Is Responsibility to Protect a driving force in American foreign policy? What are its roots? Should it drive military engagement today? This session will look at historical developments (the Holocaust, Rwanda, and others) as well as current situations (Libya, Syria, Sudan, and elsewhere) and talk about the United States’ moral obligations (and their strategic implications) and how this imperative relates to our identity.
Does the United States Have a Responsibility to Protect?
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THE ASPEN INSTITUTE
ASPEN IDEAS FESTIVAL 2012
DOES THE UNITED STATES HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT?
Greenwald Pavilion, 1000 North Third Street
Sunday, July 1, 2012
LIST OF PARTICIPANTS
National Correspondent of The Atlantic
Author of Prisoners,
Director of the Committee on Conscience, the
Genocide-Prevention Program of the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Publisher of NEXT and 234NEXT.com
Chairman of the Global Network Initiative
International Advisory Council,
Bert G. Kerstetter '66 University Professor of
Politics and International Affairs at Princeton
First Woman Director of Policy Planning for
the U.S. State Department from 2009 to 2011,
STEPHEN L. CARTER
William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale University,
Author of The Violence of Peace:
America’s Wars in the Age of Obama.
* * * * *
P R O C E E D I N G S
MR. GOLDBERG: Good morning. Good morning. Hello. If you'd all take your seats that will be -- yeah, you too. Good morning. I'm Jeff Goldberg from The Atlantic and I'm glad to see such a great turn out for this session. We're going to be talking about today something very serious, the U.S. is -- whether the U.S. has responsibility to protect people who are in harm's way either through genocide or slaughter or civil war?
We have a great panel. One of the benefits of this panel is that Anne-Marie doesn't have to talk about work-family balance issues.
MR. GOLDBERG: So we're going to leave that aside. I think you know who everyone up here is. Very, very briefly, Michael Abramowitz on my far left, in addition to being an old colleague from theWashington Post now runs the Committee on Conscience at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Dele Olojede is a fantastic journalist. Those of you who are familiar with his work should look, at the very least, at the work he did in Rwanda about the long-term effects of, among other things, rape and child massacre in the genocide.
Anne-Marie Slaughter is a woman who has it all.
MR. GOLDBERG: Former director of Policy Planning at the State Department, now back at Princeton. Stephen Carter at Yale, one of America's leading public intellectuals. Is that good? That works for you? That works, yeah.
MR. GOLDBERG: One of America's leading -- it's true. It happens to be true. He does a lot of writing as well. One of his many areas of expertise is the morality of war. And so I think we should just jump right in. I would like Mike to start by doing more analysis and advocacy just for a couple of minutes in framing the issue.
What we're talking about is a core foreign policy challenge, a core foreign policy dilemma the United States has faced since literally the Holocaust. And I think it was during the Holocaust where these issues first rose to the fore, what do we do to actually stop the slaughter of people, is it in our national interest, what research do we expend to do that. But frame for us, if you will, the debate over the responsibility to protect?
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Sure.
MR. GOLDBERG: And by the way, we're going to have a -- this is going to be a conversation. We're not making speeches up here. We were -- Dele and I were talking before, and I've come to realize over the years that the Aspen Ideas Festival equivalent of a drone attack is when people speak for 15 minutes or more in that droning kind of Aspen Ideas Festival tone.
MR. GOLDBERG: So we're going to keep this moving. But if you could just take a minute or two to frame.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Right. I'll give -- I'll try to give the Cliff's notes version of responsibility to protect. But I just want to say --
MR. GOLDBERG: You're showing your age by the way by referring to Cliff's notes.
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah. I think you mean the Wikipedia.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: The Wikipedia, all right, all right. But I did want to just -- people don't really know what the Committee on Conscience is at the museum. If I can just say for one minute what the Committee on Conscience is because many of you have probably been at some point to our museum in Washington, which we're going to celebrate our 20th anniversary next year.
And the Committee on Conscience is basically the part of the museum that tries to realize our vision of never again to do what we can to prevent the crimes that happened from the Holocaust from happening again to other peoples. So that's just a word about the Committee on Conscience.
So the responsibility to protect basically grew out of, I would say, the failures of the world in the 1990s, out of what happened in Rwanda where 800,000 largely Tutsis where massacred within 3 months by a crazy government in Kigali also the events in the Balkans and the genocide at Srebrenica. And really it caused, I think, a lot of soul searching among many of the world's leaders about, you know, we have all these promises of never again but what can we actually do to realize this. And so starting in 2001, with the leadership of Canada and a few other countries, the idea came that can we articulate a responsibility to protect, not just for the United States, really for all of us?
And the responsibility to protect, which was essentially codified in 2005 of the United Nations is very simple at its core. It says there are four crimes; genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and that the primary responsibility to protect civilians from those crimes lies with the sovereign governments. That sovereignty is not just a bar, you know, a shield from the rest of the world that states have obligations to protect their own citizens from these crimes. And if --
MR. GOLDBERG: So it's disrespectful to the Treaty of Westphalia notion that whatever happens within a border of a country --
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: It's a complete inversion of the Treaty of Westphalia. And, in fact, some people have said it's like one of the greatest, potentially one of the most significant rethinking of foreign policy in 300 years for the reasons you alluded to.
And so -- but if sovereign states fail to implement their responsibility to protect, that responsibility falls on the rest of us to try to do something about it. And this has been increasingly invoked in different situations. It was invoked in Libya by the Security Council as part of the reason why we -- why the world intervened in Libya. And that is essentially the responsibility to protect. And there's a whole range of issues about how to do it effectively and you can be critical and say we haven't done it in many different cases, but that's the basic concept.
MR. GOLDBERG: Thank you. Dele, you write extensively and written extensively about Rwanda. I remember very clearly, and President Clinton has said this repeatedly, that his greatest regret, greatest regret, was not inserting himself forcefully into the genocide as it was happening. And you and I both know people like General RomeoDallaireand various other experts who said that a minimal insertion by a potent international force or by an American marine battalion might have actually turned this thing and saved hundreds of thousands of lives. Do we have, as Americans, a responsibility to protect people in other countries where we don't have a direct national security interest?
MR. OLOJEDE: In extreme cases like Rwanda, the answer will be most assuredly yes because the crime, the scale of the crime, is so enormous that to do nothing will constitute a stain on our country if we have any feelings left. But the same cannot be held true for every little -- well, not to be flippant about it, it's not every little one. But the same cannot be true for every instance where there is some grave human right abuse being perpetrated.
MR. GOLDBERG: Do we have a responsibility to protect in Syria right now?
MR. OLOJEDE: We do not in my view because one of the things we should recognize is that we have the high potential to do more harm than good in such situations. And I'm looking at a place like Syria and the neighborhood surrounding it, which is highly volatile, looking at Lebanon which might spin off into war again. They are already destabilize the place, people who live in Beirut who are saying they're moving to Paris as we speak.
