June 20, 2016

CNAS 2016 Tenth Annual Conference: Foreign Policy Inheritance

KATHERINE KIDDER:  Well, we have the privilege of welcoming in our last panel of the day.  So if the 2016 presidential election process has shown us anything, it is that the United States public is actively engaging in the debate over the role of the United States in the world.  The outcomes of these debates play an active role in the foreign policy inheritance awaiting the next president. 


In a world full of growing threats and challenges, spanning from ISIS to Russia, to China, some of the questions being debated are the classic questions facing any new president: what degree of global engagement is right?  What key priorities should a new president set for foreign policy?  What elements of their predecessor’s agenda, in this case, the Obama administration, should be preserved and what should be jettisoned?


But some of the questions being raised are new or, at the very least, haven’t been seen in generations.  What is the future role that populism plays in the creation of American foreign policy?  And, in a specific context, what does the future of the Republican national security platform look like after the 2016 election season?


Joining us today is a distinguished panel, uniquely positioned to wrestle with these questions.  We’re joined by Ambassador Paula Dobriansky, former undersecretary of state for Democracy and Global Affairs, our own CNAS President Richard Fontaine, Governor Tim Pawlenty, the 39th governor of Minnesota, Ambassador Kristen Silverberg, former U.S. ambassador to the European Union, from 2008 to 2009, and Scott Wilson, the national editor for the “Washington Post.”  (Applause.)


SCOTT WILSON:  Thanks so much, everybody.  Great to see you.  I know it’s the end of a long, interesting day but we’ll try to make this adding to what’s already been said here in a way that keeps you engaged and, hopefully, we all learn something from it.


Each administration has clarified for the public against the approach taken by its predecessor.  President Obama campaigned successfully on a break in tone, policy and approach from George W. Bush.  This transition, however, promises to be far more difficult to fathom, at least this moment six months out.  Obama has overseen a military retreat from the world and a renewed focus on multi-lateral diplomacy.  Whether he has calibrated the balance correctly is open to debate.  And as he prepares to leave office, there’s a palpable sense of American absence, particularly in those places where violence, displacement, opaque and changing alliances conspire against diplomacy and raise questions about international commitment and sacrifice.  We saw evidence of this as recently as last week within his own State Department, with a broad dissent against – among Foreign Service officers over his Syria policy. 


So what is the foreign policy inheritance, especially to a Republican administration?  If Obama took on Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan strategy, the promotion of American values in his diplomatic approach and remedial work with the Muslim world in his first six months, what should his successor prioritize immediately?  What has been neglected and what is worth preserving?  How is the angry populism shaping discussion of immigration policy and the war against ISIS influence the national security priorities of the next president?  And given the presumptive Republican nominee’s unorthodox improvisational foreign policy views, what is the role of the people in this audience, a distillation of what President Obama has at times contemptuously called the foreign policy establishment to most effectively engage the next presidency?  It is a point where Obama and Trump agree.  They have met the enemy, and it is us.  What orthodoxy needs changing?


Here to talk about these subjects and others is a panel of leading Republican thinkers on foreign policy, national security, and the nexus of each with our own domestic politics.  You’ll see their full bios in your program.  But to my right, let me introduce briefly Ambassador Paula Dorbriansky, who served in total of five administrations, Republican and Democrat.  She served as undersecretary of state for Democracy and Global Affairs for nearly the entire George W. Bush administration.


Ambassador Kristen Silverberg, who served as the chief U.S. envoy to the European Union in the closing chapter of the George W. Bush administration.  Governor Tim Pawlenty, a two-term governor of Minnesota and a candidate for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination.  And Richard Fontaine, president of the Center of a New American Security and a former foreign policy adviser to Senator John McCain and a member of the National Security Council staff in the Bush administration.


So, Governor Pawlenty, you’ve aspired to this job in the past so I’d like to start with you.  What does a Republican president’s foreign policy look like after this president?  What would you prioritize in your first 100 days?


FORMER GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY (R-MN):  Thank you.  It’s a delight to be here.  Thank you to our audience members for hanging in there until the end of the conference.  Thank you to Richard at CNAS for their leadership and commitment to these important issues.  I’m sad that you brought up my brief and ill-fated and unsuccessful presidential campaign.  Most of you probably wouldn’t remember it.  It was very brief.  I’d like to say my presidential campaign was more brief than a Kardashian marriage.  But, nonetheless, it’s an honor to speak about those experiences and more. 


