tv A Discussion on Middle East Diplomacy CSPAN December 26, 2021 1:43am-3:08am EST
from c-span. c-span now, download today. >> now to a conversation from the washington institute, we will hear from middle east diplomacy and lessons learned from henry kissinger, jimmy carter, and james baker in their efforts to negotiate peace in the region. there was a time when american secretaries traveled the world and those travels made headlines. there was a time when middle east peacemaking was the center of a met -- foreig
>> none of those feelings in 201 never really knows. the lessons at least from that. being still apply to leaders today. we still move to learn, both republican and democrat, how to make deals. how to use the leverage. how to use the assets. how to use the goodwill of the united states to achieve breakthroughs for peace. we would like to take a step back drawing on the lessons of the achievements of three very different individuals. three very different peacemakers, all of whom have impressive accomplishments to their bank records. we are doing that with three terrific biographers.
it is a very special opportunity to gather together stu isenstat, who have written over the last few years collectively, three outstanding biographies of three american peacemakers. stuart eisenstadt, former deputy secretary of the treasury who served a generation ago as head of the domestic policy council in the white house under president carter was the author of president carter, the white house years. susan glasser, staff writer for the "new yorker," co-author with a gentleman to whom she is related but unrelated to the topic of her book, co-author with peter baker of the man who ran washington.
secretary of state under george herbert walker bush. martin -- most recently just now the author of the highly acclaimed master of the game. henry kissinger and the art of middle east diplomacy. martin being the court -- of course the twl time u.s. ambassador to israel. this is a study that has attracted martin's attention all the way back to when he was a graduate student. i'm really thrilled we have martin, susan, and stuart together to talk about henry kissinger. the lessons they could draw from the peacemaking experiences in the middle east. i will invite all of you who are joining today's event to
participate by sending questions in that we could use in our question and answer discussion later in today's program. if you have a question you would like to filter into the conversation, if you are on zoom please use the question and answer function at the bottom of your zoom bar. if you are not on zoom, on some other platform including the people watching us live on c-span, please send your questions directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . with that, i will turn the forum over to our panelists, who i asked to make brief remarks addressing the following. why was middle east peacemaking so important? what is the unique contribution
that the object of your research , kissinger, carter, baker gave to the effort to achieve middle east peace? we will first turn to martin. we will do that chronologically. kissinger, carter, baker. first to martin, then to stu, and then susan. martin, the floor is yours. martin: thank you so much. i'm delighted to be back at the washington institute. i will jump right in. why did kissinger devote so much time and energy to his middle east diplomacy? the secretary of state was almost entirely devoted to that challenge. it was not his original intention. when he came into government he
knew little about the middle east. he never traveled the world. he didn't know about it, didn't care to know about it. he thought he worked out a kind of stale order in the middle east in which israeli deterrence in the middle east heartland and iran turned to the gulf to maintain order. an agreement between the superpowers would stir it up in the middle east. nixon was pressing him to do something to stabilize it further. therefore he decided before the war in 1973 broke out after the israeli elections that were set to take place at the end of october, 1973. they didn't believe anything would come of it.
therefore before the war took place he was never really that interested in trying to make peace. admitting he knew nothing about the details in the middle east diplomacy. the war of 1973 changed everything. it came as a surprise to him. nevertheless, he recognized very quickly an opportunity to do something that he and nixon wanted to do for some time, which was to sideline the soviet union. he saw an opportunity to sideline the soviet union. that was his primary objective once the war broke out. he came to recognize the war created an austin city -- that he could mold the actors in a way that would create a new
american order in the middle east. that is what he said, once engaged he quickly became hooked. that is a phenomenon i'm sure stuart and susan will recognize. it was already at that point a star in his own right. he quickly became a celebrity, a superstar as a result with the role as middle east peacemaker. multiple times he was on the cover of time and newsweek. he was dressed in a superman uniform with a k on his chest as the great peacemaker in the middle east. i call the title of the book master of the game, moving
middle eastern leaders to places they would rather not go. i would go with the basic definition of diplomacy. it was important that he did not have forced to back up his diplomacy. the united states had just withdrawn from vietnam. the whole notion was highly opposed domestically. his guile, his charm, the power, he was brilliant. the detail in the book the way he used his arguments like a battering ram to shape the approach of the israelis. he wasn't unique. carter and baker matched him in
those tactical techniques. his unique contribution was that order was more desirable than peace. a stable order, which is an objective requires a peace process to virginia mize there order and maintain the order rather than getting the territory back. a viable peace process required israel to yield territory it had occupied since the 1967 war. it is always a gradual, incremental way. that was his unique contribution. what was his most significant lesson we could draw? i think it is not to overreach.
i say that because those who came after kissinger knew not kissinger. it is the endgame, the end of the conflict. standing on the shoulders of kissinger in the work he had done work very well. it all the other places it turned out quite disastrously. that was a lesson kissinger recognized early on. americans are proud of these grand objectives, especially in the middle east. faith, democracy, regime change. power to change the world, reshape it in america's image. they were highly skeptical about -- he was conservative in doing so they would have a high risk
of destabilizing the regional order. we only have to look at what happened with the effort to remove the power in iraq. things would come eventually in his view. only if the order could be maintained long enough to exhaust the arabs to make the ultimate concessions. when the arabs were actually ready. everything needed to be done gradually and incrementally. there is a risk in this method. kissinger m2 low -- aimed to cost you low. -- kissinger aimed too low.
he missed the opportunity to bring the peace process. it could've changed dramatically the trajectory of the peace process. was it better to try and fail then to not try at all? this is the question we faced when we get to camp david. in 2000 i was part of the process. a lesson from kissinger is that we need to try. the greater concern is the dangerous consequences of failure. order was more desirable than peace but peace was a tool to achieve order. martin: peace process. robert: thank you, martin. thank you for staying within your time. i will now turn to the legacy of
president carter in terms of stuart eisenstadt. stuart: that was a really terrific opening, martin, thank you. president carter had very little foreign policy experience. he was a one term georgia governor. he served on the trilateral commission. during the campaign as a result of the presidential campaigns foreign policy in general was all i could do to get a brief revenue -- in june of 1976 they gave a major foreign policy speech on the middle east and israel. the only thing he deleted from my draft was a reference to israel as an ally. it was an absolute commitment to israel security and turning away from what he thought was power politics of nixon, ford, and
kissinger. he also pledged the economic boycott. got 70% of the jewish vote as a southern baptist. as so often happens with presidencies, when an election is over presidents have eight different and broadview from the oval office than they did when they are cycling for votes. this happened when vic brzezinski became his national security advisor and he brought on his national security staff person dealing with the middle east. the state department at that time was significantly -- i don't want to say anti-israel but certainly pro-arab. it was initially the 1970 report
which was helping draft. it recommended a comprehensive settlement that martin was talking about. all of the arab countries, israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in 1967. the palestinian territories or voluntarily associate themselves with jordan. priorities change. what was not a priority certainly did. why was it a priority? first, this may seem very odd. it was certainly not the case. he said i got a strong religious motivation to try to bring peace to what i call the holy land. at this notion this was the holy land and bringing peace to it was a religious ethical imperative. he visited israel once as governor of -- in 1973. it had a real impact.
second, it was the height of the cold war. he convinced him to promote peace to greatly enhance american influence at the expense of the soviets. it coincided with a critically important event. in the early 1970's the soviet union expelled their bang advisors. carter saw reaching for peace in the middle east as solidifying the move of egypt and other arab countries from the soviet to the u.s. war in the middle east. there was also concern over the oil embargo that happened after the yom kippur war war that wreaked havoc on the u.s. economy. one of the reasons we ended up
winning the election against ford. he did not want to have a repeat of another arab oil embargo. i think it is fair to say that as great as it was kissinger's incremental policy of is warily withdrawal has really run its course. israel was not going to make more incremental withdrawals unless it got something very significant like peace. carter also as an engineer had the notion not only on foreign-policy but domestic, a comprehensive agreement. he wasn't satisfied with the bilateral peace agreement. he told me he surprised himself. martin mentioned kissinger. carter didn't know the
palestinians at all. he became endeared with their plight, retracting it through his view of the civil rights movement in the south. he said to me remarkably that he saw them as the blacks of the middle east and they are being mistreated more by the israeli military than the white police were for blacks. a dubious statement but that was his view. he was warned by his political advisers and his vice president that hitting into this middle east was a minefield. he said to us i am prepared to lose reelection to win peace in the middle east. he changed course on the saudis into egypt. u.n. resolution 242, land for peace. his first visit as prime
minister was a catastrophe. he was the first foreign visitor carter had. some wonderful anecdotes that i don't have time to tell. his biggest concern was he didn't seem to be as forthcoming as he thought. cardinal understand he was struggling for his own political life and reelection. he made carter a monumental political mistake after the state visit. i was in clinton, massachusetts with him in 1977, unscripted he said there has to be a palestinian refugees who have suffered for many, many years. the notion of the palestinian homeland was so anti-cynical to israel and the american jewish community, it caused a huge focus.
to this day the israeli labor party or what is left of it believes he was elected because of that statement. you could argue with that but it shows what they left. only two months after that statement after six previous efforts, a revisionist view was brought with him. the second catastrophic mistake goes right to the heart of his point. he forgot the lesson of henry kissinger. henry kissinger made one effort at peace in geneva in 1973. carter somehow thought if kissinger failed, i could somehow do it. convinced him the way to neutralize the soviets in the middle east was to co-opt into an active peacemaking process if every party, all 22 arab states involved.
