The following is an edited version of a discussion held by the Middle East Policy Council on September 23, 1994, at the U.S. Senate Hart Building in Washington, D.C. The Council's president, former Senator George McGovern, was the moderator.
BRUCE RIEDEL is responsible for long-term forecasting on the Middle East at the National Intelligence Council. He was formerly director for Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council.
Let me open with a standard disclaimer: My thoughts today are solely my own. They do not represent the views of either the U.S. government or the U.S. intelligence community. That said, it is a great pleasure to speak to this audience today on the subject of future visions of the Middle East. Part of the pleasure of doing so is because the prospects for the region's future now are better than at any time in recent memory. Indeed, I think it's safe to say that never have the prospects for an Arab-Israeli peace agreement been as bright as they are today.
Unfortunately, it is also clear today that an Arab-Israeli peace process, as important as it is, will not by itself bring a wider regional regime of peace and stability. Already serious threats to regional stability are building in both the eastern and western poles of the Middle East, and there is an increase in weapons of mass destruction proliferation throughout the region. The peace process between Israel and its neighbors is at long last creating the conditions for stability in the eastern Mediterranean. But this will not end the challenges facing U.S. interests and values in the region. Other crises will still require careful management. I want to spend some time today discussing both the reasons for hope and the threats on the horizon. As a career intelligence analyst, I'm going to focus more on trends than on prescriptions for resolving those problems.
Let's begin with the sources for optimism and hope. Historians will undoubtedly long debate why the Arab-Israeli peace process finally began to bear fruit in the 1990s. Clearly many factors were at work, but in my view the single most important factor was the Gulf conflict of 199 91. The coalition's defeat of Iraq in February 1991 opened the road to the Madrid Conference in October 1991. The defeat of the strongest Arab rejectionist state, Iraq, which had led the all-too-successful campaign to isolate Egypt for Camp David in 1979 and 1980, dealt a substantial and hopefully fatal blow to rejectionism. At the same time, the 1991 war's missile attacks on Tel Aviv dramatically signaled to Israelis the urgent necessity of a political settlement. Consequently, from the war a new realism emerged on both sides.
Despite venue and procedural changes, the process begun in Madrid is still vibrant and is yet to run its full course. Many observers in the region are cautiously optimistic that Syrian-Israeli and Lebanese Israeli breakthroughs are not too far off. Many also expect additional progress on the Jordanian and Palestinian tracks. I share that optimism. Of course there will be difficulties and moments of crisis. The opponents of peace remain determined to sabotage the process. But what is equally clear today is that the process is vibrant and strong because all the parties' leaders and their populations, I would have to say, recognize they have much to gain by continuing to talk, and everything to lose by halting the negotiations.
While a collapse of this process is still not yet inconceivable, and would obviously be very destabilizing, much more likely in my view is a continuing process of negotiations and gradual substantive accomplishments. With great energy, tremendous devotion of resources and some good luck, it is not impossible to foresee a series of agreements outlining peace on all four fronts being implemented in the second half of this decade. By the end of this decade we may even see land transport between Asia and Africa restored through the historic highways of the Levant and the Sinai Peninsula. These have been closed since 1947. If average Israelis, Arabs and Americans can travel these historic roads, it will symbolize a return to normalcy in trade and communications after a half century of conflict and fulfill the promise of the Madrid conference.
The outlook, however, is not so bright in North Africa, in the Maghreb, where the civil strife in Algeria is threatening regional stability throughout the western Mediterranean basin and beyond. According to recent reports from the Algerian government, the violence of the last two years has already cost over 10,000 lives and $2 billion in property damage. Other estimates are considerably higher. And the situation is continuing to deteriorate. In my view, a political settlement is an urgent necessity in Algeria to divert catastrophe. The process of polarization in both camps needs to be reversed. Recently there have been some tentative positive signs that a dialogue may be beginning with the release of some senior opposition Islamic figures. This dialogue should be encouraged. Without a political settlement, the Algerian crisis threatens to undermine steps towards compromise and cooperation in the Maghreb, threatens to set back the impressive economic progress in Morocco and Tunisia, and threatens to spur regional tensions. Important energy supplies for Southern Europe will be at risk. The Maghreb, which has enjoyed relative stability for over a quarter century, could become a very unstable place.
In the Persian Gulf, the stability brought by Operation Desert Storm is more directly threatened by the actions of two states Iran and Iraq. And a continuing U.S. and allied military presence is vital to maintaining stability and ensuring the free flow of energy resources to the world.
Let me begin by talking about Iran. Iran is the world's principal sponsor of international terrorism, and the patron of the most deadly terrorist organization we have seen in this century-Hezbollah. Since 1982, Tehran has provided Hezbollah with hundreds of millions of dollars and tons of weapons, it has trained thousands of its cadre and protected its leaders. Since the Ayatollah Khomeini's death in 1989, the Iranian regime has actually stepped up its own direct involvement with terror by a campaign of renewed assassinations of its opponents around the world. And Iran supports with money, arms and training the most violent and extremist elements in Algeria and elsewhere. Iran is not the cause of unrest in these places, but it adds to the intensity by promoting violence and extremism. In my view, the track record of the last few years makes clear these policies are approved and directed by the highest levels of the Iranian government. There is no credible evidence to suggest these actions are the work of rogue factions. Rather, I believe they are the policies of the state, using the framework of a complex bureaucracy to wage war on the Arab-Israeli peace process, on its domestic foes and on its cultural adversaries. From aiding Hezbollah, to repressing its Kurd and Bahai populations, to targeting Salman Rushdie-these are the acts of Iran's leaders not some radical fringe.
Left unchecked, Iran, by the year 2000, could be a nation perilously close to having a nuclear device and with a sophisticated arsenal of weapons, long-range strike aircraft, missiles and submarines capable of threatening its neighbors. Iran is already producing chemical weapons and has extended Scud-C missiles.
Iraq could be an even more potent threat if the Saddam Hussein regime escapes from the sanctions created to compel its acceptance of some two dozen U.N. resolutions since August 1990. Even after Desert Storm, Iraq retains the strongest military in the Gulf with over 2,000 tanks and over 300 aircraft. Despite the impressive efforts of the U.N. Special Commission, Iraq almost certainly also continues to conceal Scud missiles, launchers and chemical and biological munitions. Just this month, Iraq belatedly admitted to building a pharmaceutical plant in Nineveh that it should have reported earlier, and reluctantly admitted to the International Atomic Energy Association that it engaged in laser-isotope enrichment research that it had earlier denied. We know Iraq retains the largest scientific and technical expertise base in the Arab world, including over 7,000 nuclear engineers and scientists-expertise the Saddam regime is clearly determined to use again to try to rebuild and fabricate weapons of mass destruction. Iraq also has considerably larger oil reserves than Iran and, by regional standards, relatively abundant water resources for its 20 million people.
Today, thanks to the U.N. oil embargo, the Iraqi regime is on the defensive, under considerable pressure, propelling it to partial compliance with a few elements of those two dozen U.N. resolutions. The oil embargo costs Iraq $15 billion in lost income every year. But even with its economy in tatters and under this pressure, the Baghdad regime engages in a massive marsh-training operation to repress its Shia community, a monumental act of eco-terrorism. It enforces an internal embargo on the Kurdish north and sponsors acts of terror abroad, including last year's attempt to murder President Bush and the Kuwaiti emir. And, more than three years after the end of the Gulf War, it still refuses to accept Kuwait's U.N.-demarcated border or to return Kuwaiti prisoners and property.
Some are now arguing for rewarding Saddam's half-hearted and reluctant acts of good behavior by unconditionally lifting the oil embargo and easing sanctions. The first victims of such policies will be the Iraqi people, especially the three million mostly Kurdish inhabitants of northern Iraq, who would face a richer and reinvigorated regime which already has 150,000 men and 700 tanks poised to attack them. Once Iraq can earn oil income again, we may be certain the current regime will again seek to rebuild its military strength to threaten its neighbors as well. Iraq's behavior during this spring's civil war in Yemen is highly illustrative. While others in the region sought negotiations, Baghdad radio urged the fighting on, and repeatedly called for the creation of an Iraqi-Yemeni axis to encircle Saudi Arabia and the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Since the war, Iraq has renewed those offers. In my view, only a fundamental change in Baghdad will create the conditions suitable for reintegrating Iraq into the international community.
Fortunately, alternatives to the current regime are gradually becoming better organized and more vocal-most notably the Iraq National Congress. If a more representative government came to power in Iraq, willing to live in peace with Iraq's neighbors and its own people, the strategic advantages for the United States would be highly significant. The peace process would benefit and the moderate mainstream of Arab politics would acquire great strength. A strong Iraq with responsible leadership could be a major force for moderation in the region.
Until that day, the threats posed by Iran and Iraq with each require tailored responses. Their own bilateral relationship can also be an additional source of regional instability. Intense hostility between the two could spur a renewal of the Iran-Iraq War, which cost over 450,000 Jives and $350 billion. On the other hand, cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad, while clearly unlikely today, could somewhat enhance the threat posed by each to regional stability.
There are two other more fundamental problems I would like to briefly address: the need for real economic development in the region and the need to curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Economic despair breeds extremism throughout the area. Algeria's crisis illustrates this best. Massive unemployment and underemployment breeds violence, especially among the 45 percent of Algerians under 15. Thirty years of gross mismanagement of a potentially rich nation is to blame for this disaster. A nation that once fed itself now imports 80 percent of its food-90 percent this year because of drought. Algeria will need to produce by some estimates more than two million new jobs in the next five years just to stabilize the existing high unemployment rates.
More broadly, for decades, and especially since 1967, the region has collectively diverted enormous amounts of capital resources from economic development to purchasing foreign-made weaponry. For example, Iraq in the 1980s imported well over $100 billion in arms. According to some estimates, as much as 20 percent of gross national product is devoted annually to military spending in a region with many of the highest population growth rates in the world. Iran, for example, is growing from 40 million people at the dawn of the Islamic republic to an estimated 60 million in 1994-this in a region with an acute shortage of the most basic of human needs-water.
The enormous regional outlays for arms are particularly worrisome because of the growing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them in the region. The Gulf War highlighted that proliferation threat for Americans, but we actually escaped relatively unscathed. It could have been much worse. Had Saddam chosen, we know he could have used chemical warheads on his Scud missiles against Tel Aviv and Riyadh. Had he waited to invade Kuwait until 1993 or 1994, we might well have confronted a nuclear-armed Iraq. We cannot be complacent that in future conflicts we will be so lucky.
Both the issues of economic development and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction are very much on the minds of the people of the Middle East. They are being discussed in the multilateral talks of the peace process; and, more importantly, they are being discussed in the debates within Middle Eastern society. There is a growing debate and interest in economic and political reform throughout the region. Democracy is a word that vanished from Middle Eastern vocabularies for a long time, but it is now back in the debate. This debate is a healthy sign, in my view, and should be welcomed.
In sum, the region is poised on the edge of both rising hopes and deeply entrenched extremism. As we look to the future, progress in the Arab-Israeli arena is balanced by emerging crises in North Africa and the Gulf, and some worrisome long-term economic and military trends. Hope needs careful nurturing, while extremism needs containment.
Next year will mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II and the start of the modem era of independence in the Middle East. This past half century has been all too dominated in the region by dictators, ideologues and fanatics. They still stand in the wings, poised to spoil the next century. But at long last, statesmen and visionaries are also effectively challenging them with tangible alternatives in the region.
WILLIAM B. QUANDT is the Harry F. Byrd Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Virginia. A member of the National Security Council staff during the Nixon and Carter administrations, he was until recently senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution.
I want to start my analysis by reflecting on what has gone wrong in the Middle East in the past generation or so, in order to get some idea of how things might change in the future. It can be summed up in three deficits that the Middle East has had for quite a long time: There has been too little peace in the region, there has been too little democracy, and there has been too little development.
There has been too little peace-that's a fairly obvious point. This region has suffered through an enormous drain of resources, human and economic, in regional conflicts. Whether we think of the Iran-Iraq War, the Arab-Israeli wars, the inter-Arab conflict, the amount of expenditures that have been made on the military, this region has paid a very, very heavy price for the continuation of high-level conflict. And if the Middle East is going to be at all a different region in the future, those wasted expenditures, those losses of lives, have to be avoided in years to come.
