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September 19th, 2008
02:37 PM ET

Former Secretaries of State to next President: Get over it. Get real. Be smart

Program Note: 5 former Secretaries of State tell Christiane Amanpour & Frank Sesno what advice they have for "The Next President."

Watch The Next President: A World of Challenges. Saturday, 9 p.m. ET

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Frank Sesno | BIO
CNN Special Correspondent

There we were, sitting alongside five people who had made history and shaped American foreign policy for nearly four decades. Vietnam and détente. Hot war with Iraq and Cold War with the Soviet Union. Mideast peace conferences and arms control. Kosovo and Iran. Rwanda and Iraq. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the scourge of drought, poverty and AIDS in the developing world. Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell. Five former American Secretaries of State. The conversation was remarkable for its candor, depth and realism.

We gathered at the George Washington University, where I teach, to talk about the challenges facing the next American president. Christiane Amanpour brought her experience and hard edge to the questioning. The list of challenges we asked about was daunting– from big global issues like climate change and poverty to decisions about how to deal with the new, more assertive Russia, how to handle Iraq and Afghanistan, whether to reach out to Iran, how to fight terrorism and fix America’s tattered image in the world.

Here’s what the secretaries’ bottom line was: get over it. Get real. Be smart. The world is a complicated place. America has to lead. Play down the ideology, they seemed to say, and approach the world rationally and with perspective. Imagine that.

They didn’t agree on everything but the points of consensus were striking – and refreshing, far from the attack soundbites of the campaign and the seductively quick-fix ideas we often hear from politicians and pundits. In fact, on more than one issue, it was clear that this conversation could not possibly take place in the hothouse of the campaign. Poll-driven comments and rapid reaction war rooms ready to pounce prevent candidates from admitting mistakes or embracing the nuance of the real world – even though it’s the real world in which we live.

Some of their suggestions were practical and incremental, some would be big departures from where we are today.

It’s time to engage Iran, the Secretaries said. Drop the preconditions and the political posturing. “The whole point is you try to … deal with countries that you have problems with.” said Madeleine Albright, who tried to pursue an opening with Iran when she was in office. From across the aisle, James Baker agreed. His advice to the next president: “You ought to engage.”

Engage the whole world, really. The secretaries agreed America’s image is a mess. And they laid out three things the next president should do to start to fix it: close Guantanamo, end torture and take the lead on climate change.

On Russia, the message was similarly realistic. Georgia fired the first shot in that little August war, they reminded us. Not to excuse it, or suggest Russia’s a benevolent, democratic place. Keep the pressure on. Make Russia feel international scorn. But keep perspective. Don’t overreact. “We need Russia for a solution of the Iranian problem,” said Henry Kissinger, father of détente. “We may need Russia if Pakistan evolves in some of the directions that it might… It is helpful to cooperate with Russia, not just on the proliferation question, but on the issues of energy.” His bottom line: “This Russia is not democratic, but is also not– what it was before.” Colin Powell said keep the strategic picture in mind. “The Russian Federation is not gonna become the Soviet Union again.”

One of the most poignant discussions was about ‘soft power,’ those activities we do in the world that don’t often attract headlines – development assistance, humanitarian aid, educational and cultural exchanges, that kind of thing. We need a lot more of it, they all said. Former Secretary of State Baker brought it home with a simple comparison. America has fewer people in the foreign service today, he said, than serve on one aircraft carrier. That’s got to change.

It was a challenge to the next president, who will face a world of them.

soundoff (316 Responses)
  1. Janet Wiman

    Thank you for such a forward reaching program. It was so welcome in this sea of confusion. How nice to hear these great Americans speak their minds and how wonderful to know that really smart people often think similarly. This program gave us a chance to hear people representing different parties who served at different times in history but yet their messages were clear and reasonable. This kind of programming puts CNN ahead of the pack.

