Millennium 2000: Why We Hate and Why We FightAired January 3, 2000 - 3:06 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Recently, we convened a series of millennium round tables. We asked a group of what we hoped were smart, interesting people to peer around the corner into the first years of the new century.
One of the topics for the new millennium concerns the oldest of mankind's vices. From the very dawn of civilization, whether grouped into tribes or nations, people have hated each other, sometimes turning the hatred into horrific violence. We asked, why we hate? Why we fight? And whether, in this new century, there's any hope that we might change.
ANNOUNCER: Jeff Greenfield's millennium roundtables, with "Time" magazine's Walter Isaacson. Hate, violence and war, it's been a part of our civilization since before the first millennium. Are we always going to live this way, and die?
GREENFIELD: Welcome to our millennium roundtable discussion. The topic: Will we ever learn to stop hating each other? We're coming from Museum New York. That's a museum in midtown Manhattan devoted to the news media.
Joining me for each of these roundtable discussions is Walter Isaacson, managing editor of "Time" magazine -- Walter.
WALTER ISAACSON, MANAGING EDITOR, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Thank you, Jeff.
Does the new century offer any hope that hatred and conflict between people and nations will help ever subside?
To help us explore that question are Olara Otunnu, the United Nations undersecretary general and a special representative for children in armed conflict. He sought to prevent children from being recruited to fight wars. Lionel Tiger, professor of anthropology at Rutgers University. He's a leading researcher in the areas of modern warfare and the male sources of aggression. And Robert Kaplan, author of "The Coming Anarchy," due to be released this February, and a correspondent for "The Atlantic Monthly." And joining us from London is our friend CNN's Christiane Amanpour, who has spent much of the last decade as a frontline witness to ethnic and tribal conflicts, from Afghanistan to Bosnia to Rwanda to Kosovo.
Welcome, everyone. And thank you for coming. GREENFIELD: Lionel Tiger, let's begin, I guess, at the beginning. Is there something within us, as human beings, the human animal, that predisposes us to be suspicious, even to hate strangers, something we have to overcome or recognize as part of us?
LIONEL TIGER, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: You have to understand that we're a species about four million years old, and we probably evolved in groups of between 50 to 200, and we were always very conscious of the boundaries of our groups, because those individuals within the boundary were those on whom we could depend. Those outside the boundary were those on whom we could not depend and we might even have to fear.
And it seems that in terms of whether learning aggression is easy or hard, it seems relatively easy to learn, in that seem quite willing to say we're the good guys, they're the bad guys, and let's create some structure in which this is reflected.
So I would say that one of the things we have to be aware of is we have within the human heart, if we will, a possibility, not necessarily an inevitability or even a propensity, but a possibility to turn ourselves back to that old time when strangers were dangerous and the only individuals you could trust were those around and near you.
ISAACSON: You know, Bob, what Lionel seems to be saying is that we're almost prone to tribalism. And you have been traveling especially in east Asia and central Asia. Is tribalism what's going to be the biggest problem we face in the next century?
ROBERT KAPLAN, JOURNALIST: Let me put it this way, James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers that if you take a number of people, all who believe the same thing, and put them in a room long enough, they'll form factions, that factions are central to the human condition and -- but you can alleviate factionalism, you can channel it into benign ends through the developing of an economy and so on and so forth.
One thing that Simon Wiesenthal told me one my first visit to the Balkans was -- and I wrote this in a book -- was that there is no place no matter how deeply ingrained the ethnic hatreds or what not, that those hatreds cannot be sedated and tranquilized through the establishment of some form of middle-class system. Middle class homme bourgeoisie man for decade after decade after decade.
But the real problem in our world for the next 20 years, Walter, is that if you look at human births you see that 90 percent of all births are occurring among the poorest populations of the world, or among the poorest sections of wealthier populations. So that while the middle class is expanding in absolute terms like in India, South Africa, in relative terms it's no larger than it's been before. That's the problem we face, that the middle class is still a very thin band of reality.
GREENFIELD: So, Olara, in your experience, when you listen to what Lionel and Bob has said, when your focus is on children, to what extent is the impoverished condition of the societies that these children are involved in add to the notion, to the ease of which you can stir up hatred or tribal conflict?
OLARA OTUNNU, U.N. UNDER SECY. GENERAL: Well, diversity and difference in itself defined in religious rational ethnic terms does not in my view cause conflict. It is the way in which that diversity is used, manipulated, and exploited usually by the leadership to gain or to retain power. This is the history of the Balkans, the history of many African countries, history of what we have seen in central Asia and from the Soviet Union. It is the exploitation of that difference. Other leaders choose to deal within this diversity sense of common belonging.
So you have an umbrella of common belonging, while below that there is expression of religion, ethnicity, race, which is perfectly acceptable. Now, within that context is when the women and children are especially brutalized. We are witnessing an abomination -- unspeakable abomination being committed against women and children in situations of conflict.
Typically, these conflicts within countries, most of the conflicts they are civil wars, they are being fought not just for months and years, but for decades they are protracted. They are not being fought between conventional armies, but factions, armed factions. All the rules of war, international rules, local rules have been cast aside.
Civilians are the target, the village is now the theater of conflict. This is why today 90 percent of casualties in ongoing conflicts in over 30 countries, 90 percent are civilians. At the turn of the century it was 15 percent. World War I was 5 percent. Second world war, including the massive aerial bombardment of a Europe, came under 48 percent. Today is 90 percent. This is a world turned upside down.
ISAACSON: But wait, let me challenge you there, because you make it so vivid. Is all of this ethnic conflict mainly because leaders are manipulating different groups? I mean, if it goes on for decades that doesn't make sense.
OTUNNU: It is the manipulation by leaders, it is various practices of exclusion, of marginalization. Poverty in itself -- poor people are not more apt to fight each other. It depends whether within a particular country you have policy of exclusion, histories of modernization, where some people feel included, others feel excluded, where you have a center peripheral relationship. The very deeply and even distribution of political power, of economic resources, that is what leads to conflict. Obviously, poverty and despair can aggravate those conditions.
KAPLAN: Olara, let me say this, obviously you are right partially in terms of leaders manipulating groups, but this leads us to a real irony, which is that when you promote democracy in many countries of the world where there is no class structure and 94 percent of the country are peasants, which is where democratization is happening the world over, the only way people have to divide up their political loyalties is often by ethnicity and by territory.
So that democracy, when there isn't already a middle class structure developed, has this ironic effect of hardening and institutionalizing already existent ethnic divides. So I see -- I think one of the problems we're going to see in the next 20 years is the way that democracy is going to chain react with other factors in society, like soil depletion, water shortages, that's going to allow leaders to emerge who will even have a greater naked self-interest in manipulating these things.
GREENFIELD: Christiane Amanpour, if I may bring you in at this point. From what you have heard so far, as someone who has been for a decade a witness to the consequences of so much of this, where do you come out on this? Is it -- do you -- have you seen situations where it is poverty that drives it? Do you see situations where there is something beyond that, almost innate? Take us into your own perception of this question.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Well, my experience in the last decade has been almost entirely in the form of Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. And clearly, at the time it was convenient for the world to believe in this conventional wisdom, this accepted notion of centuries of ethnic hatred, of the inevitability of conflict, that all sides were equally guilty. And it was that kind of conventional wisdom that led to inaction, and in fact became the Bible for the do-nothingers. We saw it happen in Bosnia. We saw erroneously all sides being treated as equal when they were not. We saw that the international community did not want to ascribe any guilt to the principal aggressors.
The business of hate, I'm sure Lionel Tiger and Robert Kaplan have very valid points in that, you know, it's perhaps inbred from many, many years ago. But certainly, surely, humanity has progressed to the extent that we should be able to manage it. And I agree with Olara Otunna, that in the way that I have been able to witness it from eye level really, ground zero, is that certainly in the places that I mentioned it has almost entirely been a creation of the exploitation and the manipulation by political leaders for their own ends. Robert Kaplan talked about James Madison, I think, who said that factionalism is central to the human condition. Perhaps that's true, but also the opposite is true.
