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JUDITH SMELSER: Israelis feel unity is necessary to deal with the current Palestinian uprising, which has killed nearly 700 Israelis and some 1,800 Palestinians since 2000.
KEITH PORTER: This week on Common Ground, why Israel prefers Arial Sharon.
KRISTIN MCHUGH: Plus, Washington’s low profile in the Mideast peace process.
JUDITH KIPPER: I believe that the White House view is that once the Iraq situation is resolved, then it will be time to address the peace process, and then it will be much easier and the parties will be more responsive after a settlement on the Iraq issue.
MCHUGH: And NATO’s shifting priorities.
NICHOLAS BURNS: The center of gravity of the two institutions that are fundamentally responsible for stability and for the future of Europe—NATO and the EU—has shifted eastward.
PORTER: These stories—coming up next.
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PORTER: Common Ground is radio’s weekly program on world affairs. I’m Keith Porter.
MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. Earlier this year, Israelis seemed to endorse a hardline policy towards the Palestinians when they overwhelmingly re-elected Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Voters gave Sharon’s hawkish Likud Party enough votes to double the party’s representation in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset. The more dovish Labor Party was the big loser in the election, despite polls showing that Israelis generally supported its platform of negotiations with the Palestinians. Judith Smelser has this look at what the elections say about the current tide of Israeli public opinion.
[The sound of singing and cheering at a political victory party.]
JUDITH SMELSER: Supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon celebrate after the Likud party’s resounding election victory.
[The sound of singing and cheering at a political victory party.]
SMELSER: Things weren’t so cheery at Labor Party headquarters, though. The left-leaning party, whose leader Amram Mitzna had promised to start negotiations with the Palestinians immediately and pull out of most of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, suffered its worst defeat ever. The results were not a surprise, but they were somewhat counterintuitive.
PAUL SCHAM: According to polls, most Israeli voters, when they think about the future of the peace process and of peace and what should happen to Israel, their views on this—their world view—is much closer to that of the crushingly defeated Labor candidate, Amram Mitzna.
SMELSER: Paul Scham is a researcher at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He’s now a visiting scholar at the George Washington University in Washington, DC.
SCHAM: One way that this has been put is that people want Labor surgery but they want a Likud doctor to do it.
SMELSER: In other words, Israelis want peace and generally support the idea of a Palestinian state, but they want to make sure they don’t give up more than they have to in the process. So while Labor might push harder for peace, Israelis trust Likud to negotiate the peace from a position of strength. And there was another strike against Amram Mitzna.
[The sound of a political street rally.]
SMELSER: At a pre-election street rally, he reiterated his promise not to join another national unity coalition government with the Likud party.
AMRAM MITZNA: [speaking at the street rally] When you bring to the people two alternatives, and the people vote for one alternative, the other alternative should be the opposition and to continue to fight in order to win. So we will—at the end of the day, we will win.
SMELSER: But it turns out that wasn’t what the voters wanted to hear. Again, researcher Paul Scham.
SCHAM: The fact is that polls showed that most voters didn’t believe him but they certainly didn’t like the idea. Because the fact is that there is a yen, a strong feeling, that unity was required and it was felt that he was destroying the idea of unity.
SMELSER: Israelis feel that unity is necessary to deal with the current Palestinian uprising, which has killed nearly 700 Israelis and some 1,800 Palestinians since 2000. The elections also saw the dramatic rise of the centrist Shinui Party, which came in a close third behind Labor. Unlike the two major parties, Shinui’s platform focused not on the conflict with the Palestinians but on domestic issues. The party campaigned on a platform of secularism, taking a stand against special privileges for ultra-Orthodox Jews. Shukri Abed with Washington’s Middle East Institute suspects Shinui may owe at least part of its success to the economic concerns of voters.
SHUKRI ABED: People are fed up with the high demands that the religious parties put on each coalition. Whenever they are in a coalition, they really demand a tremendous amount of the budget for their schools, for their system, for their parties. And that’s where the resentment is. People don’t want religious parties to impose themselves on Israeli life and on Israeli budget.
SMELSER: And the Israeli budget is severely strained. The country’s economy is in dire straits, and in many countries that would be bad news for the ruling party. Professor Bernard Reich of George Washington University says all the economic indicators were bad.
BERNARD REICH: All the measures we have, have gone down dramatically. And the number of hungry and poor and those at the poverty line has gone up, and the number who need some kind of governmental assistance appears to have gone up as well. From all the data that we’ve got, the economy should’ve been an issue. Like in every previous election, the economy was not an issue.
