tv Washington This Week CSPAN April 15, 2012 6:00am-7:00am EDT
he stated it was unacceptable that the prime minister controlled the national security portfolio. he stated that while iraq is building a million man security force, that security fast as its loyalty to the prime minister and not to the state of iraq and that is unacceptable. he stated that if conditions prevail, and here i think the president was choosing his words carefully, as he always does, if conditions continue to prevail, he would call a referendum on kurdish that, too, ought to focus our minds. the former interim prime minister has said that the current government of iraq is using the judiciary to promote corruption and brutality in iraq and to harass opponents
and reward cronies. a name you may not be familiar with, the former head of the independent member of parliament currently and the former head of the anti-corruption commission has said that iraq is developing into, i quote, "a new dictatorship through the courts." he notes that when he was the head of the anti-corruption commission, he was pressured by the prime minister's office to fabricate charges against opponents of the prime minister , and he notes that the prime minister has pressured the constitutional court to place the anti-corruption commission under his control, which indeed it did. now, i don't have time to detail now the isolation of the u.s. policies vis-a-vis iraq regionally, but let me note one fact -- sorry, actually three facts.
the current vice president of iraq, who had been sort of holed up in kurdistan, has been received formally as vice president of iraq in saudi arabia and turkey, all of which after the arab summit. he's currently in turkey. what should u.s. policy be? i have a couple of minutes left, and that's what i want to focus on. it seems to me that, you know, u.s. policy -- i take it that the u.s. is never better than when it stands up for its ideals, and i truly believe that. so what should u.s. policy be? it should be to encourage stability in roible, but what does that mean? well, saddam rules for 35 years. that was stability. i take it that's not the
stability we mean. i hope it isn't. there is a dialogue happening in iraq, and it started before the 2010 elections. to get us over this evil of the sunni-kurd divide -- we used to say in 2003 that we didn't want the lebanonization of iraq. the lebanese now say they don't want the iraqification of lebanon. there was a dialogue to try to get us beyond that in iraq. it seems to me the united states -- again, continuing the bush administration's policy -- is still stuck in the mode of thinking, well, if we just say this to the shia, do this with the sunni, with the kurds,
rather than looking at iraq and the way at least i think most iraqis want to think of it, not a shia or sunni iraq, i still don't understand why we can't get past that dynamic, when i believe, and we can talk about this in the question and answer period, most iraqis want to get beyond that. iraqis and the united states ought to promote the existence of institutions. if you create national institutions, that's how you will lessen tensions between the communities, and i recognize the tensions are there, but tell me what is the prime minister done to lessen those dimensions. what has he done to promote national reconciliation? he's been prime minister for six years now. what has he done? we can't even agree in iraq on what the name of the conference to which ambassador feldman
alluded to in his statement. the head of the shia coalition calls it sort of a gathering, will not use the word conference to describe it. really, as my teenagers say? i'll end with this, the goal ought to be it seems to me the role the united states played in the former soviet union. nonetheless, the united states supported genuine democratic reforms, not the form of democracy. listen, mubarak and saddam used to have elections. the united states supported diversification of the economy and did not focus just on energy. i believe u.s. policy today is focused exclusively on oil.
and that is not, certainly not in the long-term interest of iraq, to engender the next state. and the united states is focused on human rights. i repeated, the united states can never go wrong in its interpret relations. and i don't think this is a polly an aview, but it can never go wrong standing up for its ideals. iraq, i think, has tremendous influence in iraq. ambassador feldman said the same thing, so i won't repeat some of those arguments here. i would like to say -- and i will finish with this. i recognize this is an election here in the united states in what will no doubt be a very hotly contested election. still, withdrawal is not a policy. the u.s. has vital strategic interests in the area that
include, but are not limited to oil. the u.s. has itself committed itself to promoting democracy and the growth of its institutions in iraq. it is also the only way that iraq can become a stable, functioning state again. thus, u.s. ideals and its national interests in the region coalesced in the motion of true democracy in iraq. we ought not to squander that opportunity. thank you very much. awe thank you very much. >> good afternoon, it's a real privilege to be here to share the podium with ambassador feldman and the ambassador.
