Program Note: 5 former Secretaries of State tell Christiane Amanpour & Frank Sesno what advice they have for "The Next President."
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Christiane Amanpour: “The other thing we were talking about, with advice to the new president, is climate change... What does the United States need to do to take the lead on something that is so vital globally?”
James A. Baker III: “Kill all the cows ‘cause most of it comes from cow farts”
Christiane Amanpour: “We’re leaving that in…’
There was much humor splashed about the serious advice being dispensed, despite, or maybe because, of the unprecedented challenges on the next president’s plate.
The forum generated huge buzz on The George Washington University campus. Students started lining up at 5:30am for tickets which were free. Later, when the Secretaries walked on stage together, the auditorium rose in a standing ovation. This struck me profoundly.
I know ‘America’s foreign policy’ and ‘where in the world we are headed’ are vitally important questions, but I was gratified to see how many young people felt the same way.
America’s image, and therefore its influence abroad are at historic lows, and the Secretaries unanimously said the next U.S. President must immediately close Guantanamo Bay Prison and ban torture.
They were also unanimous about engaging Iran and seeking a new relationship, while at the same time making clear there would be zero tolerance for an Iranian nuclear threat. James Baker, who served as Secretary of State for the first President Bush said “I think a well-placed, quiet, private phone call to the Iranian leadership, if you can find out which leaders to talk to - to the effect, ‘Look, if you do so much as aim a missile or anything else toward Israel or toward US, our strategic nuclear deterrent can be re-aimed in 20 seconds,’ they would understand that, I think.”
I'm sure they would.
The secretaries also said reviving the Middle East Peace process would be a hard slog, but Baker said he believed there’s a deal waiting to be made with Syria which in turn would help the US with crises in Lebanon, the Palestinian territories and Iran.
One of the most interesting areas where they differed was Darfur and the question of Genocide. These hardened diplomats were torn – but they agreed that U.S. intervention was not in the cards. Even Secretary Powell who told us he had first called it genocide on behalf of the US government:
Colin Powell: “You look at something like Darfur, and it just breaks your heart. But the ultimate solution to the crisis in Darfur is political solution between the rebels and the government in Khartoum.”
Madeline Albright:” Well, I think it's in the U.S. national interests, in fact, to do something about humanitarian situations that lead to or are genocidal. And the question is how you get the will of the American people behind it. It is not easy. But I'll say this is, if you're the United States, you're damned if you do or damned if you don't. We intervened in Somalia, and people thought that was a mistake. We didn't intervene in Rwanda, and people thought that was a mistake.”
James A. Baker III: “When you formulate and implement foreign policy - and I bet you everybody here would agree with this - you have got to take America's principles and values into consideration. And we're talking here now about principles and values. But you also have to have a healthy dose of national interest involved, because otherwise you lose the support of the American people. Your foreign policy can only be sustained as long as you bring the American people along with it. They are the final arbiter of foreign policy in our democracy. We cannot be the policemen for the world.“
Yes, but Darfur is a big topic on US campuses, with a serious grass roots movement to stop the genocide there. When the Secretaries started laying this on “bringing the American people along”, I was sorely tempted to turn to the audience for a show of hands. I am sure there would have been an overwhelming call for action from the floor. I’m sorry I didn’t ask.
Filed under: Christiane Amanpour • The Next President: A World of Challenges
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From a foreign relations point of view, the question we Americans must ask ourselves is which candidate is best qualifed to restore America's integrity in the eyes of the rest of the world. Who can encircle the greatest number of people insuring the world of our intentions to bring renewed trust and faith in America's words of peace and cooperation.? Would this candidate be one who made his living as a war hero? Would this candidate be one who believes in sensoring ideas that do not conform to her own? Come on, America; now is the time to wake up to our increasing globalized world.
Amanpour is great and listening to the intelligent assessments of Powell and Baker gives one pause about the folks we currently have running. If Powell would run now it would be a runaway election, although he'd have to deal with his WMD speech to the UN.
