tv Charlie Rose Bloomberg February 18, 2016 10:00pm-11:01pm EST
yorkom our studios in new this is charlie rose. a cease-fire in syria is set to take effect on friday. little sign of hostilities abating. the state department acknowledged yesterday that world powers have yet to even meet to negotiate the details of the cease-fire. the calls for humanitarian aid to be defeated to besieged
syrian towns. notstate department could confirm that any of it had reached its intended recipients. the assistant secretary of state where he served in the clinton administration. i'm pleased to have him here at the table. let me start. but right now, doing something about all those people who are starving and suffering and getting aid is a high priority. guest: it's on the top of our agenda. but here's what is happening. we reached agreement, one getting to cessation of hostility. and we hope to see that. as of this morning, the trucks began to move out of damascus including areas surrounding. the reports that they are reaching the communities. now, we have seen this over the
last five, six years, there have been calls. u.n. resolutions. and i don't want to make too much of this, one truck, one time, doesn't do the trick. we are seeing that part of the agreement. it has to be sustained. cessation of hostilities. charlie: stay with the humanitarian aid. has assaad he is in favor of this? and deeds in another. he has allowed about 100 trucks were packed up in damascus sent out today and they are getting to half dozen communities that have been under siege in the areas surrounding damascus. that is happening as we speak. but not enough to do it at once of the you have to do it. what are they saying? guest: they are going along. and in that instance.
the russians have played a helpful role. ceasefire, the jury is out. it's complicated. but what's not complicated is this. the russians have to make a choice. they can impose on a sawed. between the agreement was reached and today taking the foot off the accelerator and they have put the foot on the sack sell rator. may be they are trying to get the best possible agreement. what i think russia has to recognize and this goes to the heart of it. they continue to brutalize and win some territory back but as the president said yesterday, three-quarters of syria is under control of someone other than assaad. he isn't going to regain that territory.
russia and assaad, they maybe cannot lose but they can't win. as soon as they win, if it keeps going in this direction, it is going to be struck trying to protect assaad and putting more lives in jeopardy and probably to end up at best. charlie: the defense secretary said to me last night, they propped up assaad and looks good for him and in a strong negotiating position, this is bad for russia. what we saw that russia was helping to prop up assaad with iran and hezbollah and they came in heavier ap harder and intervened. but not out a strength but their foothold in the middle east was on the verge of disappearing. but the cost is huge because in order to do that, in order to keep them going they have to be in in. they have to take ground.
moralee is a problem, salaries is a problem. the iranians have started to draw back some of their forces having been killed. someone has to occupy and hold the territory. charlie: the russians -- you guy believe that they may be forced to have russian boots on the ground in syria. fight issuing the war? guest: if it continues, if we continue move the russians have signed up for. here's what's going to happen. the opposition isn't going to give up. they have suffered. they have taken punishment.
their patrons are not about to quit. we have tried to dissuade the patrons from putting resources. it's not in our interest. charlie: have they agreed to not support some groups that they might have supported? guest: there have been periods of time that they have. but heres's what happens. if they continue to get behind assaad against the opposition and i think any of the checks and balances on the patrons in terms of supporting sfreemists groups, they will throw in whatever it takes.
that's the recipe for quagmire and russia being in this as far as the kwly can see. they risk allen yating the large bulk of the world and assaad with hezzs and 15% of their population is muslim. they have central asia yeah. all areas that they care about. if this goes on. they risk. for all these reasons. russia has a real interest to drive this to a negotiated -- charlie: deposit they send one of their envoys to see assaad and ask him to be listening to that possibility and he said no. guest: that seems to be the product of russia telling assaad he needs to do it. but he and then that allows an environment in which negotiations can begin towards a political negotiation.