A very prominent Serbian journalist, Yugoslav journalist, during the Bosnian war said that if even in a small or medium-sized American city, the most democratic place in the world, if all the media was run by the Ku Klux Klan, within five years you would have civil strife of one type or another.
In Rwanda, you know, it has been very, very heavily documented obviously now, that had the international community listened to the warnings that the Hutu extremists were carefully planning down to the last instance how to exterminate a population and used that word exterminate, perhaps it wouldn't have happened.
There are many, many U.N. officials -- and I strongly believe that had the warnings been taken early and been considered seriously, that it could have been stopped. It could have been halted. And the danger, of course, in ascribing inevitability to hatred is that an international community of weak political will allows it to carry on. The culmination in Rwanda...
TIGER: But no one is...
KAPLAN: Nobody is ascribing inevitability to it.
TIGER: No, we're -- this is -- I think, I'm afraid, a exaggeration of a comment about a possibility -- there is a great difference. There is an enormous difference between that and inevitability, and I think there is a difference also between an interventionists' perspective, which we all have. I think everyone would have a commitment to remedy, to help, to alleviate, to intervene, to do whatever we can.
There is at the same time from a kind of scientific, or a World Health Organization point of view, a sense of a kind of medical model here which is to look at violence and aggression and hatred as equivalent in social terms as disease is in physical terms, and those people who are looking at these phenomena have to say, look, you could always get sick, look, you can always gain hatred.
And if we have, I think, a point of view about this which is not without compassion, but is less -- but is more dispassionate, I think we may then be able to have, as I said, a medical model which allows us to beware that at any time any group can decide to kill, or to maim, or to harm, or to embrace.
AMANPOUR: Can I just respond to that? Clearly, Lionel Tiger, I heard you said the word "possibility," and obviously, I understand what you're saying. But what I'm trying to say is that those scholars, experts, people who write about ethnic conflict in a sort of way that others would take their word "possibility" as inevitability, and that is what happened in Bosnia. You know very well that President Clinton often used the example of people's work on the Balkans. And after the whole issue of Bosnia and finally when they intervened and stopped it by facing up to the aggressors, he expressed regret that he had taken that, what he called, erroneous notion of conventional wisdom.
So perhaps it's not intended to imply inevitability, but certainly, in a political circle, it was taken as an inevitability, and therefore as a reason for inaction. So I think it's really important to understand that.
And furthermore, the secretary-general of the United Nations has just come out with a major mea culpa on the whole issue of Srebrenica. And his central theses were that we can not ascribe indiscriminate, inevitable hatred. We have to confront ethnic cleansing. We cannot appease aggressors, and we have to have the political will to confront it.
GREENFIELD: Let me then, Bob, shape a question to you. If no one is arguing for the inevitability of a violent explosion, then what -- and your work has painted some pretty hair-raising pictures of what's to come. Since the topic is, can we ever learn to stop hating each other, offer us from your perspective a potential remedy? Is it the simply the spread of middle-class values and prosperity? Or in the absence of that possibility, do you have another notion to prevent possibility from becoming certainty?
KAPLAN: Yes, it's called constructive pessimism. We should be scouting for trouble, rather than indulging in fond hope. Throughout the 1980s, I traveled through the Balkans, and I painted a very exceedingly grim picture of the human landscape based on what I saw and heard. But you do not need to idealize a place merely to take action. It is only in the grimmest human landscapes where intervention has ever been required in history.
So at the same time that I was writing about this, I was also arguing, in "Reader's Digest," CNN and many other places, from late 1990 to onward for vigorous military action in the Balkans, I would say that the problem was that the people in the White House did not think as realists. They wanted to idealize the geographic space in order to want to take action.
