George W. Bush photo

Remarks by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on the Middle East and Freedom Agenda

November 28, 2007

Johns Hopkins University
Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

MR. HADLEY: Thank you, Jessica. I want to just frame a little bit what we're going to try and do tonight. As you know, an international conference on the Middle East was held in Annapolis yesterday. At that meeting, Israelis and Palestinians -- with the support of their Arab neighbors and the international community -- launched negotiations for the establishment of a Palestinian state and for a broader peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Success in these negotiations will contribute to the ultimate goal of a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Arabs.

In light of this development, I thought that it would be timely to address four questions this evening:

First, why do we believe that there is an opportunity to achieve a Middle East peace at this particular time?

Second, why is it important to seize that opportunity?

Third, how do we -- how did we get to this moment of opportunity?

And finally, how is Annapolis linked to the President's broader agenda of promoting freedom in the Middle East and beyond?

First let me say what a pleasure it is to be with you here tonight. I want to thank Dean Jessica Einhorn for her introduction. She's had a distinguished public career, is now leading this fine institution, and as she indicated, has been a longtime friend of our family's.

I want to acknowledge Dean Paul Wolfowitz, who I think is not with us tonight -- again, someone who I've worked -- had the privilege of working with for three decades, and has made enormous contributions to the security of this country. I also want to acknowledge Professor Ted Baker, someone I had the privilege of working with at the Pentagon during his Navy career and who left that career and has made such a great contribution to this institution.

And finally, to Professor John McGlaughlin, who -- career intelligence officer who I had the privilege of serving with when he was deputy director of Central Intelligence, and a wonderful friend.

I want to also thank the Rostov family for the endowment of this lecture series and giving opportunity for people such as me to sit down with this community and try and explain where we're going, and get your questions and comments. And I'd also like to say thank you for all the students, alumni, faculty and staff who have joined us here this evening.

There are three reasons why we believe there is an opportunity to achieve a Middle East peace at this time. First, there has been a dramatic change in the Israeli assessment of their strategic position and their long-term interests.

Key segments of the Israeli public have given up the aspiration for a "Greater Israel," and no longer wish to retain control over the West Bank and populate it with Israeli settlers. They've recognized that this approach -- combined with current demographic trends -- would threaten the Jewish character of the state of Israel.

A much larger portion of the Israeli public, who once opposed the establishment of a Palestinian state, have begun to embrace the idea. They have come to understand that the establishment of a free and democratic Palestinian state as a homeland for the Palestinian people can advance international recognition and acceptance of a free and democratic Israel as a homeland for the Jewish people.

And a growing number of Israelis understand that a Palestinian state supported by its people and the will and capability to maintain peace within its borders will advance Israel's own security against terrorist attack.

There's also been a change in the Palestinian community. President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad are Palestinian leaders whose first priority is bettering the lives of the Palestinian people. They've committed themselves to building the institutions of an independent, democratic, and viable Palestinian state that can provide dignity and hope to their people. They have rejected the terrorist violence that has made victims of so many Palestinians and Israelis.

They are committed to establishing a Palestinian state -- and they understand that it cannot be achieved through terror. They want to negotiate with Israel for the creation of that state and to live side by side in peace and security with Israel. As President Abbas said yesterday at Annapolis: "He who says that making peace between Palestinians and Israelis is impossible wants only to prolong the duration of the conflict." Clearly, President Abbas does not.

Third, the Arab states have been engaged. While giving rhetorical support to the Palestinian cause, Arab states, until recently, have not made the major investment required to build the institutions of a free and independent Palestinian state. Arab states now are increasingly seeing it as in their interest to put the Israeli-Palestinian issue behind them and to focus instead on the pressing security challenges confronting the region.

The night before the conference yesterday there was a dinner at the State Department and I had the privilege of sitting next to the Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud. And I turned to him and thanked him for being there, and I said to him, you know, I know it must have been a very difficult decision. And he said, "Actually, it was a very easy decision," because he said, "there is now a consensus in the Arab world that it is the time for peace."

A reflection of this new attitude is the reaffirmation this year of the Arab Peace Initiative, first proposed by then-Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia over four years ago -- and the decision taken by the Arab states at the Arab League meeting last week to attend Annapolis meeting en masse.

It is important to seize now the opportunity presented by these developments. Key leaders of Israel and the Palestinians have their own reasons -- have come to the conclusion that it is in their interest to launch negotiations.

I don't know if you had an opportunity to hear the speeches at the meeting yesterday. I think President Abbas made this clear. I was struck by Prime Minister Olmert's statement, where he said very emphatically, the people of Israel want peace, and they want it now.

Having decided to pursue negotiations, it is critical that they not fail. If the effort to establish a Palestinian state through negotiations is abandoned, it will appear to vindicate those who preach violence and practice terror. It will almost ensure that the next generation of leaders of the Palestinian people will come from Hamas or other terrorist groups. This would represent a clear and present danger to Israelis, to responsible Palestinians, and to their Arab neighbors.

We've reached this moment of opportunity in the Middle East for many reasons. But among them are the policies that President Bush has pursued over the last six years. First, the President identified terrorism as the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East. Terror and violent extremism threaten the Palestinian people, the Israeli people, and the hopes of many nations for peace in the Middle East. So fighting terror, and discrediting the apologists for terror, has been at the center of the President's approach to Middle East peace.

The President has sought to discredit violence against innocents as a means to pursue political objectives. Those of us who lived through the '60s can remember the justifications made of national liberation, or national struggle, that were used to justify the use of violence for political causes. We have come a long way since then, and the President has led the case, strongly arguing that violence against innocents is never justified by any cause. He made the connection between Hamas, Hezbollah, and al Qaeda as different faces of the same evil: a radical ideology seeking to impose its worldview throughout the Middle East and beyond. And the President has largely won the argument.

He has further demonstrated his commitment to fight and discredit terror in refusing to deal with Yassir Arafat early on in the President's first term. The world was shocked by this decision. But the President saw Arafat as a failed leader who was complicit in terror and who did not deliver for his people. The President called for a new Palestinian leadership -- one that put the interests of the Palestinian people first and understood that violence and terror compromised those interests.

As he said in his Rose Garden speech in the summer of 2002 -- and I quote: "Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And the United States will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure."

Four years later, the Palestinian people now have leaders in President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad who understand that terror is the enemy of the Palestinian people and their hopes for a Palestinian state.

The President also made clear that defending itself against terror is the right of every state. He firmly supported Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's efforts to protect the Israeli people from terrorist attacks. By supporting their efforts to fight terror, the President gave Israelis the confidence to take bold steps toward peace.

Much of the world condemned Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's plan to disengage from Gaza, but the President understood the real significance of that move. He saw that when the father of the Israeli settlement movement peacefully removed settlements from Gaza, that marked the effective end of the dream of "Greater Israel." President Bush believed that such courage deserved America's support -- and he gave it.

The President also helped create the context for success at Annapolis by making the aspirations of the Palestinian people his own. President Bush was the first U.S. President to call for the creation of a Palestinian state. Not just any state -- but a state worthy of the Palestinian people and their aspirations for their children: a free, independent Palestinian democracy.

The President recognized that such a state requires effective democratic institutions. Building such institutions takes time and requires resources. So the President has focused American aid to the Palestinian people on institution building --and urged the international community to do likewise. Next year alone, the United States will provide more than half a billion dollars to the Palestinians to help them build the institutions and security forces of their future state. General Keith Dayton of the United States Army is on the ground to assist in that effort. Many other nations have also stepped forward with significant commitments. And Quartet Representative Tony Blair will help generate additional aid for the Palestinian people at a Donors Conference held next month in Paris.

The President believes in Palestinian democracy on principle -- yet he also believes that a Palestinian democracy represents the only practical way to move forward toward peace. With effective political institutions, a new Palestinian state has the best chance to develop in a manner that the Palestinian people deserve and expect. And with effective security institutions, a Palestinian state will become the kind of neighbor that Israelis can envision as a partner, and next to whom they can feel secure and at peace.

As part of his commitment to Palestinian democracy, the President supported Palestinian elections. The President believes that the Palestinian people -- like all people -- have the right to choose their leaders. He also believes that only a leader elected by the Palestinian people will have the legitimacy and authority to negotiate with Israel on their behalf.

In 2005, the wisdom of the President's support for Palestinian democracy appeared self-evident. Mahmoud Abbas was elected President on a platform of peace, opposition to terror, improvements in the lives of the Palestinian people, and creation of a Palestinian state through negotiations with Israel. President Abbas won a mandate for this platform, and we believe that mandate still stands.

