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Restoration Weekend: Prospects for a Safe, Free and Democratic Middle East By: R. James Woolsey
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, December 15, 2003


The following speech was given at the Center for the Study of Popular Culture's annual Restoration Weekend, Nov. 13-16, 2003. David Horowitz introduced Judy Black, who then introduces former CIA Director R. James Woolsey. The question-and-answer session is continued in Part Two.

David Horowitz: This is the Eighth Annual Restoration Weekend. It hasn't always been the Restoration Weekend. It began as the Dark Ages Weekend, but Republicans couldn't handle the joke. And, actually, they were quite smart not to, which is one of the reasons we changed the title.  It's also -- began in year one of the revolution on New Year's 1994. The reason that this isn't the Ninth Annual Restoration Weekend is because of probably the greatest non-story of the century, or the story that never happened. If you'll remember, everybody was looking towards Y2K, and enough people were nervous about flying on New Year's, so we decided to postpone it and push it off to the following Labor Day.

We generally sort of have a kind of theme of the conference. The theme is mainly intuitive, meaning probably what's in my head at the time, but you'll notice that a lot of the panels are about the war, which is the defining event of our time and maybe the defining event of our time for a long time to come. 

 

The Left, which is opposed to the war because it hates this country and for no other reason, has so infiltrated and pervaded the Democratic party as to make that a leftist party. But the Left has also influenced the culture to a surreal degree. You know, people are even arguing that we're not safer than we were on 9/11. This mystifies me. If on 9/12 you had been asked if you would bet that there would not be another terrorist attack in this country for two years or more, there's nobody in this room who would have taken that bet. That's because we all understand that we have no borders: We have a very open society, which is quite undefended in many vital aspects. 

 

So there's really only one reason why there has not been a terrorist attack in America in two years, and that's because the President of the United States and his team have taken the battle to the enemy camp, and we have fought the terrorists in Tora Bora and Kabul, and are fighting them now in Basra and Tikrit, instead of in Washington and New York. 

 

The other thing that mystifies me is this argument about whether Saddam Hussein is connected to al-Qaeda and the attacks. We never had this question when Fidel Castro starting loading his government with Communists; well, some people actually did on the Left! But most people did not wrestle long with this question of whether he's a threat. 

 

We are faced with a political and religious enemy, which I will identify as "radical Islam." Daniel Pipes has called it militant Islam, which is directly parallel to the communist threat. It really took root in a big way in 1979 because of the Khomeni revolution in Iran, which began, if you'll remember, with chants of "Death to America" that had nothing to do with the state of Israel or with any other pretext. It had to do with America's threat in its very being and with the resistance to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in which the United States played a noble role, but unfortunately was not aware that all these Islamic radicals were gravitating to Peshawar and then into Afghanistan to form their jihad. So when Saddam Hussein starts invoking Islam and starts funding these Islamic martyrs, even though he's a secular fascist -- or when Yasser Arafat starts creating Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades -- they have become part of a movement, which is really our enemy. 

 

I'm going to introduce Judy Black in a second because our main speaker today knows a lot more than I do about this subject, and it's always wonderful to listen to him. 

 

Judy Black is an appropriate choice to introduce R. James Woolsey.  She was a Special Assistant to Ronald Reagan when he was president of the United States and acted as liason with the governors with the states. She has been an active inside player in Washington these days. I give you Judy Black.

 

Judy Black:  Thank you, David, and congratulations on throwing a great homecoming party for conservatives.

 

It's a very good thing that the organizers of this weekend have included biographical information for you in your packet so that you can read it because just reading R. James Woolsey's information to you today would take away too many valuable minutes from his remarks, and so I won't do that.  He's done so many incredible things.  In fact, it's his bio that makes your packet so heavy. 

 

Suffice it to say that James Woolsey is a man of great accomplishment in business, law, public service, and a variety of Executive Branch positions, including the Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Jim has served four presidents, two Republicans and two Democrats, rising above partisan politics to help protect America's national security. He is an expert in intelligence, counterterrorism, national security, and foreign policy. No one in America is more expert at seeing over the horizon to predict and evaluate the threats America faces in the national defense and homeland security arenas. He is respected and listened to by leaders in both parties and, in fact, by leaders all over the world. 

 

There is only one person who I think needed to listen to him more, and that was the former president. The stories go in Washington -- and I'll have to ask you if this is true -- Monica Lewinsky had more meetings with Clinton than the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  And, in fact, the story also goes -- and, Jim, you'll have to tell us if this was true -- that when the small airplane crashed into the White House, it was the Director of the CIA trying to seek an appointment with Bill Clinton.

 

Well, now it's time to hear from him, and I have to say it gives me a great deal of honor to introduce to you R. James Woolsey.

 

R. James Woolsey:  Thank you.  Yes, that was me in that little airplane. I bailed out at the last minute seeking one of my annual meetings with the president. 

 

I was quite honored when David asked me to be with you again. But as people have heard me say, since I spent 22 years as a Washington lawyer and I spent some time at the CIA in the Clinton Administration, I’m actually quite honored to be invited into any polite company for any purposes whatsoever. 

