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This event mostly centers on Asia but also touches on specific points such as Iraq, Iran, the rise of India and other elements in that continent, and also talks about American policy. In fact, many people here on this panel could elaborate on American policy in that part of the world.  What I would like to do now is to turn the floor to questions and comments, in effect, to have our panelists, all non-Israeli, to hear some Israeli comments on the same issues. I invite the Israelis here either to make their observations or pose questions.

Audience:       My question is whether the economic growth of China also goes with an improvement of the social and economic situation of the individuals, of the population of China, mainly the non-urban population.  My impression is that the economic growth of China is especially within, only within the urban area. Can you comment about that?

Blackwill         It isn’t only within the urban area. If you go out into Western China, there are modern big cities out there. But you’re right that they’re having a very hard time with this enormous population in spreading the wealth and you’re also right that the coastal area that has all filled up is an issue of enormous preoccupation to the Chinese leadership, since a half a billion people live out there. Also, let’s relate to something that Stan Roth said- it is one of the reasons that many strategists believe that unless Taiwan triggers a Cross Straits crisis, the Chinese will seek to avoid such a confrontation because of the wish to concentrate on their domestic economic development in order to be able to manage the politics. Because their greatest worry is that this economic gap between the rich and the poor, the cities and the outlined areas will trigger a political result which will challenge the regime.

Audience        I wonder if we may have some information about the problem still existing between India and China concerning areas that were occupied by China that it still holds.  We heard about Taiwan, we heard about Kashmir, we heard about other areas, but it seems that this is still a problem that could prevent the peaceful resolution of conflicts in this area.  So please.

Gen. Malik:     Yes, the problem continues to exist but there have been 2-3 major developments that I can mention.  Firstly, we signed two agreements; one in ’93 and one in ’96.  And these two agreements have prevented any fighting along the disputed area.  Secondly, this has been very deliberately kept in the background, on the back burner.  And they’re also, not to say that there has been no progress, …on the boundary issue at the bureaucratic level.  But now this has been raised at the political level.  So there has been progress.  It has been very slow but very deliberate; this is not a point on which there is much emphasis.  It’s gone to the back burner where we will keep trying to solve it.

Amb. Blackwill:          I agree entirely with General Malik about the approach of the Indian government, but I would broaden it.  I think Indian strategists, and by the way India is a country, and there aren’t so many in the world like it, that has a rich and large body of geopolitical strategies.  That was one of the reasons that it was great fun to be there. That and the Bengal tigers. But anyway, what I would say is that most Indian strategists believe that India can manage situations with Pakistan and that if it comes to it, the Indian army, a million-man army, can deal with Pakistan.  But, Indian strategists wonder exactly about the question that Stan Roth raised, which is what kind of China will India be dealing with in 15 years and that preoccupies the Indian strategists. 

Audience:       I was just wondering for General Malik, there was some concern in Israel, we saw, with the rise of Erdogan’s government in Turkey, that the strategic ties that we had developed over the last decade with Turkey have been harmed.  And there was some concern here in Israel when the Congress party won the latest election that there would be a movement back, a scaling down of Israel’s burgeoning alliance with India.  Could you comment on how deep the acceptance of Israel is in India and how sensitive is it to changes in government there?

Gen. Malik:     Well the kind of developments cooperation that I have indicated doesn’t show that there’s going to be any change in our policies toward Israel.  As far as I can see, that the policy towards Israel from India is continuing, notwithstanding the change in the government that has taken place.  In some quarters, there has been a feeling that perhaps the Congress Party is more inclined towards the Palestinians, but I don’t think there is really an immediate change in the approach towards the Israel Palestine project.  It has been like that and I think our friends in Israel also quite understand that.  But what you have to see is that the graph as far as Indo-Israeli cooperation is concerned has been moving very rapidly and very fast.

Audience:       Can you please tell us something about the alternative energy sources, in the estimation of the administration today?

