Vali Nasr

  • Aired:  04/25/13
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"The Dispensable Nation" author Vali Nasr argues that America should not shy away from employing soft power when dealing with foreign countries. (6:15)

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS DEAN OF THE

JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED

INTERNATIONAL STUDIES.

HE IS ALSO A BESTSELLING AUTHOR

WHOSE NEW BOOK IS CALLED "THE

DISPENSABLE NATION."

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THE

PROGRAM, VALI NASR.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE.

>> THANK YOU FOR INVITING ME.

>> THE BOOK IS CALLED THE

DISPENSABLE NATION: AMERICAN

FOREIGN POLICY IN RETREAT.

IS THAT BAD, IS THAT WE ARE--

BECAUSE, IF I RECALL, WHEN WE

WERE ON OFFENSE, WE MADE A-- I

DON'T KNOW, OBVIOUSLY, I'M NOT

AN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS--

( BLEEP ).

WE MADE A-- IT WAS BAD, IT WAS

BAD.

IS RETREAT BAD FOR AMERICA?

>> WELL, TOO MUCH OFFENSE WASN'T

GOOD.

TOO MUCH DEFENSE IS ALSO NOT

GOOD.

THERE ARE TOO MANY PROBLEMS OUT

THERE, AND WE HAVE TO ADDRESS

THEM, AND WE HAVE TO DO THIS IN

THE RIGHT WAY.

>> Jon: WHERE WOULD YOU

LIKE TO SEE US RIGHT NOW BEING

MORE ACTIVE?

>> I THINK IN THE MIDDLE EAST,

LARGELY BECAUSE MANY THINGS

HAPPENING THERE HAVE GREAT DEAL

OF IMPACT ON US, ON OUR ECONOMY,

ON OUR SECURITY.

AND THERE'S ALSO THE FUTURE OF

THAT REGION IS RIGHT NOW BEING

WRITTEN IN PLACES LIKE EGYPT AND

SYRIA.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> AND WITHOUT AMERICAN

LEADERSHIP IN THE SENSE OF

GIVING SOME KIND OF GUIDANCE TO

COUNTRIES IN THE REGION, TAKING

A CERTAIN STANCE, THINGS ARE NOT

GOING TO MOVE IN THE RIGHT

DIRECTION.

>> Jon: RIGHT.

>> ULTIMATELY, WE WILL END UP

HAVING TO GET INVOLVED AND FIX

IT AT SOME POINT, EXCEPT IT'S

GOING TO COST US A LOT MORE.

>> Jon: BUT ISN'T THAT WHAT

GETS US INTO TROUBLE-- ISN'T THE

RIGHT DIRECTION

SELF-DETERMINATION?

AND EGYPT HAS BEGUN THIS ROAD TO

SELF-DETERMINATION.

MAYBE WE'RE NOT CRAZY ABOUT WHO

THEY ELECTED, AND MAYBE RIGHT

NOW THEY'RE NOT SO CRAZY ABOUT

IT, EITHER, BUT ISN'T THAT PART

OF THAT FREEDOM SPREADING

PROCESS?

( LAUGHTER )

I MEAN, WASN'T THAT THE GOAL, TO

DO THAT WITHOUT US INVADING?

>> WELL, INVASION WAS DEFINITELY

WRONG.

IT'S WRONG FOR AMERICA TO LEAD

ITS FOREIGN POLICY WITH ITS

MILITARY.

THAT, CLEARLY, WE SHOULD LEARN A

LESSON AND NOT DO THAT AGAIN.

THEN THERE ARE ALSO, IF YOU LOOK

AT EVERY OTHER FREEDOM.

-- EVERY OTHER DEMOCRATIZATION

AROUND THE WORLD, AMERICA HAS

HAD A VERY BIG ROLE IN IT.

NOT WITH ITS MILITARY, BUT WITH

ITS ENGAGEMENT, AND ECONOMIC

ASSISTANCE, AND GETTING THE REST

OF THE WORLD TOGETHER IN ORDER

TO HELP AT A CRITICAL MOMENT.

>> Jon: IN LIBYA, I GUESS

WE GOT TOGETHER WITH NATO AND

BOMBED AROUND THE AREA.

I DON'T--

( LAUGHTER )

I'M NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT WE

DID, BUT WE CERTAINLY BOMBED IN

KIND OF A, I GUESS YOU CALL IT A

SERPENTINE KIND OF PATTERN.

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

>> Jon: THAT WAS GOOD BUT

OW THERE'S A BIG PROBLEM WITHN

WHAT WE FEEL ARE RADICALS TAKING

OVER THAT AREA.

IF YOU INTERFERE, DOESN'T THAT

CREATE RESENT INDEPENDENT THAT

AREA?

