America in the World: Hard vs. Soft Powerrecording...
Transcription by Nathaniel Mahlberg · Introduction and debate, no Q&A. Rough transcript.
Marx: Welcome. This is Amherst College. [laughter] And I’m Tony Marx and it is my pleasure to welcome you to an event sponsored by the Victor S. Johnson fund and by the Office of the President. And tonight’s discussion, debate, is entitled “America: Hard vs. Soft-Power.” And we have two very distinguished panelists to debate that issue with us tonight. On my left is William Kristol who is the editor of the Weekly Standard as well as the chairman and cofounder of the Project for the New American Century. Doctor Kristol served as chief of staff for vice president Dan Quayle during the first Bush administration from 1985 to 1988. He served as chief of staff and counselor to the secretary of education William Bennett. He served on the faculty of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government from 1983 to 1985 and the department of political science at the University of Pennsylvania from 1975 to 1983. Bill Kristol is the coauthor and editor of many volumes including recently coauthor with Lawrence Kaplan of the book “War Over Iraq”. He earned his bachelor’s degree as well as his PhD from Harvard University.
To my right is Joseph Nye who earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University as well has his political science PhD from Harvard. He joined the faculty at 1964, becoming in 1995 until just recently the dean of the Kennedy school of government. In 1993 and 1994 he was chairman of the national intelligence counsel which has coordinated intelligence estimates for the president. From 1994 to 1995 he served as assistant secretary of defense for international affairs. He is also the author of numerous scholarly as well as popular works, most recently, “Soft Power: the Means to Success in World Politics.”
Dean Nye has either won or lost the coin toss and therefore he will begin our discussions. I have asked each of our panelists to give an opening presentation of roughly 15 minutes. This is not the US presidential debates, so we will not be quite as exact, with blinking lights since I am color blind that will not do me any good in any case. So, each of our speakers will have opening remarks for roughly 15 minutes and then about 5 minutes to rebut each other. And then we thought we’d open the discussion up to our audience, again with the invitation to both of our speakers to respond even if the question is addressed to one or the other. Without further ado …
Nye: Thank you, Tony, it is a pleasure to be here at Amherst. I gather our topic tonight is: where in the world is America now. This is an important topic, for who ever wins the election next week that will be on the topic of the agenda. But before we answer it, we must note that the conventional wisdom is that America is the only superpower – no body can match our power – wasn’t so clear 15 years ago. If you think back 15 years the conventional wisdom was that America was in decline. I remember Paul Songus ran in the New Hampshire primary saying: “The cold war is over and Japan has won.” My friend Paul Kennedy, the distinguished Yale historian wrote a book called the “rise and fall of the great powers” saying that the U.S. is going the way of Phillip the Second Spain or Victorian Britain, in decline. I wrote a book at the time called “Bound to Lead”, in which I coined the term “soft power”, in which I said the U.S. was likely to be the leading country in the 21st century. I’m pleased that I think I got the answer right, but Paul got all the royalties. But the reason I cite this little story is to warn you against linear projections of the future. History is full of surprises. And the idea that the future is going to resemble the past is misleading. We discover this in the sense when we had the experience of 9- 11 . Some people think 9-11 was a turning point in our nations history. In many ways 9-11 was like the flash of lightening on a summer evening when you’re out hiking and it’s gotten a little dark and you suddenly see before you the landscape and it suddenly becomes dark again and you have to pick your way through that landscape. And that’s where the United States is now, trying to figure out ways to pick our way through that new landscape. Now what was characteristic of this landscape that was revealed on 9-11 – in some ways what we saw then were things that have been changing the latter part of the 20th century. One was globalization the other was the information revolution – the changes in technology. Let me give you a quick point on what each of those means. Globalization is a big abstraction. It refers to interdependence on intercontinental distances. It’s as old as human history. But it has become quicker and thicker at the latter part of the 20th century. So if you look at what that means in terms of 911: in the 1980s if you asked Americans about Afghanistan, must would say that Afghanistan is important because it’s important to the global balance of power, military globalization – we have to defeat the soviets there. By the 1990s most Americans took the view that Afghanistan has terrible conditions - too bad for the Afghans, but what difference does it have for us? But when 911 happened what we discovered were two things: one is that terrible conditions in poor weak countries half way around the globe can matter very much to us; the other is that globalization has a dark face as well as a light face – that it can have a malign as well as benign affect. I think that was one of the things revealed in this flash of lightening. The other