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 You are in: Bureaus/Offices Reporting Directly to the Secretary > Policy Planning Staff > Secretary's Open Forum > Proceedings > 2001 - 2002

Promoting Democracy while Fighting Terror

Dr. Larry Diamond, Hoover Institution, Stanford University
Washington, DC
September 21, 2001

Opening Remarks and Introduction by Alan Lang, Chairman of the Open Forum

Photo of Dr. Larry DiamondThank you, Alan. Thank you all for the honor you have bestowed upon me by asking me to speak here today. Your invitation reflects the commitment of people in this building, and of U.S. Foreign Service Officers around the world, to the promotion of democracy, freedom, and the rule of law. Our national commitment to those principles is one of the main reasons why we are respected and admired around the world, and why so many people and governments, from diverse countries and cultures, have rallied so movingly to our side in the past ten days.

It won't surprise you to know that I have had to revise my remarks here today in light of the tragedy our nation -- and indeed, civilization -- suffered on September 11. Those horrific attacks will have sweeping political, social, economic, and military consequences. These will bear directly on the fate of freedom and democracy in the world, in ways that cannot be fully anticipated today. Already foreseeable, however, are the contradictions we will face and the painful choices we will have to make in the protracted, complicated, and highly unconventional war that lies ahead. In the course of this struggle, we will do grave damage to our cause if we ignore or demean the principles for which we stand. And that is one of the main themes I want to address today.

First let me say something about global trends with respect to democracy.  In the past quarter century, and especially in the past decade, democracy and freedom have spread globally to an unprecedented degree. More countries, and a higher percentage of countries, have democratic forms of government than ever before in the history of the world. And no form of government other than democracy has any broad legitimacy and appeal beyond individual countries.

Twelve years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, important gains for democracy continue to be registered. In the past few years these have included:

     The breakthroughs to electoral democracy in Mexico, Senegal, and Ghana.

     The deepening of democracy in Korea and Taiwan with the victories of long-time opposition parties in those countries.

     The transitions to democracy, or some sort of pluralistic regime, in Indonesia and Nigeria.

     The integration of Central Europe's consolidating democracies into the economic and security communities of the democratic West.

Economic and political freedom, human rights, and electoral choice have appeared ascendant in the past decade as never before. Yet, even before the attack on America, democracy globally has been drifting toward a much more worrisome and vulnerable state.

      Support for democracy and faith in democratic institutions is declining in many emerging democracies. Today, only 45 % of Koreans say that democracy is always the best form of government, down from almost 70 % in 1997. Support for democracy, measured in this way, has also declined broadly throughout the Americas between 1997 and 2001, from 75 to 58 % in Argentina, from 50 % to 30 % in Brazil, from 69 to 36 % in Colombia. Cynicism is rampant.  Only 20 % of Latin Americans have confidence in political parties.  Trust in parties is lower still in many postcommunist countries, even in Central Europe.

     Underlying this cynicism is the perception that corruption is widespread, if not endemic. An astonishing four-fifths of Latin Americans say that corruption has "increased a lot" in the last three years.

     The sense of economic distress, and that democracy is not performing, is rising throughout many emerging democracies. Most Latin American countries have seen sharp increases in the percentage of the public (typically now a majority) viewing the economy as bad or very bad. Faith in both democracy and the market is eroding.

     In the past decade, many transitional regimes have slipped below the threshold of democracy. A growing number of regimes are "pseudo democracies" or "electoral authoritarian." Superficially, they have democratic constitutions, regular multiparty elections, parliaments with opposition, and independent courts. However, state power is highly concentrated and used undemocratically to maintain the incumbents' grip on power. The irreducible condition for a minimal democracy --  free, fair, and meaningful elections -- no longer holds in these countries. In much of Africa, political transitions have gotten stuck at this point. The most significant regression has been in Russia and Ukraine, where power-aggrandizing presidents have crushed the independent media, intimidated opposition, and sponsored electoral fraud to the point where it is not longer possible to defeat them in national elections.

     In a crucial swing state, Pakistan, the civilian, electoral regime -- and I use that term rather than democracy -- was overturned by the military two years ago and has yet to be restored. The underlying causes of democratic failure in Pakistan -- miserable economic performance, stalled economic reforms, quasi-feudal inequality, endemic corruption and criminality, a dysfunctional rule of law, and ethnic, regional, and religious polarization and violence-plague from one degree to another many fragile democracies around the world. In the eyes of a growing number of citizens in these countries, democracy is venal and ineffectual. It remains preferable, if at all, only for want of a clear alternative.

The global state of democracy is thus quite mixed. In the Baltics and Central Europe, democracy has been consolidated. However, in most of the rest of the world, even in such relatively rich nations as Korea and Taiwan, democracy is struggling through troubled times. These troubles should not counsel despair or resignation on our part, but they do generate a powerful case against complacency or self-congratulation. The historic forward momentum of democracy globally halted around the mid-1990s. During the last few years, we have been in a period, likely to persist for sometime, of heightened fluidity, uncertainty, crisis, and doubt. Many regimes could swing in either direction politically -- toward a deeper and more secure democracy, or toward an ever more hollow and decadent shell of democracy, if not blatant authoritarianism or state collapse.

Yet periods of danger also present moments of opportunity. Even as we wage a global war against terrorism, we have an opportunity -- and indeed an imperative -- to help steer swing states toward more effective, accountable, responsive, legitimate, and humane governance. To do that, we need a new, more coherent and comprehensive national strategy to promote democratic reforms, both in emerging and fragile democracies and in authoritarian states.

Here is my key message: Political reform is a vital component of a long-term war against terrorism. To fight this war, we are going to need heightened intelligence and financial monitoring, covert operations, military force, security cooperation, and enormous patience and vigilance. But none of these measures can address the underlying sources of alienation, anger, and despair that propel growing numbers of people toward unspeakable acts of terror and sacrifice for some twisted vision of a cause. As Tom Friedman observed in his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, "There will always be a hard core of Ramzi Yousefs. The only defense is to isolate that hard core from the much larger society around them." And that requires reforms that give societies progress, justice, and a stake in the system of globalization.

We know all too painfully in this country that terrorists can come from anywhere. But the principal breeding grounds and safe harbors for this kind of terror lie in oppressive, corrupt, and/or failing states. Some of these states are our allies. And one of them is our second highest aid recipient. We urgently need the support and cooperation of these governments in the war on terrorism. But we also need these governments to implement sweeping reforms to build a rule of law, punish corruption, promote openness and accountability, improve education, attract investment, create jobs, and so diminish or preempt the kind of alienation that breeds the destructive, nihilistic rage of terrorism. You, the makers of our foreign policy, are going to have to find a way to manage this contradiction, or we are not going to be successful in this war.

I suggest four elements, of many, of a long-term strategy to advance democracy while we fight terror:

A. Build and expand democratic communities of countries, organized around free trade.  The European Union has been a remarkable instrument for helping to consolidate democracy in that region. Its success stems not just from the social, cultural, and political byproducts of economic integration, but from the explicit political conditionality that requires member states to practice democracy and respect human rights. It is strongly in the American national interest to encourage the expansion of the EU as far as possible, and to help the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, and crucially, Turkey as well, meet the conditions for admission. Nothing would do more to advance the democratic prospect in the Americas than the construction of a free trade community throughout the hemisphere, with membership conditioned on democracy and human rights. To be effective, the political conditions for entry would need to be taken as seriously as the economic ones.

In the Middle East, we should reward progress toward and commitment to better governance with economic incentives. With timely support, for example, Jordan might become one anchor and model for progress in the region. We have been debating for a year a free-trade agreement with Jordan. We should adopt it and implement it immediately.

B. Condition aid and debt relief.  The key problem with backsliding and

pseudodemocratic regimes is the lack of political will to install or maintain a genuine democracy. Ruling elites do not want to surrender power and the enormous wealth and privileges it confers. No amount of political assistance to strengthen institutions of governance and civil society is going to fundamentally advance democracy if political elites are not willing to respect its rules and constraints. In much of the contested world, rulers do not value democracy over their own power and privilege, and civil societies are in themselves too weak to force them either to respect democracy or to surrender power. Only principled, potent, and predictable international pressure can tip the balance. This requires political conditions for aid and debt relief, standards for governance that people in these societies will welcome and support.

