tv [untitled] June 29, 2012 9:00am-9:30am EDT
captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2008 we continue to have some hopes that iran will be cooperative, and clearly it is the opposite. and from the iranian viewpoint maybe that's understandable. because the head of our central command testified that if syria falls it's the greatest blow to iran in 25 years. they lose their connection with
hezbollah, lebanon has a chance to be free of their influence, their last state in the arab world goes against them, i can certainly understand why the iranian view is that they want to keep bashar in power. the second question was -- the problem is that there's been a real change in nato over the years, and it's unfortunate. the secretary-general of nato, mr. rasmussen, seems to feel it's his cut duty to assure everybody that there's no possibility that nato will be involved. my friends, that's a car cry from the 1990s when we went to bosnia on behalf of muslims who were being ethnically cleansed. it's a far cry from kosovo when without u.n. security council approval we went to help muslims
who were being slaughtered by i milisovic, so mr. rasmussen in particular but our nato allies have been a great disappointment to me. i'm sure that they are absorbed with their economic crises that they lurch from one day to the next, but i have very little optimism about nato. but all of these things could change to some degree if the united states would lead. it used to be the united states leads from behind. now, the united states does not lead at all. >> michael gunter, tennessee tech university, cookeville, tennessee. >> i know the city. my in-laws live there. >> i know that.
senator, you mentioned -- >> my son's wife's parents, i'm sorry, i didn't -- >> you mentioned briefly the kurdish situation in turkey which has been going on in its current form for over 30 years. could you go into a little further detail about what you think turkey should do to further a solution to the kurdish problem? >> the first thing that's happened, and i think it's worthwhile mentioning, if you go to urbile, you will see a modern, thriving, dynamic economy. you will see shopping centers, multiplexes. it's incredible what has happened to the kurdish economy over the last 25 years since they were once living in the mountains. it's been incredible. and it has been the turkish influence economically that has been the driver.
all of these places that i'm talking about are turkish investment and partnership with the kurds. so, with that economic success, it has dramatically reduced the influence of the pkk in kurdistan. so, they have become more and more isolated, and that's why i think to some degree that the kurds have not objected when there have been air strikes within kurdistan against the pkk. i don't think there's any doubt that the pkk is a terrorist organization. i do believe that they're a legitimate grievances that kurdish people have in turkey. but more and more, pkk is being isolated as the turkish government reaches out more and more to them and acts more and
more vigorously militarily. which brings me to syria. as you know in syria there's a very large kurdish population, and they have been pretty much on the sidelines in this conflict that's going on. but more and more we are seeing a more tendency of the kurds to be -- side with the resistance. and the latest leader of the turkish national -- excuse me, syrian national council, is of kurdish ethnicity. so, it will be interesting to see how the kurds behave in the weeks ahead in this whole civil conflict in syria. but as joe lieberman and i in our resolution stated, it's clear that the pkk is a terrorist organization. and the united states of america
should do what we can to assist in stopping the acts of terrorism that they commit. thank you. >> senator, i have a question for you. suppose that the resistance is broke by syria. they would think the american interests would be protected by muslim brotherhood, turkey or some other authority? thank you. do you know that the opposition forces in syria is muslim brotherhood and they have very good relation with the turkish or the saudi in syria, where is american interest? thank you. >> if i understand the question
correctly, i think it's the saudis are very concerned about events in syria obviously as a qatar, as is uae as is libya about the events and the unfairness of the conflict. and the longer this drags out obviously the more likely or possibility that it could become a proxy war between iran and saudi arabia. and not to mention the longer it drags out, the more likely foreign fighters come in and there's a greater influence of al qaeda and other extremist organizations. all i can say is that the syrian resistance needs help. they need weapons. they need to be able to organize. they need to be able to
effectively resist what is a russian-supplied, iranian-supported effort to clamp down and repress the people of syria. the longer it goes on, the worse it gets. and i believe that this statement that bashar assad inevitably will go which we've been saying now, the administration has been saying now for months and months and months, he may eventually go. but how long will it take. and as i asked our secretary of defense the other day after he said, well, it's inevitable that he goes, i asked him how many more people have to die. at that time the estimate was about 9,000 people have been massacred. now it's up to 12,000 people. how many thousands have to die. i think that's a legitimate question before the united states of america relies on the inevitability of bashar assad
leaving power. >> senator, you've been -- >> can i take one more? or two more. >> sorry, wait a minute, two more questions and i do apologize to the many hands that want to ask a question. the lady in blue, and then i get the last one. >> all right. >> you worked with my father-in-law when things were friendly. >> yes, indeed. a great man, yes. >> a man asked a question that was similar to what i was interested in or wanted to ask. how can the americans, you want us to, you know, help syria. we're in afghanistan. we're in iraq. how can we be assured that we're not going to send troops eventually? and this concerns me. and secondly, anything
diplomatic out of the question? with, you know, these countries, with syria. is that completely out? and then i have another. you mentioned that obama, you know, didn't say anything. he did back getting rid of mubarak. he's being criticized for that, too, so i don't know, you know. >> okay. thank you. >> first of all, as far as mubarak is concerned, if you talk to our egyptian friends, they will tell you that he was very late in supporting the ouster of mubarak. look, i appreciate mubarak, i appreciate the long relationship we had with egypt, the camp david peace accords which were vital, all those things were important, but mubarak was going to go, my friends, he was going to go because the egyptian
people would no longer tolerate that government. and we should have recognized that early on. as far as the difference is concerned, i understand that americans are war weary. i understand that there's a rising isolationism in this country. in fact, the house of representatives dominated by republicans passed a resolution before we got engaged in libya that we shouldn't have anything to do with libya, that the united states should stay completely out, much to the everlasting shame in my view of the republican party. but -- so i understand american war weariness. but i also understand the historic role that we play in the world, and that is that we help people who need our help, and that does not mean american boots on the ground everywhere, it doesn't mean we engage in every fight, but it does mean that we provide moral and where we can physical assistance to those people who are struggling for freedom.
so, i do not envision any scenario where the american people would support a military american boots on the ground in syria. but i do envision a situation where we could provide, along with our allies, air support for the preservation of a safe zone where the syrians could organize, could have line of communication, command and control, and all the things that are necessary to achieve a military victory on the ground. >> sorry, one last question, and if you would apologize to those in the audience, i'm going to ask it. i want to dig a little bit deeper into your very good answers about what we should do in syria to the day after, the day after military intervention,
albeit not just the united states but a coalition, assad has left. you may face a syria where our word revenge is stronger than the "r" word reconciliation. and many people don't believe that the united states has a very good record on nation building on the day after. how do you see that scenario play out? >> i think it's going to be very dicey. i think it's going to be very difficult. i think the longer this conflict goes on, the longer the reconciliation process will take place. but, again, in a way i look to libya. libya we still have these various militias running around. we have the misrata brigades and all the different groups of people and there's still checkpoints as you drive through
tripoli, and there's a long, long way to go in the process of reconciliation. at the same time as i mentioned earlier on, on july 7th, they will have a free and fair election. they have international observers there. i will be there with our outstanding ambassador chris stevens. and so -- and then i'm sure you're going to read reports of them, militia taking over the airport for 24 hours or a firefight down in the southern part of the country, the problem of arms flows that were in gadhafi's inventories flowing throughout africa is a big problem, too, and there will be enormous problems. but one of the things we should demand of the syrian resistance group and we've talked to them heavily about it is that part of their platform, part of their commitment to the people of syria is reconciliation, reconciliation. that doesn't mean there aren't going to be scores settled, and they will have their ups and
downs and two steps forward and one step back. but the status quo is not acceptable. the status quo of bashar assad continuing to massacre his citizens, who if one lesson i think we've learned, they're not going to give up. they're not going to stop. is an unacceptable situation. so, as we look at all of the problems and difficulties and challenges with the fall of bashar assad, you have to always come back full circle to the point that the present situation is not acceptable. and that's the worst of all scenarios. look, i worry about radical islamic fundamentalism and i think all of us do. that's another reason why i place such great faith in our turkish friends who have shown you can have that -- achieve that balance to a significant degree. but i also believe that our
fundamental beliefs and our fundamental role in the world is to help people who are seeking what we hold most dear, and we have made mistakes, and sometimes we've gotten into things we shouldn't have, and i can give you a long lecture some day about the mistakes we made in iraq and why we neglected afghanistan for long and got diverted to iraq and all that. but the cause was just. it was the way it was carried out that was the serious mistakes were made. i hope we have learned those lessons. and no one that i know that's rational believes that american boots should be on the ground. but what we do believe this is a coalition of countries that will help achieve an end result to this terrible situation that's going on in syria today. and i want to finally end up by saying as i began, we are in a period of enormous change in the world.
