tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN April 5, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT
education awarded millions of grants to help formally incarcerated youth and young adults successfully re-enter school and other educational programs. there are dozens and dozens if not hundreds of new programs that have been launched across federal agencies. there are now more than 200 communities that have accepted the my brothers keeper community challenge, representing 49 state stat states, the district of columbia, 49 tie bral nations. the 50th state is going to have a primary next week. anyway, that's the hint. it's been remarkable. there are some states in this country that have as many as six to eight to 12 mbk communities.
and what it's done is brought together the public sector and the private sector, local government with the help of foundations and others who have been doing this work for a long time to get together and design cradle to college and career action plans. that's the work that's being done in communities all across this country. and it's evidence based. and it's goal oriented. it's both ur gent and long term. in detroit, mayor duggan announced their action plan by more than 100 leaders and youth in the detroit area. the next five years, detroit plans to recruit and match 5,000 new mentors to employ 5,000 additional men to reduce
suspensions by 50%. and enroll its 4-year-olds in preschool. and they have matched strategies to get that work done. in boston, the boston foundation has invested millions to expand street safe outreach programs to youth at risk of violent crime. and they're doing this in coordination with the boston police department. and the mayor's public safety initiative. in philadelphia, philadelphia has already reduced school-based arrests by 50%. two weeks ago, more than 90 million dollars in new investments and mbk programs in philadelphia alone. $90 million just in philadelphia. d.c. has recruited 500 volunteers. they've given more than 100 student paid interintern shis.
we'll see a lot of tension around my brother's keeper and mbk. just recently in "usa today," it's published in the usa today. there was store are you about mentoring and how it relates to the president's initiative. there's a loot of effort brought to this by the private sector. to sum all this stuff up, let me just say the following. last may when we were with president obama in the bronx and he was there for the creation of the mbk alliance, he took a moment during his remarks to speak directly to the youth who were zbaterred there. and again, i say these things in the president's own words. these are very, very personal issues.
he said there's not one thing, not a single thing that's more important to the future of america than whether or not you or young people all across this country can achieve your dreams. the president is clear this will be important work for him after he leaves the white house aez his capacity will be among his priorities. whether it's my secretary hat on or whether it's to help lead mbk, everything that i get to do is about disrupting the status quo, focusing on what works and uniting diverse stakeholders to realize the president's vision for a more fair and equitable society. where everyone has a fair shot and everybody is in the game. and while admittedly social transformation is complex and often measured over decades, i can personally see from the trips i take across this country that we are getting closer aechb closer to that goal every day of a more fair and more eck quitable society. but again, we have a long way to go but it is making a
difference. i couldn't be more excited about the future that we will be able to leave behind after we leave the white house and beyond. i would ask you not to ask me any questions about the iowa caucuses. i'm not going to talk about those at all. it's a relty that we're getting closer to the end of this incredible administration. i don't b gloat, so this isn't a gloat. let's just stipulate that. democrats suffered some pretty significant losses across the count country we love to assign labels to the president, to the administration. there are some commentators referring to barack obama has the lamest lame duck in american history.
he was going to run the clock out. and some even said the president was tired and looking defeated. and i listen to some of that stuff and say they just don't know. that has not been the case. the president also said he called all of the his senior advisers into a meeting and talked about how we're entering the fourth quarter. and a lot of interesting things happen in the fourth quarter. the president is a huge sports fan as many of you know. in the fourth quarter, the first part of the fourth quarter, 2015, under the president's leadership, the follow things happen. we had 12 more months of job growth, adding to a parallel record of consecutive months of job growth. we reached an agreement to combat climate change. we reached an agreement with iran, with other countries around the world that verifiably cuts off all of its paths to nuclear weapon. we advanced relations with cuba.
we achieved conclusion with an historic trade agreement. we saw marriage equality upheld in 50 states. we saw an agreement to improve k through 12 education. we saw the president's announcement of executive actions to better protect communities and children ray cross this country from gun vie leps. all we will continue to do is not the result of an accident or lucky timing. it really is the result of a president who has steely determinati determination. his vision is focused on the future and he makes sure we work on the same approach. we're halfway through the fourth quarter. the president and all of his cabinet are going to hustle on every play and every down. let me finish with football analogies. there's a basketball one.
there ice no defense happening. we're not just there to say oh, please, do this to us. we're looking for an opportunity to execute until the very end, just like they do in the big house in better times. so thank all of you to listening to me. i look forward to your question, your observations, your suggestions. as long as you're not about the iowa caucuses. thank you for listening and go blue. thank you very much. >> good evening, everyone. i'm a ph.d. student here in education. and my research is in using collective impact for change in education. and part of that work is actually working with my brother's keeper initiative
here. and it's great to see some of the county leaders here this evening. >> we encourage you to continue to write your questions down. the first question here is for mr. johnson. what do you think is the goal the largest problem faced by people of color? >> there's certainly the material problems they face that relate to poor schools, living in impoverished neighborhoods, surrounded by violence. all the things we need to know to be true and that we to address. there's also problems that have to do with the changing the narrative. by the way they view themselves, the way they think people like
us view them, the way we view them. so much of what we do is based on the expectations that people have about us. so i think as much as anything, it's about changing the narrative in all those many ways. >> did you say there were some young people here from washington county that you work with? or did i misunderstand? >> you want my mike? >> i was mentioning the washington county of my brothers keeper and community members that are here this evening. >> would they raise their hands? great, thank you. thank you very much. >> my name is eric riley. i'm a senior. this is on ur inequality and how we incorporate social justice in urban development. and the second question we have today is how do you expect things to change with a change of leadership.
and what will be your next steps professionally. >> do i have to answer the second question? the first question is how we continue to work after the end of the obama administration. as i mentioned, we have been working across federal agencies, whether it's the labor department you recollect education department, even the energy department around national labs in s.t.e.m. education and opportunities, trying to make sure that we are able to make changes that people will be able to point to that will make a difference. we look at the a lot of program s in the way the greatest
disparities are. while i can't say that my brothers keeper will be an initiative of the next president, i know that we are going to try to make sure we institutionalize change that whatever we call brings about change we believe to be important in terms of changes. homefully it will continue to progress rapidly and well. it may be through that and other efforts that the president will continue this work. and for me personally, i will stay engaged in this work for the rest of my life. because it means that much to me. as well. and then i'll find sof other things to do after i get some rest. >> this question -- so this question comes to us from twitter.
how does the if the respond to criticism that mbk either does not do enough or is misguided in scope? >> is that a softball question? various heads of agencies view their role in the fact that it's a clearing call of the president that people really pay a lot of attention to it and feel accountable for making changes within federal policy. then also looking at how we've been able to get private sectors involved in this work that either weren't involved or couldn't figure out how to collaborate with other folks on the ground to make a difference. and the third thing i would say, i grew up in baltimore which is a pretty tough place when i was growing pup, it was tough and it continues to be tough and it's certainly seen its share of unrest over time.
we have to be able to prove it makes a difference. it's not going to be about happy stories. kids who smile and say they feel like the president loves them and their country loves them. we want to make sure we prove that's true, but it's done in intangible ways. i'm confident it's making a big difference. and we'll have statistics to show that. >> they look at specific milestones and they determine depending on the circumstances in their city, for example, in
some cities, youth unemployment, summer jobs is a bigger challenge than others. or expulsion of 3 and 4-year-olds in preschools is a bigger issue in some communiti s communities. that's true of 4,000 3 and 4-year-olds suspended. little 90-pounders. where you say come on. there are a lot of complications about that. we're able to make sure that communities have the flexibility urks of course, to do the work that is important to where they are. the fact that so many communities have agreed to do this work and are building sustaining work. it's not work that's like, okay, this will expire on january 20, 2017 but have three and four-year plans in place already to do the work going forward. >> is is in regards to your most rewarding and difficult cabinet members to work with.
>> they're all great. >> there's no more than that. i love my job. >> how can cities like flint, michigan, improve all the reforms necessary to improve conditions for its residence, environmental improvement, criminal justice resorm, mbk, private sector economic development. >> flint by no means can do by itself what it needs to do across the board in those areas that you mentioned.
we've been able, as i mentioned with regard to detroit, saz has been the case with baltimore, we sent federal teams led by by as much federal assistance as possible. i don't know whether or not that will be the case with flint. a place-based model of work needs to be replicated by the federal government, whoever is in charge. it has to be based on a broader view of the needs of flint as in any other city. >> i mentioned that communities
get together and they develop action plans. they're not going to address one of the six milestones, whether it's from cradle or reentry programs, about whether they're going to get the private sector to invest in collaboration with the public sector in those communities. the city in philadelphia, either based there or have strong operations there. maybe they haven't been talking with each other. it's always been about franchises and where they were going to put their next restaurant or whatever as opposed to what kind of jobs might be available for young people or apprenticeships or whatever else.
>> did the po tus wait too long in his administration to launch mbk? >> no. any issues whether it has to do with american economy an jobs ksz vgs ever having to do with health care, having to do with education opportunities and reforms that would lead to what we've seen in terms offen creased graduation rates and attendance and colleges. i think, again,ing what i say about mbk is that the president was profoundly affected by what happened in the trayvon martin situation and just decided that it was an important opportunity, given where the country was then and given b the circumstances to pull us all together in one particular initiate i, that was not to say we had been ignoring those issues before because we weren't.
>> what is the likelihood of mbk remaining a key program. and are there better chances under a democratic president of the united states? >> i'm not going to talk about partisan political stuff, except to say that we have -- well, this isn't except to say, because this is, in fact, true. we have found a lot of support among republicans, particularly in communities in claeps. we had a republican mayor who was one of the early mayors to enbors mbk. we've seen that in prez know, california. a run mayor did it as well. and we've gotten a lot of expressions for support. again, that funding can come through a variety of other things around department of education funding. we've seen a tremendous amount of support for republicans
around mbk and religious conservatives as well. it's one of the least partisan things we' developed by those who want to view what we do as partisan, which was not the case. how is the mbk task force encoloneling cities, especially with boys and young men of color to declare itself an mbk city? >> the good news is i don't think there are in of those left in terms of large, medium-sized cities. there aren't many. there are still some. you know, it's honestly keeping up with the 200 or so that are already mbk communities and making sure that all those communities are doing their work effectively is a challenging mission for us. this is something that has to be driven in local communities.
folks have to decide what kind of community they need to become. they need to make those determinations really. >> how does mbk talk about those often the ground, with the planning and implementation of mbk. are there leadership roles for black and brown male youth in the decision making? >> it is mandated, so to speak, under the mbk construct that your action plan address how you make sure locally that you have young people involved in the planning of the work. that's one thing that goes to equality of mbk plan. so that's baked into what communities should do. second, though, i've gone around probably to two dozen mbk communities the past year and always insist that the listening sessions, so to speak, or summit that they have, include young people in both the planning but also in terms of who i can speak to. and i can't tell you how many
times i've gone back to the white house having had a young person say tell president obama i said such and such. i remember once the president i had -- it's probably about a year after we started the mbk and "the wall street journal" wrote about mbk. i was feeling pretty happy about that. the president asked me not long after that, those aren't those editori editorials. how are we doing with mbk. he asks when he's out on the road all the time. >> how do you think that "my brother's keeper" works to address issues of young men of
color without the eraser of problems that young women of color may face? >> up with of the things i think we need to highlight more and should have highlighted better is that federal government cannot design programs that are race or gender exclusive. >> there's the constitution, and then there's just fairness. we have an emphasis on boys and men of color. some of the disparities that trouble the society, especially the case with them, everything we designed around mbk is gender or race neutral. if you're attacking issues where the disparity is the greatest, then it's going to have the greatest i impact on boys and young men of color. by no way is what we're doing
under mbk especially from the federal task force work helping girls and even helping all children quite frankly. >> i believe this is going to be our last question. >> oh! >> and it's a two-part question. so that's okay. >> do you have a one-part question? >> what's your most rewarding experien experience. >> what experiences helps you with your current role for mbk? >> so can i say something as sort of frivolous as going to see -- what's his name? my memory is fading too much, too. so it was one saturday, it was early in the semester when you don't have to study as hard as you do later in the semester.
going to see a michigan notre dame game and going to a jazz concert that night. and it's terrible. the name of that jazz musician. he's a trumpeter. he's deceased now. yes, miles davis. thank you very much. that was a trick question. i knew who it was. >> that was the most fun weekend i had in school. the most rewarding thing was not as a student. but it's been really quite frankly as an alum. and some of the things that i mentioned about my own children and my mom and stuff. they provide religious opportunities that are priceless. i'm really so drawn to that i think in terms of my job now.
what prepared me is the rigor of the studies at the law school and also the sense that if you're willing and able, kbhit yourself to do public service. and for me, i've been able to do public service and also private law firm and other work. but just a commitment to public service that i left here with since i needed to make a difference and give back. it's all very true. good way to end this question. thank you so much. >> so my thanks, of course, to our special guest. i would also like to thank all of you for joining us, for all of your questions. i hope you will stay for continuing the conversation out in the great hall. an i hope you'll consider coming back next monday.
we'll be hosting u.s. secretary of labor thomas paris. and so hope to see many of you back. >> he's one of my favorites. tell him that, please. tell him he's one of my favorites. tell him. >> and so just a final thank you. your thoughts, perspectives, all your experiences. we've learned a lot. >> thank you very much.
>> tuesday in the senate, the national security agent director mike rogers briefs members of the armed sftss committee on recent cyberattacks and efforts to combat isis in cyberspace. we'll take you there live, 9:30 a.m. eastern here on c-span 3. the book tells the story that the fact that the manuscript, this national treasure isn't what we thought. while also trying to chronologically think about what was madison encountering at the time. keeping those two narratives straight was quite tricky for a while.
