Talking Foreign Policy: Responding to Rogue States.


"Talking Foreign Policy" is a one-hour radio program, hosted by the Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Michael Scharf, in which experts discuss the important foreign policy issues. The premier broadcast (airdate: March 1, 2012) covered the controversial use of predator drones, humanitarian intervention in Syria, and responding to Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons. Subsequent broadcasts have covered topics such as the challenges of bringing indicted tyrants to justice, America's Afghanistan exit strategy, the issue of presidential power in a war without end, and President Obama's second term foreign policy team. This broadcast focused on the responding to rogue states.

The purpose of the radio show is to cover some of the most salient foreign policy topics and discuss them in a way that can make it easier for listeners to grasp. "Talking Foreign Policy" is recorded in the WCPN 90.3 Ideastream studio, Cleveland's NPR affiliate. Michael Scharf is joined each session with a few expert colleagues known for their ability to discuss complex topics in an easy-to-digest manner:

* The ambassador: Todd F. Buchwald, former Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice and Assistant Legal Adviser for U.N. Affairs, and current fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars;

* The prosecutor: James Johnson, former Chief of Prosecutions of the Special Court of Sierra Leone and current the Director of the War Crimes Research Office at Case Western Reserve University;

* The international law guru: Milena Sterio, Associate Dean of The Cleveland Marshall College of Law; and

* The negotiator: Paul R. Williams, president of the Public International Law and Policy Group.

Archived broadcasts (both in audio and video format) of "Talking Foreign Policy" are available at: The transcript of the September 17, 2018 broadcast appears below.

Talking Foreign Policy: Responding to Rogue States September 17, 2018 broadcast (1)

Michael Scharf: Welcome to Talking Foreign Policy, I'm your host, Michael Scharf, (2) Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law. In this broadcast, our expert panelists will be discussing the issue of responding to Rogue States. For our program today, we've assembled a panel of experts on peace negotiations, national security, human rights and war crimes. Joining Talking Foreign Policy for the first time is Todd Buchwald, who served as the State Department's Ambassador for Global Criminal Justice and Assistant Legal Adviser for U.N. Affairs, and he is currently a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. (3) I've known the ambassador since we worked together at the State Department twenty-five years ago, so I will dispense with the formalities and just say: Welcome to our show, Todd.

TODD Buchwald: Great to be here.

Michael Scharf: And we are also joined by another new guest, James Johnson, (4) who served as Chief of Prosecutions of the Special Court of Sierra Leone after a two-decade career in the U.S. JAG Corps. He is currently the director of the War Crimes Research Office at Case Western Reserve University. Welcome Jim.

James Johnson: Thank you, Michael.

Michael Scharf: And we have two Talking Foreign Policy regulars back with us today. First, Dr. Paul Williams, (5) the president of the Public International Law & Policy Group, a Nobel-Peace-Prize nominated NGO that has provided legal counsel in a dozen peace negotiations over the past twenty-two years. Welcome back to the show, Paul.

Paul Williams: Michael, it's great to be back.

Michael Scharf: And also with us in the WCPN 90.3 Ideastream Studio is Professor Milena Sterio, (6) who is the associate dean of Cleveland Marshall College of Law and a renowned international law expert. It's good to have you back on the program, Milena.

Milena Stereo: It is great to be here, Michael.

Michael Scharf: So, let me kick things off by asking Ambassador Todd Buchwald--how would you define what is a Rogue State?

Todd Buchwald: Well, it's very interesting. It's not really a legal term and it doesn't really have a fixed meaning. (7) For the most part, it's been used as a way to talk about States that don't abide by norms on non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. (8) That's the way it was used early on by the Clinton administration; though, at some point, the Clinton administration made a concerted effort to stop using the word because they thought it was interfering with their ability to conduct diplomacy with countries on the list, like North Korea, who they engaged with. (9) In the Bush administration, it came to be used in association with the famous Axis of Evil countries. Again, it was about terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. (10) There was sort of a background noise to the whole thing--that you might be a target for regime change at some point--in the air. That was in the Bush administration. In the Trump administration, President Trump has used the term when he spoke to the U.N. General Assembly last year, and he added Venezuela to the list. (11) And that was interesting because it's a different kind of Rouge State. I mean, one can easily see that it's not a very comfortable State to deal with. But it was different in the sense that unlike most of the [Rogue] States, its rogueness was directed internally rather than externally. So, that's the way it's used. I think, by and large, the term is still about externally-directed threats. (12)

Michael Scharf: I think you have coined a new phrase that we may be using today, rougeness. So, based on the rogueness criteria, let me ask our expert panel: Which countries in the world do you all consider to be Rogue States? (13) Todd, let's start with you. What would be on your list?

Todd Buchwald: I still tend to think of the States as the security threats. The security rogues. Maybe because of my background as an international lawyer, those are the States that tend to have the more immediate ...

Michael Scharf: So, the worst ones on your list would be?

Todd Buchwald: Well, the worst ones on the executive branch's list would still be Iran ... you would have thought North Korea; there's sort of a strange relationship now with North Korea. But, those two are probably at the top of the list.

Michael Scharf: Paul, what would you add?

Paul Williams: Oh, I would definitely keep North Korea on the list, and then I would add the triumvirate of Syria, Sudan, and Burma, or Myanmar, as they like to be called. All highly destabilizing both internally and externally. (14)

Michael Scharf: And Milena, what would you put on the list?

Milena Sterio: For some historical perspective, you might go back to, for example, Libya under Gaddafi (15)--certainly at the end of that regime. And I certainly agree with both Paul and Todd regarding their lists. You might go back and say Serbia or the F.R.Y.--Federal Republic of Yugoslavia--under Milosevic, as well. (16)

Michael Scharf: But not currently in either of those cases?

Milena Sterio: Not currently.

Michael Scharf: Okay, and Jim: Is there anything we are leaving off?

James Johnson: Well, I think that I might add--I don't think Paul mentioned it--Yemen. I think I might add Yemen to that list.

Michael Scharf: Okay. So, what about Cuba? Would any of you put Cuba on that list? Todd?

Todd Buchwald: It is a funny kind of list to be put on because you don't know what it is that happens when you're on it. I think the relationship with Cuba, probably at this point, has a highly political dimension to it--but I think it really is a little bit different than the other States on the list. (17)

Michael Scharf: What about Turkey? Things are getting pretty out of control in our relations with Turkey. (18) Would you put them on the list, anybody?

Milena Sterio: I wouldn't. When I think of Rogue States, I also think of States that are willing to, essentially, flagrantly act roguely. That might be a new word, too.

Michael Scharf: So, like, invading another country, sending internet attacks into other countries ...

Milena Sterio: Invading another country, using chemical weapons, and things of that sort.

Michael Scharf: What about Russia?

Milena Sterio: Well, Russia actually is very good at using international law rhetoric to justify its actions. Russia doesn't stand up and say, "Oh we don't care about international law."

Michael Scharf: So, is a Rogue State only one that says, "We don't care about the rules?"

Milena Sterio: Well, the other difference I think is if we are defining rogueness, are we talking about it from the United States perspective, or are we talking about it from some objective, global perspective?

Michael Scharf: What's the difference?

Milena Sterio: Well, there is a difference. There are States that are clearly threats, perhaps, to the U.S. And when we talk about, for example, Turkey, you might say, "Okay, U.S.-Turkey relations are really at a low point right now. But from a global perspective, I don't think Turkey is on the same level as Syria, for example, or some of these other States."

Michael Scharf: Okay. So, focusing on those states that are threats to the United States that you've listed. Paul Williams: Why should the US care particularly about these countries?

Paul Williams: Well, I think, Michael, there are two reasons why the United States should care about Rogue States. The first is that they directly impact our security. The United States has security interests woven throughout the globe, and when you have States--either by the strict definition of rejecting the norms relating to terrorism, or as the broader definition of rogueness that we seem to be establishing here--this impacts our ability to maintain the security of the United States and our allies. (19) So, for instance, with North Korea and its nuclear weapons, you know it has the ability to annihilate South Korea and Japan and possibly the ability to strike the United States. Syria...

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