Now here is the problem. Christiane made an interesting point. She said we should be able to manage this in the future in some way. Here's the problem with that. Managing it means an international goal, but international goals have historically only been realized through national self-interest of one form or another. At the same time that Bosnia was happening in 1992 and 1993, I was in the Caucuses, covering three other examples of wars where you could say ethnic cleansing -- Nagorno-Karabakh, south of Setia (ph), and Alpazea (ph), a million people made refugees, 110,000 people killed, mostly civilians, similar to Bosnia, though not exactly the same. So it's more complicated than just to say, no more Bosnias.
ISAACSON: Olara, you're with the United Nations. You also said that a lot of these times, these are civil wars, they happen within a country. To what extent do you think the international community has got to go in, violating the sovereignty perhaps of a country, and try to stop it the way Christiane says we should be able to do more readily.
OTUNNU: Effective prevention would involve key and critical action at the national level as well as at the international level.
ISAACSON: You mean bringing in international forces.
OTUNNU: It's important to socialize young people, to let them learn that the other person because they're a different color or different ethnic group, doesn't mean that they're qualitatively different from them. And this can be done through social policy within countries. It's very important to have genuine democratic practice. In the short term, this may appear aggravating -- ethnic and racial privileges -- but in the long term, this is the only way to regulate competition within society. Competition is perfectly natural. It doesn't have to lead to bloody conflict. But when you don't have a process, an institutional mechanism for regulating this - -like in New York city you do this competition -- you then have bloody conflict. And it's very important to address the economic-social factors, the factors of deprivation, the factors of exclusion, and this involved international actors who give, a, also involve national leaders.
ISAACSON: Well, what happens we're talking about a crisis situation, where you don't have time to nurture democracy and ethnic working together, whether it's Rwanda, or Bosnia or the Caucasus or whatever. You know, should the international community have to go in and stop something, like the secretary-general seems to be implying we should have done earlier, Srebrenica?
OTUNNU: Number one, this means that the real emphasis should be put at preventing, specific measures that can be made to prevent. Failing that, when a conflict begins to over, the international community should then be prepared to intervene.
GREENFIELD: I wonder, Lionel Tiger, as you hear these conversations, whether or not, from your perspective, from the nature more of a notion of who we are as human animals, whether a lot of this sounds to you like a little bit of dancing in the dark or whistling in the dark, that we're trying to find some mechanisms to stop what from somebody -- if it's not inevitable, it's going to be a recurring emergence of these types of hatreds and violence.
TIGER: An Irish ambassador to the United Nations once apparent said, "The most dangerous place in the world is under men's hats." And I think what he was saying was that the human capacity to symbolize is really quite dangerous. And so when Olara talks eloquently about trying to invite people into the same community, that's all very well. But at the same time as we do that, we also create communities. for example, called religions, which very often have as a source of commitment, the notion of either better status or better morality than another religion, and so we now find peculiar things happening, such as in Nazareth, where I believe the Muslims want to build a mosque right next to a Christian church, and it's a kind of terrible struggle about stones.
KAPLAN: Here's the problem with the international community: The international community runs on consensus, but in crisis situations, consensus can often be the handmaiden of evil, because it will often involve bold, ruthless executive leadership to take action beforehand. There was nothing about Bosnia, perhaps, that could not have been stopped without the angry wrath of Mrs. Thatcher's handbag, had she still been in power at that time.
GREENFIELD: Christiane -- I'd like to bring Christiane back in from London to address specifically the question that Lionel Tiger put on the table rather provocatively. Some of the conflicts you've covered seem to have as one of the root causes a difference of religion. To what extent do you see that put on the table as a way of demonizing differences, of saying it's not just those people are adversaries or opponents, but they are enemies because they believe in something fundamentally different?
AMANPOUR: Well obviously, he's right about that. I mean, we've just come from Northern Ireland, where after at least 30 years of the latest troubles, the two religions have decided to at least attempt to put their differences aside. But I guess, in the way I witnessed it and experienced it, the main problem with religious differences, obviously, is when one religion wants to tell another religion that it's superior, dominate, et cetera, leading to discrimination, and it's inevitably tied up in politics and inevitably tied up in people's, you know, past and humanity and all the rest of it.