Max Boot:       Well I think it is the case that we’re reducing our reliance on Middle Eastern oil and we’re certainly exploiting other energy resources around the world. Unfortunately a lot of them are not in the most stable countries.  They tend to be countries like Nigeria, Russia or Venezuela.  So you know, out of the frying pan, into the fire.  That’s a major problem. And, you know, people talk about America achieving energy independence and I certainly think that we should try to free ourselves as much as possible from our reliance upon the Saudis because that does place some major obstacles on the way towards really turning the screws on the Saudis- if they’re in charge of our economy then it’s rather difficult to get tough with them.  And I certainly would be in favor of that and I think there are things that we can do that would be unpalatable to all sides in the American political process.  Things like opening up the Alaska national wildlife refuge to oil drilling or using more nuclear power, which would not be very popular on the left, or at the same time raising gasoline taxes, which would not be very popular on the right.   And I think  that these are the things we need to do in order to increase our energy independence and I don’t know if we’re going to be able to do that because it takes a huge amount of political pull to overcome those obstacles.  But I think we have to be realistic about what we can accomplish because even if we do manage to reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil, we’re not going to reduce the dependence of Japan, we’re not going to reduce the dependence of Western Europe.  They’re still going to remain very much dependent and so that’s still going to give a huge lever to the Saudis and others to use against the world economy of which we are such an integral part.  So I think, you know, we’re not going to reduce the strategic importance of the Middle East anytime in the near future, even if we do manage to reduce our own short term dependence on Middle Eastern oil.  Therefore, I think it makes it all the more imperative to try to change the region instead of simply trying to run away from it or throw up our hands, because I think we have to deal with it.  That’s a reality for years to come. Even if we admit higher prices for energy, which I think we should, through gasoline taxes, it’s only going to be a very partial lessening of dependence.  There is still going to be a very powerful and volatile region. 

Audience:       My name is Leonard Orenstein from the Netherlands.  I was listening to Mr. Max Boot who told us that the policy of President Bush, that there was a new policy after 9/11.  And then I was immediately thinking of what Mr. Blackwill said.  He said, I don’t want to look at the past. But maybe there are some lessons learned.  Because if we look at the policy of President Bush, then there is one thing in the strategical way of looking at the world that is very interesting, looking and rogue states and looking at terrorism.  And do you still believe, Mr. Blackwill, that preemptive strike policy will have a future? 

Amb. Blackwill:          I’d point out that we attacked Afghanistan not preemptively; Al-Qaeda, based in Afghanistan, attacked us.  So that was not an example.  The only thing is that preemption is a very old idea in American strategic thought and I just would remind you that NATO had a doctrine for 35 years for first use of nuclear weapons, which was to preempt a possible Soviet use, among other things.  So, yes, I think this idea’s been around the American strategic community for many many years, decades, and it will remain.  And I would point out, I spent much of the last two and a half months of the presidential campaign on Air Force One with the President, crisscrossing, seeing a lot of America that I hadn’t seen before.  A great part of America.  I would point out that the President’s opponent also endorsed preemption.  Now you could wonder whether he, in fact, would have done it, but he also endorsed preemption because it would be impossible to explain, I think, politically or morally, to the American people that you knew that there was a proximate threat to the United States and you didn’t act against it.

Max Boot:       Just very quickly, I mean, I agree with everything that Ambassador Blackwill just said but I think I also have to admit that, in practical terms, there is certainly going to be a limitation on American preemptive action, given all the problems that we’ve encountered in Iraq.  I don’t think there’s any disagreement in the political process that if there were an Osirak type strike or if there were an attempt to kill leaders of Al-Qaeda, everybody would be completely in support of that.  I think that kind of preemptive air strike, where you’re zapping opponents from long range without much risk to Americans, I think that has overwhelming support.  I think it’s going to be much harder given some of the problems that we’ve encountered in Iraq, especially the lack of weapons of mass destruction.  It’s going to be much harder to muster political support for an all-out military occupation for essentially preemptive reasons of the kind that we’ve undertaken in Iraq.  I think there’s no question that’s going to be a much harder sell, based on the kind of shifting and nebulous evidence that you’re likely to get because you’re never going to get iron-clad proof that some dictator has nuclear weapons or is about to use them – those kinds of scenarios.  So, you know, this is not necessarily a good thing, because I think after 9/11, the pendulum swung one way towards preemption, I think now it’s probably swinging a little bit the other way.  And we may very well pay a heavy price for that.  I mean, when you think about what would have happened in the 1930’s if Britain and France had preempted Hitler in 1936 after the reoccupation of the Rhineland, obviously it would have been a pretty darn good idea to preempt them.  And I think there are a lot of people in the world, a lot of situations in the world, that would benefit from American preemption and I have to admit that there would probably be less likelihood of that happening given  the difficulties we’ve encountered in Iraq, but given that fact that we’re not probably going to belly up for another major military occupation, I think we also have to emphasize the idea of political preemption and acting with other instruments in our policy toolkit, political and diplomatic pressure, and the kind of things that I talked about in the case of Iran, really trying to preempt the nuclear threat through political actions, through covert action, and not through a major military strike.