I think in some places we should recognize the limitations of intervention where while some good might be done, the potential to do more harm should cause us to be wary of just jumping in. Perhaps there are other means by which the damage could be limited. But there are some things beyond our ability to --
MR. GOLDBERG: Anne-Marie, is that a bit of a cop-out. I mean one of the things you've noticed about the Obama administration, the administration you used to serve, is that there's a curios passivity, at least in my opinion, about what's happening in Syria, at least when compared to Libya, compared to other instances. Do you believe that we should be doing more in Syria right now?
MS. SLAUGHTER: I think we're doing much, much more than we were and a lot of what we're doing is not visible. But we are sending intelligence information, we are sending communications equipment, we are actively working with the opposition to try to help them avoid massacres, the kinds of massacres that are being perpetrated on them. And we are working really hard diplomatically, right.
Just yesterday, we've now moved to the point where China and Russia have agreed that there has to be a transitional government that includes the opposition. That's a big deal. That is a step forward. And I actually agree that the criterion has to be are you going to do more good than harm. In other words, you only intervene in Rwanda where a small intervention that the scale that was pretty clear, I think Libya was right, I think Cote d'Ivoire, which is another place that we've intervened, was right. Here it is --
MR. GOLDBERG: The Balkans --
MS. SLAUGHTER: Than the Balkans, absolutely. Here we can't send American troops on the ground or NATO troops on the ground in Syria without I think creating --
MR. GOLDBERG: But nobody is really arguing that. They're arguing about the creation of safe havens and --
MS. SLAUGHTER: So I -- and I've argued strongly that I think we could create safe havens. What I think has to happen then is that the people on the ground create no kill zones and they're supported by local troops, troops in the region and NATO troops. I still think we may have to get there. But right now I actually think we've been doing much, much more than we were. And we might just get out of this without a military intervention. If we don't, yes, I will say for strategic reasons as well as moral reasons we do have to do more.
MR. GOLDBERG: I'm going to come back to you in a minute because I want to know what the threshold is because, you know, it's -- we're talking -- it's ultimately a numbers game in a way. But let me come to Stephen. I've asked Stephen to do something to test his acting skills. And --
MR. CARTER: I didn't even start with it.
MR. GOLDBERG: What? What, no, no, no.
MR. GOLDBERG: No, I'll just make it harder for you -- to test his acting skills and play the role of Rand Paul on this panel just for a minute.
MR. GOLDBERG: I didn't give Ron Paul. I thought that would be harder.
MR. GOLDBERG: No, but because I think everybody up here is somewhere on the spectrum of there are moments when the U.S. should intervene in different places around the world. You -- we were talking this morning about a very strong strain in American foreign policy thinking or even just in American political philosophy, people don't think about it but have this inside them, of isolationism, of believing that it's none of our business, it's not our business. So maybe you could frame how they think and frame how you think while you're doing it.
MR. CARTER: No, I will, but in order to do that I want to tell an Aspen story about the Aspen Ideas Festival when I was here a few yeas ago. I had dinner with some people and we were talking about Darfur. I tell the story in my book about Obama and war. And we're talking about Darfur and the slaughter going on there and the unanimous opinion around the table, there are probably 10 or 15 very thoughtful, very liberal, caring people was somebody ought to do something about that, but not us. That was very clear. It was else's job.
And the spirit that Rand Paul captures is one that actually goes very deeply in American history and also in America today across the spectrum. And it's a spirit that basically says, we've got problems at home, the job of armed forces is to protect us. If terrible things are happening abroad, that's really sad, it's really awful. I wish they wouldn't act that way. I wish whoever is in charge would fix it, but meanwhile we've got problems here. And that's basically the point of view.
And I think it's a powerful force. I think that most were touched by it in some degree that we can sit up here and talk about intervention and so on. But the truth is that deep down, I think there's a deeply felt sense. And I -- it pains me to say, I think this is particularly true when it happens in Africa, there's a deeply felt sense that's really awful, it's a horrible thing, but it's somebody else's problem.
And it's that those of us who are on the other side who actually do believe in the importance of sometimes as the world's hegemonics were saying this morning taking a role and a leadership role that some of us were the only ones who can do it, and that's the constant battle.
MR. GOLDBERG: I want to come to Michael in a second. But Anne-Marie, just answer this question because this raised this enormous problem. Twelve thousand people have been murdered in Syria so far. Eight hundred thousand were murdered in Rwanda. What's the difference between 12,000 or 13,000 and 14,000 because we know it's going to creep up? What is the threshold?
I mean, when you're sitting in government, when do you say enough already? I mean, is there -- are there any rules governing this because really if you believe, as American's do, whether you're religious or not; if you're religious you believe that all men are created in the image of God, if you're not religious, you still believe that all men are created equal --
MS. SLAUGHTER: And women.
MR. GOLDBERG: And women.
MR. GOLDBERG: You know, you're introducing it. I didn't bring it up.
MR. GOLDBERG: Fine.
MS. SLAUGHTER: No, no, no.
MR. GOLDBERG: No, no, no.
MR. GOLDBERG: It's always funny when a journalist gets the gotcha at him, right?
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah, yeah. But really what's the difference?
MS. SLAUGHTER: It's not just a numbers game, although numbers, magnitude is important. I mean, if you look at the actual responsibility to protect, it talks about crimes against humanity, genocide, ethnic cleansing, grave and systematic war crimes. And, you know, the murder of citizens is a terrible thing, but the murder of citizens does not always amount to a crime against humanity.
So there are numbers built in. But I think your question is a different one. It's again can you act in such way as to stop it. And one of the real terrible ironies of the success in Libya is that Assad and many other leaders now know if he done a "Hama" as his father did, killing somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 people at one go by gassing a city, the world would have responded. The world absolutely would've responded.
But he knows if you keep that threshold so it just sort of creeps up and creeps up, there isn't that one moment that so shocks the conscience that the world says this cannot stand if we are to be who we say we are. And so I really do think there's very deliberate calibration. He's killing as much as he can get away with without shocking conscience.
MR. GOLDBERG: But that sounds even more horrifying.
MS. SLAUGHTER: It's awful.
MR. GOLDBERG: That sounds --
MS. SLAUGHTER: But it makes it very hard to intervene.
MR. GOLDBERG: I mean, that sounds Eichmann-like in its cold calibration.
MR. OLOJEDE: But you know though that anyone who has ever spent any time in any newsroom as we all have that if one person dies in Long Island when I was at Newsday we put it in the front page.
MR. GOLDBERG: Right.
MR. OLOJEDE: But in India, we might wait for -- or Bangladeshi floods --
MR. GOLDBERG: Right.
MR. OLOJEDE: About 2,000 to 3,000, maybe 5,000, right.
MR. GOLDBERG: Right.
MR. OLOJEDE: There is this cold calculus because it depends on practical realities --
MR. GOLDBERG: Right.
MR. OLOJEDE: -- that you just -- you're not capable of intervening and being passionate about everything at all times. So you've got to have something in your head --
MR. GOLDBERG: Right.
MR. OLOJEDE: -- that allows you to say, this far, no further.
