11 Minute Video Note with Zalmay Khalilzad


The week that former US Ambassador to the United Nations Zalmay Khalilzad was leaving the United Nations, I asked him to share his thoughts about American diplomacy, the UN as an institution, nation building and our brewing problems in Afghanistan at an event at the New America Foundation.
This relatively short 11-minute discussion was separately recorded and includes the following questions:
What does Khalilzad think of the United Nations as an institution?
Does the UN help or harm American interests?
What boxes didn’t Khalilzad get checked off during his tenure?
What does Khalilzad think about nation-building today, particularly looking at Afghanistan today and a piece he wrote in 2005 for National Interest on nation-building there?
What does he think about changing the equilibrium in the Middle East?
How would he approach Hamas?
What was the back story on the Israel/Gaza ceasefire resolution?
I think it’s a fascinating exchange as was the longer program and hope some of you find it of interest.
— Steve Clemons


13 comments on “11 Minute Video Note with Zalmay Khalilzad

  1. Paul Norheim says:

    Secret Israeli database reveals full extent of illegal settlement
    By Uri Blau
    Just four years ago, the defense establishment decided to carry out a seemingly
    elementary task: establish a comprehensive database on the settlements. Brigadier
    General (res.) Baruch Spiegel, aide to then defense minister Shaul Mofaz, was put in
    charge of the project. For over two years, Spiegel and his staff, who all signed a special
    confidentiality agreement, went about systematically collecting data, primarily from the
    Civil Administration.
    One of the main reasons for this effort was the need to have credible and accessible
    information at the ready to contend with legal actions brought by Palestinian residents,
    human rights organizations and leftist movements challenging the legality of
    construction in the settlements and the use of private lands to establish or expand them.
    The painstakingly amassed data was labeled political dynamite.
    The defense establishment, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, steadfastly refused to
    publicize the figures, arguing, for one thing, that publication could endanger state
    security or harm Israel’s foreign relations. Someone who is liable to be particularly
    interested in the data collected by Spiegel is George Mitchell, President Barack Obama’s
    special envoy to the Middle East, who came to Israel this week for his first visit since his
    appointment. It was Mitchell who authored the 2001 report that led to the formulation of
    the road map, which established a parallel between halting terror and halting
    construction in the settlements.
    The official database, the most comprehensive one of its kind ever compiled in Israel
    about the territories, was recently obtained by Haaretz. Here, for the first time,
    information the state has been hiding for years is revealed. An analysis of the data
    reveals that, in the vast majority of the settlements – about 75 percent – construction,
    sometimes on a large scale, has been carried out without the appropriate permits or
    contrary to the permits that were issued. The database also shows that, in more than 30
    settlements, extensive construction of buildings and infrastructure (roads, schools,
    synagogues, yeshivas and even police stations) has been carried out on private lands
    belonging to Palestinian West Bank residents.
    Read more here:


  2. Paul Norheim says:

    And here you can admire the artwork:


  3. Paul Norheim says:

    “Bush shoe attack spawns artwork
    A sculpture of an enormous bronze-coloured shoe has been
    erected in Iraq to honour the journalist who threw his shoes at
    ex-US President George W Bush.
    The sofa-sized artwork was formally unveiled in Tikrit,
    hometown of late Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein.
    Artist Laith al-Amari insisted it was not a political work, but a
    “source of pride for all Iraqis”.
    Mr Zeidi shot to fame as a result of his actions, which signalled
    extreme contempt in the Arab world, and inspired rallies across
    the Middle East and beyond.
    About 400 people gathered on Thursday to see the monument
    unveiled – a shoe on a white pedestal, about 3m (10ft) high,
    with a poem praising Mr Zaidi at its base, AFP said. There is also
    a tree sticking out of the shoe.
    The sculpture stands in the gardens of an Iraqi foundation that
    looks after children whose parents died in the violence following
    the US-led invasion.”


  4. Kathleen G says:

    Having problems accessing this. Trouble at you tube too.


  5. Cee says:

    Alert Zalmay
    Hamas official: Not talking about Israel’s destruction
    Senior Islamist group official Ghazi Hamad says Hamas wants to be part of international community, will agree renounce resistance in return for state in ’67 borders

    Why we’re in Afghanistan
    War against terrorism? Not really.
    Reminder: it’s all about oil.
    A quick look at the map is all it takes. It’s no coincidence that the map of terror in the Middle East and Central Asia is practically interchangeable with the map of oil. There’s Infinite Justice, Enduring Freedom — and Everlasting Profits to be made: not only by the American industrial-military complex, but especially by American and European oil giants.


  6. ... says:

    steve – thanks for a shortened 11′ interview.. pardon my ignorance but has anyone ever articulated why the usa is in afganistan in a clear way that goes beyond – ‘hunting down suspected terrorists’..?


  7. Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi says:

    The most irrefutable fact of the UN’s history is that the role of UN’s multilateral diplomacy in the world is central to the power-politics played by the UNSC’s p-5,and in this connection, one needs no further explanation regarding American clutches of the unilateral diplomacy that has harmed the image of the UN as the world institution, particularly in the recent years.


  8. Eric Goodale says:

    A suggested tactic: All comments I have read say that the opium trade is a serious problem. Could we not turn this to our advantage? Why not purchase the poppy crop directly from the Afghan farmers–at a good price–more than the international drug trade would be willing to pay. Make these purchases through the national(or regional) government.
    The program would, of course, need rules and conditions.The farmers would have to agree to reduce their poppy plantings by a percentage each year in the meantime transitioning to other crops or other means of making a living. Imagine–putting development funds directly into the hands of the farmer.
    In the United States we have alot of experience paying farmers not to grow crops. This program would be a good vehicle to insert intense training in “green” agriculture. Programs such as Cooperative Extension and Future Farmer’s in the United States might serve as models. Such an approach could also result in a weakening of the warlords as the farmers develop a direct relationship with the central government. If the farmers were assisted to form Agricultural coops, such coops could develop into countervailing centers of local power.


  9. Dan Kervick says:

    Yes, I’ve always had a good impression of Nasr’s work as well. I own The Shia Revival and enjoyed it. Nasr used to post from time to time over at TPM Cafe back in the day when they covered foreign policy, and he seemed quite reasonable to me.


  10. WigWag says:

    A foreign policy homerun for Obama and Clinton. Speaking of Khalilzad’s work in South Asia, it is being reported that Vali Nasr has been appointed as Richard Holbrooke’s chief deputy for his work on Pakistan and Afghanistan.
    I’ve always thought of Nasr as an expert on Iran and on Shiite-Sunni relations but apparently he has also worked on and written about ethnic conflict in Pakistan.
    Nasr seems to be a brilliant young man who will hopefully also lend his expertise to Dennis Ross when he’s appointed to take over the Iran portfolio. Nasr has been an unambiguous supporter of aggressive and active engagement with Iran without preconditions. But anyone who has read any of his books especially “The Shia Revival” knows that his assessment of Iran is quite realistic; he doesn’t wear rose colored glasses.
    If we’re to make any progress on the Pakistan-Afghanistan front it seems like the Holbrooke-Nasr team is about the best anyone could hope for.


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