tv Washington Journal Michael Breen and James Jay Carafano Discuss President... CSPAN January 17, 2017 3:09pm-4:07pm EST
possible as we move through the process. where we can move through the process, we will do so. we acted quickly to give information about farm payments and university funding. which is why we repeal the european community's action we will revert to the body of existing eu law into british law. this will give the country maximum certainty as we leave the eu. same rules and laws will apply on the day after brexit as they did before. and it will be for the british parliament to decide on any changes to that law after full scrutiny and proper parliamentary debate. there is one other way in which i would like to provide certainty. i can confirm today that the government will put to the final deal which is agreed between the uk and eu to a vote in both houses of parliament before it comes into force. >> and this morning, washington journal took a look at president
obama's foreign policy legacy and issues remaining as he leaves office. >> a discussion on foreign policy and obama administration with two gusts this morning. we are joined by michael breen of truman national security project and serving as president and ceo and james karifano of heritage, so both of you gentlemen, welcome. >> thank you. >> the big picture in foreign policy, is there an obama doctrine, a way of thinking when it come to approaching these matters, mr. breen? >> i think to evaluate his legacy, we have to put it into context. i think every democrat since truman tried have a theory to preve prevent conflict and create a world like nato, united nation answers unprecedent network of alie uns around the world and to try to strengthen the order if you will and prevent that kind of darkness that engulfed the
world prior to world war ii and in constant conflict from happening again. i think when we evaluate the legacy of an american president we have to put in that lens. i think what can you say about the obama doctrine is it has been primarily about no matter what the united states does in the world we do it with allies and friend. we try to put forward others in regional solutions to regional problems. and iraq is a good example. iraq is is not in good shape now and was not in good shape during most of the bush presidency also. have you a strategy that says the united states will unilaterally try to solve that problem with very few international partners or are we going to work patiently but with great resolve, taking risks ourselves. what we see now is there is house to house fighting in iraq but that house to house fighting is being done by iraqis. done by an army of predominantly
muslim iraqis trying to dominate an iraqi city, mosul. we have partners mourning out more now than we did then. >> i think we disagree on what the obama doctrine was. i think we agree there is an obama legacy but we probably disagree on what it was. but that doesn't matter. the most important thing is that legacy is about context. when they look at context they look at it in the present state and look back and say how did we get here? the example is harry truman. he could have run again but didn't because he knew won't be elected. people were very upset about the
korean war and his popularity was very low. for years when people rated great presidents, harry truman ranked at the bottom. that changed in the 1980s and changed because of ronald reagan because people perceived we were getting back into the cold war and truman was looked at as the guy that started us on that path. so his stock started to rise, increased in the 19 the 0s and today truman is actually fairly well revered by republicans and democrats. see how that changed over time. we will think things about obama over time. this isn't fixed forever. i can guarantee you one thing, the way we think about obama today won't be consistent over time. >> let me introduce, you folks, if you want it ask questions about our guests, now that you heard. one of the pieces i've read this morning, i nae legacy will change over time but one used
consistently is the word, restraint. when it comes to foreign policy. or how we manage this. would you agree or disagree, mr. carafano? >> well i think the obama administration was getting the world to balance. have you powers at the united states was in conflict with, iran, russia, china and to find some staysis. satisfy their needs and get to some balance then put the world in balance and that will allow the united states in a sense to withdraw influence and rely more on friend and allies to pick the burden. i believe that's the strategy. almost all of these things by themselves are never foreign policy. it is all relative. relative to the people you are competing against and relative to the interest you are trying to defend. there is no cook book answer. that's why even when you have a doctrine, which i believe obama did, you kabt always necessarily
stick to your doctrine. the enemy gets a vote and sometimes the enemy doesn't want to cooperate. >> mr. breen? >> i think that's about right. when in your inbox when you show up matters a lot. as you said, the enemy gets a vote. we have seen, russia is a great exam. many /* -- example of this. two administrations thought they would come into office and rebalance or reset with russia, and in neither case that worked out well. now it'll be interesting to see as the trump administration comes in a lot of discussion about how they calibrate on russia. how does that go? but the russians consistently decided they will do what they want to do and they will take advantage of whatever disorder exists in the system and whatever lack of balance, they have been good at exploiting that. so as you say, a lot of people around the world are just as smart as you are. some of the priorities, by the way, are legitimate.
what takes them into account is not necessarily wrong, the question is, are we attempting to reach a better state or better situation with adversaries, people who don't see our world view? or are we stepping into the shoes of our adversary answers adopting that a little too much. i think that's where the draw needs to be drawn. >> i was at a dinner with madeleine albright the other night, and i'm not name-dropping, but she said, no president starts with a blank page. part of your legacy is defined by what you inherit from the previous president. there are no do-overs in history or blank pages. often time i think we do a disservice when we talk about the legacy of a particular president. in many ways, continuity of challenges, that transcends individual presidencies. that's partially true for this president as well.