Listening to Henry Kissinger has always been a struggle. I am usually left thinking that he is not as intelligent as folks give him credit for. I'm glad the questions were mainly directed to Powell, Baker and Christopher. Albright had a few good things to say, but she has a difficult time leaving politics out when the discussion should have been a refreshing apolitical assessment. Her creditability further suffers from this.
My biggest disappointment though is that Climate Change (read as anthropogenic CO2 induced catastrophic Global Warming (A-CO2-GW)) is once again portrayed by the media and politicians as a truism and it is nowhere near that. At least Baker explained a reasonable position to take even if it was supported by science. I would say that even if it was supported by science, adaptation is the best practical solution.
Politicians can be excused because they don't understand the science (or lack of it), but the media can't be excused. They need to do a little more investigation,and if they are in fact objective on this they may be quite surprised. And they might find a somewhat complicated but amazing story that would bring certain scientists down from their pedestals. Failure to do this makes the media complicit in the cover up of the real science.
What's really sad is there is so many interesting natural climate factors like ocean circulation patterns, long term influence of continental movements, earth axis tilt, sun cycles, cosmic ray induced cloud nucleation effects, biological effects, etc. The focus on man made CO2 appears to be a cover story for a different objective, and making it green makes it hard for anyone proposing a different view to painted with a color that isn't green. That this all sounds like a conspiracy theory also makes it difficult to get the true state of the science revealed.
I heard most of the former secretary general talking to Mrs.Amanpour last night.They looked and sounded like very intelligent people.Even though James Baker is just as intelligent as anyone of them,it's hard to understand this following statement that he said:no world reform can succeed without the cooperation of the U.S.I think this is less and less true;if you take in consideration the present almost collapse of the american economy,the performance and the reputation of the U.S. of the last 8 years with G.Bush,the movement undertaken by a large group of countries,notably from SouthAmerica,Pakistan,China,Russia and others.They are united in other to remain more independant vis-a vis the U.S.
That is why I think it would be good to elect Obama.He is more educated,cultured and suffisticated than Mccain who is of the stubborn and old pholosophy of the republican party.It is a philosophy which is self centered and closed to the world.This president hadn't been outside the U.S. when he became president and they talk about Obama's inexperience.
Wow, Christiane- I wish I could have tuned in. Is there a transcript of the show available?
I'm a US citizen living/working in southern Sudan. As I sit around the fire at night with my Sudanese friends, the conversation often turns to the situation in Darfur, the latest raids by LRA rebels, the ongoing violence in the Nuba mountains, and the threat of renewed war between north and south. Then, they turn to me and begin to grill me on the political candidates. They want to know if the next American President will care about the injustice in Sudan or turn a blind eye.
The word passing through the NGO community is that Sudan will likely be back at war within 8 months of the American election- and the new commander in chief will do nothing. Too many conflicts of interest. Too many world powers have their hand in this convoluted mess. Too many toes to step on. Intervention here would be anything but surgical. No, the United States will look away.
But, I don't speak so frankly to my Sudanese friends. Such frankness would be unkind. We're living in the middle of a great diplomatic enigma, and the Sudanese people cannot look to the United States as their savior.
Disagree with Mrs. Albright. It is not about if America will do or will not do. It is about "how" America did it. Imagine the same amount of money spent on war in Iraq will do if American took a different approach. No one in America seems asking the right question – "why is there terrorist in the first place?" There must be some reasons. The first generation of America themselves were once a terrorist under British's rules??? America need to start viewing the world from another angles if want to expect some changes to happen.
What does it tell you when all of the great secretaries of the past say you have to talk to IRAN? Obama knows what he 's talking about and McCain is an old ,outdated and arrogant man with 18,000,000. cracks in his head.
This "The Next President" program needs to be advertised more aggressively, added to the "ticker" and in other media outlets. It doesn't even show up on Google's main page today and isn't being discussed in the blogosphere. It would also be nice to offer a post-analysis of the remarks made during the program.
The economy is important but given that the first debate on Friday will address foreign policy issues; the public should also be paying attention to what these former statesmen and stateswoman have to say.
Christiane, you were right not to turn to the audience for a show of hands on the Darfur question, simply because your immediate audience would not have been very representative of the American citizenry as a whole, and it would have been unfair to pretend that the response from college students was fit contradiction to remarks the secretaries had made about Americans overall. The reason you were sure to get a big response on the issue means only that you know what most college campuses are like politically, not that you are convinced there is a national consensus for action in Darfur.
united state of america is a great country with real democracy and i think usa shoud protect world peace .
usa must daunt russa an learn democracy to putin and leaders like him.
i think DIALOGUE with iran is entrepreneur for peace and usa gowernment should venerate to iranian people because no of terorists and suicides in the world were not iranian and most of them are arabs and saudian but visa is very easy to a saudi man but difficult for iranian why?
#1 on the list for Diplomatic Relations:
– Osama Bin Laden! (Dead or Alive)
There maybe more heads to cut-off the Dragon, but as long as he is free and directing Al Quaida, there will never be peace.
James Baker is a disgrace. And we are the policemen of the world even if I disagree with it, or even worse. We do what we want when we want and why because nobody is wanting to challenge the U.S. I think the only situations to which we should be the policemen of the world are for situations of extreme genocide. I am upset because we have not done anything about the situation in Burma. They have been in them middle of what is called a civil war for the last 60 years. It's not war, the military is the government and they will kill people just because they can.
I believe that the Middle East situation, is the most dangerous situation facing the world today. A diplomatic soultion appears very unlikely. Therefore, the more time wasted pursuing this path the greater the danger grows. The new president, whoever he may be, faces a nightmare senario. Because, to let things stand increases the danger, yet a military conflict will necessarily include the use of nuclear weaponry. If such becomes the case the potential for a world war is great. Good luck to the new president and good luck to us all.
Ms. Amanpour what makes a great interview is when we challenge the participants for their answers. Madeleine Korbel Albright said the old NATO was against the old Russia. Then theoretically the new NATO is against the new Russia .I Beg your pardon that’s confirm what Putin has been saying for so long!Please try to respect the intelligence of your viewers worldwide. We want to be informed not to be indoctrinated!
I cannot believe Americans are so concerned with Dafur and the all incompassing "Carbon Footprint" when America`s financial institution is on the verge of collapse and Russia is directly threatening the west. These issues will have ramifications far more dramatic then Darfur or Global warming. Don`t take your eyes off the ball America or we will all pay a terrible price.
congratulations to you and frank sesno for providing an honest, open, and informative forum for discussion of real foreign policy issues. one of the biggest losses in this 24 hour news cycle world, is time. a candidate normally has about 10 seconds to make their case. this absolutely stifles any type of detailed debate and relegates them to spouting simple sound bites. sound bites do not lend themselves well to complex descriptions or nuanced interpretations of situations. nearly everything i watch on CNN is rarely more than 5 minutes long, and its this type of in depth non-partisan debate that most network (except perhaps C-span) news programs are lacking.
you'll notice that the program is one of the most popular videos being watched on CNN. i believe it's not a fluke. readers are starved for decent, in-depth coverage which is usually sorely lacking.on CNN. here's hoping that a few more in-depth forums may happen in the future. congratulations, and keep up the good work!
