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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  February 16, 2016 2:30pm-4:31pm EST

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administration, president obama came in, i mean he ran famously because we're revisiting the whole thing now, on a opposition to hillary clinton's vote in 2002 on going into iraq. he is the guy who voted against it. and who, was going to withdraw all the troops. well, actually, he didn't have to withdraw all the troops because in fact the u.s. government had agreed in 2008 in security agreement that we would withdraw all of our troops by the end of 2011. so, president obama came in with a double success story. iraq was relatively stable. and our fighting and particularly casualties both iraqi and american were way, way down, and, we were on a glide path to withdraw all of our troops by 2011.
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he went to camp lejeune, gave a speech in february of 2009, where he essentially endorsed the entire bush administration program for iraq calling for our country that would be secure, stable, ally and friend of the united states and a partner in struggle against terrorism. . .
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>> things might shift in a bad direction given some of the clouds that were looming in the region, particularly from iran. and so we recommended, myself and lloyd austin, at the end of 2010 after a government was finally formed that we try to keep troops on.ç and at the end of january, beginning of february, president obama personally took the decision to do that. and after the usual fits and starts that characterize our government, we announced that at the beginning of june publicly to the american people that, lo and behold, we were actually going to try to keep some troops on. so ending america's war in iraq and bringing all the troops home stopped being the policy. the policy for a brief period of time was to keep troops on. now, president obama was a good sport about that. he was willing to try. we can argue x michael gordon lays out all the arguments in
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his book about the period, how much president obama's heart was in it. but i had my instructions to try to negotiate it. and in the end, the iraqi parties agreed that we could keep our military personnel on. but, and this is always indicative, they did not want to send a status of forces agreement that would grant american troops immunity to the iraqi parliament because they flat thought it would just blow up and it wouldn't get passed. our independent assessment looking at polls and other things were that they were probably right and, secondly, that in a non-emergency time when the iraqis didn't feel a major security threat, getting a piece of paper from the prime minister -- which is what we have now for our troop presence in country -- was possibly not a smart idea. so from my standpoint, regretfully, we wound up executing the 2008 plan and got all of our troops out at the end of 2011. now, the obama administration
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did not walk away from iraq. we had a very ambitious plan to use the embassy as a platform. ironically, a week before mosul fell, president obama cited it as the model when he was going to withdraw all the troops from afghanistan of how to do things after 2016. then mosul fell and afghanistan got in trouble, so he dropped that model as he well should have, because the model didn't really work. and i could go into for hours all of the details on how we would use special forces and the various elements of american power and training and fms programs and everything. the problem is if you do not have boots on the ground, if you do not have an american military presence in a potentially dangerous and difficult place, washington's ability to do hard things to focus on a very important but from washington's
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standpoint ever more peripheral issue that is in the green or quasi-green category drops and drops and drops. some of that's my fault, some of that is washington's fault a good bit of it was maliki's fault and people in iraq. but the point is we could have done better after 2012, and we didn't. >> thank you. i want to move on to talk about the popular mobilization forcings. so we now have -- forces. so we now have possibly 60,000, possibly 80,000 shiite militiamen under arms in iraq, and they've helped in the fight anything some areas. in other areas the u.s. has tried very hard to keep them out of the fighting. but whatever role we think they've played in the war against the islamic state, all parties in iraq are very worried about what the future of the pmus is going to be in the country.
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how can they be demobilized, disarmed, all properly integrated into the state's military structure. and we have had experience with dealing with shiite militias previously in iraq. and i wanted to turn to general barbaro to. we've talked before about this, and the general refers to the march madness which is in march 2008 when prime minister maliki decided fairly unilaterally that the time was now to go after the sadrists and launched a military campaign that would have failed if he hadn't backed him up with military support. reflecting on the iraqi government's experience in dealing with militias and then bringing them back under control and particularly with some of the badrists, integrating them into the security forces and into the interior min city,
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police forces disturb ministry, police forces, what do you think are some of the lessons, general, we we could learn as we prepare to confront the very, very large challenge of trying to deal with these pmus? >> thanks. if i could just comment on the overall lessons learned from that period and then talk about the militia issue. i think as i look back at that period it was what, a lesson learned that we should take forward as we look to a new strategy or a strategy for the future, i think we had an alignment -- not perfectly, but an alignment of ends, ways and means which is for or a separatist, that's the strategist, that's the's kens. stop the violence, allow iraqi structures and institutions to mature, allow iraqi security forces to move to the lead. the means u that was the surge, 40,000 additional troops. the ways or -- were critical.
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live among the population. don't drive to work, live and dispossessor and separate the reconcilables and the irreconcilables. and when you identify the irreconcilables, ruthlessly destroy them. and also key to that is, you know, understanding that it's about the population and securing the population. so i think ends, ways and means is always the standard by which you test a strategy, and i think they were in alignment during that period. so in answer to your specific question, i think we make a mistake when we lump together these pmfs or mill saws -- militias. i think there are nationalist militias and, you know, an iraqi friend in baghdad a couple of weeks described this to me. there are, frankly, iranian surrogate militias. and they seem pretty confident that the nationalist militias,
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the iraqis who answered the call, they could be brought back into the fold in some measure. they were reconcilable. and not that -- they could be brought in and made part of the institutions. the huge concern and the question is how do you put this genie back in the bottle, are the iranian-sponsored, iranian surrogate militias, and we know they are some of the same characters as we dealt with in the past. and that is the question. i mean, daish, we're grinding away at them. you could see a way forward there. the internal problems in iraq are deep and have deepened during this period, but you could, you can still see a way forward there. but these militias that are aligned i think more closely with iran than they are with iraq, how do you contain them and get them back into the bottle, as i said? i think that is the greatest threat to iraqi stability and
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security moving forward. so it's an open question. >> yeah. >> how you do that. >> thank you. ambassador crocker, if we could continue talking about how to rein in the militias. i mean, you've had extensive experience not only in iraq, but also in afghanistan, pakistan and also lebanon straight after the tariff accords which talk about trying to rein in the diverse militias. i mean, can you reflect on some of the lessons that come to mind in terms of drawing down these militia forces particularly in the context of a weak central government, you know? when prime minister maliki was launching military action against the sadrists, he was doing so on the basis of pretty strong electoral support. he, you know, he had unequivocally the backing of, you know, a significant proportion of the iraqi people in a way that, for all his good
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intentions -- i'm not sure we could say the same thing about prime minister abadi. so, you know, how does a weak central government really go about beginning to confront some of these armed actors, many of whom have quite clearly got political ambition? >> as mike was reflecting on that momentous time, march/april 2008, i was thinking about an event in basra much more recently which was the effort to deploy iraqi forces into basra to bring some order as the militias ripped the city apart, and the prime minister had to withdraw that unit. it's a pretty stark contrast between '08 and now. you know, one thing that those of us who are practitioners try
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to do is not get trapped by our own experience, because i saw this and that happened, therefore, it will apply everywhere else. but it's really hard. i spent six difficult years in lebanon on two tours, the second one as ambassador, and i have to say i see some parallels to what took place in lebanon and what's going on in iraq. weak central governments, iran playing a very, very significant role, you know? anyone who thought that the iran nuclear deal was going to herald a new era of a gentler, kinder iran in the region is nuts. and what you're seeing now, whether it's in iraq or in syria, is the indication of that. because what you're seeing now
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in iraq is the old iranian playbook that they began to write in the early '80s in the immediate wake of the israeli invasion. when they, working with syria, created what became hezbollah. i mentioned trying to avoid being captured by your own experience. mine involved being a survivor of the 1983 bombing of the embassy i in beirut, and i was there when the marine barracks went up in october of that year, all brought to you again by the combination of iran, syria and a local proxy, hezbollah. so as mike says, the pmu is not monochromatic. there are national settlements, but -- nationalist elements, but
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there are also clearly forces and individuals who are taking their instructions from iran. so this is going to be really, really, really hard for the iraqi government to come to terms with. again, if you cannot deploy a military unit into basra, maintain it and establish order which maliki could do in '08 with our help, frankly, you're in trouble. in a sense, a way forward might come through the excesses of these militias. by all accounts basra is not a very fun place to live right now because there is no rule of law. it's militia rule much as beirut was during my first tour.