We need a new international bargain: debt relief for democracy, and development assistance for good governance. It makes no sense to write off the debts of highly indebted poor countries governed by oppressive, corrupt elites who cannot be checked or removed by democratic means. To relieve unconditionally these debts, largely accumulated through corruption and bad governance, is to invite continuing venality and waste. Poor people in these countries will not benefit from this misguided act of intended generosity. Relief must provide hard incentives for reform. Debt relief should be conditioned on a free press, free associations, free and fair elections, and credible institutions to control corruption, including an independent commission for that purpose and an independent judiciary. Commitment to these institutions should be locked into place by suspending debt service payments of a qualifying country and retiring its debt at 10 % a year for every year the country adheres to the political conditions. Where national security imperatives are not at stake, the United States should move to condition state-to-state development assistance (other than emergency humanitarian assistance) on these same political standards, or at a minimum, demonstrated progress toward them.

We must view political assistance as a multi-faceted, long-term challenge and invest more heavily in it. The most fundamental obstacle to economic development is not scarcity of resources, it is corrupt, unaccountable, lawless governance. If we want to promote economic development, we must do more to help build the institutions of good governance in both the state and civil society. Conditioning official assistance on good governance would enable us to do more for recipient countries in two respects. First, we would wind up concentrating state-to-state assistance on those countries that are serious about reform, and thus about development -- there would be more for them. Second, only with this "tough love" approach that sets clear standards and demands accountability can we justify a larger overall investment in aid to the Congress and the American people.

Democratic development is not going to be accomplished in a piecemeal fashion or in a few years. Action is needed on a number of fronts simultaneously. People must be educated to know their rights and responsibilities as democratic citizens, and mobilized to exercise them. All kinds of grassroots civic organizations must be fostered and empowered. Independent media -- not only newspapers and television, but crucially in poor countries, radio stations -- must be established and fortified. At the same time, the input, output, and accountability structures of the state and political system must be developed: parties, legislatures, local governments, a professional bureaucracy, and independent structures to administer justice and elections, control corruption, audit public accounts, and respond to citizen complaints.

Different priorities prevail in different countries. A distinctive strategy for democratic development must be crafted for each recipient country in an open, consensual process that brings together the donors, the state, and civil society. But in every poor country, the agenda of political development will be wide-ranging and expensive. We can help these countries to develop and sustain democracy in unlikely places, and thereby to improve the prospect for human development more generally. But that is only possible with comprehensive investment in the development of democratic institutions, sustained over a very long period of time, even a generation or more.

C. We must be flexible about the sequencing of democratic reforms.  In some countries, democratization will be more sustainable if fully competitive and meaningful multiparty elections follow the implementation of fundamental economic and governance reforms. Let's be honest: Restoring multiparty elections in Pakistan today without such reforms will not likely produce a democracy that is any more workable and accountable than the one that collapsed in October 1999. Similarly, in many Arab countries, democratization, to be sustainable, must be part of a comprehensive project to construct a more efficient, open, accountable, law-based, legitimate -- and hence fundamentally stronger -- state. In a program of gradual democratization from above, the timing of elections is crucial. But here again we confront the painful dilemma that rulers in a position to negotiate reform typically lack the political will or skill to undertake it. Deferring democratic elections then merely reflects a strategy, like the one the military employed in Nigeria for 10 years, for deferring any serious political liberalization at all. Through creative engagement with the different elements of these regimes and their civil societies, and through tangible rewards for governance reforms, we need to help generate the political will and vision for serious democratic reform.

D. We must be clear, consistent, and credible in articulating democratic principles and values, even as we pursue other interests.  Nothing is more damaging to the democratic prospect than to treat and honor as democracies regimes that are manifestly no such thing. Such hypocrisy only entrenches pseudodemocracy as a legitimate regime form, while breeding cynicism about the real intentions of the U.S. and other leading democracies. The convocation of a "Community of Democracies" in Warsaw last year may turn out to have been an important step forward for democracy.  Certainly it produced a declaration that was historic in the scope of democratic principles to which more than 100 countries formally committed themselves. But what is the message we give to the world when a government like the current one in Egypt is seated at such a meeting, parades itself as a democracy, signs the declaration, and then promptly spits on it by arresting and jailing its most important democratic activist?

