The Twenty-Seventh Annual IRA C. EAKER
Distinguished Lecture on National Defense Policy
The Role of Military as an Instrument of Power in the 21st Century Conflict
Keynote Speaker: The Honorable James A. Baker, III
5 May 2005
First of all, our military must
MODERATOR: We are privileged to have as tonight's guest speaker the Honorable James Baker.
Mr. Baker was born in Houston, Texas, and graduated from Princeton University in 1952. After serving
two years in the Marine Corps, he graduated with honors from the University of Texas School of Law at
Austin in 1957 and practiced law with a private firm from 1957 to 1975. Mr. Baker then chose to dedicate his life to public service. He was the Under Secretary of
Commerce from 1975 to 1976, the campaign manager for
President Ford in 1976, the chairman of George Bush for President Campaign from 1979 to 1980, senior advisor to the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980, White House Chief of Staff of President Reagan from 1981 to
1985, Secretary of the Treasury and Chairman of the President's Economic Council from 1985 to 1988. He was also the Secretary of State for President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1992 and served as Senior
Counselor and White House Chief of Staff for
President Bush from 1992 to 1993.
Mr. Baker is presently a senior partner in the Law Firm of Baker Botts. He is Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker, III, Institute for Public Policy at Rice University and serves on the board of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. From 1997 to 2004, Mr. Baker served as a personal envoy of the United Nations
Secretary-General Kofi Annan to seek a political solution to the conflict over Western Sahara. In 2003, Mr. Baker was appointed Special Envoy for President George W. Bush on the issue of Iraqi debt.
Mr. Baker was born in Houston, Texas, in 1930. He and his wife, the former Susan Garrett,
currently reside in Houston and have eight children
and fifteen grandchildren. Please join me in welcoming Mr. Baker.
MR. BAKER: Thank you very much for that very generous introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, Iam truly honored to be here tonight to address you.
I want to begin with a confession, and the confessionis that I never intended to become involved in eitherpolitics or public service. I was an apolitical lawyer in Houston, Texas, for 18 years; and then,
through a series of coincidences, I ended up running President Ford's campaign for election against Governor Jimmy Carter of Georgia. I got bitten by the political bug. I went home to Texas in 1978, which at that time was a thoroughly democratic state. In fact, we had not collected a Republican statewide in Texas sincereconstruction, except for one; but I was bitten with
the political bug and I filed to run for statewide
office. And I never will forget one hot summerday I'm campaigning somewhere up in the panhandle of Texas. It's very hot. I'm riding along in the car.
I see some people at a shopping center, and I go over to give them some campaign literature. Bear in mind that I've gotten a lot of face time on national television, because I was the President of the United
States' campaign manager in a presidential election. And I see this fellow there. I walk over to him. I
stick out my hand to introduce myself; and before I
can say a word, this guy looks at me and he says, "Say, anybody ever tell you you look like Jim Baker?" Well, I looked back at him and I said, "Yes, often." He never batted an eyelash. He looked at me and he said, "Doesn't it piss you off." Well, that was the first clue I had that I might not win that race, and I didn't. And maybe
it's fortunate because had I won it, I might not have been able to do some of the things that Nick mentioned to you in his introduction. I'm really proud of some of the things I was able to do for this wonderful country of ours.
One of the things I'm most proud of is that I was able to serve in the United States military. But that was way back in the early 1950s; and as Nick
said in his introduction, the organization was called
the United States Marine Corps.