 

Let me talk with you for a few minutes this morning about an overall picture of this war that we are in. Following my friend Elliot Cohen at Johns Hopkins, I have from time to time called this World War IV. Elliot's parallel was that this is a war similar to what he called World War III, the Cold War, and it does have some definite parallels to the Cold War in its length, in the importance of ideology, as David alluded to. 

 

I've taken recently to calling it the Long War of the 21st Century, however, because people hear the two words World War, and they think of fields of Flanders or the Normandy invasion, and that's not what this war is going to be about. It is going to have some parallels to the Cold War in its length, ts ideological character and the fact that although we will be fighting militarily and our military has an important role, a lot of the fight is going to be ideological. We'll come back to that in a moment. 

 

But, first, just a word about the three groups that I believe we are at war with and why. 

 

First of all are the fascists. David called Saddam Hussein a fascist. That's exactly right. The Ba'athist parties formed in the '30s essentially are clones of the fascist parties of Europe, and leaders such as Quaddafi are effectively fascists. They're anti-Semitic fascists. They're organized like fascists. When you hear Quaddafi's or Saddam Hussein's old speeches, they sounded very much with respect to the Arab world the way Hitler did when he spoke about Europe, and there's no reason to call them anything else. 

 

They are particularly dangerous because states can have Weapons of Mass Destruction programs, and they can have ties with terrorist groups. Several do. 

 

And it was that combination of fascism, terrible repression of human rights, Weapons of Mass Destruction programs, and ties of one kind or another with terrorist groups that led the President a year or ago to put those three characteristics front and center in his strategy as the underlying reasons why we might need to move unilaterally and preemptively against a state, as we did against Iraq. It is a canard to say that the President's strategy is one suggesting that the United States is going to go wandering around the world, invading whomever it doesn't like. That's just nonsense. That's not what the strategy says, and that's not what it has been. 

 

But where one does have this combination of these three factors, it is, in fact, the case that we simply can no longer wait for borders to be crossed by armored divisions with flags flying, as Saddam did when he invaded Kuwait in 1990. We are going to have to adapt our strategy to the craftiness and the secrecy of being able to give a terrorist group a bit of anthrax or some training in flying airplanes without landing them, and so on. And that set of three circumstances, I think, is what makes fascist countries that do have Weapons of Mass Destruction programs and ties to terrorist groups so extraordinarily dangerous.

 

The second group and third are both Islamists, and I tend to use that word rather than radical or fundamental Muslim, or anything that suggests a religion here again for the reason that David mentioned. Islamist connotes a totalitarian movement, like fascist or Communist. And I think it is important to realize that the two Islamist groups with whom we are contending, one with its roots in the Shia side of Islam, the Mullahs in Tehran, the Hezbollah and other instrumentalities of Tehran on the one hand; and the Islamists who are derivative of the Sunni side of Islam, al-Qaeda and other terrorist Egyptian Islamic Jihad, other related terrorist groups, are basically totalitarian movements masquerading as a religion. 

 

I think there is every reason for us to deny that they represent in any fashion the ancient and, in many ways, decent and just religion of Islam. The Mullahs in Tehran and al-Qaeda and some of their Wahhabi backers in Saudi Arabia have about as much to do with Islam as Torquemada and the Dominicans around him who ran the Spanish Inquisition in the late 15th and early 16th century had to do with the Sermon on the Mount. 

 

So we should not get into the business of saying, or even implying, I think, that we are at war with some segment of Islam. We're at war with three totalitarian movements -- two Islamist, one fascist -- and I really think we need to get away from the business that the press and some in Washington love to get into of saying, "Well, since one of these comes from the Sunni side and the other the Shia side of Islam, of course, they're never going to talk to one another." Or, "Since Saddam is a fascist and secular and these others have their roots at least in religious movements, they'll never work together." Nonsense. 

 

These three groupings are sort of like three mafia families. They hate each other, they kill each other from time to time, they insult each other all the time, but they are perfectly capable of working together with respect to various aspects of their behavior as long as they think they can seriously damage us. And this has been true for a long time. 

 

The CIA report a year ago October that went to the Congress said that Iraqi intelligence had been working for a decade with al-Qaeda and had been training them in "explosives, poisons, and gasses." So those who say that because these three groupings are from different roots, they'll never work together have an agenda, and that agenda is to weaken us in the war. 

 

Japan and Italy didn't have a great deal to do with one another in World War II, but they were all part of a grouping with whom we were at war, and I think the same is true today of the two groups of Islamists and the fascists. 

 

Why? Why are we at war? Did they attack us because they don't like McDonald's? I don't think so. I think there are two reasons. One is underlying, and the other is temporal.

 

The underlying reason was best explained to me by a cab driver in the District of Columbia a year-and-a-half ago. Now, I hate reading articles about public opinion polls. Since I’m not in the business that some of you are in and I have to do this for my job -- and since I don't have to do it for my job, I never do it. Instead, since I spend a lot of time in cabs in the District of Columbia, I talk to cab drivers. It's a lot more fun, and in many ways, I think it's at least as good a pulse on the nation as reading public opinion polls.

 

So a year-and-a-half ago, the day after former President Clinton gave a speech at Georgetown University talking about the war, in which he had implied that 9/11 was a payback for the way we had treated the American Indian and for American slavery, I got into a taxi in the District of Columbia, and I saw that the front seat article was open to that. The newspaper was opened to an article about the speech, and the cab driver was one of my favorite substitutes for public opinion polls. He was an older black guy about my age, a picture of his family on the dashboard, a Redskins baseball cap, clearly been driving a cab in the District for a long time. 

 

So as I got in, I said, "I see your paper there. Did you read that article about President Clinton's speech?" He said, "Oh, yeah." I said, "What'd you think about it?" He said, "These people don't hate us for what we've done wrong. They hate us for what we do right." Now, I would submit you cannot do better than that. That's why we're at war. 

 

We're at war because of the best of us, not the worst: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, an open economy, equal treatment of women. It's the best about us that is hated. That is true of totalitarians generally, and it's true of these three groups of totalitarians. 

 

But why now? These movements, in a sense, have been around for a long time. The Islamist movement in the form of the Muslim brotherhood dates from the 1920s or so in the Middle East, and the Arab Nationalist movements, like the fascists, Ba'athists, date from around the same time. 

 

Why 2001? Well, I would suggest that the reason for that is that we have spent much of the last quarter of a century, pretty much on a bipartisan basis, convincing the people of the Middle East of two things: (a) that their job is to be our filling station attendants and to stay there and be quiet and be polite and pump oil for us; and (b) that we are paper tigers. 

 

Now, that is not a good combination, but let me suggest a little bit of history pointing toward that conclusion. 

 

In 1979, our hostages are seized in Tehran, and what do we do? We tie yellow ribbons around trees. 

 

In 1983, our embassy and our Marine barracks are blown up, again by instrumentalities of Tehran and Hezbollah in Beirut, and what do we do? We leave. 

 

Throughout much of the rest of the '80s, with noble exception of President Reagan's strike against Tripoli, what we do when we see terrorist attacks against us is not send the bombers or the Navy, but rather, we send the lawyers. Yes, we send the prosecutors, and we extradite or occasionally get our hands on a few small fry, and we prosecute him in our legal system. 

 

And then in 1991, after a brilliant organization of the coalition to throw Saddam out of Kuwait and brilliant execution of the first phase of war, we have 500,000 troops in Iraq. We have encouraged the Kurds and the Shia to rebel against Saddam. They are succeeding in 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces, and then what do we do? We sign a ceasefire agreement that lets the Iraqi Republican Guard fly its armed helicopters around, then stand there and watch the Kurds and Shia be massacred. We communicate to the world essentially that once the oil of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait is safe, we do not give a damn about the people of the Middle East -- Kurds, Shia, or anyone else.

 

In 1993, Saddam tries to assassinate former President Bush with a bomb in Kuwait, and what do we do? President Clinton, after a month or two of deliberation, fires a couple of dozen cruise missiles into an empty Iraqi intelligence headquarters in the middle of the night, thereby responding forcefully and clearly, I suppose, to Iraqi cleaning women and night watchmen, but not Saddam Hussein. 

 

Again, in 1993, our Blackhawks are shot down, our rangers killed, their bodies dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, and what do we do? We leave, as we did a decade before in Beirut. 

 

And through the rest of the '90s, generally speaking, with an occasionally lobbying of a bomb or a cruise missile and we dispatch the lawyers once again, and we prosecuted a small-to medium-sized terrorists.

 

I would submit that if at the end of the 20th century you were sitting in the counsels of Mr. Khamenei in Tehran or of Saddam Hussein or of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and you were making a judgment about the Americans, your judgment would probably have been that this rich, spoiled feckless country would not fight. This is the same judgment the Japanese made about us at the beginning of the 1940s because of a parallel history of our behavior in the 1920s and 1930s. 

 

We did the same thing in the 1990s. For some reason, this wonderful country, once it wins a big war, like World War I or the Cold War, feels that it is its God-given right to go on a national beach party. And that's more or less what we did in the 1920s, and it's more or less what we did in the 1990s; and we, in a sense, have paid the price.  t's fine to have a good time. It's fine to have the stock market go up, but while you're doing it, you should not be cutting the Army from 12 to 10 divisions.

 

So if that's whom we're at war with and why, what do we have to do to fight? A few words on this issue, both at home and abroad, and then let's take time for questions.

 

Here at home, we have two big sets of choices to make. It's not a single choice; it's a group of choices, and it will take a long time, and we will be making these choices for the duration of this war, and I believe it will last for decades -- not years, but decades. Both of these are hard.

 

The first is the conflict between liberty and security. Now, during the '90s and for other periods in our history, we have gotten the idea that there is no conflict between liberty and security. We could have about as much liberty as any reasonable society could have. We had about as much liberty as one could have here at home, and our view was, that doesn't have anything to do with security. Security is something that the Navy and the CIA and people deal with overseas. These things don't conflict because we like them both, and we're Americans, and we shouldn't have to choose ever between two things that we like. 

 

Then we found out September 11, 2001, that people had been legally in the United States learning to fly aircraft in flight schools without learning to land them or take off. And we learned that there actually were terrorist cells in places like Lackawanna. And we are now in a situation where on some issues, we're going to have to make some choices. Some of those were made in the USA Patriot Act. 

 

Generally speaking with one or two exceptions, I think the act is sound, and I think that we do have to make some of the changes that were made. For example, Rule 6C of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, up until the passage of the USA Patriot Act, barred the FBI from sharing information about terrorism that they had come upon in this country when doing an investigation, like the 1993 World Trade Center bombing investigation, except another prosecutor or a federal judge. So it wasn't that the FBI was playing its cards close to its vest or being recalcitrant that led them to leave Ramzi Youseff's use of fake Iraqi passport and details about the Iraqi citizenship of Abdel Rahman Yasin, the other principal bomber in 1993 of the World Trade Center and the 40-some phone calls back and forth to Iraq. All of that material was there. It was just tied up with a ribbon around it in the basement of the federal courthouse for years because we had decided as a society that we wanted to have belts and suspenders with respect to keeping liberty and security separate. We didn't want the FBI to have anything to do with the CIA lest there be some infringement of liberty, so we barred them by law from sharing information about terrorism with the CIA. 

 

There were all sorts of things like that. My successor, for example, in part due to pressure from then-Congressman, later Senator Torricelli. put out a set of guidelines in late 1995 for CIA case officers overseas which detered them from recruiting spies if those spies had had some history of violence. 

 

Well, you know, if you're trying to penetrate Hezbollah or al-Qaeda, there's nobody in there but terrorists.  hat's like telling the FBI to penetrate the Mafia but please don't put any actual crooks on your payroll as informants. 

 

Well, those guidelines now, happily, are history. But we did a lot of things like that under the supposition that liberty and security were completely separate issues; we shouldn't ever have to think that one might influence another. 

 

Now, we're going to have to make some choices. As I said, I think with respect to the changes that were made in the USA Patriot Act, I am generally quite supportive of what the administration has done, but we are going to have to make tough choices, and there is more than one reason why we're going to have to make some decisions here that are not politically correct. 

 

I don't know about you, but I get rather tired of going through airports and seeing white-haired grandmothers frisked for their fingernail clippers. We don't have to get off into racial and ethnic profiling, but I have three sons in their twenties. They all say, "Dad, why don't they always search us? Why don't they search young men? Young men are terrorists, not white-haired grandmothers." 

 

There are some sensible things that we can do, and we are going to have to set aside some aspects of political correctness. The reason is both that we want to be effective in order to save lives and to save property, but it's also that we don't want the country to get scared. 

 

One illustration: Right after Pearl Harbor, the country was scared, very scared, of a Japanese invasion of the West Coast, and so we did something as a nation that I still shake my head at. It was probably the single-greatest infringement on civil liberties in the 20th century by the federal government; we locked up 120,000 Japanese-Americans in camps in the Western part of the United States. Now, these were not German-style concentration camps; they were the sort of camps that the British put the Boers in in the Boer War, but they were concentration camps. 

 

There were three men probably above all who were centrally responsible for that: President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the then-Attorney General of California running for Governor, Earl Warren, and the Supreme Court Justice who wrote the decision in Korematsu v. the United States that upheld the camps, Justice Hugo Black. 

 

Roosevelt, Warren, and Black are known for many other things, but generally they're not known for setting up concentration camps. That's not what they did in most of their lives, and it's right that they're not essentially remembered for setting up concentration camps. But they did it once, and they did it because the country was scared. One thing we want to make sure we do is handle ourselves effectively here so that we don't see more 9/11s or worse, someone using Weapons of Mass Destruction, then see the country get really scared, and do some things that our children and their children will look back on and say, "How in the world could they have done that?" 

 

There's another aspect to the war here at home, let me just touch on -- and this is what I more or less spend my day job doing. We have to realize that this is an incredibly complex set of networks that drive this society. This is the most technologically sophisticated society the world's ever seen. And all of these networks -- the electricity grid, oil and gas pipelines, the internet, food production and delivery -- are extremely complex and getting more so. Those of you who've read a bit in chaos theory or network theory have heard of the "butterfly" effect. It's sort of a fanciful notion, but the idea is that the weather and the ecology is such a complicated network that if a butterfly flutters its wings on one side of the world, it conceivably could cause a storm on the other side. That might seem like a crazy idea until you realize that if you look at the electricity grid, a tree fell in Ohio here a couple of months ago and 50 million people lost power in the East Coast and Canada. As far as we know, that wasn't a hacker or some intentional disruption. It was a consequence of the complexity of the grid, surges in it, unpredictable huge outcomes from a small stimulus. I would call that a malignant effect cascading through the grids. Nobody was trying to take the grid down. It happened as a result of the disturbance. 

 

That's not what happened to us September 11 with respect to the air transport system network. What happened September 11 was that a group of -- I'll use the President's words -- "evil men" got together about two years before, and they said to themselves, "Let's see, the foolish Americans let short knives through baggage checks even though they stop people with long knives.  And short knives, like box cutters, can slit flight attendants' and pilots' throats just as easily as long knives. Short knives are good. And they're polite to hijackers because their doctrine evolves from the days when there were planes flying to Cuba, and they figured they'd just spend a few hours on the ground, and why create a disruption, so they tell all their flight attendants and everybody to be polite to hijackers -- polite to hijackers is excellent. And, third, if you can believe it, even though they've had a number of warnings, they have not hardened the cockpit doors of their airliners, so it's very easy to break into them. Flimsy cockpit doors are wonderful because that means we don't have to be satisfied with just killing the people on the planes. We can take the planes over and fly them into buildings and kill thousands of them." 

 

That is not an accident. That is not a cascading effect from an unintentional disturbance. That's called war. That's like fighting Stonewall Jackson in northern Virginia, an enemy that gets inside your head, understands what your weaknesses are and goes right for your jugular. And we have to think about this home front and protecting it and making it resilient as if we are at war here. We are. 

 

Furthermore, these networks have a curious characteristic. They're susceptible to disruption both by malignant effects and by malevolence, and sometimes the things that you do to fix one will fix the other but sometimes not. For example, one weakness of our electricity grid is not having spare transformers, which are very expensive, and if you take them out can take two to three years to replace. The transformers, if in a utility, goes to the expense of having a spare transformer, often what they do with it is they put it right beside the transformer that's online. Now, if all you're worried about is accidents, that probably makes some sense because it's easier for the electrical worker to go throw the switch from one that's down to another. But if you're worried about terrorists, that's helping the terrorists conserve his satchel charges, so he only needs one satchel charge to destroy both transformers. 

 

And some things you do to fix one hurt the other. We ship toxic chemicals in this country, largely, let's say, chlorine by rail. That's good because there are very few rail accidents, and if there should be a spill and you need to clean it up, you need to know what it is, so the tank car's carrying chlorine. Next time you're at a railroad, just stop, just watch the cars go by. They have big signs on them, say "Chlorine." Great idea for spills. From the point of view of the terrorist with an RPG, that's called a "kick me" sign. 

 

So we have to look at these networks, all of them, from the perspective of building resilience into them both against malignant effects and against malevolent interference. And as we do that, we will find there is expense. There are a lot of things that we're going to have to do to put together public/private partnerships, to figure out how to provide an incentive for security. We don't want to get into the business of regulating this complex economy in great detail, but we have to find ways through insurance credits, tax credits and incentives to build resilience into these systems. 

 

Let me close with a few words about fighting the war abroad. Yes, we are going to have to fight militarily from time to time, as we have in Afghanistan and Iraq in this war, as we did in Korea and Vietnam and Panama and Grenada and other places during the Cold War. And in light of the continuing resistance, General Abizaid said yesterday of probably about 5,000 Iraqi Ba'athists supplemented, to some extent, by al-Qaeda or other terrorists inside of Iraq, we still have a military job on our hands, and thank the Lord for the professionalism of the American military because we wouldn't be anywhere nearly as well off as we are now in Iraq without their flexibility and common sense. 

 

But the military side of this, as was the case in the Cold War, is only going to be one aspect. We won the Cold War in no small measure because while we were deterring the Soviets from conquering Western Europe with nuclear deterrents and with our military deployments in NATO, we were also undermining their ideology, and we did this sometimes very cleverly, like with Radio Free Europe. We did it sometimes clumsily. We did it sometimes only because a president was able to stake out a position like Ronald Reagan's wonderful Evil Empire speech, which the bureaucracy all told him he shouldn't do. But we won it ideologically because while we were holding the line militarily and in some places winning, we were able to convince hundreds of millions of people behind the Iron Curtain that this was not a clash of civilizations. It was not a clash even of countries, the United States versus the Soviet Union. It was a war of freedom against tyranny, and we were on their side. 

 

As time went on, Lech Walesa heard us, Vaclav Havel heard us, Andrei Sakharov heard us.  Solidarity heard us. And in the waning days of the Cold War, even the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, heard us a little bit. And ultimately, that's why we won. The ideology of their system collapsed, and it collapsed because there were hundreds of millions of wonderful people behind the Iron Curtain who did not want to live in a dictatorship and did not want the kind of relationship that the Communists had produced. 

 

The same thing is true now. There are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world. Hundreds of millions of them are good and decent people who want to live just lives, want to take care of their families, don't want to live in dictatorships and don't want to support terrorism. And, indeed, the majority of the world's Muslims live in democracies. Now, some of these are rather troubled democracies, like Indonesia, but the majority of the world's Muslims live in Indonesia, Bangladesh, India (where they're a huge minority), Turkey and Mali; a group of countries that are either electoral democracies with problems with the rule of law, of which there are 32 in the world, or democracies operating under the rule of law, such as India, of which there are 89. 

 

There are -- and I'm saying this as the Chairman of the Board of Freedom House which does this calculation and put out a book on this every year -- there are 121 democracies of those two stripes in the world today. There were 20 in 1945. We have increased -- and the President alluded to these numbers in his very fine speech before the NED about a week ago -- we have increased the number of democracies in the world since 1945 by over 100. We didn't do this all ourselves. We did it all sorts of different ways. And although it pains me to say it a little bit, the German Social Femocrats had a huge hand in steering the Portuguese socialists away from communism.  n Spain, it was a brave king who had a huge role. In the Philippines, it was people power there and generous assists from Dick Lugar in the Reagan administration. There were a number of heroes in the years since 1945, the people who helped steer various parts of the world toward democracy, and it's happened in the Muslim world, as well as here. 

 

It is not true in the Arab sub-portion of the Muslim world. Twenty-two Arab states, no democracies. The two democracies of the Middle East are Israel and Turkey. The Arab world at this point consists of two kinds of governments: pathological predators and vulnerable autocracies.  This is not a good mix. The Arab Human Development Report put out by a group of brave Arab intellectuals, submitted to the United Nations, first version a few months ago, the second installment just a few days ago, points out that there are one-fifth as many books translated into Arabic every year for that some 240 million Arabs in the world as are translated into Greek. Greece is a country of five million people. Over half the women in the Arab world are kept illiterate. In many of these countries, a number of them anyway, there's a fair amount of oil wealth, so women don't have to be illiterate because of national poverty. They're kept that way by governments who want them that way.

 

The Arab world plus Iran, a population as a whole which approximates that of the United States, exports less to the world -- other than oil and gas -- than does Finland, another country of five million people. So there are fundamental and major problems and difficulties in the Arab world. 

 

Part of this is history, the way that world's been treated by the West. Part of it is indigenous. I think the Wahhabi sect in Saudi Arabia, distinct in some ways from the royal family -- a complicated story -- but I think the Wahhabi sect and its teachings has had a good deal to do with this, particularly because oil wealth lets the Wahhabis spread their teachings of hatred very easily around the world.

 

The thing that makes all these tasks manageable is if we look back and see what we've accomplished. All over the world, there are people living in decent governments in surprising places. Mongolia and Mali are two of my favorite democracies these days. You don't have to live in Northern Europe and have come through the Renaissance, Reformation and Enlightenment in order to want a decent government. These things can be done. It's just that in different cultures and different societies; sometimes it's hard, but it has already been done in 62 percent of the world's government. 

 

Now, as we work on this tough problem over the coming decades, I think we've got to realize that that's the only way peace is going to come to the Middle East. Democracies don't fight one another, basically. They argue about things like agricultural subsidies, which is fine. That's what democracies ought to do, and that's the only way we're going to end up with disarmament of the sort we care about in the Middle East. The three greatest disarmament stories of the '70s and '80s in turning away from nuclear programs are South Africa, Argentina, and Brazil, all of which either had or were on the verge of having nuclear weapons. Why did they do that?  It had nothing to do with an arms control agreement, had nothing to do with the United Nations. It had to do with the fact that those three countries became democracies and decided that they didn't need their nuclear weapons programs anymore. 

 

So whether we care about peace, disarmament, decent treatment of the people of the Middle East or anything else, this move towards democracy and the rule of law in this part of the world; this very tough move is essential. 

 

Now, as we do this, we will get a lot of "pushback." We will get a lot of grumpiness. We will get a lot of criticism. We will get a lot of people. The ruling regime, Mubarak regime in Egypt, portions of the Saudi royal family, we will get them saying to us, "You damned Americans. You had these crazy idealistic notions. You're over here creating disruption. You're creating difficulties. You're creating problems. We are very worried about you." And I think our response ought to be, "Well, we'd like you on our side, but if you're not, we want you worried. We want you to realize that now for the fourth time in 100 years through two world wars, two hot and one Cold War, this country's finally awake again, and we're on the side of those whom you most fear, your own people."  Thank you.

 

Judy Black:  Wow, what a speaker!  Aren't we glad that we have this opportunity?  We do have several minutes, a chance for all of us to ask questions of him. I would like to remind you there are microphones so that the whole room can hear what the question would be.  We are recording this for publication later, so just remember that, and keep your questions relatively short.  And I'd like to ask the first one, if I might. 

 

Last week was Veterans Week, and I always call my father, who fought for us as a Marine and thank him for keeping me free -- for keeping me speaking English and not Japanese or German, since he fought on Guadal Canal in the Sugarloaf battles. And when I talked to him, I said, "You know, Dad, thank you so much for what you did, but what's going on now with the press that every day we read about two more soldiers and, you know, what's happening there to try to take down our resolve?" And my father said, "You know, Judy, I wish I could join back up. We lost over 8,000 soldiers the day of Guadal Canal, but we were there because we meant to win that war." How do we fight back on this situation of the press showing those kinds of images?

 

R. James Woolsey:  That is the big one. I think that several things are important, and I think it looks to me like the President's done most of them right so far. 

 

I think we should start by talking about the mistakes, and I think there have been two. I think most of what has been done in military strategy, in doing the best we could to go to the United Nations, being turned down by the French and Russian veto, then moving in with our coalition. I think all of that has been sound and the best we could have done under the circumstances. 