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and people will get sick of that. that may be an opportunity, carefully crafted, to start literally to gain some ground back. but this is going to be hard. as we withdrew politically and militarily, it didn't end a war, it simply left the battlefield to our adversaries; in this case, iran, their proxies in the center and south and to islamic state in the west. so this will be a hugely difficult lift and, again, i see our job in the months ahead as a task force in trying to, first, define the problem and its various dynamics in a methodical and comprehensive way and then to set out some possible courses of action.
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but this is going to be extremely difficult. >> ambassador jeffrey, if you could reflect a little more on what you see as iran's end game in iraq. if you compared the relationship between maliki and the iranians at the time when you were ambassador and how the relationship is now between the official iraqi government, between abadi and the iranians versus these proxy forces, where do you think iran really gets its power and influence from on the ground in iraq, and what do you think they see as their medium-term goals? >> yeah. i think, again, you have to take a step back given the fact that we are in a different world than we were a few years ago where we could look at iran and iraq as a separate thing. we have, it's obvious from looking at the papers, an iran problem, i would say an
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iran/syria/russia problem right now in the middle east. that is the number one problem in the whole region. and considering we also have isis, that's saying a lot. and so the first thing is what is iran trying to do. most, but not all, observers believe that it is trying to establish something like a regional power position, unite all of the shia with a combination of -- and here i would draw an analogy outside of the islamic world, but the early soviet union in the 1920s which both had official diplomatic relations as a state and a political ideological movement as a party. to quote henry kissinger on iran some years ago, iran has to decide whether it's a country or a cause. as a cause, borders aren't too important.
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they all sort of meld together. and what is important is iran's advancing its interests in the region all the way to the mediterranean and both drawing support from and then coming to the rescue of its local allies, typically but not entirely shia arabs. so if that's the framework, then you have to deduce from that how that applies to iraq. iraq is obviously particularly important to iran because it's a neighboring state. it was a source of one of its most sering modern experiences, the iran/iraq war, and you have the competing center of shia islam in the south of the country. but in the state system, it's an independent state. in the world of the middle east, it's an arab state in a region that takes arabness seriously.
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so iran doesn't have a totally free happened -- hand there. but again, as ryan said, you have a phenomenon that is not all that different from beirut are. if you can have a weak government, if you can have major forces that are able to bear arms, able to serve as a militia and who are more loyal to iran or iranian surrogates than they are to their own government, then you're able to exercise tremendous influence. we see this every day. but while i would rate iran's influence in iraq as higher than that of the united states, iran's influence in iraq and ours are not higher than the iraqi people's themselves. at the end of the day, there's a push and pull. now, to get to maliki and abadi, again, maliki had a lot of
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traits that contributed to the the rise of isis and the alienation of the sunni arabs and, to some degree, the kurds. but as a relatively strong leader, he would at times stand up to the iranians. and i always got the feeling -- and it was a good feeling, ironically -- that he was trying to play us americans and the iranians off and balance each other. prime minister abadi is a man who is sympathetic to the united states, sympathetic to the west but also an iraqi patriot, and he has to be aware of what's happening in his coalition, the shia coalition, and what's happening in his country. and he's in a different position than maliki was five years ago. >> could i just add something to that? >> yeah, of course. >> to be a little provocative here, jim touched on the iran/iraq war, something little remembered in this country never
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to be forgotten in either iran or iraq. you look at key figures in iran today like sulemani, he was commissioned just before the war started and went through the whole eight years of it, seven of them on or near the front. well, if getting blown up once affects your world view, think what seven years on a western front like a conflict will do to you. as you look at some of the players and as you look at what iran is doing in iraq with the militias, particularly in the tikrit campaign, pushing them into sunni-populated areas along with revolutionary guards, iranians, i would give you this hypothesis: sulemani and others
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in the hierarchy in iran are seeking to do now what they couldn't do in 1988 which is gain a definitive, total victory over iraq. by fragmenting it. because they're well on their way to bringing just that about. islamic state does not threaten iran. islamic state is actually a good foil for the iranians and vice versa. you know? use that as a rallying cry to mobilize the population and then control the mobilization. so that poisoned chalice that khomeini famously said he had to drink from in 1988 may now turn into the victory cup for sulemani and others of khomeini's political heritage. >> so we can understand why iran
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is pursuing this line of action to further its national security interests in iraq, but, of course, there are iraqis, you know, we can debate how widespread this is, but there are iraqis who work with the iranians in the furtherance of those interests. general barbaro, you worked with general petraeus, a really fascinating opportunity to have an insight into some of these characters who have become very influential in iraq today potentially as conduits for iranian influence. i wondered if you could give us a bit of an insight into some of these actors, what do they get out of the relationship with iran, you know, how they potentially manipulate that relationship for the furtherance of their own political goals, security goals and social goals. >> well, the one interesting character whom i was ordered to meet with every week and it was more like a trip to the dentist
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wassal hamre, head of the badr corps, very aligned. you see young iraqi tv, sulemani andal hamre together all the time. back then it was obvious he was, where he received his marching orders and support. and it's on open display today. so it's just a continuation of some of the trends we saw then. but i would just say as we look towards a strategy and iran's interest in iraq, there are two facts. whatever a future strategy is shaped, you have to deal with iran. they're a fact on the ground, they're a major player. but any notion that their interests are aligned with ours, they're aligned in the opposite direction. and to think that we can work with them and somehow merge our
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interests is totally false. and we must understand that. and we saw it back throughout our time in iraq in the past, and we must account for that in the future. >> ambassador jeffrey, moving on to turkey, you were ambassador to turkey before moving on to iraq. what do you think turkey's strategic goals are in iraq, and how would you assess the deployment late last year of 150 troops and 25 tanks that caused a huge uproar in baghdad and elsewhere in iraq? you know, what do you think the goal withs are around -- the goals are around the possible participation in the liberation of mosul? the ongoing troop of sunni troops and peshmerga, what are they trying to get at here? and, you know, the u.s. has been long pressuring them to get out
