tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 6, 2014 10:00pm-12:01am EST
that. he says the reason why the female marine does not come forward is because she does not trust the chain of command. that reach of trust, that fundamental breach of trust has been broken for victims of sexual assault. listen to the victims. retired marine lance corporal are progressed was drugged, he was raped. he got his perpetrator to tell what happened on tape, went through trial and his perpetrator got no jail time. he saw no justice for him and he said i joined the marines in order to serve my country is an honorable man. instead i was thrown away like a piece of garbage. he attempted suicide, survived and now advocates for this measure from a wheelchair. that is the story that a president that we are hearing from victims over and over again sarah plumb our u.s. marine corps said how does someone within your direction of command
handle the case? it's like being raped by your brother and your father deciding the case. that is the view and the perception of the survivors. >> please continue. the senator has two minutes. >> ida for my remaining two minutes after the senator from missouri. >> i yield three minutes to the senator from new hampshire, senator ahab. >> i think the senator from missouri and i think the senator from new york for the your passion on this important debate and let's not forget the work we have done on this affect -- defense authorization. .. issue -- will more victims -- will more cases be prosecuted if we take it out
of the chain of command? actually no. there would be 93 cases under the current situation that wouldn't have been brought where commanders actually made a different decision. what about about those victims and those victims having their day in court? i want more victims to have their day in court. what about the issue as we think about it, why are we doing this, our -- some of our allies did it, we looked at that issue and what our allies, they haven't seen any greater reporting. reporting. there's no evidence we're reporting with this. many did it to protect defendants. we're here to protect victims today. we want a system with due process, but this is about coming forward. i want to make sure people understand that under the system now, you do not have to report to your commanders. we had people come to the floor and say you shouldn't have to go to your boss. go to a sexual assault response coordinator, your clergy, your minister, civilian personnel. already, you can come forward if you don't feel comfortable
coming forward. no evidence presented we are going to help victims more or that more cases will be prosecuted or more come forward if we take it out of the chain of command. that's why i want to hold commanders more accountable, not less. that is what senator mccaskill and i's proposal does. we want to make sure they are not led off the look for this. we want this make sure victims get not only justice, but make sure they get swift justice, and this proposal risks delaying justice in the system. madam president, i ask colleagues to vote independence the senator's proposal. i would ask my colleagues to say, what will hold commanders more accountable? that's our proposal. i would ask them to say, where's the evidence that more cases will be per sueded or more come forward? there's no evidence. our proposal based op the evidence. madam president, i yell the
floor. >> senator from missouri. madam president, i want to take just a couple minutes at the close of the very difficult teabt debate to express my deep respects to the senator from new york, i think while many aspects of the debate have been hard, perhaps the hardest part debate has been that this disagreement op policy has overshadowedded the amazing work that so many have done this year to enact a different day in the united states military when it comes to sexual assault and victims of sexual assault. when the sup sets today, this body will have passed 35 major reforms in less than a year making the military the best friendly victim organization in the world.
giving victims more power, more leverage, holding commanders accountable holding perpetrators accountable. eliminating the ridiculous notion that how well you fly a plane should have anything to do with whether or not you committed a crime. professionalizing the process so that victims no longer endure a ridiculous amount of inappropriate questioning at what should be something like a preliminary hearing to establish probable cause opposed to some kind of rendering of questioning torture to a victim who has come out of the shadows and is willing to go forward. i know i can speak with confidence that she and i have walked block steps on 35 reforms. we have disagreed on one. i know in the future we'll work
very hard together to make sure our military does the right thing by victims, and it puts perpetrators where they belong, in prison, and out of the ranks of the military where they stain the good name of the bravest men and women of the world. i thank the colleagues for their patience in the debate, and i know it's been tough for everyone, but i stand here with years of experience holding the hand and crying with victims with many victims who have spoken to me and other organizations knowing that what we have done is the right thing for victims and the right thing to hold perpetrators accountable, and so i respectfully request that people support the amendment today and reject the one area of policy that the great senator from new york and i disagree on. i yield the floor. >> madam president?
>> senator from new york. >> i want to focus where this needs to be. this is not an opportunity to congratulate ourselves on great reforms done. all reforms passed today are meaningful and useful, but this problem is not even close to being solved. under the best case scenario, two out of ten cases reported today. let's refocus on what's happening in our military today. focus on what airline jessica hines who said two days before the court hearing, the commander called me on conference at the jag office and didn't believe my perpetrator actedded like a gentleman, but there was not a reason to prosecute. she was speechless. she was promised a court hearing, and she was told two days before, the commander stop it. mcdonald, u.s. navy veteran who said, at one point my attackers into through me into the bering sea and left me for
dead in hopes i would be silenced forever. they made it clear they would kill me if i spoke up or reported what was done. she did not report the attacks, quote, the people that were involved in my assault were police personnel, security personnel, higher ranking officers, the people i would have to go to to report. last, but not least, lieutenant clay, u.s. marine corp. who was home, broken into by two colleagues, raped brutally, ultimately reported, attempted suicide, perpetrator convicted of not breaking and entering or rape, but calling her a slut, quote, what makes me angry is not the rape itself, but the commanders that were come police sit in covering up everything that happened. >> the senate failed to invoke cloture on the gillibrand sexual assault bill. it was 55-45 with 60ayes needed.
they voted to invoke cloture on the sexual assault bill by a vote of 1 00-0. a final vote of the mccaskill bill takes place at 5:30 monday eastern. >> the senate held two votes dealing with sexual assault in the military. the defense reporter for kq roll call. what was the difference between these two senate bills, and what are the outcomes of the votes today? >> sure. it's a bill that did not overcome the hurt l. it was the controversial lotion sponsoredded by gillibrand of norksz that would take commanders essentially, take away the decision for prosecutorring crimes away from commanders, not just sexual assaults, but most other major crimes. the other piece of legislation,
a unanimous joke from the senate to overcome cloture, sponsored by claire mccaskill. that, essentially, strengthens already existing reforms to how the military handles sexual assault. >> how unusual was it for bills to be coming out of the same committee to begin with? >> caller: sure. it's been an interesting process to watch from the start. the chairwoman of the senate personnel subcommittee, and initially tried to insert language in the defense authorization bill in the markup last spring, but there's fierce opposition from senior lawmakersing including democrats on the panel, and chairman carl levin being one of them. tripped out of the legislation, and the battle was weighed over the last several months, and it came today; almost antiicallimatic, a few hours of
debate on it, and then the final vet, but behind the scenes for the last several months, senator mccaskill and others lobby colleagues very hard trying to get support for each of them. >> you talked about members of the military opposing the version of the bill. how actively were uniformed air forces or dod personal on the hill lobbying against the bill? >> well, whenever asked about it at hearings, they talked about the need to retain the commander's decision making authority saying it's a tool to enforce good order and discipline within their units. that's been essentially the brunt of their discussions. i'm sure conversations have gone on privately about the matter, if the military is often circumspect on how to lobby the hill and use, you know, surrogates to make their case as
well. >> well, today, how does the military regimely move with sexual assault cases. >> well, there's been a lot of changes in the last few years. she does the numbers, the numbers of sexual assault have been agreeing exponentially, and twaiment, there's a number reforels passed i congress and nationuated by the present gone ipse aiming at helping victims, encouraging them to report, underreported crime in the military and general population, and also strengthening protections for the victims in the militaries, legal system, this is different than the criminal justice system. >> the bill moves forward. what's next? what has the white house said op the issue, and assuming senator mccaskill gets the bill through the senate, what's ahead in the house? >> sure. the white house has been quiet on the issue of change of chan,
and it was addressed in the press conference after the vote saying it would have been helpful to have endorsement of president obama. mccaskill, her bill is expected for the final vote monday in the senate, expected to, you know, pass easily, is if not unanimously, and the house can take it up stand alone or wrap it in up this morning in the defense authorization bill. >> viewers can follow your reporting at cqrollcall.com or twitter at cqmeganscully. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. >> a senate hearing on how russia's involvement in syria and ukraine affected relations with the u.s..
putting together something that in the departments of washington might be called a patch, maybe it's an extension. maybe it's called a stopgap, but the fact is it's ducked the big issues. it repeatedly ducks big issues. particularly, on medicare, you have 10,000 people eligible for medicare every day, there is a very real cost attached with that. now the challenge is to try to find a way to move beyond this fixation on bumming. it would be one thing if it was sound budget policy, but so often we, as i indicated, don't get up with the structural kinds of issues and move beyond the sort of lurch from one kind of budget calamity to the other and come up with sensible budget policy. >> this weekend on c-span,
senate finance committee chair ron wyden on challenges facing medicare and hospitals. saturday morning at 10 eastern, and on book technocrats, historical and culture ties between russia and ukraine sunday at 5:45 on c-span2, and on c-span3, american history tv, george washington's mount vernon sunday night at eight. >> state department officials on capitol hill thawrs to discuss u.s.-russia relations after intervention in ukraine, and the support of the president. he testified before the senate foreign relations feet when are two hours. >> this hearing will come to order. let me think the deputy
secretary of state for coming. this was planned well before the current state of v.s, understanding the challenges of the schedule, we so appreciate you being here with us and panelists to provide per speck titch on the increasingly violence spillover from the op going conflict in syria and hear from the secretary from russia's military intervention in the ukraine. as a cautionary note, we have a vote that will be taking place at 11:20, and we'll see where we are at in proceeding. we may have to recess briefly, a vote, and come back, and i'm sure the deputy secretary would be happy for us to cast that vote. as we enter the year three of the syria crisis, headlines coming from the region no longer limited to just the signals
within syria, but to the increasing threat of vieps across syria's borders, especially lebanon and iraq. the great concern is groups and increasing sectarian rhetoric fueling violence, but offering new opportunities to gain footholds in local p communities, opens the door for a network to justify their presence as detector of the regions while both during the assad regime and antagonizing a syria state. the spillover is dangerous and troubling. in lebanon, there's an alarming uptick in high profile bombs, and many claimed by the al-qaeda affiliated brigade, and at the same time, hezbollah reportedly protecting the lebanese shia communities now extended into syria protecting the assad regime. from where i sit, the region is increasingly unstable, increasingly violent, and increasingly sectarian.
having today that, that is a major challenge in which the committee, obviously, wanted to have our attention. ukraine is the 800-pound gorilla at the moment, and we can't ignore it nor ignore russia is a common element in both countries. the russian support for assad and syria and russian invasion and occupation of parts of ukraine my clear that putin's game is not 21st century statesmanship, but 19th century gainsmanship. having lived under russia for years understood their ground because they understood the fight was not president dwoft's corrupt leaders, but fiche of their independent nation. putin cast say sides law to respect the ukraine.
>> the concern for ukraine, tomorrow georgia, two nations waiting to finalize their association agreement with the european union, a process ukraine was involved in too because of the displeasure of the russian government. i want to thought that i welcome the administration's expeditious response to the situation in ukraine, the pledge of assistance in the form of loan guarantees, which this committee intends to endorse in legislation next week, and today's executive order, restricting visas, restricting assets, and preventing american companies from doing business with individual or entity identified by the administration that threatens the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or territory of ukraine or
misappropriation of state assets of ukraine or reports to a certain government authority over any plot of ukraine without authorization from the ukrainian government in,kier. this aloes them to direct those directly responsible and will further prove ales are not without consequence. the committee is prepared to codify this action and potentially provide the president with further authority to respond to the situation as it develops. they pointed the game at the international community's head. i believe this time he has miscalculated, and i certainly believe it's essential that we do not blink. the unity of purpose displayed at the u.n. security counsel and the g7 nation russian authoritarianism demonstrates the world's operations and is a call to action.
with that, i'd be happy to recognize the ranking republican member for remarks. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you for having the committee and allowing us to evolve in syria and ukraine because of the current events, and i want to thank all of you were public service and for being here, but i know you don't necessarily decide what the policy is, but you carry if out, and i just want to say that i could not be more disappointed in where we are in syria. it's amazing how prognosticators here on the panel and, i mean, at the dice here and around the world stated what was going to happen in syria over time if we didn't change balance on the ground, and, unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. it's turned into regional
conflict, destabilizing other countries, al-qaeda, and on the rise, not only in other extremes, but syria where our, you know, directors of the national intelligence and others are now stating that this is becoming a threat to the homeland and to the entire region, and witnessedded that on the ground in iraq now, incredible, violation occurring there, and as the chairman mentioned in lebanon. you know, we tried to help the administration passing something here in the committee, and we did so on a 15-3 vote to arm and really support the vetted opposition and unfortunately, the administration never came around to doing things stated publicly that it would do, and it just never has done it, and it's festered. there's never been a change of cast aside to sit down and negotiate and, obviously, what happened with what everybody
expected. there was a 10-7 vote, opposition use of force, and, yet, the president didn't only really make the case for it publicly, but, obviously, you know, to help us outs of the situation and since then, 30-40,000 people kill, and i don't know the people killed really care whether it was through chemical weapons or barrel bombs that are dropped on civilians right now, but it's a disaster of great proportions. it is certainly a failure on our part and in other nations relative to foreign policy, and it is destabilizing the region, and i could not be more decision appointed, and the two are relatedded as the chairman mentioned. i don't know that we could say that russia would have done with a different approach.
i don't know we can state that, but i think the permissive environment that we have created through this reset thinking that someone like putin reacts to warmth, charm, and reachout when what he reacts to is weakness, and he's seen that in our foreign policy efforts over the course of this last year. again, i don't think we can make a case that what happened in crimea wouldn't have happenedded, but i certainly don't think he's felt that there would be much pushback from us. there are steps being taken, and ready to administer the administration, and we had a great meeting yesterday, and i could not be more disappointed that we are where we are, and it is very much on the line, is object line, and i do think that
us having a unified and very strong reaction over a long time is something over a long time is very important to russia right now, and us to regain credibility. i thank you for being here. i know you're going to talk to some of that. i hope you will explain more fully what you think these sanctions announced have been about, will be helpful over the next few days in doing something compliment ri to the efforts. thank you for being here, and thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator corker. obvious, firsthand experience, and we are pleased to have the assistant secretary of defense with international security affairs, and we appreciate you being here as well as the
director for the national counterterrorism center, and that also, thank you, all, all your statements fully included in the record without objection, and i'd ask you to more or less summarize it in five minutes to go over a little bit, obviously, the gravity of the situation is what i want to hear if you and members want to engage in a conversation with you about their issues and concerns. with that, mr. secretary, you are recognized. >> thank you very much, chairman menendez, senator corker, and members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity, and pleased to be joined by matt olson and derek, and appreciate my written testimony in the record. before i address extremism, i want to first off, for a quick assessment, development in ukraine, as you requested, a greats deal the deep and abiding
commitment to the aggression and to ensure they make own choices about their future, and that's the bedrock for the united states. on my own visit last week, i was profoundly moved by the brave ri and selflessness of ukrainians and profoundly impressed by the commitment of the new interim government to reach across ethnic lines and build a stable democratic and inclusive ukraine with good relations with all of the neighbors including russia. while we work to support ukraine's transition, russia worked to undermine is, and russia's military intervention in crimea is a brazen intervention in its position and nothing can obscure the facts. 82 #% including members of the
party show restraint in the face of massive provocation. they need and deserve strong support: president obama, secretary kerry, and entire administration have been working hard, steadily, and methodically to build or gent e international backing for ukraine, counterpressure for russia, reassurance to the past of deescalation. there's four main element, and i look forward to working with the committee and the congress on each of them. first, immediate support for ukraine as it deals with enormous economic challenges and prepares for critical and national legses at the end of may. tuesday, secretary kerry announced our intent to seek a one billion guarantee, and part of the effort to build a strong economic support package for ukraine as it undertakes reform including ims and e.u. which laid out its own substantial assistance package yesterday. prime minister and his colleagues are committed
