tv Russian Influence Efforts CSPAN May 25, 2018 4:32pm-6:15pm EDT
the law that came out that was passed after the 911 commission which establish the position and there is talk at the time about why don't we create a department of intelligence, which i think would be a real mistake for this country just because the privacy concerns and fears about such an intelligence organization and what that would create. for the united states model and our values, i think the arrangement we have, as awkward as it might be, it's good as well as you have a champion for keeping it integrated. >> watch "after words" sunday night at 9:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2 book tv. >> next, three former cia officials talk about russian influence efforts around the
globe. how they compare to soviet era cold war behavior and what the u.s. could and should do in response. this is hosted by the center for the national interest. >> i guess that means i should start. >> all right. thank you very much everyone for joining us today. i'm paul sanders, the executive director. we are really excited about this panel. i think we have a stellar group of speakers for you and certainly a very interesting topic. i will not give a long substantive introduction. i think it's quite clear that the united states and russia are in competitive and increasingly adversarial relationship today. it's pretty clear that the cia and the american intelligence community more broadly are really at the forefront in
that, both in an operational sense because of the nature of some of the competition that were engaged in, but also from an analytical perspective as the u.s. government tries to understand russia, what it's doing, what it might do, what its motives are, and actually what its decision-making system is. what do we mean when we say russia wants this or russia wants that. i think we've got a great group today to talk about that. i will introduce each of them sequentially as they speak. we will start with peter and then will go to my far left and my colleague george will wrap up. peter clement, to my right, is
a senior research fellow and an adjunct perfec professor at columbia university at the school of international and public affairs. he last was at the cia several months ago after a career on the analytical side of the agency as director of the office of eurasian programs and analytic programs in a number of key posts. he is a longtime russia watcher and were very pleased he could be with us today. >> thank you so much. >> let's start with you. i would ask each of you to try to limit it to ten minutes. we have a big group. i'm sure we will have a lot of questions and discussion. >> thank you for having me. it's always a pleasure to see a lot of old friends and colleagues both from the intelligence community, from
the thing tank world and other agencies around town. even some media friends i've made over the year. thank you for having me today. in the interest of time i will cut to the chase. i tried too identify four core questions and give you my thoughts on that and hopefully frame the discussion that we have on the panel but also during thean q&a. the core question i've been thinking a lot about isve what exactly is vladimir putin going to do in the next six years now that he's won reelection. does he have a strategy? what does he seek to achieve? and not even going to get into whether he's running in 2024. some of you may have seen that story out of chechnya. there already floating balloons that somebody might want to amend the constitution for 2024. that's a whole subject by itself. i'm in a focus on the next six years. so, as i look, by the way, i think everyone can become
russia expert. everyone has an opinion ons vladimir putin. i spent a lot of time looking at russia but acknowledged the fact that there are a lot of people who are looking closely at the liverpool and the russians and what are doing. in reading a wide range of literature that's out there now, i'll generalize and say there's basically two schools of thought on where he might be headed. the first school is he is turned away from the west. there's no way he will ever get back on track. that perspective is up demise byby recent article in global affairs in early april. i only say that because good academic friend of mine. i read it and i'm not entirely on this but it was a very productive part off
peace. russia is a half breed. we are now on a path wil where russia will remain that way for a century or even longer. it will never become part of theth west. that vladimir putin is a realist. he understands there's certain things he must do to get russia back on track for his own political position. poon understands there has to
be interaction from the west politically and economically if he's ever going to get them on a fully different track. always susceptible and vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of the oil market. if he gets elevated at some point to become minister for the economics or finance or better yet prime minister, that would be the biggest signal of all that he has decided we must really reengage and i have the right guy who can do this. now, in this recent announcement of the new cabinet positions he was not among them, he was given the position as head of the audit chamber and the federation council, in the federal assembly, not exactly a big
powerful position, buter nonetheless, for those who believeos this track he is in a holding pattern but he's still there. his name is still out there. maybe he will see where things go and get rid of him and elevate vladimir putin. nobody knows. these are what i would call the two farmlands of the spectrum. what are some of the indicators i would look at? things i would look for to see which direction he really is going. ae thing i can say with fairly high degree of confidence is every day youal should be checking the price of oil redemption most ofy you do, but if you checked this morning, texas west crude is up. for my money, no pun intended,
to the extent that these day at these prices for the next six months or year, basically hard decisions for their getting a windfall right now and it certainly helping ard lot. this year's budget was based on 44-dollar oil. if you're nearly double that you have more to play with and it gives you more breathing room to get through where we are right now with all the sanctions are facing and more sanctions that seem to be on tap. second factor i would look at andr this one i've given more thought to is legacy. i called the legacy factor. i personally believe putin is all about legacy. i spent a lot of my life studying this but he never misses an opportunity to reach back into various chapters in
russian history. that was his most obvious in the speech in the annexation of crimea. we're all told about the conversion to christianity and where that occurred and how important it was to solidify the ideath that crimea has always been and will remain always part of russia because it's so part of the russian identity. i was in moscow last november and i hadn't been there in several years and i came across thisd gigantic statue in one of the entryways of the kremlin. it 60 feet tall. there they are with this huge cross. if you think catch the symbolism. it's not only him in the old days, but the same one who brought christianity to russia. the ukrainians had a strong reaction to this, but there is again this reach back intoag
show why things are the way they are and why they should be this way. to close, on the legacy piece, i think of her looking for potential indicators you can have an interesting debate about what is it that he seeks to leave us is legacy. on one hand he could make an argument that he reincorporated crimea to its rightful place back into the russian federatio federation. bridg bridge, 11.8 or 11.9 miles which is nearing completion, if you get a chance watch the video of the trip schmoozing with all the engineers and the head of the project, but it's almost done. sometime this summer they're talking about me cars or travelers going to see speeches in crimea. i'm sure will also be part of his legacy but it directly is linked to crime area.
if he's got. broader ambitions and i'm not dismissing this although personally i'm not sure that's where he is that he can't know these things with a high level of confidence. what if his broader goal is actually toid reincorporate even more of ukraine. that brings us here. the things you should be looking for there are do we see a step up with more fighting and more casualties to the point where you have a crisis where the russians have to intervene to protect the poor locals who are being abused by the ukrainian government and then annex another chunk of ukraine? for people who think this might be a possibility, you should read rebuilding russia, the key built in 1990. i've always been struck by the great interest that he has. the irony was of course pretty obvious.
now we've got a former kb g officer who has embraced him. i i will leave this to the question and answer if you want to get into this. it's a fascinating read. i think for the bruton, if you believe legacy is something that drives his thinking, ukraine is one of the places i would look more seriously. i'm in a stop there in the interest of time. >> thank you very me much. let's turn next to milt. he left the cia in 1994 after a 30 year career in the clandestine services. i think as many people know, he was the cia officer who was assigned by the then director bill casey to run the cia
operations in pakistan and afghanistan to counter the soviet intervention in afghanistan. for that effort he received the agency's highest decoration of the distinguished intelligence metal. he also, from 1989 to 92 directed the clandestine operations against the soviet empire as a whole and then following that was the chief station as east and west germany were uniting. someone with a very deep and richan experience on the operational side of the cia's work and someone who has actually received not only the highest cia metal, but also
several other cia metals for his distinguished service so we will turn next to you. thank you so much for coming. >> thank you for inviting me. it's an honor to be here. i will cut pretty quickly to klthe chase. peter is right about vladimir putin and his view of history and the russians in general and how they actually know their history and what they think about it. for us americans, now that i'm coming from texas, surely most americans learned history from theue football coach. [laughter] , but what i would do, to walk you through a little bit of the operational history and the end of the soviet union from my perspective, first as
deputy chief and then at the afghan adventure that the soviets had, and then sitting in the chief's job as the soviet union disappeared. 1985 when i was deputy chief was the year of the spy. we were wrapped up with the realization that cia could be penetrated in just about every other agency in washington could be penetrated. we saw this, the evidence of this as we watched one after another of our assets in masco being taken down into the basement and shot in the back of the head. when edward lee howard, who we had dismissed because of
suitability issues, we had thought we had found our answer. indeed we had not because it's still alive and well and the betrayals went on. i did move at bill casey's request, into pakistan to take over the soviet adventure in afghanistan from 198689. at that moment gerald boris. that ended the ten year adventure in afghanistan which
brought about some of the things that rapidly followed. the hungarians cut the wire on the border and austrian people began to move rapidly from east to west. then you had the elections in poland were communism was actually voted out. by thehe fall, by november. then the berlin wall was breached. that happened 329 days later and germany was reunited inside nato in one of the more
that every step of the way that all of the kgb officers blame us for everything that happened. they gavee us credit. when i was in moscow. , i was told, we were watching cnn theth whole time and when they came out and gates was there with him and bush said they sometime fail. we knew that you knew what was going on in the white house and we threw up our hands and went to our dodges and they let this thing play out.
there is a history based on perhaps faulty history of these more recent years and that it's payback time for the united states, that we in fact brought about all of this. they they may long for it and another kid seem to enjoy. let me leave it at that and we can go into however we want to play this out. >> maybe i could ask, but before we turn to george one, kind of a pointed question, as you think back to the soviet operations directed against the united states during that time, do you see any similarities with the current environment or perhaps
differences, would you draw any particular lessons from how we kind of manage the competition at that time, but this might be relevant today. >> i think we were far less vulnerable across the board during my time when the soviets were trying as many things as they might. nato was reasonably strong. the soviets, don't forget, would remind us every so often of who they were. about every ten years or so they would remind us what the soviet union was.
that was an immense amount of power. they may have made some moves on the margins that were pretty good and well thought llthrough, but moving against the larger american target they simply didn't do it. today it's different. europeans could, at this point be managed to believe almost anything about theco united states as populations much more readily than when we had 360,000 young american gis looking across the political gap at a similar number of soviets. the rest of nato a lot of people dismissed as generals and bands.
i think that vladimir putin, particularly, will move against us where we might be most vulnerable today and i would say that's going to be in europe. the nato alliance and by any extension, the european union itself. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. >> so let's turn last to my colleague, george being like peter, a career cia analyst, a former head of the russian analysis programs at the agency and a former national security aide to vice president dick cheney, now the director of our intelligence and national security program here and a delightful colleague. >> okay. >> thank you paul. >> i'd like to start out by misquoting one of our nation's
most famous intelligence analysts and that's mark twain. the quote is, it's not the things that you don't know that get you in trouble. it's the things that you know for sure that just ain't so. there's a great deal of truth in this even though twain never actually said it, as far as i know. today, i think we have a problem with something that we all know for sure about russia and that is russia's intention toward the united states. i want to read you some quotes about what prominent americans are saying about these intentions. russia hopes to singly undermine a distracted west. that's from george will, a well-known conservative columnist. his fundamental goal is undermining american democracy. that's paul waldman who comes at things from a a little bit different political point of
view. russia is attempting to destroy democracy in the united states. that's republican senator john mccain. russia is trying to bring down our way of government. that's democratic senator ben cardin. elmer putin wants to make the world safe for russian attackers he which means compromising every democratic center of power he can find and crushing democracy closer to home. that's a former senior state department official. i think fundamentally there is an aversion to our whole system and an aversion to democracy. vladimir putin doesn't believe in it and he sees it as threatening to him personally. i think it's almost in his jeans, in the russian genes to do what they did in meddling with the u.s. election and they will continue to do it.
