Jump to:Page Content
The New York Times
Robert M. Gates, President Bush’s nominee to succeed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, will appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee tomorrow for his confirmation hearing. We asked six defense and foreign-policy experts to tell us what questions the senators should ask.
Rights vs. Realism
1. You have long been associated with the “realist” view that American policy-makers should not concern themselves with a country’s internal human rights practices. Yet it is now clear that threats to the United States are often fueled by abusive regimes and incubated in failing states. On the other hand, rapid democratization can bring bloodshed, and American support for moderates can undermine their credibility. Given this complexity, what principles should guide American interactions with human rights abusers in the 21st century?
2. American forces are overextended in Iraq; NATO countries are reluctant to send additional troops to Afghanistan to confront the resurgent Taliban; and so many peacekeepers now operate under the United Nations flag that the major troop contributors are becoming exhausted. What will you do to try to convince American allies to assist in stabilizing places that the United States believes are important, but where it cannot or should not itself be present?
3. The Sudanese government is conducting a devastating offensive against civilians in Darfur. Owing to the support of China and the Arab League, Khartoum has felt free to thumb its nose at demands from the United Nations that it allow a large protection force to enter the embattled province. What levers can the Pentagon pull — with Khartoum, with Sudan’s allies or with the rebels in Darfur — to ensure that a robust force gets to the region before tens of thousands more civilians die?
Samantha Power is a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the author of “A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide."