tv U.S. House of Representatives CSPAN November 26, 2009 1:00pm-4:59pm EST
between elements of the business community willing to support the direction obama is going and the fact is virtually uniform opposition even among republicans in congress while that is occurring? >> 60 votes in the senate, the margins in the house -- let's talk as pollsters. here's what is important -- when you ask people was the stimulus a good idea or bad idea, it was $787 billion. there were some republican ideas that were good ideas and would do more to create jobs that were ignored. in late march, they bought general motors and chrysler. what happened is that back to back in a three day time frame, people said another trillion dollars and for a lot of americans, they said what? the american government owns
general motors and chrysler? governments don't own big companies in america. what ruptured? what ruptured is the concern that there is way too much in spending and to be fair, it's not the president's fault. but when you say -- and the combined the billions of dollars, there is one huge massive spending and as a stimulus package. .
>> what happens is the republican party has a lot of troubles. we put on the brakes and send a missile. that was to park. -- that was too far. many private people said there will be a bill and we're better off negotiating in good faith because there is going to be a bill. what is going to happen is this possibility, which is the a.m .a is there because they thought they would get a deal. if it does not get fixed, i do not know where they will be. hospitals are there because they said they would have 9066%6%
coverage. >> why do you think the industry support did not translate into republicans support? >> we're down to 170 boats. at 177 votes, the sport gentleman in new orleans. ok, we could lose that seat. at 177 seats, there are not a lot of seats you can lose. are we going to lose all of the seats? no. we have lost everything. there's a certain freedom of having nothing left. [laughter] >> does anyone know anything about the republican health care bill? deafening silence. the reality is that if i was a republican, i would be concerned because they are becoming the party of no ideas.
they used to be a party of ideas. the rich always had ideas. she always had awful ideas- -- gingrich always had ideas. i reiterate the numbers that are still held today that 60% believed obama has worked with republicans and 60% believe that republicans have not worked with obama. i think that you have to come to the table with ideas. at the end of the day, people are prophesies in this big loss for democrats, not understand it that we have the possibility of big wins on health care in cap and trade and financial regulation. maybe some other transportation. they may not all be perfect, but people love actions.
on an island are the republicans with the insurance industry. that is a debate i am willing to take on, even though right now looks die year. -- it looks die her. to cut the deals are still a long way away from the final bill. -- >> the deals are still a long way away from the final bill. my former wife said my most disgusting habit was quoting myself, but she is out the doors. i can go for it now. she is gone. i can go on with my bad habits.
let me quote myself. the health-care bill is a rare thing were both parties believe it will be to their political benefit. >> bill was implying that you may be short and the long term, but i think the political success may be a liability. it will not have time to work. i think a lot of the independent voters -- >> you have a lot of friends in the white house. their analysis of why we continue to see the level of polarization, why it is so difficult to get republican votes in congress, so hard to maintain approval rating among republican partisans. >> they will not be for new spending. that is what people leave and. -- that is what we believe in. >> it is off the record.
>> i think it at a very fundamental level, what is being said about republicans, rising to a great degree, there are differences and ideas. one senator said a lot of this is a republican not wanting this guy to win. how you change that? if you are not going to change that. however, you can do things to create an atmosphere of bipartisanship. the speculation that there was a partisan strategy in congress behind how health care was coined to be passed, it could not be further from the truth. the early discussions were it was almost unthinkable that it would go through as only democratic. it is how you kraft -- how do
you craft a compromise. this continues to this day. at the congressional level, senator baucus and the finance committee, to his credit on the point of bipartisanship, was nearly as obsessed with trying to quote republicans. you have basically -- you basically have to do your best to me in the middle and do your best to try to find a meeting of the minds. at the end of the day, it does take two to tango. if it is simply an exercise in trying to score political points, or more it was trying to cover people and bring them health care costs.
>> let me ask you about the structural questions that may be beyond the individual motivations of obama and individual senator. when a president has an approval rating of 15%, it is not easy to ask the senator of that party to stand with him to cross party lines on a big issue. that was true under bush under social security when they hoped to bring the red state democrats along. yet he was so unpopular, you had to think twice now. obama is 14% among republicans. even if you are inclined to work with him, you know that will produce a lot of grief. what is the chicken and what is the egg here? does this by itself almost make it impossible to get big support from members of the other party on big things or is that the lack of support from
members of the other party that drives down the approval rating quicks which way does it go? >> stan did a very interesting and very well written right up about the republican base. i wanted to say, we look at the core democratic primary voters. they are not exactly the heartbeat of middle america. my point is political parties have core beliefs. they are allowed to have core beliefs. that is what divides the party. the people, the men and women who served in the house and senate are pretty strong. ideology is not a bad thing. we have battles in the country to come to resolution around differences, but at 40 votes in the senate those people that have survived the last few
cycles are not the people who feel most strongly about the spending, said the government, and stuff that we're not going to vote for these bills. my point is senator snowe is a good example. she has a terrific sense of where is the center in maine. what has allowed to hurher to be elected. it will be i will vote for the bill but not public option. for those 177 members -- by the way, the republican came after two 218. my point is that senators note came to the calculation that for lots of people the public option is the thing that means it is too much government and healthcare, which is not acceptable to what we think
should happen. from the past an individual mandate. you do not have to get death public option. >> is anyone on the panel think it is possible with the media and everything else going on for president to maintain a robust approval rating from voters in the opposite party? is that testing of the past? -- is that a thing of the past? >> i think it is possible even for this president and now to be popular among republicans. it takes no more than to be popular among independents. i think there is a fundamental -- the obama who talked about pay as you go budgeting during the campaign, and he supported that, if that one came back, she would score points.
if barack obama's said today, my girls go to the best school in washington, i think everyone should have the same opportunity to send their kids to the best schools, she would find publican -- he would find republican support. >> there now exists a transmission belt in the media certain shows on fox, and odds are they would not talk about our reach element. they would talk about the agenda that most antagonized the debate. i wonder which is dedicated transmission belt right to the base of each party whether every president is now deemed to be at 20% on the other side very quickly and create an environment for elected officials -- >> here is the problem. the republican party has shrunk
at 20%. you can almost them on a carnival cruise ship. the corps is so small now that it is almost unrealistic for obama's numbers to go up. -- the core is so small now that it is almost unrealistic for obama's numbers to go up. >> it was independent spiri and. nce. >> dependence like to say obama was here with independence and that he has gone back. when you have your self party id go from 30% to 20%, where did they go? they become independent spirien.
>> we will go to the audience after a final question. >> it is the independence that matter here. if you look at the last two elections democrats have doubled. it is true that 60% of democrats are moderates. the people we elected have come out of more affluent suburbs, rural areas, the new people that are elected is adverse party. we are not going to succeed holding on to the majorities of that elektra college, of as we are appealing to them. bithis changes that dynamic on e democratic side. it is a very different dynamic on the republican side.
>> first, the number does exist. those are adults survey. that is a very good predictor when 93% of americans vote in november 2010. they will get fined for not voting. oh, i am sorry, that is australia. one ad of three people vote. -- one out of three people low. what is happening is the generic vote is not like high single digits. it is very close. the intensity of the people who want to go slow hit the brakes and right now is very strong. that is what happens in off years.
we have tremendous problems for 2012. that is a different conversation. my point is i think it is fair to say that if you look at what the president has proposed in spending and projected deficits and health care, it is not running into opposition. i think my party has been tone deaf. i think the president deserves credit for not releasing the photographs from iraq. what he has done and afghanistan. i think he has done good things on charter schools and others. a smarter republican party would get up every day and say i agree with the president, those are good initiatives. >> we have a few microseconds. let's go to the first question. >> if you look historically,
quite often great leaders are defined by people if we're willing to make tough and unpopular decisions. i'd think it is certainly possible that obama could get a share of support among republicans but it will require stepping on toes of some of his core constituents on issues like afghanistan. we're all watching that decision very closely. i like the way it is headed. i think he will make the right decision. i think it will be a tough decision for him. i think he will gained respect from republicans from that. >> let's go to the first question. >> i am an orthopedic surgeon and in the spring i went to
lobby congress. louisiana has three congressmen who are physicians. they are republicans. when we went to meet them they said in april, we will not be a part of that discussion, did not bother talking to us about health care. i was really disappointed that we were led to believe that there was going to be partisan discussion about health care. they said we have been totally shut at the discussion in the house, we will not have any say with what will happen. i do not say it is all on the republican side, but there has to be someplace. >> here is a good story. in september 1 of the reporters said mr. president, you have not met with the republican leader in health care since may. where is your bipartisanship? >> certainly there was.
>> if you take the senate finance committee where the whole process waited, part of the pain of the health care was the decision to let the finance committee lead. the bill that ultimately emerged had no public option, had no tax increases. it was individual -- no employer mandate. the only boat was olympia snowe. -- the only vote was olympia snowe. >> although chuck grassley was negotiating all summer with max baucus. while he was doing that, they were publicly suggesting there would be a challenge.
at the same time, tom harkin took that occasion to tell one of the newspapers that maybe we should start voting every two years on whether chairman keep their cavils. -- on whether chairman keep their gavels. is it a question of individual leaders or is there now a structural force represents the kind of things that baucus and crassly seems to know what to do -- grassley seem to know what to do? >> with the democratic majority in the house and senate, he does not have to reach across the
aisle. he does that have to present legislation that is acceptable to mainstream republicans been. i think the main thing we can do is take away the majority. >> when you alluded to something earlier, any time a republican tries to be bipartisan, he gets crushed the next day by sean, rush, o'reilly, they automatically start rallying a candidate to run against them. it is a structural impediment to buy partisanship. >> how much to republicans have to fear in the climate of going too far to help obama? >> i welcome my brother's
comments on this. we're going through the struggle that the democratic party did 10 years ago. i think it is a healthy debate. i think it is one where people with the biggest microphones represent the republican party. that is why i see it as a missionary job to reflect the different, a progressive republican sentiment on a number of issues to suggest that there are rooms for alternative voices. i think it is actually healthy. i think we did see significant evidence last tuesday that people who voted did both things. they ran on local issues. we're talking about ideological social issues.
>> you are right. the democrats did go through it 10 years ago, but what we decided was it is ok to have a song from louisiana who was pro-lifer, pro-gun and he could vote the way he wanted to and still be a democrat. >> already is running ads attacking democrats. -- although she is running ads attacking democrats. hamas >my point is that we've ba majority with people. you showed on tuesday you are not willing to do that. the second you have a moderate republican, you're going to blow her off. if you are basically saying no need to apply. right now, if you have a
moderate republican, you are eating your young. you are never going to get to a majority by doing that. >> but i have to talk. the democrats did that to get the majority. given what is going to happen on the abortion vote, what happened was they tolerated the democrats because they needed them. >> they did not tolerate. they voted against the health care bill without retribution. take a look at where the money is coming from. what i am saying is i do not believe the pro-life democrats to are going to survive in this majority. >> they may not, but the reality is nancy veloz d -- pelosi, she said take care of yourself to
get reelected. >> why have a party if it does that have been organizing idf? deduct the reasif there is an og idea, -- you cannot be a republican if you do not oppose those things. here is what i would say -- what i would say is look at virginia. bob macdonald, shoots a conservative fellow reached across the middle. and- -- a very conservative fellow reached across the middle. i want you to have the choices, not washington. there is a positive republican agenda out there. i think you are going to see more of it in 2010.