after two such striking presentations, you'll wonder where i'm going to locate myself. and it's going to be in the middle that i hope won't surprise you, but i hope a rational middle. they're more prosperous that at any time in recent history. there are actually indications that violence, especially al qaeda and iraq violence, is it up since late last year. even if true, tony's statement sets a very low bar and the games are certainly still reversible. if our goal -- and here i quote -- a sovereign, stable, self-reliant country with representative governments, it can become a partner in the region, and no safe haven for
terrorists, we're just not there yet. we have a lot of work to do. on security, iraq still endures an unacceptablely high number of attacks, from politically motivated attacks to unquestionably much lower than they were at the peak, but they're still sufficient to keep sectarian tensions high, which is what was intended. the economy is not really in good shape. high iraqi oil production helps the budget and moderates world prices, which americans like, but high oil production does not make an economy. democracy in iraq why not yet include an independent judiciary, protection of basic human rights, vigorous parliamentary oversight, effective provincial and local governments, or fulfillment of
many constitutionally mandated procedures. and there are threats out there, and we have to be clear what they are. first is the threat of breakdown, an iraq that becomes chaotic and dysfunctional, a more or less failed state, frankly somewhat like the one maliki took over in 2006, and it's important, i think, to remember that certainly from then until now there has been some progress. second is the threat of breakup an iraq that's along sectarian line with very broad regional consequences as each of the neighbors seeks advantage. the third is the one we focused on here so far today and that i intend to continue to focus on, which is autocracy, the fear of
breakdown or breakup and what motivates maliki to centralize power and refuse to transfer it in accordance with the will of iraq's people expressed in verifiably free and fair elections. none of these stops can be the kind of partner the united states seeks. the question, though, and here i have enormous sympathies with the ambassador, is what influence do we have apart from the usual diplomatic job owns, which jim jeffrey and the embassy i believe have mastered beyond of a shadow of a doubt.
i want to look at the elements of influence in today's iraq. i'd summarize them this way. arms, aid, oil, and what for a lack of better term i call relationships. let me explain. some people say give us leverage, we should make providing our support conditional on iraqi adherence to democratic norms or meaningful power sharing or deep politicization of the security forces. this says very easy to say and difficult to do. once you embark on a program like transferring f-16's over a period of decades, it is going to take a big issue to override the vested interest involved.
and conditionality would immediately encourage them to go get their arms elsewhere. the best we can do, it seems to me, is make it absolutely clear , i'd prefer in writing in advance, that none of the weapons systems the u.s. provides can be used against iraq's own citizens without -- while they're exercising their legal rights. we should also make it clear that we will cooperate only with a professional army under civilian control. but beyond that, it seems to me iraq's specific governing arrangements are no longer ours to determine. so long as they remain representative and democratic. i challenge the notion -- i know the embassy did a great job on the agreement, but i challenge the notion that we can impose power sharing on
maliki when he is democratically elect and has a democratic majority in parliament. that's the real problem in iraq is the results of the election and the post-election maneuvering, which have given him the majority that he has and made it really quite impossible to form an alternative majority in that parliament. at least nobody's figured it out so far. aid is a more flexible tool than arms transfers. it should be targeted, in my view, towards democracy and rule of law. i would focus in particular on encouraging more independent judiciary and promoting a civil society that will demand real democracy while carefully monitoring government expenditures and corruption. to be clear, there is no reason, i think, why the u.s. should still be spending hundreds of millions of dollars
-- a website told me yesterday that it does in iraq for economic and agricultural development. i don't think we should be doing that anymore. the iraqis have more than enough incentive and their own resources to do those things. there's been some hint that we pay too much attention to oil. i think we pay too little attention to oil. iraq's resources come overwhelmingly from exported oil, more than 90% of which is shipped through the golf under iranian guns, even when the existing pipeline to turkey is operating. this is where we have failed. shipment of iraq's oil by pipeline to the north and west since syria undergoes its transition would help to reduce
