Chas Freeman — Diplomacy as Risk Management

Chas Freeman — Diplomacy as Risk Management


[MUSIC PLAYING] Friends, and welcome back. I’m Ed Steinfeld, the director
of the Watson Institute, and, of course, this is
Ambassador Chas Freeman, who today will be
delivering the final lecture in his three-part series. Just to refresh your
memory, Chas, in lecture 1, discussed diplomacy as strategy
and, in fact, across all– both of the lectures previously
and the lecture today, Chas argues that diplomacy is
the use of a type of power primarily through
words and negotiation, but power to get counterparts,
some friends, some adversaries to accept changes
in the environment, international environment,
that they may not have been naturally
inclined to accept, but through diplomacy, they do
accept ultimately and accept in ways that serve the
interests of the country that the diplomat
is representing. In the first lecture, Chas
described and discussed diplomacy as strategy. It’s another strategy
of plan of action for achieving a desired end
with the most efficient use of resources possible. And I think Chas,
correct me if I’m wrong, but your argument in
the broadest sense was that diplomacy
for the United States is ultimately about securing an
international environment that fosters the achievement of the
most important domestic aims, which is the pursuit of life,
and liberty, and happiness at home. And in the course of that
first lecture on strategy, you discussed the
importance of understanding the nature of an adversary,
understanding what category of counterpart one is
dealing and not simply enemy or ally, but many gradations
in between, moreover, understanding the
multi-dimensional nature of the game that one is in
in diplomatic interactions and perhaps to me what was most
striking in that discussion of strategy, understanding
the importance of being able to redirect
the discourse often by changing the question
that’s being asked or changing the question
that’s being presented to the counterpart
and the fundamentally important strategic turns that
have been made historically partly by the United States, but also by other countries
through this process of restructuring the question
that’s being addressed. In the second
lecture, “Diplomacy is Tactics,” Chas presented
the idea that not– that diplomacy isn’t just about
strategy in the grandest sense, but diplomacy is
art, and it’s skill, and it’s a certain ability
under a variety of circumstances to contemplate what
the next step may be in any kind of situation
and to contemplate what the first step should
be before adversaries and counterparts
really understand what those first steps are. And examples include
decisions and processes about preparing for a war
before one is engaged in a war, preparing in ways that
prevent adversaries from becoming full enemies
or that deprive adversaries of the ability to
form alliances, of preparation before the
war for understanding how to terminate the
war, preparation during the course of
terminating the war for ensuring that after the war, peace
and stability are maintained, preparation or carrying out of
a variety of economic strategies that may be more subtle
than simply sanctions and that may be more
effective than simply sanctions, the process
of carrying out tactically, or through art,
processes of negotiations, ones in which you understand
what your counterpart, whether it’s a friend
or an adversary, how your counterpart
sees the world. What are the particular lenses
that he or she is using? And therefore, what
are the leverage points you might have over that
adversary or counterpart to get him or her to do what
he or she would naturally be inclined to do, but that you
want that counterpart to do. Today in this lecture,
Chas turns to diplomacy as risk management, which
in my understanding, involves the prevention
of bad things happening and often the prevention of
things– prevention in ways that outside observers
may not recognize you’re even doing something. But in your own quiet ways, you
are creating an environment, back to the first overall
strategic discussion, creating an environment
in which at home, you can pursue life, liberty,
and happiness without being distracted by conflict
overseas or high transaction– high transaction
costs overseas, which move your attention to places
where they shouldn’t really be, which is at home. Chas, let me turn
it over to you. I’m eagerly awaiting part 2. Thank you. Thanks. Oops. [APPLAUSE] Obviously, Ed did understand
what I was saying, and I’m grateful for that. There are actually
four lectures, for those who are interested. The first one was not here,
but at Harvard and MIT. And they’re all going
to be on my website, if you’re interested
in reading the set. And I’ll just start
right into this, which is not about
change, as Ed said, so much as it is
about maintenance of existing affairs. At the basic level,
diplomacy is the management of foreign relations to
reduce risk to the nation while promoting its
interests abroad. In this task,
diplomacy’s success is measured more by
what it precludes than by what it achieves. And one can never prove
that what didn’t happen would have happened if one
had not done this or that. But for the most part in
foreign affairs, the fewer the surprises and the less
the stress the better. The ideal outcome of
diplomacy is the assurance of a life for the nation that
is as tranquil and boring as residents in the suburbs. And like suburban life in
its day-to-day manifestation, diplomacy involves harvesting
flowers when they bloom and fruits when they
ripen, while laboring to keep the house
presentable, the weeds down, the vermin under
control, and predators and vagrants off the property. If one neglects these
tasks, one is criticized by those closest,
regarded as fair prey by those at greater
remove, and not taken seriously by
much of anybody. Viewed this way, the fundamental
purpose of US foreign policy is the maintenance of a peaceful
international environment that leaves Americans free to
enjoy the prosperity, justice, and civil liberties that enable
our pursuit of happiness. This agenda is what motivated
the multilateral systems of governance that the
United States created and relied upon after World
War II, the so-called Pax Americana. Secretary of Defense
Mattis, who’s a thoughtful fellow with
whom I don’t always agree, said or called the Pax
Americana, “the greatest gift of the greatest nation.” Institutions like
the United Nations, its specialized agencies like
the International Monetary Fund, the World
Health Organization, and related organizations like
the World Trade Organization, sought to regulate
specific aspects of international behavior,
manage the global commons, provide frameworks
for the resolution of international disputes, and
organize collective responses to problems. In the aggregate,
these offspring of US diplomacy established
and sustained widely accepted norms of
behavior for many decades. International law
drew on consensus to express these norms as rules. To the extent they were
accepted internationally, these rules constrain
state actions that could damage
the common interests of the society of nations the
rules had brought into being. Despite its uneven
performance, the Pax Americana assured a relatively high
degree of predictability in world affairs
that facilitated peaceful international
interactions. It did so on the same
philosophical basis as the rule of law in
domestic affairs, a belief that rules matter
and that process legitimizes outcomes rather
than the other way around. Today that philosophy and
its ethical foundations are under attack both
at home and abroad. For the time being
at least, Washington has set aside the rule-bound
international order and the market-driven economic
interactions it enabled. United States is discarding
the multilateral strategic framework that it
built to restrain the behavior of lesser
states in the last half of the 20th century. In its place, the
Trump administration is experimenting with
neo-mercantilist theories, that seem to have been
crowdsourced to right-wing talk radio. Washington seeks to maximize US
leverage over trading partners by dealing with them only
on a bilateral basis. Trade and investment
are increasingly government managed
and hence politicized rather than freely contracted
between private buyers and sellers. So far, it must be said,
such birdbrained bilateralism is proving no substitute for
the complex regulatory regimes it is replacing and the supply
chains it is disrupting. With the fading of previously
agreed rules of conduct, codes of conduct
and the principle of pacta sunt servanda, which
means agreements must be kept, what could once be taken for
granted in managing relations with other states must now
be repetitiously renegotiated and reaffirmed bilaterally. But Washington has
demoted diplomacy as a tool of American statecraft
in favor of primary reliance on military and
economic coercion. Escalating uncertainties
are driving nations toward
unrestrained unilateralism and disregard for
international law. As this century began,
the United States popularized
contemptible practices like the assassination
and abduction for questioning under
torture of foreign opponents. The lengthening list of other
countries China, North Korea, Russia, and Turkey,
to name a few, have now brazenly followed
this example, bad example. More issues are being
deferred as intractable, addressed ad hoc, or dealt
with through the threat or use of force. In this new world
order, or disorder more accurately, the
need for diplomacy to tend fraying relationships
is manifestly greater than ever. The Congress and the public,
as well as the US military, sense this. They have resisted efforts
by the Trump administration to slash budgets for peaceful
international engagement by the US Department of
State and related agencies. Still the American
diplomatic imagination has not been so myopic and
innervated since before World War II, nor have US
investments in diplomacy, Americans expectations
of their diplomats, or international trust in the
United States been so low. Diplomatic preparedness
requires constant attention to other nations
and their views. Showing that one’s
government is interested in and understands
what others think encourages them to be more
receptive to one’s own ideas. Attentiveness to their
needs, views, and doubts signals willingness
to work together and cultivates
willingness to cooperate in defending common interests. The regular nurturing and
reaffirmation of relationships is what makes it possible to
call on a network of friends in times of need, responding
politely and considerately in the least
offensive way one can to other’s messages conveys
respect as well as substance. It invites their
sympathetic study of the logic,
intent, and interests behind one’s own messages. The constant
diplomatic intercourse promotes stability
and predictability. It inhibits inimical
change, reducing the risk that amicable states
will become adversaries or that adversaries
will become enemies. And it provides
situational awareness that reduces surprise
and enables governments to respond intelligently and
tactfully to trends and events. All this may seem obvious, but
it takes a sustained commitment by national leaders,
public servants, and well-trained diplomats,
as well as reliable funding, to carry it off. In the contemporary United
States, none of these is now assured. The safety net provided
by routine diplomacy as I’ve just described it
is increasingly neglected. The resulting disarray
in American international relationships is
shaking our alliances, eroding cooperation with
our international partners, raising doubts about US
credibility, and reliability, causing client states
to seek new patrons and diminishing deference to US
national interests by friends and foes alike. Increases in military
spending demonstrate eagerness to enhance warfighting
capabilities. But greater capacity
to wreak havoc does nothing to rectify the
doubts of foreign nations about American wisdom,
reliability, and rapport in our conduct of
relations with them. US military power is as yet
without effective challenge except at the regional level. But on its own, it is
proving consistently incapable of producing
outcomes that favor our national security. It is a truism that those who
cannot live by their brawn or their wallets must
live by their wits. Neither war nor
the threat of war can restore America’s
lost political primacy. Only an upgrade in
American competence at formulating and implementing
domestic and foreign policies coupled with effective
diplomacy in support of credible American
leadership can do that. In recent years,
Americans have become better known for our
promiscuous use of force and our cynical disregard
of international law than for our rectitude
and aspirations for moral excellence. US foreign policy has
featured unprovoked invasions and armed attacks on
foreign countries, violations of their sovereignty
through drone warfare and aid to insurgents on their
territories, assassinations and kidnappings,
interrogation through torture, the extrajudicial
execution of citizens as well as foreigners, universal
electronic eavesdropping, Islamophobia, the suspension
of aid to refugees, xenophobic immigration policies,
and withdrawal from previously agreed frameworks
for collective action on matters of global concern
about climate change. This sociopathic record
inspires only the enemies of the United States. It is not a platform that wins
friends, influences people in our favor, or encourages
them to view us as reliable. Foreign perceptions of American
society have also deteriorated. Many now see the United
States as having evolved a transparently venal
government of the people, by the plutocracy,
for the plutocracy. They are very aware of the
inequality of opportunity, unequal income distribution,
and other injustices that now negate the soaring
promises of our Declaration of Independence. They are dismayed
by the gun massacres in our schools and
other public places and the police gundowns
of black Americans, as well as the denial and
hypocrisy that our politicians and media habitually display
in response to such events. They know that America’s
claims to be a free society are mocked by a
prison population that is the highest per
capita in the world, at least five times
higher than that in notoriously undemocratic
countries like China. They are sickened by reports
of the bloated costs, gross inefficiencies, labor
immobilities, lack of insurance for the poor, and high rates of
maternal and infant mortality that result from the uniquely
dysfunctional American public health system. And they are not
favorably impressed by the partisan political
gridlock, fiscal follies, or private affluence
and public squalor of contemporary America. They are put off
by a society that no longer distinguishes
fame from celebrity or notoriety and that– and they are appalled by
the smug provincialism of the celebrity-strewn
American establishment. Foreigners once admired
American exceptionalism for its aspirations
to moral excellence. Now it is a byword for
self-righteous complacency, thoughtless rejection of
global norms or social justice, and unilateral
announcements of policy that have not been preceded
by consultation with presumed partners. Leadership without
followers is a non-sequitur, no pun intended. Nondemocratic
models of governance are currently outperforming
ours in a number of ways. To challenge them,
Americans need to recognize our
deficiencies, address them, up our performance, and
return to managing risks to our enjoyment of
freedom and prosperity by carrying out the elementary
chores of routine diplomacy. Only this can restore
the foreign respect for our system of government
and its leadership that has been the foundation of
our international influence. Some diplomatic chores
yield immediate gains. Others are long-term investments
in garnering goodwill and building
rapport, laying down strata of what I call
fossil friendship that can be mined in the
future, or keeping warm memories of past
cooperation suggestively alive. As current events demonstrate,
when these chores are not done, the nation loses in both
the short and the long term. As an example of
diplomatic work that generates near-term results,
consider the help diplomats make available to businesses
seeking to export their goods and services. Trade promotion is sometimes
described as corporate welfare by ideologues. But the support to commerce
that diplomats offer can be essential to ease
access to foreign markets for American companies and to
enable them to deal effectively with foreign laws
and regulations. Export promotion is in the
national interest, as well as that of the companies
and their employees who earn a living from exports. Part of any embassy’s mission is
to help American businesses do due diligence on potential
customers and partners and to introduce them to foreign
officials and local business elites who can facilitate
trade and investment. American investors
have been properly trained to represent the
United States see themselves as the chief US trade promotion
officers in the countries to which they are accredited. They and the officers from
the Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, State,
and Treasury whom they lead do what they can do to encourage
their hosts to buy American. The exports that
this work sustains– that this work– the exports
that this work supports sustain 10 and 1/2
million American jobs. Diplomats are also central
to the facilitation of international travel. Diplomats specializing
in consular work issue passports
and visas, help citizens who get
in trouble abroad, and facilitate
educational exchanges. They thus enable travel
in both directions for education and tourism, as
well as trade and investment. There are now almost 1.1
million foreign students in the United States. The tuition they pay funds
more than 450,000 jobs in the US educational
establishment and contributes just short of
$37 billion to the US economy. Meanwhile, foreign visitors
spend about $170 billion annually on travel services
in the United States, helping to support a
domestic travel and tourism industry that directly employs
over 5 million Americans and indirectly generates
another 8 million or so jobs. And while they’re
visiting, foreigners by another $80 billion or
so in goods and services. Less tangibly and less
visibly to the public, diplomatic interactions
are a major element in government awareness
of foreign thinking, planning, and
actions that affect both national and particular
interests in the United States. Reporting and analysis
by US diplomats overseas typically provide
a substantial majority of the material that
intelligence agency personnel charged with all
source analysis you rely upon to brief
policymakers in Washington, if they agree to
be briefed, I guess we have to add these days. There is no substitute
for ground truth, artfully captured and examined
in light of US interests in making sufficient sense of
foreign countries and cultures to enable officials to respond
intelligently to these. Sadly, even the best diplomatic
and other reporting cannot compel Washington policy makers
to accept inconvenient foreign realities that conflict with
their political prejudices and delusions. As the American statesman
Chester Crocker has remarked, “Surprise is what
usually follows the collision of intelligence
with an entrenched policy consensus.” From time to time,
such surprises happen. In Washington,
decision makers seek to avoid blame for
their errors of omission by finding scapegoats, as the
fate of the so-called old China hands, among
others, illustrates. The declining role of diplomats
in US foreign relations and our increasing
reliance on the US military for a shadow of future
surprises from foreigners we haven’t bothered
to understand. If one relies on overthrowing
foreign governments rather than on dealing
with them nonviolently, there’s no need to
bother understanding them or their motives for taking
the positions they do. A diplomatic presence adds
value only to the extent– not only to the
extent that it enables face-to-face communication
with the local authorities and their constituents. The cultivation of contacts
in the host country is the key to
collecting information relevant to statecraft,
otherwise known as intelligence. It is also the most
effective means of accurately and persuasively conveying
one’s government’s views to the host government. But the global metastasis of
anti-American terrorism that has led– has led the United States
to fear local contact and to build embassies
that are heavily fortified and inaccessible
to all but their employees. The growing isolation of
our diplomats impairs, even if it does not
entirely eliminate, interaction with local
officials and populations. It obstructs direct insights
into the motivations driving popular opposition to America
and makes the US government dependent on information
from other governments, some of which is bound to be
self-interestedly manipulative. Cowering behind
blast walls sends a message of fearfulness that
bolsters terrorist confidence in their ability to
intimidate the United States and reduce its influence abroad. It turns embassies into
attractive nuisances. It makes it easier for those
seeking to isolate the United States abroad to do so. The principle beneficiaries of
the cover-your-ass mentality that drives embassy
fortification and isolation are government-contracted
security specialists, architects, and construction
companies, not the diplomats they’ve been tasked to protect. According to both
ancient tradition and international
law, the protection of ambassadors and
their entourages is the responsibility
of host governments. Embassies should
not be reconfigured to serve as centers of
imperial administration. The turn to resident
diplomatic representation, representatives, that took
place in the 16th century was not motivated by a desire
to establish armed enclaves or citadels of extraterritorial
power in foreign capitals, but to aid routine communication
between sovereign states. Fortifying diplomatic
missions and arming them against attacks by
the local citizenry implicitly relieves
host governments from their
responsibilities to keep ambassadors and their
entourages safe from harm. It helps them to evade domestic
political responsibility for defending the embassies
of unpopular foreign states for mobs. It may in fact
incentivize governments to look the other way as
protesters assault heavily fortified embassy installations. The United States needs to
reconsider policies that generate terrorism against it. But Americans should also be
prepared to withdraw embassies from countries that
cannot keep them safe. In most cases, there’s
nothing to gain by condoning the failure
of such countries to meet international
standards for the maintenance of diplomatic relations
and shielding them from the consequences of
their irresponsibility. The physical security of
diplomats is important, but information security is
truly vital to their work. Honest discourse on
sensitive matters requires reliable assurances
of confidentiality, whether it is to lawyers
clients, physician’s patients, or diplomats’ interlocutors. In democracies, the
people have a right to know what policies their
government is following and why. They have no legitimate interest
in the sources and methods by which their government
is gaining information from foreigners or
influencing their decisions. Analysis should be
disclosed, but the details of diplomatic
conversations and reporting on the views of foreign
governments, and individuals must be privileged. Breaches of professional
privilege degrade the candor and reduce the effectiveness
of exchanges of information. Diplomacy consists of
professionally-privileged exchanges. The indiscriminate
release by Wikileaks of classified cables reporting
confidential exchanges between diplomats and
their foreign sources seriously degraded US diplomatic
intelligence collection capabilities. The inclusion in the
Wikileaks release of diplomatic evaluations of
foreign leaders’ character and political
performance titillated and impressed the public
with the notably high quality of American diplomatic
reporting and analysis, but it did grave
damage to US relations with a number of countries,
ruined productive relationships with key sources of
information, resulted in the expulsion of
some American diplomats, and embittered previously
cooperative foreign leaders against the United States
and the official Americans with whom they had been meeting. Fears of future leaks have
caused American diplomats to report less honestly
and fully to Washington than before. The same concerns about
information security compounded by self-centered amateurs
playing at diplomacy with an eye on
politics back home have led to meetings
with no note takers or the bowdlerizing of the
records of American officials’ meetings with foreign officials. Nobody has gained from the
corruption of diplomatic record keeping by American officials
except perhaps the foreign competitors of the
United States, . Unlike us, they
have not corrupted their institutional
memories and are armed with accurate accounts
of their interactions with American leaders. When future disputes
arise over what was or wasn’t said in meetings,
they will have the advantage. And by the way, what did
we tell Mr. Gorbachev about NATO expansion? The focus of diplomacy is
the ruling authorities, those with the power to make
decisions for their polities. But all political systems
defer to public opinion to one extent or another. Democratic governments are
subject to popular supervision through elections. The democratization of politics
in Europe a century or more ago led to widening
recognition of the importance of public diplomacy. It also widened the
interaction of legislators, with foreigners. Technology then allowed them
to travel abroad, allegedly on public business, but
often for personal enjoyment. Not to worry, exposure to
realities outside the Beltway bubble improves minds. Foreign deference to
American power and support from American
embassies have long assured VIP treatment
and high-level access for our representatives
by foreign officials. But congressional travel
abroad creates ill will when, as is all
too often the case, members of the House and Senate
offer no welcome in Washington to the very foreign officials
who had pampered them on their own trips abroad. As foreign deference to the
United States continues to ebb, Congress really
needs to consider how to reciprocate foreign
hospitality to its members and staff. The United States
would be strengthened were congresscritters
to make a serious effort to improve their own
poor reputation abroad. As US officials, they
too have a responsibility to contribute to US
public diplomacy. Public diplomacy is, of
course, the patriotic art of making one’s country appear
to have the better cause. And it is designed to explain
policies and institutions in terms that are persuasive to
audiences in foreign cultures. During the Cold War, this was
the task of the United States Information Agency, or USIA. Created in 1953, It
was euthanized in 1999 when the Clinton administration
determined that history had ended, CNN was on the job,
and new private sector outlets like Fox News were
about to ensure fair and balanced American
coverage of notable events. Unfortunately, the
extension of these media to foreign audiences has lowered
the reputation of the United States abroad by directly
exposing foreigners to the global yokelism
of American celebrities and the ethnocentric prejudices
of American popular culture. USIA’s functions were
severely downsized then transferred to the
Department of State, which has little or no credibility
at home and still less abroad. There is now no
significant corrective for the spillover
to foreign audiences of our partisan media’s
politically-motivated distortions of American
policies and realities. Presidential tweets have just
exacerbated this problem. With relative US influence
on foreign elites in decline, a future more orderly
administration will almost certainly
want to restore the capacity of
the United States to disseminate reliable
information on US policy and to introduce the higher
elements of American culture to audiences overseas. The secretary of state is
probably the right cabinet officer to oversee
this function, but the Department
of State may not be the right place to house it. The future
administration will also want to reconsider the utility
of foreign aid, the transfer to other countries of official
capital, goods, or services, as a tool of US foreign policy. Originally conceived to
promote economic development, build markets, and modernize
economic governance in Europe’s colonies overseas, foreign
assistance programs entered a new stage
with the Marshall Plan. From 1948 through
1951, United States transferred some $13
billion, about $150 billion in today’s dollars,
mostly in the form of grants to 17 Western and
Southern European countries. The program succeeded
in helping them to restore industrial and
agricultural production, establish financial
stability, and expand trade. In the Cold War,
the United States used foreign aid as
a diplomatic tool to foster political
alliances and secure strategic advantages,
withholding or withdrawing aid from those states which
seemed too close to the Soviet Union. Washington leveraged
multilateral programs like those of the World Bank
and regional development banks, building on the donations
of other wealthy capitalist nations to spread Western
economic norms to developing economies. But development specialists
were increasingly marginalized as aid was bent to the service
of military interventions and other political projects. US foreign assistance peaked
during the Vietnam War. Since the end of the
Cold War, US foreign aid has been used to fund
pacification and anti-narcotics programs, as well as to
support long-term development, subsidize client states, counter
pandemics, provide disaster relief, and underwrite
foreign military modernization programs. Over time, the proportions
spent on these functions have shifted. Only 7%, 7%, now goes
to bilateral programs aimed at long-term
economic development. Global health programs
get about 24%, a good investment given
the threat of pandemics. Israel and those Arab neighbors
who’ve made peace with it get 20% of the whole. Somewhat over 17% goes
to foreign militaries and 13% destabilizing countries
where the US armed forces are engaged in combat. As the civilian aid
budget has shrunk, the armed forces have
drawn on the defense budget to fund their own foreign
assistance programs. Military disbursements
aside, annual US expenditures on foreign aid now comes
to about $150 per American or less than 2/3 of 1%,
actually 0.17% of GDP. Per capita, the
United States ranks 20th amongst donors
in the 28-member OECD. The ranks of US experts on
development policy program implementation and
the facilitation of socioeconomic change abroad
are rapidly thinning out. In practice, despite the
size of the US economy, Washington no longer plays
the leading international role in economic
development activities. Lessening investment
in foreign assistance is not without
adverse consequences for American influence. As one example, China’s
Belt and Road Initiative is encouraging
infrastructure construction and the harmonization of
trade and investment regimes throughout the entire
Eurasian supercontinent. Unless Americans find
a way to make ourselves relevant to complementary
or competing projects in that space, we
will be without influence in a huge geoeconomic
zone that is central to the global
economy of the future. At present, our
government no longer has either the institutional
capacity or the funds to respond to this or
similar challenges. Abraham Lincoln asked notably,
do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends? Diplomacy is about the
cultivation and exploitation of friendship with foreign
states and peoples. There is a pertinent Arab
saying that “A friend who does not help you is no
better than an enemy who does you no harm.” Friendship rests on empathy
and its demonstration in supportive behavior. As our military commanders
have discovered quite aside from cooperation in building
physical and industrial institutional infrastructure,
a little walking around money helps to win friends
and Influence people. In diplomacy, including
the parliamentary diplomacy of international organizations
like the United Nations, the spontaneous return of a
favor, a ration of flattery, a gesture of respect, an
apparently sincere offer to consult, a reassuring
glance, a respectful retort, a comforting
silence, and reliable follow up to implied as well
as explicit undertakings can be worth a lot. Vote trading and mutual back
scratching cement habits of cooperation at the UN. The same is true in
alliance management, a key diplomatic skill at
which Americans once excelled. Diplomacy is relationship
management as contact sport. Its conduct depends on the
talents and training of the men and women who engage in it. Diplomats learn to
see transactions as part of a process that
defines relationships. Every negotiation
of a specific issue contributes to
judgments of character and elements of trust that
affect future interactions, sharp practices, or in
the long-term distaste. The wisest diplomats
cultivate a reputation for integrity, fairness, and
determination to follow through on commitments. Demonstrating that their
government will back them in delivering on
the commitments they make is as important
as reaching agreement on the business at hand. Doing so raises
the probability of productive future interactions
with foreign counterparts. It also helps prevent disputes
from solidifying into impasse and irremediable hostility. So does the maintenance
of good relations with adversaries at
the negotiating table, keeping issues in a
state of negotiable rather than accepting
deadlock is a key precept of sound diplomacy. Optimism is to diplomats
what courage is to soldiers. Language is the principal
weaponry of diplomacy. Interpreters are foot soldiers. But language is more
than words and syntax. The body often speaks
before the mouth, and even when the
mouth is silent. Body language too
differs across cultures. The widespread use of
English as a lingua Franca has not obviated the
need for diplomats to learn foreign languages and
how to communicate effectively with their native speakers,
Nor will the perfection of machine translation do so. Mastery of the language
in all its dimensions is a path to the avoidance of
the kinds of misunderstandings and miscalculations that
give rise to conflict. It’s essential to understand
how the native speakers of the language think. That is the sine qua non of
transnational communication and cooperation. The ability to think in
the language of one’s foreign counterparts
is also the antidote to the classic sin of
home-based based analysts and their political
masters, the tendency to view one’s foreign
partners and competitors as mirror images of oneself. It is a grave mistake to project
one’s own values and thought processes under
foreigners rather than considering their
perspectives and proclivities in their own terms. Many instructions for
diplomatic demarches written in the political
hothouse of the Capitol are composed as much or more for
the domestic policy community as for the investors who must
execute them in the field. But the delivery of
demarches is ultimately a personal and oral, not an
institutional or written art. Early on, investors
learned to focus on the results these
instructions aim to produce rather than on the
suggestions on how to produce their arguments
that accompany them. Diplomatic instructions
are more often than not written by
diplomatically-inexperienced couriers and securocrats,
who are seldom aware of locally-prevalent
prejudices and sensitivities or who are inclined to
be dismissive of those. But it’s the outcome, not
the original packaging of the message, that counts,
however appealing the packaging maybe to folks back home. One of the reasons for
staffing the State Department and other foreign affairs
agencies in Washington in part with diplomats, Foreign Service
rather than Civil Service home-based officers, is to
ensure that foreign policy objectives and
instructions for the field and what must be
done to advance them are realistic and feasible. Sometimes, however,
political pandering and bureaucratic brown nosing
of powerful policy makers overwhelm experience
and expertise. In the course of my own
30 years as a diplomat, I was asked to arrange
many things overseas that the local context made
obviously counterproductive. Fortunately, I had
been born with a sense of the absurd and
a gift of laughter. I have almost always
had fun trying to arrange the
ridiculous things I was asked to arrange, even
if, as is usually the case, I failed. I very seldom questioned
an instruction, no matter how bizarre. Occasionally, I
actually succeeded in bringing off some
bizarre maneuver conceived within the Beltway,
not withstanding how preposterous it was. But there is one instance that
illustrates the gap between Washington and foreign realities
so well that I cannot refrain from sharing it. During the 1990
to ’91 Gulf War, I was ambassador to the
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an austere, Islamist state whose
ferocious anti-communism had precluded diplomatic
relations with the USSR. As the war progressed, a
constantly-expanding circle of American bureaucrats
discovered that the Saudis had a lot of money. Actually, the war had
stripped them of their wealth. But no one in Washington was
prepared to believe this. There’s rumors that the Saudis
might be a soft touch spread request for their
largess multiplied, becoming more and more
outlandish as they did. In January, February
1991, the Soviet Union was in dire straits with
serious food shortages. The Cold War had ended,
and the United States had quite sensibly judged
that it was important to help. Next door in Poland, there
was a surplus of ham. Some bright fellow somewhere
in Washington noticed this and brought it to the attention
of the deputy secretary of state, an august official
for whom I had high personal regard. The next thing I knew, I
received a personal request from the deputy secretary to
go ask the Saudi King, who, as a Muslim, abhorred
pork in any form, to buy up the Polish
ham surplus and give it to the starving Soviet
communists for whom he had even less than ham. I pondered this imaginative
proposal overnight. Next morning, I told
my boss in Washington that asking the king to buy
ham for Russian communists would be like asking
the pope to buy rubbers for the Bangladeshis,
and I would not do it. The man never
forgave me for that. But diplomats
cannot be doormats. They are meant to
exercise judgment in the interests of the nation. Until recently,
diplomacy has operated within an autonomic ecology. These are not normal
times, however. The web of diplomatic
interactions that stabilize the global
and regional state systems has been disrupted. The institutional memory
that permanent diplomatic establishments provide
is evaporating, and the United States as
politically-connected amateurs, replace professionals
in pivotal positions, and diplomats are excluded from
meetings with foreign leaders– between the foreign leaders
and the secretary of state and other senior envoys. Contractors are replacing
government employees in key functions. No one seems to know
what the policy is, still less what it will be tomorrow. The lack of purposive diplomacy
on the part of the United States leaves openings
for its many rivals for regional domination. US influence is rapidly
being displaced. Travel to the United States
by students, tourists, and business people
is in rapid decline. Americans have embarked
on a trade war that is likely to hurt our economy
as much or more than those we have decided to combat. The United States
is ceding ground to its rivals who are prepared
to invest the time, effort, and money to fill the
international power vacuums that our
erratic behavior and withdrawal from
diplomatic engagement are helping to create. All this awaits correction
at a future date. In the meantime,
the United States can expect continuing
slippage in its prestige and influence overseas. We Americans can and
should use this period of diplomatic fecklessness
to prepare to recruit, train, and deploy a new
generation of diplomats. The next generation will
face greater challenges than those who are now leaving
the government for greener and more remunerative pastures. They must be more
competent and professional than their predecessors
if we are to regain the ground we are now losing. In the three lectures
that I now conclude, I’ve sought to explore
the basis for a body of diplomatic doctrine that