    September 21, 2008 at 1:16 pm |
  2. Christie From Las Vegas, NV

    CNN, you did an outstanding job with this special; hats off to you. I just hope our presidental candidates and their selected VP's were watching and paying attention!

    September 21, 2008 at 10:48 am |
  3. lovable liberal

    Engage Iran diplomatically. Ditto Russia – don't overreact. Lead on global warming instead of insincere lip service. Regain soft power. Close Guatanamo and end torture.

    Gee, sounds like Obama's platform. Why not come right out and say so?

    September 21, 2008 at 9:39 am |
  4. fred in Taiwan

    Again Obama is right on the money!!!

    Talk to our enemies!
    McCain you are no change agent. Your ideas are so outdated.

    But Obama is so right. On so many issues he's hit the mark. It's just amazing.

    We have the opportunity to put a real thinker, leader in the White House and we can't afford to miss this opportunity.

    This is our time for real change and Obama is the only one to bring it to us. This is our moment to get back on track and bring the American Dream back to life.......

    September 21, 2008 at 8:23 am |
  5. Andrew

    Frank Sesno, it seems like you were trying to politicize some of the remarks made by the secretaries, like Colin Powell. Several times you tried to restate their answers in your own words, and often your version of the answer was rejected the one who had given it. Kissenger and Powell come to mind here. No one talked obscurely. You should have just let their words stand on their own.

    September 21, 2008 at 8:06 am |
  6. BambiB

    Nah! Let's just continue our current foreign policy. See something that American (Oil) companies want? Make an excuse to attack. You know, something like a "UN Resolution" or misinformation about "Weapons of Mass Destruction". Then send in a lot of young fellas too young to realize they're being played by the REMFs in Congress.

    "Liberate" countries by killing hundreds of thousands of their inhabitants.

    Yeah. That's the idea.

    We're America! We're ALWAYS right!

    Or... we could follow George Washington's advice: Avoid entangling alliances, trade with many, friends with many, allies with few.

    Oh wait. I think that was Ron Paul – the guy you were all too stupid to vote for!

    September 21, 2008 at 6:56 am |
  7. Deborah Camp

    Wow, what a great show! Very informative, help me to get a non political view of the world and how we need a very thoughtful president. Not, McCain who seems to be like Bush in many ways in his approach to nondemocratic goverments. Act first, ask questions later, then fix the problems we created. I also thought the soft powers that were mentioned take thought and time which the next president should have tremedous patience which McCain does not seem to have.
    Deborah

    September 21, 2008 at 6:48 am |
  8. Findlay Glen

    When Frank Sesno was summing up the views of the panel, he said, “So there you have it both presidential candidates, you have start talking to leaders of other countries.” Frank, have you been following this presidential election at all! This is exactly what Barak Obama has been saying for at least a year.

    September 21, 2008 at 6:46 am |
  9. zach

    one of the best shows i ever seen , from someone whose very addicted to politcs i work from home so i have plenty of time tofollow the politic circus.i'm a muslim hard core repuplican however with what is going on in the world,i think we need to try new thing, eventhoug i don't agree with barak obama's policies 100% i'm willing to give it a shot. i loved macain for a long time until this last few months where he made 180 degree wrong turn! i'm looking forward to the debates..................
    hawaii

    September 21, 2008 at 6:38 am |
  10. Mike

    I am just reading this on Sunday morning, and am just hoping that CNN will rerun the show. It looks outstanding!

    These esteemed, highly experienced representatives of both Republican and Democratic administrations make so much sense, and that is so refreshing. It drives home an odd, paradoxical point to me about OLD vs. NEW.

    I believe this next opportunity for us to choose our leaders presents us with a choice of moving backwards with a person (McCain) who has had much experience, but whose judgment is rooted in the in the days of the Cold War confrontations, the days when the world seemed bigger and less inter-connected than it does now. Or one (Obama) who is less tied the old thinking, and who has the judgment and the willingness to engage that is more attuned to the new, smaller, more interrelated world that we now live in. The choice to me is clearly old vs. new, past vs. future. Obama's view of today's needs and his vision of the future is consistent with the message I read from the 5 former secretaries of state here.