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of bashika and to get out of the iraq fight with less than great success. so could you explain a little bit where they might be coming from? >> i'll try. i don't think anybody, including erdogan, can explain from day-to-day exactly what he's doing. but again -- and i won't do in the forty or fifth time -- fourth or fifth time, i will come back to my initial comments that all of the actors in the region are acting through a different prism than they would have acted six or eight years ago. at that time, believe me, turkey had interests in iraq, and they made it very apparent to us in all kinds of comfortable and uncomfortable ways. but again, that was looking at a specific problem. right now turkey, perhaps more than anybody else in the region except saudi arabia, is a believer in the reality of this russian/iranian/syrian/hezbollah and add on some more potential allies front. and its actions, while informed
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by some of their conceptions and misconceptions and experiences and mal adventures in iraq in the past, are going to be in the context of dealing with that threat. to some degree on some days i think they're doing all this to try to provoke us to change our policy and to play a more active role dealing with that eventuality. other days i think that what erdogan is trying to do is to find desperately allies to himself. obviously, he has a friend in the kurdistan regional government. of course, this site is just to the west of it. there is a whole controversial gray area now that isis created in mixed and arab areas that when isis came in, the iraqi army melted away, the
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krg/peshmerga moved in, and these areas are also coterminus with parts of the province where you have a split among the arab population. the former governor was driven out, he's allied with the kurdistan regional government people and with the turkings. so this is partially -- turks. so this is partially. and we saw that when i was there, although not with tanks, a very strong turkish effort to play both the kurdish card and the sunni-arab card. and i think this is more of the same, but it has more of a strategic focus, and erdogan sees it as existential. thus, the refusal to fold under our pressure and baghdad's pressure. >> turning to some of the internal political dynamics in iraq, ambassador crocker, general barbero said earlier that there was a strong effort in 2007-'8 to separate the reconcilables from the irreconcilables in the sunni community. do you think that effort has
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really happened this time around in our effort to defeat the latest, worst reincarnation of al-qaeda in iraq? >> i'm glad you've turned back to islamic state, because it gives me an opportunity to say just for the record here -- and i think it's a premise of what this task force is all about. islamic state is a symptom, it's not a cause. we in this country focus on the immediate. islamic state's pretty immediate, so let's make that the ultimate objective of everything we're trying to do in the region. that way lies madness. i mean, it's -- you've got to get at the fundamental political issues at least in iraq that led to its rise. and that is a failure of governance which is something we're going to be looking at, an
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ascendancy of partisan politics that alienated the sunni community and islamic state took advantage of it. you know? again, during my time there part of what we were doing was that full court press against what was then al-qaeda in iraq. and we got about 90, 95% of the way there, but we could never quite get rid of them in parts of mosul and on up the euphrates live valley where they could move back and forth from syria. ..
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period. back at that time, mike was more directly involved and i was. there was a concerted effort to to reach out to a whole lot of really nasty people. david petraeus said and i will say again, you don't make peace with your friends. we talked to lot of very bad actors to see if we could shift them and we did this in
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conjunction with the iraqis, and frankly to mess with their minds and we would tell them coming out of the colts. ahmed mohammed did down the way. you should be like him and that son of a bitch and if we were lucky he would go and kill muhammed and that is the trouble. -- save us the trouble. it is a rough game out there. at the end of the day there are certain number of people, the irreconcilables, but what you have to do is to know your landscape well enough that you are killing the absolute minimum number of people and not creating a whole new set of enemies and frankly you can only do that if you are deeply
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engaged on the ground where people like taking it seriously, your allies and adversaries, that is not the case in iraq. >> ambassador and jeffrey, given where we are we don't have a troop levels, back in 2007, the iraqi government does not have -- obviously does not have political capacity to reach out to the reconcilable cities and certainly hasn't been able to push through a legislative agenda that would shows that the government was serious about engaging most of these in the political process. short of the carpet bombing advocated by ted cruz that we generate an entirely new generation of radical xes, how do we encourage from outside the week engage, brought back into the political system and frankly need to be wherever to have a
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child secure in these areas once we militarily defeat isis. >> to some degree that is going on. one of the rays of sunlight in the whole isis 2014 thing was much of the province did not fall after fallujah to isis and the fall of ramadi year ago by sunni arab police, some tribes people, iraqi army units which included sunnis, that was more of a goof up militarily than it was the meltdown at mosul and the city much devastated has been retaken. and other places are being held again by sunnis and there's a tremendous amount, i saw that, there was a tremendous amount of back and forth between the government and various sunni groups, many of them are in
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exile, the provincial governors, a provincial councils of all fled, they are involved, don't think they are playing by the same role we saw before because they lost most of their territory. one difference with 2007-2008, besides the vigorous presence of the united states military is in 2007-2008 essentially everywhere, we had control of the population. it was all part of the surge and therefore you could carry this out. general casey talked about reconcilables in 2005, couldn't carry out that policy because we were not embedded on the ground and could actually discover the business and get the intelligence we could do. without that it is difficult. on the other hand isis is such a
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uniquely evil organization and while it has many offices it is also in some respect and alien forces in iraq, i am hopeful that if we can get a military offensive going, there will be a way to have some kind of preliminary resolution like people are still working on in tikrit. if this is replacing isis by an iranian dominated baghdad, we are going to be back in the same place in the future so it gets to the same question. >> to the comments of the ambassadors how do we deal with this isis problem in the context of the sunni population in bringing them into this iraqi enterprise of the future?