>> when i propose the question i thought it would be more off base. i wanted to bring up the idea, i came down here from boston corp. the republican was a dirty word -- i came down here from boston where is the republican was a dirty word. how much of the voters' opinion is placed in the word republican or democrat and how much is an ideological ideas? to cut that is a great question. -- >> that is a great question. there are interesting attachments to the word republican and liberal. both have baggage right now. people consider themselves
conservative over a liberal. as part of the republican job in the next cycle to be reattaching the word conservative to republican. the go there is simplicity to the argument -- >> there is simplicity to the argument. there is a social dimension that encompasses things like abortion and guns in those kinds of values, and then there is economic police and then there is foreign policy and national security. what makes this complicated is close things do not have to be connected and an ideological framework. you are not without core beliefs if you are socially conservative and have a more
liberal economic points of views. so the problems i think you run into an party is is when you have a sense of ideological purity that keeps people from getting ahead if they do not fall into line on every single issue. we do have trouble winning elections. you have a hard time getting anything done once you get there because you do end up with basically the most ideologically high balance group of your party. that is the issue. >> i want to squeeze in one question from the audience in squeeze in one of my own. >> you have said that two-thirds of americans say they're
conservative, but only 20% identified as republican. do you feel like you are doing something wrong? how can you change that to keep people from feeling isolated? personally in the last election i did feel isolated. >> the actual numbers were 40 percent said. -- the actual numbers were 40%. the consumption is that conservatives and republicans could together. -- go together. most democrats are described as moderate or conservative. it is part of a transformation democrats went through in addressing the issues you talk about.
new democrats dealt with the tax issues and the issues of crimes. >> all of those things happen to republican majorities. could go until the past month democrats were tested on handling the deficit budget, given the history of president clinton -- >> can you fill in the blank to what happened to that. >> we are running out of time. it is possible that in the next few months we will have the biggest addition to the american social safety net since medicare, if not some social security with the health-care bill.
that we will do it virtually on a party-line basis, which is almost unprecedented. this could happen in one party for italy alone. it health care reform does pass, in something like the form it is in now, do you believe republican candidates in 2010 will run on repealing the health care reform? if they do, what would be the implications of that? do you think they will? >> i think that is a good question. i think they will run on repealing a budget and reforming the rest. who -- i think it will run on the peelirepealing a bunch of id
reforming the rest. now we are modeling our future after that. i think the spending will scare people to death. i think it is built into the stock price now. people have already seen the health care and spending story. they will not see effects immediately on their health care before the next elections. certainly not enough to change the political equation. the votes they are going to lose our people are happy with health care are going to see the costs go up in the next few years. i think there is coined to be reformed this, let's start over, do a more thoughtful incremental approach to control costs first period to g.
>> i do not think this is the end all of health care and we will never have a health care policy debate or discussion again in this country. i think people will look at what ever happens and ultimately there will be things that have to be changed over time. we have reforms medicare and social security so there will be improvements down the road. do i think anyone will come out in an aggressive matter and campaign to repeal lake-effect snow. it? no. by 2012 i do think people are going to see changes and
positive changes, but in the long run there are unfunded obligations for sosa security and medicare, but i denied hear anyone say we have to repeal them. -- but i do not hear anyone say we have to repeal them. >> no one is ever going to say cant' we have annual caps, no matter how sick we are? there are things that will change that people are going to be very reluctant to turn back to the days, the good old days. >> in 2012, will the republican nominee fundamentally repeal if it goes into law? >> i think what will happen is i am not sure it is going to pass.
if it does pass, i think it will be a scaled-back bill. i think the president will lose a lot of seats in 2010. he will wake up and say what do i have to fix before i get reelected? he cannot run re-election without fixing the issues. pacheco in 2010, it will the republican candidates -- >> in 2010, will the republican candidate do what needs to be done? >> some weird thing could happen
beyond the pay grade that could affect the election. if it does not, if we continue in this structure, they lose a lot of seats and then the president says i have to fix this. >> history is good august. when the last largest social program was implemented, by republicans, medicare part d democrats were against it and it did not get implemented until the next elections. and it still had not been implemented a year later. hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent right now demonizing the health care bill. there will be a bump on that. we did not win one seat in 2006
beating the heck at of the republicans to what they did to make medicare part d of big program. >> i accept the question. in the end, it is very dangerous to create a framework for going back. if you're talking about republicans going back to the old health care system -- the fact is it will not be the issue. the economy will be the issue. and if we lose seats, it is not because of health care. had they not done and general motors and chrysler or unemployment at 10%, we would be dealing with a different set of
issues, but in the end it will be unemployment coming down. >> setting aside centrality, to use in canada -- do you see the candidates repealing this? >> no, i do not think so. i have had the unusual political history of working with stan and bill and they are both the geniuses in their respective courteparties.
president obama has had to do huge things, which has created huge anxieties across the country. with all of the programs, the bank bailout, the stimulus program, it now those are arguably things that he has to do. nevertheless there is the anxiety. i think politically the smartest thing for the president and his administration to do would after having passed health care, would be to make what ever fixes you need in the bill but have some kind of big entitlement spending deficit plan that addresses the anxiety about big government because that is a huge thing. >> you have had the privilege of
hearing some of the smartest minds in american politics. join me in thanking our panel for a great presentation. [applause] thank you for sitting it out all afternoon. thank you all very much. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009] >> a thanksgiving weekend on c-
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here. -- the 2010 student cam contest is here. it must incorporate c-span program and showed varying points of view. deadline is january 20. winning entries will be shown on c-span. >> in a little more than an hour, an interview with david axe. after that, former administration officials discussed the threat posed by terrorists in nuclear weapons. first, highlights from the state dinner on tuesday given by president obama for the indian prime minister.
>> more than 300 guests were invited to tonight's the dinner. the third white house dinner for india and the last decade. activities are under way on the south lawn. we are joined here on the north lawn by a reporter from polit ico. >> there were certainly big names on the invitation list. everyone was looking for oprah winfrey, but she was not there. a lot of hollywood stars. i think people were probably expecting a lot bigger names tonight, because this is a white house that is almost like a revolving door for celebrities. many have come through the white house. there were a mess that brad pitt would be here.
he did not show on. -- there were rumors that brad pitt would be here. >> hollywood has definitely come out to support him. during the campaign we saw celebrities starring in songs about barack obama. we saw some of that with them coming back to the white house and celebrating. all of the guests entered through eased interest. -- through the east entrance. >> that is where the white house historical association set up shop before 9/11. >> blair underwood and other hollywood stars as they walk
>> general and mrs.: paul. -- colin powell. >> some of the hollywood stars that are a part of the festivities tonight at the white house. there were also some politicians as well. you are some of the names? >> nancy pelosi, as well as the governor of louisiana. the governor of pennsylvania is there. steny hoyer. lots of people who are important on the hill, important on the health care debate in the afghanistan debate. it is very much in evening wear important folks, whether it is the hill or the administration or the indian-american community is represented as well. >> who is not here this evening?
>> the big name that is not here is bill clinton. that is a big surprise. during his own administration, he had 30 state dinners. more of a case of then there, done that. he had another engagement. -- the case of been there, done that. everyone was hoping that 0 per would be there -- oprah would be there, but she did not show up. >> there were a lot of republicans who did not show up. >> a lot of congressmen and senators are back in their home districts. for instance, representative john boehner went back to ohio. he got the invitation, but he is probably going -- back in ohio. >> how do you r.s.v.p? >> you r.s.v.p. to the white house.
it is a very fancy, engraved in by. they get a list from the state department, and there are submissions of names that go on from all corners of the administration and they will everything down. if you are lucky enough to get an invitation, you r.s.v.p. back to the white house. >> how much lobbying goes into getting an invitation? >> there is a list -- the state department will make a list of the indian-american community and indian embassadors and representatives of that country who would automatically be on the list. there is lots of jockeying to get there and whittling down over many weeks in the east wing to decide who will be lucky enough to get an invite. >> you mentioned some of the elected officials here this evening. steny hoyer, democratic leader in the house, along with many of the governors. here they are entering through
the east entrance this evening. >> the honorable steny hoyer. and his wife. >> good evening. nice to see all of you here. >> [inaudible] >> no. >> everything is game? >> everything is game and everything will be proper. it is a little bit of both. that is the great nature of this job. pleased to have you here. nice to see you all. how're you doing?
>> use of the politicians talking to the press there. you are one of the reporters standing behind the rope. what sort of questions are they ask when they come into the white house? >> they are soft ball questions. they are about what you are wearing. what you want to talk about tonight? for instance, we asked: paul that -- colin powell that, who was he wanted to meet? he said he was looking for to keep eating. this is the time to have fun and mix and mingle. we asked marty nesbit, obama's best friend from chicago. people come. in a way, in all of washington, there is a little bit of glad- handing and back? -- back-slapping.
>> a fashion as part of the evening, and many people will be focusing on what the first lady is wearing. who design her dress, and why -- what goes into choosing the dress for the first lady? is she trying to send a message? >> she is trying to send a message. they do not always like to talk about fashion and how she makes these choices, but this is diplomacy. we were wagering hope she would choose as a designer. we thought she would go with an indian designer. she was using something earlier in the day. she was wearing a designer who -- you see a lot of his actions on the hollywood stars, and you see them on the red carpet. that is what she has decided on.
the diplomacy and highlighting the best of india and america is what you see in her fashion. and you see this in the menu choice as well. this is a very modern, elegant gown. >> and the white house kept under wraps, until the very minute when she came out to greet the prime minister. >> the white house was very good about keeping everything secret. we heard more about afghanistan that about this. they were very disciplined about keeping best. but that is always the case with what the first lady is going to wear. the east wing is letting us know. >> let's get a look at what the first lady is wearing. they greeted the prime minister and his wife early on this evening. on the front entrance of the white house.
>> president obama and first lady michelle obama and greeted india's prime minister singh and his wife earlier this evening. festivities are underway. talking what -- talking to us this evening about this. beyond the dress and the coronation, the logistics of the flowers, what type and color of flowers, the linens, the first lady spoke earlier about the meaning behind them. what did she say? >> she had a group of high- school students where she gave them a lesson on state dinners
and explained the china patterns. the color that she chose as purple and the significance of that is that it represents the indian peacock, the indian state bird. it is a nod to indian culture. in terms of china, she had china from the bush era and the clinton era. one of the things that you see with prime minister singh is that it is a continuation of what we saw with the bush administration. and using that china, is a nod to the relationship that bush was able to establish with prime minister singh. i talked to a white house usher about this -- he gave a figure that is $ the cost of that is already built in and the cost of the manpower is already built in. that is the figure he gave. george bush had smaller events,
but this one looks more like $350,000, like a lavish wedding. >> did the white house indicate whether people would feel like they are in at 10 tonight -- they are in a tent tonight? >> they put a floor on theiere, and they really tried to keep people's eyes of. there is a wall hanging. you do not feel like you are in a tent. >> who is the bigger headline tomorrow, president obama or michelle obama? >> it has to be the first lady. there she was in this gorgeous dress. the president more attacks. -- the president wore a tux.
the headline tomorrow will be michelle obama. >> thank you for your time. we want to show our viewers are more of the participants, including at&t policy. -- nancy pelosi. . -- some more of the entrances into the east part of the white house, including house speaker nancy pelosi. >> my husband. >> the hon. eric holder. >> i am with steven spielberg, so my kids left me a series of questions to ask.
>> pardon? >> who did you? -- your dress? [inaudible] >> [inaudible] >> can one or two? >> [inaudible] >> good evening, everyone. how are you? >> gayle king. >> i cannot hear a word you're saying. i am 67 years old and you cannot hear a word. the president and the first lady and the prime minister and his wife.
thank you. >> biran abrian and tracy mathi. >> many elected officials, house members, senators, governors here tonight for the obama administration's first state dinner. joining us on the phone is the former first lady laura bush's chief of staff. we read in the newspaper earlier today in "the washington post" that this is a party with a purpose. what does that mean? >> it is important. there is important work that gets done at these events. this is bent over several days of important meetings of the prime minister and with the president and with appropriate members of their delegations on each side.
there is an important strategic partnership between the u.s. and india, and that is what this state dinner is a culmination of all that hard work. >> how does the white house go about deciding which country, which had a state to throw a state dinner for? >> i think there is a list, a long list, of countries over a period of time that the united states and the president will host as visitors and guest here, but i think what came about with this one, this is 810-year relationship -- 810-year relationship. over 10 years, there has really been an important partnership in reaching out on the part of president clinton, on the part of president bush, to really solidified this important strategic relationship. there is so much -- this is the largest democracy in the world, india is.
we are the second-largest democracy. there is an important relationship that needs to be nurtured and continue. the national security advisers of the president -- have said that he should which it will recommend others that he should host. and ultimately, that will be his decision. >> we heard earlier that this is the first lady's show. when does the first lady's office began preparing for a state dinner? >> this dinner, likely, or this visit started right at the time that secretary clinton hand- deliver the invitation from president obama to prime minister singh on her visit to india this past july. she, at that time, accepted the invitation. i think both countries, the appropriate staff of both countries, started working right away to put together the visit,
but as far as the east wing is concerned and the first lady and her staff, primarily under the direction of the social secretary, they will begin to craft what they want this dinner to look like. they will get help from the chief of protocol, she will make a list of things that should be considered in a dinner like this, down to colors that may be inappropriate, -- to display, food allergies and flour allergies. a. n-- and flower allergies. developing a guest list. that is something the social secretary will reach out to a number of people in the government, particularly in the white house that will have recommendations of people who should be invited to a dinner like this, that should be there to honor the foreign guests.
it can take several months for these things -- to put these things together. >> how involved is the first lady? how involved was former first lady or bush? how involved does she need to be in this sort of event? >> -- how involved was the former first lady laura bush? >> every first lady should take that seriously and they have enjoyed it. speaking for mrs. bush, to answer your question, she was intimately involved in the details. she would set the direction of things, expectation she might have of how she would like it to look and what meal she might like to serve. and the staff would come back with recommendations. they would do tastings of foods. there would put table settings together, with the florist, the social secretary, with a variety
of people who helped to execute these events. she would make final selections. the president is involved to particularly on the guest list. it will be the president and first lady that will review the guest list and make a final decision. working with a great staff and with the tone and directions set by the first lady, the ultimate result is a beautiful the event. >> how do they go about deciding where people are going to set for this evening, and were there ever political calculations that go into that configuration? >> where people sit? >> yes bird >> this is an important function as well. the social secretary will have a great deal of speaking to people across the white house and they know some of these gases, as well as working with the president and
the first lady. you try to get -- they know some of the sugse guests, as well as working with the present in the first lady. you try to get to know these people and they help with this event and the opportunity. there are a lot of -- there is a lot of consideration that is going into this. >> how many people are involved in pulling off the united states better? -- a united states better -- dinner? >> this is under the responsibility of the chief usher. everyone will have something to do to put this together. and the staff has the bulk of the responsibility from the political staff at the white house.
the social secretary and her staff, the press office, of course, and it takes a lot of people. what is very important to remember is the military office. this is conveniently located where the first lady and her staff is that, because they work very closely with each other to execute the ceremonial functions of this. let's not forget that these are traditions full of history, with these ceremonies. there is a certain level of protocol associated with this, and they have to execute this. >> had you ever had the experience, as the chief of staff of the first lady, with a miscommunication? 's chief of staff, with a mishap or miscommunication moments before
or during the dinner? >> minute by minute, you have a very detailed schedule and a sequence of events that you have fought out every single possible detail, from pointa to get -- from point a to point z. you do not leave a lot of room for mishaps. sometimes there is timing it could be off a little bit. the president and the first lady may come down or earlier than when a car or the visitor is due to arrive. they are very minimal. the great thing is that there are so many experienced people involved in executing these events. they can anticipate something happening before it does. and it does not turn into an issue. >> we thank you for your time this evening. >> thank you very much.
>> the first lady, mrs. obama, previewed this dinner earlier today. >> tonight the president and i will be hosting our first state dinner. and we are hosting for the prime minister and his wife, whom we met earlier today. one of the things we thought -- i do not know about all of you -- is whether you wonder what are the state dinners about? when i was your age, i did not know what they were doing. we thought it would be fun to take time to expose you to what is going to happen today and this evening. so that is why you are here today and we are excited to have you. the state visits and dinners are a really important part of our nation's diplomacy. throughout history, they have given u.s. presidents and the
american people the opportunity to make important milestones in foreign relations. so these dinners and events are critical to what we do internationally. and they have helped build stronger ties with nations as well as people all around the world. that is what president obama and prime minister singh are doing today. and i know that all of us on our team here in the west wing and the east wing, we wish we could include many, many more people in today's events because it is not often that you get to do this. but even with a big house like the white house, there is only so many people we can invite. one of the ways that first ladies in the past have tried to include a broader public in on what is going on is by holding these types of events, where we invite the press to share some of the incredible behind-the- scenes work that goes on to
planning and pulling off this amazing day. but today, all we are also doing something different by having you all here. one of the things we talked about that the president and i have tried to do is really open up this white house to our neighbors. -- here in washington, d.c., especially to local students and children in our community. what we know is that even though many of your live just a few minutes, maybe all little bit away from here but you are close, these events probably seemed miles away, like they are untouchable. we tried to think about ways to include kids in the community all throughout today's events. at the opening ceremonies, we invited about 50 students from local schools to attend the welcome event. that is why we are happy to have
you guys here with us today. for those of you who don't know, these girls are a part of our young women who participate in the white house leadership and mentoring program. we are really thrilled to have you guys here. because this is your white @ @ @ @ "@ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ we are sorry above water but we are paddling like mad and going crazy underneath, trying to look smooth but there is a lot of work that goes into making this happen. we have a lot of people who are helping to put it together. it takes everyone at the white house and the state department and the military department who worked so hard to put all of the events together today. the guest list, the invitations, the place settings that you see here, you have to figure out who
sits where. invitations, the place settings. you have to figure out who sits where. it takes all the folks in the kitchen. we have our incredible white house chap -- chef, whom some of you have met. and the rest of our kitchen staff. tonight, we're going to include a guest chef tonight. marcus samuelsson. he is one of the finest chefs in the country. chris markets in our kitchen staff are working on a wonderful menu tonight that you'll be able to share in a little bit. it will showcase the best of american cooking. it will include the freshest ingredients from area farmers and purveyors. because of the hard work of some other kids in the community, we have this wonderful white house kitchen garden in the south lawn, and we will use some of the herbs from that garden in
tonight's dinner as well. but there is also more to the dinner than just food. dinners like these also need great entertainment. who do we have? we have got someone you guys probably know -- jennifer hudson will sing tonight. yay. but we also have a.r. rahman. he helped create some of their music for the film at "slumdog millionnaire". i don't know if you guys got to see that movie. we will have a jazz vocalist, kurt ellig, a chicago, hometown guy. then we will also have the national symphony orchestra under the direction of marvin hamlisch, one of the greatest composers in this country. it will be an incredible night for a lot of our guests. in a few minutes, you will hear more about the process of state
visits and dinners and from white house historian bill allman. he will give you the background of how these things have worked in the past. you will also hear about the importance of protocol from tanya turner, who was from the state department. protocol is critical. how you stand, how you said, who walks were, all of that is really important. tonya will share with us how that works. before i turn it over to them, i want to take a few moments to share with everyone here also wide today means so much to me personally. -- why today means so much to me personally. i have been on the other side of these visits and dinners. -- as a guest in many countries. since becoming first lady, i have had the opportunity to visit eight countries with my husband, the president.
in each and every country, during every visit, i have been moved by the warm and gracious hospitality that our host and the citizens of the countries that we visited have extended to the president and to meet. it means a great deal. -- when you are visiting and your hosts make you feel like you are at home. -- like they are excited to see you. each visit has also been you need and profound in its own way. it is not just the pomp and circumstance and the lights and cameras and fancy dresses, but when we have gone to other countries, we have done an incredible things. we saw the jewish quarter in prague. we visited this it -- we visited the sistine chapel. we have been to the coliseum in rome. and the american cemetery on the beaches of normandy in france were the world comes to honor the brave soldiers who died there.
these places are more than monuments to history, naturally. they compel us to see the world through a broader lands, not just from your own background -- backyard or your school or your neighborhood. they teach us to look at the world -- world broadly. to respect and admire each other's cultures and traditions in a very different way and to honor all the values and the interests we all have in common. -- across the world. you see this not in a pomp and circumstance is, but in the people that you meet. we have met tons of incredible people over the course of our trips. the children and then on to care for them at a beautiful orphanage that i visited -- the nuns who care for them in russia. young girls that i got to spend
some time with at the elizabeth garrard anderson at school. -- in london. the nurses in ghana and africa that we got to see. -- in africa that we got to see. the children, the caretakers, the girls, the teachers, the nurses and others that we met -- what you learn is they all want the same thing is you do, as we do. folks all around the world, they want to live in peace. they want to pursue their dreams and just like you guys do. and they have big, huge streams, just like you. -- huge dreams, just like you. and they hope for a brighter future for the next generation. these dreams are the same. what we figure out from these visits is that all across the world, no matter what our religions or raises are, that we
are all building the future together and building that future is not just the job of any one country alone. no one country can do it by themselves. it is the responsibility of all of our countries all over the world to work together. that is why the president has worked so hard to began what he has called a new era in our relations with the world. he has worked to strengthen diplomacy. he has worked to renew old alliances so we are talking differently with countries and people we have not talked to before. he is building new partnerships and these partnerships he hopes will be based on mutual trust and respect. but one of the things the president has said is that this new era of engagement cannot just be between governments. it is not just about the president's and the prime minister is getting along. this new era of engagement also
has to be between the people, the diplomats, business leaders, the scientists, the health care workers and yes, the teachers and students. young people just like you are part of building up future. and that engagement, the ability to exchange with one another, as young people is critical. when the president goes to another country, he makes it a productive visit and speak with students all around the world, whether in europe or cairo or china, he always reaches out to young people. we need to expand that type of educational exchange so that students like all of you here have the opportunity to experience and learn from other cultures and to share your own culture, however unique and different, with other parts of the world.
deepening these ties is one of the things the president and the prime minister are working on today, one of the reasons for the trip to india and this state dinner is for these leaders to work together. whether it is along lines of working on the economy or working on the economy or climate change or global health they know that you are among the greatest ambassadors in america, and the greatest ambassadors of india as well. india is sending more students to study in this country than any other country. this year alone, more than 100,000 students came here to america to study somewhere. by doing that, they have learned from us, and we have learned from them in a very fundamental way. as a result of those interactions we are all richer. after today we will hopefully
expand these exchanges even more. maybe one of you at this table, one of the little mentees may be studying somewhere in india. just imagine that. start thinking about your future in that way. this is a beginning of that for all of you. beginning of all of that for you. government alone cannot build the future that we want. -- for the world. he that is the job of each and everyone of us. that is one of the lessons for today. that is one of the lessons of the relationship between the united states and india. back when the president was a senator, he kept a picture of ghandi, the father of india, in his office. it was before he was a senator.
he was always a big supporter in admirer of ghandi. -- because he inspired so many people in india and all around the world with his example of dignity and tolerance and peace and with a simple call. she would say "to be the change we wish to see in the world, we are that change." -- he would say "to be the change we wish to see in the world, we are that change." it is an opportunity to deepen the ties between the united states and india and a reminder to be the change, whether it is in your home or your school or community or in your country. you are the change we need. >> mrs. obama previewing tonight's dinner, including talking about the food that the
guests will be eating. earlier today i spoke with a former white house chef about the planning that goes into tonight's dinner. we want to show you that conversation, have you listened to it, as well as show you images of the white house kitchen preparing for a state dinner during previous administrations. tell us what it is like in the kitchen this evening, preparing for a state dinner? >> an official dinner is very much like a broadway opening. there are some people involved, both from the tulare -- culinary aspect of it. the social staff, first lady. the adrenaline that is going on right now could not be higher. there has been a buildup. rehearsals, rehearsals. there is a guest chef. there is a first chance to take a look at mrs. obama's style.
they have a great adrenalin. they are ready to perform chris and markets will do a famous job. i have taken a peek at the menu. there is an indian take to the menu this evening. i'm excited for them and for the obama is. it will be a wonderful night. >> what goes into coordinating the menu? >> the office of protocol at the state department will forward it dossier to the social secretary and to the first lady into the shaft. this will have personal preferences, medical requirements, religious or dietary requirements. in terms of food, in some cases, certain colors in certain flowers might not be appropriate for different cultures. there is a variety of things to make sure no offense is given from anything that might take place.
outside of food, are remembered for one of the state dinners, chrysanthemums found their way onto the table. it was that the japanese state dinner. this is a funeral flour for the japanese. we pulled all the flowers quickly off the table. it is not a hotel or restaurant. it is a private home. it really is an international incident o. >> what about the first lady's dress? is that a factor? >> in a strange way it is. whatever color the dress is will be what a floral designer will do in terms of the floral pieces, the color of the tablecloths. this will roll back into the pattern of china that will be used in terms of what color it is. and then each color and pattern of china has different service pieces. in a small way, the color of the
gown will denote what types of menu items you might be able to serve. >> how many days in advance to use at the menu? does it ever chaeaá@ t mná@ @ @ >> does the man you ever change at the last moment? >> you have had a good month or so to rehearse and make sure it is just perfect. if the first lady came 20 minutes out and wanted to change something, you will you do your darndest to change it. >> how involved is the first lady? is she tasting the food as you go along? is the president involved in that? >> the president does not get that involved. the first lady will get as involved as she chooses to. each lady does that in a different manner. different manner.
each first lady is an alpha female and are keenly aware of the high profile and the level of scrutiny that a state dinner brings femal.es es. they are going to want to be sure that everything is exact. >> you mentioned the guest chef. marcus said wilson from new york. -- samuelson from new york. what are your impressions? co>> he is renowned. the white house is a whole. if the wheat first lady decided that this is that cuisine -- if the first lady decided that this is what she decided she was
going to use -- she was going to use, -- he has probably done at 50 state dinners. we get to do this all the time. i am sure chris and marcus are working to make sure that the timeline works, that the service is perfect. it does not matter how good the food is if you have to wait 45 minutes to get a course serve. >> having a guest chef does that add an extra headache for the head chef? >> in some respects, when you work at the white house, you are cloistered individually. you are sequestered in your kitchen. it is neat there is an outside shot to keep things fresh. -- out chef to keep things fresh. -- and outside chef. i suspect they are getting along
famously. >> do you gather any sort of meaning from what we have seen it from the menu tonight? >> i would suggest that there is an indian subcontinent take to the menu itself. i think it will be interesting to see how it is actually executed. the white house is bad about american cuisine and american cuisine is like the american -- the white house is about american cuisine. it is a like the american populace. it is from all cultures. there are things that are distinctly indiana. but there are things that are traditional american. . .
>>, it does food costs for the state dinner? >> many folks ask about how much it costs. in many of the state dinners that i worked on, in many cases of the floral decorations for the table and the rest of the house and the amount of staff that put these together is more expensive to do the flowers than it is to do the food. >> can you give us a ballpark? >> we never actually sat down and came up with the numbers. let's just say it was x-
dollars in the food became an issue, being bandied about like a comedy show t? it is about representing the hospitality of america and the first family and the graciousness of america. >> thank you for your time. more than 300 people were expected at night state dinner. the first state dinner, 10 months into his administration. we will end tonight coverage here with president obama toasting@@
♪hail to the chief [applause] >> many of you were here when i was honored to become the first president to help celebrate the festival of lights. [applause] some of you were here for the first white house celebration of the birth of the founder of sikhism. [applause] tonight, we gather again for the
first state dinner of my presidency with prime minister singh and mrs carr as we celebrate the great and growing partnership between the united states as we all know in india, some of life's most treasured moments are celebrated under the cover of a beautiful tent. that is like tonight. we have incredible food, music, and are surrounded by great friends it has been said that the most beautiful thing in the universe are the starry heavens above us and the feeling of duty within us. mr. prime minister, today we were to fulfill our duties and bring our country's closer together than ever before. tonight, under the stars, we celebrate the feeling that will sustain our partnership. it is a bond that includes more than 2 million in the americans that in which every corner of our great nation these are
leaders in government, science, industry, and the arts, some of whom joined us tonight. it is the bond of friendship between a presidentq and a prie minister that our bound by the same responsibility of brotherhood that transformed both of our nations, the spirit that gave rise and was led by people like gandhi and king and is the reason both of us can stand here tonight. as we draw upon these ties and a fine of our country together, i want to close with the first words that your premise for spoke on the eve of indian independence. nehru's words speak to us tonight. the achievement we reached today is a step. it is for the great triumphs and achievements that await us pretty past is over and it is the future that beckons us now. so, i propose a toast to all of
you -- does the prime minister get a glass? thank you. we want to make sure the prime minister has a glass, logistically. [laughter] to the future that beckons all of us, let us enter its call and let our two great nations realize all the triumphs and achievements that await us. cheers. >> mr. president, the first
lady, mrs. michelle obama, distinguished guests, i feel privileged to be invited to this first state banquet under your distinguished president. you do us and the people of india great honor by this wonderful gesture on your part. we are overwhelmed by the warmth of your hospitality, the courtesy you have extended to us personally, and a great charm of the first lady. mr. [applause]
mr. president -- your journey to the white house has captured the imagination of millions and millions of people in india. you are an inspiration to all those who cherish the values of democracy, diversity, and equal opportunity. [applause] mr. president, i can do no better than to describe your achievement in the words of abraham lincoln who said,"ypz in the end, it is not the years in
your life that counts, it is the life in europe years," -- it is the life in your years." [applause] mr. president, we warmly applauded the recognition by the nobel committee of the healing touch you have provided and the power of your idealism and your patience. [applause] mr. president, your leadership of this great nation of the united states coincides with the tying up of profound changes taking place in the world at large.
we need to find new pathways of international cooperation that will spawn more effectively to the grave challenges caused by the growing interdependence of nations. as to leading democracy, india and the united states must play a leading role in building a shared destiny for all humankind. mr. president, this strong and engaged engagement between our two countries is good for our people and equally it is highly important for the world as a whole.
we are embarking and añ new phae of our partnership we should build on our common values and interests to realize the enormous potential and promise of our partnership. our expanding cooperation of social and human development, science and technology, energy, and other related areas will improve the quality of lives of millions of people in our country. the success of the nearly 2.7 million strong american community is a tribute to our common itos.
they have enriched and deepened our ties and i thank them profoundly from the core of my heart. [applause] mr. president, i conveyed my very best wishes to you.wp. mr. president, as you lead this great nation and look forward to work -- to working with you to renew and expand our strategic partnership. i wish you and the people of america a very, very happy thanksgiving. [applause]
ladies and gentleman, high end by you to join me in a toast to the health and happiness of president barack obama and the first lady, mrs. obama, the friendly people of the united states of america and stronger and stronger friendship between india and the united states of america. >> cheers. thank you so much. thank you. thank you everybody, enjoy your evening. [applause]
>> now, president barack obama delivers his first thanksgiving message from the white house this is just under five minutes. >> this week we carry on this distinct american tradition. all across our country, folks are coming together to spend time with family and catch up with old friends, to poke and
enjoy a big dinner and maybe to watch a little football in between. as always, we give thanks for the kindness of loved ones, for the joys of the previous year and for the pride we feel in our communities and our country we keep in our thoughts and prayers the many families market this thanksgiving with an empty seat, saved for a son or daughter, a husband or wife, stationed in harm's way. we say special thanks for the sacrifices those men and women in uniform are making for air safety and freedom and for all those americans who enrich the lives of our communities through acts of kindness and general prosody and service break. we also know that this year, millions of americans are facing difficult economic times. many of lost jobs in this recession, the worst in generations. many more are struggling to afford health care premiums and health care -- and house mortgages. too many are wondering if the trade of a middle-class life that american dream is slipping
away. it is a word i hear from people across the country, good hard- working people doing the best they can for their families but fearing their best just is not good enough. these are not strangers. they are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. their struggles must be our concern. that is why we passed the recovery act that cut taxes for 95% of working people and small businesses. we extended unemployment benefits and coverage for millions of americans who lost their jobs in this turmoil. we are reforming the health care system so that middle-class families have affordable insurance that cannot be denied because of a pre-existing condition or taken away because you happen to get sick. we were to stem the tide of foreclosures and stop the decline in home values. we're making it easier if to say retirement and make it more affordable to send a sound -- to send a son or daughter to college our economy is finally growing again boarded.
job recovery from this crisis will not come easily or quickly. the job losses we were experiencing earlier this year have slowed dramatically, we are still not creating enough new jobs each month to make up for the ones we are losing. no matter what the economists say, for families and communities across this country, this recession will not end until we completely turn that tide. we have made progress. we cannot rest. my administration will not rest until we have revived this economy and rebuild it stronger than before. until we are creating jobs and opportunity for middle-class families or and until we will be on the cycles of boom and bust and reckless risk and speculation that led us to so much crisis and pain these past few years. next week, i will meet with owners of large and small businesses, labor leaders, and not for profit leaders from across the country to talk about the additional steps we can take to help spur job creation. i will work to enact proposals.
it is my hope and my heart fell expectation that next thanksgiving we will be able to celebrate the fact that many of those who lost their jobs are back at work and that as a nation, we will have come through these difficult storms stronger, wiser, and grateful to have reached a brighter day. thank you. god bless you. from my family to yours, happy thanksgiving. >> the republicans released their weekly address today, too. mike pence speaks for five minutes.1ó from indiana. like most americans, my family came together to break bread and give banks and celebrate our blessings. even in these times of struggle and trial, we have much to be thankful for it that begins with our men and women in uniform. many of whom will spend their holiday season away from hearth and home. the tragic events at fort would remind us that whether they serve at home or abroad, we owe
our soldiers and their families a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay. well empty chairs for america's defenders replace -- were placed at thanksgiving dinner tables, many of the seats were filled with anxious americans facing their own personal battles and struggles. millions of families have seen jobs and careers vanished in the midst of this recession. many are asking when things will get better. many more are asking where are the jobs. president barack obama told the american people that his last $787 billion jobs bill, the so- called stimulus package, would insure that unemployment would not go above 8%. the administration continues to insist that their plan is working. unemployment is now at a heartbreaking 10.2%. in the city and on the farm, as millions of american families struggle to balance their checkbooks, they watched in astonishment as washington
spends billions of dollars it does not have. what is the white house answer? another meeting next week, a jobs summit and most likely, another proposal to grow government, raise taxes, and plans more debt on the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. the american people know we cannot borrow and spend and bell our way back to a growing economy. the obama administration and the democratic majority in congress have taken our economy from bad to worse. democrats in washington continue to push for government run insurance. a government takeover of health care will do nothing to lower the cost of health insurance and will place for the burdens on small business owners and working families. we need leadership in washington that will help lift the burden on struggling families and on least the power and innovative spirit of the american people. that has always been the source of our national strength and the means to lasting prosperity. the way to stimulate this
economy and help working families is to let americans keep more of their hard-earned money, notyc taking more from their wallets. republicans have proposals to get our economy moving again, to achieve energy independence, and lower the cost of health care. while these are trying times, we should remember that these trials are nothing new to the american people the got to blast those who lead on the shores nearly four centuries ago, still are around today. from the depression of the 1930's to the struggles in the economy today, the american people have fought through challenges and attacks with fervor, faith, and optimism. as we were reminded this last week, our problems grow dim as we focus on our blessings. with many families harding during this holiday season, now is the time for us to focus on what makes america great. we need to join hands and work together on common sense solutions to the problems ailing
our nation. let's result the help and help recant and get where we can get and let's work together to get this economy moving on the basis of time-honored principles of fiscal responsibility, equality of opportunity, and growth. with faith in god and the american spirit, i believe your best days are still ahead of you and for america, the best is yet to come. i am congressman mike pants. -- mike pence. >> next on cspan, an interview with david axe who just returned from afghanistan. then scholars and former administration officials discussed the threat posed against the u.s. by terrorists and nuclear weapons. after that, remarks ,ludicris on the importance of community service.
friday, for the first time in british history, parliament opens its chambers to non-mp's. also the former new york times reporter on why he fabricated and plagiarized news stories. saturday, a look back at the cuban missile crisis with a former kennedy adviser. also, have world threat's been over-in the post cold war world? two programs on sunday on democracy and the internet including a university of virginia panel on how the political process has been affected by the internet. also, the facebook founder on how social networking is changing the political process. this holiday weekend on c-span. >> thanksgiving week and on c- span, american icons, three
nights of cspan on original documentaries on the iconic homes of the three branches of american government beginning tonight at 8:00 eastern, the supreme court, home to america's highest court reveals the building in the exquisite detail through the eyes of supreme court justices. friday at 8:00 p.m., the white house, inside america's most famous home, be on the velvet ropes of public tours, our visit so's the grand public places as well as those rarely seen spaces. saturday at 8:00 p.m., the capital, the history, art, and architecture of one of america's most symbolic structures. american icons, remember all nights starting tonight at 8:00 on c-span. get your own copy of american icons, a three disk set which is $24.95 per you can order that online. on tuesday night, president barack obama will address the nation on the future of
afghanistan and what he wants to do with the number of u.s. troops in the country. he will speak at 8:00 eastern from the u.s. military academy at west point. we'll have live coverage on the cspan networks. we sat down with reporter david axe who recently came back from afghanistan. here is what he had to say. >> free-lance journalist david dax was recently embedded with u.s. troops in afghanistan. in this 40-minute interview, we speak about his experience with the u.s. army and air force. this was his second trip to afghanistan. >> on this second trip, what did you expect to see?
>> i want to see if things had gotten worse or explore new areas i had noto6r visited befo. in 2007, i spent most of my time in kabul. this time, i headed out to one of the agricultural districts south of kabul to see a different facet of war. >> are there commercial flights that go into afghanistan? >> there are. you can fly into kabul or into kandahar. . . @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @ @
if you did it online or give it new. it is basically law enforcement year. you have the same protective measures that u.s. troops do. it is sophisticated stuff. i do not worry too much about my own safety. the logistics of the trip are far dicier than the trip itself. it does not easier to get easier over time. it is a big country. it was a huge problem.
the paper work and the officers i had to yell at -- it took a week to get a weeklong visa extension. >> how do you hook up with the ganneunit? >> i started out with the u.s. air force. i clued in to coto kabul. the first up was to get a press badge. i caught a taxi up to be met at the gate by military personnel. i was handed off to the air force for about a week. then i was handed to the army. the army handed me off to the air force in canada are. -- into kandahar.
>> describe the air base. >> it is big. it is a former soviet facility. a lot of the old soviet infrastructure is still there. she employed old buildings and the decrepit run with that is being improved. it is the biggest military facility in afghanistan by some measures. population-wise, tens of thousands. i am not sure at the exact number. it is the main logistics hub. it is a lot of aircraft flying in, and loading things, rebu loading things. >> you said it was mostly u.s. troops. also made a trip stationed there as well? >-- also nato station there as well? >> correct.
>> what you observed between the interactions? >> i find that u.s. troops and afghan troops work fairly closely together. there is this mentoring relationship. often when troops go out on patrol they bring along a bunch of afghans and a group into the organization in a pretty seamless way. they do not have the same capability or training as u.s. troops but they are there. a lot of the coalition activities that were divided among national lines -- the french have a forward operating base. >> what does the logistical side
look like? >> i did. i flew along with a crew on a resupply mission to the south. what happened was some shipments of food and water and supplies came in. we were offloaded and broken into batches. this particular crew was carrying food and water mostly to a marine corps contingent in the south. we flew 100 couple miles. we did a pass over the marines location. we flew backed. operations like that happen every day, probably half a dozen to a dozen of them. it is one of the major ways of getting supplies.
>> those operations are fairly safe. they do not encounter too much enemy fire? >> the taliban do not have an air defense network. they can take a shot at your airplane with their rivals or an r.p.g., but the chances of them hitting lyoua re slim. -- you are slim. >> escorts like that are not required. it is fairly routine. i am not saying it is perfectly safe. the conditions are attracted = = = = = = = = rugged. >> what is their mission? >> we have fast aircraft doing
all sorts of things. some are orbiting around looking for suspicious activity. we have aircraft that fly support missions. when the ground troops get into a sticky situation, they call those guys in. some combine those roles. >> is that close air support missions an everyday occurrence? >> probably. the airportforce does not publih those statistics. there has been at the push to find other ways of dealing with the taliban. general mcchrystal said that air power might contain the seeds of our own destruction. it is massive overkill and civilian casualties are big problem. it is better to accept risk in
an engagement with the taliban and not on them than it is to risk killing civilians. >> the use of the drones has increased dramatically in afghanistan. is there any correlation between forces on the ground and the operators of the drumones/ >> you can think of them as manned aircraft. the man is actually sitting on the ground. he is still talking to the ground troops. they use a chat program. it is like instant messenger to do a lot of the communications with the guys receiving the support from the drones. they are fairly precise as far as these things go. they did not fire a lot. it is a far cry from a b1 bomber. >> it is also a military
hospital. and what operations go on their? >> that is the biggest, and by some standards the most sophisticated medical facility in all of afghanistan. it is a u.s. air force run hospital that does everything from plastic surgery to trauma, the emergency room care. >> they can take care of a lot of issues right there. they do not have to fly soldiers out of the country most of the time. >> they could handle most things, but the idea is when someone is hurt to get them to their long-term care facility as fast as possible. you do not want a u.s. soldier suffering from burns having to hang around there for months of the time. the idea is where the carrier needs to be provided locally. there were afghans receiving plastic surgery when i was
there, but the u.s. troops moved out as quickly as possible. the hospital combines both medical care and evacuation role. there is at 10 outside the hospital -- there sis a tent outside the hospital awaiting a flight. the flight leaves frequently. it is hard to catch these guys for interviews because they move out so quickly. eni transports like going home to the united states, it could be a cargo plane, when it turns around and they put the troops on there with a nurse or in flight medical care to keep them safe and healthy as they fly home. >> you also spent time at a board operating base. the air force handed you off to the army and you went to a
record operating base. where was that? >> south of kabul. this is an agricultural district. traditionally it grows much of the food that people in kabul eat. that is connected to cobble by our road. -- it is connected to kabul by a road. it is farmers trying to make it and living in the unforgiving terrain. >> why is there a based their? >> most afghans are farmers. one of the keys to winning hearts and minds and bring a hot population into the coalition fold and building support for the afghan government, among every day afghans, is to talk to
the farmers in a language they understand. the u.s. army has of the italia batallion. those guys are spending most of their time trying to understand what kind of farming is going on. how can the afghan government help the farmers? >it is like an agricultural commune that wears military fatigues. >> this is an actual case that the u.s. has built or is it some sort of facility that was there before? >> the battalion base is the former site of a turkish gravel company.
it is a former russian base. some of the facilities have a long history of conflict. as you move further away from the conference, out what is that like to get your daily meals? where do you sleep? had you communicate with c-span and others outside of afghanistan and? >> for instance, it is this agricultural commune. it is not a lot of active combat. for the most part, that they are out there talking with farmers and working with farmers. they are static enough in the routine is set enough that the company their with the leadership of a very good first
sergeant has managed to build a nice face. the food is hot and frequent. there is running water. showers. little wooden huts. it is fairly comfortable. by contrast, in canada akhandan troops did not have the leisure and the time to settle into a nice chretien. it depends on where you are and what you're doing. the bigger basis are not always more comfortable. these days they're way over crowded. the infrastructure for u.s. and nato troops were size for of 50,000 strong force. with new in force since coming in -- with new reinforcements
coming in, these zero major bases are just way overcrowded. there is no place to sleep. long waits for food. traffic. things like that. >> you talked about an agricultural community. what is the local government like their? >> spotty. the governor is located with the american base and baricki barack. it is the afghan government and the u.s. troop and state department that are located. it is delivered and a good idea. they are able to work together. there is not a mindset that these governments exist to provide services. that is what has to happen to pull together a federal system that actually works.
>> is that largely a state department ruled? >> increasingly, yes. we have seen a surge of non- military government agencies moving into afghanistan increasingly since the beginning of the year. more u.s. troops also. for instance, when i arrived in mid-october, coincided league the arrival of a district 14, the u.s. state department team that sends an experienced foreign services officers to hang out with the local governor to show him this is what it looks like to run a local government. you need to be walking around, talking to your constituents. find out what they need and who has resources and try to make the link up. that district support team of the advance party was there. more are coming. they will be joined by a contingent of agricultural
experts call from u.s. land grant universities that have volunteered to come over and work with partners. >> how big with the team typically get? >> i think at the peak we have a dozen people. >> what is the local language and do you speak it? kiko'>> i do not. most likt. like most foreigners i hire a translator. if ibm embedded with u.s. troops, they have one. interpreters are complicated sometimes. -- if i am indebted with u.s. troops, they have one. interpreters are complicated sometimes. you may plan ahead and then you
get there and everyone is speaking a different language. you have to change gears. >> do you think the military has enough translators? >> never. no one ever has enough translators. and never good enough. you may have your allotment, but they may not be the best. that is a constant struggle. until we have a large number of americans speaking these languages, that is going to be a challenge. >> you spent time in kandahar. what was their mission? >> i spent most of my time with two organizations. one is air expeditionary training group from the u.s. air force that mentors the afghan national army air corps. in other words, a bunch of american to try to fill an
afghan air force on u.s. air force model. in addition, spent some time with the 62nd expeditionary reconnaissance squadron. >> the unit that is straining the afghans, this is a big part of u.s. push for the afghans to take on the security role in that country. how do u.s. military officials think the afghans are coming along? >> slowly. it is hard to -- i will not call them pessimists, but it is hard to be optimistic. they do their job. they are dedicated to it. the americans that is. we will not shared them speak badly about afghanistan, but from my point of view, it is very frustrating.
it is frustrating to see almost no progress in the two years between my trips to afghanistan. i did not see major signs of progress. >> why do you think that is? >> cultural. a matter of cultural. we have embarked on an effort to reform our culture, change a culture. i will not even use the word reform because that implies a need to be like us. the initial goal was to disrupt al qaeda. to do what it took to make that happen. we decided that meant eradicating the taliban as well. or at least removing them from power. eight years later there is very little al qaeda in afghanistan. very little taliban as well honestly. but somehow the mission has
morphed into not just disrupting those organizations, but building a society, and almost western-style society to replace the taliban as a form of government i guess. that is not going well. >> does afghanistan had any history of a unified military, of course that serves the country in the past? >> i do not know. i am not an expert on afghan history. recently, no. under the soviets 20 years ago, and there was a partnership with elements of an afghan federal government, just like there is today. i do not mean to the two, but recently, no.
>> did you ever see any evidence of u.s. forces trying to work with local officials in trying to eradicate the poppy fields? >> there is a good reason for that. we have moved past eradication. when it comes to poppies, it is not really on the forefront anymore. the reason the military cared about poppies is they were a source of revenue, they are a source of revenue for the taliban. but it is clear they had multiple income streams and that is just one. also clear that trying to eradicate poppy iies, you cause more damage to your own effort -- you hurt more than you help. in eliminating the sole source of income from farmers, you create new extremists and
enemies. it is better it to find other ways to disrupt the taliban been to eliminate one of their income streams that so many people depend on course for their livelihood. >> let's talk about the typical operations that he witnessed. >> a therthere are two american drone units. the exact numbers are classified. the predators' look like giant model airplanes above the size of a small compact car. the reapers look about the same, but they are twice as big. they looked more like fighter jets then at model airplanes. you can hold bonds on these things. they carry a bunch of different
sensors, cameras, radars, things like that. these things can stay in the air a long time. they can stay in the air one day. it is thought impossible for them to order it for a full day soaking up fast amounts of imagery in data, peering down looking at radar snapshots of terrain. >> at what altitude? >> that is probably classified. many thousands of feet. sometimes you can hear them when you're on the ground that you cannot really see them because they are too small. they sound like lawnmowers. you cannot see them. >> did you see a unit and action attacking specific points? >> no. they do not actually handle many attacks. the reason being is, operations are bifurcated. most of the operators, the guys
who actually steer them, they sit in the trailers and they scared them. most of them are in las vegas. they were dead air force bases in nevada. -- they work at air force bases in nevada. they are responsible for operations in certain small areas. usually around air base. what happens is it is like a 24 hour operation. there are air force skies and contractors who are constantly dragging them out to the air strip and launching them with a remote-controlled and then they pass them off to the guys in las vegas. the guys in las vegas flight around for a day or so and return control to the guide in kandahar. but then they will look for enemy activity. >> did you get a chance to look
at the imagery? >> yes. they have a high-fidelity radar. it takes snapshots of terrain. what you do is in the morning you take one snapshot. you come back in the evening and take another and you compare them. you see differences. you might have spotted a roadside bomb. the taliban come in and did. when you are not looking, but if you have the snapshots you compare them and they call it change detection. that is a lot of what they do. they revisit areas to take these radar snapshot. they send in ground teams. >> you were with several units in different places. what sense did you get from soldiers of up to redeployments, the multiple deployments to afghanistan? >> a lot of the guys i was with
were fairly young. many of them were on their first deployments and have only been in the army for a few years. as you get older soldiers, they have been at this for quite a long time. i hear a lot about droppinmorald it seems like they are talking about a different army. i am not sure that means anything in afghanistan. it might for other armies, but this is a professional army. probably the world's most professional army ever. they're highly trained, highly educated, extremely well equipped and pretty well compensated. these guys do a job because it is their job. most of them are not it
theologically motivated. they are there to do a job they believe in, but they believed in the job, not necessarily some grand cause. they are able to separate their emotions and personal feelings and even their personal politics from the job. if you really boil it down -- if there is an emotional motive for these guys, usually they are fighting for the guy next to them. the small unit camaraderie that really motivates them where professionalism does not explain everything. i am not sure that morale is issued issue. you can sit down with one soldier and say how do you feel? are you tie your? is your family suffering from you been deployed over and over again? he might have a gripes. the army is pretty good about dealing with this.
the army is making an effort to expand in order to give people more time at home. i always hear -- for years i have heard that the army is overstretched. from the planning purpose, that might be true that we do not have enough troops, but it is not like it is imploding and there is some sort of psychic collapse going on where people are so demoralized and illusion that they will quit. >> you were in afghanistan during the start of the debate about whether and how much additional troops, how many additional troops the u.s. might send. what is coarsenyour sense? >> there is a growing sense of realism that nobody will get everything they want. mcchrystal seems to us at a high bar for what he considers adequate resources another
40,000 troops or more? i think there is an understanding that that will not necessarily happen and it will not have been fast. offices are making do. all lot of senior guys embrace the idea of the counterinsurgency where your goal is to protect the entire afghan population from any extreme elements. by protecting them you excise what ever extremist elements had managed to take over the way of the population. that is impossible with limited resources. put is emerging is a hybrid strategy. you tried to win hearts and minds through indirect needs outside of the major population centers. >> the last time you were in afghanistan was what year?
>> 2007. >> how have things changed since your last visit? >> there is no major progress to report. the challenges i saw in 2007 are the same ones in 2009. there are slightly more u.s. coalition troops in afghanistan, but not so many that it has made a massive difference. it might make a difference in certain localities, but broadly speaking, it is still its huge country and coalition is still comparatively quite small. the major obstacles remain. the thing is i am not sure that unless it want to flood afghanistan with a million foreign troops, i am not sure that troops are really the answer. it is increasingly clear to me that more than the taliban, at the enemy is us the corruption.
they had a chance to pull its act together and has declined to do so repeatedly. it seems that most afghan officials just want to get rich, just want to gather power for themselves and do not care about afghanistan as a state and their constituents. you can kill taliban all day. you will just end up creating more by creating borders. -- murders. -- by creating martyrs. >> you shot a lot of video for c-span districts and other trips. what was the most interesting thing? >> getting blown up and shot at.
>> tell us about that. >> we were ambushed back in mid- october on the way back from a visit to a local mosque. it was a 20 minute firefight. no american casualties. a truck was destroyed. it was an interesting experience. i had been shot oat before but through those experiences i have come to hreally believe in american technology. i do not want to be the guy who feels invincible when he is wrapped in millions of dollars of american military equipment, but i do. it is good equipment. we sat there and everyone was fine. then we shot back. the tree-lined that the taliban
were shooting from was demolished. >> how far away from your position? >> it was pitch black. i would have to guess 100 yards. probably further. the sheer quantity of firepower that they dropped was just hilarious and inspiring. it was massive overkill. we killed at cal. you do not want to kill them because the farmers get very acceupset. the only way to shoot video outsid the vehicle is to pop the out the hatch. the hatch was occupied. i was only able to shoot a video inside the vehicle. it was tough because i did not want to shine a light in their face. it might ruin their night vision
or bug them. they had adopted do. -- they had a job to do. it is something they do not do often. it is something they realize is not really their job. >> did you get a chance to talk to them after the firefight? was it business as usual? >> they all call done this before. -- they have all done this before. there was a young man in the back of the truck with me. i ran into him at lunch two days later and we were talking about the fire fight. it was unusually long. the taliban do not usually hang around that long. they just kept shooting. he talked about his mindset when he is in a situation like that. he said the key to surviving is
to not care about surviving. he said that if you think too hard about protecting yourself, then you do not take the steps that you know you need to take to resolve the situation as fast as possible. as soon as i can get out of the vehicle, they get out of the vehicles and a game high ground and looked around at the enemy. then they call in artillery. that requires getting exposed. which is scary, but in the end of safer. it is cheaper to get out and take care of the problem -- it is safer to get in and take care of the problem. he talks about surviving by embracing death. they have not taken a lot of casualties. one of the reasons is because they fight so bravely and they are willing to confront death like that.
>> you mentioned their training earlier. you see that in action in that situation? >> yes, an 18 year-old kid within seconds of getting blown up and peppered with gunfire is calling an artillery and coordinating the movement's of the troops all over the place and firing his own weapon in dealing with a pesky reporter, all at the same time while maintaining a pretty pleasant attitude, extremely impressive. >> tell us about the mechanics of your job. how do you make sure you have enough tape, that your batteries are charged and all of that? >> i did not spend a whole lot of time sleeping outdoors in the desert. even where the ambush took place, every night we returned
home to a nice bass. we had a very good first sergeant who was responsible for getting power in things like that and did a very good job. he cared about his status. -- about his guys. it is expensive for. flying over their and the miscellaneous expenses to accumulate -- it is not always easy and comfortable, but it sure beats and betting with the taliban. at least as an american, i will probably make it through. think you for joining us. >> my pleasure. >> david axe has covered the wars in afghanistan and iraq. you can watch this interview on our website at c-span.org.
the coach just a reminder, on tuesday night, president obama plans to address the nature of the dignity and on the future of afghanistan and what he wants to do with the troops in afghanistan. he will speak at 8:00 eastern and we will have live coverage on the c-span networks. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2009]
>> and a moment, scholars and former administration officials discussed the threat posed against the u.s. by terrorists and nuclear weapons. later, remarks from ludicrous on the importance of community service. and what his organization is doing to help youth in need. >> friday, for the first time in british history, when parliament opens said its chambers. also, jason blair on why she fabricated and plagiarized news stories. saturday, a look back at the cuban missile crisis.
also, have world threats been over-in the post cold war? facebook founder on how social networking is changing the political process. this holiday weekend on c-span. >> thanksgiving weekend on c- span, american icon, three nights of c-span original documentaries on the iconic comes of the three branches of american government beginning tonight at 8:00 eastern. the supreme court reveals the building and explicit details. then friday at 8:00 eastern, the white house. inside america's most famous home. our visit shows degree in public places, as well as those rarely seen spaces. saturday at 8:00 eastern, the
capital, at the history, art, and architecture of one of america's most symbolic structures. american icon, three memorable nights starting tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span. day your own copy for $25.95. order online at lockheed c- span.org -- order online at c- span.org. > the senate moves the health care bill to the floor starting monday and through december. followed the entire debate and talent will affect access to medical care. last month scholars and former
administration officials held a discussion on the threat posed from terrace and nuclear weapons. they spoke at the jfk library for one hour 20 minutes. >> i felt an obligation to end nuclear war. this is a priority of my administration. by 1994, nuclear missiles were no longer targeting each other's countries.
we received up an extension. we continue inspections in iraq and had made a deal with north korea. i was the first world leader to sign a treaty in 1996. unfortunately, the senate rejected it in 1999, even though we had a robust nuclear force in nuclear experts that we could have maintained a safe position without the test. we each agreed to destroy 50 tons of plutonium. russia still has the biggest
biological stocks in the world. it is a good thing that we can spend funds on this and we had to expand our efforts there. i think the russians and the united states should agree to further reduction in our warheads. we have tentatively agreed to a substantial reduction. there are two things i think we should keep in mind about our current nuclear situation. first of all, every country that has ever been paranoid about nuclear weapons thinks they have a right to have them. the indians wanted a nuclear weapon, and they got one. the pakistani wanted one, and they got one. the pakistani spend years researching it to a new nuclear weapons, even though a lot of us oppose that. we have lost nonproliferation. we need a serious effort now.
i think it is unlikely that any country that knowingly its nuclear weapons would use them. anytime you have nuclear weapons, you increase the chances of accidents and to increase the chances that unscrupulous people will sell or steal the material. they will give it to terrorists who could use the nuclear weapons and small 30 bombs. we simply have to get into the business of non-proliferation quickly and in a cooperative way. no matter how much military power we have, our ability to make other people do things they do not want to do is quite limited. therefore we should try to build a world with more
partnerships and. i first advance and a temper way by president kennedy. we finally had the treated that i signed in the senate would not ratify. i think we can reverse all of that today. there are also reasons to hope. i am encouraged by the work that the chinese are doing with the united states to contain the north korean problem. people know we're on the brink of a whole different worlds that could be exploded and then-led by nuclear weapons or exploded in a wonderful way by cooperation. your meeting today increases the chance that we will take a later
>> am i on now? i cover national security issues for national public radio. i have for a number of years. can i just say, first of all, is this an amazing 4 am or what? -- forum or what? [applause] this has been a terrific day to cover the whole panorama of nuclear issues from the beginning of the problem to the present time and to see so many distinguished people who who have personal responsibilities, personal history with this issue. with this panel, until now, basically we have been looking at the history honnuclear histo. now we're going to move it through the current challenges that we face. i think we can all agree that
unfortunately the dangers we have been talking about have not diminished. i wish that we were here today to talk about the achievements that explain president obama's earning the nobel peace prize, but we are not in a position to do that yet. let's just briefly consider, before i introduced the panel, how this problem has evolved. we are now looking at the number of nations with nuclear capabilities being somewhere at 8 or 9. the conflict between these nations have become more numerous. and more multilateral. what caught my attention in president kennedy's interview that we saw earlier was he talked about what made the
1960's so dangerous was this global confrontation between communism and democracy being carried al in a nuclear context. now we are not talking about a single confrontation, we are talking about a multiplicity of the actors with nuclear capabilities and all of their own interests at stake. to not be summarized in the way that the cold war achieved for us. in the past panel one of the thought that occurred to me was the how this debate is now moot. this is no longer an issue we can think of as bipolar disarmament negotiations. we have moved beyond that. we now have the added danger of nuclear terrorism, which is something that cannot be dealt with with any of the strategies
for policies that we had used in the past to confront the nuclear dangers. these new nuclear national security challenges are the ones that occupied president clinton, george w. bush, and now face the obama administration. it is the sobering security agenda. we have a panel that could be put together to summarize the challenge we are facing. if we begin with north korea, the newest member of the nuclear club. we have a ambassador steven bossworth. she was deeply involved in the negotiations to the framework for president clinton and has
some advisory responsibilities for helping this administration deal with north korea. next we had the issue of iran, and what we learned in the past few weeks about the secret facility for uranium enrichment and the so-called secret annexes. we fortunately have embezzle -- ambassador nicholas burns. as far as nuclear terrorism is concerned, we have grant allyson -- grhaham ellison.
we have very distinguished panelists in the world at think tanks. and of course, government experience as well. we have a terrific panel here. what abbott like to do is begin -- these problems are all problems that coexist and they are very interrelated. it will be very hard to separate them out and deal with them what at this time. let's begin with north korea. something president clinton caught our attention, and that is his suggestion that any state that wants to develop a nuclear weapons so far has been able to. from your experience dealing with north korea, is that true?
