tv Hearing on Islamic Extremism Threat in Russia CSPAN September 30, 2015 2:00pm-4:31pm EDT
o outsmarted by you vladimir putin? >> they're seeing the client state this they have maintained inside of syria progress over the course of five years from being a relatively stable state where they could exercise significant influence to a country that is torn apart would i chaos. that is what has prompted russia to ramp up their involvement. and russia continues to suffer from the kind of international isolation and economic costs imposed on them as a result of their destabilizing activities inside of ukraine. russia again as a result of broader economic forces and the sanctions that the united states and our european partners have imposed on them have led to a
bush bunch of negative outcomes. the russian economy will contract 3% or 4% this year and will remain into concession next year. take stands in stark contrast to the vast majority of the world's economies that are projected to grow this year. just in the last three years, we've seen the russian economy plummet in size from being one-eighth the size of the u.s. economy to being one-six teteen. so with all due respect to our friends in spain, that is not a country that is thriving. they are sustaining significant economic costs and responding to a situation where they see their influence diminishing and ross prospect of a significant long
term investment in syria going down the tubes. so i guess that's the case that i would make. one of the that yfof the hallman strength is the fact that at least in this situation the united states is leading a coalition of 65 nations carrying out an integrated stwraemrategy destroy isil. >> is it accurate then to say that the president is comfortable with the idea that russia will take a larger broader role in the region even as the u.s. sort of steps back in particular in syria? is that accurate, is that inaccurate? >> i think russia would be wise to consider recent history before they take a wider role in the region that is focused on imposing a military solution inside of syria. recent history makes pretty
clear that they will not succeed in that regard and they certainly will not success any more than the united states was able to impose a military solution in iraq in the last decade. and they certainly won't sub seed any more than the russian effort to impose a military solution on afghanistan three decades ago. so i think this is the backdrop to the russian military activity that we see inside of 150syria today. >> and i know we often end up with news reports when things go poorly for the secret service and having come off this this dramatic week where they were very busy, i'm just curious, has the president personally gone out and thanked the women and men who not only protect him but also a number of high level visitors in the last week or so? >> you make an appropriate observation. which is that the men and women of the secret service over the last week have faced the kind of significant challenges that no law enforcement li-- i think yo
could make a strong case that this has been the busiest week in the history of the secret service. they were responsible for protecting the pope over three different cities, when you consider that they have been responsible for the safety and security of the chinese president during his multiday visit to the united states that included at least two cities that i'm aware of, and when you add on to that that that took place while the united nations general assembly was going on where there were more than 100 world leaders gathered in new york, there were a wide range of significant responsibilities that the united states secret service had to live up to. and it wasn't just a matter of keeping all those individuals safe. it was also making that you are this she could travel around the country and cities, and at least when it caming to te into the pg to balance the desire of the
pope to remain safe with his desire to engage with the american public. a long way of saying that they are dedicated and over the course of the last week -- once the rest of today's briefing online. we leave it now to take you live to the pent gone apentagon and briefing with ash carter. last week i observed from this podium as i had observed privately the week prior that there is a logical contradiction in the russian position and now its actions in syria.
russia states an intent to fight sigh still isil on the one hand and to support assad regime on the other. fighting isil without pursuing a parallel political transition only risks escalating the civil war in syria. and with it, the very extremism and instability that moscow claims to be concerned about and aspire to fighting. so that approach is tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire. in contrast, our position is clear that a lasting defeat of isil and extremism in this syria can only be achieved in parallel
with a political transition in syria and we will continue to insist on fur pursuing these two objectives. i would hope riussia would join us which they claim to share rather than a sequence which that cannot succeed. i also told him i was prepared to send a d.o.d. team to meet with counterparts to ensure that we avoid any in-edvertinvertent. there are goals for this meeting are the following. to facilitate the flow of information between coalition forces and russian elements that will help us maintain the safety of our personnel in the region.
which is critical. to ensure that any additional russian actions do not interfere with our coalition's efforts to degrade and defeat isil. and to clarify that broader u.s. security commitments in the region remain unchanged. as i've said before, we will deliver a lasting defeat to isil with a global coalition of over 60 nations, we're taking the fight to isil across the physical, virtual and ideological battle space. the coalition has conducted over 7100 air strikes, hampering isil's movement and operations and systemically targeting this terrorist group's leadership. and the coalition will continue to fly missions over iraq and syria as planned as we did today in support of our international mission to dehe grade and destroy isil. as we pursue the defense level talks with russia on syria, i want to be absolutely clear that
these talks will not in any way diminish our strong condemnation of russianing ing aggression ine or clak change our sanctions and security supports. on that subject, the facts remain. if russia wants to end its international isolation, and be considered a global power, it must stop its aggression in eastern ukraine and attempted annexation of crimecrimea. next let me say a few words about the immediate budget impasse that we find ourselves facing in washington. it appears that we will avoid the trauma of a government shut
do down for now. but that's not enough. this is about more than just the short term damage of a temporary shutdown. it's also about the able coupccg and lasting damage that comes from a paycheck to paycheck approach to budgeting the defense of our country. we need to innovate, we need continue to attract the best people to develop the next generation of capabilities and meet the current generation of threats. yet again we face the real risk that political gridlock will hold us back. without a negotiated budget solution in which everyone comes together at last, we will again return to sequestration level funding, reducing discretionary spending to its lowest real level in a decade despite the fact that members of both parties agree that this result will harm national security.
the alternative to a budget deal, long term continuing resolution, is merely sequester level funding under a different name. and the longer that continuing resolution is, the worse it becomes. eventually resulting in a $38 billion deficit in resources for our military if congress chooses to pursue this path for the full year. the department of defense has done its best to manage through this row longed period of budget uncertainty seven years in a row of continuing resolutions making painful choices and tradeoffs between size, capabilities and readiness of the joint force. but the world has not stood still. russia and china have advanced their new capabilities and new imperatives such as ensuring a lasting get of isil have emerged. we need to be dynamic and
responsive. wheth what we have is a straight jacket. we would be forced to make irresponsible reductions when our choices should be considered carefully and extra strategically. it is therefore wasteful to taxpayers and stwri. it's dangerous for our strategy and frankly it's embarrassingit taxpayers and stwri. it's dangerous for our strategy and frankly it's embarrassing in front of the world. most importantly to me, for our men and women serving our national defense and their families, it adds an absolutely undeserved element of uncertainty about their future. finally, as we plan for the force of the future, i note the reports that will be submitted by service leaders came today to the chairman with their recommendations on positions they plan to open to women as well as any exceptions.
when i myself review these reports, i was gone coming on the quality of information and analysis behind the recommendations. i want to hear from everyone, but i'm less interested this who said what but why they are saying it. and to be clear, i will carefully review the information analysis from all four services and special operations command to make my final determination. as secretary of defense i'm committed to seeing this through because attracting the best and staying the best means that wherever possible, we must open ourselves to the talents and strengths of all americans who can contribute with excellent to our force. as i've said before, everyone who is able and willing to serve and can meet the standards we require should have the full opportunity to do so. i look forward to your questions on this or any other topics.
>> mr. secretary, do you believe based on what you have seen and heard today that russia has been targeting isil in the strikes that they took overnight or do you believe instead that they attacked perhaps some other opposition forces that have been waging war against assad and can you give us -- >> we have been observing russian activities and i don't want to go into detail about that at this time. but the reason -- one of the reasons why the russia position is contradictory is that exactly the potential for them to strike as they may well very in places where in fact isil is not present, others are present. and this is one of the reasons why the result of this kind of
action will inevitably simply be too inflame the civil war in syria. and why therefore it's ill advised to take this kind of action in support of assad only without pursuing a political transition there. and that's why we;''re trying t get them to that same position. so your question exposes exactly what is the fallacy in the russian approach into why it's doomed to failure. >> and is that -- i just want to make sure i understood your answer. are you saying then that the strikes were in a place where you believe there were no isil fighters and therefore leads you to that? >> again, i want to be careful about confirming information,
but it does appear that they were in areas where there probably were not isil forces and that is precisely one of the problems with this whole approach. >> mr. secretary, you've been dealing yourself with the russians for years. so russian general shows up this morning at the embassy in baghdad and afternoon pareppare note saying air strikes will begin in one hour. what do you make of that? as secretary of defense, is that acceptable military to military relations with you and where does this leave you if you sit down and talk to the russian military about a way ahead? is this not a little bizarre? >> you're right, i have been dealing with them for a6kç long time and is this not tthis is nf behavior that we should expect professionally from the russian military professionally and one reason why i think it's a good thing to have an avenue of communication that is less
unprofessional than a drop-in where we can talk about professional defense matters, but i think also, and this is something that will occur in diplomatic channel, it's important to see if we can get russians in a position where they are coming to understand the contradiction in the position that they now have and the possibility that by seeing that political transition and defeating extremism as pursuing something? parallel, maybe they could make a constructive contribution. but they're not on the path to doing that. >> what are your concerns for u.s. military pilots right now flying over syria? >> we're always concerned about the possibility of inadvertent incidents and lack of communication. that's why it's important to
have communication. and that's the reason for the talks. >> have you spoken with your -- why haven't you spoken again with your russian counter part as all this is happening and secretary kerry has spoken with his counter part? and getting back to barbara's question, given that there is a considerable risk to the u.s. pilots carrying out these missions without direct coordination with the russian, are you taking any actions to circumvent a potential -- >> the next step and next dialogue will be in the professional defense to defense channel. that's precisely our next step. that's the next step that the defense minister and i discussed when we talked. one that our president and president putin a couple of days ago. i do understand secretary kerry speaking to foreign minister lavrov. and i think these discussions are good. it doesn't mean you'll agree.
but it is it mean you have the opportunity to try to clarifyi mistake. >> will you be speaking to your counterpart? >> i don't rule that out. of course not. i've done it for many years in the course of my career. that's not the next step, though. next step is these talks which i -- >> i wanted to ask you about women this combat. there are indications that the marines have asked for an exemption or waiver barring some women from -- or women from some ground combat units, infantry units. is that true? >> let me back up. i don't want to characterize recommendations. there are no recommendations made to me yet. remember the process here which is the services are doing analysis. what they owe to first the
chairman and ultimately to me by the end of the year is their analysis, their studies, and their thoughts both about which specialties, if any, should be left closed to women and importantly how they intend to make any adaptations that are required. so there are many different aspects to this. it's all important. and the only point i want to make at this juncture since it will be some months before these things make their way to me and i to want to give the chairman the time to -- as has been planned for him to look at them, the only point i wanted to make is i am going to be very facts based and analysis based. i want to see the grounds upon which any actions that we take at the first of the year will be made. that's the frame under which
i'll be looking at -- >> in their summary that women are less lethal -- >> i really won't charactertize it. these things haven't come to me. >> mr. secretary, back to syria it. these things haven't come to me. >> mr. secretary, back to syria. were you notified in advance that russia is moving toward that target? >> i think it's been widely reported their deployment of aircraft certainly both in the conversations with our president and our secretary of state and in my conversations with the minister, they indicated a desire and an intention to conduct operations. and then you heard about a communication this very morning about the specific activities that happened today.