that's james clapper, now retired director of national intelligence. clapper summed up all of this in one neat soundbite and that is, they're in to do us in. in other words, russia may not have aspired to incinerate the united states physically, although it certainly has the wherewithal for doing that, but rather it hopes to undermine our democratic institutions to set americans against each other, conquer our nation by exacerbating divisions and dysfunction. there is almost nobody on the u.s. political spectrum today that takes issue with that. this is something we seem to know for sure, but i would argue this is something that could get us in trouble because we haven't looked very deeply at this question. this is something that's an important function of the
intelligence analysis. understanding the intentions of foreign adversaries is critical to understanding the nature of the threat, how real it is, how damaging it might be, and also formulating effective responses to dealing with that threat. : : : seeing things in their eyes. understand the hopes and fears, goals, aspirations. the constraints they are under. nobody is very good at this. it is hard to do this when you know the people well. we all have scratched our heads overlie a family member is doing things that they are doing. trying to understand what they could be thinking.
it's hard. it is particularly hard when you're dealing with a foreign adversary. a group of people with different histories, cultures, beliefs, perceptions. so, we need to approach us with a bit of analytic humility. how do we do this in the case of russia? how do you compare this belief that russia is actually trying to destroy democracy in the united states to reality? had to be do acsomething that i inherently a subjective thing? >> perceptions are squishy but tackle that in and objectively. i offer a couple of suggestions in this. one is, let's look at what the russians are saying about our perceptions. they are well aware of what the state of our beliefs are about russia and russia intentions. they follow us with a good deal of interest. what are they saying about us? second thing, what are they doing? how do words and deeds match
up? if in fact, these are their intentions, are they doing things that are consistent with those goals? and are they doing things that are inconsistent with those goals? things that you would expect to see but you don't see. and then, the third thing i would ask is, give their activities at up to the objectives? i will try to run through this ? quickly. what are the russians saying about our perceptions? i'll read this to you more. anything they published about russia is as a general rule, total garbage. the image of vladimir putin is russia constructed by western and above all american media outlets, over the past 18 months, shocks even the most anti-putin leader and russia.
that is from a liberal russian journalist and a very staunch putin appointment. he is looking we are saying about russia and saying i do not recognize the country you are describing. only a blind man would not see that russian diplomats are fixated not presuming dictatorship but on observing principles russia is aware that a regime change can result in chaos. and anarchy. as was the case in iraq and libya. more often than not the road to hell is paved and good intentions. that is -- senior russian foreign policy advisor a putin supporter. last quote. what the hype is really doing is elevating the kremlin to the position of the world meddler ntp by a coherent strategy into isolated and desperate trolling
and propaganda efforts by various russian institutions and individuals. i am an agnostic as to whether a strategy aimed at undermining democracy is all of the world exist. but everything i know about how russian government works makes me doubt that. that is another russian journalist, liberal and very much a skeptic of president putin. you can see there is a real contrast between what the russians say when they look at what we are saying about their intentions and what we are saying. so, why does this matter? in part because it affects russian behaviors. the presidential election held in russia in march. one of the noteworthy results about this, constituencies typically have not been great fans of vladimir putin. people living in wealthy urban
areas, moscow, st. petersburg. russian diaspora, russian citizens living abroad. they are living abroad for a reason. they don't particularly like what is going on inside of russia under putin. they are living in europe and the united states. they voted in much greater numbers for putin in the last election than ever in the past. why? well, part of the reason is what they themselves cite as a reaction to what they call -- they do not like what is going on. and it is actually causing a rally around putin in effect ruinside of russia.not something that is i think, in the us interest to see. second question. what do they do? you want to look at some counterfactual us. that should cause us to question the conventional wisdom about russian intentions.
