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wish we had understood earlier how important all of the other nations of the
world are to our well being. And therefore been a little more willing to take
into account the problems of other countries before they festered into envy and
This week on Common Ground,
critiquing the CIA. And, examining Iraq’s position in the axis of evil.
GRAHAM FULLER: I think most of the region
feels that either, “Really do the job”—in other words get rid of this man, but
don’t simply gratuitously poke sticks into the cage because we’re gonna have to
live in the area. And that a wounded Saddam is a very, very dangerous beast within the cage.
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.
MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh.
Retired Admiral Stansfield Turner has had a long and distinguished career in
military and government service. He is a Rhodes Scholar and a former President
of the Naval War College. He served as Commander of both the US Second Fleet
and NATO’s southern flank. In 1977 he became President Jimmy Carter’s Director
of Central Intelligence.
PORTER: Since leaving the CIA,
Admiral Turner has written a number of books on terrorism, democracy, and the
need to better control nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Lately he has
been concerned about problems with the US intelligence system, which may have
kept American officials from preventing the September 11 terrorist attacks.
There certainly should be an investigation. And secondly, the excuse that we
should postpone the investigation because we’re still in the middle of all
this, I don’t believe is wise. We’re going to be in the middle of all this for
a long time and if there is something wrong with our intelligence apparatus and
the way it’s operating we’ve got to correct it quickly, not wait till war is
over. I don’t know how to speculate on whether if you pulled all the clues that
were available on 9/10 that would have told us there was an attack coming at
the World Trade Center and Pentagon on 9/11. I doubt it. But it’s conceivable,
and it’s why we need an investigation. And if that reveals there was enough
evidence, we certainly need to take corrective action and ensure that it
doesn’t happen again.
If there were enough pieces out there it would be
because some information from a flight training school in Minnesota didn’t get
down here to the Immigration and Naturalization Service that knew this man was
an illegal alien in our country, which didn’t get over to the FBI, or which
didn’t get to the CIA—you see what I mean? But it’s broader than that. And
that’s why we do have to hope that Governor Ridge can bring the homeland
defense program together. He should not try to coordinate the internal workings
of the intelligence community. But he should be sure that the intelligence
community is sharing information with and obtaining information from the
Immigration Service, the Health Service, the other—Border Patrol—you know, all
these other agencies that have clues. And we’ve never really thought about
bringing that together.
PORTER: As the former Director of
the CIA I’m wondering if there are things that you think we could have done
differently that would have prevented the September 11 attacks?
TURNER: Yes. When you go way back
to 1941 we missed the call with our intelligence of Pearl Harbor. We
investigated that and one of the conclusions was that there was more
information available than we were utilizing. It was compartmented. Army had
some, the Navy had some, the State Department had some. And they didn’t share
it adequately. We still have that problem, which is almost criminal. And we
need to go back and revisit the law that we created in 1947, after World War
II, to avoid the Pearl Harbor syndrome. We created a Director of Central
Intelligence who was to coordinate all of the intelligence activities, whether
they were housed in the CIA, or the Defense Department, or the State
Department, or the FBI, or wherever. But we never gave that individual—the
Director of Central Intelligence—authority over the other agencies to ensure
they shared information, to ensure they coordinated so they didn’t all look at
the same problem and nobody look at a different problem, so that the clues that
one operation collected by photographs were used by the people doing electronic
listening, and that the electronic listening clues were used by the human
intelligence people. And so on. So, we really need today to correct that
situation by giving the Director of Central Intelligence authority to manage
the intelligence community.
PORTER: Are there specific steps
that the Bush administration should take along those lines?
TURNER: They should give the
Director of Central Intelligence authority to direct the collecting activities
of the photographic people, of the electronic people, of the human intelligence
people. Secondly, they should give the Director of Central Intelligence the
authority to command that each one of those agencies share its information with
the others. Now, I don’t mean total sharing because there is a reason for
people not wanting to share. That is, maybe you obtained this information from
a human spy. And revelation of that information might lead to that spy being
identified and killed. So there’s reason to keep it very limited in its
distribution. But today, the person in charge of human spying is the one who
determines how much distribution there is. It should be the Director of Central
Intelligence who says, “No, that is so important that we must share it a little
bit, at least.” And he would then—he or she—would then direct how much sharing
and with whom. Somebody with a broader perspective than the individual in
charge of the spying element should determine how much of that.