As your question suggests, the incoming president will inherit the legacy and the platform that’s left by the predecessor.  I would make a couple of points in a short amount of time.  One, reestablishing the dialogue and the importance between the connection of security and prosperity.  Many of us aspire to a more robust military, increased foreign aid and development funding, a more robust security posture.  Those are largely aspiration unless you can fund them.  We’re not going to be able to fund them unless the next president and the next Congress recommit to a growth in our economy that is more robust than 1.5 percent or 2 percent.  So I won’t say more about that other than, for all of us, it doesn’t work unless we’re able to fund these things, and that’s important.


Two is recommit to the notion that treaties and agreements don’t mean much unless people abide by them and somebody’s willing to enforce them.  And if over time people are able to make commitments in the form of agreement or treaties and violate them even at the margins, it has a corrosive effect to the point where you invite future dangers in the intermediate and long term.  And so I think a recommitment to a more robust response to treaty violations is important and agreement violations is important.


Three, I think the president and the administration in my opinion somewhat belatedly are now undertaking the challenge of what’s taking place in the South China Sea.  And it is better to deal with these issues when we have a relative advantage than at some point in the future, but I think the activities of patrols through that region are important but I think we need to be even more vigilant and more robust in that regard. 


Next, it is not too late – even though it would have been substantially better in my opinion when we had a different environment in Syria – it’s not too late to establish a no-fly zone and a safe zone within Syria and tell the Assad regime they’re on the clock and that if there isn’t an orderly transition with them and the other stakeholders in Syria, we’ll facilitate one within a reasonable time period.


There’s more but let me just finish by saying, and as to the Middle East and particularly Iran, the nuclear agreement, of course, is paramount in its importance but I think the willingness to call a violation if one occurs and to robustly and promptly use the enforcement mechanisms under the agreement and escalate it as needed is an important dynamic going forward.  So those are just four or five that come to mind.  There are many others but in the interest of time, I’ll stop there.


MR. WILSON:  Ambassador Drobriansky, please.


FORMER AMBASSADOR PAULA DOBRIANSKY:  If I may first also thank the center very much for the invitation and also commend them for holding not only the annual conference but also this particular panel so we could step back and take stock of our direction.


Let me add on a few if I can and maybe start with a strategic priority, and that is the issue of what the role of the United States should be in the world.  And one of the priorities that I see as important and undergirds all of the particular actions is that the United States leads.  And there are different ways of leading that doesn’t always necessarily mean that the leadership has to be through military or military force or our troops but exercising our power, our power base and leading. 


Secondly, I would also add that it’s very important to look at the development of a strategy, looking at all of the crises that we are confronted with across the globe and determining, how do we put a strategy together which does not amount to ad-hoc-ism.  I think that when we look back, we have seen quite a bit of ad-hoc-ism.  You mentioned Syria and the Middle East.  And which I think has negatively impacted our ability to make a difference and bring about positive change.  So I think a second piece is having a strategic outlook, a strategic way of going forward and not ad-hoc-ism. 


And the third that I’d like to put forward is the issue of looking at the moral narrative, the moral narrative of that we have an international liberal order which has gone array and is being challenges.  The governor mentioned in fact the importance of legal treaties, but I would add a little bit more to that because it is about the treaties and about the documents like the Budapest Memorandum, which was violated with the illegal annexation of Crimea.  But it’s even more than that.  It’s a challenge to our alliances, to our values, and to our institutions.  I think that is a critical priority going forward that we attach importance to our alliances, to the values, looking at not only unilateral action but collective action and reenergizing the alliance system that has preserved the peace, stability and security post-Cold War and post-World War Two.  Those are some of the priorities that I would add on to the particulars.