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tactically it can be done. again, it goes to a strategy that matches ways and means and you understand and attack the network which starts with a very detailed and accurate intelligence understanding of the network which is questionable whether we have that now and we go ruthlessly through the network, leadership, suppliers, foote's jurors, and the resources. it is not exactly carpet bombing and not stealing their oil partake in oil from them. it is very sophisticated understanding, putting the right boots on the ground, intelligence, precision strike, to understand and attack the network but there is more complex and difficult question, how do we incentivize the sunni population, to reject this element and harder question now is to buy in a government from
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baghdad. that is that difficult, i don't think we could impose that, nurtured and set some conditions for it. that is the crux of it. how do you incentivize the sienese to reject this but more importantly to buy into a future in iraq and that is tough. >> staying with you i want to look at some of the tremendous capacitybuilding assets that the u.s. has invested in over decades of support for the iraqi state. you, from 2009 to 2011 word the senior commander responsible for and manning training, equipment. >> i know where this is going. the person responsible for iraqi security forces. >> i work for the iraqi
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ambassador. >> can you reflect what did and didn't work. as we approach continued efforts for the iraqi forces how should we be approaching that? >> we underestimated some things in iraq, the significant divisions in a society that had been in this pressure cooker controlled by saddam hussein is brutal regime, so we underestimated the effects of that. we got into this, this will be a long tough slog to built iraqi security forces and not change, make them significant changes, build a noncommissioned officer, sharing of intelligence which had been a weapon, something used against your adversary but something you are supposed to share to defeat a common goals
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of there are some things that are tough challenges we tried to overcome. we knew this effort would go beyond 2011, 12, 13. the minimum capabilities this force needed were not going to be in place to continue to go after the last 5%. so i think we underestimated how tough this was going to be, let's start building an army. it was a task to start to do that. i will say this. we understood the challenge and knew that it would take many more years to do this. and we are seeing that. i think we did commit a lot of resources and made some bad decisions and have things on a path where you could see that
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iraqi security forces could be capable at a period of time to take on this challenge. we just left at the wrong time. >> if i could interject something, this isn't a criticism of you but it is something we have to think about. in revolutionary or civil war environments not just in the middle east also it is full of examples but in turkey and russia and central europe, from 1918 on, conventional armies and structures and culture behind them have a hard time dealing with those environments, who does well? i saw it in vietnam, we see it in iraq, the high end guys, the golden lions and those sort of known guys though we have doing
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things, in vietnam, really good, and lots of local militias wearing black pajamas out there defending their hamlets. often we have to put some focus on to that and one of the things we keep on, and raises himself, this idea of recruiting sunni locals into popular mob locals into popular mob lombkeomeionwithe yñ units plan for a
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national guide in can't get an audience in baghdad and who will get an audience with the k l g but only supported until deemed to not be a threat in any of those disputed territories they have taken in the last year. so you know, certainly compared to the sunni militia forces but we saw in 2007, more towards 100,000, a ceiling of 25 but no one particularly motivated to approve and pay those fighters, moving on in continuing the theme of capacity is of the building ambassador crocker, we have seen protests in iraq for
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years, since last summer, not about isis, about lack of electricity, provinces, sanitation, education, health care services and we have tried to build capacity in the oil ministry, electricity ministry, to bring transparency and standards in governance, where we have succeeded, what has been the magic ingredient? where we haven't succeeded on all these better assets, should we be giving up on those sorts of government supporting projects or is doing something radically differently? >> like so many other things, eighth huge problem and it is something we are going to be looking at in great detail in the months ahead. the whole question of governance
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and capacity. hardly a secret that endemic corruption is a cancer in iraqi society. i don't pretend to know the ins and outs of its to any degree, but talking to iraqi friends from all communities, it is a constant theme but i have come to wonder. good news, bad news, there may be one tie that binds together, and kurdish elites. the bad news is they are making a lot of bucks and that makes it
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very very hard, if the powers that be. making a whole lot of money, and the systems are few and far between. and actors like iran and their proxy's are not that interested in seeing good governance particular the not interested in seeing the consistent rule of law because that works against their interests. and all of this plays into part of the challenges that are faced. does that mean you throw up your hands and say nothing can be done? of course not but one has to be
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modest in expectations. and all of the outside power is not going to fix, is the quality of internal governance. we can help iraqis committed to a better future identify the problem this and look at localized solutions and i think an area in particular where that is important would be in the oil sector. that is the engine of the economy. iraqis have a long history of running their own oil industry. at least have the memory of how to do this. it is something we are doing in texas a&m incidentally. we have a lot of iraqis in petroleum engineering department. and go back with the skills necessarily to run a successful oil business and also absorb
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something of weighing governments and their societies interact which will be for the long-term good. it is looking first as in so much else identifying the problem and a team of american experts is not going to do that, working with iraqis and start figuring out where you can move and where you can't. there will be no across the board fix to this. that i can cheerfully predicts but there will be criminal progress. >> if i could add this challenge ambassador crocker described, up the new challenge of the utter devastation of these occupied areas, the situation has been underreported but security forces decimated infrastructure, destroyed 75 schools, destroyed 250 damage to the point they can't be used and on and on.
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just think what that portends for mosul after two years of rule occupation where they are going to fight to the end. is going to be tougher as liberating these areas as we continue to grind away at them. what we find is going to exacerbate this lack of basic services and infrastructure and first thing that needed it, the sunni areas as you try to convince to align themselves with the government in baghdad, it is an immense challenge that we need to face and take on. >> absolutely. the devastation that we have seen in ramadi and tikrit, the we can imagine will take place poses a huge challenge at a time the iraqi government and the k r g is struggling intensively with
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collapse in oil prices and the cost of the war against the islamic state. can we use financial contributions coming infusions of weapons and training, ought to the iraqi government and the k argie, can we use those contributions that are important to make? can we use them as leverage to, as part of this asset to make a dent in the corruption that we see and incentivize the greater pushed towards the focus on rectifying these governance problems? >> i was hoping for a chance to jump in on this because i have some modern views. one is we can rebuild things. we did fallujah after we took that plays the part. is something of the united states can do or the iraqis do. it requires money but as long as
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someone isn't out there trying to blow it up as you are doing it, assuming you have the security situation which is the first priority under control you can do that. iraqis will also be able as ryan said with the oil industry, run a lot themselves and come to us with the expertise to augment and reinforce what they are doing and that has been a huge success. other things they did, we were horrified at it because it undercut the electricity program, the neighborhood generators. i can site at thousand reasons this is an economical, diverts oil and sullen, all bag that was lit up and we want to encourage entrepreneurial activity. that was entrepreneurialism to the. we can't do it that. it won't work. if we can generate support in this place, washington, to
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provide weapons, to provide economic redevelopment and relief and such here is that huge strategic region and we can't hold that hostage, people don't like to be told what to do. if iraqis want to decide corruption is so bad that they are going to end that and need some advice on how to do that they know our telephone number but if we fly in there, i saw that in 2004, with increasing goal clone of every single american institution, a pressure group in washington and individual actors like newt gingrich on top of that coming in with their 20 good ideas on how to fix iraq and field that and deploy that it doesn't have the intended effect. let's leave it at that. >> how true that is. >> you have said you know
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lockerbie if the forces pulling iraq to get there are great--greater than the forces pushing apart. can you explain the shift in that thinking? >> returned from baghdad so i would like to modify that a little. even in the beginning of 2007, ambassador crocker, in february, three or four car bombs in baghdad alone, enormous iraqi casualties and the investments in u.s. casualties, you always felt that the forces pulling iraq to get there were stronger than the ones pulling apart. that there is a sense of iraqi nationalism which would prevail. what it was mistaking a look at it and hopefully being a realist. in the last few years the sectarian divisions of all
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blindness where we would impose ourselves to hold things together, to be recognized, become so deep and in kurdistan right after the isis advanced and i heard comments, why should we fight for this ines when they wouldn't even fight for themselves. christians are not going back. kissimee/shia, sunnis will tell you the ethnic cleansing -- my concern is these divisions have become so deep that it is questionable. if we can hold this entity, iraqis can hold this, iraq together. >> you have said publicly that you think the fragmentation of the state system in the middle
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east would be catastrophic. would you include kurdish independence. >> lines drawn on the map 100 years ago. and by european statesmen, in verisign, have had at -- amazing durability. one tries to redraw them at great peril. that is what islamic state is trying to do literally. in their sweet fruit of iraq, taking muscle and a lot of other real-estate. actually took time out to obliterate border posts, to erase litter will be the notion
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of these 100-year-old borders. i do not, to put it mildly, is the anything good coming from that process. and part of that conversation i used to have with my kurdish friends, and certainly as an outsider can understand it. i understand kurdish aspirations particularly what they have been through. but that was part of my don't blow it. these are in the best of times. to move toward independence in northern iraq or to make it more extreme of across northern syria can trigger a whole new wave of violence in the area where we already see with the kurdish and
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turks are doing as the kurds move to northern syria. one thing the turks, iraqis and iranians agree on is no independent kurdistan. as bad as things are, an axiom my learned in the middle east, as bad as things are today they can always get worse and that the great waste. >> it seems like the relationship between the krg and the government is stronger than ever. do you think turkey would risk economic ties and deep political ties by blocking the move to independence? and practically speaking, if they were to have this
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referendum and declare independence, what would be the catastrophic result you would for see? >> i will defer to the gym on this. your name is something i have always associated with catastrophe. and indeed it is precisely those business ties if you will, maybe the best bulwark against steps being taken. certain balance of the turkish ascendency may be making good money, it would be hard to believe that would translate into a passive turkistan they formally declared independence. >> i will let you have the final word on that. >> there is the right of self-determination and you have
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to keep that in this broad mix. certainly the specific relationship between kurdistan and the rest of iraq is something the kurds have their own army and their own borders and their own economy. going to be major players. given all we have talked about today, at any kurdish leader who doesn't consider the reserve parachute of declaring independence if things turn even more chaotic is not doing his or her job. i will get to your question after all those caveats. a number of difficult things can happen, one is with the wing of an eye, kurdistan is exploiting 600 billion barrels a day, some is the northern oil company, for
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many complicated reasons baghdad, while pushing an alternative scheme involving the famous 17% is okay with that. an independent kurdistan, and i am not so sure and that goes on international markets and has been challenged. secondly we had an incident two months ago where the russians decided they wanted to fire some cruise missiles from one of their lakes into syria and they had baghdad closed down. the air space over kurdistan for several days, this attitude impact on international air travel. that is smoked problem. kurdistan's semi international status with their own contract with oil companies, international flights going in and out is dependent upon having some legal status or legal
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tolerance. if you pull the plug on that you have to rack and stack all these various attributes over the state and figure out how you would deal with that. the first and most obvious thing is you need the absolute cooperation of turkey but that might -- they could not close the air space closure and all the turks in the water can't get people to lift oil. >> i will throw this up and to questions. we cover a huge range of topics. i will start here with henry. >> that was a low blow. >> could you introduce yourself? >> dropping lower and lower. >> the woodrow wilson center. you said there was that game plan that was sufficient to fracture the state and divide
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it. two questions for you. how do we know that is the case? behavior does not necessarily point to that and what advantage to the iranians to break up the state which you said a minute ago the one thing they agree on is no independent kurdistan. >> first, a i did not take that as an irrefutable fact. i called it a provocative hypothesis. is something to look at. what would be the rationale for it? to absolutely ensure that iraq never again is a threat to iran. and a fragmented iraq would at least in the conventional sense never be a threat to iran. you would have a jihadistan, a
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don't think iran feels threatened by islamic state and vice versa, you would have but shiastan which iran could profit from and a problematic kurdistan. we have seen iranian influence in kurdistan and in that scenario, you would have long-term fragmentation. i would imagine this is the subject of debate in tehran. what do i know? we are not there. so i don't set this out as an absolute fact but it is worth thinking about given whose some of the iranian players are.
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and as you correctly point out, you cannot induce motive security from what is happening on the ground, it is worth thinking about. >> prof. davis in the back. i am taking names down so i will get to you -- i have already got barbara but if we can center mike that way as well. >> i win the future of iran. i run the future of iran initiative at the atlantic tell. so i thought i would see what the future of iraq would be. i am shocked, iran to good vantage of the united states toppling a city government in the country that had she a majority. reality in truth here. given how our own domestic situation, our own domestic politics, how can you project
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that a future of american administration is ever going to be willing to engage in troops or treasure in the way the we did over the past decade to reverse what looks like a pretty solid gain on the part of iranians in iraq any more than we would go into lebanon again with marines to try to deal with hezbollah? that is to all three of you actually. >> i will stop. you have just summarized the obama administration argument to what do we call them? joined target, a few guys out there with radios, this is another going in with 100,000 troops but how many plans as vladimir putin have in the
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middle east? they are doing a lot from limit to net selling very good work. how many lohan as he lot? i think arab to two, maybe few more on the ground. that is the kind of deep feeling of power to witch strategic ends i admire. i don't admire his purposes but i admire the trade and that is the kind of thing i sense most people making recommendations for the commitment of american forces are talking about, there are plenty of people in an 85% sunni middle east willing to stand up and fight against this iranian offensive. they need assistance, weapons, leadership, air cover. that is what we are there for potentially. i will stop there. >> if i could add to that, whenever we have this discussion, we are would doing
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what we were doing now, thousands of troops and it is a false choice. there is a way to do it and it starts with what are our national interest in the region and how does iraq fit in that? is it pleasant to start with that question first and devise a strategy that matches ends, ways and means, when you say you are going to destroy isis, destroy isis and when you are hitting them at 6 or 7 targets the day, a small cadre of advisers that don't go to the front, that is not going to destroy isis, so it is frustrating to have the discourse on this but -- is it in our interests to do that? what are our interests? devise a strategy to do it. it has to start with u.s.
