Defining McCain's International Priorities
NEAL CONAN, host:
This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. The next president faces enormous problems around the world: the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the challenges of Russia and China, the interlocked issues of energy and national security, trade and global warming, the Middle East, Cuba and many more, all, as we've learned, with limited resources and in many places, limited influence.
Many Mondays, Ted Koppel joins us to help connect the dots of international news. Two weeks ago we spoke with a senior foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama. Today, what America's place in the world might look like in a McCain administration. Randy Scheunemann joins us in just a moment.
What do you think a McCain administration's top priorities in foreign policy ought to be? 800-989-8255 is our phone number, the email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. Later in the program, the value of male teachers and why there are so few in elementary schools. But first, America in the world. Ted Koppel joins us from his home in Maryland. Always good to have you on the program, Ted.
TED KOPPEL: Thank you. Always good to be with you.
CONAN: And Randy Sheunemann joins us from the studios of WETA, a member station in Arlington, Virginia. He's the director of foreign policy and national security for the McCain-Palin campaign. Previously he headed Orion Strategies, a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., and before that he worked as a senior aid to Republican Senators Bob Dole and Trent Lott. And Randy Sheunemann, thanks very much for your time today.
Mr. RANDY SHEUNEMANN (Director, Foreign Policy and National Security, McCain-Palin Campaign): Pleasure to be here, Neal.
CONAN: And let me begin by asking that after 9/11, the Bush administration adopted the threat of terrorism as its organizing principle, put new emphasis on the use of preemptive attacks and later cited the gathering threat to justify the invasion of Iraq. Will the organizing principle of the McCain administration's foreign policy be different?
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: Well, I think what Senator McCain has said repeatedly is that the dangers posed by radical Islamic extremism is a transcendent threat that we and our allies are going to have to deal with. That doesn't mean it's the only threat and it certainly doesn't mean it's the organizing principle but the reality is al-Qaeda and their affiliates have attacked the United Stated, would like to attack the United States again, and so clearly preserving and protecting the national security is the first chore for any commander-in-chief, and the threat posed by al-Qaeda and their affiliates are going to be at the top of the agenda along with many other high-priority, international affairs items.
KOPPEL: Couple of weeks ago, as Neal mentioned, we talked to Greg Craig, and I asked him to explain what the foreign policy advisory group surrounding Senator Obama was like, and he described it this way. He said there are about five people at the hub and then as the spokes reach out, maybe there are anywhere up to a couple of hundred of specialists and experts out there whom the hub can draw upon. Would you give us the comparable setup for the McCain campaign?
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: Sure, Ted, I'd be happy to. And first, I do understand from news accounts that the Obama campaign has some 300 foreign policy advisers, and you have to understand that Senator Obama came into this race with a fundamentally different level of understanding and experience and judgment on international affairs. Senator McCain has been involved in national security affairs literally for four decades, just over two decades in uniform, two decades in the House and Senate looking at these issues, he's intimately familiar with them.
So on one level, John McCain needs foreign policy advisers like Tiger Woods needs a golf coach. Having said that, we certainly have dozens of experts that have volunteered to offer assistance. Senator McCain has many individuals that he's had relationships with over the years that he talks to regularly on foreign affairs. He's been endorsed by former Cabinet secretaries going back to even the Nixon years, Jim Slesinger, Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Larry Eagleburger, many individuals that he's built relationships with, and he talks to those individuals as well as receiving information and materials and speech drafting and things like that from myself and four or five people that work with me at headquarters, as well as the outside advisers who have offered their services.
KOPPEL: Now, of course, you have a rookie on the team right now. Who's advising her?
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: We don't have a rookie on the team. I assume you're talking about Governor Palin. Governor Palin...
KOPPEL: And I'm only talking about her foreign policy expertise, but maybe you can give us a sense of what that is.
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: Well, certainly, I mean, for starters, she's been the governor of the only U.S. state that has two international boundaries, a land border with Canada and a maritime border with Russia. Significant military facilities are on this territory, the state of Alaska, from Fort Wainwright, which has a striker brigade that's about to deploy to Iraq, we have F22's at Elmendorf Air Force Base, we have the national missile defense site that is being constructed in Alaska. She's hosted literally dozens of international trade delegations as part of her duties as governor. She's also traveled overseas to visit Alaskan National Guard troops deployed in the Persian Gulf region.
KOPPEL: Well, I live in Maryland. That doesn't make me an expert on Pennsylvania or Virginia. Just what is it that causes her to have this expertise that you talk about beyond the fact that there bases in Alaska which she may be familiar with, but I don't quite understand how that gives her expertise in the former Soviet Union or in Russia?
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: Well, you have to understand, Ted, first of all, that the world looks a little bit different when you're from Alaska. It is an outpost, literally, of the United States, not connected, geographically contiguous. It is an essentially a part of the Asian Pacific region, and I think people that are in positions of executive responsibility in Alaska understand and have viewed the world slightly differently than somebody who is, say, a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago or a state senator. So in reality...
KOPPEL: So it would be fair to assume, then, if and when we ever get the opportunity of talking to Governor Palin, that she has considerable expertise on Russia?
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: I think it would be fair to say that Governor Palin has considerable expertise in running a large state. She has more executive experience than Senator Obama and Senator Biden combined. She has passed significant legislation through her leadership, not just co-sponsoring something written by others. She's passed a budget. She's an active in oil pipeline, which has significant international ramifications. She's worked with Canadian companies and the Canadian government on international energy issues.
KOPPEL: I was just asking - and Neal, I'll back off in just a moment. I just still want to get an answer to my initial question. Who's prepping her on foreign policy?
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: We've got a number of folks that are working on the campaign, making sure she's fully conversant with Senator McCain's position, what's usual and routine for any running mate that comes on the ticket, just as when Senator Biden joined the ticket, he had numerous positions that weren't consistent with or consonant with Senator Obama's positions, and there's that usual process of blending.
KOPPEL: But no special training.
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: No, no special training. I mean, Governor - you know, she'll be working in debate preparation, as all four candidates will be working in debate preparation. She'll certainly be reviewing statements, and she's certainly going to be accessible to the media. In fact, later on this week she's got the first of what I'm sure will be many interviews - interviews scheduled with the national media.
CONAN: We're speaking with Randy Sheunemann, director of foreign policy and national security for McCain-Palin, and I'm sure you just misspoke earlier, it's a gas pipeline that she acted on in Alaska. But speaking of pipelines and getting onto the subject of the recent war between Georgia and Russia, earlier today the president of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, repeated allegations that he's made in the past that he said that the president of Georgia had been encouraged directly or indirectly by the United States to strike into South Ossetia, which prompted the Russian retaliation. Every piece of information we've had is that the United States was advising the president of Georgia not to do that. Do you believe the Russian's believe this?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: That's a very good question, Neal, and sometimes it's a little bit hard given the level of rhetoric, which unfortunately is early reminiscent of the kind of rhetoric we heard in the '70s and '80s when the Cold War was raging. It's a little hard to understand what the Russians are saying for whatever they perceive their domestic political purposes and what they're saying if they actually believe it. I mean, they have called President - democratically-elected President Saakashvili of Georgia a political corpse and have refused to deal with him. I mean, the reality is that Russian actions have actually united not just the United States but all of Europe, Western and Central Europe, against the Russian - the illegal Russian invasion and occupation of Georgia.
CONAN: Yet, the Europeans said today that after a Russian promise to withdraw all its forces from what it described are the core areas of Georgia by - within a month, that there's no reason not to go ahead with regular conversations and talks with Russia, that the normalization process continues.
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Well, I'm not sure that the normalization process continues. The closer association agreement between the EU and Russia has been put on hold. The reality is that there's not a single European view. There are number of different views. I think the Europeans are still working on that. I think what's going to be the challenge for next administration, which obviously we hope will be headed by Senator McCain and Governor Palin, will be to forge a common transatlantic consensus on what to do about Russia in all the aspects of its relationship. It's something that Senator McCain has been talking about for years.
In fact, on this issue, as on so many other international issues, he was light years ahead of the curve in seeing the problems that Russia posed not only through its restrictions of democratic freedoms at home but also its actions abroad, which undermine the sovereignty and territorial integrity of their neighbors.
CONAN: Would a McCain administration put NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine on a fast track?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Senator McCain has spoken out repeatedly since at least 2006 in favor of closer association between Ukraine and Georgia and NATO. The next step in the relationship is what's called the Membership Action Plan, or MAP, that was considered at the Blue Crest Summit of NATO members in April. Senator McCain urged NATO to move to that next step. Unfortunately, the NATO alliances did not, and it seems pretty clear in retrospect that the fact that NATO did not moved forward on that was interpreted by at least some in Moscow as a green light to move ahead with their designs to dismember a country's internationally recognized borders.
CONAN: Yet, it was Georgia that prompted the attack.
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Well, the events of exactly what happened on August 6, 7 and 8 are still unclear. My understanding is there's going to be some folks from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and maybe from the EU looking at the exact sequence of events, but what's not in dispute is that ever since the Saakashvili government came into power in January 2004, the Russians have sought to undermine it. They have enacted first an embargo on all wine and water exports, and then an embargo on all Georgian exports. They deported ethnic Georgian's back to the territory. They cut off energy pipelines. They issued passports to separatists in Abkahzia and South Ossetia that's been going on for four years.
CONAN: We're talking about the global challenges facing the next administration. Our guest is Randy Scheunemann, director of foreign policy and national security for McCain-Palin, and in a moment, your calls. 800-989-8255. You can also send us email, email@example.com. Of course, Ted Koppel will be with us, as well. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
CONAN: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. As a decorated naval aviator, a member of Congress for more than two decades, John McCain often campaigns on the strength of his foreign policy experience. The next president faces any number of challenges around the world in Iraq, Afghanistan, Russia, China, to name just a few. Two weeks ago, we spoke with the senior adviser to the Obama campaign about how they see America in the world. If you missed that conversation, there's a link to it on our Web site.
Today we get the view for the McCain campaign. Many Mondays, Ted Koppel joins us. He's managing editor of the Discovery Channel and our NPR news analyst here on Talk of the Nation. Our guest, Randy Scheunemann, director of foreign policy and national security for the McCain-Palin campaign. What do you think the foreign policy priorities of the next administration ought to be? 800-989-8255. Email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. And Ted, why don't you start us off?
KOPPEL: Well, I'm reminded of an all-night Senate session that took place months and months and months ago, but one of the things that leaped out at me - and this must have happened, I just happened to be watching at 1:30 or two o'clock in the morning - and there was Senator McCain on the floor, and he said something which on the face of it is self-evident but you never hear senior politicians talking about it. And he said one of the reasons that Iraq and our presence in Iraq is so important to the national interest of the United States is oil. Is he going to be talking about that during the campaign, Mr. Scheunemann?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Well, he's certainly going to talk about the importance of Iraq stakes, our interests that are at stake, the consequences of alternative policy options that Senators Obama and Biden have advocated over the year. I mean, clearly - over the years, excuse me. Clearly, what we have seen with the tremendous rise in oil prices is the impact of events in oil-producing countries far from our borders has a significant economic impact on the United States. That's why Senator McCain has laid forward a comprehensive vision to move us away from dependence on imported oil and a comprehensive energy policy in the context of Iraq. Clearly, if we did not have the oil that Iraq is supplying to the world market today, prices would be even higher and American consumers would be paying even more for gasoline and heating oil.
KOPPEL: Actually, I wasn't referring specifically to the oil that comes from Iraq alone. Obviously, that's included in the equation, but is it Senator McCain's position that one of the reasons that Iraq is so important to us and that stability in Iraq is so important is that a lack of stability can bleed over into other parts of the Persian Gulf, which, of course, is arguably the most important region in the world for oil and natural gas.
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Clearly, the consequences of what we do in Iraq will have a huge impact on stability throughout the region, in Saudi Arabia and Jordan and certainly in Iran. And had we followed the course of action advocated by Senator Obama last year, which was to adhere to a rigid timetable for withdrawal, which he put forward in January 2007, all troops would have been out in March of 2008 or April of 2008 under his plan. And I think it's clear that Iraq would have been in chaos.
Senator Obama also, in May of 2007, voted against 94.4 billion dollars in supplemental emergency funds dedicated to funding our troops fighting on the ground in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And had his position prevailed, funds would have been cut off and it would have then forced the most precipitous withdrawal imaginable. Instead, we have proceeded on the surge strategy, something Senator McCain advocated since the fall 2003 after his first return from his first visit in Iraq. Had we followed that policy earlier, I think the positive effects we have seen over the past 18 months would have been in place much earlier.
But we are where we are now and the fact is that violence is down dramatically, the Iranians have not achieved their goals, al-Qaeda in Iraq is on the run but not fully defeated, and we have the prospect of a stable Iraq, able to govern itself, not pose a threat to its neighbors without large-scale U.S. forces, a realistic prospect for us to talk about.
CONAN: Let's get some listeners in on the conversation, and we'll begin with Davidson. And Davidson is calling us from Azerbaijan.
DAVIDSON (Caller): Yes. I actually have one correction and one question. I'm here in Azerbaijan, right beside Georgia, and a lot of the work I was doing with direct - affected directly by Georgian - a lot of my colleagues are there. And Georgia did indeed attack first. So, you know, that just needs to be put out there. But the Russian's response was a bit too much.
But my question was, McCain seems to prefer military-type responses or military-backed diplomacy, or that's the impression I get. What I wanted to know was what does McCain plan on doing to improve international relations because in my work - I just finished a job in Afghanistan and now I'm here in Azerbaijan - and really, the world just doesn't like the U.S., and I fear that more McCain is going to equal more Bush, at least that's how the world will perceive it. So what's McCain going to do to change that? And I'll take my answer off the air.
CONAN: Davidson, thanks for the call. Appreciate it.
DAVIDSON: OK, bye.
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Well, Davidson, I'm glad to hear that NPR is listened to halfway around the world, in Baku or whatever part of Azerbaijan you're in, and I thank you for the question. Frankly, it is a complete misperception to think that Senator McCain has a preference from military options. Just the opposite, as he said repeatedly, he hates war and as a veteran he knows firsthand the cost of war. He has talked about using all of the tools at our disposal: economic, diplomatic, intelligence, law enforcement, financial, as well as the military tool in the struggle against radical Islamic extremism.
In regards to the question about how America is viewed in the world, Senator McCain has said repeatedly that America's image is a strategic asset, every bit as important as our army divisions, army brigades and aircraft carriers, and that we have neglected under this administration the impact of certain actions of ours that have on our image around the world. Senator McCain has called for the closing of Guantanamo. Senator McCain stood up to the Bush administration on issues of detainee treatment, forced a change in the law to make clear that we do not abuse those individuals that are under our custody, whatever actions they may have committed.
He did those things because he believed they were right based on his personal experiences but also because he's traveled the world and he has met with foreign leaders and he understands how harmful the images of Abu Ghraib in Guantanamo and the idea that Americans would torture detainees, how negatively that affects our image in the world and our ability to work with our allies on common threats, as well as to pursue common opportunities, depends on perception of the United Stated. So in that sense I think he's very different from the current administration as he's stood up to them on a number of occasions.
CONAN: Here's an email question from Craig in Moose Lake, Minnesota. "Global overpopulation must be the top priority of any administration. We're heading into a global emergency of global warming, water and food and energy shortages, poverty, war. Every issue we do with in a stop-gap manner is made worse by growing human numbers. When energy runs out, we'll no longer be able to support our current population, let alone another two to four billion. We must do everything we can to bring down numbers through birth control to the two billion scientists say the world can sustain." Is global population going to be a priority in the McCain administration?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Well, you know, I thank Craig for the question but I think we would approach things a little bit differently. We heard this view in the 1970s that somehow there was an optimum number of people in the world and that resources were declining and that we are running out of things and there were all kinds of predictions made about what we would be running out of in the 1980s or by 1990. Fortunately, those didn't come true because those models tend to underestimate human ingenuity and human entrepreneurship.