But in Northern Ireland, for instance, with the help of Senator George Mitchell, they have just come to an accord that is the first chance they've ever had to have some kind of a normal life and normal power-sharing agreements, because they have tried, essentially, to get rid of the, sort of, hierarchical discrimination that was inevitable on the part of the Protestants, the ruling British government, et cetera.
But also Robert Kaplan is really right, too, when he says it's more complicated than to say no more Bosnias. And one of the main problems in trying to bring peace, trying to alleviate some of these terrible situations that we have over and over again in the world is, if I could use such a pedantic word, the follow-through. It's one thing to have a NATO operation to sort out Bosnia or Kosovo; it's another thing to sort of, in a sense, leave them up to their own devices once it's all over.
ISAACSON: Christiane, let me pick up on that by sort of tying the two things you said together, which is, in the former Yugoslavia, how much of the problem do you think is religious or how much do you think that that's just a, sort of, a patina that's been put on it.
AMANPOUR: Look, I'm sure I'll be terribly unpopular for saying that I think religion is an imposed reason for ethnic hatred. Because in my experience in Bosnia, Croatia and in Serbia and Montenegro and Kosovo. When you talk to ordinary people, they've lived together, you know? They've had neighbors together. They intermarry. I mean, this is not an artificially rosy picture that I'm painting, it's a truth. And while they've had many years of fighting in the past, they've also had many years of peace.
And, therefore, I think for the most part the majority of what happened in Yugoslavia was because of exploitation by unscrupulous and murderous regimes, with obviously the lion's share of the blame going on Serbia and Slobodan Milosevic.
TIGER: Most people have lived together for countless years and generations very well, thank you very much. And then suddenly something happens, there's a traffic accident. What do we do? Well, we have ambulances, we have a whole series of mechanisms. But the fact is if you have traffic, you will have accidents. And somehow, as an international community, as a caring species, we've not worked out either an efficient and rapid mechanism to deal with the accident -- we don't have a kind of 911 number that really works -- and at the same time it puts us in a kind of a quandary emotionally, because we know it's very hard to do good here and to do good there and to feel some sense of competence that we're still running our lives in a thoughtful manner.
GREENFIELD: When we come back, we'll be joined by former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, but first this word about Newseum New York.
GREENFIELD: Welcome back to our roundtable discussion of hate, conflict and war in the coming century.
ISAACSON: We're joined now by George Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader. For the past two years, he's worked to broker a peace in Northern Ireland, and I want to ask you about that.
When you went there, what did you think were going to be the real sources of conflict that were going to be hardest to overcome, and were you right about that? Did it turn out to be something different?
GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I had never before to Northern Ireland before I went in 1995, shortly after I left the Senate. I had a general impression of it as being primarily a religious conflict. I soon found that that was partially correct but incomplete. It was religious in origin, but it is now much more about national identity.
The majority, who are Protestant, wish to remain part of the United Kingdom and think of themselves as British, the minority wish to become a part of a united Ireland and think of themselves as Irish.
There's also an economic factor. On my first day there, I was told by both sides that there's a very high correlation between unemployment and violence, particularly in the urban area. No one should think that that makes this an economic conflict, because it's not, but there's very clear that where there is no hope, where there's despair, where there's no feeling of a sense of participation in the community, you have the ingredients for conflict and instability.
GREENFIELD: But when you dealt with these two sides -- you spent years in the United States Senate where differences were resolved in mostly a peaceful manner. How then to bridge this? I mean, if you're dealing with people who regard each other not as adversaries but as, in some sense, evil, how do you change it?
MITCHELL: Well, in the most recent experience, in the fall of 1999, I tried to get them to interact in a way that they could see each other not as adversaries but as fellow human beings. I had them take their meals together, and I asked them not to talk business, to talk about families. They all have children. It's a common denominator. They begin gradually to see each other in that context, fellow citizens of the same area trying to implement a peace agreement in very difficult political and personal circumstances -- huge risks for these political leaders, both personal and political.