In the parliamentary elections in 2006, candidates affiliated with the terrorist group Hamas won. The election campaign focused primarily on internal governance -- as Hamas candidates generally ran in opposition to corruption and a legacy of misrule. They promised more effective and accountable government for the Palestinian people. And to the credit of the Palestinian people, the elections were conducted openly and fairly. The international community called on Hamas's leaders to honor previous agreements of the Palestinian Authority, reject terror, and recognize the existence of the state of Israel. They refused. In June of this year, Hamas terrorists staged a coup d'etat in Gaza -- overthrowing legitimate government institutions, killing those who stood up to their gunmen, and bringing violence, want, and despair to millions of Palestinians.

The undemocratic actions of Hamas have been a major setback for the Palestinian people. Yet these same actions make clear to the Palestinian people the two alternatives before them. On the one hand is the vision offered by Hamas of chaos and misery, perpetual war with Israel, and isolation from their neighbors and the international community. On the other hand is the vision offered by President Abbas: a vision of peace, dignity, and opportunity for the Palestinian people.

A peace agreement negotiated with Israel would help make the vision offered by President Abbas much more tangible. It would give moderates in Gaza something specific to support, and it would isolate and marginalize Palestinian extremists. We can be confident that, when given the choice, the people of Gaza will choose the vision that allows them to exercise their sovereignty, reject violence, and join their fellow Palestinians in the West Bank who are building a positive future for all Palestinians. When they do so, Palestinian historians will look back on the 2006 parliamentary elections as a Pyrrhic victory for Hamas, and merely a stumble, rather than a fall, for Palestinian democracy.

The President also helped create the context for success at Annapolis by encouraging key regional states to give greater support to the peace negotiations. The President recognized that Middle East peace enjoys broad support within the international community -- yet that broad support is not enough. For their negotiations to be successful, the Israelis and Palestinians need engagement and proactive support from their neighbors, including Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia.

The President has delivered this message at major summits, including at Aqaba in 2003 -- but he does the vast majority of his diplomatic work privately, in bilateral meetings and phone calls with regional leaders. Over the past six years, he has made the case time and time again that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of the Arab states, that violent extremism is the biggest threat to regional security, and that a free and democratic Palestine at peace with Israel would be a grave blow to the terrorists' cause.

Key states in the Middle East can support the Palestinians and the Israelis in two ways: financial support for building the institutions of a Palestinian state and for approving [sic] the lives of the Palestinian people, and diplomatic support to support both parties as they make the hard choices necessary for peace. For President Abbas, diplomatic support from Arab states further isolates Hamas, and will allow him to negotiate with the Arab states firmly behind him. For Prime Minister Olmert, diplomatic support from Arab states will allow him to deliver a broader peace to the Israeli people: a reconciliation not only with the Palestinian people, but with their many Arab neighbors, as well.

Fourth, the President helped create the context for success at Annapolis by refusing to impose an American solution. President Bush believes that only Israelis and Palestinians meeting together can resolve their differences -- only they can negotiate an agreement that both their peoples can accept. The President will not force a resolution of differences, nor impose a peace plan with his name on it. What the President will do is use his relationships with the parties to help them build the confidence necessary to make the hard choices for peace.

He made clear to both parties that he is only a phone call away. And when desired by the parties, the President will facilitate solutions to hard problems. He will continue to offer his full support to Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas -- and urge other nations to do the same.

Success in establishing an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state -- and an Israeli-Palestinian peace -- will represent a crucial advance in promoting freedom in the Middle East and beyond. The President believes in the Freedom Agenda because he believes that freedom is the right of every person. As he said many times, freedom is not America's gift to the world; it is God's gift to every person in the world. The United States promotes freedom because it is right to do so, and because it is a part of our heritage as a nation.

The Freedom Agenda is visionary, but it is not new. Freedom was the basis of our founding as a nation, and promoting freedom has been pursued more or less -- with more or less emphasis by every U.S. administration and every generation of Americans. Promoting freedom means supporting the rights of all people to choose their leaders and enjoy basic civil liberties. This requires free and fair elections -- and democracy's parallel institutions such as a free press, freedom of association, and an independent judiciary. Elections are not sufficient, in and of themselves, to transition a nation to a free and democratic political system. But elections can clarify choices and point the way forward -- and thereby accelerate the establishment of other democratic institutions. For history teaches us that tyrannies are rarely the midwives of democratic institutions.

Promoting freedom emphatically does not mean imposing freedom. People must struggle for and win their own freedom. Democratic reform comes at its own pace and in its own time. And when it comes, the free institutions of a free people will reflect their unique historical and cultural experience.

Yet for much of the last century the Freedom Agenda seemed to inform U.S. policy in every region of the world except the Middle East. The results were tragic. Tyranny and oppression fueled resentment, and violent extremists, including al Qaeda, exploited that resentment. There can no longer be, in this 21st century, a "Middle East exception" to the progress of democracy in the 20th century.

We do not know where the negotiations begun at Annapolis will lead. But if they are successful, the result will not only be peace, but an expansion of freedom in a part of the world that has known very little of it. And if freedom can be established in a Palestinian state, it will be a major inspiration and example for other people throughout the Middle East and beyond.

I want to thank all the students who are with us here tonight who -- and I want to thank you for studying international affairs. I strongly encourage you to consider a career in public service. For those of you who have other callings, I would have one piece of advice. Do other things -- the private sector can be a very rich and rewarding career -- but save some time for public service. The nation needs your gifts, and I can tell you that representing your nation is one of the most satisfying things you can do in your professional life. And I hope that you will inherit -- and continue to build -- a world growing in freedom, prosperity and peace.

And with that, I'd be happy to take your questions. Thanks very much. (Applause.)

DEAN EINHORN: Thank you very much for a tremendously thoughtful and encompassing statement of Middle East policy in the context of American foreign policy.

Well, we're very fortunate, Mr. Hadley has agreed to stay on for some questions. We'd like to reserve this time, if you'll help us, for our students and our other invited guests. And we would invite them to put up their hands to ask questions. We ask that when Mr. Hadley calls upon you, you introduce yourself, with any affiliation that you'd like to add -- first year class, second year class, doctoral students, alum, or anything like that. And I would ask, since many of you may have several questions in your head, that you try and sort through them and ask one, briefly, so that other people can speak.

And the floor is yours, Mr. Hadley.

Q: I was wondering if you could comment on the Syrian and Israeli negotiations, if they were able to negotiate anything about the Golan Heights, and what the status of that is.

MR. HADLEY: The meeting yesterday was really not a negotiating session. And I think it will be interesting to see what the Israelis decide to do on that issue. One of the problems with Syria, at this point, is that it is pursuing a set of policies that really are very inconsistent with the spirit that you saw on display at Annapolis yesterday. What you saw on display was Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab states turning away from terror. And as you know, Syria is one of the state sponsors of terror, supporting Hezbollah and Hamas.

They have played and continue to play a very unconstructive role in Lebanon. As Lebanon goes through a very challenging time of electing a new President, they have been subjected to considerable pressure from the Syrians. And we have said very clearly Lebanon is for the Lebanese people, and the Lebanese people need the right through their own democratic processes to come forward, elect a President and move on.

So there are a series of policies that Syria has pursued that have raised questions, and not the least of which is the role they have played in facilitating, or at least permitting the movement of suicide bombers across Syria into Iraq, which have killed Iraqis, coalition, and Americans.

So I think for Syria, there is a fundamental choice. There is a new wind in the Middle East. There is a real opportunity for peace, and are they going to be the outlier, or are they going to make a strategic decision, give up their support for terror, let Lebanon alone, support a new Iraqi government rather than obstruct it and undermine it, and make a decision for peace? If they do, I think there are opportunities for them on the Golan Heights. If they don't, I don't see how they can be part of this process. The door is open to them -- that was made very clear yesterday. But they have a strategic decision to make.

Q: I have a question; why would the surrounding Arab states continue to support a democratic Palestinian state or a democratic Iraq, for that matter, when they themselves are not democratic and their own people might see it as a means for them to rise up and overthrow these governments, because things will be so successful in these other areas?

MR. HADLEY: It's a very good question, and -- (laughter) -- it's one that I've had some very interesting conversations with some of the representatives of some of the Arab states you've mentioned, calling on them to be champions of a Lebanese democracy, an Iraqi democracy.

I think the point is that a number of those countries are moving on a democratic journey. Are they moving as fast as we would like? Are they moving as fast as their people would like? I think the answer, in many cases, is no. But what we can ask of them is to start on that journey, recognizing they come from very different places, with very different histories, with very different cultures and traditions. And the President has been consistently encouraging countries to move forward in democracy. Why? Because his belief is that stable governments and strong governments are governments that have the support of their people. And the most enduring way of getting the support of your people is to stand for elections, be elected, and be empowered by their mandate.

And so if you're looking for a more stable, secure, prosperous Middle East, a Middle East that is not, through its exclusions of people, encouraging the kind of despair that has resulted in 9/11, you want countries to move toward democracy and freedom, and elections and all those things that come with it.

This has been a consistent message that we have sent, and we think that if we can succeed, if the Iraqi people can succeed and show that democracy works, and bring all the benefits I described, it will be a very interesting message to the Arab states in the region. It will be a very interesting message to the people of Iran, who, after all, have a struggling democracy on Iraq on one side, and a struggling democracy on Afghanistan on another.

And I've always wondered what Iranian people from time to time think. You know, in the last set of elections on both countries, Iranians -- Afghan citizens and Iraqi citizens in Iran were able to vote in the elections of their own countries. Now, what were the Iranians thinking -- why them, not me? Sure, the Iranians have elections, they go to the polls, but we all know that the candidates list are fixed by the government, as generally the outcome.

And I think the question is, if you believe like the President that we have to end the Middle East exception to the progress of freedom and democracy in the 20th century, and we need to do that not only for the welfare of the people in the Middle East, but also for the stability and freedom from terror that the rest of us want to enjoy, then you have to hope that these experiments will succeed. And if you take a struggling Lebanon that becomes a successful Lebanon, a successful Iraq, a successful Afghanistan, and a successful Palestine making the transition to a democracy, that is going to change the Middle East forever.

Q: You started out with four questions, apropos of Passover. And I would ask, why is this peace conference different than any other? Suppose it isn't, and the reputation of the United States becomes more eroded, in fact we lose any modicum of a sense of world power in that area, what will happen then? What happens at the end?

MR. HADLEY: A number of people have criticized the administration, saying that it has not been engaged in the Middle East for six and a half years. And I've tried to describe to you how we thought in those six and a half years, and the President thought he was laying the foundation for the opportunity that we have now. Why are we taking that opportunity? Because we think the fruits of those efforts, and a lot of other things, have changed the situation in the Middle East. As I described, Israel's attitude toward its future is different, and they have, first in Prime Minister Sharon and now in Prime Minister Olmert, someone who said the Israeli people want peace, and I'm prepared to negotiate a Palestinian state.

We have the change in the Palestinian leadership. I described one that recognizes that terror is not the right -- the route to a Palestinian state, is, in fact, a barrier to a Palestinian state. You have countries in the region, the Arab states, now recognizing, really in a way they had not before, that it is in their interest to be supportive of this process.

I can't tell you how remarkable it was in the dinner night before last, and then yesterday in the meeting in Annapolis, to see an Israeli Prime Minister with the Israeli flag in front of him in a large table with all the Arab countries, save one, sitting next to their flags, and all of them, save one, applauding at the end of Prime Minister Olmert's speech. We have not seen that. And as you know, in the last effort at peace, the Arab states were largely on the sidelines. This is an opportunity to put them at the center.

So we think the chances are better, and the chances are worth taking. But more to the point, the parties have decided that the chances are worth taking, and they have come forward and they have said they want to try and do this, and they want to try and do this while this President is still in office. That is their aspiration, not one imposed by us.

Risks of failure: Last time we tried this, it failed; a very good, good-faith effort failed, and we got intifada and horrible suffering for Palestinians and Israelis. There is a risk. The problem is, there is also a risk for doing nothing. And I think Palestinians and Israelis and the Arab states do not believe that the current situation is stable, that it can stay like this.

And I have been -- very clearly what I said -- I think we finally have a set of leaders in Fayyad and Abbas who are democratic leaders, motivated by what's good for their country, turning their back on terror, willing to negotiate with Israel. It seems to me -- it seems to us that that is a chance we cannot pass up, because if we do, and there is not the prospect for a state and not the building of these institutions we talked about, they will not last. And what will come behind them will look more like the leaders of Gaza than these leaders today.