SMELSER: As evidenced by the fact that the ruling party—Likud—scored a major victory. Like in the past, Israelis voted on the Palestinian issue, almost exclusively. Their message—they want peace, but not at the expense of their own security. For Common Ground, I’m Judith Smelser.
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MCHUGH: One of the early criticisms of the Bush administration was its lack of willingness to maintain President Clinton’s level of involvement in efforts to broker a peace deal in the Middle East. Facing charges of being too removed from the issue, President Bush unveiled what was described as his vision for the region.
PORTER: But now, more than two years after the changing of the guard at the White House, America’s appetite for mediating the conflict appears to have all but dried up. A series of events, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has undeniably altered the administration’s priorities. But some analysts suspect there may be more behind the shift in US foreign policy emphasis away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than meets the eye. Steve Mort has more from Washington.
[The sound of street violence.]
STEVE MORT: The violence between Israelis and Palestinians is undoubtedly continuing.
[The sound of street violence.]
MORT: But many political watchers in the United States have observed a distinct decline in the White House’s engagement in the region. In President Bush’s State of the Union this was all he had to say on the subject.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: In the Middle East, we will continue to seek peace between a secure Israel and a democratic Palestine. [applause]
MORT: A far cry from the President’s speech of last summer where he delivered a comprehensive vision for the future of the region, as outlined recently by US Secretary of State, Colin Powell.
US SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL: The Palestinians must establish a new and different leadership along with new institutions. They must also end all terror, all violence. For its part, Israel knows that it will have to ease the economic plight of ordinary Palestinians and deal with the issue of settlement construction.
TARMARA WITTES: There is no question that September 11th changed the priorities of this administration.
MORT: Tarmara Wittes is a Middle East Specialist at the United States Institute of Peace.
WITTES: At this stage, it’s focused like a laser beam of the threat of terrorism and, as it sees it, the threat that emanates from dictatorial regimes that have weapons of mass destruction. That pushes almost everything else off of the agenda. And the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, while ongoing, has only reinserted itself when the violence has reached such a level that there has been a necessity for the United States to tamp it down.
MORT: Indeed, violence was at a peak when President Bush addressed the subject last year. Then there’s the specific issue of Iraq. Some analysts say the White House fears US involvement there muddies the water, making American involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis much more complex. Judith Kipper is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
JUDITH KIPPER: I believe that the White House view is that once the Iraq situation is resolved, then it will be time to address the peace process, and then it will be much easier and the parties will be more responsive after a settlement on the Iraq issue. I’m not sure that that’s a point of view that is shared by many analysts but I think that is the point of view of the White House.
MORT: Skeptics in Washington have another theory. As the Bush administration focuses on the issue of weapons of mass destruction, engagement in the Middle East may throw up the thorny subject of Israel’s nuclear program.
PETER SCOBLIC: I think it is striking that Israelis discussed so little.
MORT: Peter Scoblic is editor of Arms Control Today published by the Arms Control Association. He says the US may realize it will now have to tackle the issue of Israel’s nuclear weapons if it turns its attention back to the peace process.
SCOBLIC: I think that Israel’s nuclear program is going to have to be dealt with before you can safely say that you have eliminated the possibility of nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. But for whatever reason the United States doesn’t seem willing to take on that problem on right now.
ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER ARIEL SHARON: [via a translator] Today is a day of democracy. In the past few years we’ve been in this situation many times.
MORT: Meanwhile, the reelection of Ariel Sharon as Israeli Prime Minister in the country’s general election earlier this year, shows many Israelis continue to favor a hardline approach in dealing with the Palestinian Authority. Analysts say Sharon’s more rigid approach has made it more difficult for the US to act successfully as a broker. Judith Kipper from the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the Prime Minister’s reelection is an important factor for the White House.
KIPPER: I think for the future of the peace process and for, to make life easier for the US as a mediator, clearly a different outcome would have been more positive, if in fact the United States is committed to the historic challenge of helping Israelis and Palestinians get to peace.
MORT: One of the key components of President Bush’s vision for the Middle East was a change of leadership at the top of the Palestinian Authority. Tarmara Wittes from the US Institute of Peace says the present lack of US engagement could be because Washington is waiting for the Palestinian leadership to take concrete steps to replace Yasser Arafat.
WITTES: Should the Palestinians succeed in making progress on the reform agenda—and they’ve been getting a lot of help on that point—then that will be the moment of truth for the United States. How hard will it press Israel to accept a settlement freeze and to push forward with peace negotiations? We won’t get to that stage and we won’t be able to answer the question of how far the US is willing to go until the Palestinians make more progress on reform and on the issue of violence.
MORT: One school of thought behind the shift in international involvement away from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that the crisis has gone from being essentially a global issue to a local issue. But Judith Kipper from the Center for Strategic and International Studies disagrees.