if russia regards democracy as a mortal threat, something that by its very nature brushes the viability of the russian state, is as evident in how they treat democracies around the world? i think the evidence says no, actually. and the news from a couple of weeks ago should give us some pause in this regard. russia was celebrating victory date, may 9. celebrating the triumph over nazi germany and world war ii. victory parade in moscow, vladimir putin is marking. he was next to him? benjamin netanyahu. who in fact, talk to vladimir putin probably more often than any other foreign leader. there is a close relationship between israel and russia. do they agree on everything? absolutely not. their interests converge in some areas and divergent others and very important ways. but they are able to manage
their disagreements. in a way that is pragmatic. there is no evidence whatsoever that democracy in israel, which is about as democratic a system as you will find. in any way, causes -- in russia. i think the same thing applies in india. a long-standing historical relationship there. again, india and russia do not agree on everything.there are some significant differences in their outlook and interests. but indian democracy, the worlds largest democracy, as far as i can tell, does not cause any heartburn in moscow itself. ideologically, systemically, it is not a threat. last question. how do ends and means balance there? here i think there are a couple
of things that we would e want focus on. what things would we have expected the russians to do back in the 2015 presidential election if they were really trying to sabotage us democracy as opposed to poking their finger at our eye by contrast. one of the things that they could have done, was to circulate this information that there were, they were messing with the vote counted. as you know, a lot of evidence that they probed the accounting systems in a lot of states. as far as i know, no evidence of the actually sabotaged the vote count. but what's interesting here is not that they did not try to sabotage the vote count.it is that no russian propaganda, no russian, suggested that they
had. the rumor that these boats were somehow inauthentic would have caused a big problem in the united states. a crisis of confidence that the election was in atfact legitimate. why not? why didn't the russians troll a little information other that they could have distanced themselves from bush nonetheless will have warmed up perceptions here about the legitimacy of the election. i would further say that when you look at what the russians actually did do in the election, you do not see a discernible pattern. in their advertising on social media, in the trolling that went on. the message was all over the map, themes.u will consistent it did not look like they were
targeting swing states with any kind of coherent strategy. finally, it is pretty clear that the russians had the ability in the cyber realm to do some things that have not happened. they can turn off the lights in key areas. at least temporarily. they could mess with wall street trading systems. those would obviously be quite provocative acts. probably regarded as acts of war here in the united states. they would certainly have quite a detrimental effect in the functioning of our system. why hasn't russia done that? things that within their capability?obviously the answer is that bad things would happen if they were to do that. i think that is exactly the point. there are other higher priorities that the russians have right now. beyond destroying our
democracy. i do not want to get into a great deal of discussion on this but i would offer two things. that are probably much more important goals for the russians right now. one is they want us to knock off the democracy crusade. democracy by itself does not threaten them. it is not who we are that they are concerned about. it is what we do. attempting to spread democracy abroad in key parts of the world that affect russian interests and inside russia itself in ways that the russians believe are destabilizing that brain disorder and chaos and violence, not prosperity and order. that they find threatening. that they want to change. no question about it. they want to corral american power. counterbalance it. and they believe that russia has a critical role to play in
doing that. but destroying us, undermining our system from within actually presents more problems for russia interest than it solves. why? well, not hard to imagine the impact in the global economy a real disorder here. russia is part of the global economy. there is no way they escape the damaging effects of that sort of outcome for them. who would control us nuclear weapons? the question if the us really starts to implode. what about the impact on other regions?instability spreading out from the united states? again, those are real concerns that anybody in moscow would have to wrestle with as they think about what the goals are for the united states. i will leave you with the final thought before we go to this q&a. it is a quote - from an actual
american soviet expert. who wrote a book that i would recommend to ever hold russia under western eyes. looking at changing perceptions of russia over the course of history in europe and the united states. he says that western opinion has traditionally either demonize or what he calls idealized or divine wheyes russia. -- in europe and the united states and because of the fears and frustrations, the hopes and aspirations generated within western society itself by its own domestic problems. i i would submit today that the united states is going through a period of rather significant domestic problems. the crisis and competence is generated largely from within. we are projecting many of those domestic problems and fears onto russia and that they
reflect actual russian intentions. they went to look at this with a great deal more scrutiny. >> thank you very much, george. before we open this up to questions, george has set out a thesis that i think is somewhat controversial in the context of our current debate.wh maybe i can ask each of you peter and milton to react. perhaps you first, peter. which part? >> well, let's focus in on our public discussion of russia's motives and intent toward the united states. >> i am large in agreement with the idea that i do not think of lender who seeks to destroy the us. in part for the reasons that george has cited but also
because a lot of our internal domestic problems are not of our own doing. i urthink that they very effectively have exploited it. i do agree with the intelligence community assessment that came out in january of 2017. about russian interference. there's no question that that occurred. in part because of the dislike of senator clinton. secretary clinton. there is a long history there which we can get into in the q&a if you want to do more about that issue. but i think it is a deep history very focused on her. and they sought secondary benefits from doing this kind of intervention. but the core issue of the polarization i think was already there. i do not think this was generated by the russians. >> and do you have any
reaction? >> i do. i do not think that vladimir putin i think is a realist. wants to destroy us or our democracy. i think that is too far. but i do think that they, and i agree with peter, they did meddle. i don't know what it amounted to but they were there and they will do it again if they can. i do think that they see some of what has been generated by issues here in america as opening up options for them let's say with nato. i think they will be pushing hard on putting pressure on nato based on how we are treating nato ourselves. and how well they can probably work in europe. i do think that while the
things that they have not done indeed, they haven't done but there are options that are still open to them. the one i would throw out to all of us is i do not know what percentage of americans and -- believe that there is a file on the current president. i think is almost everybody. it does not matter what is in the file. at some point, it would serve the interest of vladimir putin to put something out there. that would end up in the daily mail or god knows where. it could be true or not true. it could be whatever they wanted to do to stir up trouble in washington. and they very well could have that. and it does not have to be directly. it can be the way they usually do things. it ends up through two or three cutouts and then we trust that
somebody was able to steal it right out of the file and it could cause great grief here. i think they could not pass that up. to have nato continuing after the warsaw pact is longtime. i do not think they can pass that up. anything on your part and they will open it up. >> a couple of things. i agree, i think the russians see it in their interest to chip away under nato. almost universally a good thing for point of view. not very much downside. a target that has a lot of opportunities. one thing on the file, the
steele dossier that i think is interesting that has not gotten a lot of attention. if the russians really want to mess with us on this, they could put out some disinformation on the file they have on trump. whether they have it or not, that would have a sensational impact on the domestic debate. it does not even have to be true. in fact, it might be better and more effective if it were not. that would i think a question we need to ask is why haven't they done that? >> meaning the steele dossier itself might have been disinformation. >> as you know, the russians have arrested several former officers for alleged treason and there was a lot of
speculation including depressed but -- you also know that the russians dislike hillary clinton, they also are elected long er cat that had a history of friendship with the soviet union and friendship with russia. mr. brandon was in moscow in march. 2016 and met with leadership of fsp. from what i understand there was interesting meetings. if you take a position with russians particular with russians security that could be a hidden meeting to them. there russia was prepared to
create or play both sides. they expected hillary clinton to win. why would they think about an alternative scenario that they wanted to great by politicization in the united states? >> well, i think it is possible. it gives them credit for a great deal of political oppressions in the united states. that is uncommon. knowing how this would play out for example, within our domestic debate. and i think in retrospect, looking at how russia has reacted to what's going on here and our perceptions of russia and our domestic discussions about russia's role in all of this, what i am struck by is how stsurprised they are.
