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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  December 30, 2013 4:30pm-6:31pm EST

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if it were a democratic u.n., our problems would largely disappear. but it's not at all clear societies problems would disappear. we go back to that. i would just add one other thing. the crisis that we are having in relations now, the lack of good communication, which i think can partly be blamed on the mr. sheen. but of course, several of the top people of saudi arabia are very old and sick. having the kind of relationship we had 10 years ago, 15 years ago, would be far more difficult today. saudi arabia may enter a succession crisis. the king is over 90 and nodding at health and is apparently in worse health. if you look at the statistics, we make it a succession crisis during the obama and.
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never, i think it is fair to say, since the establishment of this government have i not known who's not. it's not clear that crown prince, can take over. you have that succession at a time when they are reaching the end of the brothers are going to have to confront the question of going to the next generation. that happens at a moment when tensions with the united states is as high as it has been certainly sent 2001 and our influence at the top in saudi arabia is i think as small as it has been in a very long time. that's an unfortunate combination of events. i should stop there. >> rate, thank you, lee. at the outset, i want to say happy holidays to you all,
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especially those watching on c-span on the rebroadcast. if you're watching this, you should be watching it's a wonderful life. that's what i'll be doing. we hope we have a good discussion here. second, thank you to the hudson institute and from the work you do. i'm obviously from a centerleft ink tank, but i don't agree with a lot of what you write. i'm enraged by it. i hope the dialogue here today. yesterday was reading the latest edition of current trends in islamist ideology, which is great publication. again, even if i don't agree with that, it helps online with my thinking. what i wanted to do at the outset was maybe make three overall points just to get the discussion going. one, a snapshot on the u.s. saudi relations based on
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statements from saudi leaders. second, a brief assessment of what i see saudi strategy and how they're doing entered a comment on u.s. strategy structured that way. first, just start out to show you how that things had become in the u.s. saudi relations, three quotes. one, a letter from ability to president of the united states. at a time at a nations part of its time for the united states and saudi arabia to look at their separate interest. second, a saudi official here in washington, saying that until it doesn't miss words like president. if the u.s. doesn't do more to reduce the violence here he was back in the bank and gaza, there will be grave consequences for u.s. interests. third, from a diplomatic cable, a u.s. diplomat writing about
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abdullah, talking about a bct had with the u.s. diplomat. u.s. policy has not given iraq to iran as a guest on a golden platter. this diplomat roque king abdullah was such that in some and somewhat emotional while not specific am even appear to be questioning the bona fides of u.s. policy. i highlight these statements because he come from 2001, 2002 and 2005. there's been a lot of chatter about the most recent statements and quite visible protestations about u.s. policy. but to demonstrate that there has been a certain consistency of criticism. elliott i'm sure it is this in the bush administration, coming from saudi arabia. for those of you who speak arabic, when i read the recent comments and also these past comments, a phrase came to mind in terms of empty talk.
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talk that in some ways doesn't necessarily reflect the core interests, which i think they're still strong interest and i fundamentally agree with elliot that there is a values disconnect between our two nations and i hope we talk about that. ultimately, we have heard through the years a lot of talk in an overanalysis says u.s. policy has shifted, whether it was last decade are currently trying to adjust to the complicated middle east, saudi's have often talked a lot. when you look at what they do, it is actually sometimes quite different. the second point i wanted to make was about the saudi strategy. asked if he would mind handing out a paper i did two years ago. and that is relevant. a u.s. article about u.s. saudi relations. the paper was an inch to an exercise to look at how saudi arabia defined national
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interest. quite often we look at things from violence and quite naturally what we get out of this relationship here it is interesting for me to interview people not only in the government, but outside the government sector that elliot is talked about, the geo-sector. you can disagree with this, but my main conclusion was saudi arabia punches far below it great giving resources, conventional military power, something u.s. administrations have had something to do with. and given its unique status in the islamic world. if he initially to assess the objectives over the last 10 years, it has not been a good job in its self-interest. we talk about the ideology and support for radicals. if they can't locate a picture. it's an import on a dangerous one. quite simply over blastomeres thomas parties have said they don't want iranian influence to spread to the reason.
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what they see iraq and lebanon is the spread of iranian influence. we can talk about why that the case. the saudi's have also said they'd like to advance for a decade now the arab peace initiative. if you go ask what is your actual strategy, what is your tactic connected to the strategy to get that done? again, grumbled and complained, but not a clear strategy. finally, despite its wealth, if you look at the situation in terms of government and i as a progressive and trouble appeared when you let how wealthy the country should be an economic inequality. when it comes to energy subsidies, dealing with a very young population, almost every day you'll see this. if you look at the arabic news today. protests in a certain part of saudi arabia right now have been able to keep a lid on this.
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depression. it's hard or me to see this and this compatible and complementary to elliot's point. the last point on u.s. policy. again, i would highlight and i think elliot may disagree with me. over the last 10 years, i have seen a remarkable continuity. the broad strokes of u.s. policy, but brought policy in the region. the strategic context. it was quite easier to define the relationship. we have a line is that the european partners.
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a major non-nato ally. saudi arabia has banned a marriage adventurist at certain points. for decades, the u.s. is ready rabia as soviet influences. for decades the saudi arabia viewed it as a country they could turn to for arab nationalism and not certain post-1979 to contain the iranian influence. now, whatever you think about do it attainment strategy containing iran and iraq, when the iraq war happened in 2003 and i know there's a lot of criticism, but my deepest concern was to change the strategic paradigm in the region for the united states that this policy has created the last 10 years a situation of strategic drift and one where there's been a lot of tech or react to crisis management. i'm not assessing this from the level of presidential beaches, weatherbee president bush
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president bush or president obama, but actual u.s. policy has been quite a model and quite tactical in terms of not certain what it wants to achieve. in this period of a competition for influence within the region can saudi arabia is one of the many are stranded to its weight around in many ways. there's still some mainstays and elliot mention those. the cooperation is quite strong in some levels, but worries the money talk about area. we can talk for the whole session about this. but in its relation ship is quite strong. if you notice earlier this month, another side for the united states. the difference is wicked and two. it ran quite clearly, why they've been stating publicly that concerned in various saudi royals. again, u.s. senate except disagreement on whether they've accepted secretary hackles with an agreement.
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i think strip away all the rhetoric you will see a pragmatism that is there. syria, they divide. i hope we talk about that. egypt again, serious differences, that can be navigated, which is where i'll close. despite the tensions, this, nature is. divergence of values, which i agree with elliot here. if i had one advice for this current administration, what i hear quite a lot in the region and our friends in saudi arabia and gcc is there is nobody papers even say the obama white house or the administration of their go to person, somebody they can talk to. again, not because we love them and share values, but effectively encina policy interest would be one recommendation that they want somebody they can talk to and listen to. unlike their publics they been a reflection of their own frustration with the effectiveness of their daddy g.
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but also common sense that the u.s. doesn't like us anymore. i will submit to you that is not a bad name for u.s. policy. maybe potential for leverage this exercise in some sort of way. again, going back to the broader point i don't think we know what we want writ large in the region. this is a problem not only of the obama administration, but the predecessor because there's confused mixed messages. we are at a complicated point, but i don't see a major break coming and it definitely needs to be managed. >> thanks, elliot. i want to say. the beat, one of the things that three of us agree on when you talk about the different problems but certainly coming up in saudi society, the three of us agree it would be a good thing, a positive thing if the united states and policymakers
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have an active role in helping choose your saudi society and a positive direction rather than a dangerous direction. >> in the old days, there were very many of them. when he was ambassador, yet unrivaled access to the white house. you know, the provincial ambassador would call up on monday and say you think there's any possibility i could see the president in a week or two? used to annoy me a lot. i mean, why should they have this kind of access? actually, president bush once said he's not influencing me. i influence unseen hand. keep them close. this is how i get a message in an hour directly to the king. this is how i get a reply from the king. it worked. you know, a little bit of
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discounting because you knew that, you know, some piece of the message was pindar. 1%, 20%, basically overt. i fully agree that tom donnellan was for a while point man for the saudi's. the system has not yet been fixed so that there is somebody who then review of the key intermediary. that's important because we do want to influence them. they obviously have a lot of influence and, for example, syria. they have an active syria policy. they have a very active bothering policy. we want to maximize their influence are probably not doing it right now. >> to respond to the u.s. having a knack to roll in. the saudi direction, i completely agree with the instinct, but the devil is in the details of how you implement that at this time of change in the middle east.