charlie: because they are advising or fighting? guest: they are fighting and what we are seeing is not them fighting, iranians and hezbollah and prosecuting. what is happening, when russia went all in with assaad, it did two things, it increased his leverage over assaad and increased the leverage of the conflict over russia. it has much more to lose and has to keep putting more and more resources. we have to think a way out of this. it isn't that all that great. guest: they want to move to it. when we got this agreement, for the first time, russia, iran, the saudis, the turks, other countries, everyone agreed on the transition for political transition and we get after six months to a new more inclusive representative government and election in 18 months.
the russians have signed on to that, but what they signed on a piece of paper and what they do on the grouped is two different things. this is under incredible difficult circumstances. he is trying to facilitate. we are looking to bring it. and creates an negotiation. charlie: couple of points of cessation. this doesn't include attacks against isis. those things, that conflict will continue.
that. the reason that daesh has succeeded is creating the perception the home base that it is marching forward that it is 10 feet tall. if you take away that foundation, it will begin to crumble. affiliates that are preexisting targets, money will slow down. and getting at their core is so important.
charlie: so what are we prepared to do? before you answer that, who is it that we are supporting there? and who are the rebel groups? and same rebel groups or new groups? and how many are there? and how many are there? we used to talk about the free syrian army? how strong are they? guest: we have worked over the last four years in trying to identify, engage and support and also help coordinate. so-called moderate opposition, people who were op owesed to the regime but did not sign on. but the numbers are significant. if you look at the numbers done by the c.i.a. and others, tens of thousands and you have other thousands who are part of groups like news ra. here's the chag. when the moderate groups are getting squeesed and brutalized with the help of the russians --
charlie: they are trying to wipe out the people. we have no power because we are supporting them. by supporting assaad you are supporting destroying people. guest: moderate opposition and news ra are so intermingled they are hitting news ra. charlie: modreats are collateral damage. guest: very easy to point to places on the map. charlie: it's a threat to the regime. charlie: are arguably different and that's a challenge. we have in the first instance, we are focused on isil and daesh.
we have in the first instance, we are focused on isil and daesh. our turk fer turkish friends are focused. >> it is the most immediate threats. charlie: the sunni arabs are focused on iran and pushing back against iran. charlie: they don't like it. >> the russians are focused on maintaining their position. so you have these very difficult veering ent priorities. charlie: sounds like a job of
john kerry. what's the solution? how are you going to do this? guest: the road map is the one all of these countries gee to and that is a political transition, one solution that keep the country and make sure that everyone's interests. charlie: you are a diplomat and sit down with the foreign minister of saudi arabia and you say to him, we get him, we know you dislike and we get it, you want him gone, we want him gone, too. but right now, we have to get rid of the principal threat to us, which is daesh in most you will. what do they say? do they say yes, ok, fine. no assaad has to go and focus on isil because he is the principal recruiting.
guest: we need to be able to walk and chew gum. we have to able to deal with daesh and end the civil war to an end. we have now across the globe, a refugee crisis of historic prorpgses. there are around 60 million displaced persons. some in their countries and without their countries. it would be the 24th largest country in the world. violence, conflict and chaos. and that is what we are seeing in syria. and you are getting an than tire generation of people driven out and wind up in turkey, lebanon. lebanon, almostal quarter of the population is syrian.
susceptible to human trafficking, forced labor, early marriage. you have to interrupt the cycle. it's tough, imagine you are a political leader, hard to go to your political leader, i want a job even though you don't have job. charlie: why hasn't the united states done? i'm asking this question in terms of numbers, germany and other numbers. guest: the refugees they move on because they can't move on and
can't get their kids in school and arrive there. they are smuggled. there is a whole network. and incredibly small number of refugees get through the process. about 1%. we are looking through a small population and then and the background checks, most vigorous things in the world. the president has been clear. we have to do more and do better. we have to take 10,000 syrians and i hope we can do even more than that. germany has been flooded with 00 to one million and a huge political issue.
