Speaker Events - Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Gelb Says US is Indispensable World Leader, With Allies
Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of a new book, Power Rules, said last week at an IPI event that the US remains the indispensable leader of the world, though US partnerships with other states are equally indispensable.
"The central operating principle for getting things done in this world is mutual indispensability," said Mr. Gelb, "with the United States as the indispensable leader, and other states as indispensable--equally indispensable--partners. Fail alone, succeed together. It's plain obvious, and we don't seem to get it."
Mr. Gelb also cited containment and deterrence, in concert with alliances, as two of the best strategies to keep hostilities in check.
In fact, said Mr. Gelb, these have always been the strategies.
"I see our colleagues writing all the time, 'You know it's not like the good ole' days when we could dictate foreign policy.' When the hell was that? During the Cold War when we told the Soviet Union what to do? It didn't exist. That's a mirage that's become a touchstone for the diminishing powers of the United States."
And even twenty-first-century threats, according to Mr. Gelb, can be tempered with containment and deterrence.
"If the Taliban represents a continuing threat to other countries, we have a way of forming alliances with India, China, Russia and, yes, Iran, as we did at the beginning of the Afghan War, in order to contain them. Deterrence and containment and other forms of power can work in the twenty-first century, so that we can concentrate on rebuilding our economies, our educational systems, and our ability to solve problems and make our lives better."
Said Mr. Gelb, "The worst word in my foreign policy lexicon are, 'no choice, no alternative.' Every time I hear that, I know that's the end of reasonable thinking. There's no more choice. There's only necessity. And necessity is the weapon of great tragedy in international affairs."
Mr. Gelb spoke at IPI on May 19th in the Trygve Lie Center. The event was moderated by Warren Hoge, IPI Vice President and Director of External Relations.
Slide show: Image 1 of 7
Photo Credits: Elliot Moscowitz
Left to right: Dr. Peter Gastrow, IPI Senior Fellow; Warren Hoge, IPI Vice President and Director of External Relations; and Leslie Gelb.
The Global Observatory
Boko Haram Deal to Release Girls Met With Hope and Skepticism
The announcement of a cease-fire agreement between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram has raised hope as well as speculations over its authenticity.
Key Global Events to Watch in October
A list of key upcoming meetings and events with implications for global affairs.
2014 Top 10 Issues to Watch in Peace & Security: The Global Arena
A list of ten key issues to watch that are likely to impact international peace and security in 2014, compiled by IPI's Francesco Mancini.
The Global Observatory, produced by IPI, provides timely analysis on peace and security issues, interviews with leading policymakers, interactive maps, and more.
October 09, 2014
Rethinking Women and Forced Migration
The drastic increase in conflicts around the globe has seen the world’s displaced population pass 55 million people, and the fact that 80% of them are women and children is prompting many to rethink how the international community is responding.
October 09, 2014
Africa: China’s Second Continent
Speaking at an IPI Distinguished Author Series event on October 9th, author Howard French made a case for how Western underestimation of Africa’s economic promise has enabled China to establish an economic and human presence on the continent, leading to the permanent migration there of nearly 2 million Chinese.
September 30, 2014
Vike-Freiberga: Rethinking the United Nations
In a speech delivered at IPI on September 30th, Dr. Vaira Vike-Freiberga gave a sobering historical analysis of the gains and setbacks made by the international system over the past century and, focusing on the UN, she called for a rethinking of the organization’s structure and approach to peace.
September 25, 2014
IPI Remembers Margaret Vogt