how much their reaction has been one of wait a minute, where the most powerful country in the world. the most powerful economy. all of this soft power long-standing deeply rooted political traditions. and you have lost your mojo. you suddenly believe that we, russia, which lost our country not too long ago, which basically, have very little power. very little capability. a lot of ineptitude. we now fear that we are going to destroy you. they are almost amazed that that is how we are thinking. and i do not think they anticipated it. i think this is a surprise to them. i do not rule out the scenario you're talking about but it
doesn't strike me as very consistent with how the russians have reacted to events here and frankly i think a lot of americans are surprised by how we have reacted. >> -- >> there is no question that the russians interfered. what's really in doubt here are things like intentions and the chain of decision-making that was behind all of this. clearly, they were involved in doing a number of things here. but why? what motivated this? that is something i think we are not yet looking at with very much scrutiny. >> this was dimitri -- peter clement -- >> it is really worth reading the unclassified judgment from the intelligence committee assessment that came out. part of the analytic line there was the russians did actually think that hillary probably was going to win. like everybody else on earth.
and that part of their motivation in trying to discredit her counterpart out all the stuff about her health and well-being and how cranky she could be was in part designed to -- i think they were surprised at the outcome like everyone else. because of the interference of social media and so on. they created the problem. it is impossible to gauge united states. the ambassador was complaining how he couldn't get the time of day to speak to anyone on capitol hill. it is rare for him to get people to answer the phone. this is the net result of all this. they have become the political kryptonite. and he will reengage in this
environment? >> dimitri raised this as well. on the aisles. my assessment is that again, it does not have to be true to be much more interesting if it is not true. the point that dimitri made is that maybe it is already been done. i think that something bigger has been done simply because we are doing a good enough job ourselves. if you look at any cable news outlet, it will take it as 1/483 day itof the trump presidency.is that almost anything else. they will look at this and say it is going just fine. if it were to get any better, they had that option to throw something else out there. and it will be believed by the
necessary amounts of americans and not believed by the other americans which gave us what we have today. and so, it will continue to stir the pot. i think that there -- they are amazed of what we're doing as we are. i think they're paying closer attention and we are. looking for an opening. not to destroy the democracy but i think it is a bridge too far. but i think based on the belief that diminishing us can make them rise and maybe it does in some western european opinion, areas, i think they will do it. >> all right, let's open it up. we have on the right here first, -- and then paul and
then mary. >> thank you for the wonderful panel. for george beebe, i guess anyone can answer. in the soviet union the us had a very good excuse for human intelligence. because society was hyper security conscious. russia has been an open society and if you believe in a little of corruption in the country that has been hyper to human intelligence being -- yet one of the running things that i hear the past 18 months especially is how little concept we have of the decision-making in the kremlin. is there a fundamental problem with recruiting intelligence on the highest level of decision-making or is it something else, i think george referred to which is that there is an inability to understand the motivating factors of
russian decision-making and it was back education and to assumptions. or is it overreliance on liberal journalists, dissidents and exiled oligarchs with information which leaching nonstop surprise about russian decision-making.thank you. >> george, i think that was directed at you. peter and milton -- >> i would like to hear the comments from milton on this. since he was more directly involved in that sort of thing that i was. on the one hand, i think although russia is more open, and in some sense, is more vulnerable to what you might say cash incentives. become a source for the us intelligence. the kremlin is a more difficult
target than it used to be back in rgthe 1990s. and i think there is very specific reasons for that. vladimir putin being a former kgb officer is quite security conscious from what i have read, he does not use a computer.he does not talk on the phone. that is a hard target. a lot of senior officials and russia's government are patriotic. e what they call -- people believe very strongly in the guiding role, the importance of the russian state. so those are not folks that are particularly vulnerable to the sorts of enticements that one might rely on for human
recruitment. and it is not a technical target easy ghto penetrate. that said, i think vladimir putin in a number of other folks and russian leadership have been quite transparent about their goals. and have been going all the way back to the so-called millennium document that vladimir putin issued back at the turn of this millennium. saying, here's a condition that russia finds itself in. here is what we need to do to move toward a better future and you look back and think it is pretty close to what it actually has done. if you want to understand russia's intentions look at what there is that compared to what they've done. it was a pretty good guide. >> milton? >> the recruitment of soviet sources or russian sources back in the cold war, almost everyone that they took into
the basement and shot in the back of the head, these were not people that were wined and dined and developed and recorded. they had somehow dropped a note into a car and said, call this number or something. some way of volunteering. some of them compromise themselves in the process. others came to us and gave us everything the soviets would be doing advanced into generations that would be on the future. so, it is not that they are not recruiting. is that they're not volunteering, perhaps. and then you'd say, why is that? is ulit because we have had a rash of betrayals inside the fbi and inside the cia? that might discourage
volunteers. i really have never happened until 1985. and we were able to say well, edward lee howard wasn't really one of us. he was in the pipeline to moscow so he knew our assets in moscow because he may be called upon to break surveillance and go out and make the meeting. so he is able to betray a huge number of assets but we got him on suitability issues and taken out. but he really wasn't one of us. guess what? altar-- certainly was. even think about jim nicholson. another one who certainly was. so, has that affected volunteers into this era? i don't know. but the story then, and i
suspect now, is that your greatest source of assets in moscow have always been volunteers. >> a very quick comment. i have two quick points. i don't know if i agree that they are totally open. i think they are under surveillance. maybe they can wander around and make business deals but it is still security safe in my view. secondly, i am amazed at how the narrative about what the us is doing to undermine russia has permeated even well educated people. i had a conversation with a russian academic. a person in the mid-30s intelligence and pretty candid about a range of policy issues. i made a mistake in asking how they voted the election.
you know get a little domestic peace going here. and i said, this person said, well, of course accorded for putin. it was sort of reluctant but what am i going to do? and i said he didn't want to vote for vothe other candidate? and they said we know she works for you guys! and she was deadly serious. she was not kidding. and so got me thinking. this narrative they are putting out there very well educated people who in the past i would have thought were a lot smarter, absolutely believe this. they were not kidding. >> they've managed to believe that kind of thing going back into the 80s and 90s as well. i mean, george forrest, they said you had more people in the white house than we did. >> the russian white house. >> the russian white house. then we did. this belief about the american intelligence capabilities, i think has always been for good
reason, thoughtfully inflated. >> my second point i forgot, i think is lighthearted to conduct espionage. i think in the air smart phones and internet and cyber, running around trying to maintain any kind of cover is much, much harder. and so, recruiting people any bidding surveillance is a whole different ballgame than it was pre-internet. >> i will pile on that one and make a controversial statement. i think the era of human recruitment and intelligence is over. biometric data. it means essentially cannot but someone undercover in washington, have them travel around the world, pause as it is not undercover and recruit people. it doesn't work. who they are, their identity is instantly known to government that want to know who they are. tracking them on the cell phones, investigating social
media histories, it makes it almost impossible. espionage i think will go in the direction of the digital domain. it will be cyber, it is far easier to get access to people and information. in massive quantities than, it just does not pay to try to do this the old means. there are pros and cons to that. but it does get to the question of assessing intentions. because downloading data from the target abroad is one thing. getting the perspective on the state can only get by talking to people that can help you understand what it looks like for someone else's eyes. it is an important part of this. it is something that will probably be harder to do as technology changes espionage. >> all right, let's go to paul. and please identify yourself.
>> the comments on -- and the steele dossier. the panel did not say much about donald trump. he has received enormous attention and the election was aided in part by recent activity with his attitude toward -- what you think is the perception by putin today of mr. trump? is he seen as a useful idiot? as someone perhaps who is thinking on policy, he does not really drive us policy toward russia? someone whose business interests provide a source of future leverage or something else? >> who wants to go first?
>> there is a reason i never even wanted to broach the subject. part of f it is i would not eve know how to, i have no idea what putin thinks about trump. i think they have tried to communicate but i use the word kryptonite consciously earlier. i think it is almost impossible at this point because it is so politically charged. you can hardly engage. to speculate about what putin thinks or not i do not know how fruitful that is. actually don't fathom on this one. >> i would suggest that putin knows more than we do in this room and perhaps, not as much as agencies know. but he has got all of those
deutsche bank accounts. he has all of that. trump says wield a lot of money coming in he knows exactly what that meant. and i still think he is sitting and waiting until he needs to make any sort of move and trying to decide the same time what the move might be. i think, i was there a question out there, is putin smart if to say, don't do anything right now. let's just let them do it they are doing to themselves. and sort it out if we have to intervene at any point. or to tweak what is going on in america. this is unique. i think we are at in my lifetime, a unique point. it is a pretty long time. >> george.
>> is an interesting question and interesting thought exercise. we do not know what putin thinks of him necessarily. i offer a couple of metrics on this. icone is to what degree is trum advancing russian interest in the world? what russia would like to see. and i think there has got to be disappointment there. during the campaign, trump obviously sets of data have a lot of appeal for russia. how we needed to tone back on the approach to spreading democracy in the world and involvement in regional conflicts. the russians have felt were quite counterproductive for their interest. for a candidate to come in, he was the only one when you look at the republican and democratic candidates, none of them were saying we need to rethink what we are doing in the world. donald trump was the only one. i think it inspired a little
bit of hope in moscow even though they thought he was very unlikely to ever be president. the actual track record of what has been done since trump was inaugurated is not at all for one have expected and what they would have expected. it has to be a disappointment. the second thing is, trump is someone that believes in a strong, unified, purposeful state. the government that is adept at identifying his interests, dress them, put into the coherent strategies, and fomenting them. and whether they were successful in that is debatable. but he believes strong executives, strong top down power. as a metric for assessing trump. again, i would imagine that putin is innot abreast to the
degree which under trump we have had a unified coherence -- do i know that is how he perceives him? i don't. but i imagine he might have that enimpression. >> thank you very much. we have wayne, mary next. then spencer. >> thank you. george has given as a number of good quotes. i feel compelled to give you my favorite. russia is never either as strong as it appears quite as weak as it appears. and this is a large part of our american problem. 20 years ago, we were persuaded the russia would be read forever and we talked about a world without russia. and all the sorts of things. today we live in a country that has the 12th largest economy in the world. it does not have a hope in hell of meeting putin's promised to
be number five by the end of his current term and we enormously inflated where it is in fact midget and compared with western europe or china or even much of southeast asia. but another point is this business of trying to find what you call western rising intellectual forces in russia. the problem is most of them have gotten help. the kinds of people who make contact with me as an american diplomat in moscow in the -- era. who could come to my apartment for dinner in the era. i still see some of them. they are in new york. there in southern california. if you really unhappy do not have to betray your country. you just leave it. and that loss of that quality of people in terms of aspirations, where they want
their children to grow up, is a fundamental not only failure, of current russia but it renders russia weak in ways that even places like iran and china i think or not. this is a case where i think russia may be even weaker than it appears. >> any reaction there. >> the, back to the earlier question on recruitment. sources and most of them in the coldest of the cold war. war volunteers. volunteer for that contract little product that we had in our cars in moscow. but now, they can do it to london. new york if they can get a visa. that just simply was not something that was part of the equation in those days.
