General Charles G. Boyd, President and CEO of BENS (Business Executives for National Security) visited campus Tuesday for an "off-the-record" talk. He told us a bit about BENS projects in New Jersey, Georgia, Kansas, Nebraska and other states.
Boyd (a Kansas University alum, like me) was a member of the Hart-Rudman National Security Commission and has oftened testified to Congress. I asked him about something in his August 18, 2004, testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Specifically, he called for the "professionalization of President's principal intelligence advisor":
THOSE WHO SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF A PRESIDENT, FOR AN EXPECTED TERM LIMITED TO HIS, WHO COME TO OFFICE PRECISELY BECAUSE OF SHARED POLITICS AND POLITICAL RELIABILITY, COME—I SHOULD THINK—UNDER ENORMOUS PRESSURE OR TEMPTATION TO GIVE THE PRESIDENT WHAT HE WANTS RATHER THAN WHAT HE DOESN’T WANT BUT NEEDS; AND WHEN THAT SERVANT IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SELECTING THE INTELLIGENCE ANALYSIS TO GIVE HIS PRESIDENT, I THINK I’D PREFER A PROFESSIONAL TO A POLITICAL APPOINTEE—WITH AS MUCH INDEPENDENCE AND JOB SECURITY AS POSSIBLE.Sorry for the caps, that is how it is on the original webpage.
Boyd still holds this position about intelligence reform, though it is not altogether popular in Washington.
Today, Stanford University's Stephen Stedman, Research Director of the UN Secretary-General's High Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change talked to some Kennedy School students and fellows in a short off-the-record meeting. Stedman described the scope of the recommendations for UN reform, mentioned the forthcoming interstate negotiations about them, and provided some insight into the HLP's work process. He also handicapped the prospects for success on some of the issues -- as he has elsewhere.
"191 governments have to respond to what we’ve written. They have to!” Stedman says. “The reactions of governments have been incredibly positive, but we’re going to see [this] year whether they’re serious or not.”In other forums, I notice that he has publicly stated his committment to various peacebuilding initiatives.
The meeting was cut short, so I didn't get a chance to ask him about the potential development of new norms authorizing preventive war. This is what Stedman has said elsewhere:
“What the report essentially says is that when it comes to states defending themselves against an imminent threat, they can legally use force for pre-emptive purposes,” he says. “But when a threat is not imminent, no state has a legal right for the preventive use of force.Stedman is now a special advisor to Kofi Annan, at the rank of assistant secretary general.
“Countless journalists were trying to trap me into saying [that] on the basis of the report, the war in Iraq is illegal,” Stedman says. “But what I kept saying was that the panel did not consider the war in Iraq. This is a forward-looking document.”
Finally, I also attended Belfer Center Research Fellow Anne Wu's talk about her research on US-China and North Korean nuclear weapons. Some of her thinking was published this month in an op-ed in the Providence Journal:
President Bush could take out "evil" or "tyranny" in talking of North Korea and emphasize the Asian partnership in engaging Pyongyang.Anne's office is next door to mine.
Rice took a move forward by reiterating to Mr. Hu that the six-party talks are the best way to solve the nuclear issue. Washington could also benefit by being committed to the denuclearization talks in a step- by-step and reciprocal manner.