 

Two things I think need to be changed, and it looks like one is in the process of being changed quickly. One, and in some ways, the biggest mistake we've made, is that although Congress appropriated $97 million in 1998 at the time of the Iraq Liberation Act to work with the Iraqi resistance and to put together intelligence operations with the 15 percent of Iraqis who were in the Diaspora, living in this country or in England, or in Europe, or in parts of the Persian Gulf; training for people to go in with us if we moved in militarily. The State Department for years absolutely refused to spend that money. If you read the Wall Street Journal, you know it even went to the extent of trying to spin the Inspector General's report of the Iraqi National Congress in order to get him to be more critical of the INC so they wouldn't have to do that. 

 

Well, that has meant that we paid a heavy price. We should have gone in with thousands, or at least many hundreds, of trained Iraqis into Iraq, who are working closely with American and allied forces. They're the ones who could've told us who the Ba'athists were, who the Tikritis were, who were recently in town from their accent, who had just spent 10 years in Iran. You can't do that even if you speak Arabic; you've got to do that with Iraqis. And we didn't start that until January or February of this year, and that was a decision in which I think the State Department and the CIA were quite hostile to working with the Iraqi Diaspora. The Defense Department and the Congress generally were in favor of it, and I think the wrong decision was made. We should've been working -- and this is not something that is peculiar to this administration. The same thing happened in the Clinton administration. It was bureaucratic stasis, and so that training didn't take place. 

 

We're now making up for that lost ground by training Iraqis as quickly as we can to be police, to be paramilitary, and we're starting to get more and more information from Iraqis who were going into the Sunni triangle and so forth and helping us. But that was something that we've had to correct that has been done wrong for five years. 

 

The second is, frankly, I would like it if the President would call on all of us for sacrifice. We are in a war. There are different ways to do that. Roosevelt in World War II asked everybody to plant a victory garden and kids to collect aluminum foil and take it for recycling, and that did some good in substantive terms, but it did an awful lot of good in the sense that the whole country felt like they were part of the war effort. 

 

My favorite way to do this is to move as quickly as we can to reduce our reliance on oil from the Middle East, and there are lots of ways to do that with alternative fuels, with oil exploration elsewhere, with the economy vehicles, with hybrid engines. Even SUVs, there's nothing wrong with having a 30-mile-per-gallon SUV, but you need probably hybrid gasoline electric engines like are in the Priuses to do it. There are all sorts of ways people could be brought into feeling committed. We haven't really done that in the same way that I think it was done in World War II. 

 

So I think that those things need to be pushed, and we need to also take publicly a very positive attitude toward working with Arab and Muslim democrats and -- I mean that small "d" of course -- those who want to bring democracy to that part of the world, the brave newspaper editors in Saudi Arabia who get themselves fired by Prince Naif for speaking up. They're all over the Arab and Muslim world. It's just that they don't get much support from us. 

 

In Indonesia -- I had in my office a year-and-a-half ago at my law firm an Indonesian religious and political leader who said, "You know, I’m part of a huge Muslim organization here, and we need new textbooks in the Indonesian schools. The textbooks that are being distributed now are being printed in Saudi Arabia, and they're written by the Wahhabis, and what they say is, among other things, it's all Muslims' obligation to hate Christians and Jews." He said, "We have a very moderate Muslim tradition in Indonesia. We could produce much better and more balanced textbooks, but I don't have the money. Can you point me towards somebody who can help?" 

 

There are lots of things that we can do in a positive sense to get people involved, because you're not going to beat the press's instinctive criticism and negativism by just saying, "Look, it's not that bad. There are some bright spots here." You have to overwhelm them by positive public participation. And whether that's on energy issues, whether it's on foundations helping the Indonesians print up their schoolbooks, whatever, we need to get moving on all of these fronts, be called upon to do it, be told to sacrifice in order to do it, and as far as I’m concerned, we're nowhere near yet the level of sacrifice of previous generations, not just World War II, not just the greatest generation that made a huge sacrifice to win World War II. 

 

But just two statistics. We had a lot of complaining about this $87 billion. As far as I’m concerned, that's a drop in the bucket. Now, you're being spoken to by a "Scoop" Jackson Democrat here this morning, okay, so you know, I don't mind taxing and using the government's money to do good stuff, okay?  Eighty-seven billion dollars is a drop in the bucket. 

 

In the Truman administration in 1949, in terms of overseas reconstruction development, pre-Korea, we were spending about 3 percent of GDP on reconstruction of the world after World War II. About half of that was the Marshall Plan. About half of it was aid to Japan and China. Three percent of GDP in today's $10 trillion economy would be a $300 billion annual budget for reconstruction assistance in Iraq and the Middle East, schools in Afghanistan, and so on. 

 

In the Kennedy administration, before Vietnam, '61 to '63, we had changed our strategy from massive retaliation to flexible response, so we needed more conventional forces. Just because of that strategy change -- not a war -- because we were building up conventional forces, we were spending 9 percent of GDP in those years on defense. That would be the equivalent of a $900 billion defense budget in today's terms. We are nowhere close to a tiny fraction of what was being done in the late 1940s in reconstruction assistance, and we're nowhere near half of what was being done in the early 1960s in terms of military spending. So I’m ready, however, and I think a lot of people are ready to do whatever is necessary to win this thing, but we've got to be asked to do it.