KIPPER: It is certainly a local conflict that does have a solution, but it needs a third party, or third parties, to get them to agree to a solution. But it is clearly the single most important issue in terms of the anti-Americanism that we see throughout the Arab world.
MORT: The establishment of the so-called Quartet of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations, and the US to help resolve the Middle East crisis has, according to some experts, given Washington the opportunity to step back from its front line involvement when the responsibility for mediating between the two sides fell on its shoulders alone. Tarmara Wittes says while that’s partly true it doesn’t necessarily explain why the US has taken more of a back seat.
WITTES: There’s no question that the Quartet has allowed the US to look more engaged than perhaps it is at a day-to-day level. But it’s also worked in the other direction. The Quartet has also served the EU and the UN and the Russians as well as a way of pulling the US further along into the process. And as the US government has worked with the rest of the Quartet on this road map, achieved agreement on each of its elements, that implies a commitment to see the process through.
MORT: With a myriad of possible explanations for the Bush administration’s change in emphasis, the added ingredient of the US presidential elections next year is dividing analysts. There are those who say it is unlikely to emerge as an issue during the campaign, but the Republican Party has been careful to court not only support from Jewish Americans but also Arab Americans in an effort to make the war on terrorism appear not to be a war against Islam. And with many Arab Americans disappointed at the Bush administration’s policy in the Middle East, some Democrats see that as a reason to raise the profile of the issue over the coming months. For Common Ground, I’m Steve Mort in Washington.
PORTER: The future of US national security, next on Common Ground.
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PORTER: Robert Gallucci has spent over two decades as an American diplomat and international public servant. He was Deputy Director of the United Nations team which oversaw the disarmament of Iraq after the first Gulf War. During the Clinton administration he helped negotiate the deal which ended—for a time—North Korea’s nuclear program. He’s now Dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. I spoke with Dean Gallucci about the future of US national security. He begins by contrasting the recent changes in America’s relationship with those two countries he knows so well—North Korea and Iraq.
DEAN ROBERT GALLUCCI: The North Korean case is one in which we have had—and this is extremely important—recent successful experience in a negotiation. I rather think lots of people see the news of a secret uranium enrichment program in North Korea as evidence of failure. I would say, “Oh, contraire.” What we have in the North Korean case is a negotiation in 1994 that was aimed at stopping a particular program, called gas graphite reactors, and a reprocessing facility that would, we estimated—the CIA estimated—in the mid-’90s be producing roughly 150 kilograms of plutonium, separated plutonium, by the year 2000. That program was stopped cold in 1994 and verified as such. There are other provisions the North Koreans agreed to which, for which we knew we had no inspection but it was better to have them sign up to this. We weren’t, we did not negotiate inspection provisions and we said at the time we did the negotiation part of this arrangement we can monitor, part of it we can’t. And we, there’s no trust here. There’s nothing about the agreement that depends on us hoping the North Koreans will behave themselves.
With respect to what they could do that we weren’t verifying we said we’d have to monitor them just like we’d have to monitor them if we had no agreement on the plutonium side. So the plutonium program has been crushed and not terribly surprisingly, the North Koreans for whatever reason—insurance, perhaps against a failure of the program of the framework, perhaps in order to have something else to sell as they sold the plutonium program, developed a intendedly secret uranium enrichment program. Which the, actually the Clinton administration discovered and intended to deal with in negotiations that were beginning just at the end of the Clinton administration.
So, there’s a different situation. There’s the prospect of negotiating with North Korea which really doesn’t exist with Iraq. So it’s a different situation, would not expect the same policy in both cases. And with respect to the policy of preventive war with North Korea, I’d have to note that in 1994 one of the reasons I think we got the agreement was that President Clinton not only intended to use force if necessary to stop this program but it became known to the North Koreans that he would. And that tends to focus the mind of negotiators.
PORTER: I recently heard him speak about the difference between defense of the United States by deterrence and defense by denial. Can you summarize the difference between those two schools of thought?
GALLUCCI: One way of securing your nation’s safety is to build a capability that denies an enemy the possibility of reaching your territory. And that was the traditional way of achieving defense objectives. Before there was air power it was really quite plausible. Air power made it lots more difficult to reach your security objectives by denial. And then when there were missiles, ballistic missiles, it became virtually impossible. And so concepts of deterrence were developed.
We knew about deterrence before but it was always a less desirable way of achieving your security because you essentially in a deterrent threat, you promise a potential enemy that if they struck you and hurt you, you would strike them back and hurt them so badly they would regret having struck you in the first place. That’s deterrence. It is retaliation. The problem with deterrence of course, is that you get struck first. There’s another problem with deterrence, is not only that you have to absorb the hit but that it depends not only on your capacity to strike back but on the other side believing that you will.
What we have now is a unique situation where we certainly don’t have defense by denial. We had for a long time, for 50 years, relied upon deterrence against big states. The problem now is we confront an enemy that is not always a state. It may be a terrorist group like Al Qaeda. And when it is, we not only lack the defense but we may well lack any possibility of deterrence. We may not know who struck us, we may not know from where they struck us. And even if we know who and where we may not be able to threaten them with retaliation because they may not care.
PORTER: Well, if we don’t have either of those things, what’s keeping us all from running screaming into the night about the fact that we have no defense?
GALLUCCI: I think it is the faith that we have a government that has substantial resources and has been deploying them as effectively as it knows how to deal with the threats it can identify before they manifest themselves with attacks on the United States. I put it this way because there’s always a question about how effective the government is at this. And there was some enthusiasm after the 11th of September to put blame on somebody for not having adequately defended this country. Maybe there are those who should have done more than they did. But the people in the last administration and this administration are quite focused on their responsibility to defend the nation. And they’re trying to do that. That rather extraordinary deployment of forces to Afghanistan, very quickly after 9/11, to go to what we believed was the heart of Al Qaeda in order to disrupt it was a manifestation of that kind of mobility and strength.
However, over time this kind of enemy requires a continued durable application of force and a political conceptualization of the problem that allows us to get and keep support so that the administration, if it wants to go to the heart of this problem is going to have to stick with it. And I suspect the next few administrations will as well.
PORTER: Any specific recommendations of things that the administration should be doing or that the American people should be looking for, to implement this?
GALLUCCI: The principal threat to the security of the United States of America doesn’t come from Iraq or from North Korea or from any rogue state right now acting directly against the United States. We can defend against some of those threats and we can deter others. The threat comes from a group like Al Qaeda, a terrorist group that has a sort of an amorphous location, real resources at its disposal, and certainly a commitment to do grievous harm to the United States and probably other Western interests. The question really for the administration is in everything it does in the security area, how does that impact the principal objective it must have, which is to deal with the terrorist threat?
PORTER: Dean Gallucci, I have one last question I want to ask you. In your position at Georgetown you are in a unique spot to see how this country is preparing future generations to deal with the threats that you’ve talked about. Are we doing the right things? Do you think that 10 years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, we will look back and say, “Yes, we did a good job at training these young people to face those threats of the future”?
GALLUCCI: If we fail at that it will not be because we haven’t tried to succeed. We have at Georgetown, in the School, a special graduate program specifically devoted to security studies. We have a Center for Peace and Security Studies. We have just wonderful undergraduate and graduate students in the school. Many of them go into government service either in the State Department, the Defense Department, the intelligence community, as well as into the private sector. We work on our curriculum to try to make it as relevant and as substantial as possible. To prepare the students in language and in culture as well as in the more technical sides of security. So I think we’re working at this pretty hard and we have wonderful material.
PORTER: Do you think there’s another future president or secretary of state somewhere in your student body right now?
GALLUCCI: I’m absolutely sure. The spirit I see in these students, lots of entrepreneurial spirit. Lots of intelligence. Incredible amounts of energy. I, what I can’t remember is anybody like that when I was an undergraduate. I find these students absolutely knock-your-socks-off wonderful.
PORTER: Robert Gallucci is Dean of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.
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MCHUGH: Europe continues it’s dramatic post-Cold War transformation. After separate summits late last year, NATO and the European Union are both set for major eastward expansions in their membership. Perhaps most startling for anyone who remembers the old days is the list of nations being welcomed into NATO’s military alliance. They include three former Soviet republics—Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. Malcolm Brown reports on the new NATO and how America’s permanent representative to the alliance sees its future.
[The sound of the NATO hymn being played.]
MALCOLM BROWN: For now, this is the official hymn of an organization binding 19 nations together. But all that is set to change. It was at a summit in Prague in November last year that NATO officially opened the door to seven countries from what used to be the communist bloc, including former members of the old Warsaw Pact—the very alliance that NATO stood against for decades. To read the list is to understand just how much has changed in Europe since the end of the Cold War: Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which border Russia, have all been invited to join. They represent the second wave of NATO’s eastward expansion, following in the footsteps of Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. America’s ambassador to NATO, Nicholas Burns, put it all in perspective, during an address to staff and students at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
NICHOLAS BURNS: We’ve now taken in former members of the Warsaw Pact and three constituent republics of the former Soviet Union in the last five years. This is a dramatic change in the European landscape and coupled with the decisive step that the EU took at Copenhagen to bring in 10 new members, it means that the center of gravity of the two institutions that are fundamentally responsible for stability and for the future of Europe—NATO and the EU—has shifted eastward.