iranian pressure on iraq and align iraqi interests with those of europe and the united states. we have done too much pipeline diplomacy in iraq. of course, this means iraq's oil and gas would have to traverse kurdish and sunni-populated territory, which means domestic political reconciliation is a prerequisite. some see that as insurmountable. i see it as a challenge, one well worth overcoming. iraq should be tied umbilically by oil pipelines and gas pipelines to turkey and the mediterranean, not to hormuz. i'm also told by oil people it's more economic to take the oil out by pipeline to the north and west rather than through hormuz. finally, relationships. american influence inside iraq comes in part from good
relationships with the main players with the obvious but i hope declining exception of the sadras. we are a kind of queening power within iraq. while they may still resent the occupation, iraqis of most stripes -- and i include mudlock in this -- look to the americans for protection. iraqis of all stripes believe that the united states is vital to re-establishing their country's regional role, and they're correct. right now, that means supporting the effort on iran's nuclear program and the a rain league -- and the arab league plan for syria. it means pumping as much oil as
possible into a world market concerned with the prospect of war with iran. just a word in conclusion about the long-term, maliki, whatever his virtues and vices, is not forever if democracy survives in iraq. and i think the speaker is absolutely correct, the point of the strategic framework agreement as the proper vehicle for establishing that long-term relationship, to ensure that our institutions and iraq else institutions are people and iraq's people, our economy and iraq's economy are culture and iraq's culture are tied closely together. i haven't met an iraqi lately who doesn't raise this with me. and i haven't met an iraqi who is satisfied with the degree of
focus and implementation of this agreement by the united states. and i have to tell thaw it is very hard for the united states to do these things. there's a lot in the strategic framework agreement for which you need to reach beyond government and beyond the stove pipes of government in order to make it effective, educational cooperation, cultural cooperation, business cooperation. and i don't think we're very good at it. it's not only in iraq we're not very good at it. we're not very good at it a lot of places. so i have the impression that we have still not learned to fully exploit the potential of this agreement and to sharply increase the interconnectedness between iraq and the united states. as i say those words, i'm
reminded of ann marie slaughter's addition to joe's concept of soft power. she's added interconnectedness as a new kind of power, and i do think it's very important, it's particularly important with iraq. thank you. >> thank you very much, dan. i want to thank all three of our speakers for very insightful and provocative presentations. when i was working, i became very used to these kind of black and white visions of what was actually happening in iraq and where we were going. i'm glad to see that, in some ways, not much has changed. that provides some comfort. i was very interested in the speaker's remarks in how we are engaging with the government. the extent to which the u.s. government maintains high-level
ties on key issues facing many iraqis, at the same time, i'm very interested in dan's comments on the levers of our include. are we using all of the levers of our influence in iraq right now? we're clearly trying to leverage our relationships with key iraqi players. are we doing the same thing in our relationships with the provincial players? are we trying to build into our burgeons arms relationship with iraq, respect for civilian control over the military, for example, and respect for human rights? in this connection, are we doing enough to help support the development of democracy and respect for human rights in the country? not only on the national level, but in the provincial level. i would only note here in the last few years our democracy and governance assistance has experienced sharp declines, as the u.s. presence has gone
down. so, i would be interested in the reactions of the speakers for that, and particularly their insight on how, what we should be doing to leverage the still enormous influence i think we have in iraq, and then i will open it up to -- i will open it up to questions after that. would anybody like to take the first shot at that? >> well, you know, it depends what you mean by, you know, we have influence by virtue of the fact that we are meeting. of course the united states ambassador can meet anybody in iraq he wants to meet with, from the president on down. that's not the issue. the question is, what is the policy that's being advocated
