Panel II of a hearing of the senate foreign relations committeesubje

Federal News Service
June 2, 2004 Wednesday






SEN. LUGAR: The chair would like to recognize — and now we will hear
testimony from His Royal Highness Prince Hassan, who has come to us
today from Amman, Jordan.

Prince Hassan, it is a genuine privilege to have you before the
committee today. Many members of our committee have had the privilege
of being entertained by you in your country as well as opportunities
through the Jordanian Embassy here in Washington for events that have
brought us together in the past. Your visit is timely, and your
testimony especially timely this morning. We would ask you to proceed
and then to entertain questions of the committee in much the same
form as you witnessed with Sec. Larson. Please proceed, and your full
statement will be, of course, a part of our record.

PRINCE HASSAN: Sen. Lugar, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Biden, Distinguished
Senators of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — I want to say
from the outset that I have been here before. It was in the ’70s that
David Rockefeller convened a meeting, which I recall included the
participation of Jacob Javitz, a bridge-builder like myself, who knew
both worlds; included Robert McNamara, former Secretary of Defense,
who I knew in his then-new incarnation as president of the World
Bank; included Sen. Edward Kennedy; and nationals from other
countries including Simone Weil, a holocaust survivor.

We presented a concept of the Middle East 2000 and, referring to the
Palestine question, we presented a regional assessment of human,
natural, and economic resources on the basis of which computer model
we suggested that 10 million consumers of water could live between
the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. The only person who has taken
that study seriously as an indicator over the many years and over the
years that I have spoken to him is Prime Minister Sharon. In fact, I
feel that the settlement policy has been deliberately allowed to grow
by neglect of reading the small print by Arab countries. Settlers
were less than 1,000 in the ’70s; today they are in the hundreds of

And today this new initiative of building peace together is based on
a projection of “what if” scenarios. I would start by saying that the
administration’s Greater Middle East initiative should be understood
as a misnomer. There is no such thing as a Middle East or even a
Greater Middle East, at least in the language of the United Nations.
I am an Asian; an Egyptian is an African; an Israeli is not a part of
any region.

South Asia and West Asia, and I think here you’ve got it right, with
all due respect, in your Near East South Asia committee — their
combined population is larger than the population of China and, as
you know, Sen. Lugar, as a guiding light in the nuclear threat
initiative with Sen. Nunn, there is no weapons of mass destruction
agreement or protocol within that region, which is brimming with
weapons of mass destruction. So on basic security, there is a
conspicuous absence. On current security, as Mr. Brzezinski said the
other day, we didn’t fight against the blitzkrieg. The blitzkrieg and
terror are tools of war however odious they may be. But we fought
against despotism.

And I don’t need to be told after 30 years of lonely bridge- building
what the problems of governance in our region are. But I would recite
them for the record — population growth; poverty and deprivation;
slow economic development; high illiteracy; high infant mortality;
poor health care and sanitation; inadequacy of democratic processes
— democratization is a process, democracy is an end result; poor
quality of institutions of governance — politicians, unfortunately,
have lost their bedside manner, their ability to talk to people,
governments are alienated from people; the failure of political
parties; the politicization of the armed forces; 9/11 has come as a
windfall to many countries whose security services now regard the
security priority as the main issue of policy flying in the face of
democracy and democratic values; the rise of ethnic conflict; the
rise in violence; growth of urbanization; the degradation of the
environment; and corruption in public life.

And I don’t think it takes too much wisdom to suggest that the common
minimum agenda for our region is to recognize the sovereignty of the
citizen, to make stakeholders out of citizens in planning their
future, obviously, to control population growth; to bring justice
back to development — economic growth with equity — not to make the
rich richer. The development reports you have quoted include the
reference by Merrill Lynch to $1.3 trillion owned by 300,000 Middle
Easterners in the United States, and yet I come from a region where
24 percent of the population live on $1 a day and 55 percent live on
$2 to $5 a day. Terrorist organizations do not ask for collateral on
loans, and while we sit here and talk about small and medium
enterprise projects, the fact is that our middle class has left the
region, because there is not a merit-based system for them to
participate in.

The three baskets of Helsinki through Barcelona are security,
economy, and then cultural and humanity is an afterthought. In 1995,
I believe it was, Shimon Peres and I, at the Middle East North Africa
Summit Conference proposed $35 billion for a decade of infrastructure
development to encourage the will of migrants to stay in 24 countries
from Morocco to Turkey inclusive. We were told by the European Union
— first come first serve on the basis of what was then known as the
Copenhagen “shopping lists.” My hope is that the Greater Middle East
initiative is not an initiative of sherpas and shepherds without
listening to the sheep, as I once told President Clinton before a G8
meeting in Denver.

I hope that the people of the region can be recognized in terms of
their legitimate quandary. The Middle East region will be discussed
at the G8 Summit in Sea Island but, as Senator Biden pointed out, it
has already been sharply criticized by those who considered that it
fails to address the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and seeks to impose
reform, “extra cathedra,” from the outside.

Allow me to start by saying that such critics may be proven wrong on
both counts, because they may have missed the point on both counts.
My part of the world needs as many initiatives for reform as can be
imagined, both from within and from outside the region. Incidentally,
I am here as an NGO — a “non-governmental organism.”

SEN. BIDEN: (Laughs.)

PRINCE HASSAN: Reform can also accelerate rather than retard peace in
the Middle East.

I would like to suggest that we must remember that over the
millennia, our part of the world prospered only when it had two-way
openness and interaction. The free movement of ideas was the key to
prosperity. The free movement of goods, capital, and people followed.
And yet when we heard the statements during the visit of Prime
Minister Sharon, which included references to the fact that the right
of return and the question of compensation were to be discussed in
the context of Israel-Palestinian particularity alone, if they were
to be discussed at all. I would like you to know that in a
Palestinian refugee camp a week ago, with visitors from all over the
world, young men and women were saying, “Why is it that we are not
allowed a town hall meeting where we can ask the question — what of
the long-awaited right of return and right to compensation? Why do we
not interact with people?”

The downside of the Internet revolution is that it has created
enclaves of hatred. The positive side of it is that the other day I
witnessed Bedouins in the northeast of Jordan talking directly to
Navajo Indians in Albuquerque, New Mexico, about sheep-shearing. We
need more citizens conferencing and less elitism. It’s all very well
to talk, as Sec. Larson mentioned, about Rotarians and young
entrepreneurs, but we are not all Rotarians or young entrepreneurs.
During the ’90s, two ideas, or initiatives, were launched in the
region — the 1991 Gulf War and the Madrid Middle East peace process.
They are bilateral and multilateral tracks and, of course, there was
objection to multilateralism until the bilateral issues had been

My problem with that is, that I, through the ages of the Quakers, if
they will permit me to say this — the Friends, for whom I have great
respect — have had the Iranians, Israelis, Turks, Arabs, Westerners
in one room discussing weapons of mass destruction, but the minute
they leave that room into the cruel light of day, they are concerned
about the unilateral standing with the strong, and in particular with

Gentlemen, there is a law of war. Treatment of prisoners is a
concession from the law of war. But there is no such thing as a law
of peace. And the new independent humanitarian order is on the agenda
of the General Assembly of the United Nations every year. The call of
a culture of compliance for state actors and non-state actors is on
the agenda of the General Assembly every year. Let us all in this
region step up to the template of international law. On that basis,
we can begin to convince people that this is not a new initiative
emphasizing “Pipeline-istan,” if I may on the one side — and if
you’ll forgive the impropriety and the lack of political correctness,
“Asslick-stan” on the other.

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict and Iraq are of course key issues
for the people of the Middle East. Although interrelated, it would be
unwise and impractical to assume that the Palestinian-Israeli issue,
Iraq and overarching regional reform should be tackled in any
chronological order. Resolution of one issue should not be
conditional upon any other.

Senator Lugar, I agree with your statement, and I quote, “If we help
to produce a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, fresh
political winds would sweep through the region, and new possibilities
for political reform would flourish.” I am deeply worried, as I think
many of you are, during this election period of the next four months
without presuming on internal American domestic politics that
initiatives will remain initiatives in name. I am afraid of the
dreadful initiatives that might be taken by extremists within the
region or beyond the region that will change the context to which we
have been alluding. And for three decades I have been trying to
foster reform. As a prince this may sound a contradiction in terms in
Republican-and-Democratic America, but I would like to say that the
long list of NGOs with which I’m associated, both Arab and Israeli
are civil-liberty oriented, but they are representative of the
majority of the same, which is being squeezed out by our fanatics,
your fanatics, their fanatics. And without a centrist platform, I do
not see how reform can be addressed.

It’s a lonely task to be the powerless lobbying for the powerless,
and that is why I accepted your kind invitation solely on the word
“partnership.” The Achilles’ heel of reform efforts to the thin and
often invisible dividing line between patronage and partnership,
between compulsion and cosmopolitanism. I want to know how do we move
from principles to instruments. Karl Popper, the philosopher, once
said any meeting that goes beyond 18 maybe 15 is not a meeting. We
need a concept group of people who are larger than the newspaper
headlines, people who can exchange ideas. There is an English
expression — I believe in a meeting of minds. If you have a mind,
I’d like to meet it.

Hard security, soft security have to complement each other. Civil
society, stakeholding is essential in Pakistan, in India. The first
act after 9/11 was to stop importing the silk that is being woven by
the poor who normally would be killing each other in the
(Karachi/Barabadi ?) authorities, in the Grameen Bank projects. And I
would like to suggest that the 21st century trust is a trust that
should be built on principles that can be turned into instruments.
And I would like to explain that the imaginative leaps into
nontraditional combinations of policies can be a part of a matrix for
the new Middle East initiative, where we make incremental progress,
but progress all the same, unrelenting progress on basic security,
state security and soft security.

GMEI, the greater Middle East initiative, suggests to me at least, if
I understand it correctly, that self-reliance is the united objective
rather than looking to the United States as policemen, nursemaid and
benefactor. You have said yourself, Senator Lugar, that the United
States cannot feed every person, lift every person out of poverty,
cure every disease, or stop every conflict. I would like to suggest
that the trust should represent a new form of social compact to
institutionalize the inclusion of civil society and project design.
In doing so it will avoid the patronage trap. I see it as a vehicle
for action. I see it as a vehicle of hope for neglected elements of
society. As for Islamic financial principles, I have called for an
ALMS. We have enough of the ARMS — an ALMS is a fund focused on the
poor for over 20 years — transparent, guaranteed by governments,
using vehicles such as the Islamic Development Bank and other
foundations in the region to focus on creating stakeholers out of the
poor. I wonder whether a regional conference of NGOs, ministers of
development, Middle East opinion-makers, can be led up to in terms of
the process. Regional reforms should focus on issues of collective
security, free trade, free movement of goods, people and capital. But
most of all I think they should focus on the importance of vitalizing
or revitalizing something that is really nonexistent in ECOSOC, in
economic and social council for the region about which we speak. We
keep hearing about summits in Tunis. Summitry is a rarity in our part
of the world. Prime ministers do not meet on a three-monthly, on a
quarterly basis to discuss transboundary issues. Europe was brought
together on one transboundary issue, coal and steel. Can we not work
together on a transboundary issue of water and energy?

The Alexandria declaration, with all due respect, focused on
security, democracy, human rights and development. But I feel that on
the security issue, with the forthcoming NATO meeting there should be
an emphasis on a framework for cooperation with states in the Middle
East, and it is for this reason that I worked hard and successfully
to include in the Israel-Jordan peace treaty a reference to CSCME, a
Conference on Security and Cooperation for the Middle East.

I’d like to thank the Arab Development Report and the Unified Arab
Economic Report, which is less spoken of, issued by the Arab League,
the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the Arab Monetary
Fund and OAPEC. But over-association from the United States with the
good work of these committees unfortunately tend to kill with
kindness. I would like to suggest that the World Development Report
in its latest form states that development is not just about money or
about numerical targets, as important as those are. It is about
people. And the recommendations of these groups are only important
inasmuch as they can empower people.

As for the revival of Islamic thought, I have been working with
President Musharraf in Pakistan, with leaders in Malaysia and Turkey
and elsewhere to develop an Islamic world forum, a forum of the
majority of the same. I hope that such an effort can be focused on
consensus, pluralism, Arabs and non-Arabs, Muslims, Christians, Jews,
and for that matter Sunnis and Shi’a. Whatever our differences, the
challenges that face us are far greater than those perceived
differences. if we all observed the 10 commandments, we would not be
in this mess in the first place.

As for violent extremism, I feel that with proper leadership and
proper governance we can effectively develop a great resource in
terms of the Muslims of the Diaspora who have been brought up in
countries like yours and who know the institutional rules of the game
of building nations.

The question is not whether the United States and the G-8 can fix the
Middle East. The real question is whether we in the Islamic world can
redeploy our intellectual resources in partnership with the United
States and the G-8. And I hope that the GME 21st Century Trust can be
such a vehicle.

Peace is real and durable only when the root causes of conflict have
been eliminated, Mr. Chairman. And I would like to suggest that
important initiatives of leadership have been taken over the past
decades. In a bold breakthrough, President Sadat went to Jerusalem;
King Hussein concluded the peace treaty; the Palestinians partnered
in Oslo; President Nixon called on China; Reagan on the Soviet Union.
Are we inevitably on a course of collision with the axis of evil, or
would an initiative — possibly a high level American visit to Tehran
be justified? The British prime minister visited Libya. The British
foreign secretary visited Tehran, presumably with prior consultation.
Can we go the extra mile, particularly in the next few months, to
avoid the inevitability of conflict? Can we move from politics to

In terms of details and going back to initiatives, help us to help

I would just like to make a few specific suggestions. By referring to
human resources, as defined to the Commission on Human Security, that
it complement state security, furthers human developments and
enhances human rights. It complements state security by being
people-centered. I hate to think what is happening in all the prisons
of the world, having worked with the International Committee of the
Red Cross and human rights organizations all my adult life. We need
to broaden the human development forces beyond growth with equity. At
the core we have to respect human rights. And in early May I hosted
the Amman Roundtable on Human Security, and we focused on the
Helsinki Citizens Assembly. We suggested MECA — Middle East Citizens
Assembly. We worked jointly with the Canadians and the Norwegians on
the Lucerne Declaration in 1998. The Swedish government’s fundamental
standards of humanity of 1992 were set on the basis of international
law and human rights as well as cultural and ethnic norms.

I would like to suggest that producing a shopping list of ideas, as
with a shopping list we suggested in Copenhagen and then in Brussels
will produce the answer, “First come, first serve.” Thirty- five
billion dollars for 24 countries for a decade of development, to
encourage the will to stay, to stop migrants crossing the
Mediterranean. Thirty-five billion dollars was what was spent in one
day on homeland security to create Fortress America.

Can we talk about crisis avoidance through the use of this important
vehicle of the 21st Century Trust? Can we promote governance in South
Asia? Can we realize the hope of an independent commission on
international humanitarian issues where we called for the new law of

I spoke three years ago in Mainz, Germany at the First World Congress
of Middle Eastern Studies — the congress brings together Middle East
studies associations from Europe and from the Middle East, from the
United States. The second congress will be held in Jordan in 2006,
and I have suggested that this is part of a progress — a process —
a process where conferences have been held, where it is found clearly
that Islamic elections are not incompatible. We have proposed the
creation of a parliament of cultures which will open its doors in
Turkey, at the School of Mediterranean Humanities, only a few weeks

By comparison, the Middle East Partnership Initiative, MEPI, has
spent hundreds of millions of dollars — not on interactive
conversation-building — I remember addressing USIA board when James
Michener was a member of that board. He was talking of the American
image abroad, which concerns you gentlemen as it concerns me. We
share the same values only if we interact. And I would like to see
that citizens conferencing, that Partnership in Humanity, as we call
the organization that we founded shortly after 9/11, given serious
consideration in building a new citizens according, a new citizens’
accord, a new citizens’ compact, based on human values for developing
a shared consciousness.

You may be amused to know that I am also involved with the University
of Wisdom Studies. That doesn’t mean that these students will
graduate with a degree in wisdom. I wish it did. But the cornerstone
is the new Alexandrian library of the Philosophical Research Society,
comprised of over 25,000 volumes of texts and manuscripts of ancient
Greek philosophers, ancient Hindu and Chinese masters, the traditions
of Judeo-Christianity, the mysticism of Islam, all the traditions
comprising what Huxley called “the perennial philosophy.”

It is time to say to those who are a privatized religion that
religion did not start with you. To emphasize the continuum, we need
to encourage script-writers, interactive script-writing for the
media, which is so voracious; embedded scholars rather than or as
well as embedded journalists.

The Arab League summit in Tunis reminds me of the Arab economic
summit in 1980 in Amman. We proposed a decade of development, a
strategy for Arab development. My colleague, the former president of
Lebanon, Mr. Selim al-Hoss, presented the call for Arab League reform
of the 16 Arab League institutions. Nothing happened. Unilateralism
is the order of the day.

And I would like to conclude my remarks by emphasizing that somehow,
the Kuwait symposium, the call for Arab civil society, the meaning of
the concept of belonging and development, are all steps in the right
direction. But let us start with considering, in a concept group, a
matrix and a strategy where incremental progress can be achieved.

I would like to commend to you the initiative of 18 countries
entitled “TREC,” Trans-Mediterranean Renewable Energy Cooperation,
water and energy. Oil prices ended last week at just below $40 a
barrel in New York and around $2 a barrel lower than a week earlier,
amid optimism that OPEC would act to bring prices back down to the
cartel’s 22 to 28 percent range.

Let us not leave the future of the happiness of the most populous
region in the world, South Asia and West Asia, to the huge gap, the
huge divide, between the bourse and the cartel.

I would like to suggest that the crescent of crisis which goes from
West Africa all the way down to the south of the Red Sea, the Persian
Gulf, and right up to the top of the Caspian, is a crescent of
crisis, because we have not adopted the universal declaration on the
basic principles of democracy, the universality or relativity of
democracy, democracy as a process or a condition, democracy as
methods and modalities over substance and substantive outcomes.

Let us take these bold steps together. Let us develop a process of
implementation and compliance of international humanitarian and human
rights law. The Club of Rome, of which I am the first Asian
president, presented “Limits to Growth” in the ’70s. Today I would
suggest that there are limits to ignorance. And I would like to
commend to you the socioeconomic plan of members of the Club of Rome
and friends, such as Mary Robinson, as an indicator of one way to
spend fruitfully the investment that we all seek from the 21st
Century Fund in human dignity, in anthropolitics, in politics, where
people matter.

Thank you for your kind attention.

SEN. LUGAR: Well, thank you very much, Prince Hassan, for a very
comprehensive statement from extraordinary experience over the years.
As a humanitarian, you have been involved in all the things you have
discussed today and many more.

Let me just say, as preface for my question — and we’ll have another
seven-minute round of questions — that prior to 9/11, many observers
of American foreign policy, both here and abroad, had noted not a
total lack of interest in the area we’re discussing today, but
substantially less diplomacy and activity.

After 9/11, things stepped up very substantially. We dropped
sanctions on many countries that had inhibited our trade, and
likewise much more our diplomacy. We became involved because we were
at war; we were threatened.

Now, essentially, in fairness to the administration and the proposal
we’ve heard today from Secretary Larson, this is an attempt, at least
by American statesmen, to try to say that we ought to be much more
interested, a great deal more interested. As a matter of fact,
American taxpayer funds, organizational elements of the State
Department and our NGOs, ought to get busy and ought to be involved
in trying to come to root causes and fundamental difficulties, as
you’ve talked about.

The dilemma of all of this, of course, you also talked about. It’s
the patronage trap; in other words, the enthusiasm — and it is
genuine and it’s idealistic — strikes many in the area in a very
different way.

So our dilemma or our challenge today in this dialogue is how do we
eliminate or get out of the trap and sort of back on to a plain of
genuine idealism and commitment? And you’ve illustrated a good number
of attempts that have been made by international humanitarian
individuals and groups over the years.

Some of these reports and their implementation are still out there
and may have some legs. Others have been unfortunately forgotten and
ought to be revived. And you’ve offered sort of a checkoff list of
causes and ideas that ought to be thought of by people that are
serious about this.

The immediate political problem I think that we have and that I ask
your attention to is there are a good number of people in our country
who are not extremely enthusiastic about foreign assistance at all.
Each year this committee attempts to support a budget request by our
State Department and by others. Very frequently — that was the case
this year; just take a topical situation. The State Department
requests by Secretary Powell were 8 percent up, not just for the
department but for what could be called broadly foreign assistance,
international involvement. And that was as many of us would have

Now, almost immediately, the Budget Committee of the Senate chopped a
billion dollars arbitrarily out of this, really without great
discussion of the merits of any of this. Fortunately senators on the
floor of the Senate worked and restored the billion dollars, but not
for long. Our colleagues in the House of Representatives, as I
understand their Budget Committee deliberations, promptly chopped
four and a half billion dollars out of the same situation.

And whether we ever come to a budget in the Senate or the House or
the Congress or not — and that is a problem for us in a
parliamentary way now — is illustrative of the dilemma, even as we
discuss what the State Department might do, what Mr. Larson might do
as he goes to see the G-8. We face a practical political problem of
simply implementing our own idealism.

Now, worse still, if there is a sense of patronage trap about all of
this, that is worse still, because many Americans would say, “Well,
this is just simply impossible. Not only are we being asked to
contribute, but those to whom we are contributing are unhappy,
ungrateful, maybe even indicate their dislike.”

Now, some of us would argue there are reasons historically, long
before we had this debate today, why this might be the case. And even
if it is the case, even if the Pew polls and others show huge numbers
of people in these countries saying they dislike America or they
dislike the American government, even if they like some Americans or
what have you, this is a situation that is difficult.

Now, I preface all this by saying you come here today as a person of
good will, a friend not only of our country but of many countries, of
all the people that you’re talking about. How do you propose, just as
an advice not just of public relations but public diplomacy for
Americans, quite apart from public diplomacy for those in the Middle
East, that we go about this, that we illustrate why the security of
the world and why peace and some mitigation of terrorism, maybe not
the end of that, but all depends upon really getting it right or
trying to implement things that people will know about, have
confidence that there is some degree of good will in the world, not
just in this country, in the G-8, in other countries that might come

And quite frankly, the reason that I offered an idea of this trust
fund was to try to escape the patronage gap, to say that essentially
countries or people within countries who had ideas might come forward
and present them as their ideas, and then we might applaud those

I still think that probably is a better course than attempting to do
it the old-fashioned way, as we’re inclined to do. But what appeal
can you make, say, to Americans, leaving aside people in the Middle
East, as to why we ought to be doing this? And what manner can we be
most successful, even if we have a generous spirit?

PRINCE HASSAN: May I suggest, Senator, that 15 million people
inhabiting Israel, Palestine and Jordan, living next-door to 25
million Iraqis, 40 million people could provide the nucleus for human
and natural resources needed for a new, democratic and prosperous
Middle East.

I would like to suggest implicitly and explicitly that attending to
the two political crises is essential at this time. And I say that in
terms of Iraq, for example, it is obviously very important that
neighboring countries to Iraq should not interfere in Iraqi affairs,
or, for that matter, in Lebanese or Syrian affairs.

And I think that the problem, with all due respect, is that a
superpower should not be playing Byzantine politics. We should be all
stepping up to the same template of a regional concept for the future
of the region on the basis of an international conference for the

Where and how this can be convened has yet to be decided or thought
of, but unfortunately the international conferences that are being
held are either NATO conferences with a view to sending more troops
into the region or, as you rightly said to Secretary Larson, if the
G-8 is to be part of a process, what is the mechanism that is going
to ensure that? So where is the partnership element?

And I would like to emphasize that democracy is not the only issue
here. Pluralism is as well. So the reference to the Arabs being a
minority in the concept of the greater Middle East doesn’t worry me
at all if the greater Middle East is South Asia and West Asia.

What worries me is that APEC goes all the way to the Asia-Pacific
economic cooperation to the borders of Turkey, and we, bristling with
nuclear weapons and the possibility of dirty bombs, are not being
pacified, let alone stabilized. And in that context, I think that
sooner, rather than later, the sense of drift has to stop. There has
to be a focus.

Now, I don’t know where that discussion group can be formed. Maybe
the meeting of the shepherds of the G-8 is one way to do it. But I do
hope that the target for exit strategies can be given more serious
consideration. Obviously the term is used by Prime Minister Blair
with reference to Iraq by 2005.

Today I don’t know in terms of the exit strategy from the occupied
territories how or what pace it’s going to move, if at all. I think
there is a huge responsibility on the host and donor countries, like
my own, to address the issue of integration, not necessarily the
issue of assimilation.

With the late Prime Minister Rabin, he would say no to the right of
return and I would say yes to the right of return. “You look good
with your people and we look good with ours, but let us think of
something creative in the future on the realistic assumption that
those who would want to return may not be as large as the figures
that we have spoken about in the past. But today, none of these
crucial issues are being discussed. And that is why I feel that a
conference that does not address the key political issues is the
reason for the absence of many key leaders from the region.”

SEN. LUGAR: Without oversimplifying, then, you would put sort of not
a boundary, but just for sake of argument, a line around Iraq, around
Palestine and Israel, that would include Jordan in that group — in
other words, you say about 40 million people out of all the mass that
we’re talking about, but a concentrated effort because of the two
large political questions that arise there, but likewise humanitarian
questions that — have a conference of people of that area, or of
others, maybe who want to be helpful, but to define the issue more
narrowly, perhaps, rather than the greater Middle East or whatever
that we’re sort of looking at —


SEN. LUGAR: — and because you’ve made the point that probably there
has to be some degree of peace and solution to these two major
problems for things to work satisfactorily, certainly in terms of the
public relations aspects in the other areas.

PRINCE HASSAN: Our region is bereft, Senator, of any crisis avoidance
center, or crisis avoidance capability. So, crisis avoidance, crisis
management, which is almost an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, is
basically through unilateral policies. But we have to involve
everyone. And this is why I suggested that a high- level American
contact with Iran, for example, if properly finessed, might serve
notice, not only on Iran but on the region as a whole, as to our
seriousness in building peace on the basis of mutual respect.

SEN. LUGAR: A very important suggestion, which I think our members


SEN. LUGAR: Senator Biden. 2

SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Your Highness, I find
your testimony fascinating and enlightening. I’d like to ask a couple
really just very, very basic questions.

You are very much accustomed to leading and attending meetings at the
highest level with the, as you would say, the elites of the world and
the region, as well as your efforts with the numerous NGOS you’ve
been involved within reaching out to what we might say in this
country average people in the region.

The conundrum that many Americans look at is that in order to get the
kind of help, and that’s a broad, generalized term, from economic
assistance to education reform, access to intellectual creativity and
activity, to, quote, “average people” — town meeting, I think you
referred to — and why couldn’t the Palestinian region have a town
meeting. There is, in most of the places in the Middle East, a
requirement to essentially have to go through the governing body in
that country. And the governing body is presumed in — even in your
country, but in — which is the most open — from your country to
Saudi Arabia, to the Gulf States, to Egypt, as not being welcoming to
this kind of fora. Just the ability to engage in an open discussion
with leading Arab intellectuals, in open, is not something that would
be very welcome in Riyadh. It might even have some difficulty in
Cairo. Other parts of the world, Arab world, may have some

So, the question I have, as just a plain old politician doing this
job for 32 years, how do we embolden and enlighten or provide the
accommodation for enlightenment for the populace of the Arab world —
I’m going to focus on the Arab world, not the whole Islamic world for
a moment — without greater cooperation or initiative coming from the
governments in the region? Or put another way, if I can speak to
Iraq, I’m operating on the premise that a significant majority of
Iraqis want a representative government, that they want something
between an Islamic state modeled on Iran, and a strong man modeled on
Saddam. They want something other than that, that’s more
representative. If I’m wrong about that, I might add, I think all of
this is useless.

But, how do we get the — and I realize “moderate” is not the
appropriate adjective, but how do we get the — I don’t even know the
term — the average — the average — and there’s no such thing as an
average — how do we get those people who are making a dollar a day
in your country, or a dollar a week — I’m embarrassed to say I can’t
remember which you said, a day or a week, and three dollars a day or
week — how do we get them in a position where they’re able to sort
of raise their head, where they’re able to express their interests,
their desires? What fora is there for that?

PRINCE HASSAN: Well, I have had the privilege of knowing Vaclav
Havel, Borislav (sp) Gurimak (sp), Adam Michnik (sp), all people from
Eastern European countries that had strong policing methods, and yet
the chapters of the Helsinki Citizens Assembly, to address your first
question, proliferate in Eastern Europe. You have chapters in Turkey,
Armenia and Azerbaijan. And I say to people in our region, however
the intensity of hatred, it is not unique. Turks and Armenians and
Azeris are talking to each other. So, I do feel that in terms of this
paralysis of the ability to talk — I’ve been to Indonesia as
moderator of the World Conference for Religions and Peace, to the
Balkans. We say to the religious community leaders, and in the case
of Iraq, they have met in Amman in May of last year, in Baghdad in
August, in March again in Amman, and last week actually in the United
Kingdom — we are the servants of the community, you are the servants
of the community and we are servants of the servants. How can we help
you talk? And you almost get the answer, “Talk? What’s that?”

SEN. BIDEN: Well, let me interrupt you there, if I may, Your
Highness. Helsinki was a product of a negotiation, a long, drawn-out
negotiation which we were a part of, as you observed, that had heads
of state and governments signing on. That’s a very different
circumstance than what we’re talking about in the Middle East. That
would require the heads of state and those various governments — you
had Azerbaijan, you have — you had everyone from Poland to the Czech
Republic, though Czechoslovakia at the time, all signing on through a
negotiation involving two superpowers. And it produced, I think, some
stunningly positive benefits. And I would argue it hastened the
demise of the Wall.

What is the forum, though? How do you do that in your part of the

PRINCE HASSAN: I come to heads of states, and, of course, I served
alongside, you know, Hussein, for 34 years, and I think Jordan has
been a pioneering country in terms of reform. Of course, my nephew,
King Abdullah, has been referred to on more than one occasion as a
genuine reformer. And I would second this concept. But I think that
the spectrum of reform has to be enlarged, because heads of state
today and governments are on the defensive. The bin Ladens of this
world, sadly, are on the offensive. And I think that we can only
resolve this problem by a double compact — the first between the
people themselves, and the second between the people and their
rulers. I mean, turning the power pyramid upside down, beginning to
devolve power so that legitimate village democracy can be discussed
at the village and rural level.

SEN. BIDEN: I agree with that, but I become conflicted as to what our
role is, the role of the United States, in that effort. In other
words, I’ve often stated that, with possible exception of your
nephew, every world leader with whom I meet (importunes ?) me and the
committee because we have that opportunity, it’s our function, we are
viewed as the totality of their problem and the sole source of their
solutions. And I realize, at least it’s beyond my capacity, and I
think beyond my country’s capacity — not that we aren’t the problem
of many, and not that we aren’t the solution for some — but what
you’ve just described, it seems to me, I’m not sure how the United
States, or the G-8 for that matter, promotes exactly what you just
said, turning that pyramid upside down so that you actually have, you
know, village meetings, where people can actually have an impact on
what happens in their country. What we seem to be debating here in
this country is, among the intellectuals left, right and center in
America, is — it ranges from we can go in and, quote, “impose”
democracy, which will, in fact, be welcomed by the people — we’re
seeing an example of that right now in Iraq in part — all the way to
us, others concluding that we cannot do much of anything other than
be responsive only when there’s an indigenous movement.

For example, the comments made at the Arab League’s summit in
Tunisia, although there were several no-shows and a dramatic Qadhafi
early exit, which is not surprising, the league did issue its
declaration of reform. But the Arab press didn’t seem particularly
impressed with the document, using terms like “ridiculous,” “a
failure,” “empty rhetoric,” “instantly forgettable.” The Lebanon
Daily Star stated in an editorial, “The only good news is that the
word ‘reform’ is now a matter of general concern across the Middle
East.” The Economist reported, “that the expression of freedom to
savage the kinds of presidents-for-life who run the region was itself
a better omen for reform than the verbiage of the communiques.”

I guess — I guess what — and I’ll end with this — my dilemma is,
your point about partnership and paternalism, almost anything we do,
and I am not implying that — I don’t mean to imply that somehow we
have the answers, all, let alone even some, nor that we have the
capacity. But, it seems to me that our greatest difficulty here,
assuming that the better angels prevail here in the Congress in terms
of monies for foreign assistance and the like, and assuming, that I
hope will occur, that Senator Lugar’s initiative becomes the law, is
passed here, I have — I have such difficulty trying to determine how
we — at what part we can be a positive impact, other than refraining
from doing things that are negative, which would be a big help, but
how — how we are going to be able to be in a position that we can
generate some of the kind of change you suggested.

And I was very impressed with your point — I happen to agree with
it, and maybe that’s why I was impressed with it — (laughs) — your
point that there is no chronological order to tackling the problems
that you list. To use a slang expression in this country, we ought to
be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. We ought to be able to
do more than one thing, or work on more than one thing.

But I — I’m in a quandary as to how to work out this distinction
between paternalism and partnership, and why — no, well, I shouldn’t
say “why” — what prospect is there for there to be more spontaneous,
internal calls for change within the Arab world, and short of your
country, how welcoming is that fora — I mean, are those ideas — and
what’s the fora for them internally. Assume the United States were
lifted up and taken to Mars, and dropped on Mars, there’s no United
States — the whole North American continent is gone, it’s sitting up
on Mars. The ocean extends from Japan to England. What do you all do?

PRINCE HASSAN: Well, firstly, I’d like to say that the values of the
United States, not least of all “We, the people,” are very much my
values, and the values of many, many people who have come over here
to make a better life — millions of them from our part of the world.

The quandary for us is that if you hold elections, then the Islamists
will win. So, the theocons will win. And my point of view is that you
will hold elections and you live with the results until that process
is repeated and they possibly leave office. But to say to wait until
economic conditions are ideal, or the political winds are favorable,
and not hold those elections belie the sincerity of the democratic
initiatives that we’re talking about.

SEN. BIDEN: I agree with you completely. Well, I thank you. I see our
colleague, Senator Brownback, is here, and I’ll yield to him.

SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Biden. Senator Brownback, do
you have a question for Prince Hassan?

SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R-KS): If I could, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you
for holding the hearing. I apologize for not getting her for your
direct testimony.

But I wanted to catch, on a particular issue — I was actually
encouraged by the recent meetings of the Arab League and the
discussions that are taking place. These are difficult things to talk
about and difficult topics to address.

I’m curious, in your country, if elections were held within the next
year or so, what would be — what would be the results of those
elections, would you speculate?

PRINCE HASSAN: Well, elections were held only last year, and we have
a new parliament in session at the present time. But, I think again,
if we are going to talk about issues, I mean, there was a phenomenon,
and I don’t want to sound critical of the mechanisms of Israel, which
is always held up in democratic terms as being the only democracy in
the region, but for a prime minister to come here, to commit himself
to withdrawal, and then to poll his own party rather than polling the
Israeli people came as quite a shock to people in our part of the

So, today, unfortunately, national elections are not going to be held
on domestic issues alone. Today, as His Majesty King Abdullah said, I
think before this committee, “We’re caught between Iraq and a hard
place.” And, I think that people have legitimate concerns about, you
know, Finlandize Jordan — we’ve always looked at the Helsinki
process because Finland had troublesome neighbors. I once said to
Shimon Peres, he said, “We have difficulty with our neighbors.” I
said, “You think you have a problem? We have difficulty with our
friends.” (Laughs.)

So, I’d just like to point out that we can hold elections, and
parliamentary participation in public life is strong and vibrant. But
the issue of regional questions that we’re asking around this table
has to be addressed by leadership convincing leadership, and this is
why I would hope that in the coming period, we can move from politics
to policies. This is why I am setting up a center for policy dialogue
in Jordan, because I have no axe to grind, and I think that that
objectivity of rediscovering the public realm is so important for all
of us.

SEN. BROWNBACK: Do you anticipate within the next five to 10 years
that elections for all positions throughout most Middle Eastern
countries will begin to take place?

PRINCE HASSAN: I would sincerely hope so. The alternative would be
the fragmentation of the region into untenable ethnic and sectarian
groupings, Balkanization, if you will, and in that event you’ll be
talking about autonomous realities which are really unmanageable. And
I think this is the last opportunity, this Greater Middle East
Initiative, or whatever we call it at the end of the day. I hope that
something comes from the region that is convincing, of course, but
this is the last opportunity to stabilize a region which is fraught
with dangers. I was just saying, weapons of mass destruction in
Pakistan and India. I’m interested to see that Mr. Baradei of the
IAEA is now visiting Israel, which at least is a step in the right
direction. But the sooner these issues are put on the table and
discussed in terms of securing the region, the less likely it will be
that we will face a major catastrophe.

SEN. BROWNBACK: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

SEN. LUGAR: Thank you very much, Senator Brownback.

Thank you again, Your Highness. We appreciate your testimony, your
coming here, and the wisdom of your presentation.

PRINCE HASSAN: Thank you very much indeed.