The point about too little democracy perhaps sounds obvious. But by too little democracy I don't mean too little Western style parliamentary democracy; what I really mean is that peoples of the Middle East have had bad government. And don't take my word for it-ask people who live there. Are any of them particularly proud of the governments they have? If they had the chance to vote, would they rush out and reelect their leaders? In a very, very few cases, maybe the answer is yes. But the lack of real democratic elections suggests to me that leaders know that they wouldn't be returned in a fair election. There has been bad government. There has been a lot of corruption. Most governments, having legitimized themselves through the national struggle that brought independence to their people, failed on the next agenda of bringing prosperity and social justice. If you want to know why there is a crisis in Algeria today, or why there is a crisis in any number of other countries in the Middle East, a lot of it has to do with very bad government.
So, if the Middle East is going to be any different in the future, somehow this longstanding deficit of good government has to be overcome. Otherwise, the resources will be wasted and people will feel cheated as they see their resources siphoned off by bureaucracies, by elites who have little concern for the real welfare of their people. Finally the point about too little development and too little equity is again a fairly obvious one. But it's really striking when you put the Middle East side by side with other parts of the world. In principle, the Middle East should be a very prosperous region. There are enormous resources. The human potential, the levels of education are quite remarkable by world standards. And yet if you look at any of the serious studies that have been done comparing the Middle East with Asia or Latin America, the Middle East comes up short. There is no Korean example; there is no Taiwan example. There is even no Malaysia- or Thailand style sustained rapid development, with the possible exceptions of Morocco and Tunisia which are beginning to demonstrate some success in their economic development. And this is really a disgrace for part of the world that has so much human and natural resource potential.
And, again, this relative lack of economic development goes back to the earlier deficits: too little peace, too little accountable government. The amount of money wasted on the Gulf crises of the 1980s, including the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, must come close to a trillion dollars. Imagine what you could do with a trillion dollars in the Middle East. Yet at the end of these wars it is not as if anybody is any more secure or better off. The lines on the map look remarkably similar to what they were when all the wars began. So you really have to ask yourself: What was achieved, except to deprive the peoples of the region of the opportunity for better lives?
Now, having said that these are the problems that have affected the Middle East in the past, it is easy to say the solution is to have more peace, more democracy and more development. And there is a school of thought that says all good things should go together, so let's push all of them at the same time and hope for the best. It's not going to work that way. It's fine for governments to say that this is what they want. But it doesn't really help anyone to set priorities.
The priority is not in fact on things like regional economic cooperation. The priority is on peace and security, which will then open the way to regional cooperation where it makes sense. But there's a tendency to try to short-circuit politics, and unless the political agreements are solid and meet the basic interests of the peoples in the region, economic cooperation will not happen, and the region will be worse off for it.
There's a second tendency that I'm not against, but I do raise questions about it. It's a very American tendency to think that if everybody would just get their economies right and liberalized, use market reforms, then everything else would follow: more democracy, more prosperity, a nice middle class interested in stability, and they would stop making war on one another. We are very free with our advice on balancing budgets and doing all kinds of things that we actually aren't very good at ourselves.
It's also very common now to hear Americans tell Middle Eastern governments you should privatize your lousy state industries. It's true that the state industries are terrible and they are bankrupt and not productive. But privatizing them in countries where there is really a very small private sector with few people equipped to buy into these state enterprise . is very unlikely to produce the results that we say we want, that is, a more vigorous market economy. Instead you're going to find a new mechanism for corruption. Regimes will sell off bankrupt industries, people will get fired and cronies of the powers-that-be will buy up these industries, get state subsidies and make a fortune. And instead of encouraging confidence in market economies, you're going to convince people that corruption and inequality are the price you pay for so-called privatization and liberalization.
I'm not arguing that economic reforms don't have some place in some parts of the Middle East. But the idea that regional economic cooperation and privatization and market economies will open the door to peace and prosperity strikes me as being far too simplistic. Instead I would say let's focus, at least in terms of American policy, on several other key points that are more political than economic.
First, we've invested so much over the years in the Arab-Israeli peace process that this is no time to let it drop. There is a tendency that I come across from time to time to say, Why should we want peace in the Middle East more than people there do? It's up to them to do it. If the circumstances aren't propitious, if the time isn't right, we can't make it happen. Well, we can't make peace happen in the Middle East, but we can play quite an important role; and I don't think there is any reason to waver at this moment when the circumstances look at least somewhat promising.
I feel quite strongly about the issue of trying to fill in one of the weak spots of the Oslo accord. It seems to me that in our enthusiasm for the recent breakthroughs toward the Palestinian-Israeli peace, we are counting an awful lot on a kind of a momentum continuing that has a very good chance of stalling, unless some new ingredient can be introduced, particularly to give Palestinians confidence that this process actually is going to continue and lead toward an outcome that serves their interests. As of now, it is quite plausible for Palestinians to believe that the whole Oslo approach is simply meant to calm things down and leave the Israelis with the upper hand for the indefinite future. I think at some point there will be a strong backlash against the whole concept of making peace through negotiations and compromise, unless Palestinians can really see that: first, they're getting a tangible improvement in their daily lives; second, that they are getting more control over the decisions that affect their lives; third, that they're getting to exercise the political democracy that they have been deprived of for so long. Now, all of that is compatible with a version of the Oslo accords, but it is not guaranteed by them.
I would also like the United States to weigh in more heavily in favor of Palestinian elections soon. I think it's extremely important to give legitimacy to this peacemaking process by letting ordinary Palestinians express their views on it, by letting them participate through elections in the selection of their own leaders. There is no doubt that the old leadership is losing legitimacy. It has played a historic role bringing the Palestinians to this point, but there needs to be new leadership. And the Palestinians, of all the Arab peoples, are more eager for the opportunity for democratic political participation than ever. I think we should support that. We should do so very tangibly, by saying that we will be prepared ultimately to support the idea of a Palestinian state, provided that it is a democratic one. That's not our official American policy now. I think it should be. It would give a great boost of confidence to Palestinians who now see the possibility that at the end of this prolonged transitional period they are still going to be deprived of the one thing they most want, and that is statehood with democracy.