>> boston college law professor mary sara builder discusses her book "madison's hand" which takes a critical look at the notes james madison wrote during and after the constitutional convention of 1787. >> madison took the notes on sheets of paper, anticipate then he folded the snees half, he writes on the front, across the middle andhe two pages across the backside. then at some point he sewed these pieces together into a manuscript. the last quarter of the manuscript, the holes that he had sewn didn't match with the earlier one. and this confirmed my suspicion that the very end of the manuscript had been written later. that was a really wonderful thing to be able to see in person.
>> experts discussed whether he can play a role in the country's future. this is about an hour. >> let me introduce our speakers. i'll keep the background short since. the biographies in your pack the es. >> so this is, again, the power profile. i wanted to frame the discussion a little bit about thinking about what that mean, what the opower and the profile, the personality and the exercise of
government power. . profiles are something that you can have more than one ofs a assad certainly has in his career. there's only one option for the power where you can't keep so many faces. let's bring the three of you back to the morning of march 30, 2011. syrians are on edge, dozens of protester, which seems like a lot at the sometime have been killed. there have been pictures of child protesters who have been tortured. there's a great deal of pressure on the regime. he's gfing a highly anticipated speech to the syrian parliament.
and tr's an expectation that's hardened into an assumption that he's going to announce major reforms. that doesn't happen. he talks about being duped and conspiracy. maybe you can talk about the shock of that moment. what it meant for this idea of who he was and the exercise of power in syria. >> i had the opportunity to connect again with many people people who defleect edefected. there's a lot of confusion and potential intrigue in certainly
the weeks and the days since the disturbances. what i learned from many of these people who were involved in the preparation for the speech is that there were many different drafts. one person that was a close friend of assad, who is no longer in the government, he saw the draft about an hour before bashar went to the syrian parliament to deliver his speech. it was full of concessions and announcements of reforms. so when assad gave his speech in the parliament on tv and this guy was watching on tv, he was shocked to see it was another version. and in this mine and other people who i met who were involved in that particular situation, they believe that
some of the security chiefs got to assad. and there was a tug of war between a number of individuals. some that he cracked down and that ultimately, the security chiefs convinced assad that they could put down the uprising in a coup of weeks and they could go back to normal. in my view, this was his moment. a lot of people in syria, opposition and pro assad were waiting for this moment. could he be the person they thought and hoped he could be. finally stand up to the hard liners and do something. and obviously, he did not. and there was a great deal of disappointment. there was a lot of d disappointment between syrian people and government officials i spoke to.
not just the opposition. >> andrew, why do you think he picked up one draft rather than the other? i think he saw what happened in cairo and happened in tunisia. and i think he feared that it was going to happen to him. i think that would be certainly a key factor, i think. it wasn't just that there were drafts. that was well known. davis is completely right. it's that they were actually given full paragraph to write in "the washington post" as a prelude to this great announcement. and then when it completely ended up being the reverse, i realized that we were going down a very, very different road. and i think it's -- you know, one of the things that truck me the most living in syria, especially was how much more
unpredibtable bashar was than his father. they used the word moody. in this case, i think he probably was on the horns of a dilemma. he could go down the road that david had mentioned 4 or he could shoot his way out of it. >> i think what we've seen from assad is the regime is extremely brittle. he can't really reform. it can expand, but it can't reform. if they desemiable their regime,
it will fall apart. say, i'm sure most people know, but assad and his family members are members of the alawite community. maybe you could throw in a little bit about what that means about the personalities of the regime and about assad's own connections. >> well, i'm sure together. the coastal cities were sunni cities with large christian minorities. they weraloite servants, but they didn't live there. the sifrt sense us taken by the syrians showed they didn't
havahavae alawites in the cities. the integration that's taken place, has taken place since then. and it's important, but not that important. it's modern. the alawites when they came to damascus in large numbers were called -- and i heard that word many times living there in 1981-'82. at the time, these mof dean people are alien from -- who have come in from the outside. and this has been the dilemma. the alawites were met -- the muslim brotherhood from the beginning, in the 1950s and '60s, saeed ha wa, described thethe alawites as unbelievers.
it would be like the first caliphate having to reconvert -- >> and yet assad married somebody who is from outside that community. >> yes, he has he. and so has the jordanian king. this nation building, the saudis made love not war. they made war first, but then then made love and tried to unite their kingdom on the marriage bed. assad was doing the same thing. but nation building was part of the process. but the alawite community felt very estranged. and when they -- when this first shooting began, the security people were telling everybody that they had been rolling up two or three cells of jihadists every month for the last several years. since the war in iraq. and that if you let this
demonstration, the young boys, most of them didn't know the bloodshed that had proceeded. they wanted reforms. but if you let them begin to go down that road of losing power, that the jihadis were going to take over. i think the regime people felt sure of that. so if assad had been tempted to go down the road of reform, the people around him said, you're a fool. you're naive. you don't understand the region. we're the ones who have been keeping these jihadis down. we've been rolling them up. we've been controlling them, manipulating them, sending them into iraq. you can't do this. you will be swept aside. and so he shot, and that's where we've been ever since. and i think it will be very difficult for him to let go, without feeling terrible revenge for the community and of course his family. >> it's interesting, on the
subject surrounding the speech, i actually wrote a letter to him through a contact i had in the syrian government, and i never knew whether or not he read the letter. and it was advising him or whatever, just making some suggestions regarding what he could do in terms of reform, presidential term limits, some of this sort of thing, trying to encourage him to be the person that we all thought he could be, that sort of thing. the interesting thing about it, i learned from two different people that he did, in fact read it. what's interesting about it, is not so much that he read it and rejected everything i said, but that there were people from two different sources who were close to him who brought it to him and wanted him perhaps to go down this road. i agree with my friends andrew and josh that, you know, i always thought that assad -- again, many people hoped he
would change the system. it seemed the system changed him. and that this system, con flexive dwulsive reaction. they use the hammer, not the velvet glove. >> this is an interesting question. it gets to agency. i went back and looked at the coverage of the speech and "the times" report included this line. mentioned all the things it did accomplish, and didn't accomplish. was to explode a narrative that had been written about the president since he had took office 11 years ago. that his efforts at reform were being blocked by holdovers from the era of his father. but in a way, you're saying that it didn't so much explode that narrative, but say, and they've won, and the holdovers have won. it brings to the question, did assad at that moment have power? >> the holdovers were gone. by 2005, you know, ba'ath party
regional congress, that summer, he was putting his people in. after the assassination and withdrawal from lebanon, he may have lost beirut, but he gained damascus and used that episode to secure his way in power. when i visited him in 2005 and early 2006, his people were in the cabot, they were in the ba'ath party regional command, in the military security apparatus. so there's no excuses in terms of, you know, him being forced to do it. it was his decision, and he had power. and he could have gone one way. it's easy for us arm chair historians or political scientists to say, you should have done this, made reforms and fought against the system. i had a top hezbollah guy tell me, he had the people with him, he could have used the people against the hardliners. >> so he could have pushed back against this message that you'll be swept aside -- >> he could have, but there was a gun to his head, perhaps.
