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Ambassador David Ross is a Zeigler distinguished fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. For more than 12 years, Ambassador Ross has played a leading role in shaping US involvement in the Middle East peace process and in dealing directly with the parties and negotiations. A highly skilled diplomat, Ambassador Ross was this country's point man on the peace process in both George H. W. Bush's and the Clinton administration. He was instrumental in assisting Israelis and Palestinians in reaching the 1995 interim agreement. He also successfully brokered the Hebron Accord in 1997, facilitated the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty and intensively worked to bring Israel and Syria together. A scholar and a diplomat with more than two decades of experience in Soviet and Middle East policy, Ambassador Ross worked closely with secretaries of the state James Baker, Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright. Prior to his service as a Special Middle East Coordinator under President Clinton, Ross served as Director of the State Department's Policy Planning Office in the first Bush administration. In that position, he played a prominent role in developing US policy towards the former Soviet Union, the unification of Germany and its integration in the NATO, arms control negotiations and the development of the 1991 Gulf War coalition. During the Reagan administration he served as Director of Near East and South Asian affairs on the National Security Council staff and as deputy director of the Pentagon's office of Net Assessment. Ambassador Ross was awarded the presidential medal for distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President Clinton and Secretaries Baker and Albright presented him with the State Department's highest award. Since leaving the government in 2001, he has published in foreign policy and the national interest. Mr. Ross is also a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times. Ambassador Ross's previous book was "The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace". His newest book, about which he will be speaking tonight, is "Statecraft, And How to Restore America's Standing in the World". Please join me in welcoming ambassador Dennis Ross. Thank you, I have known Jack for probably 30 years, that's actually the first time you referred to me as David, but that's okay, that's an inside joke. You know it is some how fitting to come home again, to launch this book. I mean this is the pub date and this is where I am from. So somehow it seemed quite fitting to come to San Francisco to launch it and I am here obviously, and I am going tell you how we are going to start. When you hear the word Statecraft, it's probably a term you have heard many times and probably a term you have never heard defined. If you hear the word statecraft, the most people who use it would refer to things like diplomacy, hard power, military power, economic wealth that you use as a formal leverage, intelligence, information, these would be described by many people as the tools of the trade. Now let's play little game. Let's assume for a moment that the next administration starting in 2009, is expert at being able to use diplomacy effectively, knows how to use economic leverage to influence others, understands how to use coercion as a way of building leverage and changing behaviors, understands the value of intelligence to influence others, also sees how to frame issues publicly in a way and use public diplomacy in a way again to shape how others might see particular issues. Would that be an administration that would be good at statecraft? What do you think? Yes, okay let's assume that administration is good at all the things I just described, but all the things they all the things they are using, all those instruments they are using and employing, they are employing the service of objectives that make no sense. Would it then be a good example of statecraft? Okay, so let's flip it. Let's assume the next administration actually understands what our role the world ought to be, defines our purposes correctly, shapes the objective clearly, but doesn't know how to carry them out. Would it be good at statecraft? Okay, so what begins to emerge from this game? What begins to emerge is that you better be able to define objectives and purposes well, but then you better be able to act on them implement them well, which means good statecraft marries objectives and means. Bad statecraft always creates a mismatch to objective and means. You want an illustration? You think that Iraq is a good example of good statecraft? I hear catastrophic statecraft, well actually, right, think about it. Can you think of a better example I'm not saying an only example, because I can give you some other examples. But here is a poster child for a mismatch between objectives and means. Let's even define it really narrowly. Even from the very beginning if the reason to go into Iraq was weapons of mass destruction, we didn't go in with the means. If our objective was, go get the weapons of mass destruction, because after all we were going to war because of weapons of mass destruction. So presumably our objective was to ensure that nobody else could get hold of it, right? But we went in with means that were insufficient event to be