Gradually -- they didn't come to completely trust each other, but they came to understand each other's problem enough to enable them to go forward. ISAACSON: Olara, you know, what lessons do we draw from what happened in Ireland to the type of conflicts you've been dealing with?
OTUNNU: What this means is that the demonization of the so- called "enemy community," one of the most prevalent features of today's conflict, can be done along any lines: religion, ethnicity, race, even class. The fact of today's world is that we live in a world and almost most countries in the world being very diverse, diverse to the fact of life, diverse along ethnic, religious lines. And the management of that diversity is the biggest challenge we face within countries, as well as across national boundaries.
KAPLAN: What I found in Bosnia in the former Yugoslavia in the late 1980s was almost exactly what Senator Mitchell found in Ireland. I wrote in 1989 that Yugoslavia would be to the 1990s what Afghanistan was to the '80s and what Vietnam was to the '60s and '70s, not because of ethnic conflict but because of the way ethnic conflict would chain react with high degree of unemployment and communist tyranny, where nobody had political responsibility except for the autocrat.
Now what we're going to see, though, is we're going to see, I think, so many international emergencies that the only way we are going to deal with the difficulty of major powers being forced to take action in places where they don't have an overriding strategic interest is slowly, organically, the formation of some form of international global constabulary force.
ISAACSON: Let me turn to Christiane for a moment in London, get her into this discussion but really throw it to you, Christiane, with this question of the notion of an international peacekeeping force or constable force, as Bob said, and whether or not after 400 years of an international system that's been based on national sovereignty and the respect for national borders we really want to go down the road where, if you talk about in Srebrenica and everything else, we're going to be intervening for humanitarian reasons.
AMANPOUR: Well, it seems that it's come to that. The secretary- general, Kofi Annan, has said that where the U.N. was created in '45 so that member states could, you know, prevent wars, you know, amongst member states. It's now somewhat different at the end of this century. For the first time, for instance, in Kosovo, you saw the first-ever intervention for human rights. And the concept now that individual rights are as sovereign as state rights and that when a regime or a government is murdering its own people, the rest of the civilized world has to do something about it.
And I don't know what the rest of my panelists think. I mean, to me that's quite heartening and that's progress. I think what's incredibly depressing and disheartening is the quality of leadership. I mean, obviously I can't paint a huge brush over the world, but if you look even in some of these emerging democracies, the Soviet Union, the rest of the former East European communist countries, I mean, it's just distressing how, you know, democracy is basically being hijacked to self-interest, massive corruption and all sorts of other things that lead to a dearth of hope. GREENFIELD: Senator Mitchell, one of the things this raises is -- and it's something Christiane referred to specifically, is the hijacking of democracy. I mean, we've seen over and over again the ability of demagogues, even in a "free system" to gain political support by demonizing the other, by appealing to popular madness at times, if you will. Is there -- as you look around the world -- some kind of concern you might have that the spreading of democracy may in fact ratchet up the level of distrust, even hatred, even murderous violence.
MITCHELL: Well, of course, democracy guarantees free choice, not good choice. Churchill once said democracy is the worst possible form of government, except for anything else human beings have tried. And you're quite right, and Christiane is quite right, there has been a tremendous problem with people thrown up by democratic elections and the importance of individual leadership.
Truman said men make history, not the other way around. That was in response to the Communist ideology of inexorable historical forces that operate despite the actions of individuals. In 1992, as Senate majority leader I led a delegation to visit the former Czechoslovakia and what was then the disintegrating Yugoslavia, and I have often thought since then how much different history would have been had Vladislav (ph) Havel been president of Yugoslavia instead of Czechoslovakia, because the Czechs and the Slovaks split, of course, without a single person losing their life, without a single shot fired in anger. Now the circumstance are quite different. But I think that's the case. I do believe that democracy in and of itself does not guarantee peace and political stability.