so that's the way we have learned. >> to follow up -- >> thank you, mr. secretary. back to the deconfliction issue. is it equally important now that we tell -- inform the russians when we're conducting air strikes over syria? for instance we conducted air strikes over allepo. does that go both ways? >> let's see how esven chew eights from this, about the conversations to exchange. but that's the purpose of the talks to decide exactly what kinds of information it is important to exchange to avoid incidents. >> yesterday secretary kerry said it would be an opportunity for the united states. do you agree? >> i said it could be but not in the form in which they now
conceive it as at least as they state it and described to me. and i tried to distill that into the contra particulars on the one hand saying we want to fight extremism and on the other hand supporting assad. we believe those are in contradiction with one another. and that a position that would sustain perhaps two of russia's objectives in a different way, but they would have to change the position, is one in which they fought extremism which we believe also obviously must be fought, but they backed simultaneously a transition in assad to a government that can end the civil war and preserve some level of decency and good order in the state of syria. but those things cannot occur in sequence. now, if they came to the
position of trying to achieve those two objective, a political transition and fighting extremism in parallel, then i think our interests would have some overlap. and whenever you have overlapping interests, you have the possibility of cooperating. so i hope we get to that point. but that would require a change from this current position which is as i said just not logical. the two pieces of it don't match up. >> mr. secretary, can you -- going back to the timing really quickly. since you just announced that the military to military talks were going to be going, you just announced it yesterday, were you not surprised that the russians began their air strikes before the talks even started? and secondly, when the talks do start, how can that not slow down the u.s.-led campaign against isis if you have to deconflict? >> it gets back to the previous question. they have indicated for quite some time they were going to
begin air operations and we have agreed to quite some time that we were going to get these talks under way just as soon as we could agree mutually on a place and time. we've agreed upon that now. those will get under way within days. and i think they will be very constructive. to the second part of your question, but intend to continue to conduct the air operations, the entire coalition does, to combat isil and other extremists in syria as we have been doing. he don't intend it mato make an changes in our air operations. >> you said, mr. secretary, that the russian strikes today were not an area where isis is present were where others were present. so if it those those others are syrian opposition, what responsibility does the coalition have to protect those opposition forces from air
strikes? >> your question points up the whole contradiction here in the russian position. which is that by taking on -- by supporting assad and thereby seemingly taking on everybody who is fighting assad, you're taking on the whole rest of the country of syria. that is not our position. we believe that at least some parts of the anti-assad opposition belong as part of the political transition going forward. so that's the central reason why russian approach shehere is doo to fail and i hope that they can over to a i wapoint of view whe they try to pursue their objectives in a different way that makes more sense, first of all, and second of all is one in
which we can share to some extent and therefore work in a common way. but we're not at that point yet. but i think it's worth trying to get to that point. >> -- responsibility for that for protecting them? we've heard in the past, i believe you've testified on the hill that the coalition has a responsibility to protect the opposition forces specifically the ones trained by the u.s. but the larger opposition forces, what is the coalition responsibility if they're coming under air strikes by the russians? and under strikes by the assad regime. >> we have conducted air operations against isil, al nusra and other targets. it is not our practice to conduct air operations against all those who are fighting assad for the reason that i've now -- i keep coming back to. which is that to simply twedefe
assad and not to pursue a political transition is only going to fuel the opposition and therefore the extremism and the violence. >> on the national defense authorization, you laid out the budget consequences of sequestration and cr of. are you going to recommend to the president that he veto the bill that will go up to the floor tomorrow? >> i and other advisers already have and he's indicated if it were presented to him in this form, it will be vetoed. this is the national defense authorization act. so that is the same position. >> and you are recommending vetoing the defense policy bill? isn't that somewhat of a contradiction here? >> no. we need first of all an appropriations bill that funds
the department. the authorization bill contains some of the authorities. at the moment, the authorizes bill makes no appropriations at all as you well know, number one. number two, it attempts to evade the question of overall fiscal responsibility with the so-called oco gimmick which is objectionable to me and also to the taxpayer are and war fight aer. and then final and he wily, it other provisions also objectionable to me. and i'll give you some examples. we have proposed for several years now reforms that extend from health care to force strufrkt. to better spend the defense dollar in areas where better
national security benefit is obtained. in the national defense authorization act, some of those reforms are key reform, billions of dollars of years worth of reforms are disallowed. not authorized. that's not okay with me. because that is taking dollars which i already regard as short for national defense and using them in a way which we the department's leadership has for several years determined is not in the national interests. so i need to be able to say to the taxpayer both that we need every dollar we're given and that we're using it in the best possible way and the national defense authorization act, several provisions of it, and this isn't a new thing, this is long standing, do not take into
account the judgment of the department. so there are actually several reasons why this is not a good bill. these are not mysteries. we have been very clear right along about all these things. and i don't think there is any doubt about what you are position is with respect to a veto. >> i have two quick questions on syria. the syrian opposition groups are saying civilians were killed in the attacks and strikes by russia today and the syrian national coalition president is encouraging now more than ever a no-fly zone to protect civilians. is that being discussed here at the pentagon. and also you had mentioned that the talks were going to be to avoid skiincidents and actions t would interfere in the fight against isil, but isn't the fact that a russian general would come and ask the united states to stay out of the syrian air space isn't that already interfering with the fight against isil? >> you've got several things
there. to get to the last part, i'll just say it again, we intend to continue our air operations unimpeded. i think you're asking about the possibility that the russian air strikes may have hit civilians. i cannot confirm that. that would be yet again a reason why this kind of actions by the russians is ill advised and will backfire. we are on the contrary as you know very careful to make sure that those whom we are targeting are isil, al nusra and other extremists of that kind and furthermore we are exceptionally careful about trying to avoid civilian casualties. that's something we work hard at and something that requires a lot of care and practice and
experience. so this is -- again, i can't a confirm that that occurred, but if it occurred, it's yet another reason why this kind of russian action can and will backfire very badly on russia. i'd like to get them in a different place, a more sensible place. >> and so the no-fly zone -- >> mr. secretary, bbc news. are you confident that the russians are acting in good faith or do you think that perhaps they might be messing with you? >> i take the russians at their word. they're exceptionally clear about what they're saying and their actions seem to reflect what they said they were going to do. so my problem isn't that i don't understand what they're doing. i think my problem is i think
what they are doing will backfire and is counterproductive. >> mr. secretary, aside from the sequencing aspect that you've talked about, the bombing of isil and then working on a political transition away from assad, putting that aside for a moment, would you and other u.s. leaders welcome russian bombing not only of isil, but of al nusra and of the khorasan group and other groups that the u.s.-led coalition has bombed? >> i think the president's made it clear, it ought to be clear to anybody, that if anybody who wants to join in the fight against isil or join the coalition of 60 countries have made that same determination. this is something, an evil that must be defeated. and i --
>> excuse me -- >> you're right, it's isil and other extremist groups of the same ilk. yes, those are the ones that we and the coalition are combatting and obviously we welcome contributions to that. and again, about if t if the rue their approach to one that doesn't have the contradictions that this one does, that would be a basis -- actually a welcome basis of cooperation because it's very easy to understand why the russians are concerned about isil. they have experience with islamist extremism also. sad and bitter experience. so i can well understand. on the othether hand, i think t this kind of action is only going to exacerbate that tendency for them to find themselves in the bull's-eye.
>> mr. secretary, time for one more. marcus. >> you had he predicted there would be a lot more murders and acquisitions from top queps companies in the coming yearsen acquisitions from top queps companies in the coming years. we've been seeing more of that. are these mergers starting to go too far? >> i can't comment on a particular case that is being determined at this time. i do remember back then. what i said then and still believe is that it was important to avoid excessive consolidation in the defense industry to the point where we did not have multiple vendors who could compete with one another on many programs and to the point where we had so-called vertical integration in companies to an
extent that made competition among some contractors for works on primes less excessive. so we do need a competitive marketplace to the extent that's possible. and at the time i indicated that i at that time in that role but i feel the same way now did not welcome further consolidation among the very large prime contractors. i didn't think it was good for the defense marketplace and for the taxpayer and war fighter in the long run. >> just to be clear, you're saying that you trust russia -- i'm getting an opportunity to clarify. >> one more from courtney. >> i just want -- you believe the russians are being true it their word at this point with
their air strikes in syria, you're taking them that they are being honest? >> they have said -- let me be very clear. there is no contra decision. they have said quite clearly that they intend to deploy forces in syria and conduct strikes there. and they have done that. and if you're asking me whether i'm surprised at that, i'm not. because they have been saying now a couple of weeks they will do that and as many in this room have reported, they have been accumulating the wherewithal to do it. thank you all very much. appreciate it.