MR. GOLDBERG: And on to that, and then I have a specific question for you that I want Stephen also to deal with it, but --
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Well, I just wanted to make two points. One is, if you look at past interventions, there's no strict guidelines or criteria. I mean, it's -- in the holocaust, which was almost the worst, we did not intervene, you know, to even do limited efforts to try to save Jews early on. Of course, we went to war. But in Rwanda, we didn't intervene when 800,000 people were dead. In Cambodia we didn't intervene, 2 million people died in 4 years. However, in Kosovo a couple dozens Kosovars I believe were killed and that prompted an armed air war. So --
MS. SLAUGHTER: The country was emptied out.
MR. GOLDBERG: Right.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: But there were things going on. But the point I wanted to make, Jeff, I want to add on is I think one thing that you've gone immediately to the most extreme form of intervention, which is military intervention. And I think one thing that we've tried to sort of focus on -- I know, Anne-Marie did it at the State Department, you know we've done it at the museum, lots of other civil society groups is the idea of prevention, the idea that you can -- that there are interventions that are short of military intervention that governments can do that ought to be considered. And you saw those work in places like Kenya. I think to some extent Sudan is in many ways a large failure, but there have been specific interventions. So I do think --
MR. GOLDBERG: I want to come to --
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: -- that the focus on prevention is something because we know that it's going to get -- it's going to be very hard to get the world community to intervene militarily on almost anything. So we have to look at other options.
MR. GOLDBERG: I want to come to the Atrocity Prevention Board that was just announced in a few minutes. But take us all the way back because Samantha Power, who we all know, you know, has this great expression. I don't know if it was originally hers but I heard it first from her. She said that, "Unfortunately the lesson of the holocaust for many people is that never again will we allow Germans to kill Jews in the 1940s."
MR. GOLDBERG: And there is a distressing amount of truth to that observation. And so the question is, and I don't mean to be too pessimistic here, but the question is have we actually progressed from the time when we -- in the 1940s when we didn't bomb the rail lines, when we didn't bomb the camps and when the pleas of the World Jewish Congress and other groups to do such a thing were ignored. Have we really, given what we are seeing in Syria right now, have we really made that much progress on this issue in the -- even in the philosophical framework on how we deal with it? And try to answer that quickly.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Two minutes, cliff notes or wikipedia.
MR. GOLDBERG: No, no, no, no, like in 30 seconds and then Carter is coming in.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Look, I think the answer is, I get asked this all the time, the glass is a glass half full or half empty. I'm a glass-half-full kind of person. I think there's no question that the world takes the issue of mass atrocities more seriously than it did 20 years ago or even 60 years ago. There's no question about that. Every country in the world has signed on the responsibility to protect. You know, there's an International Criminal Court, there's a criminal tribunals --
MR. GOLDBERG: Which we're not signed on to.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: You know, but we participated in other tribunals in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. We did have successful interventions in Libya and in Kosovo. So to say that this is just a failure completely is just -- doesn't seem to me to make any sense. Do we have a lot of work to do and are there still situations in the world, I think Sudan in particular or the Democratic Republic of Congo, these kinds of conflicts that don't get a lot of attention, you know, are severe stains on our moral conscience collectively not just United States.
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah. Steve.
Mr. CARTER: Well, even if all that is true, even if these were stains in our moral conscience, which I think they are, I'm not persuaded that deep down the world's attitude is changing. And everybody -- all these people have come to this panel, that's wonderful not just because Anne-Marie is here but otherwise, but I assume it's because of the interest in the subject, and that's to the good.
And yet the problem is going to remain of what's going to generate enough outrage to act and, you know, General Dallaire after -- some years after Rwanda quite famously said, he said if the Rwandan government had killed 800 mountain gorillas instead of 800,000 people, the world -- the West would have been furious, would've come down with everything they had because mountain gorillas, there were only actually 790 in the world at the time he made the statement, which is why he picked that number.
But given that it was people, large numbers but still people, in the end the West was very sorry that it happened. But with all this, the reason we're not getting close enough to is, "Why the United States?" That's the point I want to make sure you talked about this morning is that we keeps saying that Libya is -- was successful intervention. So Libya begins with the destruction of Libyan air power and air defenses, which only we could do. Oh, I'm sorry.
SPEAKER: No, no, no.
MR. CARTER: And which we alone could do and we did do it, and that's to the good, I was for that. But those were our cruise missiles with a couple of -- on the first air, then two British ones. If you talk about having about having safe zones in Syria, if you're going to use air power to protect them at all maybe to ground the Syrian air force, we're going to have to do that. That's not going to be that some other country is going to do.
MR. GOLDBERG: A quick intervention. I want to ask Anne-Marie something about American policy there.
MS. SLAUGHTER: And I get to answer that, right?
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah, you're going to get answer it. Absolutely, I'm not messing with you.
MR. OLOJEDE: But still what occurred to me is how we're not assigning enough seriousness to the role of pure chance in whether we intervene or don't intervene. I was on the beach in Mogadishu when George Bush the Elder sent in the marines. And the main reason that I was happy to see them was because finally I could eat military rations and not starve to death because there was no way that a military intervention was going to work in a place like Rwanda, which had no structure and so on and things are broken down. And our experience subsequently show that that was true.
Now, the reaction to that failure was the primary reason I think that no one did anything about Rwanda. And then a couple of years later in Bosnia, one of my colleagues at Newsday at the time, Roy Gutman, broke the stories of mass rapes of Muslim women by the Serbs, which we found out the Serbs were using as an instrument of war in order to suppress the Muslim population. Now, the guilt of Rwanda coupled with just the horrifying idea of using rape as an instrument of war caused Clinton to intervene. So chance and circumstance actually more often than not determines whether we do something.
MR. GOLDBERG: I think this is an absolutely crucial point because you're talking about a system of action and reaction rather than a governing philosophy. In the 70 years since the Holocaust, we don't seem to have a systematic governing policy of what to do.
So let me ask Anne-Marie, and you please respond to this, but I also want to ask you since you were inside and you were part of that faction at least according to press reports of mainly women in the administration who are more muscular in their approach to this issue. We can talk about that separately. But you were definitely seen as part of the interventionist camp. The question is, and let me frame it this way, if we hadn't invaded Iraq in 2003, would we be now in Syria, action and reaction?
MS. SLAUGHTER: Okay, let me put that aside and just -- and I'm going to --
MS. SLAUGHTER: No, no, I'm going to come to it. I'm going to come it. But I really do --
MR. GOLDBERG: I'm going to make you come to it. I mean, respectfully.
MS. SLAUGHTER: I really -- there chance does play a role. But Rwanda is a part of not only Kosovo but a part of Libya because we saw what happened in Rwanda some in real time and then so dramatically for those of you who've seen Hotel Rwanda or the frontline stories in a way that you cannot be a human being and think we could have stopped that and we didn't.
And President Obama did not want Benghazi to be his Rwanda. President Clinton has said that is the greatest thing I regret. You know, that I could have tried to stop it and I think we probably could have. And so that in itself is there, and the Holocaust before that but the continuation.
And Libya is actually a new paradigm because President Obama may have felt that but without the responsibility to protect, there was no way to do that in the U.N. There was no way to go into the U.N. and say Gaddafi says he's going to go house to house in a city of 700,000 people and certainly indicated he was going to kill everyone.
MR. GOLDBERG: You can't get a resolution about a future crime?