When I first became Secretary of State, my office told me that the current Commandant of the
Marine Corps had put in a request to come by and pay a courtesy call on the Secretary of State. I quickly said, yes, I would be honored by that; and a day or so later General Al Gray walks into my office with
four stars on each shoulder. Now, my highest rank in the Marine Corps has been captain. So I was really blown away to see the Commandant there, and he was in
his dress blues and he had these four stars on each shoulder. We had a brief but very nice visit. As he got up to leave, General Gray said to me, he said,
"Mr. Secretary, I have a gift of business cards for you. I opened the box. I looked at one of the
cards. It was on a camouflage background like that
used on Marine Corps combat uniforms; and there in the middle of the cards, in big capital letters, was
"James A. Baker, III." And in equally big capital letters was "United States Marine." And down at the
bottom in tiny, little letters that you could hardly
read, it said, "And Secretary of State." So for a marine, I guess General Gray had his priorities right. Now, let me tell you notwithstanding that
tour in the Marine Corps, I claim no expertise in military matters; and so I will in general avoid
discussion of anything having to do with the nitty-gritty of manpower or training or weapons technology or tactics. And what I want to do with you this evening and then, if we have time, I'd be delighted to try and respond to your questions. I'll
focus on the broad challenges confronting our armed
forces as we move into the 21st Century. Throughout these remarks, ladies and
gentlemen, I will be referring to the national security strategy, or SNS, issued by the White House in 2002. I do so not only because that strategy
embodies the official doctrine of the United States,
but also because it is remarkable for its insightful
treatment of the challenges confronting our nation today. If you haven't read it, I would urge you to take the time to glance at it, if you can't read it
in full, but preferably read it in full. It will be very much worth your time.
Let me begin with a simple premise. Two historic phenomena are shaping today's international
environment. The first of these is the unrivaled
preeminence of the United States in world affairs since the end of the Cold War, and the second is the threat posed to us by global terrorism. Together these two phenomena constitute what could be called,
I think, the paradox of American power. We are
stronger than ever before, but in many ways we are also more vulnerable than ever before.
Let me first talk a little bit about our
preeminence in world affairs. Since the demise of
the Soviet Union, which happened, as matter of fact,
on my watch, the time period that I served President
Reagan and President Bush; but since that time, we faced no global, military, or ideological rival. As he NSS puts it, "Today the United States enjoys a
position of unparalleled military strength and great economic and political influence." Our advantage over would-be adversaries is most striking, of
course, in the military arena. Indeed, the United
States military possesses what some observers have
called a quasi monopoly on the use of international
force. Certainly, no other country begins to matchour abilities to responsibly and effectively project
force across not only oceans, but continents. Our operations in toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan and
Saddam Hussein in Iraq are vivid demonstrations of
the decisive United States edge in the military
sphere. But our strengths, ladies and gentlemen,
are by no means limited to our military might. We
also happen to enjoy leadership in a broad range of
regional alliances and international institutions; alliances like NATO or our partnerships with Japan
and South Korea. These things give us both reach and
flexibility in our strategic options. Moreover, we
play leading roles in institutions such as the United Nations Security Council, the International Monetary
Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization.
While we cannot dictate policy to these
bodies, we do have an important and often deciding
voice in their decision-making. Indeed, I don't
think it's a stretch to say that in many ways the United States serves as the world's Chairman of the
Board. In addition, we are an economic giant. Our
gross domestic product represents roughly 25 percent of total global output. In recent years, moreover,
we have consistently out-performed our major
competitors in western Europe and Japan. In many ways our economy is the standard bearer of
contemporary capitalism marked by high levels of
innovation, high levels of entrepreneurship and jobcreation. And, finally, the collapse of communism
has left us without a truly global rival in the all
important struggle over ideas. Despite reverses, the long-term global trend is more and more toward representative
government and free markets. Even the Middle East, long the home to autocratic government and socialist
economic policy, is moving, however fitfully, toward
more open societies. Given these strengths, some have gone so far as to describe the current global
system as unipolar; that is to say, one centered on
the United States.
There are possible rivals to our
preeminence, but none, for a variety of reasons,
represents a short or medium-term challenge. The European Union, for instance, is still focused on
expansion and on integration. Despite great advances in coordination, it is far from possessing the singlevoice in foreign affairs that could make it the diplomatic equal of the United States. The sharp split within the EU over U.S. policy toward Iraq, for instance, is a compelling example of the distance Europe has to go before it can achieve a true common foreign policy. Moreover, the European Union possesses little capability of projecting significant military power beyond Europe itself. To date, its efforts to create an independent defense force have been extremely modest. Moreover, the major countries of
the European Union are aging rapidly, constraining
their long-run ability to deploy financial and human resources in support of an ambitious military
Russia, another potential rival, faces
its own difficulties. It is still a country recovering from decades of communist misrule.Despite important, if still incomplete reform, it
remains economically backward in comparison to the United States and the European Union. Its military
establishment, though still considerable, is a pale
shadow of the once mighty Red Army. Russia is still
able to project power in a number of countries of the former Soviet Union, the region that Moscow still
refers to as the near abroad; and it, of course,
still possesses a sizable strategic nuclear arsenal.
But in global terms, the Russian military represents no match for the United States. Japan,
too, is ill prepared to challenge U.S. preeminence.It is just beginning to emerge from a decade of
economic stagnation. Like western Europe, its population is aging very rapidly; and Japan must overcome both constitutional constraints and pacifist
public opinion if it is to assume a more assertive international role. Not least, any major Japanese
rearmament would undoubtedly prompt a sharp and
negative response from China; and so that brings to
Given its huge population, its robust economic performance, and traditional geopolitical
ambitions, China will be a power to reckon with for the balance of this century. Despite its authoritarian government, we must remember that China
is a country still very much in transition with
powerful forces moving it in a more open direction.We would be foolish to assume that conflict with
China is inevitable. For now at least, Beijing is
focused on an economic growth as the path to regional and global leadership. It understands that the country's integration into the global economy,
symbolized by its recent accession to the World
Trading Organization, has raised the stakes of any
conflict of it might have with the United States.
Much of the current investment in China,
for instance, comes from American companies like General Motors and Exon and IBM. Meanwhile, China
still lags far behind the United States militarily.
Talk of an inevitable conflict between the United States and China is, therefore, not only premature but counterproductive; because it plays directly into
the hands of the hard liners in Beijing. Now, I don't want to exaggerate the case for a unipolar world. U.S. power is not unlimited.
We are surely far from the empire, the term that some people have used to describe us, as witness the
international opposition to our invasion of Iraq. Loose talk of an American empire risks alienating
potential allies abroad and encouraging isolationism
and protectionism here at home. In any case, we have to be wary of strategic overreach, stretching our commitments beyond our ability to meet them. Despite
our preeminence, we must choose carefully where and
when and how we wish to engage in the international
Let me say a word or two now about the
second phenomena shaping the international landscape;
and that is the emergence of an international
terrorist threat against the United States, against
our allies, and against our values. This is a threat
made all the more acute by the potentially deadly combination of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. As the NSS rightly knows, "The gravest danger our nation faces lies at the crossroads of
radicalism and technology." Despite our immense
strength, the United States is vulnerable to terrorist attack. That, of course, was driven close
to home to us very forcefully and very tragically by the terrible events of September 11, 2001.
Addressing this vulnerability is not
going to be an easy task; because ours, after all, is
an open society. It is a traditional home to immigrants from around the world. We are also
increasingly integrated into the global economy with
huge amounts of two-way international trade and
travel occurring each and every day. Our military bases, diplomatic establishments, and private
citizens are spread around the globe offering a very
wide range of targets to would-be terrorists. And,
finally, our very preeminence in world affairs makes
us an enemy for those who see us, however wrongly, as the prime cause of all of their problems.
Let us make no mistake, my friends, the terrorists that are ranged against us are determined.
They are cunning and they are resilient. Their cause, radical, fundamentalist Islam, resonates with millions of Muslims around the world. Note that I
said radical fundamentalist Islam, because the vast majority of Muslims and people of the Islamic faith have no problem with us and we have no problem with
them. But the radicals will not hesitate to advance their deadly agenda; and, frankly, we sit squarely in
How is the United States to navigate this international landscape of unparalleled power at the
same time that we have unprecedented threat? We will surely need a coherent, consistent foreign policy
that harnesses our strength as a nation; that is, our diplomatic influence, our economic might, and our championship of democratic principles to protect our interests and to promote our values. But our military, too, will have an extraordinarily important
role to play. I would say that our military will
have the central role to play. Let me suggest just a few of the
challenges that I think the Air Force and our other armed services will confront in the years and the decades ahead.