has yet to be compiled. As a nation, we’ve become over
dependent on our armed forces to defend our interests abroad. I believe that events
will eventually compel our elected leaders in
Congress and the White House to search for alternative
instruments of statecraft with which to advance
our national interests beyond our borders. Our diplomatic preparedness,
readiness, and capabilities have atrophied to our
accumulating detriment. For our country to prosper
in freedom, we must fix this. There is a need for a new
breed of American diplomats to meet the challenges of a new
and more demanding world order. In my view, interdisciplinary
institutions like the Watson Institute
for International and Public Affairs have not just an
opportunity, but a duty to help develop the knowledge
and methodology the United States will need to
train and develop men and women to
manage and implement our nation’s foreign relations. Our country has a history
that makes me optimistic, that where there is
a need, Americans can find a way to meet it. The effort I’ve had to
put into these lectures has reminded me using
the past to prepare for the future is hard work. It’s in the national interest
that that work be done, if not here, then
somewhere else and soon. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] [INAUDIBLE] Chas, thank you so
much for that lecture and for all of the
lectures in the series. Maybe I’ll lead off
with the first question. I’m not sure I can really
articulate this as a question, but I’ll try. So at least in my understanding
over the last three sessions, the one quality that at least
jumps to my mind is decadence. You described a US
that’s decadent, just decay and decline. And I guess my question is decay
or decline from what exactly? I mean, one interpretation
is that there was a kind of a golden
age of multilateralism after the end of
the Second World War and extended across
the Cold War. But you were much more
sophisticated than that, I would say. You know, you pointed to the
problem that in the Cold War, the Cold War wasn’t
easy, but it at least led to a pretty
straightforward effort to contain the Soviet Union
in a kind of a trench warfare style of diplomacy, that it
wasn’t for lack of imagination. That was just the geopolitical
circumstances of the time, and I think your point was
that that’s not really relevant anymore to the present. And even if we felt that
that was a golden age to some extent, I think most of us would
acknowledge there were a lot of screw ups then and, you know,
[INAUDIBLE],, Allende, and– [INAUDIBLE],, and
most– many people would point to screw
ups of various kinds, and those happen. So it doesn’t seem
there is really a golden age we could point
to as a model for the future. And if we turn to
the future, I’m not sure that
diplomats are the ones that you’re suggesting
should provide the answer. To put it differently,
it sounds like you’re asking for a much different
and much more creative way to think geostrategically. And that’s about maybe
a foreign policy elite, but it’s about more than– it may include diplomats, but
it’s about more than diplomats. It’s about leadership and
about the way the public and elites think about the
world and think about geopolicy. And I think you’ve been very
fair in criticizing the Clinton administration, the George W
Bush administration, the Obama administration, and now the
Trump administration in failing to be creative in its– in
their respective geostrategic thinking. And I guess that leads to the
third piece of this question, which is this say, if it
isn’t diplomats exclusively who are going to come up with
this geopolitical thinking, what really is the point then
of focusing on training better diplomats? What is the role of the diplomat
in this process of coming up with a more effective
and creative way to think about the world? A very complex and
very relevant question. You began by echoing Clemenceau. I don’t know if you were
aware that you were. I was not, but I’ll take the– He said the United
States of America is the only, after
encountering Woodrow Wilson, he said the United
States of America is the only country
that proceeded directly from barbarism to decadence
without undergoing a period of civilization, which
was a little unkind I think. I think the broad answer is
that a diplomat can be no more effective than the
leadership in the society that he or she represents. So the ultimate answer is action
by citizens, their leaders, raising civic literacy about
diplomacy and the issues that I’ve been discussing
because this really is a realm in
which I’m convinced we can find historical
examples that provide suggestive
responses to problems. There are very few problems that
in the course of the last 4,000 years of recorded history
have not occurred somewhere. And as to why we are having
the grave difficulties we are coming to grips with
change in the world, and I agree there
was no golden age, we came into the world as a
major actor with no experience. We did what amateurs do. We learned on the job. We had a brilliant beginning
actually with the creation of key institutions
after World War II, but we fumbled a lot
as we went forward. And there are things we can
learn from those fumbles. But the context then,
as I’ve said not today, but in previous lectures, was
very different from the one we now confront. There were rules. The world was divided
into two blocks. Diplomacy’s function
was to hold the line. It was the equivalent
of trench warfare. You didn’t want to let the
other guy pass into your sphere. Occasionally, you’d send
a patrol out into his and hope it came back. But, basically, you were– you were conducting
positional warfare. There are no rules now or fewer. The rules are being–
they are going away, not, by the way, being torn down
by China or even Russia, but by us, even though
we accuse others of destroying what we call
the rule-bound liberal order, we are the principal
instruments of destruction. The rules are going away. There is no organization of the
world into competing blocks. If there is an
ideological competition, it is a subset of a
competition for delivering goods and services,
government performance. China, for example,
has no ideology that it can explain,
let alone export. But it is trying to
demonstrate an example that will inspire people
to look to it and derive their own conclusions
about how to do things. That is something that the
United States historically attempted to do too. We didn’t go abroad
imposing, for the most part, imposing our way
of life on people. We tried to demonstrate a
good society at home and hope that people would be inspired
by that to follow us. So the statecraft
of the Cold War is very different from
the state craft that is required in the new age. But we went through a period
which Charles Krauthammer called a unilateral
moment, unipolar moment, after the end of the Cold
War, when we believed we were omnipotent
and, having proven the superiority of our
system in our view, that we were also omniscient
and that we were invulnerable. No one would dare attack
us or even resist us because of our strength. And then 9/11 happened. And it was a terrible shock. And I think we overreacted
terribly to it. I think it was the Brits who
went through 80 years of IRA bombings without
sacrificing very much of their civil liberties. They did sacrifice some. And they certainly were
not kind to the Irish. But we threw out a lot
of what we were allegedly trying to protect after 9/11. So the answer is lack of
preparedness, phase change, lack of adaptability
or adaptation to the new circumstances,
and singularly bad leadership in a society in
which, as I mentioned, fame and notoriety
are not distinguished. A semi-retired prostitute
has the same weight in our news cycle as the
President of the United States. Maybe she gets
that because she’s smarter and has her act
together more than her opponent. But that is neither
here nor there. The moral equivalencies
are really amazing. We used to have
exercise judgments that we now refrain from doing. And we revere celebrity. And we elect people to high
office precisely for the reason that they are celebrities
despite the fact they have no relevant experience. So when Donald J.
