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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  September 21, 2015 9:00pm-11:01pm EDT

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fundamentally china's leaders and the ccp worry in a system like this, a relatively new democracy, it is very easy for demogogic politicians cannot reflect the will of the people or what they think it will be and makes it unpredictable and difficult to manage. next question? yes, right there. yes? >> i started to -- expected outcome is recuring within the structure, affecting the international relations or it is more characterized as -- with
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political type revolution, someone pointed out already that we have new generation of -- or maybe geographical changes. do you characterize this coming election outcome, characterize it more by recuring political outcome or having -- coming together? >> do you want to take that? >> yeah. i think i already mentioned in my remark there that this election will obviously trigger a generational shift. that will clearly be the case with dpp or for the green camp as a whole. and also, a lot of people in their 30s or even late 20s, they have been very active in social
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movement and also grassroots organization. they will steadily climb up the ladder and become an important forces in shaping the electoral politics. it depends on how his party and his own turn out. ing? he might be around for quite a while, if his party turns out to be a critical voting bloc, then you know. on the other hand, if in the end, a lot of the voters abandoned him in the very end and his party actually couldn't really play a very significant role in any case, then it is questionable whether the pfp will survive. you know?
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without him. kmt is more, you know, obviously, less predictable a track. and it will have to lick its wound, you know, to go through a lot of soul searching. and one of the, you know, so-called established leader might have to come out to put the pieces back as one, again. then they will have to elect a new chairman as he is not going to serve again or take responsibility for the defeat. this guy could be jason, but if
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hong did in the end impressively in terms of approval rate, support, electoral support, then she also may be a contender in the next leadership. but i would also pay more attention to people, like the son of jiang jiang. you know? that the kmt obviously right now they don't have many, many ri rising star at the age of 40 or 30. you know? so they will have a difficult task how to rejuvenate the party leadership, and also, mobilize enough young bloc to sustain the vitality. but that's something we won't know until the aftermath of the election. yeah. >> any supplements or different views? >> can i get back to you on that?
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i would say that if the pfp doesn't win three or four seats, that's probably the end in terms of the pfp. i think three or four is sort of the threshold. and hothe pfp does in the legislative end to a certain extent determines how much soul searching they need to do, like how much have they lost? how many have defected. if it's minor defections then you can tell yourselves that we'll do better next time. if it is major defection, you have to start thinking about rebuilding. in a very different way. i think other smaller parties that this is going to be a challenge, as well. the tsu was surprised that they -- how well they did in 2012 in terms of pr seats. i'm not sure especially with recent trends, whether or not they can expect that again.
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so this may be a challenge for the tsu to survive, as well. >> dave? >> on that latter point, it is expected that the tsu with thai, at least in terms of her policy and not status quo and not talking about moving in the direction of a new nation, constitutional reform and so forth, i have a strong sense that there is a part of the green base that wants a more assertive policy. than she's articulating now. down in the south you have a taiwan dependence party and you have a sort of coalition of people associated with one country on each side alliance. this tells me that there is a segment of the taiwan electorate that wants a more assertive policy towards an independent status for taiwan.
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than thai is articulating. and i will be interested to see if the tsu can plug into that like they seem to do in the last election when she wasn't emphasizing ethnic issues and taiwan identity the way dpp did before. and i respect her for not emphasizing on those, but it moves -- cleared up a little space, it moves a little space for the deep green party and maybe they will feel that. >> i think we'll see split ticket voting. you go for the district but your heart is still with the dpp on that party list. it's a matter of how many split like that. >> dave, i would hypothesize this deep green effect would be more likely if the mainland took the kinds of steps it was saying in talking about before that create a sort of downward spiral in cross-trade relations. >> that probably won't happen. >> allen romberg has been waiting patiently.
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>> thank you. one question that the other microphone be looked at to see if it will look. >> i'm sorry? >> the other microphone didn't work very well the last time so request you look at it. i have one very small factual question and then a larger one. the small factual is there was an issue about whether the university exams would conflict with the january 16 election and i don't know how that's turned out. so just somebody have an answer? the larger question is that there's a lot of discussion that the day of blue versus green is over. and you've talked about this a little bit. but i wonder if you could talk more directly about that. it seems to me if the issue is cross straight that even if you don't -- if taiwan's not going to push for independence, that issue doesn't necessarily go
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away. so i would appreciate some thoughts on the future of blue/green versus some other division. >> so who wants to do the university exam question? the university professor? >> yes. july -- january 16, okay, is, you know, exam week, you know, for a lot of those in college and there might be some, unl, call, you know, among the college student who are anxious to go back home to negotiate with the school or the teacher, whether they can move up. okay in the exam, you know, one week. but i don't think that will affect much. you know? in the end. you know? either turnout. maybe a little bit. maybe just a little bit. you know?
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and so it -- it's not trivial issue but on the other hand not, you know, that important either. so regarding whether we're going to see the end of the blue and green divide, probably not. under two assumptions, okay? number one there's the issue entangled with the issue of dominant. okay? that's okay. secondly, that she and her party will never come to agreement. you know? on the one china principle. okay? okay? if that remains the case then i think there will be continue to have this green and blue competition. >> okay. anybody else on the blue/green?
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>> go ahead. >> you're a political scientist more than i am. >> i would generally concur with the continuation of the blue, sort of the blue/green divide. maybe, maybe under a couple situations sort of lower level elections means less over time where cross-elections aren't as -- at the forefront. but i don't see it dissipating by much. >> harry harding. >> thanks very much. i am harry harding. of the university of virginia and hong kong university of science and technology. i want to ask about something that has not yet been raised and to see whether perhaps it's not as important. when he was first nominated, one of my most pro-kmt friends on taiwan said she not only has a great personality and unusual background, but she's a woman. and what she's going to do to put it away is to nominate a
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taiwanese man as her running mate to put it away from her. but that obviously hasn't happened. to the best of my knowledge in neither candidate has chosen a running mate. in many systems, including our own, where presidents and vice presidents are directly elected, that is seen as an important choice, both for indicating the judgment of the presidential nominee and to build a broader base of support. what is going on here? >> anyone? do you want to -- >> i don't have a good answer for that. i really don't. i mean, part of it i guess is trying to see where you're going to need support geographically a little bit. like this area, maybe if we put someone on the ticket that will bump up the vote a little bit. i really don't have an answer.
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>> i will pass. >> it's remarkable that nothing has been done by the candidates. >> if i understand correctly, independent candidates have to announce their vp candidate, like now, when they register. whereas the registered parties don't have to. >> when they collect the signatures. but no. if -- this race remain a three-way race, and jimsom and they are still running neck and neck in terms of parkwotential support, then the choice of vp wouldn't affect too much as far as the dynamic as far as how they are concerned.
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but it could add something. her dream running mate is eric hu. although, you know, i will also say it's low probability event but it has been seriously discussed. you know? this is the only way that they can make up for the party after refusing to run, you know, himself. and under that scenario, she might really help boost, you know, him to a substantial degree and that may salvage his own party. from the debacle which is also very important for the party to remain a formidable political force. however, whether that's going to happen, i don't know.
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>> harry, one aspect of this is an at least an american presidential campaigns, presidential candidates are focusing not just on how your vice presidential candidate can help you gresk cli and politically, but also, whether he or she can help you govern and you see joe biden and george herbert walker bush and al gore, they all played a role in governance and arguably added to the capacities of their administrations. okay. >> thank you very much. i am with the agency from hong kong. my question is for the professor. you mentioned that dpp is doing well in the collection. but as an american expert, what
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are the reasons behind the facts that kmp is doing poor? and if kmp fails this time, do you still believe there's still opportunity for kmp to come back as china kmp? considering the identity and political momentum changing in taiwan. and the second question is also for professor chu. thank you. >> well, when things go well, many people claim responsibility. when things go poorly, this morning it was said that they bear a certain amount of responsibility for the poor state of the kmt campaign. i would argue that eric shu does share a good portion of that
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because of his decision not to run and seemingly not willing to try and adjust strategy partway through the campaign when it's quite clear it's not going well. as party leader, he is ultimately responsible for the way the campaign goes for the presidency and legislature. take place. this's the role of political parties to win elections. he's the head of the party and he has to bear a certain responsibility for that. that's in terms of personalities. i think. the mao fk or tactor reflects everything from his polling on people's attitudes, they are fighting an uphill battle at a time when opinion has shifted quite dramatically within the society i think. will the kmt come back? yes. it's well established party.
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in 2000, his death was predicted and it was recovered and i'm quite so it will do so again. >> you want to speak to the nature of -- chinese or taiwan. >> well -- >> no. yun-han wants to. >> no. that's the party name. >> obviously, this warrants the one possibility that speaker wong will enter race, you know, for the party chairmanship. the possibility should not be ruled out. okay? but he will not go uncontested, you know, and might not easily, you know, win the race. but if he win the chairman of
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the kmt then, yes, the nature and orientation of the kmt will change significantly. and also, might trigger a split, you know, in the kmt. so -- but i would also take that a low possibility to narrow. but i just want to -- yeah. >> david keegan? >> dave keegan, bart institute. this is a question for anyone who wants to answer it. in some past presidential elections, the business community on the mainland has been an issue both as a voting bloc and in terms of their concerns about how the election would affect them. and i wonder if we know anything about how the taiwan business community on the mainland sees the upcoming election and its consequences. thank you. >> thanks, good question. views?
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>> i haven't seen anything, in particular, that sort of gave any new insight. and i think if this were a closer presidential election, then it would matter. >> in the previous election, a large number of taiwanese and business men and their independents, they did manage to come back to vote. you know? in spite of the very substantial cost in terms of money and travel time. but this time i think they will be just as confused as other voters. they might not bother coming back. but, obviously, i would say to know that they are not necessarily a unisonic group. they will support the green in
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the community. but i would say the majority will feel quite nervous and anxious about what happened in the aftermath. obviously, if xi jinping raises the bar too high for taiwan to overcome, then obviously, this group, taiwanese business men, will have to bear the burden of burden in cross relations, yeah. >> dave? >> in the last campaign, several prominent taiwan businessmen with interests chimed in at the last moment to endorse the importance of the '92 consensus. i doubt that that will happen this time in part because it's not a close race. >> tom has been waiting patiently and that's probably
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the last question. >> thank you. i am with the foreign policy discussion group. to what extent have the prolonged political demonstration this is hong kong had an influence on the electorate in taiwan? >> i will answer that because this is a topic i've been working on, in part. the answer is very little. if you're talking about the public as a whole. the attitude seems to be, taiwan is taiwan. hong kong is hong kong. and so, what happens there doesn't affect us. where it's had a lot more impact is in, let's call it the political class. and among politicians, among the media that is -- that has a role-playing on political issues, so during the protests
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last fall, the green media sort of hammered away on hong kong. i suspect because it was a useful cudgal in sort of beating up myngul. okay. we have a question in the back. >> i am from the institute of taiwan and american study. my question is xi jinping going to be in d.c. this month and the speculation is when he come to the white house he might raise the issue about a taiwan and speculation about him talking about another communicate regard taiwan so i like to have a comment about that.
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how's the possibility about that one. okay? thank you. >> zero? no. i really think that the state of u.s./china relations do not argue or create a good foundation. for a fourth communique. i think taiwan will be raised because chi naez leaders always raise it but i just think this is not in the cards. thank you very much for your great questions. and please join me in thanking our panelists. [ applause ] the center for strategic and international studies also heard from shelley rigger an ease asian politics professor. she spoke about taiwan's relationship with taiwan and efforts to remain independent. this is 35 minutes.
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>> thank you so much, rich ar. obviously there's nothing like a book plug like that to make your day. it's real pleasure to be here and to listen to this absolutely fantasticup of speakers already in the morning and really looking forward to the afternoon. i have taken already 11 pages of notes. so that's pretty good. earlier today my brother-in-law said to me, you know, i'm not really much of a glass half full kind of guy. in fact, i'm usually pretty suspicious about what's in the glass. but those are of you who know me i'm glass half full kind of person. i generally have an out mystic -- if there's a way to take an optimistic view, i find it.
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this is kind of a half empty kind of a talk today and i don't really mean it -- i guess i no ed to start by saying i'm not sure i really mean what i'm going to say but i want to ask the question especially to this room full of people with great expertise in taiwan politics, u.s.-taiwan relation, u.s.-taiwan prc relations. for a long time, the mainstream analysis of cross straight relations has been that the status quo is pretty stable. it can be sustained for a long time. but there's no immediate reason for anybody to be panicking. but that there are circumstances under which this equilibrium could be disrupted and i guess the question i want to ask today is am i crazy or do we see those circumstances beginning to come together now in a way that we
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may actually have to start thinking about the possibility of a disruption of this stable equilibrium in the taiwan strait. i have three things i want to do very quickly today. one is to spell out those circumstances under which the status quo could be threatened. the second is to point out some evidence that those circumstances may be beginning to manifest themselves. and then third, to mention, of course this is where i refill the glass, at least halfway up, so that i can still be my optimistic self, i want to talk about some of the forces and factors that mitigate against a crisis even in the face of some forces and factors that maybe moving us in that direction. so most observers over the past few years have agreed that there's no immediate threat to the status quo and what i mean by the status quo is taiwan's de facto independence.