that absolutely was catastrophic for israel. he went to his room and confronted carter. the jewish community went bonkers with it. it was a painful withdrawal. what does he do one that collapses? people think his trip to jerusalem somehow came out of thin air. it did not. they had traveled to romania and met with their commonest dictator who played an important role in convincing each that they have a peace partner. the king of morocco held secret meetings with the foreign minister and with the deputy foreign minister of egypt. he tipped off egyptian intelligence about a plot they had covered -- uncovered for qaddafi to assassinate saddam.
he suggested an international confidence -- conference for security conference members. carter said that will not work. saddam said i'm going to do this on my own. i will never get the egyptians side back if i have to rely on anybody else. i believe that is exactly the reason he made his historic trip to jerusalem. israel and egypt tried to build on the statements about no more wars. what did that mean in concrete terms? put it into a peace context. as a last resort of virtually every advisor he invited them to can't david -- camp david for the accords. why did can't david dashcam
david succeed in what did we learn from it? it occurred at the height of american power. we were one of the tw oh superpowers. egypt turned to the united states and israel all right -- always depended on the united states. it is generally second, a bad idea for presidents to tie themselves up for almost twl weeks personally negotiating because if they failed that is an enormous blow to their bank credibility. he was indispensable without his constant presidents -- presence, without drafting 22 peace agreements. contrast that with john kerry, the secretary of state in 2015 when he didn't have the full engagement of president obama or bill clinton. what does he do in the middle of camp david? he goes to the g7 summit and flies back. doesn't propose his own draft until the last week.
the most important lesson to me is a president and administration must be willing to invest enormous time, rendered -- energy, resources. a president or secretary of state with the president's backing has to be willing to crack eggs to make an omelette. to bear the political consequences of doing so. he has to be able to put himself in the shoes of the other side. understanding this was their bang limits. the political risk is something he has to do. what is often ignored is after camp david people think that was the end of it. camp david was only a framework. in camp david it called for a peace treaty within three months. carter again with the objection of every advisor decided to risk
his prestige to convert the accord into a peace treaty. he chose an isolated place so he could lock everybody in before leaking to the press and playing to the home crowd. choosing wright-patterson air force base, the same lesson carter had. what personal touches here? carter took to the cemetery at gettysburg. he had a shabbat dinner at camp david with the israeli delegation. he autographed photographs for the grandchildren. john baker learned that lesson
taking the foreign minister minister of the show via union -- soviet union to his ranch for german unification. george mitchell learned the agreement, setting good friday as the deadline. carter set the 15th day as the deadline forcing everybody to decide do we want to walk away from this or make peace? next, carter realized the most inflexible person on the israeli team was none other than the prime minister himself. he went around him at camp david . critically, the legal advisor. a photograph of each of the grandchildren the 13th day and he said no more compromises, i'm going home. he autographed the photographs, handed them his photographs and put his bags down and made one last try. carter also recognized by
contract saddam was the most flexible on his delegation. his own foreign minister resigned in the middle of camp david. he had to negotiate with the chosen legal advisor to reach the deal. all of that, we sometimes over personalized negotiations. even superstars can't sometimes put rabbits out of a hat. there has to be a sufficient common ground to reach an agreement. there was between egypt and israel. they have the reasons why they were willing to reach a peace agreement. that was not the case and still isn't the case for palestinians. having that common ground is absolutely essential. this is martin's lesson. don't go for comprehensive
agreements. get what you could get. twice both kissinger and carter failed with the soviets and had the pounds didn't -- they had the palestinians at camp david there would've been no camp david. they would not have been prepared. the best thing that happened was not having the palestinians there. you often times have to defer the toughest issues to get an agreement. they deferred the issue for five years of what to do with the palestinians. by deferring what seem to be the two critical issues, the future of northern ireland and decommissioning alarms. one of the things we take away from this, you get what you can get, do not overshoot, do not overreach with the dish or the
whole ball of wax will unravel. you need relentlessly to seek peace. we call it the peace process. what the problem it becomes only a process. you need to have someone willing to risk political capital and drive home success and an achievement even if it is not comprehensive peace and jimmy carter learned that lesson. >> thank you. there is a really interesting contrast between henry kissinger and jimmy carter. one would never mistake the southern baptist for the german jewish, great -- emigrate. yet each had enormous achievements in arab-israeli peace.
