National Press Club
Monday, 17 March 2003
ELEANA BENADOR: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. My name is Eleana Benador. I would like to welcome all of you for attending this Seminar on Iraq. We have Richard Perle and Kana Makiya. I just want to say two words: with this seminar and our activities, we just want to support the fight for the liberation of the people of Iraq and the fight for democracy. Thank you so much and I'm pleased to welcome Richard Perle, (INAUDIBLE) to talk to us for a couple of minutes and then I would like to introduce Kanan Makiya.
I will ask you to please turn off your cel phones and the way it's going to go is Richard Perle will address us, then Kanan Makiya will talk and then we will enter a question and answer period. Thank you so much.
RICHARD BENADOR: Thank you Eleana. I think I recognize reporter's notebooks. So I'm not going to speak to you very long. I'm sure there will be a lot of questions and if I limit my remarks, there will be more time for them.
This is an auspicious occasion after many years of urging that we and like-minded countries take some action to liberate Iraq. It looks as if we are on the verge of an act of liberation. Unfairly characterized in many places, lots of motives have been attributed. I believe that in the end, the result, and we will see the result soon enough, will tell the story about American interests, American purposes and American objectives.
When we have left Iraq, I trust and hope and believe that we will leave behind a decent, humane administration for that country, replacing what has been a reign of terror now for a quarter of a century.
Unfortified in that optimism by the involvement of people like Kana Makiya who are here from (INAUDIBLE) one of a group of men and women of Iraqi origin, but not only Iraquis who fought for democracy in Iraq for many years, who have argued and debated and written and tried to construct an electoral foundation, a moral foundation, for the rebuilding of Iraqui society along democratic lines.
It won't be easy. I don't know anyone who thinks it will be easy. It won't happen overnight. Even our own democracy didn't emerge overnight. But with people like Kenan Makiya I'm confident that Iraq is going to see a very much brighter future.
One last word. We have all seen stories, disparaging stories, for years now about how the opposition to Saddam Hussein is divided, fractious, quarreling among themselves. I have gotten to know a number of the members of that opposition and I must say to you that in my experience, the arguments, the debates, the differences among them are rather like the differences one sees in any democratic society. People have their own view, they have their own ideas about how best to organize a government. Federalism versus the powers of a central government, presidential versus parliamentary systems. How do deal with regions that have not always been contact with. All the issues that one would expect with respect to a country of the size and complexity of Iraq.
Fractious, divided, some people call that democracy. That's what I call it. I'm not going to give you a biography of Kanan. The point about him is not where he's been, the point about Kanan is where he is going.
KANAN MAKIYA: Thank you Richard. Thank you for those very kind (INAUDIBLE) words. And thank you again for organizing this event and making it possible for me to address a large audience.
I'm going to speak hopefully for not longer than 15 to 20 minutes and perhaps the most interesting discussions will take place through your questions.
But let me start with a question. What is it about the last Gulf War that went wrong? That left us with the problem that still haunts and divides the international community? The problem of Saddam Hussein.
Certainly it wasn't the military campaign, which was brilliantly executed and conducted in 1991. Nor was it the way that the Iraqi army fought, or rather, chose not to fight. Nor is it the fact that Iraqis unexpected (INAUDIBLE), lined up to defend their dictator as most populations will tend to do when threatened from without, because we didn't do that. They revolted against it.
No. What went wrong in 1991 was one of those things. In my way of looking at things, perhaps I will say to you what went wrong is that the goals of that war, the definition of victory itself, was approached in a too limited or technical way. Perhaps there was no alternative but to approach them that way. I do not want to discuss that side of the question. That's a matter of history, now. But this was a war that was defined as pushing back the Iraqi invader to the borders he had come from and preventing him from eliminating his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Especially, from trying to repeat the exercise again and again as he is bound to do, given the nature of this regime. That was it.
That was the terms of victory as defined back in 1991. Now if you look, for a second, look back at that way of thinking about 1991. The motives of the aggressor regime in this case, the regime of (INAUDIBLE) Iraq, the politics of Saddam (INAUDIBLE), the nature of the regime itself, (INAUDIBLE) regime, that has original from a party with forming a police state that is quite unlike any of the normal, run of the mill dictatorships in the Middle East. The effect, or the potential impact, of the politics of this regime upon the region, all of these were by and large not factors that entered into the political decision of the allied coalition then to define victory, as I said, as simply being about pushing back Saddam Hussein back into Iraq and liberating Kuwait.
As a result, although he had an Arab/Israeli peace process, it was short lived and although we had a strict sanctions regime, the fact is, it didn't work. Saddam flourished even as the Arab/Israeli peace process floundered. Those are the facts of the last ten years.
Now, 10, 11 years down the line from 1991, and whether you are for the war or against it, everyone knows that they are dealing with a very different kind of war. The world knows whatever it thinks about it, that President Bush and Vice President Cheney and their team are about to replace one of the nastiest regimes produced in the world since World War II. And they are about to replace it with another kind of order.