Senator McCain has been very outspoken on the need to combat disease. For example in Africa, where the goal of eradicating malaria, was strong supporter of significantly increased funding to make more effective drugs and retrovirals available to those people in Africa and elsewhere that were infected with HIV. So I think it's a little bit of an oversimplification to say that from overpopulation stems all other problems. But certainly Senator McCain shares a concern that is implicit in the question about the need to do more on global warming.
In 2003 he introduced the first legislation to provide for a cap-and-trade system. He has broken with the Bush administration on that issue, as well, very significantly, on the need to do much more to control carbon dioxide emissions and to work cooperatively on an international, truly global solution to what is a global problem.
KOPPEL: Let me draw on a variation of the same theme. The Chinese are putting an additional 9,000 cars a day on the road. Between the Chinese and the Indians, the demand for oil, in particular, is going to grow exponentially over the next few years. What exactly is the McCain plan for dealing with that problem?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Senator McCain has spoken extensively about what we need to do here at home, but also noted what other countries are pursuing on the transportation side, which he specifically mentioned. The Chinese are also very advanced in research into biofuels, and in fact, into biofuels and methanol, for example, which does not compete with food crops for growing. Senator McCain has talked about flex fuels, he's talked about incentives for a battery that is commercially viable that would make electric cars more widely available and more commercially viable in the United States.
He's also talked about the need for additional nuclear power, which is a clean, safe form of technology and note that the next step on the U.S.-India civil nuclear accord is approved by the nuclear supplier's group. To the extent India is generating its power through nuclear means, they are not generating carbon dioxide emissions. And so it's got to be a multi-faceted approach. There's no silver bullet but between nuclear power and getting a transportation network that doesn't revolve around gasoline will do a significant - significant improvement in the emissions from - not just from United States but also from emerging powers and rapidly growing economies like China and India.
CONAN: Let's get Jay on the line. Jay is with us from Half Moon Bay in California.
JAY (caller): Yes, I am. Thank you.
CONAN: Go ahead, please.
JAY: Yeah, my question is actually one posed by Joe Biden yesterday. And that was, again, this - seeing this as a regional conflict as opposed to as a conflict between states, and John Mccain seems to be comfortable with - again, the state-by-state conflict. But since he has refused to speak with Syria or Iran and in fact, as indicated, he'd like to bomb Iran, does that really make him a good candidate or a good president in terms of making decisions on a regional basis, which is, again, many of these issues are regionally-based and we're going to have to work with a number of people. As well, I did want to mention that Senator Palin doesn't really have much more experience than Spiro Agnew or Dan Quayle.
CONAN: It's Governor Palin. But go ahead, for an answer, Randy Scheunemann.
JAY: Governor Palin. Thank you.
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Sure, Jay. Well, let me - let me address the question, maybe, in perhaps a little bit more high-minded fashion than it was posed. Unless you're talking about negotiations with a regional organization, you can only solve problems regionally by working with individual governments. In the case of Iran, Senator McCain has been a strong supporter of more effective diplomatic, political, economic and financial sanctions to dissuade the Iranian government from its current course, while at the same time supporting the very generous package of incentives that has been put on the table with the support of the United States by our European partners in the negotiations with Iran. So the issue with Iran isn't lack of negotiations or even the level of negotiations. The issue with Iran is...
JAY: Well, would he speak directly with them?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: The issue with Iran is getting the right balance of carrots and sticks of incentives and disincentives to prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons, which would have catastrophic consequences. It would certainly endanger the existence of our valued ally in Israel and it would certainly set up a regional nuclear arms race. And I think the last thing we need to see is more nuclear powers in the Middle East.
But it seems pretty clear that a number of countries, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt would consider their own nuclear programs or considering their own civilian nuclear programs right now, should the Iranians get nuclear weapons. And so that would be a very, very high priority in the McCain administration. But the way to do that is diplomatically and working with our allies.
JAY: Directly with them?
CONAN: Jay, thanks very much for the call. Appreciate it.
JAY: Thanks, Neal.
CONAN: We're talking with Randy Scheunemann, a senior foreign policy and national security adviser to the McCain-Palin campaign. Ted Koppel is with us, as he is on many Mondays. You're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News.