    The paradox is that at the level of principle, the famous JFK quote that Obama has repeated many times still holds so true: "Never negotiate from fear, but never fear to negotiate." That was true in the 60's, and it is still true now. We should have known that all along.

    September 21, 2008 at 6:35 am |
  11. Steven

    Finally, I see postings on the web to which I agree with. McCain is a military man, not a foreign policy man. I feel that we will gain some respect back if Obama is elected president. First off, because he is not White like all the previous presidents we have had but also because he is willing to level with foreign leaders as oppossed to trying to boss them around. Colin Powell was on this last night and I might say he was the one person in the Bush Administration I had respect for.

    September 21, 2008 at 6:29 am |
  12. Jim, Indiana

    So essentially they're saying that Obama is right and McCain is wrong. Why wont they just officially say it and make the point, because if you read what they say, they're all policy positions obama endorsed and positions mccain opposed.

    September 21, 2008 at 6:14 am |
  13. Sanjay, Florida

    Seems like what Obama has been talking about – moderation in our views. McCain is increasingly unimpressive with his isolationist views, and by pandering to the party base. The Sarah Palin addition to the ticket compounds this issue.

    Real change can happen only when leaders such as the 5 Secretaries of State can stand up, ignore their party affiliations, and endorse a candidate who is more aligned with their world view. Hopefully, they will do that soon, but I am not losing an sleep over it!

    But this alone will not be enough. What I would like to see, is how the message of the 5 Secretaries of Sate can be communicated to the masses more effectively. This, IMHO, is what is needed to create true change in this wonderful country of ours.

    September 21, 2008 at 5:53 am |
  14. mike... Richmond, Va

    It's time we elect a president that is mature not in age but in thought process...not, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran...mentality...not even jokingly. Respect for others is like a mirror, it reflects back on your country. Bumper sticker solutions like Drill, Drill, Drill not only don't solve our problems, they create ignorance and confusion among the American people and the world. Deception never pays off in the long run, it only delays solutions to world problems. Constructive participation and collective approach (such as UN) presents best hope to tackle global problems such as energy, hunger, tribalism, regional and local conflicts. There must be an arbiter, a neutral partner,an elderly statesman, a Uniter that can be trusted to assist in deling with the myriad problems including hunger and decease...and fanatical religions or beliefs that tear humanity apart everyday. A world body is needed to help nations cope with both manmade and natural disasters and help create and preserve water resources on earth.

    September 21, 2008 at 5:45 am |
  15. Steve

    Really, great article, maybe someone could email it over to Bush and Rice? These "children" running the show right now have to see the end coming, their tenure is almost up and thankfully. I have had enough of Evangelical right wing stubborn childish behavior coming from the white house enough is enough.

    Being tough is one thing, but there comes a time when whacking people with that big stick does nothing more than piss them off. Everytime someone in the world says something that this president doesn't like all of a sudden they are deemed unfriendlies?? I hope when Obama takes the oath of office this era is truly at an end. John McCain is from a different time and place and quite frankly this isn't it.

    September 21, 2008 at 5:04 am |
  16. Joseph Fedock

    After experiencing seven years and eight months of this administration’s foreign and economic policies and what they have done to us and the world, isn’t it time for leaders of both parties to walk up to the White House en mass and demand that both he and the vice president resign for the good of the country? We can’t afford another four months much less four more years of THIS! We can have an interim government until January when a new president takes office and show the nation and the world that we REALLY want change!

    September 21, 2008 at 4:57 am |
  17. Joanne Urish

    I would like to see this "show" broadcast on prime time for several weeks in a row in order to give EVERYONE the opportunity to see it. What a relief to hear some common sense, as well as experienced leaders giving their point of view. Actually, Barack Obama would have been quite at home with this group. They reaffirmed my opinion that he is well qualified to serve as president of the United States.

