Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

David Kirkpatrick : "Everything is on the record."

This means I can blog! ;-)

Panelists: Madeleine Albright - the 64th Secretary of State of the US, General Wesley Clark - Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, Paula Dobriansky - Under Secretary for Global Affairs of the US Department of State and Kishore Mahbubani - Singapore's Ambassador to the UN.

Question: "Are we safer now since the war in Iraq?"

Madeleine Albright, "was Saddam Hussein was an imminent threat? No. So we are less safe now than before the attack. Understood the 'why' but not 'why now'. I'm now concerned about where (WMD) they are now. Many people in the US hate the UN, because it is full of foreigners, which can not be helped. (laughs) Support Bush's notion of more democracy in the middle east."

Paula Dobriansky: We are safer. The issue of what brought us in. 9/11. I don't think anyone would have thought that what took place on 9/11 was possible before that. The topic is new world order. We are not safe from a variety of threats. From rogue nations, or terrorists. There was a false sense of security. Then we look at Iraq specifically. 12 years of negotiation. Over several US administrations. Some security resolution. Hundreds of investigators. Inspectors who were on the ground in and out. The uncertainty of our security. The kind of volatility that exists out there. The environment has a great deal of vulnerability. The question is, are we better with Saddam's removal. The answer is "yes".

Kishore Mahbubani, "If you come from outside the US, for the rest of the world, the key question, is 'what now'. what is the impact of the Iraq war on the rest of the world. In the rest of the world, there are more questions being asked than has ever been asked before. Part is due to the Iraq war. "Friends of America" want America to succeed and would like some introspection in America to figure out how to get it right and how to reach out to the rest of the world. "What percentage of the world in their hearts of hearts want American to succeed vs. fail in Iraq." Many allies want American to fail and many others want America to succeed because we need a world order. "Tipping point". What can America do to make sure it doesn't reach the tipping point.

Wesley Clark, A few days after 9/11 Clark went through the Pentagon to check on his commentary. A joke was going around. "If Saddam didn't do 9/11, too bad, he should have, we're going to get him anyway." Those seized on that event to take out Saddam. Going after Sadaam cost us a year on the war terror. 40,000 troops who should have gone into Afghanistan were being held by Rumsfeld for Iraq. "It doesn't matter why, or how it comes out, but we went in there and kicked some ass, and boy they'll respect us now." The UN is not a world government, but it is an important part of creating legitimacy. I am concerned about WMD, but where are they? Not enough intelligence. The impact of instability of the action. There were some erroneous assumptions made. "I" for Iraq. Incomplete and indeterminate. Policy problems, bad planning, slow and cumbersome. We have a threefold problem. Al Qaeda, Iraqis trying to live, the Shia are organizing and deciding what to do. While we are worrying about terrorism and WMD, North Korea has crossed the redline. I'm happy Saddam is gone, but we have a plateful of stuff to do, but I think it's arguable whether we're more safe or not.

Paula : AIDS... After 9/11 worried that heath issues would get marginalized or sidetracked.

Albright : I sympathize for Paula who has to defend uni-dimensional administration policy. Defending the Bush administration is difficult, defending the UN is more difficult. Need for UN has never been greater.