The test will be faced anew in October 2002 when the Community of Democracies meets again, this time in Seoul. If there are no independent procedures to evaluate countries' compliance with the Warsaw Declaration, and if numerous pseudodemocracies are once again invited to participate -- with no means to redress their failures of compliance -- the Community of Democracies will lose its purpose and promise. The United States must insist that participating governments in the Community of Democracies meetings honor the Warsaw principles. If it is not possible to establish a genuine community of democracies, we should not legitimate a sham with our presence.

At this deeply troubled moment in our history, let me return, finally, to a note of realism. Clearly, we have other interests than the promotion of democracy. We have business to do with Putin and Mubarak, no matter how undemocratic their governments may be.

But there is a lesson to be learned from our long, Cold-War experience in dealing with dictatorships -- one that I have learned through repeatedly listening to my colleague at the Hoover Institution, one of the great Secretaries of State of the last century, George P. Shultz -- and that is: We can pursue multiple tracks of interest at once. We can raise issues of human rights and democracy while we also deal on matters of strategic interest. We can bargain, we can persuade, and even publicly, we can respectfully speak out for principle. Most of all, what we must not do is to degrade the currency of democracy by honoring undemocratic regimes with the label "democratic".  Even when we pursue harder interests, let us preserve our credibility as a nation -- the leading nation -- committed to democracy and human rights as fundamental goals. That credibility -- that devotion to principle -- is one of our most precious assets in the long and difficult struggle ahead. It is what has made us a target, but it is also what will enable us to prevail.

Question-and-Answer Segment

Mr. Lang:  Dr. Diamond, on behalf of the Open Forum, I would like to thank you for that thought-provoking and superb presentation

At this time, I would like to open the floor to your comments and questions.  As a courtesy to Dr. Diamond, please state your name and organizational affiliation before posing your question.

Question:  One of the things that concerns me as we move forward in this war against terrorism, and it's obvious that we're going to be looking for assistance from nations which -- I think you've already named some of them -- that are frontline states that lack experience with democracy or don't intend to have experience with democracy.  How do we leverage the need to work out of those fora with efforts to promote democracy?

Dr. Diamond: You have just sharpened the horns of the contradiction. It is the most difficult and challenging and painful aspect of the reality that confronts us.  I think that what we should not do is to make some of the mistakes that we made during the Cold War.   We should not repeat the words that were spoken to Ferdinand Marcos, "We love your wonderful democracy."  We should not describe the countries that we have to do business with as democracies when they are not.  We should be realistic.  Everybody in the world will understand -- if they didn't before September 11 certainly they will afterwards -- that we have to defend ourselves, we have to form alliances, as President Bush said last night, countries are going to either be with us or essentially against us in this war.  And if they are with us then we will have to work in close cooperation with them. But one of the mistakes that we made in the Cold War was to assume that if countries were with us that they would always be with us, because their leadership would survive and because their regimes were stable. We often looked the other way while these regimes arrested anyone perceived as a threat.  There is no way we can just compel states that we rely on -- front lines states -- through sanctions to reform. We can't do that if we are to expect their cooperation, and that is why I said, any policy to condition assistance -- security assistance or state-to-state development assistance -- on democratic reform must have a waiver for national security considerations.  I believe that is going to leave a great deal of scope for us to pursue a more principled path in much of the rest of the world.

The key point, and I have no magical answer here, is that we must engage very actively and very creatively, with large segments of societies within these front-line states -- particularly the younger generation in these states, ruling parties, and military establishments. We must try to persuade them that if they do not gradually implement some kind of program for governance reform, some kind of program for controlling corruption and delivering more decent government, they are going to have growing problems of instability and terrorism in their own societies. Terrorism is not just a threat to the United States.  These leaders must develop strategies for self-preservation that amount to more than repression and hanging on for the moment. We are going to need very creative, active, articulate, mobile, diplomacy to nurture and push key regimes along in this way.  The scary thing is that everyone knows that we are not going to be successful in all of these cases. But I think there are some where we will make progress. And I think there are some states -- Jordan may be one -- where timely and strategic investments may tip a country in a favorable direction.