he does come to middle east peacemaking in the wake of great american military victory and so it is a very different story. susan, the floor is yours print if you have -- the floor is yours. if you have questions, feel free to send them in the q and a function of your zoom call or e.u. mail -- or email them to me directly. susan: thank you so much rob and thank you to stu and martin. what's interesting to me is the context is different for very -- very different for jim baker, an extremely reluctant dabbler in peacemaking. at the same time there is an interesting through line that i am hearing from the kissinger
story and the carter story. like henry kissinger, jim baker wanted nothing to do with middle east peacemaking. that is an important marker to start out with. he did not have this deal of an ideologue or even the religion motivation although he is very religious. he did not have a drive in and of itself to be peacemaker. when he and george w. bush came into office in 1989, he was very clear in laying out a marker and saying i am not going to be like george schultz, i won't be flying around the middle east. forget it. i don't want to do it. there is nothing to gain there. everyone on this discussion knows well, basically you might
not want to be about the middle east but the middle east wants to be involved with you. there more or less is where the matter stood. the overarching context, can you -- is middle east peacemaking, can it be divorced from the historical moment in which these figures operated. with jim baker you have to come down on a solid no, that the events of this period when he was secretary of state, this was the changing point, this was the collapse and the decline and fall of the soviet empire. it was the end of the cold war and a decade of competition coming to an end. that was the overarching context
for the entire tenure as secretary of state. november 9, 1989, of the berlin wall fell which was also extremely consequential for middle east peacemaking as well as almost everything else when it came to the world order at that time. jim baker and his dad did not enter as that event. he did not see himself as peacemaker or as a secretary of state helping to midwife the reunification of germany. this was an aspiration for some decades. there is a famous memo written by staff in the early days after the inauguration in 1989 in which they look at the possibility of german unification, they considered it a pipe dream not likely to happen in their lifetime. a few months later this happens,
baker's key partner, of the soviet foreign minister mentioned this was a very unlikely close bond that baker forged and that he and bush had with gorbachev when you look at the state of the relationship today between the united states and russia, the whole succession of american presidents, of the relationship between baker and bush and gorbachev was much closer, much more friends in many ways. the imperative for stability was almost impossible to see since things were destabilizing every minute and nobody knew where things were going to end up. this is an opportunity for the united states and it's interesting that the u.s. had at
this particular moment in time secretary of state and a president who were both fundamentally extremely cautious, who did not perhaps have the tendency to speak in broad terms about world orders. jim baker, if you gave him a pop quiz on the treaty, he would probably fail it. however, he and bush share this fundamental old fashion sense of do no harm. stewards of an order at a time when that was changing and that was essentially the fundamental value, partly why baker was hesitant to engage.
i think there really is the inescapable context for jim baker's involvement. at first he said i don't want anything to do with it. ross was baker's chief soviet advisor and of course that was a consuming task of the first couple of years. what changed? saddam hussein changed and saddam hussein invaded kuwait and this turned into, as rob pointed out, this major u.s. military intervention, a successful intervention and building an unprecedented coalition of allies in the middle east. baker threw himself into that, his tin cup tour, i think it is still well known in the annals
as possibly the only time the secretary of state was so successful at flying around and not only enlisting allies for an american military action but it became the first war in american history that almost made money off of the war by getting allies to fund so much of it. baker gets involved against his better instincts and that opens up the opportunity, american victory in the first gulf war. baker, who is nothing if not a canny corporate lawyer and political negotiator understands and tells his staff in a memo that we must not his style, he was not a giver of all caps, but he writes on his memo we must
use our leverage now and he highlights that, underscores it and says now on the middle east. he sees this opening to use the capital the united states has acquired in the region. that's one factor is the savviness to understand the timing. interestingly, jim baker did not have the closest relationship with henry kissinger. kissinger looked down on him. a few years after kissinger said he had a less complicated up -- approach then i did which is an insult in kissinger peak. -- speak. going back to the 1976 campaign when jim baker first enters politics in his 40's and in that
1976 campaign and he is working for jerry ford, the rise in one year from the commerce department to be running ford's campaign. he sets out early on -- he is sent out early on to oklahoma and the controversy over henry kissinger, his detente was controversial among hard-line conservative republicans and there was a huge uproar. baker telling the audience of conservative oklahomans is absolutely not, they will basically get rid of kissinger. this was the day -- these were the days before social media and baker thought what could happen in oklahoma could stay in oklahoma.
word filtered back in the form of an associated press report. henry kissinger was livid. if you ask henry kissinger to this day about that incident he is well aware of it and remembers. it is not a detour to mention this because the truth is both kissinger and baker i think were extremely pragmatic, brilliant tactical negotiators and they really looked down probably on many of the successor presidents and secretaries of state's whose expended effort in what they would say is a willy-nilly way. i think that is a big take away for baker is used your leverage now but make sure you have it and understand when the moment is. it is not something he would've recommended to any of his successors.
i think it's probably true of kissinger. let me just leave you with the real bottom line in my view which is obviously jim baker did not make a lasting peace. his accomplishment was essentially a proof of concept rather than an actual long-standing thing. that leads to the other point. he'd see the peace conference is a direct result of the opportunity the united states had in the wake of the first gulf war. hours of what he called -- with assad in syria, it involved working endlessly and everybody had a price basically to sit down in the same room with the israeli delegation to bring the
arab world together. essentially it wasn't a lasting peace, it wasn't even a lasting framework for peace, it was a proof of concept. jim baker would argue if you asked him that in the end, domestic politics always drives our foreign policy as well as our domestic policy. the ultimate domestic politics is getting thrown out of office and that's what happened to george h. w. bush into jim baker who never had a chance as secretary of state in the second bush term to pursue the lasting peace that he thought was in reach. then the accords came about which were not midwife by baker but he could have taken advantage of that moment. i think along with the tragic --
this should rank as one of the great might've bins in the middle east peacemaking. most would agree you need a gifted negotiator at this moment in time, whether if in his second bush term he could've changed the course of the history we are all too familiar with. it is an unknown. i will leave you with that is an interesting thing to chew over. the bottom line though of sometimes you're in one of these moments in history and what was possible in 1989 and 1990 and 1991 for the united states is no longer the framework in which we are operating as a global power in the middle east. robert: terrific. the concept of context matters
for all of the three peacemakers we are talking to today. we have three different models and there are so many areas we could go into. i received a bunch of questions directly from viewers. some on the zoom and some directly to my email. i have a bunch of issues i would like to get into. let's start with the question of leverage that you referred to. each of you have episodes of your peacemaker using leverage in different moments and different opportunities. i want to connect this with the question of the lesson about your peacemaker witches do not
overshoot. they reached different stages in different moments and in different ways. i want to ask about the use of leverage to achieve the objectives and susan, in a different way, the question is did baker under shoot given the leverage we had in 92 and as you say, in historical terms set the table for negotiations which never happened. did we misuse the leverage to achieve a lasting breakthrough? how did kissinger and carter conceive of american leverage to achieve their objectives? do you think they used it wisely for future deals, using it appropriately to achieve what they did achieve. so let's go back and we will start again with martin.
martin: kissinger definitely believed in the need for leverage and used it. most notably in the war itself in 73, he used israel's force -- he did not have force coming off the vietnam war himself to use as leverage. he used the pressure to get the soviets and the egyptians and syrians to agree to a cease-fire on his terms and that proved to be very successful. he also was very conscious from the war, that the war itself made israel heavily dependent on
the united states. for political support, the arab arms embargo, putting pressure on europeans and asian allies to abandon israel. israel is in bad shape coming off of that war notwithstanding. the dependence on the united states is something that he was quite willing to use to basically bend the israelis to his will. in a later version of this when he was dealing with the prime minister and trying to convince the israelis to give up these strategic passes and the oil in sinai. he withheld arms, and new arms sales to israel for months.
you could not do that for four days in the current environment in washington. he with the backing of ford withstood the pressure and applied pressure to the israelis in a way that they bend to his will. and so i think you see throughout his looking for leverage, acquiring the leverage and then using leverage to achieve his objectives. i want to emphasize again what i said at the beginning which is his objectives were not big asks. he was not trying to get israel to withdraw completely. he askew the idea even though
there was evidence he would've taken a much bigger risk. kissinger was always looking for the digestible concession on israel's part. in going for that he did not hesitate to use leverage. robert: very good. stu, how did jimmy carter use leverage to get what he want? stuart: he did not do what george h. w. bush and baker later did. he never threatened to cut off arms. what he used leverage in other ways. first, the very leverage of the prestige of the president of the united states. the fact he was willing to inject himself at camp david and then go to jerusalem would put
reagan in a difficult position. if he was president of the country upon you -- whom you most depended. putting the prestige at risk was also leverage. we sold arms to the saudi's and to egypt but we kept israel's qualitative advantage by selling the most sophisticated f-15s to israel during this time. to seal the treaty itself, we used leverage in the following ways. israel was concerned that if they pulled out of the sinai that they would lose access to the oil wells and israel had no source of energy at that point. we guaranteed them and i negotiated this personally, with the energy minister that we would provide at below market
rates any oil that sadat once he took over sinai would deny israel. in all of these ways we were using our own leverage and we were making it clear that this was of supreme importance to their most important ally and we were willing to back it up with sophisticated arms to them, we were willing to back it up with oil for them. we were willing to put a multinational force in the sinai to make sure egypt could not take advantage of the israeli withdrawal and invade israel. in all of those ways we did use leverage without actually threatening at any time to cut off or reduce military assistance or economic assistance. robert: very good, thank you.