KAPLAN: Hitler and Mussolini both came to power democratically, and the inflation rates and the unemployment rates in Italy and Germany at the time were no worse than many of the unemployment rates and inflation rates and literacy rates in many scores of countries around the world today, where elections are being held and -- the problem with democracy is that it tends to emerge best when it emerges last, as a capstone to development, after you already have usable institutions manned by literate bureaucrats, when the big issues of a society, which ethic group if any controls what territory, when those big issues are settled, then you can have weak minority governments who can argue about relative...
ISAACSON: But, wait, wait, wait. You had that in Germany. You had that in Germany in the '30s, all that development you wanted.
KAPLAN: Yes, but you had a great depression, which wiped out everything else. That's why I think what we are going to see in the next 20 years is the emergence of hybrid regimes, not democracy, but...
OTUNNU: No, Bob, I disagree with you there.
KAPLAN: ... mixed regimes.
OTUNNU: I disagree with you. GREENFIELD: We have a lot of people on the table here, metaphorically speaking. Lionel has been the last one out, so I want to bring him in and we'll go around and let everybody...
OTUNNU: All right.
TIGER: You know, one of the interesting things that comes out here, and it lurks underneath the discussion, and Christiane is best, I think, at putting it up in our face, and that is some fear of human evil, because those people you mentioned, Mussolini and certainly Hitler were evil by any standard we can concoct. And there are people we can identify, and write on their T-shirt, evil. And what do we do with those people, and this is the kind of issue that we face, and in a way we may be seeing something like the remoralization of the world, not in traditional religious terms, but in terms of the issues you raise about women and children being assaulted and so on, in terms of good people and bad people. And then the question is how do we choose them, then the other question is who chooses, and then the final question, what to do. But we are really moving into a different planet as we turn to this new century.
MITCHELL: I just wanted to make the point that democracy does not guarantee good choice, but I think the sweep of human history makes clear that it provides the most likely good result, that it is the best system to achieve a good result, and that I don't want to suggest by saying it doesn't guarantee a good result that we ought to abandon it somewhere else. I want to make one other point. Talked about a lot of poor leaders. We Americans have no reason to be arrogant or complacent about that. A lot of very poor leaders have been elected in the United States.
GREENFIELD: But the consequences of that poor leadership has not been genocide. Isn't that the difference?
AMANPOUR: Well, appeasement of.
MITCHELL: But we had a very bloody Civil War in this country in which hundreds of thousands of men were killed in proportion much greater than our losses in any other war in our history.
GREENFIELD: I want to let Christiane exercise her indignation at my last statement, go ahead.
AMANPOUR: I said it promoted maybe not genocide, but the appeasement of genocide for years. I mean, it was the international community, the Security Council that decided that it wouldn't intervene in Rwanda and it wouldn't intervene in Bosnia until it was too late, and to this day, presidents, ministers, the secretary- general are going there and mea culpa, I'm sorry, I regret. Talk about bad leadership.
OTUNNU: Bad leadership can produce a genocide. It is the institutions, it is the processes that make even bad leadership lead to the damage that it can do to their society and that can only be brought about by building genuine democracy. All the people everywhere in the world have chosen then favor of this.
ISAACSON: Let me talk about another factor besides democracy that might help mediate conflict and lessen hatred. And I'll start with Bob by posing it to him. And that is the free flow of information, which seems to be the theme of the next century just as the growth of democracy was the theme of the 20th century. And you've traveled around in weird places, and we were talking at one point about how even in Kaskar (ph) on the Silk Road you can get on the Internet now, kids can get on the Internet and learn about people all over the world. What do you think the Internet and the digital revolution will do to lessen tribal ethnic and other types of hatred?
KAPLAN: People had a lot of optimism about the spread of knowledge after Gutenberg's Bible was invented, and it led indirectly to the religious wars 100 years later. All the good things the Internet is doing do not need to be belabored, Walter, but some of the bad things are is it putting a lot of undigested information into the hands of a lot of badly educated people. And one thing we've learned from history is that the evil people tend not to be uneducated men or highly educated men and women, but badly educated people, like Mussolini, Hitler, Mengistu (ph), Haili Maraem (ph) in Ethiopia.