Question: I think you may have overdrawn the situation in Korea and Taiwan. There was a crime wave in Taiwan and there was an inadequate government response to some natural disasters. Meanwhile, I think the Koreans showed some disappointment regarding the lack of progress in relations with North Korea.  Therefore, I am not terribly worried about democracy in those two countries. However, I think these cases bring up an interesting point. The experience of China is often cited as an alternative path for countries where there is neither a democratic government nor a successful economy. China is trying to develop itself economically without having to implement democratic reforms. Taiwan and Korea were very successful economically without democratic reforms.  Do you see that as an alternative path?  Secondly, I would like to hear your thoughts on cultural issues and fault lines related to these concerns.  A number of scholars have examined the cultural underpinnings of economic development. To what extent might these issues come into play in determining which countries are likely to succeed as democracies?

Dr. Diamond:  On the first question, it is clear what China's strategy is. The strategy of the Chinese communist leadership is to move gradually towards a kind of Singapore writ large, where they have a ruling party that will no longer be known as the Communist party, a one-party regime with some trappings of democracy around it.  Anything that opens up and pluralizes the Chinese system, represents progress for them and for us.  I think they will increasingly realize, in the wake of the 16th Party Congress that is coming a year from now, that they are going to have to do something to evolve politically and the younger thinkers within the Communist party are actually thinking very creatively in this regard.  China cannot remain stable politically with its current system. At a minimum, they will have to control corruption. It is rampant, and debilitating.  It undermines the public standing of the regime. That will further underscore the importance of the rule of law, a stronger and more independent judiciary and competitive elections at higher levels beyond villages.  And Taiwan could be a model for China's gradual political evolution.

With respect to Korea and Taiwan, I don't think democracy is in danger of collapsing. But I can tell you, having closely studied these countries during the past five years.  I think both countries have serious problem of democratic functioning right now. Neither is a consolidated democracy; I think I can demonstrate this with public opinion survey data.  Each is doing more poorly than it should be doing given its level of economic development and alliance with the West.  Part of it has to do with culture, part of it has to do with the political cultures of elites in these countries who do not take well to compromise.  Part of it has to do with the ways that presidents of Korea have exercised their power and the highly hierarchical nature of the way that power is exercised and the lack of political accommodation. That is true to some extent in Taiwan as well.  Countries learn.  It may take time, but I think there is a big role for civil society in effecting culture change.  I go part of the way with Harrison and Huntington and others in thinking that culture matters. I think it matters and I have alluded in my talk to the fact that the core problem of governance in many countries around the world is ultimately at the elite level, that these ruling elites don't value democracy, they don't have a commitment to the national good.  Their commitment is to enriching themselves, their families and their cronies as rapidly as they can with very little faith in the collective future of the country.  That has to be altered. But then, if you think about altering it, if you think about a strategy of change, you cannot be a cultural determinist, otherwise you'll get nowhere. Institutions matter a great deal in effecting culture change. And I think cultures are more flexible than is often appreciated and can change more rapidly than some people who write on this subject allow for...Change will come about through the construction of powerful, autonomous institutions that begin to generate very different kinds of incentives.  People have to know -- I can't put it more bluntly that this -- that if they continue to loot the public treasury and violate the public trust, they are at serious risk of being punished, removed from office, and disgraced.

Question:  As a former USIA officer, I lament the demise, eclipse or decline of public diplomacy these days.  You talk a lot about state-to-state relations and not very much about, except with regard to the free press, civil society.  What, at this time, should we be doing to bolster civil society in places that are not democracies?

Dr. Diamond:  First, let me say something about public diplomacy.  One aspect of our success in the last war -- The Cold War, which bears more similarities to the war we are about to fight than World Wars I or II -- was precisely public diplomacy.  One of the ways the Soviets made serious mischief for us was with disinformation, the spreading of very potent, very malicious, and potentially for U.S. national interests, very destructive rumors and stories about what was really going on around the world.  This is happening now in a number of countries where, I can tell you, there are many Muslims in the world who believe that Israel or the CIA planned the assault on the World Trade Center to provide an excuse to destroy Osama Bin Laden or to attack Islam.  There is a tendency on the part of the United States to think such blatantly irrational opinions are held by only a few people. Therefore, nothing should be done to counter them.  I think that is a very, very dangerous kind of assumption. We need to be extremely thoughtful, articulate, rational, methodical and energetic in rebutting rumors, rebutting preposterous theories and ideas, and getting out our story as well as our beliefs, our values and our common interests across religions and cultures.  I don't know which instruments are going to be used in the wake of what I think is one of the most unfortunate things that happened to the structure of American foreign policy in the post World War II era -- the dismantling of USIA.  However, professionals within the State Department and the Bush Administration need to think creatively about how to provide a more comprehensive public diplomacy capacity for all sorts of reasons. 

With respect to civil society, we have to go on supporting democracies around the world. But we have to do so in ways that first of all make effective use of our resources.  Secondly, we must stimulate civil society organizations and encourage them to reach down below the surface at which they often operate to the grassroots level and to develop networks and constituencies beyond capital cities. There is a backlash gathering against civil society assistance in Washington and within the intellectual community that is excessive.  Unfortunately, many of the civil society organizations we have been supporting, particularly in authoritarian or troubled states, do not link up well with broad segments of their societies. We need to provide incentives for them to do so and we need to look more carefully around these countries for a broader range of civil society organizations.

Finally, in light of what I said about public diplomacy, I also want to say that we really need to evolve a long-term strategy for winning the war of ideas and values.  We have lost a lot of ground especially in the Islamic world and elsewhere in the last decade or so and we need to support civic education efforts that may reverse these trends.

Question:  In addition to being [an opinion leader], you are in a position to build bridges to other decision makers who may influence the course of events in the future.  I have noted that the USAID Administrator, Andrew Natsios will address the Open Forum next week.  Have you thought about contacting him and exploring the possibility of forming linkages between efforts undertaken by USAID and those of the Hoover Institution?

Dr. Diamond: I would welcome the opportunity to do that. I think Mr. Natsios has already signaled, in a very unambiguous way, that he puts a very high value on programs to strengthen democracy and governance around the world as part of what USAID does. In addition, he has indicated that he wants to reevaluate USAID's strategy comprehensively to produce a new report on its priorities...Such a report couldn't come at a more important moment. Let's face it: whatever Americans may be feeling these days, they are not feeling apathy about the state of the world. This represents an opportunity to really increase what we do and do it better with much broader public awareness and support.

Question: I fully agree with a lot of what you have said. I agree with your general approach to redefine the criteria for democracies but I believe, at the same time, it is essential to move forward with a Community of Democracies even if it is significantly less in number than we had in Warsaw.  Because the concept of democracies working together and governments collaborating is something that doesn't have any other forum...With regard to your comment about George Shultz, I agree with you totally.  You have to work on several levels.  And we can, I think, reach out beyond the Community of Democracies to those countries that are not democratic and those countries that we have real problems with in terms of internal politics. We don't have the same costs as we had during the Cold War.  Everything was zero-sum. And we felt that we had to bring all kinds of people -- good and bad -- on our side if they were anti-Soviet. Today things are different. I think we can have these multi-faceted relationships with some of these countries that are somewhat authoritarian that may not belong to the Community of Democracies. But we do need to find a way to get democracies to work more and more effectively together. And I think this is the first concrete step in that direction. With regard to Public Diplomacy, I have spent a great deal of my life fighting the war of ideas.  I think there should be some kind of task force or vehicle for examining important questions related to information, communications and the conduct of foreign policy.  This is an area that must be dealt. Perhaps changes need to be made.

Dr. Diamond:  Well, there is nothing in what you have said that requires rebuttal.  I will just clap in agreement.