When I saw this on the CNN line up I was surprised that all of the recent former Secretaries of State would be participating and, secondly, thought it would be politically skewed and lacking in candor of opinions. My premonitions were wrong and it was a delight. The former Secretaries were fantastically candid – each was prepared to speak on their opinions seemingly without limitations. Truly fascinating and a glimpse of the much bigger interconnected world picture. I appreciated Ms. Amanpour's steering to include of Secretary Kissinger's valuable opinions in the discourse. The only drawback was the Secretaries were prepared to talk about things more in depth than the moderators and they often could not follow the stream and ask the next logistical question. This was especially noticeable with Mr. Sesno on the Darfur points Secretary Albright was getting at. He seemed too obsessed with his role to actually hear what was said.
How about a CNN special comparing the President and Vice president assigned job description, how it has worked for past administrations and the role of the Presidents and Prime Ministers of other countries. In France, the President’s primary role is to deal with the international affairs and the Prime Minister is to take care of the daily running of the country. Of course, the President oversees it all.
Oh-no! I missed it. Please replay or offer online. Thanks!
The whole thing just re-affirmed my vote for Obama. After watching these "experts" discuss what we should do to restore faith in our country around the world, they seemed to be really in tune with what Obama has been calling for all along. This really assured my vote for Obama
Do you really think the previous secretaries are not aware of "current stuffs"?
Excellent, informative, essential program for all of us. Madeleine Albright was the best of the lot! Colin Powell comes in a distant second.
Oil is the life blood of the planet. Sure there are trillions of gallons available but in all reality everything comes to an end and if we don't have a plan to use some alternative source of energy we will help this earth perish and it will be because we have been poor stewards of this earth.
I think we often get journalist to ask questions but they don't deal with core issues in the future of our children and our families. On another note, Christiane Amanpour is probably one of the most effective journalists I've seen in years. She seems to always bring important perspectives to the forefront. I just want to hear where anyone thinks we are going to put these nuclear power plants.
Thank you for that very interesting and informative discussion, no sound bites, just real discussion.
We so respect Christiane Amanpour.
My husband and I recorded the interview with the former Secretaries of State this evening on TIVO and just finished watching it. This is perhaps the finest piece of journalism we have seen in a very long time. I have admired Christiane Amanpour for many years, and my estimation of her, and all of the panelists, grew this evening. Thank you for this intelligent discourse.
Awesome discussion! I heard very relevent and thoughtful ideas. The only sour point was when Albright broke the faith of good talks with her cynical "Alaska" blurt. Many Americans and respected scientist will stipulate that man's waste by-products certainly contribute to effect climate change, but it a very small imprint comparted to the cyclical climate of mother nature. Political correctness stifles common sense. Our earth's climate has changed drastically from hotter and colder temperatures from what we experience presently. Common sense indicates this could be mother nature in her ever changing state. The jury is still out, dispite the pressure to agree on global warming and humans as its cause.
This was mostly a disappointment. And, it is probably because there are no advance answers, and there is no inherent advice for our future president.
Also, the guys kept it clean but Madeleine Albright could not refrain from giving partisan replies! Christiane Amanpour dropped a partisan comment or two as well! 🙁
The next president primarily needs to be a man of faith, experience, integrity, judgment, authenticity, humility, stability, courage, optimism, patriotism and action.
He must also have the gift of active listening, the gift of servant leadership, the intuitive gift of reading the public, a moral center, a code of ethics and American values!
The best comment was that the first thing the next president needs to do is to gather his top people together to discuss the issues according to possibilities not only wants or needs before he involves others!
There is only one man and one team that meets this standard!
McCain/Palin 08! 🙂
christane ask mr baker to explain how they did not use diplomacy to solve the cold war . please mr baker can you tell us if you beleave in the bush doctrine as it seems to be diametricly oposed to your methods that actualy got us good results on the international front . i beleave you faction mr baker the conservitives have lost control of the neocons and the religious right . an thats the problem with the gop in a nutshell . and last week they caused another great depression if it had not been for the tax payer to bail out wall st , fannie may and fannie mac its most alarming anyway . and it proves conservitisim economicly and in international afears no longer has the majority in the republican party , but that two extream hawkish and religious right wing extreamists have control an sway in the gop today . and mr baker id have to say thats why the countrys in the pooh and trillions an trillions 0f dollers in debt . what happent to the fiscaly responsible and small govenment ideology of the republicans its gone . becouse the conservitives have lost control of the party . govenment has gotton bigger , debt is huge under bush and john mcain voted 95% for all of this james . mr baker the conservitives have to get back control of the republican party before ill be able to vote republican again . steven
Christiane, my husband and I admire you. You're well spoken and able to report with great insight and understanding on so many situations around the world.
