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SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY: I do have a firm conviction in my own mind that commerce breaks down barriers between peoples of different backgrounds and within different countries, much more quickly than any government-to-government sort of relationship does, regardless of how sophisticated the diplomats trying to do the job might be.
KRISTIN MCHUGH: This week on Common Ground, foreign trade in America’s heartland. And later, one organization’s appeal for peace.
: Because we are now coming to the end of the most violent, most war-filled, bloodiest century in history. The century began with a war in the Philippines and is ending with a war on every continent.
KEITH PORTER: Common Ground is a program on world affairs and the people who shape events. It’s produced by the Stanley Foundation. I’m Keith Porter.
KRISTIN MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. This past summer a group of diplomats representing nearly 50 countries visited Iowa to forge new economic and cultural ties. This mini-United Nations development tour was the seventh of its kind, sponsored by Iowa Senator Charles Grassley. Grassley, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Trade, crisscrossed the state with the group, visiting Iowa companies, research facilities, family farms, and small businesses. Common Ground correspondent Rita Sand caught up with the group as they were preparing to take a short train trip—just one leg of the five-day trip that offered a unique glimpse of the global marketplace in action.
RITA SAND: A huge banner welcomes the diplomats to the Toyota Financial Services Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. On this, the fourth morning of their tour, the delegates and their spouses have just enough time to catch a quick breakfast and a tour of the mammoth building before setting off for the train.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: This is a beautiful picture.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: It is, really
SAND: Although I followed the art tour, the conversation quickly turned to business.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Here it would differentiate between financial questions and service questions? Or is it all….
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: This is all financial…
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: All financial questions.
SAND: This is a scene these diplomats have played over and over again this week. Visiting, experiencing, asking questions, gathering ideas. This stop is a little unusual. Instead of learning about how an Iowan company does business, the delegates observe how a Japanese company does business in Iowa.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: The gift of the goose is when you improve each other’s, your other two teammates are. ??
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Very interesting.
SAND: The delegates avidly make mental notes about every aspect of the operation, from the computer room to the breakroom.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Oh, they can play!
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Yes, there’s a playroom.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Yes, during their lunch or breaks they can come in here, and it’s a kind of a stress reliever type. They can come in here and play.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Yes.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Amazing! Absolutely amazing.
SAND: They each take turns punching the bag and putting golf.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Oh, not bad! [laughter]
SAND: Three tour buses pull up and whisk the delegates away to their next stop. On this day, as with each of the last three, the schedule is packed. Besides a train trip, the diplomats will visit Maytag, Pella Windows and Doors, and Vermeer Manufacturing, three large corporations, all based in central Iowa. Then they’ll end the day feasting on a potluck dinner at a middle school in the small town of Grinnell, and spend the night there in homes of volunteers in the community. To Koscioustus Jankouskus?? of Lithuania, the lineup is a good mix of demonstration and down-home hospitality.
KOSCIOUSTUS JANKOUSKUS??: It is a unique opportunity and a good introduction to the United States, to the Midwest. Because majority of us from the embassies stay in Washington, within the Beltway. That’s a part of life that we know.
SAND: On the southern edge of town a set of vintage 1940s Union Pacific railroad cars, called the “Heritage Fleet,” line the track in an industrial train yard.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Hello.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Hello.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: How are you?
SAND: Leaving their luggage behind, the diplomats climb aboard. For this train trip is more a joy ride than strictly transportation, through the corn and soybean-clad prairies of central Iowa. The groups quarters include buffet and lounge cars, but most of the delegates congregate in one observation car—a cozy upper loft with small booths on either side of an aisle. By now, those who in Washington have little time to get to know their colleagues have made fast friends.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: We have excellent international relations right here.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: This is the best of the UN, right here.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: This is the best of the UN.
SAND: Benjamin Zapata, Minister-Counselor of Honduras, sits across the table from Kobina Arthur Khumson, Ambassador of Ghana.
AMBASSADOR KOBINA ARTHUR KHUMSON: You see people just having fun, talking, but at the same time also, you know, we’re paying attention to the purpose that brings us here, which is economics. We want to be able to see what Iowa has to offer our respective countries. And we also want to be able to make available our products from our respective countries to Iowa.
SAND: And Khumson knows just which product Ghana should promote first.
AMBASSADOR KHUMSON: Chocolate. Yes. I understand that there is a chocolate-making company, a retail outfit out here, that prides itself in selling premium chocolate. And Ghana produces premium cocoa and premium chocolate.
SAND: Khumson expects to leave Iowa armed with the information he needs to get started on the chocolate connection. It’s just one of the many connections delegates hope to make this week. Links as diverse as the logistics of shipping Frigidaire refrigerators directly to Papua, New Guinea, to setting up agricultural partnerships with Laos. Still others seek another kind of connection. Their hoping to find interested investors. Zapata of Honduras seems to market his country as zealously as its products.