MS. SLAUGHTER: No, you can't get a resolution about intervening to protect people, that's what's so important that before responsibility to protect, you're a sovereign, you get to wipe out your population if you want to. The only thing in the United Nations Charter before responsibility to protect was you cannot attack the political integrity -- political independence or territorial integrity of any other state. But as long as you're not hurting another state, you can wipe out your population.
We now have on the books, and this is why it's so important, that all nations in the world signed on to, if you are a sovereign state you have a responsibility not to massacre your people at this level. So we now have a framework that allowed you to intervene in Libya and that is still a framework that Assad is afraid of in Syria.
And that ultimately to go to your point, yes, we took out the air defenses, but Secretary Clinton and President Obama would never have gone into Libya unless the Arab League had endorsed it first and said they participate and then NATO did most of the work without us. So I see it as, we did an important work diplomatically, we did some things that only we could do militarily. But actually other people carried it out. It cost us $1 billion. I think if you ask the American people, if it cost $1 billion and no American is going to die and we can save possibly 700,000 people, would you do it, I think, yes.
So to Syria.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: One small --
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Just one very small point on that. I agree with everything that you've said with one important caveat. Just imagine for a moment something horrible is going -- let's suppose it is Rwanda. And suppose you cannot find a justification in the U.N. Charter. Suppose there is no responsibility to protect. The moral question still presents itself. I don't think any administration that wants to act morally in the world can hide behind "But there is no U.N. bases" as the reason that people are allowed to be slaughtered.
MR. GOLDBERG: That's my point.
MS. SLAUGHTER: No, I supported Kosovo. It's very important. I supported Kosovo, which was illegal but legitimate. It was illegal under the U.N. Charter, but absolutely I supported it. But here's the thing. Now that this in part of the U.N., you can do it on moral grounds. Other countries can't fight back by quoting a law at you. They have to work within that and say, well, it's not really -- they haven't killed enough people. It doesn't amount to crimes against humanity.
So that's how law and politics intersect. The law shakes the space within which the politics takes place. It doesn't mean you win. We never -- we would never have intervened in Chechnya. I don't care what they did. The Soviet -- Russia is the Russia and they have nuclear weapons and there's political realities there. But in places where we can, it makes a big difference.
MR. GOLDBERG: Let me ask each of you this question because I think it's the crucial question, especially after Iraq, and Afghanistan as well. Take Syria aside because there are national security interests involved in Syria too. Put Afghanistan aside because there are national security issues. But it's very hard, you can make a second order or third order argument, that what happens in Rwanda ultimately will affect our stability of the globe, stability of sub-Saharan Africa at least.
But think of a pure humanitarian crisis. In other words, one that doesn't have anything to do with our immediate national security needs. Is it worth spending one American life to stop a dominant tribe, let's say Luzaran (phonetic), from killing the non-dominant tribe? I mean, in other words what happens if body bags come home from an operation in which -- and again I'm using the military extreme. But is it worth it morally? Can we actually do that to our soldiers? There's no reason for them to be there. They're supposed to defend the United States. It's not about the defense of United States? Michael.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Oh, you want me to go first on this one?
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah, yeah.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: You know, I would argue that on a situation like Rwanda, which I think by your definition really didn't have any, on the face of it, national security implications, it was a pure humanitarian, I would argue -- but I would argue that that has had a ripple effect for really -- we're still living with the ripple effect of the Rwandan genocide.
First of all, I think the United States government was severely embarrassed by that whole effort. And was embarrassed in they eyes of the world because of their fecklessness in dealing with the situation there. And I think, as Anne-Marie alluded to, you know, number of the people who are in government at that time really took a sharp lesson from that.
The other thing is that the ripple effects of that genocide continues. So you've had, you know, the Hutu's who committed the genocide fled into Eastern Congo. They were chased by the Rwandan army. Millions of people died there. You've got huge amount of -- you have a huge amount of --
MR. GOLDBERG: But grapple with what I'm saying. Grapple with ----
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: No, no, but --
Mr. Goldberg: -- even if it spread to a war in the center of Africa --
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: But that is exactly the -- I mean, where do you think al-Qaedahung out in the 1990s. You know, in these failed states. So I think that there are these national security repercussions of this that you have to take into account.
MR. GOLDBERG: No, I'm not disagreeing. I -- more of an interventionist than you probably. I'm not arguing that, but it's very hard to argue to the family of an 18-year old, 19-year old soldier. We're sending him to Rwanda, and you know what, whether or not we succeed there or not, it's not going to affect our national security, not going to affect our -- Dele.
MR. OLOJEDE: This is a -- that I think we could reframe the question by saying there's some things worth dying for. I think the obvious --
MR. GOLDBERG: Well, let's go -- yeah, keep going.
MR. OLOJEDE: -- answer is yes, that there are some things worth dying for. But it's not everything that is worth dying for. In other words, Rwanda for me represents the purest example of when there is a moral imperative and possibly second string, even national security imperative, to intervene. But it is mostly a moral imperative to intervene. That is of such scale, in my view, that it would be worth risking other people's lives to try and prevent a Holocaust from happening, right. Beyond that, I will be very, very choosey about where I intervene, whether I can do some good, whether the chances of success are high.
MR. GOLDBERG: But how do you even know what's going to be a Rwanda while it's going on.
MR. OLOJEDE: Well --
MR. GOLDBERG: Now we know it's Rwanda.
MR. OLOJEDE: Yeah, but it took 100 days.
MR. GOLDBERG: But in the 30th or 40th day you would really know. The 20th or 10th day?
MR. OLOJEDE: No, you don't.
MR. GOLDBERG: I mean, we don't know what's going to happen and --
MR. OLOJEDE: So --
MR. GOLDBERG: We don't know if a 100,000 people are going to get murdered by the Assad region. We don't know that.
MR. OLOJEDE: In other words, if you don't know that, then you don't do anything.
MR. GOLDBERG: Anne-Marie.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, I think you asked the hardest question. I see this as a matter of our values. I believe in the end America's power draws as much from our values as from our military and our economy and everything else, that we stand for something in the world, that it is what pulls us together as a people. You said it. We believe that all human beings are created equal. We believe that all human beings are entitled to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And that's what we say in the world. We are not shy about going around the different countries and telling people this is what we believe. This is what we stand for.
Now, that means, in a case like Rwanda, we said, we stood for that. In the world's eyes, we were willing to intervene when white people were being killed but not when black people were being killed. We were willing to talk about this; we weren't willing to do anything. That hurts us as a matter of power.
But I think the question you ask, which is the hardest is maybe we should we have a brigade or some brigades where people can volunteer to say I am willing to lay my life on the line for this because I do believe most of the members of our military think they're signing up to defend our national interest in more traditional ways.
MR. GOLDBERG: Right.
MS. SLAUGHTER: And it would be very hard to send somebody in that situation.
MR. GOLDBERG: It's an excellent point. I want to save it for a second. And when we come to some practical ideas, the Foreign Legion example is a wonderful one. But Stephen, I was wondering if you could answer the question --
MR. CARTER: About the --
MR. GOLDBERG: -- about troop life. And if you could fold in sort of the Augustinian tradition on --
MR. CARTER: I was going to do that anyway.