BROWN: Critics of NATO’s eastward march argue that the new members bring little to the table militarily and that the expansion is turning the alliance into some sort of democratic club. But Nicholas Burns sees it very differently.
BURNS: Actually it really doesn’t add much to the burden of defending countries, if you add seven new members to the alliance. It gives you seven more countries from which to draw, to fight the way we must fight, to deter the way we must deter.
BROWN: Ambassador Burns points to the deployment of Romanian troops in support of combat operations in Afghanistan as an example of the political will and military capabilities provided by the incoming members.
BURNS: These seven countries are tough countries because of their past, because of the fact that they have lived under very tough circumstances. They have a very hard-headed—and I say that positively—and realistic view of the world.
BROWN: A worldview which will be rewarded with NATO membership by May of 2004, if all goes according to schedule. So much has changed in Europe that the question of whether Russia itself would ever want to join NATO is being asked—mostly by outsiders. Moscow has expressed no interest and has consistently opposed the alliance’s eastern expansion, although Russia and NATO have signed a cooperation agreement. Few NATO members keep a closer eye on the way the wind is blowing in Russia than Poland. The Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski says much depends on the way Russians see their future place in the world.
POLISH PRESIDENT ALEKSANDER KWASNIEWSKI: [The] Position of President Putin is quite clear, because he’s a man [who’s] very much pro-European and pro-Euro-Atlantic oriented but this is not the majority in Russia. That is not majority thinking among Russian elites.
BROWN: Other nations have made their minds up and are vying for NATO membership. The declaration issued by heads of state and government at the end of the Prague summit promises that the door “will remain open to European democracies willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership.” Albania and Macedonia are both under consideration and Croatia has been told that it will also be considered, subject to further reform and cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. For Common Ground, I’m Malcolm Brown.
PORTER: This is Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.
KEITH PORTER: I’m Keith Porter.
KRISTIN MCHUGH: And I’m Kristin McHugh. Coming up this half hour on Common Ground, the global campaign against child labor.
FRANS ROSELAERS: We have seen in a number of countries that it has resulted in children being withdrawn from hazardous forms of child labor, from slavery, from exploitation, from trafficking, from sexual exploitation, and being put into schools.
MCHUGH: Plus, the state of the world. And giving poor South African artists a chance.
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PORTER: It’s one of the most pernicious issues on the global agenda: child labor, the often-forced employment of the youngest in society. It’s estimated that more than 246 million children around the world—that’s one in six—spend their days working instead of studying, playing, and enjoying their adolescence. Now a new campaign is underway aimed at combating the child labor problem. But it won’t be easy.
[The sound of child weavers in a textile factory.]
MCHUGH: The sounds of child labor. In the former Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan, a group of children weave carpets by hand in a bid to help sustain their families. The enormous looms cast a shadow over the children—eleven- and twelve-year-olds, whose labor produces traditional carpets that are sold all over the world. It’s commonplace for children here and in many other countries to go to work, whether it’s weaving carpets, picking cotton, working in the sex trade, or being forced into child slavery. There have been many attempts to combat the problem, but now a new campaign is using some childhood heroes to wage a very adult struggle.
INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: The road to a world without child labor is long. But the line is clear.
MARKS: The International Labor Organization, based in Geneva, Switzerland, has unveiled the “Red Card to Child Labor” campaign, using some international soccer stars to spread the word.
INTERNATIONAL LABOR ORGANIZATION PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: [The sound of a referee’s whistle] With Real Madrid and the International Labor Organization, Red Card to Child Labor.
MARKS: In soccer, the red card is used then when the referee wants to expel a player from the game. An effective metaphor, says Frans Roselaers, who heads the International Labor Organization’s Program to Eliminate Child Labor.
FRANS ROSELAERS: The idea at the beginning was to sensitize the world of sports and, in fact, a large spectrum of the population of our child labor and, in fact, to promote an active world movement against the exploitation of children by work. Soccer of course is a very popular sport in many parts of the world, it’s one that is very much carried by youth, youth has a sense of solidarity with those, the young people and children in particular that are being exploited. It’s a fertile ground for a message to combat child labor.
MCHUGH: Fertile ground in which the ILO says progressive ideas are slowly taking root. Frans Roselaers points to Africa, where he says the campaign had some concrete results after it was promoted during the African soccer championships last year.