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quite clearly in the first year of the earth uprisings, 2011 at 22012, the saudi spotlight they were on their heels. they lost partners. they thought the united states and president obama had thrown the park under the bus because of the lack of the economic and democratic reforms. they play a construct of role, a curious thing than a monarchy is actually playing a role in sort of mediating a pathway towards what i think could have some potential for continued openness and their political system. yemen has terrorism problems and other things. they gcc, but mostly saudi arabia planned that role, where he think again they've really punished far below their weight trying to contain iran. quite clearly their response to the situation in bahrain to
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research and lines. their reaction to that, if it's fair to call it similar to the brezhnev doctrine. so they contain not air. i come back to iraq and the perception in the shift inside of iraq, which remains a huge challenge and obviously connected to syria. when they sell the u.s. administration in her in particular walk away from what i would be targeted, limited strikes, they were already in the process of trying to place bets on a number of different actors. not a semi was most recent trip, they and others are all in. it is presenting -- yes, with dangerous groups perhaps and perhaps less saudi arabia than other gcc states. by 2014 comments already in the press. this administration is recognizing perhaps the jihadest
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and north security threats that the united states faces. >> is in here trying to decide if i agree they're punching below their way. the comparison that would make that point last saudi arabia or qatar. i mean, qatar is a interesting place in the sense it has no citizens. i think it's about 200 of the 5000 now. all there is is monday and there have been extremely effective use of that money and have qatari diplomacy. if you compare the last 10 years of qatari diplomacy and use of the site is coming with absolute conclude the punch below their way. but if you compare it to iran, iran has roughly three times the population of saudi arabia.
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the percentage of the population that is in a sense involved in the life of the country, for example, has a decent education, professional women active in some way in the economy. it is surprising in the latest studies that have a hard time taking on a country with three times the population and that is much more modern. the striking thing to say about the ayatollahs in iran. but it's true. i wonder really if you look at the country, even with the 12, the amazing achievement maybe one could say is the qataris. if you take them out of the equation, at about saudi arabia is punching hello it's me. in the days when i was punching above its weight, that was when it was raining all this money to
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spread extremist ideology say you had wahhabi imams and mosques and wahhabi schools growing up in indonesia. so that was not a good thing. >> i'm not casting a judgment value. i'm sitting in terms of the article is if you measure, if you have those resources in u.n. saudi arabia ensured those goals and you certainly could do better. again, i'm not saying that would be for u.s. interest certainly. i'm trying to critically analyze it, which is due in the region right now. an important point i think especially since 2011, that preceded this, the region have for into the multidimensional mmo seed polar power. talk about saudi arabia versus qatar. you look at turkey's role and
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its purported role and how did many ways did not punch above its weight and quit below is way. we are in a period of transformation that when i say multidimensional it's not who is backing who are military forces. it's using money in the way reciting saw any chip after morrissey's ouster in the coup quite visibly taken aback. if there's an overall trend in the middle east, it's the most simplistic. the country is a little bit less economically strong but also divided critically armenta codewords played out. you've known this for years. it can to go on. syria is the most dangerous place. >> let's talk about syria. in some ways, looking on it for the saudi is, what is the real issue? is the issue the united states
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appears to want to rebalance the region as former national security adviser thomas donnellan said, basically rebalance the society said iranian off each other. or the statusa in our problem is not rebalance. the problem is the islamic republic of iran. i guess in some ways, if you look at the area, syria might be more accurate picture of what is happening around the region, with the reunions are fighting for now the ratings are fighting. and that you get of syria. >> from the saudi point of view, it is clear that king abdulla use the crescent. you americans handed them air act, the quote that brian matt and i still have that view. you're not do anything about hezbollah and lebanon. now you've got hezbollah troops
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in iranian higher gc troops and expeditionary force in syria fighting. this is a matter of shia becoming the dominant force in the region. what are your american doing? nothing. you don't recognize it. i think that the fundamental saudi view. they are fighting to win. you guys don't even seem to recognize this is a site with the shia. that is not the american view. it's the revolutionary regime. >> these are not the speeches obviously that officials made. i'd think in addition to the problem for the saudi said he ran under any management, you know, there's a deep religious conflict.
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nowadays the better worry. daley has an american handicap. our problem, as i said, is that the islamic republic and the fairest form policy. feedback others say on the syria case, another example in my view of how saudi arabia has a stated goal. it's actually in alignment with u.s. policy. i happen to believe u.s. policy is not in alignment. if you look at 2013, any serious analysts will say this has been a very good year for the assad regime in terms of its ability to stay in powder. even for many people who work hard a, who are sympathetic to
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the assad regime. in terms of this airplay, the wind is a little bit more. either they can go back to what stated saudi missions are. but i've heard from the analysts i think are credible and go in and out of the era in other places is the absence of any strategy to advance their goal. the saudi strategy. it's quite similar to the u.s., but you get it in terms of not only the obama ministrations posture, the much republican and democrats in congresshis reticence to go into in fact you can evaluate and say we don't have a strategy that will meet our goals. the saudi's are doing things. they do things in ways that i think we'll may be on top of the assad regime, this certainly creates a security problem that could rival northwest pakistan
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and other places. that's the thing everybody is starting to become aware. i fear in 2014 situation could slip pretty rapidly. >> while the comment that the recent is the fact there and in it there in the press and booking a ticket monograph yesterday at gcc private support to militant groups, the recent trans-with victories leaving, this is not an encouraging sign. you can criticize u.s. policy and i'm happy to do that because there's a gap between the stated goals and that the actual policy is doing on the ground. that gap is even greater. given the stated self-interest and affiliate described it, they are not terribly effective with undermining the regime. >> i agree with that. >> heard me. i think if i were saudi's folks
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and, what i would say to you if that's the fault of the americans. you know, you guys have had the policy from the beginning. irani and surrender to win. we're trying to say. we are doing what we can help some others in the region. very hard to do with americans on the sideline. but we've kept aside from winning. we've kept the rebellion alive. now it is true, let's call in the non-chi hotties alleman are declining versus the jihad he alleman. and that's your fault. you come in with us in the beginning. we wouldn't have had to vacuum that is but this should be of mag for all but the world. we are not prepared to see assad when does that mean it's hezbollah and iran have one. we are not prepared to see that.
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iraq after all in a sense is a shia country. this is a country that we are not prepared to see the shia take it over. you're not helping. i think it's actually a very powerful argument. >> at one point -- about going to the saudi's have a real point when they differ with american policy? at what point, when brian challenged the title of the panel, i think it makes sense. it is not alliance in that way. it is relationship and seems to be a monster with ways a problematic relationship so far as a lot of it does not to do with oil for security and his directly it has been a lot of times saudi's screaming at the americans from the side, do this, do that. as eliot was saying about
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vietnam bush, it is best to leave them, guide them, influence them. at what point when they say, at what point are they right one is talking about syria? you are wrong on syria. you are brought upon herein. how do we distinguish the noise from when they are correct? >> you could argue and they would certainly argue they are right in this regard. i would respond in terms of again back to u.s. strategic interests and again having a clear plan of how does this end and where does this go? if you wanted to go to an all in strategy and await it again i don't think won't happen. i can almost say for certain based on my own assess it from the u.s. side. you look at her with the fallout from what would've been a failed vote in congress on very limited right. so in this case to the american
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public will require a fundamental change in something that happened on the ground, not on the order of 9/11, but something the administration -- >> the president has been undermining anything more active in syria for two and a half years he had thought to change as well. >> what i'm suggesting is that i'll think of the week of columnist there papers he could directly affect u.s. interests. something like a teetering collapse of jordan, which is one of our closest, steadfast partners. something on that order will require, again, the administration primarily. postsales of the united states wake up and say the middle east after 10 or 12 years for a test congress at the end of september, early october, on an issue related to the middle east. i got it on both sides saying why should we care? for those of us who care about the region, what we need to do
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is outline a practical case. when it comes to syria, a practical case for each minute if i were advising the administration in a clear way of area, i think they're doing this to some extent, and says that these factors are doing right now. saudi arabia, qatar, others. i would focus a little bit more on the ground gate and he was doing it on the ground.
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of how do you actually, you know, at least get to an end to some of the worst behaviors that are leading to the fragmentation of syria. there's no regional strategy to shape the actors who are now engage in syria. >> we're on complete agreement is things have to go. bottom up, not top down. if you can negotiate a deal that doesn't reflect reality on the ground. if you adopt the deal you have to have an negotiation but change the reality tone the ground. >> yes. we're not doing that. >> i'm thinking more and more here even though you distinguished yourself -- [laughter] [inaudible] agreeing on a number of things. >> no. i think the point where i might disagree, if we can carry it through in term of specificity policy. i think it is easy enough to
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say, okay, here's what you do map out a case to change the balance of power on the ground. i think as people, secretary kerry might tell you. when they made a modest decision of the spring in this year to arm some part of the rebels, i think there was a delay in doing that. and there is still a slownd in that. part was a low appetite amongst those in congress. i mean, i'm not blaming there. there's no appetite over all if post 9/11 and i think heading to the iraq war. there was, you know, a great appetite in power. actually shape what the u.s. could do in part of the world. unfortunately, i fear it was squandered. i think it was continued. my personal view, to be squandered in part because we believe sort of the made some mistakes, certainly. i've criticized the priest administration. then we believe that we can't do anything. i think collectively what i'm saying. it's not just in the mind of president obama or others.
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but across the political spectrum. there's little we can do. it worries me the worst. i hope to continue to work on it on the next 20 or 30 years. the sense we don't have power to do anything which we talk about a lot on egypt, i think, the u.s. policy on egypt convinces this. it nonseparates they don't have much influence. i think it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy. >> i would add one point about i don't know if this is a saudi punching under their weight or just a fact of life and they don't have a way. they are opposed to u.s. policy. very critical of u.s. policy. they're completely unable to do anything about it. it's striking. they don't have the influence, the administration, and they certainly don't have the influence in the u.s. with the public. they can't move public opinion. now maybe that's asking too much of foreign government. although at times the british
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have been able to do it at times the israelis may have been able do. it the saudis, though spend a ton of money on pr firms in washington, can't do it. so they're left kind of ineffectively. but haven't moved the needle. >> one of the interesting things i wanted to come to this. people have been saying for the americans are out of the picture or that seems that way to the saudis the saudis will look for other options. we keep hearing about, again, i'm not sure what it looks like. one of the things we have heard about is excellent accord coordination secret but excellent coordination between the israelis and saudis. one of the that struck me over the last couple of -- interim deal with iran as many of the people including myself used to writing critical of this
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administration will not just write. it's not good for our allies in israel. it's not good for our allies in saudi arabia. to yolk those two things together, it's different. in some ways, i think the saudis might be benefiting from the fact they and the israelis in line. at least on iran policy. >> i would suggest, you know, some suggested this could then more expansively lead to something else. i think there are inherit limits to whatever there could be on iran. i think the biggest issue for the saudis will be the israeli/arab conflict. it's still an important core issue. now again the other place i might push back a little bit. not present in the region i think it's highly inaccurate. you go, as i did this fall and
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see what our footprint is like in the gcc state if you read secretary hagel's speech in bahrain. we can have problems with how he said that and what he said. it's clear there's no other military force that will rivel. if you look at the planning of the pentagon even at the time of budget cut, i see no sign of retreat of u.s. in the region. separate my maybe it's the way to segue to iran. on the interim deal there's a talk about a major shift here. as well, specially the u.s. and tom donilon hipted at this. i would say it is probably more modest than has been portrayed when you look at not only the fact that the security threats that iran presents to u.s. core strategic interests. there's support for terrorist groups and other things. the fact we have been there for decades in region. i don't see us retreating in any way if we were going do that, we might have done that in bahrain or other places if we wanted to
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make that a clear issue. but even if -- i was talking to people in the administration dealing with the sanctions on iran even on the slim chance we can get to a final agreement, and i don't think there's any -- the set of sanctions remain in place because of ierp's missiles program. the support for terror organizations, this is kahn we have significant problem with. and i think just from a cool calculus, i don't think -- again, i think it's portrayed differently in the media debate about the interim agreement. i don't think yet represents anything but sort of ab attempt at diplomacy that may not succeed. >> what is the purpose of the interim agreement. we have spoke about it before. >> i think if you go back to 2009, the president comes to office wishing to engage.
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the theory that part of the large part of the problem with countries like syria and iran was the bush administration. bush policy. now we will engage. that he could not do because of the events in iran in june of 2009. the uprising waive was crushed. you couldn't then engage with the government of iran. remember, the engagement is not with iron. it's not with the people of iran. the engagement is with the regime in iran. as it was with the assad regime. okay. if 2009 you can't do that. flash forward. now it looks as if there's a possibility. after all this is for the first time official engagement. the there are foreign minister secretary of state negotiations. as i look at it, i think people in the region who are scared of the and say, oh, we lived in a world where the confrontation. if the americans no longer want
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that confrontation. believe they can end it almost single handledly. believe it changed enough so there needn't be a confrontation attitude. they are scared. from their point of view, you know, the reallies are one thing. which is nukes. but for the saudis, em emiratis, it may be one issue. it may no be the top issue. there's terrorism, there's subversion, there's eastern province of saudi arabia. there's the shia majority in bahrain. the old desire for long geofftive over what is the persian guflt gull or the arabian gulf. i can't understand why even in the context of having an agreement with israel or -- not an agreement but common interest about the nuclear program, they see that the united, europeans, israel have a different or perhaps have a very
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different fundamental position with respect to iran. >> this is why i think syria is an important test case. when people talk about the iranians. it's not an expanse of power. they never really fight themselves. i think you were talking to the saudi tbbs you were talking to the emiratis and kuwaitis. we've had problems with them at home. if you need more evidence, look at what they have done in syria. as you said before it's an expedition their force. no matter what happens to assad, it seems the iranians stoned profit in the meantime. so saudi concerns there certainly make sense. >> and i think they would echo the concerns about iraq. but again, i think it's important one to make is that we didn't cause sort of the cay use in the region. our actions have an impact. i think the shift from a strategic paradigm of dual containment of both iran and iraq, which was probably not a good long-term sustainable
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strategy of itself. it had consequences. and it had consequences when you talk to people in saudi arabia inside of iraq. i saw the prime minister recently when he was here on his visit. and the whole -- what i'm suggesting that the whole sort of region is in the period of competition for influence. it's changing. i think it is often thrown in the label. i think it's accurate to some extent. it we debated it as well. i think the infrastructuring inside the middle east, because the sunni access so to speak, and we debated this as well. is itself fractured. and i think when i go to places where are most reliable allies and partners like israel or jordan. when they look at the region nap conception and the valetlies say this a lot. we used to fear arab and coherence. now what we fear is weakness. and really, and i think again this paints a mulgded picture. i think that's what it is. a muddled picture in the it's
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critical of the bush administration or friends in the obama administration of the lack of -- it's easier said than done. >> let me ask you. it i want to open up for questions. let me ask you bryan, since you mentioned this a few times, what would -- if you think that the strategic vision has faulten apart or mulledded. what do you think is a clear and far-sided strategic vision in the middle east bhap role does saudi arabia play for the foreseeable future? i'll leave it at that. what role do they play in a clear-sighted american strategy? >> i would say if we're talking long-term. i would start with it depend on what kind of saudi arabia we're talking about. and the issues we have flied over. but the shaping of saudi arabia
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i did future and things like this. to me the most reliable partners are the united states in the middle east are countries like israel and then i think jordan has its own challenges with political inclusion and economic development. you want society have a fabric of more inclusive and open pes. people like to align the freedom agenda. before it was a glean in george w. bush's eye. i was in the middle east working as, you know, on democratic promotion. i believe that. i think one thing is how do you em elevate that pragmatically. recognizing we're not the ones steering the change. it's going part of the dialogue. i know, with u.s. saudi arabia there was a strategic dialogue with the bush administration. if i recall there was nominally a working group on human rights and democracy. >> made us feel better. >> yeah. more crisply. what strikes me, it's a problem that cuts across many administrations.
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it's often we consider our interests and value. when you go in the discussion you have in our military or in our intelligence agency, it's quite different than what some people in the state department. make i'm unrealistic. there could be a more practical blending of the issue. one thing i say in the mix of the middle east, to me the fundamental that seems to be undergirding this the society are at the start of this in transformation. and being more ai want at trying to guide that. when we look how flaccid and weak the state department structures are. when you look at the partnership and the g8 and the lack of -- when you measure it against what the other states have done against egypt. i think the main point is what can we do in term of lessons learn. there's a lot of criticism in the bush administration's freedom of agenda bhap are the real lessons learned. how do we elevate democracy promotion and reform? while also being pragmatic and
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attending day-to-day interests. i think it's easier said than done. i don't know if elliot has a reaction to this. >> you know, you can rephrase your question. it what would herman say? >> about the future. >> i think it depends partly on ten years, 50 years. if we're talking 10, 10, 25 years. a period which american dependence on middle eastern oil decline, decline, decline. i agree, first of all, that one of the key variables sheer tell me what is going on in the society. we didn't predict the turmoil in so many arab countries that we have seen since 2011. what will saab be like five, ten years from now? will it be a generally calm society? will it be a revolutionary society? will it --
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i think, you know, some of the issues that saudis face are internal issues that we haven't talked much about. i used to work for senator once said that the most disruptive thing in any society, any society, including the united states is unemployed young men. unemployed young men are dangerous. saudis have a large number of unemployed young men. you can they have a large number of unemployable young men. whose education is such that the idea they find a job next year is hard to believe. it's a very big variable. how will -- look, you know, we're in the final years, statistically speaking of the rule of king of bella. who is the next king?
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kind reforms -- and the needs for the coming decade. a big variable. the other one i would throw in, look, the islamic repub will ping that's the security issue. someday i believe the islamic republic will fall. the people of iran will get what they want, a decent, just democratic society. it may take five or 35 years. who knows. until that day comes, it seems to me the strategy of the united states has got to be to be the main bull horn against the extremism, the subversion, the terrorism, the aggression of the islamic republic. was our friends in the can't do it without. i think this administration is has an -- at best an unclear policy in this respect. which has made our friends
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nervous. >> this is where disagree a little bit. i think there's more continuity in the policy. if you look at the since 1979 one fundamental has been containing the iranian influence. under the bush administration in the last two years, in particular there was a different strategy that began of continued to contain and amp up the containment through global economic sanctions. while also engaging in the p5+1. when i talk about continuity. i think it's there. in term of testing what the possibility are. i think in the overall architecture of the security posture, and the intelligence agency through iran. it has not fundamentally changed. i think we are, you know, that's where we probably disagree a little bit. i think people overread sort of the diplomatic engagement and attempt at the diplomacy. to me the fundamental ark checkture is quite consistent.
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where it all goes is a big question. in the second point i raise up, is the whole issue of containment bargain we met. the partnership that we built. the bargains, if you will, with some of these actors like saudi arabia, the subject of our talk today is the thing that we should question what were the costs and what were the benefits of that cooperation strategically and tactically. to me, that's where i think this issue of long-term how the societies treats their own people, since of decency and standards is terribly important now for the region itself because these regimes understand that themselves. they can't turn back the time. again, all the criticisms of the attempt at reform in the region and what i think. my main criticism is too much of it became militarized or securetized from the u.s. standpoint. our engagement in the region. unfortunately in the analysis. it has been an underable sis
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iranians have been killing americans and plotting to kill americans for decades. under several presidents of both parties. the american reaction is almost always nothing. we have seen it in afghanistan and iran. we have seen it beirut and saudi arabia. we're never actually reply. so that -- from my point of view, unfortunately proves your point. the iranians have paid almost no price for this under administration after administration. this unfortunately em boldens them. you would like to think there's a debate in tehran about whether it is wise to blow up a restaurant in georgetown. some people think you crazy? it's an act of war. others say they won't do anything. the people who said the latter, unfortunately were right. >> or there was no debate at all. if that's a good idea.
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the americans won't do anything. >> why don't we open it up for a few questions? the gentleman in the front. if you would -- i believe we have a microphone. i'm going ask you to wait until the microphone arrives and introduce yourself and keep it brief. so we can get to an answer to your question. -- pardon me? >> a minute. [inaudible] talked about an economic impact was the -- in term of job. you look at the relationship and quantify it, we benefit from job creation by having over 2340urbgs americans work in saudi arabia. it's substantiate i have. now on the question of whether the saudis think -- [inaudible]
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i was in saudi arabia. no one believes that -- [inaudible] but they are concerned about that are not using it to change the status quo in syria. they know what it is. and they need us. finally, bryan mentioned the fact there's no close coordination when you talk to the saudis. they talk about bush xiv. i'll tell you we a great relationship. we didn't always agree, but they consulted with us. we aware of what was going on. now, for example, thailt tell you about the negotiations with iran and -- [inaudible] in bahrain and also in france said, you know, we should be nblged in the negotiations. the iranian nuclear weapon. [inaudible] >> can you phrase that as a question now? okay. >> look. to just to respond. i think the link acts we did not
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explore the linkage between them. what i would say is also -- again, we often think about the middle east just sort of saudi arabia and its relationships north to the west. that struck me and strikes me on the visit to the region is the growing linkages. not only china with energy, but the whole gulf but also saudi arabia. the fact remittances and quite a lot of indian and pakistan. those linkages are quite important as well. and we often have that stove pipe discussion about sort of our policies. but they view it as very important. you know, and i don't, you know, i agree with the rest of your comments. i sympathize a lot with them. i don't know if you have any other reactions to it. it >>. >> hello. in the back. i guess there's a microphone coming back there. does the mic work okay? it seems like we a little trouble. gentleman in the audience was signaling trouble here. >> i want to thank everyone for
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the discussion and also for the accommodation of the current trends. i guess my question is for bryan -- ticks starts from your satisfaction, it seems to me. but our syria -- [inaudible] but the president has now said syria is someone else's siflt war. i wonder what you think the argument for why it is something else that would be persuasive within the administration, for that matter to the american public. it would seem to me, anyway, that the argument would be it's not merely a civil war. it's -- or -- syria's civil war but a regional civil war. a sunni shia war. and we have a concern about that. and that as elliot, i think,
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suggested, iran -- that side is winning. so that would be, it seems to me, the thash that would have to be raised. i wonder how you make the argument while we're embracing at the same time. >> yeah. i mean, i agree you. i would add to the fact spillover you see already in the security threat lebanon, turkey, it seems fairly contained in jordan but then iraq. the regional implications. they're rolling out as we speak. i think probably the thing that only move -- here i'm tawshting the american public. i think i see our political leaders from president obama but then especially member of congress. they are reak active in a sense. especially after ten years. erroneously seen as bad engagement on the part of the u.s. yes, we made mistakes. the engagement, had we stuck with it had lasting impact.
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i think the only thing would be a wake-up call, unfortunately would be a major terrorist event. not like what turkey. but something emanating from northern syria. i guess what i'm suggesting is inconceivable it happens. inspect way that i think attempting jet liner bombing in the december of 2009, on christmas day was a wake-up call about aqap. my fear. it's not my hope. my fear is that something similar to this. it provoked a response from the administration. people can agree or disagree with it. it was a brutal response. it was effective. it had impact. >> had me a little concerned that c-span viewers might take matters to their own hand. [laughter] yeah. it's not a representation. >> no. it's a worry given that the when you look at the news account who is showing up. the weapons they might have in
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the backing they might have. right now it seems internally focused. focused on assad regime. that, alone, less so than the regional argument. i think a regional argument flies over the heads of many congressman. i mentioned my experience testifying recently. the american public even -- especially those who served maybe in some of the places in iraq and others. people are -- i think, just in a cool calculus looking at what can d we achieve. the juice worth the squeeze? i think it's unfortunate. i'm not calling for it again, but i fear that produce a wake-up call. given we are going a mid terks election. given we have so still internally focus and given the hyper dysfunction we see in our political system. there was are mark to support. i think had the president done
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it and gone on tv and if one of these last night and said to the american people, we don't want to leave to our children chemical weapons are back. they are used, part of the everyday arsenal. we can't allow that. so i have done the following. it's over. you still would had the open question of the weapons are not secured now. they're on a path way. i'm arguing, i don't think it was a well-thought out strait by. it it was a lucky strategy. had they done that, and i wrote a piece, you know, i generally was supportive of the proposal limited as it was but the main point of my piece there are inherit risks that the time.
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many more than once this could have produced more of an incentive. i would say for all of sort of the zig zag and it was a confusing and messy period. eye sad seems stronger. we should in the undermine what an important accomplishment it was. let me undermine that.
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dead wrong on syria. okay. no, i mean, i would just amend that you said we had a policy of getting rid of assad. a friendly amendment that we a stated policy. i agree. [laughter] >> over here. >> i think together this. sure. i will be happy to.
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i'm too tal. that's why. a discussion on saudi arabia like this. but i want to pick up on the thing you mentioned. one of them, of course, this strong saudi argument. that 70% of the population show it's -- [inaudible] by 30%. [inaudible] ballet two arguments can be made the opposite way to the iranians. so, you know, minority role oppressive regimes being equal is not such a bad idea. depend on who is minority it is. but i want to pick on what you said. i think most inqecial.
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the idea that it is -- [inaudible] saudi problem is more shia strong state in iran rather than an american problem. which is this islamic republic. even if iran were to change. will remain for a long time. from the perspective of the country who live in the shadow of this con thrict that has been instructive to them. whether it's yemen, lebanon, syria, iraq. it goes on. any single crisis almost one dimension a function of a saudi arabia conflict. bryan, your work is well known. maybe -- [inaudible]
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i agree with you on the miesh if i. seems to me the situation in with bahrain is quite unstable. just as a situation syria was unstable. where you have debate the numbers. clearly a minority ruling majority and minority doesn't like it, doesn't want it. put up with it anymore. the problem is in different ways both governments have not responded by saying let's negotiate a better -- [inaudible] i agree with the second part also that the saudi problem is a shia strong state? iran. it's not the american problem.
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if the slafmic republicans falls. i hope and pray. we'll have a god relationship with the follow on government. presumably with a democratic regime. maybe we can go back to the days '60s, '70s the united states was able as the strongest military power in the region to be a buffer between saudi arabia and iran and try help maneuver the relationship between them. no. the nixon doctrine who certainly said appointed it as the sheriff in the region. i'm not talking about that. they had a different kind. i think the united states could be in a position to do that. once we achieve decent relationship with ish. it can't happen. >> if i can make a comment and direct it on iraq.
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we haven't talked as much about it. in my own view is quite clear. and we probably strongly disagree many in the audience i thought the iraq war was a mistake. i wasn't a big fan of saddam hussein then also, you know, all the mistakes after. if you recall in 2005, 2006, 2007, i wrote papers that. if you look at the papers carefully especially in 2007. it talked about the need for continued robust engagement with iraq. and that, what i think, you know, i thought it was understandable that the iraqee government demanded a hard deadline. there was an assertion of vennty. i found it interest that the foreign minister of iraq is going afghanistan and giving advice to the government there.
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i understand it. my clinical analysis looking at trends inside of iraq it doesn't seem tenable. the other agreement. the strategic framework agreement, which again seems bureaucratic. i think cuts to the issue of the question what would u.s. strategy do. these things. the strategic agreement had not only security corporation. has not had. we shouldn't talk about it in pest tense. it's live, living document. at least on paper. the absence of follow through, this is in part because of inattention at the top. i think in administration. but also because the fundamental bureaucratic problems in the agencies in following up. also because of problems inside of iraq. stated in the context of iran as a discussion. i'm against the war but i'm a praguetist. i worked for ndi on the ground for a bit.
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you do what you can what you've got. i think it's a missed opportunity. i think iraq has the potential as big problem they face with terrorism to serve in the future as some sort of bridge in the region. i criticize the iraqi government for not following up on the tools of bilateral engagement. i would say the u.s. is a great deal of fault here. it's a messed opportunity take a sad song and make it better for u.s. policy. [inaudible] >> i'm a student. basically -- [inaudible] twhrowld be a way that -- could be yearsed. given iran as it is right now or saudi arabia is there a way it
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could be eased. if so, what will the u.s. -- [inaudible] , i mean, look if i if cay the only way it can be used in the long run is if there's fundamental change, which i think conditions are present for both in societies at the society m level. if you look at the strategic paradigm of the iranian leaders and the saudi leaders. there looks to seems to be a fundamental inexatn't. they can -- if you look at the society level there's nothing naturally inherit that should lead to -- this is, again, seems soft or especially ten years after the freedom agenda incomplete nobody can do anything about it. the societies are going to evolve. when you talk to ordinary iranians or saudis there's nothing inherently that shouldn't make them at odds. that's why i think right now it doesn't seem like. here a little bit i think elliot
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mentioned. we tend -- and qatar and the gcc states together. i wouldn't -- thrrs serious divergence. continue to work flu the pressure five plus one. the general question leads to intha of a general answer. in the short run, i don't see a clear opportunities for cooperation. ningt long run if the societies evolve in the way i think it is difficult predict but in a trajectory toward an inclusive, open view in the society. there's more opportunity then for them to cooperate. presently, no.
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>> hi, i'm stu, an ordinary citizens. -- [inaudible] characterized the administration's policies as -- [inaudible] anything but positive. if you can waive a magic wand and accomplish u.s. policy in the region what would that policy be, and how would you execute. >> we have been trying to focus on the issue. especially saudi arabia. maybe it doesn't make sense to -- well, people in the region generalization. i think people in the region see the united states israeli, ish,
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and iranian. to me the fundamental change needed many american policy today is to change that. that is to make it clear that not only do we retain the basis, but that we're going use our power. i think it's hard to to that, by the way, without changing policy toward syria. that is the place with the struggle is most direct right now. but that would be the largest change that i would make in the short run. in the long run, there's a deep question how the united states relates to changing societies and governments in ratherly the arab world. i share bryan's view that the saudi -- valley criticism of president obama for throwing mubarak under the bus is completely wrong and
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unjustified. there's a big question of how do we relate to societies that on spectrum a far over toward the unfree. they may be friendly to the united states. we have to work it out over the next 25 or 50 years. but right now 2014, if you want to try to prove to people in the region that the united states is not a pour, it's recedeing you can't coit without having a syria policy. let me answer it. because i, you know, as an outside analyst. i see my first job of be a constructive critic of what the present policy is. in my discussions i let my criticism get ahead of what are some decent pots from the obama administration and start from there. but then say it's differently. i would first say i would characterize in the pragmatic. given sort of the realities of the complexity of the
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situation. to my taste, it leans back the overall position. a little bit too much. anytime office but president solidly backing him are atmenting some sort of deal with iran on the nuclear issue. while be clear eyed about it. and second attempting to advance the israeli-palestinian negotiations. which is something successive administration in time. whether they succeed or not, i think serve clear eyed about the odds are given the challenges and the palestinian and the israelis understandable position about the security concern. those are two pillars. you can criticize whether it's an important strategy. i happen to believe that those priorities are important. add to it a third which is a strand that is script with the bush administration, a sharp focus on counterterrorism n
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places like yemen and around the world. again i would highlight it's one place we need to think more clearly. the syria crisis, libya as well which has fallen off the map emerging as a potential challenge in north africa. the overarching thing i think is missing and happen missing from u.s. policy. not only in many administration but the bush administration, the clinton administration, and backwards is this broader focus of how do we actually use the tool of our not only diplomacy but economic state craft. our military strong. let be clear. i think our footprint. we may degree about whether the sus leaving or not. i don't see it leaving in the region.
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the remarkable power. no matter the -- when you look at we're still very strong and people look to us as place to invest and also get investment from. the tools are underutilized in the middle east. most of the relationships. i think that's a wig space combined and interlinked with the need of govern mans, reform, and democracy like this. build alliances with systems themselves not economically or politically sustainable or responsive to the democratic
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social and political trends. that's the thing that i would it seem like an academic case. after the last decade of u.s. engage want in the middle east. the pessimism that exists among democrats and republicans. politically among the american public. work with other partners. what i fear is nobody cares. elliot and i and lee and those who get paid to write on the stuff and those who -- smaller community. we scwawntered that opportunity. after 9/11. we spoke about how the saudis are concerned that they no longer really have a go-to comby in washington. i guess i ask both of you to
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imagine you are the saudi's go-to guy in washington. to mike it healthier and functional. p five plus two. i don't think are practical but there must be way to read them this to buy them no say this is what we're trying to do. again, if you take a cool hard look at where the u.s. and p5+1 position is and where iran is,
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in syria and it is easy not getting the detail but say on the iron front we're trying this but still here with the security footprint. that's what secretary hagel was trying to do. seizing what is doing what on the ground. not only planning for geneva. i'm skeptical it will succeed. you need a sense of the ground game and connection to the powers on the ground. the balance of porn the ground. third, i wouldn't not leave egypt off the map. egypt is the larkest country in the middle east. my most recent report studied it with michael hannah on this. again, enelliot and i have worked on jipt a lot.
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nay be faking lessons learned to get the saudis to recognize that simply continuing the regime on energy you have for the population. continuing to throw little bone in term of political reform are not likely to sustain your own position. that some sort of pragmatic opening up. the elevation of the testimony and humanitarian rights agenda in a way not counter productive. i would have as part of the discussion. we want to build a partnership. we've one one for awhile. the main point i would say is the most solid partnership we have are not only with those
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countries we share strategic interests but also have a greater sort of overlap of values as well. i think that's a potential in saudi arabia. i think it's there. it needs a considerable amount of work. >> i don't disagree with that. i think it's wise. i would add that i think we should be talking to the saudis more effectively about the question of support for extremism. this is dangerous and dangerous with them. they should have learned the lesson already. to some extent, the government has and i think it's more careful. the worst group in the world. i want want to have that conversation with them.
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that's the nature of saudi society and the challenges they face. you can look at from the human rights point of view. or look at it from point of view that maybe more palatable to the family. increasingly unstable situation. they have not effectively dealt with it. it for example, the educational system. you have win or two experiments. we're doing it at the time of potential instability other the succession in saudi arabia. i don't know that probably limits our ability even now to
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have this. it's something we should where been trying to do over the last decade. it may be that we're not going have another good chance to do it until the succession is over and until you have someone who might be king for ten or twenty years. it's a worrisome diagnosis. i think it may be true. thank you i believe that conclude the panel. i want to thank bryan and elliot. thank you to the hudson institute. thank you very much for coming. happy holidays. [inaudible conversations] ! all this week on c-span2 booktv in prime time.
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this is a story of the developmentment of the project is told through a number of individuals involved in it. people who were policy makers at high level of government. some are judges. but mainly it's about the -- carry out the project and to do so under difficult circumstances. and in particular, if find -- the way the legal system works
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and what american legal values are. challenged. the question let me say that the individuals who were involve in the project at the frontline. the military offices were people who had experience in courts marshall in trying the sort of offenses that gone military basis around the world. they tend to be thing like domestic violence, drug crime, lairs, things like that. they didn't have a lot of experience with national security stuff. they county have a lot experience with complicated conspiracy charges. they know a lot about the history of military justice. particularly after world war ii
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and the tribunal. they did not follow many of the rules that civilian courses have since embedded in the criminal procedure. so for people in the white house and some in the department of justice and the department of defense going back to the model of military tribunal or defeated enemy was seemed to be a way to avoid a lot of those
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developments in the law that had taken place since world war ii. and so when president bush issued order in november of 2001, it was striking in the way that it resembled the order that president roosevelt issued in 1942 involving the nazi that harmed colonel -- commander -- what was his name? whatever. he -- that he refers to there. the concept was the order would create a legal time machine that could avoid the post war legal development and allow trials based really on very minimal set of rules. in in fact the rules boiled con this. they could consider evidence that was probative to a reasonable person. the person was updated from man. that was a concession to the 11st century sensibility. but otherwise there was not much else there. that was about it. you can see all of this conversation with jess tonight
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on c-span2 at 10:30 eastern. at 8:30 p.m. eastern marcia of the national law journal on her book on the supreme court under chief justice john roberts. >> everything is new. the cloud, facebook, twitter. new languages. historically what we have done is slide human life to basically four or five slices. one is -- [inaudible] first five years and the learn face. work phase and resting phase after work. eventually dying. i think we should -- we should play, learn, work, and
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rest at the same time because the world moves so fast today. you can't be [inaudible conversations] we have to stay up to date. new year's day on c-span. just before 1:00 p.m. eastern and throughout the afternoon. ceo of twitter and others on the future of higher education, robotics, and data as the new industrial revolution. on booktv..
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>> a senate finance subcommittee held a hearing on the decline of defined at the retirement plan such as pension and the rise of defined contribution plans such as 401(k)s. the subcommittee looked at the road social security in providing retirement in. senator sherrod brown of ohio cheered this two-hour hearing. [inaudible conversations]
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[inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] >> the subcommittee on social security pension family policy comes to order. welcome break you member senator to me and senator trained to ask. this is likely the first of a series of hearings that i would like to do on the issues are retirement security, social security and all it really do. i appreciate his cooperation as they do senator chairman of bachus is cooperation.
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i returned to senator toomey for his and senator isakson and others are welcome to do the same. retirement security as we know from reading his jury asked dr and other stories from the new deal on has traditionally been thought of as the three-legged stool. social security can't employer-provided pension and investment. the first leg of the store, social security guarantees a modest but stable income during retirement years, but not just for retirement security. social security provides basic financial security and unexpected tragedy and provides a vital safety net to the disabled widows in woodworth, something traditional retirement plans often unable to provide. the other two legs of the three-legged stool, personal savings and pension plans build upon the bedrock of social security and off families maintain the standard of living that they approach the standard of living while they were working to protect seniors, but also allows families resources
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to buy homes to start families and pay for education. without retirement savings, aging parents become dependent on working its children by preventing children and saving from there and retirement, perpetuating the cycle of economic distress for far too many families in those retirement years. for far to many workers, we've seen social security as the only leg last standing on the three-legged stool. the percentage covered by traditional defined benefit plans, those were you pay and get a defined benefit likely for the rest of your life has been climbing steadily over the past 35 years. there is now only 30,000 pension plans over 30 years ago. from 1979 to 2011, private workers with retirement plans covered by defined benefit pension plans fell from 62% to
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7%. the same time the percentage participated defined contribution plans, much of our common now, inherently oldsmar challenges for the beneficiary and perhaps others increased from 16% to 66%. only half of america's defined contribution plans that autoenrollment at a time when we are told we are in charge of our retirement futures, only one quarter of american workers have automatic access to a defined contribution plan. half the u.s. workforce today is covered employer-sponsored retirement plans and half of americans are not participating in any employer-sponsored plan. working families are increasingly squeezed from every angle. wages are stagnant. home values have declined infirmity cases. tuition costs or increase in a timely begin to care for aging parents. middle-class and low-income seniors rely on social security for a majority, some are close to two thirds of families overall to middle-class families
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rely in social security and retirement income workers age 50 to 60 are increasingly unprepared for retirement. the vast majority of economic gains in the last 25 to 30 years have gone to the top of the income distribution in this country, also obviously affect your savings at retirement. middle-class workers haven't shared an economic gains by enlarged unit in greece income associated with increased product dignity and higher corporate profits come in many cosco up, the ability to save his declined. the picture gets bleaker when considering disparities of households this 20 times that of black households. 18 times of hispanic households. the highest ratio since the government began publishing this data a quarter-century ago. these factors are why most americans have only a fraction of what they need or retirement. workers have an average savings of less than $21,000. one third of americans leading
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up to social security retirement age. 45 to 6450 seats for retirement at all. the numbers are slightly better for workers with retirement plan. in 2010, 75% nearing retirement age of less than $30,000 in their iras or retirement accounts are 401(k)s. these facts illustrate how great the need to for maintaining and expanding social security, the only source of guaranteed lifetime benefit in which most retirees can rely. social insurance as unemployment insurance and medicare. you pay income against benefit out. social insurance doesn't just provide much-needed financial support. it ensures hard-working middle-class people can retire with dignity. these modest benefits provided over half their income, lifting
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over 22 million americans out of poverty. as i said earlier, one third of retiree social security beneficiaries for live close to one third for essentially the entire income. the programs not of the retirement insurance one third of benefits to children and widows and disabled. one in 10 children today those of the grand parent. rather than asking how we should scale back the program, we should ask ourselves how we can strengthen it. that seems to often to be the debate. how we can scale back the program and save money for budget reasons. not the debate, which a think it should be a pal do we deal with the whole issue of security, financial security, retirement security for people. not reducing benefits or raising retirement age. maintaining social security is the single most effective thing we can do to prevent poverty and economic room for nine for senior citizens while promoting
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economic ability for children and grandchildren so their responsibilities and burdens don't increase to the degree that makes it so difficult for them. the budget to be creates a vacuum. the social security benefits. a number of fear, have written i'm not. your comments will be interest into here. social security benefits will decrease our ten-year deficit. i don't think consider the impact on seniors that their families would support an. it then a simple budgetary issue. it's a macroeconomic issue, shifting the cost of the federal budget does not resolve our retirement and saving programs. form should be considered as part of the finance committee examination of the burgeoning retirement crisis. they seem to miss an important first step. i want to go to ranking member to me. i think we will learn a lot from today's hearing and i look forward to your contribution. connecting a mac or a much,
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brown. i appreciate your having this hearing. this is no question an extremely important topic and we all agree on the importance of addressing retirement security. as he pointed out, mr. chairman, americans rely on three main vehicles for financial security in retirement. the private savings that come in the form of tax preferred accounts. there's employer pensions, which as you pointed out are increasingly defined contribution plans and the social security program. in my view, government policy should focus on protecting all three pillars of retirement security. a couple ways we can approach this, one would be to recognize the strength of the current retirement system and preserve what works. the other thing we need to do is acknowledge the hard truths about reforms necessary to protect programs for seniors depend on. it is generally good to adopt the approach of first do no harm.
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one of the advantages of our current system is the diversity of saving options as 401(k)s, iras, pretax account. the range of options gave taxpayers greater flexibility, more choices and more opportunities to accumulate savings will help them in their retirement. we are to defend and encourage these provisions that help people to save. some have suggested we are to reduce the amount americans give dave. that is a bad idea. it would tend to diminish the savings. while that would have adverse consequences for individuals, it tempting to say that provide for their retirement, it would also be counterproductive from an economic point of view. the most important long-term driver of economic growth is the investment accumulate capital. it has to be accumulated before it can be invested. encouraging that savings over time maximizes economic growth.
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the second point is we've got to make sure social security is there for future generations. it's an extremely important program. you talked about this. we all know this. for decades, it has provided seniors with a guaranteed source of income and kept millions of americans out of poverty. the fact is the program in its current form is insolvent. it's gone into a cash flow deficit position in 2010. benefits now routinely exceed benefits paid routinely exceed payroll tax is paid the system by very large sums, which are only projected to grow. i know people often like to invoke the assets in the trust fund, but we will probably get into this discussion. there are no assets backing up anything in the trust fund. this is a filing cabinet for certificate that have no real asset to back them up and therefore, the trust funds to which we routinely refer to nothing to enhance or enable the
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federal government to honor the commitment it has made. so we shouldn't be under the illusion that somehow make things okay. the challenges facing social security are not a partisan observation. i want to quote briefly, mr. chairman, for the social security trustee reported this year, 2013th in which they state and i quote, but the social security and medicare programs a substantial financial shortfalls that require legislative corrections. it is important to grasp the amount of time remaining to enact a financing solution is finalized and the amount of time projected before final depletion that social security's combined trust funds. if lawmakers take action sooner than later, more actions will be available to phase in changes to the public has adequate time to prepare. early action will help officials minimize adverse impacts on global populations including lower-income workers and people already dependent on program benefits. the final point that would make
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his tax increases to this problem and would be a mistake to go down that road. actuaries have analyzed the proposal suggested we completely lift the cap on income subject to the payroll tax. that is a radical idea that changes the program that fundamental and in the process severed the link between taxes paid and benefits was viewed. even if the radical step we are taking would only provide temporary relief to cash flow deficits to return in 11 years. again, mr. chairman, i thank you for agreed to do this hearing. i look in lowered to hearing from witnesses and having a discussion. >> thank you are your comments. another pc. >> mr. chairman, i will move right to the witnesses. senator isakson. >> i want to thank the chairman for calling this hearing. there's probably no more important subject for us to be talking about.
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everybody talks about the housing bubble. the big dog will come as a pension and retirement purity bubble for america. i hometown about land, georgia, the capital city of the state of georgia face the music and reform the pension fund to make actuarially sound for its beneficiaries in the future by reforming benefits, contributions that go into the plan that they finally face the music. i want to associate myself with less than a toomey says. we've got to preserve those entitlements for which people have paid. most people in america have paid more for their retirement security than income taxes. they pay the payroll tax. they deserve the protection and a congress looking into the future not just for them, but for their children and grandchildren. if policymakers will we have to be willing to make difficult decisions in the context of our obligation to the people we represent. this series is called is most appropriate solutions are not
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easy, but senator to me's comments about preserving the tax and if it to direct people towards private savings are absolutely essential because people have to become more dependent upon themselves unless upon government. we need to incentivize the process of its easier for them to accumulate benefits over time and capital over time. i look forward to participating. appreciate your calling. >> thank you, center isakson. first witness is rob romasco, president of aarp, distinguished for the private sector has written and spoken extensively on wide reaching impact of social security on our economy. andrew biggs, thank you for joining mr. romasco. andrew biggs scholar at the american enterprise institute. he's devoted his career to researching retirement savings and pensions issues and has served as the principal deputy commissioner for social security but ration.
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dean baker is codirector for center for economic policy research is published extensively on these issues in the tax treatment of retirement benefits. one of the foremost experts in the field. his research has cited. welcome. finally, john sweeney, executive vice president fidelity is optimal for her full advisory services for fidelity of developed the best research available in america's retirement security. thank you rejoining us. your written statements will be entered into the record. we appreciate you limiting your oral testimony. but ample time for questions. mr. romasco, please begin. [inaudible] [inaudible] -- we thank you for holding this hearing on social security's role as one of the nation most important family protection programs. my name is rob romasco, member
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of aarp all volunteer board of directors and i'm honored to serve as aarp's chairman. when we think about social security, return to picture retired people. they are indeed the majority of those receiving anaphase. babylon is a critical important function. social security is far more. it protects working men and women throughout their lives from the risk that can lead to the loss of livelihood such as death or disability. we may not think of social security as a family income protection program, but that is exactly what it is. picture this. more than 4 million social security recipients are children. in fact -- >> could you move your mac a little closer? prematurely. how's that? thank you. in fact, social security pays for benefits to children than any other government program. social security coverage protects more than nine and 10 younger workers against death and disability.