    I wish to extend my deep appreciation to any and all who played a role in putting this together....Double kudos to all of you!

    September 21, 2008 at 4:48 am |
  18. renee

    if groups such as this would meet with the incoming president (hopefully obama) as a brain trust, instead of the yes men/women in his cabinet, more intelligent and far-reaching opinions might be exchanged and policy set.

    September 21, 2008 at 4:42 am |
  19. Betty

    I was only able to see a little bit of the CNN special involving the five former secretaries of state. I agree that this country let me correct that this whole world has to change. The United States has always been at the forefront and now she hangs her head in shame. This country was founded on truth and justice our service men and women have paid the ultimate price with their blood and their lives. It is one thing to have strength but we all have to apply it at the right time and only as a last resort. Someone has to set the examble and its time that this country comes together as one, the rich, poor, black white, democrats, republicians alike. We are in a time that could destroy us all, and if changes are not made it obvious what the conclusion will be.

    September 21, 2008 at 4:41 am |
  20. Strom

    Good points but the answer isn't throwing money at the problem. Like education, we already spend enough in total but much of it is wasted. What we actually need in the Foreign Service is more Americans and far less contracted foreigners.

    September 21, 2008 at 4:40 am |
  21. Marie L

    It was a truly mature enlightening show. As a non-partisan canadian, I can't help but notice that they all seemed to support Obama's position on Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, it was almost eerie. It certainly shows Obama to be a well-informed thoughtful candidate who understands world events and dynamics. It also shows Mccain's weaknesses in foreign policy despite his repeated claims to the contrary.

    I thought it was remarkable when Kissinger said he would meet with Iran at a Secretary of State level without pre-conditions. Finally, a program anout facts and truth and not spin. These are great Americans and great minds that set aside particanship for the good of their country. Congratulations to Amanpour and Sesno.

    September 21, 2008 at 4:15 am |
  22. suzanne

    Kudos for something intelligent and informative! Obama is spot on!!!

    September 21, 2008 at 3:59 am |
  23. Stephen P. D'Elia

    Please provide an EXPANDED explanation for James Baker's statment regarding 'foreign service. About 20 lines AND in real time.tks.

    September 21, 2008 at 3:56 am |
  24. Delia Ordonez-Tate

    I hope and pray that our next president shows the same kind of wisdom that our former Secretaries of State did for this interview. We need a president who will put Americans' interests first but who will also keep in mind that we are not alone in the world.

    We need to reach out to our enemies more and work on finding common ground instead of sending in troops and dropping bombs.

    September 21, 2008 at 3:56 am |
  25. ZipWizard

    It sounds like a glorified interview session for the future Sec. of State. (smile) However, that is a good thing. I would hope the electorate noticed that most foreign advisers like Obama's methods over McCain's confrontation or ignore them approach. I am increasingly amazed how large a percentage of the pop. are so easily swayed by emotional appears, contrived sound bites (with lies), and who looked good on the latest comedy program. The total viewers was probably low, so the exposure was not very strong. Exposing deceit is supposed to quash the incumbant party...but this time out many normally intelligent folks are ignoring the Neoconistic signs. That itself is truly amazing. I can already see the threats to GRIDLOCK if the Dems don't get a mandate, but there's that looming undecideds that just might hand us 4-8 years of the worst non-progress this country has ever seen. Such gridlock as we look over the abiss just might destroy America's middle class. The only way out of our mess is to go green, and McCain/Palin are not it if they meet gridlock in the White House...or health problems...or Palin's possible impeachment from covering up her power abuses. Going with the Dems is much more efficient when we really can't be wasting a lot of time arguing about it, or distracted with side issues.