ROSELAERS: It has had an effect on governments taking that subject very much more seriously and adopting very active policies and very real programs in combating child labor, especially in its worse forms, and we have seen in a number of countries that it has resulted in children being withdrawn from hazardous forms of child labor, from slavery, from exploitation, from trafficking, from sexual exploitation, and being put into schools and attention also being paid to the employment and the income of their parents which need to be improved for there to be a sustainable solution to the child labor problem.
MCHUGH: But campaigns to eradicate child labor have been mounted before, and the problem still besets developing societies. Even if activists can agree on the desirability of stamping out child labor, they cannot necessarily agree on how to do it. For example, those young carpet weavers back in Azerbaijan are likely to be weaving carpets for most of their adult lives, making their early exposure to the trade as much a cultural phenomenon as an economic one.
JOHN TIERNEY: The cultural phenomenon in the so-called Third World, in depressed areas with very low income, makes it a requirement for families, villages, whole cities, indeed to use what is absolutely needed. This is a global condition.
MARKS: John Tierney teaches at the Institute of World Politics in Washington, DC. He’s written about the economics of child labor, and says those who wish to combat it need to determine a long-term strategy.
TIERNEY: It requires economic theoretical designs which would make the necessity to employ 8-year-olds unnecessary as it is in most of the post-industrial western world today.
MCHUGH: Organizers of the new campaign have some sympathy for that point. But Frans Roselaers of the International Labor Organization says he believes that action can be taken now to limit the role child labor plays in some societies.
ROSELEARS: Cultural norms, traditions, the structure of society, the perception of the role of boys and girls, of men and women, are definitely factors that play in favor of children being found in exploitative situations. But at the same time we feel that it is possible to change those attitudes and for populations to review that.
MARKS: The “Red Card to Child Labor” campaign will be prominently promoted at many upcoming international soccer tournaments, including the World Youth Championship, to be held this spring in the United Arab Emirates and the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
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PORTER: It is widely agreed that Nelson Mandela is the closest thing you can find to a living saint. So what do you do when he accuses you of being a racist? That was the unfortunate position in which George Bush found himself recently, after the former South African president played the “race card” against the US President. Common Ground‘s Simon Marks has the story.
SIMON MARKS: It was beyond any shadow of a doubt an intemperate statement, but one so detailed and repeated so often by former President Nelson Mandela that it could only have been planned and deeply felt. Addressing a lunch in Johannesburg, South Africa, amid growing speculation about President Bush’s determination to bring about his policy of regime change in Baghdad, the former South African leader laid in to the current US President with a stinging attack.
FORMER SOUTH AFRICAN PRESIDENT NELSON MANDELA: Both Bush as well as Tony Blair are undermining an idea which was sponsored by their predecessors. They do not care. Is it because the Secretary General of the United Nations is now a black man?
MARKS: And there was more.
MANDELA: What I’m condemning is that one power with a President who has no foresight, who cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a Holocaust.
MARKS: To the applause of the crowd, Mr. Mandela accused President Bush of planning to wage a war for oil, and he said that the United States is a country “that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world.” It’s all a far cry from the things Nelson Mandela was saying about America just four and a half years ago.
MANDELA: If today the people of South Africa are free at last to address their basic needs, then it is not least because the American people identified with and lent their support to the struggle to end apartheid.
[The sound of loud applause as Mr. MANDELA receives his Gold Medal from the US Congress.]
MARKS: On September 23rd, 1998, to a standing ovation in Washington, Mr. Mandela received the Congressional Gold Medal. It was the high water-mark in post apartheid US-South African relations. Today, at a government-to-government level, the relationship between the US and South Africa is workmanlike. But President Mandela’s criticisms struck home with the White House in part because of the very considerable weight he has lent to US presidents in the past. He supported Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal and he endorsed George W. Bush’s war on terrorism. When White House spokesman Ari Fleischer responded to the former South African president’s comments on Iraq, he noticeably failed to match the vigor of Mr. Mandela’s rhetoric.
ARI FLEISCHER: Nelson Mandela was a great leader. He remains a great man. But on this, the President and Nelson Mandela do not see eye-to-eye.
MARKS: And that may be how the White House and the former South African President choose to leave things. It seems unlikely that President Bush and former President Mandela will be spending much more quality time together. The Bush administration had already shelved plans for the US leader to visit South Africa. And after his outburst, it seems unlikely that Nelson Mandela will be welcomed back to the White House any time soon. And the aftertaste of this very public dispute is likely to reverberate for months to come. For Common Ground, I’m Simon Marks in Washington.
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PORTER: For a planet with more than 6.2 billion people, 192 countries, and thousands of languages and cultures, it’s not easy to get a handle of the overall state of the world. But for the past 20 years, the Worldwatch Institute has been trying to do exactly that—evaluate the state of the world we live in, focusing on economic and environmental issues, but also public health, development, and society. Priscilla Huff gives us the 2003 progress report.