in those meetings? now, what i see happening in iraq, i think de facto, in terms of u.s. policy, i think there very much is this sort of 80% solution that the neo conservatives came up with in the bush administration, and the question that i was asked by somebody who works these issues, you know, at the time inside the white house, in 20 10 was, how can we co-opt -- i'm quoting -- how can we co-opt the sunnis? the question is, sure, you have influence. you don't need 150,000 troops. when you had 150,000 troops in iraq, you were running the place. you don't run the place anymore, but you have influence. question is, what's the policy? the rest falls into place from there. >> i think i made it very clear that we are not doing enough to
support democratic institutions . it's not an easy thing to do. i dare say some of the things i advocate i support, like an independent judiciary. our view of maliki is one of the most serious threats to his hold on iraq. that isn't easy to do, but i think we need to do it, and to do it we need to stop doing things that the iraqis should do for themselves, and i do think economic and agricultural development are very much in that category. it's worth remembering that as the ambassador said, when we had 150,000 troops there, in your words, and we're running the country, things like the hydro carbon law, corruption, disputed internal boundaries, status, the list goes on. these were not able to be resolved by americans when we
were "running the country." i think it's worth looking at this with a bit of humility. ultimately the iraqis are going to determine the future of iraq , and we are going to -- we're going to use our influence to promote as best we can our objectives in iraq, which are based on this goal of a democratic, united, self-reliant, prosperous iraq. how this turns out in iraq matters deeply to us for all sorts of reasons that everybody here knows. but we have to recognize that our ability to dictate outcomes in iraq or anywhere else is quite limited. i think that our influence -- we always -- anywhere in the world, we need to be looking for how best to exercise our influence, how to increase our engagement, where the neglected parts of the body politic that we need to start dealing with, so i don't sit up and here say
that we're doing absolutely everything that we could be doing in iraq. i'm sure that there are things that we should be doing more, but we're doing a heck of a lot through three consulates, through a large embassy, through engagement at the national level. and again, we are, i think, the only outside power in iraq that is seen as close as they come to an honest broker. iran is not seen that other, other neighbors are not seen that way, and that gives us a certain influence over the debate. in terms of our assistance, i haven't looked at the website. i don't know what's on the website today. but the focus of the remaining economic support funds that we're doing in iraq are largely based on capacity building to support institutions not based on sort of capital projects and those sorts of investments. they're done in a way to try to unleash iraqi capital and iraqi talents. if i may, just very quickly, i
understand, our influence is limited, ambassador said, well, the iraqis have to decide these things, ok. but it's not as if the united states is acting as a neutral broker. i don't agree the united states, with all respect, is seen as an impartial broker. i mean, it was just announced that it doesn't want to -- it won't deal with the ambassador designate in iraq. why? because he's too close to maliki. this is a serious thing. it's because the united states isn't taking a neutral position. it has chosen as the previous administration did winners and losers, and it's working to -- and it's working to achieve these goals in iraq. i really think this is central. if the power of the united states is limited, then the first rule has to be, as in the hippocratic oath, first do no harm.
>> ok, thank you very much. we'll bundle the questions, three at a time. stand, identify yourselves, and keep your questions very brief and to the point. and we can get through as many as possible. start over here with barbara. >> i want to ask a little bit about the -- whether this is kind of dramatics or this is something real in terms of the threat by the kurds to actually have an independent referendum and so on. bar zanee made a number of appearances in washington last week, and he talked about this a lot, is it just because the kurds and central government are fighting over an exxon contract? is this something deeper, and what can the u.s. do to help resolve this problem? thanks.
