Focus 580; The War In Iraq: U.S. Foreign Policy And The Crisis Of International Legitimacy
Good morning this is focused 580 our morning telephone talk show Morning is Jack Brighton sitting in for your regular host David Inge our producer Harriet Williamson and Martha Diehl and Henry Frayne is at the controls during this hour of focus 580 will talk with John Brady Kiesling. He spent two decades as a diplomat in the U.S. State Department representing American interests around the world. But in February 2003 he resigned in protest of the coming war in Iraq. He continues to speak around the country he is writing a great deal of fact writing a book. And he was on the campus of the University of Illinois yesterday and continues here today last night speaking in the Center for Advanced Study Millikan lecture series. We're very well attended a lecture last night and also he will be speaking today at noon at the university YMCA part of the part of the Friday forum series at the university why ten Double-O one south Wright Street in Champaign and that's free and open to the public. So you should attend that and also what we will be talking with him during this
hour focus 588 if you want to join our conversation you're welcome to do that. The phone number around Champaign-Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. We also have a toll free line. Anywhere you hear us 800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. But more about our guest Mr. Kiesling sir for 20 years as a foreign service officer in the U.S. Department of State. His postings include Morocco Armenia Israel and Greece and many other places. He is the recipient of the Rivkin award given by the American Foreign Service Association for constructive dissent. He was also one of the member of a group of State Department officials that pushed for intervention in Bosnia. And as I say he's visiting the campus and we're glad to have him with us. John Brady Kiesling Good morning good morning Jack thanks for having me here. Well thanks again for being here. I wonder if we could start by asking a question I'm sure you get all the time. You just start a conversation about this is how you came to resign from the State Department in you know in looking at what was going on with the coming war in Iraq.
First of all being a diplomat is an amazing career. I spent 20 years and I loved all but the last couple. It's rare to have a job where the U.S. government pays you to go out and learn languages and find the most interesting people you can and talk to them try to convince them of the U.S. government's position but also try to figure out what makes them tick what makes what are the rules of their society. How can the United States get done what it needs to get done working with a foreign society working with the rules of that society. It's a great intellectual challenge it was a great personal fulfilling you know great personal accomplishment just to just to be out there in the world. And the problem was that you know for the first say 17 years of my career. The work I did is very clear to me that I was serving the interests of the American people
what we were doing was you know working out there on the front lines making America a bit safer a bit more prosperous and then suddenly with the administration of George W. Bush you know American policy changed and American rhetoric changed. And you know I served the taxpayers I serve the elected presidents in which any diplomat does. I was speaking out now on behalf of policies that I thought intellectually made no sense using rhetoric that from watching the people I was talking to to the foreigners that rhetoric did not work with them. We had a policy that in the real world didn't do what America needed to get done. And this created for me a real intellectual and moral problem. And you know diplomats are also bureaucrats and bureaucrats. You know they judge themselves by how well they fit into their bureaucracy. And for a
while you know I just sucked it up and did what we all do. But at a certain point the gap between what I knew intellectually and what I was asked to do just became too large and the result of that was I started to become dysfunctional as a diplomat. In September of 2002 it was obvious that we were going to war in Iraq. This was the dumbest thing imaginable anyone who knew about the Middle East knew it couldn't possibly work. And I was wondering what in hell are America's diplomats doing you know the experts on the world. Why are we not getting the message across that this policy makes no sense. But I didn't say anything I sat down at my typewriter and started to write a dissent channel message to explain why I thought I thought the policy made sense. But frankly I knew I wasn't going to be listened to I was in Greece then I was a political councilor in Athens. I knew pretty much