I enjoyed the program. It is amazing how much they agreed with one another. As a group, they certainly represent alot of experience and intelligence. They almost reminded me of the Supreme Court. I hope a tape of this program has been sent to both candidates, just in case they missed it. I often wonder if presidents ever tap into these type of resources when being faced with difficult relationships with other countries.
I hope more shows like this will be produced in the future. These are very smart people that can relate to everyone and can be very honest in their opinions. They did show some humor which made them appear grounded. Good job!
I was struck by the similarities in statements of these Secretaries and Obama's, including Republican Secretaries. It is obvious that if you are a Republican or a Democrat you might stick with your party, but their thinking on issues such as speaking to Iran and Syria, Global warming, and the Georgia debacle should put McCain on the defense about his judgment and experience in foreign affairs. I, truly think that these Secretaries make the best case to vote for Obama.
It was a fascinating conversation. Did Christiane Amanpour really use the figure of speech "Let's call a spade a spade" when addressing Colin Powell? Oops. There may have been a better way to present that thought. Otherwise, it was a wonderful meeting of minds. I am all for a new administration that takes it's time to make sound decisions in foreign policy that are not tied to our interest in oil but to more humanitarian concerns.
james baker has little in common with the current republican party as james baker beleaves in diplomacy . james baker beleaves in talking with our enimies to find common ground . james baker daid talking with our enimies was how we ended the cold war . mr baker has little in common with the neocons or the fanatical religious right their leaders always sell down the road and the gop gives them almost nothing in return . but mr baker is from the old conservitive wing of the gop sadly its clear to see after decades of control the conservitives like james baker have lost control off the republican party to the far right .its sad to see . mr james baker does not describe to the insane bush doctrine . how would we like other countrys to use the bush doctrine on us here in america . thanks christiane.
My husband and I were interested to hear what these leaders had to say. Thank you for creating a program like this. It was a nice change from all the political strategists being featured every night on the news.
Kudos to CNN and the excellent hosting of Christine and Frank! One of the best programs on current issues I've seen this year! Listening to these honorable political servants discuss the issues with dignity and grace, absence of rancor, and impressive intellectual muscle was a relief and gave me some hope that regardless of the outcome of the election there WILL be advisors nearby to help steer the Ship of State. God willing!
vobichlan – you cannot ask condi rice for her opinion NOW because she's in the middle of it, she's helping to SHAPE bush's foriegn policy and has not had the benefit of being out of it for awhile and hindsight to give her perspective and temperance. she's a very intelligent woman, but she's not going to trash her boss just yet!
just because the former sec.'s o'state are not IN the job, doesn't mean their KNOWLEDGE is obsolete. these folks continue to research, and their contacts in gov't continue to feed them info and ask advice WELL into their post-service careers.
In the next president a world of challenges, there seems to be no concern over South America and the problems posed there especially with regard to the intervention in favor of Chavez in so many of the countries there: Bolivia, for one. Why is all the concern with the Middle East and none with the countries right on our doorstep?