BENJAMIN ZAPATA: Honduras is as well located and has several attractions for businesses. That’s one of the things that we promote, is that we have a good labor force, a trainable labor force, at a good rate.
SAND: Clearly, the aim of this excursion is to encourage the cultivation of many varieties of commerce.
SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY: I firmly believe that commerce—we too often denigrate it by thinking in terms of profit, and dollars and cents.
SAND: Senator Grassley, who organized the trip, says we shouldn’t forget what he sees as the corollary benefits of commerce.
SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY: I see commerce, particularly freer trade, enhancing not only advanced cultures, but developing nations as well. And in the process of, particularly helping developing nations that you have through economic enhancement greater political stability. And when you get greater political stability you have more peaceful opportunities between nations. More absence of conflict.
SAND: Some research into the correlation between peaceful relations and economic ties, suggests Grassley may be right. However, the nature of the economic tie is critically important, according to Professor William Mott of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Mott did a statistical study from 1930 to 1990 of 40 countries that have experienced rapid growth. He took note of the kind of economic ties countries held.
PROFESSOR WILLIAM MOTT: It seems to me there are two, at least, economic ties. One is trade; and the other is investment across borders.
SAND: Trade, Mott defines as resource-based growth; the accumulation of wealth and resources through trade.
MOTT: The alternative, of course, is knowledge-based growth. Which is the creation of new knowledge, intellectual capital, innovation, technology transfer, increased productivity, and these sorts of things. Knowledge-based growth is carried by foreign direct investment. But it is not necessarily carried by trade.
SAND: In his book, The Economic Basis of Peace: Linkages Between Economic Growth and International Conflict, Mott made a correlation between peaceful relations among the countries and the kinds of economic ties they held. He found conflict—not just wars—but also diplomatic threats and gestures, even trade wars, occurred between countries that had engaged in more trade than foreign direct investment.
MOTT: The policy result, of course, turns out to be that for a government that is seeking both growth and peace, then the proper thing to do is to adjust the proportion between trade and foreign direct investments, to cause knowledge-based growth, ultimately to predominate over resource-based growth.
[Sound of train whistle]
SAND: The delegates on this tour don’t speak about striving for a certain ratio of trade and investment, but they are interested in making sure that any trade arrangements prove equitable. Ambassador Leonard Impumbu says in Namibia they call it economic diplomacy.
AMBASSADOR LEONARD IMPUBMBU: Economic diplomacy is a two-way traffic. One way is to search for potential investors, to invest in the country in a way to create jobs for the people. On the other side is to market your country, to introduce your products, to those countries that do that thing. They are in need of those products.
SAND: Americans are in need of at least one of Namibia’s products. Impumbu says most of the orange roughy now available at the fish counter at your local supermarket comes from his country.
CONGRESSIONAL COMMISSIONER TOVA Herschel: It would seem that with very few exceptions, trade is very foremost in any relationship. But there are exceptions of course.
SAND: Tova Herschel is Congressional Commissioner from the embassy of Israel. She says it is natural for countries to continue to have trade as part of their foreign policy. In Israel’s case that means that the peace process is easing trade barriers rather than the other way around.
COMMISSIONER HERSCHEL: For example, for a long time we only had Subaru in Israel. Because all the other Japanese companies did not trade with Israel. For many, many years. Because they were told, “If you trade with Israel you cannot trade with the Arab world.” And they made a choice. That’s changed a lot, thank heaven. Because I think the world is opening up in ways that, who knows how far they’re going to go.
SAND: Has the world changed to a point where the state of countries’ economic relations determines whether or not they hold friendly political ties? Senator Grassley says he can’t be that conclusive?
SENATOR CHARLES GRASSLEY: But I do have a firm conviction in my own mind that commerce breaks down barriers between peoples of different backgrounds and within different countries, much more quickly than any government-to-government sort of relationship does, regardless of how sophisticated the diplomats trying to do the job might be.
COUNSELOR GENERAL MICHAEL ENGLHARDT: I think one of the main tasks of modern diplomacy is to get the people together.
SAND: Michael Engelhardt, Counselor General of the German Embassy in Chicago, sits next to his new friend, Impumbu, of Namibia.
COUNSELOR GENERAL ENGLHARDT: That’s one of the great advantages of economic cooperation. It’s not only the dollars and the goods who are going to and fro. It’s that the people come together, that they get to know each other, that they get to know, get to understand each other. Another mentality, which is not worse, not better, but only and simply, different. Let Americans be Americans, but let Germans also be Germans. And the Namibians, Namibians.
AMBASSADOR IMPUBMBU: Let the Namibians be Namibians.
COUNSELOR GENERAL ENGLHARDT: Of course.
[sound of train whistle]
SAND: The Ambassador trade tours of Iowa have begun to capture the interest of others in Congress. With the help of Grassley’s staff, representatives from Kansas and Pennsylvania organized weekend trips last year through their districts. But Senator Grassley hopes his idea doesn’t become too widespread.
SENATOR GRASSLEY: When I started this 12 years ago I had a difficult time at convincing ambassadors to come to Iowa. You know, like you had to describe what was the reason for coming to Iowa. And I used to have to beg a lot of businesspeople that it was a worthwhile thing for our international trade to finance such a venture. But now it has a very, very good reputation all of its own. I just send letters out and I don’t have to beg people to come and I don’t have to beg Iowa businesses to give the money that supports this effort. So I hope it doesn’t catch on because then I’ll have some competition from other senators. And I’d just as soon keep this little secret just for Iowa.
SAND: No one expects instant returns from all the time and money invested in this trip. But they do expect that the ties these diplomats made with each other and with this small part of the world will be lasting.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: You know what he calls this part? He calls it the loco motion?
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: [laughter]
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Loco motion.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: [laughter]
SENATOR GRASSLEY: So you’re all crazy?
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: Yes. [laughter]
SAND: For Common Ground, I’m Rita Sand.
DIPLOMATS, SPOUSES AND BUSINESPEOPLE: [laughter and chatting]
MCHUGH: Coming up, the Hague Appeal for Peace.
: You can’t have peace unless you prepare for peace. And part of that is peace education.
MCHUGH: Printed transcripts and audiocassettes of this program are available. Listen at the end of the broadcast for details. Common Ground is a service of the Stanley Foundation, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that conducts a wide a range of programs designed to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world affairs.
KEITH PORTER: In 1899 government representatives from around the globe gathered at The Hague for the first international peace conference. One hundred years later nearly 10,000 activists, government representatives, and community leaders honored that historic event with the 1999 Hague Appeal for Peace Conference. Cora Weiss is President of the Hague Appeal for Peace. She says the May conference produced an action plan for peace in the 21st century.
CORA WEISS: The Hague Appeal for Peace is an end-of-the century civil society conference which is dedicated to sowing the seeds for the abolition of war in the new century and to creating a culture of peace. We are now coming to the end of the most violent, most war-filled, bloodiest century in history. The century began with a war in the Philippines and is ending with a war on every continent. And people are fed up with fighting. So, two or three years ago a number of organizations came together to convene the idea that peace should have the last word of this century, and if governments were not going to hold a meeting to say so, then mere mortal citizens had to hold that meeting. And we did.
We convened in The Hague in May and nearly 10,000 people from over a hundred countries gathered together in an extraordinary display of energy, commitment, enthusiasm, and an understanding that you can’t have politics without culture. So there was a lot of music and dancing and art. And expressions of a desperate, desperate desire to resolve problems without violence. And these expressions took a variety of forms.
The other thing that the Hague Appeal for Peace stands for is the understanding that governments alone can’t solve problems. And we mere mortals can’t solve problems alone. And so we’ve really sort of honed the concept of the New Diplomacy that was begun at the time of the Land Mine Convention in Ottawa. It’s phrase that was coined by Lloyd Axworthy, the Foreign Minister of Canada. And we’ve developed it and included the concept of democracy, so we call it the New Democratic Diplomacy. And what it means is that people—you and me—from all over the world should now be sitting at the table wherever decision are made that affect the fate of humanity, together with governments and intergovernmental organizations. The United Nations needs us, governments need us. And “the sides,” the traditional, usually male, two men sitting at a table deciding the fate of Kosovo, deciding the fate of Bosnia, deciding the fate Rwanda—wherever there have been in negotiations, it has been basically a negotiation between the two sides. And that has usually meant two men. And we are saying now that the victims, that women, the religious community—that the people whose lives are going to be affected by those negotiations—must sit at that table as well. And no negotiating table should be set in the future without women and civil society sitting together with “the sides.”
PORTER: The event that took place in The Hague played off of, or made many references to, the event that happened in The Hague in 1899. Not that you were there, Cora, but what happened in The Hague in 1899?
WEISS: The great thing about 1899 is that it was convened by two kids: A 30-year-old czar of Russia and an 18-year-old queen of The Netherlands. Queen Wilhelmeena was 18 in 1899. And they called together a rather important and serious conference. The Czar was interested in trying to hold down the world’s arms trade because Russia couldn’t keep up with it. So it was in their interest to cut back on weapons development. And he brought the Queen along with him. And they had—I think there were only 26 governments at the time, then—but of course there were fewer governments in the world then, also. And they developed a few important initiatives, the consequences of which remain today. For example, they conceived the idea of the pacific settlement of disputes. Which means basically the non-violent settlement of disputes. And they laid the groundwork for the Permanent Court of Arbitration, for what eventually became the League of Nations, and then of course the United Nations. So 1899 was a watershed. It was an important moment in history.