Let me say one word about dealing with Islamic political movements. It is going to be a real challenge for the United States, in light of our bad experiences with Iran, to think clearly about dealing with Islamic movements elsewhere in the Middle East. And for the moment I see a tendency to define the issue in very black and white terms. Either one sees a great Islamic threat that somehow has to be warded off, with no accommodations; or a tendency to say this is the wave of the future and we have got to deal with it, and regardless of what the Islamic movements stand for we have to find common ground with them. Each of these postures in a sense evades the interesting question of when might it be possible for the United States to have some kind of a relationship with Islamic movements, and when is it likely to be virtually impossible.
I'm convinced that it is not going to be easy for the United States-given our interests, given our policies in the Middle East-to have an easy relationship with the more militant Islamic movements in the region. Our experience with Iran and Sudan tends to confirm that. There are just so many issues on which we are likely to be at odds. Therefore I think it is going to be extremely difficult for us for example to have a relationship with the Algerian lslamist movement that will ensure that if they come to power everything is going to be just fine between us. We will not find it easy to deal with an lslamist regime in Algeria.
However, if that kind of an outcome is to be avoided, we, and the alternatives to Islamist regimes in the Middle East, need to pay a lot more attention to what is feeding the underlying alienation that pervades the Islamic movement. As a very secular person, perhaps I misread this, but I don't think most of the Islamic political movements are fundamentally about religion. I think they are about lousy government, about corruption, about injustice and economic despair. And unless the regimes in power recognize that people are fed up with bad government, with corruption, with poor economic performance, with government-engineered economic, social, cultural crises, with unemployment, we are not going to see legitimate governments in the Middle East. That's the issue that we-if we care about stability in the region-need to try to impress upon regimes in places like Egypt and Algeria where there are underlying problems that have to be addressed. And they can't just be addressed by economics. There has to be a political strategy as well. We should be using what influence we have to try to encourage an opening toward some elements in the opposition to give them an opening through politics to participate, rather than through terrorism or underground activities.
If all of this is going to happen, of course the Middle East is going to look rather different. Some regimes that are now in power are going to find it very difficult to adjust to a Middle East in which there is stability, in which there is democracy and in which there is development. A lot of regimes have a vested interest in seeing that those things do not happen. They won't survive the transition. So there will be a period of uncertainty if a new Middle East emerges out of the present one.
But before we get too enthusiastic about the new Middle East, we need to recognize that in some circumstances the collapse of a regime will not lead to the kind of desirable outcome that we hoped for. It can lead to a lot of chaos and a lot of internal turmoil. After watching Lebanon collapse, watching Bosnia collapse, watching what happens when state structures do collapse, we should be very cautious about deliberately undermining the structures that exist today, until there is a reasonable notion of what might take their place. This is not an argument for keeping everything as it is, but it is a cautionary note that stability is, to a substantial degree, a precondition for economic and political development in the future.
RICHARD FALK is the Albert Milbank Professor of International Law and Practice at Princeton University. His most recent book is The Constitutional Foundations of World Peace.
I would like to emphasize three perspectives as underlying my remarks. The first is that the United States has paid too much attention to interstate relations in the Middle East and too little attention to the well-being of the peoples who live in the region. This continues to make the policies of the United States government toward the region excessively geopolitical and opportunistic in their basic orientation. And by doing that, U.S. policy neglects the concealed turbulence that is crystallized, if at all, in terms of perception as the threat of Islamic extremism. That is, in a sense, paying some attention, but a negative attention, to the kind of political energies that exist within the region.
The second point that I would make is that we have as a country not yet accepted the reality of the end of the Cold War as it pertains to the Middle East. Many of the preoccupations of the United States toward the region were shaped by trying to contain the expansion of extra-regional hostile forces into the region. That kind of danger no longer exists. And that means that there are no extra-regional patrons for the political actors in the region that might be hostile to U.S. and Western interests. In one way that would allow U.S. policymakers to relax a bit.
The sudden post-Cold-War reliance on the language of containment is particularly suspect psychologically, in my view. It is odd that with containment now irrelevant on the strategic level globally, U.S. policymakers for the first time in our relationships to the Middle East should import this word loaded with implications from the long period of the Cold War. There are other ways to define the central relationship of the United States to the two countries in the region that we regard as most adverse to our interests. This seems to me to set up that kind of psychological attitude so characteristic of the Cold War and to invite, unnecessarily, an endless confrontation.
The third general perspective that I would emphasize is that in looking at the problems of the region there exists a tendency to overlook the responsibility of the United States in particular for causing some of the problems. They didn't happen spontaneously. The Iraq that we now stigmatize as a permanent enemy was the same Iraq that we found it quite easy to support in the Cold War context, providing it with some of its arms, throughout the 1980s, not disturbed by the things that now seem to antagonize us to an extraordinary degree; in other words, a weakened, shattered, defeated Iraq is somehow seen as a much greater threat to the United States and its interests in the region than this very vibrant, robust Iraq that we covertly encouraged to attack Iran and were actively helping to build as a balancing force in the 1980s.
It seems to me U.S. officialdom has fallen into the trap of what psychologists call transference. We're trying to keep the logic of the Cold War alive in the Middle East to some extent. And maybe it's the nostalgia that people speak about for not having an enemy and rediscovering new enemies and then endowing them with greater-than-real-life properties.
I think the extra-regional responsibility of the United States is in two areas which require much more critical thought than has been given. One is in the role of arms suppliers and arms pushers seen as ways of extending influence, as well as in relation to market factors. I think we will have very little credibility in relation to democracy and the peoples of the region until we pursue a policy toward arms exports that is consistent with the peoples' goals. And I feel we're a long way off from such an approach when our president gets on the phone to induce Saudi Arabia to buy military planes from U.S. suppliers rather than from the French. It sends a message as to our priorities in the region.
The other problematic area is double standards. The U.S. government absolutely looks the other way when its friends in the region repress their own populations. Our leaders have human-rights and democracy eyes that see the failures of the adversary and are completely blind to the excesses of our strategic allies in the region.
This set of conditions poses two obvious challenges in the long term for the United States. The first of these challenges is to somehow relate in a more constructive way to the two movements of frustrated nationalism that exist in the region. The agreements that have been negotiated so far reflect the inequality between Israel and the Palestinians. The agreements do not lead anywhere near the attainment of self-determination that needs to be satisfied if the Palestinian national question is to be resolved successfully. Indeed, the present inequalities of the agreements are encouraging the very thing the U.S. government says it doesn't want; that is, the one-sidedness of the peace process and the inadequacy of PLO leadership are encouraging fundamentalist Islamic tendencies. These developments are discrediting moderate Palestinian leadership. The seeds are being sown for the further spread of the influence of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad among the Palestinian people. Having just returned from Gaza, I can report with confidence that this is an existential reality, not idle speculation. A potentially very explosive situation is taking shape.