And to maybe put that question just another way, would a McCain administration be willing to tolerate, under any circumstances, Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons? And let me also add, would it be willing to tolerate an agreement with North Korea that let Pyongyang hang on to some of its nuclear weapons?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Well, let's take Iran first. As I said in response to the question from the previous caller, the consequences of an Iranian acquisition of nuclear weapons would be catastrophic. They would be devastating. Our European allies and partners understand this, not only for the state of Israel, which rightly views Iranian possession of nuclear weapons as an existential threat, it would trigger a regional nuclear arms race. We've already seen the Syrians try to move down the nuclear road with North Korean assistance. And so I think that the idea that the world would somehow be better place if Iran had nuclear weapons is belied by the facts and certainly not a view that's shared by our closest allies. And Senator McCain believes very deeply that we need to work with our allies in confronting a challenge like the Iranian nuclear program.
In the case of North Korea, what we've seen in recent weeks is despite a lifting and relaxing of some sanctions on North Korea, despite a multilateral diplomatic track that promised a number of incentives for North Korea, the North Koreans continue to be determined to stall and delay and not meet the commitments made repeatedly in international agreements, in the six-party talks framework.
The security of East Asia, certainly the security of the Grand Peninsula, is worse off since the North Koreans decided to start building nuclear weapons. It is worse off since they tested the nuclear weapons and it is worse off when they continue to test their ballistic missile capabilities. It's a high-priority challenge that Senator McCain believes we need to continue work diplomatically, particularly with our democratic allies in South Korea and Japan to minimize the risk to the region and to peace and security in the region.
KOPPEL: I'm sorry. May I just jump in with a quick question? Would you dot the "i" and cross the "t" on Iran for me when it comes - if the Iranians were to develop a nuclear weapon, is that (unintelligible), does the United States attack?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: I'm obviously not going to draw specifics of a hypothetical. What Senator McCain has said very clearly is that the only thing worse than military action against Iran is a nuclear-armed Iran. I would note that Senator Obama has not taken the military option off the table. It would be imprudent to take any options off the table but at the same time, Senator McCain has said there's much more we could to increase the cost at the same as offering incentives which are on the table for the Iranian regime to dissuade them from their current cost.
They have economic vulnerabilities. They import 40 percent of their refined gasoline. Inflation is out of control. They've had bread riots. There certainly should be a way we can come together with our Arab partners and our European allies to increase the cost to the Iranian regime of continuing down the path of acquiring nuclear weapons.
KOPPEL: It's hard to think...
CONAN: Ted, I just have to ask Randy if he could just stay with us for a couple of more minutes and take a couple of more questions.
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: Be happy to.
OK, Randy Scheunemann is going to take a couple of more questions as we continue our conversation with Ted Koppel about what America in the world might look like to a McCain administration. We'll also go to the Opinion Page and talk with Derrick Jackson of the Boston Globe about the scarcity and the importance of male teachers in elementary schools. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.
(Soundbite of music)
CONAN: Ted Koppel is with us, as he is on many Mondays. Our guest today is Randy Scheunemann who joins us from the studios of WETA, director of foreign policy and national security for the McCain-Palin campaign, previously the head of Orion Strategies, a lobbying firm in Washington, before that a senior aid to Republican Senators Bob Dole and Trent Lott.
And Randy Scheunemann, we're getting a lot of questions from listeners about your previous lobbying work for the state of Georgia, with the company you still co-own but you've left the lobbying part of it since March when new rules were put in by the McCain campaign. But is it not a conflict of interest, do you think, for lobbyists, for foreign governments, to be advisers to presidential candidates?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: I think what's important, Neal, is for disclosure in every - all the work I have done, whether for domestic or foreign client, has been fully disclosed, consistent with all the requirements of U.S. law. That's the reason people are able to know so much about what meetings I did and what my firm was paid because we did fully disclose that work. I'm proud of the work I've done for countries that have successfully gotten into NATO, like Latvia and Romania over the years. I'm proud of the work I've done for Georgia, which is a struggling democracy seeking to get closer to the West in the face of, as we discussed earlier, some pretty significant Russian opposition. And Senator McCain, as well as anybody else I ever discussed any of my clients with, knew fully who I was working for and knew that I wouldn't be working for them if I didn't share their goals.
KOPPEL: Since we're back on the subject of Georgia again, let me tie up one loose end. The agreement that appears to have been worked out between the Russians and the Europeans would have Russian troops remaining in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Would that be acceptable to President McCain?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: I think, first, let's get to implementing - the Russians actually implementing what they have promised to implement in the past, and that is to get Russian forces out of non-disputed areas, including areas where they are literally hundreds of kilometers from South Ossetia. The Russians also had an interpretation of a provision of additional security measures which was disputed by the French. But the agreement calls for forces going back to the status quo level of August 6th, in which case we're talking about a relatively small number of so-called peacekeepers in Ossetia and Abkhazia.
I think what's going to be critical, if we get to that point, is to get true international peacekeepers in there, truly an independent, impartial force, which is something that the Georgians and the United States government and many in Europe have been calling for for a long time, because obviously, Russian actions make it clear they're not playing the role of peacekeeper, they're playing the role of belligerent.
KOPPEL: Does the agreement actually call for the return of the same number or does it mention numbers at all?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: My understanding is that it recalls the same level and deployment of forces. In which case, the Russian's would be eligible for about 300, I believe, is the number in South Ossetia, slightly larger number in Abkhazia.
CONAN: Would a McCain administration help the Georgians reequip and retrain their army?
Mr. SCHEUNEMANN: That's not something Senator McCain has talked about publicly. He certainly was, it this current context, he certainly was supportive. The number of programs that took place in previous years that enabled the Georgians to improve their capabilities, and of course, the Georgians did it not because of designs they had on anything to do on Georgian territory but because they wanted to be participants in international security operations.
When this conflict broke out they were the third-largest troop contributor in Iraq. They had over 2,000 - right around 2,000 forces in Iraq that were subsequently airlifted home. They've had deployments in Kosovo, and they've discussed small deployments in Afghanistan.
KOPPEL: A number of my friends in the foreign policy field, when I ask, what's your worst nightmare, what keeps you awake at night, the answer is Pakistan. Is there anything new and different that a McCain administration would do with regard to concerns about Pakistan, which, after all, has many nuclear weapons?
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: Well, certainly, Ted, I think that we'd have to agree with your friends in the foreign policy community that Pakistan poses one of the most significant challenges for a new president. I think unfortunately, on the part of the Obama campaign, there's been some oversimplification of just how difficult the situation is. You know, Senator Obama has talked publicly about undertaking unilateral military action in Pakistan, which makes it more difficult to get the support of those we need in the Pakistani government because of an understandable backlash.
CONAN: Which the Bush administration apparently did last week.
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: The Bush administration has done this but the difference is, Neal, you don't see President Bush or Secretary Gates or Secretary Rice going to the podium and announcing to the world they're going to undertake unilateral military action in Pakistan, whether the government likes it or not, for the very obvious reason that it makes it more difficult to get the cooperation of the government. That's what Senator Obama seems unable to understand. They've also, in the Obama campaign, scored their rhetorical debating point about putting all the eggs in the Musharraf basket for too long, and they need to update that one because President Musharraf is no longer in power, there's a new president. In fact, Senator McCain spoke with the new president, Zardari, yesterday morning, and it's going to be a very difficult challenge.
The reality is we cannot succeed in achieving our security goals in Pakistan without working with the government, and that's going to be difficult. They're going to have forces that don't want to move in the federally-administered tribal areas in Waziristan. It's going to involve a lot of military aid, it's going to involve development aid and it's going to be tough and it's going to be frustrating, but we have no alternative. That's the realistic view of dealing with Pakistan.
CONAN: Randy Sheunemann, thanks very much. I'm afraid - we could talk all day, but I'm afraid we're out of time.
Mr. SHEUNEMANN: Thank you, Neal. My pleasure. Thank you, Ted.
KOPPEL: Thank you.
CONAN: Randy Sheunemann, and thank you also to Ted Koppel, who will be with us here many Mondays on Talk of The Nation. He's the managing editor of The Discovery Channel, as well. Ted, as always, good to speak with you.
KOPPEL: Thank you, Neal.
CONAN: Coming up next, the Opinion Page.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.