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
MH17 Tragedy Could Accelerate Deterioration of Geopolitical Relations
Besides being a horrific human tragedy, the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 risks becoming the accelerator of today's deteriorating geopolitical relations between Russia and the West.
Key Global Events to Watch in July
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.
July 17, 2014
EU and UN Seek Ways to Improve Cooperation in Peacekeeping
The European Union is among the strongest supporters of UN peacekeeping missions around the globe, but the growing challenges faced by UN-led operations have raised the need for better EU-UN cooperation, both on the ground and at the planning level.
July 01, 2014
SRSG Johnson: South Sudan Crisis Changed UNMISS “Mindset”
Hilde Johnson, the outgoing Head of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), gave an overflow IPI audience a dramatic account of the challenging situation that has faced the United Nations in the country since the eruption of mass violence at the end of last year.
June 25, 2014
Mousavian: Iran and US Have Serious Chance for Rapprochement
From Iraq to Syria, from energy to counterterrorism, Iran and the United States share many common interests across the Middle East and ought to put aside their decades of hostility, said author and former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian.