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tv   The Bottom Line 2020 Ep 3  Al Jazeera  January 16, 2020 6:32am-7:00am +03

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province syria's last remaining rebel held area but the 1st attacks since the beginning of a ceasefire brokered with turkey several towns have been targeted and at least 19 people are reported to be killed the syrian government launched an offensive last year to retake the province hundreds of thousands of people have since fled the fighting. russia's prime minister dmitry medvedev and his entire government have resigned he says that will allow president vladimir putin to introduce changes to the constitution critics though just say putin is trying to hold on to power past his term limits which in 2024. year play with the headlines here on al-jazeera the latest edition of the bottom line with steve clemons is next . trade tensions could cut global economic growth by north point 8 percent we bring you the stories and developments the rapidly changing the world we live in one example china be a drag on the global economy in 2020 counting the cost on al-jazeera
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hi i'm steve clemons and i have a question president trump wants to reduce the american presence in the middle east and replace it with nato how would that work let's get to the bottom line. last week during his self-congratulatory speech after the assassination of iranian general cos i'm sorry mani president trump made a vague request today i am going to ask nato to become much more involved in the middle east process over the last 3 years under my leadership our economy is stronger than ever before and america's achieved energy independence these historic accomplishment shades our strategic priorities. but does that mean the north atlantic treaty organization was established by western countries more than 70 years ago to provide collective security against the
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soviet union after the collapse of the u.s.s.r. and after the 911 attacks nato became involved in places like afghanistan in iraq so what's next assuming responsibility for stability in the middle east would nato accept this new mandate and what would it mean on the ground fortunately we have 3 people in the room who have all the answers alexander vershbow i know i mean sandy was the deputy secretary general of nato until 2016 and before that the u.s. ambassador to the alliance he's now at the atlantic council heather conley was a u.s. state department official working on europe and is currently director of the europe program at the center for strategic and international studies and finally now gardner is a foreign policy analyst at the heritage foundation and former aide to lady margaret thatcher in the united kingdom welcome all thank you very much for being here but before we start lest you think donald trump made a statement about nato in the middle east on a whim the next day he followed up with this exchange and i actually had a name. nato and then you have the middle east you know
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they told me i said what a beautiful name nato member good name straight u.s.m.c. and like the song y.m.c.a. everybody nobody could remember us m.c.s. it think of the song y.m.c.a. now everybody says it they don't remember the previous name of a big deal. commonly known as nafta you know if you add the words if you add the 2 words released at the end of it because that's a big problem that's a big source of problems and they told me it does not work beautifully thank you that. heather setting the village people and y.m.c.a. aside is the term serious seems to be serious seems to be giving this some thought on needle playing a much bigger role in the middle east well certainly the trumpet ministration has been encouraging nato very strongly to focus on counterterrorism to focus on china so this is ministration has tried to set new priorities for nato which in fact when
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the leaders gathered in december in london really embraced new domains like space continue the counterterrorism operation and then focus on china so u.s. leadership in having made a look at new directions that is nothing new but talking about a a nato like structure in the middle east also a very old idea that is that we're going to use doing i not entirely sure and i think this is where we have to have the conversation because a nato like collective defense organization in the middle east is something very different than looking at how nato could be more proactive in the middle east but see what's important to note is that the president's decision on assassinating general solar money suspended but nato training mission in iraq and forced many of our nato allies to leave iraq because the security situation became untenable and they're uncertain about the staying power in the jury ability of u.s. forces in iraq and without that guarantee our allies cannot be in iraq or
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syria or elsewhere so there's some huge challenges about saying we're going to know you're not a big you're not highly confident that this is a well big plan i think it is an idea that said now in search of a strategy a framework and a policy you know i heard you the other night and was very impressed that you you saw more. solvency in this that i think many others that have looked at this tell us what you think about nato playing a greater role in the middle east. well i think basically president trump is making an appeal already for nato allies and partners to play a bigger part actually in terms of burden sharing in terms of of you know western operations in the middle east in fact i don't think that we are going to see the expansion of nato to the middle east side by think that that's a nonstarter altogether but at the end of the day this goes back to president
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trump's central message to the nato alliance which is that there needs be a greater degree of burden sharing that the u.s. cannot overwhelm the entire burden on its own and we need to see nato partners putting more boots on the ground spending more money in terms of military operations and i think what we saw at the nato summit was pretty significant in the present really taking ownership of nato he started off as a nato skeptic he's now the biggest offender of the nato alliance taking on the menu mccraw claims that nato is in effect brain dead and so i think this is really a pitch for nato to step up to the plate to do more i don't think you're going to be seeing any expansion of the nato alliance so do you think nato is brain dead today no i mean. i have a little clip from your own i defending that statement of the trip from president.
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and see. all the words. on. the. so now just before you leave yourself because i'm fascinated by this question and i i know that you're a supporter of boris johnson and it's this interesting mix within nato of what i would call nationalism kind of tied together with folks like macro maybe americal that are principled internationalist how does the equilibrium between those sorts of personalities get set well i think what is most interesting about it is that the
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u.s. and the u.k. really all the all the 2 powers that are committed to the nato alliance headed by donald trump and boris johnson who is a monument croll i think been doing its best to undermine the nato allies the so-called international it's being basically sticking a knife into the back of nato and of course big ideas have a european union on me in effect to compete with nato and and i think it's a disastrous ideas no wonder the vladimir putin things and he is a great idea because of course we'll split the nato alliance we can nato and i think this is the usual mischief making coming from mcchrystal which is not unusual calls from a french president but i think that everything mccrone is saying is why not should we can nato rather than strengthen it sandy is nato at a crossroads now has gone from simultaneously asked for its powers to be expanded to department where it where many with leaders don't know why it exists. well nato is always at a crossroads it's always in crisis and it usually is the constant right usually
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finds its way forward adapts and is very good at adapting but i think that this is a serious moment for a number of reasons 1st of all macross challenges serious i think part of it is designed to shift nato focus more to his number one security concerns which are the instability in the extremism in the middle east and north africa in that sense he may have some overlap with president trump but i think there's also a lot of new threats that are on the horizon that nato is just beginning to play catch up on including the rising threat of china not only in the east asia context but in europe and europe that really nato a nato yeah i'd like to leave the name intact you got a fine pedigree right 70 years of success. but i think coming back to what president trump is saying i think he is trying to make nato more relevant in his own peculiar way and i think he is you know not only preoccupied with the immediate aftermath of his strike against all the money which is i think thrown u.s.
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strategy in the middle east into some kind of tailspin but i also think he's correct in saying that these are the kinds of threats that nato has to be more capable of dealing with he's been saying this for a long time even before as president especially in just 1st year when he had his 1st meeting with nato leaders leaders it was then that he 1st stressed the need for nato to do more against terrorism in the middle east and they do has actually been responding my concern is nato is what grade would you give nato on its response and when when when you were there and then i was there and since i think i need to get best a c. plus they talk the talk they talk about the strategy of projecting stability to their wider neighborhood which sounds really nice but when you look at the actual programs and initiatives that go with that it's pretty much a hollow shell there's very few resources that are being put behind these programs . and. i think the southern allies themselves who should be doing more in their own neighborhood are very ambivalent about have. no do more and i think we're going to see that in the debate over the president's latest comments. of talks the talk but
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when it comes comes to the crunch they don't think nato is the ideal instrument for dealing with the middle east and where does turkey fit into this equation there's been a lot of debate about turkey and the kurds emanuel macro's comments about nato came after turkey seemed to move in a different direction without coordination with other nato members. and i. pretty sure that turkey is not going to be thrilled with a greater nato presence in some of these countries because of its close relationship with iran nile have you where do you see turkey in this you look at turkey as a sound nato ally. unfortunately not actually i think that took his role as being very destabilizing and very negative in recent years we saw all that and the strong statement amply displayed recently with it with this campaign and in syria turkey should be expelled no i don't think turkey should be expelled i think turkey is too important a nato ally for it to be expelled and of course took he has played
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a very important role in recent nato operations especially in afghanistan but i think the direction that took he's taking at this time is an extremely dangerous poff and turkey has to decide whether it wants to remain and could really to the western alliance or whether want to take a different different polls but i'm very concerned about the direction the tookie is is taking and took he really needs to make a very very clear choice in the coming years but i have to say i think that. popularity domestically is declining which is a good thing i think a lot of took a very uneasy with the direction that the country is taking at this at this moment heather like to your viewer turkey too but you know part of the the legacy at least for the last 70 years of nato turkey was there at the signing as well one thing is that the administrations have come and gone there's been different personalities in all of these jobs in leadership in all these countries but nato is sort of. steel and beetle has been resilient and has continued to function but are we at
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a crossroads on turkey well i think again niall is right turkey is causing instability in the region particularly in the eastern mediterranean. turkey was brought into the alliance in 1952 so wasn't a founding member but it was done so in part because turkey and greece were under such heavy influence by the soviet union so this was a very geostrategic an iterative to contain the influence of the soviet union but turkey has always been a problematic and challenging member of the alliance but the alliance to sami's point has always found ways to to bridge that gap i think the bridge though is starting to get more brittle. as a present heir to one's decisions that he's making and your absolute right present mccall's frustration explosion and the brain dead comment was really the frustration of turkey militarily and unilaterally intervening in northern syria for the 3rd time and of course that does create an alliance challenge should an ally
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intervene there's a problem they call upon the alliance for support and collective defense then you bring the alliance into it so big challenges and of course nato has always had a challenge since 91111 defining what they call a southern strategy and that's that counterterrorism nato works best when it's training it's doing so security sector reform infusing the values unfortunately nato allies cannot sustain forces in the middle east without the united states and it's critical enablers when we remove those enablers which we do sometimes without notice and without consultation that ally cannot sustain their presence so what i want if we want allies in the middle east and the u.s. has to build some credibility and sustainability and predictability and its force. i agree with that and i think it's important to remember that mccrone is concerned about being brain dead was partly about turkey's action but was also about u.s.
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greenlighting of the turkish intervention in northern syria and raise questions about the reliability of u.s. leadership and i think this latest initiative unfortunately may be raising some of the same questions particularly as everybody knows that it was a half baked idea that just kind of came spontaneously i mean the saudis applauding this comment of the israelis applauding at jordan i mean i'm trying to think now we don't have on the show but but leadership in the arab world when they heard this it's something some of these countries said yeah we're we're all up for that. i think they've been fairly quiet and waiting to see what it actually means i don't think it means a new organization or certainly doesn't mean expansion of nato membership but it does mean seeing the europeans step up to bear a bigger share of the burden and that's a good idea but as heather said the europeans can't do this by themselves if the president is talking about europe literally taking taking over and the u.s. can exit the middle east. he's kidding himself nato doesn't function without
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a strong going to what is the point of equal what's the right balance there because when you look at u.s. contributions to nato staggeringly large u.k. next got britain france italy is like way way down so i i've been looking into that to the numbers but there's another side of it which asked the question is there a moral hazard problem that's been created by the u.s. essentially being there as a guarantor as a guarantor of last resort on all of these issues and does it not make sense for the u.s. to step back and say we're going to step back and you ought to do more and nato whatever form it is not that the u.s. would be absent but the u.s. might not be leading as much and certainly i think that would be consistent with president obama as well yeah i think it's a been a position of many administrations going back years in the inception of nato but the europeans need to carry more of the weight and i think this is an opportunity to rebalance it's not going to be a sea change i think the u.s. is the driver of the strategy in the region the u.s. needs to stay engaged but i think they can call upon the allies to put more troops into the training missions that are. in iraq and other parts of the region putting
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more resources into some of the other nato programs that are helping stabilize north africa and places like morocco tunisia maybe put some more ships into the eastern med and into the persian gulf part of the freedom of navigation strategy so the u.s. doesn't have to do the heavy lifting there this could all be done under a nato flag it could be done on an ad hoc coalition basis but the bottom line is the europeans should be doing more in these kinds of areas i am interested in what net add president trump has brought to this debate about the middle east and nato and what was there before let's listen to a clip from a previous president. we're bolstering our efforts on nato's southern flank the alliance will increase our support to naval operations in the mediterranean to stop arms traffickers and go after criminals that are exploiting desperate migrants and we're going to do more to help partners from north africa to the middle east to georgia strengthen their own defense capacity. now
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obama is meeting some of these same comments before so what we are is what we're seeing from president really continuity not not new you know i think you do see a high degree of continuity every recent president has campaigned for greater levels of burden sharing greater defense spending among nato partners so trump's message isn't essentially different actually to that of of barack obama's i think the difference is that trump has been a lot more forceful actually in everyone's seeing the message she yes and i think that has had a real impact on overall levels of defense spending among nato allies significantly higher actually and you installed into the nature center general has consistently and repeatedly made this point u.s. leadership of the nato alliance at this time is fundamentally important but it's also working and it's having a real impact so i think overall donald trump is actually being very successful on the nato front but the message that he is conveying is is very similar to the
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message that's being conveyed by the last few u.s. presidents and u.s. leadership i think is absolutely vital it has to continue because if the u.s. step back on the world stage i hate to think what would what would happen i mean european countries really do not have the the strength and the resolve all the levels of military spending to lead across across the world and so american leadership is fundamentally important and i think the europeans and cells would be absolutely fine to death if the u.s. actually stepped back on the world stage. trump all he likes but the reality is the french depend like the rest of europe on the the u.s. security umbrella and i'm sure he understands that privately how much i mean i feel i ask you this question do we have about approaching things like the middle east in nato this role i interviewed former senator george mitchell awhile back and i asked him not just about the israel palestine negotiations he was even with but the broader middle east and america's role europe's role and he basically said look.
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there's a sectarian battle going on between the sunni and the shia there's a shia question we talked about general salim ahmed back then and iran's transnational terrorist networks and they said they need 400 years to work this out give us a call when it's over otherwise stay out and i am interested when you look at a lot of the proxy conflicts in the region you look at saudi iranian competition turkey competition in the region whether or not nato is too full of itself to think that it can inject itself easily into these conflicts and even stabilize them given their scale i think you're making some important points and it gets back to it and i was saying this is almost in a way about u.s. leadership nato is engagement in the middle east is predicated on a durable predictable u.s. leadership policy and we know what happens when the united states removes itself see syria see libya russia fills that vacuum iran fills that vacuum instability continues to grow nato can do more i think there would be the political willingness
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to do more because our european allies are directly impacted by instability in the middle east and north africa but there has to be a framework and it gets back to your earlier point about we seem to have 2 modes of leadership the united states does towards the rest of the world particularly nato either we're in charge of it and we're directing it and allies to do what we say and this this this force mobilize or or we say we're not interested you have this we have other things to do we have to find a 3rd way which means that the u.s. provides the predictability in the framework but that other allies must step forward but the kicker is that the u.s. may not be able to dictate how that other ally will manage that operation and we have to be ok with that and we have never defined that 3rd way and we've created this cycle of degraded and right where the allies have made and the. u.k.
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is particularly and i think that they've made a strategic bet that the u.s. will always be there and they will follow under their coalition's well this is basically saying the u.s. will not be there when you're going to in our last couple of fastening conversation i'd like to just ask each of you a you know just give us a quick very fast tutorial on if we gave you a lot of power to make nato resilient and to survive in the future and to play a role in the middle east what are the things this president needs to think about to get it right rather than wrong sandy you know. well if i could get my wish yeah i would like to see the years if you get your wish you get seeing the european as actually having more the capabilities to carry out operations without is much depend there are that is your deal states or if they don't it well really i mean i think we have too many interests to literally cut them off right but we should keep the pressure on for greater burden sure and greater investment in the right capabilities you know we have the french talking boldly about how their the leaders and intervening in north africa but if the us weren't providing intelligence aerial
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refueling the french operation would grind to a halt so there's a lot of hubris on the french part but i think coming up with a more balanced paradigm for nato should be our goal if that x. 10 years and i think trump there's own crew strange way may have started it the debate the could actually get us moving in that direction heather where would be your recipe for their arise for the president to get president europe the couple prescriptions year up must spend more and defense capabilities they've must enhanced a ploy ability and readiness and they need the political will to execute the u.s. needs to be a predictable responsible partner and knowing what they can count on and for the president he asked a understand that you cannot compartmentalise the security relationship right cannot attack our allies with tariffs and sanctions under cut europe's leaders politically but then expect them to follow your leadership when you need them now i'm going to give last were do you well as us have the says we saw any need more
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investment by nato allies more capability on the part of nato allies but of the same time we need see nato paul an as stuff and ford put in more troops on the ground in iraq and syria for example will say oh i hope thought we all seeing the the beginning at the end of the run nuclear agreement and jokes are just not to interrupted you would poor more into what donald trump is called endless wars well we we need to see i think you know a european allies way hint of fact that the run nuclear deal of his dead in the water we need to see european pawn as applying sanctions against and standing up to what is a tremendous threat i think to the free will in toronto this time thank you i'd like to thank you all for being with us ambassador alexander sandy vershbow former deputy secretary general of nato heather conley former u.s. diplomat for europe and now gardner head of the margaret thatcher center for freedom here in washington d.c. thank you all as triffitt discussion so what's the bottom line nato has been the
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security blanket for a lot of countries with the united states the u.k. france germany turkey and others just tossing that blanket wherever they want now it's clear that there is a dissension in nato between key stakeholders on what the security blanket should cover will the middle east be next none of the experts that you just heard from agree with donald trump that a nato me is in the cards and how i can't get the village people singing y.m.c.a. out of my head donald trump could only push so far the middle east is not going to become a nato obsession and that's the bottom line. explores
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this president will be held accountable that no one is above the law signed sealed delivered and the articles of impeachment against donald trump submitted to the u.s. senate. from doha everyone i'm come all sons of maria with the world news from al-jazeera the world's 2 biggest economies have signed phase one of a trade truce soft 18 months of economic war also the tal volcano continues to spew smoke and ash in the philippines with the story authorities still trying to move.

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