    September 21, 2008 at 3:51 am |
  26. Tony

    It's amazing how the Americans dragged this country into the mud for just 8 years by electing the guy they would have preferred to have a beer with. Now the party that masterminded all that has put up a candidate that probably they would say, people would prefer to go to church with. I would say it is not what what the next president would or should do to improve the USA standing around the world, this is pretty much clear, but is more of a question what should or would the voters do. Looking at the candidates, I would say things may get better or much, much worse. It all depends on the average American.

    September 21, 2008 at 3:25 am |
  27. David Serkin-Poole

    Superb – cannot wait. When will we hear a candidate say that he'll assemble for himself a team like you assembled to help him wisely steer the country?

    September 21, 2008 at 3:19 am |
  28. Kelly Spencer

    Regardless of who I or you will vote for, these answers given by these wise & intelligent Americans, are to be honored and taken very seriously. The issues they speak of do not involve Republican vs Democrat, they involve issues for the entire world, that includes issues here at home too.

    As a veteran, and someone who has lived overseas, I can tell you that we Americans get caught up in our own world over here and truly do not understand, much less know, what and where most countries exist and how they view Americans. "We must lead, but we also must know how to listen as well." That is the overall message I heard them say.

    This is exactly what the next president should do and I would LOVE to hear both candidates answer questions as to what they thought of this discussion from these former Secretaries of States or what they agree/disagree with!!!

    September 21, 2008 at 3:16 am |
  29. Greg

    Impressive. A gathering of quite arguably the 5 most experienced minds in the area of foreign policy alive today. Their collective understanding of the status of the world is unrivaled. Why can't we have a council-type executive body...made up of these 5 individuals. Any advice they give is well informed and extremely valuable. The problem is that Bush would never heed their words. Bush is/was a rogue, go-it-alone individual. A "maverick" if you will. His perspective and attitude towards the world is outdated, isolationist, and hasn't been seen since before the United States entered WWII. Americans can only pray that the next president will value and consider the advice of such powerful minds. Their statements suggest action in areas that the current administration has not even considered. This forum comes at a most appropriate time, when the next president will be able to formulate his approach to the global community, and take a responsible stance towards leadership in the world. I hate to invoke the campaign, but anyone who seriously believes that McCain will follow the advice from this panel is deluded. His decision making has been in-step with Bush continuously. What makes anybody think he will alter his policy or values? (or lack thereof) You can't teach an old dog new tricks. Obama, on the other hand, is young, and likely willing to accept and act on advice from such influential figures. In fact, Obama has already created very responsible policy in several of these key areas, such as opening up diplomatic channels with uncooperative nations, rather than shunning them and waiting for tensions to boil over into an all-out military conflict. (sound familiar) He is also well ahead of the curve on climate change and environmental protection, while his republican rivals deny that man has any impact on climate change. I guess it helps them sleep at night to tell themselves that they have no responsibility to the environment. And finally, on expanding aid to developing nations, we have yet to see concrete action or policy from either candidate, but how can we help other nations when we can't even help ourselves. The economy is turbulent and people are losing their homes, savings, pensions and retirement benefits. All while we throw billions of dollars on the fire that is the war in Iraq. When will people recognize that this nation would have a lot more monetary resources if we weren't wasting such an exorbitant amount to fight, kill, and destroy. We could spend that money right here at home to bolster the economy, create jobs, improve failing infrastrucure, and improve the lives of Americans, instead of destroying the lives of Iraqis. Save me, Warren Christopher! Save me, Madeline Albright! Confront the incoming president on these issues and place them at the forefront of our National agenda.

    September 21, 2008 at 3:12 am |
  30. Sojourner2008

    Sounds like Obama is the "voice" of experience when it comes to foreign policy. Let us hope that the advice of our former
    Secretaries of State is put into action by a leader that shares their vision. It was also refreshing to see people from both sides speak intelligently about our challenges present and future.

