'This Week' Roundtable Transcript: Foreign Affairs

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WATCH Roundtable: Foreign Affairs

AMANPOUR: With Osama bin Laden dead and gone now, President Obama

will reach out to the Muslim world in another speech on Thursday. He

will address the democratic uprising sweeping the Middle East where a

heady atmosphere is being tempered by violent oppression.

In Syria, security forces on Friday again fired on large

demonstrations calling for an end of the regime of President Bashar

al-Assad. The death toll is now well over a thousand, with thousands

more under arrest.

Mass arrests also continue in Bahrain, a key American ally. And

human rights groups urging the United States to break its silence on the

brutal government crackdown.

And in Libya, civil war rages and Moammar Gadhafi continues to stay

in power under that NATO no-fly zone.

And Egypt, which overthrew its president in February, is now at a

fork in the road, facing change and reform for chaos and instability.

So, how will the president address all of this upheaval? With me

now, Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution, Richard Haass, president

of the Council on Foreign Relations, and in Beirut, Lebanon, Anthony

Shadid of The New York Times.

Thank you for being here.

Let's first actually get to Pakistan and what is a very tense time

in this key relationship. Senator Kerry has gone over there, Richard.

He's carrying apparently messages from the administration. What is the

best he can do now?


introduce a degree of partnership between United States and Pakistan.

The problem is we're not partners. Pakistan provides sanctuary to the

Afghan Taliban who are killing our Americans, they provide sanctuary to

terrorists who are also killing Americans.

What we have to do is try to put this relationship on a more

conditional footing, essentially say we'll give you economic aid if it

promotes democracy. Any military aid will only be given if we know how

it is used.

I'm not sure how this will work. Not every problem has a solution.

And It may be the Pakistanis will reject it or they may once again agree

and then they'll continue doing what they've always done.

AMANPOUR: And we've seen, Robert, so many stories now, reports of

the sort of regular, specific warnings that the United States has given

Pakistan with various high-level officials. Is there -- obviously the

U.S. needs Pakistan, still, doesn't it? I mean, it's not like it's a

relationship that can just be cast asunder?

ROBERT KAGAN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: Well, I think we should try to

need it less. I think we should try to develop as many alternative

routes for supplying our forces in Afghanistan as possible, that's the

big dependency. And I think quite honestly if you want to get the

Pakistani's attention, you have to deal with one issue that frightens

them most which is India. I think if it became clear that the United

States was really fed up with Pakistan and willing to tilt toward India

in ways the Pakistanis would find troubling, for instance, talking to

India about


The Indian was love to be involved in Afghanistan. It's the

Pakistanis greatest fear. I think you have to start talking about

things the Pakistanis care about. They don't really care if we cut off

their aid. They're a little bit willing to commit suicide in order to

not do what we want them to do. I think we need some other leverage.

AMANPOUR: Do you think Hillary Clinton should go there?

HAASS: I would only go with a tough message that say, we will work

with you when you work with us, but otherwise we are going to work

around you, This has got to become a much more conditional relationship.

We have tried for years and we have failed. We have to understand

the fact that Pakistan is not an ally. And we should start banning the

words ally and partner when it comes to Pakistan. It doesn't mean you

jettison the relationship, but we've got to become so much more sober

and critical and conditional here.

AMANPOUR: Post-bin Laden world we're dealing with Pakistan. We

also dealing with the rest of the Arab world. President Obama is going

to give a speech. I want to turn to Anthony Shadid, because there

again, you are in Beirut. You've traveled to Syria. You spoke to

Syrian government officials and a key aide of Bashar Assad.

Bashar Assad is being asked to respect those right the of the people

there. Is there any sense that you got, Tony, that the government is

going to step back from the violence that is being perpetrated against

the protesters?

ANTHONY SHADID, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think this is clearly a

government that is in survival mode. And they're willing to go as far

as they need to to maintain their power. Again we have to remember this

is a family who has ruled over Syria for nearly 40 years.

There's no indication that I got that they were willing to

compromise. And if they do compromise it will only comes from a

position of strength.

We may see that in the weeks ahead. They feel they have the upper

hand. There are tentative signs of some concessions being offered to the

opposition, but again the opposition is basically several dissidents,

you know very prominent dissidents within Syria. There may be talks

with them.

But I think clearly, we are going to see this crackdown continue in

the weeks ahead. And it could become very dangerous, given the events

today where we saw clashes on the border near the Golan Heights. This

may take turns that are not expected.

AMANPOUR: Tony, what do you think the people of the Arab world

right now, those who are rising in countries from Tunisia and on to

Syria and beyond, what are they looking for if anything from a speech by

President Obama?

SHADID: Well, I think in general, the event, the so-called Arab

Spring have created an enormous amount of enthusiasm and excitement but

also some trepidation. I think the power of the United States, again

this is just from interviews, but the power of the United States, in say

the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia was that the revolution themselves

were not very associated with the United States.

These are organic movements, organic change. And in a way, the Arab

Spring is about the Arab world itself.

I think the president is going have a challenge in trying to

navigate that, trying to take some role what's going on in the Middle

East but without being too associated with it.

I think if we look at the history of the Arab world, we have to

understand that intervention has rarely gone well, be it the 1956 Suez

War, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in '82, even the Iraq war.