partners and understand that the ukrainian government has difficult foreign choices to eat after inheriting an economic mess. the potential never matched by the business environment or economic leadership, and now is the time to begin to get its financial house in order and realize its promise. second, they led a browed international condemnation of russia's intervention with strong unified statements from g7, nato, as well as the e.u. who are meeting today in emergency summit. we are sending observes to crimea and eastern ukraine to bare witness to what happens and clear minorities are not at risk. this was never a credible claim by russia nor a credible pretext to military intervention. we are making clear that there are quests for what russia already has done and working
with our partners to make sure the costs increase significantly if intervention expands. today, as you mentioned, mr. chairman, the president signed an executive order authorizing sanctions including asset freezes and travel bans on individuals and entities responsible for activities undermining democratic processes or institutions in ukraine, threatening the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or integrity of ukraine, contributing to the misappropriation of state assets of ukraine, or the exercise the authority over ukraine without authorization from the ukrainian government in kiev. this deal used in a flexible way to designate those directly involved in destabilizing ukraine. the state department today also put in place visa restrictions on individuals. we continue to look at every aspect of our relationship with russia, from suspension of preparations to the sochi g8 summit to pausing key elements
in the bilateral dialogue. third, bolstering ewe -- ukraine's neighbor, moving to boost the treatment to the allies, and as stressed yesterday, taking concrete steps to support nato partners to intensify training in poe land, enhanced participation in the policing mission in the baltics, and, forty, secretary kerry working intensatively to deease escalate the crisis in order to restore sovereignty. we support direct dialogue between kiev and moscow, facilitated by international contact group. as the president and secretary kerry emphasized, we do not seek confrontation with russia, but in the interest of ewe yain and russia to have a healthy relationship for centuries of social ties. the will if -- for that exists, but it can want happen if russia continues down
its current dangerous and irresponsible path bringing greater isolation and monumenting costs for russia. it needs to be steaded, determined, mindful of the ukrainians as well as international norms. we have to be mindful of the enduring strength of the united states and partners and very real weaknesses sometimes obscured by russians. most of all, president putin underestimates commitment of ukraine across their country to sovereignty and independence and to writing their own future. no one should underestimate the power of patience and resolute counterpressure using all of the nonmilitary means that are working with our allies and leaving the door open to deescalation and diplomacy by international rules. now, let me turn briefly. the turbulence has had many groups, rising as pir rations
for them in a region too many people for years have been denied them. the ruthless reaction of some regimes end efforts of violence extremists to exploit the result in chaos, nowhere have trends converged dangerously than in syria. the conflict regime have become a mag innocent for foreign fighters, and many affiliated with terrorist groups from across the region and around the world. as described, fighters, mostly extreme is, represent a long term threat to u.s. national security troops. from the other side, assad recruited thousands of foreign fighters, mostly shias to defend the regime with active iranian support and facilitation. hard reality is that the grinding civil war is extreme on both sides of the sectarian divide. we face a number of serious risks as a result. the risk to the homeland who seek to gain long term safe
hains, risk of the stability of the regional partners like jordan, lebanon, and iraq, risk to israel, other partners from the ios of irani backed groups, especially hezbollah in syria and risk to the syria people whose suffering constitutes the greatest humanitarian crisis of this new century. they are requiring steady strategies aimed at isolating extremists, and inside syria and amongst our regional partner highlight briefly four elements of the strategy. first, work to isolate and degrade terrorist networks in syria. that means stepping up efforts with other governments to extend the flow of foreign fighters into syria and cutting off financing and weapons to terrorist groups and means stepping up efforts to strengthen the moderate opposition without which progress towards the geshted trends of the leadership and other diplomatic efforts impossible. strengthen moderate forces
critical to accelerate the dmieses of the regem and build counter with extremists who threaten the president and post-assad future and throughout the region. none is easy, but the stakes are high. second, we are pushing hard against iranian financing and material support to the approximatey group in syria and elsewhere. working with intense i -- intensively to curve flow to extremist. third, increasing cooperation with turkey and intensifying efforts to strengthen capacity of syria's other endangered neighbors. in jordan, which i visited against last month, we're further enhancing the capacity of the armed forces, policing the borders, and deepening intelligence, cooperation on extremist threats. the burden of supporting 600,000 syria refugees put syria strains on resources, and we deeply appreciate it. congress continued support for
significant u.s. assistance for jordan, totaling a billion dollars for each couple years comp prelimmed by substantial loan guarantees, and i can think of no better investment until regional state than efforts in jordan. in lebanon, we detour spillover, better monitor the border with syria, and help bolster government's policy of disassociation from the syria conflict. formation of the new cabinet provides renewed opportunity for the united states to engage and secretary kerry reaffirmed strong commitment to lebanon's security in economic stability directly to the president, and to the internoocial support group for lebanon in paris yesterday. in iraq, we are serging security assistance and information sharing to combat the threat from isil and pressing iraqi leaders to execute expensive strategy, security, prelim, and economic to isolate extremists.
there was one of the main purposes of the last visit to baghdad at the end of january. i appreciate the close confrontation, mr. chairman, and other members of the committee on the crucial issues. finally, we support global efforts to ease the crisis in syria through the 1.7 billion we've already contributed. we continue to work with our gulf partners to enhance security cooperation once extremist threat and support down economic development in transitioning countries. this is an important focus and the president said saudi arabia this month. mr. chairman, the rise to the extremism accuses acute risk for the united states and for our regional partners. it is essential that we intensify efforts to isolate extremists in syria, limit the flow of foreign fighters, bolster opposition forces, ease humanitarian crisis and help partners like jordan defend against spillover.
thank you, again, for the focus, and we look forward to the work. >> thank you, mr. secretary. i want to take in one more testimony and recess briefly for the vote and immediately come back. >> thanks. mr. chairman, senator corker, members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today about the security threats in the pleas and how regional defense policy addresses challenges, and i'll keep the comments brief. deputy secretary burns described, sectarianism and extremism pose threats to the well being and aspirations of the people in fact middle east. the security and stability of the partners and u.s. national security interests is why our regional defense strategy is centered on cooperating with regional partners. the transformation witnessed in three years officer -- offers the united states challenges. first, to combat al-qaeda, movements, and second, confront
external aggression directed at the allies, and, third, ensure the free throw of energy from the region, and, fourth, prevent development, proliferation, and use of weapons of mass destruction. as u.s. military forces withdraw from iraq, now afghanistan, we are also addressing questions from a regional partner about the intelligences in the region and commitment over the long term, working hard to enhance military in the region. as said last december, the united states has enduring security interests in the region and remain committed to the allies and regional partners. we have a military presence of more than 35,000 personnel in and immediately around the gulf. the department released several days ago reaffirms the commitment and despite pressures there's a robust posture in the region. i want to briefly touch on some examples how to work to improve the military capability of our partners, focusing on iraq,
lebanon, and jordan. first, in iraq, along with the state department colleagues, advise the iraqi government of long-term strategy to defite, isil, and there must be a strategy involving all people of iraq and while iraqi forces prove competent in conducting operations, the security situation facing there is serious. the iraqis have gaps in the ability to defend against external threats in areas like integ integrated air defense, intelligence sharing, and logistics and are very committed to work with the government to develop security eighties. as this committee knows well, the iraqis are asking to acquire key capabilities in the united states as soon as possible. we appreciate the quick decision to perceive want hell fire missiles negotiation. they paid 250 million towards resupply and we expedited the delivery.