So are there risks for going forward? Sure. There are risks for staying where we are and passing up this opportunity. Tough judgment -- it's the one the President has made.


Q: Good evening. On such a complicated issue, there is many things I would like to address, and they're in my head. One, for example, would be the absence of Hamas from negotiations table, and how this could potentially limit the effect of a agreement that is reached. But my question has to deal with the constitution of the Palestinian state, the confirmation of the Palestinian state, and it relates to a problem that persists ever since 1948 and the first battle, which was to actually take control of the borders between the territories that had been assigned in the United Nations plan.

Now, Israel has been very successful in taking control of the areas between its -- I could say little squares of territory that were given in the plan, whereas Palestinian, of course, has not succeeded in doing so. And today, we see a state or some Palestinian areas -- the Gaza strip -- totally separated from the West Bank, and then, maybe, part of Jerusalem. When in history have we have a state, a real state, democratic, secure, existing in such situation? And so my question is: The negotiations have just started and so we'll see what happens, but how do you see the Palestinian state in the future? How will it survive? Thank you.

MR. HADLEY: We have said very clearly that the Palestinian state has to be viable, and that says something about political institutions, economy, security, borders and territory. We are looking for a two-state solution, not a three-state solution. This is not Israel, West Bank, and Gaza. What matters is it's not just our view, it is the Palestinian view.

So how do you get from here to there, given the role of Hamas in Gaza? And it is what I tried to describe in my remarks. The Palestinians in Gaza are going to have to make a choice: Do they want to stay with the leadership in Gaza -- which I think by any measure has not been doing what the people there want, in terms of a better life and stability and security -- or are they are going to go with the kind of institutions and services that President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad are trying to build and provide on the West Bank? They will have that choice.

And the President feels very strongly that the beauty about elections is it forces choice and maps a way forward. And I think his belief is -- and I believe it is also the belief of the Palestinians -- that if they can show the prospect for a state, beginning on the West Bank, if the international community will help build the institutions of a successful Palestinian state, if Israel and the Palestinian can negotiation that, there will come a time for the people of Gaza to choose, in some future election or otherwise. And they will have the choice to stay in the life in Gaza, or to become part of the Palestinian state that Abbas and Fayyad will be building.

And one thing we know from history is that where people have been given a real right to choose, uncoerced by fear, they vote for freedom every time. We saw that in Eastern Europe, when it was clear that Soviet tanks were not going to preserve the Soviet Empire. We saw it in Iraq; we saw it in Afghanistan, a very primitive place where women who spent of their lives in a compound, nonetheless turned out to vote.

So I think there will come a time for choosing for the people of Gaza. And if we can build what we all hope to build on the West Bank, I believe, the President believes, and the Palestinian leadership believes, they will choose freedom. And we will have a two-state solution -- West Bank and Gaza. One of the issues that will have to be negotiated is, what is the connection between those areas? And what is the connection that ensures contiguity in some way between Gaza and the West Bank, without separating northern Israel from southern Israel? Because there is a contiguity the Palestinians want, there is a contiguity that the Israelis want.

Is this going to be a difficult issue? You bet. But is there now an opportunity to try and address these? We think there is.

Q: My question has to do with, various times tonight you've talked about democracy as being an unequivocal good, that it's a black and white thing, that the United States is always in the interest of promoting democracy and pushing other countries in that direction. But historically, that's actually not been the case. There have been times in U.S. history when we would support dictators if it was in our interest, in particular against -- in the fight against communism. And now, again, in the fight against terrorism, we seem to be doing the same thing. And it really hurts our credibility in the world because people legitimately can call us hypocrites for those types of things. Can you talk a little bit about, as a National Security Advisor, how do you deal in that gray area of deciding when the American interests and democracy are not in alignment?

MR. HADLEY: Yes, I would tell you this, that it is always in our interest to promote democracy and freedom. But is the promotion in democracy and freedom our only interest? No. We have other interests. Look at it just in the war on terror. What -- the President said it many, many times -- in the short run, we need to fight the terrorists, go after them, take the fight to the terrorists, disrupt their planning, interrupt their supply networks so they cannot attack Americans. That is the short-run strategy, and it requires us to work with a number of countries that, to put it felicitously, are in various points along what we hope will be the road to democracy and freedom.