there is, historians a decade from now may be talking about the bush obama period as opposed to the obama period or bush period. 2027488002. with that thought in mind, under the previous president, president bush, we had iraq, that morphed into al qaeda, now isis. talk about the ability of this administration to pivot and meet those challenges and changes as you described them. i will pick up on iraq. u.s. troops were playing nintendo, iraq was at peace, we withdrew our troops and the president had no way of knowing the arab spring would break out and there would be a civil war in syria. one of the consequences, because we withdrew you are troops, and the president said i'm here to end the war, the warhead ended.
united states was there to reinsure the arookiraqi people. because syrian war broke out, that destabilized iraq. that became a major challenge. that was bad. most agree al qaeda has a bigger footprint, they stay more stealth than after 9/11 than when president obama came into office. and isis is a real threat. president said in his remarks that there hasn't been a terrorist attack, foreign terrorist attack on american soil since he took office. that's true. actually there hasn't been one since 9/11. but it masks the nature of the problem. the nature of the problems changed. ice s isis is global. isis manifests itself in different parts of the world. and the numbers have dramatically, the number of islamic-related terrorist plots
dramatically increased the last eight years. the number of people who have been killed by islamic terrorists attacks, if you exclude 9/11 is higher with obama than it was with bush. >> mr. breen? >> i will gently push back. i think is an important point. did the withdraw of u.s. troops lead to the isis situation? i think it matters not in a point-scoring way but it matters because it speaks the nature of the problem. the surge was effectively that high intensity that led to the nonviolence. it was intended to create space for iraqi civilian government to heal the wound that existed between the shia and sunni populations of the country. the withdraw of u.s. troops is part after story that is mostly about the malachi government
failure to make good ob on the promises that we and they made to sunni during the surge. the sunni tribal leaders broke with al qaeda despite an existential fear of the shia in iraq. what they in return is minority, secret repression, cut of the iraqi man structure and totally marginalized. so they made the kaz thcase tha with their only defenders. that a political crisis that leads to isis and to the situation in assuming the fall. i don't know what difference that 10,000 american troops would have made but it would have helped with the disintegration of iraq. i think we have to acknowledge what is the core that allows organizations to exist. they are parasites.
isis is a parasite on the lack of stable governance and lack of democracy human freedom in the middle east. until those dynamics change we will continue to play whack-a-mole against those actors. >> i think that's fair. but 10,000 troops would have been very helpful in wum. ing uppite racky army and preventing mosul in syria. if the united states had stayed engaged in iraq, the united states would have had much more authority. and being honest, when mosul is taken down, if the thing that is holding iraq together, large, because of the mall canachi leg and the fact everybody is fighting isis and as soon as they are done fighting isis i worry they the fight each other because we haven't had political progress. if the united states doesn't
want iraq to go back to the mess it was, when isis rolled in, i think the next president will find as president obama did is that united states will have to be engaged. although it is an iraqi war, let's not kid ourselves, if there aren't a lot of american contractors there and if america was not deeply engaged, iraq would not be recovering and the question is, can we then walk away like we did last time when the black flag comes down in mosul and my guess is if you don't want iraq to bring back the challenge it was with president obama then the answer is no. >> i agree. >> john, independent line, first for our guest, good morning. >> caller: good morning. i would like to ask your guests concerning latin-america. president obama early on outreached to venezuela, nicaragua, in the case of
cuba -- [ inaudible ] we have seen cube an rights deteriorate greatly. nicaragua and venezuela distancing from democratic practices. their president will have another term with his wife, as vo vice president. [ inaudible ] russia back in the region. nicaragua purchasing tanks. >> gotcha caller. let's start with cuba because that is probably more in the news and relatable. >> sure. i think these are fair point. i think with cuba, does a decade after decade after decade, isolating the island effectively, they had touch with
a lot of the world except the united states in a lot of ways. has that done much? i think the answer pretty fairly is no. i think those people would say that decades of infective u.s. embargo didn't hurt or improve human rights situation. so the question is attempting to open up ties, with the world's most vibrant democracy in the united states, does that help or hurt cuba? too early to tell. we are at a period that's uncomfortable as we calibrate. it is interesting to see what the new administration chooses to do. are they attempting to open things? i think that's the question. and it remains to be seen what is better for coupiuban people it is fair to say that isolating them in that period of time didn't improve their situation. >> in cuba, i would say that the evidence so far is pretty clear that it is em beldenned in the regime and deteriorating
somewhat and great economic benefit and the regime is stronger because of this. i would like to jump to venezuela. i think it is unfair to blame president obama for the situation in vaen day is la. venezuela is the closest thing we have to a failed state. that not all president obama's fault. these are decisions made by a government which had been can disastrous for the venezuelan people. i wish we had taken more time the last couple years preparing countries for that, for the shock aftof a potential collaps state. i think there is more co-have done in latin-america. i think there is a war between the anythinicaraguas, cubans, colombia, which is trying to pull latin american toward a different society.