assure the strategic defense of the United States of
America. This means the maintenance of a nuclear
force sufficient to deter any current or potential
enemy. While we should continue negotiations aimed at stemming proliferation and at reducing nuclear arsenals worldwide, we must also recognize that a flexible, state-of-the-art strategic deterrent remains a fundamental element of our national
defense. In addition, we need to move forward as
rapidly as we can with the development and deployment
of an anti-ballistic missile system that is capable of defending the United States from nuclear attack. But as we do, we have to be careful, I think, not to
let the perfect drive out the possible. Even a partial missile shield could save countless American lives in the event of an accidental launch or in the event of an attack by a rogue state or a terrorist
Second, our military must serve as a force for stability in critical regions around the world. Since World War II, our presence in western
Europe and northeast Asia has helped foster peace and
prosperity in regions that were once torn by
conflict. Our armed services can and should continue
this critical function. This is particularly true of
northeast Asia where our presence in South Korea and
Japan provides a deterrent to North Korean aggression and a disincentive to a regional arms race. The Middle East is clearly a region of
vital importance to the United States. In many ways our intervention in Iraq, from overthrowing the
regime of Saddam Hussein to fostering an Iraqi
democracy, can be seen as an effort to enhance
stability in a critical region with a long, long
history of conflict. Despite the success of the January 30 election in Iraq, I suspect that some
military presence is going to be required there for a number of years in the future. In any case, we will
need to maintain our various bases and pre-positioning arrangements in the Persian Gulf to insure that we will be able to act quickly and
decisively should our interest be threatened.
Third, our military should be prepared to
project force worldwide in support of the war on
terrorism. This support will include anything from
full-scale campaigns, such as the one that removed the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, to surgical
strikes and support for covert intelligence
operations. Given the threat that we face,
flexibility is going to be crucial. In the War on
Terrorism, one size does not fit all.
We must also be prepared to act
preemptively. Unlike states, terrorist groups do not respond to containment or deterrence. Given the risk
of weapons of mass destruction being used against us,
the United States may simply have no alternative but
to act first, preferably with allies, but if need be,
alone. As the NSS puts it, we must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today's adversaries. Today, as always, the surest
and best test of a great power is its ability to act
alone if its vital national interests require. In a
world where terrorists will not hesitate to use
weapons of mass destruction against our citizens,
that may -- may mean striking first.
Fourth, our military must be prepared to take on a range of non-traditional tasks. Clearly
the first priority of our armed services must be to defeat any and all adversaries in battle. But as the
campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrate, our military must also stand ready to execute a variety
of missions, including civil administration, public safety, and economic reconstruction. Obviously,
every effort should be made to shift these responsibilities as quickly and completely as
possible to local government, to international
agencies, or to civilian contractors. But our military must still be able to perform as a sort of
first responder providing services that traditionally
and rightfully fall under the purview of civilians.
One reason for this is the phenomenon
known as failed states, countries experiencing a
breakdown in public order, the collapse of even
rudimentary government functions, and sometimes civil war. Such failed states not only represent a human
tragedy for their citizens, but, on occasion, a
threat to regional stability or a breeding ground for
Afghanistan in the late 1990s is a clear
and sobering example of a failed state. So is the
Lebanon of the late 1970s and the 1980s. Much of our
efforts to date in Iraq in terms of institution building and economic reconstruction is aimed at
insuring that Iraq does not slip into factional conflicts and public disorder when the United States
and coalition forces eventually withdraw.
Fifth, our military must maintain a size and capacity to deter all possible rivals. Earlier
in these remarks I stressed that none of our
potential rivals represents a short to medium-term challenge to our global preeminence. In the longer term, however, other countries, individually and
especially in concert, will possess at least in
theory the economic, human, and technological means
to mount such a challenge to our preeminence. This is true even in the military arena, where today our
leadership is most decisive. One of the most
important roles of our defense establishment is to discourage any such military rivalry from immerging.
As the NSS states, "Our military establishment must
be" -- and I'm quoting now -- "strong enough to
dissuade potential adversaries from pursuing a military buildup in hopes of surpassing or equaling
the power of the United States."