    Obama/Biden '08

    September 21, 2008 at 2:40 am |
  31. Mark Eller

    Liberals have always been ashamed of being Americans, no matter what America did. Yes, diplomacy is important as long as you realize that there are people with whom diplomacy is pointless. The mideast conflict predates WWII. It's a shame we've brought a bunch of Neville Chamberlains to lead our department of State for a generation. Carrott and big stick is still a valid approach and the one most likely to yield results. Anything else is appeasement and idealism.

    President Obama will stand over the ruins of some American city wringing his hands and wondering where he went wrong. For all of his MANY mistakes, there have been no more terrorist attacks in America since 9/11. What the world thinks of that should concern us less than what we think about it. Were Bush a real cowboy, Pakistan would have been invaded long ago.

    September 21, 2008 at 2:29 am |
  32. Catherine

    Gee, they all seem to agree with Barack Obama take on things. Smart, and deliberate are Obama's strength. Guess, they understand that either we elect Barack, or McCain and his temper will result in China Swallowing us whole, and the rest of the world giving us the finger as it happens. Glad to hear experienced people who actually make sense on the issue of foreign affairs.

    September 21, 2008 at 2:27 am |
  33. Mike

    I saw this show and was disapointed with all the participiants. It is clear why the US' reputation has sunk so much. The basic premise that the world wants the US to lead it is simply wrong. Your morals, standard of living, quality of life and social "fairness" are simply lacking most other western countries now.
    The participiants simply do not seem to see the US the way it's peers do. Most now was the US to simply stop rampaging around the world and get out of th way.

    September 21, 2008 at 2:10 am |
  34. Earle Richmond

    The comments of the fomer Secretaries of State seem well thought out and intelligent.

    Remind you of anyone you know?

    September 21, 2008 at 2:01 am |
  35. Student in Seattle

    @ Keith, tell any minority sudents, if they are seniors in college and interested in the foreign service to apply for the Pickering and/or Rangel Fellowship.

    This type of dialogue is definitely needed and revealing within the political context where Obama is portrayed as weak on foreign policy for wanting to engage our allies and enemies. I hope (probably in vain) that this is widely viewed.

    September 21, 2008 at 1:59 am |
  36. aware

    Condi would have made a welcome addition! 🙂

    September 21, 2008 at 1:55 am |
  37. Obi - San Diego, Ca. - African American

    Im very dissapointed at the direction America has taken since BUSH got into office. The fact is that Republicns tried for 8 yrs to stabalize the American economy and its only gotten worse.

    So now its time to try something different.

    Its so refreshing to see these [5] coming together for a common purpose, like wise elders. . . The only thing the next president has to do is follow their advice. Lets hope the next president isnt McCain.

    PS> Does anyone know if this thing in Alaska called { H.A.A.R.P. } is real? Scares me but may be a ridicilous conspiracy theory??

    September 21, 2008 at 1:49 am |
  38. jms

    This event gave a remarkable insight of the secretaries and their ideas of the direction our next leader should take.

    September 21, 2008 at 1:44 am |
  39. oog

    they all know better than the "bomb, bomb, bomb" ideaology of Mccain

    September 21, 2008 at 1:44 am |
  40. been there done that

    Since the beginning of time historic battles were fought, the american civil war is the most sadest and terrible in our memory, a nation divided, north against the south, states against states, in some cases they were cousins fighting each other, killing each other, young men sent to war, pumped to put the brand of the american eagle on other nations, i was born 1941 , i saw the troop trains with the best of young soldiers going to war hanging out train windows ,whistleing, yelling , cat calling to each other, a trumendous amount of young men arrived on a foriegn beach or land only to have thier life taken from them, some never as much as fired a shot, we tell our sons that it is thier patriotic duty to serve,we seen great kingdoms of the middle east, europe, africa , far east, asia, rise and slide into a almost forgotten past, to day we see many of our young soldiers of valour arrive in afganistan and iraq only to take thier own lives, is reality setting in as they arrive to see the masses of slaughtered innocent men, womens, and children corpes and images before them, as you parade your picture of the great men and woman of yesterday before us, it gives us the thought that they have ate the fatted calf and as always the next meal comes from the tripe and left overs, the poor have come and gone and remain still the poor, we ask these great people to stick around to see the end of what they created, a cross marker on a desert of sand ,void of clean air, water and life on a forgotten planet once called earth and no longer called home,

