tv After Words Angela Stent Putins World CSPAN April 16, 2019 11:07pm-12:04am EDT
representative deana titus of nevada. a member of the foreign affairs committee. "after words" is a weekly program with relevant guest hosts interviewing top nonfiction authors about their latest works. as a political scientist i missed this kind of discussion that your work certainly informed me for what i do on the foreign affairs committee. i was looking at your resume which is most impressive. you're a professor and scholar at georgetown, a published author with highly acclaimed work from the u.s. russian relationship and beyond the director of the center for your asian and east european studies and former intelligence officer. i wonder if you can start by telling us how wearing all those hats has informed your work.
and it's okay you can tell us without having to kill us. [laughter] >> firs >> first of all, i am delighted to be here with you and so privileged to have you talking about my book. i started as an academic and i when i was an undergraduate i took a boat i would go up in england and to date code from london and i didn't speak a word of caution. i got hooked. so then i did my graduate studies on looking at soviet politics, maybe foreign-policy and i got my job at georgetown university. i was always interested in the policy side and the great thing about the united states is that you can do that. there are not many countries in the world you can be an academic and also be involved in the policy side. i got involved in the project with the congressional office of technology assessment that doesn't exist anymore but it had
to do with technology transfer to the soviet union with energy issues and a lot of those that we look at them and could hit a pipeline to europe and germany which was controversial. sometimes with the state department my first government job was in 1999 i was offered a position in the office of policy planning in the state department and so i was offered this as an expert not a political appointee so i did the last 18 months of the administration and also working on these russian issues very interesting and i had the opportunity in 2004 to be the national intelligence officer. what is interesting about that
is that also a job when you produce the national intelligence estimate most of the questions they ask in the community about russia are the same ones as academics it's just you have maybe some different information you are dealing with. and so, now i've been back at the university since then. for me, it is informed by understanding as an academic on the issues i'm dealing with and i think this kind of cross-fertilization is very good. >> host: your students are very fortunate and they must love having you because you can tell them not just the theory that's what it's like being on the front line. guess how they do appreciate that. a lot of us in the end do go to politics and governance.
the diplomacy is douglas dillon prize they are based on the number of interviews and the participation in the international discussion club. the limits of partnership where i looked at the relationship they were very happy to sit down with me and there were some things i couldn't really publishing the book.
the story is still quite valuable in so the current book i went to china, japan, the middle east. so, for those chapters ukraine and some of the other countries i write about. >> the russian government decided they wanted to win by foreign experts on russia to visit and they would show them different parts and a basic neet with the president and ceo of officials. this is still going on. i went to my 12th meeting and what's interesting about this and the beginning it was a
rather small group and we met with president putin and had dinner or lunch with him. we traveled somewhere else and at that point, the conversations were in a way more open in the sense that the small group of people obviously he gives you the answers he likes to give you but you can observe and see what's happening. now when they have the conference it is much more staged president putin said from the stage usually with other leaders but it's much more stage-managed, which is a shame that you still get the messages on the leadership they want you to hear and i think that is useful to see how they are communicating the message is. >> that in itself is valuable what they want you to hear as well as what's going on. >> you can never assume they are telling you what they want to
believe that they are telling you what you want to hear and that has value with a country where it is difficult to figure out what's going on in the inner circle. >> she is a very popular topic these days i was doing homework and i looked up to ten and scores of topics came up. your book has been praised by the rights of madeleine albright as well as william burns and it seems to me that it's a part psycho biography as well as the analysis of putin's russia in its relationship to other countries throughout the world. let's start with putin himself, if you don't mind. you talk about his early days and havinhell what kind of shaps outlook. will you take us through some of those experiences and to give an inside look at his personality?
>> guest: as we know in 2000 when he became president, he published a series of interviews and this comes from that and other things he says. of course it had a terrible siege for a million people have died or not these tragedies are come out and he and his family lived in a communal apartment. they had one room in an apartment. they were poor and he had two brothers that had died previously said his mother was quite old when she had him and been born to these parents happy to have him but he wasn't a very good student he said about himself. there were two things that helped him get out of that in terms of the student he found a teacher of german who believed in him and he started studying
german and did very well and of course later on he was an agent in east germany, the the other thing that helped him was martial arts and he started practicing a sort of mixture in some martial arts and he did very well. i have a picture in the book of him as a young man he was 24-years-old when he got the championship as it then was and i think the thing about this when he talks about it you can see them engaging and practici practicing. you can sends out their weakness and still prevail on someone who is stronger than you, and i think we have seen that playing out in the way they've dealt with world leaders in the united states and restoring russia on the world stage and that was
reinforced by his training so. >> host: strobe talbott from the institute says as a former alternative is jobless figure out spies wouldn't you agree with that? >> when he was in east germany he was training to recruit people but yes, i think his view of the world is informed by suspicion particularly of the west. people often asked if he really believed the united states is out to get him or overthrow him and he really has a profound
suspicion of the west and i think that is quite genuine. the phrase that impacted his reaction to an event. it's a great question i think that he wrote about them again in his biography as a mid-level agent i have to say in dresden which was a provincial city in east germany and then after november 9, 1989 when the berlin wall came down. this is the beginning of the end
of communism and so he was apparently inside the building with others putting things in the furnace burning all these documents but he says he really wanted some instruction what should he do but nobody told him were supported him. at the same thing is happening in east berlin where people came to the border and wanted the guards to open essentially hand they called moscow and nobody answered the phone. the idea that putin himself and people were abandoned by the people in moscow and i think that very much stuck with him and made him understand it's very important to have clear directions. and then i guess another way you could look at this, he went to st. petersburg and was known to
be a left-leaning person in charge of business arrangements with the outside world and then in 1996 there was an election if the mayor wasn't reelected and there were various tricks and that impressed upon him. >> there was a story in the atlantic and i will just paraphrasbible justparaphrase ao continue talking about and a little bit before we get to the rest of the book. is he a manipulative genius or a gambler who won big and that's coming from las vegas is he a brilliant strategist or just a talented tactician? >> guest: you've got the skills and everything and he senses opportunities.
he's a talented tactician and understands again this comes back to his training so you can see that in a number of instances where he has moved in and reasserted russian influence where the united states and its allies have been distracted. he did have a plan and it was to restore russia on the world stage and he's done that very well. he said the collapse of the soviet union was a great geopolitical catastrophe of the 1990s in russia was a disastrous decade since he was determined to restore it as a great power, which he is done. the fund that, i wouldn't say he's a genius but he's a very savvy person understanding where to move him.
it's a brief and partial reset under george herbert walker bush maybe you can walk us through and see if we are at a reset now. >> we in the united states thought this was a tremendous opportunity. the cold war was over and so the last year of george h. w. bush that have to do with working on the nuclear issues which are very important in helping the russians deal with a nuclear legacy of the soviet union, but the person who has better ideas with bill clinton when he came in with strobe talbott who was the chief advisor and if they thought this was the opportunity they didn't have much time but to embrace russia and persuade
that it should be integrated to the best. in the beginning everything looked pretty good. boris yeltsin was the president and developed close ties with president clinton that russia itself was in a chaotic shape and the people around yeltsin said to him the u.s. isn't really acting in russia's interest and so by the end of the presidency, i think everything ended in disappointment. the united states did and nato expanded to include poland and the czech republic in 1999 which they saw against their interest, but i think the thing that got them also was the bombing of serbia in 1999 with a war in kosovo. so by the end of this time period, the relationship has really deteriorated that it looked in the beginning for the first few years as if it was going well.
then when president george w. bush came in, that is of course when the first time he met president putin in slovenia in july in 2001 he said, he had a good meeting and he said he'd look into his eyes and got a sense of his soul. now later on president bush in his memoir i remembered at the time having a discussion with the national security adviser condoleezza rice. this wasn't a question they had prepared for, but putin very cleverly sensed an opportunity after 9/11 he had warned president bush about the dangers of terrorism resulting from the authentic fundamentalism and he felt the united states and listened thadlistened to that ae first foreign leader to call president bush after the 9/11 attacks and a knack for 2001, the u.s. russia relationship was much better, probably the best
it's been. he spoke at the russian embassy and visited the ranch in texas. and they did help us in the initial phase of the war in afghanistan. they hoped, and i say that in the book that by supporting the u.s. and russia they would have an equal partnership in other words we would treat them as equal and accept that they have of the spherthe sphere of influe post-soviet space. that's what happened was the iraq war and regime change and i think putin felt very much that this could have been one day directed against russia. then the chaos that unleashed in its implication that the cover to beat coke color revolutions in ukraine and so everything then led up to 2008 when they
went to war with each other, and that was the end of the reset. then of course when president obama came in, he and his team also had a conception for a reset switch was more limited. but they realized there were certain issues they had to deal with and one of them was arms control. one of them was afghanistan and access to and from. another was the iranian nuclear deal or issue at that point the nuclear program. so, the difference was when president obama was president in his first term the partner was dmitry medvedev because putin called up the move to switch jobs with him because he couldn't constitutionally have a third term. >> did they really believe he wasn't still in charge?
>> guest: people to some extent i think most he would develop enough of a base and authority to run the country that we now know another trust that he was running the country and made it to beat coke medvedev -- there was a moment at the beginning where in 2009 when hillary clinton secretary of state met with her counterpart soviet lover of pushed a button that sent reset but unfortunately our translators this translated the word so it said overload not reset so that was kind of symbolically an issue from the beginning. everything started to go downhill from there. in 2011 there have been a huge demonstration in moscow against putin.
hillary clinton had claimed putin and the kremlin for the response of the demonstrations and then blamed hillary clinton for paying money to the demonstrators, so the whole thing began to collapse and then of course the war exacerbated and by the time the administration was over you've already had russia interfering so none of those have worked and the simple reason is that our understanding of what a productive relationship with russia would look like is different from the russians understanding. >> now, look at the situation now seems to reset the president of trump, the russian interference in the u.s. election and the so-called collusion scandal, the summit, the inf treaty withdrawal. are we in for another reset and
he doesn't criticize president trump and he says the american people are not getting enough time and space to implement and improve the relationship with russia i very much doubt that we are in for a reset anytime soon for the rest of the administration, and i don't know if a democrat were to be president in 2021 there's so much baggage left over from what happened in 2016 so i think it would take a very long time. having said that, there are issues where we do need to work with the russians and one of them is arms control for the nuclear forces treaty i don't know what's going to happen to the new treaty with the strategic weapons that expires in 2021. if we don't have any arms control treaties we are in a much more dangerous space, so i
think that would necessitate some kind of a re- engagement. >> postcode about the economic sanctions into what role do they play? >> guest: they don't like the sanctions that were introduced after the annexation. it's growing at a slower pace and then they impose counter sanctions on the imports and that's stimulated the agricultural sector so they are producing more than they ever made before. the sanctions ha have an impact, but it's a mixed impact. i'm not sure how efficacious it is to introduce more sanctions. they haven't changed their policy in ukraine or stopped interfering or trying to interfere in the domestic systems and some of the
sanctions affect our own companies and allies. some of the things have to be fought through a little more carefully but then the question of course is if you don't impose more sanctions, what do you do? >> host: is it just kind of a war of attrition and then people get used to the fact that it's an occupied territory? >> guest: they are not making any moves to implement the agreement was signed germany, france by russians and ukrainians. they are saying they are going to wait until the elections are over. that's coming soon, but the fact is we see very little movement and people are still getting killed so i think you could see for a long time going forward a
so-called conflict even though it's not completely frozen away, you have casualties but people just get used to it. >> host: i was going to ask about the reset of a scholar no reset can be successful regardless of the personality driving it. the secretary of defense ash carter said something similar in the interest of opposition to and with the objective of the western policy, so it's very hard to build a bridge to that motivation. would you agree with that or are you a little more optimistic if we find common ground with the arms control that we can be a good partner? >> guest: right now the enemy in the united states has been an important part to the population.
vmx crania that began in southeastern ukraine appealed to the patriotism and he claimed the west. right now there is an enemy and on the other hand what is very interesting is the popularity has fallen by about 40 points since he was elected. they don't want stability, they want change and a better economic situation and many of those people understand having thithat understandhaving this vc relationship is not the way to go if they want greater economic growth. so, i wouldn't want to minimize that it is possible to deal with russia and engage them in a little more than we are now and not having to be illusions of of
what that is going to produce, but it's still very important to keep the engagement covering. >> on the dust jacket you say that russia is a challenge to the u.s. in every corner of the globe, so not just of the relationship in the two of us or the impact they are having universally. and i read and to go quietly into that night. so i could ask you remember when the now senator romney was ridiculed in a presidential debate about russia being our geopolitical challenge, but you address that were very? >> guest: there would be to geopolitical challenge is one of them is china and one is russia
just because it is a rising power which russia isn't, but i do think we made a mistake in assuming that they would accept the loss because, and i detailed that early on in the book russia's conception as a great power is an essential element of its identity and the themes dominated the country's next door to that, and that's why it again coming back to the collapse of the soviet union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe. so now what russia is doing is not only trying to have a influence in the post-soviet space but also while we were not really watching, extending its influence in corners of the globe for which it withdrew after the soviet collapse but now it's back there and i write about the relationship and the aspects of foreign policy.
it's what we see in the cyber era and the aspect to respond to that. >> let's talk about russia into some other parts of the world we focus on russia and the u.s. let's start with a vast mosaic of the members of the soviet union and how they tried to now re- exert influence in those former states. >> guest co. they've created the economic union which is armenia and a mixture of different post-soviet states they really wanted ukraine to belong to it,
but that was the tipping point in the revolutio evolution of un 2013 and 2014 because the ukrainian leader decided he wasn't going to join that economic union but wanted to stay out of it. so, the influence varies. in central asia is probably stronger than it was in other parts of the former soviet union. the relationship is still very close, and its relations with its other neighbors very. if you look at the domestic systems in most of the countries of the former soviet space. but the legacy of communism and even before that is quite strong so you have governments that are run by baseball group of people
whose families are involved and that's where the people who run the country's own most of the asset, the oligarchs. there are very few free and fair into georgia to some extent where you can't predict the outcome, there's a huge amount of corruption and that gives the russians leverage because it understands the way the leadership works and it's able to exploit it. >> host: we visited the countries to encourage the development of the democracy and institutions to support democracies primarily pro- women's refined an awful lot of turnover and corruption as you mentioned, and very little independence of the judiciary which you need to move this forward. what you very?
>> guest: the absence of the rule of law is true in every post-soviet country. in some countries they are trying to get more would outlaw that judges are not impartial in many of the cases if any of them were to develop the rule of law, that would be a very important building block in becoming a democracy. use your self-image and quite rightly these institutions. in a country like russia you don't have many institutions anymore. they exist on paper but it's personalized rule, and that is true in many other post-soviet countries again if we go to ukraine, it's a different affair but there is no food of all there's a lot of corruption but there is no pluralism. there are and the institutions of a functioning modern state,
and i don't know how long it's going to take for any of the countries to develop them, but it will be a long time. >> host: it's a little discouraging to find they are less interested in learning about how to promote democracy but more interested in investment capital. >> guest: they want money from the left and we sometimes confuse and pleaded not certainly in georgia countries would say nice things about the west and would like to join nato and democracy. a lot of the leaders now know how to talk to the western officials, bu doesn't necessariy mean they believe in the democracy that these investments are protected. right now we have imprisoned in russia one of the most enthusiastic american investors who's been there for a long time and who played by the rule playe game and is now stuck in jail
because of a dispute with shareholders from the bank. the united states, western investors have to have a guarantee that investments will be protected. >> host: go beyond the former soviet union to european summit relationships they've had between western and eastern europe into some of the countries that were part of that influence starting to move back. >> host: that is one of the surprising and disheartening things. a country like poland we were really enthusiastic about. this is a democracy they understand and we said the same thing about hungary. now what do you see today, countries even though they are in the european union in and nato, they are moving back towards a liberal democracy particularly hungary and is moving much closer to russia the
antagonism is still there. some of it is these countries just haven't felt with their past. they were all run by pretty authoritarian governments. then they add that amount these invade and occupy them and then they had the communists. they really don't have that much of the history of the institutions really and now it's like a backlash. i remember early on in poland they said if we join the european union are we going to lose our sovereignty in this idea but they've lost their sovereignty and now they want to feel they are a national southern state. it's surprising but it seems to be a trend that is increasing. now you have to be authoritarians in central europe and popular parties of western
europe in france, in germany, and great britain so that changes the landscape if you like. >> host: they say he understands him better than anyone else. >> guest: i agree. i've written two books on the relations and i've been very interested between. she grew up in east germany and won a prize for the best russian speakers in east germany, so she understands the system that produced vladimir putin and is quite weary of him and in the book i have two photos showing the way the relationship has changed and he read that she had been bitten by a dog as a child
and had a big black laboratory at that point we actually met at one of these meetings that you can look at the expression and then the smirk on his face and fast forward to last year and this is after president trump had been quite rude to her and other meetings and suddenly they meet again but she's not fooled by that. she understands him but also understands given the historical relationship with the soviet union and russia they are about to have a close relationship even if it is a difficult one and she has been the one that has led the european union in keeping on imposing the sanctions. we don't know what could happen when she's no longer chancellor.
>> guest: after ukraine became very wary of what could happen to them and then we have a debate when tha the estate joind nato in 2004 nobody was really thinking article five might one day have to be invoked if they were threatened by another country so now you've had debates about are they really defensible, and i think that is the ongoing debate. >> guest: exactly. they are trying to provide for their own defense more. you have the germans and the french and the british in for germany that was quite something to send troops to lithuania given the history of world war
ii, but they understand that they are conscious that they are vulnerable. they've had cyber attacks from russia so they have to be very vigilant. >> host: you mentioned one of the greatest successes is in the middle east. this would take another hour. i am rhein did a bit today to minister was in russia yet again and president putin was smiling saying he's going to visit israel. this comes back to taking advantage of opportunities. when it became clear when president obama said there was a red line after the government used chemical weapons on the population and then there wasn't a red wine so i think putin understood a that and september 2014 when it looked as though they might be losing the war.
russia has now established itself, and i quote a senior israeli diplomat to whom i taught saying the policy in the middle east is aggressive, flexible and cognizant of its limits. but they are now doing in which the soviets never did is they are not ideological about it. they will talk to all sides and conflicts and of course talk to iran and have a partnership in to talk to all of the major sunni states and israel. no other great power does that. until recently, they formed two partnerships with two countries with whom they had bad relations in the cold war and with each other and with saudi arabia and israel. it has been an agreement with opec and russia will keep the
production down so the prices don't go to. this iwith israel it has to do h the war in syria and the russians using their influence with the iranians to try to in proof the israeli security. but the interesting thing about both saudi arabia and israel is they think that they can both influence the iranians to step back and not have such online activities and i think they may be exaggerated. most countries in the middle east now see them as an honest broker that it's not taking sides in any conflict and of course all of the major countries have so it can't replace the united states. it doesn't have the military might but it has a presence that it's never had before.
>> they said russia had been invited so yes that plays right into his hands and he's very happy about that. >> host: you have to remember 15 years ago they were shooting over the border so we've come a long way since then. what happened is after ukraine and the sanctions on russia, russia has turned more and more to china in fact they are adhering to the sanctions but they've never criticized for its stunning ukraine and they've now signed an energy deal which they haven't wanted to say before they didn't have anywhere to turn, so now you have a situation where the president
calls in his best friend and i have a picture in the book of him and putin cooking poundcake together and they were at the same time they were about to embark on there first joint military to the military maneuver they both share a present and in the united states for creating a world order where they don't have enough influence and power so they talk about the polar world and neither of them criticize each other for what they do domestically. in other words, they back each other up and however much they promote the dissidents and things like that. the rest is definitely the junior partner. china is a rising partner, but it's a very pragmatic and useful partnership with both of them. >> guest:
>> host: russia is there politically and china economically and they are everywhere. even china is building a new port. certainly china is there as well. you don't hear much about russia in the past in latin america but certainly they are there now and this could be the neck but i guess. >> guest: russia has developed a partnership when he was alive and ruling venezuela and now with maduro a lot of that is based on the legal and energy and i think it clearly trained security forces. the man who is a point person on venezuela and the biggest oil company says is a partnership and a certificate or ships or, and they are very much backing maduro now that he is the leader
of the on the widely recognizedd said of course he would deal with russia if he becomes the leader so we have to realize if there's a transition to a democratic government i think they are not going to be venezuela. >> host: usually we think about cuba. what is the situation now? >> guest: it is good. i mean, again they were very upset by the collapse they've never left cuba so they are certainly their economically and with their security ties and some of the left-leaning governments in latin america they are certainly present. >> host: apparently they are in every corner of the globe. i asked about the future also the next term, i guess his last term under the current constitution is up in 2024. he's going to be 71-years-old, and we know he is in good shape because he's always taking his picture without a shirt on. [laughter]
but truly his time is probably running out and we can change the constitution and serve again or pick another person that he is training as his successor. but to be worried about the fact that it's looking more and more like a man without an exit strategy. what do you think is going to happen and will this be the beginning of a possible reset? >> guest: it isn't very predictable and we know what happened in 99 bigoted publicist emily weathersby in these issues. his family was able to live happily without any indictments. then we know that they switch over so one of the options and 2024 comments could say i've had four terms in office now and
this is great and now it is time for me to retire and do something else and then she could pick a successor. but the issue there is he's surrounded by other groups and people who owe their positions and theipossessionsand their poo putin so they would want to be protected. so he sets aside and someone else takes over there would have to be a deal for these people that saddam had no would get to keep what they have. >> host: is there anybody really in-line? >> guest: occasionally they will say it's the governor of this province but don't know whether that is real or just the kind of reverse they like to get. you could have a medvedev opti option. another option is the formerly of th a union state and signed s agreement in 1996.
it doesn't mean very much but there are a lot of rumors that they will indeed find other agreements and putin could then become the leader of the superstate said you couldn't someone who is the president of russia and then a president of the superstate. i don't think that is likely, he produced something like a state council where he could be the head of that and people talk about what happened in china but he still had this other position. it's possible to do. but there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this and i think from his point of view it was into the very good to be a lame duck. we will have to sit down and deal with it, and there could be the chance of a reset depending
who the next leader is presumably it would eat someone that has to keep system as it is for the time being, but that could change. >> host: do you think that foreign policy which usually doesn't play a very big role in the campaigns will be more important because of so much happening? >> guest: because of what happened in 2016 and whatever happens when the report is released into the consequences so of course domestic issues will be important, but we also have a presidency now unlike any we've ever have said it is quite possible the next campaign will be fought out on different issues.
>> host: the president is meeting in north korea. how is russia viewing all of this? >> guest: they had never been a major player in north korea. russia and north korea have a close economic relations and some of it is violating the sanctions. what did the russians want to? they would like the united states to leave the korean peninsula. they do not want a nuclear armed north korea because they realize that could lead to south korea and japan rethinking their attitude is why think they would be quite happy if there is an agreement between the united states and north korea and it essentially that leads to the withdrawal from the peninsula, but we are not there yet. we are in a stage now where the state department has kind of
been demoralized. we have many ambassadorships that haven't been filled and there isn't it with respect. to diplomacy it's more of a mono and mono. what advice would you give to your students that want to go into the field of diplomacy? >> guest: i say to them still go in. the situation we are a in a stae department isn't very good as you say there are many that we don't have ambassador positions in the state department are not filled, but there is a future there and i think we probably will go back to a situation in the state department that resembles more of what he had wd before, so i'd definitely advise them to do that. we have a lot of smart young people who want to go to the government and the state power and they should definitely do that. >> host: i that you've come to
address these issues would be wonderful to have you. or to share some of this with us. if we have missed anything you want to mention in the book plaques >> guest: you've covered a lot of things in your questions have been interesting. >> host: it's been a pleasure to talk with you and i hope that we will get to do this again sometime. ..