was the tremendous changes that has happened in information technology an technology more generally. We’ve had a thousand-fold decrease in the cost of computing and communications from 1970 to 2000. And what that means is that if you think of that in analogy: if the price of cars had declined that precipitously, you could buy a car today for 5 dollars. When the price of anything, of any technology goes down that dramatically, you have an extraordinary change in terms of who can play in the game. In 1970 if you wanted to have instantaneous global communication – if you wanted to communicate from Amherst to London to Johannesburg to Moscow to Kuala Lumpur simultaneously, you could have done it, but it would have been very expensive. You would be a large bureaucracy with a large budget – a government or a multinational corporation would have probably been able to do it. But today, any of you could do it for pennies; all you would need is the price of entry to an internet café. So, essentially what we’ve seen is a tremendous democratization of technology – capabilities once restricted to governments are now available to anybody. And we saw this in the sense of the reduction of the barriers of entry, we saw this in the sense of a lot more non state actors playing roles in international politics. Not the nation state is dead, it clearly is not, but the stage is a lot more crowded with non state actors. And what this as means is that on 911, the United States suffered more Americans killed at the hands of a non state international actor – Al Qaeda – than when the government of Japan attacked us at Pearl Harbor. That’s a change. It’s not the change due to terrorism – we’ve known terrorism for a long time and indeed we’ve had plenty of terrorism in the 20th century. But terrorism has become more lethal and more agile, from, for example when 10s of people being killed in the 1970s when the Israeli athletes were attacked at Munich, to something like the 300s when Sikh extremists bombed an air India flight from 3000 on 911. And it is not science fiction to think of sociopathic groups being able to kill in the millions if they get hold of anthrax or nuclear materials. That is new, that degree of capacity to kill. Its not that you couldn’t kill in the millions in the 20th century – people like Hitler, Mao, and Stalin did – but the idea that you could do it without the apparatus of a totalitarian government, that is new. All this means that we saw in the 911 flash something that was revealed to us that we did not fully take account of before. If you read the 911 commission report you will see how little we had fully understood this. The net result of this is that the U.S. had changed its national security strategy. If you remember back in the year 2000 when president bush was running, he promised to have a humble foreign policy that focused on the great powers, and we no longer were going to have nation building and foreign policy as social work. That is how he criticized president Clinton. By September of 2002, the new national security strategy referred to the fact that we had as much to fear from failed states as from great powers – that we had to beware most importantly of terrorists and weapons of mass destruction and that china, one of the nations that president bush had been talking about as a strategic competitor, he was now talking about as a strategic partner. That’s a pretty dramatic shift in the goal s of foreign policy. And I think that shift was largely correct. I think the president was largely correct to identify these changes in the way that he did. Where I would fault the administration is in the means that were chosen to attain these ends. I think there really are two major flaws in the approach that was pursued: one was the emphasize among many people in the administration of what the Washington post columnist Charles Crowdheimer[?] calls the “new unilateralism”. This was an attitude that we were so big and so strong that we should no longer act like Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians. We should do as we wanted and others had no choice but to follow. And that view, which Crowdheimer dubbed the “new unilateralism”, was pretty much the view which was prevalent in the administration. I think the trouble with this is that it did not pay enough attention to the fact that our military power, indeed meant we did not need others, we could do what we wanted militarily, but that we couldn’t solve the problems we needed by our military power alone. Another way to think about this is that we became one dimensional thinkers in a three dimensional world. Well what do I mean by that? If you think of power, it always depends on context, and in the world today the context of power and the distribution of power vary a little bit like a three dimensional chess game. Ya know in regular chess you play horizontally, well, in three dimensional chess you play vertically as well as horizontally. Now, on the top board of the military relations between states, the United States is the only superpower. Its military hegemony, whatever you want to call it, unipolarity, and it is going to remain that way for a probably a couple more decades - china and Europe can’t beat us on those terms. If you go to the middle board of economic relations between states, the U.S. power is very balanced. The U.S. couldn’t get a trade agreement without Europe. Jack welsh couldn’t merge GE and Honeywell without the approval of the Europeans. It’s odd to call that hegemony or unipolarity – its really maultipolarity. If you go to the bottom board of this three dimensional chess game, the board