and i think we could have helped more there. venezuela may not be a legacy for president obama but can be a legacy for mr. trump. that's a state that could see dramatic problems in the coming months and years. >> baltimore maryland, democrats line. doug, go ahead. >> caller: good morning. my biggest criticism of obama relates to american integrity. i think that the red line comments and inactions in syria were certainly disappointing. but more importantly in ukraine were my understanding and maybe your experts can comment on, the idea was the weapons for russian's guarantee for its territory and clearly we walked away for that. what does it mean for trust in us and since nuclear weapons was a big part of that. >> sure.
i think it is a mistake to that i ukraine is free from russia. we could go back and forth and say, could we have done more or less. i have my own opinions about that. in a situation like that, first of all, it's worth recognizing some of the political difficult things that europeans have done under american leadership with respect to russia. gas problem sanctions were not easy for the germans could do. they are dependent for most of their energy supply on russia itself. these are tough moves to make and they made them and made them in the faith that alliance between the united states and m europe feel free to continue. that was important to the united states. so we have made moves in ukraine. have they been as effective as we would hope? the reality of what the next administration will inherit is you have one of the largest land
armies on the bored der of ukra fighting with ukraine. in doing that we can escalate that game. more weapons, more troops, by proxy or do it ourselves. the question is like a game of cards, every time we ante up, the russians have the ability to ante up more. it is hard it to imagine an escalation ladder which the russians don't have there. it is on their border.t to imag escalation ladder which the russians don't have there. it is on their border. to imagi escalation ladder which the russians don't have there. it is on their border.to imagin escalation ladder which the russians don't have there. it is on their border. when you talk about two countries with massive nuclear arsenals, you can't ignore that. we also can't lose sight of the context here. this is not an easy question of sending the 82nd airborne. >> you know, maybe we talk about the syria red line. i think that's a challenge for the administration's legacy. i talked to a lot of, as we all do, talk to folks around the
world international community. there is a sense that was a moment in which the administration blanked in. secretary kerry talked about the event at the u.s. institute and talk id about the red line myth and how there wasn't really a red line. history doesn't see that as true. i think the administration had a red line. i think secretary kerry it was chief architect and i think he went along because he didn't think he would have to enforce it. he was caught in say theation of having to enforce it and enforce it with significantly escalated u.s. military engagement and the president didn't want that. he turned to congress and asked for permission to do it knowing full well congress wouldn't do that then the russians came along and said let's cut a deal. okay. i know how we got out but that's a -- that was an error and to rewrite history to suggest anything but that would be -- it would not be -- not worthy of
the administration as you look back. >> to be clear, this is the one major area where i've been publicly in disagreement with the administration for years. ity there is a lot to say about syria. i wouldn't want to lose the larger context of the conversation either. which is, crucially important for going forward. i have my differences with the administration choices. a lot of them in syria. but i had those differences in the context of what else should we have done? i think that's a tough question. it is a big mistake to pretend there is a linear answer. or that syria would have produced a significant result. >> he will stay as long as russians and iranians want. >> if we want it kito kick assa, we aren't going to war with syria. we have interests with the humanitarian concerns and of course there are countries that we are concerned about. iraq.