>> i think the north koreans in the end had assistance from all sides source is going way back to the soviet union. more recently of course with a certain gentleman and pakistan who seems to have provided some assistance. it is true, even as state like north korea has the potential if it devotes enough energy and resources to it to become a nuclear weapons state. >> hnick, can you say in dealing with iran, what lessons did you take away from dealing with them? >> first of all, to recognize the combination of nuclear weapons with the current regime is a horrible combination.
in the last administration, president bush and his first term had a policy essentially of regime change. a transition in the second term to negotiate with iran, but with the condition that they spend a uranium enrichment -- that they suspend the uranium enrichment. i think a president -- i think president obama has done the right thing to say before we consider this, we have to negotiate. he took away the condition. offered to meet them anywhere. i was surprised, i think pleasantly surprised by the progress that was made a week and a half ago by the state department when they negotiated. looking ahead, we have to be very careful in how we deal with
these negotiations. if we are too aggressive, if we give up on deposes -- diplomacy, we are likely to find ourselves on the verge of conflict with iran. so i think the president is right to leave the negotiations, to the exhaust diplomacy, and be prepared to sanction. as thompson said, but we have learned from the cold war experienced that it is possible to maintain that level and governance. the soviet union were far superior in spring to what iran is today. it bothers me about our national discourse. a lot of people are assuming that if president obama fails in diplomacy, we have war.
i hope we will be able to convince them not to have nuclear capabilities, but war is not inevitable. >> i want to ask you a question first because you have been following the debate about whether to engage or confront over many decades now. what is your assessment about where the best thinking about this issue is now? has this debate evolves over the years with respect to specifically how to deal with iran or north korea? it is such an old issue. >> the debate has not evolved. it is still ridiculous. you still have the right wing making charges that scared the hell of liberals and democrats
and prevent them from doing sensible things. the evidence has accumulated quite substantially. nick burns just recited it. if you look at the states that have caused this problem over the last 50 or 60 years, like russia, like the soviet union, like china, like libya, like the palestine organization, i can go on and on -- the fact is we deterred all of those stepthrea. we won the cold war, not those guys. we won for a lot of reasons, including we were of better state. we were of better, stronger
state. we knew how to do two things, contain an detoured. we did that well. we can do that in the future as well. >> how can we contain and torqdetour with respect to a terrace? -- with respect to terrorists? >> 10 threatens the actor who might take an action with the overwhelming consequences, the cost of which vastly exceeds the benefit. the difficulty with nuclear terror makes it a problem unlike the other ones we are dealing with for two reasons. for somebody who is intent upon committing suicide, threatening to kill them does not quite make
we may deny them the means. even though they aspire to kill, this osama bin laden says the intention is to kill 4 million americans. if he does not have the means to do that, the fact that this is his aspiration is uncomfortable but not the same. in the current program, the idea of blocking out of the clear weapons and materials to a a standard is an essential element. -- the idea of blocking out the nuclear weapons. >> no new nuclear states. sense that book came out, the first one seems to be more or less valid but the last two, we cannot report much progress. >> they are much more shaky.
if we deny terrorists the means, they cannot obtain their deadliest aspirations. there has been improvement in the security of weapons worldwide. things are more secure their than they were before. no new national enrichment of uranium or reprocessing of plutonium. sadly, things have changed. there are 37 spending. we have this strange situation with korea which has the unique
status of self-declared but unrecognized nuclear weapons state. it is conducting nuclear weapons tests but the u.s. and other parties say that we are not accepting this as a fact. our objective and intention is to roll this back. even though this requires some diplomatic fiction that we would have to be explained, i would say the general idea is a good one. >> is it inevitable or were
there mistakes made and decisions by the north korean leadership. >> our assessment was that they had enough material for one or two devices. the framework broke down. what happened was that the north koreans were left free. they were off of the leash. they ran three and 43 years, they had of that reactor fired up. -- for three and a half years, they had that reactor fired up. now they have about enough
material for 10 nuclear devices. that is a big difference. the goal of the obama administration is to roll that back, to persuade the north koreans that to their own self interest is better served by giving up their nuclear weapons program than it is by keeping it. that will not happen overnight. i believe that it is worth trying. we cannot simply say that they will never give them up so we will walk away. that is to lease the situation in a bad state but it could get worse. -- that just leaves the situation in a bad state. there's not any certain outcome. it would mean without question that some countries would begin internal conversations about nuclear options that we would
rather they not have. >> it seems that we keep coming back to the north koreans with new offers and new carrots. how to other countries look at that history and what did they conclude? will this continue to be confrontation? is this ontological conclusion to draw on -- is this illogical? question number koreans are watching and they are drawing their own conclusions. -- coax the north koreans are watching and they are drawing their own conclusions. n for > >> i think the president has
done in a very sophisticated way since he took office is to assert that it is ahmadinejad who should be on the defensive and the rest of the committee can rally around a efforts to support even negotiate and have more sanctions. making these issues more international is very important. if you think about the ark of the conference, there is a lot that we can learn between the experiences of president kennedy, president reagan, presidenand nixon. power can be applied. we are still the most powerful country in the world. we are trying to get them to stop going down the road that they are going towards. there is a new development really in the last decade, the
juxtaposition of terrorism and nuclear weapons. it is one thing that iran and north korea will be rational states. it is another thing to deal with rationality when dealing with osama bin laden. this is a very dangerous age. on 9/11, osama bin laden used in the crudest means possible to kill 3000 people. if he had used biological weapons, nuclear suitcase, it would have been a truly catastrophic event with the deaths and wounded in the multiples of 3000. while we practice traditional straighstatecraft, we have to dl with this very issue. >> , to longer do you think that
this government has? >> it is hard to know how much time one has but there is time available. everyone agrees that the north koreans are not fully capable. i think it is a mistake to say that we need to rush to an israeli military strike or an american military strike. i don't think that the president should take those auctions off the table. you want to combine diplomacy with the threat of force and the possible use of force. and has been 30 years since we have had sustained meaningful negotiations on this.
we did not negotiate with the run for 30 years. we did not negotiate with north korea as well. what did we accomplish? they developed the ability to have nuclear-weapons. that whole time that we were threatening regime change in not changing the regime is, just hardening their attitudes toward us. the whole time that we were warning them that if they crossed certain thresholds in their program, they would be sorry. they were not. we did not do anything about it. we just lost our credibility.
we have to be very careful about time limits and issuing warnings. we have to have the intention and ability to fulfill we say. >> the difference between iran and north korea is that it doesn't matter what threats will make against north korea, they can look at us and think that we are not going to do anything. with respect to iran, they have another actor. israel is prepared to act. how does that change the situation? >> let me thathem and worry abot that. >> to do you agree? >> -- do you agree? >> i don't pretend to know what is going on inside of the heads of their leaders.
our intelligence is very poor indeed. we don't know what is going on. >> we don't have a clue. >> somebody knows, i'm sure, but not us. we make it up as part of the political debate in this country. we make up what is going on inside of the inner councils. i say, let the israelis make their threats. i would say to them privately this -- you know and we know that the chances of your actually being able to knock out all or most of the nuclear capabilities is very slim. all you do it by going after it would be instead of setting it back in little but to give them the justification of coming after us in a worldwide campaign of terrorism. that is bad for us and it will be terrible for you.
israel, make all the threads that you want but the only kind of action we would ever accept would be that they were on the verge of taking action against you. >> i think it is important to assert the american national interests. one can understand their vulnerability and sensitivity. it is not in our interest to have them act before us. if you play this out and assess the probability of what is one to happen, this will be played two steps forward, one step back. this will have taken a page from the playbook. that will have watch what happens on the agreed framework it is important for us to have a sense of limits. the president has said by the end of this calendar year.
th>> said all of our policy is towards north korea has failed. as long as the framework was held, they did not produce any new material. it was not until the bush administration inc. north korea it in the axis of evil and until we challenge part of their behavior on nuclear matters and did not keep our engagement going. the agreed framework fell apart
and we had no backup strategy. it did not collapse. >> they've violated it. >> no, that was not quite. we cannot prove that they violated it. there was no way that we can have a negotiation over whether or not they were producing uranium or not. we knew that they were not producing plutonium. when he challenged them, we had no backup strategy. they said that they were going to break out of the free market. they did that. they threw out the inspectors and they began throwing out enriched uranium. >> do you think that strategically they made a decision to suspend the nuclear
weapons program during that time? >> yes, i do. the known program which is that we knew about it being frozen. it was under inspection for that 8 your timyear time. >> i believe with the proposition. there is a statement which people like to say is that no one can deal successfully with the north koreans because clinton tried to this policy and it failed and bush tried this policy and it failed. i would say that is completely wrong. the proposition that the agreed framework froze in place the things which it dealt with which was the plutonium production facilities and it did so in a way that was completely verifiable. there were people there looking
all the time. there were cameras looking at it. for that piece, it succeeded. where there was a question was where they cheating in some other dimension. we don't know that today. >> what are they doing on the proliferation front during that time? this is a time when we were very worried but nuclear material falling into the wrong hands. >> we all understand these regimes very well. i would say that the first approximation, think of a mafia so regime. what business are they anin? extortion, blackmail, and they kidnap people on the beach and then they sell them or keep him. they kidnap people from south korea.
their main moneymakers are illegal arms, a counterfeit $100 bills, and counterfeit drugs. that is their business. that is who they are. i would say that if we look at this time, they are selling whenever they can to whoever they can if they can get money for it. during this time they're selling weapons, they're selling missiles, they're selling counterfeit $100 bills. they're not selling in richest uranium because they don't have any. they don't sell plutonium because only have two bombs were to stuff. -- worth of stuff. they were a dangerous, unpredictable, evil regime in this time. they did not have the capability to do things like what they can
do today. now that they have enriched enough uranium to have an arsenal and have conducted two tests. now not only demonstrating they have a weapon but they have extra material. then they are building in a reactor in syria. if he said what is the most unlikely thing you can imagine. syria is right next door to israel. it is 100 miles from iraq. how could imagine that you could build a huge facility and get away with it? they almost did. >> that is exactly why i think the objective of the laws with regard to north korea cannot be simply containment and you somehow prevent proliferation. the only sure guard against
proliferation is denuclearization. that is why all of our diplomacy is aimed at getting them back on that track and through engagement, trying to change their perception of where their self-interest lies. >> they are dependent on china, russia, and this makes them uniquely susceptible to that type of pressure. >> we will see. thi>> this raises some very interesting questions. how does this point towards going with a zero nuclear- weapons? i think that everyone agrees that a country like north korea, iran, pakistan, we will not know whether they ever really get rid of nuclear weapons and have a material here and there which they keep for themselves and they would be prepared to sell to terrorist groups.
this is one of the reasons why it is very good to have the goal of zero nuclear weapons very far down the line. >> this issue of containment is critical. whether we can live with countries becoming nuclear powers or not. steve says we cannot with respect to north korea. what about in the middle east? israel is the only country with a nuclear capability in the middle east. what does this mean for peace and stability in the middle east and how would that change is one of israel's enemy had a nuclear capabilities? >> the prospect of a nuclear- armed iran as alarming in one sense because it might cause countries like egypt, saudi arabia, turkey, the thing that they might need to become nuclear-weapons powers. let's say that the strategy that president obama has put forward has not succeeded. if it does not succeed, if it
racist towards a nuclear weapons capability, they will have to deal with ensuring the countries of the region that the u.s. can successfully contained in the iranian and a military threat. -- if it does not succeed, if it erasraces towards a nuclear weas capability. they would face sanctions but probably also security assurances by the u.s. to israel, to the gulf arab states, to some of the states in levant. it is analogous to what we did in the 1940's and 50's with a the two containment regimes of soviet russia and communist china. i think that president obama is
right to put forward to american belief that we should be committed to nuclear 0. this does enhance our credibility to go back to other states and make the argument that some states should have nuclear-weapons like the u.s., france, britain, and some states should not. we have no moral credibility to take that position which is the position of the u.s. government and has been for many administrations, if we cannot acknowledge our responsibility to reduce the lovell and bring them down -- reduce the level and bring them down. he has won back for us and not international credibility we have lost on this issue. i was so pleased to see that he was awarded the peace prize. any american should be proud of that confirmation.
