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tv   This Is America With Dennis Wholey  WHUT  April 24, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT

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>> our guest this week is dr. richard solomon, president of the united states institute of peace and former assistant secretary of state for east asian and pacific affairs. >> the united states institute of peace. tell us about the background. what is its mission and how did it come about? >> , -- congress established us in the wake of the vietnam war. there had been talk going back to the time of george washington to having some form of a peace institution, but nothing grab hold in congress. not until the impact of the
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vietnam war was deeply felt in this country. a series of the senatorial supporters passed legislation passing the institute with a broad and flexible charter, which was to try to strengthen the capacity of this country to deal with international conflict by other than military means, by political, economic, peaceful means. that is the broad charter we have operated under for over a quarter of a century. but the real take-off occurred when the cold war ended. during the cold war, the superpowers dominated world affairs, but with the collapse of the soviet union, you saw it was not a peaceful world and there were different kinds of conflicts -- in haiti, somalia, in the balkans. more recently, in various middle eastern countries. not the big bureaucracies that
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are meant to deal with security -- the big bureaucracies meant to deal with security are struggling to turn the big ships, as a war and adapt to these new conflicts. we are small and agile and had a flexible charter from congress, so we suddenly had an opportunity to do innovation and we started doing things the big agencies were not doing. for example, in 1994, the marine corps general called and said the clinton administration is sending my marines on peacekeeping missions. but they are trained to be war fighters. can you help us retrain them for peacekeeping missions? we started working with the military to train for these peace operations. then you had the dayton accord negotiated in 1995 to try to get
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the balkans situation under control. that was driven not by ideology but by religion and ethnic differences, which was an area we had worked on. the state department does not have the bureau of religious affairs. we had a program in religion and peacemaking. we got our folks over to the balkans, we got the religious communities together and worked to establish an interfaith council which has helped to stabilize the balkans. we have the programs to try to facilitate interfaith reconciliation. >> you mentioned at the state department. it is right across the street from you. >> we are at the northwest corner of the mall, 23rd and constitution avenue. >> you call it the war and peace corner of the mall? >> that is our moniker because
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we are right across the street from the vietnam veterans memorial, the korean memorial, the lincoln memorial, we are a short walk to the world war two memorial and the holocaust museum. the work we do as a counterpoint to all of these memorials to the great sacrifices our >> how is it different from the state department? you can do things they cannot do? >> we have a range of programs focus on conflict management and promotion of stable facilities -- stable societies with institutions that can manage conflict without violence. the state department draws on our work. we just bring capabilities that are not normally part of their operation like religion or the
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rule of law. more recently, in terms of building civil society, institutions -- you take a country like iraq, torn apart in a very nasty conflict. saddam hussein never allowed a civil society set of institutions to develop. we work with local iraqis and also in afghanistan, we are trying to help the local folks establish humanitarian assistance organizations and other aspects of civil society so that people have structures by which they can manage their own conflicts. >> we're going to take a little break and tell the people at home i'm talking with dr. richard solomon. he is a career -- he has served as u.s. ambassador to the
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philippines national security council. but right now, he is president of debt united states institute of peace. we're going to take a break and come back on the other side. >> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. and the american life tv network.
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the rotondaro family trust. the ctc foundation. afo communications. and the american life tv network. >> you have been the president of the united states institute of peace for some time now -- 1993 -- what would you point to as two or three major successes? you may have indicated them so far -- something that we did it that something no one else could do. >> we became an operational element of our foreign affairs and national security community. we began doing the kind of analytical work you would call think tank worked. we are now they think and do tank. we think, act, teach and train. we have taken our analytical
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work and applied that in the field. we have looked at ways to promote his reconciliation among ethnic and religiously divided societies, and not just talked about it, not just the published reports that we do, but to actually work on the ground and come up with what we refer to as best practices in conflict management, which we roll into training programs. we work with our military, with the non-governmental organization community, with the state department passing on best practices and conflict management skills. >> where does the money come from to support your efforts? >> we are a creation of congress and by law, we can only use a congressional appropriation which comes every year to promote our programming.
