tv Hudson Institute Violent Extremism Conference - Steve Bannon CSPAN November 10, 2017 5:51pm-6:29pm EST
should press those advantages to try to rebuild the security order there that have served us pretty well over the last 40 or 50 years or so. and i would say that starts first and foremost with recognizing that iran is the source of most of these challenges in the middle east and therefore any time we have a chance to separate the country like qatar from iran and bring them back within the fold we should take that. >> senator cotton, thank you. thank you to all of you and the hudson institute at well. thank you. [ applause ] >> of course, depending on your political perspective, your see the absence of light in two ways. if you belong to the left of the political persuasion, you might say this is appropriate, because the forces of darkness are up here. [ laughter ] and if you have a different perspective, you would say that there is some source of illumination in the light on this stage.
we've had a full day today. we've heard many voices. we have had several speakers. we have heard from republicans, democrats, senior retired officials. generals. two ex-cia directors. so the last thing that you needed, we thought, was an exile talking to an insurgent. i don't think i need to introduce mr. steve bannon. he is the former white house strategist and the executive chairman of breitbart news. he has interesting things to say even for those who do not agree with him and it's important for us to hear his perspective. any attempt at trying to introduce him would only get me into greater trouble than is
necessary. everybody knows who he is and i welcome him on behalf of the hudson institute to this conference. i would just begin by saying that mr. bannon has identified with the identify of america first and there are those who would say that america first would be more of an isolationist idea. his agreement to come and join us today actually gives us an opening to ask him to share with us some of the ideas that he would say he has about the topic today, which we all know is countering violent extremism, iran and the muslim brotherhood, so four different subheadings of the title. they all fall within the rubric of the national security requirements of the united states and foreign policy. steve, why don't you start with an opening statement that then
sets the pace for us having this conversation. >> thank you very much, ambassador. i'd like to give a quote just to start off. we will reinforce old alliances and form new ones and unite the civilized world against radical islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth. that was -- that was donald j. trump a few minutes after high noon on january 20th 2017, his inaugural address. we will eradicate completely from the face of the earth radical islamic terrorism. now, there's a lot of confusion or misinformation, fake news, about who wrote that inaugural address. president trump at the time president-elect trump wrote it. steve miller and myself were honored to help him out as were jared kushner, hope hicks, kellyanne conway, jason miller,
some other folks as well who maybe crafted or structured it, but he wrote it. he particularly -- he wrote that sentence. and i remember -- i think he wrote that line and that part of the speech in back in november/december at mar-a-lago. the first time we talked about it and back in trump tower. steven miller and i and general flynn at the time talked about him -- that's a pretty big check to write, because somebody's going to have to cash it. and he said, this is my obligation to the american people as commander in chief. if you go back in time, president trump strongly believes that the reason that he was on the podium on january 20th and hillary clinton wasn't was that it came down to a decision of the american people of who would be the best commander in chief in a time of war and i think one of the things that president trump and candidate trump at the time remembered is that, we're now
fighting -- this is the longest war in the nation's history, in actual combat time it's longer than the revolution, the civil war, world war i and world war ii, if you add it all up in actual time in combat, i think that this is the longest sustained military conflict we've ever had. president trump in his own candidacy from the very beginning when he came down that escalator in trump tower was a repudiation of the elites, the repudiation of the foreign policy establishment, a repudiation of the party at devas, a repudiation of this concept we have of this rules based international order of which the american working class and middle class underwrite with their taxes and more importantly with the blow to their children. i had a little skin in this game
back in '79, '80 i was a naval officer on a destroyer in the persian gulf during the original hostage crisis. my daughter's a west point graduate served with 101st air born in iraq after she graduated. she stays in the army. she's army captain. may eventually deploy back. i've had many nephews and cousins and folks like that in my extended family have served in the middle east. in fact, my kid brother's a pilot in libya in '83, '84. these wars have gone on for a long time. president trump and the campaign and particularly when i was able to step in as ceo with kellyanne conway as campaign manager, it was just during the end of the mr. and mrs. kahn's the crisis around the khans, the gold star family and the death of that hero captain kahn. and the president one of the things we talked about was how you compare and contrast himself with hillary clinton. one of the strongest things she had going for her when she was
running was her foreign policy experience. her time on the senate armed services committee, her time as secretary of state, her vast knowledge of all the ins and outs of foreign policy and president trump i think really connected with the american people and he talked about a couple of things, we're at war and i remember at that time when he came down in 2015, we were seeing a rise of isis that was really had caught the world by surprise. isis had done more than anybody, even the muslim brotherhood historically and actually having a physical caliphate, eventually that caliphate was 7 or 8 million people. the ability to tax. the ability to have slave markets and recruit from all over the known world including asia and europe, the united states. you also had for the obama administration because of their focus on the nuclear deal, you had an insurgent or resurgent
persia, very aggressive on its expansion of iranian expansion and you also had the continual spector of radical islamic terrorism. president trump could not have been more direct and more blunt to the american people in what he wanted to accomplish. and from the very first day that he won, i remember general flynn at the time what he wanted to do was at the national security council give the power back to the commanders, they would take a more active and aggressive role in the destruction of isis. in addition, he was going to review the iran nuclear deal. remember he said during the campaign he was going to try to make that deal better. if we can't i will decertify it, i will terminate it. the one thing i will do is connect their aggression and their behavior to that deal and
the third we've got to figure out how to take care of radical islamic terrorism that's not isis related. once he -- once we took office, one of the top things he had jared kushner and myself, then secretary tillerson work on was a summit, was a summit that he wanted to bring the arab world together and to really put i think beyond people that he had run as islamophobe or that america first didn't mean you wouldn't be actively engaged. i think anybody that thinks we're isolationists or that's hi philosophy that we're isolationists, i don't know how you look at the arab summit that took place in the muslim summit that took place in may of 2017 -- >> in riyadh. >> the three parts of that, the
three component parts of that that were worked on from day one, was to take care of number one, the financing and support of radical islamic groups throughout the world. number two, was to work with the arab world and the muslim world particularly with people like general cc that had that great speech at cairo on new year's day and work with the arab and muslim world about the engagement of islam with madernity and the ability of islam to reform itself by muslims doing it. and the third was to really start to have a serious conversation about what type of military alliance, what had to happen to stop iran's expansion, persia expansion in this arc across from iran to the sea, through the capitals of baghdad and damascus and beirut and what was happening on the yemen with this pincer move
through the air rob world. what's happened in seven or eight or nine months, we've -- president trump has accomplished something that i think people would have mocked and laughed at him in the campaign. raqqah fell the other day. the physical destruction of the isis caliphate which shocked the world on its rapid rise and i think put the world back on its heels, how can this kind of group of young people with a couple of spiritual leaders in the call to arms they had from that 900-year-old mosque in mosul, how can they have an economic in mosul and a spiritual capital in raqqah. how could they have 8 million people, the whole world backed off.
in 8 months of president trump's strategy executed by general mattis and that strategy was not a war of attrition. it was very specific from day one, this will be a war of annihilation. he will physically annihilate the caliphate and that's what's been accomplished. if you look at the summit, the second part of it is that they went into the summit, we went into the summit with uae and saudi arabia and others and the number one thing was we must take care of this financing of radical islam and there can be no more -- president trump says no more games. you can't have it both ways. you can't say you're a friend and ally and on the other side be funding the muslim brotherhood and hamas or being open to iran and particularly iran's aggressive war-like posture to the united states and to the west and other islamic countries and that you can no longer have it both ways. i think that it's not, you know, the summit came. i think president trump's speech at the summit was one of the great speeches of any political
leader in the united states has ever given. i think it put to bed or should have put to bed that president trump was an islam phobia or somehow his administration or people who work for him, particularly the deplorables, the people that voted for him, did not want an active engagement with the islamic world, understanding as partners that we had to take care of -- we would have to go through this time together and as partners we would come out on the other side and the world would be a safer and more robust place. i don't think it's by happenstance that two weeks after that summit that you saw the blockade by the united arab emirates in bahrain, egypt and the kingdom of saudi arabia on qatar. i've said from day one that even with the situation in the northwest pacific with korea, i think the single most important thing that's happening right now in the world is the situation in qatar. >> okay, there are three or four things that you said that need a
little more elaboration. the first which i think is a positive, you made it clear that the trump administration and those who were instrumental in bringing president trump to the white house are not islam phobic and they want to engage with the islamic world but they want to do it in a different way. that needs elaboration because that's quite contrary to the way things are perceived. the second thing that needs a little more clarification is you make it seem that the last ten months have represented a major clearly thought out step-by-step approach to the problem and you give credit to the trump administration for the success of the iraqi military and the kurdish militias in relation to the islamic state, and there are people who would attack that or criticize that or say that that's not true.