The U.S. government, which has such great leverage in relation to Israel on these issues, has been extremely passive. This contrasts with what should have been, in my view, its effort to achieve a more balanced process that gives moderate Palestinians more legitimacy, more claim to carry forward the Palestinian struggle to its next phase.
Many of the most sensitive Palestinians are now adversaries of this peace process, and many of those that are most humanistic and most committed to a democratic Palestine have become enemies of a process that is perceived as a betrayal of their long struggle. We have to notice what that means. It's not something that can be dismissed, as I think it has been generally, by the media and policy community in this country.
On another matter, I think it's a tremendous oversight to downplay Kurdish problems in the region. There are more than 20 million Kurds in the Middle East, all of whom are victims of varying degrees of repression, some of which continues to be brutal and horrible. Again, if the repressive conditions are imposed by a government that is allied with Washington, such as that of Turkey, then the violations of human rights are invisible from a policy perspective.
Even in Iraq, it seems to me, this government would do much better to serve U.S. interests and the interests of the region if, on the one side, it supported a higher degree of self-determination for the Kurdish people and normalization of relations with the Iraqi government. That kind of policy switch would seem to lead in a more constructive direction. The present policies are essentially a dead end and reflect an absence of political imagination and a failure to help the peoples of the region achieve better lives for themselves.
The sanctions, as everyone knows, are doing great harm to the civilian population of Iraq. They have not had much impact, at least that we can discern, on the elite structure of the country, despite being maintained for almost four years. The world community is punishing the people of Iraq because governments in the West don't have the political imagination and moral convictions to come forward with a responsible approach to the post-Gulf-War context of power relations in the region.
I believe that if the United States has any sort of long-term vision of stability in the region that is to some degree based upon justice, then it is essential to resolve these national questions in accordance with the principles of self-determination and human rights. As long as such claims are left unsatisfied, there will be no real stability in the region. The most that can be hoped for is that the repressive regimes will be able to contain such challenges, often by depending on brute force. It makes a mockery of
U.S. support for human rights and democracy while turning a blind eye to the way Turkey handles its Kurdish problems.
The other main point that I would make is that the problems of the region are very unlikely to take the form in the future of those that were generated by the Cold War and the fear of Soviet expansion into the region, directly or indirectly. The sort of challenge posed by Iraqi aggression against Kuwait is also unlikely to occur. I think both of those images of security threats are extremely misleading and overly beholden to the past.
The real threat, if one even wants to use this kind of rhetoric, arises out of internal turbulence generated by various forms of Islamic extremism, now beginning to surface again, this time rather ominously in Saudi Arabia. The experience in Iran should have taught the U.S. government that it cannot protect its interests once these movements have gained power; that is, intervention in the internal affairs of countries for the purposes of political restructuring has an awful track record, especially recently. It has almost never worked. Such a reflection builds a strong case for using policy options to establish the conditions that discourage religious and political extremism. Such thinking would give a much higher priority to development and economic issues. Unless there is that kind of hope in relation to the material conditions of existence for the peoples of the region, then the drift toward religious extremism is very likely to continue.
How one fosters a more equitable pattern of development should be a problem engaging policymakers, because there is a lot of room for a much more creative relationship to the economic development of the region and to our own participation and the participation of European countries in that process.
Let me conclude by saying that I feel very disappointed by the absence of any political moral imagination on the part of our policymakers in relation to the future of the Middle East. I think we've been presented with an enormous opportunity by the end of the Cold War, and the movement toward peace in the region. There is no serious Arab-Israeli threat at the moment, for the first time in almost half a century. There is also no extra-regional threat.
Instead of dwelling upon the problems of the past, it seems to me that we should be devoting energy to discovering a way to further the well-being of the peoples, taking human rights seriously, taking democracy seriously, and in a more even-handed way helping the Palestinians to get a balanced peace process that will achieve some kind of self-determination, raising the Kurdish issue in a constructive manner, and generally fostering a less militarized set of relationships by imposing on arms suppliers a much more drastic framework of constraint.
Let me make a final point on the issue of nonproliferation and weapons of mass destruction. As long as we treat Israel's possession of nuclear weapons as something we can't mention, then I think the U.S. government loses credibility in the entire region when it pontificates about preventing the development of weapons of mass destruction. It's incredible to me that our policymakers will talk endlessly about nonproliferation and never even mention the fact that there's already a nuclear power in the region. The official discourse almost pretends that the Israeli nuclear capability is irrelevant to the pursuit of nonproliferation goals. Until the United States addresses these problems more credibly, it is hopeless to talk about a vision of the future. All it is likely to do is perpetuate the mistakes of the past.
THOMAS R. MATTAIR is Director of Research and Policy Analysis at the Middle East Policy Council.
I'm going to make some remarks that integrate what I think with what the panelists have just said. In supporting the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and the Jordanians, the administration has made some moves to bolster moderates and undercut extremists in the region.
But the tasks ahead are still large. We must promote peace, economic development and political participation in the region. Bill Quandt has said these are things that have been lacking in the Middle East, and I agree with that. I think that they're something the United States has to do something to promote.
Basically, when people are poor and powerless, no one should be very surprised that they would turn to extremism and violence in order to try to change their circumstances. Extremism is not an inherent characteristic of Islam. It grows out of suffering. Consequently, when we try to confront the challenge presented by Islamic extremism or secular extremism, we should do what we can to get at the root causes of extremism, which I believe are poverty, corruption and repression.
The Clinton administration is doing something about that. The United States has pledged $500 million to assist in the building of Palestinian self-government and to rehabilitate a devastated Palestinian economy. That's a pledge to be implemented over the next five years. And the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) are now beginning to fund projects in the occupied territories.
In addition, the United States should step in now to help Israel and the PLO reach agreement on setting up elections soon. We cannot emphasize economic growth in a vacuum. It has to be coupled with and probably follow attention to political issues. That leads me to another track of Arab-Israeli talks. We are evidently engaged in some discussions with Syrians and Israelis, trying to build on an Israeli willingness to withdraw in the Golan, the Syrian willingness to consider normalization with Israel, and the interest of both parties in security guarantees that the United States can offer.
Having heard Richard Falk say that American policy has been too passive in the past, I think it would be a good time for the United States to step forward and spell out exactly what the security arrangements are that we can offer, particularly for the Israelis, and also to spell out exactly what it is that USAID and OPIC can do for Syria.
Actually I think there's some movement on those fronts. If we are successful in bringing about land-for-peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, and if we are successful in bringing about the final status agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that actually brings into being Palestinian self-determination, I think this will really constitute American success in undercutting extremism.
Richard Falk wrote in the Middle East Journal about two years ago that there is a difference between a solution and a bargain between unequal adversaries. That's why I'm making a reference to Palestinian self-determination. That's a solution. If there is a real solution that satisfies the Palestinians, I think it will undercut extremists.
With respect to Hamas, we see some evidence that the movement is splitting between those who are going to reject any agreement and those who are, however reluctantly, going to accept this agreement, try to participate in it and compete for power. If Hamas were to oppose Palestinian independence, I think they would discredit themselves. And, in fact, they might even be engaging in self-immolation.
As to the benefits of Arab-Israeli peace, I think that if the political solution is correct, then there may be some significant economic benefits. Economic growth and development has been blocked for decades by wars and civil wars and the peace agreements will enable the parties to remove trade barriers and permit trade and investment to take place.
Unfortunately, Arab-Israeli peace is not going to be a panacea for the entire Arab world. We still have U.N. resolutions and U.N. sanctions pertaining to Iraq. But they have not, after several years, toppled the Iraqi regime. They have not brought about the emergence of pluralism. It hasn't happened yet, and I don't know if we have any reasonable predictions of how long that would take.
Furthermore, as Bruce Riedel has said, Iraq retains weapons. It's weaker than it was four years ago, but it does retain weapons. And there's probably no regime that will prevent it from continuing to develop whatever assets it has hidden that survived Desert Storm. Consequently, when we talk about hoping that Arab-Israeli peace will enable reductions in arms expenditures and arms sales, as long as Iraq has weapons, Syria cannot dramatically shift its resources from the military to the civilian sector, whether it has peace with Israel or not.
Furthermore, the effort to limit Iran's acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and conventional weapons isn't likely to be so successful that Saudi Arabia will be able to dramatically scale back its arms purchases.
I think an American military presence in the Gulf is going to be necessary for the foreseeable future, given this constellation of forces. However, I'd like to paraphrase something written by Richard Bulliet in Foreign Affairs recently about Iran. He said an Iranian attack against Israel-and I'll add here an Iranian attack against Saudi Arabia-would be the stupidest political act since Hitler invaded Russia.
Q: Dr. Falk, you have mentioned that the Kurdish issue should be solved with respect to principles of human rights and self-determination. Within that context, do you propose an independent Kurdish state in the region as a solution? If not, what are you proposing? If yes, what would its effects be on the regional stability?
Dr. Falk: In my view, the realization of self-determination depends, at least in large part, on what the peoples themselves are seeking to achieve. And my understanding of the Kurdish aspirations, even among the most radical factions within the Turkish context, is that they are ready to settle for some meaningful form of internal self-determination, basically an autonomy arrangement. I think there is a concerted effort to discredit Kurdish claims of national rights by insisting that the various Kurdish movements are seeking to dismember the territorial states in the region. They are not. They are seeking substantial autonomy for their own people as societies within the framework of existing states.
There's no acceptable basis, in my view, for denying these rights. And it would be in the interest of stability and equity to encourage their satisfaction and at least open up the issue of what is the future of the Kurdish people. What we're doing now is to pretend, as with Israeli nuclear weapons, that Kurdish aspirations are irrelevant. The
U.S. government treats such problems as nonexistent, although their reality is causing tremendous suffering to large numbers of people. U.S. indifference on these matters is just one more sign of the degree to which we think geopolitically rather than humanly.
Q: Both Dr. Quandt and Professor Falk talked about the importance of economic development with respect to the Palestinian people. The employment situation is horrendous, particularly in Gaza, but also in the rest of the occupied territories, and Israel is now employing foreigners from many other countries in place of the Palestinians, which is greatly adding to the unemployment problem of the Palestinians and undoubtedly giving greater impetus to the Islamic militants among the Palestinians.
A second problem that needs to be addressed is continuing Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories, and particularly with respect to the area around Jerusalem.
Dr. Quandt: I don't want anything I said to be interpreted as dismissing the importance of economic development, particularly in the Palestinian context. I think it is very important. It isn't a substitute, however, for a decent political settlement. There are some who say, "Well, if you just raise everybody's standard of living, they'll calm down and be happy living with autonomy indefinitely and they'll cease to agitate for statehood and so forth."
I don't think that connection exists. But regardless of the link to politics, the Palestinian areas, West Bank and Gaza, desperately need an infusion of investment capital and employment. They need jobs. Now, there are a couple of different ways to try to encourage this. One is to tell the Israelis, "Reopen your economy to the Palestinians so that they can go and work there." In the short term, that would generate a lot of quick income which would help to keep people going.
But in the long term, I think what is better for the Palestinians is to generate employment within their own territories in the West Bank and Gaza. And that requires getting investment capital quickly into the hands of small-scale entrepreneurs, who can begin to develop businesses and enterprises where they live.
Although some of the short-term needs of the Palestinians will involve continued access to the Israeli economy, in the longer term it is important for the Palestinians to disengage their labor force to the extent possible from the Israeli economy and to develop it within their own areas.
As far as settlement activities go, it is one of the great unresolved problems in this whole approach to peacemaking. There should be a freeze on settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. But according to the Oslo accords, that freeze doesn't extend to Jerusalem. It's not in the agreement. So there's nothing that inhibits the Israelis from proceeding, except their own self-restraint, or perhaps their own sense that they will pay some economic price in terms of access to American loan guarantees for using money to build settlements in East Jerusalem which, at least according to American law, they're not supposed to be doing. But, I think settlements have to be stopped if there's going to be anything left to negotiate over when the final status negotiations come.
Q: I think our present policy in Turkey, which is total disregard for the oppression and destruction that goes on, is really parallel to what was happening with Saddam Hussein. Do you see any change in the present policy with regard to the regional Kurdish government in Iraq and with regard to American policy towards the Kurds in Turkey?