The current Secretary of State did much of her studies on Russian policy and look where American foreign policy with Russia stands right now. It behooves us [Americans] to listen to those who have experienced the world in foreign relations. You wouldn't hire a CDL driver [no insult intended] to comment on the opera and then decide whether or not you would attend the opera in question. We [Americans] MUST learn to appreciate and respect those who have negotiated and learned from their mistakes in foreign policy. We NEED them to give us their points of view on what is happening NOW with the issues that America faces. Look what many Americans did with the current "leader of the free world." Many Americans thought they knew better and hired a man who doesn't know how to listen, learn, change, or think for himself, or for his country. America has a learning problem: we want others to learn OUR way. Now listen to what the good Secretarys have to tell us, sit back, THINK about it, and tomorrow, talk to someone you know and have a conversation about what you learned today.
Granted these people met before $1.3 trillion was a real number they certainly have a sense of what is good for America.
Ah if Colin Powell could still be active in governmental leadership.... or any of the other former Secretaries of State... but I'm sure they have given what they can... and even in this interview they continue to contribute great perspective and insight...
Finally, real food for real thought for the real world. We need more of this in the next 45ish days. Relevant dialogues for a world in chaos and flux. We need people who can extrapolate possibilities. Smart thought. Now more than ever.
As a former member of Sarah Palin's religious denomination who was theologically trained in its educational institutions, it would probably be easiest for me to help others understand her worldview by saying that it is quite similar to that of Pat Robertson. I am not sure that this bodes well for what the former secretaries of state recommend.
Christiane, I hope your questions are heard and on the botton in all issues policies. And have you ever thought of interviewing Sarah Palin?
I strongly believe a show such as this will make a clear case that an Obama presidency in 2008 is the only realistic way of fixing the problems caused by having BUSH's private interest politics in office for the last 8 years.
By Monday morning McCain will have flopped again and start saying he agreed with these folks all along, on Gitmo, torture, wiretapping etc.
These folks ( former sect. of state ) are so right and Bush/McCain/Palin ( the really scary one ) are so so wrong. Think about it fellow citizens when you vote.
When are you going to write a book!? You've had some amazing interviews. You are one of the few highly respected journalists left in the media.
We are "policing" Iraq as we speak, under the false assumption that they were a threat... but we are democratizing them anyway. We should either take on the role (which it seems we already have, selectively) of World Police or we should leave everybody to their own devices. I like the idea of "assisting" as opposed to "policing".
Three of the most brilliant minds getting together and hashing out world affairs, with one of the most intelligent and informative journalists of our day–genius! If only people had been smart enough to not vote for Bush (& I pray every day that Americans will finally pull their heads out and get off the Bush express by not voting for John McJurassic and Caribou Barbie), we'd have these 3 working double-time to get our country's good reputation back, and get our economy and education back on track. And as far as Darfur: heartbreaking, yes. But why are they doing this to themselves? Religion is the root of all evil.
Note: The show idea was not Christiane's but professor Inderfurth's of the Elliott School at George Washington U. CNN only picked it up after some time. Professor was an assistant to secretary of state (fromm1997 to 2001). I just wanted to say that he spent a year organizing all the details for this event and credit should not be taken away from him just because he is not the one on camera. Also, the capacity of students who wanted to go to this event were enormous (myself included), but as often school comes first and five secretaries of state only come second....The even was an amazing opportunity to the past take shape on the issues of today.
It's amazing how you put everything in perspective. I loved your unbiased reporting on three organized religion. U.S would not take the lead on Darfur because U.S have no interest in Darfur. I think NATO should take the lead to solve the crisis in Darfur.
When we took out Saddam and the Bathists we took out a leadership that was responsible for more deaths than have occurred in Darfur. Yet the man that led this charge is vilified, go figure.
I am looking forward to this piece. It's absolutely great that students are lining up for this. Young people, contrary to the past trendS, will be voting heavily in November and they will be lining up. Forget the past; the pundits have been wrong time and time again. Clinton / Giuliani is so yesterday. If McCain and Obama had paid attention, they would still be opening their gifts last December and never slugged it through the snows of NH and Iowa.
These former diplomats have a lot of knowledge to impart and the next president will have to pay attention. No more Texas " hang 'em high" diplomacy; WE NEED CHANGE.