosovar/Albanian confrontation was a very valuable asset. Was he as in my mind and understood everything I was up to as well as an American deputy I could have gotten? No.

But when you work in that environment, you worry more about what the unique contributions other nations can make rather than what things they can’t do just like Americans. And if you concentrate on what their special talents are, you can create a far greater thing.

Last thing I will say -- because we don’t have any time for questions if I talk much more -- is that in nation-building everything is related to everything and all of it is political. And as you go about this business that we’re faced now and you and I can wax eloquently about how we shouldn’t be there, but we are there.

So the challenge to the nation is figuring out how to work our way through this. And we need to understand that this is a big, overwhelming problem that will be a next generation issue before we work our way completely out of it. Without the establishment of public security there will not be any nation-building.

And despite the misjudgments that led us to this situation, we have got to come to grips with that issue of establishing public security. Nearly 40 Iraqis died yesterday. Okay? Yes, one American. But 40 Iraqis died yesterday. That is no way to build a team.

That is no way to build the railroad that is supposed to be the new Iraq. And we have got to come to grips with that. And lastly I’ll just say that one of the things I think we need to explore more is as we approach these issues of nation-building, we need to work more consciously as part of a comprehensive strategy from building from the ground up, the bottoms up if you will, creation of both political, economic and security opportunities that way as opposed to major large-scaled programs from the top down.

And I did it in about four and a half minutes. Thank you. [CLAPPING]


We’ll take a few questions now. If I may, I just want to point out that there is one threat of significant consistency between and among all of our speakers. Joe made the point that we can’t succeed with reconstruction unless we internationalize it. Jessica, I think, made the important point of building on Susan’s earlier point that unless we compete with the terrorists at their base -- in other words engage with failed and weak states in some manner -- we’re destined to fail.

Flynt, I think, very eloquently made the case for a regional diplomatic framework, and we just heard that coalitions provide tangible assets that compliment our own. So I think we can, if nothing else, conclude from this panel that absent that kind of international cooperation at all levels, we’re going to continue to face the disarray that we face today.

With that, let me turn it over to questions and ask that if you’re over on this far side of the room, if you would jump quickly forward because I can’t see you. We have a hand in the back.


Peter Ganz (ph.), Refugees International. I think the other thing that we need to think about when we talk about peace-keeping, post-conflict operations is the capacity to do those operations. And there is a capacity gap. And I think the reason why I’m heartened about the Center for American Progress and the other organizations in this conference here is that there’s a lot of organizations that want to support enhancing capacity, but that’s not the only thing that we end up having to do in the policy community here in D.C.

Instead, we have to fight the legacies of organizations such as, dare I say it, the Heritage Foundation and anti-U.N., anti-peace-keeping, anti-multi-lateral policies. So I think one of the questions that we need to ask here, and I’m asking it of the panel, is how do we go about it.

There are a lot of ideas about how to create the capacity, but we need to move those ideas in the ways that the other folks have been moving the anti-ideas forward.

MS: Yeah. Let me just share with you one experience we had when we did the Bosnia deployment. Early on when we were building the plan, when Dick and Bill were back at Dayton, we were going around. One of the first things we did, George (inaudible) and I went down to—went down to Geneva to meet with (inaudible).

And we did that because one of the lessons we had learned down in South (inaudible), we learned coming out of Rwanda was that there needed to be much more coordination and a much closer lash-up between the military and the NGO community, including those who would deal with internally displaced refugees in the aftermath of some conflict.

And so one of the first things we did was we went down and we set up a liaison office. And automatically you enhance capacity because you put together these two cultures that don’t otherwise meet and are mutually suspicious, suspicious certainly at that time, of each other.

Curiously, the NGO community was more suspicious of the military than vice versa, than the military of the NGO community. But it worked. As you have a capacity there, you had an ability to move the civilian elements into place to do those tasks for which they are uniquely or far better qualified, just as soon as the situation had been stabilized enough to permit them to come in there and do that.

My understanding of this particular operation in Iraq was that those lessons were not internalized. They did not carry over in the planning for the reconstruction here. So I think that you go back to lessons that we’ve already learned and see how you enhance what we’ve already learned in that regard. I don’t know -- Bill?

MS: You know, back in the days of Iraq ’91, I almost got in a fist fight with the U.N. (inaudible). By the time we went to Bosnia, he was the first person I went to see. That type of involvement. But I think your question also kind of deals with how you engage politically on that, and I’ll let others comment on that.

FS: I can’t see because of the lights, but we’ve got someone right here.

MS: No, no. Right behind him. Right next to him.

FS: Hi. Celia Wexler, Common Cause. We see major U.S. corporations, many with ties to the administration, competing in a rather obvious way for business in Iraq. Does that, and in what way, does that complicate the move to more international cooperation in Iraq?

Nash: I think it complicates it greatly on two accounts. Number one, its freezing out some of those who might be induced to participate if there were economic opportunities, but more importantly is the failure to pursue a more bottom-up type approach. You know there are a number of stories like this coming out. When I was on a very short trip hosted by the Department of Defense last month to Iraq, the Division Commander told a story to us about a cement factory where a large unnamed independent contractor had given a 23 million one year estimate to refurbish this cement factory, and the Division Commander who couldn't do it gave less than a hundred thousand dollars to the Iraqis that had run the place before in seed money and the place is up and running today, creating both cement and jobs. And so, the large corporations not only push out, you know, because of not being
internationalized, but also are doing things that don't go as as fast as well.

Now the cement factory, and I know some people in here are concerned, will not pass an OSHA or an EPA inspection, but it’s producing cement and it’s producing jobs for Iraq. That’s okay right now.

MS: Let me add one thing to that if I might, and that is that however noble everybody’s interests for going in, very quickly with all of the money that’s being poured into these various enterprises, they will become entrenched, invested interests and they will be expected to act in their own interests, which will be, as Bill suggested, (inaudible) to perhaps the interests of competitors and the interests of host-country development in indigenous activities.

FS: I think we had a question from Ted Sorensen.

MS: This is, I think, primarily for Bill Nash. The explanation from civilian and military leaders of the coalition in Iraq for the continued horrific attacks, explosions, bombings and all the rest has been twofold. One is they say it’s the terrorist support over the borders as Jessica mentioned.

And they say it’s pre-existing arsenals of ammunition and explosives and the like. Is it possible, given a minimum degree of military competence, which I do assume, that we could go into a country and not secure the borders and secure the arsenals?

MS: It’s one thing to talk about the administration, sir. I wish you wouldn’t make me talk about my friends. I don’t understand it. You know, the debate has always been that we’ve had this about are there enough troops. And there was a major disconnect, and I think it was more honest than I realized at the time, of a lack of understanding by the civilian leadership in the Pentagon that it does, in fact, take more folks to stabilize a country than it does to conquer a country, especially if you believe in a transformation way of war where using speed, precision and intelligence focused on enemy units to conquer that country.

But there was a failure to understand that the need then was to provide stability in terms of territorial integrity. And territorial integrity is not just keeping somebody from taking the territory, it’s also from violating the territory. That, obviously, was not accounted for.

Now much to my shock, sir, the thing that surprised me the most on the trip to Iraq last month was that when I questioned several division commanders who had fought in the war as to when they found out what portion of Iraq they would occupy subsequent to victory, I learned that in both cases the two divisions that were still there that had fought in the war, they found out a week after Saddam’s statue fell.

Okay? And that, to me, was just a manifestation of a total lack of vision with respect to what you do once you catch the car.

FS: We have time for two more questions. Way in the back there.

MS: It seems to me that the easy answer that we always have for winning the peace is to internationalize it has fundamentally changed in our opponent’s attack in Iraq. The thinking was because of Vietnam, Beirut, Somalia you make them bleed a little bit, America runs.

They know we can’t do that anymore because of that set up. So we’ve got to stay there almost no matter how much we bleed. So they’re now hitting the soft targets. The U.N. gets blown up for the first time ever. IRC, blown up first time ever. They’re going after the NGOs and the support structure.