So this is a very delicate moment I think in the Arab world. And

what gives the Arab Spring such force and such vigor in some ways that

it's the Arab world at a moment trying to determine on its own what it

will become.

AMANPOUR: Tony, thank you so much for joining from Beirut. And let

me pick up some things that he said.

There's so much inconsistency if you like, or different scenarios

playing out in so many countries that I've been reporting for, everybody

is looking at.

What should the president say, for instance, about Syria? You know,

there's no intervention there. There are barely sanctions that have

affected anything right now?

HAASS: The president has to avoid over promising. Indeed, I don't

like the phrase Arab Spring for two reason, it's too positive and it

suggests things are going happen in the course of a season. We are

looking at things that are going to take years if not decades to play

out in places like Egypt and Syria.

So the president has got to lower expectation. He's got to

associate the United States, generally, with reform. But he's also got

to make it clear that we can't intervene the same way every place.

There is going to be in inconsistency. And he has to almost sell

inconsistent and not have it confused with hypocrisy. Not an easy challenge.

AMANPOUR: Sell inconsistency?

KAGAN: I don't think that's a winning tactic, especially when you

consider the fact that even if he says he's speaking to the Muslim world

he's also speaking to the American people, that's who American

presidents speaks to. And at times you have to be able to deliver a

message that Dean Acheson famously said talking about the Truman

Doctrine that's clearer than truth.

Of course there's complexity in the Arab world, of course a lot of

these countries are going in different directions. So I think the

American people need to understand, he needs to tell them, this is an

historic moment of world historic significance which is going to have

enormous impact on American interests.

And we can't be sort of hiding in our shell, we obviously we have a

lot of problems at home to worry about, but this is a moment that we

can't let pass.

AMANPOUR: And certainly the people there in all the places that

I've been expect the United States to be on their side for freedom,

democracy, reform.

KAGAN: Right. And there are things that we can and should be

doing. And Richard is right, there will be different things, but we but

we need to be on the side of reform.

And Obama does need to tell the region, we are on the side of the

people, not on the side of dictatorship.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you both, there were two very interesting

magazine covers this week. One is The New Yorker, and we'll put it up,

which shows the face of Osama bin Laden being erased out. And the other

is The Atlantic. And it shows sort of the scary face, if you like, of a

woman clad in a full veil.

Basically the question is, is bin Laden going to cause less Islamism

or more scary kind of militantism that people hear and are afraid of?

What do you think, Richard?

HAASS: Well, the good news is that none of this has been about

Osama bin Laden. What is going on in the Arab world is not inspired by

-- if anything it was an intellectual and ideological challenge. He

represents the past. So he's gone physically. But he was already in

many ways gone politically. He's not about what's going on in Egypt or

Syria and all that.

So this whole thing -- this creates an opening for the president and

the United States. He can lay out a positive agenda.

But also the United States has to go about it, I think, in a way

that also puts down some guideposts about the pace of it, about some of

the principles that we believe in, because in many cases the oppositions

are not clearly better than the status quo. We want to make clear what

it is we want, not simply what it is we're against.

AMANPOUR: Well, let's take Egypt. Really the cornerstone of the

Arab world, and you've got a bit of a dicey situation going on there. I

mean, there's a security vacuum, apparently, and no clear road as to how

the next election is going to go. How do you see that falling out?

KAGAN: Well, as I said, the State Department, I'm consciously

optimistic. I mean, I think that given all the things that can and will

go wrong around this region, Egypt is going pretty well right now.

Now, a lot of people are concerned about the fact, and this gets to

the question of Islamism. The Muslim Brotherhood is going to have a

very large share of influence in the next government. And we, in the

United States, are going to have to have a varied attitude towards

Islamism. There's bin Ladenism, and then there is our Islamist parties

that may be compatible with democracy. And Richard's right, we need to

put down clear principles about what democracy means.

AMANPOUR: And because obviously there's been no political activity

in those countries, it's mostly been in the mosques.

HAASS: Exactly. Exactly right. And the only places you see right

now in Egypt, institutions that are powerful are the army and the

Islamists, which is why you need to buy time for civil society to catch

up, for the secular, more liberal. And even within the Islamists,

you're right, there's gradations. You have got to try to level the

playing field.

But one thing we've learned or we should have learned is you can't

rush democracy, particularly against the backdrop of the economic

hardship that you see in Egypt.

One of the things we've also got to do is introduce an economic

element here.

AMANPOUR: Let me ask you another question. One of the things that

everybody always said historically is that unless you fix the

Israeli-Palestinian problems, nothing is going to happen. But it looks

like that's not fixable. Even George Mitchell, the special envoy, has


KAGAN: Well, I disagree with the basic premise that everything in

the Middle East is about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Obviously it's

important. It's an issue that Arab peoples do care about. But

especially now, that's not the only thing that is going on. Egyptians

care primarily about what is going on in Egypt. Syrians care about what

is going on in Syria, et cetera. And so I think, you know, it's -- in a

way, it's just fine that there's no progress to be had on that peace

process right now.

AMANPOUR: All right, we'll remember that this week when Bebe

Netanyahu comes, the prime minister of Israel. Gentlemen, thank you so

much indeed.