so it is a much more complicated intelligence target because i believe that so many of those people who have been locked inside might have had the courage to volunteer. they can say anything they want. it is a totally different target group today. they are gone. >> let's come over here. sorry, right here. >> sydney. >> sorry. i apologize. >> setting aside the united states, anything they do here is a means to an end rather than their thprimary objective. what are the primary objections. more territory in the ukraine? is it breaking the baltics out of nato or feminizing them or--
states to facilitate those goals. those real, right up against the border, things they care passionately about. >> it is a great question. i didn't think that ukraine is high on the list for obvious reasons. that is a direct national security concern. this is my body went in the ac first place. whether he has other ambitions, i mean that is where was just earlier, it is hard to know that. i will use indicators. one thing i can say, there is a story in the paper today about sweden. all of a sudden sweden is talking about maybe we should all join nato. i did not see that coming
exactly but i suspect vladimir putin must have taken notes because of that this is the flipside of assertive is indicates ukraine the goal is to make sure you keep that nato threat away from your border. the antagonism is that you created in the west and also with certain parts of ukraine you might actually bring that reality closer to home in this case, the swedes. i think in the ukraine case, did i mention the second alternative. i said about if putin i want to incorporate more ukraine. we can hype up the pressure and have a minor conflict and then a basis for annexation. as i suspected personally. the conflict approach. if your goal is to keep nato out of ukraine forever, you can achieve that without annexing -- you maintain a permanent territorial problem which by definition keeps them from even consideration in nato
membership and you have neutralized ukraine. on the other hand if you get into crisis mode and are actually detached parts of east ukraine, the likelihood the rest of you came will join nato there will be a strong desire to do that. i suspect finding the right balance is important and i think vladimir putin is shrewd enough to figure that out. we will see. it is what you want the legacy to be. a great gatherer of the russian land that they talk about to include all of ukraine for a little more realistic. my personal view is the latter but i am not ruling anything out anymore. >> george or milt? >> there has been a long-standing debate about russia and the soviet union. over offense versus defense. john had a foreign affairs article couple years ago after
the ukraine annexation. saying ukraine is the west, this is the result of russia's defensive reaction to the possibility of ukraine over time and the power to react this way. and against that, there are those that argue that russia is actually fundamentally offensive in his behavior. annexed territory more or less by force in the 21st century. unless you have fundamentally aggressive intentions. i think that the difficulty here is really both. the russians are simultaneously driven by both offense of ambitions and defensive fears. there are concerns about nato's eastward expansion, are they real, the exaggerated? yes, eyprobably but they are so genuinely felt. at the same time, russia does not see itself as we did. it does not believe that it can
suddenly transform itself into a country that generates a great standard of living for its people but doesn't have great power ambitions in the world. and i think vladimir putin and a large swath of the russian elite are convinced that russia can't continue to exist unless it is a great power. and the world will not be stable unless russia plays the role of great power. so, that is essentially not just a defensive goal. to believe that russia has to be taken seriously and have the wherewithal to play a role in the world great issues on a global basis. it's interesting to me is how do you do that? how do you be a great power? how do you get there? because you cannot just declare it and have it become a reality. part of it has to be rooted in an economy that actually
generates real wealth. how do you do that? peter pointed out, unless you somehow liberalize that system enough to unleash the creative powers of the russian people. how putin handles that will be an interesting and difficult question in his next six years in power. you also have to have other powers recognizing, acknowledging that you are a great power in some way. right now, that is a real problem for russia because the world of the great -- are not treating russia as a great power. they shown no inclination to do that. in order to get that recognition, that respect, they're going to have to do some different things. i think. there's going to have to be
some adjustment because i think as peter points out, much of what russia has done in the last several years is actually been counterproductive to that great power agenda. i actually want to ask a follow-up question with sydney and his question raised a fairly nuance point, where would russia take -- there is a fairly well researched idea in psychology that people actually generally speaking people are more prone to take risks to avoid losses than to pursue gains. did the three of you think that that is something also holds true in case of the russian leadership for the russian leadership perhaps counter to that more willing to take risks
for games? >> the short answer for me on that is, i think that they will take risks for gain in the ukraine. i think the history of the baltic states is so different that they wouldn't take risks to try and bring the baltic states back in. but i would point squarely at ukraine as far as an area where they may take what we would define as a risk. depending on how they viewed us at that particular moment. don't forget that their invasion of afghanistan was that they thought the americans had come out of the south east asia with tails between their legs with this jimmy carter thing. they may not notice we will be in and out of there before the americans would notice.