there's a critical component that lebanon's long term stability and development. u.s. assistance to lebanese armed forces internal security forces, approximately 1 billion dollars in assistance since 2005 strengthens lebanese capacity and supports mission to secure board es. we work to maintain strong ties between lebanese and u.s. officers and officials through imet, and there's the fourth largest program in the world, and we promolt institutional reforms through defense institution reform initiative or deery with the laf and effort supporting lebanese security sector reform. in jordan, we are deeply committed to the strong defense partnership. today and tomorrow, i'm hosting the senior daneian chief of
defense at the pentagon, and entire team for series of meetings and deputy burns said, we have no better defers partner than jordan. u.s. security assistance helped build capacity of the arm the forces, promotes interoperatability, enhances border security and counterterrorism capabilities and supports military education and training. we provided the government with approximately 300 million in smf funds a year, and massive joint exercise program along with a very robust officer exchange program. in response to the crisis in syria, we have military forces in jordan, and atist senior daneians planning necessary to strengthen defense. in addition, we provide equipment and training supplementing the senior daneian border security program and approve capability to detect and interdict legal attempts to cross board earn and detect attempts to smuggle wmd along the border, mr. chairman,
members of the committee, through these efforts, the department of defense is keenly focused on building the capacity of the partners to fight extremism and support u.s. national security interests. we remain committed to continue to work with this committee and the congress on these critical issues. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. secretary. there's one vote, and those interested in coming back, come back as well, hear from director olson and proceed to questions. the committee will be in recess subject to the call of the chair. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
>> hearing will come back to order. thanks and apologies to the witnesses, you'll be happy to know that the secretary was confirmed. >> thank you very much, chairman, and members of the committee. a year ago i talked about threats in north africa, and i appreciate the opportunity to talk here to talk a little about the threat particularly pleased to be here with the key partners, deputy secretary state burns and secretary defense, and as you're aware, we continue to face terrorist threats to the united states and to our interest overseas and particularly in parts of the south south asia, middle east, and after ray can, but the current conflict in syria, and regional instability that stand out from areas of the particular concern, but i think it's important to consider syria in
the context of the movement, in the face of what's been sustained, counterterrorism pressure, core al-qaeda has adopted. adapted by becoming more decentralize and shifting away from the large scale plotting that was exemplified in the attacks of 9/11. al-qaeda modified tack -- tactics and look at simpleer attacks that don't require the same command and control. today, we face a wider array of threats in a greater variety of locations across the middle east and the world. in comparison to the al-qaeda plot in triball areas years ago, smaller, less sophisticated plots are more difficult to detect and disresult, and that's putting pressure on us to work closely with our partners here at the table, across the federal government, and around the
world. returning to syria, syria has become a preimminent location for al-qaeda align group to recruit and train and to equip what is now a agreeing number of extremists. some of whom conduct attacks. in addition, iran and he hezbol, as you pointedded out, are committed to defend the assad regime like sending billions of dollars in military and economic gains, training, pro-regime, and iraqi shia mill taint and military. from a terrorism perspective, the most concerning dwomght is that al-qaeda declared syria the most critical front calling for extremists to fight against the regime in syria. what we've seen is that thousands of fighters from around the world there's
extremist contacts could return to the home countries to commit violence, and participate and aim at western targets. what we've seen is coalesce in syria as al-qaeda veterans from afghanistan and extremists from libya and iraq. these extremists bring a wide range of contract, skills, experience, and exploit what's become a promissive environment in which you plot and train. shifting briefly to lebanon, one of the continuing effects of the syria conflict is the instate of lebanon in the upcoming year. i traveled to lebanon and jordan and the impact of the continuing conflict in syria continues to be of great concern to officials in the region. hezbollah admitted in the spring it is fighting for the syria regime and framed the war in agent of self-defense in the extremists, and the group is
sending fighters for proregime operation for the militia, and in addition, iran and hezbollah use live iraqi shia groups to participate in counterrer opposition groups. the assad regime is, of course, driving nrkz to the extremist attacks and sectarian vieps. in short, various factors craibility to instability are exacerbated in syria. finally, iraq. what we witnessed there over the last three years is resurgence by the islamic state for iraq to isil, former group known as aqi. the group has a cor drey and steady flow of weapons and fighters from syria. last year, isil suicide and car bomb attacks returned to peak levels from back in 2007 and 2008. at the end of last year, the group averaged one suicide attack a day.
there's disconcerning hundreds of fighters joining the ranks of former groups consolidate and control and test areas in neighboring towns. the region is growing, not diminishing. in the period ahead, working closely with the colleagues from state and defense, to aid the iraqi government terrorism efforts. last point i'll make is that in light of the large fighter component in syria crisis, we're working together to gather every piece of information we can about the identities of the individuals. as you know, we play a role in supporting the effort to watch list individuals, and efforts support broader aviation and border that's creating dircheses in the partners in the homeland security and engage in effort track travel of the individuals, particularly from the west to syria, and as the conflict continues, the issues associated with foreign fighters in travel
patterns of the area is highest priority for us, and so in closing, mr. chairman, i want it assure you we are focused on threat environment in the world, and we are working to identify and disrupt threats to the u.s. and particularly personnel serving in the areas. we'll continue to support the whole of government efforts in the region by analyzing threat information, sharing that information with our partners across the government, and on behalf of the men and women, i want to thank you for inviting me here to testify a brief focus on the critical issues, thank you. >> thank you, all, for your testimony. there's a lot ever ground to cover here. let me start. i wonder whether the administration is of the view, as some of us are, that the international norms that you talked about in your opening
statement and the challenge of international norms and how we respond to that is critically important, far beyond even ewe crepe. senator cardin and i talked about consequences of how we respond when other countries like china sees what we'll do when they consider options in the south south china sea. north korea in terms of march towards weaponnization, places like africa, the congo decide whether they are responsible or going to rearm and continue to have millions of lives lost. even as we negotiate with iran at the same time that iran, as we've heard here, is in the midst of promoting, still promoting vigorously terrorism. so it seems to perpetrators that
you need to say what you mean and mean what you say. to that respect to we understand that this is the challenge in the immediacy about ukraine, but it is also a broader challenge as it relates to the message that we and our western allies send globally. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i agree fully with the point. i think there's a great deal at stake and ukraine today, it's about imriew cranians, ability to make their own choices. it's about europe and euroasia, but it's also about the wider consequences that you just described, and so i think it's very important for the united states to make clear, as you said, that we put actions bind our words about concerns about what's happened about the
importance of abiding by norms, again, not just for the sake of ukraine, as important as that is, but begin wider stakes that are involved, and it's also important that we work closely with allies and partners to reenforce the same point, and that's what we've been spending time and energy doing in recent days and will continue to. >> now, with reference to the ukrainian situation, i know the secretary, secretary kerry and european counterparts met with the russian foreign minister in paris yesterday, and russians, at least at this point, want to speak directly to the ukrainians, and what is dure what do we envision as to the willingness of russia to find a diplomatic exit here? what are the necessary ingredients to deescalate the crisis. >> well, mr. chairman, the
essence, i think, of any process is direct dialogue between ukrainian government and the russian government which is aimed at restoration of ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity. the russian government has expressed concerns about minorities, russian speaking minorities in eastern ukraine and in crimea, we believe as made clear, they are unfounded. there's no evidence of persecution, but ways of addressing that concern directly with the government and also through the organizational like those who are supporting the sending of monitors from the ese to eastern ukraine to try to establish what the facts are. again, as i said, the essence of diplomatic off ramp has to be direct dialogue between
ukrainian government and russians. >> there is a purpose for the russians trying, not that i believe it's legitimate, but try to undermine legitimacy of the government in a series of forums to make the argument falsely, but make the arguments, and so my concern is that at some point my own perspective, as much as we seek to deescalate this, we seen the picture before. we've seen what president putin did in georgia, and in other parts. we see it in crimea. how serious do we believe is his desire to go beyond this and into eastern ukraine? >> it's difficult to predict, and we're certainly doing
everything we can with the partners to make clear the costs of any such moves, and as i said, we're trying to establish monitors in eastern ukraine to beat back false accusations that there's persecution of ethnic minorities going on there and the government has done a good job of making clear its concern of citizens west and east across the whole country, and so i think we have to continue to push those lines of effort, and, also make clear as we did today and actions the president has taken there are costs and to build patiently, persistently, counterpressure against what the russians have already done in making clear that there will be costs if they ease cay collate further. >> well, i hope that as we pursue the diplomatic course as much as possibility and joining us in the strongest possible
response because otherwise pew tip's calculations take us as far as he can get away with. turning briefly to syria. i heard what you said, but i question whether or not we are truly committed to changing the battlefield equation. arm syria moderate rebels, nothing changes in assad's equation or russian's patron of assad, patronizing assad, for him to feel that we engage in the battle of the equation, harder then than it is now, and listening to the threat that the directer talked about, and i
don't see that unless we do that, we get into the position that we have anything with the potential of failed states and the consequences that that means to the national security in addition to the bloodshed that is being shed every day in syria. >> the chairman, just as you said, there are huge and growing risks in syria, and in the spillover of syria's violence into the wider region. we're looking actively in further ways in which we can support the moderate opposition, and, as you know, we are trying to intensify cooperation with other backers of the moderate opposition, master of interior, and i think we've improved the coordination with other backers of the opposition to ensure beth that they get the support they need, and also that extremists are denied the funding and flow of arms enabling them to increase their strength so part is what we do. part is what we can work with
our partners to do. >> well, i get a sense we're not as robust as we should be, and if we are, we're not changing the equation that syria meaning we're in for a world of hurt as we move forward. timely, in this regard, you know, this committee gave the president the use -- authorization for the use of force. a critical element of the ability to at least pursue the chemical weapons issues that syria possesses, but they've missed two deadlines already, and i now see a report where they are accelerating, but accelerating without doing anything. it is consequential to say accelerating on paper is one thing, but missed deadlines. how convinced are we that we are going to get the commitments of
action by the syria as it relates to getting wind of the chemical weapon stash. mr. chairman, the foot dragging of the syria regime is deep hi frustrating and the last few weeks, there's, as you rightly point out, been an increase in movement in the right direction and by next week, i understand 35% of the chemical materials will have been removed from syria, so i still think it's possible to meet the 30th of june deadline that's been set for removal and destruction, but we're going to have to keep pushing hard to ensure that this process continues. as i said, there's been some accelerated movement in recent weeks, but i don't think we can take that for granted but have to push hard. >> well, i think we have to keep pushing, and at some point, we have to suggest our party is not limited with constant violation of deadlines that ultimately need to be met. senator corker. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
in the syria issue, i know that it sounds like the discussion about that. i see -- now, first of all, i appreciate the work you're doing in counterterrorism and, certainly, what our defense is doing relative to some of the regional threats that we have that candidly did not need to exist, but they now do because of the inaction and others. what is it that we're expecting to do to change the equation on the ground in syria now that it's become what it is. i don't know if you've got policy moves, and i know secretary kerry, seen a few weeks ago if europe, on the verge of announcing something. we keep hearing that we have private conversation with others, but there is no balance
change we're seeing, so what is it that the administration believes is going to be the thing that causes assad to negotiate leadership away from syria? >> well, the reality, and just as you said, senator corker, is without change in the calculation and change in the balance on the ground, it's unlikely and we, as said to you, ways we step up support for the moderate op sages, more than share of challenges, and last couple of years, we are working, i think, more effectively with the other partners, the saudis i mentioned in sponsz to the chairman. >> well, we're thinking about lethal support, and we have people dropping barrel bombs. are we thinking about doing something to diminish ability to
do that? i know that there have been deals about title ten support, and, i mean, scrg actual military training, military, not our boots on the group, but ability to get weaponry and training too. does that -- are we still looking at that? >> we are still looking at an arrange of options, some of which, and we the or urgency ofe situation understand what's at sake, not just syria, but the neighborhood and closest partners in the neighborhood, and so we're looking at what more we can do but what partners can do effectively to support the opposition and begin to try to change the realities on the ground p >> and you understand we've been hearing this for years now. , and hearing this, hundred
thousand people died since we first began hearing this. what is it within the administration right now that keep the administration from really wanting to put something forth? i mean, do we not have the partnerships we had before in the region, and what is the factor that keeps the administration from being slightly more forward, and i will say this, things change. i think the options that were great options a year ago are probably not as great today, they are not, because of the extremists that move the intoed region, but who are our partners now in this effort? our real partners, and what is it you think keeps the administration from wanting to change the balance on the ground or decide now we're better off with assad in place because the extremists are worse for the
security than assad there? i want an explanation. we hear that a hundred thousand people ago we were hearing this. >> remain convinced and assad is a magnet as colleagues were talking about, not only for foreign fighters and violent extremism, but that as long as assad remains, the civil war will continue and get worse and carriages of spillover get worse as well. i don't think we solve or analysis changes, and i mentioned the saudis earlier and president at the end of march is going to the saudi arabia, and we work effectively, as described, with the jordan and the king had a chance to meet with you recently and discuss concerns and plans, and they were intensitying cooperation with jordan as well, and so this is going to require all of the
above effort ton what we can do and recognize the urgency of the situation. >> well, generally speaking, i want to say it's none of the above. i know there's limited activity that gets discussed in other settings, but, you know,ives just in saudi arabia not long ago. they were one frustrated group of folks. outside the umbrella, backlash there, i understand, but it's very disappointing to year after year, hundreds thousand people later to continue to hear the same things, and yet no actions be taken, and i know the situation is worse. on russia, is there discussion? i know people on both sides of the aisle discussed energy issues, and i know we're going to talk about sanctions, have
economic relief coming next week, and is there any discussion right now about our energy policy and placed on russia moving quickly, not waiting a year, but moving quickly with changes on how we deal with the energy issues that might put additional economic pressure on russia? the gives the united states great deal of leverage not had before and creates opportunities for us to help the europeans loosen dependents on russian gas, and i think over the long term, gives us strategic assets that i think can be very important in foreign policy, and i think we need to be very conscious of that as we look ahead and conscious of that in
terms of what it means to our relative strengths and russia's relative weaknesses over the next few years, so to answer the question, yeah, people are looking carefully over that as an element of broader strategy. >> i think most of the people that look at this issue, you know, much like we could have done things in syria a year ago, two years ago, and things would not be the way they are today. people look at this energy issue, and i think they say, well, if we wait a year or two to announce some things or do things t it's not going to have impact it'd have today. i hope we don't go through the same process looking through syria and i'll close with this and time it up. i think our foreign policy credibility is close to shot at this time. series of events happening over the last year, i think weakened
us, and i know you are implementers, not setters, and not directed at you, but on a line though, i think we all support diplomatic activities taking place there, and i think we're concerned about the interim deal being the final about deals, and i would say that, look, russia has been our partner in all these things, and i think that us rushing to agreement is not one that's substantial enough will shoot all credibility we have relative to foreign policy issues, and i urge you to -- the state department and those gorks to please pause. let's make sure what we do there is something of long term significant that matters, and hest certainly don't appear to be rushing into a deal just to make a deal which i think that
hurt us over the course of the last year, and inthank you for your service. >> senator? >> thank you very much for the hearing, and secretary burns, always a pressure to have you before our committee and the other panelists. ?afort corker and i share many common visions on foreign policy objectives in iran, syria, and the ewe crepe. i disagree with the assessment and think this administration shown incredible leadership and effective coalition building to deal with some of of the extremely challenges armed the world and work as closely as we can and talk ukraine specifically. we talked about we underscore dangerous the situation is and how russia violates not just one, but numerous international obligations.
the russian charter, the vienna documents, and building security mechanism the that govern military relations and arms control, and i can go on to list many, many other international agreements clearly violated by russia. i comment them to put the spotlight on who is the villain here, and it's clearly russia. osd has a mechanism to deal with this, observers, and ukraine asked those observers to did to crimea to have objective accounts because i think it's clear to the world that russia's justification here does not exist for what they are doing.
mr. chairman, it's very interesting that those observers have been denied entrance into crimea by people dress up in military unidentified, clearly, we know who is responsible for those denials. the osd, freedom representatives, and our staff block the from leaving a hotel where there were meetings with journalists, u.n. special envoy accompanied with unquite aidentd gunman after visiting the headquarters an on and on and on how they deny the international institutions available in order to deal with this access only accelerating this problem, and as chairman pointed out, this is an r that goes realm beyond ukraine and russia. the western ball cans to south china sea, we have territorial issues in which we worry about
mail tear force being used. i am proud that the united states takes a strong position on this, our president took a strong position on this, the executive order there was issued, i think, is the right course, you know, having to do more as you acknowledged, but here's the challenge. what is the united nations doing? we heard about nato, but i tell you, we have not heard, i think, the strong unified voice that we'd hope to see around the world to demand that russia get out ukraine and allow ukraine to be able to run its own internal affairs. where are we with the u.n. and other international organizations and e.u.. >> thank you, senator. on the e.u., as you know, there's an e.u. summit that's extraordinary summit going on right now, and we've been, the president, secretary kerry, have been in close touch with the
e.u. leaders over the course of days, and e.u. has taken steps, both broad as what the president's taken on the executive order? >> taken some steps against ukrainian individual which are consistent with the order and consistent as we meet here, a range of other steps. i think that the e.u. leaders understand whases at stake here. >> executive order goes beyond just ukrainians. >> yes, sir. >> but as i said, i believe the e.u. is considering seriously a range of other steps it can take and i agree with you. i think acting as a broad international coalition on issues like this, likely to have more significant effect on russian behavior, and so we're going to continue to do everything we can working with our partners and e.u. to make clear the cost, not only of what russia has already done, but the increasingly significant cost of any further escalation. i do believe that the e.u.
leaders understand that and are going to agent on it. >> out beyond e.u.? >> you mentioned the esd, which you know well, they have moved quickly to organize observers in yearn ukraine, ran into difficulties in crimea, but continue to push it as hard as we can because it's the most effective way to demonstrate the falsity of the claims that russian leaders make, and the false accusations about persecution of the russian minorities there, and so in the u.n. security counsel, you know, we'll continue to try to keep a focus on the issue, and as well, so we'll use every international forum that we can to in the only highlight concerns, but build pressure on russia to restore ukraine easter tore yal integrity and o sovereignty. >> thank you. >> senator johnson. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
secretary burns, can you tell me exactly how the administration views russia? russia is the friendly rival apposed to unfriendly adversary. what's the viewpoint towards russia? >> well, relationship with russia is complicated one. there are some areas that the matter we work together, and it's been true in other areas as well, but there's areas of orve difference. certainly, most obviously and most seriously in ukraine now, but true elsewhere and have a series of human rights group in russia itself. the understanding is it is mixed of areas of obvious difference and in some cases competition, and some areas we work together,
but right now, i think we're in a difficult period in our relationship with russia because of russian behavior. >> in areas, afghanistan, for example, a cooperation there, and you look at syria, when we were attempting to work with them as, let's say, partners, do you believe they operate with u.s. in good faith, or are they duplicitous? good faith? afghanistan, sharedded interests, but more duplicity in syria. >> in syria, frustrated by, you know, dimensions of russian's behavior and actions, and chemical weapons issue, we worked # together and made progress towards the destruction of assad's chemical weapon's stockpile, objectively, a good thing for syria and the region, but in other areas, we've been frustrated by the russian government to push harder on the
assad regime and recognize what's at stake, not just syria, but the region, and so afghanistan as you mentioned, plays a role in the northern distribution network, the provision of supplies to the coalition effort in afghanistan, which, again, is, you know, in a hard nosed way in russia's interest because it doesn't have an interest in this spillover of instability of afghanistan, but the washington post and editorial said administration's basing its foreign policy on the fantasy, and they changed it in the printed version, but has the events in the crimea, ukraine, administration now looking a little more realistically long term? >> senator, i spent time in russia working on relations and try to be realistic about where there are areas of cooperation, trying to take advantage of that, but also to be honest with
ourselves about those areas of obvious difference, and so i think we have to be mindful of our strengths and strengths of the united states and our partners, and the dilemma's russia's going to face long term. >> a number of people say that russia's moving crimea signals -- certainly level of weakness on russia, looks like a strong move to me. can we just talk about strengths b what gives russia the strength to do what it did? why do you think they do that? >> well, i mean, the russian's given geography and proximity of russia to crimea and strengths of the military, you know, it's clear to see how russia could have. >> military, but also -- >> isn't there oil? >> certainly the russian economy is largely dependent on
hydrocarbons. >> is it safe to say that high oil prices, which are sometimes driven higher by chaos, for example, in the middle east, that give russia strength? >> certainly high energy prices fueled russian economic growth in recent years, but that growth tapered off, now under 2% in the last couple years as i recall, and as i mentioned earlier, if you look at the way in which the global energy market is transformed by those shale technology revolutions, over the long haul, those relative strengths diminish, and russia has not taken advantage of the opportunity in the last decade to diversify its own. >> okay. we're getting to the point wanted to get to. you mentioned that we need to remain steady, determined, patient, resolute. the chairman said we have to say what we mean and mean what we say. in other words, not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. so, is this administration going to start looking at russia with our eyes wide open? understand the reality of the situation, understand that brute
force, lawlessness, duplicity of russia, and are we going to lay in a wratch eted up level strategy of increasing the sanctions, increasing costs if putin comets to do this or deus cay late and just hope for the best again? i mean, doo we have a well thought out or developing a well thought out strategy understanding the real reality of the situation now? >> senator, i think we have our eyes wide open. not only on what you described, but as i tried to outline in my opening comments, i think we're developing a careful strategy in dealing with the realities in promoting the troops. >> okay. senator, thank you. >> thank you, thank you all very much for being here for a challenging time i'm not sure
whether this is best directed for you, but secretary burns or i know that ukraine is not every nato, but there have been some meanings within the allies that were set with the situation in ukraine. is there an assertive posture there? rhetorically or other ways that's symbolically support for ukraine, and i wonder if you could talk about what actions we might be taking with nato to engage their support in the current situation. >> senator, let me start, and then i'll turn to derek. as secretary hagel made clear
yesterday, there's a number of immediate practice call steps. we have an aviation detachment in poland, looking to expand cooperation with them through that detachment. therest a nato air policing unit that operates in the baltics, looking to enhance criexes there. those are steps that make sense and make clear commitment of the united states and the entire alliance to partners who had real concerns right now. >> senator, if i could add, the north atlantic counsel in nato has been in continue yows meetings. a week ago today, secretary hagel in brussels where we held a nato-ukraine commission meeting thrown together short notice to discuss crisis and the deputy defense minister of ukraine was there. today, in brussels. the secretary general of nato is meeting with the ukrainian prime
anyone sterks and in each of the junctures, nato released strong statements support for the ukraine people for the peaceful end of this situation, and as deputy mentioned, the baltic air policing mission, a nato mission, secretary hagel announced yesterday, the united states, currently managing that operation, we've had four f15s there, adding six additional f15s dead flying from the u.k. to lithuania, land today, and participate in a nato-led policing mission for the baltic partners. that's reassuring to allies of ours who are nervous about the events. >> can you speak to how those actions are being received in russia? >> we have been very clear with our russian counter parts about
what we're doing, chairman dempsey had several conversations in the last 48 hours with the counterparts in russia. we've been very open with them. they are taking 24 rather as a matter of factually to be honest. this is good news. we're not seeking to take an an escalating step vis-a-vis russia and what it may mean for them, but we are very determined to remain transparent. yesterday, in fact, in brussels, there was a nato-russia counsel meeting thrown on the schedule, did not go particularly well, as you might imagine with the russian remit representative there, but trying to send a clear sign of support and re assurance to nato partners, trying to be transparent as much as we can with the russian steps taken to do not escalate the situation further. >> you talked in testimony about
the islamic state of iraq. can you talk about the extent to which we think there is collaboration -- i don't know if that's the right term, -- with al-qaeda on their activities or are they -- how are they directing things that are happening in iraq and syria opposed to al al-qaeda, and how much do we know about them? >> sure. senator, the group you mentioned, isil really is a modification of a prior group, al-qaeda, and iraq, an affiliated group with al-qaeda. certainly share that same ideology, although, they are now enpg gauged in a public conversation whether isil is still part of al-qaeda and core al die da, you know, under pakistan. the bottom line is that isil is
a group that has that sometime ideology open has been involved in incompetent amount of violence, both in syria as well as in iraq, and has demonstrated really bial tactics in both locations, and as i mentioned, the degree of violence in iraq, in plater in fallujah, has risen to a level not seen for several years. >> thank you. my time is up. >> senator flake. >> thank you, thank you, all, for your service. secretary burns, with regard to the sanctions announced today, visa restrictions, how effective do you expect those to be, unless our european partners move ahead with financial sanctions of their own or sanctions on assets or dealing with that that somehow -- what can you tells about what europe is doing at this point or the e.u.? >> well, certainly, senator. i think steps close to the
executive order that the president signed as well as the visa bans in effect are significant steps, but you're absolutely right. we've have more impact if we do more with european partners. the e.u. leaders meet riling now, looking seriously at concrete actions they can take. they have taken some already against ukrainian individuals with regard to travel and asset forfeitures, but they are looking at further serious steps they can take. ..
to be annexed or somehow swallowed up by russia just in the short term, assuming that happens. assuming that russia tries to give legality to all of this. how long do you think our european allies and others will go forward with sanctions if russia doesn't incur further into the ukraine and just settles for crimea bikes -- what are your feelings here? >> senator i would say a couple of things. first there are couple of things in which a russia can put a
patina of legality or legitimacy that runs any step to alter the territory ukraine has to be approved by an all ukraine national referendureferendu m and second i think the europeans understand what is at stake as i believe we do and are determined to not only make clear that there are costs to what has already been done but to increase significantly costs if the situation escalates and i think over the long term what russia will face if it persists and this is going to be not only increasing costs but international isolation which does have a consequence of the moment when russia has its share of challenges. as i mentioned before changes in the global energy market, and economy which is not not growing it barely the rate was before and a number of domestic challenges as well.
