tv C-SPAN2 Weekend CSPAN April 14, 2012 7:00am-8:00am EDT
a time of significant regional ferment and prospect of possible military confrontation with iran. funding and other concerns have forced the u.s. to downsize its diplomatic presence in the country. the u.s. embassy in baghdad remained the largest in the world. the administration engaged with senior levels helping iraqis work for their political differences and put flesh on the bones of the strategic framework agreement. it fully implemented this agreement would constitute the foundation of perhaps the most ambitious bilateral relationship with any arab state. we are fortunate to have three leading experts with long experience on the politics of iraq here today to help understand these and other issues. first ambassador jeffrey feltman served as assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs since 2009. ambassador feltman previously
served as principal deputy assistant secretary in the n e adl as ambassador to lebanon and iraq as head of the coalition for divisional authority office. ambassador feisal istrabadi served as deputy permanent representative for iraq at the united nations from 2004 through 2007. he is currently the founding director of the center for the study of the middle east at the indiana university. prior to his diplomatic appointment he served as legal adviser to the iraqi ministry of foreign affairs and will also principal legal director of iraq's interim constitution. daniel serwer is a scholar at the middle east institute and senior research professor of conflict management and senior fellow of the center for trans-atlantic relations at the johns hopkins school of the dance international studies. dan was vice president for peace and stability operations at the u.s. institute of peace from
1998-2009. in 2004 he established the u.s. ip office in baghdad where it continued to operate. he has made 1 dozen trips to iraq in the past eight years mainly to work and mitigating ethnic and sectarian conflict. please join me in welcoming our speakers and i will be happy to turn it over to ambassador feltman. [applause] >> thank you for the opportunity to see many old friends and colleagues and a whole room of iraq experts and those interested in iraq. we can argue whether iraq has disappeared up the front pages or not but i can assure you and hallways of near east affairs in the u.s. government iraq has not disappeared from our in box. is an important relationship we are pursuing. for lack of a better term and because i am a diplomat i will say it is an exciting time. for those of us focused on the
middle east. an especially exciting time for those of us focused on iraq. in recent years particularly over this past year we have seen tremendous change both in the region and in terms of the relationship with iraq. amid that change i have heard and i am sure we will hear today many probing questions about iraq and our engagement there and i would like to use my time to review three of the questions that i hear most frequently. the first question that i hear not only in washington but as i travel through the region is haven't you abandoned iraq to iraq? make no mistake. the withdrawal of u.s. troops in december of 2011 marked indeed a significant milestone in our relationship and there was much debate in washington and iraq as well as the region about what
the american presence post september of 2011 should look like. we, the united states, mutually agreed that we should implement the terms of our security agreement at remaining u.s. troops should depart iraq on schedule. for close to a decade the relationship between iraq and the united states was defined primarily in security terms of. during this time the state department's civilian agencies like the department of justice, commerce, energy, agriculture and usaid were laying the groundwork for the next phase of this relationship which encompasses a broad range of mutual interests. ultimately a relationship that is more complex and more robust. and moving forward with an expansion guided by the agreement charles dunne referred to the strategic riemann signed
in november of 2008 that code of fis civilian cooperation over a broad range of areas. the security agreement that was signed at the same time has now are expired but the strategic framework agreement and doors. it is a mistake to assume the united states can only have influence in the country if the united states has 100,000 troops on the ground. the regional government said the same thing last week. the united states remains today the critical interlock among political parties in iraq. given regional tensions the united states is in fact playing an integral role as an honest broker in iraq. i tell you from my own experience that the words honest broker are not used by iraqis to describe iran. it is also wrong to assume that
because our troops have departed that our security, our defense relationship with iraq has ended. iraq has purchased a billions of dollars in training and military education. and lead to long-term defense ties. it is based on a sense of partnership, shared interest, and respect each other as sovereign nations. iraq and the united states share an elemental bowl. and the prosperous iraq, the government is tenable to and serve the needs of the iraqi people. and work together at the most senior levels of government on governance and the rule of law, to energy and the environment.