>> or was he -- i guess the question was whether he was holding the gun. [ laughter ] but the whole idea, the idea of this young, aspiring reformer with the fashionable, british-born wife, was this always a delusion? was it our delusion? was it shared by syrians as well? was it ever real, or were we always taking the style and not really looking at the substance? >> i think that a lot of syrians certainly believed it. and early on, it was easier to believe because of course his father's term -- he had just died. and the only way was up, really. they had survived. i think bashar promised a lot. and there was the damascus spring and then later the reforms. there were a lot of reforms that were launched. and it was into that, that i came to syria and saw first hand, and people were giddy with the idea of reform.
because what had happened in the previous decades, not just under the assads, but the political turmoil since independence until assad, they really wanted to have some sort of soft landing to this. unfortunately that didn't prove to be the case. >> just to throw in a reminder, assad was only, i believe, 34, when he came to power, which is ten years younger than marco rubio, for perspective. >> and they had to change the constitution to get that. >> to 34. >> i don't think there's a lot of contradiction between those things. in the sense that i think assad came to power, he was fairly naive. he let most of the people out of prison that his father had imprisoned for decades. muslim brothers and so forth. the prison numbers got down quite low. he thought he could modernize. without changing politics, he thought he could put a chant in everybody's pot. but the reality of power
remained the same. he -- he may not have understood that he was going to have to do that, that he was gonna have to -- that he would face another hama and in a sense come out with guns blazing, but he's learned that. that's what he's learned over the five years, that he's got to win this war, or else he's going to lose. and that's what he's done. he probably didn't realize that he'd ever have to do this, and i think that the awkwardness of those speeches that he gave was of seeing a boyish guy, who was naive, trying to deny that he was going to shoot everybody. and he finally learned slowly that that's what was going to happen. >> i think one of the things, you know, talking about when he came to power and the expectations, the expectations in the west were way too high for him. the first time i met with him and after we exchanged pleasantries and i explained what i wanted to do and all that stuff, i told him, mr. president, the biggest mistake
you ever made upon coming to power in 2000 was letting it be known that you liked phil collins music. the british rocker. and he looked at me kinda weird. but i said, no, because that information was disseminated and it reinforced this image, this mythology that was building in the west that because he was an of that will molgs, non-traditional path to power, because he spent 18 months in london, studying ophthalmology. >> his father hadn't trained him the way his brother trained. >> he had several years after basil, although he was being groomed even though they deny it. he was supposed to be this modernizer and reformer, because of this unusual background. what people don't understand and what a lot of us have been saying for years is that, he's a child of the arab israeli conflict, the superpower cold
war, leb anonlebanon, and hafa more than 18 months in london, phil collins music and other things from the west. so there was this image that was totally inconsistent with reality and the reality of the syrian system. so when the expectations were not met, certainly in the west, therefore the disappointment was that much greater. >> what josh mentioned about how brittle the regime was, i remember the thing that struck me and when i realized how rigid it was, so when i -- for a time i worked for one of as-malad's charities dealing with world development and that charity, which did a lot of good work, did a lot of research in rural areas and did a lot of the -- had mapped with the u.n. a lot of the explosions that happened after the hama massacre, when everybody stayed home and there
was this huge spike in birth rates. and so the ngo that she had created was putting out all of this information, including to the palace, about here's this problem, here's this big problem we're going to have to deal with, and you're essentially sharing a bed with the president, and still despite all of the advice that would come out of that ngo, just in that narrow sense, there were -- the resulting reforms did not accommodate that growing population. so in a way, he had a sunni wife who was switched on and off to be able to map this kind of stuff, gave that advice to the presidency, but still at the same time, the system couldn't accommodate it. it simply couldn't change, and then eventually those people overwhelmed the system when they came out in the streets in 2011. >> for five years after that speech, somewhere between a quarter of a million and a half million people are dead. four million people in syria are
refugees. it almost -- we've talked a lot. give us a sense of what do we know about assad explains just the brutality of the war, the barrel bombs, the cities that are made to starve, the indifference to civilian life. the way the war has been waged, not just its persistence. >> if i could take a stab at that, i've tried to compare what's going on in the larger middle east, to what happened in world war ii in central europe. all these nations pull into palestine, multi ethnic, religious empires, lines were drawn. people who didn't want to live together were stuck together. in world war ii, that explosion took place. and the borders weren't changed, but the people were changed to fit the borders. poland was 64% polish, 100% by the end of the war.
that was true right down through romania. 12 million germans cleansed from central europe. six million jews. yugoslavia came later. seven nation states made out of it. you could argue that ukraine is being sorted out today. this is the great sorting out. as i've called it. the middle east is going through a great sorting out. we've already seen that with the jews being booted out of every city in the middle east and europe. they collected in palestine, they're the only minority that was able to in a sense become a majority in palestine. but all the other states were minority states because of colonial experience. sunnis in iraq, alawites in syria, and those minorities are clinging on for dear life. because they see it as a zero sum game. 20% christians in anatolia, all
ethnically cleansed during the turkish revolution. almost all the christian minorities gone from iraq as a result of this sorting out. and the sunnis and shi'ites fighting it out. now, syria's the same way. the alawites look at this world. they say there's no more christians in turkey. there are no more palestinians in palestine. of course there are, but there's not going to be a two-state solution, probably. the marinites lost. they look at a grim future. if they lost, high chances they would be ethnically cleansed. so they barrel bombed. they would use any methods in order to destroy their enemy. and they have. and that's because they see it as a quintessentially, you know, existential fight. and so the numbers haven't arrived to eastern european
numbers and of course it's religion that defines in a sense nationalism in the middle east not ethnicity as it was in central europe. so it's quite different. it's alawites, sunnis, jews, shi'ites, marinites. but what we're seeing, how do you put that back together? america wants to put all those people back in power-sharing units. they're trying to destroy this giant sunni state that's been created by isis. and to put everybody back into these 1919 states and make shi'ites and sunnis and everybody get along and i fear it's going to be very difficult to do that. >> what role, though, did assad play, do you think, in making this more of a sectarian and less of a political conflict, which it had some hints of -- maybe it never was one, but in himself becoming more alawite than he'd ever been, of other sides, seeing it more in religious terms, what role did
he play in that? was there a deliberation, was there an attempt to appeal to those sentiments? >> well, you know, it's much more nuanced than, you know, the alawites versus the jihadis, sunnis and so forth. the alawite leadership in syria, they've cultivated ties with the sunni business class, mercantile class. bashar played a particularly active role in cultivating orders, largely sunni, and it's much more mixed, his power base, than most people figure. many alawites were alienated from their fellow alawites who were in power. now they're coming together, congealing because there's no other alternative. and that's kind of the binary
situation that assad and his supporters have been trying to create in syria since the beginning of this crisis, that he is the only alternative. he's the least worst alternative. and the other -- the only other answer to this, the only other alternative is this jihadist state, with isis and al nusra and that's unacceptable to most syrians. >> i think one way that he's made it sectarian and dave is right, it's complicated. it's not like all minorities back assad -- the sunni community is extremely diverse. the one way he has made it sectarian, the biggest problem for the regime in syria is reliable manpower. because of the president's response to the uprising, recruiting that reliable manpower from the majority sunni population is difficult. so what he did, and what has subsequently happened, they re-organized the syrian forces. it's not just the syrian air
bombing anymore. you have the syrian defense forces which were partially trained up by the kuds force from iran, but also invited in hezbollah and shia militias from iraq, pakistan, and afghanistan. and that's not new. what causes problems is when they start showing up in places -- when these shia forces start showing up in places where there aren't a lot of shia, like in southern syria, for example. so with that, unfortunately, it plays into the jihadist narrative that there's this, you know, iranian-backed alliance supporting assad which is true, but they take it a step further and say the united states is in league with it, and that caused all -- they use it in different ways that end up costing americans their lives. >> talking about power, power means you can do something. or that's one meaning of it. could assad end this?