Now notice I've not yet mentioned weapons of mass destruction and that's not because they're not important. Pushing Saddam out of Kuwait was very important in 1991. The problem is, it was not enough. Getting rid of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction is equally important and we will be able to do that after the regime is overthrown. The problem is that that too is not enough as a definition of victory as a way of ensuring that new September 11s and new (INAUDIBLE) of peace making efforts do not repeat themselves in the Middle East.
I say to you that today the tests of American and Iraqi leadership at this critical junction today lies in what the President himself said some two weeks ago at the American Enterprise Institute. It lies in turning Iraq from a force for destruction and terror in the region into one of construction and peace.
Now this new Iraq has a name. We Iraqis in the democratic wings of the Iraqi opposition call it a secular federal democratic Iraq based on the (INAUDIBLE) in which the rights of the minority, be that minority a whole community of people or a single eccentric person, are protected. I consider this dimension of democracy in the future Iraq the (INAUDIBLE) and the protection of rights, to be more important even than elections, which will come later after the protections I have alluded to have been cemented in the new structure of the state.
Some of us inside this democratic wing of the Iraqi opposition will go even further than what I've just said. We will argue that it should be a federal democratic Iraq and a demilitarized one. The (INAUDIBLE) say we positively want to choose (INAUDIBLE) people but as an act of choice to have a future Iraq demilitarized. And we say that it must be this new future democratic state of Iraq not be an ethnically-based state as Iraqi states have been in the past.
This enterprise, this ambitious and profoundly political definition of victory has been spelled out, like I said, by President Bush and Vice President Cheney in recent months. It has been spelled out carefully and elaborately.
I say to you that history will judge this war to have been a great turning point for the better in the affairs of the Middle East. If and only if the President and his Cabinet stick resolutely, doggedly even, to this idea for this democratic vision of a secular federal and democratic Iraq. Even if the President has to go into this enterprise alone, which is of course is not the case, the judgment of the world of history will overwhelm his critics the day after. Critics who are too short sighted for reasons of interest, intellectual laziness, and sheer lack of political imagination to understand the far reaching nature of what this President is about to do.
Now arriving at such clarity of intent, such precise definition of what victory means in this coming war in the democratic Iraq, was not an easy thing. It was not an easy thing for the United States government and has been coming to us slowly in stages. It has traversed stages that have traversed more than one administration and it has come under heavy attack throughout both from within and from without U. S. administration. Today, I genuinely believe, having spent a week of intense discussions with various officials inside the United States government, having come out of (INAUDIBLE) Iraq, where (INAUDIBLE) at the conference of the Iraq opposition and spent some two months there, that we are today and by "we" I mean both the leadership of the government of these United States and that of the Iraqi opposition are closer to the kind of clarity of political intent and definition of victory in the way in which I have talked about it.
We are closer than we have ever been before. Needless to say, there are still problems to face. For instance, there is still the issue of exactly how to go about building a democratic Iraq. Does one do so, for instance, from the idea that the lowest common denominator of Iraqi politics is what one should be reaching to. By way, for instance, of reaching to individuals who may wish to move in this direction that are buried somehow or still close in some ways to the institutions that have (INAUDIBLE) inside Iraq (INAUDIBLE) party and in (INAUDIBLE) and other repressive institutions of the state.
Or does one do so as (INAUDIBLE) build democracy by way of aligning with, favoring even, the democrats among the Iraqis (INAUDIBLE) by the very nature of things exist in public only (INAUDIBLE). This is a discussion that is still going on.
There is for instance still an uncertainty about dealing with the elective leadership of the Iraqi opposition, but that too is something that I found is changing. We democrats need American support. We're asking for American political and military liaison officers in (INAUDIBLE) where the forces of the opposition today are gathering and preparing to enter Baghdad cities, hopefully even before the American soldiers entered them.
We need resources to get on with our work and time is very short and of the essence. Not enough coordination has gone on between the Iraqi opposition perhaps in part through faults of its own and the U.S. administration also in part through faults of its own. The point is, that we are all on the right track now, I believe. We need Iraqi field officers of the opposition to liaise with General Franks and we have already several hundred Iraqis beginning to join the enterprise of General Gardner, (INAUDIBLE), he's no longer General, in the civil and reconstruction efforts that are going to be going on in Iraq on a really massive and wide scale.
We also have, let me face it and be honest with you, problems within the Iraqi opposition itself. For instance, in (INAUDIBLE) we have created just a month ago a leadership committee of some six people along with some 14 operational committees. But, we amongst ourselves have not yet resolved the question of executive decision making. Everything has to be negotiated and worked out through consensus. We (INAUDIBLE) still yet have to achieve the task of creating a functioning executive responsible to this leadership committee. We also need to expand the Iraqi opposition. We have clear ideas for that. They were discussed and developed at the opposition conference. They've been worked out in documents that some of us have worked on and they are being discussed today with officials of the United States government as precisely how to go about doing that. Perhaps in the question and answer period, if you wish to take up this side of your question, we could get into more details.