[applause] if you look at the u.n. speech, you think about his speech in cairo, the speech in prague about nuclear weapons. he is recognizing that we are the most powerful country in the world, our power has to be shared with others. we a part of an international collective. he has expressed idealistic ideas about where he wants to live -- where he wilwhat kind os that we live in. i was very happy to see that he received that price. >> we're talking about iran and north korea which are really very dangerous countries. we have not talked about what i think is the biggest and most serious problem which is pakistan. >> i have not forgotten. >> here is a country that
already has honed nuclear- weapons -- already has nuclear weapons. we try to put these permissive action links so that they can be protected. they're not so dumb and, it is so that we can control them. there are people that present a real threat. they have an army that is against us every bit as much if not more than the iranians, the north korea. the former chief nuclear scientist has probably done us more harm than ahmadinejad or kim jong-il and you cannot even talk to this guy. we are about to give this
country billions of dollars in economic assistance. how do you deal with this problem? >> now that we have covered the bases of the nuclear security challenges, let's see what president obama intends to do about it and how he will approach this dilemma. this is a portion of a speech that he gave at the united nations general assembly last month. >> america intends to keep our end of the bargain. we will pursue a new agreement with russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. we will move forward with ratification of the test ban treaty and work with others to bring the treaty into force so that nuclear testing is probably prohibited. we will complete a review which opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons. we will call upon countries to
begin negotiations in january on a treaty to end the production of material for weapons. i will also host a summit next april that reaffirms each nation's responsibility to secure nuclear material on its territory and to help those that cannot. we must never allow a simple device to fall into the hands of a violent extremist. we will work to strengthen the institutions and initiatives that combat nuclear smuggling and theft. all of this must support efforts to strengthen the npt. those nations that refused must face consequences. this is not about singling out individual nations, this is about standing up for the rights of all nations than to live up to their responsibilities. and world in which iaea inspections are avoided and the
u.n. demands are ignored will leave all people less safe. in their actions to date, the governments of iran and north korea threatened to take us down this dangerous slope. we respect their rights as members of the community of nations. i have said before and i will repeat that i am committed to the promises it opens a path to greater prosperity and more secure key for both nations. -- more secure peace for both nations. if the governments choose to ignore international standards, if they put the pursuit of nuclear weapons ahead of regional stability and the security and opportunity of their own people. if they are oblivious to the escalating arms race is, they must be held accountable. the world must stand together to demonstrate that international law is not an empty promise and
that treaties will be enforced. we must insist that the future does not belong to fear. >> it is that a realistic program or is that an illusion? >> i think that this is a realistic program. when i read that speech, i told my class that it reminded me this speech at american university by president kennedy. that was one of his greatest speeches. he was articulating in a speech to the human interest which sometimes has to transcend the national interest. jfk and the wake of the crisis was able to say that we have to pull back from nuclear armageddon. i thought that president obama matched the level of to intention and articulation to said that we should pull back from this horrible situation
that we find ourselves in. we have to have a human international interest to overcome the proliferation of the weapons of mass destruction. he is going to call for the senate to ratify the test ban treaty. he will negotiate by december of this year a new treaty with the russians to reduce our respective levels to historically low levels. this is one of the most ambitious agendas at any president in decades. i think that he is matching kennedy possum moral clarity in talking about what americans have to do as we lead this effort. >> then there is the issue of nuclear material and he said that he will try to get an agreement about this. this is this curious issue of all because it is the prospect of nuclear terrorism that is a
different thing. do we know where the nukes in pakistan are? >> i don't know the answer to that question. >> you are undersecretary for political affairs. >> exactly right. >> that is a pretty scary thought. do you know the answer? >> i think the answer is itno. i think that you can get there and not from some highly classified information but also the exercise of imagining that you are in charge of in nuclear- weapons program of pakistan. to wake up every morning and what is your first word? the indians know where the weapons are because if they do, they might not attack them. and they made. what is your second word? the americans know where they are because the americans tried
to secure them. and i have had the conversation with president musharraf about this four or five times on the question. if the weapons get loose, i'm worried about them coming to the u.s.. i told him, what happens in pakistan, india. he said, don't worry, everything is completely secure. there is there reason to have any concern. once, he had come within a second and a half of being assassinated by a bomb by extremists. i said, why should i imagine that nuclear-weapons in pakistan are more secure than you are, mr. president? he said, that is a question. -- a good question. [laughter]
>> it is it irresponsible of the west not to know where they are? is it unachievable that they cannot find them? also can there be a contingency plan in event of an islamist takeover? >> we try to find out. we try to get spies. the answer is classified. my understanding is that they have some of their nuclear- weapons in central depots and the move the other half around the country all the time. you'll never know where some of them are but not all or most of them. >> >look at this group that
overran the military base just two days ago. if i don't secure for the place where my officers live, what am i securing to usually people take care of their on security as well as they take care of their own personal security. that is the first point. the second point, over the past 8 years, pakistan's nuclear arsenal almost tripled from marwhat you said to now. pakistan has come increasingly to rely on their nuclear deterrent as the equalizer to an overwhelming indian conventional
superiority. those are like the old cold war days that were discussed earlier. americans put tactical nuclear weapons in europe thinking that that will somehow equalize the picture. the pakistani snout imagined that they would prevent an indian attack by conventional arms attack to stand by their nuclear arsenal which means spreading them around more often. i think the situation is much worse today than it was 8 years ago. >> the little intelligence i have access to it makes me think and conclude that up till now, no terrorist group has been able to get their hands on any nuclear material, correct?
>> correct. >> why is that? what has worked in this time? >> the first thing is good fortune and grace. if something terrible had happened, u [inaudible] the weapons disappeared when russia went down. all of the 16,000 weapons somehow got rounded up and back. most of them were dismantled. we have been buying the enriched uranium.
this is used as fuel for nuclear power reactors. if you go down to seabrook, half of the fuel that is producing electricity for lights is produced by low enriched uranium which used to be highly enriched uranium and bombs that were part of russia. the other part that i would point to is that fortunately, the al qaeda crowd has been technologically challenged. the 9/11 commission report documents three cases in which they bought material which would be the stuff of their bomb and they got cheated. once they got cheated by the people in niger, then some
people in is pakistan. -- in causeit then osama bin lan got people to come from pakistan. that activity has been going on. as far as we know, the have not been successful. the hard thing to remember about 9/11, this was five years in the planning. these people are careful, work it through, go through the motions. if there were five years into a nuclear effort now, we might not know budget until we knew about it. > -- we might not know about it until we knew about it.
>> they don't have nuclear material to sell. the other thing is that they are a mafia regime and they have their own personality. what is your assessment of the current situation in north korea with respect to the stability of the regime and the prospect of rogue generals or someone else with criminal international connections and have access to nuclear weapons and not have the interests of north korea at stake. >> bearing in mind i might be sitting in front of north korean representatives, a one not comment about the underlying -- i will not comment about some of the underlying assumptions. i would fall back on something i
said earlier and in my judgment, the uncertainties involved in the questions that you raised require that the u.s. objectives and the objectives of our partners -- china, russia, japan, south korea the sudsy north korea, must be the objective of north korea. -- vis-a-vis north korea, must be the objective of north korea. >> you do what you can to prevent this from happening. you make them think that you are going to go far to prevent it. >> give us the best argument for believing that sanctions with respect to iran or north korea is still in possession of
practical application despite what we have seen over many years? >> they will be a difficult proposition to work successfully. it is difficult to control the country like iran. it is hard to establish a regime where everyone stops trading, particularly in the materials that are survival necessities for this regime. if you denigrate sanctions and say that we only have an option which is to use military force, that does not get you very far. i am not aware of any scenario where the use of american or israeli military force actually resolved the question you are trying to resolve. can we stop the nuclear weapons capacity? i don't think so.
you invite asymmetric attacks by the iranians through hezbollah, hamas, she militants in iraq, against our forces, against israel. -- shi'a militants in iraq, against our forces. you have to think about what you might achieve and what you might lose. negotiations and sanctions are a better option than the use of force for our national interests. knowing what i know, even if you fail the negotiations and sanctions track, you're still left with a great number of allies and partners in the middle east who i believe could successfully contain and deter the use of those weapons by nuclear weapons. these are difficult options for president bush, president obama. i think that you have to look at the consequences of the use of military force more than some of
the advocates have been doing. >> as the person who had responsibility for the rand portfolio in the last administration, would you like to be in the position that the current administration is with a regime that has had its legitimacy question in the past few months? as the strengthen the hand in dealing with iran? >> yes. the aftermath of the elections when the government used brutal force against peaceful demonstrators, that turned the international community against them. secondly, the revelation of the secret nuclear facility. that was made three weeks ago. that has put iran on the defensive on a way it was not what i was dealing with this question between 2005-2008. let's give president obama some credit.
from the clenched fist style, he sent a message to offering them to negotiate without conditions. i think his actions have weakened ahmadinejad in an appreciable way. it is those two events that have put us in a stronger position. >> i want to give the audience here some chances to ask questions of this incredibly thoughtful and well informed panel. the first one identifies an issue that we are talking about. if you want to talk about mass destruction and terrorism, you have to consider biological terrorism. this question -- john deutch believed that the threat of fire terrorism is greater than the
threat of nuclear terrorism. what do you think about that? >> i would say the likelihood of a biological attack as larger than the likelihood of a nuclear attack. the number of people likely to be killed by a nuclear attack dwarfs a bio attack. i had the good fortune to serve on the commission that congress established as a commission to the 9/11 commission. -- established as a successor to the 9/11 commission. this commission concluded unanimously that it was the judgment of the commission that the likelihood of a nuclear or biological attack somewhere in the world the next five years was > ever. . -- greater than ever.
as we look forward in the future, people will have more capabilities for creating biological agents that may turn out to be almost as destructive as nuclear weapons. >> one final question and then we will wrap up. we have not talked about russia. and you said some very interesting things. when your book came out, that was the biggest concern, the amount of loose nukes coming up in tow. is anything else that we can do to get russian support with
respect to iran? i'll give that to you because you used to be a russia expert. >> we should be fighting terrorism together. we are stewards of most of the nuclear warheads. we are both energy producers. we have massive disagreements on how the east europeans should be treated. russia would like to intimidate them into toeing the line. the issue of iran would be nice.
-- the issue of russia would be good to have them on. russia was protecting iran, watering down the sanctions resolutions. i hope that in return for cancelling the missile defense system, russia owes president obama. i assume there is some understanding that if the present negotiate with iran and the negotiations fail, they will join president obama in very tough sanctions. that is the central issue in the relationship. >> howell and closer you look on dealing with the russians support? >> they are prime on moving
example. they have been very cooperative and collaborative within the so- called six party talks. >> any quick concluding thoughts? will you go home reassured? >> terribly, by what my colleagues said. i am only frightened by what i said. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> i will give the last word to ted sorensen. before i do, please join me and in thinking this panel and all the panelists for the day. -- thanking this panel. we are bringing out a document from our archives. this is a fascinating letter
that khrushchev sent to robert kennedy about this library and agreed to send documents to the archive. these will be available for the anniversary of the fall of the berlin wall. it was a very praiseworthy and thoughtful letter about john f. kennedy. he wrote "the signing of the treaty was a convincing reminder of the fact that no matter how difficult problems might be, solutions can be found." this last panel has given us hope that no matter how difficult the problems are, solutions can be found.
>> thank you very much. as one of those who was consulted in the establishment of this wonderful institution, i want to say that today's conference has not only in a stringent success but it also stresses what was of utmost importance to present can be. i want to tie some of the remarks by all of these magnificent panels by saying three or four things. first, the announcement by ken that he is now an admirer of president kennedy surprised me a bit.
who's next, rush limbaugh? although i am sure the good father from notre dame who was on the opening, would say that is centered is always welcome bosch a center -- come aa sinnes always welcome. i want to quote from the speech that nick burns has already quoted from. this is from the american university commencement address in which kennedy referred to our differences with the soviet union and said "in the last
analysis, we all inhabit this same planet. we all breathe the same air. we all cherish our children's future. we are all mortal. next, i want to give you a historical note about the cuban missile crisis which related to some of the subsequent discussion and i think it has never appeared anywhere in the latest book on sale. when khrushchev pulled the missiles out of cuba, castro was furious.
in order to calm down castro, khrushchev sent his number 2 man to keep up. he had to send him twice because castro would not see him. on the second trip, he came through the u.s., believe it or not. kennedy invited him to come by and visit him at the white house. when he did, kennedy pressed him, why had the soviet union down this? i was told by kennedy that to the response was -- remember, this was in the middle of the 62