no country in the world is immune from this incredible -- it's not a disease. it's a movement. it knows no boundaries, that is triggered by devices such as this. i remember being with a group of young people in tunisia, young woman said, senator mccain, it's not the first election we worry about, it's the second one. that's right. i was in egypt. met with a young man, showed me his blackberry and said i can get 300,000 people in the square in three hours. the world has changed. and this has facilitated that change. no longer can you impose total censorship no matter how hard you try. and so it seems to me that the united states of america should play and can play a role. not by intervening militarily but by inspiring these people, the way our beloved ronald
reagan did in the cold war, the way harry truman stood up when the american people were war weary, the way that leaders throughout our history has. that's the heritage and greatness of america that i think calls for american exceptionalism. everybody has called the 20th century the american century. i believe it's still possible for the 21st century to be called with a new relationship the nations throughout the world, a partnership, that the 21st century could also be called the american and friends century. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> next, we are very honored to be able to welcome another insightful and important voice on turkey, turkish ambassador
namik tan. he's a friend of the middle east institute and of the united states. he has been turkey's envoy in the united states since 2010 but he's no stranger to the u.s. this is actually his third diplomatic assignment here. he has risen quickly in the turkish foreign ministry since his first stint in washington and that is a reflection of his outstanding diplomatic talent and intellect. when he left washington last time in 2001, he served as head of the department of the americas. he was subsequently named head of the information department. and then he went on to serve as the spokesman for the ministry of foreign affairs. he served as ambassador to israel. and before coming back here as ambassador to the united states, he was deputy undersecretary for political affairs and public
diplomacy at the turkish ministry of foreign affairs. perhaps one factor that has contributed to ambassador tan's effectiveness is his own personal multicultural background. his ancestors are from turkey, greece, bulgaria, syria, ossetia, and in that sense he shares many of the qualities of americans, multicultural and a fierce belief in entrepreneurship. so, i would like to give a warm welcome to ambassador tan and respect to his team at the embassy and welcome him to the podium. thank you. >> thank you, wendy. you read a long resume because i
believe everybody looks at the progr program, doesn't seem to get my name there. so, ladies and gentlemen, dear guests, it is a distinct pleasure for me to address this gathering on the occasion of the middle east institute's third annual conference on turkey. i would also like to acknowledge the contributions of the institute of turkish studies for the organization of this conference. ladies and gentlemen, it has become a cliche to say this, but never at least in my lifetime has it been truer. we are witnessing a time of great global change.
the speed at which events are unfolding is dizzying. there are so many moving parts to this puzzle, so many unknowns in the equation that meteorologists now have an easier time being right than diplomats or foreign policy analysts. the only accurate forecast we can make like weathermen who want to be on the safe side is that we are in for nasty water. this trend is unsettling in many ways. we who as practitioners of foreign policy are generally good at working with static structures. and we must know now unlearn all the memorized truths of
yesteryears and go with the flow. when all is in flux, better not to resist the prevailing currents. but as one saying goes, let us now not throw the baby out with the bathwater. because as another old saying goes, the more things change, the more they stay the same. the fact is today while the international order as you know it is shaken, whether economically, politically, or socially, at its very foundations, there is one constant that i for one am proud to say remains unchanged, that is the ever-increasing breadth and strength of u.s.-turkish
relationship. dear friends, the relationship based on alliance, partnership and friendship between turkey and the u.s. is not new. this year we are celebrating the 16th anniversary of turkey's nato membership. what is new is just how vital this relationship has become. for both turkey and the u.s. indeed, i can easily say that while the skeptics still argued a knau ad nauseam about u.s.-turkey relations, the u.s. press seems to have gotten a drift. hardly a day goes by without an item relating to turkey appearing on the front pages of american newspapers.
the truth is that we are caught right at the middle of all of the major upheavals that are occupying the international agenda at the moment. as any student of history will attest, geography is destiny. and turkey has been blessed with a very volatile one. future historians will pass judgment on whether this is ultimately a good thing or not. but we in turkey for one know the truism that lies in the saying, if it does not kill you, it makes you stronger. indeed, the state of our economy and our emerging international political standing are a testament to the fact that despite all these crises, we are not doing badly at all.
but i will not digress into boasting about turkey. i'll let others do that. my job is to focus on turkey-u.s. relations and the most crucial issues on our common agenda. obviously the u.s. invested in all of these major upheavals that i am talking about, whether it is the economic crisis in europe and its ramifications for all of us, the balkans and beyond, or whether it is our transition that's unfolding before our eyes in the middle east and north africa. today based on common universal values of democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law, and free market economy, our two great nations are working on a daily, almost hourly basis, to strive vigorously to further our
shared interests and achieve our common objectives. in that regard, and as i like to repeat, turkey/u.s. relations continue to be robust, valuable, and resiresillient. we are using our cometipetitive values to work on the widest spectrum. we've overcome the strict military model of our relationship and made it into something bigger and serves our mutual interests today. and resilient because while we had our serious ups and downs over the past, we have time and again transcended our differences as important as they were to keep the bigger picture
in focus and work to solve the many challenges we are up against. all in all, turkish and u.s. cooperation and partnership has become a vehicle for meaningful change in various domains, and i assure you that both my embassy and our american colleagues work 24 hours, 7 days a week online and in real time to further and enhance turkish/american partnerships and to effect positive change. the truth is that the only way is up and that is where we intend to take this vital relationship. ladies and gentlemen, the historic transformation and restoration that's painfully unfolding day by day in the middle east and north africa and the ongoing involvement of turkey and the united states.
today, the language of democracy is becoming more and more dominant discourse in global affairs. a state cannot be credible or legitimate partner in international arena unless it provides its citizens with a sound level of liberty, pluralism, equality and dignity. for many years people tried to understand why there is no democracy in the arab world. some people blame islam as a religion and a civilization. others negated this by showing the example of turkey. some blame colonism, the cold war for supporting the oppressive government, lack of middle-class, leadership, missing institutions and the israeli conflict were also krip cited. some of these