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there's little urgency for dujuri independence in taiwan and there's little urgency in the prc so we take from that the idea to keep on kicking the can a while longer. why is there so little urgency for change on either side? well, taiwan has kept in check by an awareness of the dangers of defining or challenging the prc, as well as by the economic value, the economic necessity of peaceful and cooperative cross strait relations. most taiwanese people see little practical value in changing the status quo toward legal independence. so, taiwan's policy has been to cut rate is good relations with the prc, but avoid being drawn
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into political talks that could erode the island's freedom of action. that's what's keeping taiwan in check. what is keeping the prc in check are at least three things, i'm sure many of you could think of many more. first, the prc recognizes that acting to change the status quo, even in a non-coercive way, would definitely be difficult, definitely be costly and definitely be risky. so it's safer and easier to kick the can. second, beijing believes that time is on its side. its relative power is growing, as is taiwan's economic dependence on the prc. and then third, china's internal challenges are very significant
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and we have heard a little bit about that already today, but they're manageable as long as the leadership keeps giving them sufficient attention. so having serious but manageable internal problems keeps beijing preoccupied and risk averse. so the prc's policy is to insist very strongly that taiwan make no moves toward legal independence but to remain pretty tolerant in practice of the status quo as long as taiwan is not lunging toward a change in the status quo. at the same time the prc is working to promote the entanglement of the two sides and occasionally to leverage that for political gain. so, in short, both sides are good reasons not to push too hard for a change to the status quo so the situation is stable. but there are at least two
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developments that we routinely mention in conversations about what could upset this equilibrium, what could change this well-established pattern that supports the warm peace or the lukewarm peace, at worst? and one is that the prc's calculus could change so that it begins to believe time is not on its side, that if the prc really begins to sense that waiting puts it in a weaker position than not waiting, than acting more quickly, then a change in strategy could result. and then the second thing we often talk about as a possible precipitator of a pronounced change in prc policy is that the prc could develop internal or
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external problems so severe that the leadership sees the need for some kind of diversion or demonstration of its nationalist commitments to distract the prc public and refocus chinese people's attention on the ccp as the defender of chinese nationalism. and the question that i have for you is, are we seeing these developments today? is there evidence that time is no longer on beijing's side and that the constellation of problems troubling the prc is ripening toward a place where beijing may see the need for some kind of change in its taiwan policy? mostly i want to talk about the evidence that time is not on or may not any longer be on
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beijing's side but i will say a little bit about the prc even though i don't actually have those qualifications. so -- but the evidence that time is not on beijing's side is a taiwan story so i do have those qualifications or anyway richard believes i do. so when's the evidence that time may not be on beijing's side or that beijing may begin to perceive that to be the case? you know, the argument for the prc to remain patient is that the mainland is becoming increasingly powerful economically, politically and militarily, especially relative to taiwan. so if present trends continue, it becomes increasingly not decreasingly difficult to imagine how taiwan could resist in the long term the prc's determination to achieve some kind of outcome favorable to its preferences, which is like a
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really longwinded way of saying something like unification. and i -- i'm going to skip over a description of those favorable trends but just to say that while the prc's political, economic and military might all are increasing, they are increasing at different speeds and it's not really clear how we would know when the mainland's power had reached the point where the tide had decisively turned in its favor so that for the chinese leadership, trying to know when to change policy toward taiwan is more art than science. so the biggest problem that they face in trying to understand when the trends -- whether the trends are favorable or unfavorable and whether it's safe to continue waiting for these military, economic and
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political forces to ripen up into a moment where the prc can act on its preferences, the biggest challenge to making that call is taiwanese public opinion because if what you're trying to do is engineer peaceful unification and i think that is ultimately in the long run what the prc would like to do, engineer peaceful unification, you have to be able to sell peaceful unification. you have to sell unification in taiwan. if it's going to be peaceful, you have to be able to make the case for it in taiwan. and i think it just looks like that is getting harder and harder and harder, not easier, easier, easier. positions notwithstanding, unification has no support at all in taiwan right now.
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and the other indicators that the prc looks at for measures of how it's doing in terms of the sales job also all look very negative. one of those indicators is support for independence versus unification. on the independence unification debate in taiwan, there's good news and bad news. the good news is that while support for unification is off the charts, that is off the bottom of the charts, support for independence is also low and consistently low. we don't see a trend of rising support for independence. it's been in the, you know, 20% range for 20 years and it just kind of stagnates there. but the bad news is if you dig a little deeper, support for independence starts to look less weak and support for unification
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starts to look even weaker than the surface-level trends would suggest. so, for example, the taiwan national security survey, which i have -- i guess they did it again in 2014, but i don't think they have released the data yet, so i'm looking at 2011 data, asking people, if you could have independence and there would be no war, right, if you could have independence and it would cost taiwan nothing, would you support independence? and around 80% of people say, yes, absolutely. if we could have independence for free, we would take it. but it does have a military cost, which i think we all agree it would right now, the support for independence drops to somewhere around 30% to 35%. meanwhile, if you could have unification and it was -- would cost you nothing because the conditions, the economic,
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political and social conditions in the mainland would have converged with taiwan, only like a quarter to a third, so somewhere in the high 20s to low 30s, percentage wise, would favor unification under the best possible scenario. and at least half of taiwanese oppose unification under any circumstances. so even best-case scenario, we don't want it. another piece of negative evidence from the prc's point of view is that the trend in support for unification under ideal circumstances is particularly negative. until 2005, more than half of taiwanese said we could accept unification if it meant that the stuff wouldn't change. now, we are down to below 30% and opposition, active
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opposition to unification under the best possible scenario was up to around 60%. so, basically, support for unification under any circumstances has reached a low point while support for independence under the best case scenario is extremely high. so, that's not a good trend for the prc. on the economic front, the strategy of waiting for economic integration to create support for political integration, i would argue, is also losing momentum. even four years ago, during the 2012 presidential election, the candidates needed to persuade voters that they could keep the economic ties not only continuing at sort of the same
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pace but accelerating in order to make a persuasive case and i think the -- a big part of the reason that thailand was not elected in 2012 was she did not make the case to the voters that she could keep the economic momentum rolling past 2012. this time around, after four years of disappointing economic performance and rising skepticism about the distributional implications of economic -- cross strait economic engagement, voters' requirements have changed. they may not have reversed completely, but they may actually have reversed completely, to the point were in this election, you don't have to be able to persuade anybody that you can make more economic integration happen. what you need to persuade people is that you can protect taiwan against the risks associated
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with the ever-accelerating dependence of taiwan on the prc economy. and, in fact, many voters, maybe not a majority, but a significant chunk of voters, i would argue, are looking for a candidate who will talk about how to reduce taiwan's dependence on the mainland, not deepen the interaction. another big problem for china is the cantonese shocking weakness at the moment, both in terms of party identification, which is below party identification with the dpp for the first time since the early 2000s and in terms of the party's internal politics. and i just have to guess at the taiwan affairs office in beijing may sit around and ask each other, how in the world did this happen? [ laughter ] so, one final indicator to look at is taiwan people's self-identification as taiwanese, chinese or both and here the trend is clearly very
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negative for beijing, as well. since 2007, the percentage claiming taiwanese identity has increased from the low 40% to around 60%. and that is a huge trend. it maybe leveling off, but it's still extremely -- you know, just a very sharp increase in a very short time. the presidential and legislative elections will be an imperfect manifestation of how these trends translate into politics. but as imperfect as they are, they are still what we have to go on, so the prc will be looking at them very closely. that's the evidence that time may not any longer be on beijing's side. and that beijing may have to change that calculus to think about how do we respond now to a negative trend rather than try to shape a positive trend? on the second point, there are
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many people in this room who understand china's problems much better than i do, but i would just say it seems clear the prc is facing economic and political headwinds that could eventually sharpen into a situation where there is need for xi jinping to do something, to consolidate his support and to show his people that even if he can't control the economy, even if he can't control the prc's image in the region and lots of other -- even if he can't control corruption in the communist party, he can control something and if that something that he can control turns out to be taiwan, you know, that's not good. so, here, the perpetual optimist is delivering some more sobering news, but i think there are still a number of forces that are actually pulling in a more positive direction and are
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acting as kind of traction on the status quo. one, the dpp is probably going to win the election, at least the presidential and make major inroads in the legislative, but it is a less odious dpp in 2016 from the prc's point of view than it was in 2012 and if they allow themselves to take this in and to hear the message that taiwan is sending, i think they will be -- they can be less nervous about the implications of a dpp victory. you know, taiwan is not bien and not worse than bien, from the prc's point of view and telling themselves that she is really doesn't serve the prc's interest because it's not accurate among other things. and there are ways to spin this election result that will make it seem like less of a disaster for china.
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they can point to the chaos in the kmt and say people didn't vote for the dpp, they voted against the chaos in the kmt vote. she's doing him a favor by getting in and splitting the vote with a blue vote so it looks less like a big surge of support for the dpp and more like, you know, a repeat of 2000. you know, i don't necessarily agree with this. i'm just giving the prc some talking points to talk themselves out of needing to overreact to this election result. second, i think china's problems are actually still manageable with focused attention and as long as they don't get distracted by side issues like taiwan, you know, they will be fine. third, the military risk is still very high and so adventurism is still risky, and therefore, the deterrence of more precipitous action or a powerful change in the prc's
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policy -- i think the deterrence to that are still very noticeable and powerful. fourth, china can't afford to worsen relations with its neighbors so it has to pay attention to taiwan in the context of a deteriorating regional scene. and finally, and here i am on shaky ground as a taiwan specialist commenting on ccp internal politics but seems to me strong action or risk taking could activate or intensify rather than alleviate splits in the prc leadership and that knowledge of that possibility may be a deterrent as well to taking stronger action on the taiwan issue. xi jinping would need to build a consensus for action on that front and given the risks involved that could be very difficult. and here, i will just end by giving two possibilities. one from this morning from tom juwan.
