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Does the World Have the Right to Prevent Genocide?

Aired October 28, 2009 - 15:00:00   ET



CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, the Taliban launched brazen attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, targeting the U.N. in Kabul and a marketplace in Peshawar. What can be done to stop these?

Good evening, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour, and welcome to the program.

It's been a day of terror in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. In Kabul, gunmen stormed a U.N. guest house at dawn, killing at least five U.N. staff and wounding nine others. It was a brazen assault just 10 days before the U.N.-organized election run-off there.

And in the Pakistani frontier city of Peshawar, at least 100 people were killed in a car bomb attack at a market packed full of shoppers, including many women and children, and this just hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Islamabad for urgent talks on the unraveling situation.

And as the killings mount in both those countries, the world holds its breath as it awaits Iran's decision on the latest nuclear deal.

Joining me now to talk about all of these developments, as well as the strategy known as the right to protect, is Gareth Evans, former Australian foreign minister and co-chair of the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament.

And later, we'll be speaking with Alan Kuperman, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington and author of the "Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda."

Welcome, both of you gentlemen. First to you, Mr. Evans. Terrible unraveling of the situation in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, as, really, the world is waiting to see, what is the U.S. and NATO going to do? What is their troop strategy going to be there?

GARETH EVANS, FORMER AUSTRALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Well, this is as bad as it gets. And I think this latest horrifying manifestation of the capacity to deliver wanton violence is just a huge wake-up call for everybody to get the strategy right once and for all. And the core element of that strategy has to be, if nothing else, protecting the major cities, protecting the major U.N. presences there, protecting the population. You might not be able to do it in the country as a whole in Afghanistan, but you sure as hell ought to be able to do it in the cities. So this is an alarming new demonstration of the impotence of the present arrangement.

AMANPOUR: And people have been willing to give the new American president a chance, but the deliberation is very agonized, very public, and now very long. Is that emboldening people like the Taliban in both those countries?

EVANS: I don't think that's a fair comment. This is a very tough thing to get right. And as I say, the core element of any strategy, whether it involves more troops or stabilizing the situation in major cities, has to be to be able to deal effectively with these kind of bomb attacks in the major population centers.

And I think this is the sort of thing that almost any administration with even the longest foresight and vision in the world would have a great deal of difficulty wrestling with.

AMANPOUR: And I know that you're not in a government and you're not a spokesman for the government, but what did you think Australia's commitment will be going forward?

EVANS: Well, I think Australia will understand the long-haul nature of this exercise and the absolute necessity to deny Taliban, Al Qaida the capacity to re-establish a foothold or dominance in this territory. So we will be there, I'm sure, for the haul.

But this kind of event, I mean, it's just shattering for every policymaker, as it is obviously shattering for the people on the ground. The only tiny comfort, I suppose, you can take from the Pakistan dimension of this carnage is that it really will be yet another way of concentrating the minds of the Pakistan military and population on the absolute necessity to get this cancer out of Pakistan society once and for all.


AMANPOUR: What tiny comfort can one get from also agonized deliberations it seems in Iran right now between what seems to be publicly squabbling factions about how they're going to respond to the IAEA and the U.S., Russia and France, British deal on transferring their low-enriched uranium?

EVANS: Well, it might sound naive, but I think quite a lot of comfort from the fact that they are actually wrestling with some kind of response, which is not one, clearly, of absolute intransigence. Maybe they just want to buy more time, that this is time we all need and deserve to deal with this issue.

I think there is a possible negotiated long-term solution in Iran. It's not going to involve the complete abandonment of the enrichment capabilities with fissile material, but I think it can involve very serious disciplines on the misuse of that material. And I think there's every chance that we're seeing the beginnings of a quite serious process of accommodation by Iran, notwithstanding all the internal difficulties to which you referred.

AMANPOUR: That's interesting you say that, because Iranian officials who I speak to do believe that, in the next year or so, the world will come to terms with the fact that they will continue enriching.

But let me move on. In terms of your initiative for a vast reduction of nuclear weapons, you did -- you did host a conference, a meeting in Cairo, Egypt, about this subject. And you invited not just Iran, but Israel, as well, into Arlia (ph). Nothing has been formally said officially about what happened there, but can you tell me what it was like with the Iranian representative and the Israeli representative sitting around that table?