of transnational relations, things across boarders beyond the control of governments, and there you find there is no principal of ordering power – it makes no sense here to speak of America hegemony or empire. This is chaotic: transnational drug trade, transnational movement of diseases, of global climate change, and of course of transnational terrorism. And the important point is that there is where all our threats are coming from now. And therefore when we have in our policy an approach which focuses so heavily on the top board, on the military dimension alone, we are essentially one dimensional players in a three dimensional world. And if any of you know anything about one-dimensional chess, if you play on one board alone eventually you’re gonna lose. So I think there’s a great danger that because we are so far ahead in our military power, because the new unilateralists celebrated that we are, essentially, unassailable in our military power on the top board, we can take care of the bottom board. And when you take that in the case of Iraq, it meant we didn’t need anybody else to win that war – we could do that alone – three weeks, three and a half weeks. But we couldn’t win the peace alone. And the lack of legitimacy hurt us badly when it came to us trying to win the peace. That brings me to the other criticism, which would be that the administration did not play enough heed to American soft power. Now what do I mean by soft power? It’s a very simple as a concept. If you think of power as the ability to get others to do what you want so you get the outcomes you want, there are basically three ways you can do that: you can threaten people with coercion, sticks; or you can induce people with payments, carrots; or you can attract people and get them to want what you want and co-opt them. And that third way of getting people to change is soft power – essentially, winning their hearts and minds. And this is tremendously important. For one thing the more you use your soft power, the less you have to spend on carrots and sticks. But the other thing is that if you think about the struggle we’re involved in right now, which is a struggle with a … not of a clash of civilizations, between Islam and the west, but a clash within Islamic civilization. Between a small minority of Moslems who are trying to use force to impose their view of religion on a majority, who want to essentially say that we can only regain dignity if we force others to a pure version of our religion. You can never attract a bin laden or al Qaeda with your soft power – we need to use hard power against them as we did in Afghanistan. But on the contrary, unless you attract the moderate majority with your soft power, you’re not gonna win. The great danger we have is that by emphasizing our hard power in ways in which we did not pay enough attention to our legitimacy, in which we are antagonizing the rest of the world, we are making our job a lot more difficult in winning against al Qaeda and the people who attacked us. If you look at the public opinion poles – it’s pretty clear on this. Many people look at Europe and say, “what about Europe?” Well, the answer is that the u.s. lost about 30 pts of attractiveness in every European country of western Europe, including ones that supported us like Britain. if you look at the Moslem world, its much worse. In a pole in Indonesia, a Moslem country, in 2000 had three quarters of Indonesians supporting the United States, by May of 20003 that was down to about 15 percent. And yet we need Indonesia to help in combating Jemaah Islamiyah, which is the local offshoot of al Qaeda. Or if you look at Jordan and Pakistan, which are often described as friendly Moslem countries, you find in a poll that was taken in April of this year that more people were attracted to Osama bin Laden than George W. Bush. Now people will say “don’t worry about that” ya know popularity is not the means to judge foreign policy. We go back to the point that we are the only superpower and we do what we need and others have to suffer what they must. They have no choice but to follow. That does not work very well if the goal of the game is to win the hearts and minds. Donald Rumsfeld was asked, or he asked himself, “How would you know if you were winning a war on terrorism?” and he said in a memo that was leaked, that it would depend if the numbers we were killing were greater than the numbers that al Qaeda and madras were producing and recruiting. Or in my terms, whether our hard power is greater than bin Laden’s soft power. Unfortunately what we’ve seen in the numbers is that we’re losing. Most of the intelligence reports I’ve seen, most of the news reports, from things like the national institute for strategic studies, indicate that the Iraq war greatly helped recruitment for al Qaeda and similar type institutions around the world. This is not good news. Essentially what the u.s. has does is neglected its soft power, thinking one dimensionally, and the result of that is that we are not better off today in combating the major threat we face which is the jihadists and terrorism.
Marx: William Kristol
Kristol: Well, thank you, Tony. It’s good to be back at Amherst College. I always have fond memories. I did my undergraduate at Harvard. I had a good friend who went here, to Amherst, and I would come here often to visit him. I actually do not remember those visits too well. [laughter] The drinking age was actually 18 then … it was a whole different world then … actually I think not. [laughter] I have kids in college so I’m a little bit aware of this. But I have friends who are parent of kids who go here.