and ambassador jim jeffries and his top aides and a full spectrum of iraqi political leaders, speaker -- a host of others see these people routinely. this pace and level of access is greater than our embassies typically enjoy anywhere in the world. some also fear that our plan to reduce the size of our diplomatic platform in iraq is also a sign of abandonment but the opposite is the case. starting several years ago we planned conservatively in preparing for what was the biggest military to civilian transition in u.s. history sins the marshall plan. planning was done in the context of significant uncertainty. foremost security uncertainty.
so planning was under way with troops and diplomatic steps, frequent -- this required planning for large, complex and self-sufficient diplomatic platform to manage any and all security scenarios. elson engaging in enormous number of contracts staff to support our diplomatic missions throughout the country. we plant along to normalize the platform as conditions permitted. and consolidating operations. this is the second phase that is beginning. it is the most robust and large in the world. we have heard how iraq is being driven to iran but there's reason to suggest even after the
departure of u.s. troops the review of two data points. before iraq's 2010 elections iran tried to push all of iraq's geopolitical groups into a single political group guided by tehran. that failed. after the election iran tried to push iraq's former government only with iraq's kurds and excluding the predominantly sunni parties. that failed. iran opposed iraq's partnership with leading international oil companies in the development of iraq's hydrocarbon resources. iraqis understood that this partnership with international oil companies was vital to iraq's successful development of its oil sector and very much in iraq's interests and as a result iraq's oil production is increasing steadily compared to 2009. iraq now puts 300,000 additional barrels of new oil on world
market every day. iraq is one of the few countries that has the potential, this is the most important factor bolstering iraq's -- ultimately iran and iraq, are closer than me and many iraqi neighbors like. the engagement with iraq is the majority of iraqi leaders are first, iraqi nationalists resist next oppressors in many quarters including iran. indeed even a cursory examination of the relationship between the two countries would remind us that they had a long history of rivalry and competition. iraq's leaders made it clear that today they desire peaceful,
normal relations with iran does this they do with our other neighbors. iran is actively working to forge stronger relations with its gulf neighbors. in particular in this area, deeper relations with the international community. we provided tremendous support for iraq's work to provide relations with its neighbors in the region. it is worth noting baghdad recently posted the arab league summit which iraq has not done in 20 years and unlike in some previous gatherings the iranian marine was not invited as a guest nor was iran's best friend invited. we have seen several important steps toward saudi/iraqi reconciliation. much more needs to be done but
there have been high-level diplomatic exchanges with the naming of a saudi ambassador, the first sins nineteen 91. and the relationship with kuwait resolving longstanding issues regarding the border and sir ways. iraq also enjoys a deep relationship, and economic ties with jordan and beyond. prime minister maliki traveled to japan and korea to develop stronger economic and trade ties. i don't want to gloss over tensions that iraq has with its neighbors. we addressed disagreements directly as happened with kuwait. the general trend is positive. all we have to do is look next door at iran and iraq and's international relations to see a dramatic contrast.
the second question -- and won't address that as long as the first question. the second question. is in iraq sliding toward dictatorship? i hear this a lot. in this great debate and discussion in the region, with an formed circles in washington whether iraq is on track to return to the days of dictatorship and a authoritarianism. many of you are quite familiar with the current political tensions with iraq. portia, sunni and kurdish leaders. tensions boil to the surface as u.s. troops departed in december. we are concerned with these tensions as well. we strongly support the president's efforts to bring the political leaders together in a national dialogue to discuss outstanding issues and their resolution in matters consistent with iraq's constitution. this dialog is critical for moving the country forward. like many iraqis we are also
troubled in iraq or any country. institutions that are central to independent government operations like the electoral commissions or central banks come under executive bank pressure. it bears mentioning a political party is are addressing the issues themselves. the political system hasn't broken down. politicians continue to look through parliamentary debate. public discussion in the media and private negotiations finding consensus solutions. current tensions in iraq are being resolved by politics rather than resorting to violence. and the return to national polls in 2014. it is vital they participate in free and fair elections.
iraqi democracy strengthened that time iraqis cast their vote. the last question, is a rack going to unravel in the future? no one within the administration underestimates the many challenges iraq faces in the years ahead but as vice president joe biden's national security advisor put it in iraq today is less violent, more democratic and more prosperous and the united states more deeply engaged than at any time in recent history. in 2009 u.s. troops withdrew from iraq cities. many predicted rise in violence. 50,000 troops in august of 2010, there are similar predictions. the iraqi security forces assumed the lead in countering acts of terrorism. in 2010 to december of 2011 the united states continues advising assisting iraqi security forces
as we steadily decrease our troop presence to zero. all the while the iraqi security forces continue their mission to protect the iraqi population and succeeded in doing so. march of 2012 was apparently according to iraqi statistics the least violent month in iraq since 2003. as iraqi security forces continue to build capacity we believe violence can decline even further. in 2007, sunni politicians withdrew from the political process for in boycott that lasted 15 months. now despite continuing tensions iraq's leaders have committed to a political process to address difficult issues rather than violence or engagement. when you see this at the national level and the sub national level, the kurdish parties recently ended their two year boycott of the provisional council showing a commitment to
resolve the status of disputed areas through politics. i do not cite these political and security gains to gloss over the herculean task the iraqis have ahead of them. there is substantial progress and we must acknowledge this. a few closing comment. when i think back on the progress iraq has made in the past decade i am struck by how far iraq has come. iraq stagnated in the 1990s after a decade of ill-conceived wars and for an invasion suffering under the leadership of the dictatorship whose policies left iraq under crushing international sanctions. in 2006-2007 iraq was wracked by a bloody civil war pitting sunni against gm. in 2012 as i mentioned baghdad was able to successfully hold an arab summit. political parties remain engaged in the political process despite the tensions and problems. iraq is on the pact to resolving outstanding disputes with
kuwait. levels of violence have hit a historic lows. oil production from 2009 has risen from 2.4 million to 2.8 million barrels a day and is rising. there remain significant challenges. there are huge political challenges iraq's leaders must address. additionally iraq will have to create more widely shared economic opportunity and battle corruption. we are in an excellent place to work with our iraqi partners to help them accomplish these goals and build on the progress to make a pluralistic era of democracy for the first time in its history. one final note if i may. many of us in this room have for much of the past decade focused deeply on iraq's internal politics, internal security, internal economics. my current position in the state department reminds me how
important it is to see iraq as an integral part of the region in which the country is located. there are politics tend to transcend national boundaries. what happens in one arab country has echoes in another and iraq is no exception. this means many decisions iraqi leaders make, many decisions we question are calculated by their understanding not only of iraq's internal dynamics but iraq's neighborhood. at this unique moment in the history of the middle east as we seek to preserve and advance u.s. interests in an arab world that is undergoing fundamental and unpredictable transitions it is worth remembering yes, the unique nature of how we got to where we are today in iraq but also worth remembering that iraq is not the only country in the arab world where the government are developing a profoundly
different relationship with the governors that had existed for decades. there are risks to u.s. interests in these transitions in iraq and elsewhere but also opportunities to build deeper and more sustainable relationships based on mutual respect and shared interests. [applause] >> thank you. ambassador istrabadi? >> it is a pleasure to be with you this afternoon. i want to thank the middle east institute and ms. seelye for the
invitation to be with you and i want to thank shell for making this event possible. i am honored to be on the same panel as ambassador feltman, mr. serwer and mr. dunne. these are free americans each of whom have served this country honorably and day. each of hmmm has significant experience in iraq. i should point out that the remarks that i am making today, the views i expressed to they are my own. they do not represent those of any institution with which i am now or have previously been affiliated. my central thesis today which i think will get a debate going, excuse me, will be that while the u.s./iraq relationship is
governed by a strategic framework current policy is not consistent with that agreement. rhetoric aside the obama administration continuing the policy of the bush administration, i want to emphasize that continuing the policy of the bush administration has abandoned the promotion of democracy in iraq as a strategic objective. second, rather than promoting development of institution of government in a democratic framework the current policy also in my judgment a continuation of the previous administration, let me start that again. rather than the promotion, promoting the development of institutions in -- of government
in a democratic framework. the current policy is that of supporting the current incumbent prime minister of iraq personally. thereby isolating itself. that is the united states isolates itself in my judgment from the balance of the iraqi political class and indeed from all the regional powers at least on the issue of iraq with the exception of iran. and the u.s. policy seems to be at a minimum to ensure no confrontation with iran in iraq. i would also argue that u.s. policy of continuing to back the current incumbent prime minister in iraq even as his rule has become increasingly
authoritarian friends to undermine iraq's unity, a prospect that should to paraphrase dr. johnson focus the mind of u.s. policymakers wonderfully. let me turn to these points. they begin by addressing the strategic framework agreement and it is relevant to my comments. section 21 of the strategic framework agreements commits the united states to insuring its maximum efforts to support and strengthen iraq's democracy and democratic institutions as defined and established in the iraqi constitution and in so doing i continue to quote, enhance iraq's capability to protect these institutions. that is the democratic institutions against all internal, against all internal
and external threats. note that it is the protection of institutions of constitutional democratic government that the united states is committed to. i believe that fulfilling that general approach, the u.s. administration in 2010 brokerage the agreement between all political parties, auld parliamentary political parties, an agreement set up a strategic policy council which was to have actual oversight over the government. it was to have real decisionmaking the authority and was to be presided over by the individual, former interim prime minister of iraq who had a plurality of seats to have won a
plurality of seats. all parties agreed to this including the incumbent prime minister. the agreement was he would continue to the prime minister as indeed he has. the government was formed in december of 2011 on the basis of the agreement. none of the significant terms i would argue of the agreement and right now i don't have time to go into them have been put into effect. there is no council, etc.. more to the point, there is still as i speak here now year and a half after are -- government was formed, two years after the march of 2010
election, there are still no permanent appointments to any of the national security portfolios in iraq. no defense minister, no interior minister and no minister of national security. rather the prime minister held those -- each of those positions temporarily and then later appointed cronies from his own list, acting minister of defense, iraqi minister of culture who happens to be from the prime minister's state of the law with and so on. six candidates who have been put forward for that position have been rejected by the prime minister. so the prime minister controls the entire security infrastructure of the stay. those who know a little something about iraq will
remember that is precisely how saddam hussein came to power. not suggesting that he occupies the position of saddam hussein in 1979 but can i make -- if i have time with question and answer, i think a convincing and persuasive arguments, where saddam hussein was in 1970. then i think i can. that too should focus on minds wonderfully. all independent agencies in iraq thanks to a ruling of constitutional court are now under the direct supervision of the prime minister. notwithstanding the constitution actually says parliament has oversight over them. the constitutional court found there was an ambiguity in what oversight meant. and therefore they should report
directly to the executive. why? because that is what court said. there is no justification even if there were ambiguity for saying it is the executive that 1/2 oversight over these institutions. this includes the anti-corruption commission. includes the election commission and includes the central bank of iraq. i would say that all the reforms, i can't think of a significant one. all the reforms for transparency and governance that were put into place by the cp a have been judicially overturned in iraq. it is significant to me that within 24 to 48 hours after returning from an official state
visit or official visit with the president of the united states that maliki returned and his government proffered charges against the sitting vice president of iraq. the sitting vice president of iraq faces a charges of which it he is convicted faces death by hanging. he is also the prime minister, attempting to have parliament withdraw confidence in another member, the vice president is a member -- the current prime minister, the prime minister is currently attempting to have parliament withdraw confidence in the deputy prime minister of iraq also. now barred from entering the council of ministers building and barred from entering cabinet
meetings. the police will bar him from entering the building. for -- that doesn't sound like a functional political system in iraq. it sounds dysfunctional to me. what do i no? what is striking has been the silence of the u.s. administration on these issues. certainly public silence and there's more that i would say about that but i stay within the time limits. let me talk a little bit about the isolation of the u.s. internally in iraq and in the region. i want to refer to tony lincoln's comment that ambassador feldman referred to that iraq is more democratic and more prosperous than at any time in recent history. that remark strikes me as donald rumsfeld in its audacity.
last week the president of the regional government gave an interview to the london-based paper. it was reported in english, stated that iraq is moving towards a catastrophe, return to dictatorship. restated that it was unacceptable that the prime minister controls the national security portfolio. he stated that while iraq is building a million man security force that security force has its loyalty to the prime minister and not the state of iraq and that too is unacceptable and he stated that if conditions prevail and here i think the president was choosing his words very carefully as he always does, if conditions continue to prevail he will call
a referendum on kurdish independence. that too should focus our mind wonderfully. the former interim prime minister has said the current government of iraq is using the judiciary to promote corruption and brutality in iraq and to harass opponents and reward cronies. falah sami, former member of independent parliament and the anti-corruption commission has said that iraq is developing into a, quote, a new dictatorship through the courts. he notes that when he was head of the anti-corruption commission he was pressured by the prime minister to fabricate charges against opponents of the prime minister and he notes that the prime minister has pressured
the constitutional court to place the anti-corruption commission under his control which indeed it did. i don't have time to detail the isolation of the u.s. policy of iraq regionally but let me know if one fact. three fax. the current vice president of iraq who had been holed up in iraq was received formally as vice president of iraq above saudi arabia and turkey. all of which after the arab summit, is currently in turkey. what should u.s. policy be? i probably have a couple minutes left. that is what i want to focus on. it seems to me u.s. policy, i
take it the u.s. is never better than when it stands up for its ideals and i truly believe that. what should u.s. policy be? it should be to encourage stability in iraq but what does stability mean? hosni mubarak rules for 30 years. this ability. saddam hussein rules. 5 years. that is not the stability we mean. i hope it isn't. there is a dialogue happening in iraq and it started before the 2010 elections to get us over this evil-the lebanese don't
want iraq in lebanon. there was a dialogue to tried to get us beyond that in iraq. it seems to me the united states again continuing the bush administration's policy and still stuck, if we just say this or do this, rather than looking at iraq in the way i think most arab iraqis want to think of it. not as she yet iraq and sunni iraq. i still don't understand why we can't get past that dynamic when i believe and we could talk about this in the question and answer period. most iraqis want to get beyond that. iraqis and the united states ought to promote the existence of institutions.
if you create national institutions -- recognize tensions are there but only what is the prime minister of iraq to lessen those tensions? what has he done to promote national reconciliation. he has been prime minister for six years. what has he done? we can't even agree on what the name of the conference to which he alluded in his statement. the head of the shia coalition calls it sort of a gathering. we will not use the word conference to described it. really? as my teenage daughter would say. the goal ought to be and i will end with this, i am over my time. the goal ought to be the role of the united states plays in the former soviet union. and not perfect results.
in some post-soviet states, nonetheless the united states support genuine democratic reform. not reform of democracy. the united states supported the versification of the economy and did not focus just on energy. i believe u.s. policy to they've focused exclusively on oil and that is not in the long-term national interests of iraq to engender the next -- and united states can never go wrong in its international relations. i don't think this is the pollyanna view. it can never go wrong standing up for the ideals. iraq has tremendous influence in iraq. ambassador feldman said the same
thing so i won't repeat of the arguments here. i will finish with this. i will recognize this is an election year in the united states. and the of the contested election. there are vital strategic interests in the area. ambiguous has committed itself to promoting democracy and institutions in iraq. it is also the only way iraq can become a genuinely stable, functioning state again. u.s. ideals and national interests in the region, less in true constitutional democracy in iraq. we should not squander that opportunity.
thank you very much. [applause] >> thank you very much, ambassador. daniel serwer. >> good afternoon. it is a real pleasure to be here and a privilege to share the podium with ambassador feltman and ambassador istrabadi. after two such striking presentations you will wonder where i am going to locate myself. it is going to be in the middle. i hope that won't surprise you but i hope a rational middle. i will start with tony lincoln's statement iraq is more democratic and more prosperous than at any time in recent history. there are some indications that violence, especially al qaeda
and iraq violence is up since late last year. even if true tony's statement sets a very lobar and the gains are certainly still reversible. if our goal is, quote, a sovereign, stable, self-reliant country with representative government that could become a partner in the region and no safe haven for terrorists which is not there yet. we have a lot of work to do. on security iraq endures a high number of attacks. that is per month from politically motivated. unquestionably much lower than they were at the peak but still sufficient to keep sectarian tensions high which is what was said in a recent video. the economy is not really in good shape.
high iraqi oil production helps the budget and moderates world prices which americans like but higher oil production does not make an economy. democracy in iraq does not yet include an independent judiciary protection of basic human rights, vigorous parliamentary oversight, local governments or fulfillment of many constitutionally mandated procedures. we are not there yet for sure. there are threats out there and we have to be clear about what they are. first is the threat of breakdown. and iraq that becomes chaotic and dysfunctional. a more or less failed state somewhat like the one maliki took over in 2006. it is important to remember that certainly from then until now that has been some progress.