In short, what I'm trying to say is that we have both in the United States government, it seems to me, and the Iraqi opposition come a long way from where we were only a few months back. Iraqis in large numbers are today joining Jay Gardner's civil authority team in Kuwait, even as I speak. Colleagues of mine. Others are putting together teams of people who are going to help give (INAUDIBLE) the various ministries. Some 100, 150 Iraqis are today being organized and committing themselves to doing that effort.
In my discussions it is my understanding that the United States government has committed itself to the following items: a very thorough and necessary prerequisites for democracy in Iraq and that is, if I might list them, as follows. And this does, if I might say, this is something that the opposition is in agreement with fully and totally.
Firstly an extensive (INAUDIBLE) program of all Iraqi authorities and ministries. Secondly, a complete dismantling of the security services of the regime, leaving only the regular police force intact. Thirdly, to form and possibly even decommissioning of the Iraqi army, post-liberation, with the possible use of parts of that army for the sake of the reconstruction of Iraq. Fourth, a dismantling of the forces of the republican guard and five, a gradual transfer of authority to an Iraqi interim authority that will be created out of the existing Iraqi opposition. These are the essential steps that we need to be able to begin the constitutional process that we will ourselves be undertaking inside Iraq the day after liberation.
We have a constitutional commission and (INAUDIBLE), we have detailed plans of how to go about having a discussion over a constitution within a body that will be essentially a kind of constituent assembly who's existence will largely be devoted to discussing the future constitution. We wish to make of the constitution a launching pad for the recreation of civil society in Iraq. In other words, as Iraq, we want to create structures that will allow Iraqis to have opinions and we actively encourage them to have opinions on the future of their country. Those structures will be linked with the constituency assembly and linked with a specialized commission of experts who were put together the first draft, which will be submitted to this assembly.
This process of engaging society as a whole in its own future, or engaging it once again in the idea of a permanent constitution, something Iraqis have essentially forgotten about because they have not had a permanent constitution since 1958, is a beginning, it seems to me, of creating the kind of civil society that we hope to see flourish in Iraq once again.
I think I'll stop here and leave the rest up to your questions. Thank you very much.
ELEANA BENADOR: Thank you Kanan. Okay, we should start with the questions. Please raise your hands and make a brief question (INAUDIBLE) and let's start.
(QUESTIONER): Vice President Cheney yesterday said that he expects that American forces will be greeted as liberators and I wonder if you could tell us if you agree with that and how you think they'll be greeted and also what you meant you said before that some Iraqi opposition groups might be in Baghdad even before American forces?
KANAN MAKIYA: I most certainly do agree with that. As I told the President on January 10th, I think they will be greeted with sweets and flowers in the first months and simply have very, very little doubts that that is the case.
This is a remarkable situation in which the population of a country that's about to have a war waged over its head positively wants the war while all kinds of other countries don't for one reason or another. That should tell us a lot about this war and about the future (INAUDIBLE) which I think is desufficiently emphasized.
As in regards to what the opposition can do inside the Iraqi cities, its resources are great. There are networks of contacts that have been cultivated over many, many years. We expect that they will be working, they already are, and precisely how and in what ways it would not be wise to go into.
KANAN MAKIYA: Well, I just answered the first part of your question. Yes, I do think that that's how the American soldiers will be received. Regarding the Observer article, let me say that I like the opposition as a whole do not favor an extended period of military occupation and upon my return, I have had extensive meetings and it is clear that whatever the status of that original idea that was (INAUDIBLE), it is clear that that is not what the United States is going to do. I also was worried that the commitments to the (INAUDIBLE) and democracy may be tarnished by association with the existing structures of the (INAUDIBLE) party inside Iraq and I am now assured that the United States intends to dismantle those structures. Those two points alone give me great, great confidence. I think we're on the right track. I think we have made enormous progress and we are beginning now to work closely with the United States government in ways that I wish had happened several months ago, six months ago or whatever. But better late than never.
RICHARD PERLE: Yes. Some people took that literally. Of course, it wasn't intended literally. It was metaphorical. It was a reference to the lack of care with which he has reported. That story is full of innuendo, statements are attributed to people that were not in fact made by the people to whom they are attributed. I have no apology to make to Mr. Hirsch. None whatsoever.
Well, I don't believe there was a conflict in Dr. Kissinger's case. I don't think any conflict was demonstrated in Dr. Kissinger's case. And there's certainly no conflict in my case either. Well, you'll have to ask Dr. Kissinger that.
RICHARD PERLE: Well, clearly it has not been possible to achieve a consensus in the United Nations on how to proceed with respect to Iraq. I don't' think we should be surprised by that. Sometimes the impression is created that the United Nations and in particular the Security Council renders dispassionate judgments about what is best for the international community.
That isn't really what the Security Council does. It is fundamentally a political institution in which the country is given an opportunity to devote to (INAUDIBLE) for a vote consistent with what they believe to be the national interests of their countries. For the permanent members, those interests were sometimes going to be perceived differently for much of the history of the United Nations. It has not been possible to get a consensus on issues of war and peace. And in fact, I think there were only two instances in which the Security Council of the United Nations took an action in connection with the question of war and peace. The first was Korea in 1951 or 52, and that was only possible because the Soviets were boycotting the U.N. at the moment. A mistake they never repeated thereafter. And the second was the first Gulf War, which was such a clear and dramatic case of aggression across the national border that if the U. N. is there for any purpose, it had to respond to that.
What we are seeing in today's world is a security environment that's radically different from what was anticipated at the time of the founding of the United Nations. Which was, after all, the reaction to World War II and the thrust of the U.N. was to assure that aggression across national borders would not again occur and the Security Council was there to act collectively in the event that it did.
But the threats today, the situations today that have led to death and destruction, are very often do not involve aggression across national borders. Bosnia didn't. And Kosovo didn't. So the U.N. is ill-equipped, the Security Council is ill-equipped to deal with today's threats and it is ill-equipped to protect people today who are most vulnerable, like Muslims in Bosnia.
And so we need to re-think the role of the United Nations. It does important work with respect to food and culture, agriculture, medicine and the like. But as a means of protecting people who are in danger, whether they are Bosnian Muslims or Iraqis who disagree with Saddam Hussein, for that purpose the U.N. is simply not the appropriate institution.
KANAN MAKIYA: Let me tell you the plan that we have in the opposition that was discussed in (INAUDIBLE) that we have worked up in transition to the (SOUNDS LIKE: MOXIE) document and that I discussed that in length last week with various people in the U.S. government, and that relates to the latter part of your question, how to expand the Iraqi opposition.
As you know, coming out of the London conference, since 65 delegates were emerged as a kind of committee, that (INAUDIBLE) and (INAUDIBLE) 55 of them, were able to make it. And that created structures at the beginning, from the London conference, this body was structureless, formless. We gave it terms of reference and we gave it a structure of 14 committees and a leadership group of six people, four of whom were there and two of whom are not.
Now the idea is that that 65 reconvenes inside Iraq day after, as soon as it is practicable to do so and expands. The mechanisms of expansion are three possibilities. We haven't sorted out which one would be most appropriate. Expands to about 150, 200 people. This body would then be the equivalent of a constitutional convention or a constituent assembly. It would be a sounding board, not the final arbitrator, but simply a sounding board for the ideas that are going to be developed for a future constitution of Iraq.
Now in order for it to do that job effectively, it requires representativeness. So here's the place, inside this body, call it the constitutional convention, that representation is important. And there are options. There are different ways of expanding the group of 65 to 150, 200 are one, a cooperation principle of some kind; two, regional representatives from the different governments, say three to four members of each governor joining the body, we would then have country-wide participation; or three, the use of local elections to both elect officials at the local level, mayors of cities and local governments, etc., and to fill the remaining spots.
Notice in the mechanism of expansion, you now have an external opposition merging with the people inside the country to form a body that is representative of both. That's very important. Now this, just as the body of six, or the leadership of six, emerged out of the meeting in (INAUDIBLE) in 65. So too will additional members of the leadership committee arise in the newly convened body of 150, 200 people or so, that would need to gain in Iraq. Now I can't give you numbers and exactly how, but it would be a voting process.
This body would then be master of its own self, so to speak. It would not, members come from this or that party and they will do what their parties ask them to do, I suppose. But this body will act as a debating chamber for the ideas that will be put to it by a constitutional commission, a group of experts that will put together a draft. The document will be batted backwards and forwards. All of this will take place under the authority of an internal Iraqi administration authority. And eventually, a draft document will emerge out of this give and take between these two bodies, the committee of experts, let's call it that. And the assembly, which will be put to a referendum. And then the beginnings of permanent and legitimate government should be possible.
We have an additional issue; that is how to create an executive out of the leadership group which will not be expanded, say it might be eight, nine, 10 people. I can't judge at this point. So obviously such a group cannot function by itself. We worked up a proposal for that. We chose not to put that to the vote in (INAUDIBLE) for various reasons, but the ideas are in play and are in works.
What other authority will the leadership council, especially of this country, constitutional convention take up? Well, there are some, as I've already mentioned, there's going to be a massive effort of dismantling of existing structures, so there will have to be a re-building of new institutions; police, security and military. That process I think, this is not decided, should be under the edicts of new interim Iraqi authority and would look to that taking place in that fashion.
