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An Insider's Account of the Most Fascinating Domestic and International Events (2001)

An Insider's Account of the Most Fascinating Domestic and International Events (2001)



the words that shaped the nation American perspectives continues now with Warren Christopher earlier this month he sat down with Time Magazine's Walter Isaacson at the 92nd street y in new york city mr. Christopher talked about his role as Al Gore's advisor during the Florida vote recount and offered his thoughts on the elections outcome he also spoke about his new book chances of a lifetime in which he describes his years of public service this discussion runs about an hour hi it's good to be back here especially to introduce secretary Warren Christopher years and years ago when a friend of mine and I wrote a book called the wise man which was about the Giants of American foreign policy when we went on book tour the question we most got asked was who are the wise men today and the answer I most gave was the obvious answer Warren Christopher Warren Christopher epitomizes that tradition of selfless public service in the cause of American foreign policy somebody who did it not for his own glory not for his own ego not for the bureaucratic infighting but to wait make the world a better place born in a small town of north dakota mr. Christopher which went to the University of Southern California then was in the Naval Reserve active duty as an instant in the Pacific Theater and then Stanford Law School he was a clerk to Mr Justice William Douglas deputy attorney general deputy secretary of the United States under President Carter he got the medal of freedom for helping negotiate the release of the 52 American hostages in Iran native of Los Angeles now he was on the police on the Independent Commission into the Los Angeles Police Department had talked about police brutality especially after the Rodney King incident he handled the vice presidential search and worked on the transition as the director of the transition for President Clinton and then having failed i guess to find the proper Secretary of State while he was in charge of the transition Clinton ended up making him Secretary of State he has quite a few activities but I think would be far more interesting to hear him talk he has written an amazing book here it is chances of a lifetime scribner and i happen to have read more foreign policy books and you'd ever want to know about I do it for a living I do it because of my joy and love of foreign policy I do it because of the books I've had to write and some are pretty dried tones but a few of them stand out like at Jason's present at the creation as being not just dry policy tomes but personal passionate and great narratives great reads and chances of a lifetime which I've now red one and a half times and look forward to finishing it again is not just about the history in the policy of our time but telling it through people because he understands that people and their values or would make policy and would make history so you should definitely buy the book and you should also give a big round of applause to welcome Chris Christopher quite a crowd welcome to the 92nd Street why you've early early early in your career you argued in front of the US Supreme Court right yes it's very beginning of my career and at the very end we're not going to dwell on it this evening but I do want to ask you about the Supreme Court when you handle vice president Gore's Florida election fight tell me your analysis of the Supreme Court decision and how worrisome it was to you for the future Walter fürst thank you very much for the generous introduction got the evening off on a very generous start no it's very difficult for me to reconcile my almost all of the Supreme Court my high regard for the Supreme Court as an institution with the way I feel about the decision in Bush versus Gore first I think it was a mistake for the court to have entered that thicket at all the Supreme Court has traditionally stayed out of election contest especially when it's equally divided we're very equally divided and they were in this instance from the first and I think they went beyond that I think trying to seek a result on the basis of a theory that's been widely criticized so I tend unhappily to associate myself with the views of john paul stevens the senior judge on that court who was appointed by gerald ford who said in his dissenting opinion that we may well never know exactly how the florida thought came out we may never know who the real winner is but we know who the losers are and they're the judges of the United States to whom the American people look for non partisan unbiased views so unhappily I agreed with John Paul Stevens but I also think the court is a very strong institution and I think that over time the reputation can be repaired so you actually think that there were at least five this is who knew the outcome they wanted and tried to figure out a way to read the law to get there the opinion reads to me of being quite result-oriented okay I guess that's a pretty strong answer what was it like dealing with Al Gore during that period Al Gore was extremely impressive during that period he was very calm very analytical he went through each of decisions with great care Allison intellectually driving person so i had great admiration for the way he handled those matters i'd worked with him a lot before so i wasn't i wasn't greatly surprised but he was never angry even on the night the supreme court decision came down we talked into the night on whether he should concede the next day and i must say i think i would have been angrier than he was but he was very calm very deliberate and he knew at that point he had responsibilities to the American people not to prolong the divisive pneus of that moment in it and did you recommend that he conceived the next day or was there some arguments Walter I hope not to sound evasive tonight and man may be diplomats always do but I think I'll keep my advice to Al Gore on sensitive matters like that between him and me well that's good role no to make sure we can trust you or applaud that your book one of the interesting things about the cover I noticed just now is that a pretty much list just a wonderful series of names and what makes a book so readable is the colorful feel you have for people so I'm going to do something slightly unusual that I don't usually do when I do these interviews is really make it person oriented