I’m also happy to be up here with Joe Nye, which, as you can tell from his presentation, is a serious and thoughtful guy … for a Democrat. Now I know this is not a partisan thing – that was wrong. I feel terrible about that. I went to the Kennedy school as an assistant professor when Joe was already a senior professor there. I’ve always appreciated his courtesy and kindness as a colleague. I was a little bit of a fish out of water there, I was the token conservative at the Kennedy school. They like to have one on the faculty at all times. It’s useful for the students to know what one looks like. In any case … one more word about the Kennedy school. I was back there in April doing a debate with a French intellectual on a similar topic which was foreign policy and of course he had the home field advantage there in Cambridge. And I was reminded what politics are like there. We lived just outside of Cambridge, me and my wife Susan. It was the eighth congressional district, very democratic, it was Kennedy’s district. I remember voting there in ’84 – I voted for Reagan for the presidency, and I voted against John Kerry in his first senate run, he won, obviously. As a loyal Reagan supporter I voted for the only person running against Tip O’Neil. I remember the next morning Susan had the Boston Globe open on the table and was looking at the election returns. And I asked her out of curiosity how many votes the republican running against Tip O’Neil got and she looked and said there was no republican running against Tip O’Neil. And I said, “I know I voted for someone” … it turned out I had voted for the Communist. This is a true story. It caused me all sorts of trouble when I went to work for the Reagan administration. So it’s good to be in Western Massachusetts this time.
Let me just briefly say something about the world first and then something about hard and soft power, then something about America. It seems to me that when historians look back at this period, at least this period when we’ve been alive, they’ll divide international politics into the Cold War, which followed WWII and dominated and shaped international politics, from the late forties all the way up to November 89 with the fall of the Berlin wall or December 91 with the fall of the Soviet Union. Then the 90s a decade of peace and prosperity for many parts of the world, not for every part, obviously, there still problems that will come back to plague us … still I think it was a distinctive period very different from the cold war, as any of us who lived through that period can say, how surprising it was. The 90s ended with September 11th. We are now in a new political era of international politics. And what it means to be a new era, obviously its still the same world, China is still China, Russia is still Russia, countries have not transformed themselves overnight, issues have not transformed themselves over night. But what it means to be in a new era is that things have changed a lot. Problems come to light that people have not thought so much about. Problems recede in importance. People act in this new era that triggers to actions and reactions. And generally speaking if you look at history at these transition points, things change faster than people expect, more surprisingly than people expect. And I thin we are three years into a new era and it’s been difficult and challenging in many ways, and surprising in many ways, and it will continue to be. The biggest mistake one can make analytically is to think, “well, we’ve had this big terrorist attack on us and we’ve reacted in this way, many people think we’ve over reacted, but in any case that will sort of come to an end and we’ll end up back in some pre-911 era, into some normalcy.” I do think we will end up in a new status quo, which will be more or less stable, but we will end up in a new situation. Just as after WWII and the Cold War we did not go back to the 1930s … but that is what people expect. One analogy just to think about what it is like to live in such a period of history, I would say, read a good history of the cold war, or, even better, a memoir. When Truman became president his job was to finish WWII and then to become a domestic policy president. If you had said to Truman or anyone around him or anyone in 1945 we would remember him as a foreign policy president, we would remember him as the author of containment, of the Truman doctrine, the Marshall plan, those would be the momentous events of the Truman presidency, we leave off stationing hundreds of thousands of soldiers permanently in Europe with treaty relationships with them, fighting a land war in Asia and stationing troops there with treaty arrangements with Japan and other countries … that was so far from what people would have expected in 45 or even 46 or 47 … people would have thought you were crazy. Stalin was there, we faced up to him. Truman to his credit abandoned his expectations for what kind of president he would be. Look at the history of the Truman administration they were continually surprised. They too, like every administration, thought they would take care of these things and return to the way things were – work on the GI bill, get GIs educated, housing, finishing Roosevelt’s New Deal agenda, and then some other crisis would come up and they would be back to dealing with the world as it was. So it was they had Turkey in 47, the Marshall plan in 47, the Berlin airlift in 48, the communist take over of China in 49, Korea in 50, it really was amazing. And I don’t think it’s that dissimilar from the current moment. I would argue that Bush too was expected to be a domestic policy president – that was the focus of the campaigns in 2000 – Joe mentioned Bush’s comment that he wanted a humble foreign policy – that was made in the one half of