what America needed to know about Greece but I was not technically speaking an expert on the Middle East. I didn't have any standing to protest the policy. But that said I knew it was crazy. Over time I just got more and more depressed with the work I was doing. I had an ambassador who was loyally looking after his own career. His philosophy and mine you know were different. That conflict made life a little more difficult. I was having bureaucratic problems. I'm the better I was more interested let's say in talking to to the Greeks than I was in talking to my colleagues and frankly their opinion matters more to my career than the opinion of the Greeks does. And I didn't look after my career enough. At a certain point I just I blew up at something. It was something so it's pretty small and bureaucratic but I got
angry enough at the Ambassador and the embassy and the bureaucratic rigamarole that I finally asked myself. Is what I'm doing serving my happiness or the welfare of the American people. And when the answer to both of those is no decided it was time to quit. And that decision you know it never occurred to me in 20 years. Ever any of the times that I had disagreed with U.S. policy. Still you know I love the job I was doing something useful at this point. I suddenly had this you know liberating moment if I quit I can go public and say what I genuinely feel about the direction America is going. And you know I sat down wrote my letter and it was it was a good feeling. And you know it was a liberating moment. And I think at least I like to think that I did some good. So you wrote a letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell. That's right a three page letter of resignation. Whenever a diplomat
resigns. The the protocol says you write a resignation letter to the secretary of state. Normally he doesn't read it. But I wrote a letter that I was damn sure he was going to have to read it. I put sort of my heart into it I put everything I had learned in 20 years as a diplomat into saying look. Since World War 2 the United States had made itself when the leader of the free world. You know a superpower that accomplished great things and made the American people safer than any people has ever been in history. And we are. We are screwing it up. We are destroying this network of relationships that kept us safe. We're alienating our friends and no good will come of it and we will make a mess out of Iraq. And I sent that in. And then you know a couple days later I send it to the New York Times through a friend
and I went on the internet then made me briefly a celebrity. We have a caller waiting but I want to you know sort of establish a bit more of the story before we go on and talk with some listeners. You mentioned the dissent channel in the State Department and I guess I'm really curious as I read during this period of time of Seymour Hersh was reading a New York Times and for various of the publications that there was dissent going on there was you know there were a bunch bunch of people in the State Department who didn't feel that the war was the correct direction or if it if they were going along with the war that there needed to be some planning for after the war and from from what I read those people were essentially pushed aside. But I what if you could talk about that what to what extent is there. You know a diversity of views in the State Department. And to what extent are those you've heard. One of the really good things of the Clinton administration
was a determination to have a State Department that looked like America. And I think we really do have that both in terms of ethnic diversity gender diversity and philosophical diversity. And it's you need that because the world is an incredibly diverse place. And someone like me does a very good job in a left leaning country like Greece. I was able to establish rapport with great politicians and journalists really really well. I was I would have been much less effective in talking to German right wingers for example. But we have people who can talk to them really well. We have Cuban American hard core conservatives who can deal with you know a Colombian death squad leader brilliantly I exaggerate a little bit there but I mean we have the people it takes to talk to anybody in the world and this is an incredible asset for us. So we have all the political views represented the.
The ethos though I mean the the culture of the State Department is based on loyalty. In any large organization it has to be you fight the fight. And then when you lose you follow out the policy and you follow the policy and pretty much the State Department is conditioned to that. We have a really good institutional mechanism called the dissent channel or any foreign service employee of any rank can sit down at his word processor and write a telegram or a memo which will go to the secretary of state's office and you can say you know this is why our policy is wrong this is what we need to do to fix it. You can set that in. Nobody can stop you from sending it in and it will be read and if your boss punishes you for sending it in your boss will be disciplined and he could even be fired. And the system