and I'm going to start with the people in the anecdotes that go with them and of course one of my favorites is LBJ their towering is during the Oval Office what was it like to deal with LBJ and why were you involved with them that back then I was involved with lyndon b johnson in the last two years of his administration was brought in his deputy attorney general the number to position in the Justice Department as I say in the book I think probably I was chosen because I had experience in a rather unusual specialty and that is the specialty of riots and so I dealt with LBJ mainly in terms of the riots and the same day I was confirmed he sent me to Detroit where that city has was going up in flames I was there as basically the number 22 sigh Vance who the President Johnson had brought him and I had my first nighttime middle of the night conversations with LBJ there in Detroit he's an extremely impressive man I think he is the most impressive legislative figure in the last half of the century and may be broader than that what LBJ accomplished in the 1960s in terms of civil rights legislation is just almost unbelievable me and certainly awesome you remember that time Washington DC was still segregated and the country was you know very badly divided on race relations but he put through some legislation that as I say is almost unbelievable in its scope and importance and I think he did it knowing that it was going to be very hard on the democratic party he told me and many others that he thought this might almost bring to an end the Democratic Party in the south but he felt impelled to do it so he was a very great figure and unfortunately I think his record is tainted by the Vietnam War but I just hoped it is we get deeper into history people will understand more about his contributions in the field of race relations there are some interesting anecdotes that in the book and we can talk about them if you like Walter no sure I did Bev at Johnson you mean or what about Johnson quad Johnson yeah yeah no going well one night during the intended confirmation of Abe Fortas as chief justice ignited States two failed confirmation President Johnson called me at home about I think was about 12 30 years President Johnson had a way of taking a rub down about ten o'clock and went to sleep for a few hours and then waking up and reading the morning editions of the papers and he had read the morning edition of The Washington Post and it had an article critical of the path that he was taking toward the trying to get to Abe Fortas confirmed well my wife and I had three young children at that time and I heard the telephone ring and I left out of bed to try to keep the telephone from waking everybody in the house up and as I jumped out of bed I hit my toe on on the bottom of the bed and went to the telephone and it throbbed and throb throb but I didn't want to let on to the president so would we talked for about a half an hour over or indeed i say we i listened for about a half an hour because that was the main function to try to get there to get it out of his system I got through the telephone call without without letting on what had happened but I spent a sleepless night as the toll kept throbbing and I had promised him that the first thing I would do the next morning would be to call the Washington Post editorial board and try to educate the minus particular sorta but before I did that I went to the receiving hospital and found that I had a fractured toe but let me ask you a serious question about Johnson you went to the Watts Riots in Detroit and everything else what do you think he felt and you felt caused those riots and why was he so passionate about civil rights when you would not have necessarily known it from his record in the 50s I think he felt he had a mission to try to bring the races together I believe the theory that he was much influenced by his mother in that regard and was trying to live up to her teachings he was a very constitutional person he would never order federal troops into riya scenes without the recommendation of a civilian authority he wouldn't take it on the basis of the chief of police or the governor of the state he always would have said some high public official out myself in many instances to review the situation and see whether or not it was justified to send federal troops into a a state or municipality on your question you know what was the reservoir from which he drew is a determination to try to improve race relations that's a very complicated question coming from Texas but it had to do with his being a teacher and it had to do I think with the influence of his mother tell me about Bobby Kennedy and then the assassinations of that of the year 68 we have king and Kennedy you were there for yes I i did not know Bobby Kennedy so well of course he had left the government at that time and he was campaigning for the presidency of the United States and he was campaigning a course of in a sense against President Johnson our new his campaign manager Fred Dutton very well we used to talk about bobby kennedy and i met him in that way but the main situation was when i was drawn into his assassination in los angeles he had just won the California primary by narrow but decisive margin he was riding high and then as we all know from history he was walking through the basement of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when he was assassinated I was awakened in the middle of the night and told this and I knew there'd be no more sleep that night and volunteered the next morning to go out to Los Angeles because that's my home to make sure the investigation was being conducted properly and it was but that was the night I think a good part of the American dream died it was a time I think when perhaps the Democrats hoped for that elections it turned out was was quelled Bob Kennedy had a very strong following and in a sense that Hubert Humphrey was never able to pull the party back together the reach of the supporters of Bob Kennedy I think in many instances or never fully harmonized back into the party what were the strengths and weaknesses of Jimmy Carter as a president President Carter was a highly moralistic person who brought I think an appropriate sense of religion into the white house he had high personal standards he's highly intelligent and very organized and orderly I worked with him I'd say most closely in connection with the 52 American hostages him Iran he had almost the I have an obsession obsession about getting the American hostages out I had chosen some of them for that dangerous assignment and so I felt a personal responsibility to them I know that President Carter felt almost the same sense let me clarify that you're the undersecretary number two at the State Department at this point I was deputy secretary secretary I'm sorry which is number two ed muskie was secretary of this time that's another story and button Carter well actually I mean we start with science because he doesn't resign until the mission right so and but go ahead didn't i'll ask you about that too huh well i can get my train of thought back here President Carter during that period after side bands had resigned took the calling me and he'd call me about 7 15 in the morning so I had to come in earlier and earlier in order to read the intelligence and he always wanted to know what's happened overnight and I would try to find some way to decorate it with just a little bit of hope saying mr. president we're doing everything we can or there's a little terms as a message in from Sicily that's a little encouraging or a message in from someplace that was encouraging but ultimately if we did not get two hostages out before the election and I think it was one of the fundamental fundamental causes you can't mention President Carter I wouldn't want to mention him without saying that I think he's clearly the leading most impressive ex-president that we've ever had in this country invited me to come down to the Carter Center to help inaugurate it and I made a speech and for that speech I studied the lives of the ex-president of the United States and there's always the chapter at the end of the biographies that talk about the ex-presidents and I must say we've had some Fred ex-presidents their former presidents who the very dreary impoverished lives and President Carter I think has contributed so much in the years he went out of a fairly young man but whatever thing you're talking about world peace of elections around the world things like the habitat for humanity or he's been really a great ex-president do you think we should have been more willing to use force against Iran and did you support the helicopter rescue mission that failed with respect to the use of force I never sound found I never saw a way that I thought that the use of force would preserve the lives of the hostage that was our primary objective of that type that time now you can see that in a different way you can say that our National Authority was so important that we should have taken all the risks necessary with the lives of the hostages in order to assert our authority I never could quite bring myself to that point of view I was not the main policy maker I was deputy secretary and I confess that i was so personally involved with the hostages themselves my judgment may not been entirely fair on that on the rescue mission itself that was held so tightly that secretary Vance was not able to tell me about it so I knew nothing about it in the planning stages and as I recounted the book one of the most uncomfortable meetings of my life was to be called into a meeting of the National Security Council Vance being out of town for a few days and this was the main topic of discussion and the president was trying to you know take from his cabinet the support and authority for going ahead though I was I was out of the loop one of the worst things you can be in Washington and so I never had an opportunity to express my views I was not had not been briefed on the subject maybe it's hindsight I felt at the time that it was a very risky mission I didn't quite see how you could get enough force into into Tehran and get the people out safely in a way that was was quite feasible now more experienced military people and I thought it was possible but I had real reservations when I began to get briefed about it whether it was feasible one of the difficulties that Carter had running the White House was the tension between Vance and dr. Burzynski and the fact that they kept cutting each other out of the loop even when it came to the normalization of China do you think I mean you were you were a part of the china yet normalization talks and do you think that that was a bad way to run a White House well you certainly have to keep many secrets in the White House and you need to limit the number of P no whether it was limited in too tight away I don't know as you know savants have thought that Holbrook and I were blacked out for a number of hours when the date to announce the normalization took place but back to the very interesting characters of science and his big presence key big was a brilliant man academic of you know rather a towering intellect and he'd spent his life in the field of foreign policy you know could talk with great Authority about countries around the world and he was a a global strategist of you know no no mean ability Vance in the other hand was one of the wise men in my in my judgment that somebody who had done all the hard things and government come up but through a path not not totally unlike mine law in and out several times distinguished career in the Pentagon Johnson was in the Johnson days and absolutely dedicated to science great confidence in but the two men were so different it just was unlikely to work the presence ki love of the press cultivated the press was extremely verbal Vance on the other hand barely tolerated the press he understood that side of his job had to be done but it was not his favorite topic so they were just born on different planets in a way not not deigned to get along and they didn't get along very well and I think a president has to be very careful to build a team on foreign policy not just strong individuals and if you put something together to have any individuals vie against each other that's that's a recipe for a real problem so I think that one of the things that President Clinton tried to do was to build a team who would be able to work well together on foreign policy I don't say that President Carter should have been able to foresee that difficulty but in hindsight it is it was clearly there you kind of hope to replace Vance when he was I yes I confess to that I was encouraged by things like the press and Time magazine pants resigned we've been wrong before pants resigned there were three or four days in which if I was speculated on I was the leading candidate in the eyes of that great nominator the press and then President Carter chose ed muskie I think for reasons that I in hindsight bring myself to understand fully and understand why he did it wasn't so easy at the time and so you go back in the private life for a while although of course we'll get to the point where you do become secretary but one of the things you do is the Rodney King and the police brutality thing tell me about the echoes from having done Watson Detroit and what you learned from the Rodney King very we're coming up on the 10th anniversary of Rodney King's beating by the Los Angeles Police Department I assume most of the people understand that name but to just refresh your memory he was a man who was driving a car in an erratic way there was a police chase a long police chase the police finally cornered him and then he was severely beaten by several police officers as about 14 or 15 other police officers stood stood around him basically watching watching them and that's an all-too-familiar pattern running from the police is a very bad idea for many reasons and that's one of them that incident was flashed around the world and it was very bad for the reputation of the United States and so one day I walked up to see Tom Bradley the great mayor of Los Angeles Mayor 45 four-year terms and I said Tom our city is taking a terrible tasting something needs to be done about it and he said what and I said well maybe a maybe a commission of some kind so if I do that you're going to have to going to have to be involved in it and I said you know I'm not naive enough to understand that my suggestion might lead to that but why don't you decide first well many event he set up a commission and we began to look into it and without extending this too far we found it was a very entrenched practice there was a maybe three to five percent of the force who used excessive force from time to time one of the most interesting things we found was that there were tapes of the transmissions between the police car officers in their police cars and the central Central Police Department and we enlisted the team of accountants and lawyers that read over a hundred thousand pages of transmissions and those transmissions made it perfectly clear that there was within the police department a small number of officers who regularly used or talked about excessive violence and also has some racial tendencies so we made some recommendations an attempt to deal with that and I'd be glad to talk more about that if you're interested but here we are 10 years from now from from Rodney King and certainly not all of the problems have been solved and one asked himself why is that so and let me say I've got great sympathy and empathy for police officers they do a very difficult job and for some of them it's a mind-bending personality changing job and I think we have to look at our police forces and I recommend it and it's not yet been done in Los Angeles regular psychological test to see if there couldn't be some way to determine which of the officers having daily deal with violence having daily deal with Lauda sins have it affect their personality I think most of them don't come in with that idea but the problem continues you know in your 40 years of your career you've dealt off knowing with the race issue and it still seems to be the Great Divide not just you know racial inequality but things like brutality profile and police profiling and stuff what can we do now to make besides you know psychological profiling I mean what's the problem here and how can this country deal with that now that's a big question a great big question you know I think we're making some progress in that regard the economic underpinnings of that problem are beginning to melt away african-americans are increasingly in better jobs and higher reaches of our society Hispanics in California are making considerable progress and of course the Hispanic population in California is larger than the african-american population I think the economic keys are there and that's why I have thought it's so important that the government beyond the side of trying to open up our society for the opportunities for african-americans and for Hispanics and all other minorities because that is probably the fundamental key I think President Johnson felt felt the same way and so I would hope that this new administration to President Bush will will take steps to increase the integration of our society but also to increase the access to the levers of power to increase the economic success of all races unless you're a tough question we some of us went down interviewed governor Bush right before the inauguration and said what is the most common what's the misconception about you that bothers you the most and his answer was very fast he said that I'm racially insensitive and I found that a very interesting answer and a few days later then he appoints Ashcroft do you think that was a unwise insensitive choice well that is a tough question and I'm no I'm encouraged by the answer that the governor Bush made I think governor Bush President Bush now has done some very good things in the early part of the administration he first chose a chief of staff before choosing the rest of his cabinet a mistake I think that President Clinton made and that i was i was involved in he picked a very senior experienced cabinet by and large especially in the foreign policy area and most relevant to this particular question he picked a very diverse cabinet justice diversas as we picked in 1992 1993 when we said we wanted to have a cabinet that look like America I really commend him for that that makes me all the more disappointed that he undermined so much of the good feeling that would flow from that diverse cabinet by the appointment of the governor senator Ashcroft to the Justice Department the only way I can really understand that is to ask myself whether not being in Washington very much whether governor now President Bush understood how important the Justice Department is to the minorities of this country the Justice Department has always been in a sense their protector early civil rights division is you know pirozek to the minorities of this country and so I I'm sorry to say but I think that that that appointment was a mistake and undermined at least temporarily a lot of the good that was done by other by other things the the attitude that then governor Ashe Gulf brought to racial desegregation is all too plain I'm afraid and doesn't mean he can't change his mind doesn't mean he hasn't grown through the years but I hope you'll begin to demonstrate there's a tough question why do you think I mean you sort