one debate Bush and Gore had on foreign policy. Jim O’Hara - a serious guy - had insisted that they had half of one debate on foreign policy. He did not want what had happened in 96 when Clinton and Dole had had two debates and foreign policy was barely mentioned. The Cold War made foreign policy important. The 90s made it go away. If you look at the October 2000 debate, at the one half of one debate on foreign policy, they didn’t disagree much. Bush had held his own against Gore, which was a victory for Bush because he was much less experienced in foreign policy. And as had just been said he said he wanted a much more humble foreign policy than Clinton and Gore a little less intervention around the world, no nation building. But really I’d say no fundamental differences. Although a striking moment for me, looking at it all now after 9-11, the most striking thing about it is that this is what it means to live in a new era. This debate was just 4 yrs ago, one of the two people is the same person and Gore was a mainstream Democrat, Kerry is a mainstream Democrat, you wouldn’t expect it to be that different, but if you read it seems like it could have been 20 yrs ago, 40 yrs ago. That’s what it means to live in a new era. Everything changes. Jim had asked about Rwanda, six years after the genocide in Rwanda, and Bush goes first and says, it’s terrible what happened, the UN should have done more, but we can’t be the world’s policemen, we can only intervene if it is of vital national interest. And Gore agrees with Bush. I don’t think actually believed this, to his credit, I think Gore actually felt bad that the Clinton administration had not done more, but probably his political advisors had advised him there is no political advantage to being an interventionist, even in this circumstance, so he agreed we had done the right thing in not intervening in Rwanda. Today, it’s a staple of both parties that one of the great mistakes of the 90s, and Bush cites this all the time when he is trying to justify a very interventionist foreign policy and liberal interventionists cite this too – Kerry does all the time – that one of the great mistakes of the 90s is not intervening in Rwanda … or complacency and hesitation and all that. Now, liberals and conservatives draw slightly different lessons from that about the role of the UN and military force. Again, that is what it means to go through 9-11 and have everything starting to get re-thought. It is a new moment. And just one last point on the Truman comparison – I’m generally a defender of the Bush administration, I think they’ve made plenty of mistakes, but to be fair to them it is hard when you’re in this new moment, when we now look back to the Truman administration and Marshall and statesmen, forward looking, incredibly impressive, and I think they were, but at the time it was chaotic, chaotic, huge fights within the administration and Truman went through something like three or four secretaries of defense in three years, great turmoil. And Marshall, like Powell, the secretary of state, very respected man, didn’t want Truman to recognize the state of Israel. His secretary of the Treasury wanted to turn Germany into a pastoral country with no industry. I mean, everybody had half-harebrained, they all had semi harebrained ideas, they weren’t so sure what to do with this new threat, they improvised, this Marshall plan which we now look back on as this great example of American statesmanship, which it was, was improvised very quickly and was regarded as late and desperate attempt to prevent Europe from sliding further into chaos and to stop the Communists who looked like they were about to take over, conceivably, Greece, Turkey, Italy, France. The degree to … Korea, China goes Communist in 49, Korea, arguably we make it out to be a mistake and say our security perimeter is and the North Koreans think they can get away with invading and we end up with a horrible nasty ground war in Korea … I mean this is what it is like to live in this kind of time. I do not say this to excuse mistakes Bush has made, especially in this last, immediate postwar, if that is the right term, Iraq, in terms of the number of troops and stopping the looting and various stages in the last 16 to 18 months. But to be fair this is what it means to live in a new era. The answers are not obvious, the government is fully of people who have not though that much about these problems, who have old positions that have not been adjusted to new realities. The thing Truman did do that Bush has not done enough of, and I think Joe alluded to this – he has not reformed the U.S government enough, I think, not nearly enough, to deal with this new era. We need a much larger military but we also need a much larger diplomatic service we need a much more capable public diplomacy, especially in Europe, the Middle East and else where, we need much better intelligence services, that much is obvious. And that requires a big commitment of time, effort, money. And I think we have not stepped up to the plate in the way I think Truman and his congress did in the late 40s in terms of really rearranging the Government to deal with this new world. Now, what is this new world, now that I just have a few minutes? The new world is a dangerous world, obviously. It is a world where the threat of weapons proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, and terrorism, and dictators who are themselves fanatical or in any case are happy to deal with various kinds of fanatics, including fanatical terrorists, particularly jihadist terrorists, pose all kinds of threats to us, many of which we sort of hoped would go away or that we turned our eyes from in the 90s. These were dealt with, I’d say, in certain respects, but dealt with often too late, after a lot