the house foreign affairs subcommittee hearing that we had planned to bring you this afternoon right now in a recess. so members can attend votes on the house floor. we will bring that hearing to you this afternoon. its focus is on islamic extremism in russia. as soon as members come back from their floor vote, we will bring you live coverage of that as we intended. in the meantime, a portion of today's washington journal program when we spoke to congressman john fleming who is a member of the freedom caucus. >> we want to welcome back congressman john fleming, member of the freedom caucus, here to talk about spending battles and the new gop leadership. let's begin with the continuing resolution that will come to the house floor today for all of to you vote on. it's he suppose supposedly goin clean, that is no language
defunding planned parenthood. how do you plan to vote? >> i will vote against any spending bill that will fund planned parenthood. we may have the opportunity to vote for an amendment that would defund. we have voted already for a standalone bill that would defund and i voted for that. but if it does carry funding for planned parenthood, i will vote against it. and i think many republicans will. but there will be sufficient democrats to vote for it to get it passed. >> what is this amendment that you might get to vote on? >> well, it would be similar to the standalone bill. it would defer funding -- or actually i guess recircuit the funding to other types of women's health care clinics other than planned parenthood. so it would be the same money. in fact a little bit more money spent for women's health, but instead of planned parenthood that does abortion, it would go
to other clinics like community health clinics that do not perform abortions but do women's health services. >> is there congressman flores's amendment? >> i believe it begins with congresswoman black. i haven't been told the exact structure of the bill that we'll see. i'm told if we would get some opportunity to vote for a defunding, but that the ultimate continuing resolution would be a so-called clean resolution which means -- >> kevin mccarthy who is run to go replace speaker boehner is part of his leadership. >> that's correct. >> what does this say about kevin mccarthy and his future
speakership if he were to be voted for and win the speakership slot in. >> it will be tell to go see how he votes on this. when you have a leadership table, people who are elected to be majority leader like kevin mccarthy is, steve skalise as whip, they come out as a single team. in may be disagreement between them, but they all try to stick to the plan. doesn't always come out that way, but vast majority of the times, they do. so being part of the leadership team, of course kevin mccarthy would have to go along with that in most cases. however he might choose to vote differently. i haven't spoke to kevin about that. >> who are you supporting for speaker? >> haven't made a decision. and as you may have heard, the freedom caucus, we're 40 strong and we have other members who
are like-minded. we plan to listen to and look at all the candidates and not make a commitment until we hear to everybody's case. there could you vo >> could you vote for kevin mccarthy? >> again, i'm not committing. i haven't spoken with him. i want to see if there is something different that he's bringing to the discussion that we haven't seen already. i don't believe we should simply move that the chair is on the deck. i don't think we should just simply elevate everybody one notch and say we're going to keep the status quo. i think there is a reason why we need to make some changes in our leadership. not just the personality, but maybe some of the approaches that we have in washington today. >> it seems to be that there is more of a race for the majority leader position that kevin mccarthy doesn't look like anyone will challenge him for speaker.
so who would you like to see in the majority leader slot right now? steve scalise, tom price, and who else? >> well, first of all, there is a race for speaker. daniel webster thefrom florida running an has a good bit of support. >> could you vote for him? >> again, i'm noncommittal at this point. i really want to keep an open mind. as for majority leader, there are at least into, but there may be others running, as well. for me it's the concentration on the speaker. that's the important thing. you see, if kevin mccarthy is not elected speakespeaker, then won't be a majority leader's race. >> so what is the way forward them for the freedom caucus? >> we are going to begin meeting with the candidates and we want to make sure that this is an elongated process.
we have plenty of time. we have a month at least. and we want to talk with them, we want to hear what they have to say. we want to hear about their strategies and plans. and we want to make sure that held be inclusive of all members. and not just certain members of our conference. and we want to hear what they want to do creatively and innovatively to begin taking back the powers guaranteed to the u.s. congress through the constitution. >> for you does it begin with today and he vote on the continuing resolution? are you going to be looking at how kevin mccarthy, steve scali septemb se -- >> absolutely. because i think they're free to vote their own conscience. the speaker and the speaker's plan is retiring. so i think their vote says a lot about the future of their
leadership. >> let's goat caet to calls. joan, you're on the air. >> caller: this is back to the planned parenthood question. i was wondering, there is solutions to unwanted pregnancies like vasectomies or tubal ligations. and instead of -- but they're so prohibitive and out of reach of the average person that they can't look to that. and the pills and the cost is proceed prohibitive people that don't have money and other people that they have children that they wish they could limit. so i think there are solutions. they're not look in the right places. an secondly, planned parenthood is a misnomer. the name should be changed to women's health organization or something. because it makes it sound like the only thing that the organization is interested in is preventing pregnancies when it
covers so many enormous things for women. health issues for women. so i think there are some things that aren't being brought to the forefront that should be brought to the forefront and talked about and discussed to help to really, really help the women of this country instead of having a group of men and the few women deciding the futures of these people. and they have no voice in that. and i think they should make some changes. thank you. >> well, the american people have a big voice in this because they're the ones who elect us to represent them in washington. and ink think the caller is pivoting off of? huge myths. birth control pills can be purchased for as little as 12ed and in many cases they're free.
i am a physician and i've worked in free clinics. we have in louisiana only two planned parenthood sites, we have hundreds of community health centers which provide the same if not more women's health care, pregnancy prevention, breast exams, everything that would be involved the health of women for the same cost. which is basically tied to what your income level is and in most cases free. so if planned parenthood shut down today, there would be plenty of opportunities for women of low income to have women's health care. and even abortions. they're not the only abortion provider. but planned parenthood is the elephant in the room on that discussion. planned parenthood provides 40% of all abortions in the country. over 300,000 a year.
94 respe 94% to 97% of all the he prenat care in planned parenthood leads to abortion. so that is their core business. and then we find out the side business of selling the baby body parts. and the left would go crazy if we were selling kitty parts or puppy parts. but somehow many on the left have no problem with fashioning an abortion in such a way that you avoid injuring or destroying certain organs. and the law is very strict on that that you can't provide an abortion procedure in such a way as to preserve organs. it should be only for the good of that mother and not for the protection of and the ultimate sale of organ pieces. >> planned parenthood president cecile richards testifying yesterday that there are very, very few clinics, planned
parenthood clinics, that do the type of procedure where they would then toe natudonate the f shi tissue. so, then, why try to when that is legal, research involving fetal tissue is legal and abortion legal, why, then, try to take the federal funding away? >> well, that percentage is yet to be proven. we'll find out if that's true or not. that's not the point. the point is that there are miscarriages. there are stillbirths. there are plenty of opportunities to sell organs that occur from natural death. so, once you put in a financial incentive to take innocent life in the way you take that life, i think we have to be very, very careful of what that can lead to. because, remember, these women come into these clinics oftentimes unsure about what they ultimately will do. and we're concerned that if the
clinic itself is incentvised or the personnel financially incentivised, it means there's more innocent life that certainly would be legal because it is not allowed under law to coerce a woman into an abortion. >> we'll go to houston, texas, next. mike, a republican, hi there. >> caller: good morning. congressman, i kind of kept an eye on your history a little bit and thank you for doing what you're doing and your passion for -- >> thank you. >> caller: -- reforming washington. i think planned parenthood is a case study in government duplication. it provides $500 million a year annually to planned parenthood. but yet they also have obamacare. >> yes. >> caller: and it's -- you know, it just seems to be duplication. and the congressman just rattled off his efforts in clinics and such that are low-cost clinics.
so we have low-cost clinics and we have obamacare and we have planned parenthood and we're supposed to supply birth control. we have it on every street corner. >> right. >> caller: practically. so i'm just curious when does the audit happen? where is the audit? and in regard to the videos that were done of planned parenthood, "60 minutes" edited everything they did over the past 50 years. they edit everything. of course, there are edits. >> right. >> caller: but the words we heard come out of the mouths of the executives at planned parenthood. >> all right, mike, congressman? >> mike makes a lot of great points. he's right it's $500 million a year. we find out that the ceo of the company makes -- excuse me, $500 million a year and the ceo makes $500,000 a year. highly paid to do what she does. and we find out they don't even spend all the money we give them. and, look, the american people while we're sort of a mixed bag
on the question of abortion about 51% of americans feel like we should not be doing abortions. about 45% to 48% say it should be okay. the vast majority of americans do not feel that taxpayers should be coerced to fund them. or to subsidize them in the case of planned parenthood. and the caller makes a great point about the fact that now we have duplication. one of the selling points of obamacare in passing it, was that we wouldn't need taxpayer money for placed like planned parenthood, that all of that would be universally available to women anyway. and so what we have is thousands of community health centers that provide all of the women services based on income, and they do not provide abortions, of course. then we have planned parenthood that continues to get the same funding it always has. in fact, more, and they're doing more and more abortions. and then we have obamacare.
the truth is that a woman who needs health care but may not have income or needs to plan her family, that is all available and certainly based on ability to pay. and we're just stacking it one on another at the cost of taxpayers. and to be honest with you most taxpayers are not on board with that. >> who would you like to see from the house freedom caucus run for one of these leadership positions? >> well, i'm a big fan of a number of my colleagues on the house freedom caucus. jim jordan is our chairman. jim is a very, very consistent conservative. reasonable and thoughtful conservative. and i would like to see him in a leadership position. jim has been reluctant. as have other members to run. so it's yet to be seen. but if there is an opportunity, i would certainly get behind jim and perhaps other members of the
freedom caucus. >> reluctant to run also describes representative trey gowdy who tamped down any enthusiasm for him yesterday who said i'm not going to do it, i want to stick with what i'm doing leading the special committee on chapped in benghazi in 2012. >> trey wants to go back to south carolina, god bless him for that. look, what a lot of people don't realize it's not a glamorous lifestyle many times up in washington. many members live in their offices because they can't afford two households. it's expensive living up here and they have children and spouses back home. in my case, my spouse is with me up here and i can afford it. i don't have to live in -- but most of my colleagues, or at least many of them, it's a pretty spartan lifestyle and i admire them for what they do. >> is it what he told you he plans to leave washington soon
and go back to south carolina? >> at the end of his term. he plans to go back home and he wants to finish his work on the benghazi special committee but he loves south carolina and he loves his family and he wants to go back and spend the rest of his life there. like i say, i respect that. although he'll be sorely missed. >> kathleen parker's column today in "the washington post" "enter the brat pack" she's talking about the freedom caucus and she says "they came to washington not to govern but to fight but what does one make of a little boys' club of nothing to show for themselves other than a record for disruption and a talent for tan drums. the opposition won referring to the freedom caucus not because of superior skills or strategy but because john boehner's far more principled than they are. he just plays a longer game and understands what these pretenders are incapable of seeing, shutting down the government hurts republicans and it will hurt the gop's chances of winning the white house next year." >> uh-huh.
well, i think kathleen, unfortunately, has it completely wrong. look, this is what's happened. remember that when i first came to washington in 2009 that was the first two years of barack obama in complete control of congress by democrats. and what we got was a series of very bad bills and policies. we got obamacare. we got dodd/frank, we've got the stimulus which was a waste of a trillion dollars of taxpayer money. we got cash for clunkers. the list goes on and on. so we told our voters if you will put us back in control in the majority in the house, we will put a stop to this extreme left-wing agenda. the voters responded. overwhelmingly 63 new republican members put us in charge in 2011. and nothing changed. the excuse that was made by our leadership was that, look, we don't have the numbers. we have to grow our majority in
the house and we have to take the senate in order to really make a change in washington. our voters responded. they gave us the biggest majority in 70 years in the house. they gave us a new majority in the senate. and guess what? nothing changed. and our voters by 60% republican voters, that's our base, said that republicans have betrayed them. they feel like that we lay down at the moment a fight is discussed. and, look, the power of the purse is the only real power congress has. when you give the president everything he wants 100% of the time, and you calculate ahead that you're going to lose so you're not going to fight for your values and principles. i don't blame republicans in our base being very disappointed with us and feeling betrayed. so, we in the freedom caucus came together and said, look, we believe that we can be more creative and more innovative and we can do what the other side does and has done very effectively.