of say he did it because he just didn't understand that the Justice Department is important which I find an unsatisfying explanation do you think he did it because he had to kowtow or that's a strong or did he had to appease the conservative wing of his party did he do it because he actually believes john ashcroft is the best possible person to be in charge of the equal enforcement of our laws wouldn't it be you know just happily foolish for me to speculate why President Bush did something I don't know him certainly don't know him well and I don't want to ascribe any any motives to am I I'd rather put it down to an oversight that will be corrected and I'm really quite heartened to hear the way he reacted so quickly to you and your question um the most interesting person you've met you sometimes call him not most interesting you've met but one of those interesting public servants you've ever worked with the bill clinton what start with the lack of discipline that you talked a little bit about in the book when it came to forming the cabinet and putting together those first meetings because that is what undoes of in some ways and we can talk about its strengths as well well presidents are very complex figures as if scott Fitzgerald said about that very rich presidents are just different than other people and nearly all of them are our complex and they're different from each other my first experiences with President Clinton showed very considerable discipline and organization and that was in the search for a and search for a running mate now Gordon jozin he gave me a crisp assignment he let me carry it out largely reporting back to him regularly he read extensively on everything I gave him and I'm sure he heard from a lot of others so my first impression of him was at a very well organized person who delegated very well you know that's one of the most important things that a chief executive has to have a sense of delegation trying to pick good people but not micromanage after the after they get a particular assignment so I started off well I did think that President Clinton should have chosen his chief of staff earlier and first and the only way I can explain that and I do know him somewhat better is he felt loyalty to different people in different groups and found it hard to sort out his loyalties in making that decision but there there's an awful lot to talk about on Bill Clinton the area I know best of course is his foreign policy and I think he'll be remembered as a very strong foreign policy field in the economic field he used the economic dimension of foreign policy to sustain our prosperity in a way that I think historians will give him great credit pushing through NAFTA in his first year the first summit meetings of Asian leaders the World Trade Organization and then coping with crises around the world you know maybe one of the most courageous things he did was to stop the peso crisis in Mexico by lending 50 million dollars to Mexico which we've all gotten back I know whether Bob Rubin might be in the audience here tonight but Bob Rubin deserves tremendous credit for advising the president that particularly but one of your jobs was as I said in the introduction is to help him pick the cabinet and you did a very good job on every position except Secretary of State we gave him a list who was on the list and how come none of them got chosen that's one of those mysteries we were talking what we did picking the cabinet was a fairly organized operation we would get a long list of people together and then have memos drawn from the public record on each one profile from the public record the president would read them and we discuss them and he narrow the list and have two or three people down for four interviews well we'd taken the first step on the Secretary of State we had a list of very very prominent people all that all the names that the usual suspects would assemble and as we were leaving that afternoon we'd finished our work and we had only done the first step on that he called me over and as we were standing up and sort of a vestibule of the mansion in Arkansas said Chris have no point in going any further on this I want you to be Secretary of State and Al Gore agrees how the way the president explained that once when he was asked about it he said you know Secretary of State came out of the transition Chris ran the transition he became Secretary of State Yitzhak Rabine no a tremendously wise tough able person I had early conversations with him on the telephone which I report in in the book and despite his gruffness and his terseness I was immediately drawn to him because he had enormous strength he would tell you what he would do and he would do it and he had a sense of strategic leadership for Israel that I it was extremely valuable no he brought Israel into peace with them with Jordan he was prepared to make great progress on other fronts and I think he could have done it because he had the confidence of the people of Israel the day he was assassinated I think it was the fourth of November 1995 I immediately had the sense that not only had I lost a friend but the cause of peace had been set back enormously I didn't understand how much I think it's that we really haven't fully recovered the momentum that it's that were being had had brought to the process you said he could have done it may be made it happen what would the peace look like that he would have accomplished in the Middle East to Islam well I he had a sense of the importance of the dealing with the Syrian track and I think he if the Syrians had just been a little bit more willing might well have done that even before he was assassinated so I think that particular part of the encirclement of Israel would it would have been ended that would have been do you think it would have been smart to do a deal with Syria before taking on the Palestinian I think Rabine thought so and he tried and he made a very in a way a generous proposal to the Syrians to Assad through me saying that mr. Christopher if him if I sod is willing to do a whole series of things then I'm willing to return the goal on and he basically put that in my pocket and it would me to offer that to Assad and our sods reply to that was so grudging and so lacking in the sense of the historic move that ravine was able to make that when I went back and I reported that to repeat and I tried to put the best face on it i could but nevertheless ravine knew that assad was not going to be a forthcoming partner and and so in in august