so i would like you to kind of make the next point which is, why do you think that what has happened is actually the result of policy and not the result of developments within the region. and the third is, the qatar question. it seems that the american policy has been two steps forward and then two steps backward again. is it really the change that you said it was or is there something else happening in the administration that you decided not to share with us in that initial statement? >> let's take the first. i think that number one, this whole thing of america first being isolationist or us against the world, i think it's total nonsense. he looks at the world in a different way. it's very walter russell meade would say jacksonian. i think president trump looks at things in a jacksonian that what's in the vital national security interest of the united
states is what you should commit to. in those areas of the world where it's in the vital national security interest of the united states you will have partners that will be in their vital national security interest also and that you work, whether it's the northwest pacific or japan in south korea or the gulf with people like the uae and saudi arabia and egypt and bahrain. so i think that there's a tremendous thing of engagement. i don't think there's anything president trump has done in this administration that makes us look isolationist at all. i think he doesn't want to get into these kind of arrangements like tpp and others where we're just another person at the table, another entity at the table and not something that we know it's in our vital national security interest. as far as being islamophobic, i would talk to our allies in the region. i would talk to egypt, the uae, saudi arabia. i don't think anyone's given the
now crown prince more support and vision 2030 which is a complete not just reorientation but almost a restructuring of their economy and eventually their society, which i think they've made tremendous slides. a lot of people say it's a very imperfect plan but you have to understand they're trying to do something in 10 or 20 years that spent centuries building up. i don't think anybody's been more supportive and i take that exactly from the quotes of when we had the summit, what the king said, the crown prince, what many leaders of saudi arabia said. also at the uae, if you talk to these individuals and they talk to the media all the time, is that for many years of actually the obama administration being disengaged, that president trump has leaned into this in every aspect of it. now, about the developments or the structure of isis, that's another thing.
certainly it was done with allies. it was done with most of the troops in iraq that eventually went and took mosul, kurdish groups in raqqah. i think that's once again to what president trump's trying to get across. it's not going to be america that has to lead here. it is our local -- when it's in the vital national security interest of the united states it's going to be in the vital national security interest of other people and you have to show their support and you have to show their -- you have to show that you're not just financial support, military support, political support. it shouldn't be lost on people that the extreme vetting, what's called the travel ban, the difference -- the fundamental difference between the first and the second, one of them was iraq came off and that was after further discussion, further analysis and further state
department involvement. it was derived that iraq should go back on there. one was because of the fight against isis, what they were doing. it was also what they had done to make sure that people were fully vetted before they came to the united states. so that's the second question. your third question was? >> the third question was about qatar. is it a two step forward, two step backward approach? >> yes. >> there seems to have been a step backward after riyadh. >> look, there is -- president trump, one of the reasons he's president of the united states, one of the reasons he's president and hillary clinton is not is i do believe that there was a fundamental rejection by the american people of much of what the foreign policy establishment of both political parties have stood for, kind of this -- we had talked before, davos man or the consensus of american foreign policy, how it devolved that we're in the middle east and the blood and treasure that we've left and in the same situation, why have we not focused on the rise of china. the opportunity costs of our
engagement in the middle east. i think the working class and middle class people in this country are looking at the taxes we pay, they're looking at the trillions of dollars spent, the veterans that come home that have ptsd, they're looking at section 60 at arlington national cemetery, the young men and women that have died that we've buried there and looked at trillions of dollars and i think it was rejection. so with president trump it was let's try to bring these wars to some sort of culmination. and victory matters. president trump is not a quitter. he's certainly not a loser and the american people are not either. it's not just the cost of being there. we understand that these things have to be done. now, i do believe there's aspects of the foreign policy community that are quite inextricably linked that don't share points of view. i fundamentally believe that particularly in qatar and particularly after the summit, the muslim summit, it was looked as an opportunity to be seized
instead of a crises to be managed in that qatar finally had to be called to account for their continual funding of the muslim brotherhood, the continual funding of hamas and their engagement with both iran and quite frankly turkey in the gulf. i think it was pretty -- if you look at people on our side -- and i realize i at the time in setting up the summit, i'm not a foreign policy expert by far but i took a very hard line in that. i thought the uae and the egyptians and the king of saudi arabia had a well thought plan. i thought they were going to bring the financing of radical islamic terrorism, that it has to be cut off 100% and if you cut off the funding, you cut off support. we can have a chance to eradicate it from the earth. which is what president trump laid out to the american people he was going to do. >> but it's not being fully implemented. >> there's two things on engagement.
the state department and secretary tillerson. i have tremendous respect for rex tillerson. i was one of the people who was most aggressive of trying to get him into the administration at the time. i think there's a fundamental -- and i want to make sure that everybody and i'm sure they've gone through it earlier today but one of the things that was most, i think people came down on two sides of were the original 12 demands that were put out. i think these demands are, quite frankly, pretty straight forward. the uae and egypt and saudi arabia didn't say the demands had to be met. what they said is that these are what the framework has to be for discussion. let's go through those demands. number one, that qatar will curb diplomatic ties with iran and close diplomatic missions there. number two, that it will sever all ties to terrorist organizations, specifically the muslim brotherhood, the islamic state, al qaeda, and hezbollah and formally designate them as terrorist groups.
they will shut down al jazeera and all affiliated stations. they will also shutdown outlets that qatar funds directly or indirectly. they will stop all means of funding for individuals, groups or organizations designated as terrorists by saudi arabia, bahrain, the u.s. they will hand over terrorist figures. end enter new orleans sovereign country's internal affairs. stop all contacts with political opposition. it will pay reparations for loss of life. it will consent to monthly audits and ally itself with other gulf and arab countries. now, i realize some people think that's over the top and some people think that qatar would give up its foreign policy. i don't say that i agree with
maybe all of those but i do agree that i thought that was a pretty good construct of which to sit down and i believe it's a construct today. i believe it's well within the rights of people that we agreed at that summit, there was an agreement that there was going to be an effort to have a 100% you cutoff of the funding of radical islamic terrorism and i believe our allies in that region, uae, egypt, and saudi arabia not only agreed to that, they were the drivers of that. >> and you think that they are as drivers implementing it firmly whereas not implementing the mechanisms that will stop terrorist financing? >> what do you mean? >> saudi arabia, uae, you think that they are no longer doing anything that can be construed as supporting any radical islamic groups. we know that the uae runs a major anti-extremism effort. but there are people who say
that other countries in the region have not firmly -- >> let's talk about the kingdom of saudi arabia. they're just as bad. look at the tectonic plate shifts we've had from the summit. this is why i don't think it's fair to president trump and i'm not here as an apologist. i'm here as a guy that's a veteran -- >> maybe his advocate, not apologist. >> okay, i am his advocate but also a parent and a veteran and a taxpayer and a citizen. what's been accomplished in a very short period of time to me is amazing. i don't think he's gotten the credit for the summit because i think the summit was incredibly important. i think it was important in the muslim world. it was important in the arab world. i think it was important to show that the united states was fully engaged, it wasn't a bunch of happy talk and action was going
