Former U.N. Ambassador and Congressman Andrew Young tells Newsmax TV that the United States has “got to have better intelligence and better diplomacy because wars don’t work.”
“The only places where we have real troubles are Zimbabwe, Cuba, North Korea, and Iran,” says Young, the former Atlanta mayor who retired last year from the GoodWorks International global advisory firm he founded in 1996. “Russia and China were far greater threats, but we talked to them, we worked with them, we found nonviolent ways to have regime change through evolution rather than through war.
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“What Iran wants and what North Korea wants is respect,” Young, 81, tells Newsmax in an exclusive interview.
The same issue is playing out with Israel and the Palestinians in the Middle East, where President Barack Obama has been this week. It is Obama’s first trip to Israel since becoming president.
Even though he toured the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, the biblical birthplace of Jesus Christ, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — Palestinian officials have criticized Obama’s trip because they say the president has ignored their plight and their desire for an independent state.
“It’s hard for me to be optimistic because I know too many of the problems, but we’ve reached a stage in the development of the region where we have to find a solution,” Young tells Newsmax about Obama’s trip. “We have not been able to reach a solution because we’re talking about two different things. Peace for Israel is security and the right to exist and to grow. Peace for the Palestinians is really [about] development, survival.
“You can have both. In fact, you can’t get the Palestinians to stop fighting until they have enough to eat, until they have enough water — so if we approach the Palestinian question from the point of view of their survival as human beings and improving the quality of life, then they are no longer dependent on Hezbollah and Iran and everybody else for weapons.
“Weapons really don’t feed anybody — and the problem for Palestinians is just the basic right to survive as a people, almost the same as Israel, except that Israel denies a kind of political acceptance,” Young adds, referencing a 1979 resolution he vetoed as United Nations ambassador, which led him to quit the post.
“The Palestinians brought me a resolution where they accepted all of the United Nations resolutions that secured Israel’s right to exist,” Young says. “Our government wasn’t ready to do what was necessary — and our State Department wasn’t.
“I found myself in a position where I was being asked by the Israelis to encourage this and by the Palestinians to encourage it, but we were not ready. I ended up having to veto a resolution that I wish we had now.”
The United States should be involved on some level in trying to stop Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but the former ambassador says he is more concerned about the general “rise of Islamic radicalism all over the Middle East and Africa. The more violent we are, the more it’s perpetuated.
“Egypt’s problem is that you’ve got an economy that works for about 40 million people, only you have 90 million people. The answer to the Egyptian problem is not guns, but jobs. We’ve got to find a private-sector, nongovernmental, aggressive way of creating jobs. That’s not America’s role totally.”
Young cites recent news reports saying as much as $20 trillion worldwide is being parked in overseas tax havens because companies “don’t know where to invest or how to invest — and they’re afraid, so they’re sitting on it. It’s almost three times the size of the economy of China. It’s the equivalent of the $16 trillion U.S. debt and the $5 trillion Japanese economy.
“When you have that much money out of circulation, you’re going to have problems,” he adds. “I see the war problem as an economic problem, a business problem, a cultural problem, an educational problem — everything but a military problem.
“There’s no military solution. There is a business solution — and the sooner we can provide jobs, not with our money, but the United States has to provide the framework.
“This is where the creative involvement of the United States comes in,” Young tells Newsmax. “This is what we’re good at. This is what we did for Europe. This is what we did for Japan. This is what we’ve done for much of the world — and we did it without killing anybody.
“We did it by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, and setting at liberty those who are oppressed.”
Obama, Young says, cannot address the nation’s economic ills with political solutions.
“He’s doing the best that he can in a totally polarized Washington. He’s got to do something this year, but he can’t do it politically. He can do it, though, by calling in the private sector.”
Young then mentions how President John F. Kennedy acted to address the concerns of civil-rights protesters in the South in the 1960s.
“President Kennedy could not get the support of Southern Democrats, and not enough to break a filibuster. What he did was invite in the owners of the hotel chains and he talked to them about the need for desegregation. He invited in Roger Blough of U.S. Steel and Walter Reuther of United Auto Workers — and he used, not the bully pulpit, but the table of brotherhood.
“If, every week, the president could get five to 10 great minds on any subject around the dinner table, they could make more progress than he’d ever make talking to Congress.
“I couldn’t get along with the city council in Atlanta,” the longtime Democrat says. “But if I went to the business community and I got them on my side, then I went to the press and I got them on my side, pretty soon my city council would come along, even though they were all Democrats.”
Further, Obama does not have to live up to the expectations of the nation’s African Americans.
“Everybody knows the burden that he’s under — and some of us remember that every president is under a tremendous burden. The president is more concerned about his place in history, and the good of the nation and its . . . leadership in the world, than he is his own polling numbers.”
In his wide-ranging Newsmax interview, Young says:
- The United States must find nonviolent ways to “change despotic governments. That’s the only way we can be sure of what we get. We usually put regime change at the top of our list — and for us that means changing one person. That never works.”
- He is co-writing a book on the third U.S. President Thomas Jefferson. “We’re trying to see if we can find a way to help understand the complexities. He never took a stand against slavery, and yet he had half a dozen children by a black woman (Sally Hemings). Everything he wrote in the Declaration of Independence evolved into empowering all people without regard to race, creed, color — and we take that for granted. But he was a very unpopular man who was probably chastised more, or as much, as Barack Obama.”
- His work through the Andrew Young Foundation — which seeks to develop worldwide leaders to work toward “a global community of peace, prosperity and inclusion” — is enriching. “We’re finding really great geniuses on the streets of Atlanta and around the world,” Young says.
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