[The sound of street traffic in a crowded Third World city.]
PRISCILLA HUFF: More than 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 dollar per day.
[The sound of running water.]
HUFF: 2.4 billion people lack basic sanitation like clean water.
[The sound of a baby crying.]
HUFF: 30,000 children die every day of preventable causes.
[The sound of huge industrial machines.]
HUFF: Pollution, strip mining, clear-cut forestry, all harm the environment.
[The sound of an explosion.]
HUFF: 50 million land mines spread over 60 countries threaten lives. The state of the world can be seen as pretty gloomy on a global scale. The problems seem insurmountable. It’s something that even the Bush administration has acknowledged. Just days before a United Nations conference in Mexico, President Bush pledged to increase America’s funding for programs which confront the issues of development, to $5 billion dollars.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: There’s a growing divide between wealth and poverty, between opportunity and misery. It’s both a challenge to our compassion and a source of instability. We must confront it. We must include every African, every Asian, every Latin American, every Muslim, in an expanding circle of development.
HUFF: The good news is progress is being made, as Chris Flavin of the Worldwatch Institute reports.
FLAVIN: Our central message today is that what is often called an impossible revolution is already happening in a surprising number of small success stories around the world.
HUFF: One example from the State of the World 2003, is a program in South Africa, Working for Water.
[The sound of running water]
HUFF: The program started as an effort to get rid of alien and invader plants—plants imported to South Africa which were squeezing out native plants. From its initial project in 1995, it’s grown to employ 20,000 people at 300 sites—many of them women and young people who have a hard time finding a job in South Africa. Working for Water has improved South Africa’s environment and also brought economic development to families and education. Closer to home, European countries are now requiring recycling programs for large appliances, like refrigerators. Worldwatch’s Gary Gardner says progress starts with an individual thought that’s grown to have global impact.
GARY GARNDER: Well, I think just psychologically, there’s something about throwing away, even if it’s obsolete, a big item, that is different from throwing away a paper cup, that gets people’s attention and calls for action. Add to that the toxic nature of this waste, I think you begin to generate some gut-level feeling among the populace that there’s something wrong here when we’re throwing this stuff away. I would say too, on the politics of this, that what happens in Europe matters elsewhere, especially in a globalized economy. We’ve seen where some firms that operate in Europe and are subject to many of these laws that require them to take back these products are now adopting some of the same ways that allow them to operate legally in Europe, here in the United States. And Xerox is an example of that.
HUFF: Toward the goal of making this world a better place, the United Nations sponsors meetings, conferences, and programs with the intent of forming agreements and treaties on global concerns. Two key events were hosted by Mexico and South Africa in the past year—the Monterrey Conference on Financing Development and the Johannesburg Conference on Sustainable Development, attended by thousands of delegates and protesters. But, Chris Flavin of Worldwatch is not convinced giant meetings will make the difference.
FLAVIN: We believe that enormous efforts will be required to avoid leaving to the next generation a degraded and less stable world, ecologically, economically, and politically. But we also believe that the place to begin in addressing these issues with the kind of seriousness that they’re going to require and particularly in light of the failure at the global level to reach agreements at meetings like the one in Johannesburg this past year, that we really now need, I think, as never before, to look in a very detailed way at what is really working around the world to solve many of these problems. And I think there we find that in many respects the world may be closer to turning the corner on many of these problems than have been previously understood.
HUFF: Despite the optimism, obstacles remain, including politics. In some ways the Bush administration is at odds with more typical Republican opposition to foreign aid. The White House has changed its approach to critical issues of sustainable development, admitting that poverty—and the related problems of pollution, lack of education, lack of health care, hunger—all help to contribute to an unstable world. And yet, President Bush still looks at things in black and white.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I’ve said in the past that nations are either with us or against us.
HUFF: He’s usually saying that in the context of terrorism and international relations, but it hints at Bush’s world view—a view that dampens Worldwatch’s optimism. Chris Flavin.
FLAVIN: I think that one of the things that we are finding at this current point in time is that it is unfortunately difficult to be tremendously optimistic about these grand global treaties and their ability to move forward rapidly over the next few years. I think that relates in part to the fact that the US has become even more of an obstructionist than it had been before, having the world’s dominant economy and the only remaining superpower at odds with the rest of the world on these issues has become a real problem. But beyond that, these are simply very large, very complex, very politically difficult issues to tackle, with many strong interest groups that are opposing those actions. And I think as a result, we find that the real progress, the real success stories are now occurring in these hundreds of smaller-scale examples around the world.