could he do something that would end this in some way? even theoretically, and what would that look like? you're laughing, so you get to start. >> he could walk out the door. that would end it. but he's not going to do it opinion. >> but would that do it? >> no. >> we talk a lot about the structures and -- >> let's put it this way, he's not going to do it. i was in brussels, leila was there with me, about a month and a half ago. and there was a group of ngos working on this situation and, you know, talking about and we were informing stefan, making recommendations at the time the negotiations were going on. and i just made this impassioned speech, if you will, that there's just no way they're going to give up power. there's just no way. they will fight. they think -- and i saw this even before the uprising, that
the well-being of the country is synonymous with his well-being. this bubble, this alternate reality that he talked about in his book, presidents for life, it's constructed around the authoritarian leaders and they see the world in a different paradigm, and the nature of threat is different. and they define that threat and what to do about it in a very different way than people outside of the bubble, even in syria. >> i think he thinks he's going to reconquer the country, russia's going to help him, and that will help him make everything right. and the foreign jihadist conspirators will all be kicked out and that syria will be saved. that's his slogan. that's what he believes. that's what he's intending to do, and i think he believe its. >> agreed. >> but speaking of leaders in a bubble, let me ask you, we're about to open up to members, questions. so let me quickly ask you just a
lightning round thing. it's next year, you're advising president trump -- [ laughter ] -- on dealing with assad. you're not going to get him to read a briefing book. so what's the one phrase you want him to keep in mind when he's dealing directly with assad in the way that he wants voters to keep low energy in mind when they're dealing with looking at jeb bush or lying ted. what's the slogan you want him to have in his head when he's dealing with that name, that nickname, that one little phrase that sums -- that would be helpful for president trump? >> you mean directly engaging withasa assad? >> maybe not in a room, but in dealing -- yes. >> i don't think any american president will be directly engaging with assad. >> or indirect. >> or indirect. but you're saying, how would you essentially deal with this? >> what would you tell him, when
he he's like, jeb was low energy, he was lying ted, who is this guy? >> it gets back to the original set-up. which guy is this? how do we figure out, is it bashar the reasonable reformer or the hardline dictator who's killed all these people? the only way to cut through that, that i know of, you would have to put him into hard dilemmas. and the only way to put him into hard dilemmas, you have to be willing to follow through on whatever dilemma you put him into. >> this is president trump, you just have to give him one sentence advice. [ laughter ] >> i'm not sure there is really an easy, one sentence -- i would say, set up your dilemmas well. >> i would say, if he was meeting with assad, and i'm president trump right now -- [ laughter ] -- which is the first and only time this will happen, i'd say, mr. president, you have to give up enough power. the crux of any sort of
political settlement, is, you have to give up enough power, if you're still in power and remain in future for the foreseeable future to satisfy the minimum demands of a critical population of the rest of the syrian population that has moved on, and that has gone on with their lives and have been empowered after five years without the state. >> so he's a guy who's got to give up some power. >> ain't gonna happen, but -- >> i would say, it's a bad deal. [ laughter ] that's what i would say. it's a bad deal. he's said it himself many times. this part of the middle east is a bad deal. we can spend trillions of dollars -- >> so your advice is stay away from there? >> get out of there. >> the guy to stay away from? >> there are more shi'ites from one end of lebanon to the other end of iraq. there's a majority. iran and russia are committed to a shi'ite cress ececrescent, if. a new security zone that's theirs. we can fight them for it.
and i'm argued with many people, there are people in washington who want to fight russia for that security belt. >> and i bet there are people here who have questions. how about you right there. oh, and identify yourself. >> claire ross goff. so much of this conversation has been about should assad leave, will he leave. is that irrelevant? what i'm hearing you say is the institutions and the regime without assad is still unworkable. >> that's a great question, because it has been the tension running through what you've said. >> i don't think it is. i think many of the middle eastern states are too brittle. you take out the leading family, it's like taking out saudi family from saudi arabia. what would you have left? you would have nothing, a bunch of tribes fighting each other. probably in jordan if you got rid of the hash might family, it would crumble. in syria, the generals would
fight each other, the same way the sunnis fight each other. they all want power. they've been played that way to keep them balanced, so they'll have to fight each other in order to consolidate each other. so if russia were to pluck him out with his brother and all of his attendants and his loyal people, you would get a hole in the middle of that regime that would cause chaos, coups, instability, and russia won't do it. because assad has rigged, he has made the state into a reflection of himself with alawites stacked and his family at the core. because he knows that a lot of people are trying to do just what we're talking about. and america's been trying to do it for decades. he needed to coup-proof that regime and he's made it into a mine, so it will turn out to be an afghanistan if they get rid of him. >> indeed that's russia's -- one of their main arguments. what has regime change done in the middle east? with the u.s., particularly in iraq, and what happened in libya? you've had the collapse of the
state. so regardless of whether or not you like assad, this is keeping at least what's left together, and any hope of something that resembles syria staying together. >> the problem, though, it's not stable. you know, if this is stability, i realize it can get more chaotic, but the sectarian war that's generated and attracts foreign fighters, the number of migrants and the cleaning that josh was talk about, those kind of things are unhinging european security. unfortunately assad staying is going to mean instability to a very high degree, and the question is whether we can live with that or not. >> thanks. >> good afternoon. the atlantic council. looking at the instabilities that you all described in syria, iraq, et cetera, is it in our
interest to sort of facilitate and develop the oftencible alliance with the sunnis and draw russia and iran in a protracted conflict there? because we don't want them to dominate that area. can we do that? are the sunnis capable of doing it? or we need to take a neutral, sort of obama-like position and say, well, we're talking to everybody, but we're not committing? >> i think you've spoken to it a little. david, do you wanna -- >> i have taken the position in some places it's popular and some places it isn't, that the obama administration has carried out the correct policy with regard to syria. i tend to agree with what josh has said. in that trying to interpret and calibrate your actions in an area like the middle east, especially in what it has
become, is just foolhardy, in my opinion. the mistake the obama administration has made is in managing expectations around this. the biggest mistake in this -- certainly assad's initial mistake of cracking down hard on the protesters was the west assuming that he was going to fall. following what happened in egypt, tunisia and elsewhere, and of course that didn't happen. and what that did is, by saying he's a legitimate -- by telling him to step aside, or step down, it backed the regime in a corner where the only choice was to fight in order to maintain power. in my mind, in meeting with russians from very early on, they had a better understanding of the situation in syria very, very early on that assad was going to stay in power and that this thing was going to be a protracted conflict for a number
of years. >> patrick theros, u.s. business council. served damascus in other days. i noticed the word ba-ath never appeared in your conversation. are there any larger sectarian institutions left in the levant, or have they gone away? >> yes. theoretically, you have not just the ba'ath party still functioning and the syrian state. what does it mean anymore? theoretically, it's there at the core of the regime. it gives the veneer of some sort of pan-arab rallying eth os or whatever you want to call it, theory. but the sectarianism which was always right below the surface in syria, i think now is the
primary dynamic. josh was talking about the shia crescent. it used to be when i first lived in the middle east that sunni and shia didn't come up as much. in syria, it was always discouraged. now people talk about it a lot. even businessmen from damascus that i meet when they come to beirut, speak in those terms. which is interesting, because it's in a mixed area where these things traditionally didn't mean as much. >> the woman in the back. >> thank you. hi, barbara slaven from the atlantic council. great panel, i agree. one of you, perhaps it was david lesch said we thought that assad was freddo and he turned out to be michael. so i hope i'm quoting you correctly. given everything that you said, what's the purpose of these peace talks that are going to resume, supposedly in geneva?