>> THAT'S BECAUSE WE ONLY

INTERFERE ALL THE TIME

MILITARILY.

IN THATY SENTENCE SENSE WE

HAVEN'T CHANGED AT ALL.

>> Jon: DON'T WE GIVE THEM

ECONOMIC AID?

>> THAT'S MOSTLY FOR THE

MILITARY.

IF YOU COMPARE WHAT WE DID FOR

POLAND OR ARGENTINA OR-- ALL OF

THESE AREAS THAT BECAME

DEMOCRATIC, WE WERE ENGAGED TO

HELP THEM REFORM THEIR

ECONOMIES.

WE WERE ENGAGED WITH CIVIL

SOCIETIES.

WE DIDN'T JUST BOMB AND KICK THE

DICTATOR OUT.

>> Jon: BUT WE'RE AFRAID OF

THEM.

THAT'S WHEN WE BUILD THE

EMBASSIES -- THE EXWAESS OVER

THERE ARE BIG TARGETS ARE, THEY

NOT?

>> THEY ARE, BUT THIS GETS INTO

BIGGER TROUBLE.

YOU CAN'T IGNORE A REGION OF 300

MILLION PEOPLE WHICH SITS RIGHT

NEXT DOOR TO EUROPE WHO CAN SEND

TERRORISTS ALL THE WAY TO

AMERICA.

ULTIMATELY, WE'LL HAVE TO DO

SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

LOOK THE SYRIA.

WE'VE BEEN SAYING WE DON'T WANT

TO GET INVOLVED.

WE DON'T WANT TO GET INVOLVED.

AND FOR GOOD REASON.

BUT THE PLACE IS GRADUALLY

FOLLOWING INTO THE HANDS OF

EXTREMISTS.

TWO TO THREE MILLION OF THE

POPULATION WOULD HAVE LEFT THE

COUNTRY BY THE END OF THE YEAR

AS REFUGEES.

AT THE END, WE CANNOT IGNORE

SYRIA BEYOND A POINT.

WE'LL HAVE TO GET INVOLVED.

BUT BY THEN IT'S GOING TO BE A

LOT MORE EXPENSIVE.

THE PROBLEM IS WE'RE ONLY GOING

TO DO IT MILITARILY, AND THAT'S

NOT A GOOD IDEA.

PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD,

PARTICULARLY NAREGION, HAVE TO

SEE US BE ENGAGED.

>> Jon: IS THAT EVEN

REALISTIC ANY MORE?

DO WE EVEN HAVE THAT KIND OF

SOFT POWER?

>> I THINK WE DO.

WE OWE IT TO OURSELVESES TO TRY

SOFT EXPOWR NOT ALL THE TIME TRY

MILITARY POWER.

>> Jon: I'M WITH YOU ON

THAT ONE.

>> WE WENT WITH A $100 BILLION A

YEAR FOOT PRINT IN THE COUNTRY

TRYING TO BUILD A SWITZERLAND IN

THE MIDDLE OF THE HIMALAYA

MOUNTAINS AND IT WAS ALL

MILITARY AND WE FAILED AT IT.

IT WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER TO TRY

WHAT WE'VE DONE IN THE BALKANS

AND OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD TO

USE OUR GLOBAL INFLUENCE TO GET

PEOPLE TOGETHER TO SEE WHETHER

IT'S POSSIBLE TO ARRIVE AT A

DEAL AND THEN GET THE

INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY TO

SUPPORT THAT.

THAT'S WHAT HAS MADE AMERICAN

LEADERSHIP IMPORTANT AROUND THE

WORLD.

WHEN PEOPLE USED TO TALK ABOUT

AN INDISPENSABLE NATION, THEY

WERE NOT TALKING ABOUT AN

INVAIGD, OCCUPYING FORCE.

THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT A

COUNTRY WHICH HAD A VISION AND

HAD THE ABILITY TO GET EVERYBODY

TOGETHER AND WAS THE ONLY

COUNTRY THAT COULD GET PEOPLE TO

FIND PEACEFUL, ECONOMIC,

DIPLOMATIC, WAYS OF SOLVING --

>> BUT ALWAYS BACKED UP WITH A

BIG STICK.

THE TAKEAWAY OF THIS IS LESS

BOMBING, LESS INVADING, LESS

PUNISHMENT, MORE NICER.

( LAUGHTER ).

>> THAT'S RIGHT.

THE BIG STICK IS GOOD --

>> SPEAK SOFTLY, AND THEN WE'LL

HAVE A CONVERSATION.

( LAUGHTER ).

>> TRY, TRY.

>> Jon: VERY INTERESTING.

"THE DISPENSABLE NATION."

IT'S ON THE BOOKSHELVES NOW.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE ).

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