Dr. Riedel: I want to address several of the other points brought up about Iraq and then talk about the Kurdish issue. The first question is, is the policy working towards Iraq? In terms of changing the regime, obviously that hasn't occurred so far.
In terms, however, of minimizing this regime's ability to be a source of instability in the region, the policy has been fairly effective so far. Iraq is, after all, one of the principal opponents of the very notion of an Arab-Israeli peace process. It has been marginalized, and the success of the peace process over the last three years is owed in no small part to the fact that the leader of Arab rejectionism was defeated and humiliated and put on the sidelines.
In addition, Iraq's ability to project power throughout the region, to get revenge for its defeat in 1991, has been successfully minimalized so far by this policy.
So to say that it has had no success at all is misleading. To say that we could do more, we can always do more. The devil is in the details and the specifics of what you can do. I'd like to comment on a few of Dr. Falk's other statements about Iraq. First, the United States did not arm Iraq in the 1980s. Iraq imported $100 billion worth of arms in the 1980s. Anyone can go check the records. Not one penny of that $100 billion came from American weapons or weapon systems.
Second, he argued that sanctions affect the people of Iraq and not the regime. That's a good point. The regime, however, has always had the option, since at least July 1991, of doing something about that. There are two U.N. Security Council resolutions, resolutions 706 and 712, that authorize the government of Iraq to export oil in order to make income if that income will be distributed in a way monitored by the United Nations to ensure that the food and medicine purchased goes to the Iraqi people and not to the elite and the Republican Guards. It is the Iraqi regime, not the United Nations, that refuses that offer. Thus the burden for any suffering that is imposed has to be placed on its rightful responsible and culpable officials, and that is Saddam and his regime.
The question of the Kurdish entity and government in northern Iraq is complex. After the Kurdish elections were held in May of 1992, the U.S. government issued a statement applauding those elections and welcoming them as a step towards a better Iraq for all the Iraqi people.
I had the privilege of traveling in northern Iraq earlier this year and speaking with the leadership of the Kurdish front and with the leadership of the Iraqi National Congress. All of the leaders of those organizations thanked the United States for its support and noted that without American support, particularly without the support of the Provide Comfort task force based in Turkey, the freedom and relative safety that the three million people of northern Iraq have enjoyed for the last three years would not exist.
I think it is naive and silly to compare the policies of the government of Turkey and the government of Iraq. The government of Turkey is an elected democratic government. It is faced with a very serious threat from an organization which has, for a long time, engaged in acts of terrorism not only against government officials, but against many Turkish-Kurdish innocent civilians. This organization has a long record of focusing its attacks on the innocent rather than Turkish officials and security elements. It does not simply call for autonomy in southern Turkey. It has frequently espoused much larger aims than that. The government of Turkey and the U.S. government have a deep ongoing discussion about human rights situations in Turkey. But to compare those abuses to the abuses of the Saddam Hussein government is silly. The Saddam Hussein government in the late 1980s engaged in an act of genocide. According to studies of Middle East Watch, at least 50,000 Iraqi Kurds and probably 100,000 Iraqi Kurds were systematically murdered by that regime. No similar phenomenon is going on in Turkey. It's important not to compare apples and watermelons across the region.
As for the question of whether this policy will ultimately bear fruit, I think patience is an important thing to bear in mind here. The Iraqi regime now is staying in power largely because it is able to seize upon the arguments of those who say the sanctions aren't working; it's time to let Iraq out from under. It's able to exploit the hope that somehow the international community will forget everything that Saddam Hussein and his regime have done over the last 15 years and allow Iraq to be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the region.
As long as that hope exists, it diminishes the chance that Iraqi oppositionists can be successful in taking moves against him. Ultimately, changing the future of Iraq is up to the Iraqi people. The United States and the United Nations cannot do it for them. We can and have been supporting, more than any other country in the world, those efforts of the opposition. And I'd just point out to you that this is the only capital that I know of that periodically hosts at a very high level the Iraq National Congress leadership.
Q: Dr. Riedel, you spoke about extremism in the Middle East. But how do we deal with extremism in North America? How do we balance the two? It seems to me that if you're going to solve extremism in the Middle East, you're going to have to solve extremism here, too.
Dr. Riedel: The United States has tried very hard in both this administration and its predecessor to be clear and unequivocal on the issue of Islam. There's no nostalgia for the Cold War in the U.S. government. There is no nostalgia for the era of the red menace. And there is no desire to replace the red menace with the green menace.
I think [National Security Adviser] Tony Lake and Ambassador [Robert] Pelletreau in this very forum at the last occasion, made it very clear that we recognize the fundamental truth that diversity is the hallmark of Islamic movements and that the devil is in the detail of understanding all of those diversities and dealing with each one in its own complexity.
That said, it's also naive to believe that there are not some organizations in the Middle East that call themselves Islamic whose objectives are very much opposed to the objectives of the United States and to the objectives of most of the people of the Middle East.
Let me tum specifically to the issue of Hezbollah. The Hezbollah is the leading suspect for the acts of violence in Buenos Aires in 1992 and 1994, and in London. The reason it carried out those acts of violence, though, are multiple. It's not simply a reaction to one or another event in south Lebanon. I think that shortchanges what Hezbollah says its goals are.
Hezbollah is dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel. It makes no secret of that as its goal and its objective. It is not interested in the peace process. It is interested in destroying the peace process and ultimately destroying Israel. That it may have a specific tactical issue to which it is responding when it operates in a place like Buenos Aires is important and shouldn't be overlooked, but neither should its strategic objectives nor the strategic objectives of its patrons in Iran.
Q: Dr. Riedel, wouldn't you say that the embargo against Iraq is really falling apart, whether we like it or not? The French are against it. The Japanese are against it. The Chinese are against it. The Russians are against it. And the Turks have notified us they are going to open the pipeline from Iraq to Turkey, because they're hurting and they want the oil to start flowing.
Iraqi oil is actually going out into the world through Iran. Jordan imports Iraqi oil. Even the Saudis are supplying illegal trade with Iraq. So we're going to wind up as the odd man out, the spoiler. You keep talking about how we're going to keep Saddam down. It reminds me of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) and the Baghdad Pact. We organized those to keep President Nasser out of the picture. We're doing exactly the same thing to Iraq. And it's a failed policy. It's just not going to work.