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interests, in a region not as we wish it to be, but the situation on the ground we find. >> some of us distinguish between shia power and iranian power. >> that is the point i would press. she a does not and those are out there for passionate arab nationalists, many iraqi shia are. i would talk not about troops and treasurer, i would talk about politics and diplomacy. when it comes to singular lack of success moments in the administration, a singular lack
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of success, and send the secretary of state. or prolonged seance with iraqi leadership to assess and try to influence. would deals can be done, we have been missing in action, and that is where i would like to see the thrust and renewed effort come. here are the iranians, they actually help because if by provocative hypothesis anywhere near the mark, that is another forum, and at a certain point you are going to get, you see it in some areas already an iraqi arab reaction to that. we saw al qaeda's accesses enable the surge through the awakening, they were our own
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worst enemy, iranian overreach can deliver the same results and we need to be giving body and others some alternative to tehran because right now there isn't. that needs to be political and diplomatic and it isn't. >> we are not talking about rolling comeback she a power. that is not any one's goal. the point is for those militias that have sprung up during this time of instability to be integrated into the country's armed forces for iraq's in the communities to have enough of a seat at the table to go back to their constituencies and deliver something once in a while. >> eric davis, rutgers university. in document i received it was very exciting to see the dimensions of the future of iraq taskforces.
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you are emphasizing the future and one category is not there, the category of news. 70% of the population is under the age of 30, 40% and in the age of 15, most violence comes and iraqis another society, and most effective use, you have not just given them, off-the-cuff importance but they are going to be taking over the new a rack and if you look at the education they are receiving it is very wanting because school textbooks have been diluted of anything that treat any iraqi group they don't particularly like, to see what balance would say about this very important demographic. >> that is shannon great point.
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let me say generally, not a comprehensive checklist but we expect everyone, that kind of input, that is what we came up with as an initial draft what else should beyond that? please give us that feedback. there is a reference to education in their. it is critical for what you sight. the use bulge and the way in which to reach a level are being modified. that is our intention that that be part of it. certainly worth flushing that out a bit. i am on the board of mercy corps, that is something mercy
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corps does where we are involved. and we have learned over the years how absolutely central that is to long term security and stability and again, a massive challenge. all that said, knows its note so well, there was a lot of speculation at the end of the active phase of the lebanese civil war in 1990, 15 years of vicious conflict produced a generation of lebanese with no formal education, really knew how to operate a collection and that was going to be a recipe for a long term mayor mayhem pillage and plunder. lebanon still has its share of
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problems but that apocalyptic prediction did not pan out. once you had an option to do something else, dropped that gun and took that option so this is deserving of serious concern and serious attention, but i don't think we should fill a young generation coming of age under horrific conditions too short, given some alternatives i bet you they will take from. >> thank you very much for an excellent discussion. the panelistss bring to the discussion a huge amount of experience, insight and wisdom. i admire each one of them.
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there are a whole number of issues, some extremely important, some central and some of them are better discussed in smaller circles than this bigger gathering but i just want to pick one strategic issue which was the fact that there is an alliance of iran, russian, assyrian, hezbollah on a roll, it is making tremendous gains and if things go the way they are, they are heading towards victory. in their attempts in this region. iranians and russians are good
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chess players, i am not sure either political system, the american system is in that be in terms of seeing so many moves ahead. the question i have is will the political system in this country never mind a middle east produce the political will that will stop, that will stop this advance, not necessarily the sunnis, this is not really a solution but reversing polarity of sectarianism does not solve anything. it is unwinding the station
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which is necessary but is anyone in this country with power and decision going to stand up and say to the russians so far, no, stand-up to the iranians and say so far, no further. and allow the space for iraqis and others in the region to slow their problems which are many and they have so many challenges as well. >> you want to tackle that? >> it is a great point. it is both heartwarming to see all of you in this room, many of you and have known overs the years change to think of the knowledge and expertise on iraq and the region that you
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represent, a kind of unsettling fawcett is all thought is all o room probably represent two thirds of americans in this country who care about iraq. americans have tremendous qualities. we also have a few challenges and one of them is what i call strategic patience. we didn't build our great country on haitians. get it done. don't tell me about yesterday. i am about today and tomorrow. if it gets messy, costly, difficult, let's go on to something else and get that done in stead. we are genetically wired for let's fix it, let's fix it now. the middle east is not a region
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that lends itself to easy quick fixes so that is a challenge for us and our political system is also not geared to long term policies, policies change as the white house changes hands, the balance shifts in congress, the example again is iraq. in 2002 the american people, through their representatives in congress voted to have a big war in iraq. and in 2006 the american people through their elected representatives in congress voted not to have a big war in iraq, but you can't rewind the film. you put your finger on a real challenge for the american public and american policy. in terms of the specific incident you cite, clearly there
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were other policy alternatives open to this administration or any administration in syria, in iraq, iran. bashar al-assad, i have suggested some of them. the administration has elected to sit pretty tight but there is nothing in our system that would have prevented more robust actions, these were policy decisions made at one end of pennsylvania avenue and a resource that the other we diplomats and soldiers don't make policy, we just carry it out. and in iraq, the perception i found among people i have known it for years, the benign
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interpretation is there is pteron, damascus, moscow axis, in the face of which we are just passive. that is the charitable interpretation. the less general interpretation is it is a tehran damascus moscow washington access and by inaction we are really in effect accomplices. >> there's not going to be any kind of american intervention in the middle east on a scale remotely like that of the first ten years of this century. i think that is pretty apparent. wheat barely got enough political support, it didn't involve the downsides of vietnam
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in iraq and afghanistan. it takes a long time to do the same mistake again even if it wasn't a mistake. but as i said, we are not talking about that level of effort to make a difference in the middle east. we are talking about again vladimir putin type 1500 man expeditionary, 2500 now, expeditionary element with a body of 50,000 troops, 10,000 in afghanistan alone, 3700 in iraq, at 3,000 or 4,000 in kuwait, i could go on and on. we have them outnumbered 20:1. we are just not using them. i could see a different administration, almost any of
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them from 1945 until either 2000, or 2008 using those forces and providing another force. whether we will arrive we had two administrations the tried very different approaches to the old traditional work problem slowly and i don't think the american people are happy with the results of either of them and judging from the campaign they are -- not anybody who is really endorsing this administration's foreign policy but there are not a lot of endorsing ronald reagan's or bill clinton's so we will wait and see. >> would you bring up is we are not very good at conflict resolution, and the terms and conditions land surrender, we are pretty good than. anything short of that which most of them end up, we are not
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very good at that suggests from the past decade we talked about inert experience in iraq, and would be low to sign up for some open ended turning back some axes of evil without a clearly defined state and definition of success. we read calibrated our commitment to afghanistan because we haven't done that adequately. from the sacrifice we have seen firsthand i would be very reluctant to sign up for some crusade. to turn back this access unless we had a very clear strategy and the definition of success to end it. >> thanks for this panel. no one has a better experience, speaking with your ambassador, and lucky to be supported, but
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let me ask about methodology approach and maybe the philosophy of the task force since we are launching the task force, it has been more about iraq with and what the task force is going to do. this experience which is great and coveted, it casts a very heavy shadow on the work of the taskforce. watching the talk as told to think that there is a lot of experience dictating what has been said on the panel today. this is annoying about people like me, you have to take it, both of you. that is very important. what is going to be in new from the iraq study group which i have the honor of talking to the secretary of the time or certain aspects of it, or new people,
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looking at iraq, your experience is valuable as it is, it is part of what we as historians versus what happened after june 10th which is important, when we talk about let me take one quick example because time is important and i would like to hear about that. talking about that, we hear the word militia, even the iraqi government says they are not militias. the house general, elements of it that used to fight you in those days, they were not supported by many iraqis because their job was to terrorize segments of iraqi society is. nowadays their popularity is through the roof, many parts of
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iraq and i can tell you with the decline of the popularity of the establishment, historically since 2003 there is a lot of change right now that we have to force ourselves to forget the experience and use it to support rather than let it overcome or overshadow our work and this is going to be maybe where it is successful and probably we creating another report will be there and both of you i would love to talk about it in another time, but thank you for this excellent panel and wishing you all success end luck. >> we just have a few minutes left so i will collect all the remaining questions i have
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starting with representative y bay bayon? >> i'm the kurdish representative to the u.s.. i will talk about borders. these borders have endured remarkably well, or words to that effect. that is true but at what cost? there has been genocide, a chemical bombardment, bloodshed repeatedly, we are seeing it today in iraq yet again so i think we should stop thinking like nineteenth century, people born in the nineteenth century, we are now in the 21st. the president declared a referendum, he has not declared independence. i would like to make that point. my question is regarding saudi arabia and the other gulf countries. today we heard a lot about iran and this will be about turkey. we haven't really heard about
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the sunni arab countries and what will you see cause for them in the future of iraq. >> can you see in the back? towards the middle from the left. ..