Also ministry. There are various ministries that are going to be easier or harder to (INAUDIBLE), if I might use that awkward expression. The ministry of agriculture is not a problem. Not likely to be a big problem. But the ministry of education is a serious problem. There you have a whole, very complex set of issues to undo and to make sure defense is also an interior issue, are all very complex ministries to (INAUDIBLE).
So there will be a gradual transfer of ministries to this interim Iraqi authority. Let me say that it's very clear to me that it is not the intention of the United States to stay as a military government or to stay in control of Iraqi affairs. It is its deepest desire of American officials for this interim Iraqi authority to take on these functions as are necessary and it is simply a matter of when we are ready to receive them and when they are ready to give them up. So it's going to be a process. I think it's going to be measured in months, not in years.
KANAN MAKIYA: It is my understanding.
RICHARD PERLE: Well, I think there were three questions there. With respect to the Department of State, I don't know who is the author of the document to which you refer. I would be astonished if what is said to be in that document, I haven't read it, reflects the views of the Secretary of State. I think there is broad agreement with the United States government that we are going to Iraq to liberate that country and the legacy of the liberation must be a democratic government. I don't there's any dispute about that and I think the disparaging remarks about the potential for democracy in Iraq and in other Arab countries is not a view held by the Secretary of State or any one senior in the Department of State.
There may be people who are cynical or believe for whatever reason that Arabs are incapable of democracy. They certainly wouldn't put it that way. And I don't believe that view has any official sanction whatsoever.
With respect to the resuscitation of Mohamar Quadafi. I hope that isn't right. I have no direct knowledge of it. To the best of my knowledge, Quadafi continues to be involved in support for terrorism. He's doing other things that are highly objectionable and I would hope that we wouldn't do anything that would make him look better than he is. We have made the mistake of helping Saddam Hussein to look better than he was during the war between Iraq and Iran and every time we've departed from our principles for expediency, we've lived to regret it and I hope we don't do that with respect to Libya.
Finally with respect to (INAUDIBLE) I don't know (INAUDIBLE) and I wouldn't pre-judge her ability to carry out a diplomatic assignment. But I have no doubt that with the policies of the United States government are clear and I have no reason to think that people assigned to support those policies will not implement them faithfully.
RICHARD PERLE: I don't think I would use the term "next target." It's obviously a very complicated question and we are understandably concerned at the prospect that North Korea may now begin to produce nuclear material, that is weapons-grade material and possibly even a nuclear weapons and further concerned that if they were to do that, they might offer those on a world market where they know there are buyers or potential buyers. So we'd have to come to terms with that.
But there are a variety of ways of approaching it and my impression is, and I have no current direct knowledge of this, my impression is that we are talking to other countries who have an influence on decisions made in North Korea and are hopeful that the North Koreans can be discouraged from pursuing what would be a pretty reckless and dangerous policy.
KANAN MAKIYA: I haven't read that article, so I can't really comment specifically. I do hope that the example of the democratic Iraq will be infectious throughout the region. And I think that is a deeply desirable and good thing. I don't see it being a bit a matter of war. I see it a matter of example. It simply is almost certainly going to be the case that a democratic Iraq would boost the chances of the (INAUDIBLE) and democrats everywhere in the Arab world. Even in places where reforms have begun and even especially in places where they haven't. So I would expect a democratic movement organization that are currently now in Syria, Palestinians, elsewhere in the Arab world to rise up and be encouraged by what is taking place.
It was the experience of the last Gulf war actually that in spite of the opposition to the war and much of the Arab and Muslim world that resembles the kind of talk that's (INAUDIBLE) today immediate after effect of that war was to create very healthy discussions inside the Arabic press, I'm thinking particularly of a series of articles that emerged from (INAUDIBLE) on the concept and idea of toleration. You had a flurry of articles, literally going on for weeks and weeks from every kind of person imaginable, liberals, Islamists, nationalists, ex- this, that and the other, communists even, as to what we an idea of toleration was. Whether we had it or didn't have it in the Muslim tradition, how we could go about founding it. I'm talking about the idea as formulated by (INAUDIBLE), the classical idea which sticks so much to (INAUDIBLE) the religious wars in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. You had a truly invigorating discussion that went on for two years at least.
Now, I expect, use this as a small example of what I expect to be an enormously enlarged process the day after, well, maybe not the day right after liberation, but as success begins to become apparent in Iraq. As democracy begins to root itself, spreading throughout the region and there's nothing more powerful than that. So it's not a matter of carrying the war on as it's a matter of influencing by example. I think the rest of the question is Richard's.
RICHARD PERLE: With respect to the article in (INAUDIBLE) which I haven't seen, that report is completely false. I don't' think I've ever given a briefing of slides in my life. I came in for some criticism for that when I was in the Department of Defense. So no, there is absolutely no truth to that and that, in fact, that very brief summary doesn't even reflect my view.