nancy pelosi and harry reid always fight for their principles and their values. i never hear them give up on anything. they're going to fight, sometimes it takes ten years to get what they want, but they finally get it. we, on the other hand, make the calculation that we're never without having all the nine justices that we want to have in the supreme court, and the president of the united states in complete control of both houses we'll never get any of our values and principles. and i just have to tell you that our base is not buying that. >> all right. we'll go to arlington, texas, independent, thanks for hanging on the line. you're on with the congressman. >> caller: good morning, how are you both doing today? >> just fine. >> doing great. >> your question or comment? >> caller: i'm so happy to get through today. this issue of the planned parenthood, i wanted to reply on the previous congressman. the way he's speaking to people is that as if they are not able to process information for themselves. since about 20 years ago people
who have been involved in low-income areas have been researching about the history of planned parenthood. and i, myself, had a parent who was working in parent -- planned parenthood. most of the people that work in planned parenthood are from upper middle-class areas, and have been put there for a reason to be working in these lower income areas, since many, many years. and the thing is when this friend of mine had researched about planned parenthood, she found out that margaret sanger, who was a racist and was, you know, promoting an agenda in low-income areas was the one who founded planned parenthood. the reason why i'm replying to this is because he is saying this individual is saying that we do not research what we are learning about these organizations. if anyone even opens the internet they can find out what
is the history of planned parenthood. >> okay. it was congressman xavier becerra. go ahead. >> she's absolutely right. margaret sanger is the founder of planned parenthood. she was the believer of eugenics which is what the nazi regime believed as well in those span of years. look, there's a disproportionate number of abortions among african-americans than there are other races. and so one would have to say it's decimating the black population. and there are many african-americans who are outraged about that. and so i think that's something to take note of. and even today planned parenthood continues to celebrate margaret sanger even though she's probably the most racist american in modern times. now, also i did want to address something else that was mentioned, and that is this idea of doctoring the tapes. the tapes are edited because
every tape that's put on tv has to be edited because these are hundreds of hours of tapes. but they have not been altered or doctored in any way. such things as someone going to the bathroom and urinating, that's cut out of the tape because that's not beneficial. but these -- these high offic l officials in planned parenthood unquestioning are saying these things on the video. they can run away from it and they can call it doctored or altered or whatever, and certainly we will have forensics involved in this, but there's absolutely no evidence that there's been any misrepresentation of what was said. these people were simply caught on video saying what they were saying. it was clear that they wouldn't say these things out in public, and that's often the way it happens. it's a cavalier attitude about the value of human life that we see with planned parenthood. and that's a form of depersonalization which, again, is how racism and even slavery
existed in this country for many years is this idea that we can look upon our fellow humans as being less than us. and in this case it's the unborn. if they are not really human, if they're only a body part of the mother, which is not the case, they have a unique dna, then somehow we can think of them as being really just a simple body part that's being removed. but that's simply scientific and as a physician i can tell you scientifically incorrect. >> we'll move on to john in virginia beach, democrat. >> caller: good morning. >> good morning, john. >> good morning. >> caller: i just want to make sure i'm clear on this. that right now if a poor woman who is on medicaid has symptoms similar to an std, let's say she catches the std from her husband, just make sure no one makes any moral judgments on this. she can go to planned parenthood
today, get treatment, and medicaid pays for that. if planned parenthood is defunded, they don't get a bag of money, she would have to -- if she wanted a treatment right there at planned parenthood, she would have to pay for that out of her own pocket. so, let's just say she lives three blocks from planned part hood and the nearest community health center is 25 miles away and she doesn't drive, so that's the effect of defunding planned parenthood, is that correct? >> there's actually two types of funding that goes to planned parenthood. there's appropriated funding which is what we're dealing with in this bill today. but there's also the mandatory spending that comes through medicaid. so, no, if we were to defund planned parenthood today, it would own be the grants that go to planned parenthood. it would not be medicaid funding. now, if we did stop medicaid funding to planned parenthood
clinics, planned parenthood would have the choice of treating them for free, which they supposedly do already, and also they could go to any local clinic, medicaid is accepted by doctors across the country and certainly the rural health clinics across the country and also the community health centers which are far more numerous than planned parenthoods would be happy to treat her for that. that doesn't even include the local health units which are run by the state, so she would have plenty of opportunities to have her std treated. and finally even if none of those things existed could go to the emergency room and be treated as well. >> for those of you who are interested in this conversation that our viewers and the congressman had about margaret sanger, other people have brought it up, and you're interested in how planned parenthood views her, you can go to her website and they have a fact sheet that they have put together on their view of margaret sanger you can find it on planned parenthood's website.
>> caller: good morning, representativecummings. my congressman is jim jordan, the awesomest dude there. >> i agree with you. >> caller: i urge you to defund this planned parenthood. i don't understand what's going on with the republican and democratic parties. you know, when i was growing up and stuff, you know, you as a republican, you was a democrat, it didn't have to do a lot with denying god on one side and being a religious man on the other side. and ever since the republican -- or the democratic party when they denied the [ inaudible ] and didn't want him in their prayers three times i kind of -- now i'm looking at things a little differently. and people are losing sight of defund planned parenthood, but it isn't the republicans that are defunding it. it will be the president by not signing it.
and you have to tell everybody and get it out there if you have to run commercials, the president is the one that's shutting down the government, not us. >> okay. >> well, what the caller's referring to is the fact that if we disagree with the president on a funding bill, that the government shuts down. that happened back in 2013. and he's making the point that that's the president who's shutting government down rather than a republican congress. look, what i tell reporters all the time is no matter what goes wrong in washington, republicans get the blame for it. i understand that. i live with that every day. but, you know, even republicans and republican pundits say, well, the shutdown in 2013 hurt republicans. and my question is, well, how did it hurt republicans? we shortly thereafter gained the largest majority in 70 years. why? because our base saw us fighting for our principles. and they know we can't always win particularly when we don't have the white house.
but at least they see us fighting for their principles. we lost the last presidential election largely because our base didn't show up. they just go, well, i don't know that -- that our candidate this time is going to fight for us. so, i think that that's how we get our base out to energized and to support us in these things and newt gingrich, you know, he should the government down twice back in the '90s. and we credits that as having brought forth the first balanced budget in many years and none since then. so, i think there's still some controversy over whether, quote, shutting the government down is a bad strategy. i'll just say that we never aim to do that. that is not a goal for anybody in washington. but to have a fight over spending i think is our constitutional responsibility. >> we're talking with congressman republican from louisiana serving his fourth term one was 73% of the vote the last time around and also member
of the armed services committee and natural resources. let's talk about this upcoming leadership race. the numbers don't change in the senate. you still will need a 60-vote threshold. president obama is still in office. the veto still exists. >> right. >> so even if you get new leadership, maybe somebody from the freedom caucus, in the ranks of leadership, how does the outcome -- how is the outcome any different? >> well, first of all, when you go in to that debate and discussion and battle, and you've already raised the white flag before you go in there, the other side doesn't have to negotiate. they don't have to compromise. you know, we're told all the time we should compromise with the other side but how do you compromise when you already give up before the discussion happens? look, we could do this. instead of waiting until the last minute and do a continuing resolution, which you saw representative xavier bacar say
it's bad business, i gree with that. because a continuing resolution all it does is continue spending in the wrong accounts, that's why we have appropriations so we can realign the accounts for whatever current needs are. why not instead start out much earlier in the year and pass the first of 12 appropriations bills and refuse to pass any more until the president signs one into law. the first one into law. we could be much more i think proactive in this and we could -- i think we could force our priorities at least into a compromise with the president but we refuse to do that. we just simply do the math and we just simply say, well, there's no way we can win so we're not even going to try. >> the current majority leader wants to be speaker. have you heard from mr. mccarthy since the resignation, the announcement of a resignation by speaker john boehner? has he reached out to you personally? >> he has. he has reached out to me personally. i have not spoken with him yet. we haven't had a chance. but what we're going to do is
call in all the interested parties to meet with the freedom caucus and we're going to as a group talk with him and others. why? because we want to hear what the other questions are as well. that's always a very healthy process. >> how much support does daniel webster have to challenge kevin mccarthy? >> he has a lot of support. the reason is -- >> you can watch the rest of this "washington journal" segment anytime at cspan.org. as promised we take you live to capitol hill and a house hearing, a house foreign affairs subcommittee hearing, on islamic extremism in russia. members resuming the hearing which began about 2:00 p.m. eastern time after a vote on the house floor. live coverage. >> and let me just ask, then, from your testimony you're suggesting that assad is not someone who is as anti-radical as we have been led to believe
and that he would -- if we -- and with mr. putin's involvement with assad, is not going to direct them toward isil but direct them towards his own -- or the nonaligned movement? >> i think that assad is -- obviously he's opposed to the jihadists and they're opposed to him. i just think that the way in which they look at the question is one of, you know, a highly machiavellian manner. that is who is threatening assad most now. it's not isis so much, it's these other opponents. therefore -- and who threatens isis in many respects? in other words, it's the competition among the other syrian opposition movements. so, that they have sort of a common interest at present that both would like to see the other opposition movements weaken. now, that doesn't mean that they're going to be friends
later on. in other words, that they're preparing for the day when they'll probably turn on each other. but at the moment it seems that they're not so interested in fighting each other, that they're both -- they both prefer to weaken the -- >> so those two groups are not interested in fighting each other, and at least one of them is interested in fighting assad and assad will then focus on -- if we help him -- only on that group and isil? so, you're saying that the isil forces are not at this point in attacking assad's military bases and things such as that and it's just -- it is the group that we -- by the way, just to note, i voted against arming that third force. i thought that was going to turn out the way things did in iraq. and so you're suggesting that that's -- that that group now is indeed leading the fight
against assad, that isil is not? >> obviously, it's many, many groups. in other words, it's not even as complicated as a three-cornered conflict. in other words, there's loads of actors involved here. but what it does seem is that at the moment it is the opposition groups that are not isis that are most threatening to assad. therefore, it's not surprising that assad is concentrating his efforts on these particular forces. >> but we have seen -- we've seen reports and one of the reasons why we voted against doing this is that there have been defections by that third -- by that third force supposedly to isil. in fact, some of the -- one of the major leaders of that group defected, and i -- the report that i read is he now commands a force that has made up -- half of which is made up of people from checkch cech ketchnia.