second is the threat of break up. and iraq that fragments along ethnic and sectarian lines with broad regional consequences as each of the neighbors seek advantage. the third is the one we focused on here today that i intend to continue to focus on which is autocracy. the fear of break down or break up is what motivates malady or somebody else to centralized power and refuse to transfer in accordance with the will of iraq's people expressed in verifiably free and fair elections. none of these iraqs, broken up, broken-down, autocratic are the kind of partner the united states seeks. it is the third possibility that is really troubling at the
moment. we need an iraq that respects the rights and the will of its people. the question -- and here i have enormous sympathy for ambassador feltman is what influence do we have apart from the usual diplomatic jawboneing which i believe the embassy has mastered beyond the shadow of a doubt. i want to take a look at the elements of american influence in today's iraq. i summarize them this way. arms, 8, oil and what for lack of a better term i would call relationships. let me explain. arms transfers. some people say give us leverage. we should make providing our support conditional on iraqi adherence to democratic norms or meaningful power sharing or deep
politicization of the security forces. this seems to me easy to say and very difficult to do. once you have embarked on a program like transferring f-16s over a period of decades it is going to take a big issue to override the vested interests. and conditionality would immediately encourage the iraqis to get their arms elsewhere. the best we can do is make it absolutely clear, i would prefer in writing in advance that none of the weapons systems the u.s. provides can be used against iraq's own citizens without exercising their legal rights. we should also make it clear we will cooperate only with a professional army under civilian control. but beyond that it seems to me
iraq's something government arrangements are no longer hours to determine so long as they may remain representative and democratic. i challenge the notion -- the embassy did a great job on the airfield agreement. i challenge the notion that we can impose power-sharing on morality --maliki when he's democratically elected it has the majority in parliament. that is the real problem in iraq. the results of the election and post election maneuvering which has given him the majority that he has and made it quite impossible to form an alternative majority in that parliament. at least no one has figured it out so far. aid is a more flexible tool than arms. it should be targeted in my view
towards democracy and rule of law. i would focus in particular on encouraging more independent judiciary and promoting a civil society that will demand real democracy while not carefully monitoring government expenditures and corruption. to be clear, there is no reason why the u.s. should be spending hundreds of millions of dollars on usaid. yesterday, the web site told me that it does for economic and agricultural development. i don't think we should be doing that. the iraqis have more than enough incentive and their own resources to do those things. we paid too much attention to oil. i think we pay too little attention to oil.
iraq's resources come overwhelmingly from exported oil. more than 90% of which is shipped through the gulf under iranian guns even when the existing pipeline to turkey is operating. this is where we have failed glamorously. shipments of iraq's oil by pipeline to the northwest on syria undergoing transition, would help to reduce iranian pressure on iraq and all line iraqi interests with those of europe and the united states. we have done too little pipeline diplomacy in iraq. this means iraq's oil and eventually gas will traverse kurdish/sunni populated territory which means political reconciliation is a prerequisite. some will see that as an insurmountable obstacle. i see this challenge one worth
overcoming. iraq should be tied and publicly by all gas pipeline to turkey and the mediterranean, not to or use --hormuz. i am told it is more economic to take the oil by pipeline to the north and west. finally, relationships. american influence inside iraq comes in part from good relationships with the main players. the declining exception. we are a kind of convening power within iraq. they may still resent the occupation but iraqis of both rights and they look to the americans for protection. iraqis of all stripes believe the united states is vital to re-establishing their country's regional role and they are
correct. we should be ready and willing to help, expecting that iraq will align with the united states where it really counts. right now that means supporting the effort in iran's nuclear program and the arab league plan for syria. it means pumping as much oil as possible into a world market concerned with the prospect of war with iran. just a word in conclusion about the long-term. maliki, whatever his virtues and his voices is not forever if democracy survives in iraq. the previous speaker is absolutely correct to point to the strategic framework agreement as the proper vehicle for establishing that long-term relationship to ensure that our
institutions and iraq's institutions are people and iraq's people, our economy and iraq's economy, our culture and iraq's culture tied closely together. i haven't met an iraqi lately who doesn't raise this with me. i haven't met an iraqi who is satisfied with the degree of focus and implementation of this strategic framework agreement by the united states. and i have to tell you that it is very hard for the united states to do these things. there's a lot in a strategic framework agreement for which you need to reach beyond government and beyond the stovepipes of government in order to make it effective. in educational cooperation. cultural cooperation. business cooperation. i don't think we are very good