With respect to France, I think it's a great tragedy that the French president has chosen to exercise France's veto as the world contemplates liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein. As that I believe is how this will be regarded when this war is over. And the world will have an opportunity to judge the results of this action and I trust it will also judge the positions that were taking for this war. And the implications of those positions.
It's a tragedy because of (INAUDIBLE) France's long tradition of support for individual freedom. It's a tragedy because I don't believe it reflects that sentiments of the French assembly. I participated in enough discussions with French officials in recent weeks to think, I can't prove it, of course, if you had a secret vote in the assembly (INAUDIBLE) that you would not get a majority in favor of a veto. That was just yesterday on a BBC program where a French parliamentarian, a member of Chirac's own party, deplored the fact that this veto was going to take place.
And it is more than a veto. Because the effect of this veto has been to make it impossible to get a clear rendering from other governments. After all, if it's going to be vetoed in the end, why should some of these smaller countries stick their neck out and support an action that is ultimately not going to be approved by the United Nations.
So President Chirac has done a great deal of damage by exercising this French veto and I don't believe it reflects the underlying sentiment of the French people. Although there's clearly a lot of anti-war sentiment.
As for continuing to go to France, I have great affection for the country, for it's traditions. I think this veto is an aberration with respect to those traditions. I have many friends in France and so, of course, I expect to continue to go to France.
RICHARD PERLE: Yes. I (INAUDIBLE) is quite right to observe that you cannot have an event on the scale of the removal of one of history's great tyrants without, what the British would call, knock-on effects. We will be knock-on effects.
I think that this will inspire Iranians who are already in the millions unhappy with their government. Unhappy with, they voted for reform and the reformers are unable to carry out reform because they don't really have the power in Iran. The power is in the hands of the Mulahs and the Iranians may well be inspired further. Because there are already indications of it, to bring pressure for democratic change in Iran.
The Iranians and the revolutionary (INAUDIBLE) in particular, will almost certainly try to exploit the circumstances of war for their own purposes and no one should be surprised if we find Iranians or Iranian supported elements looking to attack Americans. They talk among themselves about trying to create another Beruit. No one succeeded in that, but they may well try.
Ultimately, a demonstration of the capacity of the Iraqi people after a quarter century of tyranny to build a democratic institutions is going to have profound consequences throughout the region.
KANAN MAKIYA: Of course I agree with you and having just come from northern Iraq, hundreds of publications of media outlets that exist there. First thing, there's not a house that you go to that doesn't have a satellite dish on it, there are internet cafes all over the place. In the city of (INAUDIBLE), this is the kind of instance first stab at the issue that must take place, post liberation.
I expect there to be some immediate release of all laws that restrict media and the privatization of these outlets. There are Iraqi media professionals now starting to work with J. Gardner's office. Laws are being drafted even as I talk, Iraqi experts and showing them how to establish a free press right away. So there is going to be a flourishing of media outlets, I think very, very shortly afterwards.
People like ourselves see it as the front line of defense for democracy inside Iraq and much thinking has gone into that. We actually have some ideas spelled out in the document that we worked on earlier and I expect to see that taking place very soon.
KANAN MAKIYA: You're dealing in uncharted water, at the moment. My own vision of that is that Iraq would be a country at peace with its neighbors. The exact opposite of the Saddam Hussein regime. We do not seek to have our way with force in any field or endeavor or with relation to any country.
I would also seek to support democratic forces inside Iran. The folks like Richard. And would see Iraq being a beacon for them as well and as far as relations with Israel, I think you will find a very different mind set at work here because you are dealing with a country who's leaders are not shaped in the mold of Arab/Israeli politics as much as the rest of the region and that is a good thing. So I expect there will be a fresh way of thinking about this question coming out of Iraq.
But overwhelmingly this is a country that will have to deal with its own problems, its own reconstruction and its legacy of pain and suffering and that is almost certainly going to be the primary focus of any future government for many years to come.
KANAN MAKIYA: About the anti war protest, which is an important question, I think somewhere along the line, we all went a little bit wrong in the way presenting this war to a world at large and what this war was about.
It is a pity that Resolution 1441 does not refer to human rights monitors as many of us wanted and as was inspired by President Bush's speech on September 12 at the United Nations. That had (INAUDIBLE) had it been possible to draft a resolution that had some of the elements of that speech in it, I think the issue of this war would have been not one in the eyes of the world at large, not one of things versus (INAUDIBLE) war appearing to be only about weapons of mass destruction, those are very important issues. I don't for one second wish to underestimate that.
But when you deal with something as big as a war, people naturally want it to be about larger things than just getting rid of these objects. The liberation of Iraq, democracy in Iraq, is a larger such goal. Human rights issues, the fact that the kind of abuse that this regime has inflicted on its own population, on neighboring countries, is such a goal. Those were not featured in Resolution 1441 and they did not become part of the discourse as a consequence. We lost morale high ground, unfortunately, on this question. I don't think we had to. But this is now a matter of history.