susan, in the baker case, the policy today of a few hundred troops in syria or something, people forget we had 500,000 troops in the middle east when the united states evicted saddam from kuwait. did he use that leverage wisely? susan: it is a great and provocative question. one important question is could baker have pushed more. it was a process asked to show up and participate in the process as opposed to do something. what he anticipated and what didn't happen was a second term which is an ironclad rule which is take what you can get when you can get it because you might
not have the future opportunity. i think this is a classic case not perhaps of failing to use leverage, failing to understand that the movement was potentially going to go away. interestingly the thing i didn't mention that's important is the context of u.s. politics and the partnership with israel. that was also a very different situation than what we have now. stu alluded to this, they were much more willing than their successors to pressure israel and both baker and bush were seen as an older tradition of the republican party closer and more willing to publicly criticize israel. both baker and bush did so very controversially and criticized
israeli settlements and showed they were willing to play hardball. they were not on good terms with the government and the prime minister when bush first came into office and in fact jim baker has a distinction of having made a young deputy foreign minister of israel, benjamin netanyahu, persona non grata at his state department. he would not let him physically set foot in foggy bottom. that gives you a sense of how acrimonious and stressed relations were already between the leaders of the united states and israel at this moment in time when he is making them suddenly put on the agenda of the secretary of state. there's already a lot of suspicion directed towards baker
and bush towards israel. could they have asked their allies were more concessions, it's hard to see. it was hard to get the israelis as it was her certainly they negotiated very aggressively for baker. as much as the arab leaders did. it seems to me the moment that was missed here conceptually on baker's part as much as it was making the mistake of thinking you have longer in power than you do. >> the contrast is interesting. aker came off of a war but it wasn't the arab-israeli war. to the extent that it was it was
very good they used to leverage. whereas kissinger came off a war which was an arab-israeli war in which the armies were still essentially engaged and he had a fine -- and he had to find a way to disengage, which he could use to manipulate in a way that wasn't available to baker. the second point i want to make. if you look at the way baker used leverage and the way kissinger used leverage, in each case when they went up against israel, israel in the end bowed to america. it was true of course with obama and netanyahu. that in the end, the powerful israeli lobby ends up --
it all depends on the willingness of the american leaders to bear the costs and it is costly of such confrontation. >> if you look at political cost, jimmy carter won about 70% of the jewish vote in 1976 against gerald ford. against ronald reagan, bringing brought peace to israel and its most powerful neighbor, doing so many other positive things were israel, he had 40% of the jewish vote, the lowest percentage any democrat candidate for president has gotten in modern times. why? because he was perceived as having pushed, as he did. he made it clear he did not like
to be pressed that way and tried everything possible to explain why he had agreed to what he did at camp david. carter paid a political cost. he was willing to pay it, the results are historic, but one should not imagine he failed to pay a political cost. it was not the sole reason why he lost, but that still wrangles into this very day. getting 40% of the jewish vote. robert: there is an interesting there is an interesting commonality among all three cases that all three of the administrations about which we are talking lost the next election. it wasn't nixon, it was ford and kissinger lost after nixon's efforts, kissinger's efforts,
carter lost and bush did not get a second term. i don't think that we can lay it on the basis of their middle east peacemaking, but it is an interesting commonality. one structural contrast i wanted to ask about is we are talking about two episodes in one president and there is a fundamental difference between being the elected president and being the appointed and confirmed secretary of state. can we say word about the relationship between president and secretary of state in the relevant administration, and how much that mattered to the success or lack thereof of the diplomacy? and the effort to achieve a certain worldview that animated the diplomacy in each of these cases? let's work backwards. susan, let me start with you with the baker-bush relationship. >> that is an important one to
spotlight. unlike the kerry-obama recent experience, baker and bush really were a partnership that is almost historically without other precedent. in some ways they were the closest secretary of state and american president we have. madison was a protege of jefferson rather than a peer. the bottom line is that baker and bush were seen as peers, as speaking for each other in a way that in measurably enhanced baker's ability to conduct diplomacy on bush's behalf.