Question:  I know that we can conduct effective diplomacy and meet several challenges at the same time. However, I do note with some concern that a lot of the countries indicating a willingness to cooperate in the war against terrorism are seeking to relieve pressure on efforts directed against their own populations.  Some of these efforts may involve suppressing innocent people under the guise of fighting terrorism. Tak for example Russia and Chechnya, and elsewhere in struggles against radical Islamic elements...I worry that, as during the Cold War, we are going to excuse some of the behavior of these countries toward their own populations.

Dr. Diamond: I strongly agree with you. I share your concerns. This is a very serious trap. We cannot afford to ignore such abuses.  In this area I think U.S. civil society can make a big difference. I think Freedom House has a very important role to play, as the premier democracy monitoring organization in the world, in speaking out on these issues.  Coalitions like the one that has formed around abuses in Chechnya have to keep speaking up privately and publicly and make it clear that these issues must be placed on the agenda when high-level American officials meet with their counterparts.

Because this is a forum for creative thinking and constructive dissent, I would like to make another point. The regional bureaus of the State Department deal with specific countries and regimes. And the reason we have so many governments that had no business being at the table in Warsaw was because of that kind of recognition, a reluctance to offend these countries...I think it is imperative to work towards a very systematic, high-profile process for monitoring the states that attended the Warsaw  [Community of Democracies] Conference in terms of their compliance with the declaration to which they committed themselves. I think we need something like a Warsaw Watch.  Freedom House is well positioned to undertake such a project. If we don't address this issue, it may pose very serious problems for the United States.  We will either undermine the credibility of our commitment to democracy by having a large number of countries come unchallenged to this meeting in Seoul in October 2002 or we will have a very messy situation in terms of offending some of these countries that want to be considered democracies. We cannot sweep this problem under the rug.

Question: I'm the coordinator of the Academy of Law and Public Policy at Potomac High School in Oxton Hill, Maryland. Two of our students are here with me today and we want to thank the Open Forum for extending an invitation to us. I think we are the only high school represented here today...

Mr. Lang:  Welcome. Let's give them a round of applause. (APPLAUSE)

Question (continued) : -- Thank you so much... If our military attacks target countries that harbor terrorists and if we strike bargains with undemocratic and corrupt regimes in order to carry out our war against terrorism, do we not run the risk of fueling support for radical movements that feed on the anger of the dispossessed? Do we not run the risk of bringing more groups like the Taliban to power? Finally, in that context, how do we wage war against terrorism without moving backwards instead of forward in our struggle for democracy abroad?

Dr. Diamond: I'm not an expert on security matters. Speaking as an American citizen, this is something of concern to us all, and I would like to offer a few general thoughts. If you listened to the president's speech carefully last night, you heard a very keen appreciation of this dilemma. I suspect that our national security experts are poignantly aware of it.  That is precisely why many of our officials, including the Vice President and the Secretary of Defense, have spoken recently about the highly unconventional nature of the struggle we will wage. As the president said last night, many of our victories may never be acknowledged. The means by which they will be achieved will be covert...Some defeats may not be acknowledged, too, and that raises concerns regarding democratic accountability.  If our goal is to remove terrorists without creating five or ten more terrorists for each one eliminated we will have to be very innovative, very precise, very patient, very calculating, so we are likely to see very different kinds of methods employed in this struggle.

I would like to mention two things that may seem obvious...Speaking as a democrat, who wants to defend democracy and freedom around the world, first , I think the Executive Order prohibiting assassinations should be lifted. Second, I think we must invest much more substantially in our entire intelligence apparatus both information gathering and analysis on the one hand and covert operations on the other.  I will go further.  I think we need to communicate to people, like the young students sitting behind you, that working for the American intelligence community is part of the patriotic challenge that faces us now. We will be more effective in facing many challenges involving the use of force if we are able to recruit more people, particularly those who are highly skilled, to work in these areas. This is a challenge for our nation's colleges and university and we should be happy to accept it.

Question:  Is there a danger that we may overturn the proverbial "apple cart" in developing countries by vigorously pushing democratic reform?