>> it was a very good point about dumping arms inside of iraq without any kind of control over that as somehow the predicate for a military relationship with iraq, obviously that's a dangerous precedent and probably is counterproductive. what the iraqis really covet, what the iraqis really need is not the equipment, but the training, and we kind of have a monopoly on world-class training inside the military. that also helps build relationships as well. absent a sofa which permits our soldiers to work with that $8 billion worth of s.n.s. that we're selling to them, they can never come back in. does the state department anticipate trying to establish a sofa, another sofa with iraq to permit the training of iraqis as the fundamental basis for that relationship? the second question on business in general, it's clear in iraq, if you want to talk about the
u.s. military relationship, you go to the general. if you want to talk about the diplomatic relationship, you go to emboss door jeffrey. but unless we want the business relationship to be big oil, and i don't think this administration wants big oil to be the foundation of our business relationship, who is the american inside of iraq that is waking up every morning saying, on the business relationship with iraq, that we want to build and foster and have as the basis of our long-term relationship with iraq, who is that person, what's his telephone number, and is he awake so i can call him right now? >> i'm the international u.s.a. my question is following up on the reference to going beyond the "diplomatic job owning" with regards to engaging iraq around these questions of authoritarianism and human rights. what beyond that do the gentlemen on the panel see as the points of engagement, whether they are points of
engagement that are currently utilized or not that could be utilized, either by external governments or by civil society towards advancing as much as possible that human rights agenda and that democratic agenda. >> thank you. do we have a volunteer for the first question? >> the president was here last week, as you're aware. his concerns about the same issues that we're all talking about up here are serious. he made it clear in his public remarks. i can't talk about what he said privately, but i can say his comments were very much reflective of his public comments. he's extremely concerned about some of the trends that my fellow speakers and i have talked about.
but he also recognizes the value -- i believe, the value to the population of iraqi kurdistan of the unity of iraq and the risks that a move toward separation pose. you can talk about the revenues, but that's an obvious one, and people can talk about how fast it would take the kurds to try to replace the $11 billion that they get up to 17% of the federal budget. but the other thing is the kurdistan regional parties have right now a very strong alliance with some of the sunni politicians. that would be at risk in the case of a referendum. we made it clear to the president that we understand the concerns, that we are committed to promoting full fullment of the long complete,
that we're committed to the constitutional arrangement that we use our influence to promote adherence to the constitutional arrangements, but we're doing this in a policy that's rooted in our strong support for iraq's unity under federal system. >> maybe i'll say one or two additional words, the problem isn't the referendum. he can hold the referendum any time he likes, and we all know what the results are going to be. the problem is recognition. and he isn't going to get it. an independent kurdistan is going to face a hostile turkey, i don't know if it matters at this point, but a hostile syria, a hostile iran, a hostile arab iraq, it just isn't going to work. and it would be a dead end and it's pointless to take your country down a dead end like that, especially when you lose
$11 billion to boot. >> i would like to address that, if i may. let me address that. i said i think the president chose his words carefully. he didn't threaten independent. he didn't threaten a declaration of independence. he threatened a referendum on independence. that's a different thing. the man chooses his words very carefully. is this about oil? absolutely. there's been a tussle between baghdad on oil since the previous prime minister. i'm simply suggesting that if there is such a referendum, he may have a recognition problem but iraq en gender immediately
a legitimacy problem of gigantic proportions. on turkey, 10 years ago i would have agreed that turkey would be apoplectic on the issue of kurdish federalism in iraq. they've settled in very nicely on that issue now, and economic relations between turkey and kurdistan, economic and political relations between turkey and kurdistan are outstanding. you have better relationships than baghdad does. they have better relationships with amman, they have better relationships. so long as turkey proceeds, ambassador, whether rightly or wrongly, so long as turkey perceives that there is a
developing baghdad access, it could well, not today, maybe not tomorrow, but not 25 or 30 years from now either, it might well accommodate itself to a state between it and a greater iran. >> it's also on business engagement as well, and perhaps i could ask the emboss door to address that one. >> there's ongoing dialogue that proceeded the security agreement, what are the legal protections that the u.s. military needs to continue the training program under the f.m.s. and what's still outstanding from the programs in terms of our assistance to the iraqis.