MR. WILSON:  I’d like to get Ambassador Silverberg to talk a little bit about the alliances, post-World War Two alliances.  We’re watching – I’m not sure what we’re watching in Europe right now.  We’ll know a little bit more in a few days when the Brexit vote is taken.  There’s an alliance that’s been sort of central to our international diplomacy for quite some time.  Europe seems to be trying to find its way in similar ways that we’re trying to find our way politically.  And I’m wondering what that uncertainty among major alliances does to the next president’s approach and Republican foreign policy approach that has so relied on that Trans-Atlantic partnership. 


FORMER AMBASSADOR KRISTEN SILVERBERG:  Well, you know, the next president is going to inherit a weaker Europe than in any time in recent memory and that’s partly because of economic stagnation.  It’s partly because of this political polarization, threat of fragmentation.  Even if we get a remain vote out of the U.K., we’re likely to have uncertainty about the sort of future of the European Union and the threat of kind of follow-on referenda for some time.  And all of that would be troubling in and of itself.  Europe is our largest trading and investment partner.  It’s our go-to ally on every major military operation.  Its member states are our go-to allies. 


But it’s particularly troubling in this climate because the next president will see this sort of staggering sense of global disorder and chaos, the rise of the most powerful terrorist organization in history, failed states throughout the Middle East giving rise to the worst refugee crisis since World War Two, an emboldened Iran which now has UN – (inaudible) – enrichment program, tensions with our closest allies in the Middle East.  This is sort of not new but this diplomatic thicket with China involving maritime issues, trade policy, cyber security and so on.  And so the fact that we’ll be doing those things with a distracted and weaker Europe is going to make the job I think even more difficult. 


I will say on the positive side – I’ve just spelled out a really negative picture about the international environment.  I do think there are partners and allies with unrealized potential in the world.  I’d certainly put India in that category.  That’s a country that was a high priority for both the Bush 43 and President Obama and I think the next president has a real opportunity to sort of tap that potential.  But we’re going to have some real challenges with regard to our European allies.


MR. WILSON:  Richard, regardless of whether Donald Trump becomes president or not, there is something afoot in the country, that’s angry populism, that is very shaping, as I said, in the beginning our discussion, if you can call it that, of ISIS, of immigration policy, Governor Pawlenty, of trade policy that seems to be turning Republican orthodoxy a bit on its head about the value of free trade.  And I’m wondering how do you think this will carry through regardless of who the next president is.  And in some ways, what can the next president count on given what Ambassador Silverberg just went through and the changing nature of our alliances and the disorder that the next president will face?


RICHARD FONTAINE:  I think the challenge of a president articulating the case for what he or she wants to do in the world is going to bump up against the populist impulse that we’ve seen over the past year or so, which in some ways is kind of the big lesson of this election season is the gap between Washington policymakers and anger and fear among those who feel insecure economically in security terms and feel like there’s a large world out there that is filled with crisis and for which the United States doesn’t get a lot of return on its investments.


And I think that that is not going to go away on election day.  So, you know, in Washington, we sometimes feel like, okay.  Well, you know, if Donald Trump is not elected, you sort of wipe your brow and say that, okay.  You know, 2016 was a funny year but, you know, we get back to basics, you know, traditional foreign policy and politics and the world sort of rights itself. 


But I think, regardless of who is elected, the forces that gave rise both to Trump on the right and Sanders on the left are not going to go away.  And this is going to put a premium on, in part, the communication of the president.  You know, I agree with Paula 100 percent as all probably do about the importance of the liberal rules based order.  But I don’t know that folks know what that is.  And Trump has clearly been able to tap into something with respect to our alliances and the idea that, you know, these kind of abstract goals of stability or partnership somehow benefit Americans. 


I think the president has got to make the case in much more nuts and bolts, narrowly defined national interest terms in order to convey this, and that’s going to have to be true on trade, it’s going to have to be true on, you know, immigration, on our alliances.  And there’s also going to be a premium put on working with the Congress who can amplify those arguments or not, depending on how close they are with the administration. 


MR. WILSON:  Governor Pawlenty, in your comments about the importance of American prosperity to our national security, President Obama spoke a few times throughout his administration, including very early on at West Point about invoking President Eisenhower and a need for a strong economy and the ability to pay for these – you know, a strong military.  As I said, you know, so far, Donald Trump has been quite adamant that the free trade – that the agreements that this administration has negotiated and made a priority particularly in the second term are bad deals.  And I’m wondering more broadly, what do you think that this administration has done right in foreign policy that’s worth preserving and worth building upon?  I imagine you have a fair list of what you would have done differently but what do you think it’s done right?