to take place from that. if you look at saudi arabia, they've had a pretty big fundamental change since that summit. the deputy crown prince is now the crown prince. two weeks ago there were 1,000 clerics rounded up or somehow put under house arrest or whatever. i realized that the opposition party of the "new york times" refers to most of them as liberal scholars. [ laughter ] i would respectfully submit if you flip through an intelligence report or two -- >> i would have to stand up for "the new york times." they're not the opposition party. they're people that disagree with you, just as you disagree with them, right? >> i could not disagree more. that's a debate for another time. [ laughter ] but i think there's been huge changes in saudi arabia. >> i was also just joking. >> i know, i know, ambassador. i think saudi arabia, i think people realize that there are definite issues with other countries. i think they're making an effort but it's nowhere near of what qatar, its active involvement with that and also i would say that qatar has run an influence
operation here since this all came about. they spent millions of dollars to try to change the opinion of congressmen and thinkers and think tanks and the elites in this city. >> they had a story today that said that you are being paid by one of the other gulf countries to influence opinion the same way. so -- >> okay, that's a company i have nothing to do with. >> okay. >> hang on. it's a good point. there are companies that have some sort of financial relationship. i have nothing to do with those guys. understand how the qataries are trying to throw that up to chop block me before i come. by the way, that's fair play in this thing. however, i think they're both missing the point. the one that came out in the article of me today and the other influence operation is that the american people can't be fooled about this. the american people, i think this is one of the powers of president trump, the power of him as a candidate, he can
connect to the american working class and american middle class in a very plain spoken vernacular. i'm a huge believer in the common sense and decency in judgment of what we call the common man. that's why i'm a populist. i'd rather depend upon their judgment. in fact, you know, we were in fair hope, alabama a couple of weeks ago in an old barn with a sawdust floor. i said at the time i would take the first 100 people who came to that rally than the top 100 partners at goldman sachs. i'd want to reiterate that i would take the top 100 for foreign policy than the first 100 at davos. those people are not going to be convinced that qatar continues to finance the muslim brotherhood of hamas and being in bed with iran is a good thing. >> we're towards the end of the session. general petraeus this morning said that you can't just use force operations and drones to
get rid of the problem of radical islamic extremism and terrorism, that this may actually being a multi-generational issue and that the same may apply to the containment of iran. how would you describe your views on the comprehensive approach that is needed to both sunni extremism represented by groups like al qaeda and isis, et cetera, and the muslim brotherhood and shia extremism that is represented by the clerical regime in iran. what would be your multi-generational approach, and how would it differ from what you call the establishment? >> number one, i think it shows in afghanistan is that we say multi-generational approach, there's nobody in the united states that wants to be engaged in combat operations, special forces operations, drone operations multi-generational. i just think that's just not where the american people are. it's not the way our country was founded or formed.
i think that the summit, i think that's what's so important about the way president trump structured the summit and what he wanted to accomplish. we're prepared to be allies. what we don't want is these countries to be protecters. there's a big difference. that's why i think the action against qatar was so important. that's what i keep telling people all the time that actually what's happening in qatar is every bit as important as what's happening in north korea. in qatar all the themes come out. i think it's very important in our allies, in egypt, the uae, saudi arabia understand that we're there for them but it's not our fight. it's your fight. if you're going to reform islam and bring it into modernity, that's a huge civilizational and cultural aspect and it's yours. we're there to be an ally.