i'm just going to leave it to the lawyers. i will tell you this has been a subject of many discussion between state and defense at various levels, but i frankly just am not up to speed on what the current state is. on business, i pick up the phone and call jim jeffrey or tom knight. >> and then we had -- we also had a question on the points of engagement that could be utilized within the country. >> in particular for human rights purposes, if i remember the question correctly, i think the vital points of engagement are in civil society, and in the opposition in parliament. frankly, i don't see that the
iraqi government institutions are a strong point of engagement for human rights today. but i think we should strengthen as best we can both nongovernmental organizations and, frankly, some of the opposition in parliament, which is rather human rights oriented. >> i won't argue any of this. i'll just say what i think the levers of influence can be, on economic issues, issues of trade, issues of foreign investment in iraq, which iraq desperately needs. the united states has levers of power. iraq, at least when i was in the foreign ministry, was talking about entry into the world trade organization. that is a tremendous incentive. i agree with dan that arms supplies are an avenue.
and by the way, i think the president is looking down the road at an iraqi air force that he's not quite sure is going to be used only for external defense, and also there are levers regionally that i think the united states could make better use of if its agenda were a human rights agenda in iraq. >> thank you. let's take another batch of three questions. we'll start over here and in the back. >> my question is about the relationship between maliki and syria. it's true that he did not invite assad to the summit, but everybody told him that if he does, the conditions will go up. but his position has been supportive of assad, he does not want him to go, doesn't want to arm the opposition. he's standing in the other camp against the camp that you are supporting on syria. i was wondering if you can tell us or anybody on the panel about maliki's position and how
much support he's giving to the assad regime. the other question is concerning the kurds, the relationship of the iraqi kurds to be syrian kurds, but in his interview, he was not forgiving them arms -- he was not for giving them arms. if you can tell us what kind of future relationship you see. >> i'm interested in a couple of things. >> i'm sorry, coup give us your affiliation? >> i'm the chief conductor of the iraq symphony orchestra. don't ask me why i'm interested in politics. i also went to baghdad college.
i would love to get -- i have personal reasons to be interested in politics as well in relation to what i have been doing in iraq between 2004 and 2012, but i chose to resign, by the way, for many similar reasons. is there a distinct draw that we can actually -- is this within the policymaking difference within international policy, or internal policy as americans? someone is suggesting for america to have an iraq, how is this relating to the foreign
policy? how is this related to other rules, regional rules in iraq, such as iranian rules? is anyone suggesting iraqis have relationships or not? is that an issue? is there a kurdish awakening and we don't agree with syria or otherwise, how are we going to deal with the kurdish, providing there's a possibility for kurds, what is the status of the u.s., relations with that situation developing? and what is the distinct
influence. if iraq comes and suggests training the iraqi army and how they would react to that. >> i want to thank the panelists for excellent remarks. my question is to the ambassador. one of the worries about iraq moving forward is what will happen if it falls in syria. one of the biggest worries is that the iranian government might actually double down in iraq and see iraq as more of a strategic depth for itself. if there are governments that say that's a policy, what would the position be? >> ok. we have our physician question, maliki's relationship and support to assad, and the kurtish-syrian relationship. ambassador, would you like to address that?