GOV. PAWLENTY:  Sure.  I think their recent, more overt challenges to some of the activities of China, in the South China Sea are directionally appropriate and an improvement relative to some years ago.  I think many of their efforts in the area of cyber security, cyber security policy, cyber security defense, possibility of hack backs, the only entity in the country that’s legally authorized to engage in those activities is the U.S. government.  Most of it is classified, obviously, but I think they’ve done some good work in the area of cyber security which is going to be even more important on a go-forward basis.  I think their work with respect to acknowledging some of their mistakes and maybe recommitting to a better path forward.  You know, if you listen to the Goldberg interview, the president acknowledged and he wished he would have handled Libya differently.  Hopefully, if something were to happen similar or maybe even in Libya going forward, there’s a more robust pathway, where there’s hope there. 


But I think, you know, if I were to point to some things that were positive, you know, those two things that I mentioned I think are helpful.


MR. WILSON:  Very good.


AMB. DOBRIANSKY:  And then I want to make a comment on what Richard said.  He invoked my name.  I would add some of the pieces of this administration that I think should be preserved.  One is relative to Europe.  I thought the administration initiated a rather creative policy relative to the Nordic countries and having a series of summits with the Nordic countries.  Why does it matter?  It’s very interesting to me, someone who follows and have followed for a long time both academically and in government not just only trends in Europe but particularly then the Soviet Union and now Russia.  And these Nordic Countries have really come to the forefront in looking at the future of Europe.  And they have very different ties to us.  Some are part of the alliance.  Some are neutral, but yet, they have very interesting, I’d say, ideas, creative ideas to bring to the table in terms of what direction Europe should go to.  I think that was a very well-thought out policy of bringing them in together and hearing their particular voice. 


India is another one.  I do think that India, the evolution starting with the Bush administration, George Bush, George W. Bush administration and right up to the present, I think that has to go on and sustain itself in terms of the level of our relationship. 


And then Asia.  Richard writes a lot about Asia.  Despite the terminology at the outset, the pivot to Asia, which sort of rattled things, I think if you look at the substance of what’s been done in this regard relative to Asia at large, I think that the administration has put into place some very good policies, some very good platform which should in fact be sustained.


The footnote I wanted to make is because I think Richard’s right when he said my use of the word “the international liberal order.”  It’s true.  Most would say, well, what are you talking about?  But what it is is it has to be explained.  It’s about our values.  It’s about our alliance system.  It’s about the institutions that were created.  That doesn’t mean that there doesn’t need to be a rethinking of how one goes forward. 


Take NATO, for example.  I think the whole concept about burden sharing, I think that’s an important one, absolutely, and has to be pushed over the edge.  But it does mean that the alliance is an important alliance and has preserved peace but there should be burden sharing. 


But what I was simply going to say, one of my former professors at Harvard, Samuel Huntington, who’s now deceased, wrote a book about American political trends.  And his book focused on what was called the IVI gap, ideals versus institutions, and he said that we go through cycles historically.  You go way back right up to the present, the American public becomes upset and dispirited because our values or our ideals are not being upheld by the institutions.  I think that’s what has to be hit on, not just the international piece but the domestic piece because that is what’s really I think being attacked and really being challenged.


AMB. SILVERBERG:  Can I hop in on this, and particularly going back to the question of what ought to be on the next president’s 100-day agenda, assuming that the next president is Secretary Clinton.  You know, you’ve all seen this Pew poll that says that 57 percent of the American public says that we should take care of our own business and leave the rest of the world to manage its own.  And I thought that was shocking enough, but then I saw another one that showed that 49 percent of the American public, and even higher, I think 53 percent of Republicans think the U.S. engagement in a global economy is a bad thing.  So it’s not even that they’re questioning, you know, tensions in the liberal order.  They’re actually saying that we’re getting a raw deal, that this order that we worked so hard to create and sustain, that – you know, that favors open markets and free trade, that focuses promotion of values, as Paula says, that’s based on this sort of liberal – you know, the legal rules that in terms of sovereignty and freedom of navigation, that all those things are actually bad for American interests.