of damage had been done. That is the world we live in. I agree things have changed, in terms of the nation state, and globalization, but I guess my core argument would be that the world still is the same old world in the sense that the world is still full of nation states, some of which do not wish us well, some of which are governed under pretty terrible dictatorships, which of do damage to their own citizens, some of which cause trouble for their neighbors. There are malicious ideologies afoot in the world, there are groups that are willing to take advantage of those ideologies and try to highjack more decent religions and more decent sentiments and try to put them under the service of those ideologies. There are states which are willing to support and sponsor these ideologies and terrorist groups that embody them. So it is a dangerous world. And I think Bush on the whole has grasped that fact and reacted appropriately. And I think one way in which he has reacted appropriately … one think was to go into Afghanistan to remove, not just to take out Al Qaeda, but to remove the Taliban. I don’t really agree Al Qaeda is a stateless group. It wants to be a stateless group but, ya know what, it needed to have a nation and a regime it controlled to be able to train 10 or 20 thousand people in comfort and safety and in a very methodical way. And now that they don’t have that I think they are weaker, and none of us really knows and I think that God forbid something could happen tomorrow. But I think the fact is that any expert asked on September 12 what’s gonna happen the next three years, if you had told them the amount of terror attacks there would have been, leaving aside Iraq for a bit, the number of terror attacks there would have been in the U.S., in Europe, despite the terrible attack March 11th in Madrid, in even Istanbul or Jerusalem or Indonesia, would have said this is way too low. Bush does not get enough credit, in my point of view, for the simple fact that there is a lot less, Al Qaeda has been a lot less destructive than people appreciate. Afghanistan where we went in, maybe we should have done more when we went in, maybe done nation building more aggressively, gotten more allies in earlier, but on the whole that has been a pretty impressive success. And the Afghan elections a few months ago are a great accomplishment. It isn’t perfect, there are still challenges there, but to be able to take the terrorist harboring state and to turn it into, it seems, an actually pluralist state, it isn’t rule by theocrats, but which respects Islam, where people feel they have a role, is pretty impressive. Joe mentioned Indonesia – the Indonesian elections happened a month ago and were quite successful. A moderate, very moderate, currently pro-American government won again. It’s more Islamic than probably our 1st amendment scholars would like but it is not friendly to terrorists, not theocratic, but a decent regime, it looks like. It will need a lot of help, a lot of work, we could probably do a little more there, but, again, I think looking at these public opinion polls is just too misleading. People don’t like us, we’re too powerful, we throw our weight around with our diplomacy. But I think it’s important to look at what’s really happening rather than what people say to pollsters. And what’s really happening in parts of the Islamic world is hopeful. And I even think what’s happening in parts of the Arab world and the Middle East in hopeful. I think reformers are encouraged and are stronger, moderate regimes have not fallen. We know what a disaster would look like – we can debate Iraq later if we want – but a real disaster would be moderate regimes falling, Islamic regimes taking over everywhere, Al Qaeda attacking successfully and without fear in all parts of the world. And that is not the way the world is. Now, Iraq has not been perfect, mismanaged in some ways. Obviously the intelligence was bad. But I think it will work out. It is incredibly important we need to get to elections in January. But I’m willing to stipulate that the greatest challenge for Bush and people can argue later that it was a mistake, I don’t believe it was, but they can argue later that it was a mistake, to be fair they would have to argue that the status quo was sustainable, and that Saddam wouldn’t have broken out and that the sanctions wouldn’t have gone away and we wouldn’t’ve had a problem we would’ve had to deal with. One last word just on America. I agree we need to be more effective in our use of soft power as well as hard power, but I would just make the obvious point that hard power still underlies a lot of security in the world, a lot of the support of democracy and decency in the world. We are trying to use soft power in Sudan but, ya know what, the killing’s not gonna stop there until we use hard power there. It was the case in Rwanda, and it was the case in the Balkans, and it was the case in dealing with the terrorists. We had a very enlightened Middle East policy in the 90s, we had peace processes going on with Israel and the Palestinians we were trying to be nice to everyone and Osama was recruiting people cheerfully, merrily away, and laying the groundwork for a terrible attack on us and on others because we pulled out of Somalia and because we did not respond to his terrorist attacks in 1996 and 98. So, hard power remains awfully important. We should work with allies whenever we can. But we are the ones with power that has the ability. It is necessary in each case to go into these places to save lives and promote democracy and freedom. We can do a better job of rounding up other people to go with us, but we shouldn’t kid ourselves that an international organization can do this or that an alliance can do this without strong U.S. leadership.