of 1993 he grew back from the Syrian track and gave the authority to move ahead with the Oslo agreement with respect to the Palestinians but thereafter he came back to the Syrian track and I think he very much wanted to complete that because he had the deep sense of ending the encirclement of Israel and bringing them into the community of nations in the Middle East not a not an easy task but to solve the Syrian and the Golan situation do you see any solutions such as monitoring stations that could happen now that ravine would have accepted and could happen now to solve it if the US were to go back on that track for you know it's very hard to recreate history and certainly can't do it in the subjunctive mode I think it might have been done at that time but what would have looked like I mean there have been a US would you have been willing to commit or you and the president willing to commit an American monitoring presence there would Assad have been willing to agree with that I think an American monitoring presence might have been a key factor of the negotiations I don't think Walter it would have been solely American I think it would have been international monitoring presence which would have made it more acceptable to the Arab site but that's a solvable problem you don't have you don't have the country's all intertwined and intermixed you have a border you can create a border and you know there are real trade-off you can make how far back each side will be where the monitoring stations would be there are printer I say they're genuine trade-offs can be done there whether it can be done with the current leadership or the anticipated leadership of Israel is quite a different question but I still think that's a that's a doable job there's so much to be gained for Syria Syria is caught in a time warp there you know back in the 1950s you you go to Damascus and it looks like Wichita in the 1950s it's really and one of the things I mentioned in my book one of the nights after I had a very frustrating session with Hafez Assad the President of Syria I screwed up my courage and you know you're pretty careful about what you say when you're meeting in the home country of a ruthless dictator but I so what we feel like coming to the 92nd Street why I screwed up my courage and I said to him just as we were parting and we did have developed a decent relationship with each other as many other American secretaries of state had it was hard to hard to remember his ruthless qualities when you're right with him but any bad i said to him mr. president has ever occurred to you the time might not be on your side he always thought time was on his side and he looked at me very quickly and I said you know mr. president of the gross national product of Israel is so much larger than yours the individual product of their citizens is so much greater and it's growing the gap is growing and he sort of nodded he understood that because he made the point back to me several times but he never acted on it and Syria you know desperately needs to move into the modern world and this kind of a this kind of agreement would make it possible do you know his son and if i do not know his son i think it's you know it's sad to see how little he left by way of legacy for his son so much in contrast to king hussein i have a chapter in the book about the contrasting youtube king hussein left his son with a lot of problems jordan will always have a lot of problems considering the nature of their population but king hussein left his son with peace with israel whereas Assad left his son you know in a situation of relentless canta con Questor of context let me push you just one more time if you were doing it now would you do Syria before the Palestinians if you were secretary of state now yes I wouldn't okay speaking of the Palestinians Oh step by step in Oslo what were the advantages of the Oslo approach to the Palestinian situation well osmo was built on the quite understandable theory that if they too oops that is the Israelis and the Palestinians could work together on relatively small problems they could build confidence in each other that enabled them to solve larger problems you know as a negotiator you always ask yourself how do I begin this negotiation do I take the biggest toughest problem and try to resolve that and then think that everything will go easy after that or you take the other approach you say well let's develop a working relationship establish some trust in each other well Israel Shimon Peres and ravine decided on the latter approach and a number of very significant things happened Gaza went back to the Palestinians no great gift in many ways but nevertheless when factor Palestinians and you had now the transfer of control of nine cities to the Palestinians but somehow the trust was was never built up the the interchange at least between the current leaders have never established that trust and enabled them to deal more effectively with the big problems robine and arafat had to have two ravine 11 night said to me and you know it's difficult getting along with the arafat but there's nobody else and that was a real lesson and I'm afraid it's still a large largely true now no bye I have not been in negotiation but by common understanding they've come very close on some of the big issues our fact what was it like dealing with him a difficult amazing colorful person the first time I I dealt with him you know everybody takes the measure of a new Secretary of State I think we've it was in Paris where we met him he just no shouted at me and complained and just just had it you know Justin almost emotional tirade and so I said to him you know mr. Arafat you know we can either have a decent relationship or we can go on shouting at each other but but let's not to have any misunderstanding as to whether shouting is going to do any good well we didn't shout at each other after that and we had a relationship that enabled us to work out some problems together he has one very frustrating quality and I put it down to his being a a guerrilla leader you know he lived by his wits most of his life and as a guerrilla leader I think he was always playing off his associates against each other and in a negotiation with Arafat he always pressed for the most outlandish or most extreme position taken by any of his associates because that way he could hardly ever be dethroned it was it was very frustrating to deal with him because he would you reach what you thought was an agreement with him he'd say just one