what's the best possible outcome? is it just a continuation of a lesser level of hostilities so that aid can be distributed? do you have any expectation that it would actually lead to a quote/unquote settlement? >> yeah, good question. i have a good friend of mine who is a u.n. liaison in damascus. remarkable guy, i saw him in one of my trips to beirut last year. and i put to him kinda that same question. i said, you're putting your life in danger in all of this for what? because it's almost an impossible task. and in a very emotional way, he said, we have to try. people are dying. the country is falling apart. and so you have these remarkable people that are trying to do the impossible. and they've given up these grandiose attempts in many ways and some of the u.n. special
envoys, they came in and they announced they wanted a holiday or a three-day holiday, and these things never had a chance from the beginning, but there's political pressure to do something dramatic. i think there's been a change with the u.n. approach to this, after a lot of people got to them and after the reality of the situation, that you have to try this incremental slow fix. and you have to work on the humanitarian issues. now, on the other side of that, the u.n. approach is the small steps, hoping to build up confidence and trust and the ink blot ceasefire type of approach. but now you have russia and the united states as well, trying to congeal the regional allies behind a common approach, and that's been a positive thing, in my view. but no -- as long as assad is there and saying such things -- and i'm not -- we were talking about this beforehand, maybe you
want to comment on it. i'm not convinced that the russians are going to really put pressure on assad to agree to manage transition, even though in talks we've all been involved in with russians and speaking with russian officials, they all say, one of the first things out of their mouths, we don't really like assad, we're not really committed to him. but they're committed to him being a strategic ally, committed to keeping this regime in power, and it happens to be assad there. and what we were saying about assad, in his view, in terms of staying in power, i just -- i just don't see something happening with regard to these negotiations. particularly cause the kurds aren't in there, which is a major issue in my view. and so it's just -- i just don't think anything can happen in the short-term. but the key is to keep it going.
that's what stefan di mist ura is trying to do, keep a process going, so it doesn't break down as dramatically as geneva 2 did. >> what the regime people say is, we would go to any meeting that di mist ura invited us to, even to the wedding of his son. then they say, well, what are we going to negotiate with, with this delegation that's there? the only militia leader that's there is mohammed el al ush and he owns duma, or half of duma. and we could negotiate to get that half of duma back from him. but none of them own anything. they don't own any territory in all of syria. what are they going to negotiate with us? they want assad to go, we're not going to give it to them, and that's the end of the discussion. because they don't own any land. >> can i just add something? i talked with one of the top security guys of assad in beirut, it was after geneva 2,
and he was the guy in the back room who was running things. this is the guy who was running it. and he was bemoaning this geneva 2 meeting and he said exactly, reflecting what josh said. he said, i can get on the phone and stop fighting on our side on all the fronts. i don't know if they could do that again, because it's become kind of dispersed. the regime forces. but i can get on the phone and i can stop it. who in this delegation can call and stop the fighting on the opposition side more than one little area, one little zone? so it's an issue. >> so in a way, there's a power question on the other side? >> yeah, from the -- but the grouping does represent a number of groups from throughout the country. but the problem with umbrella organizations is that you're never really sure -- you don't just have one address. and that's difficult. that's actually the u.s. homework in the negotiations, whereas the russians have a
different bit of homework. theirs is to make less rigid a historically very rigid regime. >> simon henderson, washington institute for middle east policy. thank you very much. the title of this is "power profile." and at the moment, i don't feel that i know bashar assad any better than what i did when i walked in the room. and what are the adjectives that -- or the single adjectives that you would use to describe him? we've heard he's influenced by the hardliners, the reformists, his wife. but you probably haven't seen yet and i haven't seen it, but there's presumably a personality profile written of him somewhere in the cia. what does it say? to me, he looks like a chinless geek. but is he indecisive?