works fairly well. But in the case of Iraq. There was I think a perception in the State Department that Colin Powell was fighting the best fight he knew how for a sensible policy. He was losing our complaining to Powell about the policy was not going to do very much good. He already knew. But if our whining in the background would just be is used by the conservatives in the Pentagon and other places to say the State Department is full of disloyal liberals and therefore you should ignore them completely. I don't know if you can answer this but I can't resist asking it. As you alluded Colin Powell himself had a different view than a lot of the. I'd say you know more I think fairly call him hawkish people in the Defense Department. You know Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and and so forth. I think that much was clear from reading what was going on at the time. Yet he gave the address of the United Nations presenting the
case for war with Iraq laying out the evidence which we now know was not correct that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Powell was in a difficult position because he was a conservative. He fully believed that Saddam was a danger to the world who ought to be gotten rid of in that he was a he was a little off. But you know it was intellectually a place you could understand how he got there. He told the president that fixing Iraq is not as easy as it looks Are you sure you want to do this when the president you know told him the decision is made. You know we are going to take out Saddam Hussein. Powell was a good soldier and he said All right how do we limit the damage to U.S. interests from this decision. And he said correctly which what the British had been saying we need if we get United
Nations backing for this the United States can do can invade Iraq and it will not cost us too much with our allies and friends. He made the best effort he could to get that U.N. backing. The task was impossible because we did not have the evidence to convince people. He gave it an amazing try he he sacrificed the personal credibility built up over 30 or 40 years on that one speech. You know he had he had made a reasonable effort to vet the material to make sure that it was correct. It wasn't good enough though. I mean he was. And the CIA's basically did not play in good faith. They did not say everything they knew. If they had he would not have done. He would not have said quite what he said. The end result was he sacrificed himself and his personal prestige in a failed effort to reduce the cost of the bad policy.
We have a caller to talk with let's do that let me just reintroduce our guest this morning is John Brady Kiesling he served for 20 years as a foreign service officer in the US Department of State and he resigned that position in 2003 in protest of the coming war with Iraq. And that's we're talking about if you like to join us. We have one caller waiting. And time for others. 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 around Champaign-Urbana. Anywhere else you can hear us. 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5. We have a listener on line number four. Good morning. Oh yes. I don't know if you can speak to this because I don't know the parameters when you quit government jobs particularly a diplomat. What can be done to you if you devolve sayings but on a personal level. When I found out I was on the program they had I thought of it in the British system it's sort of traditional for diplomats to do this sort of thing and and you know it's sort of a mark that one can carry later on that
sets him aside from other people who rush and things. I don't think it's particularly that way in our country but I was concerned about the repercussions particularly from this administration who seems not to really care too much about what they do to people's lives. And I quote the case in point is the person who spoke against the war and the next thing you know his wife was outed you know rather liberally in with fanfare and all that sort of thing. And as one of those sort of things have been ended you or whether there's more subtle ways they can stop you from doing things or whether or not they're just leaving you alone and hoping that things will just subside and they won't have to worry about you're in the foreign and their side from you. Thanks a lot. Thanks for the question. The short answer is when I resigned the State Department took the high road. They basically said
he's resigned it was his personal decision to resign. We have no comment. I heard from friends that. Other people were were thinking you know be good to do something to you know say he's just a wacko but they were smart enough to know that's the sensible thing to do is to ignore me. And usually the Bush White House has been very good at ignoring people and certainly in the run up to the war. A lot of the American media very patriotically fell into line with the idea that if we don't agree with it it's not news. So there are I suffered no repercussions. I have foreign service friends who are a little careful in talking to me because of some of their bosses might hold it against them. But but there's you know the U.S. government is not as scary with ordinary American citizens as some of us fear.
Ordinarily citizens have rights. ASHCROFT crossed the line a couple of times I mean a case for example but by and large we're not. We have not reached a point where ordinary Americans need to be afraid that the government is going to come and do something bad to them. Now that's something to remember we can take a deep breath and say these are the the well the idiots in Washington who got us into Iraq are perfectly decent ordinary patriotic Americans. The only way we can convince them they're wrong is by recognizing that they are perfectly ordinary decent Americans and engaging them as moral human beings. And I'm hoping that they're actually figuring out that they made a mistake and they won't admit it but they figured it out and gradually they're changing American policy. We have a caller yeah I'll get to in just a second but I wanted to ask you about something you spoke a great deal
about last night and that's the subject of legitimacy. And basically what I got from from your your experience and insight and discussion of this is that really our power around the world is based on. Our perceived legitimacy in our relationships with other other nations. Yes. What does that mean. The problem with the world is that everybody is nationalistic and territorial Americans will never tolerate for an instant any foreigner coming in and telling them how to live their lives. When Americans go into Greece or any other other country in the world and tell the foreigners This is the right way to do things this is how we do it in our country. It's not just the instinctive reaction of people to say go to hell. It is their patriotic duty to say that because. People. People judge themselves by their ability to
protect their personal and national sovereignty against outsiders. The United States has to face the fact that for the rest of the world we are outsiders outsiders can have influence under very specific circumstances. You can hold a gun to someone's head and make them do something. But it's really expensive and it doesn't work very well. Usually when you hold a gun to someone's head instead of loyally going out and doing what you ask them to do they sort of crumple into a ball and cry you know and start weeping and say Don't shoot me. We do not want states that go limp. And we saw what happened when Haiti went limp you know the whole country turned into a disaster in some ways Iraq has gone limp. I mean the government cannot govern. They are ordinary people cannot live their lives because the system has broken down. If we had legitimacy if ordinary.
Iraqis accepted that that the United States had a right to give orders. You know that it would be easy. You know we'd say OK Iraqis pick up pull up your socks and get to work and they would do it. But we don't in fact when we say pull up your socks and get to work they you know their instinct and everything else says you know either do nothing or or pick up a Kalashnikov. And that this is I mean this is the reality of the world. You can deal with it. There are sources of legitimacy. The United States cannot give orders but under certain circumstances if we have if we're waving a United Nations flag we can tell people to do some kinds of things if we are if we are allies of a country we can ask them to do some kinds of things and they will do it. There are other categories of influence that we can have that make our requests or suggestions or orders legitimate to other people. But
in Iraq we didn't have them and we're not going to get. We're not going to find a source of legitimacy. We'll hopefully be able to follow up on that to the many other questions related. We have some callers and what include them in a conversation in fact our lines are are almost full we'll go first or next to white heat listener on line number one. Good morning. Hi. I'm just calling because I have a Secretary Powell and. How he you know he he might have hurt his own reputation but he did a lot more than that it. From my point of view he went in front of the United Nations and literally told the lie that he was being you know he's always held up as all he was a loyal soldier. Well he was not a loyal soldier from my point of view. He was supposed to be loyal to the country not to some person not to his president. And and I do I just can never forgive him for how
he let down the country and showed just destroyed our reputation in front of the United Nations I think it was I don't think he can ever live that day. And I I just you know when does loyalty. He was supposed to be loyal to his country not to have some president and some policy that's where he was he really destroyed himself. From my point of view I don't know. It was just so disappointing because I always respected him up to that point. OK. Well his case is tragic and to be fair to Powell. He believed that he had done due diligence he had gone to the CIA and looked at the material and thrown out most of it. And he he hoped that what he was saying was true. He was not foolish enough. He was a good diplomat good diplomats cannot tell knowing lies.