So those are the two principle things. The third one
I would want to give the Director of Central Intelligence authority to put
together the budgets of all the intelligence community. Why? Because you again
want them to be cooperative, not overlapping. You want to put a theme behind
your budget. That is, where are we taking intelligence? Where do we see the
future? Is it in more satellites? Is it in more humans? Is it in more analysis?
Whatever. But somebody who has the overall perspective should be looking at
that and saying, “I’m putting this budget together in a way that will emphasize
whatever needs to be emphasized.”
PORTER: Looking back over recent
history, especially since the end of the Cold War to perhaps September 11, what
could we have done differently to make the world a safer place? Were there big
missed opportunities during that time frame?
TURNER: I wish we had understood
earlier how important all of the other nations of the world are to our
well-being. And therefore been a little more willing to take into account the
problems of other countries before they festered into envy and resentment
against us because we do things differently, we live on so much higher a
standard of living. We sometimes appear to the rest of the world to be
imperious and unilateralist. We should have tried to understand that without a
major enemy like we believed Communism and the Soviet Union were that we should
have taken a greater interest in our fellow human beings who were less
privileged than we. You and I believe in that in our country. We try to help
the poor. We’re very magnanimous. When you look at the United States one of the
things that differentiates it from any
other society that I know of is the fact that we have such charitable
institutions here. Other countries count on governments to do this. We have
that sense of respect for and interest in our fellow human beings that says,
“Yes, I’ll give to this foundation,” or that, or this charity, or that. But we
haven’t translated that into a global sense.
Now, we can’t raise the standard of living of every
person in Africa, where the standards are so low. But we probably can do a good
bit more than we are doing and I think that’s maybe where we missed the boat
PORTER: I know you’ve been very
vocal on the control of nuclear weapons and on nuclear proliferation in
particular. Are there opportunities that we missed there? Are there things that
we could have been doing over that decade that we weren’t doing?
TURNER: Over this decade the
Russians have been unable to maintain the size of their nuclear arsenal. They
built their nuclear weaponry to last about 15 years and then they intended to
replace it piece by piece. We built our weaponry to last much longer and
refurbish it as it goes along, so that it will have a longer shelf life. Well,
it’s been ten years now of the 15 in a sense, and they haven’t replaced much of
anything because they are too poor. We should have taken advantage of that as
soon as we perceived it and said, “Hey, Russia! Let’s go down!” Here the two of
us are sitting up here on—they’ve got maybe 20,000 nuclear warheads this
afternoon and we have maybe 10,000. Nobody else has more than five, six hundred
and that’s only China. And then the rest are down in the lower hundreds.
So why are we sitting up here at these absurd numbers?
It’s because of a artifact of the Cold War. We got carried away with ourselves
and we said, “Well, if they’ve got 10 we’ve got to have 12.” And if they said,
“Well, they’ve got 12, we’ve got to have 14.” And it went on up to the
unbelievable number of 70,000 nuclear warheads between our two countries. We
should have certainly as soon as the Cold War ended have said, “Let’s really
take this down to something that is much more reasonable.”
PORTER: Several years ago you wrote
a book about the tension that exists between the desire to live in an open
society and the desire to prevent terrorism. How are we doing along those
lines? Are we making the right decisions?
TURNER: I’m a little concerned
today that we can’t get too carried away with ourselves. But I don’t think
we’ve gone too far at this point. The military tribunals that have been
authorized are probably the most controversial intrusion into our normal due
process of law. Yet I believe because they can be kept secret, because they can
be conducted overseas, and because they allow you to deal quickly with a
problem, that they are worthwhile. We haven’t authorized any yet, we just said
they’re there in theory. So we’ll have to see how we actually apply that. And
in the one or two cases that have arisen, we’ve not resorted to military
tribunals. We need to maintain an alertness here that we don’t go helter
skelter in too much intrusion.
PORTER: I have a question for you
about this split between unilateralism and multilateralism in US foreign
policy. It seems as if we’re really going it alone on so many things these
days. What do you think about that? I mean, should we be making a greater
effort to act in cooperation with our allies?
TURNER: One of the key lessons of
the events of 9/11 is that we have to have cooperation from other nations. This
is a global fight against terrorism. It is not a fight just against terrorism
versus Americans. And therefore we can’t go it alone entirely. On the other
hand, when you’ve seen the squeamishness of our allies over the President’s
statement about an evil axis—and I happen to think it was not a wise
statement—but nonetheless, the allies and friends were much more squeamish than
I think they deserved to be. You realize how, how difficult it is to get other
people to go along with controversial actions like bombing and such forth. So
we have to be willing to go unilaterally at times. I think we’ve emphasized it
too much—or more than that I think we’ve given the impression we want to be
unilateral. More than we really are being unilateral. And we need to avoid
exacerbating people’s concerns as we did with the phrase “evil axis.”
PORTER: You mentioned our European
allies and you are a former commander of NATO’s Southern Region. And I’m
wondering about the split between the United States and NATO. It seems as if
we’re drifting farther and farther apart both politically and technologically.
There have been articles written recently about how we can do so much more
technologically than our NATO allies can with their military. Does NATO still
have a strong bright future?
TURNER: NATO has a strong bright
future as a political alliance. I don’t see any way the NATO allies other than
Britain and perhaps Germany will catch up with us or be willing to, able to,
play with us militarily on the battlefield. And I would say to you as a former
NATO commander that this is nothing new. In my day I didn’t feel that NATO was
much more than a political structure. That if there was going to be real
fighting we would have to do it. That the other armies and navies and air
forces in most of those countries—again, excepting the British and perhaps the
Germans—were not really well trained or equipped for battle.
PORTER: That is Stansfield Turner,
Director of Central Intelligence during the Carter administration.
MCHUGH: Examining the Iraqi threat,
next on Common Ground.
isn’t any trust of Saddam Hussein. But in some areas there’s a feeling that the
threat has declined.
PORTER: Printed transcripts and
audio cassettes of this program are available. Listen at the end of the
broadcast for details, or visit our Web site at commongroundradio.org. Common Ground is a service of the
Stanley Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that conducts a wide
range of programs designed to provoke thought and encourage dialogue on world
MCHUGH: There’s considerable debate
over President Bush’s naming of Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an “axis of
evil.” In his State of the Union address the President accused North Korea of
developing weapons of mass destruction; Iran of exporting terror; and Iraq of
supporting terror and pursuing chemical and biological weapons.
PORTER: Just how dangerous is Iraq
to its neighbors and the United States? Recently Common Ground’s Cliff Brockman put that question to two experts on
Dr. Phebe Marr is a retired National Defense University Senior Fellow and
Scholar; Graham Fuller is the former Vice Chairman of the National Intelligence
Council at the CIA. Graham Fuller, was the President correct in lumping Iran,
Iraq, and North Korea together?
GRAHAM FULLER: All three countries
certainly have policies that can be described as very negative and maybe you
could describe them as evil as well. I think the main problem is not so much
the word “evil,” which maybe bothers Europeans, but the word “axis.” In other
words axis suggests countries working together very closely and cooperating.
And I think that’s demonstrably, utterly, not the case here, except that maybe
both of them on occasion buy some North Korean weaponry and missiles. So I
think many of us who have been following the Middle East felt that the old
Clinton line of dual containment—which in other words put Iraq and Iran both in
the same category and both equally untouchable—we’d thought we’d gotten out of
that and now with these remarks of the President seem to be back in it again.
Which I just feel is neither in policy terms nor analytic terms particularly
useful or helpful.
PHEBE MARR: I would tend to agree with
BROCKMAN: This is Dr. Phebe Marr.
MARR: I think in terms of regime
negativity certainly North Korea and Iraq fall into that category. I think the
situation in Iran is more nuanced. But in all fairness, Bush did make that
distinction as well in his speech. And I hope he will follow through in policy.