MR. GOLDBERG: Well, you know, we are --
MR. GOLDBERG: It's like telepathic. It's incredible.
MR. CARTER: The first -- there's actually there's an easy answer to the question. And here's how to conceptualize it. So the tsunami strikes in Asia. And who is there first bringing in equipment, bringing in food? It's the United States military. Now, suppose a helicopter crashes and God forbid the crew is killed. Would we say it was not worth loosing those four lives to bring relief? No, because that is what we do, an extension of your point. And if it's right to bring in relief after the tsunami to take risks, why is it not right to take risks to prevent the tsunami from happening.
MR. GOLDBERG: That I think is the way.
MR. CARTER: Now, that does requirement. Here's the tricky part about Libya, that requires a very strong trust in your political leadership because they're going to tell you, tell us, we believe this is going to happen. It hasn't happened yet. All the intelligence, all the diplomacy, tells us this is how it's trending. And we have to decide whether to believe it or not. And as a people we've been deceived a lot of times. This isn't a partisan thing. This has happened across administration across the spectrum. We've got to decide if -- but that's what it takes to go in and advance.
The Augustinian point, Saint Augustine has this famous comparison he makes. He says, look as you're walking in the woods a robber attacks you and means to slay you, can you defend yourself? Yes, you can, but you have no obligation to defend yourself. You can say I'm a pacifist, kill me even in the commission of evil. But if you're walking through the same woods he says and you see the same robber killing someone else, you have an entirely morally different responsibility.
He said it's one thing to say, I will not raise my hand to protect my own life, but if you refuse to do it to protect someone else's life, it's -- and you could protect it, that's the point, Augustine's point is you're doing that person a harm in a way that you don't want to harm if you decide not to protect yourself. You don't have to buy all of the Augustine comparison to see the point about if you're the one who is there and can stop it, if no one else is doing it or can doing it you have a moral responsibility that may not exist if there is a thousand different people who could do it of which you are simply one.
MR. GOLDBERG: I want to -- before we go to questions, which we're going to do in a couple of minutes, I want to go just around the corner and talk about some practical notions. I'm not as optimistic as you that we have some formulas ready. And I want you to talk for a minute, Michael, about the newly formed Atrocity Prevention Board, which was announced at a very unfortunate moment. There -- this was -- just came out a couple of months ago when the massacres were rolling in Syria and the President talked about this at the Holocaust Museum.
And it sounded to many ears including mine like a kind of bureaucratic committee response to an overarching and immediate problem. "Well, you know, there's a massacre going in Syria, so we have a committee to study whether it's an atrocity." But I know you're a big defender of it and I wanted to give you a minute to defend it, and then we could come around and talk about other means of prevention.
Because ultimately, and this is where I disagree with you, we know 800,000 people died in Rwanda now. But during the course of it, we didn't know how bad it was going to be. And by the time you gear up to intervene, it's too late. The American government knew in 1942, messages were coming out from Nazi Europe that camps were being built to slaughter Jews. And it took a year or two for the American government simply to believe it. So, Michael, first and then maybe we can come around.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Well, I think the point from the last round of discussions is that you want to do everything possible that you can to avoid the need for military intervention. I mean, it would've been much better in Syria if we had -- if the world that dealt with the underlying conditions of the inequities in that society 2 or 3 years ago or 10 years ago. You know, the same thing with Rwanda, the same thing with the Balkans. I mean it's just very difficult to get any government, the United States, the U.N., any government to really focus on these issues until it's a full-blown crisis.
So, you know, what the President did is he came to our museum and he outlined a range of steps, not just an Atrocity Prevention Board, but things that each agency in the U.S. government would do, the State Department, the military, even the CIA. They're now going to have, you know, the first ever National Intelligence Estimate on genocide and mass atrocities. So their goal is try to identify those countries at great risk of these things from happening so that interventions can be fashioned before hand.
I think the point that I would make to you is that is that you really want to do everything you can to avoid happening -- it's a failure when you have to do military intervention -- it would've been much better in Rwanda. And if you talked to the people in the U.S. government who were focused on the Rwanda policy at the time, they tell you there was just no attention to this. People were focusing on Somalia; people were focused on the Balkans. There is a lot of other competition for the President's time. And so I think the point is that there -- you need a process that much more attention on these issues to try to make sure that the protection of civilian life is elevated in terms of the government attention.
MR. GOLDBERG: What would you do, if you have practical recommendation?
MR. OLOJEDE: Well, I mean, there is a little range of things that does not include direct military intervention. Even with Syria, talking could play a very important role. As Ehud Barak was saying yesterday, there are neighboring countries in a lot of these areas that, simply empowering them to act, will lead to a lot of the damage being minimized. I mean, many years ago, it was poor Tanzania that invaded Uganda to drive out Idi Amin as he was slaughtering like 300,000 people.
So one thing that the U.S. government should increasingly do is to enable neighboring countries, countries in the ground to be able to intervene directly. It's not every time that the U.S. government is to be the one leading the charge. So I would think that if we forecast I'm trying to do things like that more effectively, then we will be able to prevent a lot of these things from happening.
MR. GOLDBERG: Anne-Marie, if you were president and there's an increasingly likelihood that one day it will be true -- you can be president too.
MR. GOLDBERG: But if they were voting at the Aspen Ideas Festival --
MR. OLOJEDE: I think it's highly unlikely for Stephen to be president.
Mr. GOLDBERG: No, it's the -- no, no, but -- all right, enough. But if you were president, what would you do? You're known as an activist rather than sort of a passive realist looking for ways not to get involved. What are the concrete steps? Talk about the idea of an intervention force first?
MS. SLAUGHTER: Yeah, no. So the first thing I would do would be to work through the United Nations to have different countries designate some number of troops who would be available, who would choose to be available for this kind of intervention through the United Nations because part of the story of Rwanda is not just the U.S. There's a terrible story within the United Nations that Michael Barnett has documented in a book that said, when Dallaire is pleading with the U.N. saying relatively few troops can come in because remember the Tutsi's said if we just killed the Belgian peacekeepers, they'll all run away because that's what had happened in Somalia.
MR. GOLDBERG: The Hutus.
MS. SLAUGHTER: I'm sorry, the Hutus -- they will run away. And the U.N. was saying, well, we don't want to get involved because look at what happened in Somalia and we look bad. So the first thing I would do is to empower the United Nations to have troops available who would be volunteers. And there you can create a force that can be drawn on, that can be rapid, that can be an expeditionary force. And often at the outset it doesn't take that much. I mean, the other great example is in Sierra Leone with all the horrific killing that happened in Sierra Leone when the British sent 200 marines offshore. It made a huge difference.
So I think I would lead the charge, not the U.S. to be able to do it all, that you do this multilaterally and through regional organizations. The Economic Organization for Cooperation in West Africa has done quite a lot. And you -- but you have troops at the ready. I think that might also have a deterrent fact as well.
MR. GOLDBERG: Okay. President Carter or President Carter 2.0.
MR. GOLDBERG: Okay, you're president and what do you do?