everyone knew that he spoke for the president. everyone knew that bush was going to back him up. that was an extremely important part of his tenure as secretary of state. it wasn't the reason that he was a great dealmaker and negotiator, and in fact there were interesting examples where baker differed in minor but significant ways from bush or pushed reluctantly for german reunification. it is an example where baker was in front of bush and really pushed him at key moments or even exceeded his reach in pushing european allies to go along with his plan for german reunification. back in washington bush and the national security advisor were not 100%. when it came to the middle east, baker really had the diplomatic
proxy of bush. bush was the one who was fundamentally offended by saddam's violation of international order and invasion of kuwait. it is possible to say that had baker been president and not bush he might not have gone as quickly to the idea that there was only a military solution to the invasion of kuwait. nonetheless, baker really was the indispensable player when it came to what he called subtle diplomacy. he engaged both with the gulf war and the matter of israel and palestine. i wanted to address -- i think it is really important. you may have all thought perhaps more deeply and have answers to this question, but for me it remains a question and an important one that you raised in
the questions today which is, to what extent did baker fail to demand more of the israelis given that they showed they were willing to challenge them? this was the one moment when u.s. policy could have actually acted more concrete to stop the growth of the settlements or to push arabs, fundamentally in u.s. debt at this time, the saudis for example, was this a moment to have pushed harder for concrete concessions rather than, "i'm going to talk to you" type concessions? i don't know the answer, but it is an interesting question. when it comes to that moment of was it a wasted moment, i think that you have to look at the situation with the soviet union. bush and baker used this moment
with gorbachev when saddam invaded kuwait. there was an example of the u.s. and soviet union condemning the move in a joint statement and working together in the un security council. remember, gorbachev was almost toppled in a hard-line coup and the soviet union unraveled in the period when jim m baker turned to middle east peacemaking. it would have been with a reduced post-soviet russia that it would have been possible to re-order the middle east in a more lasting way. in some ways george h w bush was politically vulnerable. gorbachev was enormously vulnerable and was practically toppled by a hard-line coup. giving away more in the middle east would have only accelerated
that process by which the hardliners sought to end his rule over the soviet union. >> a couple of points. when jim baker spoke everyone knew he was speaking for the president of the united states. when kissinger spoke everyone knew that he was speaking for nixon. when john kerry spoke it was quite clear he was not necessarily doing so for the president of the united states at the time. when he tried after the historic trip to jerusalem to try to get the parties together before camp david, he was certainly not the charismatic, strategic figure that kissinger was or the tactician baker was. also, it was clear that he was clear that he was not necessarily speaking for the president. the president himself but his prestige on the line at camp david. he himself. one last point on leverage, there was a huge debate within
the carter administration about how to deal with reagan. this was a new character. he had a nationalistic vision of controlling all of the palestinian territories from the mediterranean to the jordan river and even east of the jordan river. there was a whole group, lewis, vice president mondale, a political advisor, and myself who argued way to deal with him was by using honey, incentives, appealing to his sense of history. on the other hands, carter used vinegar and pushed. that is the leverage that he ended up using. it is one of the reasons he got an agreement, but lost so heavily politically.
when the secretary of state is involved, it is critical he/she be seen is really speaking for the president. if the president is going to get involved, which is, again, a rarity, that president has to do so with his or her eyes open to the political risks to doing it. if they do and are really committed it is hard for israel to turn its back on the president of the united states. >> martin, i see your head nodding with those observations? >> kissinger was in a different situation. nixon was preoccupied. his relationship with nixon was nothing like the bush-baker relationship. when it came to the middle east, nixon with his anti-semitic views regarded kissinger in his pocket and did not want him involved in the middle east.
the first three years he had to maneuver around that reality. and he got control, nixon became so tied down with his watergate woes, that kissinger in effect became president of foreign policy. that is with the new york times labeled him as. he had, in effect, the powers of the presidency in his hands. because the presidency was so weakened when he would draft a letter in nixon's name, and he did it a lot, to try to move the israelis in particular, they did not take it seriously. he did it have -- he had a disadvantage in the fact that he had a weakened president. essentially ford was in ingenue. he did not know about the middle east. kissinger had all of the
successes under his belt. ford was willing to defer to kissinger. he essentially remained the president for foreign policy with ford. the same thing happened. when he would draft threatening notes from ford they would know that it was kissinger not ford, so they did not take it seriously. in fact, if ford was engaged and ford took a strong position and stood up to israel strongly it wasn't clear to the israelis that was the case. they would have respected it more if they had understood that. because kissinger had become such a powerful figure, as the one that was using the president for his own purposes, they tended to discount it as a result. >> i have too many questions
from potential questioners to get through the mall. i will mention a couple and ask you the ones that i want you to answer so that our viewers can think about how these issues would reverberate among these three peacemakers. one person, one very prominent woman journalist wrote me in saying, isn't it interesting we are talking about three male peacemakers in the middle east with the issue of gender -- in the middle east. with the issue of gender made a difference in any of the achievements made in the 1970's and 1980's? then someone said to me, question, all of these achievements occurred at a time when democracy was not an issue, or doesn't seem to be a major issue in american foreign policy. would any of your principles
even thinking of the relevance of democracy, whether we were dealing with democracies in trying to achieve any of the breakthroughs they achieved, and how might they address these issues in today's environment when the issues of democracy and human rights are so much more on the agenda than they were 30 years ago? i will ask each of you to focus on a question that dennis ross sent in about hearing his name cited in this conversation which is to ask about how each of you can channel your peacemaker in today's environment will stop we obviously have a very different environment in 2021 then in the 70's and 80's -- a van in the 70's and 80's. all of you are conversant with the middle east situations today. how would your peacemaker approach today's calcified
israeli-palestinian relationship but blossoming and hopeful arab-israeli relationship in the wake of the abraham accords and the almost daily news of some new arab-israeli agreement. just today it is the moroccan-israeli defense agreement for the first time ever. how would your peacemaker channel today's situation? let's start with you. >> i think president carter always had a rosy view of his ability to get parties together. if you could simply get them in a room he could convince them. i think having gone through the hard lessons of failure of the comprehensive agreement, but settling for the egypt-israel peace and a vague statement of
full autonomy at camp david for the palestinians, he would recognize that the parties are so far apart that he would, i think reluctantly, and it would take a lot of convincing, that he would have to follow the kissinger model and jim baker model and look for smaller steps to build confidence and peace. even using the power of the presidency trying to get the palestinians, who are so hopelessly divided on their sid e, and the israelis who don't see the need to fundamentally change their policy with respect to the west bank, and having a very diverse cabinet, i don't think that he would leap into anything approaching a major agreement. he would hopefully build on the abraham accords, broaden it perhaps, ultimately with the saudis.