>> they left for the al nusra force which is not better. we're not a major actor in external actors asso erors oppo. and i think they have their own agenda. and so we simply haven't, you know, i'm not sure if it was ever possible to create this moderate third force. i don't think it necessarily was. >> could you tell me what -- what group was at the third group that you're thinking about or was it isil that just captured the -- and i will mispronounce it, idlib air base
which i think was two weeks ago? it was a major -- it was a huge victory for -- i assumed it was isil at the time, but it was a major defeat for assad's forces? >> i'm not positive which one it was who actually captured it. i just remember the very -- >> so, if it was isil and not this third force, you're -- the basis of your -- that would go totally contrary to the basic of what you're testifying today? >> i'd just like to refer to the u.s. embassy damascus statement from earlier in june indicating that the u.s. accused the syrian government of providing air support to an advance by islamic state militants against opposition groups north of aleppo. there seems to be sort of not an actual alliance but an alinels of convenience in many respects between assad and isis. if he has to give anything up
he'd rather see it go to isis at present than against his other opponents. >> but if the air base which was one of the major battles in the last six months because they've been defeating this -- defending this with their lives and this is a major part of their strategy, if indeed that was an isil attack, that does basically contradict your theory? >> it was an isil attack. >> that's correct. so, we'll find out. i'll look into it. what was that? al nusra? what's that mean? the group that did it was a al nusra. >> that makes sense. >> and al nusra to you is a radical islamic group? >> of course, it is. >> doesn't that go contrary to what you were testifying? >> if we're talking about -- in other words, if the focus is on isis per se i think one thing that we know is that they are
more radical even than al nusra. in other words, there has been competition between the al nusra front and isis. i'm not saying it's better that al nusra has made these advances but i think what we're seeing as the assad regime weakgens eventually we'll see a confrontation between the two. they won't kiss and make up because they're both radicals that there is going to be a conflict between them. >> with that, i'll have some other questions later. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you know, as i listened to your statements, i couldn't help but being a little bit confused in everything that was said here. first, let me make an observation. you know, i -- for the last few weeks we've been hearing about how the syrian army has been weakened and how it looked like there was going to be defections
and everything else. i really think that was a setup so the russians could come in and step in there in syria. and now today i understand that the russians bombed the free -- i wrote it down here. the free syrian army post. but that wasn't isil. so, what does all that mean? i mean, i assume that they were there to fight isil. can anybody -- i guess -- i'll get all three of your opinions because it's all diverse when you first gave your statements. we'll start with you. >> okay. yes, i think that in today's "washington post," you know, we've seen reports that in which the -- you know, the russians have claimed that they made an attack on isis, but that people, opposition leaders claimed that
the russian air strikes targeted civilians not isis killing 37 people in houma. the people in this area are opposed to isis said the vice president of the syrian national coalition speaking by telephone from the u.s. his accounts, of course, couldn't be independently verified. i think this is the heart of the matter. putin claims he's there to fight isis, but what he's really there is to protect the assad regime and protecting the assad regime, the forces that oppose him most strongly, and this isn't isis. in other words, he's going to hit whoever is threatening assad. he's not going to avoid those forces that are not isis but which are threatening assad, no. he wants to get rid of all the opposition to assad. >> dr. arron? >> before in answer to mr. chairman's question, putin is there to show that russia does not abandon its allies?
>> in complete contrast to what people are claiming about us. >> make your own conclusion. >> no, i'm just saying. >> yeah, yeah. well, and i think putin -- putin -- you know, that point does not escape putin definitely. well, you notice that immediately, you know, almost coincidental iraq now is cooperating with russia on intelligence matters. and we're now worried that what secrets are -- is our iraqi i guess allies are going to give russia. it was a headline today. so -- so putin is there to show that russia does not abandon its allies. on the more strategic level if i may reiterate, it's for putin to regain a very important geopolitical asset. russia is back in the middle east after sadat threw the soviet union out in 1972. russia is back.
and finally he -- it's an extremely important domestic political imperative for him to show that whatever economic difficulties they have, russia is a great power again, whether it's in ukraine, whether it's in -- in the middle east and god knows what's going to be next. so, so, these to me is -- i think is how putin calculates it. and it doesn't -- frankly, you know, so long as he -- as the regime of -- that he supports is in power, i think that's putin's strategic goal. who he has to bomb along the way is, you know, i think is a secondary matter to him. he leaves it to the people on the ground. >> what do you think? >> oh, i haven't seen reports what russian warplanes have bombed. my understanding is that russia's interests in syria require that russia has a say in the future of this country, but
the notion that russia would bomb any of assad's opponents i think is mistaken. russia has hosted negotiations between some members of the syrian opposition and syrian officials. russia has discussed, according to those opposition members as cited in press, potential participation of this opponents in the future government. so, therefore, i think as long as russia's interest in syria, which is the presence of the russian navy in their facility, continuing military industrial cooperation with syria, and ensuring that there's no failed state in syria, which is the largest concern of russia.
it would be open to accommodating potential transition to a coalition government in the long run. i would -- again, i haven't seen what they bombed. >> a coalition government, though, would be in favor of russia. >> that would take into account -- it's not black and white. that would take into account russia's interests which include ensuring stability of syria so it doesn't become a failed state and therefore does not become a haven for terrorist groups which then would attack russia and its allies, ensuring that the presence remains in syria as it has been and ensuring that russia continues to trade with syria in goods that led russia to diversify its economy which is mostly about oil and gas. syria is a major buyer of russian machinery, including arms, so as long as there's interest, russia will remain open to the dialogue and the
notion that it would bomb any of ass assad's opponents is mistaken. if you read what the spokesperson for the foreign ministry said openly what have been said privately by russian officials for a long time, that russia is not married to the idea of keeping assad necessarily in power. >> can somebody talk a little bit about the challenges that the russians military presence in syria poses to the united states in terms of a conflict in syria? what challenges do you see for us there? >> well, clearly, if, in fact, the u.s. has its own bombing campaign against isis and that's -- certainly russia has its bombing campaign, too, i think the main question is de-confliction. we want to make sure that the two air forces, well, don't run into each other.
and so this i think -- this is a serious issue, it seems to me. on the other hand, you know, other than that, i'm not sure that, you know, the russian military presence can really be seen as a threat to the united states, you know, russia has fewer troops in syria than we now have in iraq. and so it strikes me that, you know, our presence in iraq, we're not exactly being able to defeat isis with that. i don't think that what presence -- what russian presence we've seen in syria is going to enable russia to defeat isis, if, in fact, that's what it wants to do. i think that at best what they're there to do is to bolster the assad regime. i have to disagree with my colleague about who russia is or is not willing to bomb. i think that, you know, that russia is there to help the assad regime. the assad regime has, you know,
certain very urgent opponents. and, therefore, i think if that's what's necessary to attack, then that's what they will attack. i don't think russia wants to get deeply involved in syria, and in that case, you know, i think putin may have bitten off a little more than he can chew. but i think that -- you know, i've heard certainly people from the pentagon indicate that, you know, the u.s. can live with the russian naval facility on the coast of syria. it doesn't really threaten us very much. so, you know, i don't think that we are necessarily opposed to russia having normal relations, even, you know, favored relations with syria. and i think that at the beginning of the syrian conflict, our thought was that, well, just as moscow complains that after assad, russia wouldn't have any influence in iraq because the iraqi government would be pro-american and what we've seen is that increasing cooperation between iraq and russia. i think what we expected was that with the change of regime
in syria which, of course, didn't happen, was that the new syrian government would eventually after a certain pause would -- would have -- would restore relations with russia as well. but, of course, this is not, you know, what's happened. >> dr. arron, what challenges do you think it poses to -- >> no comment on that. i thought that, you know, the actual topic, the threat of islamic extremism in russia, i think syria does enter this simply because syria has become a training ground for the jihadists, from central asia, but north caucasuses, but my point was that i think we're saying something much more threatening, and that is the russian muslim minorities inside russia are beginning to go that route. they have very sufficient --
significant presence already in the troops of the jihadists in syria. and frankly if we thought that the chechens, you know, were a problem, they're 1 million of them, and there are 6.5 million of tartars and others and there's another 5 to 6 million inside russia including 2.5 million migrants from central asia, who are constantly going back and forth and central asia is completely now penetrated by isis recruiters and isis propaganda. so, so, you know, talking of danger to, you know, the united states, those things are very rarely contained within national borders. so, this to me is one of the offshoots, regardless of what putin does and what we do, i think that train is already in motion.
>> do you agree or disagree? >> well, i agree. and as i said in my written statement, the primary threat that emanates from that area is not whether assad stays for a bit longer or is ousted out, it's whether this threat of violent jihadists can be contained and eliminated. >> so you don't think it poses any challenges to our efforts in syria? >> i think whoever does anything, if it focuses on violent extremists or violent islamists in syria and iraq, whoever goes after them, it's in the interest of the united states and it doesn't pose a threat, just like it's in the interests of russia. >> we're going to have another series which gives me an excuse to be able to ask some questions as well, and then if whatever -- and if you'd like to ask more, we'll get that in as well. i'd like to place in the record
a letter from john quincy adams to his fellows about his observations about russia even as far back as john quincy adams who i believe was our first ambassador to russia. and he pointed out in his letter and lengthy analysis that the russian character had been developed in great part due to its constant fight with islam on its borders so that the russian character of actually -- and their national spirit had been brought about by this fact islam was in a time of expansion, and russia and the russian people bore the brunt of that. and thus, the idea that
something could happen in the islamic world that would be a great threat to russians is something that is not just what putin believes. but something that is ingrained in russian people who over the years have had tragic incidences with, for example, school in baslam i guess you pronounce it. is it baslam and i went to that area to see that school and to talk to the local people. and they end up with hundreds of their children being murdered basically. but that's not only, but you go through the years, this has been part of russia's psyche. i don't think -- look, is there something -- i don't think there's anything wrong with a country being led by a ruler who wants their country to be a great country. and now that -- and i heard mr.