It's too expensive. But but you're right. He in that moment damaged himself and damaged the country and it would have been better if he had not been a good soldier. People who defend him and it's a legitimate defense say that he was a very good diplomat he managed to reduce the harm of our Iraq policy certainly with a number of our allies. Rumsfeld in particular had been catastrophic in the things he said to alienate people all over the world. Every time Rumsfeld would say something stupid and and aggressive. Powell would go on and make a phone call and smooth things over. And you know I mean it was good for the country that we had someone of that caliber caliber who could could do that. The net result was bad but. But I you know I try to get you know God will have to decide about Powell. But you know there is good and bad and right and wrong in his
in his choices. The quick follow up on that we'll get to more listeners questions. The issue of the distortion of intelligence was raised in your resignation letter. I think many people were questioning the legitimacy of the evidence and you know it and I'm not trying to simply you know pile on call and Powell because you know that that's not going to you know help anyone. But it does seem like there was there was enough there were enough questions raised about the intelligence for any reasonable person who really considered this like a vital issue to bring that to the fore and it just didn't happen. You know it didn't happen at least in the decision making in this case. Yes that's that's correct. The problem with the intelligence was that a number of people were feeding us material that was that was worthless Cholla Bay as the most famous one Ahmed holiday the leader of the Iraqi National Congress in
exile who he was a son of a of the largest Shiite landowner in in Iraq and he wanted to come back in triumph and be a warlord there and he manipulated very well. He his organization found defectors and coached them on what to say. And the defectors didn't need very much coaching because. The problem was any Iraqi who leaves Iraq and wants to be resettled in the United States. The only way he will be resettled is if he can tell something interesting to the CIA. And the problem is the CIA was interested in only one thing which is the evidence of Saddam's weapons programs and the defector who told the truth which is that Saddam destroyed all of that stuff very grudgingly and unhappily in 1901. That guy is not going to be resettled. He's going to be shipped back to a refugee camp to rot. The
only person who's going to be rewarded with a nice house and Southern California is the guy who can come up with a story that is. Credible that that somehow documents that Saddam has has these prohibited weapons and we managed to essentially teach the Iraqis exactly what stories to tell to get them the reward of an apartment you know in Southern California. And it's really bad intelligence technique. But the CIA was so under so much political pressure to come up with evidence that they they took took shortcuts made mistakes. And then of course you have the Pentagon a special office whose job is to find all of the raw intelligence reports that can that serve Rumsfeld's program and funnel them to the office of Vice President Cheney. So Cheney can waive them in front of the president and say we've got the smoking gun on this guy now. And you know him being an
intelligence analyst is it takes training it takes years of training to know what's good and what's not. And the president the United States is not trained to deal with raw intelligence he has no business being shown this stuff because he he can and can't interpret it properly. And no president can. But Rumsfeld played a very clever game. We have several callers waiting will go next to her being a listener in line number two. Good morning. Good morning I'm. I'm just glad you're being interviewed. Another plus for AWOL. Do you think that Congolese Rice is qualified to be secretary of state. I got a couple of the questions. She's a very disciplined energetic woman who understands the instincts of her boss the president very well. She was a disaster as national security adviser because she saw her job as
being too there to package the policy making process. So it flattered the president's and stayed so that's a good management upward but it's really lousy policy making. OK. But as Secretary of State she is now in a different role and because she has the confidence of the president. She she has the freedom which Powell didn't have to use the only resource she's got which is the expertise of her diplomats. And she is using that. Reasonably well in a number of issues for example in North Korea we've for the first time in four years gotten serious about diplomacy and it's had some good results and I find that it's it's hopeful intellectually she's not on a on a par with with Powell in terms of you know character. I would have preferred Powell but in terms of her freedom to use the State Department for what it's good at
she has an advantage. I recently heard that Ron Suskind who wrote the book on former Treasury Secretary Riley has said that a unnamed higher up in the Bush administration has said that the administration is a government idea of ideas not of fact. And the ideas will lead and dominate any other Per. Person trying to make an argument for factual policy in any area. Well that's a pretty broad statement. But how do you feel about it. It certainly was true in the first four years. Whether it's true now. I'm not sure. In foreign policy essentially they charged headlong with their ideological crusade they hit a brick wall. They picked themselves up shook themselves off and are looking around for a new direction to go. I'm not writing off the future of American diplomacy I think there's there are some hopeful signs on