more thing in the you see it was always just one more thing you could never quite complete a negotiation with him so understand the problems that the Israeli negotiators I've had with in my sure I'm sure he hasn't changed that that technique and if it does not engender confidence to put it mildly that technique might be a technique of somebody who actually doesn't want peace do you think he wants peace for that is that as a deep question that I've asked myself many times Walter is that because he prefers the street and the long run two piece is it in his interest to have a piece I think it's probably in his interest to have peace on his own terms but whether he can negotiate a peace that will be satisfactory to the Israelis is one of the great questions of our time were you surprised it seemed that there was quite a bit of an offer alas go around on this negotiations including this resolution of the Jerusalem question that went far beyond what any Israeli government had said before do you think that he was were you surprised that he didn't snap that up and do you think nail it's even possible to have a resolution I wasn't in those negotiations that are always a big danger and in talking knowledgeably about things you've only talked to others about who were in the negotiations but the Israelis went a long long ways that Prime Minister Barack made concessions that may have been almost unattainable from his own political standpoint biraktim came into office with the determination to solve those problems you went about it in an orderly way that somebody who was a systems analyst would do and that's what not worked out very well and I think the people of Israel I don't want to predict the outcome of the election I don't want to get into the election but I think that's and it was it was way to the outer reaches of his authority and yet still arafat would not accept it and i think that's what has caused President Clinton to pin a good deal of the blame on era thought for the breakdown and negotiations of he seems at least for the moment to prefer the street to the negotiating table let us let me spare you from having to get into the Israeli elections and you said you don't want to but let's say whatever or perhaps let us say Netanyahu wins do you think it might be better to take a break from the peace process for a while Netanyahu wins I'm sorry i'm sorry i'm not there out of Russia Netanyahu has been in New York over the past week and so he's a person we talked about sharone wins or leaving aside who wins should we just take a break from the peace process for I think it's inevitable I think we need to take a timeout and regroup my own feeling about the Israeli people and I my wife and I developed such a tremendous affection for the Israelis when we were there my feeling about the Israeli people is that there is an underlying desire for peace that will resurface in a very powerful way but it may take it may say some time we've made a lot of progress and I think we need to see this in the longest historic terms not to give up but perhaps to step back from negotiations for time President Clinton at the signing ceremony after you know the courts he and you put together there were some interesting details in the book that gave me some sense of what Clinton was like his involvement his you know you say sometimes it's best to delegate and not micromanage I think he tended to throw himself into the details too sometimes well Clinton is the most gifted political leader that I've ever seen probably the most gifted political leader of the last century and in raw political terms he had a sense of what other leaders needed understood their own politics as well as his politics and when he was working on a particular event he got very deeply into it too I think he has given some remarkably good speeches and when you read the speech it doesn't sound quite as good as it did when you heard it that's because Clinton has so many qualities of being a great actor and he threw himself into that particular occasion with enormous care he got up that morning by his accountant three o'clock and walked through the whole ceremony and I can believe it and you know he was really in the details of that because he knew that everything had to go right here you had Hara fought who a year earlier hadn't been permitted in the United States much less a lighthouse coming to the White House had to be persuaded to leave his pistol back in his hotel room that morning the window at hotel security felt yeah andhra being who really didn't want it didn't want to be there but but was new knew he had to come and then out in the blue room where we sort of danced around each other they tried not to have to shake hands and did they go chime sorry to interrupt but did they negotiate beforehand whether or not they would shake a no-no that they didn't it when I asked for being about that I said you know at some point mr. president you probably have to shake hands he said well I'll do what I have to do at the time very gruffly and of course that great handshake but that was not negotiated in advance at least not as far as I know the turning for a moment to China because it's a good example of foreign policy standards and principles Clinton runs on a campaign in 92 and which he's talking about how Bush is too eager to accommodate the butcher's of beijing I think was a phrase and that he's going to have a more assertive moralistic foreign policy when it comes to China and then he doesn't because he realizes that that would have been counterproductive to what extent should moral values be asserted in a case like China to what extent does realism set in after you become president and how were you there on that balance I don't think we're going to ever put out of our sight and mind the importance of moral values we have to be realistic but we need to maintain that bedrock of principle in whatever we deal with abroad and that's why I feel that although our relationship with China needs to be encouraged in terms of trade and in terms of many things we have to go together we must never forget or take into it fail to take into account the fundamental differences between our systems and realize that we can never have our relationship rise to the highest level until our sets of values are closer together and I hope that means they're about is coming to our is not the other way when Madeleine Albright succeeds you she is an exemplar of somebody who is more assertive when it comes two or more aggressive and perhaps is