>> i didn't say they could put in a patina of illegality but they are sure trying. with regard to russia and our cooperation with russia in syria with regard to chemical weapons what can you tell us about how the recent effects have affected that cooperation with regard to chemical weapons? i'm sorry if this is ground you have already plowed here. >> i will be very brief senator. we have been frustrated over recent months by the foot-dragging of the syrian regime. i believe russia remains committed to the object here which is the removal and destruction of this serious chemical weapons.hyle. it's still possible to meet the 30th of june target that has been set and i think it's vitally important to do that and that's an area where i believe russia has a self-interest in trying to ensure that happens. it's not a favorite to the
united states. it's something that russia has committed to and i hope that we can accomplish that goal. >> some of the sanctions that have been talked about an contemplated by the administration and/or congress have involved cooperation or lack thereof or stopping cooperation with russia on certain issues. how would that impact our ability to carry forward the agreement that we have in syria? >> well it's hard to predict senator but as i said before i think russia having made a very visible and public commitment to accomplish the destruction of syria's chemical weapons stock pile because of self-interest in trying to ensure that happens and we will certainly do everything we can to help ensure that it does. >> thank you mr. chairman. >> senator murphy. >> thank you very much mr. chairman. senator johnson referenced the fact that there many people that believe this is a sign of russian weakness in the sense
that only two weeks ago russia have the president of the ukraine essentially under their palm both economic and politically a country that had reversed course and had committed into a new economic relationship with russia that moved away from an economic association with europe and today the situation is very different. there are 43 million other ukrainians which represent 95% of the country's population which now have a government towards europe, and russia now faces economic sanctions from the united states and europe if not crippling will certainly be damaging and faces a future is somewhat of an international pariah who has had much lesser ability to influence the future course of democratic and economic values. and so ultimately i guess the
question is what is the end goal here? this was a panicked reaction to yanukovych's removal from office than what he is seeking here is not territorial control of crimea but seeking to influence events in kiev that he thinks he still has the ability to keep the totality of ukraine out of the e.u. and still part of the russian orbit. that doesn't seem to me the direction that this is going. i want to ensure we do everything within our ability through the transatlantic relationship to expel russian troops out of crimea but no matter his ability to cloud the future of crimea's legal status that would be interested to hear your take on whether this has anything to do order it has any remaining effects on what seems to me now a predestined path of ukraine into the european union. >> senator i think the effect,
if the present events continue on their course is going to be largely to solidify ukrainians around their own commitment to the dependence on sovereignty and deepen their connections to the e.u. and the west and that is largely the effect. i don't think that's the intended effect in what president putin is trying to do. i think what he looks for its deferential neighbors and to try to ensure that there are governments in place that will be deferential to interest. as i said in my opening remarks you know it's one thing to recognize russia as a legitimate interest in ukraine for all sorts of reasons but that doesn't justify illegitimate actions and i think those illegitimate actions are over the long-haul going to isolate ray shah -- russia and undermined its ability to influence its neighbors. >> we saw on television news shows just the fact that there
are ethnic russians and russian speakers in crimea and eastern ukraine that equates to russian sympathizers. that frankly is simply not the case in that part of the world as it is also not the case in many parts of the country that have large numbers of ethnic russians. a follow-up on senator should teens question regarding nato. there have been some that have suggested that the move on crimea is cautioned to get georgia and the ukraine into nato because then of course we would have in article v obligations to defend. the other way of looking at it is that it is an advertisement for why we should offer membership to georgia now this year and ukraine at the appropriate moment because it would insulate those countries from future russian encroachment. that latter view is mine but how does the ministry should be the effect of the events of the past several weeks looking most immediately on the potential
roadmap for george's ascension into nato? >> senator as you know i look in policy across administrations to support an open door for nato and with regard to georgia to support george's interest and eventual membership with a membership action plan being the next step along the way. that is obviously a decision that has to be taken within the alliance and there is always debate about those issues that american policy hasn't changed. >> finally this is not a question that needs to be answered. let me say that i don't necessarily share your optimism about the direction that our european friends are going. i hope that two day summit results in a new commitment to join us in sanctions and i'm glad the administration took these initial steps today but given the fact that our economic relationship with russia is about $40 billion in europe's economic relationship with
europe is $460 billion. if economic sanctions are to have an effect this has to be done in conjunction. this is the test of the transatlantic relationship and we will see what the result is with our allies in the coming days and weeks. thank you mr. chairman. >> thank you mr. chair and thanks to the witnesses. two comments on russia and then i want to ask questions about syria. i associate myself with comments that crimea is a sign of weakness. it's likely to lead to bad consequences for russia. i think they have overplayed their hand in a way that it will have dramatically negative consequences for an economy that already has challenges in a political system that -- and second i associate my comments with the folks raised by people around the table. we have have to use our energy and resources to accomplish our foreign-policy objectives especially the support of ukrainian independence. the energy resources that we
have give us such a good ability to provide a backstop to help countries wean themselves away from the credit regimes. whether that's folks to have to purchase from russia or folks who we give away for purchase from iran. we have but to ability to strategically use our resources to help pull people away from countries that they would rather not be associated with and we should be looking at that with respect to ukraine. moving to syria i want to return to a trip to lebanon was senator mccain to which her character earlier visits to libya and jordan. it was shocking. the magnitude of the challenge 4 million lebanese and over 1 million syrian refugees but what was even more shocking is you talk to the lebanese about any issue syria is the star with its powerful center of gravity
the warps everything in lebanon. syria's war is the answer to education and water resource energy resources tourism and the economy. despite elliptical instability lebanon had been somewhat free from the terrorist bombing activity that became the norm in the 80s in some parts of the 90s but as soon as hezbollah decided to go all in for assad sunni extremists that okay we are going to fight a battle in your neighborhood and there has been this extremist violence. senator king and i were heading to a meeting in downtown beirut and two suicide bombers exploded themselves outside of the cultural center. the topic of this hearing is the spillover effect and the spillover effect in lebanon is just absolutely massive. it strikes me that we are
grappling with what the u.s. can do there are four areas where we can be engaged. humanitarian aid to syrian refugees outside of syria. we are the top provider of the humanitarian aid in the world. not that we can't call in other nations to do more but in terms of who is providing humanitarian aid we are number one and there is not a close second. second inside syria where they are three to 4 million syrian refugees have died of syria, there are 7 million refugees inside syria who have been displaced in russia has been that stonewall against humanitarian aid delivery and assertion of humanitarian aid inside serious. during the olympic -- winter olympics when the light was on them russia agreed after vetoing three security council resolutions on humanitarian aid to a security council resolution about delivery of humanitarian
aid inside of syria and the first question i want to ask you is that was done in mid-february and i think there is a 30-day reporting requirement. what have you seen in terms of humanitarian aid delivery inside syria since the u.n. security resolution? >> it remains a huge problem and we haven't seen huge progress since the passage of resolution 2139. i think it does provide a tool to try to ensure not only the siege and it literally is a siege of certain cities are lifted and that we can establish humanitarian access and we are working hard at that and support not just of u.n. and relief agencies but also the russians and others who voted for this resolution to help make it a reality. i don't want to suggest that we will seize dramatic overnight process that we will keep trying to do everything we can to use 2139 to improve the situation. >> mr. chair my time is almost
up. we have the two elements obviously where we can be helpful and grappling with policies along the lines we are in the foreign relations committee's resolution we passed earlier this year about what. support to that of opposition and finally diplomacy. while the geneva talks have been a failure thus far there's no substitute for it. let me just ask you finally do you share clappers view that the current battlefield and serious a stalemate that is likely to last a long time without either side being able to claim a decisive victory? >> i do think the civil war is a leading stalemate right now. right now the assad regime control some parts of the others and obvious he doesn't control of this loss of the country right now. the longer that bloody stalemate continues the greater human cost for syrians as you just
mentioned also the greater danger to the region for lebanon but also for jordan and iraq. >> senator marquee. >> thank you mr. chairman. i want to very strongly contest this idea that the massive exploitation of american energy is going to affect the ukraine and i want to say this because i believe our greatest strength is our national economy. i think that is what really is what makes a strong because we are strong at home. that is why we are strong abroad so the administration has already proven five journals that have the capacity to export 5 trillion feet of natural gas. the energy information agency says that just because of that production and supply in the united states it could lead to upwards of the 50% increase in domestic prices here. that's $62 billion a year was coming out of consumers pockets in america and manufactures pockets in america.