Let me stress here that I do not believe
our very preeminence will inevitably lead to other powers joining together to limit our power. Such a
view, identified closely with the balance of power
theory of foreign policy, strikes me as taking an altogether too simplistic and mechanistic approach to
international relations. Our alliances in western
Europe and northeast Asia, for instance, may have been founded in a common fear of the Soviet threat,
but they grew over time into durable partnerships based on a complex web of institutional
relationships, economic interdependence, and shared
values.Today our relations with Russia and
China, though falling short of formal alliances, are also shaped by a series of common interests ranging
from fostering expanded trade to combatting
international terrorism. All of these constrain the
potential for strategic conflict, but we have to at
the same time be realistic. There are clearly those in China and Russia and even western Europe who resent our preeminent position in world affairs.We can do much to ease this resentment
through an adept diplomacy that focuses on common
interests and that stresses shared responsibilities, but we also need to signal unambiguously that we are
prepared to counter any effort to challenge us militarily. By raising the cost of military
competition to prohibitive levels, we can both
maximize the incentives for peaceful cooperation andat the same time minimize the prospect of a
destabilizing global arms race.
Ladies and gentlemen, I do not pretend
that these five challenges will be the only ones that
you, as part of the American military, will face in
the years and decades ahead. New threats will
immerge and new opportunities will arise; but these five do, I believe, provide a good framework as we work to insure that our military services will be
able to protect our interests at the same time that
they promote our values.Of one thing I am certain, however, and
that is that the women and men of our military
services will do any and every job that we ask of
them and they will do it superbly. In 1991, I had
the privilege of addressing the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing just a day or so before its pilots were to begin
the air campaign to eject Iraq from Kuwait. I have
rarely been so moved in my life, because there I was
in a hanger in Dharan, Saudi Arabia, talking to the
pilots of that tactical air wing; and I knew they were going to be in the first wave to start the first Gulf War. They did not know that. I knew it would
only be a matter of days. I have rarely been so
moved to see close up and personal the courage and
commitment of all of those brave young men and women
who were prepared to lay down their lives, if necessary, in the service of this great country. Today in Iraq and Afghanistan we see the same heroism demonstrated day in and day out by the
men and women of our Air Force, our Army, our Navy,
and our Marine Corps. As civilians, our task is to see that you and all of our military personnel
receive the resources you need to do your job, and
more importantly, the honor that you deserve as
defenders of our liberty.
Some of you will be graduating very
shortly. Please accept my heartfelt congratulations
and best wishes on what I hope will be a very
rewarding career in the United States Air Force; but
please, also, accept something else. And that
something else is my thanks and the thanks really of
all Americans; because as a nation, we owe you a debt of gratitude that we will never, ever, ever be able
to repay. God bless all of you, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Now, if we have time -- do we have time
for some Q and A? I guess we have 15 minutes or so
if anybody wants to fire some questions up here. Do
we have microphones out there? We do. There's a mike. Don't be bashful.
We can talk about politics. If you'd rather talk about foreign policy, we can talk about
QUESTION: Sir, I was wondering, with the large number of things we're dealing with
internationally and the growing threat we have of
overseeing our assets to the point where we might
have problems with the same things that past empires
have had, or super powers I should say --
MR. BAKER: I'm sorry. I'm having trouble hearing you up here. Could you speak a
QUESTION: Sir, I was wondering, with the growing threat of all the different issues that we're
involved with around the world, what do you feel is
the problem with our Air Force and Navy and the fact
that they're telling us that we're over our manpower
and we need to downsize? You had just spoken of how we need to maintain our military presence where it
is, and we can deter all the different things that
are going on in the world today.
MR. BAKER: I'm really not a sufficient expert to answer that for you. All I can tell you is: I believe the policymakers in Washington when
they tell me we're still fully capable of doing what
we need to do and that we have the resources and the manpower to do the job. I take that on faith. I
believe that's true. Maybe I didn't hear your
question properly. If I understood it, your question was: With all the things coming at us, do we have enough resources to do the job?
QUESTION: Yes, sir.