they were wrong. so, i would say ukraine. >> i really like the point you made about sometimes what psychologists have discovered people more prone to take risks more out of security and defense purposes. i would say syria totally fits the mold. that is where russia's major geopolitical asset was at risk of being lost. and he took a rest. i would say it was pretty pragmatic, relatively low cost and they got a lot out of it. although not, we are at a point where we see this endgame is. trying to manage assad is a real challenge. i would not want that job. we have seen multiple times vacancy his most recent visit to sochi. they talked after you get the sense e that vladimir putin is,
think this is the third time -related trying to say, the transition thing really needs to get moving. you need to get traction. people you don't necessarily like even. and assad says we're going to look at the event and talk to people about the process and clearly he is saying i am in charge here. i'm not giving up anything to anybody. just in case you thought i might be willing to do that. but putin for a lot of reasons, one of the most important i think is, he is still -- >> i believe the official was president obama. >> that would be the person. thank you, george. i was trying to be diplomatic here. i do think it is part of this. and playing the role in syria still makes him a player. not everyone is talking about how strong and powerful and assertive and projecting some power. it had a chance to test some of the new toys. there has been a lot but at the
end of the day i think will get harder and harder. problems with iran, over time, trying to manage assad. he has them in place that is frequently challenging. >> i agree. i think that the russians are more likely to run risks when they perceive they are under threat. there is the most powerful motivator and i think that is true in ukraine. which i regard as the most important country in the world from russia's perspective. the so-called near the bride is the highest priority. ukraine is by far the most important. that is where we will run the most risk. the highest priority i think they believe they have the most to lose there. i think siri also fits that. there is one interest in counter narratives there. that is meddling in the united states. you can to some degree, since true that as defensive. right? you have to stop messing around
in russia so we will give you a dose of this.see how it feels and maybe you will reconsider what you are doing. it is a relatively high risk thing to do. now, i would argue in response to that that the russians did not think it was very high risk. you know, paying a few hundred trolls to post on social media does not look like a real aggressive move from their perspective. obviously, in retrospect, we reacted to this far more vigorously than i think the russians would have thought. >> thank you very much. we hahave got 15 minutes here. i have four people with questions. let's take them in pairs did i want to preserve a few minutes for our panelists to have any final almonds at the end. >> i just wanted to take advantage of your knowledge of the russian system and an
important development that has been recently, this would be the april 6 sanctioning of -- which the global metals market and also irritated european allies who have been affected i think what's confused some people is that whether or not it is someone who is characterized as a putin corneal because of some people believe his fate full of pork instead, can you give a sense of the power and the russian political system and what the impact of the targeting of him might be in russia? let's have another question. i think will turn to one of you to answer each question so we can move it along. >> we may not be able to
identify his specific intentions but we should be able to note his major strategic orientations of russia. i think increasingly seeing noise about the west is coming to the end of its 500 year dominance in the world and the rise of these and rushes us into the generally making a bit of a strategic reorientation towards asia. not just china but also towards japan. and i guess i wanted to get the panel incentive of what that might mean and if it is actually happening. >> i think the question that came to you. i suspect there are a lot of people in there that may be better qualified but my personal thinking is, think that there is a relationship with putin. absolutely. things are very complicated and i've been struck by the pushback developed in the us because people realized the implications specifically for boeing. i think people are realizing we
doesn't mean me will be diminished in the west. but there is something with the soviets and the russians but that is very early. >> i do think there is a rebalancing with russia's orientation between the east and the west. russia is no longer integrating into the west and that has been true for quite some time. to be as fully integrated into the east i thank you see is greater emphasis in relationships what is going on from russia and japan to make
>> spending more time outside of cia than anybody for what is going on today but dangerous or operational areas the best thing is to do that meeting but certainly you can pick any number of other places in the world and they can imagine that is a big option. we try to stay ten steps above surveillance that the argument is with the oldest profession
hadn't changed a lot until now but what we can do today. >> you talk about the direction the americans are focused on in the intervention election but those challenges are far more extensive with the flyovers with those naval vessels and the deployment of missiles of leningrad there are no arms control. in this dialogue with those
changed rather dramatically in the existential threat to the united states. with all those things that you were talking about like a flyover with a new strategic weapon system all of that has been going on. and not driving that threat perception. are they real issues? multilateral activities? absolutely. anybody else? >> and all the way back when
but to believe that russia is our primary enemy in the opposition to the united states is from the fundamental incompatibility. and from those that are constant and you can't change that. there is nothing to do than to outcompete them. but a significant portion of that animosity that exists on both sides because of those behaviors in the world.
and that is a force. let china somewhere is on that and then to be assessed with russia there were other issues. but on the china question but in the first place it was china. very, very close. within two months by the end of the year there is a major new deal on oil and gas. which has continued byye the way with the outreach to japan and
i was also struck by the middle eastern term of russia's efforts not just the energy per se but the production in the pipeline and the energy business. it is an insurance policy with certain streams of revenue with the sanctions and with what the europeans would do. >> so in closing which i subscribe to completely to say is we get into the new cold war the earlier experience first the preoccupation to be treated as an equal no less
than the soviet union. they didn't want to be treated as an equal. second access depends on the rules of the game with the interaction between u.s. and russia those that comprise the soviet union we did see that in georgia. that is where the perception is making inroads then they willin react because that is a direct national security interest. >> inc. you very much peter. [applause] [inaudible conversations]