Flip-Flop Trump began to show that he
wasn’t up to the job, there was a movement
to draft Oprah Winfrey whose qualifications,
in some ways, are considerable. But the President
of the United States is the world’s largest
management job. And I don’t, aside
from her membership in the ranks of plutocrats, I
don’t see what that was about. So we have a
combination of ignorance of our own history of the nature
of international relations, inertia. We have a huge
establishment that has vested interest
in continuing to do everything the same way. I’m urging everybody
in this room to watch Korea in that regard
because, as I suspected, it’s the South-North
interaction, not the US-North Korea interaction
that is the most pregnant with change. And I just urge you
to watch that space. I might be wrong. But in any event, we
need to prepare ourselves to deal with the
world in which we can no longer snap our fingers
and people will jump to. We need to work at
influence abroad. And in order to do that,
we need to figure out what we want to do. We have to stop
starting wars and then asking generals to tell us what
they’re about after the fact and doing what
George W. Bush did. When are we going to
end the war in Iraq? When the generals
tell me we can. Whatever happened to civilian
control and leadership? Anyway, we have a severely,
you used the word decadent, I would say degenerate
political system. It needs fixing. And it isn’t going to get
fixed by anybody but us. The people in this room and
others who are worried about it have the capacity in our
society to change things. We have to do it. Thank you. You asked a complex answer. I gave you a turgid and
incomprehensible answer. Thank you. Questions? Do you want to field that
Chas, or do you want me? It’s OK. You can go ahead. There’s a question over here? Thanks for your comments. So one of the things
you brought up is the way America– or one
of the things for discussion is the way America chooses
our ambassadors is very different from how
countries can take this far more seriously than we
do [INAUDIBLE] historically. Our preferred method
of political appointees career officials who actually
know what the policy is before they get there. Right. What are your thoughts
on changing the system? Well, nothing has
changed for many years. I treasure a fragment of an
editorial from the 1857 New York Herald Tribune for
which Karl Marx wrote. But he did not write
this editorial. In it, talking about the
nomination of somebody to go abroad as an ambassador,
the newspaper said, diplomacy is the
cesspool into which flows the scum and refuse
of the political puddle. A man not fit to keep at home
is just the one to send abroad. So there’s been a fair
consistency in our approach to this issue over
the centuries. And for a long time,
it didn’t matter. It didn’t matter much
for the first century since, essentially, we were on
our own behind our two oceans. It didn’t matter that
much in the second half of the 20th century because
we were all-powerful, if not all-wise. And we had a huge
margin for error. It does matter now. But I would say,
generally, this is only a part of the larger
problem, which is the disparagement of
expertise in our society. If expertise is denounced
and faith-based analysis, and politically-convenient
narratives replace it, you get bad decisions
and poor performance. So the spoils system
is a ridiculous way to staff a government. And we are the only
society that now does that. Actually, recently,
we haven’t even been nominating people with
thick wallets and thick heads as we normally do. But we haven’t been
nominating anybody. We have only three of
the top 10 positions in the Department of State
are currently held by anybody. And two of those are acting. And one’s about to retire. So I think we need
to get serious. And the reason we
need to serious is that foreign affairs
are no longer trivial. They are. We are involved in the world. We still have the
advantages of geography, which I’ve talked about before. I won’t quote
Bismarck this time. But we need to– we need to do better. It does start with the
appointment of personnel. Anybody who’s done management,
this poor fellow for example, will tell you that 60% of
it is personnel selection and nurturing, mentoring. How on earth can someone
who’s never done a job and doesn’t even
really know what it is mentor the people who
are working for her or him? They can’t. So this guarantees, and
this is the importance to me of doctrine contains
the accumulated lessons of a profession. And it is indeed amended and
emended as it goes forward and experience is
recorded in it. But if everybody’s an
amateur, there’s no doctrine. Here we have one sort
of very nice example. Apparently, well, it
depends on the time of day, I guess, we might be going
back into TPP, we think. The fact that nobody
out there wants us to come back on the terms
that we think we should is a problem. And as I said the
other day, we are going to increasingly
find ourselves on the outside
looking in and trying to recover the positions that
we voluntarily have given up. Questions? All the way in the back. We’ve got sort of a stalemate
in US national politics, particularly Congress. I think your
analysis is spot on. How does the rubber
hit the road in terms of having any kind of
meaningful performance? Well that, of course,
is the sad thing that we have Tweedle
Dee and Tweedle Dum in terms of two parties that
are not focused on government performance, but on something
else, whatever it is, personal aggrandizement, wealth,
influence, power, waiting for the revolving door
to get out to K Street and strike it rich, advancing
some objective that is peculiar rather than at the
national level. Our system, the
Constitution, is written with the separation of
powers, which in many respects is now violated. But the separation of powers
is real between the legislature and the executive. And the only way
our system can work is for people to compromise,
to bargain, to do deals, to reach accommodations. Our politicians are now
behaving like politicians in a parliamentary system,
where winner takes all. What the minority party does
is of no consequence whatsoever to policy except in terms of its
prospects in the next election. So you can have a totally
irresponsible opposition, and you still have a– you still have a government that
makes decisions and things go forward because the executive
and the legislature are merged. If we are going
to go on this way, we’re going to have
to seriously consider the adoption of the
parliamentary system. Horrors. You know, that’s what
we supposedly– well, it wasn’t really such a
system in the 1780s when we became independent. It evolved later. But if we go on ignoring
the Constitution and playing partisan
politics with everything and treating majority as
winner take all and ignore the minority, no compromise,
and we elect people precisely because they pledged
they will not compromise, then, you know, you
get what you asked for. So I don’t know
what the answer is. I mean, this is now a
deeply rooted disease of our political system. Maybe Aristotle was
right about democracies, you know, basically
in the end, evolving into autocratic government
because they fail. Yes? Could you comment on the
recent developments in Syria and just on the action
of the US and just what our capacity is there
to kind of move anything diplomatically? Well, we have no
role in Syria at all except in the military
sense, where you know, we are present entirely
illegally in Syria. It’s a sovereign country. No one authorized
us to be there. We’ve been bombing
it without any color of legal justification. If this bombing raid
was in fact to enforce an international legal norm
against the use of chemical weapons, that still does not
justify our unilateral action. So let’s just begin
with the statement that the recognition that
we and Britain and France are joined us in
this are completely isolated internationally
on the legal issues. What happened at Douma
is totally unclear. There are now
competing narratives circulating around Robert
Fisk, the first journalist who works for The
Independent in London, to get into the place,
just today reported, that he had arrived
at the building where the asphyxiations occurred. And pretty much nobody
there, but eventually some guy came wandering
out, and he accosted him. And this fellow said,
oh, yes, my family died. They were in the basement,