>> you raised a question that we discuss a lot, which is the iraqi-syrian relationship, because i think there are several factors that go into the debate inside iraq. first of all, there's iraq's own internal politics, because syria becomes one of those elements that plays into iraq's internal politics, where politicians accuse each other of certain sins based on how they stand vis-a-vis syria. there's an internal dynamic in iraqi politics that comes from syria. there's also a fear of what could happen in the aftermath to, as suggested by one of our participate apts here today, what happens in the aftermath. people are worried. we hear this all the time, about increased iranian pressure on iraq in days bashar al-ad is a falls. there's also the fear of spillover into iraq. iraq has been a victim of terrorism exported from syria before. you may remember, in august
2009, nouri al maliki was the one who not only accused the syrians themselves of having blown up the foreign ministry among other things in iraq, you have iraqi developments, you have concern about iranian influence, concern about spillover, concern about terrorism from syria. all these things play into this internal debate inside of iraq when it comes to syria. we've had pretty serious discussions with the prime minister and with others about the situation in syria. i don't think the iraqis, based on my own conversations with iraqi leaders on syria, have any illusions about syria, about the al-assad regime. iraqis themselves were victims of that type of dictatorship, and i think they see the assad regime for what it is. at this point, iraq, after much
debate, has joined the arab consensus. unlike lebanon, iraq is supporting the arab league plan for syria and is supporting the kofi annan joint u.n. arab league special envoy for trying to resolve the issues in syria. but again, syria for iraq is partially a security issue, partially an internal issue. iraq is a neighbor. there are certain sensitivities there. but at this point, iraq has joined the arab consensus on syria. >> that's the issue of the kurds regionally, if i may. i think that the he's been very careful, i think, not to allow the gains that the kurds have made, the very legitimate gains the kurds have made to become
embroiled in the internal dynamics of the kurdish issues in syria, turkey, and iran. i think he's been very careful to avoid getting drawn into those dynamics, and i suspect that he will continue to do so. this is vital to protect iraqi and the institutions that are developing there, it seems to me. it is worth noting that, at the beginning, when the iraqi government very clearly was coming down, and i agree with ambassador feltman, it has been taken to accepting the nonplan and so on, the u.n. arab league plan. but in the beginning, even the president of the republic made a statement about, well, our fear is that the muslim brotherhood might come to power
in iraq, and you sort of were stunned at the time, because the vice president of iraq is from the iraqi branch of the muslim brotherhood, so he's the vice president, and events unfolded as they did, but that was before. the iraqis have come to this grudging -- i think it's grudging, and i think it had more to do with trying to get more heads of state to try to show up in baghdad, had more to do with that than a strategic decision by iraq to reengage the arab state system again. those are two very different things. in distinction, the comments from the beginning were, you know, we stand with the people of syria, and that is -- i've not heard those kinds of statements from any responsible iraqi official.
>> maybe i can add a word on this. it seems to me that he's exactly right. what the iraqis are concerned about, what makes them hesitate is what comes next. if there is a sectarian regime in syria, that's want going to be a happy outcome from the iraqi point of view. frankly, it won't be a happy outcome from the american point of view either. on the question of what makes the u.s. role distinct, i think it's very clear that if democracy is going to survive in iraq, it's going to survive for two reasons, that the iraqis want it and that the americans support it. >> i think when we talk about the u.s. distinct role, it's also worth looking at how iraqi
decision making looks in the aftermath of the u.s. withdrawal, when we fulfill the agreements in our agreement. because there have been important developments since the full fullment of our commitments by december, in december 2011. i take the kuwaiti border issue. we long promoted the idea of reconciliation between iraq and kuwait and other gulf neighbors. we have long promoted the concept of iraq playing a central role in the region, a peaceful constructive role, not the type of role that iraq played under saddam hussein, where he was wreaking havoc in the region, invading his neighbors, things like that. but there were political challenges inside iraq. you would understand the political dynamics better than i do in terms of what it does it mean, in terms of paying for the border demarcation, acknowledging deals on kuwaiti
airlines, things like that. i think these sorts of things are actually easier for the iraqis to take now than they were when we had troops there. if you're going to take a politically difficult decision in terms of your own base, when the american troops are there, people could easily say you're taking these because the americans are telling you to. now we can provide council, advice, brokerage between iraq and its neighbors, without having that overlay of making it look as though it's american. so i don't think it's coincidence that this came through after the departure of the troops. i also agree with the ambassador. i don't minimize the impact of the arab summit on iraqi decision making because it was important to iraq to have the arab summit in baghdad. it was important to us that they take place in baghdad to symbolize iraq's reintegration
into the region. >> ok. i think we have come a little bit before the end of our time. i think all of you will have some questionnaires that were handed out at the door. if you would please turn them in on your way out, that would be very helpful. please join me in thanking our distinguished panel for the very insightful comments today. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
>> this year's student cam competition asks students across the country, what part of the constitution was important to them and why. today's third prize winner selected the 26th amendment. >> the 26th amendment of our constitution establishes official voting age to be 18 years old. the problem is, schools aren't teaching kids about civics. so how are they going to become responsible voters? do you know who our president is? >> barack obama. >> barack obama. >> um, i don't know. >> barack obama. >> do you know who our vice president is? >> something biden, i think. just because i've seen the signs.
