I was fortunate to hear three former prime ministers speak tonight in Universal City, California.
John Major, from Great Britain: “Life in Iraq is dire,” Major says. “Unemployment is huge, inflation is 70%.” In Afghanistan, he says, we should be careful about cracking down on poppy growers, because while it may be an “evil” occupation, at least it’s keeping the poppy-croppers busy and without their jobs, they’re going to cause trouble.
Major said that he once asked Boris Yeltsin how things were going in Russia. Yeltsin was preparing a long answer, when Major said, “just tell me in one word.” Yeltsin said, “good.” Then Major said, “OK, you can use two words.” Replied Yeltsin: “Not good.”
Major, who’s only in his mid-60s, was born to a father who grew up in Pennsylvania … in the 1880s! He was 65 when Major was born. Says Major: “My mother was surprised.”
Ehud Barak, from Israel: Believes that Iraq should work to provide higher education for every woman in the country, a move he said would “enrich the labor force” substantially and would generally help the country progress. Said that the last century was the American century, but that China and India are rapidly gaining ground on America in many ways (GDP, college grads, more) and America ought not take its position of influence for granted.
Jose Maria Aznar, of Spain: Says that the U.S. is the “best hope” and Israel the “last hope” … says Israel is the lone Western democracy that happens to be located in the Middle East. “Israel’s survival is essential for the West to exist,” he says.