So I would put very high on the next president’s 100-day list this advocacy to the American public to explain the purpose of America’s role in the world.  There’s going to be – you know, somebody with a very big megaphone will have been sort of running around the country, reinforcing some of this suspicion about whether we’re actually a positive or negative actor in the world.  And I think there’s going to be a fair amount of sort of corrective work to do on that side.


MR. WILSON:  On that – and, Richard, you mentioned communications, thinking back on the first six months of the Obama administration, you had a couple of speeches with particular backdrops that were to reflect some broader ideas.  You had the National Archives speech on national security policy and values and trying to describe what he said was getting us back on track after a decade that was lost in his view.  You had, obviously, the Cairo speech, which was meant to reestablish American values not only toward the Muslim world but a more sort of open America to the rest of the world.  Where would you – what speech would you give, where would you give it?  What communication technique would you want to –


MR. FONTAINE:  I have to think about that for just a second.  But maybe I can answer it this way.  I think the Obama administration’s impulse in the first six months of trying to clear the international air was the right one.  I mean, there was so much built up at the end of the Bush administration, because of Iraq, because of Trans-Atlantic tensions and because suspicions and so forth.  And so to try to use, you know, the bully pulpit to set the new tone I think was the right thing. 


But then, it was the follow-through that was the problem.  And so while I have to think about, you know, where and exactly what to say, I would say, whatever you say, go do it after that.  You know, if you’re going to announce – because in the course of doing these very high-profile speeches, you raise expectations.  And this is when communication’s, you know, on Asia, for example, you know, inadvertently the administration by describing the pivot to Asia raised expectations in Asia there would be a lot more of America coming and raised expectations in the Middle East and Europe there would be a lot less of America coming in so it dissatisfied the Asians who thought that we hadn’t fully followed through and it dissatisfied the Europeans and those in the Middle East who feared being abandoned.


So, you know, these have real effects.  And so it’s – you know, it’s the combination of the communications with the follow through from the speeches that I think you have to really link together. 


AMB. DOBRIANSKY:  May I jump in on that one? 


MR. WILSON:  Yeah.


AMB. DOBRIANSKY:  What pops out immediately is the question you asked before about the priority.  And to me, the priority is this issue about America’s role in the world today.  I mean, really starting with that.  And I don’t think that the American public does know well and really has a sense, well, where does it fit in?  But I think what also has to be addressed is what needs to be changed in terms of how we engage?  We have to be engaged internationally.  We have to lead.  And that’s the issue.  In other words, to me, the speech would be about American leadership.  But how does one define that?  And so let’s take the issue of and going back to NATO? 


In my view, I know that we have been trying to over administration to administration pus that issue of burden sharing.  I think we see a lot of it that the American public does question what it is that we are paying.  And you’ve just, you know, have stated it in terms of the polls, Kristen.  And in this regard, I think that has to be addressed.  I think the public has to understand where do we fit, why is it in our national security interest but also how was that balanced against the kind of burden sharing that should, in fact, be taking place here, that it shouldn’t be the United States’ tab.


GOV. PAWLENTY:  I agree with everything that’s been said about defining America’s role in the world, the need to be educational, informative but we also need someone who’s willing to lead and burn political capital for it.  And so the ability to move the needle just on education I think is limited and there are moments in time where circumstances call out a leader and he or she is going to have to be willing to take some hits in the polls to move forward on some of these things.  They’re not going to be popular magically in the next six months, the next 12 months, the next 18 months no matter how many speeches are given, no matter how TV shows they appear on. 


You know, we have a country where every time there’s an economic disaster or near disaster, a wave of populism follows through.  History shows that.  So we now have a Republican Party that has drifted libertarian and somewhat isolationist in partial strains.  And, by the way, these are not irrational reactions from the population.  If you have, quote, unquote, “establishment” types coming around and telling you for 20 years, we’re going to cut your taxes, we’re going to fix entitlements, we’re going to get GDP going, we’re going to do something, you know, strong and reasonable on immigration, we’re going to repeal and replace “Obamacare,” we’re going to do all these other things, rebuild the military, and none of it happens, eventually people get ticked off and they don’t believe you anymore.  So part of this is the Republican, quote, unquote, “establishment” bringing this on themselves for failing to deliver, because when you tell people stuff and you don’t do it over a long period of time, they tend to get a little upset.