HUFF: For Worldwatch, the state of world depends on that cliché, all politics is local. Gary Gardner:
GARDNER: I think at the same time though we should not underestimate the power of civil society, the power of the democratic process. You know, in this country, we can be very pessimistic about the United States’ stand on renewable energy, on climate change, if we just looked at the policies of the Bush administration. But if we look at what’s happening around the country, in states across the country, we are finding that grassroots pressure is beginning to cause politicians to change to act.
HUFF: The state of the world is such that there’s a lot of work to be done, to make sure our children and our children’s children inherit an earth with air they can breathe, water they can drink and food they can eat. The conclusion from Worldwatch is, those goals begin at home. For Common Ground, I’m Priscilla Huff.
MCHUGH: You’re listening to Common Ground, radio’s weekly program on world affairs.
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MCHUGH: A group of previously untrained artists from one of the poorer parts of South Africa has stunned the London art world with their talents. The Ardmore Ceramic Art Studio, based in the Kwazulu-Natal province, began with one teacher and one student. Now, more than 60 people have passed through its doors—many becoming successful names with international galleries competing to show their work. Suzanne Chislett reports from London.
PEDROS GUMBI: My name is Pedros Gumbi. I am coming from South Africa. I’m one of the big artists in Ardmore. I’m making something and also doing the painting.
SUZANNE CHISLETT: Pedros is just one of dozens of young people who have benefited from Ardmore. He found out about the studio through an uncle and was instantly recognized for his talent. In the last 10 years he has gone from complete novice to one of the teachers and is now passing on the skills he has learned to others in the poor areas of Kwazulu-Natal province. The woman behind the studio is Zimbabwean-born teacher Fee Halsted Berning who moved to Ardmore farm in the 1980s and decided to put her skills to use teaching art to a maid’s daughter.
FEE HALSTED BERNING: I was sort of angry at not being able to teach and I decided that I would teach people that needed me. And I feel it was my calling. I feel that what happened was meant to happen.
CHISLETT: [interviewing Ms. Halsted Berning] And how did it progress into the studio setup that we see today?
HALSTED-BERNING: Well, with the one artist, she and I won the Standard Bank Award, young artists’ award, in 1990 and that was really what got rolling. And people started to come and we had a lot of publicity. And with that her friends had started making things and the studio evolved. It evolved in quality, it evolved in number of artists. And it’s just progressed to this Christie’s exhibition.
CHISLETT: Christie’s in London, the world renowned auction house, staged a two-week exhibition of the artists’ work, to introduce them to markets here. It became involved after an appeal by the South African representative in Britain, High Commissioner Lindiwe Mabuza, who was on hand to launch the show.
HIGH COMMISSIONER LINDIWE MABUZA: I’m exuberant. It is better than we imagined it could be. I think it’s really phenomenal. The story is what is so phenomenal. People in rural parts of Kwazulu-Natal, unschooled in art, and exhibiting at Christie’s. It’s a very humbling thought but it’s also a very elevating thought because we can rise above our station in life.
[Sounds from the art exhibit at Christie’s.]
CHISLETT: The art is all unique. Students train by watching others work. And the end product is a visual feast—brightly colored ceramics—everything from candlestick holders to huge urns—all beautifully decorated with flora and fauna native to South Africa. Some of the artists used their sculpting skills to create giraffe handles and pot lids that look uncannily like zebras. One of those who traveled to London to display his work is Wonderboy Numalo. He says Fee Halsted Berning is his mentor and is grateful for the chance she has given him and countless others.
WONDERBOY NUMALO: You know, since I came to Ardmore my life was different than I was at home, you know. I can’t think of a bad thing. I’m always thinking of art, you know. Even when I am relaxing at home, I can’t just feel like to just sit and relax you know. I used to take some drawings and “sh, sh, sh,” like that. Yeah, to do drawings. ‘Cause I’ve got that feeling, like to not stay, sit and relax at home, you know. Always using my hand, my mind, and so on, you know.
CHISLETT: And for Fee, seeing the work of her students on display is what counts.
HALSTED-BERNING: You can imagine—if you live in a rural area you don’t have any knowledge of how great your work is. So, with coming overseas like this, they come back, they tell stories, photographs. They appreciate and they understand what this is all about. And that is what has helped to progress the work to the quality that you see today and here at Christie’s.
CHISLETT: The profits from the sale of the exhibition items all go to the students and Ardmore, to enable the studio to continue its work helping deprived youngsters break out of the cycle of poverty. For Common Ground, I’m Suzanne Chislett in London.
Our theme music was created by B.J. Leiderman. Common Ground was produced and funded by the Stanley Foundation.
Copyright © Stanley Center for Peace and Security