at it. not only in iraq. we are very good in a lot of places. so i have the impression that we have still not learned to fully exploit the potential of this agreement and to sharply increase the interconnectedness between iraq and the united states. as i say those words i am reminded of anne-marie slaughter's addition to the concept of soft power. she has added interconnectedness as a new kind of power. i do think it is important with iraq. [applause] >> thank you very much. i want to thank all three of our speakers for very insightful and provocative presentations. one of was working on the nsc staff i got used to these
black-and-white visions of what was actually happening in iraq and where we are going and i am glad to see in some ways not much has changed. that provide some comfort. i was very interested in the speaker's remarks on how we are engaging with the iraqi government and ambassador feltman spoke eloquently on the extent to which the u.s. government maintains high-level ties on key issues that are facing many iraqis. at the same time i am very interested in daniel serwer's comment on the levers of our influence which i will throw to the speakers. are we using all of the levers of our influence in iraq. we try to leverage our relationships with key iraqi players. we doing the same thing with provincial players? are we trying to build into our burgeoning arms relationship with iraq respect for civilian control over the military?
respect for human rights? in this connection are we doing enough to support respect for human rights in the country not only on the national level but in the provincial level? i would only note here that in the last few years our democracy and governance like usaid experienced sharp declines as u.s. presence has gone down. i would be interested in the reactions of the speakers to that. particularly their insight on what we should be doing to leverage the enormous influence we have in iraq and i will open it up to questions after that. >> would anybody like to take the first shot at that?
>> it depends what you mean by we have influenced by virtue of the fact that we are meeting. the united states ambassador can meet anyone in iraq he wants to meet with from the president on down. that is not the issue. the question is what is the policy that is being advocated in those meetings. what i see happening in iraq, in terms of u.s. policy, they're very much is this sort of 80% solution the neo conservatives came up with in the bush administration and the question i was asked by somebody who works these issues at the time inside the white house in 2010 once how can we coopt, quote, how can we coopt the city's --
sunnis? you have influence. you don't need 150,000 troops. when you had 150,000 troops you were running the place. you don't run the place anymore but you have influence. the question is what is the policy. the rest falls into place from there. >> i made it very clear that i think we are not doing enough to support democratic institutions. i dare say some of the things i advocate an independent judiciary, the most serious threats to his hold on iraq. that isn't going to be easy to do. we need to do it and to do it we need to stop doing things that the iraqis should do for themselves. i do think economic and
agricultural developments are very much in that category. >> we need to approach this with a bit of humility. it is worth remembering as the ambassador said when we had 150,000 troops there and we are running the country, things like the hydrocarbon law of the personal corruption, if the list goes on. these were not able to be resolved when we were running the country. is worth looking at this with a bit of humility. ultimately the iraqis are going to determine the future of iraq and we are going to use our influence to promote as best we can our objectives in iraq which are based on this goal of a democratic united self-reliant prosperous iraq. , this turns out in iraq matters deeply to was for all sorts of reasons as everybody here knows
what we have to recognize that our ability to dictate outcomes in iraq or anywhere else is quite limited. anywhere in the world we need to be looking for how best to exercise our influence. how to increase our engagement. where are the neglected parts of the politics we need to deal with. i don't sit here and say we're doing everything we could be doing. i am sure there are things we should be doing but we're doing a lot through a large embassy for. the linkage and that the national level and again the only outside power in iraq that is seen is as close as they come to an honest broker. iran is not seen that way and other neighbors are not seen that way and that gives a certain influence. in terms of our assistance -- i don't know what is on the web
site today. the focus on the remaining economic support funds in iraq are largely based on capacity building to support institutions not based on capital projects and those sorts of investments. they are done in a way to unleash iraqi capital and iraqi talents. >> very quickly. i understand. influence is limited as mr. serwer said. ambassador feltman said the iraqis have to define these things. okay. it is not as if the united states was acting as a neutral broker. i don't believe the united states is seen as an impartial broker. it was just announced that it won't deal with the ambassador designate in iraq because he is too close to maliki. this is a serious thing. becae