that's a 62 billion dollar tax on americans every year. it'll be 600 to 700 billion over tenure period and not only that is going to slow the diversion from coal-fired fire plant -- coal-fired power plants because the price of natural gas will be so high here. it will force conversion of bus and trucks over to natural gas. it's low cost and as a result we will continue to import more oil from places we should not be importing oil. it's going to slow economic recovery because it is a subsidy and except for labor is the single largest discretionary item and moreover this whole idea that our natural gas is going to the ukraine is completely wrongheaded. rex tillerson at exxonmobil has a fiduciary relationship with these shareholders. the price in china that he is
going to get for natural gas is much higher than in ukraine. the price is going to get in south america is much higher than he's going to get in ukraine. congress and the president did not control for the natural gas goes. it's not rush rush and is not venezuela. we are capitalist country. they are going for the highest price on this is not ukraine. this is in the luge in. we need a national debate here. we have a tremendous economic recovery driven by the slow cost of natural gas. if we are going to lead to a 62 billion-dollar a year tax i can understand what rex tillerson and the american gas association won't. their motto is don't let a good crisis go to waste. let's just argue for more export of this incredibly natural resource. there's a huge price in weakening america's economy and that is our greatest strength and that is what allows us to stand astride in the world.
it's our economy. they want to partner with us. that is why the ukraine wants to move towards the west. it's our economy that makes us attracted to them. it's not our tanks and it's not our jets. it's our economy. that is what those young people want. all i can save you is it's an illusion, it's a free market out there. natural gas is not going to the ukraine. no president now secretary of defense can direct it that way. we can't compete with russian pipelines with high cost liquefied natural gas that cost $6 just to liquefy and cryogenically freeze it. as i say that to you mr. secretary we may need as big debate over the economic impact in our own country to disperse this natural gas around the world helping the chinese in helping south americans at having such a small impact on what's going on in the ukraine that people will look back and
say what were they thinking? they had an incredible asset that they allow to be defused. mr. secretary? >> i guess with regard to ukraine i think there's another dimension as you know better than i do to helping ukrainians lessen their dependence on russian natural gas and that's developing their own resources rather shale or other areas. the poles have done sensible things in recent years along those lines so those are the things we are working on actively to help the ukrainians on and i recognize i'm no expert on the global energy market but i recognize what you said about the important trade-offs that are involved here. that has to be part of the broader debate that you describe seattle think the analysis been done. i think people are just throwing this out as some big idea and it doesn't come from analysis of the impact on our common me. it doesn't come from the incredible manufacturing renaissance we have in america because of low-priced oil and
natural gas. i would like to get an extra eight or 10 bucks a barrel for american oil but what does that do to the low cost that american manufacturers and consumers who have access here? if we want the petrochemical fertilizer manufacturing industry rebirth itself here decamp from china and come back here in a will have to be one of the single factors. 15 bucks of mcf in china and five bucks of in cs in the united states. it's really going to hurt us in america so i just want to throw that out into the big national debate and see how we benefit most in this country. >> thank you. let's -- 37 years of experience in the house of representatives speaking?
>> a bio most of us has picked up three at. >> secretary chollet a question and a caution. the question is in light of what has happened here with russia and considering the announcements of the secretary of defense about her overall plan for the future does this give us cause to reconsider what we are doing here? >> in terms of military posture? will serve as you know we maintain a very robust posture in europe and even though we have had to come down since the end of the cold war we still have many forces forward-deployed and i think the qdr that was released several days ago makes very clear that we still despite the budget pressures we face despite a commitment to implement a rebalance asia that we are privileging the transatlantic alliance and we are willing to
have the necessary forces and energy in place to continue to work very closely with our nato allies. so i think part of what we are trying to do is build strong partners and work through strong partners. the aviation detachment in poland that has been mentioned several times already is a perfect example of how the united states with very little investment and matter were a few airplanes can work closely with her polar -- polish partners to build up their capability to work with us to take care of our common security. >> i appreciate it that and i think it's done some good things but it's not a challenge to the russians if they decided to move further east or further west as you say so i just think it's a moment to think about where we are headed here because there were some presumptions i think and i am not sure that based on current events those presumptions need to be reviewed my caution is that i agreed to
arms sales to iraq after a lot of concerns and a lot of collective work to get to a point that i thought it was pro-fishers to do but i read these reports of israeli stopping a ship with dozens of rockets including syrian made him 302's that as i understand the reports go ultimately came from iran, went to iraq where they replaced on a ship cement. and then went down from there to the coast along the coast of africa where it was -- you know
the iraqis you must understand whether it's overflights, overflights by a ran into syria or being a place where you can send missiles and then have it loaded on a commercial ship and then trying to debate you know and i think are violations of international norms in terms of the shipments of missiles here, that behavior one isn't acceptable and two comes with consequences. and you know every time i tried try to help you all move forward i get a set of circumstances where i grow in my concern about the iraqis commitments so i just want to caution that as i look at this case which we will be reviewing and others that our iraqi partners must understand
until we ultimately resettle all of the mek to their security. i've been willing to be helpful but you now have to be honest with you i get concerned as i see actions such as these. >> senator corker. >> mr. chairman on that note here we are again. i think this committee in a bipartisan way has done everything it can to try to support and bolster things that the administration has at least tilted at publicly and i think today the fact that we are having a hearing on syria and we have our counterterrorist person here because we know what's happening since syria is a threat to our nation and our director of national intelligence has said that. we have a person involved in international defense issues working in the region because we know the region has been destabilized because of lack of
follow-through. i just have to tell you it's disappointing and again i really respect public service from all three of our panelists. it's disappointing that we continue to have really no policy, no policy in syria other than dealing with chemical weapons. and a slow pay so i'm very disappointed and i know it's even more difficult to have a policy because we didn't take actions earlier on. the administration is self-declared so anyway i think this is a telling panel. i appreciate you having this hearing. i just want to close with this. i think it's an incredible thing that in this foreign relations hearing we were able to get a senator from massachusetts and i say this with affection to give a seven minute oration on the fossil fuels and economists and i look forward to that being on youtube over and over again but
i thank you for that. i would just ask. >> would the gentleman yield? those of us here only get five minutes. it was only three of my minutes. [laughter] >> you is a great testament to inexpensive fossil urals to our economy. since this is one debates usually begin in since i agree we should have a debate what are some of the mentions that the state department is looking at? we understand there were. issues and wto issues and i realize the complexities are much more difficult than waging waging -- waving a wand and natural gas appearing in the ukraine but what are some the things that it been discussed in our not agreed to relative to how energy policy in our nation lists excesses can help me because europeans candidly as someone mentioned
earlier they don't look like they are acting extremely courageous now because of some of these energy issues and other things. what are some of the things that might be considered relative to the energy that could be important right now relative to ukraine? >> i think the most important thing we can do senator with regard to ukraine is to help them develop their own energy resources like the black see for example and take advantage of shale technology as the polls have done recently. to help them diversify their resources and central asia or other energy producers to them they can turn to help improve energy efficiency because energy use is enormously inefficient in ukraine so those are all practical things that i think we can do quite apart from the broader debate that you have both been talking about about how does the united states best to use what is going to be an
enormous asset i think in the coming years. already it's an enormous asset. >> but is there any discussion about that specific he which is what i think the conversation we have? are there at least some considerations being made for using this resource that we have today to cause there to be a change in balance in ukraine? >> there certainly is a lot of active strategic consideration being given to how this huge asset might affect strategy and foreign policy. again it's going to have to flow from a national debate which involves trade-offs in this country. there are a lot of other parts of the executive ranch that are going to be involved in this as well as congress but i do think it's going to provide a very significant asset for the united states for many decades to come and i do think that asset in how
we use it is going to have an impact on the leverage of countries like russia that for many years have used an abundance of hydrocarbons is a tool of national security. >> so would it be fair to say there are active discussions at high levels relative to how we use this resource, natural gas today to help us with some of the issues we are dealing with in europe right now both their resistance to put in place sanctions and ukraine itself? there are active discussions at high levels regarding that. >> there certainly is. >> thank you. >> senator mccain. >> first i have a great respect for my massachusetts colleagues understanding these issues at his request that we have to have a national debate about this is very appropriate. i think when that debate is engaged we will