MR. BAKER: Secretary of Defense Don
Rumsfeld was asked that very question not long ago. So was General Richard Myers. They were unequivocal
about it. We do have. Are we stretched in Iraq? Yes, we are. We've still got, I guess, 125,000
forces on the ground there. I have to believe the policymakers when they're asked those questions in a
public forum and they say, yes, we're well equipped
to do it.
QUESTION: Sir, without questioning the
importance of the preemptive element of the NSS, do
you think that that could produce or stimulate WMD
proliferation in an accelerated manner; and if so, how we mitigate that danger?
MR. BAKER: Would it produce what?
QUESTION: Would that stimulate WMD
THE COURT: Would it stimulate the
proliferation of WMDs?
MR. BAKER: I don't think it would stimulate the proliferation of WMD. We've got a big
job on our hands right now fighting the proliferation
of WMD. The one issue with respect to the preemption
argument is: Hey, if we can preempt anytime we want,
why can't other countries preempt and wouldn't that
set off a lot of regional conflicts around the world?
If the United States can preempt, why couldn't the
Indians preempt Pakistan or vice versa?
My answer to that is, and I think this is what the NSS is talking about, is the preemption
doctrine applies when you're talking about the war on
global terror, not when you're talking about just a
conventional dispute between two countries that have been rivals for a long time. Now, that may not be a satisfactory
answer. I acknowledge that is the one question with
respect to preemption that comes to mind when you start talking about preemption. If it's good enough for us, why isn't it good enough for other countries?
I do not see it as promoting additional proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction. The countries that want to get those weapons are going to try and get
them anyway; and as you know, there's been some proliferation in the last ten years. We've seen two new nuclear powers, both Pakistan and India, very
dangerous area of the subcontinent. Those countries
have fought three or four wars against each other in 50 years and now they both have nukes. So who's to say they wouldn't at some point get so angry over Kashmir that something might happen. I've always felt, even when I was
Secretary of State, people would say, "Are you worried about a nuclear exchange?" I said, "I would
worry about it more with respect to that conflict
between India and Pakistan than any other." I worry
about it on the subcontinent. That's a long-winded
answer to your question.
QUESTION: Mr. Baker, it's a pleasure tohave you. I have a question regarding leadership.Given that you've probably met so many military and
foreign leaders in your experience, what differentiates and what makes our leadership style as
Americans unique from across the globe in your experience?
MR. BAKER: Well, the fact that we have
the principles and values and the ideas that we
embrace put us in a position, I think, to exercise
leadership. We've been fortunate during the
200 years of our existence to attract good leaders
for the most part, and I think that one other thing contributes.
Whether they admit it or not, most
countries will -- most countries understand and
believe that we're not -- when we're engaged internationally, we serve as the force for peace and
stability around the world generally speaking and that we're not looking for anybody's turf. We're not
trying to get into anybody's sandbox. We're not --
if we go and fight a war somewhere, we generally do it to produce peace and stability within that region
or for that country and then we leave. We don't stay anywhere where we're not wanted.
I'll give you an anecdote that, I think, will demonstrate what I'm saying. For years we've
had a defense treaty with the Philippines. When I was Secretary of State right after the Berlin Wall
fell, the Philippine government asked us to leaveSubic Bay; and we left because we don't want to be
anywhere where we're not wanted. About six months later, China went out in the South China Sea and planted a flag on one of the Spratly Islands which was claimed by the Philippines; and the Philippine leadership called me up and said, "Hey, we got a
defense treaty with you. What are you going to do
about this?" And the answer was: What do you think we're going to do about it? Nothing, because you
have deprived us of the bases and the assets that we
would need in order to do something about it. But
generally speaking people know we're not in it for
self-aggrandizement or territorial conflicts.
QUESTION: Sir, do you think that
humanitarian wars are sufficient justification for unilateral intervention on the part of the U.S.; and
in light of that, do you think that multilateral
intervention is a prerequisite for future wars?