 

Unidentified Speaker:  Mr. Woolsey, we talk about democracy in the Middle East and in the Muslim world.  In Afghanistan, the recent indications are that they want a constitution which enshrines an Islamic republic with Shari'a law. In Pakistan, it's only the military that keeps Muslim fundamentalists from taking over the government; the same thing in Algeria, and perhaps the same thing could be said in Turkey. And in Iraq, the indications are that if there were an election today, Islamic fundamentalists would take power and make an Islamic republic. 

 

What are really the portents for democracy in the Middle East and in the Muslim world that is the kind of democracy we are looking for that is not an Islamic republic with us as the Great Satan?

 

R. James Woolsey:  Oh, an excellent question. First of all, let me suggest a book by the Nobel Prize-winning economist and master of Trinity College, Cambridge, Amartya Sen, who also had a shorter version and an essay in the New Republic back in early October. Sen makes a very solid point, which is that democracy is a lot more than balloting. Balloting is part of it, but what is important is societies that have what he calls, borrowing a phrase from John Rawls, "a tradition of public reason." And there are a lot of societies in the world that have a tradition of consultation and compromise in different forms, and it's the reason why democracy has taken root in so many different cultures. 

 

Mongolian and Malian democracy don't look like what was put together in Philadelphia in 1787, but they work, and they work because in places as diverse as Mali and Mongolia, there has been a culture and tradition of public reason and debate and discussion and compromise, and as balloting has come in and various aspects of a free economy are starting to come in, it has taken root. So there's lots of ways to do this, and one of the worst ways is to go into a culture which is in terrible transition with a lot of thugs and warlords and so forth and hold one election once and then leave.  That's sort of what happened in Belarus. Once you're a democracy, it doesn't mean that you stay that way. Certainly in 1933, Germany turned from democracy to dictatorship. Belarus has. Venezuela may be in the process of doing so. You don't win this thing forever once you get an election. And although elections are important because you have to have change in the government and the people who get thrown out have to know that there's not going to be a knock on the door in the middle of the night, so elections, regular elections, are part of it, but they're not the only part. 

 

And a number of these different cultures have different histories and ways of operating democratically. Bernard Lewis and I had a piece two weeks ago in the Wall Street Journal in which we suggested that one reasonable way to reintroduce democracy into Iraq, which had a kind of a democracy from 1925 until 1958, is to go back to the 1925 constitution, which is a constitutional monarchy with an elected lower house. It does have a king, but it's a king with limited powers. We proposed to use that structure as the constitutional convention to make changes and update and modernize the old Iraqi constitution. 

 

Now, you're right, if you move into some countries right away and just hold an election, you could be in really big trouble. But you must build on the cultures and traditions that are there, and there are two places where I think we can maybe get breakthroughs in the Middle East. Of course, the two places where we have the most leverage because we have forces there, Afghanistan and Iraq, but let me ask you to focus for just a second on the Shia tradition. The majority of Iraqis, 60 percent of them, are from the Shia side of Islam, and 90-plus percent of Iran are from the Shia side of Islam. 

 

The tradition and history of Shia Islam is not one of theocracy. That was pretty much an invention of Khomeni's in the 1970s, when he was in exile in Iraq and wanted to go back and become a dictator. Yeah, for the specialists, 10th century Egypt, Fatimid dynasty was a Shi'ite theocracy. But that's about it. Generally speaking, the Shi'ites have kept religion and the state separate. Partly, it's because they've been the poor and the dispossessed and, therefore, they never had much of a chance to govern, but part of it is their religious beliefs.  Many of them are what are called twelver Shi'ias, which means that they are waiting for the twelfth Imam to return, who disappeared, from their point of view, in the eighth century. They're waiting for him to come back as the Mahdi, and they don't believe that their clerics ought to be involved in government until the Mahdi comes back. 

Well, barring the Mahdi coming back, we have generally a situation among the Shia in which they prefer the separation of mosque and state. That's the reason why they have not been in Iraq flocking to the banner of the very few Iraqi Shia leaders who have called for a theocracy. Generally speaking, the Shia understand that being 60 percent of the Iraqi state and having been oppressed for so long, they're going to be better off with a democracy -- a real one -- rather than some theocratic structure.

 

And they also see the disaster of Iran. The Iranian Mullahs are massively unpopular among the students, and half of Iran are teenagers and younger. They're massively unpopular among the women. They're massively unpopular among their own clerics because most of their clerics hold the traditional beliefs of separating mosque and state. 

 

So what we have to do in all of these cultures is find out what's there and what you can build on, work, yes, to bring balloting as we can, but work on all three aspects of a free society: an open economy, the tradition and culture of law and public reason, and balloting when one can. I think if we do that, we will have the same kind of success over decades -- not years, but decades -- that we have had over the course of the last four or five decades in the rest of the world. 

This interview is continued in Part Two. Click Here to read the conclusion of this presentation. 




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