MR. CARTER: I -- if you're talking about military force, if you're going to have a rapid reaction force, I think it's got to be an American-led force. I think that the evidence isn't very strong that the U.N. would use the force. Imagine Security Council controlling this force. Put that aside. But even if it would, what makes an army go, what makes it successful, is the people who are career non-commissioned officers and people commit to be career non-coms in their own national army. I don't think it's likely they will commit to being career non-coms in a U.N. force not related to their home.
Now, the way you can combine this with --
MS. SLAUGHTER: With the national --
MR. CARTER: Well, what you could do, and this is something that I know Jeffery has suggested -- we were talking about this morning -- and it's a combination of this idea as well is you can imagine an American-led force that includes foreign nationals who are recruited --
MR. GOLDBERG: In the Foreign Legion model.
MR. CARTER: People like -- on the Foreign Legion model that with this particular idea in mind. Of course, that is biting off an enormous amount for us not only in troops but in cost and so on. But the reason I keep saying, it's hard to imagine being done without the (inaudible) dispensability, it's not only because they spend $0.42 to $0.44 depending on whose estimate you read of every dollar.
It's because of the kind of training and technology that our troops use makes it extremely difficult for them to fight along aside nationals of other countries without the same training and who don't use the technology. You just -- it's hard for the forces to combine and it hasn't worked out very well in the last couple of wars when they've tried to fight alongside each other in some well known cases.
MR. GOLDBERG: One more question for you and then we're going to -- we'll have mics and they can ask questions. The question is -- and this is a moral question and it's a queasy making question; it's prompted by discussion over the last few days -- of who will give Assad asylum?
In other words, if we could somehow get him out of there, maybe we would stop the massacres. But what you're doing by talking about asylum is you're talking about letting him get away with mass murder. Some people go to The Hague, others don't.
You know, I have some experience from the '90s in Liberia in covering the Civil War. I was just in Liberia last year though I think everybody up here remembers this. There was a guy named Prince Johnson, he was a warlord, who was seemingly insane. He made a videotape of himself torturing and killing the previous President Samuel Doe. Today, he's a senator in the Liberian Senate. He should be in The Hague.
So the question is at what point do you cut a deal with these terrible people. We're not trying to bring Joseph Kony, I think, the justices. We're trying to kill him. Other people were trying to say, oh, go have a nice life in Russia or in Saudi Arabia or some other place that might take you. You want to go to that one.
MR. OLOJEDE: I'm a firm believer in cutting a deal if you're going to prevent more horrors from happening. If we -- let's just use Rwanda again. Let's say the presidents of Rwanda, somebody goes to him to say, okay, we're going to send you to south of France with $2 million and you can live happily ever after, but we need this thing to stop now and you were able to stop it, say, theoretically at point 50,000 dead rather than 500,000 or 800,000. Now, you can be morally ambivalent about it, but for practical purposes whatever allows you to save human life needs to be tried. So I think cutting a deal to get somebody out of that quicker than you would have is a complete necessity for preventing atrocities.
MR. GOLDBERG: Michael, should we've cut a deal with the Nazis where we said, oh, just stop, just shutdown Heydrich and Eichmann, you could go free.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: It's all a case by case. Clearly that was --
MR. OLOJEDE: Exactly.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Clearly that's -- you would never have done that, but --
MR. GOLDBERG: Although there was a lot of pressure in the U.S. to make a deal.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: But I will say -- it's interesting -- I've been reading a lot about the War Refugee Board and about what happened in Hungary and, you know, Raoul Wallenberg, who is one of the great heroes today, you know, he negotiated with Eichmann. So we have examples of Richard Holbrooke with Milosevic, you know, and you do have examples of where you have to negotiate with bad people, you have to cut a deal. I think it's all in a case-by-case basis.
I think that you would be foolish to -- listen, I think there's been much greater accountability for these kinds of crimes. You know, for the first time, you've had heads of state in the dock; Charles Taylor, Milosevic. I think that's a good thing. I think down the road that's going to really be a deterrent. But there are going to be cases. And I think you know a good case would be, you know, in Sudan, I think, you've had the indictment of the President of Sudan --
MR. OLOJEDE: Al-Bashir.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: -- on genocide 3 years ago and it really hasn't had a lot of impact on improving the situation. And so I think if you're really going to look at this tough-mindedly, you're going to say on a case-to-case basis, there are some cases where you have to cut a deal.
MR. OLOJEDE: And I think Syria is a great example of that.
MR. GOLDBERG: Anne-Marie and Stephen.
MS. SLAUGHTER: So I agree with that. And the one thing I'd add to it is it's very important to let each country make that decision in the sense that in Liberia as much as you would look at that and I would look at that, what I would say is the president of Liberia is forging a fragile consensus and moving forward. And that's her choice in the end. Different countries have different ways of dealing with that.
South Africa had the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Other countries really feel in the end that, you know, you have to have actual prosecutions. I'm not sure. I would, A, do whatever you could do to stop the killing short term, but longer term I really don't think it's for us to impose a particular model of criminal justice on a particular country because I think they're very deep cultural and political considerations that are context by context.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Just very briefly. At the end of the Civil War people approached Abraham Lincoln and said that Jefferson Davis and people around him were now fighting for their personal safety and security rather than for the war itself; would he consider an amnesty. To which he responded, he said I feel like the teetotaler who went to a friend's house and was offered a drink. And he said, no, I'll take lemonade. But if you'd have poured a little Scotch unbeknownst to me, I wouldn't object was his point.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: And I think that's the way to think about the cutting of deals, not so much that you say to the world we're letting the guy go. It's rather if he gets away and that's the end of it, then let it go.
MR. CARTER: You know, it's interesting on Syria that, you know, in Libya they went immediately to a referral to the ICC. And that -- you know, who knows, but that may have really --
MR. GOLDBERG: Delayed, yeah.
MR. CARTER: They made it much harder. And you know that people are gathering evidence now about the crimes, but you don't hear a lot of talk from the U.S. government or the other about ICC right now. So it's --
MR. GOLDBERG: It's a very good point. You just raised your hand now. And there's mics. Over here first and then over there second. And just identify yourself.
MR. ROSS: My name is Carne Ross, I run a nonprofit called Independent Diplomat that advises governments and countries around the world including various of these places, Kosovo and South Sudan. I was a former British diplomat working on Iraq, which is why I'm no longer a British diplomat.
MR. ROSS: Anyway, my question is I'm slightly disappointed at the range of options we're talking about here. We tend to talk about intervention or rather response to situations like Syria or Libya as either do-nothing rhetoric, you know, or military intervention. And in fact there's a hell of a lot between those two things. And in particular, I think we need to develop the discourse of nonviolence because the 21st century has brought all sorts of opportunities for the application of coercive force without the use of bloody violence.
For instance, cyber warfare or sabotage or various other covert techniques. The trouble with this is, of course, it's not fully developed as idea in our own heads, but they are also not developed as military, political or legal philosophies. And it seems to me we need a framework for the use of nonviolence that allows a much lower threshold for the application of these techniques, which are very coercive and not pacifist with a much lower threshold than, of course, the threshold for military intervention which is necessarily as much higher.