 On the Democratic side, we are one legacy personality with a legacy network, legacy infrastructure, legacy political capabilities and resources away from full-blown socialism.  I mean, she is the thin blue line between her party of being socialist in its current form, and it’s heading in that direction.  If she wasn’t in the race, it probably wouldn’t have been Bernie Sanders but it would have been Elizabeth Warren or somebody else.  And people under the age of 35, in a recent poll, in a binary choice between capitalism and socialism chose socialism, strong plurality of it.  So you have a country whose foundational tectonic plates have shifted politically. 


And when you have a country of 330 million people and a GDP rate of 1.8 percent, depending whose numbers you look at, 50 to 90 million people of working age disconnected from the workforce with personal incomes flat lined, and you wonder why they’re a little anxious about where the money is going?  It is not irrational but it takes a leader to say, A, let me explain it, and, B, we’re going to do the right thing even if my poll numbers take a hit.  And that’s what we need.


MR. WILSON:  How do you explain that to an international audience that is increasingly – Richard and I were on a panel a few weeks ago at the State Department with the Washington diplomatic corps.  And, basically, they asked 10 questions, all a variation of what’s going on.


GOV. PAWLENTY:  Well, it used to be when Bob Gates did it politely and diplomatically, lectured NATO, there was head nods and they didn’t do anything.  Now, when Putin’s on the move and ISIS is blowing up – shooting people in Paris and Belgium, all of a sudden, they’re more interested.  So part of this reality will creep in on them in a way that’s helpful to the – in this example, of getting NATO to beef up their efforts.


AMB. SILVERBERG:  And I think we’re going to pay a price for the fact that all those people are asking those questions whoever wins this election.  I mean, the U.S. asks people to make long-term bets on our future all the time.  That could be a foreign investor, it could be the leader of a smaller Asian country who we’re working with to stand up to Chinese maritime claims or it could be every time, you know, Syrian, you know, family sends their kids to fight with a moderate group instead of the extremist group.  They’re making a kind of bet on the United States.  And the fact – you know, that really depends on this view that the U.S. is serious, powerful, that we’re prepared to invest in our own future.  And the fact that we’re sort of toying with – that a major party nominee is as sort of erratic and unreliable on policy, I think we’re just going to pay a price for that, period.


MR. FONTAINE:  I think there’s an opportunity for the next president to restore a measure of national confidence which I think has slipped a bit as a result of a number of things, the messiness of the world, the economic downturn, this election season, all of this.  And for those of us who travel a lot, sometimes – you know, as you said, foreign officials have many, many questions about what the hell is going on in the United States right now.  But, in the end, a lot of them seem to have more faith in American democracy sometimes than we have in our own because they say, well, you know, it’s sort of the Churchill line, you know, you guys will try everything else and then do the right thing, after you tried everything else.


And, you know, if you could – if you had someone who could, you know, restore a measure of national confidence, I think that would not only have an effect here but it would have an effect abroad as well.  The demand signal for American engagement, presence in the world it is extraordinarily high.  We can never match the demand signal.  The problem is not that countries don’t want us there.  It is not the hyper-power concerns of the 1990s when there was an America that was too powerful and it’s going to do bad things in the world.  They just want more of us and they want a confidence in the United States that’s going to set the agenda, that’s going to lead in various areas around the world and it’s going to be active.


AMB. DOBRIANSKY:  I would agree with that, if I may jump in.  I agree with that completely.  I think that there has to be a restoration of confidence in our leadership, in the setting of an agenda, and the follow-through because in terms of our allies, I think there has been a questioning of that, of our credibility, of our commitment.  And, by the way, the flipside of that is, with our enemies, also in the context of many who are watching, then that emboldens them and advances some of their own agendas which, if gaps weren’t provided or opened maybe wouldn’t have – certain aggressions wouldn’t have taken place.  So I agree completely with what you’ve said.


And I was just going to add, you know, that the foreign ambassadorial corps is invited to both conventions so they’ll have the opportunity at least in seeing I think grassroots, you know, a democratic process at work in both the Democratic and the Republican conventions.