is he evil? is he delusional? what are the words, the single words you'd use to describe him? >> which again might be useful for president -- president -- >> so i think the appropriate term here, and i've struggled with this over the years, and when i lived in syria, and i earlier used the word "moody," i think that's true. but it doesn't mean that he's not intelligent, certainly, and able to maneuver. i think the term that i've settled on is border line personality. i think he sometimes has bouts where he's extremely rational, and you can deal with it, and other times when i for the life of me can't figure out what he's doing. and i don't think the people around him can either. >> all right, what words? >> measured and desperate. measured because he doesn't make
decisions decisively or dramatically. and he likes to think things over, whether that's an active or passive approach, it depends on the situation. desperate, i think now because i think he realizes that for one, this dream he had of syria being, you know, this internationally recognized country that's integrated into the world community just isn't going to happen. and he realizes that he's -- he has to rely on the russians and the iranians and hezbollah to stay in power. so -- >> how about your words? >> i think he's rational. he's very limited by his world. he got out to europe once. he's gotten a syrian education, which isn't a great education. and he's -- the job was way too
big for him. he's shy. he's a little bit indecisive. but he's allowed the people around him, in a sense to -- he forms a consensus with the major security guys around him. he's got a loyal crew that are working hard, and doing -- but he's in a very brittle regime, where he cannot give up power for the alawites because all the people around him will be killed very quickly. and i think that's the major constraint. he's trying to keep those people alive. and the entire alawite community, the vast majority, agree with him. and you can argue that he's backed them into it, and he should have just flown away and they would have been okay. but that's -- you know, he did save his crew and ultimately he dragged his entire nation into this conflagration, but he may come out of it with the people of the coast alive. and if he does, then he will see himself as being a victor. >> i think part of your question
was also about assad as a family member. who is his family in his view? who are the people that are at the table who are part of the assad family, who he listens to? do we know? >> yeah. we have, you know, we have his immediate family -- i brought this along. i didn't think we were going to use it, but this is on our institute's website. this talks about the members of the assad regime. here you have the red lines are blood relations, the white ones are non-blood and it's broken down by sect. so we know who's in the regime. i think the hardest part is the visibility inside of the regime, in terms of the relationships between these people at any one time is difficult to ascertain. and therefore it gets down to, if you decide to pressure such a regime or take military action against such a regime, for
example, you don't really know what's going to happen. we know who is there. we just don't know what they would do in certain situations. >> and the family -- if we compare to the saddam hussein family, which i think is an apt comparison, because both represent small minorities that have dominated their countries through a single party, ba'ath party, fay loor a long time. the assad family is fairly functional. they're never killed anybody within the family. they've always been polite. even the assad who tried a coup when his brother had a heart attack in '84, got three chances. sent out of the country, came back in, sent out of the country. finally sent into exile with billions of dollars. but nobody in the family has ever been killed by another family member. and we can argue about, you know, before he was a family member, the brother-in-law but once he married the sister, they were good to go, and he was made
head of intelligence. he was in. so, you know, there's the mafiosi paradigm, but it's a middle class family. af sad was a dignitary who signed petitions under the french, the father, so there's three generations of being fairly upper middle class alawites, which is very poor, but they came from good stock. saddam hussein was an orphan who was taken in by an uncle who was a criminal, and he became a criminal himself. and he killed lots of his family members. so he didn't hold people together through consensus and using soft touch as much as the assads did. now obviously once that falls apart, that soft touch, syria was a much softer touch place than iraq was, but now it's fallen apart and it's becoming like iraq. but the family has held together
in large part because it hasn't been a terribly dysfunctional family. it listens to the people around them. and unlike saddam's family, which was extremely dysfunctional and crumbled quite quickly. >> mark timet. back to the question of "power profile" you said he had about three years from when basil tdid to when he took over, maybe. if he's tutored by kalil, bus rat, riffat, how could he then have declared the damascus spring? that's not exactly a reformist group. >> and he had served in lebanon, you know, as well in the armed forces. it's a good question. i think the one thing that
struck me early on in going to syria and i started going there in 2000, 2001, shortly after he died, was that he -- somehow the expectations they talked about that he was a westerner, or had been westernized were completely false. he did not spend a lot of time there. why he decided this, i think there are a couple of theories. one is that he thought he was naive, which we talked about earlier. there's also the model of the hundred flowers campaign, right? you let some people out of prison, you see what they say, and you see who goes back in. when actually it was the security apparatus which was probably closest to him. yopp beyond that, i don't know. >> if i can add, we don't know what was in his head. i actually believe that he intended to incrementally reform the system. but he just ran into this, he
inherited a dilapidated system, the old guard, and realized that he just could not make the changes he wanted. and he wasn't able to do so really until five or six years in his tenure in power. and i have this image and some people in damascus at the time, they were telling me, the damascus spring, which radio stations and private newspapers and salons and so forth, prisoner relief, that some of the security apparatus just came around to him and said, you know, hey, this is not how we do things. this is going to cause a lot more problems and therefore damascus didn't do that. he finally realized that he couldn't do what he wanted to do. >> john negroponte. you have a very difficult task, having overseen leadership
profiles or briefed them to the president or other leaders in our government, it's not an easy thing to do. you can get things really right, but you can also get them terribly wrong. but obviously it's worth working at. i have a question about how the israelis see bashar. because my impression over the years has been that their impression of the syrian leadership is more benign. they see it as in their interest that he stay in power. i don't know if that's still their attitude. but how do they view it? >> i've pursued that very question in israel, and i met with, on one occasion, this was before the uprising, you know, the chief of staff of the israeli military at the time, who thought that he was weak. which tended to be a dominant view when he came to power, that he was weak, and incompetent. was fredo.
and i met with his deputy who thought very much differently. that he had some promise, that he could keep this thing together. as the uprising came in, there's been this divide in israel to a certain degree, you know, regarding, is it best to see him go, and therefore iran and hezbollah are weakened? or he's a devil we know type of thing and we want stability? i had one israeli top general tell me, you know, during -- a couple years ago, in answer to that question, and he basically said, and this was recently repeated by another israeli military leader, i think, last week, or something, that we'd rather have isis on our border than iran. because we can deal with those guys. iran is a much bigger problem. from that perspective. >> my last conversations with -- in israel, is that they have
been confused. it was wishing both sides well. and i think that's true. but the problem, isis and jihadist groups are a tactical threat not a strategic threat. the problem is the reliable manpower pools that assad has had to rely on, are organized largely by the iranians on the groun ground. and they're not only iranian. but they don't like hezbollah in the south. that's in their sphere of influence. they say they were promised by putin shortly after the intervention that the russians would not support such campaigns. because the russians are in southern syria. so in exchange for that, in looking the other way, they weren't supposed to support iranian forces, but then they did.