MR. GOLDBERG: Okay, why don't you all --
Let them answer that please.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Could I just say the one -- I totally agree with you and one thing that I think we can explore though it's already been relevant is crowdsourcing accountability. You can make it possible for everybody with a cell phone to take pictures of violence as we're seeing in Syria. But suppose people were taking pictures of the actual soldiers responsible and putting them up to a website so that individuals have to be accountable for what they're doing. There's a whole lot of ways in which we can use new technology and the fact that everybody is a witness to put lots of pressure within a society on those who are doing the killing.
MR. GOLDBERG: But Anne-Marie, in Iran in 2009, there were snipers on the roof shooting down nonviolent demonstrators. How are you going to go up to the roof and get a picture of that?
MS. SLAUGHTER: You're not going to get everyone, I agree, but its one technique where actually as somebody said make sure you get their faces and make sure their mothers can see them. Right, so it's --
MR. GOLDBERG: Anybody else want to deal that one or should we go to the --?
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: Well, I agree with that completely. You actually, Carne, outlined a range of specific things. I basically made the point that there is a huge --
MR. GOLDBERG: I think that point was made, yeah.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: -- difference between sending in the Marines and doing nothing. And, in fact, there has been lot of good work by a lot of different groups. We, at the museum, we sponsored a genocide prevention task force that catalogued about three dozen different specific things from economic sanctions, naming and shaming. There's -- you know, there's a range of tools. And I would argue that a great task for civil society would be to really develop these tools over the next 5 to 10 years. Governments set --
MR. GOLDBERG: I want to give other people a chance. Stephen is going to intervene quickly.
MR. CARTER: Very briefly again, I -- well, I want to add, I talk about this in my book, but very briefly. I agree; however, I don't think sanctions in particular are nonviolent. I think it's a wrong understanding of them and a lot of people suffer very greatly when I decide whether to do that or not. And I don't think cyber warfare is nonviolent, that is to say if someone blows up your computer and you consider it a violent act. It may be cleaner in a certain way if you think of the image, the visual of it. But I don't think I would refer to it as nonviolent.
MR. GOLDBERG: I had called on somebody there, and then I'm going to come to you, Olara. Yeah.
SPEAKER: (Off mic) lawyer from Washington, D.C., who has the privilege to live here in the valley. All these notions as assumed, I think, that the leadership is satisfied that they have enough political backing in the country to do what they think is the right thing to do. And as for those of us who are from the Vietnam War era and coming forward through Iraq, for example, I think there's an emotional exhaustion of what is perceived as ill-conceived wars based on ill-conceived notions of what's international interest. And so these other things where people very well might say that's worth doing because it's who we are as American people where people are worn out --
MR. GOLDBERG: Can you frame this in a form of a question please for the panel?
SPEAKER: So how do you do that? How do you make a break between what has been happening in these types of actions in shifting -- similarly, a lot of people that governed the military are doing it for service? They believe in service. So how do you make it a notion, not a technical notion of, you know, new forces, but how do you make it a notion that's part of the service that we do as a country?
MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, I'll actually answer the question that I didn't answer that you asked me before.
MR. GOLDBERG: I remember.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Would we be going into Syria now if there hadn't been Iraq. I suspect we would be, but I suspect we'd be going in wrong. We'd be sending in U.S. troops in the way that we did in Iraq and that's not the right way to go. It does have to be much more regional. But ultimately I don't think there's any answer other than real transparency, right. And what we've learned is we're very, very, very skeptical of intelligence and that means we ask questions about what the intelligence was in Benghazi and you just have to lay out the case and acknowledge that you have not either been transparent or right in the past.
MR. GOLDBERG: Wait, I want to go to Olara Otunnu here. And just tell everyone who you're in case by off chance they don't know, Olara, and welcome.
MR. OTUNNU: Thank you. My name is Olara. I was very closely involved with the formulation of the doctrine of responsibility to protect and advocacy, the lobbying for it to be adopted by the U.N. As I think Anne-Marie alluded to, it with a hugely controversial project, and it was a big breakthrough when it was adopted.
Everything stated by the panel is true and very important. But I'm concerned about one aspect which has not come out as clearly as it might which is the danger, the risk of the selective application of this doctrine. Not selective on the basis of practicalities, capacity, threshold, but for political reasons because that was the biggest argument on the other side, that you put up this project, it'll be applied selectively based on political considerations.
And my question is, as I go out on the world, some of the people who were the strongest advocates on our side of this issue are now very ambivalent and wondering if we haven't provided a cover for selective response and the same thing is now being said also about the ICC. And I would appreciate if the panelists might address that a little more clearly.
MR. GOLDBERG: Go ahead.
MR. OLOJEDE: Ambassador, thanks very much. I think it's inevitable that there will be such a level of selectivity in the application of this or any other measure of this nature because that's just the nature of the world. There are hierarchies of importance, priorities that people set and inevitably there will be decisions made that are subject to rational disputes. That should not be an excuse for not pressing forward. You know, I'm no longer, as I've grown older, seeking perfection. And if we make some progress, that's good enough for me.
MR. GOLDBERG: Anybody else or let's I think keep going. There is a question over there and then I want to come here and then I'll go there.
MR. STRONG: John Strong (phonetic), Dallas, Texas. Should we give arms to Turkey and help Turkey become stronger in the Middle East and fight Syria for us? Is that good? The net result is very confusing to me.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Turkey has the second largest army in NATO and I think the fifth or sixth largest in the world.
MR. GOLDBERG: They've got a lot of arms, yeah.
MS. SLAUGHTER: So they have got plenty of arms. That's not the problem.
MR. GOLDBERG: That's not the issue.
MR. OLOJEDE: They don't need us.
MS. SLAUGHTER: But, you know, they are in the end going to play a role. They're debating. They've got all their issues with the Kurds and everything else. In the end, if there is action in Syria, Turkey will be a key, key part of it.
MR. GOLDBERG: That's right. Right here, and then I'll go to your, sir, over there.
MS. EINSTEIN: I'm Mary Einstein. I'm the founding chair of the Fund for Global Human Rights, which was created to get resources to human rights organizations on the ground in the countries where the abuses are taking place. And I'm a little hesitant to ask this, but I'm curious. You did speak about making a deal with a bad actor to get him out of the country. I'm assuming they're all male.
MR. GOLDBERG: True?
MS. EINSTEIN: But I'm curious --
MR. CARTER: It almost -- it goes without saying, right?
MS. EINSTEIN: But I'm curious to know we didn't talk a lot about -- you didn't talk a lot about regime change. And whether there are questions along the line about different methods that might be used for regime change as part of a preventive strategy. I know the U.S. has done some things that's pretty ashamed of in terms of assassinations of leaders, but I'm beginning to wonder whether your balancing lives might lead in that direction.
MR. GOLDBERG: It's a -- thank you for asking. It's a bold question, and it's come up which is, you know, we get very anxiety-ridden about putting cruise missiles into people's palaces, the idea of killing them, yet we don't have problems sometimes invading all countries. Anybody want to -- Stephen?
MR. CARTER: Well, I think, this is a really important question if we genuinely care about stopping these abuses. And one point of comparison -- and Jeff already heard this story. So during World War II, before the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill meets with his war cabinet.