MR. WILSON:  That’s what they’re going to see there.  We asked for your all opinions earlier and I wonder, is it possible to get some of the answers to the questions we asked earlier to see what some of the priorities you all would set?  I don’t know if we can get that on the screen.  They’re trying there.  Great.  So the question is, is America’s position in the world stronger or weaker today than it was in 2009.  The plurality is weaker.  And let’s see, what do you think, Ambassador Silverberg?


AMB. SILVERBERG:  The global environment strikes me as very dangerous but our relative position is in some ways better, but that may be more of a commentary on the position of the rest of the world than our own sort of inherent strength.  So, you know, despite – I outlined sort of all the terrible challenges we’re facing but I would still rather be the next United States president than the next president or prime minister of pretty much any place in the world.  We have – you know, we’re moving towards energy, self-sufficiency, and that’s not a – you know, that’s not a small thing either for sort of domestic growth or for preserving foreign policy flexibility. 


We still have a stable political environment.  We have independent courts.  We have a culture of innovation.  You know, there are lots of things.  You know, you can put this one in a sort of category of kind of backhanded compliments but there are lots of opportunities in the world like there’s more strategic alignment between Israel and its Arab neighbors than there has been any time in history.  I mean, there are little pockets of opportunity.  So I guess I would say our relative position is not terrible but this is a pretty dangerous time for the global community.


AMB. DOBRIANSKY:  It’s interesting.  It shifted while she was speaking. 


MR. WILSON:  You should be giving that speech in the first 100 days.  Very good. 


AMB. DOBRIANSKY:  Now it’s really shifted.


MR. WILSON:  Can we do the next question?  Should the next president pursue more global engagement than the current administration or less?  Governor Pawlenty, you want to take that on?  You can sway the opinion.


GOV. PAWLENTY:  Well, it’s less than zero at the moment so –


MR. WILSON:  Roughly the same.


GOV. PAWLENTY:  Roughly the same and more are 50 percent each so it looks like – look at that.  Just jumped up to 67.  The numbers are unstable.


MR. WILSON:  And I guess what kind of engagement are we – is it diplomacy, is it economic, is it military?  Is it a mix of all? 


GOV. PAWLENTY:  Well, I think you have to have all the tools in the toolbox.  The easier ones are to talk about aid and development and diplomacy and engagement.  But, you know, the banana gets peeled around – when things need to get more difficult, particularly when it comes to kinetic action.  So it would be interesting to see what people mean by engagement and what category they’re willing to support.  But I think engagement in each of those categories, more of it in a more forward-leaning presence by the U.S. would be appreciated and effective.


MR. WILSON:  I’m guessing that last number is much higher if we talk to the whole country about it.  And that’s probably part of the challenge, making an argument for more engagement more broadly around the world at a time when it is as messy as you were saying, Ambassador Silverberg.  Richard, do you think that’s right?


MR. FONTAINE:  Yeah.  And so much of this turns right on what kind of engagement, as you’re saying.  I mean, you know, in some ways, militarily, the Obama administration has been, you know, engaged in a broader set of activities than the Bush administration.  You know, it’s bombed seven countries, which is more than the Bush administration did.  It has avoided large, you know, occupation and nation building types of exercises, although the surge in Afghanistan was certainly – I mean, took troops there to the highest level that they had been at any point. 


And so, you know, I think there’s a sense not just here but there’s a sense in the Middle East, for example, that the United States is disengaging from the region.  It’s not true because if you look at all of the things we’re doing in various countries, whether it’s militarily, economically or diplomatically, we are not, but I think the sentiment is still there, abroad, that we are – the United States is – if it hasn’t yet disengaged, it’s interested in disengaging.  And then I think the sense at home in some places is, no, actually, the United States has been far too interventionist.  Why would we go mess around with Syrians who are killing each other and are likely to do so for years to come?  Iraq, have we not learned that nothing good is going to come of an adventure there?  Afghanistan, ancient hatreds and, you know.  And so I think that’s a real phenomenon as well.


MR. WILSON:  Very good.  I think that’s time for us to wrap up.  Thank you all very much.  Learned a lot.  It was really fun.  Thank you.  (Applause.)




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