and they couldn’t breathe, and it definitely was something. And he had earlier
encountered a doctor who treat– the one that
treated the people who said it wasn’t chemicals. There was hypoxia as a result
of the combination of dust– a sandstorm and some
other things going on. People were down below in
areas with no air circulation. So now we have two
different accounts. So the fellow who wandered
out of the building then tells Fisk–
oh, and by the way, the Islamist Jaysh
al-Islam did it. So we don’t know
this was this guy, you know, put up to it,
saying that by the government, or is this the truth? What did happen? So this brings us to the other
point that, for some reason, we thought it appropriate
to attack Syria the day before the investigators
could arrive to answer those questions,
which is odd, to say the least. Third, I have to
say that there have been three very convenient
instances of chemical use in Syria. The first, if you recall,
was when UN inspectors had just arrived in
Damascus and were there to almost witness directly
an alleged chemical attack by the government. And this provoked
President Obama into asking Congress
for authority to bomb Syria, which was denied. So the question is, why
would the government of Syria want to– because they knew the response
would be an American attack, why would they want
to stimulate that? Why would they wait until
UN inspectors turn up to pull a chemical attack? That’s the first one. The second one, which was
last year, came at a place where the Islamists were
on the run and losing. And just as the
government forces were about to do them in, there
was another chemical attack, which saw the United
States intervene on the side of the Islamists
against the government. Douma is in the process– it’s in a mop up stage. It’s essentially now been
pacified by the government. Why, as that was happening,
would the government do something that
would certainly result in a foreign attack on it? It doesn’t make sense. So there’s something
missing here. And I guess I’d sum up the
whole thing– and by the way, the attack didn’t do
anything to anybody. And we deliberately
told the Russians, who told the Syrians, what we
were going to do so there would be nobody killed. And so it hasn’t changed
the course of the war. It just blew up some facilities. So we have a situation
in which fake news has led to bogus retaliation
against perpetrators who– whose guilt has not
been established. That’s about as confused
a policy arrangement as you– just think about it,
fake news, bogus retaliation, perpetrators unknown. So this is not our
most impressive hour. And to use the term mission
accomplished right before May 1, I’m going up on
Capitol Hill May 1 with Colonel Larry
Wilkerson to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the
declaration that the fighting– Rumsfeld, fighting is
over in Afghanistan. And Bush, combat
operations have ended and democracy is
in sight in Iraq. You would think we would try to
learn from that sort of thing, but evidently not. So I don’t know how to answer
your question because I have no idea what happened. And what we did hasn’t
accomplished anything, and it’s rather hard
to make sense of it. And I don’t trust the Russians,
or Assad, or the Islamists, or, frankly, our own people. Just a quick follow up on that. The first part of
your answer was about the international
rules, which is, I think, a reasonable answer. But that’s, I guess, a lawyer’s
perspective and focusing on norms of international– Yeah, either there are
rules, or there aren’t. Yeah. So we’re behaving as
though there aren’t. Right, the rules are reasonable. Second part of the response was
about the facts, reasonable, which partly is about
intelligence and understanding what’s happening on the ground. But what I didn’t
hear was some kind of geostrategic take on what
does being in Syria mean over the long run? Or what does absenting oneself
from Syria mean over the longer in the grander scheme
of the Mideast, and the Sunni-Shia split, and– Yeah, now that is– that’s a very good question. And what being in
Syria has meant has been to re-empower
the Russians as the principal diplomatic
actor in the Middle East, since they have played this
cleverly, and we have not. We have we followed a
policy under President Obama of simultaneously opposing the
regime and its enemies, both. So any time the Islamists would
make ground against the regime, we would bomb the Islamists. Every time the
government would make– make ground against
the Islamists, we’d bomb the government. We spent billions of
dollars training people. I could have told– in fact, I did, now that
I think of it, based on– if you read Machiavelli,
he has a wonderful section on why you should never rely
on the exiles, who tell you what you want to hear and
who have their own agendas when they go home. And we’ve had many
examples of this. And, you know, basically
what we did was we found the Syrian opposition
in the various bars and cafes of the great capitals
of the world. We rounded them up. We beat their
teaspoons into swords. And we sent them
over the border. , And, you know, in
pretty short order, they turned over the
teaspoons, and the guns, and everything else to whoever
it was that captured them. So billions of dollars in
training, no combat force produced, why? No strategy. No purpose. And I think, frankly,
the worst thing about the wars we’re engaged in
is they don’t have a purpose. So that basically invalidates
the sacrifices of the men, and women, and the treasure
that we’re lavishing on these misadventures. According to the Watson
Institute project on the cost of war,
we are now involved in combat in 76 countries. Go back to 2013, it
was two, I think. So if Rumsfeld is right
and the measure of success is whether you’re creating more
terrorists than you’re killing, that’s what we’re doing. We’re creating more
terrorists than we’re killing. And there will be a day
of reckoning over Syria. There are 600,000 dead Syrians. And to attribute that to
the government is nonsense. There was a war. We were both on the side of
the government and against it. And the people
that we supported, whether they were the
government or the opposition, killed a lot of people. And I think we cannot escape
responsibility for that. But apparently, we are. President Trump just
canceled our contribution to reconstruction in Syria. And we’re not taking
refugees, even though we created 11 million
displaced people, 4 million of them abroad. So, you know, these
are illustrations of a pattern of behavior
that is self-destructive in terms of the regard
of others for us and I think for our self-regard,
which is pretty important. Time for one last question. Yeah? Yeah, I was wondering what you
thought about Saturday’s UN Security Council
meeting with the US proposing that we just
bypass that [INAUDIBLE] and go with a [INAUDIBLE]. It kind of undercuts the
whole point about the Chemical Weapons Convention, right? I mean, I’m not imagining
that, am I, that, you know, the OECW is there to uphold
that world wide treaty that has [INAUDIBLE]? Well, that whole vote on– that whole scene on Saturday
was even more kabuki than the attack. It was intended to curry favor
with an American constituency, the somewhat embarrassed
British constituency. The British
representative actually tried to tie the
intervention in Syria to the concept of the
responsibility to protect, which, of course,
has been rejected by other members of
the Security Council. So it has no standing. So, no, it was all theater. The reason for bypassing
the cognizant organization was that we wanted political
results, not factual results. And, you know, there’s
nothing wrong with that. That is a legitimate purpose
of calling meetings or acting in them. But it is totally unresponsive
to the underlying question of what we you do to
prevent the proliferation and use of chemical weapons. So, evidently, that’s not a not
an objective of ours anymore. So I can’t give you a
better answer than that. Well, Chas, let me thank you
for a wonderful lecture today, and even more important, a
wonderful series of three lectures. As always, you have
expanded our thinking. As I said a few
sessions ago, you haven’t left me and
probably most of us with renewed optimism
but, certainly, with renewed
thinking about really troubling and challenging times. Thank you, and please join
us outside for a reception. [APPLAUSE] Thanks. [APPLAUSE] Thank you very much.

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