able to control all the sites and certainly insufficient to control the borders so they couldn't smuggled out if they were there. In a strange ironic way we are actually lucky that there weren't weapons of mass destruction. Now that's a very narrow definition of objectives and means. I mean I could offer broader ones. The key to understanding where we went wrong in Iraq is to ask, okay, so why were we so off in terms of the objectives and the means. There could be lots of explanations, but let me give you one that's very basic, because it goes also to the heart of what statecraft is about. In Iraq the administration engaged in what I would describe as faith based assessments, not reality based assessments. Faith based in the sense that the administration operated on an assumption. The assumption was when Saddam Hussein goes, when he falls, everything falls in the place, it doesn't fall apart. That was faith based. A reality based assessment would have told the administration well, you may well face sectarian war because after all the Sunnis have dominated this area for 400 years and they are not going to take it easily to idea that Shia are now going to dominate the place. So you may well face sectarian war, you may well face an insurgency, you may well face a lot of disorder and a vacuum when Saddam goes. If there had been a reality based assessment you still might have gone to war in Iraq, although you probably would have shaped your objectives differently and you certainly would have focused differently on your means. So when you are dealing with statecraft what do we know already just from this discussion. Well, the first thing is we have to have very clear objectives. The objectives have to be connected to our means. We need reality based assessments. Now do you think that your objectives have to be shaped exclusively by your assessments, meaning your reality based assessment? You didn't get to know that you are participating this, did you? You don't know if they can be, well let's look at it a little bit more deeply. Your objectives don't have to be shaped exclusively by your assessments because after all your objectives need to be informed by your assessments, your objectives can still be ambitious, you don't have to give up ambition because you look at a reality that is not what you want it to be. By the way when I say faith based assessments, I mean you don't pay attention to reality, you see the world as you wanted to be, not as it is. But let's assume that you want to be very ambitious, like for example transforming the Middle East, like for example deciding that you are going to engage in democracy promotion in the Middle East, that's a transformation objective and by the way I will tell you, it's the right objective, it's a good objective. But you better understand what you are getting into? You better understand what means you have available. If you want to have ambitious objectives you have to understand reality before you can change it. So again you come back to reality based assessments, you can decide you are going to transform that reality you can decide that the reality is not what you want. You can decide it has to be changed, but you can't change it until you know what it is. And once you know what it is then you begin to look more closely at your means. Now may be it turns out that our means are limited, I think they are, okay, so let's stipulate that we know if we look at the whole way of problems in the world and by the way I have one chapter in the book that looks at the new international landscape, and the reason for doing that is both to explain what's same in this landscape and what's new in this landscape. Now some of the things that you are going to see that are new in this landscape, like for example non state active threats, or pandemics which become also a part of threats to us. By definition, we don't have the means by our self to deal with them, doesn't mean that we are not significant, we are. But one of the things about reality based assessments is that when you begin to focus not just on its objectives, but also on means, what you also begin to do is you focus on well, who else has the means to be helpful. And what can we do to make sure that those who might be helpful or have the means to be helpful, what can we do to make sure to they are more likely to help us, or they are more likely to join with us. A critical element of statecraft is not just marrying objectives and means and having realistic assessments, a critical element of statecraft is how do you exercise leverage? Leverage is what gives you the means to change behaviors of others. Now presumably you want to do that through a non military means, may be there are some times when you don't have a choice, but in almost every case you are going to want to see if there are ways non military ways to change behaviors. Leverage is a key to being able to shape what you want. I have chapters in the book on negotiations, the what, the when and the why negotiations, and then I have 12 rules for how to negotiate. If you are going into a negotiation you want to have leverage. You don't want to be in a position where the other side has leverage. You want to be sure that the perception of the other side is that you don't need them more than they need you. Let me give you an example, the recent one. The Secretary of State, before she went to the Sharm el- Sheikh conference, which was held a month ago on Iraq, she repeated more than once publicly that she really hoped that the Iranians foreign minister would come. Now understand that the Iranians had said they were going to be there. They weren't equivocating on whether they would be there; they were equivocating on whether they would send their foreign minister. Now when she said in advance to the meeting, more than once publicly, she really hoped that Iran would send their foreign minister what was the message she was sending? What do you think the Iranians heard? What they heard was she needs us more than we need them. Now as such to prove the point, President Ahmadinejad, a man not known for being highly tempered, he said last week that in fact we had approached them 41 times. Now if you want to go into an engagement or a negotiation with somebody, you think you want to send the message that you are really a desperate. That's not the way to exercise leverage, it's not the way to negotiate, it's not the way to conduct statecraft. I was listening as Jack was describing some of your upcoming meetings and one of the upcoming meetings is going to be a panel discussion on Iran and diplomatic ways to try to change their behavior. So I will tell you what we are going to do. Since I actually have a chapter in the book, the way the book is set up, I look at some historical cases to show you statecraft in action, to give you a sense of which cases were examples where statecraft has done well, and what was distinct about why it was done well? One case in particular where it was done really poorly; I will give you a hint. The word is it starts with a letter "I." We have already discussed it. Then I look at the new international landscape, then I look at the tools meaning negotiations and mediation and then I look at four cases for how to apply it prospectively. One is Israeli-Palestinian case because I am congenitally incapable of not addressing that case. Then one chapter is how to contend with radical Islam and then there is a chapter dealing with how to content with Iran, to prevent it from going nuclear and the last chapter has to deal with the rise of China. Well there is a concluding chapter. But let's take since you are going to hear for those of you who will come a panel at some other some point in a couple of weeks on Iran, let's look at Iran and lets use a statecraft approach to sort of think about how we would deal with it. Right, first things first, we know what our objective is our objective is to prevent Iran from going nuclear, right? Right, okay, everybody understand why that's an objective? Actually it's important because one of the things I talk about, if you want others to agree with you, you want to be able to persuade others more easily, one of the things you have to do is you actually have to frame your objectives very clearly in public. The President today talks about, if Iran has nuclear weapons it will be very destabilizing. Do you think that convinces others? So let's frame let's start by framing the issue. We know our objective is prevent Iran from going nuclear. Well, one of the reason we wanted to not to go nuclear because if Iran goes nuclear I can promise you that Saudi Arabia will go nuclear. Saudi Arabia looks at Iran with nuclear weapons as a fundamental threat, because Iran with nuclear weapons which obviously geared in Saudi eyes towards increasingly trying to built Iranian leverage and dominance in the region. Iran with nuclear weapons will have a nuclear shield behind which it will be able to engage in coercion and subversion. At a time when the Saudis are acutely aware of the Sunni-Shia divide, in no small part because of Iraq, an Iran with nuclear weapons plays upon their most basic fears. So they are not going to take our word for it, they are not going to say, take an American security guarantee. They are going to want nuclear weapons in their own right. And they have already indicated it. If you listen very carefully to what their foreign minister said a couple of months ago, he suddenly started talking about nuclear power using the exact same words that the Iranians have. So if Iran goes nuclear, it means Saudi Arabia is going to go nuclear. Now do you think that Egypt will decide that Saudi Arabia should be the only Arab country that has nuclear weapons, what do you think? Good bet on that one oh you bet right. Couple of months ago I was meeting a senior Egyptian official who said to me he said if Iran goes nuclear it's the end of the nuclear non proliferation regime. He said it that flatly. All right, so what we now know is we think about Iran goes nuclear, it means we have a nuclear Middle East which is itself a pretty frightening prospect. Well we also if we believe that the prohibitions against going nuclear are going to be eroded because of this, worldwide, and if we believe what the senior Egyptian official said we know as well that we are going to see a fundamentally transformed world. Today we have eight or nine depending on how you count nuclear countries. When the NPT was adopted in 1968 the predictions at that time was within 20 years we would have 30 countries with nuclear weapons. Well if the NPT basically collapses because Iran represents a tipping point, then we are going to have 20 or 30 countries that have nuclear weapons. Now we are talking about a world that is vastly less predictable. We are talking about a world where we have multiple countries with nuclear weapons probably not confident about their neighbors who have them, operating on much more of a hair trigger. So we are looking at an international institution that has preserved a degree of stability that will disappear. Now framing the issue that way becomes much more persuasive to others who we want to influence, like for example the Europeans who very much believe in preserving international institutions and regimes like the NPT. Right so our objective is let's prevent Iran from going nuclear. So, the first place we start is let's frame the issue effectively, so we have a better chance to convince others. Now we have to look at we need to take a hard look at what's going on in Iran because we have to make a judgment. What means do we have to achieve that objective? Framing the issue is a way to get others to be prepared to join with us, which can add to our means. But we have still have to focus on what are the right means to persuade Iran if we can. Here is when you have to have a realistic assessment, a reality based assessment, not a faith based assessment. I am all for faith, just not when it comes to analysis. All right; if u look at Iran today, in the Iranian elite there are basically three different constituencies. One constituency are The Revolutionary Guard, they run the nuclear program, they are in charge of the nuclear program, they are the keepers of the Khomeini flame, the keepers of the Khomeini revolution, they are in fact those who very much believe in confrontation with the outside world because they believe when they confront the outside world backs down, and they believe when there is a sense of ongoing crisis, it creates a greater justification for them to have a dominant position internally and to keep their revolution alive internally and externally. That's one constituency. Not necessary the most important constituency, but one constituency. Second constituency the mullahs. The mullahs who want to preserve their power and their privilege. They are the key, they are the ones who drive and control basically the political system. Rafsanjani, the former president is really their standard bearer. With The Revolutionary Guard, the standard bearer is the current President Ahmadinejad. Rafsanjani grew wealthy. You wouldn't think that the mullahs would necessarily be wealthy, but these mullahs have become wealthy. And they don't want to give up their power and their privilege. So if they find that Iran becomes isolated, if they find that Iran economically is going to face major problems, that's going to affect them. There is the third element of the the third constituent element in the leadership. I am talking just about the leadership; I am not talking about the country. Third element are the liberalizers, identified with the former President Khatami and they want to open up the system. They believe in dialogue internally and externally. They think that Iran can flourish. They are not saying, let's transform the Islamic base, but they are saying let's liberalize it. They too don't want Iran isolated because if it's isolated, their hope for liberalization disappears. Now all of the segments of this leadership want nuclear weapons. They want it for a variety of reasons. One is that it's a symbol of power. Psychologically, it's a national symbol of power. It's a manifestation of advancement, so they want it for that reason. They want it for defensive reasons. I mean after all we went into Iraq and they didn't have nuclear weapons. We didn't go to North Korea and they did. So from their standpoint it may be perfectly legitimate to say, we need it for defensive reasons. But they also want it for offensive reasons, because they think it will give them much more leverage in the region and they believe they have a right to dominate the region. They have a self image of who they are. They think they have they know as a country they have a long national history. And they see themselves in superior terms to all their neighbors. So all of the leadership wants nuclear weapons, but not all the leadership wants nuclear weapons at any price. Now, two of the three elements of the leadership are acutely aware of the need to preserve social tranquility within Iran. And let's take a little deeper look, again we are still this is our reality based assessment of the situation. So we understand what our means are. The reality based assessment tells us that the Iranian economy not withstanding, basically the last four years of very high oil prices, in March 2003, the price of oil $27 a barrel. It's $40 higher than that right now. So Iran has had a windfall in the last four years. And yet not withstanding the windfall, they have very high inflation, they have very high unemployment, they have a plummeting stock market, they have declining oil and natural gas output because the infrastructure supporting each is antiquated. They need massive investments from the outside, massive technology transfer, so they can extract the oil and natural gas. And they need the revenues from the oil and natural gas because they represent 90 percent of the revenues and they use a very significant percentage of those revenues to provide subsidies to preserve social tranquility. So if it turns out that in fact they are going to get cut off from the international financial system, that's a problem for them. All right, let's look at this even a little bit more deeply. What are the signs that they feel it's a problem to them. That's not just my argumentation, as good as it is. Don't take my word for it, let's look closely at them. A year ago, actually exactly a year ago, this week I didn't know it was going to be time with the outcome of the publication of the book, but it happens to be the anniversary of the Europeans going to the Iranians a year ago and offering an incentives package to give up the nuclear program. In the incentives package that they were offered, light water reactors, which by the way the Iranians say that what they want nuclear power for is just to generate electricity. If that's your purpose light water reactors are really good for that and really bad for generating fissile material. And in the words of Nancy Reagan, the Iranians just said no. Now they also there was no public debate within the elite over saying no, at least none that was visible. Fast forward a couple of months. When the Security Council began to discuss just discuss sanctions on Iran, in October, Rafsanjani released a secret letter that Khomeini had written to explain why he was ending the war with Iraq in1988. And the commentary basically in Iranian media at the time was this proves sometime you have to adjust your ideology to reality, not an unusual proposition but perhaps one that is was unusual there. It was obviously geared towards Revolutionary Guard and Ahmadinejad. When the first sanctions resolution passed, December 23rd, very limited, didn't touch the economy, touched only the nuclear and missile industries in Iran, it triggered at torrent of criticism of Ahmadinejad, again in public, with debates. We have a second resolution that built on the first one, but again really didn't touch the economy. And what we see is public debate on this issue which shows the potential to change the Iranian behavior, but here is our problem. Now we get back to objectives and means the marriage of them. Our objective is stop Iran from going nuclear. Our means are diplomacy through the Security Council. The good news is we've unified the international community to make a clear statement that Iran needs to stop the program. The bad news is we have slow motion diplomacy at the Security Council and we have very fast paced nuclear development by the Iranians. Just today Dr. ElBaradei of the IAEA, which is the nuclear watchdog agency of the UN said, that by the end of the year the Iranians will have 8,000 centrifuges. Now some people will say correctly that it's not clear they've solved all the problems related to uranium enrichment when you use centrifuges and we can get in to the what's known as the fuel cycle and how you do it, later if you want. My point is it's clear the Iranians are making enormous progress on this. Even if they haven't solved their problems yet, they are getting close to solving them, which means the window is closing if we want to affect this. So we see the potential of effective behavior, but the diplomacy isn't squeezing them enough in the areas where they are vulnerable and we know that important parts of elite feel that vulnerability. So what do we do? Alright now I'm giving you the statecraft prescription part of that discussion. We have to focus on whether the leverage is. Right, who do we have to affect first and foremost? The Europeans are basically the key to the Iranian economical lifeline. Last year alone, even though they are applying sanctions - now limited sanctions, last year alone they provided almost $20 billion, $18 billion in credit guarantees for companies doing business there. If the Europeans were to cut off credit guarantees, technology transfer, new investments in oil and natural gas fields, if they were prepared to say, okay, our banks aren't going to do business there anymore and Iranian banks can't do business here anymore, you would have a profound effect upon the Iranians. Here is how you focus on the vulnerabilities and here is how you act on. Now how do we get the Europeans to change their behavior? Because up until now, their concern has been they want to take this very gradually. But as I said the problem of taking gradually is it's not keeping pace with what the Iranians are doing. And as I said before, the cost of Iran going nuclear is very high. Well there are points of leverage. Let's look at what the points of leverage are. I mentioned earlier, Saudi Arabia has a major problem with Iran going nuclear, right. Saudi Arabia has enormous financial holdings where? In Europe. What if we were basically to work out a coordinated approach with the Saudis, where we would go either hand or hand or distribute division of labor approach, to the major banks, to the major investment houses, and to the governments and we were to say to them, at least we get the Saudis to say, do business with the Iranians, you can't do business with us. Well this would have quite a profound effect on Europeans. So that's one way to effect European behavior. Second way to affect European behavior; the Europeans for reasons that are not that hard to imagine or understand, the Europeans fear the use of force against Iran more than they fear an Iran with nuclear weapons. Well, the Israelis are in a position where they look at Iran and say, this is an existential threat. What if the Israelis would go privately to the Europeans, the key Europeans, happen to be the Germans and the Italians, and say to them you are on a pathway that's going to produce an outcome where Iran has nuclear weapons because ultimately you fear the use the force more than you fear Iran with nuclear weapons. You are prepared to live with an Iran with nuclear weapons, we can't, not because we don't want to necessarily, but because they tell us every day they won't let us. Do you know that last week, Ahmadinejad said "There is a countdown to the destruction of Israel." Only he didn't use the word Israel. He said there is a countdown to the destruction of the Zionist regime. Now if you are sitting in Israel and you hear him say that, by the way hardly for the first time, and you see Iran going full board to acquire nuclear weapons capability, you are going to think that you can sit and say well, its just words, we can ignore that. Pretty unlikely. So what if the Israelis would say to the Europeans, "What you are doing now is going to make us use force, if you don't want us to use force, if you don't want that to be the outcome you have to do a lot more to affect Iranian behavior." So let's use the Saudis with their financial clout to affect the Europeans and change their incentives, let's use the Israelis to play upon what is the Europeans fear, and then let's us do some thing. I focus right now only on the negative side of leverage. You can build leverage in negative ways and you can build it in positive ways. One of the things the Europeans want is for us to talk to the Iranians directly, because they don't believe you can solve this problem unless we do, largely because and this is probably again based on their own discussions with the Iranians, the Iranians see the world through a lens, and the lens is we are out to get them. You know we may think that they are paranoid and conspiratorial, as Henry Kissinger once said, just because you are paranoid doesn't mean that they are not coming after you. Well in the case of the Iranians the Iranians want an outcome where they get certain kinds of guarantees from US. It isn't just financial incentives. They want certain understandings in the security area. If there is going to be a deal at some point, it's not going to be only our application of leverage against them to focus on their own vulnerabilities and realize what they have to lose. As I said you are not going to induce them into giving up their nuclear weapons, because no set of inducements are as valuable to them as having nuclear weapons. But what you want is to play upon those constituencies in the Iranian elite who don't nuclear weapons at any price and when they see a price that's unacceptable, they'll say, okay, if we give it up, we defer it for long time, what do we get for it. And that's where the incentive side comes in. You want to affect the Europeans, use the Saudis, use the Israelis, but then we have to be prepared to go in and say, you know what, we are prepared to negotiate, we are prepared to join you in the negotiations. We offered it last year, we had a condition. The condition was, they have to suspend their nuclear program. Now if we just say, okay we are going to drop that condition, the Iranians will think, we need them whole lot more than they need us, just like we've sent on the message on Iraq, we need them a whole lot more than they need us, which by the way I am not so sure is true, but that's a different issue. On this one, we can't just drop a condition we imposed and replace it with nothing else. So you go to the Europeans and you say, we'll drop that condition, but the condition is, you will now agree to cut off all the Iranian banks, you will now agree to cut off the credit guarantees, you will now agree to impose a real cut off on their economic lifeline. Then you can go and you can go into negotiations, and you are giving the Europeans something at a time you are asking to do some thing it's hard for them. You want to understand the essence of statecraft, it's understanding how to use leverage, it's understanding how to combine sticks and carrots, it's understanding timing when to do it. I would like to say about statecraft that timing is to statecraft what location is to real estate, you have to know when to use it. You have to know when to act, you have to know when you have a moment, you have to know when to be patient and when to be urgent. We are at a point where we need to be urgent on Iran. It's not too late to head off what the Iranians are doing, but we have to employ statecraft. My hope in writing this book, especially as we look to 2009, is to have whoever comes in as the next administration, to understand what statecraft is not as a word, I started of by defining it for you, because it's used are not really understood. I want this book to be a vehicle to get the next administration to understand what is required to conduct foreign policy and statecraft effectively. I don't want it to be a slogan. I want it to reflect an understanding. Now if I can contribute in even a small way or all of you can contribute even in a small way by talking about and of course reading about it, and of course buying the book, then I will succeed in my purposes. Thank you very much.