EVANS: Well, the deal is that we wouldn't make any of it public, which is why we got people there in the first place. It's not unusual -- totally unusual for these guys to sit together in a multi...

AMANPOUR: Isn't it?

EVANS: ... in a multilateral room. In the Conference on Disarmament, the Atomic Energy Agency, meetings in Vienna, and so on, they're there.

AMANPOUR: Israel, as well?

EVANS: Yes, yes, yes. And this has -- this has been a little bit of a beat-up, frankly. But that said, I mean, there were sufficient exchanges across the room in the presence of 20 or 30 others to give me some encouragement that we might just be beginning to find the possibility of a dialogue that will get us towards where we want to go and...

AMANPOUR: And what was their interaction?

EVANS: Well, it was tough. And each side states its own position. But what we're looking at is exploring, for example, the preconditions for a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East. We're not going to be the negotiation of any such arrangement any time soon, but getting each side to articulate what its concerns are, what it will want as a precondition, and (inaudible) is important, and I think we made a small step in that direction.

AMANPOUR: And I also heard that the Iranian representative, who is the ambassador to the IAEA, Mr. Soltanieh, publicly asked Israel whether it did have nuclear weapons or not.

EVANS: I'm not going to confirm or deny anything that was said across the room, because that was -- that was the deal, and you're not going to get people there if you -- if you chat away to the media about what happens when you get there.

AMANPOUR: So what are the stakes? Did they understand the stakes?

EVANS: Everybody understands the stakes. I mean, for Iran to really join the ranks of the proliferators will be fantastically further destabilizing that region. It will encourage a proliferation surge from elsewhere. For Israel to stick to its guns and not to be prepared to get into a serious dialogue with neighbors about its serious -- its security concerns and what could actually accommodate those concerns in the future is, I think, counterproductive.

So any kind of step towards some kind of rational dialogue about these issues is helpful, and that's what we all ought to be encouraging.

AMANPOUR: In terms of a zero nuclear world, which also President Obama has talked about. There was the Security Council meeting just a couple of months ago. I mean, is that really realistic?

EVANS: It's certainly realistic to...

AMANPOUR: I mean, it's nice. People would like it.

EVANS: I think it is realistic, but mindsets are going to have to change, and a lot of these ways of going about conflict resolution are going to have to change before we get absolutely to zero, but we can sure as heck get very close to zero within a finite timeframe, I think, in the next 15 years or so. We can get down to a world which has roughly about 10 percent of the stockpile of nuclear weapons that exists at the moment. And my commission will be reporting to that effect quite soon.

AMANPOUR: I mean, is the point really to get to zero nukes? Or is it to take the idea of nuclear weapons being diplomatic chips and tools out of the -- of the -- of the playing field?

EVANS: Well, it's both, because we can only really be secure in a nuclear-weapons-free world, but to get to a world in which there are very low numbers, where nobody is relying seriously on nuclear weapons as any kind of security vehicle for their either defensive or offensive aspirations, and a world in which these things, such as they are, are actually locked away and not on trigger alert and so on, would be a very much safer world than the one we have at the moment.

AMANPOUR: It would. But if you look at North Korea, for instance, the fact that it did have at least one or two or several nuclear weapons, frankly, prevented the Bush administration from attacking it.

EVANS: Oh, I don't think that's right.

AMANPOUR: You don't?

EVANS: Any more than one can say with total confidence...

AMANPOUR: Many, many, many people do say that...


EVANS: Yes, of course they do, because it's in people's interests in many parts of the world to argue for the continued relevance of nuclear weapons. But that was not something that by itself determined the response not to go in there and create a military holocaust.

Remember that the North Koreans, quite apart from their nuclear weapons, have ringed Seoul with a massive, massive artillery capacity, which would be capable of tearing the heart out of Seoul if there was any kind of military exchange at all that started.

The North -- the South Koreans have been living with this for a long time. Nobody is going to do anything rash. And the fact that the North Koreans might have an explosive device or half a dozen of them is not in itself going to guarantee anything.

AMANPOUR: We'll continue, and we will just move on for the moment. Next, another pressing international issue. My guest here says the world's response to it is inadequate.




RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Turmoil inside a U.N. member country. This time it's Sri Lanka, and the United Nations Security Council is barely heard from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very tepid statements from most of the members of the Security Council, some a little stronger than others, but the vast majority of the Security Council have really remained on the sidelines.

ROTH: Tens of thousands of people are caught in the fighting between government soldiers and Tamil rebels. It's the kind of situation U.N. countries had in mind when the organization approved a commitment to protect citizens when their own government can't or won't.

KOFI ANNAN, FORMER U.N. SECRETARY GENERAL: This responsibility is not simply a matter of states, states being ready to come to each other's aid when attacked, important though that is. It also includes our shared responsibility to protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity.

ROTH: But several members of the Security Council, including powers Russia and China, continue to insist a crisis like Sri Lanka's should be dealt with internally by the government in power.


AMANPOUR: That was CNN's Richard Roth reporting from the U.N. as the war in Sri Lanka reached its peak. So what should the world do about such conflict? Joining me again, the former Australian foreign minister, Gareth Evans, and Alan Kuperman, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C., also the author of "The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide on Rwanda."

Right now, Sri Lanka seems to be saying that it is acceding to some international pressure to look into some of the actions -- alleged human rights abuses, some have even said genocide -- during the war. Do you hold any hope, Gareth Evans, that they will actually do something about it, hold people accountable?

EVANS: Well, not on their past record, which has been quite lamentable, in terms of commissions of inquiry and everything else. It's a great pity that we've seen this from Sri Lanka, because it is against the trend of the way the world is reaction to these internal crises. What previously was regarded as absolutely no one else's business is gradually moving to the stage as a result of this acceptance of the responsibility to protect doctrine, where it is acknowledged to be everyone's business. Even though the delivery is sometimes pretty weak and the follow-through is not very smart, as was the case in Sri Lanka, we are making a difference.

AMANPOUR: Well, where exactly?

EVANS: Take Kenya, for example. Take Kenya. Take Kenya 18 months ago and compare and contrast that with Rwanda in 1994.

AMANPOUR: But Kenya was diplomatic.

EVANS: Yes, but -- of course it was a diplomatic solution, but that's what the responsibility to protect is all about. It's not just about sending in the Marines. This is the whole point. It is a combination of appropriate and effective responses, whatever is necessary to prevent and then to react to these catastrophic, destructive situations?

AMANPOUR: Well, do you believe -- do you believe -- just as R2P was coming out, we had the Darfur genocide, called genocide by the United States. Nobody intervened there. Great sermons about...

EVANS: There was a real problem with...

AMANPOUR: ... no-flight zones, military intervention.

EVANS: Sure, sure, sure.

AMANPOUR: It hasn't happened.

EVANS: There was real problems about a full-scale coercive military intervention, as any humanitarian worker will tell you. If they'd gone into all guns blazing Western Sudan, 2.5 million people in those refugee camps would have had their lives put at risk. And also, it would have thrown into chaos the very fragile North-South peace agreement.

The truth of the matter is that the humanitarian intervention in the old 1990s sense is not the way of thinking about these situations. What is necessary is to think about a whole variety of strategies of which military stuff is only the most extreme and only in very limited cases.

The important thing is to get this sense of engagement and responsibility, and that's changing. Attitudes are changing.

AMANPOUR: OK. OK, let me just read this for Mr. Kuperman. The starting point for the responsibility to protect is the simple, but profound idea that states have a responsibility to protect their own civilians.


This is not rocket science, says Don Hubert, professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa. You disagree with R2P?

ALAN KUPERMAN, INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION AND DISARMAMENT: Well, it's not that I disagree with the principle. Of course, it's a wonderful principle to try to protect civilians. The problem is that the way we have implemented the responsibility to protect has actually backfired. It has actually caused...

AMANPOUR: In what way?

KUPERMAN: Well, we say that we'll intervene if civilians are at risk. And so there are disgruntled groups around the world who realize, if they can launch a rebellion or a secession, they can provoke their state to retaliate militarily, hurting civilians, and the -- and the strategy is to -- is to do that to try to attract international humanitarian intervention, which these rebels think will help them achieve their political aims, whether it be independence or secession.

And the reason they do this is because it has worked. It has worked repeatedly. And so this -- this emerging norm of the R2P, which is intended to protect civilians, has backfired and has actually led...