And they make a decision that he wants to -- he is going to Yalta and he's going to propose the following. Identify the top 300 leaders of the Nazi regime, label them publicly as people who will be shot on sight and who if captured will not be given a trial but will be summarily executed subject only to confirmation of identity. So that's what he wants to take to Yalta.
And the British firmly believed, the war cabinet believes, this will shot in the war because these people will run for cover or their own people will kill them. He maybe right or wrong about that, but that's what he believes.
He goes to Yalta, he has a preliminary meeting with Roosevelt. Roosevelt says, and according to Churchill's memoirs, Roosevelt says, "Sounds good to me." Next day, Stalin walks in the door. They sit down. So Stalin says it's such a great idea, but it should be 10,000 people, not 300.
MR. CARTER: And I say that because there is a certain logical appeal to the notion that if you just kill the right leaders, you can stop it, but there is the problem of a stopping point. There is the problem of how many of them do you have target to get to that key number and does your moral responsibility increase as you kill this one and this one, oh, we got to get that one too and that one.
And I'm not talking here about al-Qaida or someone at war with you. I'm talking about protecting someone else by getting the top, all the top leaders of the regime. It may be better than war. Better than war and the troops on the ground. It's possibly true, but just bear in mind the list could be a very long one.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Can I say one thing?
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah, yeah.
MS. SLAUGHTER: You know, this is where checks and balances are so incredibly important because how many people, which people. I can imagine a world, given how fast we've gotten to this one, where you would see a Milosevic or somebody else who after he's bombed Dubrovnik or after he's had his first ethnic cleansing you indict him in a court for murder, you then say there is an international warrant out for his arrest; this has to be a multilateral thing. And you can then, if he dies resisting arrest, he dies resisting arrest. So I think there are ways you can target specific individuals, but it cannot be individuals making that decision.
SPEAKER: Was on the State Department?
MS. SLAUGHTER: I'm not anymore.
MR. GOLDBERG: Yeah, yeah. We're running out of time and I want to do like two or three more quick ones. So I need over there just a quick one. I'm going to come over here. No, no, no, right there. He had his hand up.
MR. ACKERMAN: I'm Spencer Ackerman, I'm a military reporter with Wired. Does it bother any of the R2P advocates on the panel that this idea has no purchase within a post-Iraq and still-engaged-in Afghanistan military? These are the people upon whom this burden is ultimately going to have to be borne.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Yeah, because you and I and a whole group of people debate this on Twitter everyday. I mean, in the first place I don't think it's true that there's nobody in the military that actually supports this. What I do think is people are saying you'd better be really sure about what the stakes are and what the cost is and what the exit plan is.
But there, particularly in these cases where there are strategic as well as moral reasons. And we've not had a Rwanda. We've had cases of Libya where you can make the case in both ways and I made it strategically working within responsibility to protect. If that's what the political leadership decides then those who are in the armed services have promised to follow their commander-in-chief and that's what they have to do.
MR. GOLDBERG: Anybody else? Sir, we're going to come right over here. Wait for the microphone, yeah.
MR. EDLISS: Thank you. Stephen Edliss, quick question. Syria is the front burner, right, everyone talks about Syria. Syria has been a legitimate part of the U.N. for many, many years. We have diplomatic relations. We have no law that says you can't talk to a diplomat. So far I've only heard evidence produced by activists in London calling journalists in Beirut say claiming 10,000 people. I checked with the Human Rights Watch and says it's not our business to verify these numbers. Why do we not have a spokesman, a diplomat from the legitimate government of Syria telling us their side of the story?
MR. GOLDBERG: Really anyone can -- you know. You mean here at the Aspen Ideas Festival?
MR. EDLISS: Aspen Ideas Festival.
MS. SLAUGHTER: Well, you have a U.N. -- you have U.N. monitors that have gone in and verified as best they can who have said --
MR. GOLDBERG: You know what? I don't think we are going to have an argument about whether the Syrian government is underrepresented at the Aspen Ideas Festival.
MR. GOLDBERG: I'm just going to -- I'm going to assert my editorial control here and I also recognize that Ahmadinejad is not here. That's fine with me.
MR. ABRAMOWITZ: You know, the question does make me think of one thing, which is that the advance of technology and all this satellite ability and the ability of new things to try to figure out, there are still parts of the world where we really don't have a good idea of what's happening. I continue to think this about Sudan where basically no western journalists or maybe one or two have been Darfur in the last 3 or 4 years.
There is now a situation in a place called the Nuba Mountains where hundreds of thousands of Nubans are under attack by the government of Sudan. We have no idea of how many people have died. We have really no idea what's happening there. It's really amazing to me that in this world of -- we think we know so much about what's going on in the world, but there are just places we don't know that much and that's -- and I think that's an issue for policymakers to focus on.
MR. GOLDBERG: Let's just come around real quick and sum up where we are and where we need to be, if you can just in a minute each. Or say whatever you want to say.
MR. OLOJEDE: I think we've exhausted the --
MR. GOLDBERG: Anne-Marie, do you think we've exhausted?
MS. SLAUGHTER: No, I'll just say because I do -- I think it's very important for people who aren't in this field to realize -- I graduated from law school in 1985. There was no such thing as international criminal law. You could go back and look at Nuremberg. That was an event. There was no such thing as a course that you could teach on international criminal law.
You know, in 2012, you've got three courts. You've had heads of state in those courts. There's a whole body of law that is being developed by those courts. And there's a realistic chance that dictators who are perpetrating these kinds of atrocities will be brought to account by their own courts or international courts.
International law works very, very slowly; to have had that happen in 25 years. I know, I'm feeling older by the minute, but it's not that long a time, that is enormous progress on behalf of the recognition that the affairs of state are not just the affairs of government-to-government diplomacy. Affairs of state are the affairs of individuals on the ground and their livelihood and their well-being in a global world. So we've made enormous progress. We've got a long way to go, but I'm very optimistic.
MR. GOLDBERG: Stephen Carter, just wrapping up.
MR. CARTER: And I actually think that Mr. Edliss' question deserves a serious answer because it goes back to something that's fundamental that I mentioned that we've just been assuming, which is that we know what's going on, the point that was just made. If you're going to believe in interventions in any form, whether you're talking about sanctions, whether you're talking about boots on ground, whether you're talking about cruise missiles, whatever it may be, and there are rights that all of us believe in, you have to have faith that your political leadership knows what's going on.
If you don't, and we live in a skeptical age justifiably, if we don't believe that our leadership knows or we think they are manipulating the facts, then we probably shouldn't go because if you can't go to war, and we're talking about war in a way where you can bring along not just, well, I got a majority in the polls, but an actual rich understanding of why this is important, it's going to fail.
It's going to fail because the populace poll will crumble when that first body bag comes home. So the faith of the political leadership is people we can trust and who will assess the evidence not with an eye to political gain, but with an eye to an actual sense of what's morally wrong in the world. You have to have that faith in order for all this to work.
MR. GOLDBERG: Thank you very much for coming. Thank you to the panel. I bet it was fascinating. Thank you so much.
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