Dr. Diamond: These are extremely difficult calculations that must be made.  It requires a set of incentives. If a country is serious about undertaking reforms we should be willing to offer more assistance.  We should be patient and realistic about our goals.  The more difficult question is, what do we do in terms of ratcheting down our support if there is insufficient progress toward reform.  I don't think we simply withdraw aid completely...Do we in the case of an absolute unwillingness to reform modestly reduce aid? We must not repeat the error of endorsing repression like we did during the Cold War.  We must pursue a dialogue with the broadest segments in a given society in an effort to tip the balance of debate within vulnerable regimes. It is very difficult to accomplish...

One thing that we need is very, very good analysis. We do not have in our country nearly enough fluent speakers and readers of Arabic, Farsi and other languages of the Middle East and Asia. If we are thinking about the long term challenge of engagement in ways that may have some parallel to the Cold War, I think that the Bush Administration should send to the Congress a bill to promote, on a large scale and urgent basis, the study of foreign languages and the promotion of area studies.  This was an initiative of the Cold War that did work and that paid significant dividends...

Question: I'm glad, Larry, that you'll be helping us at USAID to examine the current panorama and where we should go. However, twice in your remarks you mentioned Pakistan in somewhat pejorative references to the current military government. Most of us are leery of undue military influence. Although I specialize in Latin American affairs, I was in Pakistan last month... Most of the Pakistanis I've spoken with said that the present military government is the best and most popular they have had in its fifty-four (54) years of existence. And they very strongly condemn the last two elected governments...

Therefore, I'm leery of old ways of thinking that regard military systems as inherently bad and civilian governments are good.  The U.S. and the British Commonwealth are now reassessing their sanctions against military governments that succeed freely elected governments...

Dr. Diamond: I agree with everything that you said except the way that you have characterized my view of the situation in Pakistan. I think you misheard me...In any case, please refer to the third point in my presentation.  I think we need to be flexible about the sequence of democratic reforms. Pakistan was precisely the country I had in mind. As I said, I don't think there is anything to be gained for democracy by rushing back to multiparty elections that will restore these utterly bankrupt two parties to their venal rotation in power.  I think that we need to have precisely the kind of long term, pragmatic, principled position of favoring democratic reform while getting at the root of the problem, which involves more that just having multiparty elections. In Pakistan, I think a better sequence today (although I don't say it's assured of success) is, under what may well be at the top, much more prolonged military or quasi-military rule -- fundamental reforms of governance in order to level inequalities, implement an effective functioning state, restructure the educational system, provide educational opportunities for women and girls, institute an effective system of taxation, and basically, pull Pakistan as a state and society away from the brink of real disintegration This is one of the most important foreign policy priorities for the United States. 

I would like to make one final point emerging from my long experience, which Bob LaGamma shared for a number of years during his career with USIA.  This has to do with watching a military regime in Nigeria profess to having these reformist aims while turning out to be nothing more than another venal military regime...I think it is possible for a military regime to do these things, to reform from above, promulgate a long term vision of essentially democratic reform in the process of state-building. But there is no need to repress society viciously in the course of these efforts. Indeed, a non-democratic regime in the process of building democracy and a stronger state can be strengthened by a free press, an active civil society, an independent judiciary, and by building alliances within its society. I say as a very committed democrat, I do not think we should compel Pakistan to restore multiparty elections for national power any time soon. But I think we should make it clear that our patience for waiting for that restoration is entirely contingent on a serious, fundamental program of governance reforms, and that we will not tolerate the wanton abuse of human rights and civil liberties. If that regime is willing -- in the absence of multiparty elections -- to really implement governance reforms in a serious way that will eventually generate a more viable democracy, we will stand with them and we will provide substantial amounts of aid.

Presentation of the Open Forum's Distinguished Public Service Award

Mr. Lang:  Again, Dr. Diamond, I would like to thank you for that cogent and compelling presentation.  And I thank all of you for your thoughtful comments and questions.  And now it gives me great pleasure to present the Open Forum's Distinguished Public Service Award to Dr. Diamond.  This award is presented in recognition of outstanding contributions to national and international affairs and in grateful appreciation for your participation in the Open Forum's Distinguished Lecture Series. Congratulations, Dr. Diamond.  That concludes this session of the Secretary's Open Forum



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