putin's remarks to the united nations. and he readily admitted that russia had discarded the soviet union and this was a new situation. and they're back to what normal countries are -- should be judged by, not by standards that were established during the cold war when russia itself was being directed by an ideological zealous clique in the communist party, the same way radical islam is having such a major impact on islam. the radical islamists have that type of ability to impact on policies and large numbers of people through their violence. so, i really reject the idea that, well, putin is only down
there and russians are only down there to help assad, their friend. although part of being a great country is making sure that when you make a deal with somebody, that you keep the deal even when it gets tough, and you don't leave your friends in a lurch after they've risked everything for you. and it seems that in the last few years the united states h has -- my colleague accidently indicated, the united states -- yeah, some -- we've left -- we've left a lot of people behind here, and also the united states policy was, what, we had to get rid of saddam hussein, felt compelled to get rid of saddam hussein and now we feel compelled that assad in some way
doesn't hold power. i don't get that. i felt it was a mistake on our part. i vote ed against supporting president bush when he went into iraq. saddam hussein was not our enemy and guess what, i don't think assad is our enemy. and if russian is there simply to help assad and what might happen to syria even if assad is overthrown with non-isil forces, we -- i don't think that the -- it was the radicals that necessarily overthrew gadhafi. but when the moderates overthrew gadhafi with our help, we ended up with half of libya now being controlled by radical islam. and a threat to the stability of the whole region. maybe assad is like that. maybe no matter who overthrows him as mr. putin was mentioning in his remarks at the u.n., that
maybe this will create an unintended consequence of total catastrophe, not just assad being overthrown by someone who isn't radical, but by the fact that you have a power vacuum then and chaos that will be exploited by these radical forces that are clearly present in that region. so, i personally, number one, think that we ought to start analyzing russia. this is one of the reasons why you have this hearing. make sure that we understand what motives are going on here, and i don't think it's the motive that we had the same motive that when khrushchev put the missiles into cuba. i don't think that's the type of attitude we're facing in the world today, and that's a lot different and that deserved the outrage that we had at that time. but assad, being helped by
russia in the falce of this typ of turmoil, i don't see that this should be on our list of things to thwart. and it seems that our government is. back to the actual nature of russia and radical islam. do you think, with all the testimony we've heard today, i mean, it seems to me that isn't -- want a government of russia be justified in being concerned here that there are 5,000 russian people who might at the end of this come back home and start committing the types of terrorism that is being experienced in different parts of the world? isn't that a justified fear? okay. please feel free to comment. whatever. >> of course, it is. and the fact that a russian language is -- that russian language is the third most popular and that, you know, i
have all kinds of stuff that you cannot fit in five minutes, but, you know, there is -- there have been reports that there were graffiti in russia and syria which read putin, we will pray in your palace. or through tajikistan to russia which was one of the slogans of several groups. there is the islamic movement of isbeck st izbekistan. >> the issue is whether or not because the radicals feel that they're now motivated and backed and have experience, that they might go into that country and start killing people in large numbers, whether it's hurting a bunch of kids into a school and surrounding them with explosives
or whether it's setting off the type of explosions and things that we've seen in railroad cars in western europe. there are fewer muslims in western europe than what we have in russia, and they are suffering from attacks, terrorist attacks there. so, again, i think that it is -- the threat to the western -- to western civilization, to the non-muslim world from radical islam, islamic terrorists, is real. and it makes sense if someone is also a target for that, that we don't try to do everything we can to undermine their efforts. but instead at least try to find ways to cooperate. that's what this hearing's all about. and my colleague will now have his questions. >> okay. going to put that letter for the record? >> it's for the record. >> okay. i just have -- in trying to
associate the ukraine with what's going on in syria. and do you think it has anything to do with putin's decision to go into syria? the fact that now this, like, stalemate there. >> well, the most interesting reactions that i heard from the -- or read in the russian media immediately after, because it was a surprise to everybody. part of the issue with russia is that putin literally is his own defense council which is very difficult. it's a very dangerous situation. crimea was a surprise to his -- was a surprise to his -- to his ministers, to his closest aids, so was syria. so, the reaction from the russian analysts was -- one of the reactions. and, remember, i mentioned to you that there's a domestic political dimension to this. that putin is popular not because of the russian economy anymore. he used to be popular because
they grew 7%, 8% every year between 2000, 2008. he's popular because he embodies this dream of russia becoming a superpower like the soviet union used to be. >> that's called patriotism, right? >> well, it's -- well, we all -- we all want our countries to be great. the question is how we achieve it. that's a separate issue. >> call it something else. >> but the bottom line is the -- the -- some of the analysts, some of the most respected russian analysts, independent russian analysts, said one of the reason, not the whole reason, but one of the reasons to go to syria is that ukraine is no longer generates enough of this patriotic heat that makes -- not all russians, but quite a few to forget about the economic hardships, the 15% inflation, that the economy is
probably going to shrink 5% to 6% this year, that there is unemployment, that the pensions are growing smaller and smaller due to inflation. that food products are now 15%, 20%, 30% more than they used to be because of the ban on the imports and because there's no import substitution anymore. so, all of those -- >> the price of oil is down. >> the price of oil is down. the rubel lost half of its value. you see the headlines. we are in syria now. we are -- we are present. they listen to us. they afraid of us. they respect us. this is all very important. and this is, you know, answering your question, this could have been one of the motivations. and you said what's the connection to ukraine, and i could talk to ukraine for a long time. it's a very interesting subject, but for whatever reason putin now put ukraine on hold. i don't think it's forever. i think he's going to return to that issue. but there's something else now.
he is likewñ that man on the bicycle, i mean, that thing that, you know, when you -- when you put all your eggs in this -- what i call patriotic mobilization, you got to give people, you know, fresh meat. you know, you are riding the tiger which is great. but the tiger requires fresh meat and bloody meat every now and then. so ukraine is on hold. but syria is in the headlines. >> anybody else want to take a crack at that? >> thank you. yes, i think in addition to what dr. arron had to say about the d domestic political aspect in the link between ukraine and syria, i think there's also an important aspect in terms of relations with the west. in other words, that the sanctions that the west has imposed on russia as a result of actions in ukraine are hurting the russian economy. are hurting them pretty badly. and i think for putin in particular by making this
argument that we can work together in syria against isis, that this is, you know, a way to sort of restore relations with the west. and to some extent i think we've seen it starting to work. president hollande came out and said that maybe we should reduce the sanctions on russia now that we have to deal with syria together. obviously this is what he wants. although i did notice that most recently he indicated that what he wants to see is russian actions against isis, not just words about it. so, i think that and, of course, putin is taking advantage of the migration crcrisis. in other words, i think for a lot of europeans when it comes down to it, which is more important to them, is it the migration crisis or what's happening in ukraine? it's the migration crisis. and if -- if putin is going to provide a way out of this, but the question is can he? i'd like to also just get back to something i think an important point that congressman
rohrabacher indicated, in other words, that in addition to, you know, the geopolitical competition between the u.s. and russia, there is a basic philosophical difference about how to deal with syria. there's the russian argument is that assad as bad as he is, is less worse than isis, therefore, we should support assad. i think the obama administration's argument is that -- is that isis is so awful that he has contributed to the rise of isis. and, you know, the trouble with -- the real trouble i think is that both might be right. in other words, that both arguments have a degree of validity, which -- and what that implies is that whether assad goes or stays, isis is going to be a problem. and that's the situation i think that we're really stuck in, that, you know, it's -- you know, we can argue about how to deal with the syrian situation, but the real bottom line is that neither we nor the russians really have an adequate response
to this, that it's gotten -- it's gotten out of hand. and sort of whatever way we go, it's going to remain a problem. >> thank you. >> let's give our panelists each one minute to summarize what they would like to summarize on the issue. but one minute. and please then the chairman with his prerogative will have a final statement as well. >> yes. one minute is enough. i think if indeed dark and, of course, you know, i gave you the tip of the iceberg on the evidence. if indeed we're witnessing a tipping point at which fundamentalist militant islam is
migrating from north caucasus into russia itself, i think this is a huge threat to russia and the world. in addition to that, these types of things usually are enhanced by domestic political crises and pressures. and russia is in the very precarious state economically, politically even though putin would not admit it, there are all kind of strains. and i think while we're worried about the failed state in syria, i think we should also worry about how the terrorism could become an issue for russia and us. >> i would like to reiterate that u.s. and russia share common interests in countering terrorism and nonproliferation fights that emanate from syria and iraq, meaning terrorist
groups based there. and i think regardless of disagreements on the future of assad, both countries can and should work together to counter that threat, which is much more threatening, much more superior, than, you know, the transition in syria. thank you. >> the rise of jihadism in russia obviously not in moscow's interests and it's not in the interest of america and the west either. but this rise of jihadism in russia just isn't occurring in a void. the real tragic situation is that russia's muslims are not treated very well by the russian government, by russian society. and i think part of the problem that we face in dealing with this issue is that we can't either force or convince vladimir putin to treat his muslims nicely, and that i think is sort of the heart of the problem. is that it's a -- the muslim
issue in russia is not one that america is in a position to address. only moscow can do that. and at the moment it doesn't want to do so very effectively. >> well, thank you, all, for joining us today. just a few short thoughts, and that is, let us remember that when saddam hussein was eliminated, it brought chaos. when gadhafi was eliminated, it brought chaos. there were alternatives there, gadhafi in particular but also with saddam hussein. and we were told that the third force was our alternate to assad. and i think the russians are very concerned that even if assad is eliminated by this third force, even if that's the case, you're going to have just what happened in these other countries, chaos, which is then
exploited by the most radical islamic forces within those societies. and what would that impact on russia? which we described today. there is -- this is a greater concern greater concern than actually is in western europe. and we can see what's going on -- the frantic way western upis dealing with radical islam and the impact of it. president putin just gave -- not just. several months ago. i think it must have been six months to a year ago now, went down and provided the president of egypt $2 billion worth of credit, $2 billion, even at a time which we have had testimony of a weakness in the economy of russia. now why did that happen? is that because he wants russia to dominate egypt?
listen, russia is like england and other great countries in the world, in china and japan and india, these are great countries of the world that their leaders calculate what is good for their country, and in the long run, i believe the reason why that $2 billion and that help to the general was coming forward was because putin acknowledges that if radical islam were to take over in egypt that these other countries would be swept away in the gulf and you would have radical islam pouring into central asia and that would dramatically impact the security of his country and the future of the world. and i think that there is some strategic thinking going on rather than simply he is a tough guy showing his muscles to the
world and he is a gangster thug, which is usually the answers you get when you are trying to come up with a real a naturnalysis o the hell is going on with russia and these various parts of the world. so with that said, i think we need -- i will just add this. i think the united states needs to cooperate with people who are going to help us defeat radical islamic terrorism, whether it's putin or whether it's assad or whether who that is, because those people, especially have the united states in target for their terrorism. if a nuclear bomb goes off from a terrorist group in the united states, it won't be from russia. it won't be from assad. it won't be probably from japan or any of these other countries. it will be from radical islamic terrorists. and if we're going to protect
our people, we have to be rational and we have to reach out to those people who are the enemy of our enemy. i buy that formula. and i think it will make us safer. with that said, i appreciate the insights that this panel has given us today in understanding the world and having some good thoughts about what strategies we can use. this hearing is now adjourned.
updating the story from earlier today about russian air strikes in syria, afp tweeting, russia strike in homs kills 36 civilians, according to the syria opposition chief. we will continue to follow the story, including response from the white house and pentagon here on the c-span networks. republican presidential candidate donald trump will hold a town hall in new hampshire today. we will bring that to you from keene, new hampshire, live at 7:00 p.m. eastern. the c-span cities tour, working with our cable affiliates and visiting cities
across the country. this weekend we're joined by comcast to learn more about the history and literary life of santa rosa, california. considered part of wine country, we will look at the evolution of the wine industry. >> the agricultural history began with wine. the first vines planted here were by general valeo at the mission probably in the late 1820s or early 1930s, which is a very long time ago. they were mission grapes. nobody in their right mind would make wine out of them now. but, you know, with that wine country label that started in the '70s, by the '80s and into the 1990s, we were beginning to be better and better known. >> when my folks first purchased the ranch in the late '50s, they didn't know it at the time, but
it was -- they saw quite a change in the ag industry happening just in our little valley here. it hasn't always been the quote unquote wine country. we have wonderful storied agriculture history here in the valley and in sonoma county. >> we visit the jack london state historic park, once home to london. >> we're on jack london's beauty ranch known as the ranch of good intentions. this is where jack london lived until his death in 1916. jack london probably would have been writing long hand when people came upon him if his office. he was very productive here. in fact, two-thirds of his writing was published after he moved here. books like "white fang" was published in 1906, a year after he bought his ranch probl. "the valley of the moon" was published while he was living
here. jack london claimed he worked two hours a day writing because he would write 1,000 words a day before breakfast. i think a lot of his time was spent because he was trying to build the beauty ranch, the ranch of good intentions, so that it could be a model. that took a lot of his time. >> see all of our programs saturday at noon eastern on c-span2's book tv on american history tv, on c-span3. the commander of the pentagon's pacific command and its top policy official testified before the senate armed services committee on the future of u.s. military policy in asia. the focus was mostly on the threat posed by china's military and its territorial expansion efforts in the south china sea. this is about an hour and a half.
>> the senate armed services committee meets today to receive testimony on the u.s. policy in the asia pacific region. i want to thank our distinguished witnesses for appearing before us today and for your continued service to the nation. america's national interests in the asia pacific region are deep and enduring. we seek to have a peaceful expansion of free trade, free market and free commons air, sea and space and cyber. these are values that we share with increasing numbers of asia's citizens. for seven decades, administrations of both parties have worked with our friends and allies in the region to uphold this rules based order and enlist new partners in the shared effort. an effort that now extends to states like indonesia and vietnam. no country has benefitted more from a peaceful regional order in the region than china.
i am betraying my advanced age when i say that i remember being in the great hall of the people on the occasion of the nor normalization between our countries. since then, china's development has been remarkable and it is added to the prosperity of the world. unfortunately, we increasingly see a pattern of behavior from china that suggests that some of our highest hopes for our relationship are not materializing and they call in question formations across the pacific whether china's rise will be peaceful. indeed, many of the troubling activities have only increased under the leadership of the new president who will arrive here next week for a state visit. china's military modernization continues with its emphasis or advanced systems that appear designed to project power, counter u.s. military capabilities and deny the united states the ability to access and operate in the western pacific. at the same time, cyberattacks
against the united states are growing in scope, scale and frequency. billions of dollars worth of intellectual property, including sensitive defense information, have been stolen. many of these attacks, personally the recent breach at the office of personnel management, are believed by everyone to have originated in china despite the administration's unwillingness to say so. these growing threats are compounded by china's assertion of vast territorial claims in the east and south china seas which are inconsistent with international law. in 2013, beijing proclaimed an air defense identification zone own large portions of the east china sea. more recently, china has reclaimed nearly 3,000 acres of land in the south china sea, more than all other claimants
combined, and at an unprecedented pace. last month, china's foreign minister said it had halted these activities. but recently released satellite images show clearly this is not true. what's more china is rapidly militarizing this reclaimed land, building garrisons, harbors, intelligence and surveillance infrastructure and three air strips that could support military aircraft. these new land features could enable china to declare and enforce an air defense identification zone in the south china sea and to hold that vital region as risk. china is incrementally and un alaterally changing the status quo through intimidation, even force. its goal appears clear. the assertion of sovereignty over the south china sea, a key economic artery through which approximately $5 trillion in
ship born trade passes every year. as one chinese admiral told a conference in china about the south china sea, "it belongs to china." the united states has rightly rejected this view. as secretary of defense ash carter said in may, turning an under water rock into an air field does not afford the rights of sovereignty or permit restrictions on international air or maritime transit. secretary carter vowed that the united states will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows as u.s. forces do all over the world. unfortunately, it has been four months since that speech, but the administration has continued to restrict our navy ships from operating within 12 nautical miles of china's reclaimed islands. this is a dangerous mistake that grants recognition of china's man made sovereignty claims. these restrictions have continued even after china,
since its over naval vessels within 12 myliles as the presidt concluded his visit to alaska. after that, u.s. officials emphasized that the chinese ships did not violate international law which allows countries to transit other nation's territorial seas under innocent passage. that is true. but we have not been asserting our rights just as forcefully. we must uphold the principle of freedom of the seas for commercial and military purposes on, under and below the water. the best sign of that commitment would be to conduct freedom of navigation operations within 12 nautical miles of china's reclaimed islands in the south china sea. more broadly, the united states must continue to sustain a favorable military balance in the asia pacific region. we must remain clear eyed about the implications of china's
rapid military modernization. we must take advantage of new and emerging technologies to preserve our ability to project power over long distances and operate in contested environments. we must advance. we must invest in enhancing the resilience of our forward deployed forces and we must continue to help our allies and partners in the asia pacific region to build their maritime capacity. an initiative that this committee seeks to further in 2016 national defense authorization act. none of this will be possible, however, if we continue to live with the mindless sequestration and a broken acquisition system. all of us want to ensure we avoid miscalculation. but we only encourage miscalculation when there is a gap between our words and actions. it is that gap that china is has exploited to assert claims, bully its neighbors, destabilize the region and challenge the freedom of the seas.
ultimately, we need to think anew about deterrents. when it comes to china's destabilizing activities, it is not that the united states is doing nothing. it is that nothing we are doing has been sufficient to deter china from continuing activities that the united states and our allies and partners say are unacceptab unacceptable. the cyberattacks, economic espionage and theft, the land reclamation, the coercion of its neighbors and the assertion and attempted enforcement of vast unlawful territorial claims. we need to develop options and act on them to deter these admittedly unconventional threats or else they will continue and grow. they will do so at the expense of the national security interests of the united states, the peace and stability of the asia pacific region and the rules based international order. with that, like forward to the testimony of our witnesses today. senator reed? >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. let me first thank you for
calling this important hearing on a maritime security in the asia pacific region. and also thank the witnesses for appearing today. thank you, gentlemen, for your service to the nation, to the navy. thank you both. when senator mccain and i were in vietnam, we heard concern from almost every government official about the tension in the south china sea caused by the activities. vietnam is not alone if had this regard. china has undertaken extraordinary and unprecedented reclamation activities on disputed land features in the south china sea that have alarmed all of the countries in the region, most of which would prefer to resolve these territorial disputes through legal means under the u.n. convention on the war of the sea. these activities appear to have been the beginning as china has now turned to militarizing the features by building air strips and surveillance towers that i believe will further destabilize the region. while there has been some progress on the bilateral ast t
strategy to decrease this to the establishment of new risk reduction mechanisms such as engagement rules for safety, our efforts to date do not seem to have had an impact on china's aggressive tactics in the south china sea. i would like to hear from the witnesses on what the department believes is the best way forward to address this activity and whether current efforts are sufficient to deescalate tension and convince the chinese government to pursue legal and diplomatic solutions to its disputes with its neighbors. i am concerned with north korea's rhetoric that it's improving its nuclear arsenal contributing to the tensions in the region. admir admiral, i would like your assessment and update on the threat posted by the north koreans and how we are addressing it. i look forward to your testimony. >> i welcome the witnesses, secretary sheerer, it's nice to see you again and thank you for your continued outstanding
service, including as our ambassador to vietnam. admiral harris, i know that you are relatively new in your job. we thank you for the great job you are doing. we look forward to your testimony. begin with you, mr. secretary. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you ranking member reed and all the members of the committee for inviting me to join you today. i am particularly pleased to be here discussing the defense department's maritime security strategy, the asia pacific region, and to be alongside a very capable u.s. pacific commander admiral harry harris. last month, the department of defense released a report detailing its security strategy which reflects both the enduring interest of the united states has in the asia pacific and the premium we place on maritime peace and security in this critical part of the world. this strategy is one element of
the u.s. government's larger comprehensive strategy to uphold maritime security in the asia pacific region and protect america's principled interests in international law, freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful commerce and peaceful resolution of disputes. for 70 years, u.s. military presence in the asia pacific has placed a role in under girding regional peace, stability and security and will continue to protect these interests in the future. there are as you know growing challenges. trends and behaviors that we detailed in the strategy report. regional military modernization has increased significantly the potential for dangerous miscalculations or conflict in the maritime domain. strong nationalist sentiment inflame passion over disputes and discourage good faith negotiations to resolve them. competition abounds over significant but finite natural resources. and in the south china sea,
china has almost completed large scale efforts to reclaim land and construct artificial islands on disputed features in the islands. while land reclamation is not new and china is not the only claimant to have conducted reclamation, as the chart to my right shows, china's recent activities far outweigh over efforts in size, pace and effort. we are concerned about china's long-term intentions for these features and the potential for further militarization of the south china sea. as we stated clearly to the chinese, these actions are not only unilaterally altering the status quo, they are complicated the lowering of tensions and the peaceful resolution of disputes. let me be clear. the defense department is not standing still in the face of these challenges. we're systematically implementing a long-term strategy aimed at preserving u.s. interests and military access, building the capability of our allies and partners and
preserving the stability of the asia pacific domain. the department's strategy comprises four lines of effort. first, we're strengthening our military capacity to ensure the united states can successfully deter conflict and coercion and respond when needed. d dod is investing, applying forward and distributing more widely across the region. second, we're working together with our allies and partners from northeast asia to the indian ocean to build their maritime capacity. we're building greater interoperability. we are expanding our regional exercise program with a focus on developing new multi-lateral exercises and expanding training with southeast asian partners. the defense department ask also implementing a new southeast asia maritime security
initiative. this will increase training in exercises, personnel support and maritime domain awareness capabilities for our partners in southeast asia. on that note, i would like to express our thanks and appreciation to the members of this committee for their work to include a south china sea focus maritime capacity building authority in their draft of the fy-16 ndaa. i can't emphasize enough how important this is to our strategy. third, we're levering defense diplomacy and building greater transparency. we are reducing the risk of miscalculation. the department is actively seeking to mitigate risk in maritime asia through bilateral efforts with china as well as reduction measures. these and other elements of u.s. china defense diplomacy have yielded some positive results.
u.s. and pla navy vessels have successfully employed the code for unplanned encounters at sea during recent interactions. i would note that while the united states operates consistent with the u.n. convention on the law of the sea. we have seen momentum in promoting shared rules of the road. our efforts would be strengthened by senate ratification. mr. chairman, i would like to thank you and other members for your support on this issue. finally, we're working to strengthen regional security institution and encourage the development of an open and effective regional security architecture. it's an increasingly important partner and the department is enhancing its engagement. this including efforts such as our decision to host defense ministers for the 2014 u.s. defense forum as well as secretary carter's recent
announcement to deploy a technical adviser. throughout its history, the u.s. has relied upon and advocated for freedom of the seas. this is essential. nowhere more so than in the asia pacific. the department is constantly working to evaluate the strategic environment and to ensure we have the necessary strategy, resources and tools to meet the challenges we face. we're clear eyed about the growing complexity of this task. yet we're making progress that over the long-term will be significant in shaping regional security environment. we're making calculated and careful investments. we're gaining unprecedented access in the region. our relationships and interoperability are stronger than before. partners are enhancing their cooperation with each other in unprecedented ways.
we're deeply committed to the maritime security of the asia pacific region. we don't discount the extent of the challenges. we're undertaking a comprehensive effort to ensure that maritime asia remains open, free and secure in the decades ahead. thank you very much. >> thank you. admiral harris? >> chairman mccain, mr. reed, it's my honor to appear before this committee. i'm pleased to be here to discuss the asia pacific maritime security strategies. the united states is a maritime nation. the important of the region to our nation's security and pprosy cannot be overstated. almost 30% of the maritime trade, over $5 trillion, transits the south china sea annually. this includes $1.2 trillion in ship born trade bound for the united states. the asia pacific region is critical for our nation's economic future. for decades this region has
remained free from major conflicts alas vegas the united states and other nations, including china to enjoy the benefits of its vast spaces. however, the security environment is changing. potentially placing the stability at risk. rapid economic and military modernization and a growing demand for resources have increased the potential for conflict. freedom of navigation is under pressure. if not handled properly, territorial and maritime disputes could disrupt stability throughout the region. claimants to disputed areas use maritime law enforcement and coast guard vessels to enforce their claims while nominally keeping the issues out of the military speer. at that timety cal m the united states does not take sides on issues of sovereignty with respect to the disputes, but we do insist that all maritime claims be derived from naturally formed land features
in accordance with customary international law as reflected in the law of the sea convention. the united states also emphasizes the importance of peacefully resolving maritime and territory disagreements. we oppose the use of intimidation, coercion or aggression. the u.s. believes every nation large or small should have the opportunity to develop and prosper in line with international laws and standards. if one country selectively ignores the rules, others will follow eroding the international system and destabling regional stability and the prosperity of all pacific states. part of the role in the asia pacific maritime strategy will be ensuring all nations have continued access to the maritime spaces vital to the global economy. international recognition and protection of freedom of navigation is vital to the world's economy and our way of life. the safeguard the freedom of the seas, we exercise with allies and partners, executes freedom
of navigation operations and maintains a presence throughout the region. these activities help build partner capacity to contribute to the region's stability, enhance relationship, improved understanding of challenges. the asia pacific maritime security strategy outlines our plan to safeguard freedom of the seas, deter conflict and promote adherence to international laws and standards. it reaffirms our commitment with this strategy and in pursuit of the goals pacific commands forces fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows while continuing to strengthen rule of law that enable the peaceful rice of every nation in the region. it has been the rebalance to the pacific. the rebalance initiative almost four years ago by president obama set the countriy conditi this. the alliances and partnerships
increased security capabilities in the region. dod's new strategy capitalizes on the momentum of the rebalancing and continues with is initiatives. we will continue to employ the most advance and capable platforms as they are deployed or assigned to the pacific. use the forns presence of military forces to engage allies and partners to deter aggression. we enforce international rules and norms including the concepts of freedom of navigation and innocent passage. train and exercise with allies and partners to increase this and reduce this. continue deepening alliances and partnerships through efforts in places like japan, thailand and the philippines while building new and deeper military
relationships in places like singapore, india, vietnam and other like-minded friends and partners. thank you for your continued support to our men and women in uniform and their families who live and work in the vast asia pacific region. i look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you. maybe i could begin with this news report out of defense one, defiant china's message, south china sea belongs to china. it was a gathering in london. there was chinese and american and japanese as well as other military leaders. the admiral who commands the north sea fleet, south china sea is the name indicated as a sea area, it belongs to china. what our response to that, mr. secretary? >> thank you, senator.
chinese have said that before. it was nothing new for the admiral to have said that. if he was referring to the area of the south china sea demarcated by the so-called 9 dash line, it's clear to us that that is not consistent with international law. and we don't recognize the chinese claim to the area encompassed by the line. with regard to our operations in that area, we sail and we fly and we operate within that area on a daily basis. every time we -- >> you operate within that area. but you haven't operated within 12 miles of the reclaimed features, have you? >> we have conducted freedom of navigation operations. >> have we gone within the 12 miles of the reclaimed area? >> we have gone within 12 miles -- >> the answer, i believe, is no. >> we have not recently gone within 12 miles of a reclaimed
area. however -- >> when was the last time we did? >> i believe the last time we conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the south china sea was april of this year. >> within the 12 mile limit. come on, mr. secretary. i'm very interested in the 12-mile limit. if you respect it, then that's defactor sovereignty agreed to tacitly to the chinese. have we or have we not operated within the 12-mile limit in recent years. >> i believe the last time we conducted a freedom of navigation operation within 12 nautical miles of one of those features was 2012. >> 2012. three years ago. >> i might add, senator, if i may, that freedom of navigation operations are one tool in a larger toolbox that we're going to need to use in fixing this
issue. and we're in the process of putting together that toolbox. and as we move forward, we're going to consider freedom of navigation operations along with a variety of other options to ensure that both the chinese and the region understands that we can operate and we do operate anywhere we can. >> it seems to me that we ought to do it. because you see those area that is now filled in since the last time we operated within the 12-mile limit, that number of acres has been dramatically increased. and we have watched it and really -- well, the best sign of respecting freedom of the seas is not to defactor recognize a
12-mile limit and the best way you can make sure that that is not recognized is to sail your ships in international waters, which is clearly is. these are artificial islands. and pass right on by. and that then puts the lie to the admiral who said the south china sea is -- it belongs to china. it does not belong to china. it belongs to the international waterways that people are allows to fill in islands and therefore, they are suggest to a 12-mile limit. the best way to prove that they are not is to go ahead and go in it. we haven't done that since 2012. i don't find that acceptable, mr. secretary. with all the other tools you have in the toolbox, the most visible assertion of freedom of the seas is to peacefully sail inside the 12-mile limit, which
is not allowed to be sovereign territory of any nation. >> i agree with you, mr. chairman, that the south china sea doesn't belong to china. we have in recent years conducted freedom of navigation operations in the vicinity of those features. doing so again is one of the options -- one of the array of options we're considering. >> it's an option that hasn't been exercised in three years. admiral harris, what do you feel about it? >> sir, i agree that the south china sea is no more china's than the gulf of mexico is mexico's. i think that we must exercise our freedom of navigation throughout the region and part of my responsibility as the pacific commander is to give options to the president and to the secretary. those options are being considered and will execute as
directed by the president and the secretary. >> i have gone over my time. very quickly, with respect to china, do you agree that the united states has no effective policy to deter clie hina in cyberspace? the united states lacked substance and mindset of deterrence in cyberspace. >> i would defer to what the president said last friday when he stated that we can have a competition in cyberspace with china or with o other countries, but we will win. >> are we winning now? >> i agree with general clapper that deterring actions in cyberspace is very difficult. >> are we winning now? >> i think everybody knows that we have the capability to -- >> we have known each other a long time. are we winning now in your view?
>> i think it's too early to tell. we're doing our best. >> thank you. senator reed. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. just to clarify the type of operations, have we conducted flyovers of these artificial facilities? when is the most recent flyover? >> i defer to the admiral on that question, sir. >> we have not conducted a flyover of -- a direct flyover of any of the reclaimed lands and territories that china has reclaimed recently. >> that is another option that you have. but you have not exercised that option? >> you are correct, sir. we have a lot of options that are on the table. >> mr. secretary, just stepping back a bit, one of the things that's happening in china is
extraordinary economic volatility, growth rates that are being challenged, which if you have an insight, if you don't, then let me know, this economic and it may be long-term, it may be something that's -- is it encouraging or discouraging them when it comes to the policies? your insight. is it something that they felt several years ago that they had sort of turned the corner, that their economic power was so great that they could begin to move forward? are any of those questions being raced in china about their capacity or the alternative would be are they going to double down because they have economic problems at home and we can expect them to be more provocative? any insight? >> those are extremely relevant questions, senator. i'm not an expert on the chinese
economy. i think to the extent they rely on economic performance for its legitimacy, then i would suspect it's very concerned about recent overall economic performance. i think we have to be alert for the possibility that the chinese might use a problem in the foreign affairs to distract people's attention from their domestic problems. on the subject of chinese assertiveness, i think it's natural for a country like china that is growing in wealth to turn to military modernization. i think chinese military modernization and the growth of their defense budget has been extremely robust. we remain very concerned about the pace of growth in the chinese defense budget and the lack of transparency and the overall affect that has on regional stability and, of course, as they modernize one