BROCKMAN: Most of Iraq’s neighbors
would like us to drop the sanctions against Iraq.
MARR: This has always been an
extremely difficult situation. Because we, in a sense we have to structure a
policy to deal with the government in power. And if we put sanctions on to
limit the flow of money to Saddam it is inevitably going to put that power in
his hands to either deliver it or not deliver it to his population, and his
population is getting hurt more than, than he is. We would all like to get more
money in the hands of Iraq and get a normal economy there. And I would
certainly favor the so-called “smart sanctions”—loosening up on, on goods and
the economy for the Iraqi population but trying to tighten up on what goes into
Saddam’s pocket. But frankly, taking away the escrow account. You have to
understand that the sanctions means that he can sell as much—almost as much oil
as he wants. And he’s making quite a bit of money on it now. But it doesn’t go
directly into his pocket. It goes into an escrow account. This gives the U.N.
some control over the uses inside Iraq. I would find removing that escrow
account very difficult because it’s the only control that we have over what
Saddam can do with his money.
BROCKMAN: What countries perceive
Iraq as a threat?
FULLER: Well, I think virtually all
neighbors of Iraq feel it’s a genuine threat. All of them have felt Iraq’s
negative and dangerous policies in one way or another for a long time. So I
don’t think anyone trusts Saddam at all. I think most of the region feels that
either, “Really do the job”—in other words get rid of this man, but don’t
simply gratuitously poke sticks into the cage because we’re gonna have to live
in the area. And that a wounded Saddam is a very, very dangerous beast within the cage by any standard. So basically
do it right or else don’t do it at all. And meanwhile I think they say your
American policy had better be credible elsewhere in the region; otherwise it’s
going to make it very hard for our regimes to get on board with supporting an
attack against a fellow Arab state.
BROCKMAN: Dr. Marr?
MARR: Yeah, I certainly would
agree with that latter comment. But I would say that in my discussions with,
with people in the region on this defense issue it’s sometimes difficult to get
them to see the threat. I think the regimes and the leaders who themselves have
to face the wrath of Saddam Hussein—there isn’t any trust of Saddam Hussein.
But in some areas there’s a feeling that the threat has declined. And a little
less concern for it. Maybe one of the reasons for that is because the United
States is there, extending the protection. But if you get into defense
discussions you’ll see the threat issue is one that is a matter of difference
sometimes when we talk about this in the Gulf.
BROCKMAN: Graham Fuller, do you think
there could be a coup in Iraq?
FULLER: No. I don’t believe that
there are any forces within Iraq capable of pulling a sudden and surprising
coup. This is the most pervasive security regime maybe in the history of the
20th century. Paralleled maybe by North Korea or by Stalin in the ‘20s. The
climate of fear is extraordinary. Every element of society is penetrated and
monitored. And the penalty for even a whiff of suspicion is not jail, but
death. So I really am not optimistic about it. The only thing I think is
conceivable—not likely, but conceivable—is if the conditions become so
appalling that you have simply a spontaneous uprising. I’m thinking especially
of the southern Shia regions, of just masses running wild and attacking police
headquarters and security installations, that could begin to spread a wave of
rebellion against Saddam. I just don’t think it’s very likely to happen.
MARR: There’s one potential
scenario here. And that is that there’s an undoing within the family. This is a
family run regime. And to say that there are tensions and differences in it is,
is to underestimate. And somehow that could blow up and one—somebody on the
inside who could really do the job might conceivably do it. But I don’t put too
much stock in that.
BROCKMAN: Do you think the United
States will invade Iraq?
FULLER: I have no idea whether in
fact this debate on whether we’re going to actually take some kind of military
action against Iraq and on what grounds—I have no—I do not know whether that’s
going to actually materialize. It looks to me like it would be on the issue of
inspection and weapons of mass destruction. But all of that has to be carefully
thought out. How, when, where—what sort of, what sort of reception or what sort
of group would we have inside Iraq that could match up with this? I frankly
don’t, don’t see any. And I don’t see in this debate any of the details or
thinking through the strategic or tactical way in which that would be
accomplished. But, frankly, should something like that materialize it seems to
me that’s the most likely way. Or, the man is getting older. And it is quite
possible he might die in his bed like some other dictators we’ve known.