more vocal when it comes to the assertion of values rather than what may be called rail polity did first of all describe your view of her what it was like working with her but also was there a change in in tone in the State Department after that well I've had a long and close friendship with Madeleine Albright dating back I think to the muskie campaign when we were both volunteers way down on the bottom of the muskie campaign I supported her the president's nomination of hereford un ambassador and I thought she did a magnificent job as you an ambassador she was always able to pull off miracles in the UN I sometimes thought we depended too much on her to pull off miracles in the UN and certainly her place in history as the first female Secretary of State is firmly entrenched and will never be changed she certainly was very vocal about the importance of Val and I think she'll be remembered as a strong proponent of the use of force in in Bosnia I'm sorry in Kosovo as well as when she was ambassador here she was a proponent of the use of force in Bosnia you know a secretary of state is is as somewhat the victim of events or at least can't completely control events you'd write up and down even within a four year term with events and Madeline certainly made a very diligent and aggressive effort with respect to the israeli-palestinian situation has to be disappointed as to way that the way that came out I would certainly say that Madeline was a more aggressive more effective spokesman than I was in many respects and I admire her for that he talked about Bosnia and being an advocate of the use of force there she was very much so would you describe what it was like being in the Situation Room say with colon Powell who was now Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and yourself and Cohen Powell's resistance to the use of force but his presence in a situation room when you have to make that decision well I served with Colin Powell for only eight months and he left the government he left his position as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in accordance with the statutory term in august i believe it was Walter of the year that I became Secretary of State and so for those eight months he was a towering figure in the in the Situation Room he's a powerful figure he used up a lot of the air fills a room and his experience gave him tremendous Authority during that period and the Powell doctrine has it's widely known now is that America should not use its a force in humanitarian causes and so in that first six or seven months he was he was very influential we knew we had a serious problem on our hands we were trying to grapple with it and we certainly felt the impressive force of Colin's Powell's desire not to use American troops he was prepared to use American power air power under certain situation now you know I wouldn't want to speak about Colin Powell without saying that I think that's a from the standpoint of the State Department a very good appointment I think colin powell will do a great deal to help the morale of the State Department he is accustomed to leading men and women and he'll be very effective of that and they could be very effective at getting better appropriations for us from the Congress one of my regrets is that I was not more successful than persuading the Congress to enable us to modernize our technology and pay better salaries you know sometimes our promotion lists were embarrassingly small the only one or two people able to promoted up the ranks to a higher level because we simply didn't have the funds to do it and that's not the way it should be and Colin Powell having been to the Pentagon and seeing the size of the budgets there I think would be very effective advocate for us but he was a forceful figure to return to your question at that time and I know he'll be a forceful figure again on their hand he has he has some other whales out there with him as well this time you mean Rumsfeld Cheney yes why don't you talk about that well that the president has put in a very experienced team these are people who have led important departments and you know they come to their jobs i'm sure with the sense of teamwork but almost certainly there will be issues that divide them one of the things that President Bush will certainly learn if he doesn't already know my guess as he does is that the predator job of being president is a non-delegable job and you may have too much as people get along with each other the issues that come to the president our frequently ones in which this cabinet officers are different of different views and those will have to be resolved and I can imagine some that will come down the road but I don't want to predict what they will be or how they ought to come out I just say that you know I think it's important for the president to know that it's not unhealthy to have his advisors disagree it's probably healthy to have them disagree so that he can see all sides of the decisions that are presented to him well we'll see what happens when that first happens because there's going to be perhaps disagreements between rumsfeld cheney and powell and i think even you would be somewhat intimidated to have to adjudicate amongst that crowd and don't count Condoleezza Rice out of that oh she probably knows the president better than any of the other three although obviously knows shany very well by now but and she's a forceful person she is a force to be considered she was Provost at Stanford University where I've had quite a lot of the relationships and I saw the power that she brought to the budget there so you have to make it a foursome dealing with these issues at least yes and she's not only forceful and close to the president but has a strong clear-eyed view of foreign policy and it's probably not going to put up with a lot of nonsense she has proximity to and I must say that's a lot it's a very big big advantage and better look if you look at that West Wing and you know the West Wing obviously but you go down the hall do you get to her office or Cheney's office first well I know I I can't assume that things stay the same as they actually are in the same well then to her office first would you come up the stairs that's the way most people come in from the West Wing this way okay let's turn up the house lights if we may because I'm sure there's some questions from the audience looking out some applause

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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