economic policy and energy policy. It doesn't seem that they're learning much. But we'll see what Rita does to their thought processes and maybe it will focus them for color forgive me but we have a civil people waiting and I want to include as many people as we can before we run out of time. We're talking this morning with John Brady Kiesling he served for 20 years as a foreign service officer in the US Department of State. He resigned that position in early 2003 in protest of the coming war in Iraq. And we're talking with him on focus 580 let me mention again he will be speaking at noon today at the university YMCA on the campus here 10 double 0 1 south right street that's free and open to the public. It's the Friday forum lecture. I think it started about 12:15 So you have time to go over there if you'd like to. Meanwhile we'll carry on and speak with someone in Champaign next on number three. Good morning. Good morning. I like to pick up yours. Suggestions of the Bush administration policy is crazy that it's a steak done by idiots. I think he
used all these terms in describing what got us into Iraq. It seems to me that you know this is just wrong. The Bush policy which in fact has been largely successful was to establish more or less permanent bases in the midst of the world's greatest energy producing region as a method of control. Now the control of Middle East energy has been a cornerstone of American policy literally for generations. I mean the Eisenhower administration described it as the greatest material prizes in the world and the question was how to control that prize. And I do insist that it's control not access at stake here. I mean the oil will flow regardless but it's control of that oil. And when it flows and how it flows that the U.S. has been interested in not indeed even for our own uses but as a way of dealing with our real rivals in the world. That is the European
economy and the economy in northeast China. If we can turn the spigot of oil on and off the spigot of energy on and off we have a serious control over these rivals. And that's been American policy as I say. Number one ministry I think we can in that regard they've been perfectly successful. I think we take your point. Let's get a reaction what do you think. A brilliantly provocative question. My answer to that is because of the nature of politics because of the nature of nationalism. We only have control to turn off the spigot. We do not have control to keep it open full bore it is. We do not have the ability to create with US military power a government that will be in a docile manner keep the energy flowing. In fact the presence of U.S. bases
is a guarantee that whatever government is there will be seen by a dangerously large part of its population as illegitimate and that the are the fact that politically our presence in Saudi Arabia was unsustainable was one of the reasons why Rumsfeld wanted us out of there. And so he wanted to get rid of the Iraqi threat. Actually that was very Wolfowitz. And it was it was a valid argument. I'm not sure that we could make our presence sustainable in Iraq. And I'm not sure that that presence would do it as any real good in the long term battle for energy for energy really. The only thing that protects us is our ability to generate enough money to pay for the oil. Yeah I think in fact all the US has wanted to be able to do is to turn that spigot off. I mean US for US industries purposes we have all sorts of other sources of oil including domestic oil and oil
in the Western Hemisphere notably Venezuela that's one reason why we're encouraging coups in Venezuela and make sure we have a government we like there. Well that's possible I. I haven't seen that in my own experience as a as a diplomat that we've operated on those preconditions but it's possible but I'd say not proven. Ok Hope You call will forgive me we have several people waiting and we're really moving into our last maybe 12 or 13 minutes and I want to just before time ask you to talk about something that you spoke to last night. Obviously the situation in Iraq is very grave and I think you describe it essentially as a complete you know Iraq is a shambles is a quote. And I think that that if you look at the major media you don't quite get that because we're at such a remove and maybe not viewing things as intimately as we we might. But my question is this you spoke about the possibility of civil
war in Iraq and I think you said that really it's not a question of if there will be a civil war in Iraq it's a choice between civil wars in Iraq. With us there or if we withdraw then without us. Just to be a different kind of war. Yeah I'm afraid that's true. I I'm not enough of an expert on the details of Iraqi tribal dynamics to explain what is going on. However as far as I can tell the experts we do have the people who are sitting on the ground there are not able to explain what is really going on either. It is simply too complicated there are too many local power struggles happening too many fluid alliances being made between groups with very different aspirations. And you know that Zarqawi's little you know crazed religious group. Makes opportunistic alliances with with Shiites you know with with Bath us whose whose ideological views are
180 degrees removed from theirs the the presence of the US troops forces certain groups to ally against us. If we leave they will split up and they may start fighting each other. But what is better for the Iraqi people. In this I mean I really can't say. My my gut tells me we should get out but I can't make an informed calculation. OK well we have another listener waiting on number two in Urbana. Good morning. Yeah I you know I'm disheartened of the terrible quagmire of the sea of the sea situation. But I think one of the few bright spots is that we did eliminate a multi-billionaire Hussein who. If we didn't have weapons of mass destructions he would he was always seeking them. And one Howland's even suggested that that his WMD may have been shelled across to Syria. So I think that's one of the few
bright spots for you comment. It's definitely a bright spot that Saddam Hussein is not with us. He was a criminal mostly to his own people but also in you know he killed you know a million Iranians he murdered lots of Kuwaitis. We I dream of a world in which the United Nations will authorize the you know that the senior members such as ourselves to to intervene to rid the world of people like that. But we cannot do it ourselves in unless the world accepts that the need to do it and the problem with Saddam Hussein was not a madman Saddam Hussein in 1901 looked around and said Damn. I cannot maintain an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction because it's too dangerous.