And governments in 1999 held a centennial conference to review the three agenda points of that 1899 meeting. Basically, what they called “armaments” at the time, what we call disarmament today; the pacific settlement of disputes; and international humanitarian law. We, The Hague Appeal for Peace, added a fourth agenda point to those three items. We decided that we had to start talking about the root causes of war and create a culture of peace. So in the language of 1999, our agenda became disarmament and human security; international humanitarian and human rights law; conflict prevention/conflict resolution; and, most important, root cause of war/culture of peace.
The governments invited us to their table following our civil society conference, to which we invited governments. And that was the first demonstration that this idea of a New Democratic Diplomacy can work. That civil society can sit down together at the same table with governments. Because we bring the expertise. You know, we have the on-the-ground experience.
PORTER: Well, I want to make sure that our audience understands. And you can expand on this a little bit—that when we talk about The Hague Appeal for Peace, we’re talking about two different, two separate things or two different sides of the same coin. We’re talking about an event that happened in The Hague, and we’re also talking about an ongoing movement. Tell us about, what are the outlines of the ongoing movement? Where are we headed now?
WEISS: The conference produced a document, which is now an official United Nations document. And it’s called The Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice for the 21st Century. Basically it’s a 50-step guideline for how to get from here—a culture of violence—to there, a culture of peace. And it has suggestions and recommendations for each of the four agenda areas. That document has now been distributed to heads of state. President Yeltsin has received it. I personally gave a copy to President Clinton. And the Prime Minister of Bangladesh has sent it around to the rest of the heads of state. It’s being discussed by civil society organizations around the world. And what it says is that there are campaigns that are being organized around the world, that people can join campaigns to ratify the International Criminal Court, to ratify the Land Mine Convention, to implement it, to end the sale and trade in small arms, to stop the use of children as soldiers, to start a campaign called “Global Action Program for the Abolition of War,” and so forth.
But what it also does, is to redefine security, for example. We don’t talk about security in sovereign terms. We talk about security in human terms. It talks about the need for women to be empowered and to participate equally with men. It talks about the importance of young people. It talks about the need for varieties of just, of disarmament, including the absolution of nuclear weapons. The Hague Agenda is now being distributed around the world. And one of the things that The Hague Appeal for Peace is going to be doing from our own office in New York—we have offices in Geneva and The Hague and New York and Boston—one of the things we are going to be taking responsibility for is seeing to it that the concept of peace education, peace studies, reconciliation—whatever word you want to use—becomes integrated into the curricula of schools all over the world. I call it the “fourth R” in English, so we now know that you can’t go to school without doing reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic. Everybody accepts that. But why can’t we add a fourth R, Reconciliation, to that list? You can’t have peace unless you prepare for peace. And part of that is peace education.
PORTER: Well, you mentioned peace education. I noticed in the literature that both at The Hague and in the follow-up you’ve made a special effort to involve young people. Can you say something about the youth involvement in all this?
WEISS: It’s probably the most satisfying and remarkable aspects of the whole Hague Appeal for Peace. Out of 10,000 people who came to the Hague, 1,500 were under the age of 25. They came seriously, they came determined to write a youth agenda into the Hague Agenda for Peace and Justice, and have done so. And they’re continuing, wherever they are. It’s a remarkable commitment, that young people are scared to death and determined to be able to live their lives out. And they know that in order to do that they have to play a role in saying what the world should look like, that they are going to become soon leaders of.
PORTER: I have one last area I want to ask you about and it’s something you mentioned a little bit earlier. And that is the role that civil society, non-governmental organizations, average people, can play in world affairs and the changing nature of that role. We’re sitting here in your offices across the street from the United Nations. We have a beautiful view of the building here. And, but that’s a building where nations come together, where you have to be a sovereign member-state to have a vote. How can non-governmental organizations impact a structure like that?
WEISS: We keep our eye on the UN because increasingly it looks like one day it’s going to be pushed into the East River. And The Hague Appeal for Peace stands for strengthening the United Nations, democratizing the United Nations, and increasing the voice of civil society at the United Nations. Increasingly, the United Nations is feeling the pressure from civil society, so that, for example, there is a meeting of civil society organizations taking place to write a proposal on the Millennium Assembly of the General Assembly in the year 2000. There is going to be a Millennium Forum of the non-governmental organizations in the year 2000. The UN feels the need and the pressure from civil society to participate, to be heard. Indeed, you know, the Land Mine Treaty would never have been ratified without civil society participation, just as the ICC is not going to succeed without civil society participation. So it’s slow, but it’s gonna happen. And I think “they”—governments—know that we—civil society—is here. And we are ready to hold them accountable for everything that they do and don’t do.
PORTER: That is Cora Weiss, President of The Hague Appeal for Peace. For Common Ground, I’m Keith Porter.
Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.
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