So there are two problems I see with this information revolution in terms of politics: one is that it is putting -- it's just putting a lot of information into the hands of people and that information does not need to be used well. Information is value neutral. Hindu extremists used video cassettes to promote a kind of monochrome Hinduism in the early 1990s in India.
The other problem I find with the information revolution is it still yet, it's only for global elite and that global elite may exist in Kashkar (ph) with a few hundred people, it may exist in Tobelce (ph), the capital of Georgia, a few thousand people. It's everywhere. It's on the coast of Ghana, but it is still a small segment of population. So you have this kind of nuvelle (ph) cuisine global elite marching into the future with the Internet, and then you have other portions of the world which are left behind with soil depletion, water shortages, which -- all of which do not cause conflict, but they're aggravators.
TIGER: Of course, that comes back to the issue we discussed in the first part of this program, which is propensity. Essentially, look at information not as a source of communication, but as a megaphone or a microphone, and everyone's microphone has just gotten a lot louder.
CNN, for example, is the world's microphone, and we didn't have that before, and now you can put images on CNN, which radicalize anyone who watches, which is a hell of a lot of people. But that doesn't necessarily mean that -- the fact that something is on CNN that Christiane won't be stimulated to the same sense of despair about the leadership as she might have been 100 years ago when nobody had these images right in front of those faces. ISAACSON: Let me turn it to Christiane, though, because I remember about 10 years ago being in what was then Czechoslovakia, in Bradislava (ph), and CNN was the source of information and you are a symbol of that. And what would happen would be school kids would come wandering into the tourist hotel, which had CNN, so they could watch what was happening in Berlin and what was happening in Poland, and that spread of information seemed to me to be a tide that no government could resist.
AMANPOUR: Well, I think it's a really serious issue. I think on the one hand, CNN, the Internet, other, you know, outlets like this obviously democratize information, they provide information to more people than would otherwise have it, particularly in those places which have state-run media. On the other hand, I get more and more worried about what our real time news, what our 24-hour news cycle does to those who have to govern, and I'm not sure whether it always has a good effect on government. I'm not sure whether it is great that they feel forced now to react or not to react or whatever, but in response to the news cycle. I think that's a real sort of topic for exploration.
GREENFIELD: If I may, we are coming close to the end of our hour, and I wanted to just turn to Senator Mitchell on a basic question about this. You mentioned the importance of having the disputing factions in Northern Ireland sit down with each other. I think of South Africa when De Klerk and Mandela met each other -- it was a fairly rapid switch to a democracy after decades of minority rule. In the absence of personal contact, will all this information mean very much, or do you have to cut through that electronic data, or misinvetion, and actually get people face-to-face to begin to work on the divisions and hatreds we've been talking about?
In the absence of personal contact, will all this information mean very much? Or do you have to cut through all that electronic data and actually get people face to face to begin to work on the divisions and hatreds we've been talking about? MITCHELL: I can't generalize beyond my own experience, but it was essential in Northern Ireland. And I think that, Walter, you posed the question, would these improved forms of communications, notably television, be something governments could resist? In fact, governments have turned them to their advantage. They've provided governments with the ubiquitousness. And the power of television, for example, has enabled governments in Serbia, in China, in, even now, in Russia to enhance their power at the expense of their opponents by the control of television.
I want to make one other point about the United States, though. Larry hit on it. What has saved the United States from poor leaders was the widespread dispersal of power. No individual, no entity, no branch of government, no agency has ever been able to accumulate sufficient power in the United States. And that, I think, is why our democracy has survived poor leaders, whereas others have not.
GREENFIELD: You know, it occurs to me that this kind of conversation, even with the generosity of time CNN provides us, produces its own kind of frustration, because more and more notions come to the surface. And I would love to explore them, but it's going to have to be in another venue, because our time is up.
I really want to thank everyone for joining us here: my co-host, Walter Isaacson, Olara Otunnu, George Mitchell, Robert Kaplan, Lionel Tiger, thanks one and all. From London, Christiane Amanpour, thank you for joining us.
We go back now to the CNN Center and to more of CNN's coverage of millennium 2000.
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