    September 21, 2008 at 1:41 am |
  41. mark

    I have a different question to ask. Where is your flag? How often do you say you love your country? I am not talking about a democratic administration or republican administration. I am talking about America, your family, your kids, your coworkers, your doctor, your bartender, YOUR HOME! We are at war, not some of us, all of us. If someone in your town has a daughter or son fighting in some country wearing our flag, They fight for me and you.

    "If 10,000 american lives are lost to preserve and defend our Liberty then it would be lives profitably spent" -John Adams

    September 21, 2008 at 1:40 am |
  42. Craig Nazor

    Our hyper-partisan politics has made it almost impossible for the candidates to express moderate or pragmatic viewpoints. This, in part, reflects what is going on in the electorate, which is beginning to reflect the failure in our public education system that has been worsening for years. One thing that would help is to pay good teachers a reasonable salary. It makes NO SENSE for the highest-paid high-school employee to be the football coach!

    September 21, 2008 at 1:30 am |
  43. Al

    This is a perfect case of the blind leading the blind.

    September 21, 2008 at 1:28 am |
  44. Alison, Canada

    Well done. I watched it twice....I hope the majority of the nation was able to tune in...what you saw was true statemen/woman ship'.

    Is this not part of what Senator Obama policies are?
    This truly is a time to engage, not bluster.

    We cannot afford otherwise...yes, I said we because my country is close to yours and I am afraid of spillover...at least with a reasonable,
    think before you speak or act candidate, the upside potential is enormous.

    Thank you

    September 21, 2008 at 1:27 am |
  45. ginny

    I don't think anyone addressed the issue of whether the US can continue to have the worlds most expensive military with an enormous debt.

    Did anyone talk about the rapid escalation of arms sales by the US and the harm that causes.. I caught most of the debate..I'm still not clear that American exceptionalism is dead..

    September 21, 2008 at 1:24 am |
  46. karim jamal

    what a joke ............5 secretary of states and not a single question about the israeli – palestinian issue. doesn't anyone want to know whether AIPAC has been overly influential in our foreign policy and whether it's been in the US's best interest. way to go frank sesno for not asking the hard question and for not bringing up AIPAC in polite company.

    September 21, 2008 at 1:17 am |
  47. TJ

    It should be easy for the next president to be smart...unless the next president is McBush. Since Bush significantly lowered the overall IQ of the presidency in his eight year run (and single-handedly proved that not all people who graduate from an Ivy League school are smart), the next president has an easy path to follow in order to prove his intelligence: Find out what Bush did in a particular situation, and do the opposite.

    September 21, 2008 at 1:17 am |
  48. Sarah

    They should have actually discussed AIPAC and why 9/11 happened.

    September 21, 2008 at 1:17 am |
  49. Dave

    "Get real. Be smart." Well, that would seem to rule out the guy who graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at Annapolis, and doesn't know the difference between a Sunni and a Shia.
    Let's do something intelligent for a change...OBAMA 08

    September 21, 2008 at 1:11 am |
  50. Dave

    Its sad to think how we got where we are today. The Republican run American Government has run amok with its "my way or the highway" attitude. They squandered the world's benevolence toward America after 9/11 thanks to GW, Cheney & Co. spinning up a bogus war in Iraq, when they never even did catch Osama bin Laden. Our government took its eye off the ball when they went into Iraq, when we shoulve been going into Pakistan all along. Then they poke their finger into the eye of the Russian bear. Why cant the government in power, Dem or GOP, utilize the wisdom of these great people? Are we truly destined to repeat the proverbial "mistakes of our past?

    September 21, 2008 at 1:05 am |
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