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one says a taiwan-related crisis would reflect poorly on xi jinping a jinping. another source says xi jinping would be more damaged if he were seen to be looking the other way and tolerating taiwan going in that direction. honestly, both of those logics makes sense to me. so, i would be interested to hear which you think is more persuasive and also, whether you have other things that i can teed my glass of positive trends to help me, you know, have a glass that's even more than half full so that i don't have to worry about the glass being like more than half empty. thank you. [ applause ] >> so my answer to your two choices is only xi knows for sure.
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we have ten minutes until we have to break. shelley's going to take her own questions. do you want to do it here or -- >> yep. >> okay. thanks a lot. >> yes? >> my name is hero matsumura, japan. although the kmt is in disarray and weakened, the party had a privileged position in societal, political, economic life there. the party has a huge -- its own asset, maybe leeching to the 100 billion, which originated from -- major portion originated from japanese asset. based on this wealth and asset, its controls, social keystones 0 cornerstone and the control of the media. right? so, do you think dpp's approach
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focusing on grassroots movement and sns is sort of inevitable choice and how do you see the competition between the kmt position and dpp's new approach, particularly after the election? maybe cannot change the public opinion but it can based on this wealth and the position can resurrect dpp pollties and encourage public support. >> well, what we see with the kmt that money isn't everything, you know? you can have a lot of money. you can have a lot of positions
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in government. you can have a lot of resources and you can still blow it completely. so -- [ laughter ] but i have to be careful because i was one of the people back in 2000 and 2001 who predicted the demise of the knt. i probably at one of your events, i used a very ungenerous analogy, which i will not repeat here, but so, you know, i think it's right that the knt will pull itself back together, but i also think that taiwan politics has fundamentally changed. and something that was discussed in the previous panel is the blue-green divide disappearing. yes and no i mean, i think the blue-green divide, those two vessels will remain because i think they are meaningful in the context of taiwan's electorate,
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but i don't necessarily think that the content is unchanging. i think this election is much more about economic issues than past elections have been and it is absolutely true that it -- that taiwan's conversation about economics invariably invokes cross strait relations, but if you think about julian hahn's last slide, almost everything on that slide, except for the part about cross strait, you know, like the external problems that taiwan has, but the political problems and the economic problems that taiwan has that he identified, the usa has exactly that same litany of problems. the economic problem that taiwan is facing is not only a cross strait problem. it is a globalization problem. and the distributional problems that taiwan is facing are not about cross strait relations.
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they are about globalization and they are about technology and they are about why my students in the united states are just as desperate thinking about their future prospects as my colleagues from taiwan's students are thinking about their futures. so, i think what the blue-green baskets need to do is they need to go aqua and teal in order to accommodate a broader range of issues but within that basic context, i think the new issues can be encompassed. i think. knt will be back in some form but organizationally, they have to process this trauma fully in order to, you know, come to dom surging back the way they did
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after 2001. anybody else? yes. >> thank you, eric gomez from the cato institute. i was wondering if you could comment, i know the election is more about economic issues but is there any significant split within the parties over how they think taiwan should be handling defense-related things if, indeed, the glass is half-empty or less than half-empty? and also, do you perceive any difference in political will power from self-defense from the knt or the dpp? is any one more committed or less committed? >> both party leaders have consistently promised, right to increase taiwan's defense spending to 3% of gdp and to be more active in self-defense.
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and i think this is the sort of thing that we could talk about for the rest of the afternoon there is more going on than probably most of us are aware of, but i will say that the track record of the knt in the last eight years has been disappointing to many in the u.s. in terms of not making it to that 3% and not really giving good answers to the question, you know, why not and when will you turn things around? so i think the dpp is trying to use that as -- and not just trying to use that politically, i don't mean that -- i don't think it's cynical. i think the dpp is actually committed to doing better on the defense front. something i learned today that i had to think about a lot because i had not really thought about the '92 consensus as a
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larger package, as an edifice of ideas and practices. but i think if the administration has the goal of assembling a kind of coherent set of strategies that support a particular vision and version of cross strait relations, then we have to think about defense policies maybe in that package. the fact that the dpp is not interested in building that same edifice might give the dpp more flexibility to be a little bit more active on the defense front. alan?
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>> thanks, alan roberts. it may be a question that goes also to the previous panelist but you talk about the election being primarily about economic issues and we saw data which showed that comp tense that they can manage the economy or social issues better than either of her opponents is pretty obvious. my question is there evidence as to whether that reflects great confidence in her or lack of confidence in the others compared to her? >> well, one of the things that i really loved on that slide that is way towering over the other two in terms of per formance and experience. even though people don't like him on the other measures, they recognize that he has this experience. what that tells me is that is a real poll that people are answering seriously. they are thinking about, they can disaggregate these people into their components so one of
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their components is performs an experience. performance and experience. another component is policy preferences what they stand for, what they are likely to do and another component is kind of personality and capacity to govern and to function well in interactions with others. and i think, you know, some does great on -- he has a lot of experience and i think it's worth mentioning that song is i think -- i think this one is going to be more like 2000 than 2012 because song is campaigning at the grassroots. he is -- he is drawing back into those networks that he cultivated when he was the taiwan provincial governor and he is being a retail politician again. so, he's, people can recognize that about him. but i think they also recognize that his capacity to interact successfully with other
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political leaders is limited and his policy agenda is not well understood. hong does poorly across the board. she has no experience, people don't like her and she stands for the wrong things. taiwan has moderate experience. she is mostly standing for the right things, mostly. i mean, she's been really careful in how she talks. and she is perceived as being able to get along with people and do things better that the other two. so, i think it -- it is in that sense sort of, you know, she has -- she averages well. the other song has peaks and valleys. hong has mostly valleys. i think it's in that sense that thai really dominates. i don't know if that was the answer to your question but it was something that i wanted to say. [ laughter ] it looks like we are out of time.
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>> yes. my obligation to the organizers was to get us off the stage at 1:30 and i'm going to fulfill that obligation. but this -- we will put a big demand on you because whatever you have to do in the break, you have five minutes to do it. and then be back here. but before you leave, please join me in thanking shellie for a great keynote address. on the next "washington journal" we take a look at the pope's visit to the u.s. with congressman brendan boyle of pennsylvania. and later with paul valley author of "pope francis." "washington journal" is live every morning on c-span. you can join the conversation with your phone calls and comments on facebook and
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twitter. the pope's visit to the u.s. c-span has live coverage from washington, d.c. the first stop on the pope's tour. tuesday afternoon beginning at 3:45 on c-span. we're live with the president and mrs. obama to greet the pontiff on his arrival at joint base andrews. wednesday morning on c-span, c-span radio and as the obamas officially welcome him to the white house. later that afternoon starting at 4:00, the mass and canonization at the shrine of the immaculate conception. c-span's coverage begins on capitol hill as pope francis makes history becoming the first pontiff to address a joint meeting of congress. friday morning at 10:00, live coverage from new york as the pope speaks to the united nations general assembly on c-span 3, c-span radio and later at 11:30 the pontiff will
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hold a service at the memorial follow coverage live on tv or online at turkey is holding its general election on november 1st. next a discussion on the country's political landscape with two journalists and a university professor from istanbul. they talk about the influence of the kurds and kurdish affiliate set by the incumbent president and the future of u.s. turkey relations from the wilson center, this is an hour and a half. good afternoon, everyone. thank you so much for joining us. i'm just waiting for our friends
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in the back to take their seats, and then we will be ready to start. my name is david kenner. i'm the middle east editor at "foreign policy magazine." we're all very happy to have you here at this panel at the woodrow wilson center's middle east program on the road to elections, turkey and the kurds. we have here an assistant professor of international relations and author of "turkey kurdish question." and esteemed turkey journalist who covers turkey for the "economist." and dr. henry who is the director of the middle east program at the woodrow wilson center. we have a great discussion for you here today. thank you so much for coming. i think we will kick it off. >> thank you so much.