we're there to be a partner if we're needed. we don't look at it as multi-generational that we're going to have combat troops. that's why i was so adamantly opposed to what happened in afghanistan. by the way, you should know president trump, president trump, we took six months to make the decision. president trump weighed every decision because he believes every american life and taxpayer dollar is important. what i disagree in afghanistan, i believe we've tried to impose our values. i believe we're trying to impose a liberal democratic system on a society that clearly to me doesn't seem to want it, which i think is fine. we should not be -- and i think this is america first. we're not looking to transform the world into our values. i think the world has got to come to its own conclusions, right, how it wants to govern themselves. hopefully they'll see in the example that we have in our own country that, hey, maybe there are things in the american system, maybe there's things with the american people, things with democracy that they will
take. so i do agree with general petraeus that you have to have a more total approach. i disagree with the fact, particularly general petraeus and some others that looked at this as nation building. we have to build america. if having the robust nature to be able to partner with people like uae and the kingdom of saudi arabia, bahrain and egypt as they go through this massive change of their economies and cultures, we'll be there. not trying to impose our way of life and our beliefs on other people. >> so you would not have any role whatsoever or any actions that would imply trying to remake the world in america's image. you want to accept the world as it is, and yet try and interact with the rest of the world with american values and let them pick their own? >> well, american values are from america.
i know that we have certain universal beliefs. i think that you have to show the world how you implement those beliefs and execute upon them and if they want to emulate them, they can emulate them but we can't go and force it. these societies are thousands of years old. honestly i think we've missed the plot here because the geniuses in the foreign policy elite, what they left on president trump is essentially the bay of pigs in venezuela, the cuban missile crises in korea, and the vietnam war in afghanistan. all at one time. president trump didn't do this. the deplorables that voted for president trump didn't do this. this is the geniuses of both political parties. both political parties delivered this upon us. in addition, besides what they've allowed to occur in the middle east, of which now president trump is trying to work with partners to try to pick up the pieces and to bring some stability and some safety to the region, we see the rise
of china. president xi said it's going to -- will have massive implications for the united states in this world. president trump didn't do that. that's all the geniuses that -- by the way, last week in a span of i think 24 hours we had the speech of president xi, the speech of president bush and the speech of senator mccain. i would respectfully submit that president xi's speech was an adult speech to adults and that president bush and president mccain's speech was pablum and the reality is what donald trump has done in that summit and what he promised the american people on inaugural day and what he's implementing every day as he works with his tremendous team to try and implement this. >> the foreign policy elite that asked me to interview you today told me that when you start talking about issues other than those that relate to this
conference i should bring it to an end so i'm going to bring it to an end right now. [ laughter ] steve bannon, thank you for doing this. it was a pleasure. >> thank you, ambassador. [ applause ] 50 years ago, the united states was at war in vietnam, and this veterans day weekend, american history tv on c-span3 looks back with 48 hours of coverage. starting saturday at 8:00 a.m. eastern, we're live from the national archives among the backdrop of three vietnam era helicopters to talk to veterans who flew them. from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., we're taking your phone calls and tweets live with two historians about the war in 1967. at 1:00 p.m., from washington, d.c.'s vietnam veterans memorial, a ceremony featuring remarks by former defense secretary chuck hagel and
designer mia lynn. on sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern on "real america," a 1967 cbs news vietnam war special report. >> whether it's due to the enemy's clever tactics or the bad fighting conditions, the weather or the terrain, it seems clear that the american military offensive along the dmz has bogged down, like the marines in the mud. >> then at 6:00, we'll tour the national archives exhibit, remembering vietnam. and at 8:00, on the presidency, the 1967 president lyndon johnson vietnam war press conference. >> we made our statement to the world of what we would do if we had communist aggression in that part of the world in 1954. we said we would stand with those people in the face of common danger. and the time came when he had to put up or shut up. and we put up and we're there. >> watch the vietnam war, 50 years later.
this weekend on "american history tv" on c-span3. tomorrow on the 64th year of national observance of veterans day, vice president mike pence will take part in the wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier and will speak afterwards at the memorial amphitheater. live coverage from arlington national cemetery begins at 11:00 a.m. eastern on c-span and it's also on the website and the radio app. >> my name is lisa mendez, the programs director here at miami book fair that takes place in downtown miami. this year, we have a little over 525 authors, representing every genre. anything that -- >> join book tv live from miami-dade college, sur