security is going to be our north star. we have an obligation as the government to look out for the safety and security. when which are looking at this. we are focused but we are in a different position in europe. they aren't arisk here on our shores. they have to go through an entire process. it takes 18-24 months. here's the other thing, charlie and just about any american can conceal because so many of us have come from our parents and grandparents came here in that
nation, you talk to these kids in lebanon, jordan and turkey, you see this extraordinary generation of people. i was sitting with a group of refugees in jordan a few months ago and 16, 17-year-olds and they had a vision. one young woman wanted to be a fashion designer, a doctor and i asked them, do you -- do you have access to computers. and they said, we do.
and it was run by unicef and their families, some of them had smart phones and i said to them, do you know what the iphone is? do you know the company that created the iphone and they said steve jobs and i said do you know where his father was from? syria. any of them can be the next steve jobs. that comes to making sure they can go to school and making the parents work. charlie: is it doable within the year you have left in government to retake most you will? guest: i think it is doable. whether we will do it, i don't know. we want to make sure that we want to make sure we do it right. when you do that. that is only part one. you have to stabilize and hold the community.
even if you get the military, even if you get the stable isation, if you don't get it right. you will be right back. charlie: what is the political piece? guest: there has to be a baveng accommodation in iraq where the sunnis and they can be protected in iraq. charlie: only people that can do that is the iraqi government and surrounding -- guest: correct. the current iraqi prime minister is a improvement but he is walking a tight rope. charlie: are we on a plan for most you will? they are in agreement with us it has to be done and the strategy for doing it and who will be part of the overall group? does it include shia militia? iran? guest: all of this is in tight collaboration. and what we are doing is in full coordination -- we are working by, with and through them.
charlie: do you think isil wouldn't have happened because the maliky government wouldn't have happened because of soldiers there in 1,000 or more. guest: here's my perception. and we as we know the bush administration agreed that american forces would leave at the end of 2011 and the goal was to be a good one. we will get down to 50,000 troops and we did. and making good on the final agreement. we did try to leave a resideal force. and it was the al qaeda in iraq.
and we said to the iraqis, the job is not yet done they are down but not fully out. if you don't make accommodations they could come back. and this is what i strongly believe. there was no one in the iraqi body politic who wanted to say i want the americans to say. we were there for 10 years. charlie: and unable to make a powerful argument. guest: i don't think it would have stopped the evolution of daesh and possible that some of our forces would have come in the middle.
charlie: including the leadership. guest: we might have been able to keep the pressure on and preventing al qaeda from iraq in into transinging into daesh. charlie: we have 3,700 including special forces. they engage in search and zoy missions. they go after isil. that's what the president wants. guest: that's what he authorized. charlie: most of our forces are proketting our diplomatic facilities, training, helping to equip and special forces who are taking on these targeted missions. charlie: will there be an increase? guest: our best advice from the military is that this can make a meaningful difference.
the president has been clear. he wants to put everything on the table. charlie: this is interesting and i was a bit surprised because i didn't know the answer, when i asked whether the president -- there's a story line that says the military wants to do this, john kerry and the state department, but the president was reluctant to be more invasive. guest: i was in that situation room with the president, with the rest of the senior leadership and constantly pushing us to do exactly that. this is a proposition. we have gone on occasion to the iraqi leadership and said we are thinking we should do more that will involve some additional american forces and he said, don't do that now, that risks going tilt with the shia militia and others who are absolutely paranoid that the united states wants to return and re-occupy the country.
keeping that balance is something we have to watch out for. charlie: let's talk about iran and then china. the nuclear deal, it's working. guest: yes, it is. charlie: what do you say tharl all bets are off and go all full speed ahead. guest: they could have gone full speed ahead. more likely. we will be in the same position and even in a better position if necessary if the iranians -- charlie: the sanctions.
guest: it would be tough toll rebuild sanctions in 15 years but it would be tough to rebuild their program and get away with it. charlie: all of that monitoring will tell us if they are violating and make sure they are not violating. guest: we have the most intrusive monitoring system and if they try to do it we will see it. first of all we have in place a process so if we believe they are negating on their agreements we bring it to all the countries and try to row solve it. and go to the united nations and there are snapback provisions that would re-aapply the sanctions.