and this is a big concern for israel going forward. and i honestly don't know how they're going to deal with it. i would expect with more strikes. >> only a couple minutes left. so a quick question from there. >> hi, jeff smith, center for public integrity. the overall impression i get from the conversation so far, which has been excellent, is, of a lot of players who are stuck. we're stuck. assad is stuck. the russians are stuck. so in a very unfair way, could you please open your crystal ball and tell us what you think will be present five years from now in damascus. just look forward. you've given us a sense of where things are right now, but project forward from where we are right now. it's an unfair question, i know it's difficult, but i'd still like to hear what you have to say. >> if i could start, i'll complete the painting i started out with. if the united states and the
international community had been willing to spend real money in syria, one could have done a yugoslavia where isis conquered easily. we're not going to do that, because we've stuck to our international borders and our plan of power sharing and returning iraq and syria to theirs. that means that we bowed out, really. america is busy destroying the sunnis of iraq with a sectarian shi'ite regime. and we're both cooperating in a sense to destroy the remaining sunni powers that remain this there. they will be oppressed. it will be unstable. assad will win a large hunk of syria, if not all of it back over the next three or four years, with russian help and iranian help. and there will be a shi'ite crescent that will go for the next 20 years or something,
defining that security zone. and america is going to increasingly be anxious about an unstable gulf with low oil prices. and that's where i see a lot of instability. i see us in the middle of this great sorting out. and i think we're going to see great instability and oppression in the middle east for decades to come. >> on that note -- [ laughter ] >> perhaps that's where we need to end since we're at the hour. >> i have one last thing. a colleague of mine saw assad a few days ago. and one of the big take-aways from his meeting was that assad said openly in the meeting that he was very eager to get a process going, because before the general election here in the
united states. which of course if you read president obama's interview in the atlantic, wouldn't be a surprise why. syria has become unfortunately a very controversial issue. barack obama is very staked out on this. the presidential candidates are not as staked out. but certainly hillary clinton has a different -- has a slightly different view, i think than obama, but hardly anything clear that would lead us to a direct military intervention or anything like that. >> that's a fascinating note to end on. and i'm sorry we didn't get to talk more about the american election and so many other things. thank you all so much for coming today and for all the great questions from members. thanks. [ applause ]
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politics, and for so many of my stories in "the washington post," c-span has been part of my research, providing me with quotes and insights about people. >> there are so many niches within the political blogo sphere and all of those policy areas get covered. >> how many nuclear warheads have russia have aimed at the u.s. and the u.s. have aimed at russia? >> it's a place i can go that lets me do the thinking and do the decision-making. >> watch house meetings, senate meetings, all sorts of stuff. >> good morning, everyone, phone lines are open. start dialing in. >> the interaction with callers on c-span is great. you never know what you're going to get. >> you're right, i'm from down south. >> oh, god, it's mom. >> and i'm your mother, and i disagree that all families are like ours. i don't know many families that are fighting at thanksgiving. >> and welcome to book tv's live coverage of the 32nd annual miami book fair. >> c-span 2, on the weekends, it
becomes book tv. >> and it's been a wonderful way of accessing the work of those folk who are writing really great books. >> every weekend c-span3 becomes american history tv. you're a history junkie, you've gotta watch. >> whether we're talking about a congressional hearing, or we're talking about an era in history, there's so much information that you can convey, if you have that kind of programming. >> whether it's at the capital or on the campaign trail, they have a camera. they're capturing history as it happens. it brings you inside of these chambers, inside of the conversations on capitol hill, and lets you have a seat at the table. you can't find that anywhere else. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> i'm a c-span fan. >> yes, i am a c-span fan. >> and that's the power of c-span. access for everyone, to be part of the conversation.
turkish president erdogan discussed the challenges his country faces, including terrorist attacks, the syrian refugee crisis, and relations with iran at a talk hosted by the brookings institute in washington, d.c. this is just over an hour and 15 minutes. >> good afternoon, everybody. welcome to brookings. welcome to our statemen's forum. our speaker and our guest of honor, president erdogan, is in washington at the invitation of president obama, to participate in the nuclear security summit. president erdogan is kind enough
to be with us at brook, this afternoon because it is part of our tradition and part of our mission to invite world leaders to address the issues of the day. and it's a particular pleasure that the first lady of turkey would be with us once again as she was back in 2013. these discussions are intended to be in the spirit of informing the global public and promoting civility of debate and respectful, constructive, and candid public discourse. we need as much of that as possible in the case of u.s./turkey relations right now. turkey has long been an especially important american ally, critical to american foreign and security policy.
it has been an ally for 65 years. this is especially a difficult period for turkey, as it is for much of the world. turkey faces internal and external challenges which all of us, whatever our own perspectives and concerns, hope will be resolved in a way that contributes to regional peace, strengthens bilateral ties between our two countries, and upholds the democratic values of the transatlantic community. we look forward to hearing from the president, his perspective. then my colleague, ambassador martin indyk will conduct a conversation with the president, followed by an opportunity for him to take a few questions from
our guests. mr. president, thank you once again for being back at brookings. [ applause ] [ speaking foreign language ] >> translator: director of the brookings institute, valuable guests, ladies and gentlemen, i would like to greet you with respect. brookings is celebrating its centennial this year. it's a pleasure for me to meet
you once again in this very reputable think-tank. i would like to start my remarks by reminding you of the fact that there has been a terrorist attack targeting our security forces. i denounce this. regretfully, we lost seven members of the security forces, lost their lives and have 14 injured police officers and ten civilians injured. i would like to convey my condoleannces it those who lost their lives and wish recovery for those who were injured. i am very sorry about these attacks, but those attacks will never keep us from fighting
terrorists. [ indiscernible ] we are determined and we are -- people are determined to make sure that terrorism is no longer an obstacle to the progress in our country. terrorists are being protected in one pretext or the other. and unfortunately keep attacking our country. we can't tolerate this anymore. the european countries and other countries, i hope will see the true face of the pkk
organization and other terrorist attacks. dear friends, today i am meeting you to discuss the global problems and my opinions about the approach of my country to all those challenges. recently humanity has achieved its most advanced point in history in terms of science, technology, medicine and many other fields. we have quite a wide range of interest, ranging from deep space into the sophisticated mechanisms of the digital revolution and internet that will make life easier. however, this brings about new challenges, including security.
for example, climate change, juxtaposition of income, poverty, hunger, irregular migration and terrorism are all problems that have an impact on the entire world and they're all related with each other. and they are all equally important. the international community needs to discuss how we can find a comprehensive solution to the global problem. however the global problems problems aren't discussed by the international community. on the contrary, the international community doesn't -- today turkey is located in the intersection of
the most specific geographical political fault line. most of the important crisis that keep the world busy are being experienced around turkey. we have a border of more than 900 kilometers with syria and 300 kilometers with iraq. and on the other hand, we also have a very long border with russia. so we are surrounded by troublesome territories. the crisis around us have separated us from our humanitarian approach and will never deviate us from that approach. on the contrary, we believe that such humanitarian approach is a must in order to constitute our stability and peace in our
region. and in the background, we base our approach on our ancient cultural and historical background and on the other hand we have made very particular achievements in the last decade. at the beginning of the sept ce, we were a country that was a recipient of foreign aid. i'm sure brookings institute has such data in its archives. today, turkey is the country that offers the highest humanitarian aid in ratio to its gdp. we are third in our humanitarian aid and we are the first in ratio to our gdp. if we can do any help, then we
always use your means to help people in need, even in distant geographies like africa, we are perceived as an honest partner and we are sought when there's a solution to the challenges they're facing. and we believe that for a better world and for more welfare around the world, we have to pursue such policies. ladies and gentlemen, beside the very evident fact, there are some groundless allegations against turkey. and i regretfully follow those allegations. i'd like to share with you a few examples. or a few facts to be honest. in the last 13 years, our citizens from all segments in
the society have been benefitting from comprehensive reforms. in 2010, we had the referendum and had the constitutional change introduced by amending 26 articles of the constitution. this didn't only offer new rights to our citizens, but also introduced additional mechanisms for the protection of constitutional rights.