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that is done for a purpose, to offer us from the special- interest money that comes into some of the policy think tank in town. we are a bipartisan organization and by law, our board of directors is nominated by the president, confirmed by the senate, on a bipartisan basis. we provide a vehicle or an organization that can work professionally in a bipartisan way to look at some of the tough issues are country faces. >> speaking of the young people who have just come into congress, they're going after everybody's budget. would that include yours as well? >> our budget is being looked at. unfortunately -- or fortunately -- the budget issue, which is a
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serious one and we appreciate is not going to be solved with our budget. we cost the american people 18 cents a year in terms of per capita costs for running the institute of peace. our budget is 0.1% of the state department budget. >> they would not cut that, would they? >> there are people looking at eliminating our budget. we think upon consideration, they will see we are and assets that is worth preserving. >> i'm sure by this time, you have some friends on the hill. >> we have developed over a quarter-century, a broad range of support. some of the new folks coming into congress are not well informed about our work. whether it is more senior people
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rallying to our cause or people in the private sector, two former secretaries of state are big boosters of our work. former secretary of state madeleine albright and jewels -- and george shultz. a number of military leaders, the former secretary of defense, frank carlucci -- i could spend off a whole range of names, but people see that the we are small, we are and agile and innovative center of work for managing conflict and violence. >> let me go philosophical for a minute. his war by its very definition, or the definition of mankind and humankind, is a war always going to be part of the human equation? conflictjust say that is part of the human condition.
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our work is designed to deal with conflict in a preventive way so it does not cross the line into violence. where you have war or other forms of violent conflict, that we did it under control and produce stabilization or reconciliation. >> when you look at various conflicts you have studied, and you are a political scientist, what is at the heart of conflict? is there something at the heart of conflict you can point to? >> there are many reasons for conflicts. territorial disputes char are always a major driver. -- territorial disputes are always a major driver. where you have ethnic and religious differences, difference in languages that seem to be a driver of a lot of the conflicts we see in various
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parts of the world. >> one of the books you have a hand in here as a co-author -- "american negotiating behavior -- legal eagles, belize and preachers." is the idea of negotiating these conflicts -- how do you n.c.a.a. yourself if that is the correct verb, into a conflict? >> -- how do you insinuate yourself, if that is the correct verb? >> i don't like that ever. >> how do you get involved and is it all about gives and gets? >> i should give you some background on this study which is one of over a dozen books we have written. the first one and a series i did was based on work i had done
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with henry kissinger on the opening to china. kissinger was shocked to discover the chinese were not communist in their behavior. he dealt with the soviet union and he found the chinese were very chinese. after working for him for five years, i did a book on chinese negotiating behavior because was quite distinctive. >> you have a whole other culture at work. >> from the point of view of the institute of peace, negotiating is a major tool for managing conflict. our objective is to strengthen the ability of our officials to negotiate effectively. one of the things we discovered is that the state department, the foreign service institute, does not do explicit training in negotiating skills. they look to our foreign service officers to basically learn on the job.
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the foreign service is small. our diplomats are overburdened. they're working triple time, so they are expected to learn the skills on the job. >> i have a friend involved in conflict resolution. that is a skill and unto itself. >> mediation is another dimension to this. we have produced a whole range of books, not just china but north korea, russia, france, germany. we recently published one on iran and we have one on pakistan coming out shortly. we picked up on an old chinese saying from sun tzu who said "if you understand your adversary and yourself in 100 battles, you will be victorious." we said having studying -- having studied all these countries, we should look at ourselves.
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we have gone over 60 foreign diplomats to tell us how they saw us as negotiators. >> how interesting. >> the book that you mentioned at 12 chapters written by foreign diplomats to describe how they see us. the assumption is if we understand better how our own system works, we understand a little better and can organize ourselves to run a negotiation with a counterpart we have also studied more effectively. >> let me put something heavy on the table and get your opinion. israel-palestine. if you ask anybody in our crew or anybody on the street, they would say the situation is hopeless and the question whether either side really wants peace. what do you say? >> unfortunately, this is what we refer to as an intractable conflict.
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underlying elements are driven by the most fundamental identity issues. differing religions, territorial disputes, and it is just made for a situation that is extremely difficult to resolve. at minimum, we try to figure out ways of managing the conflict so it is not in a violent phase and we can encourage the parties to see the benefits of a resolution to their dispute. our assumption is this is the most difficult kind of conflict and to bring to a negotiated resolution. but we cannot give up on that. the whole series of administrations and governments on all sides of this issue have walked up to the issue and seemed areas of agreement and see where they disagree. unfortunately, they seem to be at a point where the famous
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academic robert fisher would call the better alternative to a negotiated agreement. they know the compromises that would be necessary to come to a settlement, and neither side has felt they could trust the other or come to a point where they resolve the issue. this is, as much as anything, a management problem. >> let me put this on the table -- i take no sides here -- a un resolution recently before the security council to condemn israel for continuing their settlement building. 14 voted for the resolution. the united states was the only one who voted against the resolution, so it fails.
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does that help the process? >> the issue is whether you can impose a settlement on the two parties. >> wasn't it just to condemn? >> as a government, we have been telling the israelis that the settlement process undermines confidence and makes the settlement of a negotiated character that much more difficult. we have been very clear. president bush 41 had said that settlements are counterproductive in building confidence and working toward a negotiated agreement. we see that current situation as one in which the palestinian side may try to get the united nations to impose a settlement unilaterally rather than create a context for a negotiated agreement between the two parties. my own view is that is probably
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not the basis for a stable agreement. on the other hand, the two parties seem to be stacked where making the compromise is needed for a real peace agreement, something they found very difficult on both political sides to come to. at ther yasser arafat' second camp david. president clinton pushed him to come to an agreement. he said if i come to an agreement, you will be walking behind my funeral cortege. there were people on his own side who were so opposed to an agreement they probably would have tried to kill them if he cut a deal. >> look at what happened to sadat. >> and its soccer team. -- and it sacked ravine.
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>> the state department, the rand corp., what is the biggest lesson you learned personally over years that helps you navigate on a day-to-day basis? >> frankly, it is the sense of open seriousness trying to deal with conflicts in the world. i have been very fortunate in my career as i look back on that now after almost four decades. i was born in the middle of the cold war and i have had four assignments where i have been able to participate in the resolution of some cold war and other conflicts. the opening to china ended two decades of confrontation.
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what i worked for the reagan administration, that was critical to bringing the cold war to an end. when i was assistant secretary of state, i was fortunate to lead a negotiation that resolved the cambodian conflict and brought stability to indochina by getting all of the major powers out. in the philippines, we closed out the military bases and it ended the colonial era. as long as there were american bases, it seemed to be part of an era that went back to the turn of the 20th-century. just by happenstance and because of the time i've been working in, i have had the opportunity to participate in a minor way in resolving some important conflicts. at a personal level, that is
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very gratifying. >> i want to take advantage of the fact that you are with us to put on the table what is happening in the middle east. as far as the institute is concerned, how you see you can play a role or what activity might already be involved in. >> the broad point to be made is we are in a time of profound change in the character of international affairs. the structure of institutions that got us through the cold war are really not working today. let's take one of our most serious security threats -- nuclear proliferation. the ability to prevent proliferation, during which the cold war the superpowers kept under control has broken down. the north koreans, the pakistanis, the iranians, we cannot get their nuclear activities under control. this is going to be a major
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security problem for everybody, so we need new institutions to deal with these issues. another major area of changes driven by the information revolution -- the internet, cell phones, social networking technology, that is what is driving these fundamental mobilizations in the population that is not prepared to stand for dictatorial leadership. one of the areas of activity we have encouraged is generally referred to as non-violent civil resistance. we want to promote social change without violence. we know dictatorships are bad for people. we would like to see democracy promoted. through the work of several
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people, a lot of good work has been done showing that nonviolent civil resistance can bring about change and there is a whole series of historical examples. most recently, the ultimate bringing down of slobodan milosevic was done by a non- violent civil resistance movement. tunisia, a non-violent action where immobilized population brought down a dictator. we encourage that kind of work because relates to our charter. how the pro-democracy, bring about change without violence? >> we are at the end of our time. good to have you here. thank you very much for the conversation. we will support your efforts. >> i appreciate it. thank you. >> thank you. >> for online video of all "this is america" programs, visit our website, thisisamerica.net.
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>> "this is america" is made possible by the national education association, the nation's largest advocate for children and public education. the american federation of teachers, a union of professionals. poongsan corporation, forging a higher global standard. the rotondaro family trust. the ctc foundation. afo communications. and the american life tv network.
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