Marx: Joe, I’ll cede you slightly more than five minutes.
Nye: Let’s keep it brief from the table because I think the most interesting part is the questions from the audience. But let’s pick up for a moment on Bill’s last point about Iraq. I would fault the administration not for using hard power - I think their use of hard power in Afghanistan was absolutely right – but for a blindered view of the world. They wanted to focus on states and the fact that the new threat was transnational did not fit with their preconceptions. So if you belief Woodward in his new book about how we went to war, you had Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz talking about bombing Iraq soon after 9-11 because it was more target rich. The causation, the connection, had not been proven, but that kind of comment, if Woodward is accurate in his portrayal, shows a kind of blindered mentality. There also was a faction within the administration that had the naïve view about how you were going to transform the Middle East by removing Saddam and forming a democracy in Iraq. And think back to the arguments for the Iraq war. In some ways, in one sense, some of the attitudes the administration had were a little like the proverbial two-year-old with a hammer where everything looks like a nail. That we had this superb military that can do all these things so therefore you start hammering. Hammering Saddam I think would’ve make sense if he had been about developing nuclear weapons. But the evidence about his ability to develop nuclear weapons just wasn’t there. Not only were they not found when we got there, but the national intelligence estimate of October 2003 said it would be a couple of years or even till the end of the decade until he had nuclear weapons. So, I think one of the reasons, or one of the three major reasons that was given for the war proved to be ambiguous. The second was this connection to 9-11, this view that if we were really tough we would be able to deter potential 9-11s by showing that Saddam was connected to it, or at least alluding to that. But most of the evidence was that there was no connection. Saddam had a connection to Al Qaeda, as indeed there are many contacts of one sort or the other. But many of the allegations or allusions that the administration left was that there was a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda’s role in 9-11. That that also has turned out to be a null set or pretty empty argument. SO we’re left with a third argument which was used which was that if we remove Saddam we will create democracy in the Middle East. The Wall Street Journal used to say that the road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad. I think that was always extraordinarily naïve. The idea that the analogies that were used by the administration that this would be like Japan after WWII or like Germany, ya know Japan was a pretty homogeneous country; we kept the emperor and most the political structure with him. We had the country totally defeated, there was no active resistance. Those conditions did not prevail in Iraq, and we did not plan to make those conditions. The idea then that you could impose democracy in the Middle East by the barrel of a gun just did not make sense. It was easy to win the war because we have a superb machine, a superb hammer; the U.S. military is extremely well trained and full of very dedicated people. They were extremely good at winning the war, but not good at winning the peace. Because of the way we went about going into the war, without adequate attention to the opinions of others, with something of an impatience and certain hurry, it meant that when we got into trouble in the summer of 2003 and asked the UN for help, asked India and Pakistan and other countries to send troops they said, “No. You did not want us when you were going in, we are not going to help you now.” So that’s a clear case in which our neglect of soft power hurt our hard power. The reason why we’re spending 90% of our casualties and our money in Iraq is because that’s the way we did it; we are now paying the price for it. Our neglect of soft power is hurting our hard power. Contrast that with the Cold War – the U.S. won the Cold War because it used smart power, and smart power is which learns to combine hard and soft. We used our military force to deter Soviet aggression, but we used the soft power of our values and ideas to eat a way at Communist from behind the Iron Curtain. When the Berlin wall finally went down, it did not go down under a barrage of artillery, it came down under hammers and bulldozers. That ability to combine hard and soft power is what we need. That is how you’re a smart power. And frankly in the last three or four years we have not been a smart power.