AMANPOUR: Maybe I missed something.

KUPERMAN: It has actually...

AMANPOUR: Where -- where has it worked, this idea that rebels can draw in intervention for their own -- for their own benefit?

KUPERMAN: I can cite many cases, but the clearest one was Kosovo, where the rebels -- and I interviewed them. I went and I interviewed them. And -- and they said very, very clearly, "We did not think we could defeat the Serbs. Our intention was to provoke the Serbs so that they would crack down against our civilians, so that the international community would come in and help us achieve independence."

And, lo and behold, that's exactly what happened. We intervened militarily in 1999 and -- and -- and we recognized...

EVANS: You're talking...

KUPERMAN: ... and we recognized their independence in 2008. So...

AMANPOUR: OK, I covered that war, so I know about it, and I know about Bosnia, as well. I mean, on the one hand, that was the result. They got their -- they got their independence, Gareth.

EVANS: Yes, but, I mean, remember, we had Milosevic with genocide form, out there, visible, elsewhere in the region, Bosnia next door, and we saw the beginnings of another ethnic cleansing, genocidal situation. The world had to react to that.

Of course Alan's right. There was an element of provocation; there was an element of opportunism in the way the Kosovo Liberation Army did themselves contribute to the provocation, exactly the same way as is often that element of duality, provocation.

But the basic need is to ensure that, when these situations explode, the world does not turn its back the way it did in Rwanda and the world did not turns its back in Kenya, and that remains to me the best example of this mind shift which is fundamentally occurring. And it's very, very important.

AMANPOUR: All right. I'm going to play you -- you've brought up Rwanda. I wanted to, as well. And that's the title of -- of Professor Kuperman's book. So I want to play you a bit of an interview with General Dallaire, the beleaguered U.N. peacekeeping commander in Rwanda.


AMANPOUR: When you were first told that you were going to head the mission in Rwanda, how did you feel about that?

ROMEO DALLAIRE, RETIRED GENERAL: An overwhelming excitement.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): One year later, Romeo Dallaire would leave Rwanda a broken man, his mission a failure, having watched helplessly as more than 800,000 people perished in the genocide.

DALLAIRE: We could have actually saved hundreds of thousands. Nobody was interested.


AMANPOUR: Professor Kuperman, when you see that and you hear that and you saw what happened, as we did who covered it, I mean, there's no way you can say that the world shouldn't have intervened and that R2P is just fancy footwork and fancy thinking. Clearly, the world should have intervened. It stands today as a massive failure, and presidents and secretary generals are still apologizing for what they didn't do back in 1994.

KUPERMAN: No, there's no question that once innocent civilians are being targeted for killing or ethnic cleansing, that we should try and do whatever we can to help them. What we shouldn't do is intervene in ways that help rebels. And, in fact, in Rwanda, we had been doing that for several years prior -- prior to the genocide. We had sided with these rebels, these Rwandan Patriotic Front rebels, and they invaded, they invaded, they invaded, and then the best evidence is that they killed the president in April of 1994, and it was the Hutu extremists in Rwanda that responded to that.

So my -- my bottom line is that civil wars are horrible and they lead to killing of civilians. And so what we should be trying to do is discourage the outbreak of civil wars. And, unfortunately, the R2P, as we've implemented it, encourages rebellions and civil wars. That's how it backfires.

EVANS: That's -- that's nonsense on stilts, as Jeremy Benson (ph) would have said. It just doesn't justify in any way the world's experience. That doesn't justify...

AMANPOUR: So how can you do better?

EVANS: I mean, what we have to do is recognize that, when these horrors occur, the world has a responsibility to react in a way which will stop them if possible happening and certainly react to them after.

AMANPOUR: OK, but...


EVANS: If whatever else we muck up in the conduct of international affairs -- and my god, we're unintelligent about the way in which we conduct many aspects of our affairs, including, perhaps, some of the strategies that Alan is talking about -- whatever else we muck up, don't let's stand by again when these situations of mass atrocity, crimes arise, and leave us all lamenting that we just failed to act.