The overwhelming majority of those demonstrators do not support the current regime that exists in Baghdad, even though their actions are objectively speaking in support of it. All that needs to be done to win them over to what is about to take place is the realization that there has been a war been waged in this part of the world for a very, very long time. It's called the war that Saddam is waging against the Iraqi people. I might count some 1.5 million Iraqis have died violently in one form or another since 1980. That is a war in disproportions.
This is a war to stop that war. This is an event that is about to happen to end that suffering. Now when you present it that way, I'm (INAUDIBLE) see demonstrations in Europe and elsewhere of that size and scale that you mentioned.
My own personal role, I don't know. I will go back, I will (INAUDIBLE) very interested in the constitutional side of what's going to happen. I'm interested in the permanent structures of the (INAUDIBLE) state afterwards. I hope to play a role to contribute in those areas in particular.
RICHARD PERLE: I think American policy toward Iraq, toward Saddam Hussein is very much the product of the President's own thinking. For years and years I've listened to people speculate on who influenced the President to do this or that, it was true in the Reagan administration. And in particular when presidents depart from the conventional wisdom, there's always a desire to find out who is responsible for that. In my experience, it's been the president himself. And I believe that is very much the case here.
On the 11th of September, on the day that the United States was attacked, 2001, the President said, we will not distinguish between those who have committed this act in the states that harbor them. That was the beginning of a radical shift in American policy. It was prior to that that our effort to deal with the threat to this country, the terrorist threat to this country, had been confined to the methods and institutions of law enforcement. And no previous American president had said that we should take the war to enemy territory. To those countries that give sanctuary, help, support to terrorists.
And the President broke with all pass precedents on the very day that we were attacked and I believe that this war is an outgrowth of that philosophy expressed in the idea that we must not allow the worst regimes and the worst weapons to be combined, as they are in Saddam Hussein. Because the President is mindful of the fact that the next attack on this country could be with a weapon of mass destruction. Iraq has been harboring terrorists as long as Saddam Hussein has been there. So this is very much his policy.
Bill Crystal and Bob Kagen and others have been writing in support of these views in many places and for a long time. And it's flattering to people who give free advice to believe that their advice has been instrumental. I can't tell you what the President has read, what he has heard, what he's seen. But I can tell you that without a lot of prompting, he came to the right conclusion on September 11, 2001. And everything we've seen since is an elaboration of that insight.
RICHARD PERLE: I think what the United States and the United Kingdom and Spain have concluded is that in the face of a certain French veto, it will not be possible to gain the approval of the Security Council for an action that would, in fact, enforce prior Security Council resolutions.
And so they are prepared to act in support of those resolutions without a further resolution of the Security Council. This is not the first time this has happened. It happened in Kosovo. And if you think back to Kosovo, everyone understood that because of the historic relationship between Russia and Serbia, the Russians would veto any U.N. resolution calling for the use of force to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. Everyone understood that.
And so there is very little debate when France said, well, it doesn't matter whether we have a U.N. resolution, a Security Council resolution, the right thing to do is to come to the defense of the Muslims of Kosovo, who might otherwise be destroyed. And so we did that. And there wasn't an awful lot of complaint about it at the time.
So there's not an (INAUDIBLE) there's a recent precedent. Since the inception of the United Nations as I was saying earlier, there are only two occasions that I'm aware of in which the Security Council has authorized the use of force and there has been an awful lot of use of force to accomplish objectives that most of the world would agree with, Bosnia being another recent example.
So I don't think we should make too much of the fact that the U.N. mechanism on this occasion proved to be inadequate to the task. It simply was that. One can take an extreme legalistic view of this. And I think, by the way, there's lots of room to debate the international law on it, but one can take an extremely legalistic view and say, this is a terrible thing that some countries are acting without yet another Security Council resolution. In the real world in which we live in, the Security Council was paralyzed. It was paralyzed in precisely the way the Russians paralyzed it with respect to Kosovo and so there's really nothing terribly exceptional about the decision not to submit this to the Security Council.
KANAN MAKIYA: I hold my own view on this question and don't claim that it's shared by the whole opposition but I think on one thing the opposition is agreed is that we need a federal structure in Iraq and we feel in part because of the Kurdish question, but in part, because we want to decentralize the kind of state that has created such abuses has come out to a very centralized situation that's unhealthy in all kinds of ways.
I personally hold that such a state should not be based on ethnicity in any way, shape or form. Now if I tell my Kurdish colleague that sure, there's an Iraqi Kurdistan, maybe it's one, maybe it's two problems, that's a technicality, but that it should not be defined in ways that it's almost certainly would a region dominated by a majority of Kurds. But it should not be politically defined on the basis of its Kurdishness or its Kurdish majority.
And similarly, Iraq, as a whole, cannot be what it has always been, an Arab state. In the state that has defined politically as Arab in nature, somehow. Now that is not in any way, shape or form to diminish Kurdishness or Arabness in matters of culture, in matters of cultivation of what that means. History, art, so on and so forth.
No. On the contrary. I suggest it is to emphasize that. I mean, what we are talking about here just as one would have really separate from the state, that is, a secular state in Iraq, and that is not in any way (INAUDIBLE) of Islam, so to matters of nationality should be separate from the state.
The legacy of the (INAUDIBLE) is precisely that they took Arab nationalism and turned it into the founding ideology of the state and that ideology meant that they did not recognize the boundaries of Iraq itself as anything other than artificial. They were constantly straining to break through them, to expand them as the world against Iran followed by the war against Kuwait, and so on.
We need to create a sense of identity that is political identity again, I stress, which is in no way, shape or form a criticism or something that is directed against Kurdishness, Arabness, Turkamanish nationalism or (INAUDIBLE) forms of (INAUDIBLE). We need to create an Iraq, a state that is above all Iraqi, politically speaking. The passport that one carries is Iraqi that wants citizenship is Iraqi and one equal before all aspects of the law regardless of what one's ethnic or sectarian (INAUDIBLE).
So I personally think that argues for an (INAUDIBLE) Iraqi state. Whether we succeed in winning that is a matter of politics in the future.
KANAN MAKIYA: No it's not (INAUDIBLE). It's a very serious effort to, Iraq is only, it's not going to be possible for Americans to know the ins and outs of individual ministries, cultural nuances and so on. Only Iraqis can do that.
So the effort that's going on is a double effort. On the one hand, individual Iraqis, (INAUDIBLE) Iraqis as you call them, are joining the Pentagon effort. On the other hand, they might (INAUDIBLE) the Iraqi opposition has its corollary for these people and will be pursuing the (INAUDIBLE) efforts on its own in developing programs for that.
So it is a real effort to both identify people that perhaps are too tainted by the past to continue working in those ministries and to identify individuals that might be held accountable and furthermore to perhaps identify individuals who it would not be wise to include in public service for any extended period of time. Also to make suggestions for the ways in which Iraqi ministries can be organized and in relation to this question of (INAUDIBLE).
I can tell you from personal, close knowledge of their situation that it is not (INAUDIBLE) and how deep it will actually go is a question mark. I don't know at the moment. Whether it will go deep enough is another question. But as these ministries pass on to the interim Iraqi authority, I am certain that the effort to be (INAUDIBLE) will continue.
This is a very big cultural overhaul. It's not just about individuals. It's not even about targeting people to be held accountable. It's about transforming the fundamentals of how politics is organized. It's a process that needs to go into professional association, news groups, women's organizations, juvenile organizations, student organizations and so on. It's a deeply penetrating process and at the moment, the American effort is (INAUDIBLE) containing itself to the ministries which is as it should be, I think. But I'm sure there will be a parallel Iraqi effort that will go deeper and continue for a while.
KANAN MAKIYA: I don't see the connection with the (INAUDIBLE) Republic, but I wouldn't call what's about to take place a U.S. style government. I mean it is an Iraqi form of democracy. Democracy for me is the universal attribute and values which belongs to everybody. It may have been invented and practiced in different parts of the world and for that of course there is a historical debt there.
But it is something that applies to all people in all times. And we are trying to engineer an Iraqi version of that and which federalism for instance, becomes very important. Not because of its association with the United States, but because it deals with problems, abuses that have taken place over a long period of time, and the nature of the state itself.
KANAN MAKIYA: I think it should be separated from politics and we're working on that basis. And there are ultimate points of views. And I'm sure that what we'll end up with (INAUDIBLE) of state. What we are (INAUDIBLE) what may be an argument for a long time, is whether a little formula is stuck in the constitution or not, that (INAUDIBLE) is the (INAUDIBLE) the state, that's what it's down to at the moment. There's no doubt whatsoever that we're not dealing with anything remotely looking like an Islamic Republic but we're dealing with a western style democracy. If that's what you meant, yes.
In which (INAUDIBLE) separate from policy. But we're also trying to find ways that are within the constitution for funding religious activities that are not controlled by politicians. And all religious activities, be they Christian, Muslim, maybe even in the future a resurrection of the Jewish (INAUDIBLE) that part (INAUDIBLE) that has played a very important role over the years.
So we are thinking about creative ways of funding religious activities, but keeping them, sort of speak, separate from government itself. And here again, you're talking about a what will end up being a uniquely Iraqi formula for all of this. How it will all work out is not something I can comment on at the moment.
ELEANA BENADOR: Thank you very much for this unique opportunity to have you both with us and to talk at length for all of us. I just want to say that we will have a transcript of this session in about two hours. It should be at our website, www.benadorassociates.com. You can reach us through this website. Thank you very much for being with us.