But at the same time, to be very clear, that over the long-term, the way to end terror is to go after the root of terror and to take on the ideology of the terrorists. And the antidote to their ideology of tyranny and terror is freedom and democracy. So we're -- even in the war on terror, we have short-run objectives and a long-term strategy. And if you then add other issues like proliferation, like counter-narcotics, like all the other transnational challenges that the world faces in the 21st century, it requires tradeoffs. And it is one of the most difficult things of the job. And if you -- because I think people are very comfortable being single-issue advocates, but we do not have the luxury to be single-issue policymakers. And we need to look across the full spectrum of American interests -- long-term, medium-term, and short-term -- and try and have a set of policies that meet other objectives, but still are consistent with and, as much as we can, will help promote democracy and freedom.

This is why you are here at school, and why your studies will be useful, because when you get in the job I have, you will struggle with this question every day -- how to reconcile other interests, but at the same time hold high the banner of freedom and democracy.

And one of the ways -- last point, I would say is, one of the things you do is, even as you deal with countries that are not where they should be on the freedom agenda, one of the things the President has done is made very clear that he supports those in those societies that are agitating for freedom and democracy. And so that is why the President has continually, particularly in his second term, met with dissidents from a long list of countries -- countries even which we have good relations -- and deal with other issues, because he wants to make clear not only his diplomatic contacts with those countries, that freedom and democracy are on the agenda, but he also wants to make it clear that he stands with those people that are trying to bring about the transformation in their societies. It is part of the challenge of being a 21st-century policymaker for this country.

Yes, sir.

Q: Speaking of American interests, a lot of people have questioned American aid to Israel, and there's been a lot written about the Jewish lobby, and a lot of people arguing that this, in some ways, has a significant role, or perhaps is an obstacle in bringing about peace. I just wanted to know what you thought the role of American aid to Israel is in the future, if you felt that that's all hogwash, in some sense, that really the aid is to continue. But it's just that role, because there's been a lot of talk with the Jewish lobby and how it goes against American interest.

MR. HADLEY: There's a lot of talk about that. I can tell you from the standpoint of where we are now. The Palestinian people have very tough decisions to make; the Israelis have very tough decisions to make. And one of the things we are talking about with Tony Blair today -- he was in to see the President, and he's the Quartet representative helping primarily Prime Minister Fayyad build the institutions of this Palestinian state.

People are willing to make hard decisions when they're comfortable, and they're less willing to make those hard decisions when they feel insecure. That is why the President, very early on, made it very clear that we support the Israeli government in protecting their people against terrorists. And that is why it is important to continue to give the Israeli government the wherewithal it needs in order to help keep their people safe, because that is going to be an important element of them being willing to take what for Israel are very difficult decisions, because given its neighborhood, these are existential questions. If it ends up next to a Palestinian state that is a haven for terror, in a country which at its narrowest point is only nine miles wide, and where 70 or 80 percent of its people live in that corridor that is only nine miles wide, and next to that is a state that is a haven for terror, that is an existential problem for the people of Israel.

Similarly, the people -- the Palestinian people need to understand this is a real state at the end of the rainbow, and that it is going to work for them. It will provide them security, economic well-being, the dignity and better life that they had been looking for for 50 years.

That's why it is important, in parallel with what we do with our Israeli partner, we make a major effort to do really three tracks -- and if you look at Annapolis, what we've got is a three-track strategy: Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians to show what that Palestinian state will look like in detail. Secondly, implementation of the road map. These undertakings that the parties made four years ago that are important if they are going to move to the point where a state can become a reality. For the Palestinians, that means cracking down on terrorist infrastructure. For the Israelis, it means making it clear that there is a state in the Palestinian future by getting rid of unlawful outposts, settlement freeze, and all these other things. If we can show concrete progress, it will give the negotiators and the Israeli and Palestinian people confidence that this is really going to happen and work.

And lastly, the third track is building those institutions of a Palestinian state so Palestinians and Israelis can be confident of the nature of that state; that it will be democratic, free, have the security institutions it needs to control terror and others who would provoke violence. That is the formula we think that offers the prospect of success.

I enjoyed very much being with you. Thank you very much. Good luck to you all. Thanks a lot. (Applause.)

George W. Bush, Remarks by National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley on the Middle East and Freedom Agenda Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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