>> joe -- mr. joe. >> no. >> no. >> i don't know. >> do you know our five freedoms? >> five freedoms, no. >> we can do what we want -- >> no. >> i don't know. >> justice sandra day o'connor, the first woman on the supreme court, noticed this issue and came up with a plan called icivics. icivics is a fun, interactive way for students to learn about our government while playing computer games. her goal is to revive the teaching of civics in american schools to help prepare the next generation of kids to participate as citizens in a democracy. >> we want to be able to say yes, this is my government, this is how it works, and i'm able to communicate with them. and help make it what i want it to be. so that's why it's important,
and you need to start learning that in school, i think. >> would you rather be remembered as the first woman on the supreme court or the woman that brought a love of civics to children? >> well, i'd like to be remembered for both things. do i have to do one or the other? good. i really think it's so important that young people learn how our government works, because i grew up, i wanted to be part of my community. i wanted to be part of what happened in the place in city, town, area in which i lived. and to do that, i had to know how it works. and so i think each of us needs to know that. and it's more fun for you. , if you know how things work, if there's some -- something you think that needs to be changed in your city, to know how to go about it, who to talk to, what to do, that matters, don't you think? >> i also got the chance to meet the driving source to get
civics back in florida schools. former governor bob graham, here's what he had to say. >> when i was in school, we took three one-hour -- excuse me, three one-year courses in civics from the seventh to the 12th grade, starting with an introduction to american government, then the role of the citizen in democracy and the public issues of the time. those were three very important segments to understanding what it means to be a citizen in our democracy. today i'm involved through the graham center at the university of florida, which has had its objective encouraging university of florida students to take an interest in the citizenship and the civic life of the communities they live in and will live in. i'm also working with the florida center on citizenship,
which has as its primary goal, encouraging more civics and more active citizens of civics to be taught in the primary and secondary schools in florida. and i have written a book called "america: the owner's manual," which is intended to be a citizen's guide to effective citizenship. >> well, the seventh graders don't really know much about politics, so you have to teach them sometime, so it's probably a good time to teach them. >> i don't really care. >> i think they have to learn about our government, so that when it's time for them to vote, they can be responsible voters. >> not just politicians think civics are important. here is richard dreyfus. our if our society is a river, we look to the head waters, our children as the source, the
beginning of tomorrow. if they are taught the principles for which washington fought, our children would lead us away from here hopefully before it's too late. we must teach these civic principles or say goodbye to the society we once held dear. what is technology without wisdom? what is strength of arms without moral character and restraint? what is economic might without prudence and forbearance? and what is the ability to read, write, and calculate without the knowledge and will to avoid the mistakes in our history? or, what is the ability to rewrite and calculate if we
don't understand the civic actions that will secure our future and keep it on a prosperous trajectory. >> bringing civics back in schools will teach our generation to be responsible voters and know about our government. who knows who can be the next president? >> go to studentcam.org to watch all the winning videos and continue the conversation about today's documentary at our facebook and twitter pages. >> next, live, your calls and comments on "washington journal." then on "news makers," a look at the 2012 senate races with the executive directors of the democratic and republican campaign committees. after that, president obama and former president george w. bush talk about the economy and tax policy. >> the impact of rex santorum >> the impact of rex santorum and exiting