Marx: Bill …
Kristol: I think hard power was quite important in defeating the Soviet Union. The Berlin wall went down partly because Gorbachev decided they couldn’t keep up with Reagan’s defense build-up, because they lost a humiliating war in Afghanistan in which we helped Afghan rebels defeat them, and that had horrible affects back in the Soviet Union. Now we should have stayed in Afghanistan later on, I think, as in 1945, ‘46, it was a foolish, at the end of the Cold war, attempt to retreat from the world, to return to normalcy. But we did not realize how dangerous the world could be after the fall of the Soviet Union, and we’re paying the price of that now, obviously. But, on Iraq, I mean, we all thought he had the weapons, he did nothing to convince he did not have them, as Darfor[?] points out, he was not in compliance with UN resolutions, he thought this was very clever, he was bluffing because he was worried, allegedly, about Iran. And it was not, in a sense, the U.S government’s responsibility to see through his bluff and decide that, oh you can pretend to have these weapons and you don’t really have them. Now, I don’t think that is key to the war. Either the sanctions were gonna come off, we could not keep them on, there was horrible propaganda. If you want to talk about what was hurting us in the Middle Eastern world, in the perceptions of the Middle Eastern world, it was the alleged hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children dying because of US imposed sanctions. It was the US troops in Saudi Arabia where were there to guard, defend Saudi Arabia against Saddam because we had not, unfortunately, removed him in ‘91. So the status quo was not tenable. Either Saddam was gonna emerge victorious without sanctions with the ability to reconstitute weapons we know they had, they had come close to having those weapons in ’91, which we know he’d use, in terms of chemical weapons. Or we had to go in and remove him. I honestly don’t think it would have mattered if we had waited 6 to 12 months, all this talk of rush to war. France and Germany didn’t agree with us, they weren’t gonna agree with us 6 to 12 months later. India and Pakistani troops were not gonna come into Iraq. I don’t know we would’ve wanted Pakistani troops, Sunni Pakistani troop coming into Shi’ia Iraq, anyway, especially because Pakistan has it’s own problems, I think, and they have enough trouble taking care of the terrorists in their own country. So we had to make a choice. I Bush made the right choice just as he did not have there were connections with Al Qaeda, probably no connections with 9-11, but he certainly had connections with terror. On democracy in the Middle East, I just don’t agree. Obviously you can’t snap your fingers and impose it at the barrel of a gun. But you can’t take the position that unless you have a country that’s homogeneous and that has an emperor, as Japan did, that you can prop up, that you can’t have a pluralistic democracy. And I would just say, look at Afghanistan, look at Indonesia, and let’s see what happens in Iraq. Iraq … we don’t have a civil war. The Kurds have been terrific, things are in good shape up north, they resisted their temptation, which is an understandable one, to go separatist. The Shi’ia have been pretty good, really. I mean Al-Sadir has been a problem, we’ve mishandled him, but Sistani has been by far the dominant force down there. He seems to want something resembling a separation of Mosque and State, a regime I think we can be comfortable with there, and I think that’s the majority of the country. We have a very nasty Sunni insurgency, a combination of Baathists and terrorists. And (here’s where we made the big mistake) a certain number of Sunni’s which they were able to recruit because of mistakes we made, both mistakes of soft power and of hard power, I’d say. If you start to go into Fallujah you should go into Fallujah to get the people who killed the Americans and not make it look as if you are backing off. So, we’ve mishandled to some degree, but I think we will be able to suppress this insurgency. And if we do get to elections in mid-January, I’m moderately optimistic. El Salvador was a total mess in the late ‘80s. There was a civil war, and there was real insurgency which had genuine popular support. A third of the country was out of bounds from the government. There, we went ahead and insisted to help them have elections. Some of the people, parts of the country couldn’t vote. People were getting blown up, ya know, and it was horrible. Nonetheless, we got an elected, they got an elected leader and who had legitimacy. Gradually they suppressed the rebellion and ended up with a decent outcome. And I think that will be the outcome in Iraq. And I think that will be very important in the Middle East to have a decent, Shi’ia Moslem democracy in that areas. And it will help other countries. So I think I’m much less pessimistic in this respect than Joe.
[Audience questions and panelist’s responses omitted]