He he destroyed his arsenal and we know actually exactly what happened to his arsenal. The UN inspectors did a pretty good job and then the American survey team that came in afterwards to turn the country inside out. And we know the whole process by which very slowly Grudgingly he got rid of the stuff and then tried to hide how far he had gotten. Yes he hoped someday in the future when UN sanctions were over when he was back in the good graces of the international community he'll go back and and keep Iraq on the map of regional powers by by having a real serious military which would probably include some prohibited weapons. But he was he was a rational man and he would only do it when it was safe to do it. And we as the United States and the international community had made sure that it would never be safe for him to do it the UN sanctions had worked. The UN inspections had worked. We had shut him
down and we could have done it indefinitely and we could have done it and lifted sanctions to allow the Iraqi people to live a little better. So we it was overkill on our part. How could we have done it indefinitely. He could have got some plutonium or uranium man made a dirty bomb I mean it wouldn't take that much to really make a tremendous WMD out of a dirty bomb he would need a thermonuclear device. Well that's that's true of any university campus in the country making a dirty bomb. Actually making a dirty bomb that kills people is very hard because the radiation is not a very effective weapon as a weapon of fear not a weapon for killing people. But that said yes theoretically Saddam could do it. The question is what political purpose does it serve him to frighten the hell out
of New York City when what it will do is cause his country to be turned into a parking lot. You know the tradeoff makes no sense to him he was a rational man whose thought as a rational dictator was to stay as dictator and pass the country on to his sons. And you know the simple blind malice that the US is something that a dictator can't afford. You know he's got more important things to worry about. We have just about maybe nine minutes left with our guest John Brady Kiesling. He resigned from the US Department of State in 2003 in protest of the war coming war in Iraq at that time. And if you want to join us in the time remaining you're welcome to do so 3 3 3 9 4 5 5. Toll free in New York where you hear us 800 2 2 2 9 4 5 5 1 spend a little time talking about how we get out of this particular situation. And I think one of the one of the hopeful things you suggested last night is that the world still has an interest in American legitimacy they really want us to be a moral superpower.
How how would we reestablish the legitimacy that we have lost in recent years. Several steps to take. The world needs the United States because of our unique ability to apply power quickly at a distance with relatively good surgical precision. And that's a very useful skill. And we also have money which which helps the. The Europeans though will not accept us as legitimate in unless they perceive that our values and their values our interests and their interests are reasonably parallel. They will only accept it if they think we're reasonably competent. And if the intervention we plan is something that ordinary people will see as as moral and you know we can do that. One of the big holes we dug for ourselves was the way we we tried to to more the way we walked away from the
Kyoto Protocol. We didn't have to implement the protocol but we had at least to tell the world that yes we agree that climate change this is a really major issue and we're we're going to work together. President Bush dropped the ball in the way he handled that. He's now saying better things. What I would hope is that Katrina. Gives him the political window to go and tell the American people you know climate change is too dangerous. We've got to suck it up make some sacrifices change our policy start moving toward a Chiodos style regime and not Kyoto itself but in that direction. If he does that and does it credibly that will convince a lot of Europeans Hey America is not completely on the lunatic fringe on the environment. If he pushes a little harder on Middle East peace process he gains us some legitimacy with the Islamic world which we we badly need.