jordan. israel. and i agree. we have marginal things we can do. i think ukraine is the same way and the point about the last call about didn't we have an obligation it ukraine, no, it wasn't an ally of the united states. nato is a treaty ally, we have clear obligations to defend nato, and it is in our vital interest to do so. on the other hand, peace and security of ukraine does effect the peace and stability and security of western europe so we have an interest there. there are operations under the minsk agreement. i would hope the next administration would press for the russians to honor it. that's important. >> next call, from baltimore maryland, democrat line, doug. >> caller: are we a second shot? >> oh, you already did. thanks for your honesty. james, go ahead. >> caller: yeah. i just want to go back a little
bit towards iraq. and i want to talk about the fact that it seems to me that american people have forgotten that at time that obama pulled out of iraq, that's what the american people were screaming for. they wanted that. they wanted us to pull out of there. didn't want our troops there. they felt that this isn't a place that we belong. why are we policing the rest of the world. it was that kind of atmosphere that was going on. and now all of a sudden, everybody seems to have forgotten that that's what everybody was screaming about. that that's what everybody wanted. so they are saying, oh, we pulled out, that created isis. i'm not saying whether that did or didn't. but i think that we need to remember what happened. and having said all that, i really do believe that obama tried to do peacefully some of the things around the world that i guess everybody wants done but as much as i kind of liked obama, i still believe that in
the united states, if we don't operate from a position of strength then the enemies around the world, those people who don't care, are going to take that as a weakness and they are going to lash out. i mean, when we have a ship in the middle of the ocean and the russian planes bug those ships, we didn't nothing about it, all that did was embolden the russians. i think that's the kind of things we need to look at. >> that's an interesting question. to get back to the question of iraq, i think that's good context and that's right and i think public opinion turned against the iraq war very, very quickly. i remember experiencing that first-hand. one of those guys in iraq in 2003 and 22004. i remember what it was like when public opinion started to change so dramatically as war went fro. i remember what it was like when public opinion started to change so dramatically as war went from
supposed to be a couple months in quick regime operation to what was a decade of counter insurgency. which is no picnic by any stretch of the imagination. i think there's a deeper question here which is, would the american people prefer, all the rhetoric aside, let's be honest, would the american people prefer that the army in iraq be done by iraqi answers special operators, contractors or is the intelligence community supporting them, would we prefer the iraqis fight through the streets of mosul against isis or rather our own 19, 20, 21-year-olds do that. it is one thing to talk about american position of strength in the world and another thing to be prepared it back that up with our own treasure and blood and i think where mistakes happen, where you said it occurs, is when the united states draws lines or makes security
commitments and talks tough and is not prepared to back it up through action. i think people see that throughout the world. i think administrations including this one have come from the disconnect that happens between the rhetoric and what you are prepared to do. the walk and the talk. i don't think the incoming administration can afford to make that mistake. american leaders want to talk tough. unless it is backed by ironclad commitment, everyone else in the game knowes it is meaningless. >> i think the legacy of harry truman has relevance. as harry truman was getting into the korean war and looking at prospects of running for president again, americans freaked out when the korean war broke out. it was for the first time that they thought that they might actually end up in world war 3. these are people that lived through world war ii and incredible devastation and last thing they wanted in their lives is to be the worlds policeman and find a war to end all wars.
they looked at harry truman and were really angry. there are a lot of decisions truman could have made that could have been military expedient and set him up for reelection but weren't the decisions which would have been best for american foreign policy and not just liberating south korea but preventing that conflict from expanding. he made the tough calls. which is why in retrospect we look back and admire him so much. he made the tough calls. even when it was against his political interest. so sure, americans like things, don't like things. wildly popular until they weren't. foreign policy is not pop lear right now. presidents face a popular contest and foreign policy once every four years and that's twice. elect and re-elect. other than that, they are paid to look after the interest of the american people. sometimes american people are unhappy with them, sometimes happy with them. but their job is to balance
politics and interest and put interest first. there's a difference between popular will an popularity. popularity is, do i like soap today. i do like wheaties. popular will is, am i willing to be governed. americans have enormous popular will. sometimes we hate our presidents and boycott the inauguration and stuff but we still believe that our president has a responsibility to govern and we will accept things. sometimes you do things that are unpopular. but if you truly believe they are in the vital interest of the united states you will do them anyway and recognize that by and large, even if americans hate you, they will go along with that. look at vietnam. americans turned against the war in 1968. that may be true. but we did not leave vietnam until 1973 and did not cut the vietnam vietnamese off until 1975. this is a war the americans were
unwilling it fight but kept it going for a long time. >> vernon, democrats line, from maryland. >> caller: hi. my name is vernon. we need ask a question. i'm a soldier and i want to know from your guests, how in iraq and afghanistan, without pulling out, before republicaning for office, how long until the americans pull out. now i want to know from guest, keep saying he pull out. [ inaudible ] and how long can america be in afghanistan and iraq for long time? some get burnt out and want out of that country. i want to hear what they say about that. >> sorry. well, first of all, if that part of the world is at peace and there is peace and stability we
can kind of stay forever. look at nato. we have been in there for a really long time. and there hasn't been a major land war in europe in the longest period of europe's modern history. that's why i argue, if u.s. troops in the middle east might have been fine because nothing was happening. it is easier to have troops there and interest nothing happen than to go to a place and fight. >> first of all, thank you for your service and your continuing service. i think this is -- yes, u.s. troops deployed around the world under peaceful conditions with the consent of the people who live in the place where the troops are is a good thing. it is a lot easier to be there and to try to get there when something goes wrong. that what the legacy has been and will continue to be for example. korean peninsula is another good example of that. that said, none of this is
risk-free. and i think to your earlier point, about popular policy, we can't forget that one of the big pieces of foreign policy is the choices a president gets to make to send americans to kill and die in places where they weren't born and never would have gone either wise and probably never heard of 10 minutes before the parachute opened. that a massive responsibility. and as we have come to rely on and to the military which had eight dividend, the best military force in probably the history of the world, that said i'm concerned it further isolated that question of what the american people are willing to buy into and sustain versus what president he was want to d. these long wars are tough for countries like the united states. it is tough for an american family to have their son or daughter deployed abroad at risk for years at a time. we have sustained through this
policy for two administrations and one of the smallest militaries per capita we've ever had. i have many friend and colleagues. eight, nine tours in the middle east. and not nintendo tours. the question is, can we continue to sustain that. are their community willing to sustain that? are we continuing to shield from democracy which i think is a dangerous game to play. i run an organization that is name aefd harry truman, for a lot of reasons, some of which you mentioned. we can't lose the fact that this is a democracy. especially when we put our people in harm's way, we freely elect to make that decision and those who pay the price in blood. >> i think this something we agree on. and i think this is something that has been true the last eight years, that the united states should be the world policeman. i think realistically, it is not
practicall practically. no one thinks that's the right thing. when the united states uses course for purpose and puts our men and women in harm eway should do so when there is a vital u.s. interest at stake and that's the best way to protect and defend that. i think the american people get that. if you are doing this for the right reason we are with you. and the men and women who volunteer to do that, they get that. they've had eight tours but there is a reason why they keep going back. they love this country, love defending this country, never apologize for that. i agree with you as if their lives are thrown away if they are on a mission that is there for politics or there for somebody else, not there, in a sense, defending us, they would be frustrated and angry at that and i know they are. but if they feel they are fighting for us, as you know, we were both in uniform, have you
no problem. you want every president to sit at that desk and first thing out of your mouth is, is this in the vital interest of the united states and are we doing what is feasible, and would you ask everyone to make that the at forefront of how they make foreign affairs study's vice president, and carafano from ford foundation. also joining us, mike green of truman security project, serving as chairman andna ceo.n as we look at foreign policy of the obama administration. glenda on our independent line,e savannah, georgia. good mong. >>. >> caller: good morning. those arguments you made were fantastic. we backed into vietnam but walked into iraq. and sunni and shia have always been there.ng at when suddam got mad at someone
because they were shooting h go ble, tthe back he wouldem in and line them up and shoot en them. in a communist country when wee someone gave them trouble, they gave trouble back. ur young men and women were trying to create a new society t and they haveer this unlimited i number ofli fighters of diseffected young muslim men with no jobs, no families, no oa hope. please. i just don't understand.de we had really smart people who invied invied vaded ira vaded iraqvade. the people of okinawa have a te status of kid forces. they want us out of there so bad because the kids, they getth drunk, young men get drunk, they do all kinds of things. okinawa said, you get out of here. leave usi alone.re not and they aren't even sunni and shia.e could i don't know how we think we s.
could havee invaded iraq and -- >> apologies caller,the de cut f too soon. apology possess. mr. breen, though. >> certainly. this is very old history in some ways but still with us. dec you have to be careful when youu he c decide to apply a bufrm of minc military force. you are creating more disorder,h shattering order that exists anp pre2003 iraq was no picnic. this was a terrible country for the people that lived there. however, i think if you asked iraqis if20 they would rather le there in 2008 or 2002, they would all universally say 2002. they live fled a bad make dictatorship and hada a civil r that almost consumed their entire society.d fled a bad dictatorship and had a civil war
that almost consumed their entire society. fled a bad dictatorship and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society.i fled a bad dictatorship and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society.n fled a bad dictatorship and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society.fled a bad dictatorship and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society.led a bad dictatorship and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society.ed a bad dictatorship and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society.d a bad dictatorship and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society. a bad dictatorsp and had a civil war that almost consumed their entire society. the sunni/shia split happened thousands of years ago. in a battle. for most of that time since the split the sunnis and shia lived in peace and created some of the most gifts to humanity in art, culture a culture and science that many of us benefit from. i spent time in syria before it neme ir, but a collapsed. a country under a brutal dictator but a vital cosmopolitan culture., th the marriage rate between sunni and shia was about 35%. they used to joke and called their kids sushi. this is a normal part of iraqi society. the idea these f two factions he been in violent war for thousands of years, this is a social order in the recent easty and i'm not taking responsibility for that by the united states, i think has been
exploited by extremists in the region who have forced and brutalized those across the region inforce pe conflict with another. acts of terrorism, death squads, designed to force people to extreme. and certainly the invasion of iraq didn't help that process and in some ways may have been i the startingt gun.will a but i think it is alw mistake t look at middle east and think it has always been that way and will always be that way and that those people are somehow he won different from us for most of their history, they certainly haven't been. do yo >> i think the wust thing about the question is it gets totsens of the whole segment aeb how doe you gradead a legacy? and how do you grade presidential leadership?ting and and in foreign policy i think the metricending really is, are protecting and depending the vital interest of the united states? but what makes the challenge truly american is in a manner in which america is a force for good in the world, that i think makes -- that's part of what i
think does make us an exceptional nation. other countries have go forth ne and donc things in their intere with na regard to the human rights and consequences for anybody else. pu we believe that sovereignty is the product of the individual people and popular sovereignty. and people have the ability to rule themselves and that their ability to act as citizen is in their natural rights and their god-given rights to exercise theiro fort freedom and liberty. and it would be wrong for us to try to go forth in the world and take that way from anybody else. right? in the pursuit and defense of our own interest. it is a bit, there is this ica a tension and presentnt and we ar my joban is to project american. but america want to be a force . for good. is ho i have an obligation on the pare of the people and represent them well in doing that. i think that's the lens we should grade every president byo
>> again, legacy, the presidentr spoke of this in his farewell address. and i think we ought to listen to it.t. the great tragedy for the united states, and i won't quote him perfectly, is the worst thing to do is to just become another bis country. just throw ourd has th weight ai america has been, and continues to t to tbe, and has the potent continue to be a necessity to continue the to be something mu more important to the world than that. >> i think where we lost focus is between bush years and obama years and we lapse need this mioppic or conversation about is america isolationists. should we come home and do nothing or conquer every country in the world?righ this is a false dichotomy in choice. but and the president rejected that. and i think rightly so. but the answer is, then not just do something, right? like the opposite between doing nothing and doing everything, as long as i'm doing something, i'h treading the bipartisan middle
ground. i don't think that right. obviously america is not going to be successful in isolation power or runun the planet.enting we're not the world's police force or invade every country. but the the world's police force or invade every country. the sense is as long as i'm doing something in the middle, i'm okay. now, are you a force for good i the world and protecting our vital interests. >> mike from ohio with be go ahead. >> caller: good day, sir. >> you're on with our guest.t.sa go ahead. >> caller: yes, sir.-- yes, sir. wit seems to me that the white man speak 'em with a forked tongue here. chaos throughout the middle east. can you hear me? >> yeah, you're on. go ahead. >> we can hear you.ac >> caller: okay.after chaos. that's what the bush administration and -- well, actually whenen dick cheney wass president after the 5-4 decision that summer before 9/11 when they came in, they wanted chaos throughout the middle east.ames well, what did they do?
they sent james baker iii in to the middle east and he set up tc contracts and law offices throughout the middle east before 9/11. then it came. then we had traces of nano fail might into those twin towers. led it led to the heroin epidemic in this country with on the soldiers, and guarding her fields over there, three times e as much production now. we scratch our heads and wonder why. >> okay. thanks, mike.e change the topic a bit. >> no, no. mike has a point. he's worried about the middle east is in flames. which i think we all agree the middle east is in a troubled area. that gets to something -- and another thing you canan grade oe obama and the next president as well is -- i think there are three parts of the world wherelarg the united e states does have a vital r interest, where a large-scale destabilizing regional conflict in thatpa partct thi of the wor be of such disruption that it would really impact us.pact vit
maybe not directly, but certainly would impact our vitae interests and potentially could lead to a aeuro larger scale wa. those three parts of world are europe, the middle east and asia. i think whether you look see ban president obama and saying how well he did or whether you are looking forward to president t trump, one of the things you want to evaluate them on is, are you helping bring peace and stability to europe, the middlee east and to asia.use they not that they have to be land of milk and honey. the middle east has had better days andnd worst days.n that e got that. but there is never an an expectation that everybody in the middle easte anyo has to bei and there can'tal be anybody shooting anybody anywhere.tant reducing the est: potential for conflicts to spin out of control. a reall that's i think a very important task for the president of the united states.o the >> i thank that's righink that'. i think that's a really important point about legacy ani how it is evaluated in the future. i think that's an interesting question in this contempt rightt now.y the think it is a fair argument to make, fair to say
that we just had probably the first presidential election in four decades that was in some ways a referendum on whether america should continue the project that says we're going to have a europe that's whole, free and at peace, we'll have a strong nato, have strong alliances, we will stand by our allies. are alliances intrinsically gooi or is it a pay or play system. we haven't had these debates inf de decades that we just had.ng, we have an administration that called into question all these things. the front page of most newspapers this morning you will see a lot of uncertainty in chi. europe, a lot of uncertainty in asia, a lot of tough rhetoric s. going back and forth between the united states and china. inauguration day is not yet wity us and we will isee.
but i think this discussion of the continuity of american foreign policy is critical at this particular moment because t we'll see, but i think the thatt legacy of the obama administration i hope will not be that this was the last icult american administration toto ho to that path. it's very difficult to tell so r far which wayei this is going t go. >> well, a ind certainly agree this election was about foreigni policy. if you think about it, it is stunning. normally americans think about foreign and domestic policy in exactly opposite terms.icy is domestic policy, you like obamacare, i like obamacare, i like you.nse of a in foreign policy it is i like you and you trust you to come ue with policies that are going toi protect andcy defend us. very few americans give you a sense of mandate or veto on n tm foreign policy.an good example, korean war. the americans, foreign policy was front and center and the vog reason why truman didn't run and the reason why eisenhower good e elected, americans thought the war had come home to main street
and they were voting with d thaw themselves. 2008 election americans were deeply upset with where things r were inem iraq and it was a lici referendum that we don't like foreign policy. but what's remarkable to me is even though foreign policy is very rarely front and center in an election unless there is something like a pearl harbor or korean war or iraq war or years something, here essentially -- okay, we are still at war. get that. conflict is notolls, on the scale it was eight years ago. and -- but if you looked at the polls, foreign policy rated really, really high. terrorism rated really, really , high. and it wasn't evenat something that was talked about a great y. deal during thee debates betwee the candidates. americans if you just look at , mbers are not happy with the direction of foreign policy in this country. i hope so when you say could we have y something different, pie answerk is, gee, t i kind of hope so, because americans aren't happy.h as you do, i talk to people all around the world and people c aren't happy with american foreign policy and we're not wl even sure that we've been
operating maximizing our interests. i think people do want a change. >> if you look at polls what you'll see is that americans differentiated pretty clearly terrorism and foreign policy. >> they rank them both pretty high. >> high on their preferences.on' but what'' interesting is that they preferred hillary clinton's foreign policy by about 20 points and they preferred donald trump on terrorism by an equal margin. they separated those two hthing, which is very interesting. >>inde there is also big distin between republicans, 9/11, independents and democrats. republicans were way up here ant democrats were up but not as high as they were in 9/11 whichs ist: interesting. we are actually is no seeing a bipartisan split in how we think about foreign policy which i pu think is bad.blic opi >> i agree with you that it is not a good thing. all that said, public opinion i where it is right now.he i don't know that most americans walked into a voting booth and said i'm going to pull a lever one way or the other or fill in my oval because i am happy or unhappy with nato or with the international alliance system
that we've built or the post-1945 consensus on let's have a world that's about institutions and alliances instead about great power conflict. i think americans feel,ot and wt a great deal of justification for good reason, that the world has changed an lot very quicklyr that their communities have changed, that the economy has changed, that we -- global forces are part of their lives i in ways that are a big deal. i grew up in a really small s town. i goetter th home and things ar different. things look different.cl the eaquestion, who do my kitsdo do b kids do better than i do? that's a tough question right now. there is no clear path. world is very fluid. there is a lot ofofno nsuncerta and i think people especially it a world of non-state actors like isis and other things do we have great action on behalf of our security to defend them. you can talk about vial lenls a violence and whether it's up or down or whether we have more or
less terrorism, as a profession of arms and a national securityh profession weer have not yet al effectively figured out either s side, either party, anybody, either administration, how to deal with this threat yet and the american people i think understand that that's f that important. >> i actually do think the american people, by and large, have a good sense of where things are. i think -- you're right, peoplee have different views on how to fix them so they gravitate to different leaders. but people don't get a sense we are in great shape in western europe, don't get a sense we are in great shape in the middle reh east, our concern about china, our concern about terrorism.l ft they want our president to fix r that although all completely disagree on how to do that. >> tom from hollywood, florida,u democrats line.as >> caller: hi, good morning, gentlemen. i agree with you two as far as we shouldn't have open-ended s sentence on our young men in the
military. i have a son who will be a bac, few years ear in a and i would hate to see it but if we have to bring back the draft we have to bring it back. but as far as president obama's foreign policy, i think overall he's done a pretty good job.done he had to go after -- of courseo bushst alienated a lot of other countries. he just made a few missteps. of course the one that we talk i about the most is the red line, that was a big mistake. can't draw a line in the sand h and then not back it up. not that i -- we wanted him to.t i think it was a big mistake to draw the line in the sand. let's face it, the middle east has been a mess for many years a and manysy presidents have trie to fix that mess and it's not an easy thing to do not h and it i going to happen with any one
quick fix.wece i don't have the answer to that either. but i know it is not going to be easy and it is very complicated. remember we only had peace withc the shiites and sunnis inontr i because of the iron fist of saddam hussein. he kind of kept things under control. whether we took away that control, that was the starting gun. onetom.s, appreciate it. is a bit of a mixed record on that, so no one i think has a clean sheet. the thing we agree on is working with allies is important. i think some >> i think the thing we agree on is working with allies is important. i thought some of jim mattis' comments in his confirmation hearing were exactly spot-op. but there are allies for a purpose. there are allies because you
have mutual interest to give you a reason to ally. in the end that alliance serves is our mutual interests. clearly i think nato meets that. i was a little amused when trump said it was obsolete, the next sentence he says but i think nato is very important. he was really talking about nato dealing with terrorism which i would argue whether nato should do terrorism. but i do believe that one of the things that this is going to be a strong consistency from bush to obama to trump is if you believe peace and stability in western europe is of vital interest to the united states, nato is a big component of what brings peace and stability to western europe. so every american president my guess in the end is going to come down on the side of nato. if you look at bush and obama they could not have been two more different presidents on some issues of the foreign policy. in the end of obama's presidency on nato it kind of looked very similar to bush. right? we took troops out, put troops back in. took missile defense out, put missile defense back in.
working with allies, i think nato will be just fine. i think history will treat obama okay on that and my guess is the next guy as well. >> i broadly agree with the points that the caller made. i do think that president obama's foreign policy legacy is generally pretty good. at least as far as we can tell. i think we can go back and forth on a couple of things. certainly there are things he's done, i didn't particularly like, the red line being one. and the response to syria at large. we've got a situation in syria that has consumed hundreds of thousands of human lives and created the large s refugees crisis since the second word war. i think middle eastern leadership in that refugee crisis has been indispensable. americans have -- some of them anyway and certainly a number of politicians have been very vocal about united states should not play a leadership role in this crisis. i think our leadership role is strategically and morally indispensable and i believe that very strongly. it may not be popular at this
moment, but the stability of europe, among other things, depends on us taking leadership in this crisis. i think we must continue to that. this is going to be a tet of the incoming administration's willingness to make unpopular choices in the interest of the leadership in the world. >> europeans say that to us. and they say you need to do this because it is in your interest to do so. >> and they're right. >> i agree. >> springfield, vermont, david, go ahead. >> caller: good morning. just wanted to throw a couple analogies into the thought process into what you are talking about as to how america should rethink its national security and foreign policy into things like our judeo christian values is, how we should apply them as far as the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and also the story of the good samaritan which is basically our humanitarian side. and equate it to how we should
approach what you were talking about nato and the u.n., and i'll throw this analogy out there for you to use in that thought process of this domestic and social conflict that we have now about the entitled child living in his parent's basement whose parents didn't give him the tools because they entitled him and enabled him because they loved him to not have the tools to go out and fend for themselves. and the farther wants to have the kid go out and be personally responsible while the mother wants to make sure he's not hungry while he's going out there to face the world and how the child sometimes will use emotional extortion and blackmail against the goodness of their parents to allow them to stay at home and not be personally responsible and how we have to equate that to the countries in nato that aren't be responsible and using emotional extortion and blackmail against us because of our moral values. >> okay, caller, thanks. >> that actually i think raises a really important point. you have to temper empathy in
foreign policy. when you say go forth and be a force for good, we should care about starving children and people that have this and failing states and everything else. and that's true. we should. because we want to be a force for good. but empathy needs to be tempered with justice. we should do things that are practical and actually have effect. just care is not enough. and to just do something, say, "i did something," if it doesn't actually make things better or doesn't actually serve your interests, it's not enough. i do think this notion of just having a participation grade for everybody in foreign policy is probably not the best -- best solution. so i take the caller's point. >> i think it is a valid point. and i think it is, in a lot of ways, it is the difference. we used to talk about this on the ground in iraq all the time. it is the difference between is the united states going to handle something quickly and perfectly or work with our partners and get it done a little more slowly and it is going to be messy but we are
going to do it together. i keep coming back to this analogy, i think especially given some of the discourse around the middle east, it is worth continuing to point out that right now while we are talking there are thousands of mostly young men, some young women, from most of the tribes in iraq, almost all of them muslim, who were in house to house fighting in mosul to reclaim their own city from the islamic state right now. if any of you have ever been in an urban combat situation, it is not a joke, it is not nothing to pick up a rifle and go down a city street against an enemy that's committed to killing you. and they are doing that. and they are giving their lives and they are being hit and they're taking that fight forward and they're doing it for their own homes, for their own country. i am just as concerned as you are about what happens to iraq after isis is defeated. because i think isis will be defeated and i think isis will be mostly defeated in iraq by iraqis which is how it should be. but the fact that they are