they want the resources they get from getting the sanctions money back to engage in trade. charlie: can we stop them from building ballistic missiles? guest: they have obligations including ongoing resolutions that prohibit building missiles that could carry nuclear weapons. but they are allowed to build missiles. there is a fine line. for the next eight years, it remains under prohibition for countries to engage with them and trade with them. we are being very vigilant in making sure that countries abide by that.
charlie: both the united states and iran understood that what we were dealing with is developing nuclear capability. it wasn't about iran. has though the fact that happened and that was the nature of it, have we seen a ratcheting up of negative behavior since the deal was signed off and money flowed in? guest: yes. here's what i think is going on. new sanctions. we are also seeing that they sustained and some cases and whether it is in yemen, in ser yeah, et cetera. one of the things is you have a strong element that was oppose todd this agreement, a nuclear agreement and tries to throw it into the grements.
it would be wonderful if it happened. we did it because it was in our security interests to make sure they couldn't develop a nuclear weapon. the hard liners, they see it as something different. they see it potentially as a trojan horse as destroying the -- bringing it into the real world. charlie: so thfer, can you argue that john kerry arguing for prison release, there was established ar means of collaboration, and relationships, kerry and the foreign miss ter, that benefits both sides now and we are more able to talk about things like prisoner release and other things because of all the intense conversations that had to take place in reaching an iranian deal and what's the future of that?
guest: the intensity of these negotiations has created relationships and created what we would call habits of cooperation that have had some beneficial impacts including the one you just noted. and that's created a certain level of personal trusts among some of the key players starting with the secretary of state and his counterpart. but the iranians that we are engaged with are only one part of the system. and they are the pragmatic elements. and it's not that they like us or want us to be close to us. they see the future of iran and iran's interests in engaging more with the rest of the world.
charlie: have they gotten some ascend densy because of the nuclear deal? guest: if you look at the polling, certainly. that group is popular. they are working with than a con find system. you listen to some of our political discourse and you see people see iran as the only country that doesn't have politics but it has the most intense politics than any other country. charlie: north korea, can we get
china to do more in exerting influence over that government? guest: we have been engaged in an intense conversation most recently because of the nuclear tests and the ballistic missile tests and the satellite missile technology. and even before that and recent provocations and the case the chinese make, they are most concerned with preserving stability. they would be nervous about a unified korea. what we say to the chinese, you fear instability. we agree with you, the greatest fear is north korea and the action go of its regime. charlie: not prepared to act more than they have so far,
what? guest: if they push too far, too fast, that could cause a crisis in the regime and lead to the instability. but we have been very clear. we said look, you have unique leverage over north korea. virtually everything that north korea trades goes through to or from china. you have leverage. they say they don't have influence. we say you may not have influence, but you have leverage and need to use it. if you don't, we are going to have to take steps ourselves to ratchet up the pressure and in our defense of our partners and they won't be directed at you. charlie: will they accept it? guest: they don't accept it but
see it. we have gone into our south korea partners and allies of a defense missile system. won't affect china stra teague gale. they view its a a problem. we said if you aren't going to take responsibility and getting them to change their behavior and engage in meaningful talks, we have to take these tactics. first of all as of now, we don't believe they have the ability to marry a small ballistic missile, but they are getting closer to the day they can do it. charlie: can they deliver -- do they have the equivalent to deliver an sbrr continental missile to the united states? guest: possibly, but haven't
been able to test to that degree. there is a problem with the so-called re-entry piece. what is a deep concern, with every passing day they get closer. we have worked very hard since this administration came in to put the pressure in. we said we aren't going to play the same game buying the same game. second, we have tried to rally the international community to put the squeeze to acquire nuclear technology and make it more difficult. we have had sole success with that. but the bottom line remains, with every passing day, they move forward and get closer and we said to the chinese, this presents a growing and real threat to our national security. it means something to us. you need to help us deal with it.
