This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 10, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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TERRY KEENAN, GUEST HOST: Are we to blame for the rise in terror? A new report on 9/11 turning the blame back on us! Terror experts warning that if the U.S. doesn’t make over its image in the Muslim world, we could be in store for more 9/11s.
Well, Leon Charney, the former foreign policy adviser to President Carter, says that this is all nonsense.
But Ambassador Wendy Sherman says we need to make an image change big time. She’s a principal in The Albright Group, a former adviser to President Clinton as well.
And, Ambassador, let me start with you here. You know, we weren’t the ones that drove those jets into office buildings five miles south of here, killing thousands upon thousands of Americans. Why are we to blame at all?
WENDY SHERMAN, THE ALBRIGHT GROUP: I don’t think this is about blame, Terry, and, in fact, most people in the world think America’s a terrific country, think the American people are terrific.
But, right now, they feel that our policies are too unilateral, that we are helping to add to the gap between the rich and the poor, that we don’t take their interests into account.
And I think we’d expect this from some countries that really don’t understand us, don’t know us, may be at war with us, but, when 73 percent of Canadians also say that the U.S. doesn’t listen to their interests, I think what we have to do with our enormous military, economic, and political power is make sure that we listen to others because, actually, our security, the war against terrorism depends on other people cooperating and working with us.
KEENAN: Yet we were the ones that went in and defended Kosovo, a predominantly Muslim area of the world, against Christian Serbia. We’re the ones that give billions upon billions in aid to Arab nations. What more do we need to do? Perhaps all we need to do is on the P.R. front, not on the aid front.
SHERMAN: Well, I do think you’re quite right. We have not explained to the world what we do do, what our values really are about. In fact, in the Pew Global Attitudes Project that surveyed 38,000 people in 44 countries in the fall of 2002 and another 16,000 in 20 other countries right after the Iraq war, people like western-style democracy. They think it can work in their world, but...
KEENAN: Yes, they’re happy once they get it.
SHERMAN: They’re happy when they get it, but it’s a long process toward democracy, as President Bush is finding out. It takes a long time for people to feel the dividends of democracy, and so I think we have to do a much better job of communicating what we’re about, what we’re trying to do, and that we want to leave people in control of their own destinies, a destiny that gives them the freedom that we are so precious to have.
KEENAN: How much of this has to do with our support of Israel?
SHERMAN: I don’t think this is about our support of Israel. Israel is the only real democracy in the Middle East. It’s a tremendously important partner and ally to us.
This has to do with a lot of people being repressed by their own governments. This has to do with people wanting to have the same kind of free-market democracy that Israel has, that the United States has, that Western Europe has. And because we have so much power, they hope that we’ll share some of it with them and that we’ll help bring the kind of prosperity that we have to their own people.
So I don’t think this is about hating Americans or America. I think this is about communicating better, and I think this is about having policies that encourage other people, that listen to other people, that support other people’s quest for democracy and free markets.
KEENAN: Yet it seems we’re damned if we do, we’re damned if we don’t. We go into Iraq to try to bring that type of democracy to those suffering people there, and most of the world turns against us.
SHERMAN: Well, I don’t think most of the world has turned against us. People after the Iraq war basically have the position they had before the Iraq war. But people are nervous, and they’re scared about instability and that there might be further instability in the Middle East.
So they start to get nervous when Saddam Hussein is not found and we see American soldiers being killed every day. They wonder if Saddam is coming back, and so the democracy that they want very badly, the prosperity they want very badly, they begin to be fearful again that it’s not going to happen.
So we need to make sure we have enough troops there to do the job, to persevere. I think it would be very important if we brought NATO in and other troops to help us. Out of 162,000 troops in Iraq, 146,000, 150,000 are ours.
KEENAN: All right.
SHERMAN: So we need some other people involved, too.
KEENAN: All right. Thank you. Final word on the subject from that side of the equation. Ambassador Wendy Sherman.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
KEENAN: Well, what image problem? This is the other side of the story. Leon Charney says there’s nothing wrong with what we’re doing. And Mr. Charney is the former foreign policy adviser to President Carter.
And welcome. Good to have you with us.
You know, the blame game started after 9/11. Actually, it goes back to the Eisenhower administration when that president even commissioned a study on this. But the blame game is back out there on the front burner. You say that’s too bad, right?
LEON CHARNEY, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL FOREIGN POLICY ADVISER: I think it’s silly because, first of all, when President Bush went into Iraq, he asked the United Nations to support him. We’ve asked all these countries that the ambassador spoke about to help support us, and nobody supported us. I mean we were the lone ranger.
There’s no way in the world that the United States does not want to spread democratic ideals, but the first thing we have to do is that which is the interest of our security. We have to do what’s in the interest of the United States, and, right now, the interest of the United States is to take down terrorism.
I don’t think it’s time to start doing sambas or tangos with everybody in the world. I think it’s a time to defend the democracy of the United States, and I believe that, with that defense, we are spreading all the time the possibility and the ability to form democracies in the Middle East.
Now that’s not very easy to do, Terry, as you and I both know, and there are no democracies in the Middle East, and the Arab countries seem to be prone against it. The dictators there don’t seem to want it. Jordan, Egypt -- they are not democracies. They’re functioning countries right now, but they’re really afraid also of being pushed over by some fanatical Islamic groups.
KEENAN: Yes, barely functioning in some cases and well-oiled I think by lots of U.S. dollars, billions and billions of -- among just those two countries you named.
But, you know, this 9/11 commission report, when it comes out in the next couple of weeks, is expected to show almost a clear, if not direct, link between the Saudi royal family and the funding of those terrorists that flew the planes into the World Trade Center. A very rich country, a country that’s totally self-sufficient without U.S. aid, yet a breeding ground for hate against the U.S.
CHARNEY: There’s no doubt that the Saudi Arabia money has promulgated and cultured these Islamic groups, and they pay them off as bribes. I remember when I was in the Middle East, Yasser Arafat used to go to Bahrain and Qatar on a Thursday and then go to Saudi Arabia and get his financial help on a Saturday. He used to make the rounds every week, and the Saudi Arabians were doing that to protect their royal family.
And ultimately -- I don’t know. Can you get a democracy in Saudi Arabia? These people talk about theocracy, not democracy. So I think it’s a very tough situation. But to accuse the United States of not being on top of it and culturally not trying to make agreements with these countries is silly.
KEENAN: A waste of time, I assume you think.
CHARNEY: Absolutely. The Iraqi war has transformed the Middle East. I was a Middle East negotiator for Jimmy Carter, and I can tell you that the best thing that happened to the Middle East today is the fact that the United States took a military victory there.
KEENAN: Got them to the bargaining table at least.
Thanks for joining us, as always.
CHARNEY: Thank you.
KEENAN: Good to have you with us. Leon Charney.
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