Audience:       I would like to come back to the question of global terrorism.  I was wondering if, all of you, if you could elaborate a little bit on the question of if you see the war on terrorism about to be lost or about to be won- with Bin Laden still on the run and the setbacks that there have been -Iraq is very a difficult situation, - so I was wondering how you see the war at the moment. 

Dr. Uzi Arad:  While you’re trying to collect your thoughts on this question, let me simply tell our participants here that at 7 P.M. we will have here the Israeli Chief of Staff and I suppose that would be a major question to which he will address himself, at least locally.  And by now, have you collected your thoughts?  General Malik, why don’t you lead?

Gen. Malik:     I think it is really difficult to say that we have either won or lost.  Whatever has happened, the fact is, we have won to the extent that we have initiated action globally against global terrorism.  So, to that extent, I think we have begun the battle, which is a very good thing.  On the other side, one notices today that there are a large number of such groups, called Al-Qaeda, or by some other name, but they exist and they have shown their presence, starting in North Africa and then you have a large number of them in this region- we have a large number of them in South Asia, Indonesia, the Philippines, in all these areas.  They all have a common ideology and they are all different places but what is noticeable is that that they have started the actions on the same team.  The same team is the same that the Purists people and Islamists.  So that is going to take quite some time and I mentioned in my talk about the Central Asian public where, again, you have these problems.  So it’s a long battle which we will have to fight.  A long battle in which we all have to work together.  That’s the most important thing.  Today we have passed couple of resolutions, United Nations Resolutions, Security Council 1373 and there is another one.  But my observation is that we haven’t given teeth to those recognition Security Council resolutions.  So, there is a lot more work to be done in our fight against terrorism.

Amb. Blackwill:       We’re doing well, but that’s not good enough.  First of all, I’d just point out this is an American proposition.  I think most Americans would have said -certainly the American elite- that we would be attacked again in the period after 9/11 and of course, we weren’t.  And that is a testament both to our near term defenses which we worked very hard on, but also to the strategic disruption of the terrorist networks.  So that’s the first point.  Second, on Al-Qaeda itself, which has now dispersed its organization a considerable amount, as General Malik said, the leadership of Al-Qaeda which we keep extremely close track of, as you can imagine, has been decimate since September 11.  Two thirds of them are dead or in custody.  By the way, 60% of those were apprehended or killed in Pakistan.  There is also the issue of South Asia, which hadn’t been mentioned yet.  We are in Iraq facing terror from several hundred foreign terrorists.  But what I would end with is just this proposition.  What we have found with Al-Qaeda with terrorists entering Iraq, with the Southeast Asian phenomenon and so forth, is that these people, before 9/11, were not selling insurance or being primary school teachers.  These people were hardened killers before 9/11, most of them trained in the terrorist camps in Afghanistan.  They left Afghanistan after we took down the Taliban and Al-Qaeda inside Afghanistan.  So, we’re facing them when we find them and doing, I think, pretty well against them.  Let me just say one last thing, as a historian, I don’t believe there’s an analytical way to know how long this is going to take.  It’s my only judgment.  Because what you don’t know is when it tips and moms start saying to 17 year-olds “don’t go out the door anymore”.  And that’s a mystery.  So we have people in the American elite, one particularly prominent person, who says this is going to be an 80-year war.  And we have others who think that if we can reach the back Al-Qaeda and win in Iraq, that’ll have a decisive influence on the terrorist recruitment, which will also be affected by something that Max said was extremely important, which is giving Moslems and especially Arabs another alternative, ideologically, to Islamic extremism and the only one in my opinion, and obviously in Max’s, that is credible is pluralism and democratization.

Dr. Uzi Arad:  Any more questions?  Maybe there is an Israeli here who feels competent enough to answer the question on the battle of terror.  Oh yes there are some, please. 

Audience:       Question to the panel concerning oil in Asia.  Today China, India and, for that matter South Korea and Japan, imported more than 50% of the oil demand for the Middle East.  In 10 years time, even with the pacification in Russian and Caspian oil coming to the Asian Pacific, all these countries will be dependent about 70 % on Middle East oil.  Now how do you see it that this dependency on Middle East oil would affect the policy of the Middle East, and in particular toward Israel, because the dependency on Arab oil would be very, very vital to the growth of their economy in 10-15 years time.