Dr. Riedel: The embargo is not falling apart. It is actually tighter today than it's ever been before. The Jordanian government, for example, has recently invited Lloyd's Register to come to Aqaba in southern Jordan in order to do on-ground inspections of traffic en route to Iraq, which is a tightening of the embargo over what it had been in the past when we had to monitor from Navy ships in the Gulf of Aqaba.
If the embargo is falling apart, it is not reflected in the behavior of the Iraqi government, which increasingly shrilly is arguing for its removal. The Turkish government and the Iraqi government have not reached an agreement on flushing the Iraqi oil pipeline. In fact, those negotiations have been stalemated for some time over one of the fundamental issues, which is how is food and medicine derived from flushing the Turkish pipeline going to be monitored in its distribution in Iraq.
The Iraqi government wants the money turned over to it so that the food and medicine can go into the hands of the Republican Guard and the supporters of this regime. The government of Turkey and the U.S. government have taken the position that there has to be some kind of monitoring system to see that it goes into the hands of those who need it.
Is the United States a spoiler? Are we the only opponent of lifting the oil embargo? I don't think the record in the U.N. Security Council shows that. In fact, the Security Council every two months has reimposed and kept the embargo intact because of the simple fact that the Saddam government is not in compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Are we the only spoiler in fact? I would invite our friends from the Iraqi opposition today to say whether or not they want the embargo lifted on Saddam's government. I don't believe that's in the interest of the Kurdish people of northern Iraq. I don't believe that's the position of the Iraq National Congress.
Dr. Mattair: What's the best available information we have about who is being blamed for the painful impact of the sanctions, the United States and its allies, or the Iraqi regime? And second, what is the extent of the legitimacy of the INC inside Iraq and outside of Kurdistan?
Dr. Riedel: The answer to your first question is impossible to know. There is no way to get a public opinion poll that is meaningful inside Iraq. Different observers who go there come back with different stories. It is very easy, after a visit of two or three days, to come back and say that the world community is blamed for the sanctions, not the Saddam regime. But it's very difficult to get a real feeling for that.
As for the legitimacy of the Iraqi opposition, I think the answer to that is best stated in the American cigarette commercial, "You've come a long way, baby." Three years ago the Iraqi opposition was, for the most part, engaged in internal debates. And if one sat down with the Iraqi opposition, most of the time was spent discussing other members of the Iraqi opposition rather than the Saddam Hussein government.
In the last three years the Iraqi opposition has held a series of important conferences, first in Vienna and then, very importantly, on the soil of Iraq. It has come together. It has established a framework for its organization. No one would argue it doesn't have a long way to go, but I think to simply dismiss it as illegitimate and having no support whatsoever within Iraq ignores its very significant accomplishments of the last several years.
Q: Richard Falk stated that Israel has atomic bombs, and you can't talk about atomic weaponry or any effort to control atomic weaponry without addressing this issue. I think you lose credibility when you sound as if Saddam Hussein just happens, that he's a creature that just explodes on civilization, and the United States and Israeli policies have really nothing to do with it.
Dr. Riedel: In the context of the multilateral phase of the Arab-Israeli peace process, of which the United States and Russia have been co-sponsors, we have been engaging over the last several years in multilateral negotiations on arms control and trying to curb the spread of nuclear and other forms of proliferation throughout the region.
Israel is a party to those negotiations. Egypt is a party to those negotiations. Jordan is a party to those negotiations. The states of the GCC are parties to those negotiations. Unfortunately, other regimes in the area and the government of Syria, for example, have chosen not to participate in those negotiations. Dr. Mattair made a very important point earlier when he alluded to the fact that arms races in the Middle East are interrelated phenomena.
The United States cannot, and should not, ask its allies in the region to unilaterally disarm or to give up the means to defend themselves when we have other regimes in the area like Iran which is engaged in a very large-scale military buildup which is emphasizing offensive weapons used for power projection against its neighbors.
The United States differentiates correctly between regimes in the region like Iraq, like Iran, which have been persistent sources of instability, which attack their neighbors, and governments like Saudi Arabia which have not engaged in wars of aggression against their neighbors.
Q: Before Professor Falk left, I asked him if he didn't agree the most salutary move that could be made at the moment to bring peace and stability to the area and meet the problem raised by Iran and Iraq is a clear, unequivocal declaration of a two-state solution, a state of Palestine and a state of Israel. He said yes.
I'd like to put the question to these two other panelists. Don't they agree that at this moment what is needed is a clear, unequivocal declaration: "We favor the creation of a state of Palestine to coexist with the state of Israel''?
Dr. Quandt: I said in my speech that I thought the United States should come out explicitly in favor of support for Palestinian statehood in the context of a peace settlement, with only one qualification: that we would like to see that be a democratic state. But if the Palestinians don't want a democratic state, maybe it won't tum out that way.
I happen to think they do want a democratic state. But yes, a Palestinian democratic state living side by side with Israel - I said it in my talk; I'll say it again. I think it should be part of American policy.
Q: Is it up to us to tell them what kind of a state they're to have?
Dr. Quandt: I didn't say what type they should have. I said what kind we as Americans should be prepared to support.
Dr. Riedel: This peace process has gone further than any such effort in a half-century. One of the reasons is that the United States has not sought to impose solutions on the parties. Were the United States to impose solutions now would be, I think, a very serious mistake. It is up to the parties themselves to come to agreement.
Israel and the PLO have agreed on a framework for how to proceed with those negotiations. The best thing that we can do is allow them to play that framework out. Both parties understand that the end game of this process is extremely difficult to agree on at this stage and that many steps have to be made along the way. My view would be simply this. It's premature. It would be dangerous and it would be counterproductive for the United States now, in the midst of a process which is working, to suddenly begin to impose its own views on the two parties.
Dr. Quandt: I understand why Bruce Riedel said what he did. But, in fact, American policy is that we are against the creation of a Palestinian state. It's not that we're neutral; we say that we do not, in fact, support it. We're not saying that we're open-minded about all possible outcomes.
So it's a little unfair to say that at this point we should simply take our distance from the process and let it work itself out. We have already put our fingers on one side of the scale. What we ought to do is say that we are not opposed to a Palestinian state, but that we want it to be democratic if it's going to win the support of the American people.