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i'm really happy to be here. i would like to start this talk with really an interesting anecdote i heard from bernard lewis. at the beginning of world war ii, turkish ambassador to uk was summoned to the foreign secretary's office. and they were basically trying to inquire whether turkey was going to join the allied side or remain non-attached. so practically they say that, we have a big instability in our east. we have this eastern problem. at the time they didn't use the term kurdish problem. it was an eastern problem. we're worried the eastern problem will destabilize in case we enter into war on either
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side. so lord halifax says i have known about this eastern problem for a long while. so, why can't turkey just resolve this issue just like we resolved the scottish question? why can't you resolve this issue the scottish way? he takes a pause and he says, sir, kurds aren't scottish. while everybody is, like, yeah, right, and then he says, kurds aren't irish. so that's the point where everybody kind of freezes. so he goes back. in any case, i think turkey's kurdish policy or overall turkey's approach towards the kurds has since then has been what bernard lewis has told me
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about increasing the number of scottish kurds and decreasing the number of irish kurds. practically, has turkey been successful, unsuccessful? that's quite up for grabs. basically, what i'm going to talk about is, in my recently published book, i basically spent a lot of time analyzing the 1990s, the most violent phase of the kurdish insurgence in turkey. basically, i want to talk about how right now compared to the 1990s, more specifically, what's the difference between 2015 and 1991? when the insurgency started. a lot of analyses point to the start of gulf war in 1990 as the source of why things have assumed such a chaotic and violent character in the 1990s. gulf war, turkey opens up an air
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base to foreign -- western jets. saddam hussein decides to punish turkey and instead of launching a chemical attack, he attacks the northern kurds as a result of which you have a large population shift together with a refugee crisis. which ends up benefiting, arguably, the pkk but overall it intensified the security question. 2015, we also have an extra territorial crisis, which is the syrian civil war as well as the emergence of isis in iraq and syria. again, a large population shift emerging from -- especially syria into turkey. new refugee crisis that's worsening the crisis conditions in turkey. so as a result, we pretty much look like, in terms of
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structural settings, 2015 and 1991 are quite alike. politics, what about politics? in 1990s, basically 1991, there was a general election that produced a coalition government, first time after a very long period of single-party rule. mother land party. 2015, again, an election of june 7, which produces a coalition government after a long period of single-party rule, which is the justice and development party. one exception between 1991 and 2015 is that for the first time ever, a political party rooted in the kurdish political movement passes the 10% flesh hold, which is the people's democracy party or hdp. so in a lot of ways, 1991 and 2015 are quite alike as well in domestic political setting as well.
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what about the conflict? in 1990s, the conflict was mostly about rural conflict, clashes around rugged terrain, mountain areas, outposts and mountain holds have substantial strategic influence. whereas in 2015, this clash is turning gradually more urban. you have different splinter organizations, armed groups that have popped up in urban areas in the predominantly kurdish areas that have diverted this rural mountainous combat into the urban setting. which means that now we have a setting in which there's more civilian involvement and also more potential civilian casualties as well. what about the pkk? in 1990s, pkk was pretty much a
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monolithic top-down entity with very compact decision making. turkey's argument and position throughout the 1990s was very clear. get rid of pkk's leadership and the organization is going to collapse. in 2015, we have a much different pkk which has decided to engage in splintering strategy, especially valid after the arrests and capture of its founding leader in 1999. the 2015 pkk is much more different than the 1990s pkk in the sense that decision making is more localized, clashes and command is also more localized, even though the central executive body is quite influential as well. main difference is the emergence of localized leadership that younger cohort used to be the
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bridge between the pkk and the local populous. but that local intermediary groups have also taken up arms and became armed groups themselves. so in the 1990s to basically defeat the pkk you had to get rid of the leadership. right now to settle the security question and the chaotic situation, you have to deal with the issue locally and on a case-by-case approach. what about the turkish military? it used to have a defactor control over politics and executives in the 1990s. it was primary actor and primary decision maker on a very large component of policy options on the kurdish question. in 2015, you don't have that kind of an influential military. it went through a difficult
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process of court cases, arrest of leadership, institutional mistrust persists along with mixed views on the ability of the political leadership to resolve the crisis. there's also not monolithic leadership in the military. what about social perception? in the 1990s, turkish society was fiercely nationalistic, near complete support for the military's handling of the conflict and belief that only full defeat of the pkk will resolve kurdish question. even though a lot of people had access to conventional media. what happens in predominantly kurdish areas and operational areas would rarely be communicated through mainstream media. that's why people have imperfect information on what's going on there.
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in 2015, there's still a very nationalistic society. but this doesn't translate right now into a near complete support for military solution. part of this emerges from the fact that part of that electorate thinks that the peace process, even though it was imperfect, succeeded in creating an extended period of cease-fire and relative stability. so once people saw that it can actually happened, it divided social perception away from unilateral resolution of the questions through military means. to the contrary, public opinion is divided along partisan lines. on the one hand, where people who are closer to the governments argue that this new
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phase of the clashes is 100% doing the pkk and their decision to go to war with turkish states. whereas those who do not identify themselves with the government calculation or political measurements that are in place in a way that, you know, the state and the government have decided to go into war. and that's, you know, partisan ship divides how society thinks about the kurdish question, as well. on the one hand, you have people who argue that the peace process was doomed from the beginning. and the peace process should be shelved completely and only a military solution should be pursued. the other part of the society argues that the peace process, although it was imperfect, was still going relatively well.
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and the government is choosing to stay a step away from a political solution. so this is basically painting a picture on how 1991 and 2015 are similar and also dissimilar. so after painting this picture i'm going to give the floor to other speakers and complete this in the q&a session. thank you. >> great. thank you so much, hamid. amberin. >> hello, everybody. it's wonderful to be here today. happy roshhoshanna. to everybody who is celebrating it. i want to start with 2012, which i think was a turning point in many respects. when the kurds in northern syria, i'm talking about kurds who are very closely linked or support the pkk took control over several areas along the
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border is and is have steadily be expanding control ever since and when the turkish response to that was. unless we understand that dynamic, we cannot really properly assess what's happening today between turkey and the kurds. in my view, what happened then was a great opportunity for turkey to advance the peace process. what turkey needed to do at that point i think was to extend the hand of help though these kurds to do what they finally did with the iraqi kurds, which is to develop economic and political relations with them. but instead of viewing this as an opportunity, turkey chose to view this as a threat. and the reason is quite simple. as i said, because the kurds happen to be closely affiliated
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with the pkk, they see this as a national security threat and decided what they needed to do was to keep these kurds under check. and this is what underpins turkey's kurdish opening back in 2012. yes, the political ambitions clearly were a part of that equation. but above and beyond all else, i think it was the fact that turkey perceived this as huge national security threat and decided what they needed to do was to co--op and keep the kurds of syria under check. so that was what they were talking about. and as we saw, subsequently, that didn't pan out. rather than being able to keep them under check somehow encouraged them or at least that is what was conveyed and what we saw was a steady progression of
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the kurds in northern syria. and so when that plan failed, what turkey chose to do was then to get the support of other armed groups inside syria to fight the ypg. and we first saw that very clearly in the summer of 2013 when there was this battle of control where the kurds would call it and it was very clear that certain factions of the free syrian army and others were being supported by turkey. and that -- sorry. and that of course we saw also that that didn't work out tearally well because the curds ended up taking control of that town as well. so that policy was, obviously, not working.
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but turkey persists in it. and we saw that in kobani most recently. that was a turning point and a shock for turkey when the americans airdropped weapons and other supplies to the ypg. that is what propelled turkey, in fact, to open the corridor to kobani. and, of course, once that was sort of digested in ankara, they decided what they needed to do then was open it. they needed to somehow get americans on their side because they became very, very nervous about this deepening cooperation between the united states and the ypg. so what we now have is this sort of understanding that the ypg won't go and to that extent, you could say that turkey's policy of opening injalik as a way of
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kurdish expansion has been somewhat successful, but for how long? many kurds in turkey believe that part of the quid pro quo of opening it is that turkey would get to attack its own kurds, that is the pkk. so of course the idea that you can have good kurds and bad kurds, which has always been the case, unfortunately. on the one hand, the ypg are good kurds and the pkk are bad kurds and that the americans can maintain this fiction i think is very unrealistic. because in fact, we all know the truth that however much pkk may be on the united states list of terror organizations that it has to be maintained.
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in fact, the pkk and the ypg are one and the same. and this contradiction is going to catch up with this government sooner or later. because while you, you call the ypg your allies and you continue to condemn the pkk and say that turkey is justified in its actions against the pkk, what you also have to realize is that there are many families inside syria, inside turkey, who may have sons fighting both in the pkk and the ypg alike. when i was in northern syria and i went to the homes of people, ordinary people, what i saw on the walls were pictures of their children who died fighting for the pkk but also fighting for the ypg against isis. so i think what we have before us is another opportunity. the fact of american engagement
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with the ypg can be turned into an opportunity. the united states can use its leverage with the kurds now to somehow revive this peace process that is now completely shelved. it needs to get turkey and the kurds back to the negotiating table. because unless it does so, this is going to be very destabling for turkey and the region. you cannot have this situation where you have turkey fighting the kurds. and not just the pkk. if you have been following what's been happening inside turkey it's not just the pkk or the youth wing who are being targeted but ordinary civilians as well. this will have repercussions, is having repercussions among kurds across the region.
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what needs to be done is somehow for the americans to use this leverage, as i said, to get the sides back at the table. because if you don't, i think the cooperation, the alliance between the united states and the ypg will not be sustainable either. you cannot have a situation where the americans are seen to be approving turkey's actions and continuing this alliance. because at the end of the day, the pkk itself will start saying, you know, okay, if you want to go and get rod car and you need the ypg support, they are going to say if you continue to back turkey and its actions against us, well, we're not really sure we can do that. so i think there is a great opportunity here for the united states. i think it has leverage over turkey too. if it didn't, turkey, for instance, would not have opened
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the corridor to kobani. and we have to assume reason will prevail in ankara as well. that's a hard assumption to make these days, unfortunately. and what happens after the elections will be key. indeed, whether we will have elections at all. if we do have elections and they are held free and fairly, the question becomes what kind of government will we have? clearly a coalition between the ak and the mhp will be very, very unhelpful. so we'll have to hope, first of all, we do have these elections, they will be fair and free, that the hdp will be able to participate, the people in the southeast will be able to go to the ballot box and what comes out of it will hopefully be a coalition. obviously the ak will continue
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to be the top party and it will somehow make a deal. they will cut losses and make a deal with the chp or maybe even the htp, though that's harder to imagine. >> thank you. >> thank you so much. henri? >> thank you. i will start in 2015. we saw 1991, 2012. i'm going to talk about the elections and the current crisis. in fact, actually build on both what was talked about. clearly things appear to be spinning out of control in turkey as you look at events in recent times. not just the violence we've seen between the pkk and the government. we have seen quite significant pkk attacks that have create significant casualties among the security forces. but it is also the fact that the government is not responding. especially a government that is
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technically an election government. it is not necessarily a party government. it is supposed to be somewhat independent. in fact, two members of it. but you have seen this government is taking various strict actions. we saw the stuff that's going on in gisa. the whole town has been under curfew for eight days. they lifted the curfew and then reinstated it. you had today the announcement that they whole a great number of television stations that broadcast in kurdish which was one of the great aspects of the forms introduced after the peace process started. that people could actually have television and radio stations and publish and broadcasting kurdish. those have not been closed today by the order of the supreme broadcasting authority.
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you have newspapers that are being blocked from access. you can't reach certain newspapers online any more because they have been blocked, again, without any kind of order by judge or by court. so you have, essentially, an escalating situation in turkey that is becoming more and more one between, i wouldn't say between turks and kurds, although, of course, it is significantly between turks and kurds and really a government or a president and significant segment of the population. that's what it boils down to. at the root of this is essentially the failed election results. on june 7th, the akp for the first time since 2002 lost its majority. it lost its majority for essentially, i would believe, two reasons. one is because it was very clear
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that the resident wanted to from a constitutional parliamentary system to a presidential system. maybe ala french system. there was a great deal of resistance. this was not a kurdish/turkish issue. but it became a way for people to express their opposition to mr. erdogan. to make sure the kurdish body would cross the 10% threshold. two things we saw happening in these elections. one is that a significant number of what people call white turks. live in instoneble but who wanted to make sure that he doesn't get his majority. for the kurdish party. the other reason is most of the conservative kurds who traditionally always voted for
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the akp, this time defected. and i think they have seemed to have defected for good. when you look at the kurdish historically, most of the kurds have always -- the declining percentage i would say voted for akp or predecessors, if you think about the other islamist parties that existed in the 1990s. but there was a break. this 2015 elections was a case where we saw these conservative kurds change sides. what's interesting of course is these kurds are very closely aligned with mr. buzani in the krg. despite his efforts to get the kurds to vote for erdogan, they didn't. why didn't they do?
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i would say there's a one word answer for that and that is kobani. in kobani, when the turkish government made it clear they would love to see kobani fall to the hands of i.s. and be saved, that was a psychological break for the kurds and turkey and erdogan. in a way i think that is the breaking point when it comes to kurds and erdogan. look, every reason why the kurds should be thankful to erdogan. erdogan has done more in pushing the ideas that kurds and turks can live in one country, and a peace process. he talked to the pkk. even if he did not mean to, even if his heart was not in it, as we think. as i think people now think is the case. the fact of the matter is that the major threshold was crossed. that threshold was talking to the pkk. talking to theomy. that is a point you can't go back from. in that sense, it's a very important threshold. conservative kurds who don't
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necessarily like the pkk would have voted for mr. erdogan and his party. he came on television with great glee made it clear he wanted kobani to fall. and the fact that the united states had shifted sides and helped the syrian kurds gave the kurds a great deal of self-confidence. but once election results became obvious and mr. erdogan, technically he's a constitutional president. he is not supposed to take part in elections, he did it. he basically took the turkish constitution and participated. which is all the more reason why this election result was devastating to him. because despite his personal involvement, he was campaigning for the akp saying he wanted 400
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seats. he still lost. so this defeat is more his defeat than the akp defeat. people can say it was overshadowed by mr. erdogan. so almost immediately he started to maneuver in such a way there would be another election. if you can't win this time, maybe he hoped he would win a second time. he maneuvered the process in a way that that is exactly what happened. there will be a new election november 1st. in between we have now suddenly an increase in the violence between the state and the pkk. now that to me is quite puzzling in the sense that look from a pkk perspective. there was absolutely no reason to escalate the process.
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here you have hdp into parliament. it has 80 seats in parliament. it has as many as the nationalist party that came in third. the nationalist lost to one member of parliament because they kicked him out. so hdp has more seats than the parliament. technically you would think any peace process, and if it's going to have real legs to it, needs to be -- handle through parliament, through democrat elected members of parliament. so why start the violence? the only thing one can assume is there is a way which he has in mind, that's the hdb. this is a hypothesis. i haven't asked the pkk
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leadership and called them up on the phone and said is that what you're trying to do? but the point i'm trying to make is that given the logical situation in a way there are two culprits here. both erdogan and pkk essentially benefit from this violence in the sense that if it undermines the hdp, and it is is between a rock and a hard place as they say in the states, it is room to maneuver has been severely diminished by events, by -- now, by the way, doesn't necessarily mean the hdp has lost support. all polls indicate, to the extent that turkish polls are accurate. and i think they are this time. the same organizations predicted the previous election results, essentially predicting the same results. there will be marginal changes in the election results.
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therefore it is quite possible that come november 1st, that the same result will emerge from the elections. that's one hypothesis. now, if the violence increases, if we saw yesterday, if this kind of violence calls for martial law, curfews, essentially the breakdown of law and order in the southeast where hdp wins with overwhelming majority. the town, for example, the town was just moved by the minister of the interior. she won her seat by 83% vote. this is not significant and i would suspect given the way the state has been behaving, a number of votes are going to
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increase. so the only way you can push hdp under the 10% threshold is if you make it impossible. in that case the election becomes legitimate. an enormous scandal he cannot win. if he losesers in november, a clean november 1st election. it will be two major defeats for him. he can create a coalition. and we mentioned hdp is is one possibility. possibly the best way for him to both maintain control and go after the pkk. but if it goes -- if hdp is kept below the 10% threshold, then we have an arguments that you have in urban areas organized but not centralized kurdish youth groups
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that are going to take matters. that is a very, very dangerous proposition for erdogan. turkey is going to be amazingly unstable with all the dire consequences quee think of for turkish stability, turkish economy, turkish investment, tourism. you name it. erdogan is a real gamble. for someone who doesn't believe in gambling, he is taking a huge gamble here and i don't understand why. as i said, the pkk is also the unknown and unclear actor here. this, of course, couldn't have come at a worse time as angela merkel said, for the united states. clearly the pressure on the united states is increasing from
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the turkish side. this week was a major nato conference in which the turkish chief of staff came out strongly and said we are fighting three terrorist organizations at the same time. isis, the pkk, and the ypg. the ypg is the same organization that the united states is giving arms to. we are the ypg's air force and gun forces. we are working with the only group in syria we can work to essentially push back, push back the isis. this plan being described is actually becoming more and is going to get more severe and create serious dilemmas for the united states. let me stop here. >> great. thank you so much. i'm going to open this up for questions quite briefly. but first let me pose a question of my own.
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i'm going to start with henri but if hamid and amberin want to weigh in, that would be wonderful. we're in washington, d.c. speaking to an american audience. the united states has dealt with less than democratic turkish governments before. it dealt with turkey dealing with the kurdish question. these aren't new problems. why does it matter for u.s. interests to resolve this upheaval in turkey right now? >> the united states has been a steadfast ally when it comes to pkk of turkey. we have never veered from calling the pkk a terrorist organization. always supported the turks in their fight against the pkk. what is different this time is essentially isis. here we have different
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perceptions of isis if you want. for the united states, isis is the most important threat. it is more important than assad, as we know. it is more important than anything else. isis has to be pushed back, defeated, eliminated. and for that, that's number one priority. for the turkish government, the priorities are much more different. in fact, isis priority number three. priority number one are the kurds and assad. and i'm not sure which one comes first. one can make an argument for which is more important. i suspect the kurds are far more important. they do not want to see the syrian kurds. it's something. there's another aspect which we haven't talked about yet. that's the relationship between the united states, turkey, and the kurdistan region in iraq. and in there you find that turkey and the krg are much more in line with each other. the turks support the krg,
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baghdad, oil exports. even despite america's displeasure. but the krg is also important to the united states. so the destabilization of the region is not good for the united states. moreover, fighting isis requires the kurds and the pkk are part of the pkk. complete attention. complete focus. and this is undermining that. >> interesting. amberin, hamid, do you want to weigh in? >> i think that okay the pkk is labeled a terrorist organization. but that doesn't alter the fact that it is probably the most influential kurdish movement globally. so you have to deal with that. not only are they influential in turkey, they are influential in iran.
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they are influential obviously in syria. and they do have influence in iraqi kurdistan. which he is acutely aware of. for him, too, it's a very difficult balancing act on the one hand to maintain the strategic relationship with turkey which is key to his agenda, which is independence. and underpinned obviously by being able to sell his oil. and you can't do that without turkey's help. but on the other hand, the fact that ordinary kurds are feeling angry about what turkey is doing to the pkk, the kurds and what isis is doing on the other. and the fact that the pkk seems to be the most effective fighting force against isis. so bearing all of that in mind, i think it's time to deal with the pkk. and i think, as i said in my little talk, that this is a
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great opportunity. and i think the fact of the pkk now having this experience of running an area inside syria is having a profound effect on them. it's civilianizing them, if you will. they're having to actually run towns and deal with the issues of ordinary people. you might argue they already have that experience in turkey whether hdp is running municipalities. that is a different set of people doing it. it's the pkk itself directly who is. so this is an opportunity. this will provide incentives for them to move away from violent politics. but for that to happen, you need to have some kind of accommodation between them and turkey. and i think this could be a win-win. you could also factor in the iraqi kurds. because they need to find a way of cohabiting with them as well. and that seems to be getting rather difficult. and this is where the americans who now have this leverage because they are the primary
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protectors of the kurdish people at this point to be able to somehow bring all these sides together. i know it's a lot to ask for. but at least one should try. >> i have an international realist perspective on that question. when we think of political ambitions, we look at eastern europe. basically that's nato, cold war, iron curtain divide in eastern europe. whether it's expanding or retracting into the russian side. role of ukraine or like air defense radares in poland. we think in terms of that. but take that geographic cons h consishness and move it slightly south and you have another in the middle east, which it sees as kind of this underbelly in terms of the western
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expansionism. so essentially russian perception of its defense of its own territory also has a middle eastern dimension. best empexemplified security issue for russia. now, in that context, russia's iran and turkey policies are quite similar to each other. russia wants iran and turkey, not cautic in the sense that they are falling apart but not strong that they become impediments to russia is's reassertion of its own strategic interlap. in that case, russia and to a certain extent iran have usually supported little bit controllable amounts of instability in turkey's eastern region. when you, for example, interview
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retired, not active because they won't tell you. retired military people, really senior people especially those who were in the field in the 1990s, they would complain a lot about iran and how they interacted with the pkk through the 1990s. the same is true for russia. so in that case pkk and the kurdish question, if it's unresolved, it destabilizes turkey. a destabilized turkey is not good as a u.s. ally in terms of what the united states is trying to do. rather than resolving the kurdish question or not, i think it's about rivalry for turkey's stability versus instability. that's why the united states has an interest in stabilizing turkey in that regard. >> great. thank you so much. so i'm going to open this up to questions. i would ask that you identify
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yourself and any organization you're affiliated with. and i will insist there are questions involved. please no speech. yes, sir.ñba÷ >> i have a question for amberin. can you explain why some of the kurdish cities have disappeared from turkey and all of them have been like, you know, taken away in favor of democrat? thank you. >> i'm not sure i completely agree with your premise that they have somehow been removed. i mean, just recently laila zhanna came out and said she was willing to go on a hunger strike if need be for this violence to end. i'm not sure i completely
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understand your question. he's of a younger generation and a talented politician. anyone familiar with the workings of the movement broadly speaking knows that in fact, individuals don't matter so much in the end. and this is a collective movement. and on the one hand, you have the people in europe, the hdp, important in terms of raising money, et cetera. organizing and public relations. and then, of course, you have abdallah. the most important question today is why he has been silenced. >> yes, sir? >> washington correspondent. i have two questions. ambrerin and henri.
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two-fold question. the first one, as you all know, a lot of turkish and western experts before the elections, they encouraged people to vote for hdp believing that that will produce a more democratic turkey. i want to know what went wrong. why didn't you see a more democratic turkey. they fail to become more democratic. there's more instability. my second question, in the possibility of snap elections, why am i wrong to believe that the turkish voters have only two bad choices. either vote for erdogan, make him an absolute leader or vote the same way they did and produce the outcome we have. thank you. >> in response to your first question, why do we have this
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unstable situation. it's very clear. i think that june 7th was a wonderful day for all of us in turkey. it was great that for the first time we had this kurdish political party overcoming this terribly undemocratic, terribly unfair threshold making it into the parliament. yes, principally with the votes of kurds, but also with the votes of people like my mom who is a hard-score secularist lady who voted for the hdp. i expected her to say because i hate erdogan so much. we must make sure he doesn't get his majority. this lady whose name i won't reveal. she'll be upset. was saying, no, we can't keep the kurds out. we can't keep the kurds out of parliament. this is bad for our country. people understood two years after no conflict, peace is a great thing. mothers weren't having to find
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people in the army to make sure their sons wouldn't be assigned to some place in the southeast where they might die. people for the first time were tasting the fruits of peace. and they wanted that to move forward. wanted that to move forward. it was a great opportunity. and if this government was sincere about solving the kurdish problem, they would have embraced this. they would have embraced this, because there was obviously, now, the public consensus for moving forward. this was an endorsement of the peace process, but no, mr. erdogan and his friends openly said the fact of, you know, democracy working was a bad thing for democracy. now i would, i'm not sure i really understand that beyond, you know, what we've all come to realize, that mr. erdogan wants absolute power, and he was denied it. perhaps you want to answer the second question, ari?
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people did not encourage, outsiders did not encourage people to vote. outsiders have very little influence on how people vote in turkey, so, lao being, it was a very interesting election campaign. it was probably one of the more interesting election campaign i have seen in turkey, even though the majority of the press was quite hostile to hdp, because erdogan now controls a significant amount of the press in turkey. but the answer is, i think, erdogan cares more about him becoming president with all the requisite powers of the presidential system. and everything else comes second. and look, erdogan to a large
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extent is in a cocoon now. he is a great poll significance, you never underestimate him. however, i'm not sure people are capable of telling him ma's going on in the country anymore. in the sense that i think he only wants to listen to people who agree with him. and you almost see it by the way he has actually maneuvered again who has selected for the ruling consul of the akp. it wasn't all their choices. it was mostly his choices. they're all people related to him, people who are loyal to him, people who will do exactly what he wants them to do. so you have essentially a system which is being created around him that essentially is a vacuum chamber, you know, he only hears his own voice. in terms of the choices, look, as i said, this is a gamble that is quite problematic in the sense of either you're going to get the same results or you're
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going to get chaos. i'm sorry. you're going to get, i think you're going to get the same results which means mainly chaos or you're going to get -- both of where i bad for turkey. but who decides whether turkey goes to elections? it's not outsiders. it's the turkish government. >> but it need not be chaos. if you have a hung parl lachl, you have a coalition government. as in many democratic countries. >> sure. >> it's mr. erdogan's perception that it's chaos. >> but, look, chp, clearly erdogan does not want to see a chp/akp coe liegs, because he's afraid that all the corruption charges are going to come up and be investigated, and that's obviously not good for him or his family. >> back there?
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>> my name is emory. i'm wondering why erdogan is so silent given the fact that next week there is something coming and he will be able to access his family with it. do we expect erdogan to speak? and if so, what will he say? >> well, there are specific like erdogan specialists who are kind of, who can douecipher what he wants to say by reading between the lines instead of reading the actual text. i'm not one of them. so take what i'm saying with a pinch of salt.
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basically, in all processes there's always this tennis match between agency and structure, basically influence of the individuals versus influence of the processes that are already ongoing. when peace process goes well, it tends to strengthen the agency, you know, people who have, who get more influence as things go good. but when things go more conflictual, the conflict assumes a life on its own, and starts to get separated from the individuals that are running the conflict, because conflicts by definition are very unpredictable. when you start a war, you think that it's going to end whenever you want, but it never ends whenever those people start the war want it to end > in that sense.
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so erdogan, i think, is hibernating, because he is walking on a tightrope, between one, pkk leadership that's increasingly seeing him yes, important, yes, inflew edges, but nevertheless being in captivity. there are things that are said in captivity. erdogan knows this. so i think he's keeping silent, because he knows that if he asks pkk to drop arms, pkk probably won't do it. if he tells pkk to take up arms and fight, then he's going to lose the connection request the government and turkish state and all the favors that come with it. so essentially, it's one of those periods where erdogan is withdrawing himself from the game and, you know, waiting for
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the structure, the process, to complete itself, to reassert at a later time. >> let me ask one thing. he may be silent because the government won't let him talk. i mean, that, to me, is, first of all, none of the hdp members who used to go and visit him have been able to visit him. the only people who talk to him are from the security establishment. so it's not as though people from the security establishment are going to come out and say oh, this is what mr. erdogan said yesterday to us. clearly, that's not going to have much credibility. so i think it's the government policy to keep him quiet. maybe he wants to be quiet. it's possible. but we don't know if this is him or if it's the government that's keeping him quiet. so, from that perspective, you know -- [ inaudible question ] >> i'm sorry. in the next week, the family members are going to be able to
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visit and talk with him. what do you expect to say, because -- >> are you sure they're going to go? for sure? >> i mean, in turkish practice, if it is, if he's not allowed to access his family member, that means a bigger crisis, because it's the biram, and all citizens in prison, all people have access to their family members on those special days. that's why i'm assuming, if they don't allow the family members to talk with him, then it means that certainly a different dynamic's going on. >> you've answered the point. i'm not sure, i don't know if the family members are necessarily the right medium, if you want, for him to talk through. this is not the hdp who are much more seasoned politicians. so you may not still hear anything from him, because that's not who should be carrying the message? look, i'm speculating.
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i don't know. >> yes, sir, in the back. >> hi, i have a quick question on pk k's objective, actually. can you please elaborate a little bit more on pkk? for example, on what they are trying to do. that they are both targeting and it looks like you do not agree. why, what is trying to do? i mean, pkk, what they are trying to do? and also is there any tactical changes in the attacks of pkk? for example, they are targeting more the police officers. this is my observation. i'm not an expert on pkk, but there is a tactical change? or a structural change? because of the youth movement that the doctor mentioned? so the objective of pkk and the tactics of pkk.
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>> yquestion is addressed to me i presume. obviously, i'm not a pkk spokesperson. i can only speculate. but from what i observed, i think when one needs to realize that this is very closely linked to what's happening inside syria. and let's not forget that this escalation happened after the attack in suruch. i would beg whoever maybes the claim that the government was involved to provide that evidence. in the minds of many kurds and clearly the pkk leadership as well, this was somehow connected to the state and it was a way of sending a very strong message about what was happening inside syria and that it was in fact targeting what the pk k's achieving in


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