i think that he would work hard, as i did during the clinton administration on the economic dimension trying to make life better for the palestinians, trying to give more freedom of movement within the west bank, more investment in so-called area c where a lot of the agricultural and mineral wealth with joint ventures. perhaps reinstate the qualifying industrial zones which provide more incentives for investment in israeli and non-israeli companies to get duty-free treatment. smaller steps to begin very carefully to build trust, but not to leap over the cliff when the parties are so hopelessly divided. i would hope that is the position he would take. i wouldn't guarantee it. >> fair enough.
susan, channel jim baker in the current environment. >> i think he absolutely -- it is more of a question mark with carter and less of a question mark with baker. he would say that you can't make peace if you don't have someone to make peace with and he would be very skeptical about engaging in complicated rounds of negotiations between -- with the u.s. as a mediator between israel and the palestinians given the lack of a viable leader with him to make peace. i think he would see the opportunities that exist right now around the region in their deals in various stages with israel. not just the recognition with the uae and others. one question i have is whether baker might see this as a moment in which you could tie together
economic dealmaking and pushing arabs to resume thinking about palestine and the palestinians as part of those negotiations. martin has rightly pointed out a number of times when i've been in these conversations with him that one challenge of the so-called abraham accords is de -linking the question of israel's relations with its arab neighbors from the questions with the palestinians. would there be a way that baker might pursue to put that question back on the table where the u.s. could make concrete steps? my basic view is that he would be extremely wary of getting involved in pointless negotiations and back-and-forth at this moment in time. >> martin, channel kissinger
2021. martin? >> this is a kissingerian moment . everything with henry kissinger is a question of a balance of power and he would run to address the larger challenge when iran is moving towards the nuclear threshold and threatening to destabilize. for him the abraham accords, since they manifested israeli and arab common interest it is a perfect foundation for building a stable balance of power on the side of israel and the sunni arab states against iran. when it comes to the israeli-palestinian issue, his
whole approach, step-by-step incrementalism, applies very well. when you put the israeli government who cannot agree on what the final status should be, half of them won the palestinian state and half of them oppose it. in those circumstances there is no willingness to jump to a peace agreement on the israeli part but a willingness to take steps add kissinger would envisage. the differences kissinger, as i said at the outset, always believed that the peace process is an incremental step-by-step process and had to have the territorial dimension to it. in order for it to work, to legitimize, there needed to be territorial concessions,
digestible ones, on the part of israel. the challenge of trying kissinger. ian principles here is getting them to see they need to add a territorial component to the steps they are taking. that is what is missing at the moment but what a kissingerian approach would require. if that were to happen i think it has a chance of reinstating some hope on the palestinian side that a palestinian state could eventually actually make their aspirations. a final point, if i may come about underreaching rather than overreaching. kissinger before the 1973 war was very satisfied with the status quo. he could not imagine that he would go to war.
he was content to sit back and relax, believing the status quo would relax. that is somewhat the situation we are in today. everyone is assuming the situation between the israelis and palestinians, particularly in the west bank, will last forever, the status quo is sustainable and it will last. kissingerian lesson from 1973 is , you should always expect the unexpected. it can blow, and i believe it will blow, if we don't follow a kissingerian approach to establish an incremental peace process that's credible. >> fascinating. one can never take history as
determinative, but we can take history as educational. i think we have all -- and i want to thank all of you for distilling some of the most important and useful lessons from respectively henry kissinger, jimmy carter, and james baker told brilliantly in your three different biographies of these peacemakers. we need to mix and match to see where these lessons apply most appropriately in the end of 2021. with that i will thank all of you. thank all of our participants online, on zoom, on various platforms. i want to wish everyone, martin, susan, and stu, a very happy thanksgiving. from the washington institute family tothis is two hours 50 m.
>> this meeting will come to order. welcome everyone. i note for the subcommittee that mr keller of pennsylvania and mr fitzgerald of wisconsin are permitted to participate in today's hearing with the understanding that their questions will come only after all, members of the subcommittee on both sides of the aisle who are present have had an opportunity to question the witnesses.
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