Hearing of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations - The Continuing Crisis in Darfur


By:  Charles Hagel
Date: April 23, 2008
Location: Washington, DC


SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R-NE): Mr. Chairman, thank you.

Doctor, thank you. Thank you as well for your many years of service to these great world challenges as well as your husband, and to you both, we are grateful for your service.

I'd like to just focus on one general question, and it frames, at least in my mind, this great challenge that you are dealing with, a good deal of the world is dealing with, and it is this: Are we in need of a different kind of organizational institutional structure in the world today to deal with these kinds of events?

Now, recognizing that the world has always been violent, we have always experienced some number of these human catastrophes, genocide certainly being one of them, but as we look today and we project beyond the horizon, 6.5 billion people on the face of the Earth, projecting to be 8 to 9 billion one of these days, we are much aware that resources in many of these areas are scarce. Some of the line of questioning that my colleagues have had this morning -- food, water, fuel. Oil is getting close to $120 a barrel.

Is it possible that the 21st century challenges are of such a magnitude that the world is going to have to restructure in some formalized way a system to better deal with this? Or is it just a matter of lack of will by governments, by the developed countries? Is it a lack of prioritization? Certainly when we focus on the helicopter issue, we are all befuddled why we can't find 24 helicopters in a significant arsenal of the world's leading military powers.

Now, we can continue to have hearings and you can continue to make statements and give speeches, but just as you note, Doctor, about dying and death and your experience as a soldier, these are not abstractions. But far too often we speak in abstractions and then believe somehow that we've accomplished something. Sanctions are a good example of that, which you have responded to. But I would like, in the time I have left, if you would respond to that general question. Thank you.

MS. LUTE: Thank you, sir. Do we need a new organizational structure? I'll tell you what we need in peacekeeping. We need a strategic planning capacity. We need a standing brigade-size force that is ready, able, equipped, deployable to move into a situation while there's still a piece to keep or to prevent a conflict from spreading unacceptably.

World Bank data show that an ongoing conflict has an adverse effect 800 kilometers away. If you drew a circle around a conflict zone that had a radius of 800 kilometers, you would find the affected zone of that conflict.

We need a cadre of professional people, skilled in a variety of areas, everything from human rights monitoring to political analysis, to engineering, aviation safety and everything in between that is deployable on a moment's notice within the context of rules and accountability that can assure member states that we are reflecting their collective will.

So the organizations exist. There are regional organizations, the African Union, the EU. There are other organizations, such as NATO and others around the world and the United Nations. The United Nations is unique in that it is deeply inclusive. We have an ability to mobilize complexity; it's not always pretty. But we can reach resources around the world, governmental, nongovernmental, international and, again, reflecting the engagement of the member states.

Is it a lack of political will? You know, the old expression: "When you want to do something, any excuse will do. When you don't want to do something, any excuse will do." Is it political will or is it the fact that we all exist in an environment of constrained choice? And where are your priorities? If a problem is intractable, is it because we don't understand the problem? Is it because we lack the capacity or it's because we don't have good theories of remedy in trying to solve that problem? All of the above.

Is some answer a new as yet uninvented organization? Perhaps, but I think the tools are on the table at the moment.

SEN. HAGEL: So why can't we get it done?

MS. LUTE: It's all --

SEN. HAGEL: Why are we having this hearing today? Why can't we get it done? NATO foreign ministers met in December of last year and all agreed, every one of them, that we would all work on this, carry forward, get the peacekeeping force structure, helicopters, resources, prioritize this in our foreign policy, but here we are. So why can't we get it done?

MS. LUTE: I will only speak for myself, Senator, and for the issues under my control. And that's a question I also ask, why is this not happening? What's happening, what's not happening, how can we effect the difference?

And there are reasons that are unacceptable; there are reasons that are unexplainable. You know, is it a lack of contributions? In some cases we don't have it. The U.N. -- we don't own all of our troops. We don't own all of our equipment. We depend on the contributions of the member states. We depend on the agreement of the government to facilitate our operations in and on the ground. We depend in part on commercial contractors, and the contracting process, as you know, for the United Nations is not unlike in the United States, long, difficult and engaged. So none of these reasons are satisfying.

SEN. HAGEL: But you said something in your first response that seems to me to make sense that we're going to have to pursue it in some way and the next administration is certainly going to have to deal with this as all other governments. Some strategic context -- we have this tremendous framework of assets within the developing country, and as you say, we've got NATO; we've got the United Nations; we've got dozens of these multilateral institutions focused on carefully crafted, defined missions within the structures of the organizational charter.

But yet somehow we can't connect it with getting the job done. Strategic context is pretty critical, and I think that is as much the answer to what you're saying today, but that strategic context must be within the arc of the membership to get it done. And if there's no international strategic context, these kinds of problems that we've been dealing with for years in this part of the world are going to get worse. They'll get deeper.

And just as you say in your answer to Senator Dodd regarding sanctions, sanctions don't work if it's just all sticks. Somehow we're going to have to find some balance and some new strategic context here that you will hopefully have a significant role in. But it seems to me that's the essence very much of your answer to this committee. Thank you for what you're doing and please thank your colleagues.


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