Excerpts from a Monitor breakfast on promoting peace in the Middle East.
On what more the US should do to promote peace in the Middle East:
"The United States has demonstrated great military prowess. At the same time, ...I think the country is committing to that moral and diplomatic leadership that is so important to complement that military might in the world. Throughout the world today, it is not just the Middle East, people are watching with great concern and let's say with slender hopeful expectation that the United States will play that role in the Middle East and elsewhere and that the images that have been seen of military strength and effectiveness will soon be balanced by images that clearly reflect the great qualities of this country and the moral leadership that it has..."
"Slender hope is more than we have had in a long time.... That is going to depend on political will and a recognition on all sides, both within the region and outside, that to date we have not succeeded because hardliners on all sides have really hijacked the political process. And if we do not, if the political leadership in Israel, the Arab world and the United States and other, God willing, international partners is not decisive and emphatic in pushing forward the basic principles that underlie this road map, then there will be no more hope than there has been and there will be an escalation of extremism and violence."
"I think we are all aware that there has been a vacuum, there continues to be a vacuum that is feeding a great deal of the skepticism and concern about what are American priorities in Iraq and in the region....Today it must be clear that...the resources that are needed are the resources of the international community. That the United States alone, the coalition forces alone, really have not been equipped to bear the burdens and challenges inevitable at the end of the kind of military conflict we have seen in Iraq. And I hope that that lesson is one that will help to draw in the international community and UN agencies with so much experience on the ground in Iraq to play a much more meaningful and effective role. I would think that would be to the benefit of everyone and will advance the process of healing and conflict recovery...."
"You certainly can't, as everyone understands I am sure, impose democracy externally. It has to grow from within a society. In the Arab world, you can't lump or generalize about the political let alone economic and social conditions in all the different countries because they vary considerably.... Where Iraq is concerned, it is too early to talk about democracy. What really needs to be focused on is fundamental human needs, law and order, and building bridges of trust and confidence with people through these measures that will empower the moderates within Iraq and elsewhere in the region to be able to speak out with credibility and partner, if you will, with international countries and organizations in developing democratic institution-building."
"Someone the other day made a very important comment, at least reflected very well what I think many of us feel, which is that the United States has to start building relationships with the people in the region, not just with the rulers of different states.
In fact, it is so clear on the ground whether in Iraq or elsewhere that the United States has to start building bridges of trust to the people of the region. And there are many ways that can be demonstrated and the most effective ways are not military but in fact have to do with human development and international, sort of even-handed application of international law and a demonstrated commitment to peace and security and basic rights for all parties in the region. That I think is the way forward and the road map certainly provides a vehicle for beginning to resolve one of the most difficult dilemmas that has not been addressed in that fashion."
"Women have an important role to play that has not been fully supported and enabled and could be in this coming period by even the United States and international institutions. They have naturally a pragmatic and sort of collaborative experience and approach to dealing with fundamental issues that are the priorities now in Iraq whether it is food and shelter and family security but also because...they are able in their approaches to supercede ethnic and religious and other kinds of divides, they can be a bridge to achieving much of the stability and their voices can become part of what are more democratic approaches to nation building. Women in Iraq are extremely educated and have been extremely dynamic throughout the last decades..."
"He could become, and I hope there will be many more figures in our region who will become, if you want to use a cliché, [like] godfathers to reconciliation and peace between former enemies. I cannot speak directly to what role he has now, or will have in the future, or even what I think that role should be. I can only say we need everyone who is of importance - either symbolically or in practical terms - to the different communities in the region to be working together and helping to empower the peaceful moderate majority and to work together to marginalize the extremists and hardliners that are wrecking havoc of everyone's hopes for peace."