And, as Ambassador Wilson said, the U.N. is viewed in Iraq as a function of the U.S. because it did the inspections among other things. So it’s almost like our conduct in some areas has discredited the support structure that we have historically used to win the peace and then separately they’re discrediting it, other parts of it, by bombing it and associated it with us while hitting Iraqi police and other things.

So it seems to me that winning the peace is now exponentially more difficult because the components that we have traditionally relied on to win the peace after the war in securities there have been blown up along with us. And I just wondered if you’ve given some thought about that or maybe you disagree with it.

MS: I think that all goes to what Bill and myself were saying earlier about the need to assure public security and public safety. The U.N. is a special case. But when they hit the NGO and the other soft targets, they’re hitting them largely because it helps to make more difficult the reconstruction because anybody whose risk adverse is going to leave, and because it’s easier to hit them than it is to hit American forces.

They’re more heavily armored and for whom force protection is now increasingly important activity. So they’re good targets of opportunity and it does undermine the will of the international community very, very quickly. I mean, you’ve seen that the U.N. is basically drawn down completely.

The ICRC is probably going to have to do something along those lines. But it goes back to, I think, what we were trying to say earlier, that at the stability, the stabilizing stage you have to have a significant presence there to both do the tasks and to protect those who would be doing the tasks.

So civilians who would be doing the tasks. You cannot just subcontract this to a general contractor and expect that it gets done.

FS: I would just add that the involvement of Al Quada and sympathetic organizations is really a problem precisely because they see the United Nations and these international institutions and of various sorts and NGOs as instruments of U.S. (inaudible) and that fighting those organizations is an important part of the clash of civilizations that they are trying to bring about.

FS: We’ve got time for one last question. We’ll take it from right here in the middle. Please, go ahead.

MS: Thank you. Lawrence Freeman from Executive Review. I didn’t hear every single presentation but it was conspicuous to me that the Vice President, Dick Chaney, was left out. And it would seem to me that if we’re going to stop this insanity which is coming out of the Bush Administration now and this war which could rapidly expand to Syria, Iran and even Lebanon, that you would take out the lead duck of the neo-con operation.

And I just wanted to know if the new American strategy for security and peace, if there was ever—somebody was deliberating not attacking Chaney here today. But certainly I think he’s the guy that has to go for the most rapid change in policy we could incur (inaudible) going to the rebuilding process.

Maybe any and all people might want to say something about why this has been left out today.

MS: Sure. I have my—I have my favorite list. I call it the (inaudible) by Christmas. And it’s Rumsfeld for having failed the troops, having failed the President, having failed the country; Karl Rove in handcuffs or not in handcuffs being frogged marched out of the White House; and Mr. Chaney because it’s increasingly clear that all the avenues lead up to him.

But I don’t know if I’m going to get there or not. It seems to me when you’re dealing with elected officials, particularly when both houses of Congress are controlled by their party, that the way you deal with these issues is at the polls. So one of the things that I’m doing in my current 15 minutes of notoriety is trying to get out and talk to a lot of kids about getting out and voting because that’s the way we will deal with the Cheney problem, assuming that I fail in my trifecta. [CLAPPING]

FS: I’d like to give Flynt the last word.

MS: Since you asked a question about inside the Bush administration, I suppose that’s why it falls to me to have the last word. Look, it is certainly true, and everyone of you understands that the Vice President and people on his staff have advocated within the inner councils of the administration views and policy options that, I think, most of us believe have helped us get into the mess that we’re in now, but in the end, you know, this is the Bush Administration.

And in the end Presidents get the policies that they want. And I think it’s both a failure of analysis and of really holding people accountable in the best sense of that word to blame this situation on one or another cabinet member, one or another senior advisor, one or another faction within the administration.

In the end, as Harry Truman’s sign said, “The buck stops here.” This is the Bush Administration and the President gets the policies that he wants.

FS: On that note let me thank all of our panel and all of you for attending. We’re going to take a brief break and gather back here at 5:00. Thank you very much. [CLAPPING]

MS: Thanks to this panel. And please do enjoy the break and do come back at 5:00. We’ve got a very distinguished panel talking about weapons of mass destruction which were, of course, the rationale for the Iraq mis-adventure. So have a good break and come back for the last panel of the afternoon. Thank you.