BROCKMAN: Graham Fuller?
FULLER: The problem of internal rebellion
even within the family is that however angry and however much rivalry there may
be within that family and clan, there is a real sense of hanging
together/hanging separately. What is certitude is if there is a major change in
the Iraqi regime, including the arrival of democracy—democratization of the
country—the Shiites, who are 60 percent of the population—become the dominant
force in the country politically and even socially in a way. Which would be a
tremendous overturning of a pattern of, of 20, 25 percent of the population—the
Sunni Arab population—running everybody else in the country. So I think there’s
that sense, if we tamper with this, Saddam is awful—but if we tamper with this,
god knows where the—where the pieces will fall. The vengeance factor on the
part of so many that have been angry and excluded and killed and butchered and
repressed over all these years could be high. The scare factor is high. And the
Sunni Arabs, as a group, know that their hold on power essentially comes to an
end at that point.
MARR: I’m not so sure that Shia
identifying as Shia, Kurds identifying as Kurds, and Sunnis identifying as
Sunnis would emerge as players. Because those terms are too monolithic. As
Graham well knows. All of those communities are very diverse and they may also
identify—one would hope—as Iraqis. Or people with the potential for a better
future. Let me be a little more optimistic here. Or army officers. Or
professionals. Or, or somebody else. And come together with a kind of a
like-minded people to form another government. The tensions between the
communities—Shia, Sunni, Kurd, Arab—have been very, very bad since the Gulf War
in 1991. But there is a tradition of Iraqi identity and Iraqi nationalism that
could be worked on, played on, encouraged. Including those people who are now
working for Saddam—in the military, the bureaucracy, and so on. That would be
the one hope for Iraq—that you play on sentiments of Iraqi identity rather than
some other identity.
FULLER: It’s a great hope. I hope
Phoebe’s right, that this could be a possibility.
BROCKMAN: What do you think the role
of the U.N. Security Council is?
FULLER: We’ve had a decade of
debates within the U.N. Security Council on this whole issue and it’s quite
divided with European interests—French interests, British interests, Russian
interests, Chinese interests—that are both commercial, political, even
ideological. Many countries such as China or Russia in the past have not wanted
to see us exercising unilateral power. They don’t like to see interventionism
in general, on the basis of bad regimes or human rights violations or
proliferation, because in theory those same principles could be used to visit
other regimes and to overthrow them potentially. So I am not terribly
optimistic that the Security Council is going to reach a clear agreement on
this. But it’s—for all the differences, tenyears down the road they are still
cooperating and there’s still discussion of reconstituting an inspection
regime. There is some incentive to keep on limping along. And that’s not all
bad. I mean, let’s just finally say. It could be worse. Saddam is—he’s
terrible; he hasn’t changed; the situation is awful in Iraq. But in terms of
the region, he is in the box. It has been somewhat contained. And it could be
BROCKMAN: Dr. Marr?
MARR: It’s difficult to go
through the Security Council, to say nothing of the U.N., because it does
represent, as it’s supposed to, disparate interests. It is—this whole issue is
going to come up again before the Security Council. So we’re going to be into
the discussion no matter what. Because the current extension of oil for food is
due to be renewed. And as we all know, the inspection issue is going to come
up. Saddam has made sure that it’s going to come up by this charm offensive that
he’s just put forth. But it is difficult to get any decisive action one way or
the other out of the U.N. But I, I have to say also that I have great
misgivings about the U.N.—about the US, excuse me—acting unilaterally. Because
I think the sentiment in the area, as 9/11 showed—it just breeds more, you
know, more difficulty out there. We may have to get an alliance of convenience
to deal with this. But one of the roads diplomatically will go through the U.N.
Security Council. And the U.N. Security Council will stay seized of the problem
of sanctions, inspections, and so on. So we will continue to have this dialogue
there with all of its difficulties.
Independent consultants on Iraq, Dr. Phebe Marr and Graham Fuller. For Common Ground, I’m Cliff Brockman.
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PORTER: And I’m Keith Porter. Cliff
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