QUESTION: Those are both good questions, and they open up a wide range of issues. This
business of multilateral versus unilateral is really
a false choice. You're always better off if you've
got people that you can count on on both sides of
you. Multilateralism for the sake of multilateralism
doesn't mean anything to me; but if you can corral
some like-minded countries and they'll get in there and contribute with you, as we were able to do in the
first Gulf War when we built that coalition to eject
Iraq out of Kuwait, we had all but about five in the world supporting us. So nobody could accuse us of
this being a cowboy U.S. action type deal. The whole
world was kicking Iraq out of Kuwait.
On the other hand, as I said in my remarks, the surest and best test of a great power is
the ability to act unilaterally if your vital interests depend on it. So multilateralism is great
if you can get it done. If you can persuade other
countries to come in there and do it with you, that's much better.President Bush in that last Iraq war
tried very hard to get the UN Security Council resolution. In fact, he got one fifteen-to-one vote.
And then to help Tony Blair, he went back to try and
get a second resolution and was unable to get it.
That's where most of the contretemps started about
our operation, our current in Iraq. But you're always better if you can do it
multilaterally, but you're not going to assign U.S. national interests to a body of other countries and
let them decide. You're not going to let some small
nation be the deciding vote in whether we do or do not take action that we think is important in our
national interest. So much for multilateralism and
With respect to wars on principal, wars
to stop genocide, wars that really do not have a real
politic basis or a national interest basis, they're
wars on principles and values. When you formulate and implement foreign policy for the United States,
whether you're sitting at the Defense Department or
State Department or wherever you are, you have to
look at two things; principles and values that made
this country the great nation that we are, which,
again, gets back to the leadership question that was
asked earlier, and national interest. Principles and
values, national interest.
You generally have to have a combination of both in order to sustain a foreign policy; because
in order to sustain a foreign policy, you must have the support of the domestic policy. Domestic
political support is necessary if you're going to
sustain a foreign policy; and if you fought too many
wars just on principles and values and body bags
started coming home in large numbers, you would not
be able to sustain the policy because you would not
be able to show a national interest. When we kicked Iraq out of Kuwait in the
first Gulf War, we had both. We had principles and
values, reversing unprovoked aggression by a big country against a small one where they occupied it
and brutalized the population, and we had national interest where it was very much in our national
interest to see to it that Saddam Hussein wasn't in
the position to get his hands on all the energy
reserves of the Persian Gulf. So you need both.
It would be very nice and in an
idealistic world, it would be wonderful if we could
formulate foreign security policy according to the principles of Mother Teresa; because those are principles for the most part that we hold dear in the United States of America. But you can't do that
because you won't be able to keep the support of the
American body politics. It's both; principles and
values and national interest.
One more question.
QUESTION: Having been involved in both the political side of things extensively and also understanding the military, I was curious to hear
your perspective on military diplomacy and how the
political and military aspects have influenced,
especially in the areas of the world that are very --
MR. BAKER: I'm really having trouble
hearing you. Come on down here. This is a big hall.
QUESTION: I was interested in your
perspective on military diplomacy and the role that
the military and politics play in influencing various
parts of the world and then how we can be prepared as officers to be effective in the cross-cultural
environment. What's the most important thing there
MR. BAKER: Well, you're going to be
military officers upon graduation; so you will not be
able, immediately at least, to have the experience that I had working in politics. I also had the
experience of being an attorney for 20 years before I
ever went into politics. I was involved in
negotiations and conflict resolution and that sort of
thing. Both of those experiences served me very
well, but you can take political science courses and
you can learn the political aspects of strategic doctrine. You can learn the political aspects of how
decisions are made that will affect you as military
officers. So I think that's probably the best way.
Then you can go to maybe -- I don't know
the degree or extent to which this is available to you. You can go to war colleges and take courses and
that sort of thing. So I was fortunate because I had
the legal career before I ever got into politics.
Then I had the legal career. So when I got to
Washington, I knew that you always had to have political support for a policy or you couldn't
sustain the policy. That's the best answer I can
Thank you all very much for having me
here this evening.
MODERATOR: Mr. Baker, sir, we'd like to thank you for your words and knowledge and your
insight into the global environment that we ourselves will soon be entering. As a token of the Cadet
Wing's appreciation and gratitude, we'd like to
present you with the Bird.