a resolution with real tooth, not only to veto or object to it but to join in and there are lots of areas where you could put the squeeze on the north koreans and you could get a chance of getting them to rethink. this is more concerning and dangerous. kim junk il seems to act in arbitrary ways in the heat of the moment and it's not entirely clear that he is persuaded areas of deterrence. unpredictable. the last person you want to have with a nuclear weapon. and we are working so hard starting with china to put the squeeze on him.
charlie: he is concerned about his own safety. i read the other day, they executed one of the principal advisers of his government. guest: including his uncle, and the defense minister have been executed. that creates a regime of terror and of fear. you have to wonder whether at some point, someone in that system is not going to come to the conclusion to strike at him first. charlie: so all of this underscores why we think it is in china's interest to work with us to try and deal with this problem. what you do is you try to address china's fears. what is it you want and what are you afraid of. that's the conversation we are trying to have with them and we are making a little bit of progress. but i believe at the end of the day they will come around to a strong security council resolution.
guest: that's a big part of the nature of the conversation we are having with them now and seeing the actions they are taking in the south china sea. various countries starting with china are laying claim to try to assert sovereignty over the seas in the area. charlie: like an aircraft carrier. guest: we don't have a claim on any of these pieces of land. we don't take a position on the merits of the claim, but we do
have a profound interest in the way you are trying to advance those claims. if it does it in a way that threatens navigation that is a problem. and if you are doing it in disregard of international law, we have a claim including china to stop and freeze these reclamation projects building these artificial projects of land, putting weapons on them, create time and tow space. said to china, look, if you get an agreement and says this is your piece of land or someone goes in our favor, we will defend that. but you have to resolve that. otherwise, it's a recipe for chaos and conflict.
charlie: one of the things about north korea, who is helping them. who is helping them. are they getting nuclear parts, is it pakistan? guest: they tried to develop pro curement networks and it is an ongoing cat and mouse game. charlie: they have no money? guest: the money they have -- and you know what is so frustrating about this, this is a totally impoverished country that has had the wherewithal to develop nuclear weapons. imagine in it was put to peaceful pursuits and in south korea, north korea couldn't be the same. charlie: the iranians would say, what good would it do us? and they have a certain respect in the world. guest: the iranian example. they made a fundamental decision, they agreed under
pressure to freeze their program and roll it back to see if we could negotiate an agreement and we had the time and space to negotiate. charlie: finally this question, america's role in the world, clearly, clearly, if you look at the fight against isis, we have to lead. we have to leed and we have to draw other people. you can take territory but you have to hold it and to hold it you have to have locals on the ground.
what progress we made and what remains to be done for an acceptance, an encouragement of america and its relationship for the rest of the world? 66 countries and organizations. we mobilized the fight against ebola and we succeeded but we got that. american diplomacy. american diplomacy that restored with cuba and led to the first peaceful democratic of afghanistan. in all these places. here's what i'm getting at. i like to think of it the movie we watch "it's a wonderful life." you take the united states out of these pictures, climate change, it doesn't happen.
does that mean it is happening as well as it should, no? but we are the single country that has the ability to move countries but we are living in a world that it is diffuse and we can't do it alone. charlie: we can't either. guest: i think we have and we have shown that we have the leading role to play in mobilizing others. there is something else that is powerful. we may be disputed or not doing enough of this or that.
when i go around the world, countries continue to look to us first, but beyond that, there is an extraordinarily powerful attraction that the united states wields through, sbrupe. charlie: those are things that happened in the last four years and calling off the strike and what you evolved in and the chemical agreement, things that our friends have called into question. is america still prepared to be there when we need them? guest: there is an argument that we have been disengaged. two things, we are more engaged in more places. the argument is about the nature of our engagements. the president has said we need to do this in a smartest most