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something one in three workers will face before they retire. social security is an insurance policy with an officer at worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. social security is critically important for millions of children to the grand parent. that these benefits, many families with ink into poverty. it is disaster relief that is there for families with catastrophe strikes. less than three weeks after september 11th terrorist attacks, social security administration sent checks to new york, virginia and pennsylvania. today, eligible children and surviving spouses are still receiving monthly benefits. picture for a moment you are 33-year-old mother of one with a baby on the way who learns her house and was just killed in an accident at work. imagine you have no idea how you feed your family. now imagine the program that
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will help you support her children until they become adults. that is a blessing of social security and that family was mine. my dad died before i was born. my mom worked incredibly hard as a seamstress, but social security benefits, survivor benefits as a big help in putting food on the table, clothes on our backs and a roof overhead. so social security is a genuine lifetime for families for every generation. as they travel across the country, people of all ages, especially those over 50 express their passion and commitment to live in the a better place for their children and grandchildren. as they visit college campuses, students talk about making sure parents and grandparents are secure and independent. social security, the young and old understand is a vital part of the intergenerational compact. we hear sometimes see on an older rival armies in the struggle for finite resource is. that's not what i see.
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i see family members who depend on each other. i see americans a different ages and life's journey. older people helping younger people. later, the caregivers become the cared for. when did the young will need to retirement protections of social security every bit as much a senior suit today and perhaps even more. social security is one of the pillars of retirement security with a three-legged stool senator browtalked about. we could once depend a lot pensions and personal savings. unfortunately, socialist purity is this all remaining dependable age. traditional employee-based pensions have gone the way of the floppy disk. retirement savings have shrunk. real wages for most americans are bad men are going down. health care costs have soared. no wonder more than one in three working households and 21 to 64 years of age have a retirement savings. half the workforce is no
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employer-provided retirement plan. for those who docomedy and not to in their four o. one 401(k)s to pay them a retirement benefit of less than $80 a month for life. financial security for many americans is in jeopardy. unless we reverse the current trend for stagnant wages, no pension, social security will be more important and in many cases the only source of retirement income for our families and loved ones. we have to make sure social security is strengthened as a critical source of income they can rely upon. we also must help the american public understands social security is not a critical piece of the retirement security, but also a powerful engine in our economy. state and local economies and the businesses and workers benefit from every social security dollar paid out. at aarp, we did a report, which i respectfully request be included in the record that found each dollar paid to beneficiaries generates nearly
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$2 made by individuals, businesses and adding $1.4 trillion in total economic output in the year 2012. this output generates tax revenues for state, local and federal governments exceeding $220 billion. the discussion about social security and retirement is more than the deficit number. it's about family protection and community support. it's real families trying to make it neat and afford the necessities of life. it's about children making sure their parents and grandparents can live with dignity and independently. it's about our parents not wanting to be a burden on our children. it's about my sister and me having enough juice divided children so we can change the trajectories of our lives and make a meaningful contribution. social security belongs to people who work harder at the last contribute every paycheck. the people who are promised he would be there for them and their families.
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it's a part of protect you and our families throughout our working lives. it wants to the children and grandchildren whose lives have been touched by misfortune. it protects our families today and future generations. we are all in this together. thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. romasco. mr. biggs. to make thank you, chairman brown, thank you for the opportunity to testify social security, pensions and retirement security of the american people. i wish to make three main points. erskine social security benefits are more adequate at its finest and less aesthetic. financial advisers generally recommend retirees have an intent equaled from 70% to 80% of retirement earnings. the new retiree today receives a social security benefit equal to 69% of their earnings immediately preceding retirement. does this when retirees live high on the hog for social security? of course not.
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there's many low-income retirees who clearly receive inadequate and if it's in the program but it's not clear social security's benefits are altogether too stingy. some european countries pay higher benefits than we do. if you look at countries that voted: economic cultures see the u.k., canada, australia or new feel and pension plans offer rates pretty close to a social security pays. social security finances or we weaker than commonly understood. to make it all that without reducing benefits would demand an immediate and permanent 29% tax increase. if they are delayed, they only grow larger. some have been linked to propose such tax increases in particular by eliminating $113,000 doing a much fairer taxes are levied. this seems like a tempting and easy solution to the social security's problem. i may point out several downsides. her scummy eliminating the so-called tax would raise the top tax rate around 43% today to
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55. state is in top tax rates rise 50% in some states closer to 70%. eliminating the tax laxly tap out how your nurse before we fix the larger financial problems facing the care and medicaid. fact check, current proposals to eliminate the tax max would increase benefits. as a result, they would fix only half the 75 year shortfall and extent of his day by around 16 years. dirt, and international contacts isn't unusually though. and the u.s., payroll taxes are applied up to three times the average wage in the average oecd country payroll taxes are capped at around twice the average wage. the principal risks are retirement security today's social security since odyssey. i believe talk of reagan's osha security benefits before saw the users toward his ears off the ball.
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second, some of the defined contribution plan over the past several decades. participation in a traditional pension doesn't be new receive benefits from one. while long-term employees did very well from pensions, only one in 10 individual participating actually ounce of collecting benefits from them. for instance, the average employee today changes jobs every 4.6 years had such an employee would invest in traditional defined benefit plans. even employees who do often don't receive much despite earnest i'll check plan, i would wager a pensions were the only things available today are retirement security in the u.s. to be considerably worse. finally, while pensions to have it vanishes, which i outline in my written testimony come in many images could be transferred to d.c. programs. for instance, consider the
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pension plan, which had automatic enrollment, llp contribution reinvested in the lifecycle portfolio, which automatically shift it from stocks to bonds over times with investments composed of low-cost index funds and partially annuitize of retirement. such a plan would address those concerns raised are retirement security today with very limited downside for individuals and no risk to the taxpayer. moreover, nearly all of this would be allowable under current law. retirement policy of massive ramifications for individual retirement security of the federal budget a broader american economy. we need policies that encourage americans to work and save and delay retirement. such policies enhanced retirement security as well as boosting the economy, the ultimate resource for all of us. thank you for consideration. >> mr. baker. >> thank you very much, chairman
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brown. i want to make three main points of my testimony. first off, emphasizing the comments mr. brown the main source of an average and monitor income. and secondly even more important source as a result of the disappearance of the benefit pension plans i want to comment recently on proposals to change the index format for social security and switching to the elderly consumer price index is very much in keeping with the original intent of congress and i would argue the opposite would be chain price index basically when you cut program. i want to quickly make a couple comments. raking member toomey said it was cash negative. in fact, that's not the case.
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it is the bonds held by the trust fund under the law. a business adventures income would not be considered cash flow negative if i put in positive territory. another point i want to make quickly in terms of the tax increases, it's important to realize two points. one is the extent to which the shortfall facing social security is dead distribution income of the last three decades. wage income is covered by the cap after the greenspan commission. we now cover less than 83% of wage income. if the cover 90% of wage income over this whole period, that would've cut the shortfall by more than 40%. the same thing we talk about the size of the tax increases, it's important to keep in mind reference. boosting stagnant wages over the
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last three decades. if workers wages grew at the same rate as projected average wage growth, in other words all worker shared the only comment they need to make the fund fully solvent would be about 5% of projected wage growth over the next three decades. it's important to understand the context. returning to the points. the 32% -- 36% of income over age 65. the 2.2% of average income provides 90% or more of the income for 35% of seniors. the poverty rate, the supplemental poverty rate viewed as the better measure for seniors is not working .8 and it compares to 15.5% for the adult population as a whole.
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the story social security has been effective in lifting huge numbers of seniors above the poverty so poverty rates basically the same as the adult population, different from the story we saw before we had social security. the second point i want to make him and the importance for middle-income people as projected to rise tuesday over the next two decades. if we look at the current generation of retirees, social security counts for 32

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