Amb. Blackwill:       Yes is the answer.  You should expect in 10-15 years time, precisely because of this insatiable desire on the part of the Asians for Middle East oil to be acute.  They’re going to be much more involved diplomatically out here.  Did you notice that this was demonstrated during the recent regional conference on Iraq, where you had the G-8 plus China and India wondered why it wasn’t invited?  So that is going to be the case.  If you think about this and, of course, I’m not an oil executive, but think of it this way.  Most Russian oil is going to go to Europe.  If I push out the timeline 10-15 years, much of the Middle East oil will go to Asia and then down further south along those coordinates from Africa and Latin America and our own domestic sources.  The U.S. will get its foreign oil.  So I think there’ll be less U.S. dependency on Middle East oil, if you push the timeline out, depending on the discovery and price of oil, which, of course, if it’s $50, feeds lots of efforts at discovery.  So you’re right, you should get used to a much greater Indian and Chinese interest.  Well, Chinese.  India, as General Malik would say, has been involved out here for a very long time.  In fact, Jaguan Singh, one of my very favorite Indians, once said to me “Well, I see you Americans have gotten interested in Iraq.  We’ve been interested in that part of the world too.  Of course when we first became interested it was called Mesopotamia.”  So the Indians have been here culturally, they have very strong relationship with Iran and cultural ties. So, yes.  We should expect them both to be here in much bigger diplomatic way.

Dr. Uzi Arad:  General Malik?

Gen. Malik:     India is acutely conscious of the question that you raised and lately we have started looking around, all over the world.  In fact, in some places even the extradition rights are being purchased outside.  We have today a Minister whose background is external affairs who is looking after the petroleum amnesty.  So it’s very active, proactively we are looking for alternatives other than the Middle East.  Not to say that we are not dependent. But the other alternatives are also being looked in to.

Daniel Doron:            Isn’t one of the major impediments in the war on terror the widespread convictions among western links that the war on terror cannot be won by force?  That it must always include a political compromise with the terrorists- an assumption, of course, that flies in the face of history because most of the examples that we have where terrorism was vanquished, including a local example, I mean the case of Arab revolt in ’36-’39 here, which the British were determined to do so, managed to vanquish within three months by being rather brutal but effective.

Max Boot:       Well I disagree with you, Daniel, just a little bit.  I agree that we should not underestimate what military force can do against terrorists.  I think Israel has been proving that in the last two years when you’ve been defeating the Intifada through controversial tactics like targeting the Hamas leadership, which I think was an absolutely right thing to do, and which has impaired the ability of Hamas and other terrorist organizations to operate.  I mean I think Israel’s recent example shows that you can achieve a lot through the application of force against terrorists.  But I think you’re also seeing that, ultimately, there has to be a political solution, that force ultimately is not enough and I think that’s generally been the case when I look at successful counter insurgencies whether it’s the United States and the Philippines from 1899-1902 or the British in Malaya from 1948-1960.  In both cases you saw very effective, very focused military efforts to isolate and capture and kill the insurgents by relying upon good information, by taking very severe measures against the insurgents and those who supported them.  But at the same time, you had to hold out a carrot as well as a stick.  You had to offer in both cases a growing autonomy and independence for the people involved, the people of the Philippines or people of Malaya.  In order to wean them away from the terrorists and make cooperating with the U.S. and the British, respectively, more attractive for the populations at large. I think it’s certainly important to capture and kill Palestinian terrorists, but I think ultimately there has to be a political solution to the problems with the Palestinians and likewise in Iraq.  I think it’s vitally important to take Fallujah, I think it’s vitally important to kill Zarqawi and his confederates.  We have to stay after them, it’s absolutely essential to do it.  But it’s not enough.  You also have to create a political process, in which Ambassador Blackwill I think has been quite successful, in helping to nurture it along; and the more successful that is, the more it can drain the support, not of the hard core terrorists, but the more you can drain away the support of the sort of Sunni center in Iraq and isolate the insurgency and get intelligence information and you can go out and capture or kill them.  So I don’t think it’s either force or soft power. You need both hard power and soft power. You need to work them in an effective combination to defeat an insurgency.

Uzi Arad:        Well thank you and with this we conclude this round of questions and answers and we turn our eyes to François Heisbourg, who just arrived.  We all saw him and you are the last on this panel.  Welcome.  You have the advantage of being the last to come so you must have new information and you certainly have a new perspective, that of Europe.  So, please, you can speak from the podium, you can speak from your seat, as you like.  You have 22 minutes. 

 

 

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