If he you know there are the United States has actually been pretty generous in Africa relatively speaking we can work with that more. We need to we need to make another big effort and we need to spend the money we promised and it's that that's hard because we're broke at the moment but with things like that. And if the problem with it with President Bush is. People make their judgments based on perceived character. Most Europeans at the moment have written off the character of President Bush as alien to to their values. It's very hard for him now to claw to claw his way out of that. But it might be possible. And you know there are other spokesmen for the U.S. government who can come across as these highly principled sincere humane humanistic people who can establish these bonds with the Europeans again so with good diplomacy and with a few policy
shifts we can get back in the international mainstream when we're in the international mainstream then automatically we lead. Essentially you're talking about a return to a commitment to international organizations and international law. That's right. When we trash the United Nations we shoot ourselves in the foot. I mean the United Nations is a. You know it's not an efficient organization. It's full of time serving career bureaucrats who are just interested in their next meal. A lot of them but that is the price we pay for the service. The United Nations provides and what the United Nations gives us is a beautiful blue flag under which the United States and its friends when it's necessary can go into some foreign country and tell them what to do with that flag. We can do it affordably without that flag. It costs just simply too much. And we we can do it once or twice but if
you very many Iraq's and the country's bankrupt. We have actually the lines are basically full and we only have about three minutes left I'm sorry about that but we will continue on and talk with someone in key next one number one. Good morning. Carmen first of praise just for courage patriotism and understanding and quietness. Right the citizens of the United States are doing the winning on Congress and the administration to be doing right now. Thank you. Thank you for the question. That is the question I think. My my instinct tells me that the American people have to tell their members of Congress. We are a brave people. We are a people who will accept sacrifice for the long term future of our country. We will do what it takes. We will. We will adapt to reasonable energy policy. We will make lifestyle changes. We will. We will become a
country that can afford to you know it can afford to spend money in the service of the of the world at large. And if we if we tell Congress that we are in fact the people that we think we are I mean generous brave willing to their burdens in the interests of a more stable prosperous world. If we do that maybe Congress will get the message and stop building bridges to nowhere in Alaska and start spending money where it counts on the long term sustainable economic future of the country. We have just about a minute I have left I'm going to try to squeeze in one last call. And that's one in Bloomington one of her for good morning. Well I guess that person isn't there on next we'll go to Charleston one or two. Good morning. Hi. We were in Europe this summer during the lead up to the French vote on the EU constitution and afterwards and from the people in the
coffee houses to the talking heads on TV universally they were saying and precluding every statement with now that the United States has abdicated its political and moral leadership in the world who's going to fill the vacuum. And as an US citizen in Europe it was a rather unnerving experience. I'm not sure what we're going do we're already irrelevant in the eyes of the world. We're not irrelevant. We are at the moment an unknown quantity. The new the world is looking at the United States wondering whether we just went through a temporary bad patch or whether we just sort of become an aging frightened imply or just jealous of its old glories. And you know we have to go back and tell the Europeans we are still here we are still the America of hope of progress of promise of opportunity. The problem is they won't believe our rhetoric we have to you
- Focus 580
- Producing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media
- Contributing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
- AAPB ID
- An interview with John Brady Kiesling, who resigned from the U.S. State Department in protest of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Host: Jack Brighton
- Broadcast Date
- Talk Show
- Government; Foreign Policy-U.S.; Iraq; Politics; International Affairs; Military; National Security
- Media type
Guest: Kiesling, John Brady
Host: Brighton, Jack
Producer: Williamson, Harriet
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-3696dd2183a (unknown)
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-ad32a401f64 (unknown)
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- Chicago: “Focus 580; The War In Iraq: U.S. Foreign Policy And The Crisis Of International Legitimacy,” 2005-09-23, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 20, 2022, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-h98z892s44.
- MLA: “Focus 580; The War In Iraq: U.S. Foreign Policy And The Crisis Of International Legitimacy.” 2005-09-23. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 20, 2022. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-h98z892s44>.
- APA: Focus 580; The War In Iraq: U.S. Foreign Policy And The Crisis Of International Legitimacy. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-h98z892s44