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>> the forces that are putting or want to keep iraq together. i have listened to ambassador crocker saying we are looking at daesh. it is a symptom and not the cause. i agree with you completely, ambassad ambassador. we talked about the political solution before the military agenda because whatever happens we have a problem. in terms of carpet bombing is what, i believe, what has come in the past, there have been
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carpet bombing. we have totally destroyeded cities. those that were not destroyed by the carpet bombing were destroyed by the militia at the top. and they are dispensing all of the refineries and that is big trailers with iranian plates dismantling all of the factories there. the tragedies that have happened to the iraqi sunni's after 2003 is a tragedy that has never been talked about in the quarters n proper manner. that is a genocide being committed against the sunni's in iraq and maybe even syria. if you are against saddem you are a sunni.
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you have got to be taken out. now, ambassador, that is the question: have you thought about an sr g sunni regional government which can make sure iraq stays together rather than torn apart? >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> i am a non-resident fellow with the islamic council. it is interesting to see how chris talked about how the shit te community. they are greater in number but less trained and less rich. my question is would it be interesting to look at
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empowering these movements that are shiite to limit eranian expansion and how can you best do that with the poor history it has with the parties. >> and there was just one more question. that gentlemen on that side. yes. there we go. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. middle east entrepreneur streams. i want to go back and actually we have been hearing some of these questions about what will happen to the sunni areas. the example given about lebanon and what it took to rebuild that country and some of the services ambasder daesh ambassador talks about and as we look in iraq and talk about a future of
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independent states or independent kurdistan those areas under isis will be liberated and those people will have to go back. we should build upon and invest in the entrepreneur development and the leadership development of youth which has been neglected. as we look at iraq, i was born and raised there, and understand from being kurdish-american and have gone back. there is a huge level of disse dissenfranchisement of the government there. my question is how can we develop an assistance and assist in re-creating that sense of country ownership entrepreneur spirit that engages the young people to build their future?
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we have to thing about the trauma and retranslate that back into the reproductivity. >> thank you very much. i had a couple more on my list and if you could wrap up with final remarks each starting with ambassador crocker. >> trying to absorb all of that. let me start with you because part of what we are trying to do is something that is not just a replication but it has been done before and to do it in a way that is useful to those who are going to have to make decisions starting next january. the structure says a lot about it. you know? with, what, 25 senior advisors representing, i can assure you
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every conceivable point of view and bases on iraq there is going to be a lot of healthy debate and discussion and that is very important. the other thing i said at the beginning and this is very hard to do but all of us involved in this, to the extent we possibly can, need to check our preconceptions at the door. to say here is the issue, let's drill down in it, and let it it speak to us. let it define itself rather than us trying to overlay our own preconceived definitions on whatever the issue is. again, that is really hard to do. it is impossible to do. but you can check that tendency. the worst mistakes i made in my career have always involved laying my preconceptions in an objective reality.
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you heard us pontificate because that is what this this task force is about. we are about discovering the iraqi realities first and then trying to come up with constructive ways to deal with them. not starting with the preconceptions and adjusting facts to fit them. it will be an ongoing challenge and we will be getting your p refreshing academic critique. and very quickly on the other issues. yes, the question of iraq's other neighbors particularly the sunni arabs is a very important one. we spent today talking a lot about iran because that is obviously the challenge of the hour. but that is our intention to
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look at the complicated, not always disceiscernible roles th arab states like saudi arabia, jordan, uae do play in iraq. i have way more questions than i have tentive answers but that is an important issue and we will get at it. what else do we need to talk about? >> the question about why don't we support the nationalistic militias at the moment. >> that is a great point and a challenge for the task force. who are these guys as butch cassidy if you are old enough to remember asked the sun dance kid. who are these guys? who directs them? what motivates them? and understanding their reality
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and then coming up with some ideas to how they might be dealt with and possibly incorporated into some steep structure keeping in mind a certain sense of humility here. it is not the united states who will do this. but i think we can do useful analysis and then some suggestions, both to iraqi authorities as well as our own, and on our entrepreneurship, i really like that. you know, one of the things that has kept lebanon going is its deeply rooted sense of entrepreneurship and that is alives in iraq. if there is something that unites arab and kurdish sunni's it is that desire. my last weekend in iraq in 2009,
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i took a walk through downtown ramadi and the streets were bustling, buyers and sellers everywhere. i went to a couple shops who were selling housewares. and i just looked at them and they were made in iran. i said how do you get this stuff? and he said i have a middle man in solder city. and i said you go there? and he said of course not. but we know of it, highly reliable, regular deliveries. we will never meet him but it is great doing business with him. that spirit is everywhere out there. that will be something we look at. you know? how can the iraq state at least allow, if not encourage, iraqis to do what they do very well
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which is business. >> thank you. ambassador jeffrey? >> when you get this flurry of questions you always try to think of something intelligent to say. let's empower the people 70% of 20, let's find the right militias, let's do something about a kurdistan regional government if the sunnis. i am missing one. but we have heard a lot of these. here is the problem: none of this works in my experience. the assumption we are making is that iraq is a supine patient that has turned him or herself over to a team of doctors and said please do whatever you want, fix me and then goes under. and that team of doctors you
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have a blood pressure guy, you have a blood sugar girl, a hot specialist, and this and that and they all sit together and have debates and work on things. we tried that. we were actually the team of doctors during the military period to some degree. iraq, other than the brief period of time around the surge where a civil war was about to tear the country apart and people really felt this could be disaster. i don't think they ever said tell us what is wrong with us and you will do what you say. it was never deeply engrained in the population to be told what was wrong and have them fix it. even against our best suggestions.
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what i would urge is apart from the military and diplomatic, where we have a real role, to look at the things that seem to be working, have buy-in, be really iraqi. it can be the oil sector, trading things throughout the region, and finding ways to support that. if we try to diagnose the patient and then try to find ways to fix it it will keep us busy but not do anything for the patient. >> thank you very much. we went a little bit over our time. thank you. [applause]
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[inaudible conversations] >> if you missed any of this discussion you can watch it
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online any time at cspan.org. coming up a bit later, president obama holds a news conference in california to wrap up a summit of leaders of southeast asian nations. it is likely the president may be asked about the death of supreme court justice antonin scalia. we will bring you that news conference live at 4:30 eastern on c-span. with congress out for the president's day recess we are featuring booktv in prime time. a look at banks and the economy beginning at 8:00 eastern with a book on the creation of the federal reserve. followed by a history of money and power at the vatican. then how the other half banks. and then a look at the debt crisis and recovery. and we finish out with the book the courage to act. that is all beginning tonight here at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> during campaign 2016, c-span
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takes you on the road who the white house as we follow the canad-canad-canada -- candidaten and c-span radio. >> next, gina mccarthy testifies on epa regulations. she addresses regulations regarding the clean water plan and the power plant authorizations. administrator mccarthy was also asked about the flint, michigan water contamination crisis. the house agricultural committee is chaired by representative mike conaway. >> we will come to order.
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i asked michael to open with a brar. >> dear heavenly father, we thank you so much for the opportunity to serve this great nation. lord, we thank you for the freedoms that we have. we thank you you that you have blessed us with the rich resources and the ability to use those to make the word a better place. lord guide and direct us and give us wisdom through this hearing. we ask all of this in jesus' name. >> i want to thank administrator mccarthy for being here. there is a reason the top issue for every member of the ag committee is related to the epa. any members of this committee believe the epa has pursued an agenda absent of any recognition for agriculture.
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perhaps the most poinant example is the epa's recent waters of the u.s. rule or as the epa calls it the clean water bill. this bill isn't about clean water. this isn't about safe drinking water in flint, michigan which has some purposely confused with the regovernment brand overreach. this doesn't change the content of the rule. this rule is the result of epa ignoring stakeholders and the american people in order to expand jurisdiction. i believe the agency ignored congressional intent. instead of administering the a w the epa is challenging congress and the epa will legislate by
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mirandum. this is starting to backfire. the supreme court stay the impleme impleme implementation of the clean power plant. i am glad the courts intervened but it should not have come to this. just because it sounds good doesn't mean it will work or for benefits for our constituents. farmers and ranchers take great pride in the land. when a family's livelihood is decided by the environment it is only normal they will support these laws. i think you can acknowledge nobody cares more about the environment than those who derive their longevity from it.
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today's committee members will talk about the ways in which the epa approach may unjustifiable increase the cost for farmers and ranchers. this includes the water rules, the proposed ozone standards change and the standard change to farmers and others. some may believe this may be justifiable but all must be based on science and mindful of economic challenges. if pesticides are eliminated it will affect the price of the items. if the epa fails to consider this the consequences could be devastatin devastating. the usda is going to serve as an important advisor on pesticides. historical their advice has been
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evident. the usda evaluation is important as we know. it concerns me to hear the farms communities impress the urgent certain about the lack of serious the usda is incorporating the advice and opinions. i participate every member will wish to engage you on areas of concern. i hope is this hearing will serve to open a door with a more cooperative opportunity. the farmers believe the epa is attacking them. this committee is going to be an advocate for our farmers as you will expect. i turn to the ranking member for any questions he may have. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and thank you general mccarthy for joining us.
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we have had our share of disagreements but you have always agreed to listen. my concerned wouldn't get to the same place but at least you are willing to listen. i am glad other members have an opportunity to share what is happening in your district. i am on record saying i think the epa is an agency that is overreached. the rules, i simply don't believe there is enough understanding within the agencies or the administration about what we do in rural america and the real consequences of new regulations and what they could have on agriculture and the rural economy. the proposed clean power plant rule, which in my opinion was rightly put on hold by the supreme court this week, is one of them. as well as the proposed waters of the u.s. rule which you know, if i read one more time about the farmer exemptions i am going to tear my hair out. i have a full-time person on my
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staff that does nothing but untangle the water issues under the current regime. we have more federal agencies deciding what a wet land is and they don't all agree. and even within the same agency you can have someone in one county with one opinion versus someone in the next town with another. if this rule goes into effect it will just make that worse. we had a memorandum on the flood stuff and it is not working. we still have people all over the map. i don't have a lot of confidence putting exemptions in there is going to fix that. i hope there is another way to deal with that. today's hearing is a better opportunity to get a grasp on what you are up to and what we need in agriculture and rural communities. i hear concerns from my farmers
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in my district all of the time about this and i am sure other members do as well. i thank you for your willingness to testify before the committee and look forward to today's hearings and the questions. >> i want to thank the administrator and welcome her to the witness table. i suspect she understood there would be differences of opinions and we hope to be respectful with that. we introduce gina mccarthy. ma'am, you are ready to go wherever you. >> good morning, chairman wan way, ranking member peterson, and members of the committee. i want to thank you for the honor and opportunity to be here this morning. as stewards of the land the epa and farmers share a common goal of protecting the environment. their livelihoods depend on healthy air and clean water to
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produce the foods we rely. we have cleaned up 70% of our nation's air pollution and hundreds of thousands of miles since the start of the epa all while the economy tripled. agriculture advancements achieving better yields with less water, lower risk pesticide and lower fert fertilizer. annually, livestock produces and manages more than one billion tons of manure that contains valuable nitrogen and carbon which if we harness can minimize pollution and build healthy soil. par advertise participants are
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challenged to create solutions that will be a win for the farmers, environment and the economy. the local food and local project provides walkable neighborhoods to farmers markets, co-ops, community gardens and other local food enterprises. we have 62 companies in the program since it started in 201. the clean water rule protects the streams and wet lands that 1-3 americans rely on for drinking water and farmers and ranchers always need for their crops and livestock.

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