It doesn't have to be military action. The Kenya case is very important, because it shows that timely, effective, diplomatic pressure can sometimes produce exactly the same result at lest cost.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and I keep wanting to know how you're going to move ahead with this. You mentioned Kenya, but, look, I'm sorry, Darfur is still happening there. The only thing people say -- and maybe this is what you mean -- is the indictment against the president, you led him to clean up a little bit in Darfur, but not much.

EVANS: Darfur was really horrible in 2003-2004. Military intervention, for reasons I've already spelt out, was not an option. International pressure, sanctions, legal pressure was an option, took a long time to be applied. When it was applied, it started to bite. And the reality we're seeing in Darfur at the moment is a far more accommodating environment that we're just not seeing the horror that we were before.

AMANPOUR: Well, that is, some people say, because the horror has already been committed. But here's the thing. The United Nations Security Council is not and has not wanted in many, many instances in many, many cases to intervene. It's this whole idea of sovereign pride. And that's what R2P is challenging.

EVANS: Yes, but remember that it's not only challenging in the abstract. It's one unanimous support of 191 countries in the U.N. General Assembly at the president and prime minister level in 2005. There's been a fundamental conceptual shift. What for centuries was a view of sovereignty that, whatever happened, however barbaric, behind state walls -- remember Cambodia, remember all those earlier things -- was nobody else's business, that view has changed.

And, of course, there are problems with effective implementation. Of course we've got a long way to go. Of course we've got to get the Security Council behaving in a system -- consistent fashion and not applying double standards. We want the world in all those ways to be a better place.

But we've made a big step forward by getting that principle accepted. And in a big debate, just a couple of weeks -- two months ago in the U.N. General Assembly, there were only four states which stood out against this principle. Guess who they were? Nicaragua, Cuba, Venezuela, and Sudan.

AMANPOUR: And do you think Russia would go for R2P?

EVANS: Yes, of course. Of course. They have. They have.

KUPERMAN: Christiane, could I address the Darfur question?

EVANS: They called it R2P wrongly in the case of Georgia.

KUPERMAN: You know, and Darfur is another classic example of the R2P backfiring. There was -- there were peace negotiations in 2006. There was a peace agreement that was signed by the government, signed by one of the rebel groups, but it was rejected by the other two rebel groups. And when, immediately afterwards, the rebel leader was -- was interviewed, this is Abdul Wahid al Nur, and they asked, "Why did you reject the agreement?" He said, "I am waiting for larger international intervention," quote, unquote, "like in Bosnia."

AMANPOUR: All right.

KUPERMAN: So this prospect of intervention is not solving things. It's actually perpetuating civil wars, which...

AMANPOUR: Well, clearly, as -- as Gareth Evans said, it's an absolute necessity when it comes to lives being lost. This is a conversation to continue, and we will do. But thank you very much, gentlemen.

And tell us what you think about the responsibility to protect. Should the world take military action or any other action to stop genocide? Go to

And next, our "P.S." A Pakistani journalist today sends a bit of humor in this terrible situation the way of Hillary Clinton. We'll tell you about this next.



AMANPOUR: And now, our "Post-Script."

As everybody knows, the U.S. president, Barack Obama, has been awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize. And it caught people everywhere by surprise, more or less, including a Pakistani journalist who brought this very subject up during a news conference in Islamabad today with the Pakistani foreign minister, Mehmood Qureshi, and the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.


JOURNALIST: Ms. Clinton, please, if you don't mind, Mr. Obama, your president, has been accorded the Nobel Peace Prize. And you see this is the beginning of a long road. And arming peace and fighting for peace and begging for peace at (inaudible) you see that, if Mr. Obama fails to bring back peace in Afghanistan, a region like that, you would be in a position and plucking the courage to ask him to return that Nobel Peace Prize?

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm very proud that President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. And the Nobel Committee made clear that, in much of the world, his election represented a significant change that people felt toward our country, which certainly creates better conditions for the pursuit and achievement of peace.

But as the president said, this is very hard work. We know that. But how much better it is to be on the side of the peacemakers, and that is certainly where President Obama is.


AMANPOUR: And nowhere more so right now than in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where all eyes are on the peacemakers there.

And that is our "Post-Script" for tonight. Thank you for watching. We'll be back tomorrow with a look at Afghanistan and its golden age, which ended 30 years ago. For all of us here, goodbye from New York.